A Cranial Connoisseur…

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!

5 Responses to “A Cranial Connoisseur…”

  1. This is indeed one evil little fella! Like him a lot.
    My first thought after reading the background and seeing the fresh peeled skull was PREDATOR 🙂

  2. Nice! That is delightfully creepy. Great work, man!

  3. […] 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 […]

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