For todays’s post, let us return to plastic models wearing Cataphractii Terminator armour for a bit. Because, even with the squad of five Cataphractii finished, there was still the matter of the Praetor model that came with the Betrayal at Calth box to take care of:
In many ways, it’s a rather strange model: On the one hand, it’s well designed and fairly elegantly engineered. Like most of GW’s newer plastic characters, it’s made up of a number of parts that lock together in a very clever way, creating a character model that definitely has the right amount of bulk, detail and depth. The armour is also a nice step up from the standard Cataphractii design and, along with the flowing cape and the more detailed pteryges leather straps, instantly communicates the fact that this guy is an officer. So far, so good, right?
But then there’s the pose: I cannot even begin to guess what made GW’s designers decide on such a rigidly posed model. Maybe they merely wanted to provide the model with some agency, instead of going for the classic “posing with outstretched weapon arms” look of the yesteryear? Or maybe the Praetor was designed as an opposite to Forgeworld’s own Praetor in Cataphractii armour?
Whatever the reason, the pose is definitely one of the model’s weaker parts for me, and it seemed like the one factor that would make any conversion rather challenging. Even with quite a number of fairly clever conversions appearing over at The Bolter & Chainsword, few versions of the Praetor managed to get rid of the somewhat pidgeon-toed stance of the base model — which really seemed at once central to the conversion and fairly challenging to me.
And maybe it was that challenge that drew me towards attempting a conversion in the first place. I had originally planned to leave this guy for last, but when I recently started hitting a bit of a roll with my Catapphractii, I felt motivated enough to start working on the Praetor as well. There was just one problem, however:
You may remember that my 30k models are supposed to represent an earlier incarnation of my 40k army of choice: The World Eaters’ 4th assault company. And the 4th has one commander, and one commander alone: Lord Captain Lorimar. And I even already had a 30k model for him:
The model shown above was originally mostly built and painted by AgnostosTheos, and I bought it from him when he sold off his collection of World Eaters about two years ago. It took very little work to turn the model into an earlier incarnation of Lorimar, and I am still reasonably happy with the way both versions of the character look next to each other — incidentally, you can read more about the models and the character that informed them here.
So was there actually any room for yet another version of Lorimar? Or for a different character serving as Praetor? Of course this whole discourse only really makes a lick of sense if you take the whole background part of the hobby seriously, but I am just funny that way in that I tend to build and paint characters, not just playing pieces. At least that is what it feels like to me.
In the end, however, the urge to create a badass Cataphractii Praetor got the better of me, and I decided to play this one by ear: If the resulting model ended up as another version of Lorimar, then I would find a place for him in my collection somehow.
So I started making some adjustments to the base model, and here’s what I ended up with after putting in the first bit of work:
Like I said, the base model is pretty cool in principle, but it’s also severly hampered by the somewhat rigid (and slightly uncomfortable looking) pose, so that was the part I really needed to change. I also knew that it wouldn’t do for a World Eater to focus so much on a shooting weapon, so I changed the model’s entire orientation.
The most important part was to cut off the right leg above the knee and slightly rotate it inwards. Such a small thing, really, but it was really key for making the pose far less awkward — in fact, it’s a neat little trick that I would recommend to anyone trying to change the model’s pose around a bit:
You cut right between the kneecap armour and the armour plate covering the hip (directly under that one line of decorative trim on the leg). There’s really only an area of about 0.5 mm width where you can make the cut without damaging either armour plate, so the sweet spot should be easy enough to find. Then you rotate the leg inwards, stopping once you’re happy with the pose. There’s going to be some damage, especially if you are trying to have both feet meet the ground at the same angle, but it’s really easy to repair with some plastic glue and some plastic shavings, plus the damage will be nearly invisible from the front. And if you are using the stock model’s cape, the damage will be neatly camouflaged by the Praetor’s cape.
The other considerable change I made to the base model was to cut off the hand holding the combi-bolter and replace it with that massive chainsword from the Space Wolves Upgrade Pack — incidentally, that sword was one of the two reasons that made me pick up that sprue in the first place, and its mass and length seemed ideal for a World Eaters Praetor.
And finally, I cut away the model’s original head, mostly to allow for a head facing in a different direction. As it happened, however, I had an extra head from the chaos warshrine priest still knocking about – the exact head I also used on 40k Lorimar – so I decided to use it in my early mockup.
With the basic pose out of the way, the next part was to add some detail that would make the model read as an actual World Eater. Seeing how the stock model’s armour was already very detailed, I had to try not to go overboard, lest the model end up looking too busy. In the end, I think I managed to come up with a fairly good solution, though:
The bandolier of skulls is a classic for World Eaters, especially since the more recent fluff has given it a deliciously ambiguous nature: Are those the skulls of enemies, displayed as trophies? Or are they the remains of honoured battle brothers, allowed to see the field of battle once more? Or a little from column A and a little from column B, perhaps?
I also added another shackle bit from the AoS Bloodreavers — as DexterKong astutely pointed out when commenting on my Cataphractii, shackles are such a tragically fitting accessory for 30k World Eaters, are they not?
And finally, I tried to give the a slightly more ornate version of the topknot the other Cataphractii have, spliced together from a topknot that came with the chaos chariot and the tail of a Marauder horse. I like how the front of the piece could be seen as a stylised Iron Halo or as the iconic arrows of chaos…
The one thing that didn’t sit right with me was the chainfist. Granted, it works pretty well with the tweaked pose — arguably better than on the stock model, really. But I just couldn’t help it, I had to mock up an alternate arm holding an axe.
I used the upper arm from a plastic 40k Terminator (which had to be shaved down quite a bit) and the forearm from an Age of Sigmar Stormcast Eternal, as the curves of the armour fit the overall Cataphractii look pretty well. As for the axe, I chose the same blade I already used on 40k Lorimar. And here’s the model with an alternate arm:
And seeing the axe arm in place actually decided things for me: I would be turning this guy into a representation of Lorimar, after all.
Incidentally, when putting all three models in a row, I realised that there was a really nice sense of visual progression between the three. Take a look:
The version on the left represents Lorimar as a younger officer, say a Secutor-Sergeant, during the latter stages of the Great Crusade, or even as a young Captain, having just taken command of the 4th after winning his captaincy in the fighting pits. The new version in the middle is him during the Heresy: The more ostentatious armour shows his newfound confidence in his command. And he has started to discard the trappings of a loyalist Astartes: Where his younger version is armed with weapons bearing a strong aquila motif, his new weapons are more vicious and cruel-looking, and there’s not an aquila to be seen — I really like how his weapons get less Imperial as he goes! Finally, the model on the rightis him in the 40k setting, now in fully Khornate regalia.
So basically all that was left for the conversion at this point was some cleanup work. One interesting part is that I have not yet glued the different parts of the model together — I think this will make painting quite a bit easier in this case, because the seams between the parts are cleverly hidden. Anyway, here’s the model as it looks right now:
One thing I still want to do is to make his axe look slightly less chaotic. I am going to fill in the chips and nicks in the blade with GS, provided I manage to pull it off in a clean enough way. As for the chaotic eye, a fellow forumite on a big German forum came up with the idea to keep the eye, but to fill in the chaotic arrows around it, making it look like some kind of decorative jewel. I think I rather like that idea, as just removing everything would just create a huge flat area on the axe blade.
One small detail I am really happy with is how I have used some leather straps from another Cataphractii Praetor model to close the gaps between the straps that were already there:
And here’s a look at the model’s back. Careful observers will spot the stylised Khornate rune adorning the crossguard of Lorimar’s sword (I put it there to replace a wolf skull):
All in all, I am very happy with the model, both because it makes for a pretty cool “missing link” between the two versions of Lorimar I already have, and because I have managed to tweak just about everything that I didn’t like about the stock Cataphractii Praetor. In fact, having discovered how easy it is to carefully turn the base model into something quite different, I would basically recommend this guy to every hobbyist looking for a characterful base model to turn into a commander for their own Space Marines! What’s more, as has already been postulated by Commissar Molotov, the Praetor is also a pretty ideal base morel for a true scale conversion — as it happens, I am working on a true scale Chapter Master based on this model right now, but that is a story for another time 😉
Before I wind up this post, here’s a look of Captain Lorimar with his Cataphractii bodyguard: