This guide will cover several ways to convert Space Marines (and Chaos Marines) WITHOUT needing to use relatively advanced techniques such as pinning. You should be able to do everything listed here simply with cutting and gluing.
You will need:
- A surface to cut on (cutting board, spare wood)
- A sharp knife or scalpel (Unless specified otherwise itís VERY important you cut with these instead of clippers)
- Clippers and drill (for battle damage)
- Poly cement (plastic glue)
- Green stuff
- Space Marines!
Iím going to go through the parts of a Space Marine and list some ways to convert them one by one. Here we go!
- Head Swaps. The oldest and easiest way to make your blokes look a little different. Use heads from different kits, different armies, different manufacturers. Have the whole squad with bare heads. Have the whole squad in Beakie helmets. Use Forge World heads. Use biker/land speeder heads so the whole squad has radio headsets. Whatever you like!
- Battle damage. Use a drill to make a series of very shallow holes across the head to represent bullet impacts. Use clippers to gouge a vertical slash across an eyepiece, or a diagonal slice across the temple.
- Chest swaps. Again, use bits from different models. You want to make a squad of Iron Hands? Use the chestplates from the Rhino kit with the Adeptus Mechanicus symbol front and centre instead of the Imperial Eagle. Want to make your Sergeant stand out? Give him a cloak from the Captain box, or the Company Champion breastplate from the Command Squad box. Making a homebrew chapter that worships animals or is tribal in nature? Throw some Space Wolf bits in.
- Battle damage. Again, drill very gently and lightly, and use clippers for gouges and scratches. Donít forget to paint the damage appropriately!
Backpacks and Shoulderpads
- More swaps and battle damage, Iím sure youíve got the gist of it by now!
Now we get to the serious business! There are a few different ways you can cut and shape arms to get different effects.
Cut A Ė At the wrist, slicing here allows you to change what weapon the Marine is holding, such as a Chainsword to a pistol. It also allows you to alter the angle of the weapon, so if you want to shoot sideways in the best tradition of action films, this is how you can do it.
Cut B Ė Behind the wrist, this is a better place to cut if youíre planning to pin the joint, or if the rear of the gun that the Marine is holding extends past the wrist in the way some bolt pistols or chainswords do.
Cut C Ė Another alternative to alter the angle of the wrist, and can also be used to straighten the elbow a little bit depending on the angle you use.
Cut D and E Ė This is where you cut to alter the entire direction of the arm. In general, altering this angle will alter the position of the arm relative to the chest. You can move it closer in towards the chest (useful for reloading postures or two handed grips on swords/axes) or further away from the chest (useful for running or dual-wielding weapons). Youíve got a fair amount of freedom when making this cut, because very often the join is hidden by the Shoulderpad.
Cut F Ė Best used on legs with no detail on the upper thigh, otherwise it ends up looking distorted and amateurish (unless youíre a Greenstuff master). This cut will alter the left/right angle of the lower leg, either bringing it towards the other leg or further away from it. Useful for adjusting running poses to stop the Marine looking like heís QWOPing across the battlefield.
Cut G and H Ė One of the two basic cuts you need to do in order to achieve a running/striding/climbing posture, these cuts alter the forward or backward angle of the leg, and can spin the ankle in or out depending on how straight the leg is.
Cut K and L Ė Generally speaking, to bend the knee youíre going to have to make both of these cuts, and remove the ribbed undersuit from behind the kneepad. Depending on the model, sometimes you can simply bend the knee after doing this, without having to make any further cuts, but often youíll have to cut I or J as well.
Cut I and J Ė Youíre cutting behind the kneepad with these in order to adjust the angle of the knee, and itís very rare that youíll have to make both cuts on the same leg. Cut I is also possible on models without the kneepad (roughly two thirds of Marine legs donít have a kneepad) but obviously Cut J isnít.
This is used simply to fill and smooth any gaps left after cutting. Itís also fairly easy to create new ribbed undersuit when youíre using it to fill gaps at the armpit, elbow, wrist, hips and knees Ė simply fill as normal, then once itís been drying for a few minutes get a well lubricated knife (Vaseline or water) and draw lines across it gently. It wonít look identical to the original stuff, but once itís painted then itíll pass muster easily enough.
Here are some WIP Sternguard and Vanguard that I've altered using these techniques. I've listed each cut in red next to the model so you can get an idea of the effects of each cut.
This is the Sergeant in a suitably heroic pose on a girder. Can also be used for rocks and logs.
This guy is just advancing forwards while firing his boltgun.
This one is taking a bit of evasive action, with a rear/side movement.
This Sternguard is running diagonally forwards while aiming his boltgun at a diverent angle.
This Vanguard is performing a spinning slash with momentum from the lead leg, so you can imagine him doing a complete 360 in the air to take someone's head off.
As you can see, you can get some very dynamic and original poses with only one or two simple cuts!