Archive for adeptus mechanicus

Inquisitor 28: Cold logic and crude augmetics

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2015 by krautscientist

And now, as the old adage goes, for something completely different: In between all the enthusiasm for plastic 30k, I found myself itching for a bit of INQ28 related painting. And since my muse is such a fickle creature, I know better than to second-guess her, once she deigns to show herself.

So INQ28 it was, and my gaze fell on some of the models for a possible Adeptus Mechanicus warband I had converted a while ago. I managed to paint two of them and would like to share the finished models with you today, so here goes:

First up is my Chimeric Servitor conversion, aldready shown in a previous post:

Chimeric Servitor WIP (8)
Chimeric Servitor WIP (10)
The idea behind this model was to create the kind of hideous fusion of organic and mechanical parts that we used to see in many pieces of AdMech artwork. As it happens, the model was actually inspired by a particular piece of art from the Inquisitor rulebook:

Chimeric Servitor Inspiration

Combat-servitors can be glimpsed in the background, and a closer look hints at the extent of their augmetics — which is the kind of look I definitely wanted to capture with my own model (hence the insectile lower legs and the addition of a third leg, in order to achive a less human silhouette).

When painting, I tried to make the organic parts of the creature look as hideous and distressed as possible. Meanwhile, it fell to the various implants and augmetics to create a kind of common visual heritage with the rest of the warband. In the end, the model actually took quite a bit longer to come together than I had expected, but I am happy enough with the result. Take a look:

Chimeric Servitor (1)
Chimeric Servitor (3)
I originally painted the Kastelan gauntlets in a darker shade of red, but that led to the model looking like it simply didn’t belong when placed next to the other models in the warband. So I used a colour closer to that of the priests’ robes, and suddenly it worked. Some of the decals from the Skitarii decal sheets were also instrumental in giving the model the “official” AdMech look.

In a moment of spontaneous inspiration, I tried to use one of the new oval bases on the model, and it worked far better than a Terminator or monster base might have: In fact, it seems like the perfect canvas for the creature, if you ask me!

So all that remains is to share the short background vignette on Chimeric Servitors that I have come up with:

Chimeric Servitor (2)
Chimeric Servitors

Where most of the Tech-Priests of Korhold favour fashioning their automata according to well-established and streamlined design templates, Genetor Grendel’s servants are invariably more artistic – and also far more grotesque – creations . For the Genetor is fascinated with the fusion of the organic and the mechanical, and so most of his so-called “Chimeric Servitors” are a seemingly haphazard exploration of those two materials, influenced by nothing more than the Genetor’s own aesthetic sensibilities. Most of them are lumbering brutes, their heavily muscled bodies crudely augmented with tools and weapons crafted from Mechanicum ingenuity. Beneath the multitude of implants and bionics, the provenience of the organic bodies used in these experiments is impossible to ascertain: Were they vat-grown for this purpose, or did they once belong to abhuman thralls or even to unfortunate humans? With the organic tissue grotesquely swollen and often covered in patches of bristly hair due to extensive genesplicing and hormone therapy, the organic parts of the Chimeric Servitors have grown so far removed from their origins that nobody can really tell where the Genetor procures his most valued specimens.

Some of these creations are quickly abandoned, their aesthetic qualities incapable of holding the Genetor’s attention for long, while others may serve their master for years or even decades, repaired and reshaped time and time again to their creator’s needs. Karras Grendel is a true artist, and even among his colleagues, there are few who can understand his mercurial moods.

 

The other model I want to share with you today was similarly kitbashed, albeit with a slightly different aim: If there is one thing about the  – brilliant – AdMech release, it’s the lack of even more types of robed Tech-Priests: I really think GW could have – should have – explored that angle more, but the good news is that the enterprising hobbyist can always work around oversights like these, right?

So I wanted to create a character that serves as a mix between scribe, hacker and, given the Adeptus Mechanicus’ relegious overtones, supernatural seer: I imagine that the mere act of collecting and maintaining data will already be interpreted as sacred observance by the Tech-Priests, and so I wanted to create a model to reflect that. So without further ado, here’s my Datascryer:

AdMech Datascryer WIP (1)
AdMech Datascryer WIP (2)
AdMech Datascryer WIP (3)
AdMech Datascryer WIP (5)
At the heart of it all lies a fairly straighforward kitbash achieved by combining legs from the WFB Empire flagellants and a torso from the Skaven Stormvermin. A very useful combination that will work for all kinds of hunched-over robed acolytes and servants! In fact, I’ve used it before for a traitor psyker, and I am not really sure about whether or not I’ve shown you the model yet:

Traitor Psyker (1)

While the basic recipe is similar, the Datascryer also received a healthy dose of AdMech bitz, of course. These mostly came from the Sicarian Ruststalkers and Skitarii, with the most important addition being the secondary set of (mechanical) arms. I also added a leftover servo-skull to show how the Datascryer’s equipment is really geared towards the collection of, well, data.

The model was painted with a recipe matching the one I had used on my prior Tech-Priest models, and once again, some decals were used to add a bit of oomph to the model.

So here’s the finished Datascryer:

Adeptus Mechanicus Datascryer (1)
Adeptus Mechanicus Datascryer (3)

One small effect that was important was to show lines of scrolling code on the portable cogitator’s display, but since I had learned a pretty solid recipe for that while painting the cockpit of my Chaos Knight, I was able to re-use the effect here:

Adeptus Mechanicus Datascryer (4)

Adeptus Mechanicus Datascryer (5)

Adeptus Mechanicus Datascryer (2)
Datascryers

At first glance, the Datascryers seem like mere menials to the priesthood of Korhold, yet in truth they play a far more pivotal role in the hierarchy of the Forgeworld.

The gathering of knowledge has ever been one of the chief pursuits of the Adeptus Mechanicus, yet the Datascryers’ task reaches far beyond the mere accumulation and archiving of data: Their task is to delve deeper into the datastreams, to cross-reference and spot hidden patterns or singularities. And to coax hidden meaning from the memory banks of ancient artefacts. Towards this end, they are often equipped with sophisticated auspex and cogitator arrays as well as powerful noospheric uplink capabilities and accompanied by coteries of servo-skulls and sensor-seraphim.

The Machine Lords of Korhold have made it their business to know things, even beyond the usual remit of their order, and none of them could possibly afford to forego the Datascyers’ service, as their ancient memory vaults are said to house both unimaginable repositories of ancient knowledge as well as vast amounts of information that, if only revealed or suppressed at the right time, might be forged into raw political power…

 

And with that, I can add two more models to the collection of INQ28 characters I have managed to paint this year. And what’s more, my AdMech warband is finally starting to resemble an actual warband! Here are the two Magi and the Datascryer:

Adeptus Mechanicus Magi (1)

And here’s the entire gang so far:

Adeptus Mechanicus Magi and Chimeric Servitor

Only four models, but the Chimeric Servitor is definitely adding some presence to the warband, don’t you think? In any case, I am very happy with this project finally coming together at long last — although there’s still a bunch of models I will have to paint before I can call the warband finished:

AdMech kitbashes WIP (26)

And it’s pretty likely, of course, that I’ll let myself get sidetracked at the very first occasion in order to build something totally different again. Oh well, such is life 😉

Anyway, I’d love to hear any feedback you might have about the new models! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Adeptus Mechanicus Magi and Chimeric Servitor (2).

Back to AdMech — at least for a while…

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2015 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, I only have some new kitbashes for todays’s update, seeing how I am currently swamped with work — and both my plans for the Age of Sigmar starter box minis as well as the paintjob for my “Stormcast Inquisitor” will still take some time to gestate into something tangible. In the meantime, I have returned to my various AdMech plastic kits for a spell of converting, and I realised once again that the Mechanicus models may just be some of the most visually arresting 40k kits currently available!

So I put in some more work on my growing INQ28 Mechanicus warband, which will basically fulfill two goals: One, I want to explore the Adeptus Mechanicus in its different shapes and sizes with this warband, creating a rather eclectic and eccentric collection of models — just as eclectic and eccentric as the Adeptus Mechanicus itself, that is. Two, since I don’t want to assemble an entire army of these guys, this warband will serve as a “best of collection”, so to speak, allowing me to have fun with the AdMech kits I like most.

Speaking of which, my dear cousin Andy recently gave me a box of Sicarian Ruststalkers as a slightly belated birthday present, which was awesome! The kit is chock-full of amazing little bitz — and it has provided me with the material for several conversions. So let me show you what I am currently working on:

First up is the leader of the warband, a slightly tweaked Tech-Priest Domius serving as an Archmagos Veneratus for the Velsian branch of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Now the stock model is so beautiful that I didn’t want to change anything major, but the huge weapon on the Magos’ right side seemed a little OTT for an INQ28 character, which is why I already tried replacing it with an alternate lower arm earlier:

AdMech kitbashes WIP (3)
But while the idea seemed sound enough, the look just wasn’t there. Enter the wonderfully creepy chord claws from the Sicarian Ruststalkers kit, one of which provided the perfect alternate hand for the Magos. Take a look:

Archmagos Veneratus WIP (2)
Archmagos Veneratus WIP (3)
Archmagos Veneratus WIP (4)
I am really happy with the result — this is such a minor conversion, really, but that creepy metallic claw just complements the rest of the model rather well, don’t you agree? Plus it still makes for an impressive enough weapons, without looking as OTT as one of the “deathrays” that come with the model 😉

While we are on the subject of Sicarian Ruststalkers, these are easily some of my favourite GW models right now: There’s just something about them that perfectly encapsulates the idea of a lithe, sinister cyborg assassin, which I love immensely. So I might be forgiven for actually assembling two of the models from the kit mostly unchanged:

Sicarian Ruststalker WIP (1)
Sicarian Ruststalker WIP (2)
I only added a small halo taken from a servo-skull to this first guy, which I think rather fits the model. This guy is one of the feared Clockwork Assassins, used as a terror weapon by the Machine Lords of Korhold against their enemies.

I also built the Princeps, once again without any major conversion, save for a different chord claw (to give him a creepy “come hither” pose):

Magos Militant WIP (1)
Magos Militant WIP (2)
I already mentioned in my review of the Skitarii release how this model didn’t look so much like a unit champ to me, but rather like a more warlike Tech-Priest: All the telltale signs are there — the flowing robes, the cowl, the face full of tubes 😉 So I am seeing this guy as some kind of “Magos Militant”, overseeing the performance of the Skitarii on the front line or counseling the sector command when it comes to military questions. I actually considered swapping in some of the more esoteric pieces of equipment from the Sicarian Infiltrators, such as the servo-skull and “grimdark notebook”, but truth be told, I would rather use those bitz on a different model altogether, and the Princeps just has a visual balance that I love — hence a mostly unconverted model, for a change.

Interestingly enough, fellow hobbyist Plus Four pointed out that there’s a precedent for a very similar character in the novel “Priests of Mars”:

As far as the Tech-Magos is concerned you need look no further than Magos Hirimau Dahan from Priests of Mars who is described as having a “muscular body of plastic hued flesh…regular pair of arms…with augmenting energy blades…..a second pair of arms…tipped with a forked weapon….purple lightning arced between the bladed tines”. This would suggest that a combat oriented Secutor Magos looks nothing like the archetypal GW Magos!

So yeah, these guys may be hardly converted at all, but I am still pretty happy with them. And that’s what counts, right?

I did create two slightly more involved pieces, however, even if the first one was basically stolen from somebody else 😉

A while ago, curnow made an excellent Skitarii conversion resembling a Japanese Ashigaru foot-soldier. I loved the idea so much that I simply had to borrow his recipe and make a very similar model, since it seemed like the perfect addition to my collection. I made some small changes to his formula, but the resulting model still owes an enormous debt of inspiration to his. Take a look:

Skitarii Sniper WIP (6)
Skitarii Sniper WIP (3)
Skitarii Sniper WIP (4)
Skitarii Sniper WIP (5)
I am really happy with the model, even if I am feeling slighly guilty for borrowing curnow’s excellent idea 😉 Several people over at The Ammobunker have taken issue with the length of the rifle, and while they raise some excellent points, I think I’ll keep it this way: I really want it to look as cumbersome as possible: Not only does it provide a fairly unique silhouette, but it’s also a nice sign of the AdMech’s eccentricities. I also think it really adds something to the Ashigaru look mentioned above. Plus it differentiates this guy from the other, slightly sniper-esque Skitarius I have built for the warband:

AdMech Riflemen WIP

Speaking of which, this will probably turn out to be quite a band of characters (as per my original mission statement), incorporating such colourful individuals as a “typical” Magos in the warbend, complete with cog-axe and everything, a wraithlike Magos Genetor without a lower body, a burly Magos Explorator, a slack-jawed Magos Xenobiologis with hideous metallic claws, a weird, pseudo-Japanese sniper, a gladiator-esque Clockwork Assassin with a stylised halo, and yeah, a lithe and deadly Tech-Priest on stilts. So what else is new in the 41st millennium? 😉

Here’s the unpainted part of the warband so far:

AdMech kitbashes WIP (26)

Before today’s post ends, there’s one last kitbash I would like to share with you: It came about rather organically as an attempt to make a slightly more involved conversion using the Sicarian Ruststalker kit. Plus I also realised that the servo-skull that came with the Tech-Priest Dominus looked far too evil and sinister to be denied a body 😉 Check this guy out:

Cyborg Assassin WIP (1)
Cyborg Assassin WIP (2)
Cyborg Assassin WIP (3)
He’s not quite done yet, possibly, but I like where the model is going. I kept thinking “Cyborg Eversor” while making him, for some reason…

 

So that’s it for today! I would love to hear any feedback you might have in the comments section! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Toll the great bell thrice — my first experiments with the new AdMech kits

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inquisitor, paintjob, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2015 by krautscientist

In ancient times, men built wonders, laid claim to the stars and sought to better themselves for the good of all. But we are much wiser now.
“Speculations On Pre-Imperial History”

Given my gushing and rather wordy reviews of the Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus releases, you may have wondered why I haven’t actually boarded the AdMech train yet, at least when it comes to conversion and painting projects. The reasons for this are simple: I only wanted to start showing my own AdMech models once I had managed to come up with something that doesn’t feel like a cheap knock-off of Jeff Vader’s fantastic recent projects, for one. The other reason is that working with some of these kits requires quite a bit of planning beforehand: The Skitarii Vanguard/Rangers, for instance, are wonderfully sculpted models, yet their construction means that any and all conversion projects involving the kit require some thought. The same goes for the Kastelan robots: While the models themselves are spectacularly versatile, it behooves the converter to know where he’s going with these models before getting out the modeling knife 😉

Anyway, to make a long story short, I have finally arrived at the point where I am comfortable with showing you some of my AdMech conversions. So allow me to share some of the things I am currently working on:

 

1. “Wir sind die Roboter”

I have gone on record stating that the Kastelan robots are possibly one of the most promising parts of the recent Cult Mechanicus release — and indeed, they were the first kit from that release I actually picked up. I started messing around with the kit with the vague plan of building one or two walkers for my World Eaters and/or Iron Warriors Killteam — to give credit where credit is due, TJ Atwell’s idea to use the kit in order to build a plastic Contemptor was what originally led me down this road.

After giving the matter a bit of thought, I decided that I didn’t want to build a straight-up Contemptor: Doing so would have required a fair bit of sculpting and/or plasticard work, for starters, and there was also the fact that the more humanoid look of the robots appealed to me. So my plan was to embrace the basic look of the models and see whether I could make them seem more baroque and chaotic.

The first step towards this end was to find out how to replace the heads. While I don’t hate the blank 50s SciFi robot heads, it didn’t seem like the right choice for a Chaos walker. Nehekare’s very helpful thread over at The Bolter & Chainsword really helped me out, though, because it showed me that the options for alternate heads I had been considering would work really well. And so a short while later, I had these early mockups:

The Twins
As you can see, it’s really easy to replace the stock heads. The “head” and faceplates from the Defiler kit work really well, as does the head from the Tomb Kings Necrosphinx (seen on the right). In both cases, a plate from a CSM Rhino turret hatch was glued inside the Kastelan’s chest cavity, with the head added on top.

The next goal I had was to go for a slightly more involved pose than what you see on the stock Kastelans. Because the kit is really amazingly versatile when it comes to posing the legs: I don’t understand why GW doesn’t make a bigger fuss about this particular feature, but once you cut off the little nubs that lock the legs into a certain position, the world’s your oyster. As you can see, I have gone for a running pose, and it was really easy to achieve! I also added some early bitz in order to transform my Kastelan robot into a Khornate killing machine, as you can see:

WE_Kastelan WIP
Fortunately enough, there were a couple of very happy coincidences that helped me with this conversion:

  • the hammer-wielding hand from the Nemesis Dreadknight turned out to be a pretty perfect fit for the Kastelan. What’s more, the hammer head I still had left from the Bloodthirster kit provided the perfect replacement for the stock hammer head, so I ended up with a suitably Khornate weapon!
  • I realised that one of the breastplates from the Bloodthirster kit was a pretty good fit for the Kastelan torso, so I cut it to size and bent it around the torso, in order to make it fit more snugly.
  • I was able to use various armour plates from the Skullreaper/Wrathmonger kit to make the rest of the Kastelan’s body look more baroque and fittingly chaotic and to get rid of some of the rounded, clean aesthetic of the stock model.

All of this quickly led to my first finished Kastelan. Here’s the model I ended up with:

WE_Kastelan WIP (22)
WE_Kastelan WIP (19)
WE_Kastelan WIP (20)
WE_Kastelan WIP (21)
As you can see, I snuckin a few additional touches along the way: Some GS was used to fill in the various recesses on the head. and to extend the middle section a bit, in order to make the model slightly less tubby (an excellent suggestion by Bruticus, that last bit!). The arms were slightly extended as well, mostly by attaching the hands at a lower point.

As for the various details, I really wanted to keep one of the stock model’s “Contemptor-esque” fists, yet I added a weapon muzzle inside the palm, to hint at some kind of integrated flamethrower. And the empty eye sockets of the Necrosphinx skull were filled with proper optical lenses — I hope these will end up looking pretty stunning when painted in bright blue.

And finally, I’ve made a simple press mold of the Bloodthirster’s hoof print and tried to duplicate the Khornate rune on the Kastelan’s left sole:

WE_Kastelan WIP (23)
This element will require some cleanup work, but I think it should look pretty cool in the end.

All in all, I am really pretty happy with the way the model has turned out: This guy should be a pretty excellent addition to my menagerie of chaotic walkers, as he towers over a regular Dreadnought — Alpha Helbrute, anyone?

As for the other Kastelan, I am still committed to turning him into a member of my Iron Warriors Killteam, and a recent conversion by Jeff Vader, attempting to bring the Kastelan more in line with Jes Goodwin’s vintage drawings for the Colossus robot, have provided me with all the inspiration I need. Watch this space…

2. The Adeptus Mechanicus Velsen

It’s not all about the chaotic side of things, however! I have been a fan of the Adeptus Mechanicus for a rather long time, so it would be heresy to merely use the new kits for chaotic conversions. Because of that, I have also been working on a small collection of actual Mechanicus models. Here’s the first early family portrait of what may or may not become a dedicated AdMech warband for the wonderful world of INQ28:

AdMech kitbashes WIP (24)

Like I said, I am not sure yet whether this will become an actual warband. Maybe the models will end up in various INQ28 warbands. That said, I really like the idea of a warband representing a gathering of high-ranking Magi from the Velsen Sector’s resident Forgeworld of Korhold and a few of their Skitarii bodyguards. One image from the 40k lore that really speaks to me is the idea of a small team of Tech Priests where each of the Magi looks quite distinct (and rather inhuman), and the one thing where I think the AdMech releases have let us down a little is how they haven’t actually given us all that many actual Tech Priests. So that was what I wanted to rectify. Let’s take a closer look at the models I’ve come up with:

AdMech kitbashes WIP (4)
Something simple for starters: I picked up this Forgeworld servitor a while ago, because I think he makes for an excellent Tech-Priest (I want him to be a Magos Xenobiologis). I switched his original left hand with a creepy claw from the Datasmith model, and while it’s a very small detail, I really like the change: In spite of his slack face, he looks rather keen to dissect come Xenos, doesn’t he?
Maybe I should remove the Inquisitorial symbol on his breastplate, but I am also partial to the idea that he has been closely working with an Inquisitor for so long as to almost be seen as a traitor by his fellow Tech-Priests? Anyway, we will see…

Magos Explorator WIP
Next up, the Datasmith from the Kastelan kit. Now I already pointed out in my review how much this guy reminds me both of the artwork for Delphan Gruss and of a piece of artwork depicting a Magos Explorator, so that’s what he will be used as: The model’s bulk and extensive weaponry really fit the life of a Magos Explorator, dedicated to rediscover lost knowledge in long forgotten (and dangerous) places.

I actually didn’t convert the model beyond an attempt at uncluttering it a bit: I got rid of the smaller servo-arm on the chest as well as the cable connecting the chest apparatus to the head. Both elements seemed a bit too clunky for my taste, and I like the cleaner silhouette created by these alterations. A lovely model all in all — painting him should be a treat!

I also simply had to pick up the Tech-Priest Dominus, because I simply love the model. I have started assembling it, and this is what it looks like right now:

AdMech kitbashes WIP (2)
I’ve only made two very small changes so far: I clipped off the proboscis-like piece of tech dangling from the Tech-Priest’s facemask, because I like it better that way. And I am considering swapping out his right weapon arm with a kitbashed forearm with a converted Necron hand, because the gun option seems rather OTT for an INQ28 character. What do you think, should I keep the arm I have or go back to one of the guns after all?

AdMech kitbashes WIP (3)
The Tech-Priests will also be accompanied by their bodyguard, so I have started working on a couple of Skitarii models. Here’s the first test model:

AdMech kitbashes WIP (10)
To be perfectly honest, the recipe for this guy was stolen wholesale from one of Dave Taylor’s Skitarii. I am normally opposed to lifting entire conversions from fellow hobbyists like this, but what can I say? Dave’s model was just perfect, and I wanted a guy like that in my own AdMech warband…

So, nothing all that interesting yet, eh? Well, I tried to be a bit more adventurous with my first two kitbashed Tech-Priest models:

First up, I wanted to try whether I could come up with a Tech-Priest mostly based on Skitarii parts. In order to achieve the robed look I consider compulsory for Magi of the Adeptus Mechanicus, I used a slightly shaved-down Empire Wizard set of legs I still had in the old bitzbox. Here’s the result:

AdMech kitbashes WIP (21)
AdMech kitbashes WIP (22)
As you can see, the conversion is fairly straightforward, although I did want to make sure the model read as something more than just any old Skitarius. Which is why I built a custom axe from a Dark Vengeance cultist axe, the condensator unit from the arc pistol, an Empire flagellant staff and some cabling.

The pistol, on the other hand, was a weapon I had originally converted for Brynn Yulner. After shortening the barrel a bit, it ended up looking pretty cool on the Tech-Priest — like an archeotech raygun of sorts (think Marvin the Martian 😉 ), with all of the weapon’s mechanisms completely internalised and hidden beneath a curved casing. Something not often seen in the 40k setting!

Oh, and maybe my favourite part of the conversion is how I replaced the original foot with a Skitarii foot. Not very flashy, but a nice detail, don’t you think? 😉

I also made some changes to the backpack in an attempt to make it look less like standard Skitarii issue:

AdMech kitbashes WIP (23)
I added a lantern, simply because I thought it might look pretty eerie and cool when painted with subtle blue glow. Speaking of which, I decided that I wanted this model to become my first test model for a possible AdMech painting recipe, so I started painting it right away. And here’s the painted model as it looked only a short while later:

AdMech Tech-Priest (1)
AdMech Tech-Priest (3)
I would have been happy enough with the model, but Jeff Vader suggested adding some kind of decorative trim in the cog style typical of the Adeptus Mechanicus. And while I couldn’t possibly have freehanded anything convincing, the Skitarii decal sheet had just the design I needed. So I added it and it really adds something to the model, if you ask me.

Here’s the finished Tech-Priest, Magos Zoltan Phract:

Magos Zoltan Phract (2)
Magos Zoltan Phract (1)
Magos Zoltan Phract (3)
Magos Zoltan Phract (4)

Magos Zoltan Phract (5)
Zoltan Phract is a Tech-Priest of the Velsian Adeptus Mechanicus, whose recent accomplishments have made him a rising star within this secretive order, in spite of his relative youth. His rise to prominence began during his tenure as representative of the Adeptus Mechanicus in the directorate controlling the ore-rich mining world of Silon Minoris. When the mutant workers of the world raised up their arms in protest against their life of slavery, it was Magos Phract’s decisive and, some would say, chillingly efficient chain of countermeasures that ended the workers’ revolt and insured the mines didn’t suffer from a noticeable decrease in productivity.

 

All in all, I was really very happy with this first test model, because it looked like I had found a good recipe for my AdMech models. But Phract ended up looking very much like the archetypal Tech-Priest: A slender, robed figure — yet still fairly human, at least with regard to his anatomy. I also wanted to explore the more deranged side of the Adeptus Mechanicus, however, so the next Tech-Priest I built was a floating Magos Genetor without a lower body, and I went for a creepier look this time around:

Magos Genetor WIP (4)
Magos Genetor WIP (5)
Magos Genetor WIP (6)
Magos Genetor WIP (3)
My favourite part about the model is that it was basically converted using nothing but leftovers: The head is the face from the plastic Commisar model with lots of added cabling from various kits. The upper body came from the Skaven Stormvermin, while the arms are from the Skitarii and Tech-Priest Dominus kits. And the cloak is a piece of cloth from the WFB Vampire Counts Coven Throne. All in all, these bitz made for a fairly creepy and original character, don’t you think?

In-universe, I imagine the lack of a lower body means that he can easily connect himself to the massive machine that makes up the centre piece of his surgical theatre via the cabling dangling from his torso. And when he decides to venture out of his lab, a set of antigrav stabilisers keep him floating,  his hanging robes working as an attempt at passing as a halfway-human figure when he has to deal with regular, unaugmented persons.

I was really happy with the conversion and started painting the model right away. Since Magos Phract had turned out so well, I basically used the exact same approach. So here’s the finished model:

Genetor Grendel (1)
Genetor Grendel (2)
A mix of Ecclesiarchy and Skitarii decals was used to add some holy AdMech scripture to the parchment dangling from the Genetor’s back:

Genetor Grendel (4)
Genetor Grendel (5)

Genetor Grendel (3)
“There are those within our order who consider my fascination with the organic a waste of time or even misguided. To those I reply: There can be no question as to the superiority of the divine machine over the frailties of the flesh. Yet it is only by considering the flawed, organic machines willed into being by this universe, that we may find the tools necessary to mend that which was created broken.”

Genetor Karras Grendel, Discourses on the Merits of the Organic

 

Grendel is a model I am really happy with, because he comes so close to the archetypal picture of a mad scientist in the back of my head: There are several more or less conscious inspirations for him (such as the villain from City of Lost Children, for instance), but when all is said and done, he seems fairly human at first and becomes pereptually less so the closer you look at him. What can I say, I really achieved the look I wanted on this model 😉

 

And finally, one last AdMech work in progress before we tune out for this week:

Did you ever have that feeling where you just want to build something cool, and you start aimlessly messing around with some bitz, but then things kinda get out of hand, and next thing you know, you’ve build a biomechanic monstrosity? Yeah, well, what can I say. This kinda happened:

Chimeric Servitor WIP (3)

So, whatever is the deal with this thing? All I can say is that the general plan was to build a huge, monstrous combat servitor of some sort. Maybe working on Genetor Grendel made me consider a more radical, disgusting approach, but there you have it. I had picked up the Blood Island rat ogred ages ago, with some half-formed ideas for converting them into Dark Eldar Grotesques or big mutants, but I never got around to using them. When the new AdMech models came out, I actually realised that they share some common ground with the rat ogres (those metallic tanks on the model’s back are fairly close to the tanks the Tech-Priest Dominus has, for example), so I thought I’d give them another look. The other thing that inspired this conversion was an illustration from the Inquisitor rulebook, where some monstrous, heavily augmented servitors can just be glimpsed through the fog.

Anyway, in spite of these ideas, the model really came together quite organically: I wanted to replace the lower legs with sharp augmetic stilts (originally Heldrake claws), and the expressionless facemask (from the Blood Angels Librarian Dreadnought) just seemed more interesting than yet another monstrous face. In fact, Neil101 pointed out that the mask gives the model a golem-like quality, which I like quite a bit!

After seeing how well the Kastelan power fist worked on the servitor, I changed the other hand to a Kastelan fist as well, only I used one of the guns this time around. I also added some cabling and cleaned up some details, and here’s what my “Chimeric Servitor” looks like right now:

Chimeric Servitor WIP (8)
Chimeric Servitor WIP (9)
Chimeric Servitor WIP (10)

As you can see, the model has had another augmetic leg grafted on — I thought this was a cool way of making the servitor look even more disturbing and less human. The kind of thing you only come up with in the middle of a kitbashing spree, eh…? 😉
Anyway, so much for my first few conversions involving the new AdMech kits! I hope you like some of these — I think I can safely say that we’ll be seeing more of this particular project in the near future. Until then, feel free to let me know any feedback you might have. And in closing, let me share another picture of Genetor Grendel and Magos Phract — in a a way, these guys are pretty much on the opposite ends on the craziness spectrum, but I just love them both.

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

Genetor Grendel and Magos Phract

Toll the great bell twice – a look at the Cult Mechanicus release

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2015 by krautscientist

The AdMech madness continues, with another sub-faction of creepy machine men and another slew of new plastic kits — after years and years of yearning for AdMech models to make an appearance, with nothing but a lone Enginseer model to tide us over, this is certainly a great time for veteran hobbyists who grew up loving John Blanche’s and Jes Goodwin’s brilliantly creepy AdMech artwork!

Cult Mechanicus Release (1)So while the recent Skitarii release provided us with Mars’ endless legions of machine soldiers, we now get a look at the “men” (for lak of a better word) behind the machines with the Cult Mechanicus — and yet more creepy man/machine fusions make an appearance So let us take a closer look at the new kits and think about all the wonderful conversion projects we could use them for… Follow me to my workshop…;)

 

Tech-Priest Dominus

Cult Mechanicus Release (2)
I was slightly disappointed when the Skitarii release didn’t feature an actual Tech-Priest, which made seeing this guy all the sweeter. Seriously, what a fantastic interpretation of a venerable Magos (and imposing battle commander of the Adeptus Mechanicus, no less)! I am in love with this guy!

But all in good order: The model certainly ticks all the right boxes for me: It’s hunched-over, clad in the tattered robes of the priesthood of Mars, heavily augmented (to the point where only one mostly organic hand remains) and just brilliantly creepy all around. What irony that my attempt at building the most disturbing and out-there AdMech model I could possibly come up with now basically gets overtaken by the Cult Mechanicus standard HQ — oh well… 😉

My favourite part about the model is probably how it seems almost impossible to guess what the Tech-Priest would actually look like underneath those robes: He seems like a stooped, but ultimately humanoid figure at first glance, yet those insectile legs hint at something very creepy and inhuman. There’s a palpable Warmahordes Cryx influence to the whole design, yet also enough of the established 40k AdMech look to firmly bring it into the 41st millennium.

The model is also quite a bit bigger than I had expected, making it tower over most infantry models –maybe that is the one tiny piece of criticism I have: The Tech-Priest Dominus might just be a tad too imposing 😉 A smaller, more frail figure at the centre of all that cyborg firepower could have been an equally interesting idea.

But the design remains fantastic! I was also pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of a second head and some additional weapons options!

Cult Mechanicus Release (4)While I slightly prefer the traditional AdMech cowl, the alternate head gives the model a much more priestly look, which is especially obvious on this alternate paintjob:

Cult Mechanicus Release (3)All the options are looking great, and it’s certainly nice to have the option of changing things around a bit when building multiple Domini.

Speaking of which, a closer look at the sprue(s) reveals that this is easily one of the most complex clamshell characters so far:

Cult Mechanicus Release (7)
Cult Mechanicus Release (6)
The good news, however, is that while the model seems pretty complicated, it goes together very well — you can even leave off the arms for easier painting without a hitch and glue them on later. In fact, maybe converting this guy wouldn’t even be quite as complicated as I had initially suspected…

All in all, the Tech-Priest Dominus is an absolutely fantastic model that embodies much of what I have always loved about the Adeptus Mechanicus. It is also a great army commander, easily measuring up to the various, hulking characters and creatures commanding the other armies of the 41st millennium. A definite high point of this release for me, and one of the models I have already purchased myself. Excellent!

Cult Mechanicus Release (8)

 

Adeptus Mechanicus Kastelan Robots

Cult Mechanicus Release (9)
And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the new kit everybody loves to hate 😉 But seriously, we often see kits that are a bit divisive, and the Kastelan Robots certainly fill this role for the Cult Mechanicus release, mostly because they are so different from what we are used to:

The idea behind these robots seems to be that they are relicts from the Dark Age of Technology, merely salvaged and repurposed by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Which is why their look is so very unlike most other 40k warmachines: They have a rounded, slightly minimalist retro 50s SciFi look that seems more at home in Fallout than 40k, at least initially. It is this look, I suppose, that has earned them the scorn of quite a few commenters online.

But allow me to raise several points about this design, possibly in its defense:

One, unconventional as this direction may seem, it is not new — not even for 40k. Just compare this Kastelan:

Cult Mechanicus Release (10)…to the Rogue Trader era incarnation of a robot of the same name that can be seen in the lower right here:

Rogue Trader era Legio Cybernetica robots
As has been the case with several parts of the Mechanicus releases, these models provide yet another callback to established parts of the lore from way back when, which is something I like very much (on a mostly unrelated note, doesn’t the model in the top left slot really remind you of Forgeworld’s Vorax battle automata…?). I think it’s great how GW seems to be carefully redesigning and updating certain concepts and visual elements that have been in existence for a long time for the AdMech factions — it seems very fitting, considering the background of the army.

The other thing I find interesting is how the Kastelan shares quite a few visual cues with both the Contemptor and the Mechanicum Thallax: It’s easy to imagine how both machines may have been attempts by the Mechanicum of old to reverse-engineer or evolve the Kastelan template they had salvaged from the clutches of Old Night — a very nice bit of visual storytelling for those who are into such things!

The third thing is that the design unequivocally marks the Kastelan as a robot, rather than a cyborg: The domed heads with their empty visors – an element disliked by some – clearly evokes an unthinking, unfeeling machine. It also seems like an invitation to painters to get creative (I wonder why nobody has tried a Fallout-style effect in green yet 😉 ).

Whether or not you like the design of these, one thing that certainly seems like a thoroughly underadvertised feature is the models’ sheer poseability. Now let’s take a look at the second robot. Out of the box, the pose may seem a bit underwhelming:

Cult Mechanicus Release (11)
You know what, though? You can basically pose this guy any way you like! The legs, in particular, are every bit as flexible as those of a Contemptor: You simply cut off the nubs that lock them into place, and different poses (even running or walking) are really easy to achieve.

If there is one real shortcoming to the kit, it’s the lack of options: While the model’s pose may be unbelievably flexible, there are actually only very few ways of equipping these guys: the – delightfully Contemptor-esque – power fists or the slightly goofy gauntlets with integrated guns (reminding me of the equally goofy Batman villain KGBeast, for some reason). And while the shoulder mounted weapons are a pretty clever shout out to the model’s earlier incarnation, they do seem like a bit of an afterthought, from a visual standpoint.

Cult Mechanicus Release (13)
And there’s a personal gripe of mine: The arms are just too short. It’s easy to see that this was a deliberate choice on the designers’ part, but it just seems slightly strange that the Kastelan would probably have difficulties hitting anything with its power fists.

But wait, it’s not all about the robots! In addition to the two Kastelan models, we also get a Datasmith as part of the deal!

Cult Mechanicus Release (12)
I really love this guy for a number of reasons: He’s instantly recognisable as a Tech-Priest, for one, but there are also several interesting things about him: He’s more massive and imposing than your average, hunched over Magos. He’s pretty heavily armed. And while he has the robes, his heavily augmented head remains uncovered, giving him a rather distinct look. And you’ve got to respect the amount of thought that must have gone into the array of servo-arms designed to slot his datacards into the Kastelan robots on the fly.

But what is possibly my favourite thing about the Datasmith is how the model seems like a reunion with a long-lost friend. Come on, guys, doesn’t he remind you of someone…?

Cult Mechanicus Release (15)
That’s right: The model is strikingly similar to the artwork depicting Magos Delphan Gruss from the Inquisitor rulebook:

Delphan Gruss
And there’s just as much of a resemblance to this Magos Explorator from one of Fantasy Flight’s publications (possibly influenced by Gruss in turn, but yeah):

Magos Explorator

Which makes the Datasmith model yet another wonderful callback to several older Mechanicus concepts. Man, I just love that kind of meta stuff 😉

It helps that the model itself is, once more, beautifully detailed, with lots and lots of tech-y gubbinz to feast your eyes on. And we get yet another optional head for the bitzbox:

Cult Mechanicus Release (14)All in all, this is probably the most interesting kit from this release, at least for me. Because, when all is said and done, what you get are two easily Dreadnought-sized, highly customisable models that will be immensely useful for a lot of conversion projects plus a very distinct, Space Marine sized Tech-Priest — and all at a fairly reasonable price point, no less. I think it won’t be a big surprise for you to hear that this was the first kit from this release I actually picked up 😉

 

Adeptus Mechanicus Kataphron Battle Servitors

Cult Mechanicus Release (21)While the Kastelan Robots didn’t meet unanimous enthusiasm within the 40k crowd, I think we can safely say that this is a kit that many hobbyists have been waiting for, seeing how Praetorian servitors with track units for lower bodies have been a long-established part of AdMech lore. Personally speaking, the concept has never resonated all that strongly with me, but that’s probably just a matter of personal taste — so yeah, here we go: tracked servitors. Good job, GW!

Seriously, though: The designers certainly delivered on the concept, providing us with yet another spectactularly detailed multi-kit that allows us to build one of two kinds of Kataphron servitors. Let’s look at each of them in turn:Cult Mechanicus Release (22)First up, the Kataphron Destroyers, which basically work as mobile weapon platforms: While both variants of the kit use the same general template of a humanoid torso grafted to a track unit, the design seems to work slightly less well on the Destroyers, because the models seem less human, due to the spindly arms and crude augmentations. I am pretty sure that this effect is entirely deliberate, although the resulting model just seems a tad ill-proportioned to me.

The constituent parts of the models are great, though, with excellently designed weapons that are both instantly recognisable as well as slightly more sophisticated and “tech-y” than their IG or Marine counterparts:

Cult Mechanicus Release (24)The torso pieces also deserve some credit, because they are beautifully sinister: I just love the combination of organic heads with huge, clunky bionics:

Cult Mechanicus Release (25)

All in all, however, this particular setup doesn’t really agree with me: It just looks slightly too haphazard and hokey for my taste.

The Kataphron Breachers, on the other hand, are far more to my liking, even though they are basically very similar to the Destroyers:

Cult Mechanicus Release (16)What really improves the models in my book is the addition of extra armour plates, which adds a more centauroid look to the entire model: The human torso seems less incidental and more integrated with the machine, which is definitely a plus! I also love the shoulder pads, high collars and the more imposing left arms: The Breachers are every bit as sinister and creepy as the Destroyers, yet they seem more balanced and have a much better flow:

Cult Mechanicus Release (18)Once again, the detailing on each part of the models is something to behold. And I just love those upper bodies with just the slightest bit of organic face peering out from all that armour. Brilliantly creepy!

Cult Mechanicus Release (20)Like I said, the whole concept of servitors with track units as their undercarriage has never really worked all that well for me, but I can still recognise these models as excellent iterations of that concept. What’s more, these should be really excellent conversion fodder for a variety of projects — but we’ll be getting to that 😉

 

Adeptus Mechanicus Electro-Priests

Cult Mechanicus Release (27)

When the first, fuzzy pictures of the two kinds of Electro Priests emerged, I wasn’t sold: In these washed out leaked pictures, they looked like crude kitbashes made from Dark Eldar Wracks and the robed legs from the old Dark Angels Veterans. Fortunately enough, the finished models have ended up looking far more convincing, and they also use another vintage character concept that I remember from my happy days of reading the 2nd edition Codex Imperialis. Yay!

It’s great how both variants of the kit work with some of the elements established in the lore so long ago: The burnt-out eyes and electoos, for exaple. The contrast between the bare upper bodies and robed legs also add a monkish look to the models — almost like the 40k, AdMech version of flagellants, which is a great idea and produces a squad with a very distinctive look amongst all the mechanoid monstrosities.

So far so good, but let’s take a closer look at the two kinds of Electro Priests we get:

First up, the Corpuscarii Electro Priests:

Cult Mechanicus Release (28)
I really love these guys for their decided Steampunk/Diesel Punk vibe. The main reason for this are the massive electric coils around their heads and hands, complete with fairly crude cabling and massive backpacks grafted to their spines:

Cult Mechanicus Release (30)This gives the impression of individuals very crudely reshaped into organic lightning rods: Their equipment is so cumbersome and eclectic that you’ve really got to love it! At the same time, the cluster of coils around their heads also works as a kind of halo, adding a nice twist to their monkish, priestly look and turning them into living angels of electricity, so to speak.

There’s something wonderful about the contrast between the organic, flowing lines of the bodies and the crude, invasive augmetics and cables, making these guys very interesting to look at. Very cool!

Cult Mechanicus Release (32)
The Fulgurite Electro Priests, on the other hand, seem somewhat less impressive to me. Yes, they retain most of the visual strenghts of the kit, but the two-handed weapons just don’t speak to me the way the Corpuscarii Electro Priests‘ crazy and cobbled-together looking equipment does:

Cult Mechanicus Release (33)

They are still pretty cool, make no mistake, but the weapons result in a kind of “SciFi-Shaolin” look that seems slightly less interesting than the Steampunk vibe the Corpuscarii have going on.

What I love about these models is how they bring something very new and distinct to the AdMech catalogue: I a collection of models that is mostly characterised by monstrous cyborgs or utterly inhuman machine soldiers, these guys make for a very interesting and grimdark contrast, which is great. I can also imagine they’ll be very popular with the converters. All in all, a very cool kit giving us one outstanding and one slightly less interesting, yet still fairly cool, type of infantry.

 

Conversion ideas:

I think the Cult Mechanicus kits will prove to be a real treasure trove for converters, and we are already seeing the first results online. So allow me to share a couple of ideas with you and point you towards some inspirational best practice examples:

First of all, it should be mentioned that all of these kits would be just as great for a Dark Mechanicus army, obviously. They are already pretty disturbing and sinister as it is, and I think it would be a lot of fun to take them even further via an influx of chaos, Dark Eldar and Skaven bitz. The Cult Mechanicus models are arguably even better suited to this fate than the Skitarii, seeing how many of them are more grimdark and less clean and stylised than the Skitarii kits.

The other big winners of this release are the INQ28 aficionados, once again. While it’s true that an enterprising INQ28 fan can use almost anything for a conversion project, it’s great to finally have so many options for building AdMech characters and their disturbing creations for our own warbands and retinues.

So, after this short prelude, let’s check out what might be in store for all the different kits:

Tech-Priest Dominus:
This model initially seems pretty complicated to convert, yet one need look no further than  Omegon’s excellent conversion of the model to see that it’s fairly easy to make an already rather disturbing stock model about 100% creepier! I think we can look forward to many people tackling conversions of this particular model, especially when it comes to INQ28. Beyond the confines of the Adeptus Mechanicus, I also think the Dominus would work really well as an alternate Chaos Lord or Warpsmith!

Kastelan Robots:
Probably the most interesting kit for converters — I am actually hard at work on these myself (and will share my conversions with you soon). The sheer flexibility of the models turns them into a perfect canvas for converters. Just to outline a few options…

  • as recently suggested by TJ Atwell, they could work really well as counts as Contemptors or as a possible base model for converting your own plastic Contemptor. These comparison shots – kindly provided by Kilofix – shows the models are reasonably close in size, so it would definitely work.
  • If you don’t feel up to the task of making a full-fledged Contemptor out of them, that’s fine too! Why not use them as alternate Dreadnoughts or Helbrutes (Alpha Brute, anyone…?) or something a little more exotic — such as Shibboleth’s fantastic Penitent Engines?
  • But maybe you need not even go that far: For those of you merely slightly unhappy with the design, particularly with the heads, it can be really easy to change the look of the models with a few small tweaks. Just check out Andreas Kentorp’s excellent Kastelan to see what can be achieved with just some small changes (and a gorgeous paintjob, of course).

The Datasmith accompanying the models also warrants a couple of sentences, since he seems like a brilliantly versatile model to me:

  • He can obviously be used as a very cool Tech-Priest character for INQ28. Seeing how similar he is to both Delphan Gruss and that FFG illustration shown further up in this post, I think I’ll make him into a Magos Explorator, for instance.
  • But it doesn’t stop there: The fact that he’s scaled very similarly to a Space Marine, he would make for a fantastic base model when converting a Tech Marine, Master of the Forge, Iron Hands Officer, Warpsmith, Iron Warriors Commander or what have you — some additional bitz and you’re there!
  • and there’s always the option of using him as an alternate Enginseer model in your Astra Militarum army.
  • Maybe he could even be converted into an Inquisitor of the Ordo Machinum…? Just sayin’…

Kataphron Battle Servitors:
Another kit that should lend itself really well to conversions, since each part of the model could be used for something different. Or you could just keep them mostly as they are and use them as alternate (Iron Hands) Centurions — or Obliterators for your CSM army, in case you still haven’t found an option for representing Obliterators that you are happy with.

As for some more involved conversion projects, what about…

  • using a Kataphron as a base model for an Iron Warriors Lord or even Daemon Prince?
  • using the upper bodies on top of Terminator legs? This should work pretty well, and you could end up with pretty brilliant true scale Iron Hands, Iron Warriors, bipedal Skitarii battle servitors, particularly imposing Necromunda Pitslaves or similarly augmented warriors.
  • The track units, on the other hand, could be used to kitbash your own plastic Rapier weapon batteries…
  • …or even Grot Tanks?!

 

Electro Priests
These should really come in handy for all kinds of 40k and INQ28 kitbashes, including but not limited to:

  • the Corpuscarii would work excellently as an alternate highly experimental psyker battle squad for the Astra Militarum: I can just imagine someone in the Imperium crazy enough to use implants and augmentations in order to make psykers easier to control and/or more powerful
  • one of these as a penitent psyker or augmented warrior in a radical Inquisitor’s retinue would probably look pretty cool!
  • the blind heads would be excellent for all kinds of psyker and Astropath conversions
  • the models could be used to convert members of a particular unhinged cult…
  • …and the options for chaos are basically endless: tainted psykers? Dark Mechanicus cultists? Kitbashes involving the gribbly bitz from the Dark Eldar wracks and/or gas mask heads from the snap fit cultists? The world’s your oyster here!

Oh, and one final thing: If you haven’t already done so, you should definitely check out John Blanche’s own, recent AdMech warband. Either via the brilliant photo feature in this month’s issue of Warhammer:Visions or by browsing through this thread over at the Ammobunker. John not only showcases the versatility of the new kits, but also ends up with a truly spectacular and unbelievably grimdark collection of models, as should be expected from one of the fathers of 40k!

 

So what about the release on the whole? While I am prepared to call this a very strong offering, I cannot help feeling the Skitarii may have been the slightly better release of the two. Sure, the Cult Mechanicus is more eclectic and disturbing, yet at the cost of some divisive design decisions. The Skitarii, on the other hand, played it a bit safer, yet ended up the more even, consistently great release. At least in my book.

However, such considerations are ultimately moot, of course, because these two releases should definitely be seen as one, overarching faction: After all, the division between the two sub-factions still seems pretty artificial to me. Maybe this is just the way GW would like us to think about armies from now on: as multiple, smaller sub-factions that can be freely allied to each other, rather than monolithic blocks?

If considered as a bigger whole, the combined Adeptus Mechanicus faction is certainly one of the most spectacular armies available right now, easily on par with the redesigned Dark Eldar. And that’s without talking about the extra options you get by adding the Forgeworld Mechanicum catalogue! Speaking of which, I actually prefer the plastic 40k models over Forgeworld’s offerings in this particular case: The kits are eclectic and versatile, and really cutting edge when it comes to the detail level and sculpt, whereas the Forgeworld Mechanicum models have mostly left me cold so far, with the exception of one or two kits.

Another thing that I really love about the whole Mechanicus faction is how the new models manage to serve as shout outs and callbacks to pieces of art and character concepts we have known for years – or, in some cases, decades – while managing to turn it all into one coherent army (or two coherent armies that can be allied, to be exact). This makes the Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus an enormous bit of fanservice towards long time fans of the grimdark 41st millennium — at least that’s what it feels like to me.

So is there nothing negative about the AdMech models? Well, one thing: Modeler and painter extraordinaire Jeff Vader recently leveled one particular criticism at this release, and it is one I share wholeheartedly: For all the brilliant new kits, GW didn’t nearly do enough with the Tech-Priests themselves: It would have been awesome to be able to build Magi of different shapes and sizes with all kinds of bizarre augmentations. As it stands, enterprising converters will still be able to make it happen via the bitz provided by the release, and it is certainly something I will attempt myself when I inevitable build an AdMech retinue for INQ28, but actually having this reflected in the release would have been the icing on the cake.

In spite of that, we have a spectacular new faction for 40k and some brilliant new kits to play around with, and it feels like it’s been worth the wait.

 

But what do you think? Are you happy with the Cult Mechanicus kits or were you looking for something else? And do you have any conversion ideas you would like to share? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

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

Toll the great bell once — a look at the Skitarii release

Posted in 40k, Conversions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2015 by krautscientist

They have finally given us plastic AdMech!

I repeat: THEY HAVE FINALLY GIVEN US PLASTIC ADMECH!

Seriously, though: I am pretty sure it’s no exaggeration to say that, for many hobbyists, the introduction of the Adeptus Mechanicus Skitarii as a separate faction is wish-fulfillment of the first order. There’s just something about the Adeptus Mechanicus that’s so quintessentially grimdark and 40k that it makes the faction almost irresistible to some of us — myself included.

AdMech Skitarii Release (1)
If you grew up with 40k at a certain time and share a certain mindset, then you will have looked forward to any AdMech release just as much as me: I remember coming across illustrations like this John Blanche piece…

AdMech by John Blanche

Illustration by John Blanche

or this equally brilliant piece by Jes Goodwin…

Illustration by Jes Goodwin

Illustration by Jes Goodwin

…and starting to wonder what the deal with those Mechanicus guys was. Those ponderings formed the foundation for an ongoing fascination with the Adeptus Mechanicus, and I think the main reason for this fascination is the fact that, not unlike the Adepta Sororitas, the Adeptus Mechanicus is very much at the heart of what makes 40k such a memorable setting: The eclecticism, rampant anachronisms and grimdark feel of these ancient guardians of knowledge (or should that be ignorance?) are what make them so cool. Their heavily augmented, red-robed forms are as iconic of the darker, more Blanchian side of 40k as the colourful, slightly more modern Space Marines are of mainline 40k.

And to be honest, we never really expected there to be an official plastic AdMech release, did we? I think I speak for all of us AdMech aficionados when I say that we would probably have been happy with a clamshell character or two. And many people were overjoyed at Forgeworld making the Mechanicum a faction in the Horus Heresy setting. But plastic AdMech in 40k proper? Unthinkable!

And yet, here it is! So let us take a look at all the new kits and discuss their high and low points. And it goes without saying that we will also be looking at the possible conversion options. All hail the Machine! 😉

 

Skitarii Rangers/Skitarii Vanguard:

AdMech Skitarii Release (2)Okay, this is our very first AdMech plastic infantry kit, and right out of the gate, we can see that GW means business.
The kit gives us the option to assemble two types of infantry: Skitarii Rangers and Skitarii Vanguard. Let’s start with the Rangers, because these guys are so quintessentially AdMech with their red robes, cowled and masked heads and heavy augmentations: And not only do they closely resemble the picture many hobbyists have had of the Skitarii, but I also think it’s really stunning how closely these models…

AdMech Skitarii Release (5)

..resemble the Skitarii artwork by none other than John Blanche himself. Just check it out:

Skitarius by John Blanche

Skitarius by John Blanche

This is just the first of several instances where the new models tap into the well established look for the faction, but once again, it’s really amazing to finally have the models to fit the artwork!

One thing that stands out about this kit as well as the whole release is the use of anachronism in the design of the models, particularly the weapons. The inclusion of a very WFB Empire-like sniper rifle serves as a sterling example of this:

AdMech Skitarii Release (6)
Now this certainly goes for all of 40k to some degree, but it’s especially obvious with the Skitarii weapons, both due to their design as well as their idiosyncratic nature: On the surface, these are some really elegant weapons, with beautifully decorated grips and delicate, slender designs, lending a strong 19th century feeling to the models. At the same time, there’s a rather chilling contrast between the very classy, elegant design of the weapons and their terrible function: In a world as grimdark as 40k, the Tech Priests of Mars alone are big enough bastards to let their troops use weapons that not only irradiate the surroundings but also the very soldiers wielding them.

In any case, these guys are very close to the well established Skitarii image and provide us with some wonderful plastic renditions of the art we all love so much — very nice!

The other option is to assemble the kit as ten Skitarii Vanguard, with different weapons and heads:

AdMech Skitarii Release (8)

And while the very different look of the Vanguard helmets when compared to the usual, cowled AdMech look did take some getting used to, I find myself growing more and more fond of these guys: There is something very neo-Prussian about them, which adds to the 19th century feeling of the models. And at the same time, there’s also a palpable influence of 50s SciFi evident in the models’ design.

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All the parts in the kit are beautifully detailed and present some of GW’s finest work in plastic. The resulting models are wonderfully scaled, slender and detailed, with a brilliant contrast between flowing robes and highly busy technical components. One piece of criticism I have seen leveled at the kit is that the models seem relatively “safe” and “clean”, mostly devoid of the rampant body horror and man/machine fusion we get in some of the more extreme AdMech artwork. But while that may be true, I would argue that it seems sensible to make the main infantry kit for the faction a bit more restrained — there will be ample body horror later, for one, plus it should also be really easy to make these guys as distressed as you want them to be via some kitbashing. But more on that later!

One last thing I love about the kit is how it gives us ten models to play around with — and at a fairly reasonable price, at that. Sure, ten squad members used to be norm rather than the exception, but so many of the more recent kits have used five models as a new standard that it’s really nice to see a bigger squad again!

All in all, this kit is fantastic and feels like an almost compulsory purchase for every 40k aficionado. Excellent job!

 

Sicarian Infiltrators/ Sicarian Ruststalkers

AdMech Skitarii Release (13)
Another multi-kit, so we are certainly getting our money’s worth out of this new plastic crack! Both variants of the kit make for some very unique models, so let’s take a look at both of them in turn:

AdMech Skitarii Release (14)

Let’s start with the Infiltrators: Man, I just love these guys: They look every bit the lithe, deadly assassins they are supposed to be. The grafted-on augmetic stilts do a perfect job of making them taller and giving them a more unique silhouette, and their bionic arms with the transonic blades add to that effect. I also really like the gas-masked heads: These guys just have the “Clockwork Ninja” look down pat:

AdMech Skitarii Release (16)
It also looks like their arm blades can be used to achieve all kinds of bad-ass ninja poses. And I love how they are tall and impressive enough to use Termie bases, yet their slender silhouette still ties them in with the classic AdMech look. It’s also noticeable how the lack of robes actually works in their favour, making them look far more dynamic and deadly — beautiful!

Speaking of robes, there’s also the squad’s Princeps:

AdMech Skitarii Release (15)
And, if anything, he’s even cooler than his charges! Seriously, I love this guy: The cowled, heavily cabled face, the voluminous robes extra set of servo-arms — he’s just everything I would expect of a highly combative member of the AdMech. If I have one gripe with this guy, it’s that he almost looks a tad too far removed from the rest of the squad — more like a proper Tech Priest and less like a mere unit champ. But the model itself is pretty much perfect, which is why I’ll let it slide. One more thing: You’ve got to love that evil looking claw, don’t you think?

Apart from that, my only point of critique about the Infiltrators is that the various doodads dangling down from the models’ backpack seem to work against the models’ otherwise very clean and uncluttered silhouette. I guess how these are supposed to be recurring elements all across the army, but they are slightly surplus to requirements here, if you ask me. But ultimately, that is a very minor problem — I just love these guys, period.

There’s also the option of assembling the models as Sicarian Ruststalkers, a squad of high-tech soldiers jamming transmissions and frying enemy brains with their constant broadcasting of the AdMech version of deadly white noise:

AdMech Skitarii Release (17)
These guys have a very obvious 50s SciFi look going on, and their domed helmets really do a good job of communicating their function. I also like the alternative set of weapons — especially the grimdark uzis 😉 One thing that I really want to point out is how similar these guys are to a 1990s concept for Imperial robots, courtesy of Jes Goodwin. Just see for yourselves:

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Imperial Robot by Jes Goodwin
What a wonderful way of giving a shout out to these older, yet still wonderful, concept sketches!

Ultimately, I like these guys slightly less than the Infiltrators, but that may just be me: They are a bit goofier and slightly less sinister and lethal looking. What I really like is how a change of heads and weapons really transforms the models!

One thing, though: Doesn’t it just look like the squad leader has a Santa Claus beard made of cabling:

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I just cannot unsee this now, especially with that red cloak… Erm…that is one bad ass looking servo-skull, though, so I think that makes up for the slightly dubious head 😉

It also bears mentioning that these guys are less clean and more sinister than the Vanguard/Rangers, hewing closer to the more demented side of AdMech lore. So if the other footsloggers feel too safe for you, these guys should be right up your alley! There’s also something chilling about their backstory: Skitarii so damaged by their prior years of service that their only use is to be turned into utterly terrifying killing machines.

Ultimately, I love this kit just as much as the Vanguard/Ranger kit: One of the main pitfalls for this army must have been to maintain the balance between having a strong look of visual coherency (these are machine soldiers, after all) while also having the different units look original enough. These models are a great variation of the look introduced by the Vanguard/Ranger kit, and I will certainly pick up a box of these sooner rather than later! Fantastic!

 

Ironstrider Ballistarius/ Sydonian Dragoon

AdMech Skitarii Release (25)Okay, this third kit certainly ups the ante when it comes to grimdark visuals and puts us slap bang in the middle of Blanchian design sensibilities.

The Ironstrider Ballistarius is the AdMech idea of a mobile weapons platform — and didn’t you just expect these guys to have something pretty interesting going for that? The result is a beautifully eclectic, avian walker with some very noticeable design parallels to the Imperial Knight (the armour plates on the legs make this especially obvious), creating a strong and very fitting visual connection between the two subfactions.

Oh, and this has to be one of my favourite heads designed by GW:

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By changing around the various rider bitz and main weapon, we actually get a sub-variant of this kit with a sniper focus:

AdMech Skitarii Release (29)You may call me crazy, but (mostly due to the 19th century design of the weapons) I am getting a massive “big game hunter” feeling from this version of the kit, which I think is fantastic!

The real star of the show, however, has to be the Sydonian Dragoon:

AdMech Skitarii Release (23)

In his recent review of the kit, Dave Taylor calls the idea of a retro-futuristic Knight riding a birdlike walker and wielding a massive taser lance a wonderful case of “bringing a knife to a gunfight”, and that is a very apt description. What’s more, in many ways this embodies the very spirit of 40k itself: Fighting the wars of the future with the weapons of the past. All the weapons of the past, to be precise — and at the same time, no less 😉

The Neo-Prussian look is also back in full force here, with the rider actually going to war complete with a trusty Pickelhaube helmet. This leads to a fantastic and ultimately smooth blend of medieval knight, 18th/19th century design sensibilities and all the clockpunk/dieselpunk touches you could ask for in a single model.

The result is a model that is, at the same time, the quintessential retro-fururistic steampunk knight and also basically 40k in a nutshell. A real triumph! And I can easily see this guy making his way into the display cabinets of countless hobbyists, even if they have no intention whatsoever of starting a Skitarii force.

So, is everything perfect about this kit? Well, I do have one small issue, to be honest:

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The servitor controlling the machine’s movement just seems a bit too BDSM for my taste. Now don’t get me wrong: It’s a very grimdark element. It’s just that it’s almost too much (and there’s also the fact that, god help me, it really reminds me of a particular invention by South Park’s Mr. Garrison, called the IT bike — google at your own risk, as it’s definitely NSFW. You have been warned!).

But that’s just my personal taste, of course, and what’s more, it’s just one detail. All in all, this kit is nothing short of spectacular! This release really goes from strength to strength!

 

Onager Dunecrawler

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And finally, ostrich-like walkers are all well and good, but you certainly cannot have a 40k faction without a beefy tank, can you? 😉 So this is it, the Adeptus Mechanicus’ idea of a tank. And it does have insectile legs, of course — no surprise there.

My first thought when seeing this was actually “Oh look, it’s GW doing a Dust:Tactics tank!” And sure enough, there’s more than a little resemblance between this kit and some of the Dust models. But then, spider legged WWII-esque walkers have certainly been done before, so I guess we can let it slide 😉

Obvious inspirations aside, this was possibly my least favourite part of the release, initially. The juxtaposition of the spindly, elegant legs and the bulky main body just seemed a bit off for my taste.

However, the owner of my FLGS – a huge tank aficionado, both when it comes to historical tanks and crazy, half-organic deathmobiles – pointed out to me that some builds of the model look far better than others. The option with the twin-linked autocannon and rocket launcher above is pretty cool, whereas some of the other setups I have seen look overly busy. In fact, the more I think about it the more obvious it becomes to me that the model looks better with a slightly stripped-down silhouette:

AdMech Skitarii Release (33)
Which it why I would probably leave off those strange manipulators/drills and just use the headlights instead- it seems to me like the less busy builds end up looking far better.

AdMech Skitarii Release (35)So while some of the additional detail, as well as some of the more esoteric weapons, may be beautifully designed, I feel that the model works better with a tidier, more workmanlike look. Interestingly enough, its design makes this tank more futuristic than your regular old IG tank, yet also more retro in a sense, as there is a very palpable WWI /WWII feeling to the whole affair — only with some added spider legs 😉

AdMech Skitarii Release (31)Speaking of which, the spider legs once again form a visual connection with the Imperial Knight kit — and I think the Onager could even be seen as a bit of a missing link between Imperial warmachines and the dreaded Defiler: While the Defiler was designed from the ground up by the Traitor Legions, I like the idea that the Magi of the Dark Mechanicum should have come up with designs not all that different from those of their loyal counterparts 😉

All in all, while the Onager lacks the shock and awe brilliance of the other kits in this release, I have to say that it’s a kit that grows on you over time. And in a game full of boxy, uninspired tanks, something like the Onager is certainly a welcome change of pace!

 

Conversion options:

It shouldn’t surprise you that the first AdMech conversions using the new kits are already cropping up all over the internet — after all, we’ve had to make ends meet for years, with no “official” AdMech plastic parts available. And what a treasure trove of conversion options these new kits provide to the enterprising converter! Let’s take a look:

Vanguard/Rangers:

The INQ28 crowd are already going nuts over this kit, so I think we can look forward to seeing all kinds of Inquisitorial and unsavoury characters seeing the light of day due to this release. I’ve collected a couple of very cool examples for you:

  • Weirdingway is really putting the kit through its paces, creating some wonderful hybrids of Skitarii and other models. His Tech Gang is especially noteworthy, proving that the Skitarii can work wonderfully as Confrontation-style Tech Gangers (seriously, GW, what is it with all the hidden Confrontation conversion bitz lately? Is there some bigger plan at play here?), voidship crews or similar archetypes.
  • EdT, well known for his brilliant warband concepts, is hard at work on another fantastic crew of characters, with some excellent insectile Skitarii on the way that bring the kit more in line with the darker, more inhuman side of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
  • Morbäck of Le blog dé Kouzes has come up with a wonderful way of using Skitarii bitz for converting an excellent Imperial Rogue Trader/Pilot: The way the Vanguard helmets can be made to look like pilot helmets is especially brilliant!
  • And John Blanche himself has been working on some truly excellent and evocative kitbashes using some of the new Skitarii parts — check them out over at the Ammobunker!

All these examples are ample proof that the kit will work great for any kind of AdMech related conversion, even though kitbashing these guys requires a bit of thought, due to the way the body and legs go together. That said, even beyond the Skitarii bodies, the kit also provides some beautiful conversion bitz: Those hooded Ranger heads will make Tech Priest conversion much easier, and the beautiful Vanguard helmets would look great on mechanised IG regiments: Maybe this would be a cool way of giving your Astra Militarum detachment that special AdMech look, supposing you want to use a combination of both factions. Come to think of it, there’s even a noticeable Solar Auxilia resemblance, so these heads may be an interesting way of approximating the Solar Auxilia look without having to purchase the FW models. At the same time, they will also work well for Enforcers or even Arbites for Necromunda or INQ28. It would also be interesting to play up the knightly angle of these guys and go for steampunk cavalry — or whatever else you can think of. And what about combining the Skitarii kit with some Dark Eldar Wrack parts? Wouldn’t that be a perfect start for some really creepy Dark Mechanicum models…? In fact, the whole Dark Mechanicum angle is pretty fascinating, with the Skitarii as a possible jumping-off point for all kinds of demented kitbashes. Even now, I find myself thinking of combining Skitarii with Skaven Stormvermin, Empire Flagellants or what have you. For starters, here are some very cool Dark Mechanicum Skitarii courtesy of InsanePsychopath, who has managed to come up with great models with just a few clever tweaks to the models and their paintjobs

 

Infiltrators/Ruststalkers:

Okay, let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way first: Since these models work so well as lithe, sinister assassin types, they would be great for any Inquisitor’s retinue: It would just take a few tweaks to turn them into Death Cultists with a penchant for body modifications or even a sub-variety of arco-flagellants. They could also be turned into Spyrers with a bit of work, because you can easily see these guys stalking their prey in the underhive, right?

And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg: Consider Drazuul’s “Mecha-Nid”, for instance: Could there be a more chilling example of the (Dark) Mechanicum’s ingenuity than the thought of an enterprising Magos Genetor (or radical Inquisitor) trying to improve upon the biological killing machines constructed by the Hivemind?

In fact, the Infiltrators would also work as basic templates for all kinds of Dark Mechanicum killing machines, such as Bronze Malifects. Likewise, I could easily see those domed helmets from the Sicarian Ruststalkers for all kinds of robot/killdroid/drone conversions! And finally, the unit champ works great as a particularly combative Magos for INQ28, right out of the box.

 

Sydonian Dragoon / Ironstrider Ballistarius:

While it almost seems a bit sacrilegious to use this kit for anything else than its intended use, there are a couple of possible ideas knocking around in the back of my head: My first idea was that this kit would provide a pretty cool base for a – Blood Pact style – stalk tank for Traitor Guard forces. The model’s slightly more organic, creepy vibe when compared with the trusty old Sentinel would certainly make it a viable option for enterprising chaos converters!

Likewise, the legs and main body would probably be great for whenever an even more elaborate, ostentatious walker chassis is needed — for an Ecclesiarchy walker, a walking pulpit or even a kitbashed Penitent Engine.  And the kit provides a great pair of legs for every biomechanic monstrosity you could possibly think of, of course — what about making a Helbrute a bit more impressive by adding those Ironstrider legs, I wonder…?

 

Onager Dunestalker
Once again, the model should make for an excellent basic template when converting traitor (stalk) tanks: At the very least, the spider-legged build provides a visually much more interesting option for chaos players than the same old boxy Imperial tank models. Speaking of which, this kit should also come in handy when planning possible daemon engines. For instance, AMaxmius recently shared idead for a daemon engine with me that I am confident will put these legs to excellent use –check out his first post on the matter here.

Beyond that, suffice it to say that these legs should work wonderfully for your daemon engine needs, if you don’t want to use the Defiler legs, as those haven’t aged all that well by today’s standards…

 

So, when all is said and done, what to make of this release? To be honest, I was blown away by these kits! Just when we thought we’d seen it all, GW gives us the most Blanchian models in over a decade, channeling not only the wealth of AdMech artwork created over the years, but also lots of visual influences, from 50s SciFi to clockpunk, dieselpunk and steampunk. The result is something that seems pretty unique, yet also perfectly at home in the 40k setting. Pieces like the Sydonian Dragoon are just wonderfully evocative, while the Skitarii infantry kits provide us with lots of excellent tech-y conversion fodder. And even the less brilliant parts of the release (yes Onager, I am looking at you) are still fairly strong offerings, if seen on their own.

One thing that is interesting to note is the absence of actual Tech Priests (so far): Does GW intentionally stay out of the actual Cult Mechanicus in order not to step on FW’s toes? Or do the Skitarii serve as a test balloon or a mere prelude, with the Magi of Mars held back for a potential future release? The beauty of it is that it really doesn’t matter that much: Even if we never get a Mechanicus second wave, this release stands on its own as a fantastic design achievement — and it provided converters and kitbashers with all the toys they need for their AdMech needs.

All in all, I will have to call this a stellar release, both for its quality and focus as well as for the very fact that plastic AdMech is really happening at long last! I also have to say that these kits speak to me in a way that the FW Mechanicum designs do not (except for a few noteable exceptions like the Tech Thralls and that one tank looking like an art déco car). So yeah, fantastic work, GW! Respect where respect is due!

 

But what do you think about this release? Are you as happy with the new kits as I am, or do these men of metal leave you completely cold? And would you like to discuss any more conversion ideas? I would be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

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

Meanwhile, aboard the Arrke…

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, paintjob, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2013 by krautscientist

I’ve stated before that interacting with other hobbyists in general and blogging in particular can offer many exciting hobby opportunities. Today, I would like to show you one particular project that only happened because of the exchange between various bloggers and hobbyists. It’s also one of the most exciting hobby opportunities I have ever had, but all in good time. Now, what is this about?

If you frequent the same, dark corners of the 40k blogosphere as me, you may have heard of the Arrke and the Yggdrasillium Pilgrimage (unnervingly, never to be spelled quite the same way twice 😉 ) — and if you haven’t, let me give you the gist of it: Some time ago, a group of players including, among others, PDH, Neil101, Fulgrim and none other than John Blanche himself, started playing a series of games set on the “Arrke”, a huge, derelict fusion of countless vessels drifting through space. This huge space hulk is home to many demented and strange people and creatures, yet it is also so ancient and so enormous that most of its denizens have forgotten that they are actually living on a spacefaring vessel in the first place: What remains of their original respective cultures and backgrounds has become as warped as their bodies and minds, and the ship itself has become a world unto itself, encompassing both a strange and unforgiving ecosystem as well as a sinister and unique society. The initial idea for this vessel came from John Blanche, and all of the events play out on the breathtaking “Yggdrasilium” table built by Neil101. I’d love to link you to Neil’s blog to give you a chance to learn more about this fantastic adventurescape, but alas, he has decided to delete it. You still can (and definitely should) check out his Dakka thread on the subject, though, along with Fulgrim’s blog and PDH’s thread, describing the gang of chaos misfits he built for the games aboard the Arrke.

Anyway, I learned of these games and the strange world they were set in through the various threads and blogs linked above, and I was fascinated by the whole project: These guys were basically using tweaked Necromunda rules for their games, yet they had come up with something entirely unique on both the narrative and modelling/painting side of things. So I gobbled up all that I could learn about the Arrke and its denizens and kept marveling at the sinister brilliance of it all.

Now, imagine my surprise when PDH contacted my with a very special proposal: He suggested that a couple of hobbyists (PDH himself, Tears of Envy, Migsula, Jakob Rune Nielsen, First Points of Aries, Kari and Mikko from Spiky Rat Pack and me) should each build and paint a character to be used in the next game set aboard the Arrke. We could come up with whatever character we wanted, provided it fit into the setting. And all of the models would be given to John Blanche as a gift after the game.

I think it’s quite obvious by now why an offer like that would have me very ecxited indeed.

Anyway, I was really honoured that PDH would include me in this, and I was quick to accept. The next days were spent pondering what kind of model I wanted to contribute. And I quickly realised that I wanted to do some kind of Adeptus Mechanicus character, or, at least, creature. And, given the background, the character would have to be really creepy and sinister. That was quite a challenge, because members of the Machine Cult can be scary enough on their best days, but I was gunning for something even more disturbing…

So I asked myself: Why would a priest of the Ommissiah board the Arrke in the first place? And what could go wrong if he did? Drawing inspiration from all kinds of sources, ranging from everything ever done by David Lynch to videogames like System Shock 2 and Bioshock and to the decidedly lowbrow, yet horribly visceral horror film Virus, I came up with the concept of a band of Adeptus Mechanicus explorators, boarding the Arrke in search of lost technology and being transformed into something …else.

And thus, Legion was born.

Here’s my initial concept for the character:

 

The creature known to the denizens of the Arrke as “Legion” is what remains of an enterprising group of Explorator Magi, sent out by the Tech Priests of Mars. The Magi were sure that the ancient vessel would house an unfathomable cache of lost technology and miracles from the Dark Age of Technology. They were right in this, yet the price for such knowledge would turn out to be far greater than they had envisioned.

A team of explorators, accompanied by their Skitarii retinue, came aboard the Arrke and began a quest to uncover the ancient ship’s technological secrets. Initially, the Magi were pleased, for there were many secrets uncovered, and much was learned. They were already considering themselves heroes of their order and imagining their triumphant return to Mars with their many discoveries in tow. Alas, it was not to be.

For the Arrke does not take kindly to strangers, and so the explorators found themselves beset on all sides by the vessel’s strange and demented denizens as well as by environmental hazards and the powers of the Warp. With their Skitarii bodyguard all but wiped out, and some of the Magi themselves succumbing to the hostile environment, the Tech Priests did the only logical thing: They pooled their resources, in order to protect the valuable technological knowledge they had acquired: Whenever one of them was critically wounded, his working remains would be integrated into another Magos’ brain and body, thus protecting the knowledge and strenghtening the survivors. The remaining Magi thus became walking treasure troves of knowledge. But something went wrong.

Maybe it was the taint of the Warp, maybe it was the desperate nature of the Tech Priests’ struggle, but their fusion turned out to be flawed and incomplete. Corruption slowly seeped into their neural engrams, and what would normally have been a standard procedure for the disciples of the Mechanicum slowly turned into a nightmare.

The resulting creature is a horrifying amalgamation of the explorators’ bodies and minds, malformed and insane, its mind fractured into countless shards, its body misshapen and terrifying, yet utterly deadly. Legion now eternally prowls the deepest reaches of the Arrke in its half-remembered quest to find a way back to the red star. But even though a wealth of technological information and scientific marvels still lies protected within the creature’s twisted shell and mind, one shudders to imagine what would happen if the erstwhile explorators would somehow manage to escape their eternal prison and be let loose upon the galaxy…

 

With this basic idea outlined, I thought about what I wanted Legion to look like. Like I said, tech priests are scary enough in any case, so I tried to come up with an even more strange and corrupted look exploring the fusion of organic and machine parts, with a generous helping of body horror ladeled on top. Here’s a – very early and horribly rough – sketch of Legion:

Legion_sketch
As you might be able to tell, I wanted to use the plastic Cairn Wraith as the base for this conversion, even at this early stage. Several people have used the model to great effect to convert disturbing AdMech characters, so I thought this was a good base. I would then add all kinds of technical bitz as well as two very creepy “tendrils”, secondary creatures serving as additional parts of Legion. All of the creature’s different components would have sinuous, serpentine bodies, the better to move and wiggle through the Arrke’s dark nooks and crannies.

Obviously, the first step was to get the plastic Cairn Wraith, so of course that was where everything started:

Legion WIP (1)
I just used the Cairn Wraith’s cloak, discarding the scythe, inner body, face and base. I used a 40k servo skull as a replacement head, and the remains of a lasher tendril from the Forgefiend kit served as the base of Legion’s serpentine body. In the picture above, you can see the first basic build, attached to a Terminator base with a lump of putty.

I then added more and more technical bitz and doodads to the main body, making it look more and more like something that had originally begun its existence as a tech priest. Here’s the finished main body:

Legion WIP (2)
Legion WIP (3)
Legion WIP (4)
Legion WIP (5)
The most obvious addition was that of a GK Psy-gun on the model’s back, both to give it some potential oomph on the table and to create a strange, malproportioned look. I also added a ghoul hand to give the model a clawlike, organic left hand, and a vestigial arm from the Dark Eldar Talos/Cronos kit for a wicked looking scalpel-like right hand. To represent the “neural network” created by several Magi being fused together within Legion’s body, I added an additional servo skull beneath the first one, as well as two more “regular” skulls. I imagine the actual body beneath the cloak to be a horrible cluster of skulls plugged into each other with cables, serving as what is, for all intents and purposes, the 40k version of a Local Area Network.

The next step was to build Legion’s secondary tendrils. Once again, I used leftover lasher tendril pieces for a serpentine lower body. The rest of the tendrils was built from different Zombie and undead parts, more vestigial Talos arms, a couple of cables and some Greenstuff.

Here’s a very early mockup of the first tendril:

Legion WIP (7)
While the look was there, I wanted the tendrils to be far more disturbing and horrible. So I tried my best to make the tendrils look even more malformed and disgusting. Here’s the same tendril, some time later:

Legion WIP (13)
Legion WIP (12)
Legion WIP (11)
I wanted Legion to look like its transformation and evolution had not been a well-planned process but had rather happened spontaneously and chaotically. So this tendril looks like the body of a Magos has been crudely grafted onto the serpentine body, with only one arm remaining. Greenstuff was used to create a crude seam between the organic and machine parts.

I wanted the other tendril to look more combative, so I added an additional arm, with two of the creature’s arms tipped in cruel claws and blades:

Legion WIP (8)
Legion WIP (9)
Legion WIP (10)
Crude bionic eyes were added to a flagellant head to make the face look inhuman and threatening. I also added a cable from a servo skull as some kind of horrible, proboscis-like tongue.

When it came to actually painting the model, I wanted to achieve a striking contrast between distressed flesh and cold, oily metal. I began with the tendrils, picking out the major areas in different colours:

Legion WIP (19)
Legion WIP (18)
Legion WIP (17)
Legion WIP (16)
Legion WIP (15)
A combination of different washes (mostly Ogryn Flesh, Leviathan Purple and Baal Red) was used to make the skin look bruised and sickly. The metal parts were heavily washed with GW Nuln Oil to give them a dark, oily look.

Legion’s main body was painted in a similar way, although I decided to paint his cloak a striking red, in order to make him more recognisable as a former member of the Mechanicum. I had originally planned to make the red look bleached out and dirty, but seeing the cloak after painting it with GW Mephiston Red, I realised that this kind of spot colour was just what I wanted:

Legion WIP (23)
Some washes were used in the recesses of the cloak, though, to at least make it look suitably dirty and grimy. As you can see, I also added a striking blue to the different bionic eyes to create a point of focus.

And in the picture below, you can see the additional skulls in Legion’s stomach region quite well:

Legion WIP (24)
I’ll be honest with you: It took ages until I was finally satisfied with the different parts of the model. But a challenge like this doesn’t happen every day, so I absolutely wanted to give it my best shot.

When all of Legion’s components were finally finished, I still had to build and paint a base and decide how the different parts of the model should be attached to it. In my initial drawing, I had planned for all tendrils to emerge from under the red cloak. But not only did that seem pretty hard to get right, but I also realised that it would potentially be far more creepy to have several tendrils emerge from the same hole in the ground, making it look like the three aspects of Legion were maybe just tendrils of a much larger creature…

One interesting option would have been to have the different parts of Legion on different bases. That would also have allowed for some pretty interesting rules options. In the end though, due to the time allotted for the project,  I chose to rather go for one really cool base instead of three okayish ones. But if there had been more time (and if I hadn’t been so damn lazy), I might have put the different tendrils on multiple bases.

When it came to the one base I did want to build, I wanted it to blend into Neil’s fantastic Yggdrasillium board as well as possible, making it look like Legion was emerging from the very surroundings, not so much a character but rather an environmental hazard. I wanted to create some kind of opening or pipe for Legion to emerge from, so I built a basic construction from a Predator turret hatch and plasticard pieces I cut from an old phone card. Then I heavily coated the construction in wood glue to close all the gaps and create a bulgy, warped surface. And I added modelling sand and small pieces of cork on top to create dirt and gravel. Then the whole thing was undercoated black. Here’s a test fit of Legion’s body parts on the undercoated base:

Legion WIP (25)
When painting the base, I let myself be inspired by PDH’s fantastic scenic bases, trying to make it as rusty and grimy as I possibly could. I painted the whole construction a dark green, with the dirt and gravel picked out in brown. The whole base was then liberally washed in GW Agrax Earthshade. Then I used thinned down GW Vermin Brown as a wash, creating a rust effect. And finally, The edges were picked out in GW Boltgun metal to show scratches and nicks in the colour, with the metal appearing beneath. Here’s the finished base:

Legion WIP (27)
I also added some Tamiya Clear Red to one side of the grate, making it look like Legion had dragged some unfortunate victim to its doom…

Legion WIP (28)
Oh, and I used a hazard stripe decal from the CSMs decal sheet, suitably aging and weathering it along the way:

Legion WIP (26)
And so it finally came to attaching all the parts of Legion to the base. Finding a configuration that worked took some doing, but in the end, I succeeded. So without further ado, I give you Legion:

Legion (16)
Legion (21)
Legion (22)

Legion (25)
Legion (27)
Legion (20)

Legion (19)

Legion (18)

Legion (24)
Legion (28)

Probably the biggest part of the adventure was actually sending Legion to England. But the postal service didn’t let me down for once, so everything went well. Now, looking back on the model after having spent so long working on it and obsessing over every detail, I am not really sure how to feel about it. I am happy with the model, without a doubt, but will it hold up when stood alongside models from enormously talented artists such as PDH, JRN and the Spiky Rats? Don’t get me wrong, I am really happy with how Legion turned out, but all the small imperfections are also driving me up the wall at the same time 😉
Maybe it’s just the fact that I will actually have to let some very talented people take a firsthand look at this piece — so no hiding behind fuzzy photos this time! And, of course, I hope John Blanche himself will like the model. Oh well, there’s no crying over spilt milk, I guess…

In any case, what really surprises me is how close the finished model is to my inital sketch. I am also amazed by how much I found myself thinking about Legion as a character…or at least, as a creature: I have a very vivid (and actually quite unpleasant) image of Legion in my mind: a creepy and sinister figure, perpetually surrounded by disturbing whispers and bursts of corrupted code language as the remains of the integrated Magi are communicating and argueing, with some of them almost perfectly sane while others are completely mad, full of rage, or just spouting untintellegible gibberish (I don’t know if any of you are into videogames, but if you are, picture the different cores of GlaDOS in Portal, or the different voices of the dark goddess Xel’ lothat in Eternal Darkness, turned up to eleven, and you’re not too far off the mark).

One of the personalities could be ceaselessly reciting the Mechanicus main tenets. Another might still be sane enough to broadcast intelligible Imperial/Mechanicus distress signals (System Shock 2, anyone?). Still another might be constantly reciting all kinds of disturbing Madness Mantras  (“We are many. We are one. We are many. We are one…” or  “Make whole that which was shattered. Make whole that which was shattered. Make whole…”). Also, PDH came up with this disturbing image of some of the denizens of the Arrke hacking into some random cable or mechanical bit during their exploration of the ship, then hearing bellowed binary screams and see the cable retracting, only to be faced with one of Legion’s “tendril creatures”.

Then there’s also that idea I briefly outlined above: Maybe those three tendrils aren’t really the whole creature, but only points of interface with the outside world, not unlike the lure of an Anglerfish. Maybe they connect back to the lair of the actual creature: a subterranean cavern filled with cogitators and technical equipment, much like a dragon’s hoard. The real Legion resides within this cavern: a vast, entropic and incomprehensible creature…

So, in any case, I think the concept of Legion is really just as disturbing and creepy as I wanted it to be. Whether the actual model lives up to it is not for me to decide, yet of one thing I am sure: Legion makes for a fitting new denizen for the mysterious Arrke…

So, to wind this up, let me give you one more picture of Legion, along with a broken little nursery rhyme that I came up with — written in true Yggdrassilliumme style 😉

Oh, and should you wish to use Legion (or something like Legion) in your games of Necromunda, number cruncher and all around great guy PDH has you covered with some rules he cooked up:

Legion (26)

In the bowels of the shippe
Dwells a being most unkynde
Knowledge wyll from metal strippe
Passage to the red starr fynde.

Legion, Legion, he is many.
Legion, Legion, they are one.

Legion

M WS BS S T W I A Ld
4 3 3 4 4 2 4 D3 10

Weapons – Laser Blaster, Mechanical Claws

Short Long Short Long Strength Damage Save Mod Ammo
0-8 8-24 +1 3 1 3+ Sustained Fire Dice


Special:
Binary Scream (Fear),  Immune to Psychology, Never Pinned 

Fractured Psyche: At the beginning of each turn, roll on the following table to determine Legion’s actions

1-2: Flesh is weak. Purge the organic! – 50/50 chance of shooting or charging.
3-4: Obtain knowledge – Will move towards the nearest mechanical object/terrain and then spend the turn examining it.
5-6: To the red starr! – Will move as quickly as possible in a random direction. If Legion comes into contact with a model, it will count as charging but will break off from combat at the end of the turn, continuing to get away.

 

So yeah, I realise that was quite a post! I understand the game in question has already taken place earlier today, so there’ll be some quite a bit more information soon, I guess. Look forward to learning more about Legion in action, as well as about the fantastic entries from all the other hobbyists involved.

Until then, I’d be happy to hear any feedback you might have on Legion, so drop me a line or two in the comments section!

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

Inquisitor 28: Magos Explorator Hiram Zeiss

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2012 by krautscientist

Here’s another model I built for the retinue of Inquisitor Antrecht. It’s also the first model I ever built for Inquisitor.

Magos Explorator Hiram Zeiss

Magos Hiram Zeiss has always been a treasure hunter of sorts, but in his case, the treasure in question is knowledge. Educated on Mars, Magos Zeiss quickly displayed a thirst for knowledge that even his senior Mechanicus priests found slightly disquieting. Additionally, all attempts to keep his questing mind contained within the confines of a Mechanicus Forgeworld proved futile. Magos Zeiss was thus elevated to the rank of Magos Explorator and inducted into one of the Explorator fleets  constantly scouring the galaxy for lost knowledge from the Dark Age of Technology. It was during this quest that Zeiss and his team came under attack from a Xeno-cult on the world of Varunth Minoris, and the Explorator party was nearly wiped out. It was only through the intervention of Inquisitor Antrecht that Magos Zeiss survived. He has been a member of the Inquisitor’s entourage ever since.

It would, however, be very naive to think that his association with Antrecht is based on some kind of gratitude: Aloof and emotionless beyond measure, Magos Zeiss has simply realised that the Inquisitor’s highly unconventional modus operandi is very likely to lead him to all kinds of forgotten places and, by extension, to many caches of forgotten knowledge as well.

In his pursuit of knowledge, Hiram Zeiss has gone further than most members of the Mechanicus, and it is his relentless quest for things some would say were best left forgotten that have alienated him from his fellow Magi. At best, the techpriests of Mars regard him as a wayward child. But there are also those who think that Magos Zeiss is walking a very dangerous road and that his quest had best be ended before he ever reaches the end of it…

Let me start off by saying that I think that there is a severe shortage of Mechanicus models. Sure, you’ve got the Enginseer and a FW Magos, but apart from that, the Mechanicus doesn’t get much love from GW, which, in my opinion, is pretty hard to justify: Those guys are just oozing the gothic madness that is Warhammer 40k.  So it was clear to me that one of my Inquisitor models would have to be a Magos. Once again, I was drawn to Phil Kelly’s models for inspiration. It doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to see that I was quite heavily inspired by his Magos Demitri model when I built Hiram Zeiss.

The base for the model were a WFB Empire flagellant body, head and right arm. I think that the tattered robes are a very good fit for an obsessed Magos on the run. I added a respirator and bionic arm from the Cadian Command sprue and cobbled together some kind of servo harness from a couple of bits. This piece of equipment helps him on his quest for knowledge by providing all the tools you might need in dark and abandoned places, i.e. a chainblade and some kind of plasma cutter. The upside is that the tools can also be used to tear through any competition if need be 😉

Looking back on it now, it might have been better to go for some believable Mechadendrites instead of the clunky backpack, but oh well…

All that was left were some finishing touches: The head of the chainaxe (a nod to Phil Kelly’s Magos Dimitry) came from the Khorne Berzerkers and the original (bare) feet of the model were replaced with feet I cut off an old Space Crusade android. This was supposed to show that Hiram is a bit more augmented under the hood than you might initally suspect.

When painting him, going for red robes was a no-brainer. I did however try to make them look threadbare and stained. For his skin, I went for a bloodless, dead look. The rest were various shades of metal and rust. I did also try to add a (fairly primitive) lighting effect to his plasma cutter.

All in all, I wanted him to be clearly identifiable as a Mechanicus model, but at the same time to look somewhat unkempt and frayed around the edges. Just the right appearance for a rogue Magos who is obsessed with his quest for knowledge…

So there, my second INQ28 model. Hope you enjoyed the ride 😉 C&C are always welcome!

Thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!