Building an Isorian Army 5: Assembling the Mahran Vesh

Zac Beldan continues his series on building and painting an Isorian army. The previous installment on the Phaser Sniper can be found here!

Assembling the Isorian Mahran Vesh MV5 combat drone

If you had your doubts about the alien nature of the Isorian Senatex then the Mahran Vesh combat drone should correct that. It is decidedly non-human. The vehicle curves and wraps around itself in a way that almost feel non-euclidian and it certainly doesn’t have the look for a human manufactured or designed piece of equipment. You can almost feel the silicate nanosphere working its way under your skin while you look at it. It is a wonderful addition to any Isorian force and, along with the Tograh MV2 transporter, is a centrepiece of an army.

Prep work

The model itself is smaller than I would have thought from looking at the photos on the Warlord Games online store [Ed: About the same size as its opponent’s C3M4 drone]. The main body comes in four parts – a main chassis, tail and two ‘wings’ that are similar, if not exactly the same, as those on the Tograh. The Mahran Vesh also comes with separate turrets for each weapon option. The Fractal Cannon, Compression Cannon and Plasma Cannon are all uniquely melded to the turret with tubes and pulsing masses of organic matter. The Plasma Light Support turret is the same as in the Tograh and it also exudes an air of alien menace.

As with any resin model there are small pegs on many of the parts where it was attached to a larger resin sprue for casting. Each of the main turrets have two on the bottom on the back lip of the turret. There are a few scattered around the rest of the parts and they are easy to remove with a pair of clippers and then a hobby knife to smooth out the area. Each of the wings have a small mould line along the inside of the wing that needs to be pared down with a knife. The turrets also had a small mould line along the outer edge of the turret body. Again a few seconds with a hobby knife was enough to remove it.

A small resin peg on the model's tail
A small resin peg on the model’s tail

Once all the parts were cleaned up it was time to give them a wash. Resin has a tendency to keep a firm hold of the release material that is sprayed into the moulds prior to casting. I usually put the resin parts in a small bath of warm, soapy water for ten minutes and then scrub the parts with an old toothbrush. In this instance the parts, especially the main body, still felt slick to the touch so I went through the process again until the parts felt clean. This is a critical step in assembling resin models as the mould release will cause your primer and paint to not bond to the model surface properly.

Assembling the body

Putting the body together is quite simple. Each of the wings has three contact points with rounded, recessed parts that connect to extended, rounded parts on the main body. The rearmost connection point sits under the plane of the main body so you need to make sure to position the wing so that it connects at all the correct points. Resin is a flexible material and so the wings and body might not connect perfectly due to shrinkage – for example, in the case of my model when viewed from the top or sides you can’t see any imperfections.

The tail section connects at the end of each wing and also into an indentation at the back of the main body. In order to get it to connect you are going to need to apply some pressure after you glue the parts. So make sure that the glue on the wings has had some time to dry before fitting the tail on. On my Mahran Vesh, as well as my Tograh, the points where the tail contacted the wings weren’t flat and so in order to make as clean a fit on the top of the model I had to leave a gap on the bottom. Its nothing that some greenstuff can’t fix but it is an issue to be aware of.

tail connection points
The three tail connection points

Magnetizing the turrets

Strictly speaking none of the turrets need to have magnets attached to them. The Plasma Light Support turret will sit snugly on top of each of the three weapon turrets and they will all fit well into the main body. No problems. Sadly for me I like magnets and any excuse to use my Dremel so magnets will need to be attached! It also means that I can hold the drone upside down and still not have the turrets come off.

Some time ago I was building some models for a popular spaceship combat game and my fleet had models with many, many optional parts. I needed to magnetize them but also make sure that the magnets were being put in the correct way to make sure that the polarity on each one didn’t end up conflicting and shooting parts across my gaming room. To make sure that I didn’t mix up polarities I took two old paint brushes, removed the tops and the drilled into the end and glued a small rare earth magnet in the end. Once I had one done I used it to place the magnet in the second brush to ensure the polarities matched. I labelled them and have been happily using them ever since. I now no longer have to think about polarity when magnetizing parts. If you are going to use magnets in your hobby projects I strongly recommend making something similar. It will save your sanity.

Homebuilt magnet tools
Homebuilt magnet placement tools

The main body needs a single magnet in the base of the depression that contains the turret. Each weapon turret needs a magnet in the bottom and then another where the PLS turret will sit. Finally the Plasma Light Support turret needs a single magnet in the bottom where it connects to each weapon turret. I am lucky that I have a drill bit on my Dremel that is the perfect size to fit the 4mm magnets I use for turrets. Prior to getting it, I had to use a pin vise to drill holes and I don’t know of a pin vise that has 4mm drill bits. My Dremel is a small handheld model and it has worked well for every job I have used it for except for attempting to cut a plastic Rhino apart. Quite a handy tool to have if you can afford it. Depending on what tools you have available you may need to use smaller magnets. Using my magnet tools it was a quick job to put the magnets in the correct direction. The main body and the tops of the turret used the ‘body’ tool and the PLS turret and the turret bottoms used the ‘wing’ tool. Easy as pie.

All the parts of the models magnetized
All the parts of the models magnetized

Filling some holes

Aside from being flexible, resin also has a habit of developing small holes on the surface, and inside the model, even if care is taken to avoid them. The Mahran Vesh had three small holes that needed to be fixed. I have greenstuff for the larger gaps but small holes such as these are best filled using liquid greenstuff. Games Workshop and Vallejo both sell a liquid greenstuff product but I have only ever used GW’s version. The name is a bit of a misnomer since the material in the bottles isn’t pourable but just a semi-viscous material that dries in the same manner that greenstuff does. It doesn’t have the same strength and rigidity of greenstuff though so it is really only good for small holes and surface cracks. You can easily spread it with a sculpting tool or the blade of a hobby knife and you don’t need a lot of it to fill any imperfections in your model. Another benefit of it is that since it is water based to can use a wet brush to liquify any excess and remove it with a piece of paper towel. [Ed: Great advice! Resin can be a notoriously tricky medium, involving careful mixes and pours, vacuum extraction of bubbles and even a dependence on the prevailing weather conditions (we kid you not!). If there are too many imperfections on your models please do contact your local supplier or the Warlord Help Desk with an explanation and photo!]

The gap where the wings connect with the tail on the bottom of the body on mine was far too large for this though, and required some old-school greenstuff. Whether you do so depends on your opinion of the bottom of vehicle models. I tend to prime them and then forget them unless there are parts I can see while I am using the model: if you can’t see it then don’t paint it! Or fill it with greenstuff. In this case though the gap is visible from the side of the model and so it needs some filling. The secret with greenstuff is to have a set of tools and some water. The material will pick up any irregularity on a tool you use (no fingers!) so you want to make sure that whatever you use has a smooth surface. Many hobby stores sell sets of sculpting tools and these are designed to use greenstuff. Water is useful since it makes the tool glide over the material easier and also helps smooth it out.

Once you have finished filling the gaps and smoothing out the greenstuff the model will need to rest overnight before priming. Greenstuff can cure in a few hours but for best results you should leave it overnight to allow it to cure and harden properly.

Ready for some primer and paint!
Ready for some primer and paint!

Next, Zac looks at painting the Mahran-Vesh.