Archive for May, 2017

In the Shadow of Great Wings, pt. 1

Posted in 30k, Chaos, Conversions, Custodes, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2017 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, sorry for the lack of updates, but I’ve been crazy busy these last couple of weeks! That being said, I do have something new to share with you today, a new conversion of an established character that I hope you will appreciate — some of you may already be suspecting who it is we are talking about, based on the title of this post, but anyway: Here goes:

When I shared my 30k Khârn conversion with you recently, several fellow hobbyists here and on the forums suggested I should actually also create a model for Argel Tal of the Word Bearers, Crimson Lord of the Gal Vorbak and ostensibly Khârn’s BFF during the events of Aaron Demsbki-Bowden’s “Betrayer”.

Now for those of you not following the Horus Heresy novels, Argel Tal and his brethren are arguably the first-ever Chaos Space Marines: Sent by Lorgar into the Eye of Terror itself, they become possessed by Daemons of the warp and, from that point onwards, are able to transform into hideous yet powerful semi-daemonic creatures during combat — pretty much proto-Possessed Chaos Space Marines, if you will. Their story is told in ADB’s novel “The First Heretic”, and the Gal Vorbak have also been immortalised by receiving their own dedicated Forgeworld models that match the descriptions appearing in the novel rather closely:

Argel Tal makes a return in “Betrayer”, serving as one of the novel’s main characters. And, like I said, he bonds rather closely with the World Eaters’ 8th Captain, creating what may be the Horus Heresy’s grimdark version of a buddy-cop scenario 😉

So creating an Argel Tal model to accompany my version of Khârn seems like a pretty cool idea, right? Even so, I was pretty reluctant.

Argel Tal just seemed very hard to get right, especially given his part-daemonic nature: When I did some research on Argel Tal conversions, most models I discovered were either based on Forgeworld’s Gal Vorbak models shown above (the guy in the front row seems like a dead-ringer for Argel Tal as he is described in “The First Heretic”) or on a mixture of plastic Possessed and Raptor bits. But neither approach really quite clicked for me: On the one hand, I didn’t really want to have to buy a set of Gal Vorbak models, cheap bastard that I am 😉 And the Gal Vorbak models are also a fair bit taller than standard Astartes, while I wanted the two models to work together, which would be easier with models of a similar size.

The combination of Possessed and Raptor parts, on the other hand, seemed promising, but the main pitfall I saw was to end up with a model that just looked like any old CSM Raptor, when Argel Tal is such a cool character and deserves a conversion with a certain originality and presence.

So I was just about content with leaving the character well alone, but then my buddy DexterKong joined the chorus of those clamouring for an Argel Tal conversion — and I could never really turn down a conversion challenge from Dexter, so over the course of an afternoon, a couple of ideas actually coagulated into a model (which we’ll be taking a look at in a minute).

For inspiration, I mostly worked from the description of Argel Tal given in “Betrayer”: With his daemonic possession having been underway for quite a while by the events of the novel, Argel Tal’s “combat form” seems to have developed into a slightly more stable version. He has also gained a pair of wings, which feature rather prominently in the scenes he appears in. And he is wielding a pair of Custodian weapons: a sword and a freaking Guardian Spear. I was pretty sure this last part would pose quite a challenge, especially given the plastic Custodes’ increased size and bulk.

I also used two pieces of artwork that came really close to how I imagined Argel Tal. One is this fantastic piece of art courtesy of slaine69:

Argel Tal by slaine69

This illustration does a rather fantastic job of showing Argel Tal in all his daemonic glory, while also including enough visual cues that point towards his Astartes roots, such as the corrupted Mk. IV armour and helmet.

The other piece of art I felt drawn to was the possessed Chaos Space Marine from the cover of GW’s Black Legion supplement:

Granted, the armour is definitely the wrong colour. But this guy is really close to how I imagine Argel Tal, plus this general look also seemed to be attainable by using the right set of bitz.

So with these pointers in mind, I created the following:

So, a couple of conversion notes on the model:

  • I tried to choose armour parts for Argel Tal that seemed suitably chaotic and warped while also recalling the Mk. IV armour the character wears during the events of Betrayer. The Chaos Raptor kit came in handy here, allowing for armour that really matched both criteria.
  • When it came to creating the wings, the obvious solution would have been to make use of the winged backpack from the Possessed kit:

But to be perfectly honest, I really don’t like that bit: It seems so very symmetrical and cartoony. And the wings are also a fair bit too small to lift a creature of Astartes size. Fortunately enough, I found a set of leftover Vargheist wings in my bitzbox, and they were carefully grafted to the organic looking backpack of Dark Vengeance’s Kranon model. I am really rather happy with the result!

  • The head was probably the one instance where I actually consciously deviated from canon: In the books, Argel Tal’s daemonic form is described as wearing a warped version of an Mk. IV helmet, with the faceplate actually cracked into a daemonic maw. And right enough, the Raptor/Warp Talon kit actually features several helmets that clearly look like corrupted Mk. IV helmets. But whenever I tried adding one of them to the model, it ended up looking like just another standard Raptor. I then wanted to add Kranon’s horns to the helmet to make it look less vanilla. And gut instinct made me carefully dig out Kranon’s entire head from its original torso and add it to the conversion. And I really think it works rather nicely: It’s not an Mk. IV helmet, certainly, but it does have the daemonic maw. It’s also not a head you see all that often, so it does make the character look more original and “special”, in a way.
  • And finally, the weapons: Having the character wield both a sword and a Guardian Spear would have looked ridiculous enough before the new plastic Custodes were released, but given the size and bulk of the new models (and their weapons), it basically seemed unfeasible. So I decided to arm Argel Tal with a Guardian Spear, as it seemed like the more iconic weapon of the two. I did replace the original haft with a Chaos Knight’s spear, however, to bring out the spear-like qualities of the weapon a bit more.

However, I also wanted to feature the sword in some shape or form, seeing how the way Argel Tal came by it seemed so significant to me. So I decided on a slightly more subtle way of including the sword — by actually making it a part of Argel Tal’s base:

That sword sticking out from the fallen Astartes at Argel Tal’s feet? That may or may not be his sword: I imagine Argel Tal as a highly dynamic fighter, zipping across the battlefield like a whirlwind of destruction, so maybe this is him coming back to pick up his sword after fighting elsewhere? Moreover, if both Khârn and Argel Tal are placed next to each other, they seem to be interacting rather nicely as a mini-diorama of sorts:

And a small narrative suggests itself: Maybe Argel Tal was occupied elsewhere on the battlefield, saw an Ultramarine sneaking up on Khârn, threw his sword and is now swooping down to take it back — and assist his BFF while he’s at it?

Anyway, all things considered, and given my earlier reservations about tackling this particular character in the first place, I am pretty happy with the finished conversion — of course now I’ll have to do a “human” version as well, to show Argel Tal when he’s off the battlefield (or when the gloves have not yet come off…).

Bonus model:

All the time spent messing around with Guardian Spears really gave me a desire for building my first new plastic Custodian. And after going through “The First Heretic” again for conversion cues, memories of Aquillon were still pretty fresh on my mind, so…

Anyway, so much for today’s update. I would love to hear any feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!


Khârn of the Eighth

Posted in 30k, Conversions, paintjob, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2017 by krautscientist

“The first warrior’s ceramite armour plating was cast in the same white as clean marble, from churches that should never have been built. The suit’s reinforced edges were the same blue as a winter sky back in the impious age of Old Terra, before humanity burned the world’s surface and drank the natural oceans dry. His skin was as pale as any consumptive, a legacy of the pain machine inside his skull. It pulsed even now, teasingly erratic, sending fire tick-tocking through the meat of his mind.

The helm he carried under his arm was a slant-eyed, snarling thing of red eye lenses and a Sarum-pattern mouth grille. An officer’s crest of white horsehair rose, sharkfin-like, to mark him out from his men in the heat of battle. The etching on his shoulder guard, written in the mongrel tongue called Nagrakali, named him as Khârn of the Eighth.”

Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Betrayer

Welcome to another World Eaters-related update — I almost feel like I should apologise for the somewhat monothematic nature of recent posts, but then I am simply on a bit of a roll with this latest project of mine, and I know better than to second-guess inspiration when it strikes… 😉

So you probably remember my conversion of Khârn here, created fairly recently:

Now earlier this week, fellow hobbyist Aasfresser talked me into joining a small painting event at one large German hobby forum and suggested I enter my interpretation of 30k Khârn. I let myself get roped into it — which was all for the best, ultimately, but we’ll be getting there in a minute.

Before I could start painting the model, however, there was one last additional touch I wanted to include: Seeing how Forgeworld’s official model comes with options for both a helmeted and bare head, I just wanted to include the same variants on my own conversion as well. Now the bare head was already taken care of, which left me with having to come up with a suitable helmet.

ADB’s description of Khârn’s helmet (as quoted above) calls it “a slant-eyed, snarling thing of red eye lenses and a Sarum-pattern mouth grille.” And the accompanying piece of BL artwork came up with a version that is fairly close to the model’s actual design:

I knew I wanted something very slightly different, however, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that the one helmet design perfectly matching the description above…were the helmets that come with Forgeworld’s 40k World Eaters conversion set.

And it makes a lot of sense, too — wouldn’t those 40k World Eaters still be wearing the corrupted versions of their original Sarum-pattern helmets? Plus there was also the fact that I had seen Mr. Poom put the same approach to excellent use on his own, spectacular World Eaters.

So I very carefully shaved the Khornate crest off a World Eaters helmet and used it as a template for my first Sarum-pattern helmet:

And I was reasonably happy with the result — I would definitely be able to create a suitable helmet for Khârn this way, of course with an added officer’s crest!

The other thing to take care of was the model’s base. Now I quickly realised that a character of Khârn’s stature warranted a bigger base, so I upgraded him to a Terminator-sized base right away. When it came to the base’s actual design, I wanted it to contain visual shout outs to Angron’s base, creating an even closer link between the two models, which only seemed fitting. So I tried to repeat several elements that appear on Forgeworld’s base for Angron: torn metal beams, diamon patterned metal plates and rocks, stuff like that. At the same time, I also tried to make it fit the design of my other World Eaters, using the same general texture:

With those preparations out of the way, the time for painting had come. And in spite of the tight deadline – or maybe because of it – the model almost came together by itself, surprisingly enough. Seriously, I had a blast with this guy!

So here’s everyone’s favourite, bloodthirsty madman in his younger years:


“The Bloody”, Eighth Captain,
Equerry to the Primarch Angron,
XII Legion Astartes


It was absolutely clear, of course, that I would have to include some kind of blood effect, but I also didn’t want to overdo it — which is why I chose to focus the blood on the left leg, where it would probably end up when gore keeps flying from the teeth of Khârn’s axe.

I also have to admit that I actually really love the helmeted version — which is a strange development, seeing how the bare head was what inspired the whole conversion in the first place, but then that’s creativity for you… In all fairness, however, it also feels quite appropriate to have a helmeted version when the original, classic 40k Khârn is defined so much by his helmet.

Regarding the model’s base, like I said, it now serves as a “missing link” between Angron’s base and the bases of my remaining World Eaters:

In an interesting twist, fellow hobbyist Soric pointed out over at The Bolter & Chainsword that there’s a matching piece of broken aquila in the same basing set that would just be idea to base an Argel Tal conversion — a rather interesting and tempting thought, really… 😉

Oh, and here’s a closer look at the bareheaded version of the character:

It’s mentioned several times in Betrayer how the pain of the Butcher’s Nails is a constant companion to Khârn, yet in contrast to many of his brothers, he actually tries to fight their influence and stay levelheaded more often than not, so I thought it would be nice to give his face a drawn, haunted quality. And I do think both head options really have merit, which is why I’ll leave the head interchangeable.

And, of course, Father and Son:

Wha…? Are they wielding the exact same axe at the same time? TIME PARADOX! 😉

What I really like is how the model really kinda looks like an “end boss” next to one of my regular World Eaters. Even the – rather vertically posed – Secutor Hamund is a bit shorter than Khârn:

When all is said and done, my objective was to create a model that draws enough visual cues from different sources to really read as Khârn. And when it comes to the 40k versions of the character, I think my model could reasonably grow into the classic Khârn over the next 10,000 years — but also into the new (plastic) version:

And I would argue he even takes enough cues from Forgeworld’s version of Khârn to clearly read as the character from that angle as well — and not just as any old World Eaters Centurion.

So I am really rather happy with the finished model — thanks must go to Aasfresser for actually convincing me to get off my arse! Oh, and this should go without saying, but I would definitely love to hear your feedback on the model, so make sure to drop me a comment!

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