Dark Vengeance - Changing Space Marine Shoulder Pads

After yesterdays post about conversions, I'm off to a good start.

Of all the additional details to be found on the Dark Angels Tactical Marines in the Dark Vengeance set, I take issue with the squad designation markings on the right shoulder pad. As the shoulder pad also has to accommodate the squad number it clashes to have it as a raised detail. The 'Eavy Metal painters have fudged around this (see the picture below and the squished number), but I want to go for a proper fix, and see what can be done to remove the marking completely.

Hopefully this will have broader applications in the realm of Space Marine conversions, but we'll see.

There are a number of options, I can see, to deal with the unwanted iconography., from the basic, to the more extreme. Here are my thoughts, that hopefully can go some way to solving anyone else's shoulder pad issues.

Here are my test marines before work began.

Method 1) File/Cut Off The Insignia.

This is going to depend on how easy it is to get at the pad and how happy you are with the finish. This would work if you only wanted to remove part of the insignia (leaving a single wing, or the sword on the Dark Angel pad for instance). Due to the pads rim I've gone for using a knife. The big issue here is not pushing to hard and smacking into the bottom edge, and trying to get a smooth finish.

As you can see the finish is a little rough, even dampened down by the photos. I'm not quite sure how to get back to the smooth curve of an unblemished pad, as the error is too small for greenstuff to correct, and much more work will move this away from the fast fix I was going for. There will be a transfer over the top after painting, so that might disguise the problem.

*Additonal* - From The Warp goes into detail about doing this, and getting a smoother finish here.

Method 2)Partial Replacement Of The Shoulder Pad

Taking the whole shoulder off is going to be difficult on some models, but taking just the interior out and replacing it with the centre of another pad may be a solution.

Firstly I needed to know a pad could be cut down in the first place. The answer is yes, but it's fiddly work, and the margin for error is quite small. Here's my attempt, on the right, next to a whole shoulder pad.

This done it was time to cut up a Space Marine, here he is past the point of no return.

After that is was a job with the knife and file to smooth the pad back to the rim.

And the acid test, fixing the new pad in place, gluing along the edge.

The issue with this is the precision needed in the cutting down of the replacement pad. With a file and patience you could likely achieve very good results,

Method 3) Completely Replace The Pad

The next step in term of complexity from the above is taking everything away. Cue the mutilation of another Marine...

 This is much harder than just taking out the centre because of the detail surrounding the pad, that need to be worked around or left intact. The chest eagle in particular is vulnerable to a mistake with knife or file.

 There's a lot of plastic to be removed before the new pad will sit on the arm well, although I did go overboard, taking off too much from the back of the arm, although less than it seems below. 

 And here's the finished product.

Method 4) Sculpt A New Pad.

You're going to have to trust you're self knowledge about your level of sculpting skill with this one. If you can get the right shape and a smooth finish it's probably going to be the fastest technique, with a rough and ready clipping away of the iconography and then greenstuff straight over the top. If you cast a mould you might be able to simply push it over the modified pad to do most of the work for you, although getting it to line up right may be difficult.  It's not a technique I'm going to try here, as yet, but I'll update when I do.


And here they are all together, in order from left to right, with righty bring unmodified.

Certainly in terms of speed simply scraping of the icon was fastest, but it has also left a finish I'm unhappy with.  The removal of the pad for 2 and 3 requires a spare pad to use as a replacement, which may not be available. Both methods require similar amounts of time to complete, and require a fair level of precision.

If I could get the cutting down of the pad precise I'd be keen on using method 2, but underlying that is the assumption that a cut down pad will fit perfectly in place of the one it is replacing, which isn't a certainty, although can be bodged to a degree.

Method 3 is tricky as it poses so much risk to the rest of the model, but could be the way to go if I want to keep the shoulder pad I'm removing (If I cut around it rather than destroy it), and with practice should give a much better finish.

Time to see what shoulder pads are selling for around the web I think.


1.5 Dremmel

Thanks to AxBeard in the comments for suggesting this. Using a tungstan carbide bit and a fairly low speed (or you soften the plastic with the heat from the friction and it all goes wrong) I was able to work the detail off with a fair degree of precision.

A quick scrape with a knife blade has tidied it up nicely and this feels much less risky to the rest of the model (and fingers) than going straight in with blade or file. A bit more practice I think you could get a very good level of finish quickly with this method.


  1. I found with black reach marines that judicious use of a dremmel made quick work of it with a decent finnish.

    1. Thanks for the thought. I've got a Dremmel, well, a knock off, and need to give it a proper try out on this sort of work. I'll see what kind of job it does. Need a bit more patience to stop melting the plastic though, but that was attacking bases which are made of different stuff. I think I'll be practising on sprues first.

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