The 2017 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 2: The Hobbyists

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, Traitor Guard with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2018 by krautscientist

Awards

Welcome back, everyone: It’s a new year, and here we are — later than I had originally planned, I must admit. Sorry for the delay, but I just had to spend the entire holiday season sleeping, eating and near-obsessively hunting robot dinosaurs. I actually also managed to paint my very first model of the new year, but that’s a story for another time. For today, we still have a part of my annual Eternal Hunt Awards to get out of the way, even if it’s no longer 2017. That being said, I am confident you beautiful readers will always appreciate the chance to discover a couple of amazing hobby projects, right?

Because that’s what we’ll be dealing with today: The best work from fellow hobbyists from the last twelve months, according to yours truly. Now the level of quality many hobbyists manage to achieve these days keeps going through the roof all the time, with more and more stunning creations appearing online every year, but here’s my little selection of particularly noteworthy projects and blogs from last year, so please enjoy!

One small disclaimer, however, before we begin:
It goes without saying that all the photos you’ll be seeing in this post show other people’s work, and I cannot claim credit for any of the stuff depicted — apart from the small but delightful task of collecting it all together here and giving those fantastic hobbyists a much deserved shout out 😉

 

I. Projects of note:

Let’s start with the hobby projects that blew me away in 2017, be they single models or army projects. Having spent a sizeable chunk of my online hobby time with the vibrant and lively community at The Bolter & Chainsword, it occurs to me in hindsight that my selection may be leaning a bit heavily on the Space Marine side of things this year, but I hope you’ll still appreciate the following, wonderful projects. So, in no particular order and without further ado:

Nemac Vradon’s First Claw:

Back in 2016, Augustus b’Raass built what I would consider the definitive true scale representation of First Claw, that merry band of rascals (read: insane murderers) devised by Aaron Dembski-Bowden for his Night Lords Trilogy:

First Claw by Augustus b’Raass (1)

I was lucky enough to see these guys in person on my visit to Amsterdam last summer, and they are just breathtaking: Perfect little representations of the different characters from the book, with lots of little tweaks that bring the models to life and amazing paintjobs to boot. The bigger scale gives them a real presence and also adds some – much needed – space for all of those extra bitz and trinkets.

So imagine my surprise when Nemac Vradon actually came up with an equally brilliant rendition of the same group of characters, albeit in regular 28mm scale this time, without the benefit of all that extra space:


Now building models to represent actual characters from the lore can be a fun – but also an incredibly challenging – proposition. Even moreso when everyone who has read the Night Lords novels probably has an idea about what Talos and his brothers should look like. Nemac Vradon has done an absolutely fantastic job of capturing the essence of the different characters, though, making them instantly recognisable. Nowhere is that more evident than on Talos, First Claw’s absolute poster boy:

Nemac has come up with a truly excellent model here, with all the cues that sell the piece as a representation of the character: With the Mk. V armour, deathmask, relic Blood Angels blade and the rune on the forehead, this guy clearly reads as Talos!

Similar care has been taken with each of the members of First Claw, with a careful selection of bitz and effective poses that manage to embody the essence of each character, while none of the models end up looking cluttered or overly-busy.




Surprisingly enough, while Talos may be First Claw’s most prominent member, he is not, in my opinion, the best part of Nemac Vradon’s interpretation of First Claw: That particular honour has to go in equal parts to Uzas and Xarl.

Now Uzas may strike you as a bit of an obvious choice – after all, he’s basically my favourite character from the books in the first place: A follower of Khorne, Uzas is a typical ADB character in that he may seem one-note by definition, yet is shown to possess surprising – and fairly tragic – depths. So my love for the character is always on my mind when looking at the model. That being said, the conversion is simply a study in elegance and unity of effect: Once again, all the cues that sell the character are there, while the strong pose and effective paintjob make for a model where everything’s in ist right place.

Xarl, on the other hand, is a very different beast:

Highly dynamic and quite ostentatious (in his ceremonial Chyropteran helmet), he immediately draws the eye. And once again, the particular composition of parts just makes for a perfect model. To wit, Nemac Vradon even managed to get away with using one of the – normally terrible – winged helmets from the old NL conversion kit.

The whole squad really stands as a triumph of both creating excellent representations of the actual characters as well as a collection of models with a perfect unity of effect. So while Augustus b’Raass has managed to come up with the definitive version of First Claw at true scale, Nemac Vradon can now claim the same award for the “smaller 28mm scale”. Splendid work!

Check out Nemac Vradon’s version of First Claw, along with the rest of his excellent Night Lords here.

 

Dark Ven’s Night Lords

And while we are on the subject of Night Lords, let’s not forget DarkVen: A longtime collector of the 8th legion, he has returned to his army in 2017 with some rather stunning new additions. Now the most impressive thing about Dark Ven’s Night Lords has to be how he combines kitbashing with kick-ass sculpting to create models that are both highly intricate conversions and yet perfectly at home next to stock GW models. His Night Lords army is a fantastic and incredibly customised collection of models: Just take the warband’s current leader, the enigmatic Warpsmith Tarantula: You could spent ages poring over those photos, trying to figure out which parts are stock (very few) and which have been expertly (re-)sculpted (nearly all of them).


Because, if anything, DarkVen‘s extrapolations of GW’s designs create models that sometimes seem like the perfect missing link between various official models: Take his brilliantly converted and customised Night Lords Dreadnought, for instance, that would seem equally at home next to both the old 2nd edition metal CSM Dread and the more recent plastic models:

Extra kudos for the different weapon options – I love stuff like that!

The incredible amount of customisation is evident in each and every unit in DarkVen’s Night Lords army. Here are his Atramentar:


At first glance, they merely look like some really well done Chaos Terminators, but there’s so much more there: Underneath all the spikes and blades, there’s still a hint at something more honourable, at the elite Astartes formation they used to be, and DarkVen does an excellent job of communicating this idea through the models.

Also, once again, I dare you to take a closer look and actually find out precisely how customised those guys are, especially the amount of scultping and additional detailing that has gone into their armour!

Or his Raptors: Those models perfectly combine officially established visual cues with DarkVen’s own take on GW’s archetypes, channeling both the new plastic Raptors and the “bird of prey” style of the older metal/Finecast Raptors – while also throwing in a generous helping of Predator creepiness:




The fact that DarkVen further supplements most of his more recent conversions with fantastic and elaborate concept art is just the icing on the cake!

If there’s one negative point to be mentioned here, it’s that DarkVen’s Night Lords currently lie dormant once more. However, you still can (and definitely should) check out the current status of his project here:

BrotherCaptainArkhan’s Black One Hundred

Can you remember how hip it used to be to hate the Ultramarines? In all fairness, GW’s poster boy Space Marine legion/chapter has appeared in official material so often and has been so idolised by many official authors, that it’s rather easy to be fed up with them, especially when they are written like they can do no wrong. And with the introduction of the Primaris Marines and the return of Roboute Guiliman, the XIII Primarch, to the stage of the 41st millennium, there are probably yet more Ultramarines with their heroic feats waiting for us in the wings.

What then if I were to tell you that one of the most riveting Horus Heresy project in existence at the moment dealt with the XIII legion in a way that you haven’t seen before and that turns Ultramarines into something genuinely fascinating?

Enter BrotherCaptainArkhan’s Black One Hundred: A Censuria company of Ultramarines, that is to say: Those members of the legion whose failures, sins or merely oversights have damned them to the fate of serving in an entire company of rejects, expected merely to fight and die without making too much noise, lest their legion remember how embarrassing they are.

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Well, BCA takes this already promising premise and runs with it, coming up with an ongoing project log where every new update is spectacular, be it a new model, a new piece of background lore, or merely his musings about the ideas and motifs that go into his army.

It helps that the actual models are killer, of course: The Black One Hundred are about the dustiest, grimiest and most downtrodden Ultramarines you are ever going to see, but BrotherCaptainArkhan shows us that there can be something forlornly beautiful about armour this dented and scratched. And that Ultramarines Blue goes very well with black, indeed!


If I had to pick a favourite from this particular collection, I would choose the Black One Hundred’s (former) commanding officer, Brother-Captain Ludvic Augustus:


Now as far as I am aware, Augustus’ personal story arc has already run its course, but he remains my favourite piece of BrotherCaptainArkhan’s work, and arguably the perfect embodiment of the Black One Hundred: a perfect blend of a powerful Ultramarine and a down-to-earth, workhorse soldier that would rather not be remembered by history.

The quality evident in the special characters really extends all the way down, though, as even the various objective markers are little works of art (as well as tributes to the Ultramarines’ unbending spirit, in spite of everything):

Hard as that may be to believe, however, the – truly stunning – models are just part of the charm here: The storytelling at play, the fluff and soundbites, are equally riveting. These guys are members of a Censuria company, and it’s clear that they will never be able to make up for their past wrongdoings. Even their own Primarch would prefer them to be forgotten in silence. And in spite of everything, they are still Ultramarines. They fight. They endure. Only in death does duty end. And BrotherCaptainArkhan does such a fantastic job of telling their story!

Probably the biggest compliment I can offer is that, were BrotherCaptainArkhan to write a BL novel focusing on his Censuria company, I’d buy and read it right away, without a moment’s hesitation.

There are many Horus Heresy projects these days, as everybody and their cousin (yours truly included) seems to want a piece of that sweet Heresy goodness. The Black One Hundred, however, stand tall above the rest as probably one of the best Horus Heresy projects in existence right now, and as a constant inspiration: When I work on my own 30k World Eaters, I constantly try to capture the merest fraction of depth and gravitas of the Black One Hundred. That is how awesome they are.

Check out BrotherCaptainArkhan’s landmark project here.

Malcharion’s Space Sharks


A couple of years ago, the Carcharodons used to be all the rage: Reintroduced to the 40k background by Forgeworld as part of their treatment of the Badab War, these mysterious and brutal Space Marines from the farthest reaches of the galaxy captured many a hobbyist’s imagination and launched dozens of army projects. It also made an entire generation of hobbyists learn about Tamiya Clear Red, back before Blood for the Blood God had been developed 😉

Because most people were content to just paint their Space Sharks flat grey, slap lots and lots of glossy blood effect on there and call it a day. Even Forgeworld’s own painters only paid occasional service to the idea of the Carcharodon’s use of tribal markings and intricate designs.

Not so with Malcharion’s Carcharadons, however, who breathe new life into the chapter’s identity in the most spectacular way:


Malchy’s fantastic paintjobs are one reason for this, particularly his brilliant use of highly intricate, quasi-Polynesian tribal designs. They turn every model into a piece of art without overwhelming the pieces. This is particularly evident on the Dreadnoughts that look like walking totems or shrines, while also seeming every bit as deadly and combat-worthy as you would expect of a Space Marine Dreadnought:


What’s more, while his Carcharodons certainly use a copious amount of blood effect, the combination of blood spatter and the intricate armour markings makes for a fascinating juxtaposition that adds a layer of depth to a chapter that often merely gets characterised as “really violent and mysterious grey dudes that also have this shark thing going on”.

The conversion and kitbashing on display are also truly something to behold. Just take this kitbashed master of the forge, featuring what has to be the best use of a Lizardman/Seraphon claw bit I have ever seen:


Or Malcharion’s version of Company Master Tyberos, “The Red Wake”:


Now this version is actually very different from Forgeworld’s official model, but the character is still instantly recognisable. And he has all the menace of a great white shark, without feeling silly because of it.

Speaking of which, those glittering black eyes really give me the creeps every time I look at the model:


Malcharion also routinely makes excellent use of dedicated legion bitz (and models) from Forgeworld, particularly from the World Eaters catalogue, to make his Carcharodons look even more vicious. Case in point, his Terminators (based on the World Eaters Red Butchers):


And, arguably even more spectacular, this Carcharodon officer based on the Heresy era model for Kharn:


It’s a testament to Malchy’s skill, however, that those models not only work perfectly within the framework of his army, but you wouldn’t really recognise them as World Eaters any longer: They are perfect Space Sharks now, aren’t they?

And while this moves beyond the scope of his Carcharodons, allow me to point out that Malcharion also works on models for the chapter’s Primoginetor legion, the Raven Guard, and he manages to turn even this least interesting of Space Marine legions (at least in my opinion) into something truly breathtaking:

Malchy’s complete project log can be found here.

Daouide’s Kalista

Le blog dé Kouzes is another regular name in my list of perennial favourites, so it shouldn’t surprise you that those wonderful and crazy Frenchmen make another appearance in this year’s Eternal Hunt Awards. By the same token, Daouide’s Emperor’s Children are the epitome of „Slaanesh done right“, so there’s yet another reason for this particular choice.

The above model takes the cake, however: Kalista, a championess of Slaanesh, and easily one of the most stunning models to have come out of 2017. Now any idea of building female Space Marines (or something similar) has been a bit of a hot button issue for a long time, with everyone who tries to work with this basic promise in acute danger of being laughed out of town. At the same time, having a championess of Slaanesh actually seems like such a wonderfully „Realms-of-Chaos“-style thing to do, doesn’t it? And just look at Kalista – isn’t she drop dead gorgeous?

Daouide’s wonderful conversion work, brilliant sculpting and sublime painting work together to create something utterly stunning here. Even better, though, Kalista is actually based on the Stormcast Eternal model Naeve Blacktalon:

Incredible, wouldn’t you agree?

In addition to painting her to match the rest of his EC army, Daouide also built and painted a custom warband for Kalista, and her retinue is certainly no slouch either:

Even in such a fantastic collection of models, however, Kalista stands out – and in spite of being a follower of Slaanesh, she isn’t even all that overtly sexualised. Incredible work!

One last observation: In addition to being such a stunning model, Kalista also really reminds me of the official art for Telemachon Lyras, of The Talon of Horus fame, and makes me wonder whether a fantastic model for Telemachon might not be built from the exact same source model.

In any case, check out Kalista in more detail here.

II. Blogs of note:

In this day and age, thoughtful blogging seems to be turning into a dying art, especially given the prevalence of endless picture streams on places like Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest — god, I’m sounding like a cantankerous old man, am I not? 😉

But the fact remains that, while social media are becoming ever more integral to the online component of our hobby, social networks don’t really lend themselves well to the “longform”content I appreciate. So to me at least, dedicated, well maintained blogs are more precious than ever, and discovering particularly fascinating specimens remains one of the biggest joys in our hobby. Here’s my pick of the litter for 2017:

Lead Plague:

Now Lead Plague is one of those blogs that I cannot believe I didn’t discover much, much earlier, as the very original style of Asslessman’s work is truly something to behold. Maybe the most interesting thing about the blog is how perfectly it mixes both vintage sensibilities and modern design techniques: Now the whole “Oldhammer” movement has been quite a thing for a couple of years now, and at its best, Oldhammer seems to be about celebrating the creative – and often crazy – vintage creations of early GW (and other companies from the same time), and I can totally subscribe to that! Unfortunately, though, at its worst, Oldhammer can occasionally devolve into basically disparaging everything GW did after 1995, and those parts of the movement are really rather tiresome.

And entirely unneccessary, as it turns out, as so much of the content on Lead Plague perfectly bridges the gap between Oldhammer and “modern” GW models. It helps that Asslessman really pulls it off in style, of course, creating highly original conversions with often surprising and original colour schemes:


And while those models are perfectly “modern” in so many ways, they also happen to recall the ‘Eavy Metal sections of vintage GW publications from around the 2nd edition of Warhammer 40k, which is really the best of both worlds, isn’t it?

The blog is also full of fantastic warbands and projects. One of my favourites  is the “Shadow Legion”, a band of traitors and heretics that makes excellent use of some of GW’s more recent plastic kits:


Seriously, aren’t those menacing masked soldiers just perfect for all kinds of chaos and INQ28-related shenanigans?


Again, all of this looks perfectly at home in “modern” 40k. At other times, things get downright Oldhammer-y, as with this vintage Brat Gang, inspired by Confrontation, the semi-official predecessor to Necromunda:


Funnily enough, given the shout out Brat Gangs get in the new Necromunda material, these guys may soon have a home in “modern” GW again 😉

Or take a look at some of the rather excellent oldhammer-ish models appearing in this inquisitorial retinue:


Asslessman shows that this really doesn’t have to be an either/or choice, that it’s possible for a hobbyist to draw from decades of excellent content and turn it all into the kind of custom projects they want — and pull it all together with excellent painting, no less! And of course all of us, whether we are Oldhammerers or not, just love the grimdark:

Anyway, Lead Plague is a fantastic blog and, in spite of its many retro-trappings, a real breath of fresh air! Oh, and it also wins an extra award for best header image! 🙂

The blog can be found here.

 

Wilhelminiatures:

Helge Wilhelm Dahl, of Wilhelminiatures, has been on my radar for quite some time now, but his blog has really managed to kick into overdrive this last year: There’s such a breadth of projects and ideas on display there now, in addition to a particular style of painting and modeling that’s just a joy to behold: There’s more than a bit of Blanchian influence, yet Wilhelminiatures‘ models are also wholly original and immediately recognisable.

Just to give you an idea of the variety on display on the blog:

Already on my shortlist last year, here’s a wondefully creepy and creative Genestealer cult that really pushes the envelope when it comes to adding interesting and disturbing archetypes (and genotypes) to GW’s “official” treatment of Genestealer cults:


There would be so much to say about this particular warband, but I’ll restrain myself and just point out that incredibly creepy babyface walker:


Or there’s the project of making the Silver Tower characters and archetypes more interesting and, arguably, more vintage GW. This endeavour ranges from a number of small tweaks to particular models…


…to rather impressive conversions and rebuilds. And everything is tied together by a wonderful, limited palette.


Or let’s not forget Wilhelminiatures’ wonderfully crazy apocalyptic warband taking cues from 40k, Necromunda and the latest Mad Max film at the same time:



And did I mention the blog also happens to feature some of the best 30k World Eaters around as well? Stupendous!


Given a collection this eclectic and wonderfully weird, it’s hard to pick favourites. If pressed to do so, however, there’s two models I would choose. One, the seashell-based monstrosity that reminded me so much of some very early and weird creature concepts from the video game Bioshock:




Seriously, though: I have no words for how creepy that thing is!

Arguably the best model, however, is this guy here:


A wonderfully weird retro-futuristic Knight on his grimdark steed: Very characterful, very Rogue Trader, very grimdark — and very, very Wilhelminiatures!

Make sure to check out this fantastic blog here.

 

Prometian Painting:

Confession time, I would never have given a single thought to creating an army based on “Hakanor’s Reavers”, a throwaway warband mentioned in an earlier version of the Chaos Space Marines Codex as a possible inspiration for your own colour schemes and/or warbands:


This made me feel like a fool when discovering Alex Marsh’s work – first on Flickr and then on his blog, Prometian Painting, however, because Alex has managed to create a truly spectacular army using the colours of Hakanor’s Reavers:

One thing that quickly becomes evident is that Alex’ Chaos Space Marine army has that one quality that I love above all else: It is chock-full of brilliant kitbashes and conversions. Like this massive Chaos Lord converted using the freebie Slaughterpriest from the White Dwarf relaunch:


Or this Chaos Sorcerer who gives Forgeworld’s conceptually similar event-only model a run for its money:

Now looking at Alex’s fantastic models is also a bit of a bittersweet experience for me, because Alex freely admits to taking quite a bit of inspiration from some of my own models, which is indredibly flattering, of course. The bittersweet part comes from seeing that some of his takes on my models actually improve on my work 😉


Seems like the best thing I can do, considering the circumstances, is to just steal back a whole bag of ideas from Alex in turn — his Chosen, in particular, would be a delightful idea to steal:


They are just so wonderfully massive and menacing:

And there’s much more inspiration to be had here, as Alex doesn’t limit himself to the Chaos Space Marine part of his army: His collection now features dedicated “sub-armies” in the form of Traitor Guard and Chaos Daemons. The Traitor Guard detachment makes excellent use of Forgeworld’s Vraksian Renegade Militia, while also featuring enough common features with Hakanor’s Reavers to tie both forces together visually:



Once again, though, there are some lovely visual flourishes showing off Alex’ talent for creating cool conversions. Such as this traitor commander who is equal parts haughty officer and monstrous servant of chaos:


And let’s not forget the Daemon side of the collection, either! Because Alex’s sprawling chaos collection actually features an entire third army composed of Khorne’s neverborn servants:


As you will already have noticed, one of the most striking features of Alex’ armies is how they use the leitmotif of heat to draw the eye and pull the different parts of the force together: His painting perfectly conveys the feeling of blistering heat, be it in the form of warp-based fire breaking through the Astartes’ armour or via lava on the bases casting a red haze on the models. His daemons really turn this up to eleven, though, looking like their very bodies consist of molten metal and living flame:


In short, this is one of the best chaos armies I have seen in 2017, and a project that’s always a joy to follow!

The blog can be found here.

 

III. Honorary mentions:

Augustus b’Raass’ retro Bloodthirsters:

For a time, back when I properly got into WFB and 40k, Trish Carden’s – then brand new – metal Bloodthirster was my favourite model of all time. And even though time has not been all that kind to the sculpt, Augustus b’Raass’ beautiful modern paintjob for the classic Bloodthirster has made me realise that I still love the model, in spite of the massive hands and the general clunkiness.

If anything, Augustus’ photo above actually sells the model short, since the vibrancy of his paintjob model is absolutely breathtaking, as I can attest to from firsthand experience. In fact, the stunning amount of pop present in the paintjob is arguably a bit easier to see in this picture I took of the model:


In addition to painting a stock Retro-Thirster, Augustus also used a second vintage model to splice in some bitz from the modern plastic Bloodthirster and create a model that combines modern and retro in the best possible way:


So these two guys definitely deserve a shout out here! Fantastic work, buddy!

You can find Augustus’ ongoing WIP thread featuring all of his various hobby projects, over here.

Jeff Vader’s Primaris Reivers


It somehow feels as though this wouldn’t be a proper best of the year post without at least namedropping the ever illustrious Johan Egerkrans aka Jeff Vader, and while Johan’s hobby output last year didn’t quite match his frantic pace in previous years, he still managed to knock it out of the park again and again. Case in point, and particularly noteworthy: The Primaris Reivers from his DIY Chapter, bearing all the hallmarks of his incredibly gorgeous painting style as well as selling me on a slightly dubious new unit type. Congratulations, mate! Nobody does it quite like you!

Jeff Vader keeps blogging over here.

 

IV. The absolute best hobby project of 2017:

Wait, you didn’t think we were finished yet, did you? As it happens, I’ve actually saved the best for last this time around, so allow me to share my absolutely favourite hobby project from last year:

Neil101’s Adepta Sororitas diorama

Some of you may remember my absolute elation when this lass was released late in 2016:

To quote myself for a moment here:

You see, if somebody asked me what 40k was all about, I would point them to two particular pieces of artwork by the venerable John Blance. And one of those two pieces of art would be [the cover of the old Adepta Sororitas Codex], invariably.

It’s really all there: 40k’s particular blend of religious iconography, grimdark dystopian sci-fi and medieval madness. The glitzy, 80s fantasy style warrior woman with the crazy hairdo. And the influences from classic painters like Bosch, Breughel, Rembrandt et. al. It’s 40k in a perfectly formed nutshell.

And to get an almost picture perfect model representing that character, courtesy of Martin Footit, was a very particular delight, and one I wouldn’t have expected in a million years.

So I spent ages trying to get hold of a Canoness Veryidian model (it’s still sitting in its box, unpainted. That’s irony of fate for you), and one of my half-formed plans for the model was that, maybe, just maybe, I could try and recreate some of the characters from the background of that artwork and have them, along with the Canoness, as some kind of mini-diorama, you know?

Yeah, so…then I saw that Neil101 had done this:

I cannot even begin to put words to the sheer awesomness of this diorama: Neil has really gone above and beyond to create the closest possible representation of the art in actual miniature form — and without any cheap tricks like messing around with the scale or stuff like that, either. It’s an incredible piece that you could possible spend hours examining more closely to get an idea of all the details and genius little touches. Canoness Veryidian remains at the heart of the piece, of course, but it’s truly stunning what an incredible amount of work Neil had dedicated to the attempt of featuring all the crazy and demented characters loitering around in the background of the original illustration:

It goes without saying that seeing Neil’s work has put my own aspirations of doing something similar to rest — I mean, what’s the point, right? 😉

What’s more, since this is a fully fledged 360 degrees diorama, it basically looks great from every angle, lending itself perfectly to the creation of moody impressions of the grimdark future:


Speaking of which, I thought it would actually be fun to create some montages of Neil’s photos, trying to bring them even closer to the original art, so I played around with Photoshop and Pixlr a bit and send these over to Neil quite a while ago:



Looking at the pictures again now, I still cannot get over how awesome this project is: It epitomises the kind of no-holds-barred, crazy inventive hobby projects Neil101 has become known – and rightly revered – for.

So yeah, Neil, mate, you win “best absolute everything” this year — congrats! 😉

After a prolonged hiatus, Neil101 has once again set up shop on the interwebz: Find his new blog, Distopus, over here.

 

So here we are, with another year of incredible hobby endeavours behind us. I hope you enjoyed this show of stunning talent and will take lots of inspiration (and new reading suggestions) away from this! If anything, and I am saying this to myself as much as to my readers, let’s not be discouraged by the breathtaking display of talent, but let’s rather try to be re-invigorated for our own hobby endeavours, eh? So here’s to the next twelve months of cutting up and painting little plastic men and women!

So there may just be one last instalment of the 2017 Eternal Hunt Awards, taking a look at last year’s best (and worst) releases and at their implications for the way forward. Keep your fingers crossed for me not to get sidetracked too much, and it may happen sooner rather than later 😉

Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts about my collection of inspiring content from fellow hobbyists! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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The 2017 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 1: A look back at my hobby year

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, Traitor Guard, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2017 by krautscientist

Awards

Once again, welcome everyone to the 2017 Eternal Hunts Awards, my blog’s annual feature to analyse the past year’s great – and not so great – hobby moments, pick my favourite (and least favourite) models from GW’s slew of releases and single out some of the most spectacular hobby work I’ve seen online. So let’s snap to it, shall we? 😉

For today’s installment, let’s start once again with a recap of my hobby year and my personal projects. While the numbers really aren’t all that spectacular this year, I still hope I have a few cool things to reminisce about — so let’s take a look:

 

I. My hobby projects

I think it’s no hyperbole to say that 2017 was yet another firestorm of a year, especially with regard to politics and RL events. It has also been a pretty busy and draining year for me personally — and my hobby output clearly reflects this: I started strong, back in January, but the stream of finished new models then diminished into a trickle over the year. So at year’s end, here I stand with but twelve painted models to my name (with another one currently on the painting desk):

Doesn’t really sound all that impressive now, does it? The bright side is that I am actually really happy with every single model that I have managed to paint this year, and that has to count for something, right? 😉 I would also argue that some of the models were really rather intricate challenges and, in one case, a definite step outside my comfort zone. So let’s take a closer look at some of the more remarkable completions.

 

1. Khorne’s Eternal Hunt


This probably won’t surprise you, but my longest running army project, the World Eaters’ 4th assault company, once again made for the lion’s share of my hobby output — albeit in a slightly different way from before. This year, I decided to focus on exploring the Horus Heresy era incarnation of Lorimar and his merry band of butchers, and tried to actually get some of the models I had build last year painted, while also adding a new conversion here and there. And this small collection of models is finally starting to look pretty appealing, if you ask me:

One project in particular stands out with regard to my 30k World Eaters: As some of you will probably still remember, two of my favourite achievements from last year were two versions of Angron I managed to build and paint: One representing the XII Primarch during his days as a gladiator, the other an interpretation of his latter years (and millennia) as a Daemon Primarch.

Even with those two versions of the Primarch finished, however, there was still the official Forgeworld model that Adam Wier (of Between the Bolter And Me ), sent to me, incredibly enough:

Forgeworld Angron WIP (1)

Now I do of course realise that painting Forgeworld Primarch models probably isn’t all that special any more — but it definitely was for me, seeing as I had never worked with an official Primarch model before. Plus this was pretty much my favourite Primarch as well as an incredible gift from Adam — so I really wanted to do Angron justice. And I do believe I’ve managed to pull it off:


What’s more, I created yet another version of Angron, based around an iconic illustration by Wayne England and built from the freebie Slaughterpriest that came with the first copy of the relaunched White Dwarf:


Trying to create a model to fit the classic piece of artwork was a really cool challenge and provided yet another chance to explore the Primarch’s troubled – and bloody – background. You can read up on what went into the model’s creation here, in case you are interested.

This leaves me with three different incarnations of Angron during his mortal life, and I do think there’s a nice sense of character progression throughout this mini-collection:


In addition to the Primarch, I also applied myself to the creation of a model representing his equerry, Eighth Captain Khârn. The official Forgeworld version of the character didn’t quite click with me, for a number of reasons, so I endeavoured to make my own version:


Beyond Primarchs and equerries, however, I didn’t forget the rank and file: One model I am still particularly happy with is Ancient Vaako, my very first Contemptor — and actually the first model I painted in 2017:


What pleases me most about Vaako is that the model is a conversion of the somewhat awkward plastic Contemptor from the Betrayal at Calth boxed set — a conversion that I would still consider a pretty big success. So much so, in fact, that my second Contemptor uses the exact same base model 😉

Come to think of it, I actually did paint one model for the 40k version of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt: My very red version of Be’lakor:


The model was another excellent gift, this time courtesy of my good friend Annie. I really consider Be’lakor a model for the ages, so I am really happy to have him in my collection — painting him was a blast, too! Thanks again to Annie, for another brilliant contribution to my collection!

2. The world of INQ28

I have to admit that I once again gave short shrift to the INQ28 angle of the hobby this year — although not for lack of trying. I did manage to work on one of my more freeform projects, however, painting two more models for my downhive band of malcontents, the Road Crew — they are growing into a rather eclectic little group, if I do say so myself:

These guys really are such a fun diversion, so expect to see more of them in 2018 — especially since they seem to tie perfectly into many Necromunda-related shenanigans 😉

 

 

 II. My favourite hobby moments

Of course it wasn’t all about painting models, and 2017, in particular, was marked by some particularly awesome moments:

Probably the absolute high point, bar none, was my visit to Amsterdam in the summer, where I got to spent a fantastic weekend with fellow hobbyist – and great guy – Augustus b’Raass:

We talked shop, tasted a broad selection of tasty local beers, put some of our respective models against each other for a pretty cool photoshoot and spent some time polishing each other’s bald heads to a mirror sheen — actually, just one of the above items was made up by me 😉



Oh, and let’s not forget mentioning that I got so see Auggie’s brilliant version of ADB’s First Claw from up close:

First Claw by Augustus b’Raass (1)

Now going to the Netherlands isn’t exactly a monumental trip for a German, but it was still a big deal for me, mostly because I previously only really “knew” Augustus from our exchanges via The Bolter & Chainsword, plus I am also a bit of a scaredy cat, really. I really had a blast during the weekend, though, and Augustus was such a gracious host, as well as an excellent conversationalist — I actually couldn’t be any happier to have taken the plunge! Many thanks once again to Augustus for this excellent trip – definitely one of the best moments of 2017 for me – and I sincerely hope we’ll be hearing from each again sooner rather than later, buddy! 🙂

You can read up on the trip – and take a look at many more nifty photos – over here.

My second-favourite hobby moment of 2017 actually ties right back to my visit to Amsterdam: While visiting the GW store there, I met Rowdy/BubblesMcBub, who not only made my day by basically me treating like a rock star, but was also incredibly generous enough to let me have almost the entire Death Guard half of the Dark Imperium boxed set, which really blew me away! Now it actually took me until Christmas to actually start and repay Bubbles for his kindness, but a first supply drop is hopefully making its way to the Netherlands as I am writing this (also see my previous post on the matter). Anyway, thanks again for your generosity, mate!

There were even more cool moments, though: I loved it when I discovered that Dariiy had created an illustration based on my conversion of Daemon Primarch Angron for a friend of hers:

Angron illustration by Dariiy

I couldn’t even tell you what makes me happier: Looking at that illustration or knowing that somebody actually has that up on their wall somewhere, and that my model played a part in that 😉

I would also be remiss not to mention my continued correspondence – and exchange of hobby ideas, with DexterKong, something that has become instrumental in building the world that informs practically all of my INQ28 models. The same also goes for all the other hobbyists I am in semi-regular contact with – PDH, Neil101, Inquisitor Mikhailovich,… — the only problem is that I regularly take forever to answer to each and every e-mail…

Oh, and one final high point for this year arrived just in time for Christmas, with Eternal Hunt finally achieving one million views! Yay!

III. Blogging

In fact, this neatly leads into talking about the state of this blog – and the state of my blogging – for a bit: In addition to finally ammassing the magical million views, Eternal Hunt also turned five this year, which was pretty awesome:


Looking back made me realise that this blog not only serves as a motivating factor to actually get things done, but it has also grown into a platform for getting in contact with other hobbyists from around the world and form a social network, if you will, that not only provides me with fantastic input and feedback, but has also led to my collection being enriched by fantastic pieces of work from fellow hobbyists, which is really a rather humbling experience, when you think about it:

And, according to a fun discovery while browsing my WordPress statistics, I also seem to have some readers in pretty high places…


Seriously, though: I would really love to know whether those hits were accidental or there’s really a 40k fan in the Vatican…

At the same time, and in spite of all the positive news, I am also painfully aware that 2017 has been my least active blogging year so far, with only 25 posts versus the previous year’s 44. The reasons for that are mostly personal, and RL-based, but the fact remains that the blog has been far less busy this year and, probably as a consequence, has been losing views and readers. Now I know that one really shouldn’t look at the numbers so much, but the numbers for this year actually going down for the first time in this blog’s life is still ever so slightly depressing — in fact, it feels as though it gets harder and harder to get people to actually engage with content, even in the case of more sizeable, rather well thought-out posts, which is probably also a consequence of so many hobbyists rather gravitating towards social media like Facebook or Instagram for their chance to look at pretty pictures.

Personally speaking, I find this prospect hardly encouraging, as those platforms don’t really seem to encourage actual conversations, more often than not. So if I can make one small wish for Christmas, it’s that people not only continue to frequent this blog and comment on its content – although that would be really awesome – but also to not forget the blogosphere and the classic forums. They may not be the modern, new-fangled way of doing things, but I have to admit that I find myself feeling critical of big social networks more and more, for reasons well beyond this shared hobby of ours.

IV. Plans

Whatever happens next year, I am pretty confident that cutting up and painting little plastic men – and writing about it – will be a part of it. So with the knowledge that I am easy to distract and horribly lazy, what’s in store for 2018?

The Horus Heresy era World Eaters will be one of the most important projects in 2018, without a doubt: There are already lots of pretty nifty conversions I want to see painted! If I had to pick out one thing from this project that I really want to paint next year,…it actually wouldn’t be a World Eater, but a Word Bearer:


Both DexterKong and InquisitorMikhailovich dared me to build a model for Argel Tal, leader of the Gal’Vorbak, and after some initial misgivings, I actually built two models — one for his “mortal” version, and one for when he puts on his game face. Painting both while trying to create a sense of continuity between them should be challenging but fun — the models will also make for a pretty cool companion piece for my Khârn conversion. So expect to see these guys finished some time next year!

Thanks to BubblesMcBub, I also have the beginnings of a small 40k Death Guard army project in my possession, and I am pretty happy with the test models I have painted so far:


So there’s going to be some Death Guard in my future as well. Incidentally, I only just finished a Death Guard conversion that I am rather happy with:

Remember Maxime Pastourel’s excellent Lord of Contagion model from the Dark Imperium boxed set? I truly love that model! I treated myself to two of those, via bitz swap: One to leave completely unaltered, the other one I wanted to convert. My initial idea was that making the model into a representation of Typhus would be a nifty idea.

But then the massive Death Guard release dropped and gave us not only a new model for Typhus, but two different sets of DG terminators — which pretty much seemed to defeat the exercise of converting the Lord of Contagion. Moreover, the conversion just didn’t come together, with the model seemingly fighting me every step of the day. So back into the box it went.

But I came across those bitz earlier this week, and gave it another go. And I think I may finally be on to something. Take a look:



Beyond standard 40k, I also really want to focus on the INQ28 and specialist angle next year. And alas, one thing I never really got around to in 2017 was to get some paint on Redactor Orlanth and his operatives:

Inquisitor Orlanth and Parchment Scrotener WIP
Which is really a shame, because that retinue contains some of my best INQ28 conversions, if you ask me…oh well, I’ll just have to postpone this project to 2018 😉

Alongside more work on the Road Crew, of course: I already told you that those guys would be getting some more attention next year, and the next applicants for the merry little group are already lined up:


Of course there’s also the fact that the Road Crew perfectly fits into the new Necromunda, and I am also rather looking forward to taking those new gang sprues for a spin, so yeah…

For the immediate future, however, I would mainly love to make some time for painting over the holidays, so wish me luck with that! 🙂

 

If all goes according to plan, the next installment of the 2017 Eternal Hunt Awards should arrive before the new year, with the third and final episode following some time in (hopefully early) January: After all, we still have to take a look at both GW’s 2017 releases and the best work from fellow hobbyists around the world, right?

But for now, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas and say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who sent me bitz, models, e-mails, ideas, read this blog or commented! You guys are what keeps the Eternal Hunt going! Please keep it up! 😉

As for readers and commenters, it goes without saying that I would love to hear any comments or feedback you might have about my 2017 output, so feel free to sneak in a quick line before mass or after opening your Christmas presents 😉

And finally, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The State of the Hunt, Week 51/2017: Gosh, is it that time of year already?

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, state of the hunt, Totally worth it, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 18, 2017 by krautscientist

Well would you believe it: Christmas has managed to sneak up on me again! With so much to do and so little time left this year, the one thing I definitely want to achieve is to publish another round of my annual Eternal Hunt Awards, and I am currently gathering material for that and preparing the posts — wish me luck 😉

Until then, allow me to address some assorted news straight from my messy hobby lab:

 

I. More grimdark games…

I would like to start with an addendum to my recent post about grimdark video games, mostly because I forgot to include two particularly striking examples on my list

The first is an incredibly 40k-ish moment in a game that is otherwise just about the least grimdark game you could possibly imagine:

Final Fantasy IX is, for the uninitiated among you, a callback to the series’ earlier, more innocent days, with lots of cutesy characters, talking animals, super-deformed character design and an all around cuteness that has held up remarkably well over the years. However, the game also features the regency of Lindblum, an industrious and advanced city state that basically looks like a hive:


Lindblum is a multi level city scape that seems like the love child of Victorian era London and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis…appearing in a Disney film — but then that’s Japanese JRPG eclecticism for you 😉

Seriously, though: Given Final Fantasy IX’s endearing overall design, it should be no surprise that we are dealing with a rather cutesy version of a hive here — no gang wars or underhive mutants to be found. There’s a pretty spiffy theatre district, though:

Back when the game was first released, Lindblum was one of the most stunning locales ever to be featured in a roleplaying game. And its design is still lovely many years later — with the added bonus of actually giving us a decent impression of what a bustling hive city might actually look like…minus the Moogles and talking animal people, that is:

The other addition to my list of grimdark games is a baffling oversight, in retrospect, because it has to be the most  incredibly 40k/INQ28 game ever to not bear the actual license:

A postapocalyptic adventure game, Dark Earth is set centuries after a big cataclysm has managed to wipe out modern civilisation. The dust and grime from the earth-shattering cataclysm have managed to permanently clog the atmosphere, casting the whole planet into darkness. The sole remains of civilisation cluster around so-called “Stallites”, city states construced around areas where light is still available by scientific or natural means. It probably won’t surprise you at this point that those stallites share more than a passing resemblance with 40k’s hive cities, even though they are slightly more medieval than your average 40k hive.


The society presented by the game is fascinating, though — and oh so INQ28 in style: With everything within the city geared towards maintaining the life-preserving light, society has adapted and stratified accordingly, with a solar priest class and a warrior caste – the Flame Guardians – at the top of society. Dark Earth puts you in the shoes of Arkhan, member of the Flame Guardians, who gets infected with a creeping corruption while fending off an attempt on the high pristess’ life. With his body slowly beginning to mutate and reshape into a creature of darkness, Arkhan embarks on a frantic quest to uncover a treacherous plot that might threaten the entire stallite before his time is up. Cast from his upper class surroundings, he must discover the seedier parts of the city — a veritable underhive full of malcontents, paupers and cultists.


Sounds like an Inquisitor campaign, doesn’t it? Indeed, the game’s scenario seems incredibly 40k in hindsight, if on a slightly more feudalistic level. There’s also a very distinctive look and feel to the game world: If you are into French graphic novels, you’ll find a lot to like here, as the game’s developer, Kalisto, is a French studio and certainly knows how to imbue their setting with the right style. The idea of Arkhan slowly transforming into a deformed monster also adds an intriguing, if slightly stressful, element to the game. All in all, I remember being quite taken with the game when I played it during the late 90s!

Dark Earth was originally planned as a series, and it’s readily obvious how much world building the folks at Kalisto did for the game and the planned sequels. Alas, it was not to be: A sequel for the Playstation 2 was cancelled without much fanfare. In an interesting twist of fate, however, it seems the world of Dark Earth did actually spawn a pretty successful (tabletop) roleplaying setting in its native France — and deservedly so, because the setting and general ideas behind Dark Earth were pretty fantastic!

Unfortunately, the game is not currently available on Steam or GoG (there’s a petition, though). You can – and should –  read up on the game in more detail over at Hardcoregaming101 (a highly recommended resource, by the way!), and there’s also a trailer giving you an impression of the overall style (and the badly aged CGI) here:

 

 

II. Digging in for Christmas

One of the best hobby moments of 2017 was when BubblesMcBub, whom I met during my visit to Amsterdam, sent me almost the entire Death Guard part of the Dark Imperium boxed set. In return, I promised him a couple of conversions, and I have been terribly neglectful about honouring that particular promise, due to a combination of laziness and RL reasons.

It goes without saying, however, that I remain committed to honouring our agreement, so the first model I have built for Bubbles shall make its way to the Netherlands, along with some odds and ends, later this week — and hopefully even in time for Christmas. But what kind of model are we talking about?

For starters, Bubbles wanted an officer for his Iron Warriors, and he told me he would like to see a Khornate Iron warrior to boot. No sweat, right? The one complication was that Bubbles’ Iron Warriors have a much cleaner, 30k-inspired look than the very baroque CSM I usually build, so I tried to dial back my usual style a bit.

So my task was to…

  • come up with a suitably imposing officer/champion
  • incorporating some classically Khornate attributes
  • at the same time, I still wanted him to clearly read as an Iron Warrior, so he needed to look suitably no-nonsense and slightly techy as well.
  • keeping the model clean enough to work with the rest of Bubbles’ army.

So without much further ado, here’s the model I built:





Personally speaking, I think I’ve hit a pretty good middle ground between “obviously Khornate” and “still fairly professionally Iron Warrior-sy”. And more importantly, BubblesMcBub seems to be happy with the model as well, which is what matters! So hang in there for a few days longer, mate! I’ll be swinging by the post office ASAP 😉

 

III. What else is new?

In other news, I am also gearing up for some long-overdue hobby time over the holidays: I’ve picked up the wonderful new Necromunda boxed set and am currently salivating over those lovely gang sprues. Nothing has been built yet — although some Goliath bitz have already made their way into my 30k World Eaters collection. Anyway, expect to hear from my firsthand experiments with the new sprues soon-ish.

And even though my painting output hasn’t been all that incredible this year – at least where mere numbers are concerned – I think I might have one more model in me for 2017. This guy:



I am still rather happy with the conversion, and the model should also make for an excellent capstone for 2017 — seeing how the very first model I painted this year was another converted plastic Contemptor, Vaako the Immortal, a model I am still enormously proud of:

So yeah, let’s hope this all works out! If all goes according to plan, the first post of this year’s Eternal Hunt Awards should go live later this week — keep your fingers crossed for me 😉 And I’ll make sure to put in some painting, in between all the sleeping and the eating. What about you guys, though? Any last minute chores or hobby commitments? As always, I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments!

And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Grimdark video games?!

Posted in 40k, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2017 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, something a bit different today — I hope you’ll appreciate the variety, even if it means a lack of new painted models. So what is this about?

It’s very common for hobbyists to talk about their inspiration: Whether it comes down to creating conversions or narratives, most of us will inevitably build on influences and concepts from many different sources, such as film, art, literature or personal experiences from RPG groups. To wit, the entire 40k universe itself is based on so many different influences, and has grown into a massive, unwieldy, eclectic and brilliant mixture of a thousand references, ranging from 80s pop culture to every SciFi and gothic cliché ever.

Today’s post, therefore, will deal with yet another possible source of inspiration when it comes to get a feeling for the kind of narrative that would work in the 40k universe, and the kind of characters that would populate such a narrative. And while I draw lots of my own hobby inspiration from the aforementioned media (with sources as diverse as David Lynch’s Dune adaptation, Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan & Gormenghast and Charles Dickens as some of my favourite influences), today I would like to talk about another possible influence: the wonderful world of video games.

Now some of you may remember that I am a huge video game nerd. It’s a medium that I have been endlessly fascinated with for a very long time now, and it continues to interest aesthetically, narratively and professionally .

I could wax poetical on the many fascinating, obscure or downright grotesque features that turn digital games into such a riveting subject for me, but that’s not really the focus of this blog. So let us rather focus on a couple of games that have influenced my hobby life by inspiring characters, narratives or just a general style in my own hobby work.

Before we begin, however, a disclaimer of sorts: By no means is the following collection of titles and influences an exhaustive collection, nor is it intended to be. It’s also very possible that you know each and every one of those games, so the post could turn out to be old news to you. And finally, to be fair, this post has also been simmering away in the back of my head for quite a while now, so be warned that it may actually have moved away from actual 40k a bit, dealing – at least to some degree – more with games and game series that I find inspiring, period. That being said, if you enjoy 40k and Inquisitor and all that, and if you are interested in visually and/or narratively interesting videogames, the following titles might be worth a look. And who know: Just like me, you may even get an idea for an army, a conversion or an INQ28 retinue out of it. So let’s take a look:

 

I. Legacy of Kain series

It seems weird to me that the Legacy of Kain series seems to have become almost a bit obscure by today’s standards, when it used to be a rather common household name in video game circles – and even a veritable system seller – during the late 90s and early 2000s.

The series’ development history is rather complicated and convoluted, with different developers and teams adding their own perspective to the series, and acclaimed video game writer Amy Hennig (possibly best known for her role on Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series these days) ending up with the task of somehow binding it all together into a semi-coherent overarching narrative.

Fascinating as those tribulations are, however, I don’t even want to get into the details here. Suffice it to say that the series started with Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain (basically “The Legend of Zelda” with vampires), which was followed by Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver (basically “Tomb Raider” with Vampires). The series deals with the vampire Kain and his rise (and fall) in the gothic world of Nosgoth, and it introduced both a pretty interesting cast of characters as well as a very distinct look and feel. Just check out Soul Reaver’s intro movie:

One of the series major narrative arcs deals with the conflict between the – seemingly completely amoral – vampire overlord Kain and his fallen former lieutenant Raziel, turned into a twisted wraith at Kain’s behest and now out for revenge — although things turn out to be much more complicated than that, as the series’ narrative is just about as convoluted as its development history. It can be a bit overdesigned and wordy in places, but it’s well worth checking out for yourself!

So why does the series appear on my list? There’s the very grimdark setting, for one: Nosgoth is a very dark and gothic place, where everything’s gone to hell in a handbasket because the man destined to be the world’s saviour refused the ultimate sacrifice – his own life – electing instead to become a depraved, immortal vampire emperor, ruling a failing empire. If that isn’t grimdark, I don’t know what is.

But there’s more: Kain’s dealings with his vampire lieutenants and their ultimate fates remind me a lot of of 40k’s Daemon Primarchs and Traitor Legions: There’s a gravitas and a sense of lost grace here that should seem very familiar to anyone who likes 30k and 40k. There’s also a fair share of purple prose (and some truly excellent voice acting) to be had, so if you want to get a feeling of what a Chaos Space Marine might feel like after millennia of corruption and simmering regret, the Legacy of Kain series provides some very good inspiration on that account!

After several unsuccessful attempts at reviving the series in recent years, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see another entry. The games available so far still tell a (fairly) complete tale of hybris, revenge and redemption, however, and are well worth your time, provided you are prepared to deal with a bit of technical clunkiness (in the earlier games in particular). The entire series, minus the first Blood Omen, is still available via GOG.com, among others. The games cost about 5,00 Euros a pop, and if the series’ premise interests you, I recommend you just snatch them all up: I played nearly all of them back to back, a couple of years ago, and it really helps to get a grip on the rather complicated storyline. You can also read up on the games on Nosgothic Realm, an incredibly expansive fansite.

II. Primal

Like Legacy of Kain, Primal used to be a fairly high profile release back when it first came out in 2003. A Playstation 2 exclusive developed by Sony’s own Cambridge studio, Primal was a fairly ambitious project with incredible production values for the time. Not all that many people seem to remember it these days, which is a shame, especially since it has some rather interesting connections to Games Workshop — but we’ll be getting there in a minute…

The game’s basic premise seems clichéd enough: Perky goth chic Jen is nearly killed by a daemon who just happened to infiltrate a gig of her boyfriend’s Nu-Metal band (I swear I am not making this up!). With Jen’s boyfriend abducted, she finds herself transported to the fantasy dimension of Oblivion, which consists of four realms. The forces of order and chaos, respectively, seek to establish control over these realms, and Abaddon, Lord of chaos, has come dangerously close to toppling the precarious balance of power.

So it falls to Jen, accompanied by adorable gargoyle helper Scree, to travel to the four realms, learn how to transform into different demon forms and re-establish the balance between chaos and order.

Mechnically speaking, Primal is one of those third person action adventure the early 2000s were so very fond of (think Tomb Raider with less climbing and more character interaction). If that doesn’t sound like much to write home about, it’s important to point out that Primal’s production values, its narrative and its pretty excellent cast take the whole affair into some rather interesting directions, so it’s far more interesting than its rather cookie-cutter premise would led you to believe.

There’s yet another reason why Primal would be interesting for every discerning fan of GW’s various IPs: Travelling the game’s world, you cannot shake a general feeling of …familiarity. Take the game’s four realms, serving as its massive levels, and their respective inhabitants: There’s Solum and the Ferai (totally not slightly more lawful-neutral Khorne-worshipping Beastmen), Aquis and the Undine (totally not victims to some kind of slightly Nurglite plague), Aetha and the Wraith (totally not Slaaneshi vampires) and, finally, Volca and the Djinn (totally not worshippers of Tzeentch). The latter, in particular, seem rather GW-ish in design — to the point where the Djinn would make for excellent Tzeentchian champions or daemon princes, as you can see in this video (starting at 11:40, in case YouTube’s timecode widget refuses to work):

Those similarities are far from coincidental, however, as Primal’s lead artist was none other than Mark Gibbons, one of GW’s most prolific artists and illustrators during the early to mid-90s. You know, the guy who did pieces like this:

Artwork by Mark Gibbons

His touch is very noticeable, and there is more than a little vintage GW in the character designs and artwork as well as the art design in the game proper:

What’s more, while the four realms and their inhabitants clearly recall GW’s chaotic factions, the whole idea of of four discreet realms in the game also somewhat recalls the realms that now appear in Age of Sigmar, even though AoS didn’t come around until fairly recently.

An emulated version of Primal is still available on the PlayStation Store (both for the Playstation 3 and 4), and it’s very much worth the price of admission: It may be trying a bit too hard to be edgy and grownup for today’s standards. and it may not be great literature, but the main characters’ banter makes them genuinely endearing, and the production values are still great, even from a modern perspective. And if nothing else, it’s a fascinating example of Mark Gibbons creating something that should feel more than a little familiar for longtime hobbyists, albeit in a different medium and for a different employer.

III. Dishonored series

This next entry is a far more recent series: If you are even slightly into video games right now, chances are you’ve heard of the Dishonored series. It is also one of my current favourites. And it feels a lot like an Inquisitor campaign every now and then, but maybe that’s just me 😉

Dishonored is set in the Empire of the Isles, a setting that invokes Great Britain (in the first game) and its colonies (in the second game) during the early 19th/early 20th century, albeit with a twist: Much of the Empire’s culture seems oddly familiar, but Dishonored’s world also presents a strange and intriguing clash of fantasy, (steampunk) technology and magic. What’s more, there’s a very particular look and feel to the whole affair, ranging from the – almost painterly -realism of its character design (call me crazy, but there’s more than a bit of New Objectivity to be found in the games’ art design) to the general bleak atmosphere of the world, with decadent nobles scheming and vying for power, as disinfranchised smallfolk suffer under their cruelty. Dishonored’s world is very dark, but also quite fascinating. It poses some interesting moral questions and goes to some rather interesting places with them. The way in which the games explore the morality of nonlethal solutions to many of its problems is just one very poignant example.

From a gameplay perspective, the Dishonored games can be visceral, combat-focused revenge fantasies or elegant stealth games — or anything in between, really, purely based on your preferred way of playing. What’s so mechanically great about the games is how they accomodate your playstyle and choices and make the world adapt accordingly in many interesting ways. Like I said, it’s one of my favourite game series at the moment 😉

As for the series’ position on this list, Dishonored can also feel very Inqusitor/INQ28 at times. It would be easy to imagine Dishonored’s Empire of the Isles as a civilised world within the Imperium of Man, and as the setting for an INQ28 campaign. For instance, whenever I read Apologist’s incredibly cool world building for his “Death of a Rubricist” setting, Dishonored is one of the things I feel acutely remembered of. Plans within schemes are very much at the heart of the series, and if you are into Inquisitor and its particular way of storytelling and world building, you’ll take lots of inspiration away from Dishonored — in fact, the world building alone is basically worth the price of admission!

Dishonored 2_20161120161254

The series consists of two main games (Dishonored and Dishonored 2) and one major spin-off campaign for each of the main games. Dishonored gets “The Knife of Dunwall” as a nearly game-sized DLC, whereas Dishonored 2’s spin-off campaign, “The Death of the Outsider” was recently released as a standalone title. All of the games are available on PC, Playstation 3/4 or Xbox 360/One, and I would very much recommend to check out the entire series, starting with the first title. If you’re even a bit like me, you’ll want to explore every nook and cranny of this truly breathtakingly realised world!

And while we are talking about Dishonored, let’s not forget about…

III.b …the Thief Series

Because I would be remiss not to mention the Thief series, which seems like Dishonored’s spiritual prequel (and a highly acclaimed stealth series in its own right). Thief only makes this particular list by association, it’s true, but the main reason for that is that its world is a fair bit more medieval (and thus less 40k) than Dishonored’s. Even so, fans of INQ28 and/or Mordheim in particular will doubtlessly find a lot to like about Thief’s dark, steampunk-ish world. Just to give you an idea, when I read the description of Queen Mab during the opening chapters of Dan Abnett’s novel Pariah (the first and, alas, to date only entry in the Eisenhorn vs. Ravenor series), I felt instantly reminded of The City from the Thief series.

IV. Resonance of Fate

A strange entry, this one, mostly because Resonance of Fate is a JRPG, with all the baggage and strangeness that entails: Now Japanese role playing games clearly aren’t for everybody, as they tend to have a particular tone and feel, one that is often informed by the peculiarities of Japanese pop culture. Personally speaking, I have a long personal history of playing JRPGs, however, going all the way back to the 8- and 16-bit days, so I can usually stomach, or even appreciate, the weirdness inherent to the genre.

Resonance of Fate is, on the face of it, very Japanese in many ways: It’s an eclectic combination of fantasy, cyberpunk, turn-based battles fought with guns (and almost ridiculous amounts of acrobatics) and classic JRPG tropes. What makes the game a definite candidate for this particular list, however, is its peculiar setting, Basel:

Basel is a multileveld city built around a massive central elevator. It was orginially constructed as a combined retreat for humanity and an atmospheric cleaning device, but it grew and became more complicated and essentially turned into a massive, sprawling city over the  centuries — a veritable Hive city by any other name.


And while Basel may look strange and far different from the hive cities of 40k, the game really does an excellent job of depicting a society that has developed around the basic challenge of living within a massive machine: Towns and villages are wedged into Basel’s open spaces, with giant cogs ticking away in the background. The strata of older cultures and settlements are clearly visible in many places, and most people have clearly forgotten the massive facility’s original use, content to eke out a living among its unknowable mechanisms. The rest of the setting confirms to this basic conceit: Instead of dragons and orcs, you get to fight modern bandits and runaway biological experiments.

Which is all a rather roundabout way of saying that, in spite of its copious amounts of JRPG tropes, Resonance of Fate can almost feel like a Japanese take on Necromunda. Which, in turn, can make it fascinating to check out for a fan of GW’s various 40k-related settings.

When all is said and done, however, Resonance of Fate is still a very Japanese game indeed, with all the tropes and quirkiness that entails. If you can stomach the occasional weirdness (the odd jokes, the dressup meta game, the weird gender stereotypes and the sometimes awkward pacing and dialogue), it’s a fascinating, quirky little game. The following video shows some of the gameplay, and I had an especially strong Necromunda moment starting at 6:26, with the heroes passing through the artifacts of prior civilisations while making their way from Basel’s highest level, the Chandelier, to the lower residential areas:

The fact remains that Resonance of Fate can be a bit of an acquired taste — even moreso, arguably, than mainstream JRPGs like Final Fantasy. You may want to take a look at the game’s prologue below to find out whether the general tone and style is for you:

V. Basically anything by Yasumi Matsuno

Yasumi Matsuno is a fascinating director and author because he stands for a very particular kind of RPG world and storytelling. Instead of fairy tale romps that end with the heroes defeating a mustache twirling demon lord to save the world, Matsuno’s games (and game worlds) are invariably steeped in realpolitik: They always deal with the politics going on in the background, the shady deals and painful sacrifices that keep kingdoms and empires going while creating tragedies for the protagonists. Unlike most roleplaying games, Matsuno’s titles usually don’t put you in the shoes of the idealistic hero saving the world due to sheer spunk and virtue: You just do your best while history – and politics – march on relentlessly in the background. And even if you should end up saving the world, don’t expect anyone’s thanks for it! Chances are, you’ll go down in history as a dangerous heretic…

There are also numerous shout outs to real world history: Tactics Ogre is basically a medieval fantasy version of the Yugoslav Wars. Final Fantasy Tactics (very much Tactics Ogre’s spiritual sequel) is basically the War of the Roses with dragons and Chocobos (it is also one of the finest strategy RPGs ever devised by man).

While all of Matsuno’s games are very much worth checking out, I want to point you towards some titles in particular, starting with Vagrant Story: a strange and darkly beautiful game that is one of my all-time favourites, and maybe Matsuno’s definitive piece of work:

Vagrant Story is a take on Western RPG and dungeon crawler conventions with a fascinating story about different factions trying to get their hands on the dark magics resting within the lost city of Leà Monde.


You’re cast in the role of one Ashley Riot, basically a medieval special ops soldier. Your goal is to infiltrate the lost city, rescue the hostages taken by a religious cult and prevent its members from claiming the city’s dark power for their own. You soon find out that things are far more complicated, however, and that there are more parties interested in Leà Monde and its legacy.

Vagrant Story is known for several things: Its incredible art design. Its dark and mature storytelling. Its punishing take on western roleplaying and dungeon crawling conventions. And, certainly not least of all, its acclaimed English translation by Alexander O. Smith, among others, adding an extra layer to an already incredibly elegant narrative.

I don’t even want to tell you too much about Vagrant Story, because it has to be experienced firsthand. It’s a punishing and darkly mysterious experience. If you enjoy deep, ambiguous tales and thought-provoking narratives, you should check it out. It’s quite a ride, indeed, and it can be had for a song on the PlaystationStore.

One of Yasumi Matsuno’s biggest mainstream games, set in the same world as Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story, is Final Fantasy XII, a mainline entry in the colossally successful Final Fantasy series.

Like Matsuno’s other games, FF XII is a triumphant exercise in world building, with a setting that seems like it could actually exist somewhere and wouldn’t wink out of existence the moment you switch off your console. Once again, there’s also a lot of background politics at play here, with history’s gears very much in motion while your band of heroes is gallivanting around the world of Ivalice.

It’s a rather interesting subversion of many of Final Fantasy’s classic tropes, as well as a fascinating look at what Matsuno can get up to with a bigger budget — at least partially so, as he had to drop out of the project late into its development. The game is still quite something, though! It’s still widely available on Playstation consoles, with a remastered version (“Final Fantay XII – The Zodiac Age”) released earlier this year.

FINAL FANTASY Ⅻ THE ZODIAC AGE_20170814193800

As for its influence on my 40k hobby, among many other things, let’s just say that I am still looking for a way of creating a 40k-compatible way of incorporating Final Fantasy XII’s Judges into my INQ28 setting…

 

Matsuno’s obvious love for the classic western pen & paper RPG finally came full circle with Crimson Shroud, released in 2012 as a fairly obscure download-only title for the Nintendo 3DS (at least in the west):

In many ways, Crimson Shroud mirrors many of Vagrant Story’s story beats (and much of its general look and feel): A small group of adventurers infiltrates the ruins of a palace in search of the eponymous artifact. There they encounter not only many vicious creatures, but also a dark and tragic story going back centuries. The narrative is both concise and nuanced, especially for a smaller digital release like this.

What makes Crimson Shroud truly captivating, however, are the lenghts to which the game actually emulates classic pen & paper roleplaying — to the point where you throw virtual dice to determine the outcome of most actions in the game and all the characters and monsters are displayed as actual miniatures mounted on their own small bases and placed within diorama-like backgrounds, making the whole thing seem like an actual tabletop roleplaying session.


If that sounds weird, it certainly is, and it’s not exactly easy to pick up and play. But everything that’s fascinating about a Matsuno game – such as the nuanced storytelling and excellent world building – also make an appearance here, creating a sublime narrative experience almost on par with Vagrant Story. Plus the game is a fascinating love letter to western tabletop gaming, as seen through a distinctly Japanese lense.

 

Honorary mention: Incubation

Okay, let’s treat this last game as a bit of an out of competition entry, but I still need to mention Incubation: Released in 1997 as part of the – then pretty successful (at least in Germany) – Battle Isle series, Incubation basically worked as the first really cool squad-based Space Marine game without even being a GW-licensed title.

Incubation probably seems incredibly primitive by modern standards, but back then, it felt like a revelation: I remember loving GW and 40k even back then and hoping they would end up making a game based on their IPs that didn’t suck — but it actually never came to that, at least not back then. But a German developer made a game about vanilla SciFi-troopers (totally not Space Marines) fighting against a slightly weird alien race (totally not the Tyranids), and after playing it, I kept asking myself why GW couldn’t have come up with that kind of game — or at least given the license to these guys…

Funnily enough, Incubation is actually still available as part of the Battle Isle Platinum Pack, but I couldn’t really tell you whether or not it has aged all that gracefully. I will affirm though that it felt like an excellent Space Marine game long before GW themselves got their act together on that front, and that’s enough to be included in this list!

 

So yeah, so much for my – entirely subjective and woefully incomplete – list of video games that have fed into my hobby over the years. I would love to hear your feedback, both on the nature of this post as well as on the actual choices I have made: Was this an interesting subject, in spite of only dealing with the actual hobby in a slightly roundabout way? And did I miss any games that should be included on this list? You are very welcome to contribute your own favourites!

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

The State of the Hunt, Week 43/2017: I Aten’t Dead

Posted in 40k, Blood Bowl, Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, Pointless ramblings, state of the hunt, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2017 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, it’s been quite a while since my last update, for which I apologise. There’s been a lot of RL related business keeping me occupied, plus I have also been in a bit of a hobby slump for quite a while now, unfortunately. Oh, and did I mention I’ve also managed to catch the mother of all colds yet? Because that happened as well, during my annual seaside vacation a fortnight ago:


As always, sitting by the seaside and relaxing was rather lovely, indeed. Unfortunately, though, it also happened to be pretty rainy and cold this year, so the minor cold I had already brought along to my vacation flared up again with a vengeance, turning my head into something that felt very much like a Nurglite blight grenade — very fitting, considering I had brought the recent copy of WD with me to take a closer look at the new Death Guard models (full review forthcoming). And I am still dealing with the fallout of that, as the Grandfather keeps lavishing his gifts on me…

Anyway, for these reasons, I haven’t been doing all that much hobby related stuff recently. However, I did want to post an update to demonstrate the blog is still going, and I also actually do have something new to show you, even if it’s nothing earth-shattering. So what is this about?

 

My friend Annie hasn’t given up on wanting to teach me how to play Blood Bowl quite yet, so she recently made another attempt at slowly walking me through the rules of the game — this time, with the help of the Blood Bowl II videogame on PS4, which actually helped on several levels: One, I am a huge videogame fiend, so wrapping something in a digital game will usually make it easier to get me interested. Two, it was good to be eased into the game via a slowly building tutorial campaign: It’s a format I am fairly familiar and comfortable with, and it happens to parse out the information slowly enough for my mangled World Eaters mind to hold on to 😉

I’m not going to lie to you, though: It was still slow going. But I do feel like I actually have a far better grasp of the game’s interlocking mechanisms and systems now and can actually make some simple, albeit tactically sound, decisions. Go me, right? 😉

Playing the game was also pretty great for yet another reason, though: It was really cool to see it all in motion and to get an actual idea of what a game of Blood Bowl would actually look like in-universe. There’s a great sense of physicality (and brutality) to the animations, and seeing it all play out like that really gave me an appetite to go and build some more Blood Bowl models…

Now of course the obvious way would have been to just go and get some of the new, shiny Blood Bowl models, but then I am really fond of my already existing team, the Orkheim Ultraz, mostly kitbashed from leftovers before a re-released Blood Bowl boxed set was even a thing:


I also think those guys are a nice enough match for the look of the Ork Teams in the Blood Bowl videogames, to be honest.


So I went back to them in an effort to add some more team members to the Ultraz and sticking to using what was already in my bitzbox instead of rushing out to buy yet more plastic crack. So here’s what I came up with:

First up, the appearance of the goblin referee kinda inspired me to come up with a goblin model of my own. I mean just look at this delightfully evil looking little guy:


So I dug through my bitzbox to find some spare goblin bitz I could use to build a gobbo to accompany my two Night Goblin players:


Here’s my WIP attempt:



The old multipart goblin plastic kits are among GW’s earliest multipart regiment kits from the late 90s, but they still work like a charm for building Blood Bowl models. Plus some of that armour really looks like old timey football and rugby gear, which is a great coincidence! I would love to build another goblin like this, but alas, I find myself lacking a single torso piece to make it happen. Oh well…

 

I also built another thrower for my team. Now my first thrower was already assembled in a suitably heroic (and archetypal) pose:


So I knew I needes something slightly different this time around. So the new guy is actually throwing a squig now…


…because, let’s face it, sometimes an orc jus’ gots to throw one o’ them squigs 😉


The thrower itself was mainly made from leftover WFB and 40k orc boy parts, with most of the conversion work focused on splicing together a suitable arm and hand to hold the squig. The squig itself is a part of a goblin character from the old “Battle for Skull Pass” WFB starter set.

All in all, I am pretty happy with this WIP: The thrower is similar enough to his buddy to make both of the read as members of the same character class, while they are also different enough to read as characters.

 

And last but not least, I also wanted some additional heavy hitters: One of the only things I actually bought for my Blood Bowl team was a box of Black Orcs, so I wanted to make some more Black Orc blockers as well. The first two I built and painted are pretty cool, if I do say so myself, but they are also looking a bit cookie-cutter: They are basically standard Black Orcs with their weapons snipped off:


One thing that struck me when playing Blood Bowl II, however, was how massive and slab-like Black Orcs seem in the game: You really get the impression from watching them that there’s not much they couldn’t happily slap around all day:


So for my next two blockers, I wanted to add some variety (in order to suitably differentiate them from the already existing models) and also make them look dead ‘ard. So I went for a mix of suitably interesting bitz and spliced in some ogre fists and additional armour plates here and there. Take a look:


The first guy’s pose is basically identical to one of the finished model’s, but I think the added bulk and spiky fist make him look just different enough to be interesting. I also used an Ork Nob head (and steel jaw) for that extra bit of character.

The second Black Orc I built turned into an even more involved conversion, as I really wanted his pose to go beyond what the two basic body layouts for Black Orcs can do. It ended with some serious tweaking to his right arm — and with replacing his legs with those of an 40k Ork Nob:


I am really happy with this guy, to be honest: He’s rather massive and very close to that implacable look and feel I loved about the Black Orcs in the videogame.


So yeah, here are the new additions to the Orkheim Ultraz’ team roster:


Painting these guys should be enjoyable enough — I think I’ll be saving them for Annie’s and my next joint hobby session 😉

 

So there, nothing too spectacular for now, but I’m still at work. And it goes without saying that I would love to hear any feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The State of the Hunt, Week 37/2017: Finally, paint!

Posted in 40k, Chaos, paintjob, state of the hunt, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2017 by krautscientist

Oh boy, I finally have something painted to share with you! Now, in all fairness, the model featuring in today’s update was actually painted a while back, and  I merely took my sweet time to finally put the finishing touches to it, but it’s a project that is very close to my heart, indeed. So what is this about?

Juan Diaz’ model for Be’lakor, the Dark Master, is basically one of GW’s definitive Daemon Prince models (the other one would be the classic Chaos Space Marine Daemon Prince — also sculpted by Juan Diaz, as it happens). The more recent plastic version closely mirrors many design cues of those classic models, but for all its options, it really doesn’t come close to capturing what made them so cool. Be’lakor, in particular, is a model I have always wanted in my collection, but it somehow never quite happened.


Interestingly enough, it turned out my friend Annie had an old metal Be’lakor, originally bought to be used as a coach for her chaos Blood Bowl team, in her cupboard of shame — and when I learned of that fact, a couple of years ago, my quest to get my hands on that model began: I repeatedly tried to sweet-talk her into letting me have it, mostly because I liked the idea of owning a metal version of the model. Now most of the kinks of Finecast seem to be have been (literally, in some cases) straightened out, but I still preferred the more reliable, for lack of a better word, properties of metal.

But Annie wouldn’t be convinced, so I ultimately abandoned my devious scheme — I did still mention being interested in that model every so often, though…

Still, it was a very sweet surprise when Annie gave me her Be’lakor for my birthday back in June: I was really happy to finally have gotten my hands on the model, and I made her a promise to honour the gift by giving the model a cool paintjob.

Before I could do that, there were some very minor repairs to take care of, however: Annie had cut off the model’s sword, due to her plan of using it as a Blood Bowl coach, so that area needed some cleanup. Ultimately, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it allowed me to replace Be’lakor’s somewhat Slaaneshi looking sword with the Hellblade from a herald of Khorne. While I was at it, I added some more, pretty subtle, Khornate touches, because I really wanted to turn the model into a servant of the War God, for obvious reasons. I had to take care not to mess with the model’s silhouette and purity of design to much, however, so I kept it fairly low key.

And then it was already time for painting, and what better venue to start this endeavour than one of Annie’s and my regular hobby sessions?

I knew that Be’lakor would look absolutely terrific in red, so I started by applying the same red skin recipe that had already served me really well on my Daemon-Primarch version of Angron and some other daemon models. Here’s the model after the first step of the recipe, a healthy drybrush with Mephiston Red:

Since most of the model’s surface is bare skin, it didn’t take long at all to get it mostly finished. Here’s Be’lakor just a short while later:


With most of the hard work out of the way, I was free to lavish some extra care on areas that I wanted to have some pop, such as the sword (painted in my usual, turquoise daemon weapon paintjob), the face or the chaos star on the model’s chest, highlighted to look almost like molten metal:


Most of this happened over the space of one evening, while Annie was sitting opposite me, cleaning about a dozen metal Slann models for yet another Blood Bowl team. Only some minor touches remained for the next day.

However, a bit of a setback happened when I knocked the almost finished model off my desk, thereby shattering it into almost all of its different parts. For a moment there, I was frustrated enough to just toss it all into a box and never look at the mess again, but that wouldn’t have been exactly fair to Annie, would it? So I grit my teeth and put it all back together.

In the end, repairing the damage turned out to be mercifully easy. So all that remained was to build a base for Be’lakor.

I ended up following an approach by my buddy Augustus b’Raass, building up a small mound for Be’lakor to stand on with Milliput, pressing some small stones into the putty when it was still soft. Then the whole thing was covered in a generous layer of Vallejo’s Sandy Earth Paste (I cannot recommend that stuff enough, by the way!), and then I selectively added some patches of my usual basing mix of tiny pieces of slate, cork chaff and modeling sand. So here’s what the base looked like before painting:


Of course the really important thing was to make sure again and again that the model would sit flush atop the base, so I checked and double-checked that by carefully putting Be’lakor on there in between all the different detailing steps:


As you can see, I decided to give Be’lakor a relatively big base, in spite of the model’s relatively small size. I made this choice both for gaming reasons (at least in theory…) and because I thought a larger base would make for a better canvas for the excellent sculpt, giving it the space it needed.

So I quickly painted the base last weekend, and so I finally ended up with a finished model. Take a look:






I am pretty happy with the outcome: Not only does the model look really cool in red, if you ask me, but Be’lakor also definitely works as a Khornate Daemon Prince: He basically looks like a massive modern Bloodletter anyway:


So while I can now use him as Be’lakor, I feel tempted to give him a new name and backstory: In fact, I have this half-formed concept in the back of my head about a daemonic legion created both to support and haunt the World Eaters’ 4th assault company: As I’ve said many times, Lorimar and his followers remain wary of the daemonic, as they fear giving in to the blessings of the pantheon too much will turn them into the same raving madmen as the rest of their legion. But what if Khorne keeps wanting to tempt – and punish – them and has created a daemonic legion for that exact purpose: One daemon born for every broken promise and forsaken oath, a constant reminder of the company’s inevitable doom…? Wouldn’t you agree that my new “Khornate Be’lakor” would be the perfect leader for such a Brazen Legion?

In any case, he fits in well enough with the small daemonic posse I already have…


But that’s a story for another day. For now, I am just really happy to finally have this guy in my collection — and very thankful to Annie for putting him there! So please let me know what you think in the comments! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The State of the Hunt, Week 35/2017: Do the robot!

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, state of the hunt, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2017 by krautscientist

I know I should really be painting some stuff for a change, but relatively little hobby time I have at the moment somehow invariably ends up going towards indulging flights of fancy — hey, at the very least, you get to look at some new kitbashes, alright? 😉

Ever since I built my first Dreadnought, back in 2010 or thereabouts, I have always loved the slightly bigger scale and particular clunkiness afforded by this particular unit type, so I find myself going back to building Dreadnoughts and killer robots on a fairly regular scale — go figure! Today, I have no less than three walking deathmobile projects to share with you, so strap yourselves in:

I. The Blight That Walks…

First up is yet another addition to my alarmingly growing (or should that be mushrooming…?!) Death Guard project. In all fairness, though: It was always clear that a Dreadnought would have to enter the equation at some point, wasn’t it? 😉

The thriftiest option seemed to be to go for the Dark Vengeance Helbrute as a base model — well, that and I really like that particular model: Painting my original DV Helbrute for my World Eaters was great fun, in spite of its mutated look not gelling all that well with the overall look and feel of my army. But that same fleshy hideousness of course perfectly matches the general Death Guard vibe, if you ask me 😉

So here’s what I have so far:




I erm…borrowed a couple of ideas from the recent work of fellow hobbyists, like GuitaRasmus and Marius Perdo, among others, yet I also tried to put my own spin on things. It’s still a fairly economical conversion, however, because I think the Dark Vengeance Helbrute doesn’t really need too much work to read as a Nurglite model.

Now the belly obviously needs some cleanup and smoothing over, but the general look is there. Incidentally, the above pictures are in greyscale because I actually used a mix of GS and Milliput that ended up making for a vile, pistachio-ice cream colour Oh, I also my tried and true tin-foil trick again, putting a piece of the stuff between the plastic and GS while sculpting, so both parts are easy enough to separate when everything has dried, while still remaining form fitting. So the belly remains a separate piece, which should be super handy for assembly reasons:


Still a bit of detail work left to do as well, although I suspect I’ll be playing it fairly safe with this guy. Going all out on the pantjob should be fun, though 😉

II. Underhive Heavy Metal

Back when the first plastic AdMech kits were released, the Kastelan Robots were one of my first purchases. One of them was turned into a counts-as Contemptor for my 40k World Eaters:


The other one was was saved for future use, although my idea of what to do with the model actually went through several revisions: The original plan was to turn him into a Colossus-pattern robot for my small Iron Warriors project, but that plan never really quite got off the ground, and it finally went under for good when Forgeworld ended up producing actual models to represent the Iron Circle.

Later I realised it would be cool to turn the model into some kind of patched up, ancient servitor/former war machine as another colourful addition to my Pit Slave/Underhive project, The Road Crew:

But while I really liked that idea, it never really materialised either, apart from some early kitbashing. But then two things happened. One, I got my hands on one of the old Forgeworld World Eaters Dreadnoughts, courtesy of my buddy Augustus b’Raass, and the head of the machine just turned out to be perfect for this project. Two, I saw what fellow hobbyist WarbossKurgan did with his rather beat-up Kastelans, and that provided the inspiration I needed to wade back into the fray. So here’s what I have now:



As you can see, I have gone for a really ragtag appearance so far, with many tacked on armour plates and strange bits and bobs that suggest all kinds of field repairs — only fitting for the underhive, really. The rounded, 50s retro-futuristic SciFi look is still there, but it’s covered by layers and layers of later additions or replacements: In fact, I really love the idea of making the machine’s origins even more ambiguous: Is it a refurbished heavy duty servitor? An AdMech construct or an ancient warmachine? Or could it be even older…?

There were also several pieces of inspiration for the model: There’s quite a bit of Mad Max and Fallout going on there, but probably the biggest influence was the ABC Warrior Robot, possibly the best thing about the old Judge Dredd film:


And while we are on the subject of influences, using part of a barrel as one of the model’s shoulder pads is actually a bit of a shout out to The Road to Jove, Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s and David Sondered’s graphic novel project:

This also ties into something else I was actually pushing for: A general look of asymmetry: the pauldrons are one example of this, but there are also the arms: The gun arm is massive and beefy, the other one is strangely skeletal, probably due to having been replaced or repaired at some point.

Anyway, after getting nowhere with this model for ages, I am actually pretty happy with the progress I have made. The next step will be to add more details, like cabling and a bit more battle damage. And then, painting the model should be rather enjoyable. I think I’ll be going for a mix of darkened, oily metal and the Road Crew’s trademark, heavily weathered yellow armour I also want to pick a collection of decals that may or may not hint at the machine’s past — in any case, it should make the model even more interesting! And it’ll make for a cool addition to the project:

III. Immortal Hunter

And finally, yet another model: This one was actually built earlier than the other two, but I don’t think I’ve shared it with you yet.

One of my favourite 30k models I have done so far is my plastic World Eaters Contemptor, Vaako the Immortal:


Now when I visited Augustus b’Raass in Amsterdam, he was awesome enough to magnetise Vaako’s weapon options for me. But that left me with two useable weapon arms, and when I recently managed to get a pretty good deal on the plastic Contemptor body, I thought about putting those weapons to good use — and then I just love cutting up that terrible, clunky monopose kit. I’m just weird like that. 😉

I also wanted to find out whether the aforementioned head from the OOP Forgeworld World Eaters Dread  would work on a Contemptor. So I made another 30k Contemptor for my World Eaters. Again, this guy is still missing some detail, but I am already pretty happy with the general setup.




The left arm is a smaller version of the Ursus Claw harpoons the World Eaters would mount onto their void ships and the Titans of the Legio Audax:


It was originally built quite a while ago (drawing some inspiration from a similar conversion by fellow hobbyist sheep) as an additional CC option for my 40k Dreadnoughts/Helbrutes, but it arguably works even better on the taller Contemptor. Together with the multimelta, it suggests that this Contemptor’s specialty is actually hunting for heavier prey, such as enemy warmachines or Dreadnoughts…

Here’s the recipe for the Ursus Claw arm, in case anyone’s interested: The basic arm is the CC arm from the Blood Angels Librarian Dreadnought, I mostly merely replaced the actual weapon
Now the harpoon itself was made from an old axle bit from an ancient model truck kit — although it would be really easy to find a suitable replacement for that bit
the spike is an element that appears on many of GW’s terrain kits and was cut off from a small wall section
the light grey part right underneath the tip was a piece of a Chaos vehicle bulldozer bit shaved down to make a connection bit between the tip and the haft of the weapon
the barrel for the chain consists of two Chaos Marauder Horsemen shields, a roll of chain from an Ogre Kingdoms kit and a piece of chain, once again from an Ogre Kingdoms kit, I believe — sorry for not being more precise, but I got those bitz from an Ogre Kingdoms joblot I bought via ebay.

So yeah, that makes three massive killer-robot-cyborg dudes. What can I say — building those things is just so much fun 😉

Of course I would love to hear any feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!