Archive for chaos

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

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

Awards

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

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

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

 

I. Projects of note:

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

Nemac Vradon’s First Claw:

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

First Claw by Augustus b’Raass (1)

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

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


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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dark Ven’s Night Lords

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


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

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

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


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

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

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




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

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

BrotherCaptainArkhan’s Black One Hundred

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Check out BrotherCaptainArkhan’s landmark project here.

Malcharion’s Space Sharks


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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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

Malchy’s complete project log can be found here.

Daouide’s Kalista

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

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

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

Incredible, wouldn’t you agree?

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

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

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

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

II. Blogs of note:

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

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

Lead Plague:

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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

The blog can be found here.

 

Wilhelminiatures:

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

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

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


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


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


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


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



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


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




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

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


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

Make sure to check out this fantastic blog here.

 

Prometian Painting:

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


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

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


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

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


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


They are just so wonderfully massive and menacing:

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



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


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


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


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

The blog can be found here.

 

III. Honorary mentions:

Augustus b’Raass’ retro Bloodthirsters:

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

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


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


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

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

Jeff Vader’s Primaris Reivers


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

Jeff Vader keeps blogging over here.

 

IV. The absolute best hobby project of 2017:

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

Neil101’s Adepta Sororitas diorama

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

To quote myself for a moment here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Awards

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

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

 

I. My hobby projects

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

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

 

1. Khorne’s Eternal Hunt


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

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

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

Forgeworld Angron WIP (1)

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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

2. The world of INQ28

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

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

 

 

 II. My favourite hobby moments

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

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

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



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

First Claw by Augustus b’Raass (1)

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

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

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

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

Angron illustration by Dariiy

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

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

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

III. Blogging

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


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

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


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

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

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

IV. Plans

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I. More grimdark games…

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

 

 

II. Digging in for Christmas

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

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

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

So my task was to…

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

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





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

 

III. What else is new?

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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






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


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

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


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

Dark Imperium — a closer look at the Death Guard models

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2017 by krautscientist


Hey everyone: Once again, sorry for the lack of updates. I returned from my recent trip to Amsterdam full of new hobby ideas — it’s just the sitting down and writing about it part where I seem to falter. It has also been getting harder and harder to get feedback on my posts recently, which makes it all the more tempting to actually build and paint stuff instead of blogging about it…

Be that as it may, here’s another post at long last. And while today’s update started out as a regular (if very late) review of models that come with the Dark Imperium boxed set, it has warped and mutated into something slightly different for a number of reasons: I realised early that I would need to divide my look at the box in two parts, for one. For talking about the Primaris Space Marines will invariably mean taking a look at their implications for the overall setting, both from a modeling and storytelling perspective. And seeing the additional kits they have been receiving recently, that would make for a pretty sizeable post in and of itself.

At the same time, there’s also the fact that I have been bitten by the Nurgle bug on account of the new Death Guard models, and have started to play around with the new sprues. So for today, let us take a closer look at the chaotic side of the Dark Imperium release: The New Death Guard models, designed by Maxime Pastourel and Aly Morrison:


By now, it’s no longer a secret that Maxime Pastourel, aka Morbäck, is not only one of GW’s sculptors, but also one of the people behind one of the best hobby blogs on the internet, and also the owner of what’s probably the best Nurgle army in existence, the Plaguebones. The army was even featured recently on the Warhammer Community page, yet I would argue that you should really head over to Maxime’s own blog for the bigger picture.

Anyway, back when the first teasers of the new Death Guard models surfaced, I literally made a little squee of delight when I discovered more and more telltale elements of Maxime’s Nurgle conversions both in the artwork and the actual models: I was basically only waiting for him to finally make some Death Guard models, and now they are finally here. And I am more than happy with the outcome! What’s more, I’ve managed to get my hand on most of the Dark Imperium Death Guard models, courtesy of fellow hobbyist BubblesMcBub (cheers, mate!). So let’s take a look at the models and at what I have done so far with some of them.

Oh, and once again, the review over at Convert Or Die should make for some excellent complementary reading — just pointing this out before we get going 😉

 

Lord of Contagion


What a beast! I probably have this semi-conscious shortlist of what a Nurglite warlord should be in the back of my head, and this guy really ticks all of the boxes for me: Massive? Check! Clad in ancient, pitted Terminator armour? Check. Intestines squelching out of the collapsed parts in the armour? Check! Wielding a massive, vicious close combat weapon? Check, check and check!

It’s really cool how close the Lord of Contagion comes to basically embodying the archetypal warlord of Nurgle — to wit, it’s probably no coincidence that he resembles this iconic piece of artwork, courtesy of Adrian Smith, so much:


By the same token, the Lord of Contagion shows one of the main tenets of the new models’ design: a pronounced medieval influence that is clearly visible on most, if not all, of the new Death Guard models (and, in all fairness, has always played a huge part in GW’s approach to Nurgle). At the same time, the fact that the model is clearly wearing corrupted Terminator armour firmly roots it in the 40k setting — an important balance to get right, but Maxime has really managed to nail it here.

There’s also a fair bit of Typhus in there — in fact, seeing this massive guy, I cannot even begin to imagine how impressive the Death Guard’s First Captain might end up looking, if he gets a redesign, that is.

Speaking of which, it would be really easy to turn the Lord of Contagion into a Typhus conversion: It looks like the head comes as a separate part, so using the head from one the stock Typhus models (or converting something similar) would go a long way towards making this guy look like Typhus. The blade of the weapon should be easy to enough with a suitably impressive scythe as well — although I find myself balking at the mere idea of getting rid of that magnificent axe blade…

Speaking about that axe, it’s obvious how it was inspired by the massive axe from Maxime’s incredible Lord of Skulls conversion, and I was really happy to see it make a return on an “official” GW model! 😉

Oh, and I just love those poor little Nurglings being squashed by the Lord’s left food: It’s a neat touch that provides the suitable amount of Nurglite humour without beeing too on-the-nose about it.

My one possible nitpick is the back mounted icon, as it can seem a bit overwhelming. But having seen the model firsthand, it works fantastically well as an ensemble, so consider this a very minor complaint.

All in all, this guy is a fantastic centre piece model for any Death Guard army — or, indeed, any 40k collection, period. Brilliant work!

 

Malignant Plaguecaster

Now this guy was a slightly tougher sell for me, mostly because it took me quite a while to even make sense of the model when first seeing it. If nothing else, it’s clearly obvious that we are dealing with a Nurglite Sorcerer here. And indeed, upon closer examination, the Malignant Plaguecaster shares quite a few visual elements with Forgeworld’s older Death Guard Sorcerer:

And yet, it’s precisely by comparing the Plaguecaster to Forgeworld’s model that we can see the problems: Forgeworld’s take is fairly down-to-earth — almost pedestrian, really. And yet it works so well because the pose is sound and powerful. Whereas the Malignant Plaguecaster is hampered by the way his very pose seems strangely unbalanced. The fact that there’s so much going on with the model – a veritable flurry of shapes and curves – doesn’t help either.

Beyond this main aspect, my other two points of contention are the model’s face and staff: Now the the creepy cherub face is an interesting idea — however, I have to say it doesn’t quite come together for me, and is one of the element’s I would change about the model.

And why is the staff so short and silly — it almost looks like a toy. Why couldn’t it have been a scythe — or at the very least, a good bit longer?

On the other hand, one thing I really like, is something you only see when taking a closer look: The ragged shroud pinned to the Plaguecaster’s backpack:


Now this obviously looks like a deathshroud — but it also recalls an insectile wing, wouldn’t you agree? In fact, taking a closer look at the model’s copious mutations, there’s a very cool sense of something dreadful and insectile just waiting to break from the sorcerer’s body any moment now, while also being barely contained by his still almost-human outer shell. What a cool and creepy concept, indeed! It’s just a shame that so much of it gets lost amidst the flurry of different shapes and clashing design elements…

My own approach for the model, therefore, was to keep the sense of something twisting and gestating just underneath the Plaguecaster’s skin, while cutting back on the clutter. I also changed the face and staff, while I was at it:


The face has been covered up with a Cadian rebreather (the hood even has a small indentation in exactly the right spot, which was an awesome coincidence). The staff was turned into something less toylike by splicing in some parts from the bell that came with the Putrid Blightking kit. And I do think the right arm works better at a different angle, giving the model a slightly more grounded pose. As for the right hand, I experimented with the option of giving him some kind of casting hand, but in the end it seemed like he needed some visual counterweight, so to speak, to balance out the staff, and the clunky plasma pistol from the Noxious Blightbringer just did the job rather nicely.

Here’s the Plaguecaster next to my (earlier) sorcerer conversion:


I actually like him much better now, mostly because the slightly streamlined version should be easier to make sense of. I also hope I’ve managed to keep all the cool parts. All things considered, I love this guy’s inclusion in the Dark Imperium box, because where the Lord of Contagion is a perfect model right out of the box, the Malignant Plaguecaster is a delightful little puzzle to be solved by converters, and I had quite a bit of fun, making some tweaks to him!

 

Noxious Blightbringer:


This guy presents an interesting new character archetype halfway between a sorcerer and a standard bearer, and it seems like the model tries to capture this somewhat new and adventurous concept by having a bit of fun with the established visual language: All of the hallmarks are there, but some get turned up to elevene — such as the bell dangling from the massive, jutting horn growing out of the Blightbringer’s backpack.

It’s also obvious that the Blightbringer leans rather heavily on the medieval parts of the design — or even moreso than the rest of the models, that is. And in fact, this goes a long way to giving this guy his own identity: Between the slightly WFB-styled helmet and the tabard/smock covering the front of the armour, there is something rather darkly medieval and apocalyptic about this guy. Even better then, that he is wearing a clearly identifiable – and mostly standard – suit of Mk. III armour underneath it all!

If I have one piece of criticism, it’s that – once again – there’s almost too much going on with this guy, especially with the massive number of censers dangling from his armour and backpack

All in all, however, it’s a cool and fun little character model, and an interesting exploration of how far the medieval angle can be pushed. I also love the little Nurgling hanging from his shoulder pad 😉

As for conversion options, the model also makes for an excellent Plague Champion (or even Nurglite warlord) with just a minimum of conversion work, as I found out myself: Due to an ebay mixup, I found myself in the possession of an extra Blightbringer model, and having cannibalised it for bitz, I wanted to do something cool with remaining pieces, so here’s what I did:




It was easy enough to carefully cut away the head (while keeping it intact for use on a future project). The weapons were replaced, and I also got rid of some of the censers — while moving one to a different location on the backpack to create a “chain cape” look of sorts:


On a related note, the leftover bell from that same Blightbringer’s backpack turned out to be just the missing piece I needed to breathe some new life into a slightly strange conversion I originally built all the way back when the Putrid Blightkings were released, using some Blightking bitz and an old AOBR plastic Terminator. The model ended up in a strange place between a regular Plague Marine and a Terminator in the end. Pretty cool, but also slightly confusing. Now with the very real scale creep of the new Death Guard models, and with the help of the last leftover parts of my extra Blightbringer, I was able to turn this guy into something that nicely fits the theme of the models I have built so far. An alternate Blightbringer, if you will:




 

Foetid Bloatdrone:


The Foetid Bloatdrone fills the obvious Dreadnought/Helbrute slot for the Death Guard force contained in Dark Imperium, and it’s certainly interesting to see something that’s almost a Dreadnought, only not.

Of course the Bloatdrone channels some of Forgeworld’s own Blight Drone model:


But while I could never quite bring myself to like the Blightdrone, I actually think the Bloatdrone is really cool — maybe it’s the fact that it’s actually closer in design to the rest of GW’s (plastic) chaos catalogue. Maybe it’s because the Bloatdrone almost seems like a missing link between the Blightdrone and a Dreadnought. Anyway, I really like it, with all its nice Nurglite touches (such as the single eye, the arrangement of the thrusters in an obvious nod to Nurgle’s own symbol, and the “garden syringe” look of the weapons. Oh, and the beautifully disgusting, fleshy back, of course:


It’s also really cool that the Death Guard get their first original vehicle/warmachine beyond the stuff we already know. Now the Helbrute was a bit of a standout model in the Dark Vengeance boxed set, and the Bloatdrone mostly continues this trend, giving us a cool model that should be fun to play around with.

Speaking of which, I think converters should find lots of useful conversion fodder on this model: The thrusters whould work rather beautifully on a Nurglite Daemon Prince, while the main body and faceplate could probably be kitbashed into some rather cool Helbrute and/or fiend variants. We’ll see…

 

Plague Marines


Definitely the high-point of the release for me! I really love how these guys breathe some new life into one of GW’s most interesting chaos archetypes. There’s just so much going on here at the same time — and in a good way. To wit:

  • the models have many iconic elements that go back to Jes Goodwin’s seminal Plague Marine from the early 90s and, by extension, his original design sketches from the same time:Take a look: the Pickelhaube-styled helmet, the bloated breastplate, the pipes — all accounted for. By the same token, you can find many more classic touches on the models, such as the backpacks basically recalling classic second edition chaos backpacks. I love continuity porn like that! 😉
  • Once again, there’s a distinctly medieval feel about these guys: You’ve got chainmail, decayed wood, and all of those bells…
  • there are some subtle trencher and WW1 touches, even beyond the spiked helmet, such as some of the Blight grenades being designed like German stick grenades. A very fitting and grimdark touch!
  • At the same time, and in spite of all those different visual touches, I love how all of the models are wearing clearly identifiable Mk. III plate!
  • The models also have a great sense of grim determination, which is very fitting for the Death Guard. Yes, they are decayed, shambling monstrosities. But they are also the galaxy’s most resilient footslogging Astartes troops, and they have been for more than ten millennia!
  • And last, but very definitely not least, Morbäck has succeeded at splicing in some very iconic, yet also completely fitting, elements of his own Plaguebone conversions:The guy in the bottom left is basically a Plaguebone (and also one of the best models of the bunch). The cyclopean head on the Marine with the plasma gun is a dead ringer for the converted head on Morbäck’s Lord of Skulls — the list goes on and on!

What’s even better, however, is that each of them is a character! While two of the models share almost the same body, they still end up looking suitably different that we get a squad where every model is an individual exploring slightly different visual archetypes, while the models still make up a coherent squad. That’s just lovely!

So, is there anything I don’t like? Once again, and this is basically spitballing of the highest order, but maybe some of the models are just a tad too busy and stylised for their own good. I’d feel tempted to maybe take of a chain here and a dangling detail there, just to improve the overall flow of the models and de-clutter them a bit. The champion is also arguably the weakest of the bunch, because he just moves too far away from the Plague Marine archetype and looks more like a sorcerer to me (that being said, on the other hand that means he would make for a sweet alternate Plaguecaster) . And the molten face doesn’t quite do it for me, personally speaking.

As a squad in a starter kit, however, these are an improvement over the – already fairly spectacular – Dark Vengeance Chosen. And they also finally provide us with some excellent Plague Marine models once again, when previous iterations were just constantly getting worse, diluting the fantastic concepts of the early models further and further and relying on mushy sculpting and gooey, nondescript mutations.

When it comes to converting these guys, like I said, I don’t think I’ll be making any massive changes to them, as I mostly like them exactly the way they are. Maybe I’ll take off a detail here or change something small there, but nothing too involved, so as not to mess with the models’ inherent character. However, if you should find yourself with two sets of Plague Marines, cutting them up for extra variety should provide lots and lots of fun: Like the Dark Vengeance Chosen that came before, the new Plague Marines seem like challenging, yet all the more promising conversion material — and that’s without even considering the very real prospect of a multipart kit in the (hopefully not too distant) future.

One thing I found really surprising when working with the actual models, however, was how big they actually are: They seem to be using standard plastic Mk. III armour as a template, but it has been scaled up quite a bit, making the models about 1.5 times the size of standard Mk. III models. So my kitbashed Plague Marines do seem ever so slightly stunted next to the new official models:


For the record, I think they still work pretty well — if you don’t look too closely 😉

However, the real surprise came when I compared the new Plague Marine with one of the Putrid Blightking-based models I converted a while ago: The latter were originally conceived as true-scalish and ended up being about the size of standard Terminators. But now…


…it turns out they would actually work very well as standard Plague Marines: Sure, they are slightly more bloated and a bit more medieval, but that can be explained away as a bit of variation between squads. Seems I have five more Plague Marines now 😉

In fact, Impact1 has found out that the Plague Marines can be turned into rather fantastic Death Guard Terminators with a bit of work, on account of their impressive size.

One last thing that should be mentioned about the new Plague Marines is that there’s also the additional set of three snapfit models:


Now I love the fact that these are actually three more original sculpts! At the same time, their poses are noticeably more rigid and betray their snapfit origins. Still, these should make a nice addition to the seven guys from the Dark Imperium box, and they are already making their way to me as of this writing.

If I have one major complaint, it’s the fact that we actually have to get these models to get our hands on the Blight Launcher, seemingly the Death Guard’s new signature weapon. As it happens, I am actually planning to convert another of the three to wield a Blight Launcher, and I already have the weapon mostly prepared:


Really not brain surgery, this one: Just combine a plastic Mk. IV or Mk. III Heavy Bolter with the barrel from a Cadian grenade launcher, throw on some Nurgly bitz as needed — DONE. I cannot even claim being the first to come up with this idea, either: Credit must go to Satarin, among others.

Let me also point out that DuskRaider has made an excellent conversion for Forgeworld’s Necrosius (their aforementioned Death Guard Sorcerer) using the snapfit champion.

 

Poxwalkers

Now these were the other part of the new Death Guard release that I didn’t immediately fall in love with: The models just seemed too goofy and over the top to me at first. However, I’ve really grown fond of them over the last couple of weeks, so hear me out:

One reason I like them is because the amount of detail on the models is just insane, with their boils, mutations and disgusting textures rendered in a way that is almost sublime — seriously, you have to see the plastics firsthand to realise how sharp and wonderfully gross the detail on these guys is!

There’s also the fact that so much of their inherent weirdness – the strange angles of their limbs and their manic grins, for instance – gets explained really well, for once, in their background: Those are all symptoms of the disease they are suffering from, and it’s seemingly slowly turns them into something resembling nothing so much as Nurgle’s own Plaguebearers — in fact, this is an excellent callback to established background, were victims of Nurgle’s Rot originally slowly turned into Plaguebearers as well!


In another fairly cool touch, the Poxwalkers pick up on something that was already fairly excellent about the plastic Chaos cultists that came with Dark Vengeance: We get to see some remains of civilian life in the Imperium, as the tattered remains of the Poxwalkers’ clothing show their former station in life: There are miner’s suits and uniforms as well as hazmat suits — or even something that might be a medicae coat. There’s something very fitting (and disturbing) about the thought that people might have been infected while trying to fight an outbreak of the disease — or, even more sinister, while trying to engineer biological weapons? After all, this is the grimdarkness of the far future we are talking about here… 😉

A propos of nothing, let me just point out that the guy wielding what looks like a pipe wrench is actually a perfect model!

So by and large, the Poxwalkers have really managed to win me over — or should that be: get me infected? But still, some of the models are still a bit too out there, though, with features that seem a bit too exaggerated and details that are just one bridge too far. Therefore, my own approach with these models will be to prune back some of those OTT touches while keeping the models’ overall strangeness in place.

I’ve already attempted this with the Poxwalker wearing a torn hazmat suit. Here’s the result:




Now this may not seem like a huge change, but I am far more happy with the model now: Here’s what I did:

1. The oxygen tank messing up the model’s silhouette was cut off and reattached to the model’s back.

2. The hand holding the plague knife was rotated, so it looks less weird

3. On the other hand, the left arm and head were tweaked to actually make them look weirder: The disease is what mutates these guys and locks their joints at strange angles, right? Now in my imagination, the Poxwalkers’ movements should be full of weird twitching and spastic cramps — like something out of Jacob’s Ladder or Silent Hill. Which is why I carefully bent the arm to look even more unnatural. And I significantly changed the angle of the head to make it look like it too was subject to the strange cramps and spasms of the body.

As with the Plague Marines, there’s also a second, snap-fit kit of Poxwalkers available:


Yet for the most part, there’s nothing about these models that the guys in the starter kit don’t alreeady do better. The fat guy is interesting, mostly because that angle hasn’t really been explored in the first batch of Poxwalkers, and I really wish the guy with the goggles and rebreather had been included on the Dark Imperium sprues. But apart from that, these guys are really nothing to write home about.

 

So, all in all, I am really very happy with the Death Guard part from the Dark Imperium starter box! The Plague Marines, in particular, are a true return to form after years and years of fairly sub-par models from GW. As a starter army, these actually seem like a refined, even more interesting (if also less versatile) version of Dark Vengeance’s CSM starter force. In any case, it goes without saying that they are terrific value for the model and have really given me quite an appetite for all kinds of Nurglite shenanigans — and I am really looking forward to finally seeing the rumoured multipart kits and *gasp* the Plague Terminators! Fantastic work, gentlemen!


So what’s your take on the new Death Guard models? Are you feeling as enthusiastic about them as I am or do you have any gripes? Are there any cool conversions or additional thoughts you would like to share? I would be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

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

The Amsterdam Files

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, Pointless ramblings, Traitor Guard, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2017 by krautscientist

Hey everyone,

it’s my birthday today, and what better way to celebrate than to share with you the tale of what may be my favourite birthday present his year, even though it wasn’t even planned as one. Let me give fair warning in advance, though: This is going to be one hell of a wordy, rambling post, even though there should be lots of shiny things to look at. So anyway, what is this about?

Ever since I got back into this hobby and started blogging about my little plastic men, crazy awesome things have started to happen: People started sending me stuff ranging from bitz to entire models. I’ve been a part of some seriously awesome joint hobby projects with fellow hobbyists. And I’ve had lots and lots of contact with people from many corners of Holy Terra. Even against this background, however, my recent trip to Amsterdam, to meet up with fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass, turned out to be an absolute high point!

Now Augustus and me originally “met” over at The Bolter & Chainsword where we both belong to the regulars. The first longer conversation we actually had occured when Augustus had put a dismembered female corpse on one of his  Night Lords Contemptors, and I was the person to argue that this was actually pretty poor taste. Doesn’t exactly sound like the most promising setup for an inter-personal relationship, right? And yet, it did kick off a fairly continuous stream of mutual comments, posts and PMs that ended with us both realising that we actually had a lot of things in common, even beyond the shared infatuation with little plastic people. Which is actually kind of a big deal, if you think about is: Hobby forums are excellent places, and I love them dearly for the communication opportunities they provide, but you only really get to see a very thin slice of every fellow hobbyist, as it were: There’s no telling whether the guy you keep sharing conversion advice with is actually someone you’d get along with in everyday life.

And it’s actually great that way, because it allows a shared space where people can just come together and talk about a topic they feel passionate about, without having to defend their cultural or political views or their dubious choices in clothing. Even so, to find somebody who seemed like they would be legitimately interesting beyond the hobby was an excellent turn of events, and so when Augustus was kind enough to purchase a copy of Index Apocrypha: Chaos for me when the book had gone OOP, I joked that I would pay him back by coming to Amsterdam and buying him a couple of beers. So yeah, I did go to Amsterdam, and I did indeed buy him a couple of beers, but that’s not nearly all that happened last weekend. So, allow me to share a recap of an amazing trip:

I. Talking Shop

Now as some of you may already know, Augustus is an incredibly talented painter and converter in his own right, so it was always clear we would be talking about lots of hobby related stuff. We actually spend about two hours alone in front of his shelves and shelves of gorgeous miniatures, with me picking up model after model and feeling like a kid at the candy store. What’s more, I even slept in the same room for the weekend, so whenever I woke up, my gaze would fall on those fantastic models — I actually tried to figure out a way to sneak at least some of those gorgeous World Eaters into my overnight bag…

Models built and painted by Augustus b’Raass

…but that would obviously have been extremely rude. In addition to those models looking absolutely lovely, however, they are also magnetised, pinned, drilled and what have you to the umpteenth degree — and those are all things I never really do with my models, as I am just happy to get them finished and be done with it 😉 But seeing the craftsmanship that had gone into assembling the models made me realise that Augustus was the perfect person to talk to about a couple of projects and concerns.

For instance, you probably remember this guy from the previous post, right?


Now Augustus and I talked about him and about how the pose was not yet quite there, and so I made some additional tweaks to the pose based on that conversation. This also provided the perfect opportunity for Augustus to teach me how to use a proper hobby saw instead of just wedging a cheap-o knife in there and wiggling it around. Anyway, here’s what the model looks like now:



I actually think the pose is quite a bit more natural now in how his legs and arms interact — as an added bonus, he even seems to be dragging his right leg, which is definitely fitting for a Plague Marine. The one small setback is that sawing through the torso to get the arms and shoulder pads off damaged some detail, so I might have to do a bit of cleanup there, but oh well.

Secondly, Augustus was kind enough to magnetise my World Eaters Contemptor’s right arm for me, as you can see in the picture below:


So now, in addition to looking like this,…



…he can also rock a sweet multimelta. Like this:



I am not a big fan of the 30k multimelta design, but having the whole thing as a magnetised alternative now really provided me with the incentive of making it look a bit more vicious and spiky, and I think I have suceeded with that.

And finally, while I basically managed to get most of the models I had brought over there without a hitch, my Forgeworld Angron was snapped off his base. Augustus suggested pinning him, and I asked him whether he could slightly tweak the angle of the model on the base, because I felt that Angron was facing downwards a bit too much. So here’s the tweaked angle, and I am much happier with the model now — and he’s far easier to take pictures of now as well:





I’ll have to build up some debris around the right foot, where the pin is visible right now, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

And it goes without saying that we also sat down and traded a lot of bitz: I had brought a bunch of stuff I thought Augustus might like, and in return, I came home with this crazy pile of awesomness:


The star of the show is obviously the Forgeworld World Eaters Dreadnought, as that is one of those models I have always wanted to own, but I didn’t pick him up before he went OOP — and now I have one! Woohoo! 🙂

All it all, it was brilliant to talk shop with someone who not only has such a fantastic collection (in order to erm…borrow ideas by the boatload), but whose techniques and approaches also differ in certain areas: Augustus is super-structured and super-efficient, whereas I can be a huge fan of sloppy, messy Leeroy Jenkins-style tactics when it comes to painting and converting. Seeing someone else’s process was really quite eye-opening in many ways!

II. The Pretty Pictures

It wasn’t all theoretical, though, as I had also brought a pile of my miniatures for a joint photo opportunity, so we took my models, Augustus’ wonderful Imperial Fists and his equally lovely terrain and tried to achieve a look as close as possible to something you might see in an official GW publication, pitching the warriors of the World Eaters’ 4th assault company against the defenders of Terra during the siege of the Throneworld:



Hmm, with the Eighth Captain in the picture like that, I doubt that Librarian has too much of a career ahead of him… 😉





One of the coolest setups we did was to pitch Augustus’ Imperial Fists commander, Franz Landa, against one of the 4th assault company’s Praetors: Secutor Hamund, the Mournful, very much a deathseeker, and seen here during what may have been his final battle:





Creating setups like that was really a ton of fun, and I love how the pictures have turned out! My World Eaters, on the other hand, had to take a bit of a rest after the demanding photo shoot (next to one of Augustus’ wonderful Contemptors):


While we still had that sweet setup out, however, I snatched the opportunity to take some pictures that showcased my models, selfish git that I am 😉

Here are my 30k World Eaters, led by their Primarch:



Next up, my squad of Traitor Elites from my Traitor Guard force, “Urash’s Marauders”:


And, since I had also brought some models from the wonderful world of INQ28, Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt, of the Ordo Hereticus Velsen and his retinue…


…and the “Road Crew”, my current project of creating a merry band of Pitslaves, mutants and ne’er do-wells from the Hiveworld of St. Sabasto’s Reach:



And here’s one really sweet shot to top off this part of the post: My true scale Astartes, Praetor Janus Auriga of the Golden Legion, going toe to toe with Augustus’ absolutely lovely retro Bloodthirster — seriously, pictures don’t do that guy justice!

III. The All-important Rest

As fun as the whole hobby part of my trip was – and believe me, it was TONS of fun – what really turned the whole event into such a fantastic experience was being fed, pampered and taken around town by Augustus, who was just about the best host you could probably imagine: He had bought a wonderful collection of local and Belgian beers (And we drank. Them. All) and just made sure all around that I was as comfortable as I could be. We also ended up talking about a thousand different subjects – including, but certainly not limited to, the hobby – and I had a blast. Augustus also took me on a trip around town, and we invariably ended up the the local GW store. A huge shout out to the extremely friendly crowd over at GW Amsterdam South, by the way, from Dennis (the store manager who surprised my by being perfectly fluent in German and was an all around nice guy) to Rowdy (who actually came up to me to tell me he was following my work and was a bit of a fan — you made me feel like a freaking rock star, mate!): The hours just seemed to fly, and I loved every second of it.

While at the GW store, I was also able to take a couple of pictures of Augustus‘ spectacular rendition of Aaron Demsbki-Bowden’s First Claw:

First Claw by Augustus b’Raass (1)

Seriously, those guys are something else: It’s perfectly justified that they still draw lots of comments from the crowd at the store: You wouldn’t believe how amazing those guys are when seen firsthand. Let me just throw in additional pictures of my favourite three…

models built and converted by Augustus b’Raass

From left to right, Uzas (easily my favourite character from the Night Lords Trilogy), Talos and Mercutian (the model is just perfect in every way, wouldn’t you agree?).

And their three brethren that are just as awesome — I just happen to be in love with the three up top even more 😉

models built and converted by Augustus b’Raass

From left to right, Xarl (I’ve never seen a more intimidating glare in my life!), Variel the Flayer and Cyrion.

While at the GW store, I also met a super-nice fellow named Tom who may just be the best painter I have ever spoken to. While he was all shy about it and kept insisting that he had basically tried to merely follow the work of David Soper, his Orruk Warlord was really a bit of a relevation to me:

Orruk Warlord by Tom

You see, high level painting has never done much for me, because it just seemed so abstract and far removed from where I was standing. Seeing a model painted at that standard from up close, however, made me realise that there were layers and layers of detail there that I couldn’t even take in all at once. Like, I’ve never even liked that Orruk warlord all that much, especially that idiotic skull on his shoulder pad, right? And then Tom goes and does something like this:

Orruk Warlord by Tom

I mean, just look at that bone! JUST LOOK AT IT!

Tom was also nice enough to send me some really good pictures of the model for you to enjoy, so here you go:

Orruk Warlord by Tom

 

Orruk Warlord by Tom

So yeah, lots and lots of super-friendly people — but then, that’s the Netherlands for you. It’s a fascinating country for me, as a German, because in so many ways, it’s like Germany, only not: There are tons of things that are so incredibly familiar, but are just slightly “off” — and I mean off in an entirely good way: You feel at home enough to be at ease, but it’s also different enough to be utterly refreshing. Which is basically the ideal mix for someone who is as much of a scaredy cat as me 😉 Almost being able to get what people are saying is also quite a thing, I can tell you 😉

So Augustus also took me around town, including the famous Red Light District, so I could take a look at Amsterdam’s seedy underbelly, except it’s really not all that seedy, and it certainly has the added benefit of having a rather lovely canal running through the middle of it:


We ended up at a super cool retro-arcade bar where we kept drinking yet more local beer – Zatte, which actually translates to “drunk” I believe — there’s actually a lot to be said for a country that names its beers for the intended effect – and playing a bazillion games of Jenga, friendly banter with the folks from the adjoining table and crazy, made-up rules included. Let me tell you, it seems like people who know how to convert tiny plastic soldiers can be real Jenga fiends:


And then it was back home, with the crazy guy on the ferry playing songs like “Last Christmas” or “My Heart Will Go On” at full volume on his phone actually being a fellow countryman of mine — leave it to a German to set the mood, eh?

Anyway, if all of this may sound kind of over-enthused, that’s simply because I had such a blast! And I would like to imagine that Augustus felt the same way, in spite of having a compulsively talkative German to take care of. Just look at us eggheads:


I mean he does seem a bit…ambiguous about the whole situation 😉

Disclaimer: Which reminds me: Let me just state in no unclear terms that, in contrast to what you may or may not hear from other sources, I was, like, super-handy with the lock on the rented bike, and Augustus didn’t need to help me with it at all. Not even once. And that, as far as I am concerned, is the end of the matter.

Erm, anyways, here’s the big man himself again, albeit in model form: Meet Augustus b’Raass, warlord of Augustus’ World Eaters army:



So, Auggs, buddy: Ja, wie sage ich das jetzt, I really cannot thank you enough! For being an awesome host and a brilliant tour guide! For going through the risk of just having some guy from the internet over for an entire weekend. For the conversations and the laughs and, of course, the beer! And for starting out as a cool hobby buddy that has now become an actual friend! Cheers, mate!

And to all of the beautiful readers of this blog, if you have managed to hang on until now, thanks for reading! And, as always, stay tuned for more!

In hindsight, we should have set them up as though they were shaking hands — that would have been such a sweet capstone for the post…

In the Shadow of Great Wings, pt. 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Argel Tal by slaine69

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

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

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

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




So, a couple of conversion notes on the model:

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


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

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

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






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


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

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

Bonus model:

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




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