Archive for expansion

#HeroQuest2019: The Witch Lord

Posted in heroquest, old stuff, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2019 by krautscientist

More #HeroQuest2019 today, but after blazing through the entire set of undead monsters, I felt I had earned myself a little wiggle room for a bit of fun. So what is this about?

As you have already seen in a previous post of mine, I won’t simply limit myself to painting the classic models, but I am also looking at some chances here and there to add some custom models to my set of HeroQuest, in order to create representations for the special characters that appear in some of the quests, but don’t have an official model. So this time around, my plan was to create a model to represent that most dastardly of recurring HeroQuest villains: The dreadful WITCH LORD!

For those who don’t remember the game, seeing how it’s been thirty years and everything, the Witch Lord made his first appearance in the standard quest book: Intrepid adventurers would accidentally awaken him about two-thirds through the base game’s collection of quests, while actually searching for a magical artifact, then had to find a magic sword that could harm him in response to his awakening. The Witch Lord then served as the quest book’s end boss, so to speak. Yet that was not the end of it:

A couple of expansions for HeroQuest were released a bit after the basic game system, and one of these was titled “Return of the Witch Lord”. Here’s Les Edward’s cover artwork for that particular expansion:

Illustration by Les Edwards

When I saw it, I was instantly in love! In fact, the cover artwork alone sold me on the expansion, so when I was allowed to choose a HeroQuest expansion box as a birthday gift, I chose this. How could I not, with all those wonderfully skeletal knights on the cover, and let’s not forget Skeletor’s debonair cousin at the centre of attention!

In hindsight, especially from a collector’s perspective, it would have been so much smarter to get, say, the “Against the Ogre Horde” expansion that actually came with some original sculpts, whereas Return of the Witch Lord just featured more skeletons, mummies and Zombies. But I couldn’t help myself, that illustration just went straight for the throat — in fact, it remains one of my favourite fantasy illustrations of all time, and I feel tempted to say that I even prefer it to the actual HeroQuest cover artwork.

There was also something truly cool about having a recurring villain across several iterations, especially one so blatantly inspired by Skeletor. Fun fact, though, I didn’t even realise the villain of the piece was supposed to be the Witch Lord as the German title of the expansion was “Die Rückkehr des Hexers”, and the only character referred to as a “Hexer” (Warlock) in the German version of HeroQuest was a character from an earlier quest, represented by this model from the box, yet another skull-faced evildoer:

Don’t worry, we’ll be getting to this guy in a furture post…

Anyway, be that as it may, I think you can maybe understand why remembering the Witch Lord gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. So when I sat down recently to think about whether or not I could add a couple of custom conversions to my classic HeroQuest set, it was obvious the Witch Lord would end up right at the front of the queue.

I started by collecting inspiration online and looking at other people’s work, as I usually do before a conversion project. Once again, Lestodante’s collection provided ample inspiration:

Models from Lestodante’s collection

As you can see, the model he uses for the Witch Lord is, in fact, a custom sculpt that almost perfectly replicates the artwork while also looking very much like an official HeroQuest model from back in the day — a wonderful solution, and I am still green with envy!

There was also Ampersand’s really cool Witch Lord:

Witch Lord conversion by Ampersand

As you can probably guess from looking at the model, this one uses more modern GW plastic parts, namely from the (still available) Skeleton Warriors. So I made a note and earmarked that particular kit as a possible source of useful bitz.

As an aside, there’s also the Frostgrave Lich Lord, who would have would have worked really well, too, even though I only discovered this after the fact:

In fact, given the resemblance in both the design and the very name, you’ve got to wonder…

But anyway, a proud converter like me has to come up with his own version, right? So keeping the excellent inspiration in mind, I decided that the best way to start was to work from the very artwork that had inspired me so much many years ago. So here’s a closer look at the Witch Lord as originally imagined by Les Edwards:

My initial idea included some Skaven Stormvermin and Empire flagellant parts and would have looked a bit like this 40k renegade psyker I built a couple of years ago:

And I think the general approach would have worked pretty well, too. But then fate struck, and I discovered an even better approach:

You see, one of the things I wanted to achieve with my Witch Lord model was to have the model invoke that particular, slightly clunky “retro GW” Oldhammer look: I wanted a model that looked like it could actually have been produced back when HeroQuest was originally released.

So what better way than to start with a vintage model from back in the day?

So here’s what my very first Witch Lord mockup looked like:

The model is actually mostly based on an old, early-to-mid 90s Dark Elf Warlock. This guy:

And I still had the remains of one of those in my bitzbox. It was already in a pretty sorry state, too, missing both its its head, right hand and staff by the time I got it, so it’s not like I actually had to vandalise a classic model to make my Witch Lord — if anything, this was yet another salvage job!

The head came from the – aforementioned – GW Skeleton Warriors, with horns from the plastic WFB Chaos Marauders. And I began building the Witch Lord’s staff by combining an old Skeleton standard bearer arm (for the staff) and a bird skull from the GW Skulls kit.

After I had the basic outline, it was mostly a matter of matching as many visual cues from the artwork as possible. So here’s the finished conversion:

I replaced the first version of the left hand with a Empire flagellant hand. The detailing on the staff was achieved by grafting some Bloodletter horns and teeth to the bird skull for a pretty convincing look, if I do say so myself (Fun Fact: I have since discovered that the staff wielded by the leader of the Nightvault Godsworn Hunt warband would have been an almost ideal place to start — oh well…).

And since everything was still looking rather hideous at this point, it was a good thing that the undercoat had the great effect of pulling all of the disparate parts together rather nicely.Take a look:

Even though I had to make a couple of compromises, I think I have still done a pretty good job at matching both Les Edward’s art and the somewhat clunky vintage HeroQuest look, wouldn’t you agree?

When it came to painting the model, the artwork worked as perfect inspiration, so I tried to match it as closely as possible, especially for the luxurious crimson robes, dark metal and bright golden parts. Here’s a PIP shot…

…and here’s the mostly finished model:


Of course the Witch Lord needed to be on a proper HeroQuest base, so I carefully cut a damaged skeleton from its original base and used that for my Witch Lord model. One weird but cool thing was that the undercoat produced a really pronounced crackle effect when sprayed onto the base, and for no discernible reason, at that. At first I was a little miffed, but then I realised that this was a cool little effect, seeing how this is the base of a powerful undead monstrosity, so I actually embraced it:

And I still wasn’t done with the model itself either, as I wasn’t perfectly happy with those empty eye sockets, and rather wanted to feature those evil, glowing eyes from the artwork. So I went back to the model and created the tiniest eyeballs you can probably imagine, from almost microscopic amounts of GS. So here’s how that turned out:

And with that, the model was officially complete. So without any further ado, I give you: The Witch Lord:




All in all, this was a great way of expanding the classic collection of models, give myself a fun distraction between painting all of those monopose monsters, but trying to match the retro-GW look was also a neat little challenge.

So here’s a look at the Witch Lord commanding his army of the undead:

So that’s it for today. I am pretty happy with my little undead horde, but I still have a lot of work before I can call my set of HeroQuest completed, so it’s back to the painting table for me 😉

It goes without saying that I would love to hear your thoughts on my version of the Witch Lord, so drop me a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more! 🙂