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Grimdark Espionage Action

Posted in 40k, Conversions, paintjob, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2018 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, something a little bit different for today: Since I am currently waiting for the bitz intended for my next Deathwatch Marine, I thought it was time for a fun little distraction, and fondly remembering my Boba Fett repaint from a while back, I decided to delve back into the wider nerd culture for a bit — so what is this about?

This particular project was actually the result of several circumstances coming together to form the perfect storm: When I recently worked on the Celestial Lions Astartes for my Dethwatch Killteam, I noticed how much all the pouches and webbing on the Reiver armour reminded me of the gear worn by Solid Snake, one of the protagonists of the Metal Gear series. And then Adam Wier, of Between The Bolter And Me, presented his own, very cool Metal Gear-inspired model just the other day, and that really sealed the deal for me: I wanted to build and paint my own model inspired by the Metal Gear series.

For those of you not in the know, Metal Gear is a series of stealth-based games — and also one of the founding fathers of modern stealth games, really, at least were video game consoles are concerned. The games always feature a hard bitten veteran codenamed Snake (who is also the game’s protagonist in most cases, although it’s not always the same man). The task is usually to inflitrate some kind of rogue nation or military installation, fight against a special unit consisting of a collection of veritable carnival freaks, then deal with a walking nuclear tank – the eponymous Metal Gear – in order to avoid nuclear war. There are lots of highly entertaining (and often challenging) stealth sequences, and just before you get to fight any kind of boss, everything screeches to a halt while you and your opponent wax poetical about war, peace, love on the battlefield and the intricacies of nuclear deterrence for a solid twenty minutes. Yeah, it’s that kind of series…

Even so, or probably because of it, the Metal Gear series is one of my favourite videogame series. I love it because of everything – and in spite of everything – that makes it great and terrible: its brilliantly weird, Japanese take on western action films, its sometimes hamhanded storytelling. Its brilliantly quirky characters. If you haven’t played the series, and you have even the slightest appetite for Japanese video game quirkiness, I suggest you give it a spin. And if you’re already aware of Metal Gear, well, I think you’ll get an extra chuckle or two out of the rest of this post ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, the first Metal Gear Solid was a massive blockbuster (and arguably a system seller) back on the first Playstation, and it still has a safe place in my heart, so I wanted to build a model based on Solid Snake, protagonist of the first couple of games. Here’s what I came up with:

On the face of it, it’s a really simple kitbash, merely using one of the Easy to Build Primaris Reivers and a handful of bitz: The Reiver armour is already suspiciously similar to a bulkier version of Solid Snake’s sneaking suit anyway, so I only added an extra pouch here and there and shaved off any parts that were too 40k — like purity seals. I also tweaked the gun a bit, to make it resemble the iconic SOCOM pistol wielded by Snake in the games.

As for the general look and pose of the model, I used some artwork by Yoji Shinkawa, the Metal Gear series’ art director, as reference material:

Illustration by Yoji Shinkawa

Of course the Primaris proportions are a bit wonky when compared to the sketch — where Solid Snake is fairly slender, the Primaris based version looks a bit more chunky. Which is why I decided to leave the backpack off, so as not to make him even more massibe. Even so, I think the combination of the pose, pistol silhouette and flapping bandana make the model instantly recognisable.

Speaking of the bandana, the most involved part of the conversion was actually to transform a fairly standard Space Marine head (from the old Dark Angels Veterans, I believe) into a suitable representation of Snake, complete with bandana and Snake’s glorious mullet haircut. I achieved the former by using a paper place mat (having already made some very good experiences with the material while designing the bases for my Ordo Scriptorum warband). The latter was sculpted with a bit of GS.

Here’s the reference material I used, the actual in-game model of Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty:

And here’s a look at the tweaked head, warts and all:

When it came to painting the model It was clear to me from the start that the head was what would make or break the model, and funnily enough, painting it instantly transformed it into Snake’s face. Take a look:

As for the rest of the model, I once again needed some reference material, since Yoji Shinkawa’s sketches are fantastic for setting the mood or creating a strong impression of a character, but they are also a bit too abstract to be used as something to base a colour scheme on. Once again, I decided to base my paintjob on Solid Snake as he appears in the first game (and its subsequent remake, “The Twin Snakes”), mostly because the Reiver armour matched that particular getup pretty well:

Here’s a look at a PIP version with most of the main colours in place:



It’s a fairly monochromatic colour scheme, certainly — not something I would have chosen for one of my “regular” INQ28 characters, but in this case, it was all about matching the official material. That’s also why I ultimately decided against adding any symbols or freehands: My original plan had been to add the logo of FOXHOUND, Solid Snake’s unit, on one of the pauldrons, in place of a chapter icon, so to speak, but it felt like a colourful area like that would actually have detracted from the rest of the model and the overall look and feel.

When it came to basing the model, I discovered that the new Sector Mechanicus bases were just the perfect choice: While they might be ever so slightly too bland for 40k proper, they seemed like a perfect recreation of the kind of military base surroundings Snake usually finds himself in. I went for a pretty simple, gunmetal look, with some suitable decals applied before the weathering for an extra layer of detail. Here’s the painted base:

And while this project was intended as a mere fun distraction, or a gaiden project, to remain true to the subject, I decided I might as well use it to teach myself a new technique. Now Metal Gear Solid is set in a military base in Alaska, and parts of the game actually play out during a snowstorm, so I thought it might be fun to include some snow on the base — which meant I had to experiment with making my own model snow — definitely a first for me!

I was lucky enough to be able to fall back on one of Ron Saikowski’s incredibly helpful hobby articles from the fabulous From The Warp blog, and chose the easiest recipe from the post: Just mix PVA glue with Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) and just a drop of water. And while it took a couple of minutes to get the mixture just right, I ended up with a substance that didn’t just look like snow but almost behaved like the genuine article as well, caking and piling up like actual, miniature snow — how delightful ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s the same base with the snow applied on top:

I was even able to tease out some singular “flakes” and add smaller clumps of the stuff to Snake’s left leg, to tie him into the base a bit better — seriously, all of this basically took about five minutes and ended up looking so convincing that I was pretty much blown away!

But anyway, without further ado, here’s my – slightly 40k-inspired – version of FOXHOUND special operative Solid Snake. Age hasn’t slowed him down one bit:





I actually cannot stop grinning when I look at the model. It’s a weird little piece, to be sure, but I also think he turned out pretty well, dodgy proportions and all ๐Ÿ˜‰

A closer look at Snake’s face:



And, finally, another look at the model on its base:

Man, that was fun! And while I have zero plans to build any more MGS-related homages, I quickly realised that coming up with 40k versions of classic MGS trope can be a seriously entertaining thought experiment: Fellow hobbyist Bjorn Firewalker mentioned the brilliant idea an Imperial Knight serving as the eponymous Metal Gear! A Sicarian Ruststalker would make for an excellent AdMech-style Grey Fox. And it does, of course, make complete sense that Snake would be a Space Marine from a particularly cursed founding (referred to only as the “Pueri Terribili”).

Such silliness aside, the model is actually too blatant an homage to actually work as a character in proper 40k lore, of course. I already have Inquisitorial Operative Tybalt Renner as a more subtle shout out to the Snake archetype for that:

All the more reason, however, to just cut loose this time and have a little fun with a blatant homage to a video game character ๐Ÿ˜‰

On a related note, this article wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to Tale of War’s absolutely incredible “Snaker – the Last Soldier” model:

Unfortunately, the model is no longer available – for fairly obvious reasons, I suppose – and I missed my chance to pick one up — oh well, at least now I have my own – slightly dodgy – version of Snake, at least.

I also got a bit of a chuckle out of staging a classic Metal Gear Solid scene like this…

…with my new model. Take a look:

Anyway, that’s it for today! I would love to hear any feedback you might have about my version of Solid Snake! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more! ๐Ÿ™‚

“METAL…GEAR?!”

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INQ28: Hear Me Roar!

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2018 by krautscientist

More Deathwatch for today, as I have been plugging away at my Primaris based true scale killteam for another week. Allow me to share the results with you:

First up, there’s the Celestial Lions Astartes I have already shared with you in WIP form. Like I said, my main influence for choosing the chapter was the African influence (although the fact that the Lions are a chapter from a later founding also helped a bit). However, I also discovered that the chapter and the Inquisition have a bit of a troubled history, as outlined in my previous post — to the point where Inquisitorial operatives seem to be actively hunting for the chapter. Ouch! So would a Celestial Lion actually be part of an – Inquisition-sponsored – Deathwatch killteam?

Fortunately enough, I realised that I am in the clear on that front: The chapter’s trouble with the Inquisition only really starts in 948 M41, whereas my INQ28 narratives are set some 200 years before that, so everyone can still be BFFs in my headcanon ๐Ÿ˜‰ That being said, I did decide to include a shout out to the chapter’s eventual fate, as per Aramis K’s excellent suggestion of featuring the notorious “Ork Snipers” that wipe out a part of the Celestial Lions during the 3rd War for Armageddon, in some way.

But back to the actual model: This was the Celestial Lion in his first draft version:

As you can see, it’s a very straightforward conversion, mostly based on a Primaris Reiver. I liked the idea of including a stealthier Astartes wearing sleeker armour, and the “Easy To Build” Reiver bodies were really perfect for that. The most involved parts were to add a lion bit (from an old WFB Empire cannon) as a belt buckle and to kitbash another Deathwatch sensor array for the backpack (using a shoulder-mounted lamp from a Genestealer Hybrid and – once again – some auspex aerials).

Then fellow hobbyist euansmith helpfully suggested to maybe turn the model’s head a bit, in order to make it look more sneaky and agile. I complied with his idea, and – sure enough – it made a world of difference!

When it came to painting the model, I actually broke with my usual routine and decided to start with the one part I thought would make or break the model — the right shoulder pad. Because I realised with some nervousness that I would actually have to freehand the Celestial Lions chapter badge, as there are no readily available decals for it (and my idea of maybe using a similar decal as a base went nowhere either). Azrael’s quite excellent Primaris Celestial Lions here (that were also completed for a very personal reason, it must be said) use some very cool shapeways chapter badges, but I didn’t really go through the hassle of ordering bitz like that — so I decided this was the time to buckle up and force myself to do something I had shied away from in the past. Freehand designs.

So here’s the design I chose as my main reference material (inverted, of course, because it would go on the right pauldron):

And here’s what I came up with, using my smallest brush, a drop of Vallejo Airbrush Flow Improver, and reserves of patience I really didn’t know I had:

Of course I didn’t see the huge splodge of wash towards the lower rim of the pauldron until I was looking at it blown up by several hundred percent on a screen — the area has been cleaned up since. Oh, and ‘Aren’ is the name of the battle-brother in question, by the way.

Anyway, I was incredibly happy with the finished freehand — and I can safely say that this has to be one of the most extravagant pieces of detail work I have painted in the last couple of years. I realise that this must be fairly basic bread and butter stuff for talented painters, but to me, it certainly felt like a rather big adventure ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, after getting the freehand right, the rest of the paintjob almost seemed trivial. That being said, I also discovered a fairly nice and simple recipe for black skin: GW Doombull Brown makes for a very good base colour, and already looks very natural after a wash of Ogryn Flesh (or Reikland Fleshshade). I only followed it up with some very subtle highlights, and ended up with a skin tone I really liked, as you can see yourself on the finished model:

 

=][=

Rudisha Aren
Brother of the Deathwatch
Celestial Lions Astartes Chapter





Here’s a closer look at the left shoulder pad, now finally in its intended place:


Seriously, though, did I mention how happy I am with that freehand…? ๐Ÿ˜‰


As for the base, if you look closely, you can make out the barrel of a – suspiciously Imperial – sniper rifle, but there’s also part of an Ork jaw — Ork snipers, anyone? ๐Ÿ˜‰


Granted, this is a bit of a tongue in cheek joke about the chapter’s eventual fate, but it still matches the overall basing theme without lookig too out of place. So that’s the next finished member of Killteam Ulrach for you:

 

Speaking of Ulrach, while I was working on Brother Aren, I decided to give the Iron Hand that last round of tweaks as well — and the full photo treatment, of course, playing cards, keys and all ๐Ÿ˜‰

=][=

Vorlik Ulrach
Brother of the Deathwatch
Iron Hands Astartes Chapter








You already know this guy from last week, of course, and most of the finishing touches are pretty subtle. But it’s nice to have all the models finished and photographed in the same style like that ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oh, and since someone over at the Ammobunker asked how I had achieved the glowing blue effect on some of the members of the killteam, I thought it would make sense to feature my recipe over here as well — if, indeed, you can even call it a recipe, as it’s almost trivially easy. The one thing I would really recommend, however, is to get some Vallejo Magic Blue: While there may be a similar GW colour, I have yet to see another blue that pops quite as nicely as Magic Blue. So for this recipe, you’ll need the blue and any kind of white. And some water. Here’s what you do:

  1. Paint the center of the area you want to glow (the lens, the gem, the button — whatever it is) with pure Magic Blue
  2. Thin down your Magic Blue with water so it becomes semi-translucent. Then glaze the area around the part you have just painted with it, building up the actual glow — you can do this in several steps to get it right. With larger areas, the effect should grow more solid towards the center, obviously.
  3. Go back to the (undiluted) Magic Blue and keep adding more white to it, and create smaller and smaller highlights at the center of the effect. The last stage should basically be almost pure white. DONE!

The blue higlight on the axe head (as well as the soft glow around it) are a perfect example of the effect in question.

 

So here’s an updated look at Killteam Ulrach:

I think these guys really work rather well as a group — and you can almost guess at the different characters and combat roles just by looking at the models, wouldn’t you agree? In hindsight, maybe the models are almost a little too vibrant, in a style slightly reminiscent of 2nd edition 40k, but then it’s an almost perverse pleasure to find out how visually striking I can make a squad wearing predominantly black armour ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now any future additions to the team will have to wait for a bit, as I have depleted my supplies of Deathwatch parts and Primaris Marines, respectively. That being said, fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass is awesome enough to send me another Primaris, and I have just picked up the Rodricus Grytt model on ebay. Combining both will allow me to build a stoic, fatalist brother of the Lamenters wielding a massive frag cannon — it’ll take a while before I can start the conversion, so take a look at aย  – really primitive – mockup of my planned conversion:

Beyond what you see in the mockup, I will be going for a heavset look with some slightly archaic, Mk. III-ish touches here and there. It’ll be an interesting balance to maintain, as I don’t want the model to clash with the Deathwatch’s sleek Black Ops look, but I’, confident l’ll be able come up with something.

And as it happens, I also have a pretty cool idea for the Castigator — although I’ll need to get my hands on this particular Primaris Sergeant from Dark Imperium first, in order to make it work…

Until then, however, I am pretty happy with Killteam Ulrach as is — and as these guys are very much ready to rock, I hope Azrael will count them as another entry for this month’sย “June-Unit” community challenge!

So that’s it for today’s update. I would love to hear any feedback you might have, so please leave a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!