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  • Computer mouse - This mouse was from a company called Videal and cost about £6. It still worked, but it was a lousy, jerky unresponsive mouse and I had bought a better one. However, unlike many newer mice, it has a nice symmetrical shape.
  • Disposable razors - All kinds of useful bits can be gained from disposable razors, especially the blades and blade packing, which is usually cut into interesting and intricate shapes. The heads can be dismantled by pushing a scalpel blade flat along the razorblade and under the plastic to slice through the plastic rivets which hold the head together. Be extremely careful doing this.
  • Sprue - A little sprue is always handy, especially if you have a variety of section shapes.
  • Pen top - Most pen tops are unfortunately made of flexible plastic that doesn't stick very well, but the shapes are often interesting.
  • Aluminium body repair mesh - This can add a bit of a texture which will liven up a model made mostly of smooth surfaces.
  • Toy parts - This contains a couple of Zoid parts (these were plastic dinosaur shaped robots popular in the '80s), and I have a large stock of parts which I use for feature detail on models and scenery. Many military/sci-fi toys have suitable parts and can be picked up cheap from discount stores. The guns are particularly handy as these are difficult to scratch built.
  • Heavy Card - Heavy card can be used for hatches and general surface detail.
  • Stage 1 - Dismantling the Mouse

    The mouse was separated into two halves by simply unscrewing it, then the circuit board and cord were pulled out. The circuit board has a number of electronics components on it, which were chopped off with clippers. A couple were re-used on the tank and the rest went in the bits box.

    Stage 2 - Turret

    Basic Shape
    The turret is basically the D-type connector from the end of the mouse lead. (It was an old fashioned serial port mouse). The D connector itself was covered with a small rectangle of card, and a piece of sprue was stuck on as an optical sight. To further disguise the shape I stuck a couple of boxes removed from the mouse circuit board on the top of the connector socket.

    Swivel Mounting
    Underneath the turret, the plastic was cut away and a small bolt was glued on with its head in the cavity. The bolt fits through a hold made in the top of the tank and a nut secures it in place.

    The cannon are formed from the mouse connector screws, unscrewed from their sockets and then glued on in front. The screw threads at the tips were covered up by gluing on a short length of metal tube. The ribbed cylinders at the back of the cannon are from a Zoid.

    Hatch & trooper
    The hatch is a plastic washer, and the lid is a wheel from a Zoid. The stormtrooper was cut in half with clippers and glued on. His right arm was also cut off below the shoulder pad and rebuilt in putty.

    Stage 3 - Surface Detail

    Two more components from the circuit board were stuck on at the back. These were made of clear plastic and they had a small bobble on them. When the model had been painted, the paint was rubbed off the bobbles and they were then painted with red transluscent paint.. The clear plastic makes them look like lights.

    These pieces are rubbery connectors from a large Zoid. The central blob has been picked out in silver.


    The flat rectangles on the front of the tank, with the slots and curved holes in them, are razorblades. They were stuck down with the superglue, and a thick piece of card was stuck down over the sharp edges. The air intake on the right hand side is from a WWII plane kit.

    On the back of the tank the rectangle with notched edges and circular holes in it is a plastic packer from the razor head.

    Stage 4 - Engines

    The ventilation grilles at the rear are made from an upside down razor head. Car body repair mesh was superglued into the holes, and the head was stuck to the main body with polystyrene cement.

    The main body of the engine was made from the end of a disposable razor handle. This was then decorated with a couple of bits of sprue and a rectangle of card. Another piece of sprue was stuck on the tank body in front of the engine. The grooved cylinder is a section from a large felt tip pen lid. Care should be taken to stick the two engines on symmetrically.

    Stage 5 - Painting

    The tank was painted using more or less the same process as this tie fighter, except that the colour used was a plain grey and not a blue grey. Small lines and rectangles were painted on at the end in dark brown ink to make the surface more interesting.

    The Imperial symbol on the front was downloaded from a website and printed out, before being cut out with a sharp scalpel. This was then stencilled onto the tank and then a fine brush was used to neaten it up (particularly the ring round the edge).

    2002. All rights reserved.