Going the extra mile

For most of us hobbyists, the hobby consists of an eternal string of compromises, with the first of those usually being: “I’ll never be able to paint like the folks in the ‘Eavy Metal Team …at least not right off the bat”. Another common compromise is to balance  what you want your models to look like against what you can realistically achieve with your abilities, money and bitzbox. And, of course, you have to compromise when it comes to actually getting stuff finished and on the table versus obsessing over each minute detail for ages. Like it or not, we all have to make those decisions in our hobby life.

Compromising also does not necessarily have to be a bad thing: As long as I considered the ‘Eavy Metal painting standard to be some absolute ideal to be strieved for, I put myself under quite a bit of pressure when it came to my own meagre painting efforts. It took many years and lots of hobbyists on the internet to show me that it’s not about trying to emulate somebody else, but about finding a style you are comfortable with. In any case, when it comes to actually getting an army finished and on the table, a bit of compromising never hurt anyone.

On the other hand, it is all too easy to grow complacent. Case in point:

Shortly after getting back into 40k big time, I purchased an old Chaos Megaforce online. It was a great deal, giving me lots and lots of models to bolster the ranks of my World Eaters (as well as a Rhino and a Defiler). Three bikes were also part of the deal, but in those days, bikes weren’t all that hot from a rules perspective, so while I wanted to build them, I did not obsess over how well the models would turn out. Big mistake on my part, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Anyway, I built a Chaos Lord on bike to represent Huntmaster Gerrax, Master of the Hounds. I am still reasonably pleased with the model:

Lord on Bike
This guy was pretty much an amalgamation of all the great ideas I could find online. I also gave him a spear and slightly more ornate armour to make him look more like the hunter he was. And I think he really looks the part.

But there were two more bikes, and I put them together and used some berzerker parts to make the riders look like they were World Eaters. I also did a number of minuscule conversions to add cc weapons (and a Meltagun), but then I called them finished. Here’s what they looked like:

Old bikes
In hindsight, I would call these serviceable at best. What they are certainly not is the least bit visually exciting. And that’s why I didn’t feel the pull to actually paint them (or add any more bikers) for quite a long time. Even when the new codex made bikers very interesting again (especially for World Eaters armies), I just couldn’t be bothered to think about more bikes. The ones I already had didn’t seem to warrant any more attention to the subject.

But then, last week, I saw the bikes Biohazard had built on his Dakka thread. And I realised that this was what I actually wanted my bikes to look like: aggressive, dynamically posed and quite a bit more imposing than my own. So I immediately sat down, taking apart the bikers and adding a couple of bitz. I also started to think about how to use the bases as a means of making the models more interesting: Granted, I hadn’t done that with my old bikes at all, but I really should have, since it’s a crucial element!

In short, I finally did what I should have all along and went the extra mile.

For the first biker, I didn’t even change any of the original parts! I just tilted the bike to the side a bit and changed the rider’s position. Like so:

Bikers of the Hounds (1)
Bikers of the Hounds (3)
Bikers of the Hounds (2)
Bikers of the Hounds (5)
Quite a change, don’t you think? And all it took was a couple of minutes!

For the second biker, I was feeling a little more adventurous, so in addition to changing the model’s pose, I also added a couple of new parts. Here’s the result:

Bikers of the Hounds (6)
Bikers of the Hounds (9)

Bikers of the Hounds (10)
Bikers of the Hounds (11)

The model received a new axe and some new pauldrons (courtesy of the WFB Skullcrushers kit) as well as a bare head from a loyal Marine kit. I think he really looks like he means business now!

Concerning the Huntmaster, I didn’t change too much, since the model was busy enough as it was. I did however tilt the bike a little…

Bikers of the Hounds (12)
Bikers of the Hounds (14)
Bikers of the Hounds (16)
…and I also changed the position of the head to make it look like the Huntmaster was focusing on an enemy:

Bikers of the Hounds (17)

So, are these models completely fantastic and earth-shatteringly cool now? Nah, probably not. But they are much better than before, and that is what matters 😉
Maybe I’ll have to add some additional skulls and chains to the bikes, but all in all, I already think they are much improved. What’s more, I actually feel motivated again to think about adding further bikes to my army. I am even considering building a bike with a sidecar, with a World Eater using it as some kind of “chariot” — wouldn’t that be a really cool idea, fitting nicely with the World Eaters’ gladiatorial traditions?

Anyway, what what did I learn from this?

  • First and foremost, you should’t settle for “quite alright” when building models! Go the extra mile, and you’ll probably end up with a model that is much cooler — and sometimes it can be as easy as just tilting this part or that a few degrees to the side! This doesn’t mean that you have to obsess over stuff for ages, just that you take some time to come up with something special!
  • Don’t be afraid to revisit older models! Chances are, you’ll be able to bring a new and interesting perspective to them! Plus going through your collection and tweaking a model here and there can be great fun, and just as interesting as building something completely new!
  • Finally, it’s always a great idea to look to other hobbyists for inspiration: If I hadn’t seen Biohazard’s bikes when I did, I might never have gone back to my own bikes to make them better. There are tons of inspiration out there, and tons of talented people!

Thanks for (hopefully )staying awake through my rambling! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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8 Responses to “Going the extra mile”

  1. Reminds me to my old 10 man berserker biker unit. 🙂

  2. I must say, well done, this is excellent. Personally I’ve got 6 converted chopper bikes in my CSM army, 5 red corsairs and a nurgle lord:

    The Lord (pretty standard, just a possessed backpack, a 3rd party head, and a power sword on a bike, the flamer on the front is the Burning Brand, I haven’t decided if I’m happy with it): http://www.flickr.com/photos/ianlogsdon/8144389136/in/photostream

    The Corsairs:
    All Imported-17

    Their Bikes:
    The Hounds of Huron

  3. This is a great post! I struggle with the same thing. I tend to obsess over details with my painting and have a hard time finishing models and projects. The bikes look good. The new tilting looks very dynamic. Good thing you didn’t get around to painting them before!

  4. I love the Huntmaster model, but I was wondering if you could details how you went about making/choosing the various parts that make up his ornate armour – I am currently working on a unit of 10 Nurgle Bikers, complete with a Nurgle Chaos Lord to lead them, and I desperately need them to look sufficiently badass!!

    Great work all round – I barely recognise those plastic chosen models now!

    • As a matter of fact, the Huntmaster himself is a far easier conversion than you think: He uses the standard chaos biker legs, combined with a torso from the Khorne Berzerkers kit. The things that make him look more interesting are his head, right arm (with the spear) and pauldrons, all of which came from the WFB Chaos Knights — simply a fantastic kit to spice up your Chaos Space Marines! The riders from the new Skullcrushers also work like a charm, but the kit is quite a bit more expensive, so if you are mainly after a couple of cool bitz, you’ll probably get more bang for the buck with the regular knights.

      I guess they would also work for Nurglite models, since they would probably give your bikers a very baroque, ornate feel, something that can be quite nice for a somewhat different “Nurgle look”. They also come with lots and lots of great weapons.

  5. […] XIIth Astartes legion, and I have the conversions to prove it: Touching up my World Eaters bikes some time ago gave me the idea for an additional bike in the squad. Once again, I wanted to build a model […]

  6. […] a matter of fact, you might remember my post about going back to older models to spice them up, going the extra mile, as it were. Biohazard’s World Eaters bikers were what originally inspired me to write that […]

  7. […] the problem: So far, I had mainly been using pieces from the kit to spice up some Chosen and Biker models as well as building special characters for my army, such as my custom Warpsmith, Huntmaster […]

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