I am now going to turn to the conversion of the standard Tactical Marine bolter into the Sternguard bolter. Let me first direct you, though, to WeeMen's post on converting the Sternguard bolter here, as it was a big reason why I even thought this particular conversion was possible.
The picture on the left shows, from left to right, a Rhino storm bolter, a scope from a Tactical Marines sprue, and a standard Marine bolter. The plan is to remove the box magazine from the storm bolter and graft it onto the standard Marine bolter in such a way as to mimic the appearance of the bolters on GW's Sternguard metal models. Now, this should be a very simple conversion - 2 small bits removed, one bit tossed away, and the second bit glued onto the Tactical bolter. The only tricky part is how small these bits are. One bad, hasty cut with the hobby knife, and some piece of important gray plastic is going to get ruined.
So, first, I go to work on the storm bolter. I suggest you place the storm bolter flat on a cutting surface and cut down with your hobby knife initially where the box magazine meets the barrel. Cut all the way through with slow, steady cuts. Very likely, all you will need are 2 or 3 of these cuts with pressure downward being applied with each cut. Then work on the side of the box magazine touching the rear of the storm bolter. When both side cuts are all the way through to the other side, you can then cut horizontally, along the top of the box magazine. This cut should also be done slow and steady and is, in fact, the most difficult one to execute because of the awkward angle. However, this cut doesn't need to be done all the way through because a half-way cut on both sides of the storm bolter (i.e., as if you were scoring foamboard) should be deep enough where you can then pry the box magazine loose with a plier or just with some elbow grease. The finished result should look like the image to the right.
Now, before doing any clean-up on the detached box magazine, you should proceed to converting the Tactical bolter. This is because you don't want to file down the box magazine too much until you can gauge what sort of fit is going to be required when you graft it onto the Tactical bolter.
For the Tactical bolter, you're basically going to do the same thing - i.e., remove the magazine so that all that is left is the bolter. You can also remove the pistol grip because when you glue the converted bolter onto the Space Marine right arm, you're going to have to remove the grip anyway. The cutting you will do on the Tactical bolter is going to have to be even more careful and measured than the storm bolter operation. This is because we didn't really care how badly we damaged the storm bolter while we do care if the Tactical bolter gets marked up, for obvious reasons. After cutting the magazine from the Tactical bolter, you can now go ahead and file down the gap in the bolter so that it creates a smooth, even space for the box magazine to slide into. See the picture on the left. (Note: even though the pistol grip is present in the picture, I removed it shortly after taking the picture because it was already hanging on by a, er, thread of soft, gray plastic, or something.)
Okay, and now for the final step (a two-parter) - we must glue the box magazine removed from the storm bolter onto the space left on the Tactical bolter from its removed magazine. First, dry fit the box magazine to see how much you need to file on both the box magazine and the Tactical bolter in order to get a even, flush fit. You want to line up the box magazine so that it sticks out the right side of the bolter. So, in other words, line up the bolter along the left hand side of the box magazine. Once you've smoothed out any rough, uneven edges, apply a little bit of glue on the Tactical bolter and then press the box magazine down into the gap. Hold the box magazine in place while slowly, carefully sliding it into place so that it is straight and not on a tilt. When you are satisfied with the placement of the box magazine, hold it the glue sets a bit, then lay it aside to dry. After the glue has dried, you'll want to finally attach the scope to the top of the bolter. If you look closely at the bolter, you'll notice an upraised piece near the rear. This is where you want to glue the scope. Now, make sure you file the scope down so that it fits smoothly along this small, upraised piece, then glue down and hold. After a minute or so, you should have the finished product pictured on the right.
Part III of the tutorial will be a short one involving basing and priming the model. And then with Part IV, we'll jump right into the painting!
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