Battlesuit Conversions

January 14, 2009 ·

January 15, 2009

How to make Tau Battlesuit conversions, courtesy of Warhammer Tau. Many people ask about my my Tau Battlesuit conversions, so I have decided to put together a quick and easy guide to follow with full descriptions and photos. You'll have plenty of unique Tau Battlesuits in your Tau army with a little effort.

First, you need a Tau Battlesuit kit, plus a few extras. I mostly buy my spare parts from where Tau parts don't appear to be in high demand...not the parts I need anyway.

Tau Battlesuits Conversion Parts
1 Tau Battlesuit kit
1 spare Tau Battlesuit flamer
1 Armour plate for the interior back door of a Tau tank.
2 Tau Firewarrior shoulder pads

Converting Tau Battlesuits Part 1: Extra Armour Torso
Tau Battlesuits look rather puny considering how badass they are, so I decided to bulk mine up a bit. Take the Tau flamer that comes with the Tau Battlesuit kit and the spare Tau flamer, then neatly cut the fuel tanks from them.

Next, take the interior armour plate from the Tau tank kit (it's not like you're gonna use it) and trim off a section of 6 small squares, 2 wide by 3 long. Trim it from the edge as 1 interior tank plate can armour 2 Tau Battlesuits, so don't waste them.

You then take the two Tau flamer tanks and glue them to the Battlesuit torso like in the picture above. Then the interior tank plate covers the left side of the chest and half of the left fuel tank's top. Now the Tau battlesuit looks as though it has extra armour on the front and venting.

Converting Tau Battlesuits Part 2: Extra Armour Legs
To give the Tau Battlesuits legs some movement and create a more dynamic pose, I removed the lower part of the right leg below the knee. I left the other leg alone so that it may provide stability to the model when it is glued together.

Be very careful when removing the lower part of the leg.As you can see, I've cut in a straight in down from the knee and across from the back of the thigh. I have then cut around the knee joint, rounding it off so I can reattach the lower leg where I want. The further back you position the lower leg, the more of the calf you will have to trim off so that it will fit.
Once you're happy with the positioning, glue the lower leg back onto the knee joint, then wait for it to dry completely before doing anything else.
Next, stick on the Tau Firewarrior shoulder pads as if they were kneed pads. The bent leg should be easy, but the straight leg is often more difficult because only the edges of the Tau Firewarrior shoulder pad make contact with the leg armour and lower shin.

Once the knee pads are completely dry, you can have a go at positioning the legs with the main body. I often use Blu-Tac to hold them in place, then clip the feet on to the ankles and keep moving the legs and feet about until I'm happy with the post. One bent leg and one straight leg provides a surprising number of pose options while maintaining the models stability.
Once you're happy with the pose, glue the legs in place, but leave the feet loose on the ankle joints. Once the legs are dry you can glue the model by its feet to the base. The ankles have been left flexible so you can ensure that both feet are glued flat to the base. Finally, once the feet are dry, carefully glue around the angle joints. Now the model is secured to the base, the ankles are strong and you've got a great pose with the body and legs to build on with the arms andhead once they're complete.

Converting Tau Battlesuits Part 3: Extra Armour Head
Converting the heads for my Tau Battlesuits is the trickiest part.

The Tau battlesuit parts you need for the conversion is the Tau Battlesuit head, the small Tau Battlesuit aerial, target lock and two halves of the burst cannon.

Next you begin by cutting off the burst cannon parts you need, which are the large cylinder halves, the sqaureish magazine ejectors at the sides and the small cylinder and barrell halves at the end.

Then take the target lock and very carefully cut through the mold line that runs halfway. Try your best to cut this straight, because you will then need to glue the front half of the target lock over the gap in the front of the Battlesuit head.

It's best to put a small ammount of greenstuff inside the front of the Battlesuit face as this gives something for the target lock front half to sit on top of as it dries. Note that the target lock front half only touches around the edges of the Battlesuit face, hence why the greenstuff needs to be there for it to rest on.

Once that is dry, trim the left stump off the side of the Tau Battlesuit head and cut off the edges of the right one until the stump is about half the size. You need to do this so that the Tau Battlesuit aerial will easily fit on later.
Take the parts you acquired from the burst cannons and get ready for some gluing.

You take the two large burst cannon cylinder halves and after trimming the one with the lump in to resemble the other half which is crescent shaped, glue them to the underside of the Tau Battlesuit head as show in the picture above. Both of them should be equal distance apart, just touching the back of the target lock front half while revealing a gap at the back of the head equal in width to the head itself.
These components are extremely fragile right now (because I'm too lazy to use green stuff to fill in the gaps, etc). So leave the rest of the Tau Battlesuit head alone until it is 100% dry.

Take the two squarish parts of the burst cannon and glue them either side of the target lock front, bridging the gap between the front of the Tau Battlesuit head and the large burst cannon cylinders at the sides. This does two things: 1) it looks cool. 2) it hides the quick and dirty conversion work.

But what about the gap at the back? Take one of the small cylinder with the half barrells attached from the burst cannon bits and trim the sides until it slots into the back of the head. Glue it in place, stick the small Tau Battlesuit aerial on to the trimmed down stump on the right hand side and you've got one finished Tau Battlesuit head.
The perfectionists among you may wish to fill in the gaps with green stuff or perfect the back of the head with plasticard, but once it's all painted, this conversion looks awesome. As always, if you want to do some more conversion work in customising your Tau Battlesuits, that's up to you.

Congratulations, you should have all the parts for some awesome Tau Battlesuits in front of you now. Just rememember not to glue the arms and head on until you've undercoated your Tau Battlesuits. Reaching certain parts with a paintbrush or spray can is often virtually impossible.

To see how I paint my Tau Battlesuits, check out my

Alternatively,if you want to do some more conversion work, here's how to make some badass burst cannons for your Tau Battlesuits:
Converting Tau Battlesuits Part 4: Super Burst Cannon
As I ended up using my burst cannon parts to convert my Tau Battlesuits, I needed a suitably awesome substitute for the parts. So I combined a spare Space Marine assault cannon from the Dark Angels Ravenwing accessory sprue with a Tau plasma rifle and the rear ammo pod from a Tau burst cannon.

The Tau plasma rifle was reversed, the fuel canisters trimmed off and the back of the rear pipe cut off. The front of the assault cannon was them removed from its mounting and glued onto the rear of the Tau plasma rifle with the lower cannon support attaching to the remaning part of the Tau plasma rifle rear pipe.

Once this was dry, I cut the barrell off the Tau plasma rifle and cut the ammo drum from the back of the Tau burst cannon, then after trimming it, glued it in place where the Tau plasma rifle barrell had been. The finishing touch was trimming the round button from the top of the Tau plasma rifle, cutting the underslung grenade launcher from the bottom of a Tau Gun Drone pulse carbine and gluing it on top to act as a targeter.


Joe said...
March 1, 2009 at 7:11 PM  

Looks funky! I love the ├╝ber burst cannon. I've also thrown a link to this blog onto my blogroll as it's frickin' cool!

Old Shatter Hands said...
May 23, 2009 at 8:52 PM  

Nice conversions! Are you a disciple of Shas'El Tael as well? I like how you've modifed the burst cannon and make your touches to the Tael pattern battlesuit head. Awesome blog too.

Adam Hunter said...
May 23, 2009 at 11:34 PM  

I saw the Tael design and took inspiration from it, then did things my own way :)

WantedAssassins said...
July 9, 2009 at 8:26 AM  

Nice man, can't wait till I get my broadside this saturday. boy am I going to have fun!

Kroxitau said...
December 9, 2009 at 7:33 PM  

Tael heads are pretty sweet. Like your work man, and the Battle reports too! I am interested to see when your "Painting Suits Guide" is up. One area where i do need a bit of help is the painting department.

Anonymous said...
January 3, 2010 at 11:19 AM  

wow thats some cool conversion
i might take some parts from an xv9 for mine

he looks like one of the decepticons from tf animated
that big one with the explody button fist

Timothy said...
March 12, 2010 at 12:34 AM  

Gah! Now I want to get back to my Tau... But my Imperial armor calls to me still.... Tau, tanks... GAH!

Anonymous said...
January 26, 2011 at 3:46 PM  

Hmmm.... I don't like it....


Anonymous said...
November 20, 2011 at 8:41 AM  


Nite Phire said...
January 18, 2012 at 11:12 AM  

Fantastic ideas, and so simple :D
Would I be able to request an e-mail with any more tips you have? I want to try copying your paint scheme as I'm very new to tau (your blog has helped convince me, with these great tutorials) The only thing I need is the instructions for painting the battle suit now, as they are what I struggle with most. This post is quite old, but I hope you will read this and post here/e-mail me :D thankyou!
'Imitation is the highest form of flattery'

Anonymous said...
March 21, 2013 at 2:16 PM  

Just found this today. Always wanted a battlesuit army but never liked the pose of the Standard plastic kit. Just went out and bought three! Thanks man

Robert Clark said...
April 3, 2013 at 12:02 AM  

Hey. Those are some great conversion ideas! Do you make your own Tau terrain (such as buildings and what not?) Im looking for a easy way to make awsome looking Tau buildings.

Robert Clark said...
April 3, 2013 at 12:05 AM  

I have to say those were some awsome conversions. I am thinking about making my own blog, I do alot of conversions and I too have a pretty large Tau army. (more mechs then anything but 2 hammer heads and 1 devilfish) and waiting on the new releases (got me the whole set) Im looking to make some tau terrain, and ideas or quick guides to making awsome tau terrain?

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