Saturday, June 20, 2009

Conversion - Imperial Guard Jetpacks

When I set out to put together my Vet squad, I had in the back of my mind the idea to give them Jetpacks. Not that I have a Valkyrie in my inventory yet, but the plan is to give these guys some more fluff when the defense budget allocates funds for air transport. You can see on the left the end result of my effort and on the right the inspiration for it, a Forgeworld Elysian jetpack. I wanted my vets to have a combination jet and back pack, so mine ended up being a bit bigger.

This conversion starts out with a pack of Chaos Jetpacks. Of course, all the chaos-y symbols and pointy bits need to be removed first, and to get them a bit shorter I took out the bottom pair of thrusters. I also removed the round thrusters from the top, as I wanted them to look more like the Forgeworld example. It took a couple weeks before inspiration hit me on how to achieve this without a lot of effort and preferrably using something readily available. What first came to mind is to use the rounded ends of sprues, as shown in this picture. These are ideal, because they are the right shape and size to pull this off. Unfortunately, unless you've been saving empty sprues, there is usually not enough available to complete a squad of jet packs. Additionally, they come in different sizes, and the thinner ones are too small. So, what else is there to use? Not so easy, but certainly as cheap and usable, is using a sanding bit and "converting" cut sprue ends to round sprue ends, then cut to desired length. The advantage here is they are all the same size, and you can cut them to whatever length you prefer.

As I was going for the back pack look, I also removed a lot of the symbols, hoses, fans and other obvious jet pack bits, and hauled out the last of my green stuff. I tried to create a soft, fabric looking pack, using SM belt pouches for the outer pockets. While this was simple enough, it was a bit time consuming. So I switched over to a sleek, more aerodynamic, "aluminum case" design. You can see this version in the picture here. You can also see the top thrusters before they were attached. The little silver bit on the thruster was found in my wife's bead box. I was looking for a small bead to use here, but she didn't have anything small enough. I found instead what is called a crimping bead. It looks good, but it's long and requires drilling into the sprue bit to make it work. Being designed to crimp, cutting wasn't an option with the tools I had. Were I to visit a bead store to find more, I'd choose a small bead or at least a shorter version of the crimping bead.
Here is the collection of 8 of 10 finished, partially-painted IG jetpacks. All total, there are six "hard cased" packs, two plasma (or melta) packs, one grenade launcher pack and one comm pack. The comm pack started out as a Vox caster, with some rearranging of the extras, an added soft pack on the bottom, and jets on the sides. The jet struts were simply cut off the Chaos jetpack, glued to the comm pack, and then the sprue thrusters added.

And here's a view of two finished ones for size comparison. They're a little bigger than my initial vision of them, but not so much that I'd reconsider the design. This was a relatively simple conversion. The only concern, other than the green stuff work, is the need to build up the back a little to allow the top bulge to clear the figure's head. I used scrap plasticard to do this. Like many of my projects, they're waiting for me to quit procrastinating with the paint pots.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Conversion: Tau Fire Warriors to IG Veterans

I made a vet squad for my entry at The Realms of Equinox: Attention! contest, which closes up today. While it doesn't look like I'll pull victory from the jaws of defeat, I enjoyed the challenge. You can be sure I'll be watching his site for future contests.

What follows is the basic idea behind converting my vets, using Tau Fire Warriors and Space Marine Scout bitz. I had seen this idea for converting Tau Fire Warriors into drop troops a while back, and had purchased a set with that goal. As the new IG codex made drop troops less usuable, I decided to use the set to make a squad of veterans. The Fire Warriors for the most part are the same size as the Cadian plastics, and provide different poses as well. The biggest issue with converting them is they have hooves instead of feet, and three fingered hands. The legs come in five poses, four of which are shown in the following picture. For this conversion, I stayed with the Tau torso, but wanted to make it look less Tau. So, I broke out my green stuff and added a thin layer of "armor" at the top. Now, I doubt I'll ever be an accomplished GS sculptor, but this was a very simple addition so I was able to manage quite easily. You can see the old and new torso comparison below.
The three fingered Tau hands were easy to fix using hand swaps or creative filing. The biggest challenge was changing hooves to feet. What I should have done is used Catachan or Cadian feet, like in the left photo. They are the perfect size for this conversion. As I had just finished a bunch of Cadians, I actually found I didn't have enough spares to go around. The budget was low, so I found WFB Chaos Marauder legs, like in the right photo, go very cheep. The upside is they provided my vets a different style of foot wear, which partly fit my goal to make them stand out on the table. I even kept the fur bands some of them have, to show some more individuality. The down side is the feet and ankles are actually a little bigger than their IG counterparts, so some tweeking of the armor and fur is needed to fit the narrower Tau leg. A couple poses also required foot/ankle angle changes.

The Fire Warrior set comes with enough torso parts to make twelve figures, and enough legs to make fifteen. I've only made ten vets so far, so I've used the extra parts to show "before and after" style pics. The legs used in these plasma gun poses were actually the hardest conversions of the lot, because of the unique angle of the feet. These leg sets required a left foot angle that did not have a comparable one from the Chaos Marauders, so I cut at the ankle and did a bit of filing and refitting. To get the right foot to work for the kneeling set, I had to sculpt over the Tau foot using green stuff. It may be the reason I only made one kneeling figure. I like to think I'll use them to make a vet heavy weapon squad later.

The next two are very simple conversions; they are almost standard GW figures stances in all the lines. You can also see on the Sergeant where I've used the Tau right arm and the Space Marine Scout left arm. I did this with most of the squad. To add additional markings identifying them as vets, there is a vertical red stripe on the left shoulder pad. The Sergeant's pistol is a Catachan variant, slightly modified with a Tau FW faceplate on the back. The grenade launcher is Cadian. The left pistol grip is from a left handed SM plasma pistol, and is on the bottom instead of the side.

Cost wise, it was more than a standard squad. But then, a veteran squad should stand out, and that always takes some extra bitz. I'm still scouring my box for canteens, ammo pouches and other accessories to finish them up, but they are otherwise ready for the table. So, all in all, another good conversion experience for me.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Plasma Backpack

Okay, my last entry showed a Plasma Gun conversion I did for my squad entry in The Realms of Equinox: Attention! contest. I had forgotten to take pictures of my Plasma Gun backpacks, so I thought I'd catch up here for those interested.

I used a Vox Caster for this, just a slight modification from Hal'jin's (42nd Cadian) Plasma Gun conversion. Where he used the whole Vox, I only used the top part, with some green stuff and a bit from a Tau Pulse Rifle. I removed the antennas and loud speaker, as well as the bottom part of the caster. I may be able to use that part for a demolition pack or some other future conversion, so its back into the bit box for that. I used Hal'jin's method of repositioning the donut antenna's gauge to the other side. Just for an additional bit of change, I made an extra bottom part out of green stuff, and used the round part off the end of a Tau Pulse Rifle in the center of it. Next I'll run a wire from the gauge part to the bottom nob of the Plasma Gun, and it's finished.

Speaking of catching up, below is a picture of a standard IG squad (minus a Sergeant) that has been waiting since early May to be finished. Worried about finishing my contest entry on time, I had put them aside. A WIP pictures of these guys, and a bunch of their comrades, can be seen in an earlier blog entry. I have always completely assembled my figures prior to painting, but for these I painted the canteens/ammo pouches/scabbards/etc off separately. Painting them, and around them, had always been frustrating. This will be how I paint accessories in the future, as it was so much easier. I had forgotten how close I was to finishing them up; a bit more highlighting, a touch up of wash, and now they're ready for the clear coat.

I plan to show one more conversion I did for my vets, probably early next week. Waiting for me on the painting table are two plus more squads, three Leman Russ varients with an extra turret or two. In between, based on popular demand, I'll put together something to show my Rough Rider bike conversions, probably around the first week in July.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bitzbox Plasma Gun Conversion

This is the second tutorial based on the vet squad for my entry at The Realms of Equinox: Attention! contest. Please visit and vote for your favorite squad. Watch his site for future challenges, he’s had some great ideas for contests.

The last tutorial was for Bullpup Las Guns/Carbines. This one’s for Plasma Guns. I have not seen this method before, so hope to give you another option for creating Plasma Guns from your bitz box bric-a-brac.

For my vets, I used a lot of Tau Fire Warrior parts, but there’s none of that here. For this conversion, you’ll need some boltguns, either standard Space Marine or from the Space Marine Scout set, and Plasma Pistols. Here are three of many Boltgun options available:
Plasma Pistols usually come with two options. A right hand, and a left hand (note this picture is not in the same scale as the Boltguns):
You’ll need to cut them on the lines as shown below. Make sure you hold on to the flash suppressor and whatever that small bit is above it. You’ll need it later. For those of you comfortable with a blade, you don't have to cut the upper left corner bit on the Boltgun off. I left mine on because I liked that look better, but it can be glued back on too.

Take the pieces and put them together to get something like the following. The front of the Plasma Pistol fits very nicely to the front of the Boltgun. You’ll probably have to finagle the plasma energy bar into place. The flash suppressor fits where you cut the magazine off, with the little bit on the bottom (optional). I made a backpack for these using a Vox Caster. I regret I didn't plan a tutorial for the backpack, as I'd taken the basic idea from Hal'Jin's (42nd Cadian) Plasma Gun conversion, except I only used the top part of the Vox with some green stuff and a bit from a Tau Pulse Rifle.Once you've got the pieces cleaned and ready, you can install and paint, like I’ve done below. Again, I can't show the whole figure until the contest is over, so here’s some close-ups for WIP purposes. If you want to see the whole set, go visit TRoE's blog. Please vote for your favorite squad while you are there.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bitzbox Bullpup Las Carbines: a tutorial

I made a vet squad for my entry at The Realms of Equinox: Attention! contest. It is my first entry in one of his contests, and I was quite surprised to see there were only two entries. He has some great ideas for contests, so I recommend watching his site for future challenges. This is what's been keeping me busy for the last month. I wasn't sure I was going to make the cut off, but made it with about 15 minutes to spare. The other entry, very creative and nicely detailed, is by Itkovian, over at Not Yet Done.

Over the next few days, I hope to show how I did some of the conversions I did for my vets. The first I have ready is a Bullpup Las Carbine.

For my vets, I used a lot of Tau Fire Warrior parts, and here was no exception. I had seen something similar a while back, and had actually bought many of the parts I needed prior to the contest. Whoever was the inspiration behind this idea used Forge World parts, which I didn't have the time or funds to invest in. Without these bits, I wasn't sure I could pull it off, but Craig's Shotgun Tutorial, over at King's Standard Bearer, provided some much needed inspiration.

Like Craig, I started out with what every Imperial Guard collector has lying around in quantity, the standard IG las gun. For my conversions, I used some Tau weapons, complete with their three fingered trigger hands. In order to avoid this distraction here, I've used Tau and Cadian weapons that don't have hands on them. Starting with one of each weapon, chop them off as shown with the red lines in the left picture, and use the parts shown in the right picture:

The reason why I cut the IG las gun the way I did was because I wanted to keep the top sight assembly AND the skull and wings. If you want to keep it easy and don't want the insignia, just cut the las gun so you keep the top sight assembly together (you will need to reposition the barrel if you go this way). If you want the insignia, and have an extra scope lying about, you can forget the upper sight assembly and just tack on a site to the top (with this method, you can also make a shorter carbine). Either way, it's simple enough from there if you just move the location of the L-shaped cut in the stock. You can also deepen the L-shaped cut if you want the butt stock a little higher.

So, once you've got the pieces cleaned up and ready for installation, you get a nice Bullpup Las Carbine, shown here with a regular las gun for reference. Glue's still wet here, so it will get cleaned up later on.
Some of you might have wondered why there were extra red line cuts on the Tau Carbine above. One of the notes in the new Codex offered that veterans have access to unique equipment. To help show this, I created a new type of binocular for one of them. I got the pieces from the extra cuts shown above, and here's a closer look.

In the above picture, the two parts needed are on the right. You don't need the whole gun barrel, only the end cut. For this tutorial I cut the right hand bit at the line. In my version, I didn't cut it and it looks a bit long. In the picture to the right, I've included the new binocular and a pouch bit from, I believe, the Space Marine Scout set. I've included it here because it looks like the perfect size for these binos. So, if you want to add a bit more to your vet, add one or two of these pouches to show where he keeps his extra fluff!

And finally, though I can't show the whole submission until the contest is over, I can show some close-ups of for WIP purposes. If you want to see the whole set, go visit Equinox's blog. Please vote for your favorite squad while you are there.

Note the three fingered trigger hand. Had I more time, I would have tried to convert it. In case you are wondering about the left hands in both these pictures, they started out as Tau. It's actually quite easy to add a fourth finger to the left hand, because they are very close together. The trigger hand is a different story, as the fingers are more spread out.