Another brick in the wall…

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2014 by krautscientist

Just a short – and belated – post for today, but one that is still very close to my heart: Thanks to the feedback of my fellow converters and kitbashers, I have been able to improve my recent model for the Doomwall. So here’s where we left off last time:

The Doomwall WIP (2)
First up, fellow hobbyist Moltar suggested adding an ammo feed to the “Not-Talon of Horus”, and he was totally right, of course. Good thing I still had an ammo feed from an old CSM heavy bolter lying around, which made this addition a very easy one! Here’s the result:

The Doomwall WIP (6)
The Doomwall WIP (5)
I also realised that an earlier, tacked-together incarnation of the model had sported a shaved down chaos knight pauldron above its head as an additional cowl:

Hammertime (9)
The original idea behind this was to make the head look more recessed, creating an even closer resemblance to the actual Mk 1 Terminator artwork:

Mk_01_concept
When I tidied up the conversion last week, this element just fell by the wayside at first, because it seemed like there was no space for the cowl. But after a bit of deliberation, I tried to incorporate it once more. Which ended up looking like this:

The Doomwall WIP (8)
I was already pretty pleased with the even more bulky, hulking look created by the cowl. But there was also a problem: The added element slightly changed the alignment of the shoulder pads, so it became more obvious that they were basically hollow if one looked at the model from straight above:

The Doomwall WIP (10)
Not the biggest problem in the world, certainly, but as Moltar very succinctly pointed out:

I like the idea, but hate the hollow holes. They would eat away at my soul every time I notice them.

And while this may sound slightly overdramatic, he was totally right of course: It’s little things like these that distinguish a fairly cool model from a great one, so I realised I had to address this problem — or feel utterly defeated every time I looked at the model from the wrong angle…

Fortunately enough, help arrived from the online community once again, with Obsidian Raven making an excellent point:

To fix the issue of his pauldrons appearing hollow from the top,why not use some well-sized plasticard Rod to add visible Struts to the interior of the pauldron, so that it seems like its deliberately raised off the shoulder as part of the armour design?

With this idea in mind, I dug around the old tool shed in order to find something that would help me. And lo and behold, I came across this:

The Doomwall WIP (11)
And, for some reason that probably hits at something severely wrong with my neuro-chemistry, I was immediately reminded of the support struts appearing in various pieces of Mk 1 artwork. So maybe plugging those holes in the shoulder pads would actually lead to a chance at making the armour look even more accurate?

So I cut off some short sections from the whole and glued them to the underside of the pauldrons. My hope is that, when painted silver, they will actually suggest the support structure underneath the pauldrons. Here’s what the result looks like:

The Doomwall WIP (15)

As you can see, the red parts do a pretty good job of filling the empty space. Plus they could reasonably pass for some hydraulic struts hidden underneath the armour.

Now in a perfect world, I would have had this idea before the topknot had been glued in place, so I would have had the chance to build something approximating the “spine” you can see running along the back of the armour in the piece of artwork above. But maybe it’s for the best I didn’t: I really like the topknot, and it’s an element I definitely wanted to include, yet it would probably have interfered with the armour spine.

Anyway, here’s the model as it looks like now:

The Doomwall WIP (13)
The Doomwall WIP (12)
The Doomwall WIP (14)
Of course it does look a little strange now, with those bright red parts visible on top. So here’s a greyscale image for you, to better appreciate the conversion:

The Doomwall WIP (16)
Granted, fussing over minuscule details like this might seem a bit overly obsessed. But then, precisely because the model doesn’t wear perfectly accurate Mk 1 armour, it’s all the more important to get enough of the key visual cues right to make it suitably believable. And, once again, I am indebted to the great feedback I’ve received from fellow hobbyists online!

The last thing left to sort out is the hammer: Several people have pointed out that the SW runes are slightly distracting on a Khornate model, and I already have a couple of small brass Khorne runes set aside to be glued to the sides of the weapon. And after that, it’s off to the painting table for the Doomwall, I suppose.

Until then, though, feel free to share any feedback, suggestions or questions you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Stop…Hammer Time!

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2014 by krautscientist

So, another small update today: Having converted that big Chaos Knight model, I thought I’d work on something a tad smaller in order to relax a bit. So I went back to a couple of models I had built earlier, making an addition here and there and touching them up a bit. Today, I’d like to show you two of those models that share quite a few characteristics: Both are Chaos Lords in Terminator armour, both share quite a few common bitz and both are wielding pretty huge hammers — hence the title of this post. So, let’s take a closer look:
First up, an Iron Warriors Warsmith I converted a rather long time ago (back when Warsmiths were still a thing and Warpsmiths did not yet exist). Here’s the old version of the model:

Iron Warriors Warsmith early WIP
This guy was based on the stock Chaos Lord in Terminator armour, obviously, with a couple of custom additions: My idea was to add a few touches that would make the Lord’s allegiance to the Iron Warriors obvious. Among those touches was a huge hammer, built by combining the staff that comes with the Chaos Lord kit and a hammer head from the Ogre Kingdom’s Ironbreakers: My idea was that the stone at the centre of the hammer head had been taken from some fortress razed by the Warsmith — maybe even from the Imperial Palace on Terra?

The other slightly eclectic choice was to add a Dark Eldar Talos claw to the model’s right arm: Though the sinister, augmetic look was rather nice, the hand did end up looking a bit too big…

Anyway, when I recently came across the model, I realised that both of those ideas had been pretty cool, but that I could do better, replacing those slightly eclectic elements with bitz that would keep the overall look but fit the model better. So here’s the touched up model for you:

Iron Warriors Warsmith WIP (1)
Iron Warriors Warsmith WIP (2)
Iron Warriors Warsmith WIP (3)
The Talos claw was replaced with a very cool power claw from the Raptor kit. It may be ever so slightly less sinister, but the proportions seem far more plausible now! The new hammer head came from the Dragon Ogres, and while the weapon still looks like its head could have been cut from the remains of a razed fortress, I think the weapon is now far more befitting a commander of the IV legion.

All in all, the model seems like a more seamless kitbash now, and I am rather happy with that — I should probably make some time for getting this chap painted, come to think of it…

The second model isn’t quite as old: Some of you might remember my attempt to build a model wearing armour inspired by Mk 1 Tactical Dreadnought Armour earlier this year. Here’s the model that came from that attempt:

Hammertime (7)
When we last saw this guy, quite a few parts of him were still provisionally tacked together with modelling putty. I also wasn’t perfectly sure about the weapon in his right hand.

Anyway, I am really happy to say that I have finally sorted out the last few rough patches on the model and can present the mostly finished conversion to you today. Take a look:

The Doomwall WIP (1)

The Doomwall WIP (2)
The Doomwall WIP (4)
I do of course realise that the armour does not perfectly represent Mk 1 armour, but I still think the sloped shoulder pads serve as a very strong callback to that particular design. In any case, I just wanted to make this armour look like an ancient, artificer crafted piece of equipment, a true relic from the earliest days of the Great Crusade.

Beyond the shoulder pads, I tried to incorporate several elements recalling older armour marks, such as the crest of horse hair atop the armour (a callback to the older Cataphractii artwork). I also built a weapon system resembling that seen on the Talon of Horus for the left hand — basically for the heck of it, to tell you the truth, but also because I like the idea that an immensely old and valuable suit of warplate such as this would feature equally impressive integrated weapons.

Oh, and you will have realised that the DA maul has been replaced with a Space Wolves thunder hammer: My reasoning behind this is that the stylised wolf head on the weapon would work equally well as a representation of the War Hounds, the original identity of the XII legion. So the hammer is an ancient relic of the legion as well, predating its name change and descent into madness.

I also worked on the model’s back quite a bit, using a shaved down old CSM backpack in order to make the armour’s back resemble the reactor section that can be seen on FW’s Cataphractii models:

The Doomwall WIP (3)
It has taken a very long time to finish this model, but I am really happy with the result: I imagine this guy to be Lord Captain Lorimar’s taciturn bodyguard, called “The Doomwall”. I actually already have quite a bit of backstory for this guy in the back of my head, but all in its good time. For now, I am more than happy with the hulking, implacable look I have managed to create on the model!
Here are both models next to each other:

Chaos Lords with Hammers
Even though both are based on the same model, I think I have managed to make them look reasonably different, don’t you think?

Anyway, working on these has been rather refreshing after working on that huge Knight model ;)

Feel free to let me know any feedback or suggestions you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Something big, pt. 2: A bit of progress and some additional musings

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2014 by krautscientist

Work on my Chaos Knight continues apace: I have finally started to build the model’s second arm, and have also added some additional bitz and bobs here and there. The Knight is now rapidly approaching completion, and I think it shows:

Chaos Knight WIP (59)

Chaos Knight WIP (43)

What I really like about the model right now is that, while it’s still clearly identifiable as a Knight Titan, the various chaotic details and added armour have managed to alter the model’s silhouette quite a bit. Let’s have a look at a couple of different angles:

Chaos Knight WIP (61)

Chaos Knight WIP (72)
Chaos Knight WIP (71)
As you can see in the pictures below, the braziers from the warshrine kit were added to the Knight’s back:

Chaos Knight WIP (70)
Chaos Knight WIP (68)
Chaos Knight WIP (67)
Chaos Knight WIP (66)
I would have loved to use these to replace (or complement) the Knight’s regular exhausts, but that would have rendered the top carapace plate impossible to take off, and I really wanted to keep it flexible (so one can take a closer look at Baron Harrowthorne in his cockpit and the engine block). So the only compromise left to me was to add them to the Knight’s back at an angle that wouldn’t interfere with the carapace. That said, I don’t actually see them as braziers so much, but rather as extra exhausts that are there to vent some heat/warp energy/whatever when the Knight goes into overdrive mode.

Chaos Knight WIP (64)
Chaos Knight WIP (63)
Chaos Knight WIP (62)
As you can see in the pictures, I also added some bitz to the right shoulder pad at last. While the left one already sports a huge icon of Khorne, I want to use a World Eaters decal on the right one:

Chaos Knight WIP (41)
Of course this means that whatever I wanted to add to the pad at this point must not interfere with the position of the decal, which complicated things a bit. I tacked some spikes in the area surrounding the space where the decal will be:

Chaos Knight WIP (36)
Since I rather liked the effect, the spikes have already been glued to the shoulder pad:

Chaos Knight WIP (71)
I may still add some additional detail on top of the decal at some point — a chain of dangling skull trophies, for example. However, I will only be able to sort this out once the model has been painted.

I also realised by sheer coincidence that the standard from the Ogre Mournfang Cavalry would actually make a pretty cool banner for the Knight:

Chaos Knight WIP (38)
Chaos Knight WIP (40)
That hole at the centre of the carapace certainly looks like it was intended for something like this!  One thing I will need to do, however, is to add some kind of chaos icon to the top of the banner in order to give it a more distinct visual footprint when seen from the front:

Chaos Knight WIP (73)
I am not sure whether I like this element enough to make it a permanent addition to the model, but it might be a fun optional bit, to be added whenever I feel like it? We’ll see…

All those small additions notwithstanding, I am very aware that there’s a danger of overcluttering the model which would make it lose visual coherency. Therefore, I will try to restrain myself and only add a couple of bitz to the weapon arms in order to tie them together with the rest of the model. And then it’s time to call this conversion finished and get this big boy painted, I guess – a prospect that fills me with equal parts anticipation and dread, to be honest…

One thing I realised is how this model – and the last two years in the hobby, really – have changed my outlook on conversion projects, especially when it comes to big models:

When I got back into the hobby in 2010, I was mostly used to working with regular, infantry sized models. A Terminator seemed huge to me back then, and I remember that converting and painting my first Dreadnought seemed like an enormous undertaking. Then came a Defiler, a Basilisk, a Heldrake, the Wargrinder, and, lastly, the Knight, and without even noticing it, I grew more and more comfortable working with bigger models.

Now when I recently picked up a Black Reach Dreadnought in an ebay auction, I realised that it took me about fifteen minutes of messing around with a couple of bitz to produce something that would have taken me ages to complete a couple of years ago:

Chaos Dread early WIP
Now this guy is very, very WIP at the moment, and none of this has been glued together yet. In fact, I am not even sure whether the completed Dread will end up looking like this or completely different. I am just showing it to you to illustrate my point: That things that used to feel like the absolute pinnacle of my hobby achievements can now be accomplished in a short break between working on bigger things — a pretty cool feeling, actually ;-)

So, I would be very interested in hearing any feedback on my Chaos Knight you might have! Just drop me a comment!

And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Chaos Knight WIP (60)
EDIT: David Grundy raised an excellent point in the comments about the “white space” above the Knight’s head, created by the too clean armour plate. I started working on that area right away, using some leftover parts from the warhshrine kit. Take a look:

Chaos Knight WIP (74)
Chaos Knight WIP (75)
Not only does the armour plate appear less empty and clean now, but the decoration also repeats a visual element that already appears on the model (on the shoulder pads, to be precise). Cheers for pointing this out, David! Hope you like the solution! ;)

Something big…

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2014 by krautscientist

Today, I have a pretty huge post for you that will deal with an equally big project of mine. But what is this about? Here’s a first glimpse at this mystery project:

Chaos Knight WIP (1)
Now who might this be…?

The answer is that I have finally begun working on my own Chaos Knight Titan! I realise that I am rather late to this particular party, especially since I purchased the kit back when it was released, but that gave me the opportunity to collect lots and lots of inspiration for building my own chaos knight — some of the model’s that inspired me were already pointed out in my last post on the Knight model, where I also talked at length about my love for the kit.

The most important influences were definitely Jeff Tibbett’s amazingly, almost obsessively detailed thread, Skrundle87’s mutated Daemon Knight and InsanePsychopath’s Chaos Knights, among others. Each of their Knights is amazing, but even more importantly: Their threads taught me that this is a model where “good enough” is not really an option — you have to give it your all with this big guy!

Hence the model shown above, I suppose: So yeah, that sour looking guy is indeed the pilot for my own Chaos Knight: One Knight Captain Harrowthorne, to be exact. In fact, you’d be amazed by how detailed his backstory is — it was what made me purchase this kit in the first place, to be honest, and after seeing so many hobbyists building pilots for their knights, I knew there was not easy way out of this for me.

Now the obvious thing to do would have been to build a completely mutated pilot fused to its machine, right? But in keeping with the rest of my CSM force, I decided that Baron Harrowthorne would remain surprisingly untainted in body (if not in spirit). While a more detailed background will be forthcoming at some point, let me just give you the gist of it:

Harrowthorne sided with the World Eaters during the Heresy because he felt he owed them a debt of honour for the liberation of his homeworld. That honourable decision, however, cost him dearly as he became a traitor, to his own world as well as to the Imperium at large. His rivals back at home took also this chance to wipe out his entire house and its ancestral holdings, putting themselves in power.
Beside himself with grief, Harrowthorne returned to his world to seek revenge (and presumably his own death). The World Eaters accompanied him and made sure he got the revenge part, at least. Afterwards, his world lay in ruins and everything that was important to him had been destroyed — except for his honour, ironically enough — being damned by your own sense of honour is a bit of a running theme for my World Eaters, in case you hadn’t noticed… Anyway, Harrowthorne was still seething with fury at an Imperium that held a thing like personal honour in so little regard, so he kept following the 4th assault company, fighting with them during the siege of Terra, his only wish to see the world burn.

The 4th assault company made him into a honorary member of the XIIth legion, to give him a new home and band of brothers, so to speak. Ever since, he has been hunting alongside the 4th: In his opinion, all servants of the Throne of Lies deserve to die…

Anyway, here’s a closer look at the Baron:

Chaos Knight WIP (6)
Chaos Knight WIP (5)
Chaos Knight WIP (4)
Chaos Knight WIP (3)
Even though this character was what originally inspired the whole project, I hadn’t even planned on building a pilot for my Chaos Knight in the first place: Granted, there are quite a few awesome pilot and cockpit conversions floating around the net, but I just couldn’t find an approach that I was confident I could reproduce. That changed when I found the threads of Spamus and Jeromgb, both of which contain awesome ideas for kitbashing a Knight interior. While the former makes excellent use of sentinel bitz to create a very “hands on” pilot, the latter makes the most of some Space Marine Landspeeder parts.

In the end, I decided that it would be awesome if a noble like Baron Harrowthorne were to actually sit on his Throne Mechanicum with an air of authority and majesty instead of looking like a pilot from a mecha animé. I was also particularly inspired by this particular Titan princeps. Plus I have this picture in the back of my head of Harrowthorne laying waste to an entire Imperial army, and then the last thing his opponents see is a transmission of his gaunt, utterly emotionless face when he tells them, in a deadly calm voice: “Pray to your false Emperor. Perhaps he may yet save you.” before cutting contact and obliterating them.

The model itself consists of half the cockpit section of a Space Marine Landspeeder, while the Baron was built using a mix of Cadian and Tempestus Scion bitz. The legs came from the kneeling pair of legs from the Eisenkern Stormtroopers which were perfect to achieve the sitting pose. The head is from one of the Forgeworld Legion Praetors.

Here’s the first, very early mockup I made of the Baron inside the cockpit:

Chaos Knight WIP (8)
Chaos Knight WIP (9)
But more about that particular part of the model later in this post…

While Harrowthorne himself may have been the catalyst for this whole project, the next step was to actually deal with the huge, walking deathmachine piloted by him. So let us take a closer look at the part you’re probably most interested in: the actual Knight model.

I started by assembling the general parts of the kit as per the instruction, already adding the first “chaotic” touches along the way:

Chaos Knight WIP (7)
After spending quite a bit of time with the Imperial Knight kit, here are my two most important observations:

1. The kit itself is extremely well planned and the instructions are extremely well done as well, making sure the kit goes together remarkably easily, especially for such a monster of a model!

2. However, due to both the various modifications I am planning and the planned way of painting this thing, working on the model can get a little frustraing, because I just cannot glue the bigger sub-assemblies together just yet, and a model of this size is nearly impossible to temporarily tack together with modeling putty: You sometimes have a minute at most, before the separate sub-assemblies start pulling themselves apart under the combined influence of gravity and the hateful, spiteful machine ghost that doubtlessly already sleeps withing the god machine…

Chaos Knight WIP (10)
Chaos Knight WIP (11)
As you can see, the top of the carapace now sports several trophy racks, which makes for a silhouette that is instantly recognisable as chaotic. At the same time, going for several smaller trophy poles like this seems more practical than adding that enormous chaos icon from the warshrine, as several people have done.

Speaking of the warshrine, many people have used it to great effect on their chaos knight conversions, although I’ve only ever seen the huge, stylised daemon face used either on top of the upper carapace or, in one noteable instance, as a decoration for the knight’s shoulder pad. I knew from the start that I wanted to use it as a breastplate, and while working on this part of the model, I realised that, adding the lower half of a standard from the Ogre Kingdom’s Ironbreakers creates something looking like a complete daemon face, if seen from the right angle:

Chaos Knight WIP (12)

I am seriously happy with that incidental idea at the moment!

Regarding the Knight’s head, I realise that the skull face plate seems like a bit of a no brainer for a Khornate Knight, but the longer I thought about it, the more it felt like the slightly more sinister of the two knightly faceplates might actually be a better choice for a disillusioned fallen hero of the Imperium like Baron Harrowthorne…

I also started adding various armour plates to the legs, using both stock parts from the Knight kit (with some added spiky bitz) as well as armour plates from different kits (Ogre gut plates and fiend armour plates, mostly):

Chaos Knight WIP (13)
The main issue here was the position of the thigh armour: The fiend armour plates I used fit the Knight legs beautifully…right up to the point were I added the leg pistons and attached the legs to the pelvis, which seriously messed with their arrangement. So I buckled up and shaved off quite a bit of the armour plates. They now fit much better, I think:

Chaos Knight WIP (14)
As you can see, I also cut off the lower part of the “crotch plate”, because I wanted the slightly chaotic decoration on the exchanged banner to be visible.

Then I began assembling the Knight’s chainsword arm. While this may be disappointing to some of you, I’ll definitely stick with the standard weaponry that comes with the kit because the combination of a cannon of some sort and a huge chainsword is such an iconic part of Knight Titans for me. That said, both arms will of course get decorations to make them look more chaotic. Oh, and let me also add that the construction of those arms is extremely clever, making them very poseable and easily attachable to the model without a drop of glue!

Chaos Knight WIP (15)
Afterwards, the next step was to add a couple of details, so I broke out the etched brass and spiky bitz. Here’s the Knight as it stands right now:

Chaos Knight WIP (19)

Chaos Knight WIP (20)
The most noticeable addition is the use of the etched brass symbols: A small Khorne rune for the face plate, a World Eaters legion badge for the heraldic tilting plate and a bigger Khornate symbol for the hatch leading to the cockpit:

Chaos Knight WIP (21)
I also worked on the left shoulder pad. Here’s what it looks like now:

Chaos Knight WIP (22)
So, with the Knight himself coming along rather nicely, I was free to take a closer look at the model’s hollow interior and tackle what has been the most fiddly part of this project so far: the actual cockpit.

Thanks to a bitz donation from fellow hobbyist Belphoebe that arrived earlier this week, I was finally able to start working on this part of the model. And while it felt like I was getting nowhere for several hours, I am now really happy with the result. Let us take a closer look and peel back the layers of the onion, so to speak:

Here’s the Knight’s torso once again:

Chaos Knight WIP (25)

Now let’s remove the top hatch:

Chaos Knight WIP (27)

Why look, it’s Baron Harrowthorne!

As you can see, the Baron is perfectly visible through the open hatch — just as planned!

Now let’s remove that carapace plate:

Chaos Knight WIP (28)

In front: Harrowthorne in his completely scratchbuilt cockpit. And in the back: The Knight’s engine block.

Now let me tell you one thing: The hollow interior of the Knight may seem huge at first glance, but if you’re endeavouring to add both a pilot and engine, you’ll find yourself running out of room very quickly! Figuring out where to put what was probably one of the most difficult things about this conversion!

Another look from the front:

Chaos Knight WIP (29)
As you can see, Harrowthorne fits in rather nicely — although it is a slightly tight fit

Now let’s take a closer look at the actual conversion work, warts and all:

Chaos Knight WIP (30)
The cockpit itself was mainly constructed from Land Raider parts: The floor is a shaved down Land Raider turret hatch, while the screens came from one of the inside panels from the same kit. The cockpit’s back wall was made from plasticard, and a couple of additional bitz were used to blend in the seams of the conversion.

The engine block is a cut down Land Raider engine. As you can see, the engine compartment is mostly hollow, except for a lonely support strut made from leftover sprue…

This all looks so nice and tidy now (at least for my usual, sloppy standard), but figuring out a configuration that worked almost drove me up the wall!

Here’s a look from a different perspective:

Chaos Knight WIP (31)
Chaos Knight WIP (32)
I’ve left the Baron himself removable for now, both in order to have an easier time painting him and to be able to take him out and glance lovingly at the model, every now and then ;) Here’s the cockpit without him:

Chaos Knight WIP (33)
A piece of sprue was glued to the floor to help position the Baron. Etched brass grating from the 40k basing set was used to detail the cockpit’s floor.

 

Now this part of the model was really a pain in the behind to get right, but having finished this also fills me with a real sense of achievement. I’ll gladly admit that I am standing on the shoulders of giants here, though: I’d never have been able to build this without taking inspiration from projects like Jeromgb’s and Spamus’s Knight conversions (which I linked further up in this thread) and Nicorex’ wonderful Black Templar Knight.

So, while I have liked the Knight model from the start, it’s now actually starting to feel like this could be a pretty awesome centrepiece model. Wish me luck! ;-)

Chaos Knight WIP (24)

One last thing I would like to share with you: Fellow Dakkanaut dantay_xv came up with an amazing idea for Barrow Harrowthorne’s background. To quote dantay himself:

The other idea I had, but again might not work would be bloody hand prints on the lower limbs and small totems or skulls at the feet of the knight like offerings or devotions

As the 4th company go to war, they walk by Harrowthornes Knight & touch a bloody hand to its armour in the hope of receiving Khorne’s blessing for a good hunt etc before going to battle.

Harrowthorne despises the men of the 4th Company for such acts of brutish superstition, but by their simple acts, his pride has been rekindled by regaining a small measure of the power he lost when honouring his debts to Angron and his World Eaters.

Like the Lord of War that the Baron is he, strides forth amongst his “charges” and reaps terror and discord on the weak and pitiful worshippers of the Corpse God.

However, the aloof-ness of the Baron, plus  the veneration which some of his men heap upon the Knight is beginning to grate on the Huntmasters nerves and some speculate that there will come a time when the 4th are called upon to go big game hunting before the Baron’s hubris becomes a threat to the Huntmasters’ rule.

 

I think this is an absolutely fantastic idea, and something that would perfectly fit my World Eaters! I may have to do one or two small adjustments in order to make the fluff fit my idea of Harrowthorne (there is no actual hubris to him, for instance, at least not when dealing with the legionaries of the 4th, and I also don’t see any emnity between him and Lord Captain Lorimar), but I’ll definitely adopt this overall concept into the “official” lore of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt :)

 

So yeah, so much for my rather obsessive work on the Chaos Knight so far. I would love to hear any feedback you might have! I have to give you fair warning here, though: I’ll only ever realistically build one of these beasts, so I will definitely take my sweet time with this! I cannot guarantee that this project will get finished quickly — so bear with me here, okay?

In any case, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Chaos Knight WIP (23)

 

‘Ere we go! A look at the new Ork release

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Orcs & Goblins with tags , , , , , , , on July 10, 2014 by krautscientist

One thing I believe most 40k/WFB hobbyists can happily agree on is that Orks are fun! There’s an anarchic feel to them as a faction that you’ve got to love. Coupled with their penchant for bashing in heads and engineering enormous, barely working death machines, this makes them one of the most entertaining and beloved factions in GW’s various universes. And there is always enough whackiness involved to make for a humorous undercurrent, allowing Ork players to field some pretty funny and strangely endearing models. Sure, there are those who miss the even more openly funny and absurd Orks of the yesteryear, but if you look closely, there’s still enough humour and whackiness to go around.

Ork release (1)
The same goes for this new Ork release that has now kept us entertained for the last month or so. Some are already venting their frustration with how drawn out this release has been, claiming they’re already well fed up with Orks. This can certainly serve as proof that GW just cannot seem to escape the ire of its fans and/or mortal enemies (sometimes I wonder whether both words can be used synonymously, not unlike Orks’ own use of the same word for friend and favourite enemy)…

Anyway, I, for one, belong to those hobbyists who have a huge soft spot for everything green-skinned, so I am more than happy with a meaty release like this. So let’s put on our shiniest Mek goggles and appraise this new release. It goes without saying that we will also be looking at some of the possible Konvershun Optionz in the process — after all, most Ork players are also avid converters and kitbashers, not unlike their green-skinned protegés, one might say…
Gorkanaut/Morkanaut

Ork release (1b)
No 40k release without a new superheavy these days, it seems, and the Orks get the Gorkanaut/Morkanaut kit to play around with. Regardless of which model variant you prefer, I think we can all agree that the kit gives us a suitably orky looking machine: It’s huge, it’s clunky to the point of absurdity and it’s got lots and lots of Dakka. What’s not to love, right?

I never really liked the Stompa kit, because its main body just seems too primitive for my taste. While the design may be totally appropriate from a fluff perspective, it always seemed like a bit of a waste to shell out such a huge amount of money for something that could be built just as effectively with a bit of creativity and panache. The Gorkanaut/Morkanaut kit is better in that regard because it’s just primitive enough to be believable in the background, but also just sophisticated enough to seem like an interesting enough model. I also like the fact that you get quite a few customisation options, such as a couple of freely placeable horns and spiky bitz, several pretty cool heads and just the kind of extra stuff that any Ork player worth his salt will be happy to have in the old bitzbox.

Among the possibilities for customisation presented by the kit is also the option of assembling the kit as a Morkanaut:

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For all intents and purposes, this seems to be the Mekboy version of the machine, draped in all kinds of arcane (and/or outrageous) “kustom teknology”:

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All in all, I have two substantial gripes with the Gorkanaut/Morkanaut kit: One, the transport bay seems slightly problematic, because it doesn’t really seem all that plausible. Take a look:

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There’s the lack of space, of course: Even if can only transport five models with the vehicle, it’s hard to see how even those would fit into that glove compartment. However, this is a problem shared by most, if not all, GW vehicles to some degree: If a Land Raider really needed to be big enough to fit in a squad of Terminator models, it would have to be huge (and probably cost a small fortune), so there is a certain need for abstraction at work here.
Here’s the thing, though: The Land Raider’s just big enough to be plausible, plus you can actually imagine how the Termies are transported using the vehicle. The Gorkanaut’s bowels, however, don’t look like they could actually transport much of anything, at least judging by the picture above. Not a huge problem, but a bit of a design oversight.

I also cannot help wondering how this guy actually manages to walk in the first place: Does it have treads on the soles of its “feet”? Do those legs extend as it moves, lifting the bulky main body clear of the floor? It’s very possible that GW’s designers actually found a perfect solution for this, but it isn’t visible from the pictures, and it makes the model ever so slightly less plausible than it should be.

Such nitpicks notwithstanding, I am still inclined to look on the Gorkanaut/Morkanaut kit favourably: It’s certainly a cool, orky vehicle that looks great in a line of advancing greenskins. And that’s good enough for me ;)

 

Flash Gitz

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Now in terms of bitz and customisation opportunities, these guys are definitely the best part of this release! In fact, GW’s approach seems to have been to take the kitbashing already inherent in most Ork armies and turn it up to eleven, providing hobbyists with the building blocks to create the most outrageous weapons known to Orkkind.

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Having the guns as mix and match constructions that allow for free customisation is a genius idea, again very much in keeping with both the Ork background as well as the average Ork player’s proclivities. Judging by some of the bizarre weapons created by the ‘Eavy Metal team, experimenting with all these bitz should be quite a lot of fun:

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If I do have one gripe with these weapons, it’s that they seem a bit too huge for their own good. Now I do of course realise that this was basically the whole point of the exercise, but some of the weapons are so big that they cover up most of the awesome Orks carrying them. Because the increased bulk of the weapons has also lead to more bulky Orks, very much on par with Ork nobz. What’s more, the Flash Gitz‘ bodies and heads are really cool. The heads alone may be some of the coolest Ork heads currently around:

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Fortunately enough, Jeff Vader’s amazing conversions here show that the weapons look even better if they are slightly shortened, cut back to a more plausible size. Plus you get a better look at the rest of the model as well, which is a real treat in this case!

In fact, what I possibly love the most about the guys are their somewhat pirate-y trappings, nicely fitting both their flamboyance as very rich greenskins and the overall Freebooterz element in the Ork background:

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These bitz mean that a whole, Freebooterz-themed force is now actually possible and fairly easy to kitbash!

All in all, a very cool kit! It may be a bit pricey, but considering the amount of bitz you get out of the deal, this seems like a pretty essential purchase for every self-respecting Waaaghboss: Even if you have not intention of running Flash Gitz in your army, this kit should provide you with some absolutely awesome bitz for your conversion and kitbashing needs.

 

Mek Gunz

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Now here’s one of the slightly divisive parts of the release! The new Mek Gunz kit provides enough part to construct either one of three weapons.  Pictured above is the Kustom Mega Kannon, but you can also elect to build a Traktor Kannon

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…a Smasha Gun

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…or, of course, the fabbled Bubblechukka (whatever that one does…):

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As you can see, all of the weapons are based on the same chassis, and all are suitably detailed and orky — so all’s well with the world, right?
Well, not quite: There seems to be quite a bit of criticism concerning the fact that these new cannons are not only quite a bit bigger than their older counterparts, but also quite a bit more expensive. Both is true, of course. But then, if you really don’t want to purchase this new kit, the good news is that it should really be easy enough for any enterprising kitbasher to come up with their own orky contraptions.

In any case, the kit itself seems well designed and versatile. I’ll also happily admit that the Grot krew is really the star of the show for me, even though some of the models seem to be slightly touched up pieces from the regular grot mob:

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I really love the guy with the cordless screwdriver! And the little chap with the mechanic’s case on the right would make for a pretty sweet Blood Bowl paramedic, come to think of it…

There’s also this very cool grot with a cable drum…

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…although the little spotter has to be my favourite, hands down. I can see so many possible uses for this little guy:

Ork release (13)Taking all of the different facts into consideration makes this kit a bit of a mixed bag: Seen on its own, it’s a nice, versatile kit that will give you one huge, orky gun of your choosing as well as a pile of bitz for later projects. If you already own a full set of the old weapons, however, it’s understandable why you would consider this a bit of a ripoff. So depending both on whether or not you’re already an Ork player as well as the size of your Ork collection, you might want to pass on this one — and, like I said, there’s always the option of kitbashing your own weapons at zero extra cost ;)

 

Meganobz

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Now there’s a kit that has been eagerly awaited for a while, seeing how Brian Nelson’s metal/FC Meganobz have been the official Meganob incarnation for more than a decade. And while the models, like all of Brian Nelson’s Orks, were lovely, both the price and restrictive material had hobbyists eagerly awaiting a modern incarnation of this unit type.

Now plastic Meganobz are here, and above all else, they are basically a slightly modernised plastic version of Brian Nelson’s original design, with the armour basically retaining most of its existing features:

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I have always loved the fact that, ever since some of its earliest incarnations, the mega armour has always seemed like the Orks’ crude attempts at reverse-engineering Tactical Dreadnought Armour (sticking on some additional dakka while they were at it). This holds true for the new incarnation if the armour as well, and the welded-together look of the armour makes it seem equal parts massive and improvised.

The kit comes with a nice selection of different weapons, heads and spiky bitz, giving you enough options to build a fairly individual set of Meganobz for your army:

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Oh, and let me just take this opportunity to confess that I simply love it when Ork kits contain some kind of circular saw weapons: I just love those!

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If you liked the earlier Meganobz, chances are you’ll like these as well, because the basic design is so similar. It’s also nice to finally have these available in multipart plastic, of course! I do have a couple of nitpicks with these models, that may be purely based on personal taste:

First up, it maby GW should have made them slightly bigger and put them on the Centurion bases. There’s no other reason for this wish than Rule of Cool, but come on: Wouldn’t that have been awesome? Then again, maybe the designers just didn’t want these guys to seem too overwhelming when compared to every other army’s heavy footsloggers?

There’s also the fact that the models are so very static. Again, this is just my personal taste speaking, but it would have been cool to have some slightly more dynamic parts, if only in order to be able to build your own, suitably impressive Waaaghboss from this kit. As it stands, you’ll be able to build three hulking, tough-as-nails Orks in massive armour. But neither of them will look particularly outstanding next to his buddies, unless you put in some serious conversion work or scratchbuilding in order to create something like Larkin’s fantastic Waaaghboss here.

Sure, there’s always Ghazghkull to lead your army, but it would have been nice to be able to build an equally impressive model in plastic!

Lastly, the biggest problem I see with this kit is that the Meganobz’ shoulders seem a bit wonky. In all fairness, it takes a while to realise this, but if you take a closer look, it seems like the arms are attached to the armour itself rather than to the Ork wearing it. The good news is that this should be really easy to adjust by adding some shoulder pads (or slightly realigning the existing ones), but it remains a bit of a headscratcher…

All in all, this will probably become one of the more popular kits simply due to the fact that it’s a less complicated and more versatile way of finally fielding Meganobz in bigger numbers. And it’s certainly a nice enough, if slightly conventional, kit with some minor quirks.

Oh, but we haven’t even discussed all the contents of the kit! For instance, there’s also a wonderful little Grot Oiler:

Ork release (27)That idea  with the squig just never gets old, don’t you think? This little guy serves as an assistant to a Mek, of course, since  the kit also comes with the parts necessary to build a Big Mek in mega armour…

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I really love that “tellyporta blasta”, because it’s the epitome of the totally outrageous technology used by the Orks (yet strangely enough, it also seems to echo some of the retro-futuristic touches you see in science fiction from the 50s and 60s). Anyway, it’s clunky and over the top and wonderful!
I am a bit torn about the “welding mask”, however: One the one hand, it’s such a nice touch. On the other hand, though, I prefer something with a little more identity for my important characters, so I would probably go for the second head option:

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Judging by the pictures in the latest issue of Warhammer:Visions, this last one also looks crazy awesome when combined with one of the Meganobz’ metal jaws!

Now, speaking of the Big Mek does of course make a nice segue to the characters and HQs that are part of this release. So what about them? Well, the release certainly caters to fans of Meks, for one. Let’s take a closer look:
Mek

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First up, there’s your bog standard Ork Mek, coming as a new clamshell character. Now the model certainly reads as a Mek at first glance and ticks all the boxes. It does seem a little uninspired to me, although that may just be a personal thing. The alternate weapon…erm tool is a nice touch, though:

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I am not really fond of the head, however, and would swap it out for this head, for instance, easily my favourite mek head ever:

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Apart from those concerns, what you see is what you get with this guy. A look at the sprue reveals the fact that this guy is modular enough and close enough to the rest of the ork kits in construction that it should be easy enough to further customise him:

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All in all, it’s certainly handy to have this model available in plastic, but you should also be able to kitbash a serviceable Mek for your army, if you are that way inclined. Nice but definitely non-essential.

 

Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun

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Yet another Mek character, yet this guy is interesting because he is a mostly accurate recreation of the model’s last incarnation. Take a look:

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And it really makes sense too: Quite a bit of thought must have gone into the design of a large model like this, so it seems sensible to “recycle” the weapon design in this case. It’s also interesting to note how the recreation of the original model seems almost perfect, with even an added touch here and there (the generator at the front of the weapon trailing warp fire is a nice touch, as is the foot of the unlucky grot already visibly turning into the same kind of ethereal energy:

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The one part of the model that, in my opinion, has taken a serious hit are the faces: They just seem more angular and comic book-like than those of the older model, especially the face of the Big Mek:

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Again, there’s an easy enough solution for this: Just swap in a different head (again, the plastic mek head I posted above seems an ideal choice, but then I really love that head, so yeah…).

Having a big and unwieldy piece like this available in – more forgiving – plastic form is certainly a nice bit of service for Ork players, whereas those who are still in the possession of the older model can just keep it without feeling they got the short end of the stick.

In any case, it’s interesting to see GW almost perfectly recreating an existing metal/FC model part for part. Both because it shows how plastic models are growing more and more detailed and sharp, and because it seems like the final piece of proof that GW will eventually endeavour to produce everything in plastic — and I am really all for that!

 

Pain Boy

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There’s one more plastic character, and one that isn’t a Mek! The Pain Boy is an interesting piece that most people will probably either love or hate.  The ‘urty Syringe is very much the elephant squig in the room here, instantly drawing the viewer’s attention and making for a rather striking silhouette. It’s a cool idea, admittedly, but it just seems a bit over the top to me. While the design of the gauntlet is pretty neat, I think it should have been just a bit smaller in order to make it look slightly less improbable.

The other defining trait of the model for me are the Pain Boy’s features, drawn into a particularly evil grin — certainly an expression you don’t see that often on Ork models! And while it did take me some time to get used  it, the design is surprisingly effective, the longer I look at it.

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One more thing that really became obvious to me while browsing through Warhammer: Visions, seeing the Pain Boy model in several situations, is that this guy’s obsession with his own gauntlet seems almost comical, especially when you see him in several pictures: Whatever’s going on around him, he just keeps glaring lovingly at that ‘urty syringe of his — now that is true dedication…

Again, the sprue reveals that the model can be customised to the heart’s content. So if you want to swap in a different head or a less ridiculous claw, you are free to do so:

Ork release (41)By the way, that Grot helper does seem a bit …unwholesome, doesn’t it?

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And are those his teeth, or is his mouth stapled shut? Jeez…

Anyway, whether or not you buy this guy will possibly depend on whether or not you can get behind that syringe hand. Once again, kitbashing a serviceable Pain Boy should be an easy enough task for those who don’t like this model.

 

Conversion,…uh, sorry: Kunvershon optionz

It often seems like Ork players are the most adventurous converters and kitbashers in our hobby,so I have very little doubt that parts of this release will start cropping up in new configurations and unexpected places sooner rather than later. I also won’t delude myself into thinking that I can come up with better conversion ideas for this stuff than dyed-in-the-wool Ork players. That said, I’ll still share some of my ideas and observations with you — feel free to add your own or call me out for a lack of fantasy ;)

Firstly, it’s quite obvious that conversions for Ork armies around the globe will be thoroughly energised by this released, because Ork  players obviously get a plethora of new toys. There’s really no telling in what extraordinary ways Ork players will use these bitz, also one interesting idea that occured to me is this: If someone were of a mind to, say, build a looted Imperial Knight, the bitz from both the Gorkanaut/Morkanaut and Mek Gunz might come in handy for some rather inspiring kitbashes!

Then there’s the fact that, beyond being used for their original function, the various bodies, heads and arms from the Flash Gitz kit should make for excellent conversion fodder when converting Ork Nobz and Waaaghbosses or trying to assemble a themed force of Freebooterz. Jeff Vader has already begun to assemble a gang of particularly ‘ard Orks (linked further up in this thread), and projects like these seem to be the ideal way of making the most of those beautiful Flash Gitz parts.

New conversion projects need not even remain limited to 40k Orks: I think some of the bitz and pieces would be wonderful additions to my orcish Blood Bowl team — especially some of the Grot assistants!

But what about non-orky armies? If used sparingly enough, Ork bitz can also be really helpful for Chaos Space Marine conversions, so I can easily see some of those Flasg Gitz weapon bitz becoming rather useful for hobbyists kitbashing weapons for Chaos Havocs, custom Obliterators or chaotic vehicles.

Some of the parts would also be perfect for converting mutants like the ones in this classic Adrian Smith illustration. Such mutants would make for great NPCs or opponents in games of INQ28, for one. Or they could also be used as Scavvies in games of Necromunda or Inquisimunda!

But there’s an even bigger opportunity here: As of the last redesign of the allies matrix, Chaos and Orks are battle brothers, so if somebody wanted to run an Ork detachment with a bit of a twist (if you’ll excuse the pun), converting them into mutants in order to represent a mutant uprising on an Imperial world or the denizens of some backwater daemon world in the Eye of Terror, that would be an extremely fluffy way of using the Ork rules for a chaos army. This goes for the whole Ork catalogue, of course, but I can instantly see those Flash Git bodies as perfect parts to build mutant overlords. Just remove the ork glyphs and too blatantly orky elements, add those brilliantly disturbing crypt ghoul heads, and you’re there (here’s a look at one of my mutant conversions for reference).

Whatever happens, I think we can rest easy in the knowledge that lots and lots of crazy kunvershonz using these new bitz will be coming our way sooner rather than later — Ork players, you’ve gotta love’em ;-)

 

So, what about the release in general? It probably won’t surprise you that I am inclined to call this a rather strong release. All of the kits do have their advantages, with only a couple of minor problems. Ork players have received a big box of new toys and should be happy — and if they’re not, they should start kitbashing better alternatives! Personally, the one thing I would have loved to see that didn’t make it was a plastic clamshell or multipart Waaaghboss — but alas, all we get is a touched-up Black Reach Waaaghboss released as a limited edition model. But you cannot win them all, of course, and this release certainly does a lot right.

So what’s your opinion? Do you like the new kits? Already fed up with all the Orks? Any kunvershon ideaz you’d like to share? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Orkheim Ultraz: Don’t feed the troll…

Posted in Blood Bowl, Conversions, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2014 by krautscientist

I certainly don’t want to seem self-absorbed, but there is one more piece of fallout, so to speak, from my recent birthday to deal with, and it’s brilliant enough that I wanted to share it with you:

You may remember that I built a pirate cheerleader for Annie’s new Blood Bowl team, the Piratz, a while back:

Piratz Cheerleader (3)
Well, it’s fair to say that she has now returned the favour, seriously upping the ante in the process. Here’s what I found when I unwrapped the birthday present I received from my colleagues earlier this week:

Fan Troll (12)
A huge troll that is seemingly the Orkheim Ultraz’ biggest fan! While I’ll admit I did have a hunch that Annie would be preparing some kind of model as a surprise, I was seriously blown away by this big guy! Seeing that huge troll in the colours of my Blood Bowl team was just an amazing surprise! Perfect!

It was only when Annie sent me some WIP pictures, however, that I realised how substantial her modifications to the base model (a Willy Miniatures’ Underworld Troll, by the way) had been. The conversion work involved, among other things, the cutting off and reattaching of fingers, limbs and what have you, and the accompanying sculpting work. Just take a look at these WIP images of the model:

Fan Troll (2)
Fan Troll (3)
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I have told you time and time again how much I hate having to make bigger conversions using metal models, so Annie’s handiness with a saw never fails to amaze me. It’s almost a little unfair that the conversion seems so seamless on the finished model, because it’s almost impossible to imagine how much work must have gone into it.

Speaking of which, let’s take a closer look at the finished troll, because there are so many great things about it: The flag (complete with “grim” glyph, no less) and hat in Orkheim Ultraz colours, for one:

Fan Troll (10)
Fan Troll (11)

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I also love how the model recalls the venerable GW metal stone trolls from my earlier years in the hobby! And there’s the fact that the troll seems to echo some of the characteristics of the pirate cheerleader pictured above, such as the flag and a barrel appearing as part of the model.

Regarding that last part, it goes without saying that no true fan of the Orkheim Ultraz would ever head to the stadium without a generous supply of fungus beer on their person:

Fan Troll (15)
Annie even ran a straw from the cask into the troll’s mouth, so he can have a drink even while cheering on the team (or bashing in a couple of skulls, if push comes to shove):

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What an awesome little touch! And, judging by the colour of the troll’s nose, the drink hasn’t failed to work its magics on the big guy — I think the fans of the opposing team may just be in for a world of hurt after the game…

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It should be obvious that I am extremely happy with this latest addition to my collection! What a wonderful birthday present! Let’s just hope that Annie will be able to put in some work regarding herown  Piratz team soon, because I would love to show you the finished models sooner rather than later!

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In closing, I can only offer another hearfelt “thank you!” for this amazing model! This guy will certainly be cheering the clumsy efforts of my team on from the sidelines during the next match — for all the good that might do ;-)

So yeah, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Orkheim Ultraz Teaser_lores

Post birthday ponderings & a blast from the past

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2014 by krautscientist

Happy Birthday
Last Saturday marked my 33rd birthday, and among other fleeting moments of introspection befitting such an occasion, the date made me realise that I’ve been in the business of messing around with little plastic men for about 20 years now — which seems pretty unreal, to tell you the truth. But instead of getting all sentimental and contemplative on you, let me take this opportunity to present you with a “blast from the past”, as it were, granting you a look at my very first army for Warhammer 40k — an army that, in many ways, started it all.

Before we do that, though, take a moment to marvel at the birthday image shown above which Annie sent me, totally making my day in the process: Not only did she put most of her Blood Bowl models to work on wishing me a happy birthday, but the picture also hints at some finished (or near finished) models for her new Piratz team — very awesome, and definitely something to look forward to! So, once again, thanks so much for the amazing surprise! :-)

 

So yeah, back to the past. Before we take a look at this venerable project of mine, let me give you a little background, okay?

It was October 1998, and a new edition of Warhammer 40k had just been released. 2nd edition had been straining to accomodate hobbyists growing armies for a while, but in the end the rather cumbersome ruleset that had originally been designed for skirmishes, above all else, finally gave out. 3rd edition, then, brought some thorough streamlining to the system, and even then, this turned to be a bit of a divisive direction.

Back then, though, I didn’t know anything about this: I had gotten into WFB a while earlier, raising my first tabletop army ever. But even then, I realised that 40k called out to me, maybe even more than WFB did: I had been in love with what little of the setting I had been able to grasp from the butchered German version of Space Crusade, and a weekend spent blazing through the wonderful books from the 2nd edition starter box sold me on the setting.

So the new edition arrived at a time where I was contemplating a closer look at the 40k universe anyway. I eagerly gobbled up all the information about this new version of 40k, discussed in detail on the pages of (German) WD 34. Possibly even more important than any rules changes was the giveaway miniature the issue came with: A brand new plastic Dark Eldar warrior, the first representative of a completely new faction for 40k, and also the model that would launch my very first 40k army, pictured below: The Kabal of the Black Sun.

Old Dark Eldar (1)
In all fairness, it’s a rather boring army in many ways, because, like so many other first armies, it was build on what I could afford to buy from my weekly allowance at the time. So the army was assembled piecemeal, whenever I could afford to drop a bit of pocket money into my growing collection of spiky, pointy eared Space pirates.

This clearly reflects in the somewhat lopsided army composition: Lots and lots of plastic warriors (because these were the easiest to get hold of and delivered quite a bit of modeling bang for the buck), a couple of metal models (bought one at a time, except for the squad of Wyches), a squad of jetbikes (a rather expensive combi-kit back then, so I had to save up in order to be able to buy it) and, lastly, a Raider (the biggest purchase in pure monetary terms, and also possibly the most disappointing: I really only bought this model because it seemed to be absolutely compulsory for running a Dark Eldar army, but I was never all that fond of it, and it shows in the shoddy paintjob).

Anyway, even then, this army wasn’t really collected as a fighting force supposed to win any games (which, fittingly, it didn’t), but rather as an ongoing attempt at creating something cool. And while pretty much all of the models are horribly outdated – especially when compared to their modern counterparts – and while I am fully conscious of the technical shortcomings of my painting (which was even worse back then, if you can believe it…), I still think there are quite a few things to be proud of in this army, so let us take a closer look at some of the squads and individual models:

First up, one of my warrior squads. This one was supposed to serve as some kind of honour squad for my Archon, if the situation demanded it:

Old Dark Eldar (15)
In hindsight, I do of course realise that the true Stars of the show in the 3rd edition release were the multipart plastic Space Marines — as evidenced by the fact that it took a whopping 15 years for the kit to be substantially redesigned, and even then, today’s Space Marines still follow the basic recipe laid down by the 1998 release. The Dark Eldar Kabalite warriors were merely the byproduct of this process, and while they did help to pave the way towards a future of wonderful plastic kits to come, their first incarnation was probably a bit lacklustre even back then: The sprue only held the bare minimun of parts, with only a single special weapon and not much extra bitz to speak of: If you wanted different special weapons or more interesting squad leaders, you had to buy additional (metal) models — or you had to get creative!

And that’s exactly why I’ll always be indebted to those venerable plastic Xenos: It was both because they looked so samey and because they were so easy to convert, that I discovered how immensely fun it was to kitbash and convert plastic miniatures — still my favourite hobby activity today!

I can say without any hyperbole that I really went to town on the unassuming Kabalite Warriors sprue, creating an endless stream of conversions from it: running Kabalite warriors, more impressive Sybarites — I even used it to build a squad of Mandraks, because there weren’t any official models available for them back then. I also discovered the joys of kitbashing! For instance, this guy is a conversion I was enormously proud of for a very long time:

Old Dark Eldar (16)
Not even brain surgery, really: I just cut off the blades from a couple of Dark Eldar weapons and glued them to an old Craftworld Eldar power fist (that old CC weapons sprue was the best!), creating a very sinister and Dark Eldar-ish bladed gauntlet:

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This seemed like such an enormously fiddly conversion back then, but it filled me with a nearly unprecedented sense of achievement. And it also taught me something else: That converting each and every model in a given army in order to make each model special was a very worthy endeavour indeed! So where I had mostly been content to assemble the models by the book for my Warriors of Chaos army, the Dark Eldar taught me to be more adventurous, to try and push the envelope on my hobby projects!

But even I arrived at a point where I had burned myself out on the plastic Dark Eldar warriors and started to look for other resources. My eyes fell on the – then brand new – Eldar Guardians, and so I built a huge squad of kitbashed, bigger and meaner Kabalite warriors:

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Again, none of these conversions are all that spectacular. But they surely felt that way back then — with detailed multipart plastic kits available for the first time!

Here’s the Sybarite for the squad of “Not Guardians”:

Old Dark Eldar (8)
Old Dark Eldar (7)
To tell you the truth, even in spite of all its obvious failings, I am still rather happy with the model’s slightly sinister elegance, even now.

Let me take this chance to address the paintjobs for a minute here: As you can see, I chose a very simple approach for my Dark Eldar: They were undercoated in black, then the armour plates were simply coated in gloss varnish, giving the models a slightly insectile look. The details were painted in gold and silver. Turquoise served as a spot colour (a habit I still keep up today ;-)) And while such a bare bones approach to painting might no longer fly today, I still think that this army made me realise that simple, striking colour schemes are the way to go. Sure, none of the models are anything to write home about from a painting perspective, but they still manage to look rather coherent and striking as a collection. At least until you get closer to them… Also take note of the classic 90s basing recipe: Goblin Green and green flock FTW! ;-)

But back to the models themselves: My experience with these plactic kits even made me slightly more adventurous when it came to filling up the lack of official Dark Eldar models with my own creations. For instance, I added a Dark Eldar bit to an old Dark Elf plastic Sorceress in order to create a subcommander for my Dark Eldar:

Old Dark Eldar (14)

And while we’re on the subject of army commanders: The – rather limited – collection of (metal) characters and specialists was, of course, the other thing that defined the Dark Eldar back then. These models created some much needed variety and also seemed so cool in those days. Not all of them have managed to age all that gracefully, but I suppose that’s a given. Anyway, let us take a closer look at that side of my army:

Old Dark Eldar (5)
Old Dark Eldar (6)
First up, my Archon. I used GW’s stock Archon model which is very much a product of its time, of course, with huge shoulder pads and an almost ridiculous headdress (and I am still not sure whether I like the flayed face…), but I think it’s also a pretty apt representation of the Dark Eldar’s essence: The model is spiky and undeniably evil, but it also has this sinister, slightly depraved elegance. It’s also important to remember that this particular niche didn’t exist in 40k back then (because the Slaaneshi Chaos Space Marine models were far too bulky and out there to truly register as elegant). Plus I do have a soft spot for this guy!

The lances glued to the model’s back were originally intended as a trophy rack. I would have added a new trophy for each defeated enemy. A neat concept, but, alas, it never came to that: I never defeated a single enemy, for one. And looking back now, it was probably for the best, because the quality of the bitz back then would probably have made the trophy rack look absolutely hideous!

There’s also this model, a Sybarite for the Kabalite warriors:

Old Dark Eldar (13)
And, to be honest with you, this may be one of my favourite tabletop models ever, and one that I still love. Sure, it looks to big and bulky when stood next to the regular Kabalite Warriors. Sure, the thickness of the various blades and the model’s claws harken back to a different period of casting. And yes, the pose is a bit clichéd. But it’s still an all-time favourite of mine, because it perfectly embodies what the Dark Eldar are about. It’s really a shame that this guy looks even bulkier when placed to the new (2010) Dark Eldar, because he would be an essential addition to any pointy eared army, otherwise. Oh yes, for the record: I am none to happy with the crappy blending on the claw ;-)

Of all the models in the old Dark Eldar catalogue, I think it’s the Haemonculi that have best managed to hold up by modern standards. In fact, if I were to start a Dark Eldar army today, I would seriously consider using them as “regular” Haemonculi, with the floating, multi-limbed new Haemonculi only used as elders or army commanders. Anyway, take a look:

Old Dark Eldar (2)
First up, the older version of Urien Rakarth. I am still reasonably happy with my paintjob — especially so since the model was actually repainted at one point to bring it more in line with my Kabal’s colour scheme.

And here’s his colleague, a regular Haemonculus (insofar as the term “regular” can be applied to these guys):

Old Dark Eldar (4)
This model was also pretty much the first instance of really stepping outside my comfort zone during painting. It may not look like much now, but painting the face by highlighting the prominent areas in ever more delicate layers of paint really showed me that there might be more to painting than just doing the bare minimum. Sure, I could probably do much better today, but it still started here.

Old Dark Eldar (3)

I actually own the third unique Haemonculus sculpt as well, although I haven’t painted the model yet. Perhaps I should, though, because these guys would probably work equally well in a radical INQ28 retinue…

All in all, the Haemonculi were one of the most original and new concepts about the Dark Eldar back when they were released, and it’s cool to see that these models still hold up — at least in my opinion.

Another model that I am still rather fond of is the older incarnation of Lelith Hesperax:

Old Dark Eldar (21)
Old Dark Eldar (19)
Old Dark Eldar (20)
Sure, there is much to be said for the much more restrained, modern version of the model, but I cannot help feeling fond of the sci-fi dominatrix look of the old model. Plus this model holds a special place in my heart for the challenge it presented painting-wise: Getting the contrast between the spiky armour and the softer, organic shapes of the unarmoured parts just so was quite a challenge for someone only used to painting bulky Chaos Warriors — and probably especially difficult for any lad still mired in the late afterpains of puberty ;-)

Alas, her accompanying retinue of Wyches has not fared quite as well:

Old Dark Eldar (22)
Again, the are just a little too 90s, with their unbelievably big hair and clunky, retro-futuristic musical performer design — especially when compared to their gorgeous modern incarnation. They are still good fun, of course, but in a slightly corny way. Still, these guys and girls make me scratch my head in wonder at how I managed to paint all those tiny pupils back then — this seems to be one of the things I have actually managed to unlearn since those simpler days…maybe it’s the onset of middle age?

 

We all know the rest of the original story, of course: The Dark Eldar went through a pretty rough patch, being kept at arms length by GW for a very long amount of time. It took until an – admittedly spectacular – relaunch in 2010 to finally update the army, and even though that relaunch was one of the factors getting me back into the hobby after a longer hiatus, it didn’t see me return to the army: Although I did try to continue where I had left off, I realised that my heart was no longer in it, despite the amazing new models. So I turned to the forces of chaos instead, my other great hobby love. And you know the rest (or can at least read up on it on this blog in case you don’t).

In the larger scheme of things, however, this army is still immensely important for my personal hobby life, not only because it was my first 40k army, but mostly because it managed to teach me so many important lessons that are still helpful today. Granted, many of my growing pains of my hobbyist are clearly evident in the models themselves. But the army was instrumental as a means of departing from the slavish adherence to the pretty pictures on the boxes in many ways, and for that alone, it marks an important step in my personal hobby history.

 

So yeah, the things you think about in the aftermath of your birthday, right? ;-)
Anyway, I hope this little blast from the past has been as enjoyable for you as collecting my thoughts on the matter has been for me! It goes without saying that I would love to hear any feedback you might have!

And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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