State of the Hunt, Week 37/2019: Murders & Acquisitions

Hey everyone, I have been slow to update the blog — September arrived and saw both my parents in the hospital (and for different reasons, at that), so this has been a really tiring couple of weeks. The situation is also still ongoing, unfortunately enough — so please keep your fingers crossed for me!

It should be no surprise, then, that the overall situation has had a bit of a negative impact on my hobby mojo and productivity. So I only have a smaller update for you this week, and one mainly dealing with WIP models again. Anyway, what is this about?

For today’s – brief – update, I want to revisit one of my INQ28 projects that fits squarely into my recent attempt to explore some of the political figures populating the Velsen Sector, such as my recently painted conversion for Lord Sebastianus Danver Balzepho Vlachen, heir-apparent to the ailing sector governor:

Anyway, characters like this are a part of what Dan Abnett refers to as “domestic Warhammer 40,000” — the world one degree removed from the endless battlefields of the 41st millennium — or maybe not…

But anyway, one of these “domestic Warhammer 40,000” projects of mine is a retinue representing the “Mandelholtz House of Imperial Finance”, one of the Velsen Sector’s mahor political players. To quote myself from last year:

The inspiration for this came from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series (and from his other books set in the same universe), where the banking house of Valint & Balk has a finger in each and every pie, and happens to be one of the most insidious influences present in the entire setting, always playing both sides, so the bank always wins. Which strikes me as both very grimdark and also, unfortunately enough, rather realistic.

So I came up with House Mandelholtz, or “The Mandelholtz House of Imperial Finance”, to quote its full title, Velsen’s own banking house. I see them as one of the sector’s big movers and shakers, and like any good evil banking house from history’s great dark hall of fame, they get to throw around their weight a lot. If you’ve seen the series Taboo and remember the way the East India Company gets protrayed in that series, THAT’S what I want House Mandelholtz to feel like.

Anyway, the Mandelholtz board of directors is a shadowy assembly, and very few people in the sector actually know who holds a stake in the house’s businesses. Which lends itself rather beautifully to all kinds of Inquisitorial dabblings and should work great as a storytelling device.

I have quite a few ideas to flesh out my concept for House Mandelholtz — and of course that includes having the faction represented on the tabletop by some kind of retinue or warband. I actually finished the most important conversion for the project some time last year: The model to represent the Countess Mandelholtz herself:

The Countess was only one of the characters I envisioned for the project, however: Another was one Azaleas Vile, one of the house’s most high-ranking operatives.

He is a banker, to be sure, but the countess also entrusts him with some of the most delicate tasks as well as some of the most hideous acts to be committed under the house’s orders, with the ultimate goal of furthering House Mandelholtz’s aims. So I needed a model that would look as though the character were quite at home in the boardrooms AND the ballrooms of Velsen, yet would also be able to hold his own in the underhive as well. I also didn’t want Azaleas Vile to look like just any other grimdark fighting type — quite a challenge I had set for myself…

The actual conversion began when Kill Team: Rogue Trader was first released, or rather, when I first saw the model for Voidmaster Nitsch:

I really liked the erect pose and poise of the character, but more than anything, I was intrigued by one particular detail: Unlike just about every other model in the 40k catalogue, Nitsch is wearing some rather “civilian” pants: no boots and combat trousers, no robes, but rather something you would see in a rather more domestic setting — I knew that he would be perfect as a starting point for my Azaleas Vile conversion.

So when I was recently able to pick up the Voidmaster Nitsch model for a good price, I knew the time had come to finally get to work:

I really wanted to swap in a different head, obviously. I had envisioned Azaleas as at least reasonably handsome, and I picked up a couple of Empire Greatswords bits, mostly in order to get my hands on the particular head I wanted to use for the conversion — pictured next to the base model in the photo above.

After a bit of messing around, I realised I would have to get rid of the arms and replace them: They seemed just a tad too combat-oriented, and I wanted a model that seemed a bit more subdued and not as openly aggressive.

So here’s what I came up with. Meet Azaleas Vile, everyone:

While I re-used Voidmaster Nitsch’s right shoulder pad – for a dash of grimdark couture – I also made sure to make the other shoulder look suitably sharp, like something you might see on a tailored suit.

The briefcase (originally a from a Tempestus Scion medic) was a spur-of-the-moment idea that I am so proud of in hindsight — he is a banker, after all!

If anything, the model is actually still slightly too military-looking for my taste, but I still think the conversion is a fair compromise between how you would see Azaleas Vile in a boardroom and the getup he would choose for a nasty wetwork operation downhive…


After finishing the conversion for Azaleas, the dear countess herself didn’t escape my scrutiny either, so I made another tweak to her model as well: When I originally built the countess, I gave her a lumpy, hideos crypt ghoul back to hint at the fact that rejuvenat treatments had taken her as far as possible:

But while I liked the element in principle, that lumpy back with its bristles still seemed a bit too on-the-nose on the finished model.
Now among a couple of WFB Empire Greatsword bitz I had picked up was a ridiculously huge feather that seemed like the perfect bit to glitz up the countess a bit:

The feather covers up at least some of the mess (while also leaving just enough visible to keep the overall effect suitably disturbing). It also makes her outfit even more outlandish, which I love — I believe 40k court outfits should be completely over the top!

So yeah, House Mandelholtz is slowly taking shape! Here’s an early mockup of what an eventual House Mandelholtz warband, including Azaleas Vile, the Countess Mandelholtz herself, and some of the house’s scribes, might look like:

In fact, I have already started experimenting with a possible recipe for some kind of household guard for House Mandelholtz, but haven’t managed to find the right angle yet: Would such operatives be extremely effective special ops soldiers? In that case, something based on the Van Saar gangers from Necromunda might be the right approach. At the same time, I also like the idea of a household guard that is a bit more ceremonial and ostentatious — think the Swiss Guard, only in the 41st millennium. So I have begun playing around with some of the Empire Greatswords bodies and some Skitarii parts for some kind of “Neo-Prussian” palace guard look:

But that’s not quite it, either — not least of all because the model does look a bit runtish, doesn’t it? Anyway, if anybody has an idea for a fitting and cool looking recipe for House Mandelholtz’ household guard, I would be happy to hear i!

And it goes without saying that, in any case, I would love to hear your thoughts on these models! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

40 Responses to “State of the Hunt, Week 37/2019: Murders & Acquisitions”

  1. Awesome work… Love the concept and how you haven each model such a great sense of character. Maybe it’s just me but some look as if they would be so at home within the Dune novels! Sorry to hear about your folks, hope all is well?

    • Cheers, Chris! And yeah, there’s definitely a Dune angle (especially the David Lynch version) — but then, Warhammer 40k definitely owes Dune a huge debt of inspiration to begin with, so there’s that too 😉

  2. Great work, I love the breifcase, planning on painting it up metal or leather?

  3. Hi mate, really sorry to hear that and I hope your parents will get better soon. Fingers crossed! The conversions are great and I’m looking forward to see this project’s next stage. Best regards!

    • Cheers, man! This also explains, at least to a small degree, while I have been so awfully slow to get in touch — sorry! I recognise my failing and will be sure to correct it (in the hopefully not-too-distant future) 😉

  4. Oh wow. Amazing work all round man

  5. OK, keeping fingers crossed for you! I really do like the converted/modified minis, especially the “banker”! 🙂

  6. Love your work with Azaleas, the head, the pose and the briefcase are quite a perfect match. Have you considered giving him a walking stick instead of a weapon ?
    Fingers crossed for you, hope you’ll manage to build the bodyguards you want. May be the recent Necromunda enforcers might help.

    • I did think about a walking stick, but in the end there was the empty holster to consider — plus I also wanted to differentiate Azaleas from a somewhat similar character created by DexterKong that uses the same legs — and a walking stick.

  7. Excellent stuff mate, and best wishes for a speedy recovery for your folks

  8. I litterally crossed as much fingers as I could (which turns out to be only 8), wishing your parents a prompt restablishment.
    I like your banker, he does look like the ambitious and nasty type. I’m sure the countess has some dirt on him, you’re never too prepared in this business…

    • Thanks a lot, Moldek! The crossed fingers are much appreciated!

      I actually see Azaleas as very much the countess’ creature: He was born in squalor on the world of St. Sabasto’s Reach, the Velsen Sector’s biggest fleshmarket, and the countess offered him a means of escape. That being said, they may yet come to a parting of the ways at some point, but for now, he is her loyal right-hand-operative.

      • reminds me of how spy services will often hire orphans, because they will project their need for a parental figure on their superiors / their country and will be very motivated. A great sci-fi book with some lovely merchant houses shenanigans is “the dragon never sleeps” by Glen Cook. Actually full of great inspiration for 40 k:)

      • Great point, and cheers for the book suggestion! I’m currently going through the new Joe Abercrombie novel, and it’s super-grimdark as well! Very INQ28, only in a slightly more medieval/early modern setting.

  9. RookCorvus Says:

    Best wishes for your parents, Kraut. Sorry to hear they’re both in Hospital. Hope all works out well.
    Brilliant work on the banker; while I would argue for giving him something that isn’t a weapon and leaving a pistol on his belt, the fact that the sculpt includes a holster on the chest somewhat decides the issue for you.
    With respect towards a suitable household guard- there’s always the remaining Voidsmen models? Stock, they would tie in well with Vile’s outfit; and you could always swap in some more ostentatious heads to dress them up. Heads from Empire Handgunners or Freeguild Pistoliers might work for such a retinue.


    • Cheers, mate! And you’re quite right about the holster — that element really made some kind of pistol obligatory.

      D’oh, the Voidsmen! Such an obvious idea in hindsight, but brilliant nonetheless — that may be it! I could combine them with some Stormcast Eternal facemasks for an added ceremonial angle — definitely food for thought!

  10. Amazing looking builds – as always, but more importantly, best wishes for your parents and family. I can certainly sympathise and know how difficult that sort of thing can be, so for the little that it’s worth, I’m hoping that it works out as well as it can.

  11. Best wishes for your parents mate, sincerely hope they’ll get better soon!

  12. When it comes to the Mandelholtz House guards, I think you’re on the right track. Way back in onceuponatime, before you and I were even exchanging emails, I tried throwing together a Navigator, and built his guards using Greatswords legs, torsos and heads, and Handgunner arms with very lazily converted guns. I ran into the same problem, where they simply looked too short. If you remember the House Lamtron Skydd I built years ago and never finished painting (more on that in my next email btw), they also turned out very short. I think the root of this is partially that Warhammer Fantasy baseline humans were intentionally made to be shorter than their 40k counterparts, and also the Empire Greatsword torsos in particular are very short and stubby. I know that the armor on the torsos is pretty hard to turn up, but you may want to try swapping that torso out for something 40k. The new Enforcer torsos are absolutely beautiful, but you’d have to add something above the belt to drive home the Renaissance aesthetic. Alternatively, what about simply cheating in some height by putting a spacer between the legs and torso? It would be easy enough to disguise by using green stuff to sculpt a sash across the waist, which would be completely in line with the aesthetic you’re going for anyway. Give it a thought, I think they really are on the right track. I also need to say that I think the guns could do with a bit of converting to set them apart from the telltale Skitarii silhouette. Can’t wait to see how they look moving forward!

    • Cheers for the detailed reply, buddy! I actually thought of your Skydd more than once when planning a possible household guard. I think my main problem is that they simply don’t seem imposing enough — maybe using the Rogue Trader Voidsmen would be a good start, as mentioned above, and using some of the deathmask-like Stormcast Eternal helmets would make them look suitably eerie and sinister? Oh well, still early days… 😉

  13. Sorry to hear about your folks man, I know just what that’s like – hope things improve soon. Great work on these models, Countess Mandelholtz remains, in my opinion, one of the best things you’ve ever done (and that’s a high bar!) – and the feather only improves her. Azaleas Vile is also great, the impression of a sharp suit comes across clearly and I’m pretty sure the military aspects can be toned down enough with the paint job that no further changes would be needed. I get the feeling that he was on his way to a meeting when “something came up that demanded his personal attention” but so long as the blood doesn’t show (too much) he’ll carry on to his meeting as cool and calm as ever.

    • Cheers, mate! That’s actually a great angle on why he looks like he’s “between projects”, so to speak. I can almost picture him arriving at a social function uphive, just barely out of breath and with some telltale pinpoints of blood on his cuff… 😉

  14. Great characters and really good kit bashing skills. Can’t wait to see what you do painting wise on the Countess.

  15. Filkarion Says:

    Old post, so I should probably write on B&C or something, but I absolutely love your countess, so as a huge fan of your art I humbly ask you…please, give her a BUTLER! Maybe a butler/assassin/bodyguard or a butler/grunt (an OGRE butler would be awesome, and you have the skill for it!), but she needs some house servant! Thanks, your work is an inspiration

    • Cheers, Filkarion! A Butler is actually a really cool idea! Not an Ogryn, though, that wouldn’t be the countess’ style. Rather a sleek and skeletal figure — hmm, I’ll be giving this some thought…

      • Filkarion Says:

        That would fit very well an was my first thought! As for the Ogryn I was thinking about a very trained, educated and loyal butler that for some reasons is really intelligent (maybe thanks to cyber “help”)… maybe I will explore the idea myself someday

  16. […] there have been some additions to House Mandelholtz last year, not least of all one Mr. Azaleas Vile, the banking house’s prime […]

  17. […] Velsen sector. Which is why the first finished base in this style was given to my conversion for Lord Sebastianus Danver Balzepho Vlachen, nephew to the Lord […]

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