In this case, I decided to build the 'mech as an Atlas AS7-S, which is not one of the best versions of the Atlas in terms of game play, but it is unusual, and it fits nicely with one of the units I am building.
One thing that stands out about this Battletech icon is the sheer number of parts that come in the blister. I have to assume that many of them, like the separate back plate, are there to make casting easier. Even so, casting the 'mech's hands as separate parts did seem a touch excessive, even to me.
I started out by assembling the legs and hips into a stable platform. I took my time and carefully propped the parts in position during this process so the epoxy would have plenty of time to cure and form a strong bond.
I was also trying to give the 'mech an appealing stance. In the case of the Atlas, I went for a wide, stable position. I find that turning the legs outwards so the feet are slightly spread, and not pointing in the same direction adds a surprising amount of life to a standing model. Some of the more static battlemech sculpts can be improved to a surprising degree by small changes in their posture.
While the legs were curing, I started working on the torso. The first things that had to go were all the extra missile tubes in the torso. As far as I can tell, the AS7-S preserves the rapid fire 5-tube launcher from the original AS7-D, and I refuse to let 20 years of subsequent artwork and miniature sculpts stand in my way.
A touch of green stuff was all it took to erase the sculpted tubes. Since the hip-mounted launcher is, conveniently, cast as a separate part, it was a simple matter to pull out a razor saw and cut away the superfluous sixth missile tube, leaving the desired 5-tube launcher.
While I was at it, I also replaced the model's Gauss/Autocannon barrel with a section of brass tubing. I felt it provided a cleaner look, and it was a much less fiddly part.
With all that behind me, I set about re-posing the model's right arm. I wanted to bend the arm into a "shoot from the hip" posture. True, in the 7-S model, the gun mounted on that arm is just a medium laser, but I like the attitude. To accomplish this I had to slice the arm in half at the elbow.
Once the glue was fully cured, I filled in the gap with putty. I did *not* try to sculpt the initial blob of putty, I just filled in the elbow. That filler formed the base structure that supported the sculpting that came later.
Once the basic structure was in place, I began slowly adding in tiny amounts of putty to form the weather seal covering the 'mech's elbow. It is hard to sculpt the grooves required into a large area of soft putty; the putty tends to fill in the existing grooves as you push it around to carve new ones. I ended up using a combination of techniques:
• I sculpted each 'ridge' in the weather seal individually on the side of the arm facing the outside. I had to let the putty cure between sessions so I wouldn't damage old sculpting while creating new.
• On the other side, I took an easier approach. I filled the whole area with putty and then later filed grooves into the cured putty with a triangular needle file. This technique doesn't produce quite as fine a line as the other, but it is much faster and easily good enough for the side that will be held against the body.
The last thing I did before starting final assembly was to bend the fingers of the right hand into a fist. To get the fingers to bend, I took a jeweler's saw and carefully cut about 2/3 of the way through the knuckles. After that, the hand could bend fairly easily, and would bend at the right places. I then carefully squeezed the hand shut using a pair of smooth-jawed pliers. I didn't manage to get a really tight fist, but I think it looks pretty good, and it fits the pose nicely.
After I was satisfied with the shape of the right hand, I added some putty to fill in the gaps in the knuckles of the fingers. I didn't do anything fancy here, just some filler to be painted like metallic parts later. After that, I assembled just about the whole model. I also drilled some new missile tubes into the left torso to represent the 10 SRM tubes mounted on the 7-S model Atlas. The new missile tubes are arranged a bit differently in the new layout to reflect the separate launchers making up the 'mech's missile array. I am not 100% satisfied with the SRM6 at the top, but I think it will look pretty good once it's painted.
The only part I left off was the right arm. The pose brings it very close to the body, and I want to be able to paint the torso and arm separately before I finally glue them together.
I did cheat and use some poster hanging putty to stick the arm to the body for the photos of the finished and primed model, but it's still not glued. Hopefully I can find time to finish painting it this Spring, and post the results when I do.