August 17, 2013

Welcome to the Corp - Making better Colonial Marines from EM4 and Copplestone Castings Troopers

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"I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine. This is an M41A pulse rifle. 
Ten millimeter, with over-and-under thirty millimeter pump action grenade launcher."
―Cpl. Hicks (from Aliens)

It's hard not to think back to the awesome action movies from the 80s especially being a wargamer / board game player wanting to recreate so many of them as games, especially ALIENS, which GW must have thought too when they created Space Hulk. But like quite a few other gamers out there I always had in the back of my mind the idea to swap out the genestealers for proper xenomorphs (or leave off two of the arms) and to ditch the terminators for Colonial Marines. I know that was my idea when I bought the Grenadier Future Warriors range of troopers by Mark Copplestone many many years ago. Unfortunately I only ever painted a couple of them and didn't use proper reference so my momentum stopped as I was unhappy with the results. Though I did add to the horde over the years when EM4 brought the molds out again and then Copplestone Castings did new varients. One problem was the guns always annoyed me with their inacuracy. Sure they immediately evoked the movie guns but they weren't right. This was very obvious when I recently bought the troopers available from Hasslefree miniatures. Though the armour is even less accurate to the movies than the old Copplestone sculpts the use of 3D printed movie accurate guns just made you excited to paint them up. I then got it in my head to update the old models. Hasslefree sold sprues of Pulse Rilfles. I didn' t quite anticipate how many hours of clipping and cutting and hacking would be involved to convert these one part metal models but damn it over a week I did it.

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Before and after hacking the old gun out. To get rid of the old gun I used a pair of side cutters which was easy to snip off the top section of the gun and then it gets tricky getting rid of the magazine and the grip in the forward hand. Cleanup was done with a heavy hobby blade.

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progress continues...

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All Done :)

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Damn missed one in the 2nd bottom row that was hiding out with the missile launchers and Hasslefree minis. I fixed him after I took the photos. Though the fully painted guy up top will stay as he is, I think the partially painted ones will get stripped and painted with the rest.

Now of course after giving all the troopers movie accurate guns I feel I need to improve my Smart Gun heavy weapon troopers. 

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The movie guns most iconic things were the way they were held with the steady cam arms and those triangular motorbike part frames on the sides of the barrel. The EM4 marines have the pose and the support arms but lack the detail on the barrels. So after tracing the frames from a dismantled photo of a replica I printed out several sizes on a sheet of paper to compare with the miniature for the right look. Then cut thin plastic card and used plastic rod to make the frames. After making one set I made a press mold and cast some more from green stuff. I also added the large cocking handles on the sides of the receivers, the wire underneath the gun and new muzzle breaks. I cut a slot across the front of a bit of aluminum tubing and scored some lines around it and glued it over the tip of the guns.

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My line up of smart gunners from EM4, Copplestone and Hasslefree. I may cut the hands holding up the front of the Hasslefree ones so they are holding the gun on the side instead.


  1. Absolutely fantastic, the tedious work has definitely paid off. THe smart guns are just icing on the cake. Kudos all around.