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A Space Marine Army In 21 Days

By Anthony Karl Erdelji


What has to be one of my most daunting (and insane) missions, I plan to complete an entire Black Templars Space Marine army in only twenty-one days! Don't ask me why I doing it, since I'm not sure myself. Its mainly for the challenge I guess. If all goes well I should have a 2000 point marine army completed in time for Gamex 2000 (September 1st, 2000). The following is my daily log. Cheer me on guys!


DAY 1: August 10, 2000: I purchased one Black Templars boxed army from Brookhurst Hobbies. I didn't get home until very late so no modeling work was done.

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DAY 2: This first step whenever you purchase a model kit from Games Workshop is to check if there are any parts missing. I got lucky and there was nothing missing..... sort of. Contrary to what is printed on the box, there are no Black Templars shoulder pads included. Instead there is a blister full of Black Templars backpacks. A quick call to GW confirmed that the printing on the box was a mistake. It should of said backpacks, not shoulder pads. I would of rather had the shoulder pads since there are not enough black cross decals for the shoulder pads to complete the army. I counted only 20 decals when I would need over 70! Fortunately, I was in luck. Griffon Games just came out with a set of black cross decals that would work perfectly. A quick order and my decals are on the way to me.

Now to get down to work. Before the night was through I managed to build the terminator and scout squads. There were the easiest models in the box. The scouts are all one piece models, and the terminators and snap together with almost no seam lines showing. It took me only 2 hours to get them all ready for primering.

DAY 3: Today I attempted to build all 15 marines from the box. I got about 90% done when I realized according to the box the combat squad is armed with chainswords and pistol and not bolters. A frantic search thru the box turn up neither of these. Recently, Games Workshop has been printing "contents may vary" on their boxes. Well its true.  Being quite upset and not sure what to do, I called it a night.

Day 4: Not much done today since I had a long day at my real job. I managed to scrounge up two chainswords and one regular sword for the combat squad. I would of rather had all of them with chainswords, but there was no time to order them and I needed to finish. I assemble the rest of the marines, gave them one extra coat of cement to strengthen the joints and remove the seam lines and set them aside to dry.

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Next was the Crusader land raider. I figured this would be a hardest model to assemble and I was right. The plastic components when together without a hitch, but not so for the metal bolter sponsons. The are a very poor design. Basically what I need to do is hold the ammo packs, clip, and bolters in place while gluing them all together and still make sure they all lined up even. It was very difficult and I'm not happy with the results. They should of cast them all in one piece connected to a central pillar. Something else I found interesting; the bolters have small slots on the sides indicating another part could be attached there. I think this might be a new generic twin bolter that we may see in upcoming model kits. I managed to get all except the hatches assembled before calling it a night.

Day 5: Got a lot done today. I started by finishing up the land raider, but before I was finished I ran into another snag. One of the hatches is armed with a metal mulit-melta. The weight of the gun is too much for the plastic hatch and the entire assembly  won't stay on the model. An easy way to fix this is to glue the hatch in place. However if you want the to be able to rotate the gun I came up with a simple counter-weight conversion. I drilled a hole up to the waist of the marine from the bottom. I then took half of a paper clip and glued one end into the hole and to the other end I glue a 2 ounce fishing sinker.

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The weight of the sinker is enough to keep the hatch in place. However if you plan on detailing the interior of the model you may want to find a more attractive weight since it is visible from the inside. If your not painting the interior, don't worry about it.

Today I also completely assembled the two rhinos and the whirlwind tank. I also assembled all six bikes except the riders and finished half of the command squad. I was hoping to get everything done and ready for primering by Wednesday. It looks like I'm ahead of schedule and should be ready to prime Tuesday, maybe Monday evening!

Day 6: I got every model assembled. I also had enough time today to get the primering done. To be on the safe side I used my airbrush to prime all the model instead of the typical spray primer. This would allow me to get primer into all the nooks and crannies without having to worry about spray primer crazing the plastic. I couldn't find a decent black acrylic primer so I used an enamel primer instead. All went well except for the land raider, the whirlwind and one of the rhinos. Apparently I sprayed these models from too great a distance. The primer dried before hitting the models and I wound up with a coat of black dust on the models. The dust was easily remove with a toothbrush and some soap and water, but I will have to wait until tomorrow to primer them again. The rest of the models were left to cure overnight.

Day 7: Everything is primed now and I'm ready to start painting. I'm going to paint the models in groups of a dozen. This way I won't have too many model cluttering up my work desk. I'm starting with a drybrush of Coat d' arms dark gray, then a light brushing of mid gray. I started painting the shoulder pads when it hit me that the black and white color scheme of the Black Templars is very boring! I spent several hours contemplating a different color scheme when I decided to go with violet for the shoulder pads and maybe for parts of the weapons, and bone color for the chest eagles. I'm not 100% sure I like this scheme, but I don't have the time to think about it.

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Day8: Well after a quick poll, it turns out that everyone preferred the white shoulder pads instead of the violet. Being one not to go against the masses, its back to white. It also hit me why I didn't like the black and white scheme originally. My bone color chest eagle was out of place. It simply did not work with the rest of the color scheme. By painting the eagle and any skulls white, it tied the figure together better. So I finally decided on a paint scheme (I hope) and its time to really get painting. I managed to paint up one of the rhinos, one terminator, and a handful of marines. They are all done except the bases and decals. I also half-finished the Emperors champion. The characters are going to slow me down since they need more work than and regular marines, but I think I can stick to my schedule. By the end of this week I hope to have at least half of the army fully painted.

Day 9: I finished the bases for the first batch of models. I went with a Coat d'arms Brushscape Grass Green. The paint is much more opaque they my usual paint-sand mixture I use for bases. This stuff need only a quick wash or drybrush and your ready to go. I went with the green instead of my usual brown earth color since the green contrasts with all the black and white much better. I'll get some pics up eventually.

I got the second batch of minis about half done and hope to complete them up Saturday. Paint, paint paint!

Day 10: The second batch of minis are done The next batch will be the Land Raider and the bikes. Hopefully they'll be done by Monday. To make sure everything is clear here is my current painting scheme. All paints are Coat d'arms unless otherwise stated:

ARTICLE BASECOAT SHADE 1st HIGHLIGHT 2nd HIGHLIGHT
Armor Black None Dark Gray Mid Gray
Shoulders, skulls, etc White (Several coats) Dark Gray None None
Metal Bits Gun Metal Ral Partha Black Ink Enchanted Silver None
Eyes Vallejo Flat Red None Flame Orange None
Base Brushscape Grass Green FW Sap Green Ink None None

As you can see, most of the color are either highlight OR shade, but not both. This is partially due to the necessary speed I need to paint them, but also there is no need to shade the black or highlight the white. Those two colors cover 90% of all the minis. Below is a pic of a few of the completed minis, minus the bolters and decals. Sorry for the bad lighting.

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Day 11: No major news today. Still painting.

Day 12: Eureka! I had a good idea today. The tedious part of this project is painting white over black. It takes about 10 coats to fully cover the black. It came to me today that I might be able to paint the black a different, intermediate color first, then paint  the white. I tried Coat d'arms Linen which is sort of a light khaki or a dark ivory. One coat of Linen and only two coats of white and my results were better than with 10 coats of straight white. This will speed up the entire project greatly and I won't get so bored just painting white all day.

Day 13: I finished all the bikes today and most of the land raider. I also started on the scouts. I'm starting to fall a bit behind schedule. I was hoping to have everything painted by the end of this week so I could have all of next week to attached the bolters, decals and insignias. Now I'm not sure If I will. My new goal is to have all but most of the characters done by Saturday.

Day 14: I had a long day at work an unfortunately I did not get much work done today. However I did get my Griffon Games decals in the mail today. Thanks Jay!

Day 15: The land raider and the scouts are done. I also almost finished the medic, and started on the techpriest. I'm going to be somewhat busy at work for the next few days and I'm not sure how mush painting I'll get done.

Day 16: I finished the medic, almost finished the techpriest, and started on the final batch of minis. Pretty good considering I only had a few hours to paint today.

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Day 17: I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel! Today I finished the techpriest and most of the final batch of marines. All that is left to paint is the commander, standard bearer, and one lonely marine that was hiding behind some paint bottles on my desk. I also got the decals applied to the terminator squad so they are completely done. I also primered the marine's bolters and should have them attached tomorrow. Things are looking good.

Day 18: I spent most of the day applying decals to the models. I also painted and attached the bolters to the marines. I am officially done with over half the army! Huzzah! I hate to jinx myself, but I think I may be done by tomorrow. I still have to paint the commander and standard bearer and apply decals to the other half of the army.

Day 19: Well so much for finishing today. I spent the day applying decals and finished most of the army. I seriously hope to have everything done by tomorrow. I still need to finish painting one marine and the commander, and applying decals to just a handful of other models.

Day 20: All done! 

Final Thoughts

Well there you have it. An army ready to battle on any field. While it may not be up to my regular standards of painting I feel that they are painted decently, and the are defiantly better than an unpainted one!

Now the question arises why did I do this project when I don't even play Warhammer 40k. For the simple reason to see if it can be done. I see many (make that MANY) unpainted armies in games and I wanted to show that with a little effort and a little time you can have a fully painted force that is more than just painted, but painted to a fair quality. Some may say that this was a simple army to paint since it was almost all black and needed almost no shading. That is true to a point. An army of another color may have taken a bit more time, but not as much as you might think. If I were to repeat the same project with Blood Angels the only additional steps would be to basecoat with Coat d'arms Angel Red (easy if you own an airbrush) and to shade the models with a red ink wash. I also could of used one of the new Coat' d'arms colored spray primers which would speed up the project even more. Its also important to note that I did not exclusively work on this project eight hours a day for twenty days. When not at my real job I worked an average of four hours a day on this project, more or less depending on my schedule. I also was painting other figures at the same time and I had to get in a few hours of Diablo 2 whenever I got the chance! If I did noting else but paint these guys I could of finished in half the time.

The point is that I highly recommend sitting down to paint your armies before playing with them. Painting is the most enjoyable part of this hobby and there is nothing like the ooohhh's and ahhh's you get when you bring out your fully painted army. So why are you still reading this? Start painting!