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Painting drop pods fast...ish

Drop pods might not be a concept unique to space marines, but dear god is the Astartes take iconic. I imprinted on them as a teenager, but still: I've always loved their design, was overjoyed when we got a plastic kit for them, and fully gutted when primaris marines came along and weren't allowed to use them. Drop pods are such a key feature of how marines assault a planet that some previous editions (prior to us having an actual kit) let you deploy all your infantry via deep strike, representing a drop pod assault. So cool.

Imagine my delight, then, when it was announced we were allowed to use them again.* Just one problem: I'd given both my drop pods to Jeff in 8th edition so he could use them for his firstborn Blood Angels.

Sadly for Jeff he's pretty much stopped using his marines, caught between preferring the proportions of the new sculpts and the play style of the older units. Being the lovely man he is, he gave my drop pods right back to me. Sure, they were red now, but that's what rattle cans are for.

Honestly mate I can't thank you enough. SHOOT MY WEE BLUE LADS RIGHT AT A PLANET.

Now anyone who's ever painted a drop pod will tell you the same thing: they have a shitload of surface area, and will take a bloody long time to paint. They're right. There's no getting around it.

But there are some basic things you can do to make your life easier.

Thing the first: spray paint
Or an airbrush, I guess, but this really is peak rattle can territory. The pods were primed with Chaos Black spray, then the interiors were roughly drybrushed with leadbelcher (well actually these two were drybrushed with boltgun metal, because they were purchased a while ago).

With the messy stage of the interior done, close the hatches and spray the whole thing with your space marine chapter colour of choice. I plumped for Macragge Blue. If the basecoat you need isn't in a GW can, and you don't want to use an airbrush, I heartily recommend the giant spray range offered by Colour Forge sprays.

Thing the second: drop pods are basically scenery, so skip the detail
Normally my marines get a seven stage blue, with recess shades and chipping and three highlight stages. For a kit this size, that can get straight in the bin. I drybrushed Calgar Blue then Fenrisian Grey over all the outside with a big honking brush for maximum speed. If you mess up, you can drybrush some Macragge Blue back over the top.

The shapes on the drop pod are so blocky that a recess shade doesn't make much difference from 12" away; I did do a bit but you could hardly tell, so I stopped.

Thing the third: sponge for speed
Brushes leave brush marks and need multiple layers. If you've got a big flat area on a miniature that's basically terrain, a sponge will dump a whole assload of paint on your miniature for extremely quick coverage. You'd flood the texture on a finely detailed infantryman, but it works well here. For the white panels I sponged Corax White over the bulk of the area and then did a few thinned layers with a brush to tidy up and get all the way back to the edges of the panels. Waaay faster than having to mask it all for airbrushing.

The hazard stripes were painted by getting a flat coat of Averland Sunset down, then using masking tape to give me evenly sized lines, then sponging matte black paint over the yellow. This gives a pre-weathered, slightly worn appearance to the black paint and was a lot faster than doing it by hand.

After you've done the hazard stripes, you can go back and add metal paint into the holes to reintroduce some definition, but that's pretty optional.

Thing the fourth: finishing touches
After those broad steps I went in and did the little touches, painting metals over the engine and other greebling, adding highlights and shading to the white, a spot of both drybrushed and brushed highlights on the metal (i.e. most of the highlights come from the quick drybrush, reducing the number of brushed highlights you need), and getting the blue down on the floor. I didn't worry much about the detail, but I did at least go over any cabling with Black Templar Contrast Paint.

Closing thoughts
I f---ing love these things, even though they're just tabletop standard (I barely bothered doing anything to the underside, and the pods look decidedly unfinished when the ramps are closed). At 70 points a go they're pretty steep, particularly in an edition where you can walk on from any board edge for free in turn 3, but I don't care.


...Now to get back to painting these gorgeous Leviathan sculpts. And lots of terrain. And an Empire steam tank for the Musket Bastards campaign.

*In theory the joy of a tabletop game, as opposed to a pre-programmed video game, is that you don't necessarily need the authors' permission to do whatever the hell you like. But in reality, I tend to build armies in line with the rules so that I don't have to worry about negotiating my way through a pickup game, and besides, several people in my gaming group prefer to keep house rules to a minimum.


  1. The Firstborn marines relinquished the access codes to the drop pod bay after the Primaris had provided them with an extra wound and stopped claiming to be handier with a chainsword.
    The rituals of humility observed, the chapters chaplains and techpriests oversaw a rite to transfer the codes between Terminator Captains, who were already apparently cofraternising.

  2. Great work for a "fast" paint job, particularly since past you painted the inside.

    Now if only there were primaris scouts, tacticals, assault, and devestators so we could just get on with things.

    1. Thanks mate! Yeah I think painting the pod as a sealed mini would greatly reduce their charm on the tabletop, so I'm pleased to have done it this way.

      Having a primaris tactical/assault would be cool, although I will reluctantly concede that having one heavy weapon and one special weapon in a squad doesn't make a huge difference to the game but does increase faff. It does add pleasing variety, however. And having jump packs on assault intercessors might make them viably useful, so I'm here for that.

      If only the design of the desolation squad wasn't so silly I'd settle for that as an acceptable alternative to devastators, even if I'd miss the variety of weapons.

      Short response: yes, I'd like that too. Particularly scouts that don't look like Wayne Rooney having a hernia.

    2. Yeah 8th/9th/10th does not have much use for mixed weapon squads, but they are fluffy and cool, which is really what modeling is all about. (particularly for me because I seem to only get a couple games per edition at best).

      New scouts have been rumored and assault marines have been rumored... only a few months at most until we find out.

    3. Ooof, a couple of games per edition is slim pickings. Makes me grateful to have as many opportunities to game as I do.

      But yeah, it would be nice to see both scouts and assault marines; here's hoping!


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