Archive for fluff

INQ28: Kitbashing in the time of Corona

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2020 by krautscientist

For all the sad and awful things that are currently going on in the world, I have found the Corona-mandated downtime as strangely conductive to my creativity when it comes to kitbashing and converting, in spite of everything. So today, I have a monster of a post to share with you, with quite a few new INQ28 conversions that I am pretty proud of. I you would step this way, please…;)

 

Let’s begin with the model that seems to have kicked things off: Earlier this year, the Brothers Wier (of “Between the Bolter And Me” fame kicked a challenge with the subject of using the new AoS Ossiarch Bonereaper models to create some creepy, rather more skeletal Eldar to channel the somewhat gigeresque origins of the Eldar race during the Rogue Trader days of yore:

Illustration by Tony Hough

What’s more, the brothers were also awesome enough to send me one of the models from the Mortek Guard kit to use for the challenge.

But in spite of that generosity, it still took me quite a while to get started on my contribution…

One reason for this, on top of my usual laziness, was that the bar was immediately set incredibly high, for instance by this this very cool and creepy Eldar model built by Adam Wier himself…

Model converted by Adam Wier

or by Larsonic Miniatures’ absolutely incredible Haemonculus.

But seeing how the Coronavirus-downtime had at least provided me with some extra hobby time, I felt that I might just as well finally try to get this show on the road. I still had some leftover Yvraine parts, back from when I first converted the Countess Mandelholtz, and definitely wanted to put them to good use, along with some Dark Eldar knick knacks I still had in my bitzbox.

Even so, the first half of the conversion process was an exercise in frustration, with things just refusing to come together — except for my own fingers, that is, because I certainly managed to glue them together more than once. The model itself didn’t really seem to work, though: For instance, I all but ruined Yvraine’s head in an attempt to go for a really creepy, biomechanical look (think the Alien from the first Species film, minus the gratuitous nudity).

But I soldiered through, and it was actually late at night when I finally felt that I might be on to something:

I think getting the legs and torso to line up properly was what ultimately sealed the deal — after that, it was mostly a question of going with what felt right. And before long, I had this model:

And believe it or not, most of what you see is actually the Mortek Guard model the Wier Brothers originally sent me. I merely spliced in a few Eldar parts from various sources:

  • Yvraine’s feet and hairpiece
  • a Dark Eldar helmet (chosen for its stylised, statuesque features) and one-and-a-half Dark Eldar arms
  • an old (late-90s) Dark Eldar Kabalite warrior’s abdomen (yes, really 😉 )
  • a severed elven/Aeldarii head (I think it originally came from a Wood Elf, although I am not sure)

I even ended up with a couple of spare Bonereaper bitz to squirrel away for future projects — YAY! 😉

Anyway, the conversion was still rather messy at this point, and needed a few tweaks and some cleanup. Here’s what the finished conversion looks like:






I am actually really happy with this guy (?) at the moment, but that’s probably because the project seemed like such a trainwreck before it finally all started to come together.

There’s zero background in place for the model, but I do like how ambiguous it seems: Is it some new kind of Exarch? A wraithbone construct? Some sinister kind of Drukhari warrior? Or a pre-fall revenant? Fellow hobbyist BeardGoblin even pointed out that the model resembles an Avatar of Khaine — in fact, it could even work as an Epic-/Adeptus Titanicus-scaled Avatar, minus the severed head.

In any case, I think I’ve come up with a working contribution for the challenge — speaking of which, though, you should definitely check out all of the other excellent contributions: Go read up on them over here, at “Between the Bolter and Me” — and many thanks again to the Wier Brothers for sending over that model and for allowing me to be a part of this event!

 

Getting this particular conversion to work also felt like the floodgates had been opened, in a sense, and I emerged from this project quite motivated and with an appetite for something a little more …adventurous. So what happened next?

A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to snap up the female vampires from the WFB/AoS Coven Throne. If you ask me, those are some of GW’s coolest models (and still some of their best female sculpts), and I have cannibalised them for several projects over the years (to build, just to name the most important examples, Mistress Elisha Gorgo, Countess Mandelholtz, Redactor Orlant’s masked bodyguard and the pilot for my second Knight Armiger). This all left me with – most – of the body of the main vampiress (only missing her head and parts of her arms) as well as the cushions that normally go behind her on the Coven Throne. And whenever I came upon those parts while burrowing through my bitzbox, I would always have this vague idea to one day turn her into a cool, very Blanchesque figure in a floating comfy chair.

Well, desperate times call for desperate measure, so I decided that it was finally time to go for it:

When I started this conversion, I did not yet know whether I wanted her to be an eccentric noble or a crime lord (or both) or some kind of conspirator — for starters, it was just fun to delve into the Blanchitsu look to create her. The model was missing its head, and I decided to actually turn that into a virtue, using a creepy resin skull (sent to me by my buddy Biohazard a couple of years ago) and some GS cables to give her a suitably grimdark mask. An eyelens from a set of Cadian binoculars was used to add an augmetic eye piece to the mask.

The cushion bit was far to nice to discard, and I loved the idea of having her float on some kind of antigrav chair. So I created a suitably impressive throne for her:

As you can see, I added another cushion (made from GS) to elevate her to the right height and make for a smooth fit. I then used what I believe are mostly Sentinel bitz to tech-up her chair a bit (with some Chimera flamers repurposed as antigrav suspensors).

Here’s the grimdark mamzel, with her chair suitably built up:

This only really left me with one area to deal with: Her feet. Ideally, there would have been some kind of footrest for her, but when I tried to cobble something together, I realised that an element like that would obscure most of the lower front of the chair, defeating the exercise of having a floating chair to begin with.

In the end, the solution was rather simple: As I still had the flowing skirts from the other two vampires, I simply shaved down one of them to fit the mamzel. So here’s the finished conversion:


I also have a slightly firmer idea about her background now: I’ll be calling her “Lady Bloodbriar”, and she’s the head of a crime/underworld syndicate of the same name that has become very powerful indeed behind the scenes of the Velsen Sector. Her real identity remains a secret, and she prefers to keep it that way — although, I actually do have a pretty good idea who she really is, underneath the mask. That’ll be a story for a different time, though…

Still feeling very happy with the conversion, I took a long hard look at it and decided that what Lady Bloodbriar really needed was…a pudgy little cherub whose funtion was basically that of an ambulatory fan:




Now the idea of using Nurglings to create cherubim wasn’t mine — it’s a clever approach I first saw on Jeff Vader’s Convertorum. It did serve me really well here, though! The little skull face was actually designed to match Lady Bloodbriar’s mask. Oh, and I added some tiny augmetic plugs to the Nurgling’s body here and there, to hint at the fact that this is an automaton of some sophistication!

And yes, I am quite aware of the fact that actual cherubim models are now freely available as part of the new Sisters of Battle kits — but the plan here was to focus on only using parts from the old bitzbox. And that was even before GW stopped taking any orders, too!

Anyway, my original plan was to actually have him on the chair as well (on one of the cushions behind her), but I am pretty sure that this would have overcluttered the model — plus I do rather like the idea of the little guy hurrying behind the floating throne, trying his best to keep up..

And seeing how I had basically lost my marbles at this point, I couldn’t help thinking about yet another cherub for her, loosely inspired by a detail appearing in a piece of John Blanche artwork from the second edition 40k rulebook:

Illustration by John Blanche

In it, a cherub is wearing the cutest little pseudo-napoleonic uniform:

And seeing how I still had a head wearing a bicorn (sent to me by fellow hobbyist Drone21c, if I remember correctly), I knew I just had to try and channel that effect:

He is carrying a little hourglass, as if to say: “This is all the time you get to plead your case with the mistress…”

The little guy with the hat will be named “Nullsum” (thanks to a brilliant suggestion from fellow hobbyist A_Tempest_Sinister), and his buddy will be called “Aerial” (in an attempt at a similar pun 😉 ).

Also, I think I’ll be giving Nullsum a little sword:

It just makes for an even more “heraldic” look, for lack of a better word…

So I had the Lady Bloodbriar herself, and her two cherubim — but that wasn’t nearly enough, and I was basically neck-deep into this project at this point, when I came upon an incredible blog post at Meandering Shade that made me realise that there’s something really interesting you can also do with a cable maker — quite an eye opener! So I simply had to build a majordomo for Lady Bloodbriar. Meet Master Corvinus Icter:

As you can see, he is currently occupied with contemplating the contents of a dataslate while his mistress talks to a supplicant, and probably interjecting pointed questions and remarks (“What were your credentials again?” “These numbers don’t seem to add up…”)

The conversion itself mostly consists of bitz from the WFB Empire Greatswords /AoS Freeguild Greatswords, with just a shaved-down Skitarii coat as well as a Delaque head and dataslate spliced in for flavour — and there’s that glorious hairdo, of course, basically created by cutting apart a GS cable and carefully applying its parts to a substructure also made from GS. It’s unbelievable how easy this was — although it might still need a bit of cleanup here and there.

I have one more conversion for you for today’s update — because a powerful mover and schemer like Lady Bloodbriar obviously also needs some muscle to serve as a personal bodyguard. After giving it a bit of thought, I dismissed the idea of including some kind of heavily muscled ganger, but rather went for a bit of a “palace guard”-style character, and with a highly stylised and idealised look, to match the amount of ostentation evident in the rest of the models. Now the Custodes and Stormcast Eternals basically have the market for statuesque, hulking warriors cornered between them, so I had to get a bit creative to come up with something that didn’t look too similar to them, while also invoking some visual cues from either — after all, it seems obvious that, in-universe, both the Custodes and Astartes would be revered as some kind of godlike ideal by citizens of the Imperium, and that the most influential among them would pattern their own household guards after those legendary warriors to some degree.

Anyway, here’s WIP for “the Sentinel”:


This conversion was all about creating a massive, statuesque and idealised warrior that wasn’t to look like a Space Marine. I tried to achieve this by using some slightly unconventional bitz — the base model was a Blood Warrior of Khorne, for instance. I am also rather happy with the spliced-together facemask and with the use of a Kharadron Overlords spear as a pretty exotic looking weapon.

Of course the Sentinel didn’t escape a round of tweaks, either 😉

I added a shield because I wanted to support the statuesque look even more — plus it also seemed like a fitting choice for a guard. The grisly skull trophy was exchanged for something a little more fitting (I use the winged sword device as a symbol for St. Sabasto, the “Sword Saint”, even though it’s originally a DA symbol, obviously 😉

So here’s the group, pretty much as it stands right now:

I am really having a blast with this project — in fact, to be quite honest with you, I had feared that I might have “lost my touch”, so to speak, since the level of quality all around seems to have soared, while some of the stuff I have been working on just felt trite and derivative. But with these latest models (and some of my latest World Eaters), I think I am in a pretty good place once again. I am not saying that none of this has been done before – and, indeed, I have been taking inspiration from fellow hobbyists like Jeff Vader, EdT and others left and right – but these latest models do feel like a – much-needed – breath of fresh air to me!

Oh, and I have even sketched out some inconography for Lady Bloodbriar’s crime syndicate (“The Bloodbriar Syndicate”? or “Cabal”? Or “Cartel?” Does anybody know any more cool, 40k-like words for a crime ring?):

I like the idea that most members of the organisation wear this kind of symbol — or a variation thereof: It could appear as tiny, inconspicuous tattoos or brands on the upper echelons of the organisation, whereas low level brutes would be covered in briar tattoos.

Anyway, if anyone’s still reading: That’s it for today’s update. I would, of course, love to hear any thoughts and suggestions you might have!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more — and please stay safe and healthy during these challenging times!

Pieces of Eight

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, paintjob, Pointless ramblings, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2020 by krautscientist

What a time to be alive!

What is it with the world lately? Racism and right-wing populism on the rise again, factionalism and nationalism at an all-time high, and now Nurgle’s Rot as an actual real-world-thing…? The mind boggles…

Against this background, spending time on this hobby of ours can seem almost frivolous — and yet, amongst its many rather more frigthening features, the novel Coronavirus weirdly enough provides many of us with ample extra hobby time. What a weird feeling of disonnance…

Then again, I have often found that turning to the hobby as a release can actually keep you sane, and I hope it will do that this time as well. With one marked difference: In years before, it seemed that our lives – at least in the first world – were so rich and peaceful that we could afford to turn to a fictional universe full of hardship and murder as a hobby — and surely, that’s ultimately a good thing, right? These days, however, what does it say about the world that turning to the very same, grimdark galaxy for distraction seems like entering a happy place?

Meanwhile, this blog’s eighth anniversary has quietly passed me by back in late February — yeah, Eternal Hunt is actually eight years old now:

And I don’t even have anything special prepared for the occasion — not a surprise, really, all things considered. All I can offer you are some new World Eaters — but then that seems all to fitting, when this blog was originally started, allll the way back in 2012, to showcase my World Eaters army – Khorne’s Eternal Hunt – taking shape. And here we are, back where we started. If nothing else, there’s a nice sense of symmetry about it all…

So let’s actually turn our minds from the dark thoughts of everyday life to the – grimdark – thoughts of the 41st millennium where, in spite of all the murder and bloodshed, at least things still make sense 😉

For starters, we have this gentleman from my previous post:

Feeling enormously fond of the conversion, it was clear to me that I would want to paint him next. As an aside, I even remembered to take pictures of the different painting steps this time around, which I’ll be using for a step-by-step in a future post (I just don’t want to overclutter today’s update, what with the anniversary and all).

Anyway, I was able to get the model to an almost finished state relatively quickly:




After this, it was, once again, mostly a question of adding some finishing touches (and, of course, some blood…) and creating a base.

So here’s the finished axeman:





In a definite case of subverted expectations, this is probably the one model in the squad whose base actually *doesn’t* feature a skull. You can still see his last opponent’s breastplate, though (that head probably flew quite a ways when it was lopped off…):


Oh, and in case anyone was wondering, here’s a scale comparison shot for the model:

The closest thing to a standard Cadian I had was my older conversion for Inquisitor Antrecht, but he’s mostly based on Cadian parts, so it should work. I think the model’s size – while not really true scale – works well enough in setting it apart from a regular human. In addition to its size, the proportions are also pretty sound — for instance. the model features an actual abdomen, something that is often missing on standard-scaled Space Marines 😉

It has been pointed out to me that, with its two handed axe, the model would actually work as a Master of Executions. And while it wasn’t originally planned as such, I agree that it could definitely fulfill that role! [As an aside, I’ll have you know that my World Eaters actually had a headsman-type character before that was even a thing, so yeah…]

Anyway, I am actually really happy with the way this model has turned out! Here’s the squad so far:


And if I count my counts-as Huron, those are actually eight finished models, perfectly in keeping with the festivities! Yay! 😉

The forced downtime has also given me the opportunity to mess around with some additional models, so let’s take a look at those as well:

There’s my converted icon bearer (also from my previous post), for one. The one that was supposed to channel the look and feel of an older metal icon bearer:

One of my favourite parts about the old model were always the cables and tubes visible underneath the shoulder pad: I loved how those hinted at the inner workings of the armour. While messing around with Greenstuffworld’s excellent tentacle/cable maker (borrowed from my friend Annie), I took a moment to recreate that element on my modern interpretation of the character:

I have also decided to turn the pistol arm downwards, because the composition seems to work a bit better that way. This, in turn, also lead to my replacing the bolt pistol for a different version, because the ammo feed on the previous weapon no longer behaved in tune with gravity 😉

Oh, and there is one more WIP I would like to share with you today: Any ideas what this is supposed to be…?

Seeing how my latest World Eaters project is also about creating models that are inspired by seminal artwork or classic sculpts, I have been thinking about a model to represent Lheorvine Ukris, from Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Black Legion novel series, for a while — another model, that is, seeing how I already built a first version a while ago:

“Guest stars” like this are always a bit of an iffy affair, because they don’t really fit into the narrative for a homegrown warband. But I couldn’t help myself, I had to use the excellent new kits to build another version of Lheorvine. So here’s the artwork I used as my main reference, once again:

And here’s the conversion I came up with:

With the exception of the Primaris breastplate (used for the “Imperialis” symbol) and a head from the AoS first edition starter box Blood Warriors (I simply *love* those helmets!), the conversion is mostly based on parts from the new vanilla CSM (with maybe a Havoc bit added in here and there). With the basic conversion out of the way, I then tried to cram in as many elements from the artwork as I could while also not wanting to make the model seem overly busy. Anyway, here’s the finished conversion:

The latest additions include that additional skull above the gun barrel as well as the various pieces of chain dangling from Lheor’s armour. I did consider adding some more spikes to the helmet crest, but ultimately decided against it: That helmet seems ostentatious enough as is.

So yeah, if nothing else, I have been keeping myself busy, as you can see — in fact, you should see some of the stuff I have been building for INQ28. Alas, that is a story for a future update! 😉

For now, while this hasn’t been your standard anniversary post, I do hope you’ve still enjoyed the look at some of my current projects, in spite of everything awful going on in the world.

To any and all readers, commenters and my friends throughout the blogosphere: Thank you for reading, commenting, sending bitz or models and for being a vital part of my Eternal Hunt! Please stick around, and please feel free to share any thoughts you might have!

And please, please stay safe and healthy, and look out for those close to you! Khorne demands it — I’m sure of it 😉

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

State of the Hunt, week 48/2019: Something stirs…

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, heroquest, Inq28, Inquisitor, state of the hunt, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2019 by krautscientist

Hello everyone, and *phew*: It has been quite a while since the last update, hasn’t it? To be honest with you, the last weeks have gone by in a blur, due to all kinds of RL related shenanigans, and it is only this week that I once again find myself with some hobby time to spare. So consider this just a small heads up to show you that I am still alive and kicking — and while we’re at it, let me also share a few small things I am currently working on:

I. Eating worlds, one spoonful at a time…

I don’t have that much progress on my new World Eaters models to share, to be honest, but have been able to sneak in a bit of kitbashing here and there. Like working on a couple of World Eaters helmets, just to build up a reserve of possible heads:

The two helmets on the right are vanilla (new) CSM helmets with added “bunny ears” from the AoS Blood Warriors, whereas the helmet on the left is an attempt at grafting a (old) CSM mouthpiece to a Blood Warrior head, approximating an approach I have seen fellow hobbyist ElDuderino use recently. This exercise has only added to my appreciation of his conversions in this vein, as the process of making it all fit together is a rather tricky one…

With the head finished, however, I couldn’t help myself and tried to come up with a model to fit the converted helmet:


Another marriage of CSM and Blood Warrior bitz, this one — it took me a while until the model finally came together:


I do hope that I’ll be able to get him and one or two of his buddies painted before the end of the year — wish me luck 😉

 

II. Meanwhile, back at the Inquisitorial fortress…

Another project I have been chipping away at for most of the year is the retinue of Inquisitor Alvar, of the Ordo Xenos. While this is definitely one of my older warband projects, I was happy to make pretty good progress on the good Inquisitor’s operatives earlier this year, leaving me with a growing collection of characterful – and, more importantly, PAINTED – individuals:


At the moment, there are just two more models left to paint before I can call this long-running project finished. Here’s a picture of the last unpainted models from back in October:


Now the Magos Xenobiologis and Research assistant are already done and dusted. Which leaves me with the squat engineer/explorer and the female hive ganger:

I have wanted some kind of squat character ever since I first laid eyes on the Kharadron Overlords for AoS — even as stock models, they are basically the perfect 40k squats, if you ask me, with more of a steam/clock-punk-ish angle and less fantasy dwarf goofiness.

While the model you can see above already worked pretty well as a proof of concept, I did subject the little guy to a bit of fine-tuning. And here’s what I came up with:

Meet Skuldi Kulvar, the penultimate member of Inquisitor Alvar’s retinue:



Granted, for the most part, it’s still a stock Arkanaut model. But I have added some visual clutter and some techy bitz to bring the model more firmly into the 40k universe. I am seeing Skuldi as some kind of explorator/collector who has fallen in with Alvar. I have some ideas in the back of my head for a squat enclave somewhere within the Velsen sector, a rather reclusive group that is focused a lot around heavy industry and organised as some kind of industrial combine. There’s also some technology transfer between them and the local Adeptus Mechanicus, although it’s mostly strictly below the counter (I’ve tried to subtly hint at this fact by using an AdMech barrel on the pistol, though).

Many of the ideas I have for the little squat enclave owe a debt of inspiration to Thomas Plischke’s novel “Die Zwerge von Amboss” (“The Dwarves of Anvil”, unfortunately not available in English, as far as I am aware):

While the series does get less interesting as it goes, the first book provides a really fascinating look at a dwarven empire with a definite late 19th/early 20th century feel, completely build around the ideas of building something of lasting value and performing your work to the best of your abilities, all rolled together with more than a hint of early capitalism. It’s a cool angle of bringing the classic dwarven tropes into a more modern, quasi-industrialist setting, and the book was very much in my mind when I tried to come up with an angle for the squats that would interest me (and move beyond the “fantasy dwarves IN SPACE!” approach). Anyway, you may get to hear more of the squar combine before long, as this model actually doubles as a test model for a squat warband project that may or may not happen at some point in the future — don’t hold your breath, though…

The last member for Inquisitor Alvar’s retinue is this charming lady here: Shiv Korlund, former hive ganger:

This model has been attached to the project for quite a while, and she’s basically just an unconverted OOP metal Necromunda Escher ganger from back in the late 90s. Painting her should be fun, though…

Talking about painting, having built the two models’ bases, I’ll actually be taking these along to my next scheduled painting session at Annie’s place later this week:


Maybe I’ll be able to show you the finished models before long. I’ll be giving it my best shot…

 

III. Surprise supply drop!

Oh, and one more thing before I tune out for today, as this was such a lovely surprise:

I backed MOMiniaturas’ “Mercenaries” Kickstarter earlier this year, mostly because his wonderful, retro-Warhammer-styled mercenaries really scratched my HeroQuest itch when I looked at them:

In addition to the twenty-ish mercenary models that were part of the actual Kickstarter, however, I also used the opportunity to pick up a bunch of additional fantasy models at a discount from MOMiniaturas, then forgot all about it, and was pleasantly surprised when a massive pile of miniatures arrived on my doorstep last month:


I expect we’ll be taking a closer look at these in a future post — it’s anyone’s guess when I’ll actually have the time to paint any of these, but they have such a lovely retro appeal that I’ll try my darnedest to sneak in one or two of them before the year ends…

 

So yeah, that’s it from me for today. TLDR; I am still here, chipping away at my various projects. Is anybody alive in here? If so, I would, of course, love to hear your thoughts!

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

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

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, state of the hunt, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2019 by krautscientist

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

 

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

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





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


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

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

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

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

The Master of the Hunt — Reborn! (pt. 1)

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2019 by krautscientist

Another chaotic WIP post of sorts this week, although this is actually my way of sharing something that I have already teased in my previous post — so what is this about?

As some long-time readers of this blog may or may not remember, a  couple of years ago, I made this guy:

Lord Captain Lorimar, the Master of the Hunt, commander of “Khorne’s Eternal Hunt”, the remnants of the World Eaters’ 4th assault company. Easily one of my my most involved conversion projects, if only it took me so long to get the model right:

I have talked – at length – about what went into creating this guy and about what a huge project it was for me to nail down the exact look I wanted for a character of whom I had a pretty good idea in the back of my head. And while I don’t want to reiterate the entire journey of creating the model (just follow the link above and read up on the whole story, in case you’re interested), building Lorimar was a very iterative process with many starts and stops. The process also resulted in what I thought back then would be a definitive version of the Master of the Hunt.

But then this guy happened:

And I just couldn’t stop wondering — what if…?

It was always clear that the update Abaddon would be a monster of a model — and he is! But I am a converter and kitbasher by nature, so I wanted to have a go at doing something with the building blocks provided by the new model –the sheer challenge appealed to me: Would it be possible to create a model that didn’t immediately read as Abaddon? There was also the fact that I still had some spares of the most important bitz I had used to create the original Lorimar model, namely the head (from the priest riding atop the WFB/AoS warshrine of chaos), sword (from the WFB/AoS Chaos Lord on Manticore) and axe (from one of the Dark Vengeance CSM Chosen). These bitz were originally intended for building a version of Lorimar riding a juggernaut of Khorne. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about a conversion involving them and the new Abaddon model…

For a while, I was able to dissuade myself from taking on this project because I figured the new Abaddon model was simply too big — that it wouldn’t really be compatible with the particular bitz I would need to actually sell it as Lorimar. However, a trip to the local Warhammer store disabused me of that notion, as I was able to see firsthand that the new Abaddon, while indeed much taller than your average CSM model, is actually perfectly compatible with just about any existing chaotic weapon, head or what have you. So what was I to do? I left the store with a brand new Abaddon model and got to work…

Now, to make my task even more complicated, whatever model I would come up with would have to match both my 40k version as well as my (yet unpainted) mid-to-late Horus Heresy version of Lorimar:

So I started with a few early mockup steps, and it was surprisingly easy to come up with something already resembling the “Lorimar pose”:

The main objective here was to make the model read as Lorimar, obviously. But, like I said, with a model as iconic as Abaddon, the obvious pitfall would be for the conversion to end up reading as “Sure, that’s Abaddon with a slightly different head”. My approach was therefore to keep as many of the cool parts as I could while also changing around some major stuff, in order to sell the model as its own thing.

The biggest stylistic choice I made towards this end was to “turn the model around”, as it were, that is to have it face into a different direction, thereby matching the pose on my earlier Lorimar models — ironically enough, I have had to do the exact same thing with the 30k version of Lorimar 😉

After that, it was mostly a matter of getting some of the visual cues from the earlier versions in place — here’s a couple of pictures from when my mockup was quite a bit further along:



Some of the elements from my earlier Lorimar models were easy to recreate, such as the face, weapons, general pose — and those Bloodletter faces on the shin armour 😉

At the same time, it quickly became obvious that I would need to switch around a few things: The Khornate helmet crest I had used on my older Lorimar version, for instance, wouldn’t work, because there was simply less space to work with, so I had to swap in a different crest (shaved off a Wrathmonger/Skullreaper helmet). The (Skullcrusher) shoulder pads wouldn’t work either this time around: Since I knew I wanted to use the brilliant, tattered cape that came with the Abaddon model, I was pretty much stuck with the “official” left shoulder pad, seeing how the cape was sculpted to perfectly conform to the shape of the pauldron underneath. So I had to go with something different on the right shoulder as well and ended up using a shoulder pad from Forgeworld’s Lord Zhufor model — which had the added advantage of sporting some rather lovely World Eaters iconography!

During the conversion process, I kept comparing the new model to the other versions, to make sure it would seem like a natural progression of those designs and still end up similar to both Lorimar’s 30k and previous 40k incarnations:

The breastplate turned into one of the model’s most involved parts: My previous versions of Lorimar are wearing a bandolier of skulls across their breastplates, and that was an element I very much wanted to keep, both because it ties perfectly into the World Eaters’ background lore — but also because skulls strapped to the breastplate are awesome, period. So I made a quick mockup of what this might look like:



And even though this was a really early mockup, it didn’t quite click — in fact, someone over at The Bolter & Chainsword even called the design the “skull tits” — Tsk, tsk 😉

In the end, I decided on something quite a bit more complicated and spliced together an entire original, incorporating elements from Abaddon’s stock breastplate (which is brilliant) as well as a couple of skulls from the Citadel skulls kit as well as one particular skull with a Khornate rune from an AoS Slaugherpriest. Take a look:

I started by gluing on the centre skull (without the mandible, by the way. That was added later.). Then I carefully cut the lower two cables away from the stock bit that normally goes on top of Abaddon’s breastplate and carefully glued them on in the right way (making sure they were positioned correctly by making sure they lined up with the cables on the back of his torso). Then I added the right skull (and shortened/shaved away the cable underneath as needed), and then the upper right cable (again, I made sure to line it up with the cable bit on the back piece of the torso). Then I repeated the previous step with the skull and upper cable on the left side.

All of this required lots of dry-fitting and waiting for things to dry. Finicky though this part of the conversion may have been, however, I am really happy to have gone with something a little more complicated in the end: The finished design is one of my favourite parts of the model now.

So here’s the model, with most of the “heavy lifting” already done and dusted:




The next step was to try and attach Abaddon’s cape:




Surprisingly enough, everything fit together rather nicely, with just a few required tweaks on the right shoulder (because I had used a different shoulder pad there).

One thing I am almost perversely proud of is that the model is still ridiculously modular at this point, which I hope should make the painting process somewhat easier:


The tweaks and changes to the model kept getting more and more minuscule at this point, which is always a pretty clear sign that the conversion is basically finished at this point. I still used the opportunity to feature some of the visual cues from the older 40k Lorimar, though, such as the small tilting plates on his shoulders:



So here’s a comparison with the new conversion and my previous 40k Lorimar which I think shows how both really read as the same character — even though the new guy is monstrously tall 😉


And here’s the new 40k Lorimar next to his younger, slightly more idealistic Horus Heresy era counterpart: I think there’s quite a resemblance here as well!


Ironically enough, the conversion is also really close to one of my main inspirations back when I originally built Lorimar:

image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

All that is left now, before I can call the conversion finished, is to figure out the final setup of some minor bitz and bobs, such as the collection of bitz used on Lorimar’s tabard:


All in all, however, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way this conversion has developed so far: I will admit that I was a little afraid that I might have lost my touch, because converting the new CSM didn’t come to me quite as easily as it used to. But working on this conversion has been an absolute joy so far — in all fairness, I actually think the new Abaddon should be the new go-to model for building massive chaos lords. It’ll be interesting to see how much mileage (and variety) we’ll all manage to wring from the sculpt! If anything, I am slightly surprised by how few people seem to have used the model for conversion projects so far. At the very least, I love the fact that fellow hobbyist Gederas has used some of my ideas on his own Abaddon-based Chaos Lord, Khadon Drachstur, but has managed to come up with a very original looking World Eaters lord!

 

So yeah, that’s it for today’s update. It goes without saying that I would love to hear your thoughst on my new Lorimar version, so feel free to leave a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

State of the Hunt, Week 32/2019: Chaotic exploration

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, state of the hunt, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2019 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, Real Life (TM) has been a veritable rollercoaster lately, so I haven’t been as productive on the hobby front as I would have liked. If anything, however, that’s actually a plus because it frees up some space to share a couple of chaotic kitbashes I have been creating by putting the “new” (granted, they have been around for a while at this point) Chaos Space Marine kits through their paces. Take a look:

 

I. The Blightwood grows…

The first model I would like to share with you today isn’t even such a huge project, but rather an example of using some óf the new bitz to spruce up existing conversions. Enter exhibit A, a kitbashed Foul Blightspawn I created earlier this year.

My original idea for the model was to a) make the most of a leftover extra Malignant Plaguecaster model that I had cannibalised for bitz and use the remains to build yet another Death Guard character and b) get rid of some of the parts of the stock Foul Blightspawn that I really didn’t like, such as the massive pump sutured into the model’s flesh and the weird garden hose-style weapon.

So the original model was already working pretty well for the most part, but it was also still lacking something — and to make things worse, before the new CSM models were released, I didn’t have any correctly scaled CSM parts to tweak it a bit more.

But a headswap, courtesy of the new vanilla CSM kit gave me this:







I didn’t really like the CSM head with the one “googly” eye (normally intended for the squad’s heavy weapons expert), but it works really well for a follower of Nurgle. I spliced together a breathing apparatus as well, while I was at it, and opened up the pose a bit.

I am still rather fond of the core idea of the conversion – using an Escher chem thrower to make a slightly more conventional version of the Blightspawn’s stock weapon – although I think I also did a reasonably good job splicing together one of those WW I-style Blight grenades from a couple of bitz:

I also saw an extremely clever idea over at ssspectre’s blog that I had to steal right away: He used a turbine from a Raptor jump pack to create this kind of weird, bulky engine/pump on the back of a Nurglite model, and I did the same on my Blightspawn conversion, adding a bit of bulk and weirdness to the backpack.

In fact, I even made one more tweak after taking the photos above, adding some semi-organic cabling to the backpack that I carefully clipped off one of the new Havoc rocket launchers and backpacks.

And, just for fun, a comparison shot with my (slightly converted) Plaguecaster and the new Blightspawn — both use the same base model:

After using some smaller bitz and bobs from the new CSM kits like that, I felt the need to get a little more creative. So that’s what I did:

 

II. Iron Within…

This next model is a slightly bolder project, and also makes even more use of the new CSM kits: I had an idea for a Warpsmith-like Iron Warriors character, eventually to be used in my Iron Warriors Killteam I suppose. So I made this guy:

The body intended for the heavy bolter wielding marine from the vanilla CSM kit made for a nice start, providing a suitably bulky, archaically armoured body with a stoic pose. The arms and shoulder pads also came from the vanilla CSM — for the most part. I did feel the need to include a somewhat more impressive weapon for a Warpsmith of the IV Legion, so I spliced together the left arm using an (Age of Sigmar) Varanguard hammer and a forearm and haft from the Chaos Lord on Manticore (since I needed a left hand holding a weapon for this conversion). The backpack started out as a backpack from the new Havoc kit: I really liked the reactor look it had going on! I simply shaved away some of the cabling, added a loader arm (from a Havoc missile launcher backpack) that should work just as well, if not better, as a proper servo-arm, and also added some tech-y bitz – including the heavily augmetic head – from the Adeptus Mechanicus Kataphron kit.

I think the model proves how even the vanilla CSM kit,with just a few bitz from other kits sprinkled on top, can be used to produce rather imposing characters and commanders!

 

IV. The Hateful Eight cont’d

All roads lead before Khorne’s throne, however, so those earlier kitbashes were merely an appetiser before the inevitable main course. Which is a roundabout way of telling you that I have been slowly tweaking away on what may (should) eventually become that World Eaters kill team I have already told you about — “The Hateful Eight” (or ten or sixteen or whatever…). Here’s a look at my short list of future kill team members, so to speak:


Now you’ve seen many of these before in some shape or form, for which I apologise. Also, half of them are repurposed older models, but I think they are still cool enough to warrant a modern paintjob:

I’ve been making tweaks to them, exchanging a weapon here or adding some grenades and Khornate doodads there. I am particularly fond of this guy, made by combining a Blood Warrior from the Age of Sigmar 1st edition starter box and the lower half of the CSM Vrash Tattersoul champion model:

There’s also a couple of “new guys”, however: Fresh conversions that rely on the new kit in some shape or form:

On the far right you can see my “test berzerker” from earlier this year. Then there’s this gentleman, converted from yet another AoS starter box Blood Warrior:


I always knew I would want a model wearing a clunky Heresy-era helmet to accompany its baroque armour, and this is that model 😉

Fot the next two models, I thought it might be fun to try and channel some of the most iconic (or interesting) pieces of World Eaters artwork and build models inspired by the art. First up I chose this very cool concept for the “Teeth of Khorne”, the World Eaters’ dedicated heavy weapons specialists, created by Jes Goodwin during the early 90s, I would imagine:

Artwork by Jes Goodwin

I realised that many elements of the new havocs strongly resembled this piece of art to begin with, so I tried to come up with something similar.

For the most part, this is really just a stock havoc. I replaced the head with a shaved-down Blood Warrior helmet and tweaked the backpack a bit. Also, since I didn’t have a plasma cannon, I was unable to perfectly replicate the art and had to choose a replacement — a missile launcher seemed suitably brutal and straightforward for a World Eater, though… 😉

And then there’s this guy:

Any ideas about the inspiration for this one…?

That’s right, it’s a model built to resemble this iconic piece of art by Mark Gibbons (supposedly showing Khargos Bloodspitter, of all people):

My idea for this conversion was born when I realised that both the straighter legs and the power fist included in the CSM kit would allow me to build something pretty similar to the artwork — but while the above mockup worked as a proof of concept, the conversion needed a lot more work! So here’s what the finished conversion looks like:

Some parts of the conversion are actually a departure from the artwork, albeit a conscious one: The first helmet I used is arguably closer to the artwork, for instance, but the one on the finished conversion (provided as part of a bitz drop by fellow hobbyist ElDuderino, by the way), exudes just the kind of brooding menace that the model needed.

Funnily enough, the model also serves as a pretty neat shout out to some really old World Eaters models, thanks to the static pose:

And here’s the new guy, next to my test World Eater from earlier this year:

So, as you can see, I am actually back to converting World Eaters again — at least for a bit. And I am not even finished, either. Here’s a small teaser of things to come…

V. Burning Man

For now, however, let us wind up this post with a bit of background: I prepared a little background vignette for the counts-as Huron Blackheart model I shared with you a while ago. Take a look:

„The burning never stops.“

This is the sentence he remembers above all else, because it has come to encapsulate his entire existence. While the memory of an Astartes is eidetic in nature, his long life has become a number of disjointed, fragmented moments, with entire decades mostly unaccounted for. But one thing remains. One thing binds everything together and defines him. One sentence neatly summarises it all.

“The burning never stops.”

He remembers how the sentence from weapons instruction returned to him, at the very moment that he saw the phosphex charge go off. The bridge was a pandemonium of blood and death, but everything was frozen into place for just one instant. He saw everything in incredible detail. The battered VII Legion Breacher team that, against all odds, had made it to the bridge in an attempt to bring down a leviathan from within. The mangled face of the Fist throwing the phosphex grenade at him. The eyes already staring into infinity, waiting for a death that would come in mere seconds. The explosions of the weaponry discharged by the other surviving breachers. The chainblades of his brothers falling in slow motion, trying to bring down the enemy. But slow, far too slow. And the green white fire of the phosphex charge, enveloping him at last, and flooding his every fibre with liquid agony, just seconds before the main viewport burst into a million armourglass shards, opening the bridge to the void.

He remembers Terra. The Throneworld twisting below him, above him, behind a curtain of voidships on fire, as he tumbled into blackness. The cold void that was the only thing that could have extinguished the flames that were swallowing him. But even when the fires went out…

…the burning never stopped.

He remembers coming to in a red haze. The sounds of the Apothecarion. The klaxons and warning beeps. The mirrors above the surgical slab showing him a lump of molten, misshapen flesh that he did not recognise. And Deracin’s half-augmetic face floating above him, like a hint of things to come. The Forgemaster locked eyes with him and smiled. And he knew that he would not be allowed to die.

He was rebuilt. Into a strange amalgamation of oh so little flesh and bone, iron and pain. Oh so much pain. He became a construct. Like the gholam of old Terra. And through it all, the pain of an unquenchable fire kept coursing through him, racing along nerve clusters that should have been cauterised beyond any function. Along iron bones that shouldn’t have been able to feel, but did. It has been thus ever since: His every waking moment is pure agony. Inhale. Pain. Exhale. Pain. The nails are but pinpricks to him. He is, eternally, on fire.

His wrath and pain almost seem like a separate entity. When he does battle, and his every cell is burning agony, he can almost see something take shape from the corner of his eyes. Something rough and bloody that is glowing in its own inner malevolence. It is growing all the time. There will come a time when he will finally meet it face to face, this thing he keeps feeding with his pain and with the pain of others.

He keeps losing time. Battles often turn into disjointed shards of perception for him. When he sees glimpses of that strange spectre that seems to shadow him, inexplicable things happen, and he is merely a spectator in his own body: His flesh turns into liquid flame, and he becomes capable of feats that should be beyond his patchwork body. He awakens to arcs of warp fire cascading from his axe and augmetic fist. He comes to in a world of cinders and flaking ash, with his enemies’ lifeblood running down his chin in rivulets. He sees the wariness in his brothers’ eyes, and to see such emotion play across their ravaged features would make him smile, if that expression were not lost to him.

And through it all,
The burning never stops.

 

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

Coming full circle?! A closer look at Kill Team: Rogue Trader

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2018 by krautscientist

As some of my readers have already pointed out, I no longer do many reviews these days. But I will gladly make an exception for Kill Team: Rogue Trader, one of the most delightful hobby surprises to come out of 2018 so far:

Kill Team: Rogue Trader is remarkable in several ways: For one, it’s a look at a part of the 40k universe that has appeared in background lore every now and then, but – apart from some Inquisitor models – has never been explored in depth in model form. There’s also the fact that this actually feels like an attempt to take the – already fairly promising – killteam concept into a more narrative and, dare I say it, inquisitorial direction. And at the same time, it also feels like coming full circle, in that both the subject matter and scope of the boxed set seems like a modernised look at the old Rogue Trader, as in: the first version of Warhammer 40k.

 

Enough reasons, then, to give this release a closer look. And it goes without saying that I will be focusing on the models that come with the set, looking at their strengths and shortcomings as well as thinking about possible uses for them in the wider hobby and the odd conversion opportunity. So here we go. Just like old times, eh? 😉

I. The Elucidian Starstriders

To get this right out of the way, I am simply in love with this kill team: GW’s sculptors have done an amazing job at making the team look like the actual household of a Rogue Trader, with an actual background story and some really interesting characters. That alone makes this part of the release a triumph!

I also really appreciate how not only are there strong shared design elements between the models (the baroque armour, the stylised heraldic animal crests for different ranks and functions), but the design also manages to both fit the 40k universe and expand its visual language (with a decidedly baroque influence versus the classic “gothic” approach), making it clear that Rogue Traders are a force unto themselves.


Rogue Trader Elucia Vhane

So, let us start with the actual Rogue Trader, Elucia Vhane: For the most part, this is a lovely and eclectic figure befitting the status of a Rogue Trader. Moreover, since most of the depictions of Rogue Traders so far have invariably shown dudes in some kind of 19th century-ish military uniform, I think we’ll have to give GW some extra kudos for going with a female Rogue Trader!

The detail on the model is rather lovely: The filigreed armour and ruffles are a great touch, as is the slightly old timey aquila clasp on her right shoulder.

My one gripe with the model is how her face is mostly covered by a veil: I get how this was probably supposed to show the eclecticism of Rogue Traders and also add an air of mystery, because you cannot help but wonder how Elucia looks under the veil: a woman kept young and beautiful by rejuvenat treatments? A hideous crone? Something altogether more mysterious? I can also really imagine the veil working great in one of John Blanche’s concept sketches.

The thing is, however, that it fares less well in actual model form. As it stands, the part of the model that should be its absolute focus point ends up looking, well, rather uninteresting. And given the fact that GW’s catalogue absolutely lacks interesting and characterful female faces, this choice seems like an even more egregious copout. Personally speaking, I think a half-veiled face, some kind of stylised porcelain mask (or, even better yet, half-mask) would have been a better solution here, and obviously made for an even more interesting character — therefore, the face is definitely the one thing I would personally convert.


Knosso Prond

Elucia Vhane’s personal assass…erm “bodyguard” has to be one of my top three models from this release: You can never go wrong with a poised, stylised pose with a sword, and Knosso illustrates this very well. I also love how there’s such a clear asian influence to her design – particularly evident on her sword and facemask – but it’s an influence that gets reflected through the general 40k look and feel, and the result is really lovely, if you ask me. That mask and hairdo, in particular, are just great touches! One of the high points, certainly!


Sanistasia Minst

Yet another female character (which is great), and also an exploration of a character archetype we haven’t seen all that often: the medic. The model does an awesome job of straddling the line between a clean, clinical look very fitting for a medicae, and the more ostentatious and baroque elements that are a part of the household’s visual language. I especially like how her equipment (the helmet, shoulder pad and gloves, in particular) seem functional and ostentatious at the same time.

Oh, and that Nurgling is a nice touch, obviously, creating a cool little shout out, both to the background of the game and to the Gellerpox Infected.


Larsen van der Grauss

The Starstriders’ resident tech-priest, Larsen has a very cool and weird design with a strong silhouette. There’s enough weird equipment and tech-y elements to keep us guessing how everything works. I especially like the head!
Funnily enough, the model doesn’t even look all that AdMech at first glance, but it’s cool to see the Tech-Priest look extended a bit, particularly for a member of the Adeptus Mechanicus who has been embedded with a different faction for a longer time.

The look and angle of the left arm seem like a shout out to the old 2nd edition characters that were fairly flat and needed to be all about silhouette — slightly anachronistic in these more modern times, but it actually seems like a conscious choice here, given the many shout outs to older lore and concepts.

 

Elucia also comes with her own household guard, which I think deserves extra compliments because these are a part of any given warband or retinue we normally don’t get to see — the actual soldiers doing the dirty work 😉

Stromian Grell

A burly man with a massive gatling gun — what’s not to like, right? Very iconic pose. Almost reminds me of one of the old Warzone Imperial (or Capitol) models, although in a good way. The boat cap is a lovely touch. I also love how his almost modern SciFi look gets tampered by the baroque influences, such as the filigree on the armour (and even on the weapon). The scarred forearms are also a cool little touch and a nice bit of visual storytelling that hints at an eventful life.

Also, kudos for actually going with a non-caucasian skin colour, ‘Eavy Metal Team! 🙂

Voidmaster Nitsch

Another very 2nd edition pose — and frankly, it’s amost a bit too much with the two guns. At the same time, I really love the clean lines of the model. And possibly my favourite part is how Nitsch foregoes the usual “pants in boots” look for some actual suit pants and a far more suave setup — very interesting, and also a rather interesting resource for converting INQ28 characters and Imperial civilians…

He also looks like an officer, a gentleman, but also a hard-as-nails veteran.

Nitsch’s Squad

Nitsch’s small squad ofs Voidsmen is actually one of my favourite parts of this release. Even though they are fairly uniform, the different poses and weapons (as well as the fact that their actual uniforms are really cool) still make them a great visual addition to the kill team. Even better, there’s yet another female character in there, and for once she doesn’t suffer from the endemic boob armour problem (and is arguably the coolest of the bunch). These three really bring the household vibe to life!

Plus the squad also features what must be the boxed set’s best model bar none: Aximillion the cyber-mutt:

 

Seriously, I just love this guy! The attentive pose and armour plates matching his handlers are just so cool. How I would have loved to have access to this model, back when I wanted to build a cyber-mastiff for my INQ28 collection! Granted, I found a different solution. But it’s still awesome to have an “official” GW model to fill the function!

 

II. The Gellerpox Infected

On the other side of the aisle, we get one of the weirdest and eclectic collections of mutants, monsters and creepy-crawlies I have ever seen in a GW boxed set. The Gellerpox Infected don’t seem so much like an actual killteam, but rather like a “toolkit” for a GM to populate a setting with monsters and opponents for the party to fight. Like the collections of monsters you would see in, say HeroQuest or Space Crusade.

So let us take a look at all of those creatures in turn:

Vulgrar Thrice-Cursed

The leader of the Gellerpox Infected, Vulgrar is huge and brilliantly detailed — the latter really was to be expected, given GW’s standard for plastic models these days. The model is a rather disturbing amalgamation of distressed flesh and crude bionics. While the Nurglite touches are subtle, I still like them: The three heads,  the pockmarked skin – they hint at the source of the Gellerpox plague without turning the model overwhelmingly Nurglite, which is pretty cool.

Those heads are particularly excellent and seem like they would just look fantastic on a wide variety of conversions. At the same time, the burning furnace, complete with flames licking out if it…may be a bit much 😉

In spite of many very cool design elements, I am still not in love with the model. I cannot quite put my finger on what’s the problem here, but it still feels like all the really cool individual components come together into a model that is somehow less than the sum of its parts. Is Vulgrar a terrifically detailed monstrosity? Without a doubt. But he’s not a showstopper or standout piece in a boxed set, like, say, the Dark Vengeance Helbrute used to be. My two cents 😉


Nightmare Hulks

Now these big guys obviously add a lot of visual oomph to the Gellerpox Infected. And I really love how they were designed with archetypal nightmare monsters in mind: the monster from the deep, the cannibalistic abomination, the relentless engine of destruction — I think we can all agree that these are some brilliantly disgusting abominations 😉


Gnasher-Screamer


Now this guy actually looks like a John Blance sketch come to life, which I think was the whole point. Giant Butcher-like brutes are always great fun, and Gnasher-Screamer hits all the right notes on this accord: He has the butcher’s apron, the giant cleaver, and also the unhinged, inbred redneck look to pull it all off. Like something from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, only turned up to eleven and refracted through the particular breed of body horror supplied by the ruinous powers.

If I had to find something to criticise, it would be that the model is maybe a tad too stylised for its own good: The fact that it looks like the 3d version of a drawing is both a blessing and a curse in that respect. But still, Gnasher-Screamer is a brilliant monstrosity, and that’s obviously enough! 😉


Big Spike

In some ways, this guy is actually my favourite Nightmare Hulk: There’s just something about the juxtaposition of a grotesquely overmuscled arm with a withered and decayed limb on the other side that works every time. Now replacing the withered right arm with some weird fly-body may be seen as slightly too gimmicky by some, but I just love the sheer grotesqueness of it.

At the same time, I also have a gripe about the model: the face. It just seems weirdly pedestrian and normal to me, and the goggles (ostensibly the remains of the creature’s formal life) actually make it worse. I think Big Spike would work much better with some kind of weird breathing apparatus strapped to his face (the obvious insectile connotations would also work really well with that little fly buddy growing out of this right shoulder).


The Writher

Ah, yes: You’ve got to have one chaos monster with tentacles, right? 😉

Now this guy reminded me of an old WD article where the sculptors discussed how tentacles were such a difficult element of sculpting because they could make a model look weak and also because they would also often recall some kind of deep sea creature, which seemed a bit ridiculous in the 40k setting. Interestingly enough, the designers seem to actually have embraced the deep sea look on the Writher, as his tentacles and pseudopods resemble nothing so much as the limbs of a giant octopus.

In all fairness, it actually works in the model’s favour: The tentacles, weird distended flesh and hideous shoulder area actually reminded me a bit of the – brilliantly scary – creatures in the (deep sea) videogame SOMA (*shiver*), plus there’s arguably a deep sea angle to the warp that seems like it might be fun to explore.

I also really like the way the Writher’s features are covered by a crude saccloth hood that leaves some parts of his countenance up to our imagination while also still showing us a fair share of disgusting stuff 😉

pose seems a bit more unbalanced than the rest of the hulks, especially with the massive belly — although I suspect they were going for a bloated corpse look, in keeping with the deep sea angle. The scared face of a victim peaking from the Writher’s abdomen is just a little silly, though… And maybe the sculptors have taken the deep sea angle a tad too far, what with the harpoon sticking from the model’s left shoulder? 😉


The Vox-Shamblers

Now these guys are hands down my least favourite part of the boxed set. Poxwalkers? Pirates? Plague Bearers? They seem a bit like the unfocused kitbashes some people come up with when they really want to go crazy and chaotic for the first time, just throwing everything and the kitchen sink together. The weirdly Necron-like skull masks don’t really help either. I’d say the Poxwalkers actually work better as mutated crewmen than these guys…

I appreciate wanting to go more interesting than mere shambling zombie archetypes, but these guys just seem to have too many things going on at the same time. On the other hand, while they may not be my cup of tea, maybe they are also intended as a shout out to the general weirdness that was all over the vintage Rogue Trader and its models from the 80s — that weird mohawk on the middle guy, for instance, seems like evidence for this.

When all is said and done, however, these are pretty much the low point of the release for me, if only because, when compared with the very well realised characters that are part of the Elucidan Starstriders, they just seem a little thin and generically monstrous.

 

The Gellerpox Infected come with a pretty vast array of slightly Nurglite critters:

Eyestinger Swarms

At first glance, these models reminded me of the old plastic swarms for 6th edition WFB, obviously with much superior sculpting. They also serve as a shout out to the various flies and daemonic insects that are parts of many of the new Deathguard models, which establishes a nice bit of visual consistency. I also like the fact that we get four original designs — personally speaking, the swarm of tiny flies erupting from a ribcage seems the goofiest to me, if only because


Cursemites


I really like these because there’s something chitinous and disgusting about them. They seem like a nightmare fusion of chestbursters and bluebottle flies, and they still manage to be adorable in that weird, Nurglite sense — especially the little guy seemingly puking his guts out…


Glitchlings

Somebody must have told the Nurglings to keep their masks on, so nobody would recognise them… Seriously, though, like all Nurglings these are good fun, and the resemblance between their masks and those of the vox-shamblers is a neat idea, at least in theory. At the same time, they also come dangerously close to feeling a bit too gimmicky — especially the Two-Bad-style guy…


Sludge-Grubs

Another type of critter, and another set of four unique sculpts, which is nice. There’s a lot of disgusting detail here, as well as some visual shout outs to various Nurgle models. When all is said and done, the grubs are fun, but nothing to write home about.

And I think that may just be my main criticism when it comes to the Gellerpox Infected: That they lack the amount of character and coherence present in the Elucidian Starstriders. They don’t really feel so much like an actual kill team, but rather like a collection of monsters the GM can sick on the player. Now I realise that this probably isn’t any kind of viable criticism at all, because that’s probably exactly what these guys were supposed to be. But while the Gellerpox infected work great as a collection of monsters and creepy-crawlies, they also lack any real characters. Even the Nightmare Hulks seem more like Scooby Doo Monsters of the Week than anything.

At the same time, I think we also need to consider the angle that the whole box seems like a shout out to the vintage Rogue Trader — and to the craziness of those days. So it seems perfectly appropriate when some of the creatures reflect some of those vintage sensibilities.  Besides, every chaos player should be happy with this toolkit of monsters and mutants to work with. It’s maybe just that, seeing how the Starstriders work as such a well realised and coherent groups, the mutants fall a little flat in comparison.

III. The Rest

On top of the two kill teams, the boxed set also provides us with some smaller terrain pieces and, I imagine, objectives. These all seem to be beautifully detailed and look like a great match for the new terrain kits. I appreciate the inclusion of consoles and pilot seats, because these could really be useful for all kinds of projects. And I like how the small livepods channel design elements both from the escape pod that’s a part of the 40k objectives set, as well as the larger Space Marine drop pods.

IV. The opportunities

 

Elucidian Starstriders

I think it should be really easy to see how these could be incredible useful for both INQ28 retinues or custom Rogue Trader warbands. Just to outline a few ideas:

  • Elucia works great both as a Rogue Trader or, with some tweaks, as an Inquisitrix. In any case, I would probably replace her face with something a bit more interesting (read: less veiled). Come to think of it, she would also make for a pretty cool commanding officer for a rather baroque and eclectic regiment of the Astra Militarum.
  • Knosso Prond, Sanistaria Minst, Larsen van der Grauss and Stromian Grell would also be perfect for all kinds of Inquisitorial warbands, even without any conversions. They would also work great as specialists for, say, an Astra Militarum army.
  • Voidmaster Nitsch is interesting because his elegant getup turns him into prime material for converting a number of characters: He could be an Interrogator, obviously. Or some kind of Imperial agent. Or a chastener of the Adeptus Arbites. But he would also make a great base model for an Imperial noble or a high-ranking operative of a trading cartel or other Imperial organisation — in fact, I have an idea for an operative for the Mandelholtz Banking House that I think Nitsch would be the perfect base model for…
  • The Voidsmen would make for fantastic Imperial Navy Armsmen, a squad of Hive Cops (or even Arbites), Inquisitorial troopers or a Navigator’s household guard — in fact, we can probably expect to see these guys a lot in the future — trust me on this.

One thing I realise looking at the models is that, since they are so well realised as a coherent group, I almost feel reluctant to think about ways to convert them or cut them up, bar the small tweak here and there. I think that is very much a testament to the quality of the job GW’s sculptors have done on this kill team!

Gellerpox Infected:

  • The Nightmare Hulks would make for perfect chaos spawn, far surpassing the official kit (which really hasn’t aged well).
  • Even though they are all supposed to be – subtly – nurglite, it wouldn’t be much work to turn some of them to the service of the other gods: The Gnasher-Screamer already looks like a servant of Khorne. The Writher’s tentacle look or Big Spike’s claw would work equally well for a Slaaneshi force or warband, given a couple of tweaks.
  • By the same token, Vulgrar Thrice-Cursed, with his crude augmetics, would also be a perfect construct for a Dark Mechanicus-themed force or warband.
  • The Vox-Shamblers are so close in design to both the Plague Bearers and the Poxwalkers that they could work as champions/heralds for either. At the same time, they seem like a perfect template for Necromunda mutants, Scavies or similar, downtrodden creatures.
  • The rest of the various critters would be a cool addition for every Nurgle army, of course, where they could be used both as swarms of vile creatures and to accessorise special characters and champions.
  • At the same time, they would also work really well as hazards, enemies or obstacles in games of Necromunda, as they perfectly recall some of the various critters and hazards from the old Necromunda tables 😉

All in all, this boxed set is a fantastic way to experience both kill team as well as the particular eclecticism of 40k as a background! The Elucian Starstriders are a wonderful achievement, and I applaud GW for creating them! The Gellerpox Infected are a fun and versatile menagerie of monsters to be used in various ways (and settings). And even if I would have preferred another kill team as well realised as the Starstriders, the box as a whole is still a wonderful little surprise. And best of all, it also recalls the vintage Rogue Trader and its inherent weirdness in all the right ways for that extra nostalgia bonus — after several decades of releases, it does seem like GW has, in a way, come full-circle with this release!

At the same time, the set is exciting not only for its contents, but for how it represents GW’s willingness to explore well-loved but underutilised parts of the lore and background. At this point, even Inquisitorial retinues and releases for them probably wouldn’t be out of the question. And even if this should be a one-shot, it’s a wonderful way to explore the grimdarkness of the far future beyond the well-trod paths of massive battles and twenty different flavours of SPESS MEHREENZ 😉

So what’s your take on this release? Do you agree with me or do you find fault with my points? And what are your ideas for the models from this boxed set? I would love to hear from you in the comments section! 🙂

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