Archive for May, 2013

Inquisitor Zuul

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2013 by krautscientist

I may usually be a thoroughly lazy person with the attention span of a chimpanzee on fire, but every now and then, even I can enjoy a good hobby challenge that forces me to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. Contributing a model to the secret Yggdrassillium project certainly was such a challenge, and being a part of it has been such an awesome experience that I was eager to throw myself, headfirst, into the next project like that. So what is this about?

Tomorrow will see this year’s Inqvitational, a narrative event for Inquisitor played at the 28mm scale, taking place at Warhammer World, once again thanks to the tireless work of Commissar Molotov and a number of other hobbyists. And while it was my very great honour to be invited to attend, it became clear rather quickly that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the UK for the event due to work-related reasons. Still, the INQ28 community has enriched my hobby life to the point where I felt the need to contribute something – anything – to the event. So when Molotov and PDH held a call for NPC models to be built for the event, I happily volunteered.

The title of this year’s Inqvitational is “The Sins of the Master”, and the event will see a coalition of several puritan members of the Dalthus sector’s Inquisition, led by Inquisitor Tybalt, join forces to bring to justice one Inquisitor Zuul, who is not only a senior member of the Dalthan Ordo Malleus, but also an outspoken Xanthite (and thus considered a dangerous heretic by somes). It goes without saying that a cell of more radical minded Inquisitors will likely be trying to foil Tybalt’s plans.

Inquisitor Zuul had already appeared in last year’s Inqvitational as a candidate for the succession of the Helios Cabal. Back then, Molotov chose this piece of artwork – originally published on page 7 of the original Inquisitor rulebook – to give Zuul a face:

Inquisitor Zuul artwork (1b)

I volunteered to build a model to represent Zuul on the table, so this picture would be my basic template for the model. Iwas actually pretty glad about that, to tell you the truth: In my opinion, not only is this piece of artwork truly brilliant and evocative, but it’s also a perfect match for the character: The Inquisitor in the artwork looks  imposing, noble and composed, to be sure, but one of the defining characteristics of the character for me is that he also looks like a damned man. It’s in the eyes, I believe: Those are eyes that have seen to much and gone to far. I think this image was a great choice for a Xanthite character to begin with, since it embodies the fate of the outspoken Xanthite: Being convinced that one’s beliefs are true, that the forces of Chaos may indeed be used against themselves, but at the same time having to resist the urge to give in to the ruinous powers and possibly having to face your eventual damnation. The artwork perfectly captures this and shows a character that seems noble, but also ever so slightly unhinged. This was a quality I definitely wanted to keep in my rendition of Zuul!

Since I am (and will always remain) a kitbasher at heart, the first step – obviously – was to find a suitable base model After giving it some thought, doing quite a bit of research (and ruling out the purchase of some prohibitively expensive Forgeworld characters) , I decided to use the WFB Empire Witchhunter as a base for Zuul. Now this model had also been used several times in the past by other INQ aficionados — and to great effect, at that (like Riseofthemagi’s brilliant Inquisitor Helsmarck conversion, and Keravin’s Navigator, to name just two noteworthy examples), so making sure my model would looked different enough would be an important part of the task as well.

So my next step was to decide which parts of the artwork I wanted (and would be able) to keep and which detail I wanted to lose. The most important choice was which head to use, and I soon settled on a head from the WFB Empire flagellant kit. Here’s the base model with only the new head added:

Inquisitor Zuul (1)
I have to say that I really like those flagellant heads: They are great sculpts, for one, and even some of the less extreme ones, like the one above, have a certain haggard, tortured quality that works very well for an Inquisitor (incidentally, one of the other heads from the kit was used on my Inquisitor Gotthardt model). Molotov pointed out to me that the beard was looking more unkempt than the goatee in the artwork, but in the end I decided to keep it that way for several reasons: There was a very real chance of ruining the head by shaving off too much of the detail, for one.  Plus I thought a beard like that would be a nice way of having Zuul look slightly frayed around the edges. Since I would have to lose the enormously expressive eyes from the artwork (I could never paint eyes like that on a model, to be honest. I’m sure Kari of the Spiky Rat Pack could, but that’s beside the point). The beard, however, would give the character back some of that slightly haunted quality: It certainly does not look so unruly as to appear totally unkempt, and I also wouldn’t paint it to look dirty or patchy during the paintjob.

Afterwards, the converting began in earnest: The pistol held by the original model was shaved off, as was the entire left arm. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised at how precisely I was able to get rid of certain parts of the model: Finecast may certainly have its shortcomings, but it’s a great medium to convert!

I had originally planned to emulate the pose from the artwork, with the character holding his cane/staff ahead of him in both hands, maybe even leaning on it. In fact, the right hand’s position would have lend itself beautifully to such an attempt, but it turned out that I would have had to do a lot of work to several other areas of the body for the pose to work, since the position of his legs and cloak make it pretty hard to fit a hand holding a cane there without it looking really awkward.

So I added a new hand holding a cane in a more open pose. Here’s the early mockup I did at this stage:

Inquisitor Zuul (2)
Inquisitor Zuul (3)
Inquisitor Zuul (4)

The hand holding the cane came from the Bretonnian Men at Arms, while the sword on the model’s back (from the plastic Chaos Sorcerer Lord) was chosen for its slightly ambiguous look: It could be a daemon weapon, but it’s definitely not screaming chaos at the top of its lungs — I guess Inquisitor Tybalt will find out the truth, one way or another…

I also started getting rid of the flared trouser leg, since this element is very typical of the WFB Empire look, and I didn’t want Zuul to look like a dressed up peacock.

Now replacing that lump of yellow putty with an actual new left arm was quite a bit of work. I had it all done once and then realised, while looking at the photos I had taken of the model, that the arm was too long. So I had to rip it all off and start over 😉

With the basic construction of the arm finally out of the way, I used more GS and liquid GS to blend in the new additions and to repair the model’s coat where the left hand had originally been. While I was at it, I also added a skull to the cane to give a small visual clue that Zuul is not just a kindly old man with a walking stick 😉

Here’s the finished conversion right before undercoating:

Inquisitor Zuul (9)
Inquisitor Zuul (10)
Inquisitor Zuul (11)
Inquisitor Zuul (12)
As you can see, I added some cabling to the back of Zuul’s head, to resemble the bionics seen in the artwork. And while I already liked the pose of Zuul’s right hand well enough, PDH suggested having Zuul hold his Inquisitorial rosette on a cord. Making that happen was a little tricky, but in the end, it worked out pretty well — and it was only later that I realised the =][= symbol dangling from Zuul’s hand in the original artwork!

The cane really does look more like a staff now, although I think it works. And for some reason, while building it, I thought of Fabius Bile’s cane that’s really some kind of DE-like agoniser — maybe the staff is more than just a walking implement?

I also constructed a custom base for the model, using parts of an old phone card, some brass parts from the 40k basing kit, a vent I had shaved off the back of a Dark Vengeance cultist, and some cork.

Here’s a closer look at the base before painting:

Inquisitor Zuul (7)
Inquisitor Zuul (8)
When painting the model, my initial idea was to go for a black coat with red inner lining, although that somehow seemed just a tad too clichéd to me. After giving it some thought, I decided to reverse the recipe: Zuul would be sporting a dark red coat with dark grey lining. The fact that his main rival, Inquisitor Tybalt, has a dark green coat, definitely also played a role when it came to that particular decision…

As a matter of fact, my recently completed model for Inquisitor Alvar was a bit of “test run” to see whether the colour recipe I had in mind for Zuul would work.

Here’s the model with all the base colours blocked in and the first pass of washes in place:

Inquisitor Zuul (13)
Inquisitor Zuul (14)
Inquisitor Zuul (15)
The model was still thoroughly lacking contrast at this point, of course. So I accentuated Zuul’s coat with red to make it pop a little more. However, I paid attention that it didn’t become too bright and flashy. Here’s the model with some additional accents and details:

Inquisitor Zuul (23)
Inquisitor Zuul (19)
Inquisitor Zuul (20)
Inquisitor Zuul (21)
I also spent quite a bit of time on his face, trying to make it look as “alive” as I possibly could. The base was painted using my regular recipe for rusty metal. When it came to his staff and the sword scabbard on his back, I was a bit unsure on how to progress. PDH encouraged me to try a rather striking greenish turquoise, with an added coat of gloss varnish. And while the result may have ended up slightly more green than I am strictly comfortable with, that was a part of what this project was about: trying new things and stepping outside of my comfort zone…

Anyway, after quite a few painting sessions and some final touchups, the model was finished. I give you Inquisitor Zuul:

Inquisitor Zuul (36)
Inquisitor Zuul (37)
Inquisitor Zuul (44)
Inquisitor Zuul (38)
Inquisitor Zuul (39)
Inquisitor Zuul (40)
Inquisitor Zuul (42)
All in all, some parts of the model may be slightly rougher around the edges than I would have liked, but in the end, I had to get the model out the door before the deadline expired. And I think I really managed to get across that Zuul is an ancient and experienced Inquisitor who doesn’t hide his convictions or fear any confrontation with his puritan colleagues. PDH remarked that Zuul had “such a weight of years to him”, and I am really happy about that, since it’s one of the things I was trying to achieve with the model!

Here are a couple of additional detail shots:

Zuul’s face:

Inquisitor Zuul (34)
The model’s base:

Inquisitor Zuul (57)
Inquisitor Zuul (56)
And, once again, the face (which I am actually really happy with!):

Inquisitor Zuul (47)
And, just for fun, some pictures with two other models that were pretty important for the creation of Zuul:

First up, Zuul with Inquisitor Alvar, who, as I already mentioned, served as a “colour test” of sorts:

Inquisitor Zuul (61)
While the general colours used may be similar, however, the models still ended up looking quite different: Alvar is younger and more idealistic, and certainly a snappier dresser, while Zuul has a certain feeling of regality and gravitas about him.

And here’s Zuul with my own Inquisitor Antrecht, himself an outspoken radical. I wanted to give Zuul a slightly superior patrician vibe, just the same as Antrecht.

Inquisitor Zuul (63)
Come to think of it, these two could probably be pretty good friends 😉

By the way, this is possibly my favourite angle of Zuul:

Inquisitor Zuul (41)

So yeah, I certainly hope the model’s good enough to pass for Zuul during the Inqvitational! While it may not be perfect, I must say I am at least reasonably pleased with how it turned out. Plus building a model to resemble a piece of artwork was a completely new and refreshing challenge! Which actually begs the question: Does the model for Zuul resemble the artwork it was based on at all? Here’s a composite with the artwork and model side by side:

Zuul_comparison01
As you can see, I changed a number of things, some of them by sheer necessity (like the pose): The Katana-like sword in the artwork was replaced by a more western looking sword.  The facial features in the artwork are noticeably sharper, yet that cannot be helped: Trying to change the face itself would surely have ended in disaster. On the other hand, there are also a number of parallels that were strangely coincidental, like the dangling inquisitorial rosette, the (purity) seal on Zuul’s right lapel, the very similar coat or the fact that the armour the model is wearing on its torso could be seen as the same kind of augmetic pipes and doodads seen in the artwork.

Anyway, the model was packed up and sent to PDH, where, after some hair-raising delays caused by my very good friends at the German postal service, it managed to arrive just in time for the Inqvitational. Phew 😉

Huge thanks must go to both Commissar Molotov and PDH for their input and suggestions which have been invaluable during the creation of the model (and, indeed, for allowing me to tackle a rather important supporting character for the Inqvitational)! And thanks to the INQ28 crowd over at the Ammobunker as well for their continued feedback!

Inquisitor Zuul (43)
Alas, Inquisitor Zuul’s story might end up being a rather short one: There’s a very real chance he won’t survive the run-in with his puritan colleagues this Saturday. In any case, building the model to both resemble the original artwork and express Zuul’s character through the conversion and paintjob have been a great experience. And as for Zuul’s final fate, I’ll keep you posted, of course!

Until then, let me know what you think about the model in the comments section! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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Mine is bigger! A look at the new Eldar models

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , on May 29, 2013 by krautscientist

Another month, another GW release, and this one has been eagerly anticipated, to say the least:

The Eldar are, without a doubt, one of Warhammer 40k’s most iconic factions. And while “Elves IN SPACE!” may sound like a horrible concept in theory, Jes Goodwin’s incredible designs – conceived as early as during the late 80s and early 90s – are so utterly fantastic that not only did they help to sell what might otherwise been a very bad idea, but they also still haven’t lost any of their coolness, even more than two decades later — whatever they are paying the man at GW, it cannot ever possibly be enough!

So it’s no wonder that the Eldar are both an integral part of 40k lore and a faction beloved by many. And an update for them has been a long time coming.

Eldar release (1)

Let me start by saying that the Eldar Codex continues the latest trend of fantastic cover artwork (pretty closely mirroring the design of the new plastic Farseer, by the way). And the special edition cover sleeve, once again, seems very elegant and well designed — and, strangely enough, just as faux-japanese as the S.E. Tau Codex.

When it comes to the models, in my review of last month’s High Elves release, I talked about GW’s more and more formulaic approach to recent army updates. To quote myself on the matter:

One combi-kit for a huge creature, check. One slightly hokey vehicle kit, check. One combi-kit that’ll give you two kinds of infantry, check. One plastic character and two Finecast characters, check.

Now, here we are, one month later, with a new release, and look what we’ve got: one huge creature, one vehicle kit, one combi-kit for two kinds of infantry, one plastic character and two Finecast characters. At first glance, this doesn’t bode too well for the originality of the release. But is it that simple? In order to find out, let’s take a closer look at the new models and the conversion potential.

 

Wraithknight

Eldar release (2)
Well, this tall boy is certainly this month’s wraithbone elephant in the room. And let’s not beat around the bush here: That thing is a titan, period. A small titan, perhaps, but a titan nonetheless. With the Wraithknight standing noticeably taller than even the recently released Tau Riptide – a fact that’s even played up in GW’s marketing speak – we are looking at a very classic case of “mine is bigger!” here, and I am not sure I really like that prospect…

Before I elaborate, let’s focus on the model, though:

Eldar release (3)
The Wraithknight seems rather easy to customise, regarding both the weapons loadout and its pose. Personally speaking, and without any knowledge of the rules, I think the sword and shield combo looks much cooler. Plus, as with the Riptide, it will be very interesting to see the poses some of the more adventurous hobbyists will get out of this kit. The lower legs seem quite a bit too long at first glance – maybe the designers were just trying buff the model’s heigth that way – but the overall slightly alien look makes sure the proportions still work rather well.

The one part of the model I was initially not sold on was the helmet, since I would have preferred a design closer to that of the FW Eldar titans, i.e. a stylised guardian head, but seeing how the Wraithknight is really more of a wraithbone construct than a regular walker, I guess it makes sense that it would look like a taller version of the other constructs:

Eldar release (4)
And the pictures in WD show that the head can look very interesting when the faceplate isn’t painted like some kind of viewing window, but rather in the same colour as the rest of the head — that’s just a matter of personal taste, though…

I also noticed that GW seems to have settled on yet another iteration of their box designs. I’ve lost count of the different variants over time (photos, then artwork, then different artwork, then photos again, then photos painstakingly photoshopped to look like impressions from real, grimdark battlefields,…), but the new one seems much more elegant and minimalistic:

Eldar release (5)

Is this a way of positioning GW models even more as luxury goods? Regarding the Wraithknight which comes at 90,00 Euros a pop, that certainly seems like a possibility…

My main gripe with the model actually has nothing to do with the design, but rather with its size: Are we witnessing a whole different sort of scale creep here? Will players be “required” to add one or several titan-sized models to even their regular 40k armies in the future? Now I do of course realise that huge kits like this may be just what many hobbyists were waiting for, but since I’ve always been drawn to models at infantry-size first and foremost, the prospect of bigger and bigger models – in regular 40k – seems a little disconcerting to me.

Price and size notwithstanding, I like the design. The model will certainly be a centre piece for any Eldar army — so much so, in fact, that the rest of the force will probably have to struggle to keep up…

 

Hemlock Wraithfighter / Crimson Hunter

Well, this kit is a bit of a conundrum for me, because I feel entirely differently about it when I see model from different perspectives. Allow me to explain:
The first look I got at this particular kit was this picture:

Eldar release (10)
And to be honest, I instantly hated it! It looks like one of those G.I.Joe fighter jets I loved so much in my childhood, yet managed to outgrow (fortunately, I might add). The colour doesn’t really help either. And those additional wing/fin things just seem goofy.

But then, there’s also this:

Eldar release (6)
The Hemlock Wraithfighter, the other fighter variant that can be assembled from the same kit. And I have to say quite like it! I was initially put off by the slightly “drooping” lines of the model, but seeing how the Eldar do not assemble their vehicles so much as “grow” them from semi-organic wraithbone, it seems plausible that the flyer’s lines would be more organic than those of the Dark Eldar Razorwing (which is conventionally built from anorganic materials).

Eldar release (7)
And while some of the design reminds me of a present day fighter jet, there’s still enough to make it look like an Eldar vehicle – all those small visual cues that manage to tie it in with the rest of the army.

Eldar release (8)
The fact that the paintjob on this is truly gorgeous also helps, of course. I’ve always felt that everything lo0ks better in Saim-Hann colours, but in this case, the patterns and lines on the model do a great job of breaking up the huge empty space, making it look less like a toy and more like an elegant warmachine.

I also really love the fact that they managed to get one of the guys from Daft Punk to pilot the thing:

Eldar release (9)
Seriously, though: That head is great! Note to myself: Based on this head, check options for two Daft Punk-based character conversions for use in INQ28 😉

So let’s take another look at the other variant, the Crimson Hunter:

Eldar release (11)
At second glance, and without that dopey star background, it’s really not so bad. But it’s not as good as the Hemlock either. Much of what I don’t like about the model may be based on the paintjob, to be honest, so I may just have to reserve final judgment until I’ve seen a slightly different colour scheme on this. But I am not keen on those fins behind the cockpit and would likely leave them off if I ever were to build the model.

Eldar release (13)
And one thing I find really disappointing, especially since the Hemlock got its own (brilliant) pilot head option, is the fact that the Crimson Hunter’s helmet looks just like that of a regular Guardian. Granted, the actual aspect armour in this case is probably the fighter jet itself, but it would have been cool to get a more stylised mask, adding some visual distinction to the aspect. After all, the helmets have been the element that viusally defines the aspect warriors for a long time.

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As it stand, this guy just looks like an Eldar Guardian in purple armour, doesn’t he?

 

Wraithguard / Wraithblades

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An already existing unit choice, these are now finally available in plastic. The new version doesn’t fundamentally change the design, which is quite alright – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and all that. It’s also cool to have these as a plastic kit now, especially since a special HQ selection seems to transform them into troops.

Eldar release (16)
To be honest though, I find it rather hard to get too excited about the models, apart from a general appreciation of the fact that they are now available in plastic. Sure, there are lots of well-considered details to individualise the five models, but it’s really a design we are already very familiar with.

The other option for the kit is a bit more interesting at least, allowing us to assemble the models as the more CC focused Wraithblades:

Eldar release (18)According to GW’s description in WD, these ghostly warriors are so furious that their very wraithbone frame vibrates with their anger — only there’s very little anger evident in their poses. That probably cannot be helped, seeing how the same bodies and legs have to be used both for the shooty and the killy variants of the unit, but to make these guys look truly like the (angry) CC specialists they are supposed to be, one would have to do quite a bit of work regarding their poses — which, in all fairness, should be easy enough, seeing how they are plastic models.

While I like shape of the axes, I think I prefer the option of arming them with twin swords, if only because it’s possible to achieve great – if static – poses like this:

Eldar release (19)
This guy really seems like an ancient, dignified ghost swordsman, doesn’t he? In my opinion, it’s swords all the way for these guys!

 

In addition to the squad and vehicle kits, there are also three new characters for Eldar players. Let’s take a closer look:

 

Plastic Farseer

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This model was already leaked a couple of weeks ago, stirring up quite a buzz on the net. It seemed reasonably certain in advance that the Eldar would receive their own plastic clamshell character as well, and it was certainly a good decision to use the ever versatile Farseer for this. The model was designed by none other than Jes Goodwin himself, which is a bit of a no brainer really, because it was possibly the only way of having this new Farseer hold up to Jes’ older models — it’s truly baffling how those old Seer models of his are still just as great as they were ten or, in some cases, almost twenty years ago.

This new model is really dynamic and three dimensional, with a great pose and lots of nifty details. Just check out the hand:

Eldar release (21)
Some people online voiced an immense dislike for the farseer’s neck — go figure! But since this is a plastic release, there’s nothing stopping you from changing that! I would have liked a helmet without that strange pharao beard that has been creeping into Farseer designs for a couple of years, for instance, but again, it should really be easy enough to get rid of that element. All in all, this a really good entry into the 40k plastic character library, and I can easily see myself picking up one of these — if only for the conversion possibilities (more on that later!).

 

Spiritseer

Eldar release (23)
This guy is obviously the choice for people who want to use lots and lots of wraithbone constructs in their army, and the model’s designer Martin Fores did a really nice job of including a number of shout outs to those ghostly warriors, especially the featureless faceplate (which I love!). The satanic horns pose for psykers is getting a little long in the tooth, if you ask me, but I’ll let it slide this time, because it’s a lovely model all in all. My only gripe is, once again, that this had to be a Finecast release in the first place: It should have been very easy to release this guy as a plastic character as well (or, indeed, make one clamshell with different head and staff options for either a Farseer or Spiritseer — wouldn’t that have been neat?). It seems like they’re doing some of these models in Finecast just because it’s in the business rules somewhere, and that seems slightly dopey — just sayin’…

 

Illic Nightspear

Eldar release (24)
Ah, well, here’s the best part of this particular release for me: Illic is a beautiful model with a brilliant pose, and I can easily see people picking him up just to paint him for their display cases — he makes for a stunning display piece, on par with the brilliant model for Lelith Hesperax. In this case, I can even forgive the model being Finecast, since the character’s elegance and the stunning amount of detail probably make good use of the medium. I also really like how the piece of ancient ruin is incorporated into his pose. A true winner, this one. My one gripe is that I am not really all that fond of the hair, but since that’s strictly a matter of personal taste, I won’t hold it against the model. The fact that the designer, Edgar Ramos, was also responsible for last months rather unimpressive plastic Loremaster of Hoeth is a bit of a conundrum, however. Why release something like that when Illic shows Mr. Ramos is capable of infinitely better work?

 

Jetbike Autarch upgrade kit

Eldar release (25)
Having this available as an upgrade pack is a nice bit of service. Let’s just hope that the parts will still be useable once the new jetbikes are released *wink*wink*, *nudge*)…

 

Dire Avengers

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Oh, and GW also repackaged the (old) Dire Avenger models into a smaller squad of five — seems like a bit of a dick move, to be honest. Or is there any non-economic reason for this?

 

What’s missing?

With a release as strongly anticipated as the Eldar, it goes without saying that wishlisting abounded prior to the release: The fans would have loved twenty new kits at the very least, and, in all fairness, anticipation like that cannot possibly be fully satisfied by any release. Still, some things seem to be conspicuously absent from the release: What about the rumoured new jetbikes? WIP sculpts of these have been floating around on the net for years, and the new release would have been a good chance for updating them and bringing them more in line with the look of the DE jetbikes. Plus a jetbike / Shining Spears combi-kit would also have made a great itam for the combi-kit slot. Even more painful is the absence of any plastic aspect warriors, since at least some of these should lend themselves to a combi-kit rather beautifully. I don’t doubt that both of these units will be released in time, and GW’s strategy is to make sure all units in the codex are available in model form before doing any huge redesigns. But still, jetbikes and new aspects were the things fans were probably most eager to see, so it’s still a bit of a shame…

Conversion potential

Like the Tau, the Eldar have a very distinct and iconic look, which makes them instantly recognisable but also renders their different kits rather hard to use as “conversion fodder” in the classical sense. So most parts of this release will be useful for Eldar, Dark Eldar or Eldar Corsair armies, above all else. The models themselves should allow for quite a bit of customisation and reposing, so it will be interesting to witness what hobbyists all over the world come up with.

Illic Nightspear not only makes for a stunning display piece, but could also realistically be used as a lone Eldar operative during games of INQ28 — he looks the part.

The most interesting conversion options stem from the plastic Farseer, if you ask me. Let’s take a look at the sprue to illustrate what I mean:

Eldar release (22)
Seeing how the model’s head, forearms and chest are all separate pieces, the Farseer should not only be really easy to customise for your Eldar army, he should also make for a pretty useful base model for all kinds of INQ28-related conversions. I could easily see him transformed into an Ordo Xenos Inquisitor, with a bit of work! And the fact that the model is plastic makes it even more useful. Looks like I’ll be getting one of these sooner rather than later…

 

All in all, the Eldar release was so highly anticipated, and people were hoping for so many different things to come out of this release that GW’s designers were facing a bit of an insolvable problem. That said, the lack of new jetbikes and plastic aspect warriors does seem a little disappointing. However the actual new models are very well designed and make great visual additions to the Eldar catalogue.

Like almost no other 40k army, the Eldar are fantastic proof of how far a brilliant initial design will carry an army, informing each and every model and unit. The new additions play to the strengths of the Eldars’ overall design, and, small gripes notwithstanding, will fit right in on the table. My only bigger concern is the new kind of scale creep I already mentioned: Will we see an even bigger Tyranid bio construct or Imperial walker, once Apocalypse hits? Will these huge models make up more and more of the game? And will those who, like me, are rather drawn to normal, infantry-sized models, have an option to resist playing with what are basically action figures, at least from a scale perspective? Let’s wait and see…

In any case, Eldar players have received some beautiful new toys. And while last month’s High Elves seemed a little half-baked to me, the new Eldar models are quite a bit nicer. And even though I don’t plan on starting an Eldar army any time soon, I simply love looking at well painted Eldar armies and appreciating their models for what they are: Some of the best designed and most gorgeous pieces in GW’s entire catalogue.

So how did you like this new release? Any favourites? Any gripes? Any conversion ideas? Share your opinion in the comments section!
And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Orkheim Ultraz: Growing painz…

Posted in Blood Bowl, Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2013 by krautscientist

I recently played my second game of Blood Bowl, giving both the Orkheim Ultraz and myself some much needed practice. My opponent was my colleague Annie with her brilliant Lustria team (more on that in a minute), and in contrast to her husband Mike, she certainly didn’t pull her punches this time around.

Which was really all for the best, since I really need to learn this game the hard way. That said, she was still nice enough to point out some of my more imbecilic tactical decisions before it was too late, talking me through the different game moves and explaining what did and didn’t make sense.

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One of my Blitzers swinging a right hook at a Saurian — doubtlessly in frustration…

All of this didn’t stop me from getting thoroughly annihilated on the pitch, however: The Orkheim Ultraz spent most of the game knocked onto their asses. Not all of this was due to my dubious tactics, however, I just seemed to have a knack for rolling ones for the entire duration of the game: often several of them in a row, in fact…

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A rare moment of triumph: One of my field players has managed to catch the ball. His buddies are preparing to shield him from the oncoming lizards. Shortly after this picture was taken, things got rather ugly…

The game ended with my team failing to score a single touchdown, while Annie’s lizards had managed to score two. If I hadn’t been so slow during the game, I might have lost even harder.

My utter annihilation aside, it feels like I am – slowly – coming to grips with the game. While there’s quite a lot that does not yet come naturally to me, I believe I am beginning to understand some of the underlying mechanics and getting an idea of what to do and when to do it. If this all sounds extremely cautiously optimistic to you, bear with me: I am not a rules guy, and it takes ages for me to learn the intricacies of basically every tabletop game (except maybe for HeroQuest — I think I have that down by now 😉 ).

Anyway, I’ll need more practice, of course, but I may be starting to understand what I am actually doing during the game, which is a pretty good development, all things considered.

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A typical scene from the game: Almost my entire team lying around on the pitch, groaning in pain…

So, instead of putting you through more of my lamentations and tactical ineptitude, I thought it would be nice to spend the second half of this post to show you more of Annie’s Lustria models, originally conceived as the Raakmoor Venom Vipers. The team is full of great little ideas and beautifully painted, so you’re in for a treat.

And since you already got a look at the regular players in my last post, I’ll be focusing on the supporting characters this time around, since they are really something to behold. Because Annie has this habbit of spending at least as much money and work on her support staff as on the team proper. It’s madness, to be sure, but it’s a good kind of madness, if you ask me 😉

Disclaimer: Just to be perfectly clear on this: None of the following models were built or painted by me, and huge thanks must go to Annie for allowing me to post them here!

So, with that out of the way, let’s take a closer look:

First up, the trainer of the team:

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I already showed you this guy previously, without his floating chair. But now, finally in his true seat of power, the model is even cooler. For some reason, the bloated, froglike Slann immediately seems like a great trainer or manager.

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And you can almost imagine the skink at his side whispering recommendations in his ear, evaluating certain players and the like. The model has lots of detail and different textures, and I think Annie has really managed to do it justice with her paintjob:

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And that dapper little cap, done in GS and painted in the team’s colours as well as featuring its initials, still has to be my favourite part! A great addition that instantly transforms an otherwise unconverted model into a suitable piece for Blood Bowl:

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Then there are the cheerleaders:

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A very clever little conversion, involving some stock chamaeleon skinks and a bunch of pipe cleaners. I also love how Annie managed to paint the beady little eyes, complete with pupils, no less!

Now, what happens when the Raakmoor fans have to accompany the Vipers on an away match? Not to worry, because they have their very own fan bus to take them wherever they need to go:

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Using that huge metal model just for the heck of it is totally nuts, of course. But you just cannot ignore the brilliance of the idea: The fans commandeering a huge dinosaur to take them to each game of their team. Plus the model is, once again, very nicely painted! Check out the flags with the team logo! Brilliant!

And finally, possibly my favourite of the bunch:

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Whenever one of the Lizards get beaten to a cold-blooded pulp, no need to fear, because the team has a flying medic on standby at all times.
Now the idea in itself is already fantastic: Just imagine that terradon swooping in every time one of the players gets hurt. But the little details are what really takes the cake here: The terradon has a flashing blue light modeled on its head, and the skink has a flag and a bag of medical supplies. Brilliant!

All of these were made from stock Lizardmen models and a whole lot of creativity! And all of this showcases both Annie’s creativity and prowess at painting stuff, but also something I think is great about Blood Bowl in general: You only strictly need a dozen models to play the game, but there are all kinds of occasions for additional models to accompany your team. And there’s so much potential for adding humourous little tidbits to your collection of models: Have an idea for a funny mini-diorama? Heck, you may as well throw it in: Chances are, you’ll actually be able to use the model in some capacity, if only as some kind of cool turn marker.

So with that, my exploits in the wonderful world of fantasy football continue. Thanks again to Annie for letting me show these models! And, as always, thanks to you for reading and stay tuned for more!

Inquisitor Titus Alvar, Ordo Xenos

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2013 by krautscientist

I already mentioned in my latest Desktop Roundup post that I had continued working on my model for Inquisitor Alvar, of the Ordo Xenos. And after spending quite some time to make this model look just the way I wanted it, I can finally show you the finished model today.

But before I do that, let’s take a look at the model’s evolution:
Everything started with my desire to convert the trenchcoat wearing cultist champion from Dark Vengeance into an Inquisitor — as a matter of fact, my original plan was to build a second version of Inquisitor Antrecht.

So that’s what I tried to do when Biohazard was kind enough to let me have his DV cultist champ. But it didn’t work as well as I had anticipated, so my plan B was to transform the model into an Ordo Xenos Inquisitor, seeing how this was the one major Ordo I had not yet built a member of.

This was the original mockup for the model:

Cultists2INQ28 (9)
The most involved part of the conversion was to replace the cultist’s bare arms with uniformed arms from several Cadian kits, and it quickly became obvious that some GS work would be necessary at the seams. What’s more, the cultist’s bare and branded chest needed to be covered as well. While working on the model, I had the idea for an Inquisitor who was also a bit of a snappy dresser. That’s why I went for a “tie” when building the early version above. I also added a dwarven pistol that, while a bit on the big side, really looks like a reliable piece of equipment (especially when dealing with those vile Xenos…).

Alas, the different parts didn’t yet gel as well as I had hoped. Several people suggested using a different head and replacing the sword, and there was very little love for the tie I had used. I tried several heads as well as a different type of tie, and the model changed to this:

Xenos Inquisitor WIP
But that didn’t feel right, either: I didn’t necessarily want yet another venerable old-timer!

The turning point came when I received a fantastic head from the Celestial Hurricanum kit courtesy of my fellow hobbyist Gerner, and when DexterKong convinced me that I should give the original tie another chance. That’s when Inquisitor Alvar finally begun to take shape in earnest:

Xenos Inquisitor WIP (3)
The new arms were blended into the rest of the torso using GS. Inspired by Bruticus’ Inquisitor Tsengir, I also replaced the sword with a Dark Elf sabre, resulting in a weapon  with a rather subtle Xenos look. And I started to build up a waistcoat on the character’s torso using GS.

When the time came to paint the model, I went back to my original idea of the Inquisitor being a bit of a fashion victim and socialite. Because of that, I went for a less shadowy and secretive look, instead opting for some bold colour choices:

Inquisitor Alvar PIP (4)
Alvar’s coat was painted in a rich, dark red, with dark grey lining. I realise that the reverse colour scheme would have been the more obvious choice for an Inquisitor, but I am actually rather pleased with this particluar choice. His clothes under the coat were painted in various shades of dark grey to make them look subtly expensive (and prevent the model from ending up looking too busy), and I used bronze as a colour to pick out some details.

DexterKong pointed out that the googles and bronze details gave the Inquisitor a certain steampunkish vibe, and I took that on board when building a base for the model:

Inquisitor Alvar base (1)
The base was constructed by combining a piece of plasticard (cut from an old telephone card), a gear (from a very old alarm clock), a bit of brass grating (from the 40k basing set) and some cork chaff. I also covered the plastic card in plastic glue and kept picking at it to give it a slightly pocked, warped surface texture.

Then the whole base was spraypainted, first with GW Chaos Black, then with brown paint from the DIY superstore:

Inquisitor Alvar base (2)
And then it was painted using my usual recipe for rusty metal: Stipple on rust with a lighter shade of brown, wash with GW Agrax Earthshade, add more rust, then add GW Boltgun metal to create the areas where the original metal is showing through. Here’s the finished base:

Inquisitor Alvar base (3)
Inquisitor Alvar was then glued to the base, and I added some final touches to the model: Some areas were tidied up, the hem of his coat and his boots were lightly drybrushed with GW Graveyard Earth to show where grime and dirt had begun to collect, and I also added a simple gem effect to his tie. And with that, the model was finished:

Inquisitor Titus Alvar (1)
Inquisitor Titus Alvar (3)
Inquisitor Titus Alvar (4)
Inquisitor Titus Alvar (5)
Here are a couple of detail shots of the model on its base:

Inquisitor Titus Alvar (8)
Inquisitor Titus Alvar (6)
And a look at Alvar’s “lantern jaw of justice”:

Inquisitor Titus Alvar (12)
All in all, I am fairly happy with how the model turned out: I like the aristocratic quality about him, yet his equipment and the googles on his brow show that, as a member of the Ordo Xenos, he also is an accomplished fighter and possibly quite a bit of a scientist as well. All in all, the main point of critique leveraged against the earlier iterations of the character was that he didn’t look all that much like an Inquisitor. I think the finished model puts that problem to rest: At least, he very much seems like an Inquisitor to me 😉

The last thing to do was to write a short background vignette for the character, outlining the ideas and concepts that had led to the model’s creation:

Inquisitor Titus Alvar (2)
Inquisitor Titus Alvar, of the Ordo Xenos

House Alvar has been one of the more influential noble houses for centuries. As a scion of the house, Titus Alvar grew up in luxury and power, the intricacies of the Imperial courts with their waxing and waning support for one house or another a game he quickly mastered. Maybe the search for new and more immediate thrills was what made him enter that perilous region of space known as “The Veil of Impurity” time and time again, and tales of his exploration of ancient ruins, of treasures discovered and adventures survived, made him the talk of the courts he had left behind. As a matter of fact, one of his expeditions into the treacherous cluster of stars resulted in a standoff with Inquisitrix Cimbria Carscallen. Under normal circumstances, someone running afoul of the Ordo Xenos would have been executed without second thought, yet Carscallen must have seen something in Alvar that made her reconsider. And so, Titus Alvar, noble, adventurer, became an Interrogator in the Emperor’s Holy Ordos of the Inquisition and, in time, an Inquisitor in his own right.

Though the years of doing the Emperor’s work may have somewhat mellowed his once flamboyant lifestyle, Titus Alvar very much remains a socialite and a political animal. His standing as a member of an influential noble house makes him a common guest at social functions all over the sector, and the tales of his exploits have led some of his peers to suspect that he is a glory hound, first and foremost.

In truth, Titus Alvar is, above all else, a pragmatist: The trappings of nobility are as much of a useful tool to him as the artifacts he has recovered on countless expeditions or the retainers, some of them quite exotic, that comprise his warband. Meanwhile, some of Alvar’s colleagues have grown suspicious of the Inquisitor’s continued expeditions to the Veil of Impurity and some of the alliances he may have forged there…

 

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

INQ28 Desktop Roundup III: Equal opportunities

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2013 by krautscientist

Today, let’s take another look at my desk, where a rather eclectic collection of INQ28 characters is currently being built. Apart from the usual mix of fanatics, mutants and Inquisitorial operatives, it is my very great pleasure to actually be able to add some female characters to my various retinues. But all in good time! Let us take a look at all the different retinues in characters:

 

1.) Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue

Even though only the good Inquisitor himself has been painted so far, Gotthardt’s retinue is pretty far along from a composition standpoint: With Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin, former Guard officer Esteban Revas as well as a Drill Abbot and retired Arbites Judge (which will both need some additional background), the warband already comprised an interesting collection of archetypes and narrative hooks. But then, inspiration struck yet again and made me build two more members for the warband:

Trooper Koltz

First up, looking at Cpt. Esteban Revas’ military background and upbringing, I thought it would be interesting for him to have a retainer of his own: One Trooper Salvador “Sal” Koltz, sworn to serve the Revas family because his life was saved by Esteban’s late father. I imagine Koltz as both a experienced veteran and a sly and deceptively clever person, always hiding his smarts behind a veneer of lower class joviality. Here’s a WIP shot of the model:

Trooper Koltz WIP (1)
In addition to being Revas’ personal retainer, Koltz also serves as his master’s “packing mule”, so I gave him all kinds of baggage to lug around — I imagine him to be carrying all kinds of stuff, ranging from sensible military grade equipment to Revas’ personal smoking utensils, shoeshine, etc.

Trooper Koltz WIP (2)
It was actually a delicate balance to maintain, since adding any more stuff would have made the model look over-encumbered and silly. Anyway, I am quite pleased with Koltz. The only thing I might change is to exchange his head with one from the WFB Empire free company. Apart from that, though, he really looks the part!

Elisha Gorgo

Finding decent bitz to build female characters is always a bit of a challenge, and especially so with GW’s range. The female models available are few and far between, and those that actually exist usually sport a very distinct look (Wood Elves, High Elves,…). So it was by a brilliant stroke of luck that I managed to pick up the three female vampires from the Vampire Counts Coven Throne during an ebay auction. Granted, these ladies also have a pretty special look, but not only does it match the strange and eclectic design of the 40k universe rather well, but I also think these models are among the best female models ever released by GW — unfortunately, the normal way of picking them up is to buy a kit that comes at 50 Euros a pop…

Anyway, thanks to the lucky coincidence outlined above, I found myself in the possession of the three models (along with some more very nice bitz from the same kit). So I immediately started to build the first female member for Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue: Elisha Gorgo…

Elisha Gorgo (4)
…or, actually, Countess Elisha Haxta di Colasante Mordina Gorgo. My rough background idea for her is that she is the daughter of a powerful Imperial noble. She started displaying psychic powers at a very young age. Normally, that would have meant a dreary and possibly short life aboard one of the Blackships, although her influential father pulled all kinds of strings in order to keep her “affliction” a secret. Due to her powers, she has been sequestered away from other people for most of her life and grew up very shy and demure as a consequence. Her secret was only uncovered when Inquisitor Gotthardt visited her homeworld as part of an investigation. And for some reason (which will need to be pretty good, I suppose), he chose to make her a member of his retinue.

While the warband can definitely use a psyker from a rules perspective, I mainly think that she could serve to introduce some interesting character dynamics into the retinue: Esteban Revas is feeling immensely protective of her for several reasons: They both come from a noble background. They both lost their standing and home. And there’s also the fact that she reminds him of Archduchess Cyrine, the young ruler of his homeworld. I could also see the Rogue Trader Iskander Gagarin constantly trying to woo her. In any case, she could be interesting from a narrative point of view.

Elisha Gorgo (3)

The model itself is a relatively easy kitbash, using my favourite upper body from the Coven Throne kit and combining it with some High Elf archer legs. I also replaced both hands with hands from the Dreamforge Games Eisenkern Stormtroopers (yes, really!), because the original hands were far too claw-like — befitting an ancient vampiress, but certainly not an Imperial debutante…

Anyway, the hands from the Stormtrooper kit (which is fantastic, by the way — I’ll absolutely need to do a detailed writeup on it, one of these days) were a perfect fit. All in all, I am really happy with how Elisha turned out, and I think she makes for a stunning addition to Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue!

With the addition of these two characters, I believe we can call Gotthardt’s warband completed from a conceptional standpoint. Here are all the models together:

Inquisitor Gotthardt and Retinue WIP
So all that remains now is for the characters to be painted (and receive their respective backgrounds).

 

2.) Inquisitor Fiegmund’s retinue

Where Gotthardt is fundamentally a rational and levelheaded Inquisitor, especially for a member of the Ordo Hereticus, the maimed Inquisitor Fiegmund is a man possessed and driven over the edge by his hatred for heretics in general and Inquisitor Antrecht in particular. His fragile mental state carries over to his warband, which comprises all kinds of highly dubious and sinister individuals: the Skull Collector, for one. There are also men who revel in the ability to vent their religious zeal and desire for violence while serving the Inquisitor, among them…

Practicals Pask and Gretsch

Practicals Pask & Gretsch

I begun work on these guys fairly recently, so they’ll still need some smoothing out. Pask and Gretsch are religious nutjobs who would be dead or behind bars if it weren’t for Fiegmund’s intervention: Pask is a former guardsmen whose religious zeal set him at odds with his fellow soldiers. Gretsch is just a madman and killer, selected by Fiegmund for his unquestioning loyalty and religious fervour. Both are pretty easy conversions of Dark Vengeance cultist models. But I think that, even at this early stage, both models already exude an air of gothic menace that’s a great match for Inquisitor Fiegmund’s retinue…

Death Cultist

Death Cult Assassin (7)
This bonnie lass is basically a Dark Eldar Wych, transformed into a Death Cultist through the addition of a couple of bitz. The head is a Dark Vengeance cultist head, and while it may seem slightly clunky, I imagine the mask hides some horrible bionic augmentations, so it still works. I also added a flintlock pistol and tilt plate for a more gothic, medieval feel — maybe the Fleur de Lys icon on her shoulderpad even hints towards her cult having served as a recruitment center for the Adepta Sororitas at one point?

Anyway, I am rather happy with the model: She almost manages to convey a certain Blanchian vibe, and what more could I ask?

 

3.) Inquisitor Alvar’s retinue

In addition to Gotthardt’s and Fiegmund’s warbands, there is also an Ordo Xenos warband to consider. First up, I put some more work into the conversion of my first Xenos Inquisitor, now named…

Inquisitor Titus Alvar

Xenos Inquisitor WIP (2)
The body of the Dark Vengeance cultist champ I had used as a base for the conversion was treated with GS to mask his heretical origins. I also replaced the original sword with a Dark Elf sabre: While it’s not too on-the-nose Eldar-ish, it still reads as a possible Xenos artifact. And I got my hands on one of my favourite heads ever (from the Empire Celestial Hurricanum kit), courtesy of my fellow hobbyist Gerner (cheers, mate!).

The addition of the head really transforms the model into a character, if you ask me:

Xenos Inquisitor WIP (3)

Expect a look at the finished model soon!

And here’s the Xenos warband so far: Inquisitor Alvar, accompanied by his trusted IG veteran and Kroot pathfinder:

Xenos warband WIP (1)
I also used some more female parts from the Coven Throne kits to start and assemble another member for Alvar’s retinue, a Sun Cultist:

Sun Cultist

I had had this idea for quite a while, but then I was inspired anew by Bruticus’ fantastic sun cultist character. I knew that I would really have to get my ass in gear to produce a model that would hold up to his fantastic conversion. Here’s my first inital mockup of the cultist:

Sun cultist WIP (1)
The legs and arms are from the Dark Eldar Wyches, while the torso once again came from one of the Coven Throne vampires. The mask was painstakingly spliced together from a Sanguinary Guard helmet and a Wych head — I even had to touch the head up after already considering it finished, since some of the guys over at the Ammobunker pointed out to me that the facial proportions were a little off. And they were right, damn them! 😉

Anyway, here’s the finished head:

Sun cultist WIP (4)
I won’t go into too much detail about the process of getting this sorted out. Suffice to say you wouldn’t believe how fiddly a conversion it was…

The next step will be to figure out which arms and weapons to use on her. Either a more classical look…

Sun cultist WIP (2)
…or a cultist axe picking up the sun motif?

Sun cultist WIP (3)
In any case, I’ll take my time with this model. It would be horrible to hurry her along (and thereby messing up the conversion) after having spent such a long time on that masked face…

 

4.) Other Inquisitorial agents, mutants and shady characters

To wind this up, let me show you some additional models and mockups for various characters. I am usually doing several of these at once, which relaxes me. There’s little background in place for most of the following models, and most of them are very WIP — you have been warned…

Sanctioned Psyker

Sanctioned Psyker (2)
Again, a relatively simple kitbash. I tried to approximate the look of the sanctioned psyker models released by GW some time ago, only somewhat less unhinged. This guy looks like a military man and a professional to me, but there’s little background beyond that…

Sanctioned Psyker (1)

Mutant Bounty Hunter

I also started painting the twist Bounty Hunter I posted some time ago. Some details are still missing, but the model is mostly complete at this point:

Twist Tracker PIP (2)
Twist Tracker PIP (1)
Twist Tracker PIP (4)

Looks like one mean mother, doesn’t he? 😉

I also salvaged an old Gorkamorka Orc by making him into yet another mutant which I’ll be calling “Old Vicehand” for now…

Old Vicehand (3)
And, finally, I bought the remains of a Necromunda starter box from ebay a while ago. And while the models were all there, they were mostly in a truly abysmal condition. I started rebuilding one of the Orlock gangers with a couple of new parts, and will probably make him into a Mad Max-like NPC ganger:

Hive Ganger WIP (2)
Hive Ganger WIP (1)
Certainly not fantastic yet, but he’ll be getting there in the end.

 

So yeah, as you can see, INQ28 always allows for many different and interesting characters from all walks of life to be worked on at the same time. I, for one, find this extremely relaxing and, indeed, stimulating from a creative point of view!

So, any suggestions for any of those characters? I’d love to hear any C&C you might have in the comments section! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

A Cranial Connoisseur…

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2013 by krautscientist

Today’s update brings a character that came out of a recent INQ28 building spree (more on that soon). In this particular case, however, what’s even more interesting than the model itself is how its  background came together thanks to the input from other hobbyists.

But first things first: Everything started when I received a Skaven Packmaster model from the Island of Blood boxed set. The model came as a “bonus”, so to speak, when I picked up the Rat Ogres from that set from ebay. It did not take me long to decide that the model would become some kind of mutant somewhere along the way, but beyond that initial idea, I didn’t really come up with anything more for quite a while, and the model sat in my bitzbox, unused. I had also given away the model’s huge and ornate warpstone staff, and the rest of the sculpt is really not all that spectacular, to be honest.

My interest in the piece was revitalised, however, while looking at some of the brilliant and sinister kitbashes of fellow hobbyists PDH, Jeff Vader and Ammi. Inspired by their work, I started messing around with the Packmaster model and a cultist head:

gas mask twist WIP (1)
gas mask twist WIP (2)
I really liked the mysterious and sinister aspect the mask added to the model. I did not yet know what type of character I wanted this guy to be, though: Just a twist from some underhive or other? A Heretek’s twisted lab assistant? At least the model came together fairly quickly now: I added a vestigial Talos/Cronos arm from my Legion project, and for some reason I decided to use a supremely creepy crypt ghoul hand, caressing a skull…

gas mask twist WIP (3)

Now when I posted the WIP pictures on Dakka, fellow forumite Dreadclaw69 had this to say regarding a possible background for the model:

Maybe we finally have the answer to the question “Where do servo-skulls come from?” His back story could be;
As a favour to the Inquisitor the Ad-Mech have dispatched this servant of theirs to collect worthy skulls to become servo skulls for his Ad-Mech master the Inquisitor. This individual was captured from a feral world the Ad-Mech were turning into a Forge World, which had a culture of head hunting and collecting the skulls of their enemies. Those indigenous people who were suitable for the purposes of the Ad-Mech became servitors, Skittarri etc. This one was singled out by the Tech Priests. Those skulls deemed unsuitable he keeps for himself, but to what end is unknown.

I loved this idea right away, but it became even more brilliant due to the fact that DexterKong and I had just been having a conversation about one of Inquisitor Antrecht’s recurring enemies, one Inquisitor Fiegmund. My rough background idea for Inquisitor Fiegmund is that he has been horribly injured during a run in with Antrecht’s daemonhost, and I wanted the model to still be showing the scars of that confrontation. I was also looking for a way to have Fiegmund be disabled in some way (blind, for example) due to his injuries. Dexter suggested having him rely on a number of servo-skulls to replace the senses he had lost, and suddenly all the pieces fell into place: The gas masked twist would become a member of Fiegmund’s retinue, tasked with the construction of his servo-skulls. And thus, the Skull Collector was born!

I tried to incorporate this background into the model’s paintjob. A generous helping of Tamiya Clear Red was all it took. Here’s the finished model:

The Skull Collector (3)
The Skull Collector (1)
The Skull Collector (4)
The Skull Collector (7)
I wanted the model to look like it had just finished “cleaning” a skull by carving off all the flesh. Hence the blood (and the bones strewn across the floor).

I remember being immensely inspired when seeing JRN’s “Servo Skull Collector” some time ago, and after just considering duplicating that idea, I am rather happy I managed to come up with my own take on the whole “Skull Collector” concept in the end. In all fairness, though, this model really only managed into into its own because Dreadclaw69 and Dexter added their brilliant background ideas! And the finished character exactly matches the gothic and sinister atmosphere I will be going for with Inquisitor Fiegmund’s retinue. Here’s a rough sketch of the character’s background so far:

The Skull Collector (5)

The Skull Collector

Ever since being horribly maimed in a fight against Inquisitor Antrecht’s Daemonhost Zalambur, Inquisitor Fiegmund has been heavily dependent on a coterie of servo-skulls. He now employs the services of a small, masked mutant that was originally found by an Adeptus Mechanicus team doing reconstruction work on the derelict hives of the purged world St. Berthold, preparing the cities for resettlement. The mutant would have been executed under normal circumstances, yet he demonstrated an uncanny talent of constructing extremely advanced and effective servo-skulls for some reason, and it is this capacity in which he now serves the Inquisitor. He also seems to be obsessed with the shapes and intricacies of the human cranium, collecting all the skulls he can for his work. And while he uses some of them to build more auxiliary contraptions for Fiegmund, he is allowed to keep some of his bounty, though no one can say to what purpose…

 

I am actually really happy with the way the character came together! Thanks again to my fellow hobbyists for their suggestions!
As a matter of fact, another small hobby revelation happened, once I posted the model on Dakka. Fellow forumite Two Spartan had this to say:

That gas mask mutant is fantastic, so creepy. Maybe its because his robotic arm looks kind of insectoid, but I think this little guy is the scariest thing I’ve seen you make. Just imagining him focusing on the skull scraping rapidly at it with that claw, turning it round, scraping some more, examining it to see if there’s any meat still left. Then it pauses and lifts its masked head in your direction and drops the skull.

I initially wanted to reply that this guy would never ever drop a skull, seeing how he is absolutely fascinated with them as objets d’art. But then I started asking myself what would have to happen to actually make him drop a skull. Cue Fridge Horror

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

Orkheim Ultraz: Da Star Playa

Posted in Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2013 by krautscientist

After my first game of Blood Bowl, I felt the need to reward myself with a new model for my team. And since I had wanted to do something with GW’s plastic Savage Orc Waaaghboss anyway, this was a very nice excuse to add another player to the Orkheim Ultraz.

I’ve worked with quite a few of the WFB plastic characters by now, and they are usually really excellent, easy to put together and highly detailed and dynamic. Using them for conversions takes a little thinking, however, since the parts fit together in a very specific way. Still, it’s usually possible to bend them to your will, if you’re a little careful with the cutting.

In this case, The objective was to build an orcish star player for the Orkheim Ultraz. It really was a modelling and painting project, first and foremost, with very little rules consideration in place, yet I suppose the model could be used as Varag Ghoulchewa.

Anyway, I assembled the model, basically only changing the arms: the huge axe normally wielded by the model went into my bitzbox, while the forearms were replaced with Black Orc gauntlets. This was done both to give the model a suitable pose for a Blood Bowl player and to make this guy look like he could pull some really nasty punches with those armoured fists of his. And while I wanted to keep the “almost naked” savage orc look, I also added some 40k Ork armour plates here and there to give the model at least a suggestion of armour (and better tie it in with the rest of the team).

This is what the model looked like before painting:

Star Player (2)
Star Player (4)
Star Player (1)
Star Player (3)
After taking these photos, I realised that I would have to shorten the model’s left arm by a notch, so that’s what I did: This guy may be an Orc, but that arm did look too long even for a race of malproportioned green monsters.

In hindsight, I might have done something more involved with the model’s arms, of course, changing the pose into something different, but to be honest, I didn’t want to have to do lots and lots of sculpting, so I went for a rather simple solution.

Actually, the most involved part of the conversion was to cut the rock the model is jumping off of from the surrounding WFB base to be able to use it on a round base. I added the usual mix of glue, modelling sand and cork around it to blend it in and create some texture on the base.

Anyway, when it came to painting this guy, I stuck to my tried and true Orkheim Ultraz formula. Of course, the fact that the model has so much skin on display meant that Brian’s fantastic recipe for orc skin could truly shine once again. And I also added some yellow Gorkamorka decals on the armour plates.

Painting this guy was a blast, and so, a relatively short while later, the model was completed:

Star Player (2)
Star Player (3)

Star Player (6)
Star Player (8)
As you can see, I also added a generous helping of static grass again, to emulate the football pitch look.

All in all, I think the Waaaghboss makes a nice star player for the Orkheim Ultraz. And with his distinct look and imposing frame, he makes for a stunning centrepiece:

BB Team with Star (2)
As always, let me know what you think! And, of course, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!