So here we are with part two of this mini-series centered around Angron, the Lord of the XII Legion, and today I would like to focus on my interpretation of Angron in his post-ascension form as a Daemon-Primarch (a project already teased in my last post). Now it may seem counter-intuitive to deal with this last and (canonically) latest version of Angron first, but I have long stopped wondering about when and how inspiration strikes, electing instead to just go with the flow. And in this particular case, there was ample inspiration to be had, indeed — but we’ll be getting to that in a minute!
Let me start by telling you that this particular project has been long in the making. It actually started over a year ago, when I received a second plastic Bloodthirster as a gift. Back then, my first Bloodthirster (bought immediately upon the new kit’s release) had already been assembled, and I didn’t really want to merely build another one. But I also didn’t want to just put the kit away into my cupboard of shame, so my mind started wandering…would it actually be possible to build a version of Daemon-Primarch Angron using this kit…?
Following my usual approach, I started by doing lots of research. And a huge part of this progress was to check out what had come before. Like this guy:
Angron by Wade Pryce
Wade Pryce’s Angron conversion, based on the old metal Bloodthirster. Now for those of you who don’t know Wade’s army, it’s easily one of the most spectacular 40k World Eaters armies of all time, and one that played a huge part for creating the concept of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt, when I got back into the hobby. And true to the quality of his World Eaters, Wade served as a trailblazer once again with his Angron conversion, being just about the first hobbyist with the actual audacity to tackle such a project.
Now while the model may seem a bit dated, given the ever escalating quality of models we have been seeing over the last years, it still remains important in that it serves as a proof of concept that Daemon-Primarch Angron is possible in model form — to wit, Wade’s model basically served as GW’s quasi-official 40k Angron for quite a while, even being featured on their homepage until fairly recently.
Speaking of official models, there was that hokey Epic 40k model of Angron, of course:
image source: SOLegends
But seriously, it didn’t feel like I could take lots of inspiration from this guy, right? Keep this particular model in mind, however, as we’ll be encountering him in the unlikeliest place before this is over…
I. Research and main inspiration
But anyway, GW wouldn’t be a big help here, at least not when it came to models. So I turned to the hobbyists, and while Daemon-Primarch Angron certainly isn’t a super-popular subject for converters so far, there are some conversions of him floating around. Among this, some seemed especially noteworthy to me due to their quality: VonKessler’s truly monstrous Angron was quite stunning, as was Rumplemaster’s Angron. I am also a fan of this version of Angron in Daemon-Primarch form by Renaes, while we are on the subject — but while all three versions are very cool and rather inspiring, they all use very different base models from the Bloodthirster I had chosen as my starting point.
And then there was Reg, French hobbyist extraordinaire, who, I was flabbergasted to find out, is responsible for more than a dozen different Angron conversions (don’t believe me? Go check up on him — I’ll be waiting). But what’s more, his Angron conversions are among the best interpretations of the character you can find online. And when I recently saw this latest Angron from Reg on CMON, based on the Bloodthirster, no less, I was simply blown away:
Bloodthirster-based Angron conversion by Reg
Seriously, this is probably the best Daemon-Primarch Angron I have seen so far, and really, really close to my own interpretation of the character! A part of me actually hated Reg for having come up with this before me — where was the point in even starting my own project now? But then I calmed myself and started to think and plan and throw around bitz, and while I would be using this as one of my main inspirations and …erm “borrow” quite a few ideas from it, there were also some things that I wanted to do slightly differently. Plus I wanted to incorporate some different sources as well.
The second major inspiration for my own Angron conversion was what I believe is the only official atrwork to date depicting Daemon Primarch Angron, a piece by Alex Boyd (who was obviously channelling his inner John Blanche when painting this piece):
Daemon Primarch Angron by Alex Boyd
I understand this artwork originally appeared in the Visions of Heresy artbooks, but I first saw it back when it appeared in White Dwarf, accompanying some rules for using Angron in games of Apocalypse.
I think it goes without saying that Reg seems to have taken quite a few cues from this piece of art (as did Rumplemaster). And both have come up with models that are looking wildly different from one another while also both being reasonable interpretations of the art. Because what’s really rather amazing about the illustration is that the style is loose and painterly enough to be up to interpretation to a certain degree.
I also really, really love how the art features callbacks to Angron’s human form, as depicted by John Blanche and Wayne England (see my previous post): The three-spiked crest above Angron’s head, the curved shoulder pads and the axe are all elements drawn from those earlier pieces of artwork. The axe, in particular, seems like a daemonic version of the huge two-handed axe appearing in the earlier Horus Heresy artwork, decorative wing ornament and all. What a brilliant sense of continuity!
So I chose this illustration as my second main influence when building and painting my own Angron. But there was one more source that became a major influence:
MINOR SPOILERS for “The Emperor’s Gift” follow!
The description of post-ascension Angron that appeared in Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s “The Emperor’s Gift”
„And there it was. Behind the diseased humidity and stench of fresh blood: a shadow that stained the horde’s core. It rose from the wreckage of a temple, spreading monstrous wings to the sky.
One of my brothers breathed the words +Throne of the Emperor.+ It may have even been me.
Bone and ceramite armoured its sweating flesh in equal measure, while its skin was a scorched and cracked display of inhuman red meat, strained by pulsing veins of black iron. A thrashing mane of dreadlocked cables rose from the back of its malformed head in a daemonic crest. Some became brass chains ending in bound skulls. Others were connected to the creature’s ornate bronze-scale armour.“
It turned its eyes to us. The skeletal landscape of its face turned with a slowness I could only describe as bestial, but it most definitely saw us. The coal pits of its eyes steamed as blood bubbled and boiled in the thing’s swollen tear ducts. Slowly – still so very slowly – its jaws opened to reveal a quivering tongue the colour of spoiled meat, with pinkish saliva roping and stretching between rows of sharkish teeth.“
So these were my main sources when planning the conversion. And they provided me with many ideas and cool influences, turning this into a very enjoyable, if challenging, conversion.
II. Getting started
After assembling all the ideas and bitz I needed, I started by putting together the plastic Bloodthirster’s body. I had already done this once with my first Bloodthirster, so this part was easy work. I knew that I wanted to change the look of the model as much as possible, however, and the main area of interest to sell the conversion as Angron would be the head. So that’s where I started the proper conversion — with a very early, slightly ridiculous looking mockup made from poster tack:
Based on the various descriptions and depictions of Daemon-Primarch Angron, I decided that the standard “human” Bloodthirster face would work perfectly as a base for the conversion. However, I wanted to make two substantial changes to it: One, open the jaws far wider than on the stock model, for that extra bit of madness and body horror. And two, elongating the neck protion quite a bit, both to change the silhouette of the model and to make room for the mutated cables and tendrils representing Angron’s “Butcher’s Nails” implants.
Early during this step, I decided to lose the smaller horns and ears on the stock face, because I really wanted to make the head look different than the standard Bloodthirster face. I also wanted to draw more attention to the sculpted area of the head, but this also meant I would have to come up with some decent sculpting, which seemed like a pretty daunting task. But I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, so I started by using some GS to build up the basic shape of the head and neck:
Admittedly, the model didn’t look like much at this point, and I was briefly afraid of having ruined a pretty expensive kit. But when I tentatively posted these early WIPs on various forums, people immediately recognised the model as a WIP Angron and seemed very enthusiastic — phew! 😉
Another part of “The Emperor’s Gift” refers to Angron’s “saurian head”, and I liked the idea that an elongated head gave him a bit of a reptilian look without completely superseding the human origins of the character.
The next part of the conversion was to build up several parts of the model at the same time: More and more cables were added to the head, some of them GW bitz (all the cables from the Space Marine Centurions really came in handy here), while others were sculpted from GS using a fine-tooth comb and lots of patience (thanks to a neat tip from fellow hobbyist Mechanist). At the same time, I also added the various planned armour plates to Angron’s body. Here’s what the model looked like a short while later:
My original plan was to use the Ogre Bull gut plates resembling the World Eaters’ legion badge as kneepads (to emulate the kneepads of Forgeworld’s Angron model), but then I realised that the gut plate also worked really well in its intended function, providing a piece of armour that fit very well while also differentiating the model further from the stock Bloodthirster.
As for the spiked crest you can see above Angron’s head, that is a shout out to several pieces of artwork, as there was always a three-spiked crest above Angron’s head in the older artwork, both in his mortal and immortal incarnation. However, Simon Egan’s Angron model has slightly redesigned this element into a World Eaters symbol framed by what seems curiously like a chaos star. Therefore, I felt that would be cool to hint at the updated design, and so I used a part from the WFB warshrine of chaos as a crest.
The shoulder pads were a part that confounded me for quite a while, and I also felt that this was the part where many Angron conversion, even the truly excellent ones, faltered, trying to add pauldrons made from GS that ended up looking slightly too gooey and awkward.
After much consideration, I discovered some chaos shields from Maxmini.eu which Augustus b’Raass had sent me a while ago in my bitzbox, and they really seemed like an excellent compromise, recalling the pauldrons in the art while also fitting the Bloodthirster model surprisingly well (and featuring the same amount of detail as the rest of the armour plates):
The most involved part of the conversion was to keep adding more and more cables to the head, and this also took far more patience than I normally have. But I forced myself to work in several sessions and kept adding more and more detail to build up the head. You may notice the cables’ different textures. This was a conscious choice, as I wanted to capture the feeling of various cables at various stages of “transformation”, for lack of a better word: There are the more slender, clearly metallic cables, slightly thicker cables that already have a distinctly organic look (and somewhat more gooey texture) and, finally, fleshy tendrils that no longer really look like cables at all. I wanted this ensemble to look like the nails had actually become a part of Angron’s very being upon his ascension, and I planned to underline this even further during the painting stage.
So with the model’s body finally taking shape, this was also the right moment to think about the weapon I wanted Angron to wield. Canonically, Daemon-Primarch Angron is armed with the Black Blade, a massive daemonsword forged for him during the Heresy by Vel Kheredar, at the behest of Lorgar.
Coming up with a suitable blade would have been a rather neat challenge (I considered Nagash’s sword for a while, or the sword from the Nemesis Dreadknight), but the longer I thought about it, the more I realised that I really wanted to incorporate that huge axe that appears both in the early Horus Heresy artwork and in Alex Boyd’s illustration.
I knew from looking at Reg’s model that this could work really well, using one of the Bloodthirster axes. However, I diverged from his design by using the big, two-handed axe rather than one of the smaller ones. Here’s the finished, slightly tweaked axe:
The haft was shortened and straightened a bit to make the axe seem slightly less unwieldy (I also thought the crooked haft did look slightly silly). And I definitely needed that huge wing ornament on the axe head — I took inspiration from Reg’s model here, using a wing from a Dark Vengeance Ravenwing bike and gluing it to the axe.
So here’s a mockup of Angron holding the weapon:
And as you can see in the pictures, there’s also a little something in Angron’s right hand: This is perhaps the second rather substantial difference from Reg’s amazing version: I really wanted to do something with the empty hand, and it seemed like the perfect chance to incorporate another shout out to Alex Boyd’s illustration: The artwork shows Angron gripping an unlucky Astartes, probably an Ultramarine, in his off-hand, so I chose to create a similar effect on my own model. A Grey Knight would have been an interesting alternative, but I ultimately chose an Ultramarine, both as a callback to the art and because using a Grey Knight would have “dated” the model:
You see, Angron was one of the first Primarchs to ascend to daemonhood, during the Mid-Heresy. Yet at the same time, it stands to reason that his appearance as a Daemon-Primarch would still be roughly the same several millennia later. So using an Ultramarine here would ultimately allow me to use the model both for 30k and 40k (as a piece linking together the two versions of my World Eaters, if you will), which I thought was a pretty nifty bonus!
Towards this end, I tried to make the Ultramarine’s armour look like it could have originated during the Heresy, mainly using Mk IV components:
I do realise that gory trophies like these can be a bit of a divisive feature, but I chose to cut the Ultamarine apart at the waist, showing how Angron must have torn his opponent in half moments earlier. I think having an entire Astartes dangling from his fist would have ended up looking rather awkward, so the legs will appear on the base. I tried to keep the splatter factor pretty low though, avoiding lots of dangling innards and limiting myself to a barely visible spine and one coiled rope of entrails:
My take is that the Marine is still alive, by the way, if only just barely — “Only in death…”, and all that: I reckon this guy has one last swing left in him, not that it’ll do him any good. This is also the reason while he is still facing towards Angron:
So with both hands completed, it was time to attach the wings and add the final details before the conversion was ready for paint:
The most important part to tidy up was the head, although I found I didn’t even want to add lots and lots of additional cables, as I was really rather happy with the way it looked. In addition to the cables, some small chains and several skulls (both from the Empire Flagellant kit) were nestled in between all the cabling and fleshy tendrils, in keeping with both the art and ADB’s description. As for the face itself, the two final additions were some gruesome spikes on each cheek and some studs carefully added to the forehead, both as a way of approximating similar elements appearing in the artwork:
And there was one last “special effect” that I wanted to add to the model: Because I had made such a lot of changes to the model’s head, there was no way to use the crest of fur that normally runs down the stock Bloodthirster’s head. So I used this area to add another detail differentiating my Angron conversion from the stock ‘Thirster, while also serving as a shout out to my plastic Angron conversion.
As you might remember, my plastic Angron kept the exposed spine from the Slaughterpriest model:
Now I thought it would be a cool, if somewhat grisly, in-joke to use the same element on my Daemon-Primarch Angron, so I used the big spine from the AoS Bloodsecrator of Khorne and some GS to create this:
And with those final additions, the conversion was finished. Let’s take a look at how the model looked before painting:
Here’s a comparison picture showing Angron next to my Bloodthirster: Considering the fact that it’s basically the same model, I do think I’ve done a reasonable job of making the conversion look different:
All in all, I am really extremely happy with the conversion: While it’s very obvious that I have taken a fair bit of inspiration from Reg’s Angron conversion, I also think that I’ve made enough tweaks on the formula for my model to be able to stand on its own. At the same time, I also feel the model is a pretty fair, if not 100% picture-perfect, representation of Alex Boyd’s artwork, even if I’ve had to switch hands on my model, for the sake of practicality:
I am particularly happy with the face and head:
Yup, looks like Daemon-Primarch Angron to me 😉
Now, do you still remember that silly Epic 40k version of Angron shown at the beginning of this post? Now what if I tell you that my buddy Biohazard is currently working on his own version of Daemon-Primarch Angron (because the both of us seem to be having a bit of an Angron conversion arms race going on at the moment), and his version is actually based on that Epic 40k model?
It is also completely awesome:
Daemon-Primarch Angron conversion by Biohazard
As you can see, Biohazard’s even arming Angron with the proper Black Blade, having made a fantastic kitbash utilising the Nemesis Dreadknight’s sword. I love the fact how we’ve chosen to build the same character and use the same stock model, yet our respective interpretations should end up looking wildly different! Keep track of Biohazard’s brilliant conversion work here.
As for my own version, there was one last test to pass: We are all prepared to cut a conversion some slack while it’s still in different shades of grey and green, but the truly magic moment comes when it’s all brought together by the same colour — or not. So it was with some nervousness that I spraypainted the entire model black:
And yet with only the black undercoat in place, I think it’s already obvious how the different parts of the head (and, by extension, the conversion) merge together fairly seamlessly, wouldn’t you agree?
Once again, the armour plates were being kept seperate during the painting process, in order to make painting easier and avoid hard to reach nooks and crannies:
Right, time to get this bad boy painted, eh? 😉
So stay tuned for the next part of this series, when I’ll be walking you through the painting process. Until then, I’d really love to hear your feedback on the conversion so far and my working process for this project! And a heartfelt thank you to all those who have provided the necessary inspiration – or bitz – for this particular project!
And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!