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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 😉

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 😉

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 😉

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 😉

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! 🙂