Archive for kill team

State of the Hunt, week 41/2019: Meanwhile, Blood for the Blood God!

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob, state of the hunt, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2019 by krautscientist

In between all of the shadowy, Inquisitorial dealings, I had an appetite for something a little more blunt and straightforward, just as a little snack, so to speak. And what could be more straightforward than a follower of Khorne? “Chainaxe to the head”-types, all of them. So for this week’s update, I have some World Eaters to share with you!

A while ago, I talked about the models for a possible World Eaters killteam – codenamed “The Hateful Eight” for now – and showed you some of the possible models for it, some of them brand new, and some refurbished earlier conversions of mine. And it’s from this last category that I chose my two models for today:

To get things started, I chose a model that I built years ago. This gentleman here:

It’s one of my unpainted conversions that I feel still hold up next to the new CSM models, so it seemed like a good moment to finally put some paint on the guy. Oh, and to be fair, the model did get a new axe while I was at it. Anyway, I quickly made good progress with the paintjob:

One of the things I really want to push with my new batch of World Eaters is a certain variety of skin tones, at least where unhelmeted heads and bare arms are concerned: The World Eaters are, canonically, an ethnically diverse legion that recruited from many different homeworlds during the Great Crusade (and probably still does, given the scavenger nature of most traitor legions in the 40k timescale). Only my World Eaters never bore out that diversity because I would always use the same, greyish skin tone for all of my older models — pretty effective as far as paint schemes go, but seeing how I am trying to evolve my painting for these new models, it seemed like the perfect excuse to experiment with a wider set of skin tones as well. So I went with black skin on this model, and I am very happy with the result — even moreso because the recipe was almost laughably simple: Just basecoat with GW Doombull Brown, wash with a Fleshtone and mix the base colour with a bit of white for the highlights — done! I also used the highlight colour to add some nicks and scratches to the face to suggest old scars.

One thing that was really surprising to me was how adding the backpack really made this model: It should be such a trivial thing, really, but in this case, it’s what really makes the model read as an Astartes: With the backpack in place, it has the silhouette and bulk it needs:


After this, it was mostly a matter of cleaning up some minor areas, add a bit of Tamiya Clear Red here and there and finish the base. So here’s the finished World Eater, finally painted at long last:






The next model I decided to tackle is also a neglected conversion, although a more recent one: The model was created using a Blood Warrior from the Age of Sigmar 1st edition starter box, the legs from the CSM Vrash Tattersoul model and a couple of additional chaos bitz (chief among them a Raptor chainsword arm):


It’s a conversion I am really fond of, if I do say so myself, maybe because it’s almost a bit of a shout out to the classic early 90s metal berzerker champions that would always have some kind of running pose going on 😉

Anyway, with the success of the first model still fresh on my mind, I quickly got to work. Here’s the second World Eater, with the base colours already mostly blocked in:


And here’s the finished model:







I am maybe a bit too in love with the model right now, but it’s honestly really close to what I think a 40k World Eater should look like: a massive, baroque monster in serrated crimson warplate.

So here are the next two members of “The Hateful Eight” — it really feels great to have crossed two more items off my list of long neglected models, and I am also really happy with the result:


Incidentally, both models definitely count for Azazel’s current “Neglected October” challenge — and by virtue of the Ork skull on his base (and because berzerkers will slay anything that moves), the second guy also very much counts for his “Orcslayer” theme as well — teehee 😉

So here are the three new Khorne Berzerkers/World Eaters legionaries I have painted so far using this new approach:


Now if you add my counts-as Huron Blackheart (now officially named “Euron Hearteater”, by the way — cheers to fellow hobbyist AHorriblePerson for the suggestion!), the batch of “new” World Eaters is slowly starting to look a bit more substantial:

So what’s next for the Hateful Eight? I think I’ll be working on these two models next:


Interestingly enough, both conversions were inspired by pieces of artwork: I created the model on the left after seeing this illustration by Diego Gisbert Llorens,…

illustration by Diego Gisbert Llorens

…whereas the guy on the right is obviously a recreation of Mark Gibbons’ seminal piece of artwork (as previously discussed).

 

But those guys are a story for a different time (and my subject matter for a coming painting session, I guess). For now, I would love to hear your thoughts on the new models, so please 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!

Berzerker (R)evolution

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2019 by krautscientist

After last week saw me complete a World Eaters Dreadnought, today another member of the XII legion muscles his way to the front of the queue — so what is this about?

The recent Chaos Space Marines release has been a bit of a bittersweet affair for me. Sweet, of course, because the models are obviously brilliant, and such a long overdue reworking of some rather ancient kits. At the same time, however, the added size of the new CSM makes a rather big part of my World Eaters look pretty runtish. There’s also the fact that I don’t see myself revamping the entire army anytime soon — or, in fact, ever: I’m not sure I still have it in me to build and paint huge 40k armies, as I am much more interested in smaller, bite-sized challenges like INQ28 retinues or single pieces that appeal to me. And yet I did of course want to get in on some sweet chaotic action — so what was I to do?

The best possible approach was to start by purchasing some new plastic crack, of course, so I hot myself a box of vanilla Chaos Space Marines and Havocs each (I just couldn’t resist the massive, brutal look of the Havocs, even if rules don’t even interest me all that much at this point). And I began some preliminary experimentation.

Now as many of you will already know from firsthand experience, the new CSM are noticeably taller than the older models, and that makes quite a few of my chaos models look rather weird next to the new guys. Unfortunately, this includes a fair bit of my still unpainted stuff. So the first order of the day was to find out which of my more recent (unpainted) chaos models were still salvageable. In order to find out, I quickly poster-tacked together one of the new models to serve as a point of reference:

Keep this guy in mind — we’ll be seeing more of him shortly…

This guy was mostly built straight out of the box — although, as you can see, I couldn’t help adding a Caedere Remissum helmet crest, even at this early hour — more on that particular design decision later…

Using the new guy as a point of reference, I was lucky enough to find some models that might still work.

There’s my WIP Iron Warriors kill team, for starters:

Now this project was started before Kill Team was even a thing (again), so I mostly played it by ear back then, and built models that appealed to me from a visual standpoint. At the same time, I did try to go beyond the look of vanilla CSM with this project, so most of the models (except for the one tester lurking in the back whom you may safely ignore) were mostly based on Chose models from the Dark Vengeance boxed set. And while the models are still a bit shorter than the new CSM, they don’t look too out of place. Two Iron Warriors remain unpainted, but have already been built, as you can see, and after that, I think I’ll be adding a heavy weapons specialist (built from one of the new kits), add a few suitably IW-themed cultists and call it a day. The finished team should hopefully still work well enough. And KiIl Team, with its smaller model count and potential larger focus on individual characters (and models) appeals more to me than standard 40k at this point.

But where does that leave my World Eaters?

Well, the good news is that I found some guys that should still work rather well in this new, upscaled world. Take a look:

Once again, most of these conversions were heavily based on the Dark Vengeance Chosen, so they still work fairly well (even though they are just a tad shorter than the new models):

I also think that coming up with a really cool World Eaters Kill Team (code name “The Hateful Eight”) should be a very rewarding project in and of itself. If that prompts me to keep building and painting World Eaters for 40k proper afterwards, so much the better. But for now, I want to explore the new kits and use them to build some of the best World Eaters I can come up with — at least that’s the plan.

That being said, the new kits turn this into an interesting challenge, because many well established conversion recipes may not work anymore due to the slightly changed scale (many stock arms, for instance, just seem too short on the new models. As do the chaos marauder arms I have used many times to create the classic “bare arm” World Eaters look). So my first little project was to find out how to make the new vanilla CSM look more like World Eaters, so I started to mess around with a couple of bitz:

The good news is that most older helmets and shoulder pads should still work fairly well — this includes some of the older FW shoulder pads (as seen here with the pauldrons from the berzerker conversion kits. They torso pieces from the same kit, however, are right out).

But I also wanted to do something slightly more involved for my first test model, and after looking for a while at a Blood Warrior chest piece, I got a bit more creative:

Some of the new breastplates are still a bit bland, to be honest, so I decided to splice in some Khornate goodness: I carefully cut through the torso front just above the abdomen as seen in the picture above.

The Blood Warrior breastplate (seen on the left) fit with just the slightest fraction of shaving. However, there was a huge gap underneath it that, while not directly visible when looking at the model from the front, still made it obvious that the torso was hollow. So I used a bit of GS to create a small lip, like this:

Then the Blood Warriors breastplate was simply glued on. The GS plugged the gap, and the new torso works really well, what with the cabling on the abdominal section and everything:


Granted, the whole assembly seemed a little less convincing when seen from the side:

But most of this should end up being covered by the arms anyhow — I merely added some GS to create a straight surface for the arms to attach to.

Here’s a mockup of the entire body:

Now I was really pleased with myself at this point about how clever a conversion I had created. However, I only realised after completing this particular conversion that to replace the breastplate like that would have been even easier on some of the other bodies from the kit, because those already have the breastplates and abdominal section separated from the get-go. Oh well, we live and learn… 😉

Anyway, a short while later, I had my first World Eaters test model made with the new CSM kit:


I think there’s something so malevolent about this guy’s pose — like a predator stalking its prey…

Of course I decided that I would need to get this chap painted right away, so I adapted the colour scheme I had used for my recent Chaos Dreadnought for use on the smaller model and used quite a bit of time to make sure to get the paintjob just right…

Once again, brighter reds and oranges were used both for edge higlights, but also to create scratches and scuff marks, in order to make the armour look pitted and ancient, and to suggest a texture to the whole warplate.

Oh, I also included a shout-out to Wade Pryce’s World Eaters, one of my biggest inspirations when I got back into the hobby: The stylised legion badge was very much inspired by the way Wade used to paint the World Eaters symbol.

Anyway, to make a long story short, allow me to share my first finished World Eaters test model created using the new CSM kit, fully painted and based:








I did decide to include a bit of blood on the chainsword, using Tamiya Clear Red to create the effect:

And here’s another peak at that legion badge inspired by Wade Pryce’s old models:

And here’s a pretty nice shot (if I do say so myself) of the new World Eater next to Argus the Brazen:

Now as for the evolution of my berzerker painting scheme and, indeed, my Khorne berzerkers, I have prepared a little comparison shot to show you the evolution, as it were:

On the left is one of the first Khorne Berzerkers I painted back in 1998 or so, back when the plastic kit was released. These guys still saw use in my modern army, mostly because I was too lazy to replace them. Next in line is the first World Eater I painted when getting back into the hobby after a longer hiatus, in 2010, but using a slightly tweaked recipe. The third guy was an experiment on replacing the – by then OOP – Blood Red with Mephiston Red, but back then I wasn’t quite happy with the effect. And there’s my brand new little guy — maybe this time I have finally managed to nail the recipe? What do you guys think?

I also took a couple of scale comparison pictures, just to illustrate my earlier point about the new kit making most of the classic catalogue look rather tiny.  The difference is not equally pronounced between all CSM: For instance, the DV Chosen are just a tad shorter than the new CSM, but it’s not too obvious. Old CSM models, however, just look really awkward next to the new guys, at least if untweaked. Take a look:

Almost a little painful to look at, isn’t it? 😉 The new Marine just seems much taller — and indeed he is. Now here’s a comparison with an old model that was nevertheless a  slightly more involved kitbash:

This comparison is interesting because it shows off both the evolution of my painting recipe, as well as the fact that the legs from the new kit are quite a bit longer, the torso is broader, and the backpack no longer dominated the entire model as much. It’s especially obvious when looking at the back of the models:

Next up, another round of comparisons with some taller models:

For starters, here’s my new World Eater next to Brother Arcturus Diomedes, based on a Primaris marine:

As you can see, the new CSM are not quite as tall as Primaris Marines, but they are closed (and could be used as true scale models opposite Primaris in a pinch).

And here’s a comparison with one of the wonderful converted World Eaters my buddy Augustus b’Raass sent me earlier this year:

Augustus’ model was created using older part, but it’s heavily converted and built to be taller than a standard CSM, so you barely notice the difference in height. So that’s the good news for those hobbyists with highly customised and converted chaos armies, I suppose — your guys still look good, in spite of the scale creep 😉

Also, don’t get me wrong: Ultimately I would say the new scale is for the best — it finally gives the Chaos Space Marines the stature they deserve, because unlike their loyalist counterparts, they have skipped one or two rounds of scale creep. By the same token, however, the change is so significant that it presents a couple of challenges to chaos players now, but those can definitely be overcome. In fact, I would say that to figure out how best to use the new kits and how to work around the changes in scale seems like just the kind of creative challenge that should delight chaos players all over the world!

For now, I am pretty happy with my first test model, and I am actually looking forward to painting a couple of World Eaters again — who would have expected that, eh? Anyway, I would be happy to hear your thoughts on the new model, of course, so please leave a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more! 🙂

State of the Hunt, Week 52/2018: Going viral

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2018 by krautscientist

First of all, I hope everyone’s had a very merry Christmas! For my part, I have been far too lazy – AGAIN! -, spending most of my time eating, sleeping, catching up with the family and obsessively making my way through God of War for the Playstation 4. Still, I do have a new post to share with you — even if it’s just an intermession before the next part of this year’s Eternal Hunt Awards — the truth is, I mostly wanted to make sure the models I want to share with you today are counted for Azazel’s “Dauntless-Diabolical-December” community challenge. I do realise I am bending the rules of the challenge a bit, but if nothing else, these models are certainly rather diabolical (and maybe also a little dauntless?!). So what is this about?

One of the hobby projects that didn’t take off this year quite the way I had hoped was my work on some Death Guard models: I’ve been sitting on a – small – Death Guard army ever since fellow hobbyist BubblesMcBub let me have most of the Nurglite models from the Dark Imperium box, and while I have done lots of conversions here and there, the army really hasn’t started to materialise yet.

Maybe a part of the problem was that I was still lacking an underlying concept, an intellectual handhold on the whole project, so to speak. Like most chaos players, I have a huge fondness for Nurgle, because it’s just brilliant fun to experiment with decay, rot, body horror — the whole works 😉

But it was always difficult for me to envision the Death Guard and Nurgle’s servants as actual characters, rather than a mere concept. What is their end-game? Do they still think at all? Or are they too far gone already, due to their many “gifts”? I just couldn’t quite wrap my head around it all.

But then several sources of inspiration helped me tremendously. One was Chris Wraight’s novel “The Lords of Silence”, chronicling the exploits of the eponymous Death Guard warband and providing a very cool look at the interior workings of the legion. Even more importantly, it explores the Death Guard mindset in what often seems like a couple of throwaway lines:

“Golkh limps. One of his legs is wasted away within its armour-shell, yet still supports his considerable bulk. The bones are shot to powder, the muscles are a stringy mess, and yet he still walks. Such mysteries.”

This short passage perfectly encapsulates a pretty cool angle on the Death Guard legionnaires: their stoicism, their grim acceptance of their various “gifts”, but also their bemused wonder at their own existence and the extent of their corruption.

Anthony Reynold’s Word Bearers short story “Vox Dominus” was another invaluable source: The Death Guard makes an appearance here, and without giving too much away, the story provides a perfect explanation for the jolliness of Nurgle’s servants: They are basically laughing at the giant joke they alone are in on. That the galaxy’s ultimate fate will be to become a part of Nurgle’s realm, a fate they tirelessly work to make a reality:

“The Blightwood grows!”

Which made me come right back to a concept DexterKong originally came up with for for our shared Velsen Sector adventurescape: That of  a Nurglite cult, the “Cult of the Eternal Garden”, as it were, operating from a Daemon World called “The Compost” and trying to spread their decay throughout the sector. Anthony Reynold’s story basically gave me the missing link between those early ideas and the Garden of Nurgle: What if the cult’s operatives wanted to bring about realspace manifestations of a realm they refer to as “The Blightwood” or “The Eternal Garden” and that is, in fact, Nurgle’s Garden? Maybe their entire mission began with *teehee* a “freak gardening accident”, in that it was the result of a mutated genetic strain originally designed to wield bigger crops or hasten the growth cycle of Imperial agri-worlds, yet all it did was to plunge plant and animal life on the planet into a perpetual pandemonium of decay, death and rebirth, turning it into a perfect conduit for the Eternal Garden.

The members of the cult want to be like “gardeners” for the sector: Like a gardener prunes the branches of trees and shapes the garden, so do they want to shape the sector. There may be all kinds of tools at their disposal, from hazardous substances and plague germs to plants bearing the original mutated strain of genes that brought the Compost to its current state. One of the cult’s most powerful weapons, then, would be their attempt to let their twisted and warp tainted plants take root in the soil of other worlds (to transform them into hellscapes on par with the Compost). They would be eco-terrorists turned up to eleven, if you will.

This provided me with a whole angle of modeling and painting ideas: Seeing how the cult may have originated within some kind of Imperial research institution, cult members would be wearing the remains of hazmat suits, medicae gowns and lab coats. At the same time, their armament and mutations could also be used to represent their self-chosen fate as Nurgle’s gardeners.

What’s more, the project could really start out as an INQ28 warband, allowing me to explore some ideas, and ultimately spiral outwards into a 40k kill team — or even an entire Death Guard army, possibly?

Thus invigorated, I began experimenting on the first members of the (slightly renamed) Keepers of the Eternal Garden:

First up, I had some fun with a Poxwalker, because I realised that the project really hinged about making stuff like the skin and mutationst look suitably disgusting. And I found a pretty nice recipe that uses lots of washes to achieve the intended effect, which also turns it into a fairly quick affair: My first test model was finished after 45 minutes to an hour, tops:



The skin is mostly my usual skin recipe (Rakarth Flesh, washed with Ogryn Flesh, then a selective application of Druchii Violet and Carroburg Crimson), only turned up to eleven. The horns were washed with Athonian Camoshade. The boils and blisters were picked out in Yriel Yellow, then covered in thinned-down (!) Clear Red/Blood for the Blood God. Oh, and I painted the pants orange to suggest the remains of a hazmat suit, as mentioned above — of course I would be remiss not to mention the fact that the look also borrows a lot from the Infected from the Lesotho 2-12 project.

Anyway, working on this first model was so much fun that I kept painting the next two test models. Here’s what I had after a while:


In the picture, the three models are at different steps of the painting process: The guy on the left is all but finished, the one in the middle still needs some detail work, while the Plague Bearer has only been washed. At the same time, they also form different steps in the (d)evolution from a human cult member/cult victim to an undying servant of Nurgle (and also, a living incarnation of the Blightwood), as horrible branches start to erupt from the victim’s body, an actual manifestation of the Eternal Garden made flesh.

So here are the next two test models, fully finished:



As you can see, the first model is still wearing the last tattered scraps of a medicae gown…

For the Plague Bearer, I actually wanted to experiment with using a fairly organic skin colour, mostly to make him look like the nect evolutionary step for the cult members — something that I believe is already hinted at rather strongly by some of the design cues on the Poxwalker models:


I might tweak the skin tone a bit or experiment with slightly different hues on future Plague Bearers, though.

I am currently working on the next batch of Poxwalkers. Another ten have already been assembled/converted, while I have about another half-dozen still on sprue.


Nearly all of these have been tweaked in some way: In some cases, this just meant twisting some arms a bit or turning a head here and there, to support the already rather contorted, spastic look of the stock models.

In other cases, the changes are a bit more involved:


As you can see, some of the Poxwalkers are now wielding what looks like gardening implements, as an attempt to tie them into the cult’s overall theme (while also giving them a somewhat sinister medieval vibe). The middle guy takes the concept of branches erupting from the infected body to its logical conclusion — there’s probably a daemonic relative of Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis at work here (and I couldn’t resist incorporating some of the inspiration I had taken from The Last of Us).

And since the cult’s activities have managed to attract some attention – or maybe they were being fostered from within the Great Eye in the first place – I also chose to use this as a reason to finally get some paint on those Blightking-based Plague Marines I converted all the way back in 2014, when the Putrid Blightkings were originally released. It felt good to finally give those poor guys some much-deserved attention, and I chose one of them as a test model.

I used my previously established Death Guard recipe, with just a small tweak or two (including the thinned-down Clear Red). The first picture shows the model just after washes:

And here’s the finished model:



I actually surprised myself by painting the tanks on the Plague Marine’s back bright orange — but it’s really a rather good way of creating a shared visual identity between him and the cult members:


And here are the models together, in what may become the germ cell, as it were, of an eventual warband, kill team or Death Guard army:


Oh, and the “new” Plague Marine also works rather well alongside the kitbashed Plague Marine testers I converted shortly before Dark Imperium was released last summer:

As you may already have realised, all of these models are still missing proper bases — this isn’t due to my laziness (or maybe just a little), but rather because it took me a rather long time to come up with a proper idea for a basing approach. Ultimately, I wanted to incorporate the visual motif of Nurgle’s Garden/the Blightwood, only I didn’t quite know how to go about it. Until I saw DuskRaider’s Renegade Knight Irae Throni, with its bold use of colour:

Model built and painted by DuskRaider

Which made me think of the Sea of Corruption, a poisonous yet strangely beautiful ecosystem that appears in Studio Ghibli’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind:


And I would actually love to achieve something like that with my basing. It’s a fairly involved, ambitious plan, however, and one that will take a bit more time to set in motion — certainly a project for the coming year…

Speaking of which, Nurgle is, of course, all about death and rebirth — what better subject to cap off this year’s blogging, wouldn’t you agree? So let me wish you all a Happy New Year, and I’ll be seeing you shortly with the next installment of the Eternal Hunt Awards, a look back at my hobby year!

Until then, I would love to hear any feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

INQ28: Kill Team Ulrach, Move Out!

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2018 by krautscientist

Having completed two more members for my Deathwatch kill team last week, I was only one model away from finishing the project: Last in line was this gentleman here, a Watch-Brother from the Carcharodons Astra I converted earlier this year:

When it came to painting the model, my first port of call was to take another close look at Malcharion’s brilliant Space Sharks with their very prominent tribal trappings (incidentally, I offered Malchy the opportunity to name my Carcharodon, and he kindly provided the character with a name):

Caracharodon Reiver by Malcharion

I wanted to include some of those tribal swirls and decorations, but to a slightly lesser degree. I am not half the painter Malchy is, for one, and I also wanted to keep at least a bit of the rather austere look created by the mostly black armour. I also liked the rather blunt Space Shark painted by Tarvick:

Carcharodon by Tarvick

 

Tarvick’s model also provided me with the perfect approach for painting the model’s skin tone, because I actually spent quite some time thinking about the kind of colour I wanted to achieve. In the lore, Carcharadons are described as having greyish skin, but I decided against simply using grey, mostly because it’s such an uninteresting approach, really — you lose all the small ways of creating a pale, yet still alive, kind of look. So I went for a very pale skin tone (which shows really well when comparing the model to the rest of the kill team, which I’ll be getting to in a minute), with livid scars as a visual contrast.

Here’s a look at a mostly painted model at the end of my first big painting session:

As you can see, I did try to include some of those tribal symbols on the model. Both Malchy’s models and the Carcharodon artwork produced by Forgeworld served as inspiration for this element:

And I also had to freehand the chapter badge, once again. I worked from the most recent incarnation of the Carcharodons’ symbol, as provided, once again, by Forgeworld:

Here’s what I came up with:

When this last photo was taken, the model was already mostly finished. So with the last paintjob for the kill team all but out of the way, all that was left to do was to build and paint some bases for the last three models. I did this all in one go.


I used the design approach established with the previous members of the kill team: For each Marine, there is also a Xenos skull on their base. The Castigator received a T’au skull (as a tongue-in-cheek shout-out to Commissar Molotov’s semi-insistance on keeping T’au characters out of his Dalthus Sector adventurescape). Brother Mikahel Zephon’s base was decorated with a Vespid head, both because I wanted a bit of variety across the squand and because it was a pretty nice bit. And Brother Komoharai Tetangi’s base saw the addition of a massive jawbone, to hint at the incredible kind of xenos horrors he might have fought in the outer dark beyond the known galaxy.

I also used the opportunity to add the last tweaks and cleanup work to the models’ respective paintjobs. And then the last three members of the kill team were finished at last. So here are some proper detail pictures of the three models. First up, meet Brother Trythus Anteas of the Castigators:







Commissar Molotov ended up providing me with the inspiration for the character’s name, by the way — just as intended 😉

Next up, Brother Mikahel Zephon of the Lamenters:





In this case, the model’s name is a shout out to my fellow hobbyist and good buddy Augustus b’Raass, who donated the Primaris Marine used for the conversion. Cheers again, buddy! 🙂

And finally, Brother Komoharai Tetangi of the Carcharodons Astra:









Since Brother Tetangi’s armour is almost completely different from the kind of armour worn by the rest of the kill team (and intentionally so, I might add: I wanted him to reflect the chapter’s reliance on the ancient wargear that originated from the time before their “exile”), I had to experiment a bit to fit in all the features I had used on the rest of the kill team — such as the red right knee and =][= symbol. I am really rather happy with the outcome, though! I also had to base Brother Tetangi a bit higher, seeing how he is noticeably shorter than his watch-brothers. Fortunately enough, the difference in height is quite a bit less noticeable now!

And with that, Kill Team Ulrach was finally finished! So without further ado, let’s meet the team!

 

=][=

Kill Team Ulrach

Not bad for a problem that actually began as wanting to paint a single, quintessentially loyalist Astartes back in spring, wouldn’t you agree? I think I may have gotten any itch I might have had to paint loyal Space Marines out of my system forever… 😉

That being said, at the same time I do like the idea of maybe returning to this project at a later date, adding a comms specialist or a medic: Because even though the project was begun before the new kill team rules were even a thing (and even then, mostly as a modeling and painting endeavour), some of the models would fit the Kill Team specialist roles rather nicely, I believe: Brother Anteas could be a Zealot, Brother Diomedes would make for a pretty good Sniper. Zephon is definitely a Heavy, whereas Brother Aren looks every part the Scout. And there are Brother Tetangi as a Comat-specialist and Brother Ulrach as a Leader, obviously.

By the same token, there are also one or two chapters that I might like to explore. Maybe. At a later point…

For now, however, I am calling this kill team finished! So in order to celebrate the occasion, let’s meet each of the members of Kill Team Ulrach in turn. Here we go:

 

Watch-Sergeant Vorlik Ulrach
of the Iron Hands

A grizzled veteran of the Iron Hands, Vorlik Ulrach has been the commander of Kill Team Ulrach for quite some time now. His coldly logical approach to problem solving and ability to remain clinically calm even under extreme duress has seen the kill team succeed against overwhelming odds more than once.

Brother Trythus Anteas
of the Castigators

Second in command of the killteam, Brother Anteas could not be more different in nature from the watch-sergeant: Zealous and aggressive where Ulrach is coldly logical, Anteas is a grimly menacing presence, even to his oath-brothers.

 

Brother Arcturus Diomedes
of the Ultramarines
“Stalwart Diomedes”

One of the younger members of Kill Team Ulrach, Brother Diomedes is nonetheless an exemplar of all the quintessential Astartes traits — as should be expected of an Ultramarine. He is also the kill team’s most talented marksman.

 

Brother Vargo Diaz
of the Crimson Fists
“The Orkslayer”


Having fought against the barbaric greenskins numerous times, Brother Diaz has become a specialist at fighting at close quarters, the better to counter the fighting style of those brutal Xenos: The Orks have learned to fear the mighty swings of his artificer powerfist.

 

Brother Rudisha Aren
of the Celestial Lions

A master tracker and proud warrior. Dressed in a suit of slimmed down tactical insertion armour, Brother Aren is the kill team’s infiltration specialist.

 

Brother Komoharai Tetangi
of the Carcharodons Astra
“The Quiet”

A mysterious, deathly pale Astartes clad in a suit of ancient mongrel plate. Taciturn, save for the curtest replies, uttered in an ancient dialect of High-Gothic, Brother Tetangi transforms into a whirlwind of destruction once the battle is joined.

 

Brother Mikahel Zephon
of the Lamenters
“The Doomsayer”

Brother Zephon is given to the kind of dark brooding that is so often observed in those of his bloodline. In him, this trait manifests as a grim resignedness to what he considers an inescapable fate, turning him into a relentless warrior with little regard for personal safety.

 

So yeah, that’s Kill Team Ulrach — I am actually pretty proud of the finished project, if I do say so myself! A few last observations, if I may:

Fellow hobbyist euansmith pointed out over at the Ammobunker that the squad actually looks pretty colourful for seven guys wearing black armour — and in hindsight, I realise he is correct, of course: They really are rather colourful in that slightly retro-ish, 2nd edition 40k way. Not much of a surprise, really, when the model that kicked off the whole project (the Ultramarine) was very much inspired by the original 54mm Brother Artemis and his classic paintjob:

Speaking of colourful, though, another objective for this project was to explore the kill team members’ respective chapters and backgrounds, and that extended both to typical weapons and decorations as well as different ethnicities. Not only does this make sense from a lore standpoint, but I also really wanted to force myself to step away from just using the same pale caucasian skin tone on every 40k model. So I used this project to experiment with a couple of different skin tones, which was fun and also arguably adds an extra layer of visual complexity to the squad:

Another way to differentiate between the models was the inclusion of their respective chapter heraldries, and I am proud to say that I didn’t skimp on this particular element, trying my best to reproduce the various chapter badges as well as I could:


Two of the shoulder pads simply use a decal. One has sculpted detail. Three designs have been freehanded. And finally, Brother Zephon’s shoulder pad uses a combination of all three approaches 😉

In closing, I also want to give a shout out to fellow hobbyists Commissar Molotov, PDH and Jeff Vader: The Deathwatch has been one of Commissar Molotov’s big long running hobby addictions, it seems, and it has been very educational to watch him use it as a vehicle to explore loyalist Space Marines in their full breadth. PDH and Jeff Vader, meanwhile, have been working on their own respective Deathwatch kill teams this year, and being inspired by their fantastic work – and nicking a bit of inspiration every now and then – has been instrumental in getting Kill Team Ulrach off the ground. So cheers, gentlemen!

So that’s it for today — it goes without saying that I would love to hear any feedback you may have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

State of the Hunt, Week 47/2018: Back on watch duty

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2018 by krautscientist

Having been in a bit of a painting slump recently (after a more than productive first half of the year), I was happy to discover that my recent completion of the “Chibi Knight 2.0” project seems to have returned at least a healthy part of my hobby mojo. So I didn’t lose any time and returned to yet another project that has kept me occupied this year: my true scale, Primaris-based Deathwatch killteam for my INQ28 collection.

It has been a while since the last finished member of the team, to be honest: Here’s where we left off in the summer:


In order to make up some lost time, I decided to have a go at painting the next two members of the killteam back to back. These guys, originally converted a while ago:


On the left is a member of the Castigators, while the Astartes on the right is a Lamenter — in fact, I already started painting them back in August, that is I painstakingly created their respective right shoulder pads, complete with freehand designs. A technique that still makes me nervous, I must say:

Compared with that really fiddly stuff, the rest of the paintjobs was business as usual, really, so I finally got to work.

First in line was the Castigator, a member of Commissar Molotov’s own DIY chapter, included in my killteam as a little shout out to one of the “founding fathers” of the INQ28 movement, as it were:

Incidentally, I had the idea of actually having the model wield a massive whip fairly early on, inspired by some of the artwork from Commissar Molotov’s aforementioned background thread:

When it came to the actual paintjob, I stuck to my established Deathwatch recipe of scratched black armour and a slightly 2nd edition-ish combination of bright reds and golds, and was able to mostly finish the paintjob in an afternoon:

And, a short time later and in much better lighting:






Something I really like about the conversion in hindsight is the helmet: It’s one of the old metal Deathwatch helmets that I simply used both because I wanted to have at least one relatively clean-cut Mk. VII-ish Marine in the kill team, and also because it seemed like a nice shout out to the older Deathwatch parts. I realised during painting that the features of the facemask were a bit sharper and more menacing than your average plastic Mk. VII helmet, which I think really works for the character.


He’s still missing his base and a name — I have actually reached out to Commissar Molotov in order to ask him whether he would like to name the character. It only seems proper, what with the Castigators being his chapter and everything…

While I was waiting for his reply, I began working on the second model, a Lamenter named Brother Mikhael Zephon (the first name’s a shout out to fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass, who was kind enough to donate the Primaris model required for the conversion):

This model was an interesting case in that it was the second member of the killteam to be wearing a helmet and because the massive weapon would shake up my usual Deathwatch approach a bit. Here are some impressions from early during my painting session:

I started with the helmet. The teardrop jewels on the right side of the visor had me slightly nervous, but I was able to come up with a pretty nice result thanks to an excellent painting tutorial over at the Tale of Painters blog.


Now the rather massive frag cannon was a big part of the paintjob, and in order to get it right, I used both GW’s own paintjobs as well as PDH’s Iron Knights Deathwatch operative here as reference material:

Deathwatch operative by PDH

Here’s a shot of the model with the frag cannon already in place (taken, once again, very late in the evening and in fairly poorly lighting conditions):

And here’s what the model looks like right now:


The one area that still requires quite a few finishing touches is his backpack:

But I am already working on it, trying to add the last tweaks and finishing touches to the actual model.

For now, here are the – mostly finished – Castigator and Lamenter:


I am quite happy with the way these are turning out — the Castigator, in particular, has quite a bit of presence, wouldn’t you say? And while I was a bit nervous about that huge gun and equally massive backpack on the Lamenter, everything seems to be coming together rather nicely, if I do say so myself.

Here’s a look at the entire killteam so far:

Once the Lamenter and Castigator have been finished, that leaves me with only the – already converted – Carcharodon as the last prospective member of killteam Ulrach, so this is a project that I might actually be able to wrap up this year 😉

Until then, any feedback you may have is welcome, so please drop me a comment! 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! 🙂