Archive for August, 2012

Roll call for Chaos: Champions & Icons

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2012 by krautscientist

I had originally planned to kick off this series as a huge chaos extravaganza in celebration of the new Chaos Codex’s imminent release. But then, GW decided to pull a rather big switcheroo and push back the new Chaos Space Marines in favour of a Daemon release. But we here at “Eternal Hunt” won’t let any scheduling shenanigans get in our way, will we? So while there may still be some time left until the new book hits, let’s have a “Roll Call for Chaos” to fill the time. Huzzah!

As you all know, I got back into the hobby in late 2010 and started work on the current version of my World Eaters at the beginning of 2011. I did however “salvage” some older models from my collection, if only for the reason that, being a rather slow painter, I needed them to swell the 4th assault company’s ranks. So this series will deal with some of the old and some of the new. In all fairness, you will already have seen some of the models already posted on this blog. However, the new photos are probably of a better quality, at least.

So for starters, let us take a look at the Skull Champions for my Berzerkers and the icons of glory their squads are carrying into battle.

The first two models I would like to show you are true classics: I bought these when I first started working on a small World Eaters force some time during the late 90s. This was soon after the plastic Khorne Berzerker kit had been released, and I tried to get hold of some of the older metal models to serve as champions. So I got these guys:

Two of the classic metal World Eaters champions released during the mid-90s. They are wielding standard chain weapons (though their size make them look like they could be chainaxe or chainsword of Khorne, respectively). I still like the sculpts a lot, even they tend to look a little two-dimensional when seen from the side.
I also painted these over a decade ago, so they look quite a bit rougher than my newer models if you take a closer look.

Anyway, they served as champions until I took my hobby hiatus during most of the 2000s. Then, when I got back to working on a World Eaters army, I realised the usefulness of Skull Champions wielding power fists, so I set out to build some new models:

Skull Champion Memnar here was built with parts from the regular Berzerker kit and some CSM bits. I added a torso with a chain tabard from the chaos vehicle sprue and a trophy pole, however, to make him easily identifiable as a squad leader. His helmet was spliced together from that of a WFB Chaos Warrior and the regular Khornate “bunny ears”.

Skull Champion Bruul follows the same basic recipe, although I went for a bare head from the Chaos Terminator Lord kit this time. His power fist was converted from that of a loyal Terminator, and I added a spike and a Chaos Marauder Buckler on the back in order to make it look a little more interesting:

These guys look a little more modern, and they added some much needed oomph to my Berzerkers unit during 5th edition. They were kind of useful to have in combat with vehicles and monstrous creatures. However, maybe I’ll have to build yet another set of models once the new rules are out. Let’s wait and see…

Then there’s the icons. I am a great fan of having icon bearers in my army, even in those cases where they are not actually necessary in a squad. I just think it adds some nice character to the army, and I also try to never repeat an icon design across the entire army.

So it was clear that my Berzerkers would also get some icon bearers, even though their perks are “built-in” and don’t require a special model. First up is another vintage metal World Eater from the mid-90s. I especially like this model (even though he’s even more two-dimensional than his buddies above). Even though I’ve owned this model for almost twenty years, I only painted him last year, so he holds up rather well in comparison with my newer models.

The Khorne Berzerkers were actually the only unit type to get a dedicated standard bearer back then. All the other standards used the same metal Chaos Space Marine, with just the actual icon on top of the pole god-specific and exchangeable. The Khorne icon also manages to look rather threatening, like it could actually be used as a weapon.

It’s also interesting to note how those three old metal Khorne Berzerkers share between them pretty much all of the visual elements that make up the late 90s Khorne Berzerker plastic kit — take a closer look, and you’ll recognise most of the details!

So it was clear that I had to built another icon bearer for my second squad of berzerkers. This time, I went for a mix of the old and the new:

The model was built by mixing berzerker parts with the dedicated Khorne bits from the regular Chaos Space Marines. The banner pole comes from some OOP WFB  plastic Warriors of Chaos, and the icon itself is a true classic from the old metal Bloodletters of Khorne. I like how my two icon bearers are clearly distinguishable while sharing a similar overall look.

And finally, yet another classic:

Even though I am not a great fan of actually using Kharn in game (I prefer my own characters, even if they are just using standard rules), I really love the model, even after all these years. My Kharn was painted almost 15 years ago, so he looks pretty rough in places, which puts me in a bit of a fix: I’d like to paint him again, but I won’t strip the paint from this particular model for nostalgia reasons (I can still remember the night when, coming home semi-drunk from a party, I struggled to get this guy’s backpack painted). On the other hand, I definitely won’t pay silly money for a new Finecast Kharn just for the privilege of painting him again. Maybe there’ll be a new version released soon?

The only touchup I did was to go back and add a little lighting effect to his Plasma pistol. It’s a little thing, but it definitely adds some pop to the model:

And that concludes our little tour of my World Eaters’ middle management. Although I have one or two more Skull Champions, they haven’t been painted yet. Next up in our Roll Call for Chaos: the squads commanded by these guys.

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


Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2012 by krautscientist

Don’t worry, the title may be somewhat misleading: I am not actually going to begin yet another army and start playing Space Wolves.

I did however paint a single Space Wolf. I even went and entered him into a competition — can you believe that? I am quite aware that my painting is not going to win me any Golden Demons any time soon, but I still went ahead with it. So what happened?

Everything started with the Tenth ToS Painting/Converting Contest over at Throne of Skulls, the friendly community for the discerning bloodthirsty madman. My fellow slaughterers in the service of Khorne had gotten it into their head to do a competition about loyal Marines that had fallen to the Blood God. In the words of the original call for participants:

The competition will be for a single model, in the 40k setting. The theme for this model is a Loyalist Space Marine that has been corrupted by Khorne, and is in the middle of his transition to a full-fledged Chaos Marine of Khorne.

I should make it clear that the point of this contest is NOT to paint up a World Eater. The point is for you to use your imagination to depict how a Space Marine of a Loyalist Chapter would be seduced by Khorne, and what his specific transformation would look like. You should take into account the themes and customs of the Chapter you choose. After all, an Ultramarine would not go down the path to Khorne the same way a Space Wolf would.

(The original thread’s here, in case you are interested.)

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t all that thrilled initially. Why convert a loyal Marine who has started worshipping Khorne if you can have a World Eater in the first place? But then, I couldn’t quite get the competition out of my head, so I took a few bits and did an initial mockup of my – tentative – submission. This is what I came up with:

As you can see, I chose a Space Wolf. Certainly not the most creative idea, to be sure, but I liked the idea of one of the sons of Russ falling to his wild and bloodthirsty side – and, by extension, to Khorne – during battle. I also wanted him to wield a daemonweapon that he had wrestled from the hands of a World Eater and used to slay his opponent , thereby sealing his own fate as well.

You can already see most of that in my rough mockup above: the fallen World Eater, the Space Wolf towering above his fallen foe. But it’s obvious that I still had a long way to go if I wanted to make this look good. I also had very few actual Space Wolves bits when I built this, so I had to improvise.

So the next step was to tidy up the conversion: I replaced the puny Chaos Marauder sword with a true daemonsword of Khorne, of course. I also added some Space Wolves heraldry to the model (actually Middenheim wolf medallions, but oh well…). And I completed the base, using lots of leftover berzerker bits and my beloved cork.

Here’s the finished build on my desktop of doom:

And the finished WIP pics I subdmitted to Throne of Skulls:

Here’s some detail shots of the base. As you can see, a couple of those parts are in a pretty rough condition. I was fairly certain that I would be able to salvage them through my paintjob, though.

I wanted the World Eater to look like the Wolf had really torn through his armour, so I hollowed out a Space Marine torso front and used a disemboweled torso that came with the WFB Crypt Ghoul kit to represent the traitor legionnaire’s innards.

Then I sat down and started painting the model. This was quite interesting, not only since I was doing this piece for a contest, but also due to the fact that I had never painted a Space Wolf in my life. Here’s a step by step:

First came the base colours:

Not all that impressing, huh?

Then the washes:

Better already!

I did the details and highlights next:

I really played loose with the pack markings and overall Space Wolves’ heraldry, since I am not really into their background. I only tried to make it look reasonably convincing.

I also tried to paint some veins on the model’s bare arm, making it look like the corruption was slowly spreading out from the hand holding the sword. Unfortunately, the effect isn’t all that notable on the finished model, but it’s the thought that counts…

Here’s a closeup:

Almost there, but still much too clean for a fallen wolf! And still lacking a base. Both was quite easily remedied, however:

The fact that I actually broke out a different background for those pictures should tell you that the model was pretty much done at this stage. I added some blood to the models face and torso and – equally important – to the fallen World Eater on the base. While it looked alright, I wanted to add some Tamiya Clear Red to make the blood look even more believable, so that’s what I did.

Here’s the finished model (and the pictures I submitted to ToS):

A detail shot of the daemonsword (painted according to my usual daemon weapon recipe)…

…and of its unfortunate former “master”:

And that was my contribution to the contest. I guess I managed to capture the subject reasonably well, although this model really showed me that I hate painting loyal Marines: All that line highlighting on their armour drives me crazy (and, cosequently, the highlights on the model’s armour aren’t that well executed…). Chaos Marines are far more forgiving to paint with all that additional trim for extra definition.

I also should have done more with the concept of dark veins spreading out from the hand holding the sword – the idea was pretty cool! But then, maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew with that concept.

Nevertheless, I was quite pleased with my entry and felt that I didn’t need to be ashamed. So I submitted my pictures and waited for the results.

Unfortunately, the contest ended up with only two entries. That problem was alleviated, however, by the fact that my opponent was the very talented DexterKong who entered an excellent model of a fallen Dark Angel. Take a look (it goes without saying that the following pictures appear courtesy of DexterKong):

I love how foreboding and mysterious this guy looks! I really want to know what his story is! I also love the fact that, even though we used a virtually identical Bloodletter sword, the models came out looking completely different.

Anyway, having only two contestants may have given me a pretty good chance statistically, but having seen Dexter’s model, I was pretty sure that this was the end of the line for me. I didn’t really feel like I was very likely to win this…

…but I did. No, really! Imagine my surprise when I saw the results on ToS! I can only imagine that it was a really close vote. But there you have it: I won my very first contest. Yay!

This whole thing was a lot of fun too! Building a model to a certain set of external requirements, trying to nail a certain look, and of course the thrill of the outcome. Another reason why it was so much fun was the fact that the whole contest was conducted in a rather laidback and friendly fashion: Throne of Skulls may be a forum for Khorne players, but in this case, annihilating your opponent at any cost definitely wasn’t the objective.

My only regret is that there were so few entries. I would have loved to see other peoples’ vision of how a loyal Marine can fall to Khorne, even if more entries would have meant a much slimmer chance for me to win 😉

So, does this success spur me onwards into a career as a competitive painter? No way! While this was great fun, I don’t really see myself in a competitive environment anytime soon (or rather: ever). But this type of friendly contest was really to my liking, and you can rest assured that I will be first into the fray on the next ToS converting/painting contest — all the more so since it looks like I get to choose the subject for the next contest. Huzzah!

Two more things before I wind up this post: First a big thank you! To the guys over at ToS for being such an agreeable crowd; to those who voted for my entry; and to DexterKong for providing such an outstanding piece for the competition (and for allowing me to feature it here on my blog)!

And finally, if you haven’t already guessed it, my entry was really inspired by an old piece of fluff from the 3.5 Chaos Codex. So here’s the model once more, accompanied by the fluff that inspired it:

“Willingly you picked me up. Your first mistake. Willingly you drew me. Your second mistake. I do not allow my servants to make three mistakes, foolish mortal…”

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more: There’s a huge crowd of World Eaters approaching…

Gang of four

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob, Traitor Guard with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2012 by krautscientist

My recently discovered love for converting and painting Traitor Ogryns would not let me rest until the fourth member of the squad was completed, so this post will be about him.

After the last Ogryn (you know, the one with the tongue…) had been such a joy to build, I found myseld really psyched for the next model. Unfortunately, it was a bit harder to come up with yet another Ogryn without the whole thing ending up boring. The reason for this was that there is unfortunately very little diversity in the plastic Ogres: While there are lots and lots of cool bits, the kit just offers two bodies, and the positioning of the arms is very restricted.

So it took me a while to build the last squad member, but in the end I prevailed. Here’s what I came up with:

Once again, the head was quite difficult to get right: I used a helmeted Ogryn head and added some augmetic goggles. But that alone made the Ogryn look like some really flustered fat guy with glasses, so I added an Ork armour plate to give him a closed helmet once again.

I tried to combine various visual elements from the other squad members without duplicating them outright. So the Ogryn got the helmet and goggles and some armoured arms from the Ironguts kit while also sporting the armour plates and a strange tank grafted to his back. He ended up looking like a “missing” link between the first two models I built which is just what I had intended.

I really wanted to use the huge club from the Ironguts kit, since it looks like a truly improvised weapon. It took some time to get the pose right, but in the end, everything worked out rather nicely. I also added some bags to the model’s waist to make the area look less plain.

By this time, the recipe for the paintjob had been well established, so all I had to do was to follow it. This also allowed me to finish this guy in a little over two hours which is quite a feat for me. Here he is:

The Ogryn’a giant club was painted as if it was made from stone studded with rusty metal. I wanted to give it a really used look, which I think worked pretty well.

Looking back on it now, the gut plate looks a little too busy. Mabe I should have gone with something simpler there. I also managed to overlook a very noticeable moldline along the right hand. Sigh.

Apart from that, though, I quite like the result. And the best thing is that I now have a fourth member for my merry barbershop quartet. Take a look (click for a bigger picture):

These guys really look like they mean business, right?

I will probably add yet another Ogryn to bring the number of models in the squad up to five, but that will have to wait for a bit. Although I am already finding myself thinking of the next conversion in line…

Until then, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Reasons why you should build your own terrain, pt.5

Posted in 40k, DIY, Pointless ramblings, Terrain with tags , , , , , on August 8, 2012 by krautscientist

By now, you should know the drill: Building your own terrain is fun and cheap, terrain you built yourself is truly your own, and building your own terrain also makes for a nice change of pace whenever you’re frustrated by another part of the hobby. If you have followed me this far, let me present you with my final – and maybe most important – reason for submerging under heaps of foamcore, cereal boxes and spray paint in order to make your own terrain pieces:

5.) Building terrain is a great outlet for creativity!

I realised a long time ago that creativity and its expression are really crucial to me as a person. Towards thit end, most of the things I do in the tabletop hobby really follow the goal of doing something creative, whether it’s converting models, inventing background stories for them or building suitable pieces of terrain. And it’s true that building terrain lends itself very well to expressing creativity, simply because there are very few boundaries.

I have tried to show you that even your most basic household materials can be used to build your own wargaming terrain, so your own imagination is really the limit here. It’s all about coming up with an idea and seeing it through to its conclusion.

If that sounds a little too sketchy for you, I have an example of course. And a couple of pretty pictures to go with it.

I already mentioned that, some time ago, I had gotten it into my head to build a cathedral as an enormous centrepiece for my 40k battlefields. But before undertaking such a huge project, I wanted to come up with a number of ideas first. I wanted to find some visual elements that would be used to make the building more interesting and would help in actually “selling” the piece of terrain as believable. So I sat down and thought of a number of things I wanted to try out:

  • I wanted to use some kind of statue of a lost heroe of the Imperium, covered in verdigris or patina
  • I wanted to find a way of doing inscriptions to decorate my building will all the gothic and crazy mottoes we all know from the 40k background
  • I wanted to find a recipe for building devotional candles, to be placed around an icon of worship for example

So I gathered a few pieces of leftover foamcore and sat down to build a little test piece, a small devotional shrine. Here it is:

I wanted this to be usable as a piece of terrain in its own right, but it was also a way to try implementing all of the different elements I outlined above. Once again, the main construction was done with foamcore and a leftover cardboard roll.

The statue of a nameless Space Marine hero formed the center of the piece. I used an old 2nd edition Sergeant and added a few bits to make the model look more impressive. Then I experimented with a couple of paints until I found a nice way of representing patina: The model was basecoated with GW Tin Bitz (or Vallejo Tinny Tinn) and then lightly drybrushed with a lighter Bronze Tone. Afterwards, a mix of Vallejo Halcon Turquoise (or GW Hawk Turquoise) and Skull White was liberally dabbed onto the model.

Then I tried to do my own inscriptions, using alphabet noodles as a cheap and readily available resource (an idea I took from Oldschool’s very nice German terrain blog).

I used the noodles to represent one of 40k’s most iconic insriptions. Take a look:

The noodles were very easy to use and just as easily painted. I used the same recipe as for the statue. I also painted some rust stains around the different letters. Oh, and it seems a part of the inscription actually fell off. What a coincidence…

And finally I tried my hand at building some candles. I used small glass beads with a bit of wire in the middle to represent the candlewick. All I had to do was paint them:

I added some splashes of colour to represent the candles slowly melting. Again, this was very easy (if somewhat fiddly) to do and yet made for a pretty convincing result.

Building this concept piece really helped me to nail a look for my bigger buildings (like the cathedral). I learned a lot of useful techniques, even beyond the things I had wanted to try. For example, I used cardboard from a cereal package to make the flagstones – a recipe I have since used on many pieces of terrain.

But that was not really the most important thing. The most important thing was to see this whole project as an outlet for creativity: Thinking of things I wanted to do and then coming up with a cheap and easy way of doing them. And thinking up little elements that would help make my terrain more believable.

It’s true, building twenty identical ruins isn’t a great outlet for creativity — although it’s sometimes just the thing you have to do to get the necessary amount of terrain together. But you can still be creative: Think of a little something that will make each of those ruins stand out. Then think of how to make it work. Then you will truly have made something!

Of course this also goes for assembling terrain kits you buy. You could assemble them to look just like they do on the package. Or you could go the extra mile and use your creativity!

Ans while we’re at it: The actual building of terrain is not the only way to be creative. There are also many things you can do in other mediums to support your terrain. For instance, designing some Imperial propaganda posters for your terrain pieces is a quick and creative way of making your buildings look even more believable. Here’s a couple of posters I did using 40k artwork (It goes without saying that most of this artwork is courtesy of Games Workshop — I own none of it):

This one is based on an old propaganda poster from World War I. I kept the slogan and just added it on top of a picture of the Steel Legion in mid-fight. I used some Photoshop filters to make the image look more stylised and desaturated. There’s also some graffitti, probably added by cultists in order to deface this symbol of the Imperium.

And while we are on the subject of the Imperial Guard: Your terrain just won’t be the same without a generous helping of recruitment posters.

Well, sucks to be them, I guess 😉

Again, this poster was defaced by followers of the ruinous powers (I actually did pristine versions of both posters, too). This one is playing with the fact that most Imperial citizens are probably unaware of the fact that their Emperor is now little more than a corpse…

Ahh, a true classic, this one. Oceanian propaganda appearing courtesy of Mr. George Orwell, ladies and gentlemen.

Posters like these are easily designed using Photoshop, Gimp or similar software. Then you can print them out at different sizes and use them on your terrain for some extra oomph. You can even use this to add some narrative touches, to tie your terrain into an ongoing campaign or your existing 40k force!

Here’s a propaganda poster used by Chaos Cultists I did a while ago:

It’s using the symbol of the Word Bearers’ Piercing Gaze Chapter (my Word Bearers force then. Alas, I have since turned my attention to the World Eaters, as you all know…). The idea was that the Word Bearers had managed to infiltrate a world and begun to announce the planet’s salvation (i.e. their arrival).

Here’s the same design, used as a leaflet to deface an Administratum poster:

It’s little things like these that will not only help in making your terrain better, but will also be a tremendous outlet for your creativity! Just get going, you can start small! And it won’t be long before you’re doing stuff you didn’t even realise you were capable of!

And while my own mediocre attempts may not be enough to convince you, let me just relay you to a true master of the craft: Just take a look at thenickeninja’s blog to see how using propaganda posters adds just the last bit of plausibility to your pieces (and how random pieces of junk can end up as truly spectacular wargaming terrain).

And with that, my small treatise on the joys of building your own wargaming terrain is at an end. I hope that I managed to point out the merits of this increasingly lost art to you. Of course I’ll be posting more of my own terrain projects on this blog over time. And without a doubt, most of them won’t look nearly as spectacular as the stuff published in WD. But I can assure you that all of my stuff will have been fun to build, cheap, a nice change of pace and a great outlet for creativity. And all of it will be my own (except for the original GW artwork of course, I still don’t own any of that stuff 😉 ).

If you want to share your own experiences with building terrain, drop me a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Who watches the watchmen?

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Custodes, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , on August 3, 2012 by krautscientist

I recently promised you more projects, so here’s a look at a new army project of mine. I know what you’re thinking: Finish one first, already, before starting yet another one! I know, I know. However, this is a project with a much tighter scope than, say, my World Eaters. So it will serve as more of a thing I do in order to relax.

So what are we looking at here? Let me start off by saying that I’ve never been that interested in loyal Marines. Granted, I love looking at fantastic Space Marine models as much as the next guy, but apart fron a few flashes of inspiration, I never really considered building a loyal army for a number of reasons: From a conversion standpoint, there’s very little that a loyal army would provide that I cannot do with my World Eaters in one form or another. And I also really hate the line highlighting necessary to make loyal Marines look cool. Another reason why I am a Chaos player: All that nice brass trim on the armour to add instant definition to the paintjob without me having to jump through any hoops.

The same goes for most Pre-Heresy armies. While I understand the appeal of these, I’ve never felt tempted to do Pre-Heresy World Eaters — probably due to the fact that their colour scheme isn’t all that attractive to me (and would be really difficult to pull off to boot). So no Pre-Heresy for me until now.

The more attentive readers might notice that all of this sounds like there’s a colossal BUT hiding in the rafters. And they would be right, of course:

Because all of my resolutions about Marines and Pre-Heresy armies were sorely tested when I first took a look at German WD 112 (from April 2005): Not only did it feature rules for a Horus Heresy campaign, but it also marked the first time I ever saw Dave Taylor’s spectacular Legio Custodes army. I instantly fell in love with the Legio Custodes based on Dave’s army and the official artwork. There’s just something about those guys that really clicked with me. And even now, quite a few years later, Dave’s Custodes are still easily one of my favourite armies ever (the army was auctioned off for charity, btw, proving that Dave is not only an extremely talented artist but also simply a great guy).

So the seed was planted, and some time ago, I took a look at all the fantastic new Space Marine kits, and my love for the Legio Custodes was rekindled. And then, by lucky chance (or by some devious scheming of my subconscious), I found myself in the possession of three different Space Marine kits: The power armoured Grey Knights and Dark Angels Veterans (I had bought those for all the great bits and felt that I might use the DA’s as Word Bearers Chosen at some point) and the Sanguinary Guard (given to me as a gift by cousin Andy). And suddenly I realised that I had everything on my hands to create a couple of Custodes.

I wouldn’t even have to work nearly as hard as Dave Taylor, since all the cool new bits would allow me to build the models by merely sticking to kitbashing. So I did a bit of research and discovered some more great Custodes armies: Kaleb Daark’s Custodes thread on B&C, The Buddy Times and the very helpful kitbashing recipe for creating Custodians on Spiky Bitz. And so everything was in place.

Here’s what I wanted to do with the Custodes:

  • I wanted to incorporate the classic “Praetorian” Custodes with their conic helmets, golden armour and Guardian Spears.
  • in honour of Dave Taylor’s army, I wanted a squad of power armoured Custodians wearing different armour patterns. I would also definitely need a chaplain inspired by his Chaplain Animus.
  • I wanted to build the army from all plastic and all-GW parts: I realise that there are some awesome models floating around the net  – Scibor’s “SF Roman Legionaries” are Custodes in everything but name – but using readymade models for a project like this always feels like a bit of a cop out to me. So I wanted to try if I could kitbash this army by using only GW parts, preferably all of them plastic.
  • I didn’t want this to turn into srs bsns, so I would cut a few corners here and there. Don’t get me wrong: I wanted my Custodes to look awesome, but I wouldn’t get myself killed over it. There would be the odd heraldic element belonging to Grey Knights, Blood Angels or Dark Angels — I would only cut something off unless I had something better to replace it. And I would lose no sleep over the models’ armour not being 100% accurate. Let’s face it: Some of the HH artbooks feature as many as three different armour variants for the same Custodes unit type — in the same picture.
  • While I would try to have them be useable as a legal army, this would not be my chief concern while building the models.

With my gameplan decided, I started by building my first test models. I immediately went for the iconic “Praetorians”. All of these were kitbashed by mixing parts from Grey Knights, Dark Angels Veterans and the Sanguinary Guard (and the occasional Tac Marine bit). As per Spiky Bitz’ recipe, all the heads came from the WFB High Elf White Lions.

Here’s the first test model I built for the squad, equipped with the Legio’s trademark “Guardian Spear” (actually a GK halberd combined with a Sanguinary Guard Bolt pistol):

The shield is from some old WFB Empire spearmen. I realise that there is no precedent for shields like that in the Custodes background, but I liked the look of them and decided to use the lion motif as a recurring visual element. That’s why you’ll see lion heads repeated here and there on the models. Maybe I’ll even try to weave it into the army’s background: They could be called “The Lionsguard”, guarding the Lion’s Gate Spaceport (we all know how that went) or due to some honour awarded to them by the Emperor.

Anyway, here’s the squad’s standard bearer:

The design on the banner was done by using a simple decal taken from among the Space Marine vehicle decals. I am aware that there may actually  be some fluff reason why these guys technically shouldn’t be sporting the Aquila in the first place. See my comments on accuracy above on that subject.

Next up, another Custodian armed with a Guardian Spear, although this time I used a GK Storm Bolter for the conversion. Unfortunately, it ended up looking a little clunky, although I like the rest of the model:

I also built a Custodian carrying a special weapon (that was converted from a GK special weapon and the gunbarrel from a Deathwing assault cannon). I couldn’t even tell you what this is supposed to be. I just converted it to look cool…

And finally, the squad’s Centurio, Jastilus Petrarca:

I wanted the model to be the most impressive in the squad, so I used some of the most detailed parts, including the champion’s head from the White Lions. I also gave him a power sword from the AOBR Space Marine Captain and a spiffy wrist mounted Bolt pistol from the Sanguinary Guard.

Like I said, there are some departures from “official” Custodes artwork: For one, these guys are never seen using regular Marine backpacks in official sources, but I still decided to give them back packs to bulk them out a little. I went for Chaos backpacks for an older, more ornate look. I also didn’t add an extra faceplate to the High Elf heads, since they work well enough as is, in my opinion. Like I said, There’s also a bit of a hodgepodge of heraldic elements, with symbols of Blood Angels, Dark Angels and Grey Knights appearing alongside each other. However, the paintjob helps to somewhat alleviate that problem, tying everything together.

I went for a fairly straight paintjob in the trademark Custodes colours of crimson and gold. The one point where I departed from that formula were the different gems found on the models’ armour and equipment: I painted them in my beloved Vallejo Halcon Turquoise in order to add a bit of much-needed variety to the models. What’s more, jewels painted in red often end up looking like cherries, so using a different colour helped me to avoid that pitfall as well.

Here’s a picture of the whole squad assembled:

Squad Heraklion

One of the Praetorian squads in the Legio Custodes’ elite Lionsguard, squad Heraklion consists of warriors as fiercely loyal as they are accomplished. Clad in the traditional Praetorian plate and wielding an array of mastercrafted weapons, the members of the squad know no goal more important than guarding the life of their Emperor. Leading the squad is Centurio Jastilus Petrarca, a relatively young but  exceedingly talented officer. In spite of his young age, the inside of his ceremonial plate already shows an astonishing number of engraved names and titles, earned through great feats and deeds of honour.

So there you have it: This squad marked the beginning of my Legio Custodes project. With recent rumours of Horus Heresy books to be released by Forgeworld soon, I am not sure whether my timing in creating these guys was rather awesome or actually completely horrible. Any Custodes released by FW will thoroughly upstage my own meagre efforts though, that much seems certain…

Nevertheless, these guys were a blast to convert and paint and stand as an example of the fantastic versatility of GW’s new plastic kits. And while my Custodes project may be limited in scope, there’s quite a bit yet to come: I already outlined some possible ideas above, but there’s more that I would like to try: Jetbikes, Cataphracts, Sisters of Silence…just wait and see where this voyage will take us!

Until then, I would like to know what you think, so drop me a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!