Archive for March, 2013

Dere’s no “I” in “Waaagh!”

Posted in Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2013 by krautscientist

To tell you the truth, I am actually quite addicted to painting models for my Blood Bowl team at the moment: Rarely has a painting recipe ever worked so well for me, and the fact that I do not need to be 100% accurate when painting these guys makes this small project a tremendous amount of fun. So expect a rather massive update today, with lots of new players for the Orkheim Ultraz. Here we go:

 

Blitzers

My first Blitzer was actually the first test model I painted for the team. In the meantime, I’ve built and painted three additional Blitzers to bump their number up to four. Here they are:

Blitzers
In order to make them recognisable as Blitzers, I gave these guys quite a few pieces of armour. Not as much as you would see on a Black Orc, mind you, but I wanted them to look reasonably similar to actual football players. As a matter of fact, I did actually use a couple of Black Orc parts to achieve that effect. And I quickly found out that bog standard Space Marine shoulderpads work really well to approximate football gear 😉
I also tried to use what Space Ork parts I had on the Blitzers, since the parts look more heavily armoured and really fit the football look.

Anyway, here’s a closer look at the individual models:

Blitzer 02 (1)
Blitzer 02 (2)
Blitzer 02 (3)
Blitzer 02 (4)
You may have spotted this model during the team’s WIP phase. Since then, I added a couple of the aforementioned shoulderpads to bulk it out a little. I also used a spiked armour plate to make the helmet resemble a football helmet. I rather like the static pose on this guy: He looks like he’s daring his opponents to make their move…

As you can see, I used quite a few more Gorkamorka decals here, and they really make the armour pieces look more interesting and believable. The key point in using the decals was to add them right after the base colours were done, but before the washes and weathering effects were applied. That way, I was able to “age” the decals along with the rest of the model’s kit, making them look quite a bit more realistic.

Next up, this guy:

Blitzer 03 (3)
Blitzer 03 (1)
Blitzer 03 (4)
Since you last saw him during the WIP phase, I swapped the head (which was slightly too large) for that of a Space Ork nob. His right arm (which, looking at it now, is a tad too short, by the way: seems like this player is just a little challenged when it comes to proportions…) came from the Black Orc kit. All that piercings make him look like a pretty tough guy, don’t you think? 😉

Realising that I had yet to add a model wearing one of the Orcs’ fabled metal jaws, I built this guy:

Blitzer 04 (1)
Blitzer 04 (2)
Blitzer 04 (3)
As you can see, he’s in the middle of some kind of maneuvre that is sure to make somebody hurt pretty bad. Getting more dynamic poses on these guys was achieved by simply adding some leftover sprue to their base that, even after being covered in the basing materials, could still be used to glue the model to the base in a more interesting position. I wanted some of these models to be really dynamic, and I guess we can call this particular mission accomplished.

The fact that this model already had that huge metal jaw meant I could assemble him with a helmetless head, to get some more visual variety across the team.

 

Thrower and Linemen

Linemen
When building these guys, my two main ideas behind them were to make them look less heavily armoured than the Blitzers and to pose them rather dynamically (making it look like most of them were trying their best to catch a ball). To achieve those aims, I used more fantasy Orc parts on the models, since some of those are less armoured. I used bowmen from the WFB 6th edition starter box for the models, just replacing a hand or arm here and there and cutting off the bows. By attaching these to the bases at more interesting angles, the poses were really easy to get right and took almost no conversion at all!

Let’s take a closer look:

Lineman 01 (1)
Lineman 01 (2)
Lineman 01 (3)
Lineman 01 (4)
Lineman 02 (1)
Lineman 02 (3)
Lineman 02 (4)
You cannot help feeling sorry for these guys, as one can almost imagine the ball sailing right past their outstretched hands. In any case, they add some goofy humour to the team, so they’re definitely pulling their weight after all.

I also built a thrower, using a very similar recipe:

Thrower (2)
Thrower (3)
Thrower (5)
I wanted him to be striking a fairly iconic, athletic pose, and I think that worked. Plus I finally got a chance to use that old head from a metal special weapons Ork boy from the late 90s — easily one of my favourite heads ever! I even added a touch of gloss varnish to his goggles to make them look more like actual glass.

Thrower (4)
When it came to attaching him to the base, I added a skull to make his pose a little more impressive. It may be Blood Bowl, but it’s still the Warhammer world after all — when in doubt, use a skull! 😉

 

So with that, nine models of my initial team roster have been completed. That leaves only the two Black Orcs and an additional Lineman for now, although I can easily see myself painting some more models for added tactical variety. And I’ll still need to finish those fans, of course. Not a problem, though, since working on these guys is really a blast! Here’s the team so far:

BB_Team_a

C&C always welcome! And, as usual, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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Top Dog

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2013 by krautscientist

With my first traitorous Space Wold painted, I was itching to begin working on Joras Turnpelt, the leader of my Khornate Wolves. Here’s the unpainted model:

Joras Turnpelt WIP (2)
I started by basically repeating the steps I had used to paint my first test model: Since Joras’s armour consists of quite a few more chaos bitz, I was reasonably sure that he would read as a follower of the dark gods well enough, even if painted in a colour scheme similar to regular Space Wolves. So I got to work and finished most of the model in a pretty reasonable amount of time. Take a look:

Joras Turnpelt WIP (3)

Joras Turnpelt WIP (6)Joras Turnpelt WIP (7)
As you can see, the overall recipe is indeed identical to that used on my test model. For the face, I used my tried and tested recipe for pale skin. And I added a small OSL effect to the eyes on the breastplate. The Lightning Claws on Joras’ right hand were painted blue as well, and I had something similar planned for the huge axe at first. However, it ended up looking too much like some kind of toy, so I went back to a fairly straightforward silver colour.

Before the model could be called finished, I had to add the cape and base. Regarding the cape, I wanted to make it look as dusty and grimy as I could. And the base would follow the same approach as the bases of my World Eaters.

After a short while, this is what I had come up with:

Joras Turnpelt (2)
Joras Turnpelt (3)
Joras Turnpelt (5)
Joras Turnpelt (6)
As you can see, some skull trophies were added to the cape, to make Joras’ new allegiance even more obvious (I also wanted to obscure the small “smoke stacks” on the cloak, since they seemed slightly silly to me). Note the dirty and tattered cape:

Joras Turnpelt (7)
The effect was created by drybrushing multiple times with GW Graveyard Earth, which led to a very dusty, dirtied look. Unfortunately, the photo eats up some of the subtle shades, so you’ll have to take my word for it: It does look really dusty when seen up close! 😉

It’s also a nice coincidence that the cape nicely complements the model’s overall pose, adding to the sense of movement.

Joras Turnpelt (8)

When it came to Joras’ face, I wanted him to be pale and slightly haunted-looking, and I guess I succeeded reasonably well:

Joras Turnpelt (10)
Maybe he’ll need one more pass of GW Leviathan Purple in the deepest recesses to make him look even more drawn. 😉

And finally, the base: It goes without saying that I couldn’t resist adding a small loyalist touch…

Joras Turnpelt (11)
And here’s a comparison shot with Joras and one of my World Eaters Terminator Lords:

Joras Turnpelt (12)
I like the fact that Joras has a pretty distinct silhouette, seeming quite bulky (mostly because of the cape).

All in all, I am pretty pleased with the model: I think the paintjob nicely captures the fact that Joras is a warrior in transition: While there are still some strong clues as to his loyalist origins, several other visual elements make it perfectly clear that he now follows a very different master.

And finally, as is my usual routine, let me also give you some background for the model (a slightly revised version of the first sketch, in this case):

Joras Turnpelt (4)
Joras Turnpelt

Joras Turnpelt was once a member of Einar Longbeard’s Great Company, and served as the Wolf Lord’s second-in-command as well as his trusted friend. When the company found itself facing the warriors of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt in battle, the fighting turned out to be extremely bloody and unforgiving, due to both sides’ ferocity in combat. With the battle dragging on, the Space Wolves found themselves slowly bleeding out from the costly engagements. And to make matters even worse, Longbeard and Joras did not see eye to eye regarding how to proceed: The Wolf Lord knew that the Space Wolves were in acute danger of losing the battle and wanted to consolidate their forces, maybe even order a tactical retreat, while Joras would hear none of it. Seething with adrenaline and beginning frenzy, he wanted to press on and obliterate the enemy, and ordered an attack in direct defiance of his superior’s orders. During the ensuing fight, Joras eventually flew into a berserker rage, slaying his own Wolf Lord, who was trying to intervene. This act of betrayal shattered the great company, with the brethren falling on each other as well as the World Eaters. In the end, only a small band of warriors remained, defeated and encircled by the warriors of the 4th, shaken by their own actions and ready to be killed. But Lorimar let them live, feeling that Joras, in the depths of his rage, had found something dark and powerful. The Master of the Hunt was intrigued.

Ever since, Joras and his remaining warriors have been fighting alongside Khorne’s Eternal Hunt, adopting some of the 4th’s traditions while also keeping themselves apart in other respects. And Joras has become known as the “Turnpelt”, considered a despised traitor of his own chapter and hated enemy by the sons of Russ…

 

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

Khorne Wolves: first test model painted

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2013 by krautscientist

Some time ago, I showed you some test models for a small squad of traitorous Space Wolves. I had put off painting the first test model until now, since I wanted to use a dark grey undercoat on them, and I had to wait for my FLGS to get its next shipment of Army Painter spray cans.

But lo and behold, when I swung by the store last week to spent yet more money on plastic crack, a can of Army Painter Uniform Grey was already waiting for me, so I could finally start to experiment with the paint recipe for my Khorne Wolves.

I wanted them to still look fairly close to the original Space Wolves’ colour scheme, yet with parts of their armour picked out in red and bronze to serve as subtle clues as to their new allegiance. I also wanted the armour to be more of a dark grey, as opposed to the bluish grey of GW’s loyalist Wolves paint scheme.

Anyway, I chose this model for my experiments:

Khorne Wolves Test Models (1)
I think we can all agree that, for this guy, any coat of paint would be a huge improvement 😉

So the first step was to get the model undercoated. I had never worked with Army Painter spray cans before, and had only recently read a horror story about someone ruining a couple of models using them, so I was really careful. My worries were unfounded, however, since It turned out that the paint worked almost like GW’s undercoat, only in a different colour. So this is what the model looked like after undercoating:

Khorne Wolves test model PIP (1)
Surprise, surprise: It turned out that Uniform Grey wasn’t nearly as dark as I had hoped. In fact,  it looked pretty much exactly like unpainted GW plastic. Here’s a comparison shot with an unpainted Marine leg for reference:

Khorne Wolves test model PIP (2)
With the grey much lighter than anticipated, I felt tempted to call this a failure altogether, abandon the project and return to painting more Blood Bowl Orcs, but I persevered. After all, no telling what the rest of the paintjob might yet achieve, right?

So I picked out the details in different colours: GW Mephiston Red for the shoulderpads and parts of the armour, Vallejo Tinny Tin for the armour trim and decorations, GW Boltgun Metal for the weapons, flex fitting, cables etc. and GW Snakebite Leather for the teeth and bones. Here’s what the model looked like after this step:

Khorne Wolves test model PIP (3)
So my first lesson with using grey undercoat: The model will look even worse with just the base colours blocked out than when I use Chaos Black. Not exactly a reassuring observation, to be sure…
I knew better than to stop now, however much I would have liked to throw away my brush in frustration. I was reasonably sure applying some washes would save the day once again…

So here’s the same model after a healthy dose of GW Agrax Earthshade and GW Nuln Oil, respectively:

Khorne Wolves test model PIP (4)
Definitely better, if only because there is much more depth to the model now. The armour came out looking slightly worn and dirty, but I guess I like the effect well enough. I then added GW Bleached Bone to the areas of bone, GW Dwarf Bronze to the edges of the armour trim, and I painted the model’s eye lenses a piercing blue:

Khorne Wolves test model PIP (5)

At this point, I thought the model looked okay, but still quite a bit lighter than I would have liked. I was afraid this guy didn’t read as a traitorous wolf, but rather as a member of the 13th company at best. Would I have to rethink my whole approach?

I still kept plugging away at him, finishing the details, painting the backpack and adding a chaos star decal to his left shoulder pad. So here’s the finished model, photographed this time without the garish flash 😉

Khorne Wolves test model X (2)
Khorne Wolves test model X (1)
Khorne Wolves test model X (3)
So what would I call the result of this exercise? Slightly inconclusive, to tell you the truth. While the grey armour is quite a bit lighter than I would have preferred, I have to admit the model has grown on me. But the question remains: Does he look chaotic enough?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this! C&C always welcome! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

An orky update…

Posted in Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2013 by krautscientist

Last week, I introduced you to two small hobby projects of mine involving greenskins. Now with a couple of models already built, the time had come to actually test the waters and get something painted.

To be honest with you, I was a bit nervous: After all, I had painted my last Orc over ten years ago, and those models haven’t really managed to hold up all that well. Still, I was reasonably sure that my painting had improved a fair bit since then, so I sat down, took a deep breath and started to work.

I started by painting my Mordheim test model:

Mordheim Orc Gang WIP (3)
Before actually getting some paint on this guy, though, I added a few bitz: Some pouches hanging from his belt as well as a Bretonnian helmet and an amulet in the shaped of the two-pronged comet of Sigmar. And a dwarven buckler, crudely reinforced with metal straps: I want my Orcs to look like they are scavenging whatever they can off the streets, taking all kinds of kit and every trinket they like off their defeated enemies. However, I took care not to go overboard with the additional bitz on this model, seeing how this was, after all, a test piece.

When it came to actually painting the model, I wanted this guy to have a gritty, battle hardened look, in keeping with the game’s background. I also didn’t want the Mordheim Orcs to look too much like something out of a comic book, so I kept the colour palette pretty limited for this project.

The model was undercoated using brown spray paint. Then the skin was painted (more on that later!), and the different pieces of armour were picked out in very dark grey (I’ve found that a pretty convincing start for an area that is supposed to look black or near-black on the finished model). The model’s clothes were either left brown or painted in a slightly darker tone. The weapons were painted silver. Then the whole model was liberally washed using GW Gryphonne Sepia (for the skin), GW Nuln Oil (for the armour and metallic parts) and GW Agrax Earthshade (for pretty much everything). I then added accents, scratches and overall grime (lightly drybrushing the brown areas with GW Graveyard Earth provided a nice accent while also making the model’s clothes look suitably worn and grimy). I even added one of the Orcs’ trademark sawtooth patterns to parts of the armour, using GW Bleached Bone.

So what did he model end up looking like, you ask? Here you go:

Mordheim Orcs test model (4)
Mordheim Orcs test model (2)
Mordheim Orcs test model (8)
Mordheim Orcs test model (7)
Oh, I almost forgot: The base was built by cutting up some piece of old model train terrain to get a couple of flagstones. Those were then combined with cork and modelling sand. The base was then undercoated black, painted dark grey, liberally washed in black and brown and then drybrushed with white. Easy enough, although I could see myself going with something a tiny bit more refined for the next few models…

All in all, I am really pleased with this guy: He looks like you wouldn’t really want to mess with him, which is pretty much the overall effect I wanted to achieve. I also think he seems right at home on the bloodied streets of a destroyed city.

Mordheim Orcs test model (9)
This model basically establishes a baseline standard for the rest of the gang: Some of the other models will probably be looking more outlandish or be sporting an additional spot colour or two, but in the end, all of them will share the overall look established by this test model.

 

So with the Mordheim side of things taken care of, I turned my attention to my Blood Bowl Team: I would of course need to paint a test model for the Orkheim Ultraz as well, and my choice fell on this lucky fellow, one of my Blitzers:

BB_Blitzers_WIP (3)
Since the model had been kitbashed from all kinds of leftovers, it looked a little rough around the edges: As you can see, the right arm had even been painted in my own, early 2000s’ recipe for Orc skin. However, the rather sorry state of the model made it perfect to serve as a test piece, so I got to work.

I initially approached the whole matter exactly like I had with the Mordheim Orc: Brown undercoat, same recipe for the skin. Basic clothes in various shades of brown. However, to add a visual flourish that would be necessary to make the model look more like an actual Blood Bowl player, all pieces of armour were painted with GW Mephiston Red.

Let me take a moment to tell you that this is the red colour I have always wanted, because it produces a strong, quite vibrant red and works without a hitch, even over a black undercoat. It also still looks good after being thoroughly washed with brown, which clearly differentiates it from the old Mechrite Red – oh, and It also lacks the latter’s “chalky” quality, which is a definite advantage in my book.

Anyway, the red made the model pop rather nicely, even after it had been suitably dirtied and scratched up. Take a look:

Blood Bowl test model (2)
Blood Bowl test model (1)
Blood Bowl test model (4)
As you can see, I went for a tan shirt to make the model look slightly less dark and gritty than the Mordheim piece. Oh, and I also added some pretty old Gorkamorka decals to the model’s armour, since the yellow nicely contrasted with the red.

When it came to doing the base, I wanted to emulate the look of a somewhat roughened up football pitch: still grassy enough, but with patches of trampled mud emerging here and there. So I mixed wood glue with small pieces of cork and modelling sand and generously covered the surface of the base in the mix. When everything had dried, the base was undercoated in black, then painted in brown, then washed and drybrushed to bring out the texture. Then I used a generous helping of static grass to actually make it look like a Blood Bowl pitch. Funny story: I actually got that bag of static grass more than ten years ago at the GW store in Cologne, yet I somehow never got around to using it. And while the strong, slightly synthetic tone of green would probably look wrong for 40k or WFB bases, I think it’s a pretty good fit for a fantasy football pitch 😉

Blood Bowl test model (6)

So with that, my two Orky test pieces were completed. Here they are, side by side:

Orc comparison (2)
While I’ll admit that they share quite a bit of common heritage, I think they still look different enough: The Mordheim Orc is slightly grittier and darker, as befits the setting. As I previously mentioned, both models were painted using the marvelous recipe for Orc skin posted by Brian over at A Gentleman’s Ones, and I simply cannot recommend that recipe enough: Not only did it provide me with the perfect skin tone for my models, it’s also possibly the only recipe I ever got from the internet that looks exactly as described on the finished miniature. If my 18 year old self had had access to that recipe, I might have managed to paint a whole greenskin army after all. Go head over there right now to check it out, if you haven’t already!

 

So with my first two models for my greenskin projects such a success, I found myself itching to proceed. So I sat down and painted two more models:

BB_Goblins (14)
A couple of Night Goblins for my Blood Bowl team. These were built from the remains of an old plastic Night Goblin regiment, and while there may be more recent plastic Night Goblins in GW’s catalogue, I still love these guys to bits: Granted, their scale may be slightly off (especially when compared to human models) and the sculpt may seem a little clunky in places, but they are still absolutely iconic, in my opinion: Those pointy ears and huge noses, and those mean little faces — you simply gotta love ’em! I’ve always had a soft spot for Night Goblins, and these models are perfect representations of all that’s cool about the race — whereas the newer models are just looking a little runtish, if you ask me…

Anyway, these were painted using the same recipe as the Blitzer above. In fact, I tried to push myself in order to see how fast I could finish these, using a slightly impressionistic – even slapdash – approach to painting. In the end, I was able to complete these guys in about one and a half hours, basing included. Not bad, huh? And they are certainly good enough for me!

Here are some additional detail shots:

BB_Goblins (1)
BB_Goblins (2)
BB_Goblins (3)
BB_Goblins (4)
I love how this little guy seems to be basking in the crowd’s adoration — you have to wonder though why they would be cheering him in the first place…

His colleague, meanwhile, seems a little more dedicated to the task at hand:

BB_Goblins (7)
BB_Goblins (8)
BB_Goblins (12)
BB_Goblins (11)
And last but not least, here’s another picture of the Orkheim Ultraz‘ humble beginnings:

BB_Test models (1)
So, in closing, my first painting efforts on my greenskins have been both a success and a blast! Expect to see more Orcs and Goblins here pretty soon. Until then, C&C are always welcome!

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

Nurgle’s Rot revisited

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2013 by krautscientist

Right, time for something finished for a change 😉

You may recall that I posted a work in progress Nurgle Terminator some time ago. This is what we looked like when we last saw him:

Nurgle Termie (8)
In the meantime, I was taken by a fancy to actually finish this guy, so I put a bit more painting in.

All in all, the objective here was basically not only to get the model done (and have it look at least halfway presentable), but also to experiment will all kinds of rust and weathering effects and see whether I could make them work on a model. So I tried my hand at different effects for rusty metal, verdigris and just general signs of decay and decline. And here’s what I ended up with:

Nurgle Terminator (8)
Nurgle Terminator (1)
Nurgle Terminator (2)
Nurgle Terminator (5)

Nurgle Terminator (6)
Nurgle Terminator (7)
The model’s mutated right hand and strangely organic trophy spikes were painted in a slightly distressed flesh tone to contrast with the muddy green armour. And, as you can see, the different weathering effects on these guy did receive quite a bit more attention since the WIP stage: All the bronze areas were washed with a watered down mix of Vallejo Halcon Milenario Turquoise and white to achieve a verdigris effect. I also thinned down GW Vermin Brown, using it much like a slightly heavier wash in the recesses of the armour to build up a rust effect.

And I finally painted the model’s huge warscythe, adding the same weathering effects. With rusty metal like this, instead of painting everything silver and then suitably dirtying it, my usual approach is to paint the whole area in brown, then stipple on additional rust in a haphazard pattern, using a lighter shade of brown and only then add a small amount of actual metal colour to the edges and surfaces. Like so:

Nurgle Terminator (12)
You may also have noticed that I added a small OSL effect to the eye and the skull atop the scythe, trying to achieve a simple lighting effect similar to the one I use on plasma pistols and the like, only in a different colour.

In order to finish this guy, I also built and painted a base for him:

Nurgle Terminator (11)

While the base is similar enough to the bases of my World Eaters (you never know…), it also features the same disgusting ichor as the base of the Plague Champion I built earlier for my Ruinous Powers mini series:

The Ruinous Powers - Nurgle (22)
The fluid was done by covering a part of the base in a thick layer of wood glue, then wait for it to dry, creating a slightly muddy looking surface that was then painted in several shades of green and yellow and coated with gloss varnish.

All in all, this guy was both quite a bit of fun to pain and a great way of experimenting with different effects! Plus I learned that using different colours for undercoating can make painting quite a bit easier: I have sinced used brown spray paint for my first Orc test model as well, and it was definitely a good choice — but more on that soon…

Nurgle Terminator (10)
So while I am in no hurry to paint up a whole Nurgle army – or even just a unit of Plague Marines, for that matter, trying all kind of weathering techniques in this guy was a blast. And it’s nice to know that I now have a few more tricks up my sleeve 😉

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

Nurgle Terminator (9)

Totally worth it: 40k 2nd edition Codex Imperialis and rulebooks

Posted in 40k, Fluff, old stuff, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2013 by krautscientist

Totallyworthit_Banner02

It’s time to take a look at another true classic of my personal hobby life, and today’s contender will most likely have played a role in many people’s formative hobby years. This time on Totally worth it: The Warhammer 40,000 2nd edition Codex Imperialis and rulebooks.

2nd_ed_Codex_Imperialis

My first contact with 40k didn’t happen by way of the rules or the background. It happened by getting glimpses of the miniatures. Ever since getting into the hobby through of HeroQuest and its futuristic counterpart, Space Crusade, I had been in love with GW’s two major settings — although I didn’t even realise back then that those two universes were actually part of a greater whole (and an IP of the same corporate entity): While HeroQuest seemed to me like a hodgepodge of all kinds of Tolkienesque high fantasy tropes (which, in all fairness, it was), Space Crusade looked like a simple remix of HeroQuest…IN SPACE! I already mentioned in passing how the horribly butchered background in the German version of the game did a fantastic job of making sure no one had a chance to realise that it was basically set in the 40k universe (or, indeed, that there was such a thing as a 40k universe).

So it took my good buddy Phil to actually bring me up to speed: He had gotten himself a copy of the then-new 2nd edition 40k starter box, and it was by seeing the models arrayed on the gaming table in his bedroom as well as by getting short glimpses of the rulebooks accompanying the game that I got my first basic impressions of the 40k universe.

Make no mistake, though: Back then, I saw 40k as a mostly straightforward Sci-Fi setting, only with orcs and dwarves and chaos involved. So I will never forget the Saturday morning I spent rolled up in bed, reading through the 40k sourcebooks I had borrowed from Phil to get a grip on the bigger picture behind the game. The experience blew my (much younger) mind, since the setting was actually nothing like I had imagined it:

Where I had expected the usual Sci-Fi tropes of technological progress and towers of glass and marble and the like, I learned of a galaxy in steady decline instead: All the great times had already passed, all the good things already happened, and the whole Imperium of Man was still trying to get to grips with the fallout from an event 10,000 years in the past: The Horus Heresy.

I was shocked by how dark the whole background was. And I couldn’t help but laugh at the audacity of it all at the same time: A universe 40,000 years into the future (just try to actually imagine that for a second, instead of just skimming over it and moving on!). Battleships looking like cathedrals. The Emperor of Mankind sitting on a throne that was nothing more than a glorified life support, trapping a last spark of life in what was, for all intents and purposes, a withered corpse. The brightly coloured, clean-cut Space Marines I had witnessed on the tabletop the result of half-remembered genetic experiments, likely to malfunction and create horrible results as often as not. The “Space Ogres” and “Space Dwarves” were actually mutated humans that had adapted to their new homes in space – the whole thing just couldn’t have been any more over the top and sinister and quirky — but somehow it still worked. And it rocked! Hard!

One of the reasons for that may have been the fact that all the background was accompanied by some of the most disturbing and brilliantly rendered art ever, such as these iconic John Blanche pieces:

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2nd_ed_books (3)

Even though GW’s two main universes may have been a mashup of all kinds of well-established tropes and influences to begin with, 40k succeeded at finding its very own voice: Something between classic Tolkienesque fantasy and the disturbing visuals of the David Lynch version of Dune. Looking back at it now, the Orks and dwarves and chaos warriors using machine guns weren’t even the most interesting thing about the setting in the first place. They were just a point of entry. What I found much more compelling was the Imperium’s neo-Luddite approach towards technology, the promise of technological progress (so omnipresent in the Sci-Fi genre) fractured and broken and twisted into something else. A galaxy-wide Imperium, able to perform technological miracles by today’s standards, but still seeming strangely antiquated and dystopian, like a blend of 1984’s Oceania, Brave New World’s sinister view towards genetics and Victorian design sensibilities — there was nothing quite like it, and I guess there still isn’t.

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After reading these books, I was immediately hooked. It would take years for me to get around to the actual gaming, and even longer to purchase my first own starter box for 40k, but ever since reading through the 2nd edition Codex Imperialis, I have found 40k to be by far the most original and interesting setting in GW’s catalogue.

But the Codex Imperialis wasn’t the only book in the 2nd edition starter box, so let’s take a closer look at each of them in turn:

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Codex Imperalis

I already described most of what I found fascinating about the book, so let’s just mention some interesting details here: The whole book is full of small pieces of additional background, story vignettes or simply “soundbites” from the grimdark future of the 41st millennium. Most of these were written by veteran author Bill King, supposedly, and he did a fantastic job of it: Though pieces of the background may have changed (or disappeared altogether), it’s often the single lines, the quotes out of context, that really breathe life into the scenario.

Oh, and the Codex Imperialis also contains what may be the best piece of World Eaters related art of all time:

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Vintage Mark Gibbons FTW! 😉

 

The Rulebook

Well, I’ve told you often enough that rules are usually a bit of a blind spot for me. What’s more, my actual memories of the 2nd edition rules are as hazy as they are ambiguous: I only ever played one game using them (or rather: a pared down version of the rules that our young minds were able to deal with), and my memories of that game, against Phil, once again, are a bit of a mixed bag: I remember one of his Space Marines picking out my powerful models with a rocket launcher with effortless ease, while my own special weapon spectacularly misfired, wiping out even more of my guys (I got to play Orks, by the way, and that was definitely the short end of the stick in those days). Actually, at one point, my Dreadnought exploded and we had to chart its trajectory by some arcane means as the burning carcass made a few last jumps around the battlefield …killing yet more of my own models. Actually, that’s the main memory I have of the 2nd edition rules: Stuff blowing up in my face. And using strange mathematics and rather clunky mechanisms to precisely calculate how badly I had managed to mess up.

To be fair though, not only was it all a bit too complex for my younger self, but 40k was also still very much tied to the Rogue Trader days back then: The game was basically still a skirmisher in many ways, its system becoming more and more idiosyncratic and clunky as army sizes and unit complexities grew.

But the magic wasn’t in the somewhat obfuscating rules for me (not unlike today, come to think of it): I was drawn in by the dark and quirky setting, by the artwork and by what remains, to my mind, one of the most iconic colour sections of all time:

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I cannot tell you how many of our school breaks we spent poring over those pictures, marveling at the fantastic models and their equally fantastic paintjobs — little did we know that both better sculpts and better painting would be available one day. Still: Good times!

 

Warhammer 40,000: Wargear

Having an own book for weapons and pieces of equipment may seem quite luxurious today, but 2nd edition 40k pulled it off in style: The wargear compendium features detailed descriptions of each weapon, both in relation to its background in the fluff and its actual rules on the table. Most weapons also got an accompanying piece of artwork, which is definitely a nice touch! Still, filling a whole book with this stuff was (and still is) pure madness, of course. But even so, it’s nice to be able to find out what sound a Meltagun makes (answer: pretty much none at all, except for an unimpressive hissing, it’s the target blowing up that makes the sound) or to marvel at the fact that, back then, pretty much every alien race in the galaxy was using trusty Lasguns and Bolters along with the Imperium’s finest.

Like the other books, this one also featured little vignettes of background, among them a fascinating short story about one Brother Captain Karlsen (of the Thousand Sons traitor legion), exploring what it must be like to have lived for ten millennia and the havocs such a lengthy lifetime would wreak upon even a superhuman mind. Fun fact: Brother Captain Karlsen actually appeared in the 6th edition rulebook! What a nice shout out!

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Warhammer 40,000: Army Lists:

To tell you the truth, I never actually got a look at this. The book, also known as “The Black Codex”, as far as I know, supposedly contained army lists for the different factions in 40k along with the point costs, which probably made it super important back then and highly superfluous now. Moving on…

 

War for Armageddon Scenario Book

A thin black and white book containing some beginner missions designed to get people into the game, set against the background of the Second War for Armageddon. It’s mostly the usual beginner scenario fare, so let me point out the most interesting fact about the book (to me at least): It features one of my favourite depictions of the Emperor of Mankind during the days of the Great Crusade:

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I really love this piece, clunky Space Marine design notwithstanding, since it shows the Emperor as more of a fighting man among his troops and less of a demigod in totally blinged out armour, pointing his huge sword everywhere. It also looks like the Emperor actually isn’t twice as tall as his Space Marines, which makes much more sense than some of the more recent depictions, in my opinion.

Anyway, when Phil sold me the remains of his 40k starter box some time during the early 2000s, it was missing the Codex Imperialis as well as the “Black Codex”. While the latter did not seem like too much of a loss, I had such fond memories of the former that I got a replacement for the former off ebay for a song, and I still think it was a great, maybe even an essential, purchase.

In fact, if you ever get the chance to pick these up for a good price, go for it! Some of the background may have been retconned, some of the artwork may be quirky, the rules are no longer viable, but the books are, of course, still totally worth it. And at least in my case, this is where the magic started!

 

Do you have your own memories of the 2nd edition books (or indeed of the game proper)? If so, I’d be happy to hear them in the comments section!

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

The future is green!

Posted in Conversions, old stuff, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob, Pointless ramblings, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2013 by krautscientist

…well, at least in part. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start with a small excurse (as I am wont to do). A word of warning, though: This will be a pretty wordy post, as we take another trip down memory lane…

Anyway, let us talk og Orcs, shall we? My sympathy for Orcs and Goblins even predates my knowledge of Tolkien and his books by a couple of years. Indeed, possibly my first exposure to the concept of the Orc per se were this guy and his kin:

HeroQuest Orc (2)

painted by me during the early 90s

While that approach may seem a little backwards, GW’s concept of what an Orc should look like (along with 80’s fantasy art of mostly British origin) had shaped my view of Orcs and Goblins long before I ever read the Hobbit for the first time. Consequently, when I did read the Hobbit, it was absolutely clear to me that the Orcs and Goblins appearing thoughout the story had to be very similar in appearance to the greenskinned creatures populating the labyrinths of HeroQuest.

Another huge influence in my relationship with the greenskins came when Warcraft and Warcraft II were released: Instead of going for a goofy, idiotic and mostly bumbling race of imbeciles, Blizzard’s Orcs where a proud and fierce warrior race, cunning and powerful, if a little lacking in subtlety. But still, Blizzard’s designers were obviously influenced by both Tolkien and GW, so the image of the greenskinned brute with tusk like teeth was further embellished. During all of this, my love of Orcs and Goblins made me get the 5th edition WFB army book for them, but back in those days, starting a greenskin army was prohibitively expensive, with most models only being available in metal. So I only ever got a few of the models, like these classic Brian Nelson Orcs:

Old Orcs (1)

again, one of my older paintjobs: first painted sometime during the late 90s, then slightly touched up in 2000

Old Orcs (3)

When the 6th edition of WFB came around in 2000, the starter box contained lots of brand-new plastic Orcs, and I decided that this was the perfect time to finally start my own army of Orcs & Goblins. Having just finished school back then, I can remember myself during my compulsory term of community service, walking up and down the corridors of the hospital I was working at, with potential colour schemes for my new greenskin army constantly at the back of my head. I was in love with GW’s Orcs and Goblins, and how could I not have been? From a design perspective, the greenskins have been among GW’s finest offerings for a long time now. And they are one of the only factions always managing to blend the legitimately scary with the darkly humorous.

So I started building and painting, and my first models made me hungry for more. Take a look:

Old Orcs (8)
Old Orcs (10)
Old Orcs (12)
Old Orcs (7)

These were all painted during late 2000 and early 2001, when I was hellbent on starting a greenskin army. Alas, it amounted to nothing: The model count needed for a whole army was what defeated my ambitions in the end. So the models went to my cupboard of shame, there to moulder for eternity. I have loved the new greenskin releases over the years, and they always made me feel slightly nostalgic, but I never felt tempted to actually pick up and finish the army: I couldn’t do it when WFB was still much smaller in scope, so I doubt I’d be able to do it now. So it was always with feelings of guilt that I remembered the greenskins resting in my cupboard, and I always took the time to lovingly sift through the different sprues, whenever I had to nick a couple of Orc parts for some INQ28 project or other.

So why all of this preamble? Well, a short time ago, a colleague told me that she and her husband were quite strongly into playing Blood Bowl. And through her constant gentle niggling, I began to think about actually starting a small BB Orc Team myself, just for the heck of it — after all, I probably had enough plastic Orcs to spare.
And while browsing through my collection of plastic Orc and Goblin bitz, the idea for two pretty different hobby projects was born…

 

I. The Orkheim Ultraz

Like I said, I am going to build and paint an Orcish Blood Bowl team in order to be able to give the game a spin. I have absolutely zero experience playing either football, rugby or Blood Bowl, but I am reasonably sure my colleague will at least be able to help me out with the latter. As I quickly found out, the different Orc plastic kits lend themselves very well to converting Blood Bowl models, and so, after a relatively short while, I had a couple of players tacked together:

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BB_Throwers_WIP (1)

The Ultraz' star thrower, clearly recognisable by his classic pose...

The Ultraz’ star thrower, clearly recognisable by his classic pose…

A Night Goblin, taking a moment to enjoy the crowd's adoration...

A Night Goblin, taking a moment to enjoy the crowd’s adoration…

...and his rather surly colleague...

…and his rather surly colleague…

All of these were built from leftovers and parts from my bitzbox. I used my usual yellow putty to not only tack the models together but also to show how I wanted them to be placed on the finished base — crucial in most cases, as you can see. Looking at all the Orcs above, trying their darnedest to catch that stupid ball, I think you’ll agree that there’s quite a potential for humor in these models, and that’s what I am going for: I want these to be darkly humorous and slightly goofy.

I also repurposed the members of an old WFB Orc command group to serve as members of the team’s fan club:

Fans WIP (1)

Fans WIP (3)

And a Gnoblar from the Ogre kit was used to serve as the team’s kit man — or “Kit Git”, as it were 😉

Kit Git
I even caved in and finally got the box of Black Orcs I had craved for such a long time. Some of these will be used as blockers in my Blood Bowl Team, and once again, the design of the models made sure that they are looking right at home on a football…erm pardon, Blood Bowl pitch, with only very little conversion work required:

BB_Black_Orcs_WIP (1)

The rest of the Black Orcs, however, will be used in the second hobby project I was talking about. Before we take a look at that, though, here’s the whole team so far:

Orkheim Ultraz Team WIP (4)

 

II. Orcish Gang for Mordheim

Yet another specialist system, huh? Bring it on! While I hope to develop this gang of models back to back with the Blood Bowl team, the project could not be more different in nature. Where I want the BB team to be funny and goofy, these guys will be dark and brutal, imposing and very gothic: I want to channel not only the slightly demented aesthetic of Mordheim itself, but also the dark fantasy tropes present in Blanchian artwork from the late 80s and early 90s — effectively, Tolkien by way of Brueghel and Bosch. This will be quite a daunting task though, so even if I shouldn’t be able to live up to my mission statement, I will at least strive to create a really brutal looking band of Orcs (and, possibly, Goblins). They will have lots and lots of weapons, lots of kit and strange detail, and several models will be based on Black Orcs to begin with, to make them look even more formidable and ferocious. I will probably completely ignore the Mordheim equipment tables and just go with what looks awesome.

And, after all this time, this project will give me the chance of actually using some of the Orcs I built all these years ago for WFB. Rest assured, however, that only the most imposing models will make the cut:

Mordheim Orc Gang WIP (1)

And even those will probably end up looking like the runts of the litter. Anyway, I also built a first actual test model for the gang, using a mix of Orc and Black Orc parts:

Mordheim Orc Gang WIP (3)

Mordheim Orc Gang WIP (2)

This guy is still missing lots and lots of bitz and strange, gothic doodads, but I think you get the picture.

I cannot even be sure whether these guys will ever end up seeing the gaming table at all — after all, this is just a hobby project trying to express both my love for greenskins as well as my admiration for a certain flavour of dark fantasy artwork. Maybe my buddy Frankie will do me the favour of playing a game of Mordheim against me one of those days, though.

 

In any case, by choosing two hobby projects that are limited, if not in scope then at least in model count, I can finally build some great Orc and Goblin models: A goal that was somehow always lost while frantically trying to finish enough models to make up an army. I am really looking forward to this!

I don’t have a clear deadline for either of these projects: The BB team will probably be assembled and painted rather soon, seeing how I want to try my hand at the game. I can easily see the Mordheim gang taking quite a while to complete, since it’s by far the more ambitious project of the two. For now, I have a pile of bitz and Brian’s fantastic recipe for Orc skin. Let’s see where that will take me…

Oh, and for those of you visiting this blog for my World Eaters, Custodes or INQ28 models — don’t fret! A part of the future may indeed be green, but equally sizeable chunks will remain red and bronze, golden or …shadowy and secretive — yes, I realise that those last two aren’t colours 😉

Anyway, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!