Archive for space marines

The State of the Hunt, Week 29/2018: Hot weather and heavy armour

Posted in 40k, Blood Bowl, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Orcs & Goblins, state of the hunt, Totally worth it, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2018 by krautscientist

A bit of a transitional post for today, as I don’t have any completed models to share with you at the moment — that’s what I get for touting my own productivity in my previous post, I suppose 😉

But anyway, both the warm weather and various other distractions have kept me from painting anything lately. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing any hobby-related work, though: At least I have some WIP impressions to share with you! 🙂

I. The Long Watch:

So far, my Primaris-based true scale Deathwatch killteam numbers four completed members, as you will probably remember:

Thanks to several bitz drops, I have been able to start work on the next two members of the team. First up, I wanted to include a Watch-Brother from the Castigators, a fourteenth founding Ultramarines successor, and Commissar Molotov’s own DIY chapter — given Mol’s role as the doyen of the INQ28 movement, I felt this would be a nice little shout out to him 😉

So far, my Deathwatch conversions have been an attempt to convey the character of the Marines’ respective chapters through the actual conversion, and I did have a rather nifty idea for the Castigator, if I do say so myself: Seeing how the chapter icon prominently features a hand holding a whip, and given the fact that the Deathwatch seem to be all about crazy weapons nowadays, I thought it would be cool to get a little creative with the model’s equipment 😉

Take a look:

The model is based on one of the Primaris Lieutenants from the Dark Imperium boxed set that I was able to snap up on ebay — the pose was quite perfect for what I had in mind, and it was really easy to replace the model’s power sword with the whip from the Necromunda Escher sprue — it’s a good thing we actually get two of those whips in the Necromunda boxed set 😉

I wasn’t quite sure at first whether or not the whip look would work, but I do think the Marine wears it rather well: The bigger scale makes the weapon look a bit more plausible, and the model’s dynamic stance definitely matches the weapon.

Apart from the weapon swap, I only really added a bit of additional gear to the model’s belt and swapped in a Deathwatch backpack and shoulder pad (replacing the stock shoulder pad did take a bit of careful sawing, though, as the pauldron and arm were one bit). I also really wanted to have one member of the squad wear an Mk. VII helmet, for that classic mid-to-late 90s Space Marine look, and I still had a vintage metal Deathwatch head in my bitzbox, so that seemed like the perfect option to go with.

Commissar Molotov also kindly offered to send over a custom Castigators shoulder pad, although I am pretty much committed to freehanding the chapter icon onto the right pauldron — how much harder than an actual lion head can it possibly be, right? Plus it would save me the hassle of having to saw through another Space Marine arm 😉 I would really like Molotov to name this fellow, though!

That’s not all, though: Thanks to a supply drop from fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass, I received yet another Primaris Marine, which allowed me to start yet another Watch-Brother, a Lamenter this time around. It felt like my kill team still needed someone with a massive gun, so I decided that the role would fall to the Lamenter. After doing a bit of research on the matter, I bought the model for Rodricus Grytt (from Kill Team Cassius), because it would give me both the weapon, backpack and Deathwatch shoulder pad I needed in one go.

So the biggest part of the conversion was to make Rodricus’ arms fit the Primaris body — something that actually turned out to be surprisingly easy, with just a bit of tweaking:


I did have to carefully cut off the right upper arm from both the “donor” model and the Primaris Marine, though, in order to make it all work together — I only really had to do this because I wanted to be able to replace the stock Primaris shoulder pad, however.

Regarding the details, I chose some bitz with teardrop symbols to match the Lamenters’ inconography. As for the helmet, I have a funny story to go with that one: Having tried, half a dozen times, and unsuccessfully, no less, to sell Commissar Molotov on this particular helmet for his true scale Lamenters Watch-Brother, I realised that the only way I was going to ever see this helmet used in that capacity was to build my own Lamenter — so here we are 😉

In order to add to the bulky look created by the helmet and massive weapon, I also added some additional armour plates to the model’s hip, although they are not all that visible in the above picture — trust me, though: They are there 😉

As for the pose, I would have preferred something a little more grounded and stable, but I only had the one Primaris Marine to work with, so I did the best I could. Given his pose, the Marine obviously isn’t in the process of firing his weapon, but rather seems to be lugging it from point a to point b. So what do you guys think: Does he work better looking straight ahead like this:

Or looking off to the side, like this:



I also tried having him look towards the barrel of his gun, but the model ended up looking very unbalanced that way, plus it would also obscure a lot of the detail on the faceplate. Anyway, would love to hear your feedback on this!

In any case, many thanks to Augustus b’Raass, of course, for sending over the model for the conversion! Cheers, buddy! 🙂

 

II. Golden Girl

Ever since the recent release of Age of Sigmar’s 2nd edition’s starter box and the accompanying models, everyone and their mother have been going crazy over the new Nighthaunt models (and some hobbyists, like the ever-inspirational Jeff Vader, are already having a field day with the, admittedly very nice, skeleton-ghost thingies).

However, nobody’s been talking about what must be the entire release’s single coolest model: The female Stormcast Eternal coming with the Easy To Build Easy To Build Stormcast Sequitors:

Seriously, I love this model! It’s almost perfect, really: The pose, the very cool face, the clean lines. I don’t care much for the weird mace head, but that’s Stormcast Eternal weapon design for you. Anyway, I knew right off the bat that I wanted to turn this lady into an Inquisitrix — my first Inquisitrix, actually, something I have wanted to do for a long time, ever since seeing PDH’s brilliant take on Naeve Blacktalon.

So here’s what I have so far:

 

Like I said, I really love this model, which is why I have decided to keep the conversion fairly subtle for now: I merely replaced that weird He-Man-style weapon with something a little more 40k (a thunder hammer from the plastic Mk. III Marines with an eagle head from the Imperial Knight Questor) added a holstered pistol at the hip and an Inquisitorial rosette and replaced the design on the shield with an Ordo Malleus-style heraldic device (quite a bit of work, that last one):

I am actually a bit reluctant to add too many more gubbins to her: Much of the model’s coolness comes from its very clean lines, mostly created by juxtaposition of the static pose and the flowing robes, and I don’t want to ruin that by overcluttering her. A bit of extra gear on her belt, maybe, but don’t expect me to go crazy on the grimdark bitz. In the end, I am pretty confident she’ll look perfectly at home in the middle of an Inquisitorial warband.

If there is one problem with the model, it’s that this girl is tall — almost freakishly so, and even moreso when using the elevated base the model actually came with — a veritable plinth, that one. She is just as tall as a Primaris Marine, and that’s not counting the base.

So the first thing I did was to drop the base and go with something a bit less vertical — the very cool readymade base that came with the Primaris Marine Augustus send me seems like an excellent standin for now. As for her actual height, I guess I’ll be able to get away with it because she’s an Inquisitrix: The Inquisition definitely has the kind of crazy tech at its disposal that could allow for all kinds of body augmentation. It would arguably be more of a problem if I wanted to turn her into, say, a Sister of Battle, for instance.

 

III. This is going to sting a little…

There’s also another addition to my Blood Bowl team, as my friend Annie gave me a very cool model for my birthday. This delightful little Kromlech goblin nurse, who will be the Orkheim Ultraz’ medic from now on:

Expect to see this little guy painted sooner rather than later! And a heartfelt thank you to Annie for – another – lovely contribution to my team! 🙂

 

IV. In closing…

Before I wind up this post, I want to elaborate about one of the aforementioned distractions that have kept me from painting. Some long time readers may remember that I am a bit of a video game fiend, so it’s probably not too surprising to learn that one thing keeping me from painting at the moment is…a video game:

I have been slightly addicted to playing Hollow Knight for the last couple of days, and I only really bring this up because I am fairly confident that quite a few readers of this blog might enjoy the game just as much as I do: It’s a 2017 indie action adventure that has been receiving quite a bit of hype recently, after being released for the Nintendo Switch. I bought the PC version last weekend and have been unable to tear myself away from it ever since. For those of you a bit familiar with videogames, it’s as though Dark Souls had been reimagined as a sidescrolling Metroidvania…with bugs (the animals, mind you, not the technical gaffes). It’s highly addictive, incredibly atmospheric, and also very cute and very creepy at the same time. If that sounds like it might be your thing, check out the game here.

 

So yeah, that’s it for today! Let’s hope I’ll be able to get something finished again before long — I’ll definitely keep you guys posted! 😉

Until then, please feel free to let me know what you think about these WIPs! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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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 😉 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 😉

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:

 

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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…? 😉


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? 😉


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 😉

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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 😉

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 😉

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 a  – 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’s “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!

There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Killteam’ — oh wait, there is!

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2018 by krautscientist

For this week’s update, let’s return to the wonderful world of true scale Astartes for a bit: While I am not exactly a fan of how their lore seems to have been wedged sideways into the 40k background, there’s little doubt that the release of the Primaris Space Marines has provided us with an excellent way of building decently proportioned true scale models for INQ28 without having to spend ages on getting the basic build right. For instance, I had lots of fun building and painting the most archetypal, 2nd edition-style Space Marine I could come up with a while ago, Brother Arcturus Diomedes of the Ultramarines:

Back when the Primaris Marines were released, I picked up the box with three “Easy To Build” Primaris with the plan of eventually turning them into more Deatwatch Marines and end up with small a true scale killteam for my INQ28 collection — even if an entire squad of Astartes would be complete overkill in an actual game. The project just seemed too interesting to get hung up on the practicalities — well, that and true scale Deathwatch Marines have been a bit of a hobby horse for Commissar Molotov, one of the godfathers of INQ28, so working on my own killteam would also be a nice tribute to his own work.

However, progress with the actual assembly of the killteam’s members turned out to be slower than expected for two particular reasons: One, it did take quite some time for me to choose which chapters to go with for the members of the squad. In theory, their chapter identity is only really shown on their left shoulder pad, admittedly, but I really wanted to include various callbacks to their chapter of origin on the rest of the models as well. And while it felt tempting to just go with all the classic First Founding chapters, it would also have been a bit lazy — there are 1,000 chapters in the galaxy, after all. How likely would it be, then, that any given killteam should only feature members from the original Space Marine legions/chapters?

The other difficulty came in the form of the seriously weird poses on some of the snapfit Primaris — I only have myself to blame for that, however, as I could simply have purchased the “proper” multi-part kit.

Anyway, the first additional member for the killteam was converted fairly quickly last year: A Watch-Brother hailing the Iron Hands (and possibly the Killteam’s squad leader):


We’ll be seeing this guy again in a little bit…

And then the rest of the team just somehow refused to come together for the aforementioned reasons — until I had an idea recently: How about going with a Crimson Fist as one of the next members? And how about building him as an homage to this particular piece of artwork by Karl Kopinski:

Artwork by Karl Kopinski

Building models to resemble artwork has become a bit of a sub-hobby of mine lately, and so the task quickly drew me in. And I made this guy:




Granted, I had to simplify some parts of the illustration – mostly due to the fact that, funnily enough, even the Primaris’ bigger scale does not allow for all the detail present in the art – and I also made some minor adaptations, allowing for the fact that my version is intended as a member of the Deatwatch, but I am pretty happy with the kitbash — if nothing else, it definitely does mitigate the stock model’s super weird pose.

The conversion is also a bit of a lesson in thriftiness, as the model uses leftover parts from a plastic chaplain Cassius I picked up a while ago to build a (30k) Word Bearers chaplain. That project left me with Cassius’ left arm and right (Deathwatch) shoulder pad, and ultimately both the shoulder pad and his left hand (complete with snazzy Deathwatch bolt pistol) were grafted onto my Crimson Fist.

I also didn’t have any proper Deathwatch backpacks left, so I had to kitbash one using a regular Space Marine backpack, a sensor array from a Terminator torso front and some small aerials painstakingly shaved off a Space Marines auspex.

So that left me with three members for the killteam, at least:

And I was also really in love with the Crimson Fist conversion, so I decided to paint him right away.

One thing that I decided fairly early during the painting process was that I wanted to use a different skin tone this time around, due to the fact that the Crimson Fists seem to have a distinct Latin American/Hispanic element in their background. So I decided to forego my usual recipe for baseline (caucasian) Astartes skin and go for something slightly different. And in a flight of fancy, I decided to use some very old GW Bronzed Flesh paint that must be more than 20 years old at this point:

And it still worked just fine, too! Most importantly, though, it made for a slightly different skin tone, which seemed like a good way to introduce some much needed ethnic diversity and also underline the fact that all members of the killteam hail from different chapters and, by extension, different planets as well.


As you can see, my Staedtler pigment liner really came in handy once again, and I really went to town on all the little pieces of parchment 😉 The bottles of Microsol and Microset I picked up in Amsterdam last year, also ended up being supremely helpful when it came to making that Crimson Fists decal conform to the shoulder pad’s curved surface.

As for the armour, I followed the same approach I had developed for Brother Diomedes: Cover up any sub-par edge highlighting with sponged-on scratches and damage — fortunately enough, the resulting look really fits the Deathwatch rather nicely, if I do say so myself 😉

So after another round of fine tuning, and after completing the base, the killteam’s next member was finished:

 

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Vargo Diaz
Brother of the Deathwatch
Crimson Fists Astartes Chapter






As you can see, he does have one …erm crimson fist, at least.  I did consider painting the power fist red as well, but then the arm would have ended up being predominantly not-silver, when a silver arm is such an integral part of the Deathwatch livery, so limited the use of red to the right hand.

There’s also another little element I wanted to include: In the original Inquisitor rulebook, the 54mm model for Brother Artemis (basically the forefather to all Deathwatch Marines) had those little rectangles on his bolter designed as displays/buttons for the different kinds of ammunition stored in the weapon:

so I thought it might be fun to include this in a bit of a shout out to the classic model and its paintjob. So I put some Roman numerals on the panels: The right side side has ‘I’ and ‘II’, as shown above, the other one has ‘III’ and ‘IV’:



When it came to basing Brother Diaz, I went for the same basic look I had already used on my first Deathwatch Marine. I included an ork skull this time around, however — I think it’s an entertaining little meta touch to feature an alien skull from the respective chapter’s nemesis Xenos race, so Tyranids for Ultramarines, Orks for Crimson Fists and a Necron head for the Iron Hand. Speaking of which…

There was still this guy:



And, still feeling motivated after my quick completion of Brother Diaz, I decided to paint him as well. After all, I am still very happy with the conversion, based on combining a snapfit Primaris with quite a few parts from Ennox Sorrlock, from Deathwatch:Overkill…

…as well as a new breastplate and left arm courtesy of the Kataphron Destroyers.

Anyway, I quickly got to work and dressed the Iron Hand in the same kind of scuffed black armour as his peers:



In this case, the paintjob also had the added benefit of tying together the various parts of the slightly more eclectic conversion.

According to the underlying basing theme, I also constructed a base, featuring a half-buried Necron skull and spine this time around:

Remembering the (brilliant) alternate history Dornian Heresy and the various more or less obvious parallels and connections between the Necrons and Iron Hands, I decided to mirror the blue glow I used on the Iron Hand in the eye of the Necron skull — it seemed like a nice tongue in cheek meta joke 😉

The model’s arms and backpack were painted separately, for the most part — although I couldn’t really help myself, as usual, and had to glue everything together, even while the last few painting steps were still happening:



Putting the finishing touches on the model turned out to be quite a bit of fun, however, so I already have the (mostly) finished model to share with you:

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Vorlik Ulrach
Brother of the Deathwatch
Iron Hands Astartes Chapter






I really like the model, and I think his armoured bulk works really well now that he’s been painted — both for an Iron Hand and for the leader of a Deathwatch killteam!

And there’s more, as I have already started assembling yet another possible member for the team, provisionally from the Celestial Lions, wearing a suit of Recon armour:


Yeah, I know: Technically speaking, the model is basically a Primaris Reiver. But after seeing a particularly nice Reiver-based Deathwatch Marine converted and painted by Jeff Vader, I realised that the stripped-down, sleeker armour matches the “Special Ops” look of the Deathwatch rather nicely — I also think it makes sense for the killteam to have a recon expert.

As for his chapter, I chose the Celestial Lions mostly because they have a bit of an African influence, and I had originally picked up that particular head for its decidedly non-caucasian feature — once again, in an attempt to make my collection of models a bit more ethnically diverse than your usual gang of bald, white Astartes. That being said, I realised too late that the Lions have a bit of a history with the Inquisition — oh well, I’ll find some kind of explanation for it, I am sure — in fact, fellow hobbyist Aramis K brilliantly suggested over at The Bolter & Chainsword that this member of the Celestial Lions might be a specialist for hunting down “Ork Snipers”… 😉

Going forward, there are a few chapters I would definitely like to feature: Right now, I have plans for three more members for the killteam: A Carcharodon, a Lamenter and one of Commissar Molotov’s own Castigators, as an additional shout out 😉

But that’s a story for a future post. For now, here’s what Killteam Ulrach looks like right now:

And seeing how I am actually working towards the completion of a squad here, I think these guys make for a fairly cool contribution to Azazel’s current “June-Unit” community challenge as well! 😉

Once again, I would love to hear any thoughts you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

INQ28: Suffer Not The Alien to Live

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2018 by krautscientist

Back when the Primaris Marines were first released, I got myself a single snapfit model from the Dark Imperium boxed set to take a firsthand look at the scale and experiment a bit. Those early experiments were both interesting and educational — but of course I at least wanted to get a finished model out of it all. So after a bit of thought, I came to the conclusion that it might be fun to make my first modern Primaris Marine into the most archetypal Space Marine I could possibly come up with.

It was also clear to me that the model would become a part of my INQ28 collection, so I thought about what kind of Astartes would make sense. I already had two members of the Golden Legion, my DIY chapter (the finished model for Praetor Janus Auriga and a converted Chapter Master), so I wanted to try something different. And then it hit me — why not turn this guy into a Deathwatch Marine?

Now the 2016 Deathwatch craze left me mostly cold back when it happened, but there were still several reasons for going with a Watch-Brother: Tying Space Marines into Inquisitor can be a slightly delicate proposition, but the Deathwatch, with its direct Ordo Xenos affiliation, would at least provide a decent excuse. I also fondly reflected on Commissar Molotov’s work, that is his original Deathwatch Marine (created many years ago) as well as the kick-ass Deathwatch killteam he has been working on for years.

And finally, let’s not forget that one of the most iconic models of the 54mm Inquisitor range was a Deathwatch Marine as well:


That’s right, dear old Artemis! In fact, the model actually checked several boxes: He’s an Inquisitor character, he’s a member of the Deathwatch, and he also has that clean, 2nd edition inspired look that seems so archetypal of the Space Marines to me. His hairstyle alone instantly recalls this old chestnut here:

There’s a certain nostalgia about the Space Marines from those years, especially about the plastic models from the 2nd edition starter box, with each of the officers impeccably groomed like a news anchor. Unfortunately, the 2nd edition plastic Marine models haven’t really aged all that well, and the only time I’ve ever used one of those was for a rather depressing piece of terrain:

But I thought that it might be fun to channel this older look for a change, while also creating something that drew from the classic Artemis model at the same time. So I picked up some Deathwatch bitz and also had a scrounge through the old bitzbox. And after a while, I finally came up with a version I liked:


Everything I wanted to do was basically already there: the boltgun as the iconic weapon for a Space Marine. The 80s news anchor haircut. And a bit of bling that sells the model as a brother of the Deathwatch.

I still made some final tweaks before I was completely happy with the model, though: The original Primaris backpack was replaced with an actual Deathwatch backpack, I added a helmet clipped to the model’s belt and tweaked the arrangement of the various gear until I was happy — I actually love how the extra space that comes with the bigger Primaris scale allows for adding a more realistic amount of gear to the models without the Marines looking overcluttered!

Anyway, here’s the completed build I went with in the end:




I went with an Mk. IV helmet, both because I love the design and because I wanted to make it clear that, “in universe”, the model isn’t actually a Primaris Marine, but rather a regularly sized – if true scaled – Space Marine. As for the gun, after a bit of hemming and hawing, I ended up not replacing the bolt rifle with an actual Deathwatch bolter, mostly because I really liked the way it looked on the model. It’s also arguably hi-tech enough to serve as a suitable standin for the kind of weapons used by the Deathwatch, even if it’s not quite the genuine article. Apart from that, I tried to incorporate all the gear that would make sense: The Marine has a boltgun, a helmet, a combat knife, several grenades, and even some alternate ammunition (for those especially pesky aliens, you know? 😉 ).

And while it would only affect his right shoulder pad, I also needed to decide which chapter of origin to go with. I thought back to my original mission statement: the most archetypal classic Astartes imaginable — and what could be more archetypal than the Ultramarines?

To be perfectly honest with you, I also felt like I needed to cut the XIII Legion some slack after draping so many dead or dying Ultramarines across the bases of my 30k World Eaters 😉

When it came to the actual paintjob, the black armour was a concern, obviously: Use dark grey as a base colour, and the armour wouldn’t end up looking black. Use pure black and it would look as though I’d forgotten to paint that area. In the end, I mostly played it by ear and combined edge highlighting with a bit of sponge weathering — carefully and selectively sponging on some Leadbelcher added visual texture to the armour and also had the added benefit of drawing the eye away from my sloppy line work 😉

During the painting process, Jeff Vader’s Deathwatch Marines were an invaluable source: There’s one older pre-primaris model and one guy converted from one of the new models. and I kept looking at these for reference while painting. Now I’ll never be able to paint like Jeff Vader – not by a long shot – but having the inspiration there was a huge help, indeed!

Speaking of Jeff Vader, I also nicked another idea from him: A while ago, he mentioned that he was using an ultra thin pigment liner for some of the symbols and freehands on his models, and after unsuccessfully experimenting with several pens, I ended up getting the one he had recommended, a Staedtler 0,05 mm pigment liner:

The tip is so thin that it’s really easy to add rather elaborate designs to your models. The ink is also waterproof — although I found that it’s really easy to rub off with your fingers, so I added a layer of thinned sepia glaze on top to seal the ink.

As my first proper experiment with this new tool, I carefully drew an Inquisition symbol onto the model’s right kneepad and also added the tri-barred ][ around the skull on the tilt plate. The pigment liner is also an awesome tool for adding fine script to purity seals!

Anyway, here’s what the mostly finished model looked like at this point:



When it came to basing the model, I decided to go with something pretty simple that would fit the lion’s share of my INQ28 collection (i.e. brownish and slightly underhive-y). I also wanted to include some Xenos related touches. Now for an Ultramarine, what would be more appropriate than some Tyranid remains, right? Good thing the new Citadel Skulls kit features lots and lots of beautiful gaunt skulls, among others — I may not be all that interested in Tyranids as a faction (the creepy awesomeness of Genestealer Cults notwithstanding), but I do love those gaunt skulls! The tip of a Termagaunt weapon was also added to the base to represent something glistening and Gigeresque.

So, without further ado, here’s the finished Watch-Brother:

 

=][=

Arcturus Diomedes

Brother of the Deathwatch
originally of the Ultramarines







This was my first experience with painting a Primaris, and I have to agree with the prevailing opinion I’ve seen online: These guys are pretty fun to paint! I am also really chuffed with how the model has turned out!

Here he is next to my first truescale Marine, Praetor Janus Auriga of the Golden Legion:


As you can see, Janus is a fair bit bulkier and also slightly taller — in all fairness, I had little to work from in pre-Primaris times, so the model was really a bit of a proof of concept. He still holds up rather well, though, if I do say so myself — I’ll just need to go with the old “tall, even for an Astartes” cliché. Plus, in any case, Brother Diomedes certainly reads as a true scale Astartes when placed next to a model of “regular” human size:

As for how Diomedes ties into the Velsen Sector’s background and my overarching INQ28 narrative(s), that remains to be seen: I’ll happily admit that this was a case where I simply wanted to build and paint a character for the pure joy of it, then ask questions later. I am fairly certain he’ll end up as a member of a small Killteam, however — in fact, a second member from the Iron Hands, possibly even the killteam’s leader, has already been built a while ago:


There are also ideas regarding a Xenos-cult (“The Children of Imago”) knocking around in the back of my head, so it stands to reason that Arcturus and his buddies may have to defend Velsen against the abomination of the alien at some point. And since fellow hobbyist PDH is currently working on some rather beautiful Deathwatch Marines as well, it looks as though I’ll have enough ideas to “borrow” for the foreseeable future 😉

For now, however, I am really happy with the finished model. I rarely ever paint loyalist Space Marines, but when I do, I want to make each and every one of them count! 🙂

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

The 2017 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 2: The Hobbyists

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, Traitor Guard with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2018 by krautscientist

Awards

Welcome back, everyone: It’s a new year, and here we are — later than I had originally planned, I must admit. Sorry for the delay, but I just had to spend the entire holiday season sleeping, eating and near-obsessively hunting robot dinosaurs. I actually also managed to paint my very first model of the new year, but that’s a story for another time. For today, we still have a part of my annual Eternal Hunt Awards to get out of the way, even if it’s no longer 2017. That being said, I am confident you beautiful readers will always appreciate the chance to discover a couple of amazing hobby projects, right?

Because that’s what we’ll be dealing with today: The best work from fellow hobbyists from the last twelve months, according to yours truly. Now the level of quality many hobbyists manage to achieve these days keeps going through the roof all the time, with more and more stunning creations appearing online every year, but here’s my little selection of particularly noteworthy projects and blogs from last year, so please enjoy!

One small disclaimer, however, before we begin:
It goes without saying that all the photos you’ll be seeing in this post show other people’s work, and I cannot claim credit for any of the stuff depicted — apart from the small but delightful task of collecting it all together here and giving those fantastic hobbyists a much deserved shout out 😉

 

I. Projects of note:

Let’s start with the hobby projects that blew me away in 2017, be they single models or army projects. Having spent a sizeable chunk of my online hobby time with the vibrant and lively community at The Bolter & Chainsword, it occurs to me in hindsight that my selection may be leaning a bit heavily on the Space Marine side of things this year, but I hope you’ll still appreciate the following, wonderful projects. So, in no particular order and without further ado:

Nemac Vradon’s First Claw:

Back in 2016, Augustus b’Raass built what I would consider the definitive true scale representation of First Claw, that merry band of rascals (read: insane murderers) devised by Aaron Dembski-Bowden for his Night Lords Trilogy:

First Claw by Augustus b’Raass (1)

I was lucky enough to see these guys in person on my visit to Amsterdam last summer, and they are just breathtaking: Perfect little representations of the different characters from the book, with lots of little tweaks that bring the models to life and amazing paintjobs to boot. The bigger scale gives them a real presence and also adds some – much needed – space for all of those extra bitz and trinkets.

So imagine my surprise when Nemac Vradon actually came up with an equally brilliant rendition of the same group of characters, albeit in regular 28mm scale this time, without the benefit of all that extra space:


Now building models to represent actual characters from the lore can be a fun – but also an incredibly challenging – proposition. Even moreso when everyone who has read the Night Lords novels probably has an idea about what Talos and his brothers should look like. Nemac Vradon has done an absolutely fantastic job of capturing the essence of the different characters, though, making them instantly recognisable. Nowhere is that more evident than on Talos, First Claw’s absolute poster boy:

Nemac has come up with a truly excellent model here, with all the cues that sell the piece as a representation of the character: With the Mk. V armour, deathmask, relic Blood Angels blade and the rune on the forehead, this guy clearly reads as Talos!

Similar care has been taken with each of the members of First Claw, with a careful selection of bitz and effective poses that manage to embody the essence of each character, while none of the models end up looking cluttered or overly-busy.




Surprisingly enough, while Talos may be First Claw’s most prominent member, he is not, in my opinion, the best part of Nemac Vradon’s interpretation of First Claw: That particular honour has to go in equal parts to Uzas and Xarl.

Now Uzas may strike you as a bit of an obvious choice – after all, he’s basically my favourite character from the books in the first place: A follower of Khorne, Uzas is a typical ADB character in that he may seem one-note by definition, yet is shown to possess surprising – and fairly tragic – depths. So my love for the character is always on my mind when looking at the model. That being said, the conversion is simply a study in elegance and unity of effect: Once again, all the cues that sell the character are there, while the strong pose and effective paintjob make for a model where everything’s in ist right place.

Xarl, on the other hand, is a very different beast:

Highly dynamic and quite ostentatious (in his ceremonial Chyropteran helmet), he immediately draws the eye. And once again, the particular composition of parts just makes for a perfect model. To wit, Nemac Vradon even managed to get away with using one of the – normally terrible – winged helmets from the old NL conversion kit.

The whole squad really stands as a triumph of both creating excellent representations of the actual characters as well as a collection of models with a perfect unity of effect. So while Augustus b’Raass has managed to come up with the definitive version of First Claw at true scale, Nemac Vradon can now claim the same award for the “smaller 28mm scale”. Splendid work!

Check out Nemac Vradon’s version of First Claw, along with the rest of his excellent Night Lords here.

 

Dark Ven’s Night Lords

And while we are on the subject of Night Lords, let’s not forget DarkVen: A longtime collector of the 8th legion, he has returned to his army in 2017 with some rather stunning new additions. Now the most impressive thing about Dark Ven’s Night Lords has to be how he combines kitbashing with kick-ass sculpting to create models that are both highly intricate conversions and yet perfectly at home next to stock GW models. His Night Lords army is a fantastic and incredibly customised collection of models: Just take the warband’s current leader, the enigmatic Warpsmith Tarantula: You could spent ages poring over those photos, trying to figure out which parts are stock (very few) and which have been expertly (re-)sculpted (nearly all of them).


Because, if anything, DarkVen‘s extrapolations of GW’s designs create models that sometimes seem like the perfect missing link between various official models: Take his brilliantly converted and customised Night Lords Dreadnought, for instance, that would seem equally at home next to both the old 2nd edition metal CSM Dread and the more recent plastic models:

Extra kudos for the different weapon options – I love stuff like that!

The incredible amount of customisation is evident in each and every unit in DarkVen’s Night Lords army. Here are his Atramentar:


At first glance, they merely look like some really well done Chaos Terminators, but there’s so much more there: Underneath all the spikes and blades, there’s still a hint at something more honourable, at the elite Astartes formation they used to be, and DarkVen does an excellent job of communicating this idea through the models.

Also, once again, I dare you to take a closer look and actually find out precisely how customised those guys are, especially the amount of scultping and additional detailing that has gone into their armour!

Or his Raptors: Those models perfectly combine officially established visual cues with DarkVen’s own take on GW’s archetypes, channeling both the new plastic Raptors and the “bird of prey” style of the older metal/Finecast Raptors – while also throwing in a generous helping of Predator creepiness:




The fact that DarkVen further supplements most of his more recent conversions with fantastic and elaborate concept art is just the icing on the cake!

If there’s one negative point to be mentioned here, it’s that DarkVen’s Night Lords currently lie dormant once more. However, you still can (and definitely should) check out the current status of his project here:

BrotherCaptainArkhan’s Black One Hundred

Can you remember how hip it used to be to hate the Ultramarines? In all fairness, GW’s poster boy Space Marine legion/chapter has appeared in official material so often and has been so idolised by many official authors, that it’s rather easy to be fed up with them, especially when they are written like they can do no wrong. And with the introduction of the Primaris Marines and the return of Roboute Guiliman, the XIII Primarch, to the stage of the 41st millennium, there are probably yet more Ultramarines with their heroic feats waiting for us in the wings.

What then if I were to tell you that one of the most riveting Horus Heresy project in existence at the moment dealt with the XIII legion in a way that you haven’t seen before and that turns Ultramarines into something genuinely fascinating?

Enter BrotherCaptainArkhan’s Black One Hundred: A Censuria company of Ultramarines, that is to say: Those members of the legion whose failures, sins or merely oversights have damned them to the fate of serving in an entire company of rejects, expected merely to fight and die without making too much noise, lest their legion remember how embarrassing they are.

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Well, BCA takes this already promising premise and runs with it, coming up with an ongoing project log where every new update is spectacular, be it a new model, a new piece of background lore, or merely his musings about the ideas and motifs that go into his army.

It helps that the actual models are killer, of course: The Black One Hundred are about the dustiest, grimiest and most downtrodden Ultramarines you are ever going to see, but BrotherCaptainArkhan shows us that there can be something forlornly beautiful about armour this dented and scratched. And that Ultramarines Blue goes very well with black, indeed!


If I had to pick a favourite from this particular collection, I would choose the Black One Hundred’s (former) commanding officer, Brother-Captain Ludvic Augustus:


Now as far as I am aware, Augustus’ personal story arc has already run its course, but he remains my favourite piece of BrotherCaptainArkhan’s work, and arguably the perfect embodiment of the Black One Hundred: a perfect blend of a powerful Ultramarine and a down-to-earth, workhorse soldier that would rather not be remembered by history.

The quality evident in the special characters really extends all the way down, though, as even the various objective markers are little works of art (as well as tributes to the Ultramarines’ unbending spirit, in spite of everything):

Hard as that may be to believe, however, the – truly stunning – models are just part of the charm here: The storytelling at play, the fluff and soundbites, are equally riveting. These guys are members of a Censuria company, and it’s clear that they will never be able to make up for their past wrongdoings. Even their own Primarch would prefer them to be forgotten in silence. And in spite of everything, they are still Ultramarines. They fight. They endure. Only in death does duty end. And BrotherCaptainArkhan does such a fantastic job of telling their story!

Probably the biggest compliment I can offer is that, were BrotherCaptainArkhan to write a BL novel focusing on his Censuria company, I’d buy and read it right away, without a moment’s hesitation.

There are many Horus Heresy projects these days, as everybody and their cousin (yours truly included) seems to want a piece of that sweet Heresy goodness. The Black One Hundred, however, stand tall above the rest as probably one of the best Horus Heresy projects in existence right now, and as a constant inspiration: When I work on my own 30k World Eaters, I constantly try to capture the merest fraction of depth and gravitas of the Black One Hundred. That is how awesome they are.

Check out BrotherCaptainArkhan’s landmark project here.

Malcharion’s Space Sharks


A couple of years ago, the Carcharodons used to be all the rage: Reintroduced to the 40k background by Forgeworld as part of their treatment of the Badab War, these mysterious and brutal Space Marines from the farthest reaches of the galaxy captured many a hobbyist’s imagination and launched dozens of army projects. It also made an entire generation of hobbyists learn about Tamiya Clear Red, back before Blood for the Blood God had been developed 😉

Because most people were content to just paint their Space Sharks flat grey, slap lots and lots of glossy blood effect on there and call it a day. Even Forgeworld’s own painters only paid occasional service to the idea of the Carcharodon’s use of tribal markings and intricate designs.

Not so with Malcharion’s Carcharadons, however, who breathe new life into the chapter’s identity in the most spectacular way:


Malchy’s fantastic paintjobs are one reason for this, particularly his brilliant use of highly intricate, quasi-Polynesian tribal designs. They turn every model into a piece of art without overwhelming the pieces. This is particularly evident on the Dreadnoughts that look like walking totems or shrines, while also seeming every bit as deadly and combat-worthy as you would expect of a Space Marine Dreadnought:


What’s more, while his Carcharodons certainly use a copious amount of blood effect, the combination of blood spatter and the intricate armour markings makes for a fascinating juxtaposition that adds a layer of depth to a chapter that often merely gets characterised as “really violent and mysterious grey dudes that also have this shark thing going on”.

The conversion and kitbashing on display are also truly something to behold. Just take this kitbashed master of the forge, featuring what has to be the best use of a Lizardman/Seraphon claw bit I have ever seen:


Or Malcharion’s version of Company Master Tyberos, “The Red Wake”:


Now this version is actually very different from Forgeworld’s official model, but the character is still instantly recognisable. And he has all the menace of a great white shark, without feeling silly because of it.

Speaking of which, those glittering black eyes really give me the creeps every time I look at the model:


Malcharion also routinely makes excellent use of dedicated legion bitz (and models) from Forgeworld, particularly from the World Eaters catalogue, to make his Carcharodons look even more vicious. Case in point, his Terminators (based on the World Eaters Red Butchers):


And, arguably even more spectacular, this Carcharodon officer based on the Heresy era model for Kharn:


It’s a testament to Malchy’s skill, however, that those models not only work perfectly within the framework of his army, but you wouldn’t really recognise them as World Eaters any longer: They are perfect Space Sharks now, aren’t they?

And while this moves beyond the scope of his Carcharodons, allow me to point out that Malcharion also works on models for the chapter’s Primoginetor legion, the Raven Guard, and he manages to turn even this least interesting of Space Marine legions (at least in my opinion) into something truly breathtaking:

Malchy’s complete project log can be found here.

Daouide’s Kalista

Le blog dé Kouzes is another regular name in my list of perennial favourites, so it shouldn’t surprise you that those wonderful and crazy Frenchmen make another appearance in this year’s Eternal Hunt Awards. By the same token, Daouide’s Emperor’s Children are the epitome of „Slaanesh done right“, so there’s yet another reason for this particular choice.

The above model takes the cake, however: Kalista, a championess of Slaanesh, and easily one of the most stunning models to have come out of 2017. Now any idea of building female Space Marines (or something similar) has been a bit of a hot button issue for a long time, with everyone who tries to work with this basic promise in acute danger of being laughed out of town. At the same time, having a championess of Slaanesh actually seems like such a wonderfully „Realms-of-Chaos“-style thing to do, doesn’t it? And just look at Kalista – isn’t she drop dead gorgeous?

Daouide’s wonderful conversion work, brilliant sculpting and sublime painting work together to create something utterly stunning here. Even better, though, Kalista is actually based on the Stormcast Eternal model Naeve Blacktalon:

Incredible, wouldn’t you agree?

In addition to painting her to match the rest of his EC army, Daouide also built and painted a custom warband for Kalista, and her retinue is certainly no slouch either:

Even in such a fantastic collection of models, however, Kalista stands out – and in spite of being a follower of Slaanesh, she isn’t even all that overtly sexualised. Incredible work!

One last observation: In addition to being such a stunning model, Kalista also really reminds me of the official art for Telemachon Lyras, of The Talon of Horus fame, and makes me wonder whether a fantastic model for Telemachon might not be built from the exact same source model.

In any case, check out Kalista in more detail here.

II. Blogs of note:

In this day and age, thoughtful blogging seems to be turning into a dying art, especially given the prevalence of endless picture streams on places like Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest — god, I’m sounding like a cantankerous old man, am I not? 😉

But the fact remains that, while social media are becoming ever more integral to the online component of our hobby, social networks don’t really lend themselves well to the “longform”content I appreciate. So to me at least, dedicated, well maintained blogs are more precious than ever, and discovering particularly fascinating specimens remains one of the biggest joys in our hobby. Here’s my pick of the litter for 2017:

Lead Plague:

Now Lead Plague is one of those blogs that I cannot believe I didn’t discover much, much earlier, as the very original style of Asslessman’s work is truly something to behold. Maybe the most interesting thing about the blog is how perfectly it mixes both vintage sensibilities and modern design techniques: Now the whole “Oldhammer” movement has been quite a thing for a couple of years now, and at its best, Oldhammer seems to be about celebrating the creative – and often crazy – vintage creations of early GW (and other companies from the same time), and I can totally subscribe to that! Unfortunately, though, at its worst, Oldhammer can occasionally devolve into basically disparaging everything GW did after 1995, and those parts of the movement are really rather tiresome.

And entirely unneccessary, as it turns out, as so much of the content on Lead Plague perfectly bridges the gap between Oldhammer and “modern” GW models. It helps that Asslessman really pulls it off in style, of course, creating highly original conversions with often surprising and original colour schemes:


And while those models are perfectly “modern” in so many ways, they also happen to recall the ‘Eavy Metal sections of vintage GW publications from around the 2nd edition of Warhammer 40k, which is really the best of both worlds, isn’t it?

The blog is also full of fantastic warbands and projects. One of my favourites  is the “Shadow Legion”, a band of traitors and heretics that makes excellent use of some of GW’s more recent plastic kits:


Seriously, aren’t those menacing masked soldiers just perfect for all kinds of chaos and INQ28-related shenanigans?


Again, all of this looks perfectly at home in “modern” 40k. At other times, things get downright Oldhammer-y, as with this vintage Brat Gang, inspired by Confrontation, the semi-official predecessor to Necromunda:


Funnily enough, given the shout out Brat Gangs get in the new Necromunda material, these guys may soon have a home in “modern” GW again 😉

Or take a look at some of the rather excellent oldhammer-ish models appearing in this inquisitorial retinue:


Asslessman shows that this really doesn’t have to be an either/or choice, that it’s possible for a hobbyist to draw from decades of excellent content and turn it all into the kind of custom projects they want — and pull it all together with excellent painting, no less! And of course all of us, whether we are Oldhammerers or not, just love the grimdark:

Anyway, Lead Plague is a fantastic blog and, in spite of its many retro-trappings, a real breath of fresh air! Oh, and it also wins an extra award for best header image! 🙂

The blog can be found here.

 

Wilhelminiatures:

Helge Wilhelm Dahl, of Wilhelminiatures, has been on my radar for quite some time now, but his blog has really managed to kick into overdrive this last year: There’s such a breadth of projects and ideas on display there now, in addition to a particular style of painting and modeling that’s just a joy to behold: There’s more than a bit of Blanchian influence, yet Wilhelminiatures‘ models are also wholly original and immediately recognisable.

Just to give you an idea of the variety on display on the blog:

Already on my shortlist last year, here’s a wondefully creepy and creative Genestealer cult that really pushes the envelope when it comes to adding interesting and disturbing archetypes (and genotypes) to GW’s “official” treatment of Genestealer cults:


There would be so much to say about this particular warband, but I’ll restrain myself and just point out that incredibly creepy babyface walker:


Or there’s the project of making the Silver Tower characters and archetypes more interesting and, arguably, more vintage GW. This endeavour ranges from a number of small tweaks to particular models…


…to rather impressive conversions and rebuilds. And everything is tied together by a wonderful, limited palette.


Or let’s not forget Wilhelminiatures’ wonderfully crazy apocalyptic warband taking cues from 40k, Necromunda and the latest Mad Max film at the same time:



And did I mention the blog also happens to feature some of the best 30k World Eaters around as well? Stupendous!


Given a collection this eclectic and wonderfully weird, it’s hard to pick favourites. If pressed to do so, however, there’s two models I would choose. One, the seashell-based monstrosity that reminded me so much of some very early and weird creature concepts from the video game Bioshock:




Seriously, though: I have no words for how creepy that thing is!

Arguably the best model, however, is this guy here:


A wonderfully weird retro-futuristic Knight on his grimdark steed: Very characterful, very Rogue Trader, very grimdark — and very, very Wilhelminiatures!

Make sure to check out this fantastic blog here.

 

Prometian Painting:

Confession time, I would never have given a single thought to creating an army based on “Hakanor’s Reavers”, a throwaway warband mentioned in an earlier version of the Chaos Space Marines Codex as a possible inspiration for your own colour schemes and/or warbands:


This made me feel like a fool when discovering Alex Marsh’s work – first on Flickr and then on his blog, Prometian Painting, however, because Alex has managed to create a truly spectacular army using the colours of Hakanor’s Reavers:

One thing that quickly becomes evident is that Alex’ Chaos Space Marine army has that one quality that I love above all else: It is chock-full of brilliant kitbashes and conversions. Like this massive Chaos Lord converted using the freebie Slaughterpriest from the White Dwarf relaunch:


Or this Chaos Sorcerer who gives Forgeworld’s conceptually similar event-only model a run for its money:

Now looking at Alex’s fantastic models is also a bit of a bittersweet experience for me, because Alex freely admits to taking quite a bit of inspiration from some of my own models, which is indredibly flattering, of course. The bittersweet part comes from seeing that some of his takes on my models actually improve on my work 😉


Seems like the best thing I can do, considering the circumstances, is to just steal back a whole bag of ideas from Alex in turn — his Chosen, in particular, would be a delightful idea to steal:


They are just so wonderfully massive and menacing:

And there’s much more inspiration to be had here, as Alex doesn’t limit himself to the Chaos Space Marine part of his army: His collection now features dedicated “sub-armies” in the form of Traitor Guard and Chaos Daemons. The Traitor Guard detachment makes excellent use of Forgeworld’s Vraksian Renegade Militia, while also featuring enough common features with Hakanor’s Reavers to tie both forces together visually:



Once again, though, there are some lovely visual flourishes showing off Alex’ talent for creating cool conversions. Such as this traitor commander who is equal parts haughty officer and monstrous servant of chaos:


And let’s not forget the Daemon side of the collection, either! Because Alex’s sprawling chaos collection actually features an entire third army composed of Khorne’s neverborn servants:


As you will already have noticed, one of the most striking features of Alex’ armies is how they use the leitmotif of heat to draw the eye and pull the different parts of the force together: His painting perfectly conveys the feeling of blistering heat, be it in the form of warp-based fire breaking through the Astartes’ armour or via lava on the bases casting a red haze on the models. His daemons really turn this up to eleven, though, looking like their very bodies consist of molten metal and living flame:


In short, this is one of the best chaos armies I have seen in 2017, and a project that’s always a joy to follow!

The blog can be found here.

 

III. Honorary mentions:

Augustus b’Raass’ retro Bloodthirsters:

For a time, back when I properly got into WFB and 40k, Trish Carden’s – then brand new – metal Bloodthirster was my favourite model of all time. And even though time has not been all that kind to the sculpt, Augustus b’Raass’ beautiful modern paintjob for the classic Bloodthirster has made me realise that I still love the model, in spite of the massive hands and the general clunkiness.

If anything, Augustus’ photo above actually sells the model short, since the vibrancy of his paintjob model is absolutely breathtaking, as I can attest to from firsthand experience. In fact, the stunning amount of pop present in the paintjob is arguably a bit easier to see in this picture I took of the model:


In addition to painting a stock Retro-Thirster, Augustus also used a second vintage model to splice in some bitz from the modern plastic Bloodthirster and create a model that combines modern and retro in the best possible way:


So these two guys definitely deserve a shout out here! Fantastic work, buddy!

You can find Augustus’ ongoing WIP thread featuring all of his various hobby projects, over here.

Jeff Vader’s Primaris Reivers


It somehow feels as though this wouldn’t be a proper best of the year post without at least namedropping the ever illustrious Johan Egerkrans aka Jeff Vader, and while Johan’s hobby output last year didn’t quite match his frantic pace in previous years, he still managed to knock it out of the park again and again. Case in point, and particularly noteworthy: The Primaris Reivers from his DIY Chapter, bearing all the hallmarks of his incredibly gorgeous painting style as well as selling me on a slightly dubious new unit type. Congratulations, mate! Nobody does it quite like you!

Jeff Vader keeps blogging over here.

 

IV. The absolute best hobby project of 2017:

Wait, you didn’t think we were finished yet, did you? As it happens, I’ve actually saved the best for last this time around, so allow me to share my absolutely favourite hobby project from last year:

Neil101’s Adepta Sororitas diorama

Some of you may remember my absolute elation when this lass was released late in 2016:

To quote myself for a moment here:

You see, if somebody asked me what 40k was all about, I would point them to two particular pieces of artwork by the venerable John Blance. And one of those two pieces of art would be [the cover of the old Adepta Sororitas Codex], invariably.

It’s really all there: 40k’s particular blend of religious iconography, grimdark dystopian sci-fi and medieval madness. The glitzy, 80s fantasy style warrior woman with the crazy hairdo. And the influences from classic painters like Bosch, Breughel, Rembrandt et. al. It’s 40k in a perfectly formed nutshell.

And to get an almost picture perfect model representing that character, courtesy of Martin Footit, was a very particular delight, and one I wouldn’t have expected in a million years.

So I spent ages trying to get hold of a Canoness Veryidian model (it’s still sitting in its box, unpainted. That’s irony of fate for you), and one of my half-formed plans for the model was that, maybe, just maybe, I could try and recreate some of the characters from the background of that artwork and have them, along with the Canoness, as some kind of mini-diorama, you know?

Yeah, so…then I saw that Neil101 had done this:

I cannot even begin to put words to the sheer awesomness of this diorama: Neil has really gone above and beyond to create the closest possible representation of the art in actual miniature form — and without any cheap tricks like messing around with the scale or stuff like that, either. It’s an incredible piece that you could possible spend hours examining more closely to get an idea of all the details and genius little touches. Canoness Veryidian remains at the heart of the piece, of course, but it’s truly stunning what an incredible amount of work Neil had dedicated to the attempt of featuring all the crazy and demented characters loitering around in the background of the original illustration:

It goes without saying that seeing Neil’s work has put my own aspirations of doing something similar to rest — I mean, what’s the point, right? 😉

What’s more, since this is a fully fledged 360 degrees diorama, it basically looks great from every angle, lending itself perfectly to the creation of moody impressions of the grimdark future:


Speaking of which, I thought it would actually be fun to create some montages of Neil’s photos, trying to bring them even closer to the original art, so I played around with Photoshop and Pixlr a bit and send these over to Neil quite a while ago:



Looking at the pictures again now, I still cannot get over how awesome this project is: It epitomises the kind of no-holds-barred, crazy inventive hobby projects Neil101 has become known – and rightly revered – for.

So yeah, Neil, mate, you win “best absolute everything” this year — congrats! 😉

After a prolonged hiatus, Neil101 has once again set up shop on the interwebz: Find his new blog, Distopus, over here.

 

So here we are, with another year of incredible hobby endeavours behind us. I hope you enjoyed this show of stunning talent and will take lots of inspiration (and new reading suggestions) away from this! If anything, and I am saying this to myself as much as to my readers, let’s not be discouraged by the breathtaking display of talent, but let’s rather try to be re-invigorated for our own hobby endeavours, eh? So here’s to the next twelve months of cutting up and painting little plastic men and women!

So there may just be one last instalment of the 2017 Eternal Hunt Awards, taking a look at last year’s best (and worst) releases and at their implications for the way forward. Keep your fingers crossed for me not to get sidetracked too much, and it may happen sooner rather than later 😉

Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts about my collection of inspiring content from fellow hobbyists! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Get out of my head, dammit! A closer look at The Burning of Prospero

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Custodes, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2016 by krautscientist

First of all, forgive me for being phenomenally lazy over the last two weeks, dear readers — or rather, I wasn’t really being lazy but rather focusing my attention elsewhere (on the job, as it stands — YAY!). But it’s now time to return to the world of blogging, and what better occasion than to address the very obvious elephant in the room: GW’s second Horus Heresy boxed kit, The Burning of Prospero:

burning-of-prospero-release-1Prospero has been dangled in front of Horus Heresy aficionados’ noses for quite a while now, and now GW performs a fearsome one-two-punch, turning the occasion into its own boxed set with dedicated rules — and lots and lots of delicious new little plastic men. Interestingly enough, the box seems to be continuing some of Betrayal at Calth’s most successful parts (i.e. giving us Horus Heresy Astartes in multi-part plastic) while also shaking up the formula in other respects (making the HQ models far less generic and adding shiny stuff like the Custodian Guard and the Sisters of Silence). So anyway, it has been a while since the last review, so let’s relish this occasion and use it as an excuse to take a closer look at the models as well as the possible conversion opportunities!

Before we begin, however, allow me to point you towards Wudugast’s article regarding The Burning of Prospero as a possible companion piece to this post. I’ve only skimmed his post so far, mostly for fear of ending up stealing some of his ideas and observations, but it seems like he raises some excellent points, and I know I am already looking forward to reading the whole thing, once my own post has gone up 😉

So let us start with the two HQ models that come in the box: Once again, we get one commander for each side. Now while Betrayal at Calth chose the route of actually naming the characters and giving them background while keeping the models themselves generic to the point of blandness, The Burning of Prospero goes the exact opposite way and opens up with one of the 30k and 40k universes’ big names:

 

Ahzek Ahriman, Chief-Librarian of the Thousand Sons

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Now that was quite a surprise, wasn’t it? Ahriman’s definitely the first major 30k character to be given a plastic incarnation, and I think Maxime Pastourel (aka Morbäck) has done a wonderful job with the model: The armour and detailing are very close representations of several pieces of Horus Heresy artwork, giving you the idea that, yes, this is definitely Ahriman! The blank faceplate is a bit of an acquired taste, but in all fairness, it has been part of the art for quite a while now, so it’s definitely an accurate representation. The engravings and symbols on Ahriman’s armour speaks of the Thousand Sons’ dabblings in sorcery while not overcluttering the model. And I really love how the flowing robes lend motion and dynamism to what is otherwise a rather static pose.

Of course with an important character like this, it’s also important to compare the 30k and 40k versions — and at first glance, there is very little resemblance between Maxime’s 30k Ahriman and Jes Goodwin’s classic 40k Ahriman:

40k_ahrimanHowever, upon closer examination, it’s interesting to see how several elements of the 30k model do seem like a shout out to Jes Goodwin’s model: Maxime himself explains in the current issue of WD how the curved crest behin Ahriman’s head was included to mirror the horns curving from the 40k version’s helmet — and a similar thing can be said about his Heka staff, as the curve of its blade seems to subtly echo the curvature of the horns atop 40k Ahriman’s staff.  The stole around Ahriman’s neck also mirrors a similar item on 40k Ahriman, and it’s fun how the wind seems to be blowing in the opposite direction on both models, respectively 😉

Beyond those visual connections, it’s also fun to compare what is different about the models, however, as there seems to be quite a bit of visual storytelling there: 30k Ahriman is all clean lines and lofty ideals, while 40k Ahriman seems like the quintessential, crooked and corrupt Chaos Sorcerer (much as he himself would probably deny any such notions). Looking at both models beautifully illustrates how far the character has fallen! It’ll be interesting to see whether a possible new 40k version of Ahriman manages to keep the same sense of narrative…

So yeah, I think this guy is pretty great! Anything else? I think that fallen Space Wolf on the base is a rather beautiful touch. And that might just be the best casting hand we have seen so far from GW — job’s a good ‘un!

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Geigor Fell-Hand of the Space Wolves

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Ahriman’s direct opponent for the game is Geigor Fell-Hand of the Space Wolves, and while he’s a beautiful model in his own right, I don’t think he can quite keep up with his Thousand Sons counterpart. First of all, it would have seemed more plausible from a story perspective to include Othere Wyrdmake, seeing how he’s both an already established character AND Ahriman’s nemesis of sorts. But I imagine that would have messed with the game’s premise (sorcery vs. good, honest close combat), so we get a CC monster instead 😉

Now there are many things I like about the model: The artificer armour is definitely a thing of beauty! The shoulder pads are particularly noteworthy, in my opinion: The left one looks deliciously customised while the right one actually shows a Rogue Trader-era style legion badge — brilliant!

In spite of the model’s strong parts, I do have two gripes about Geigor: One, I think the model is too “Space Viking” by a long shot, especially since the Horus Heresy novels (Prospero Burns, in particular) have been doing such a good job so far of selling the wolves as something more interesting than mere generic viking types. And now here comes Geigor, in full Space-Viking regalia — poor guy must not have gotten the memo…

In fairness, I think this problem could be solved in part by making a few minor tweaks and ommissions: That back banner needs to go, if you ask me, and the claw seems a bit over-designed to me.

In fact, that’s my second gripe: I get how the designers wanted this guy to read as a close combat monster, but the combination of a massive lightning claw and a combat knife just seems off to me, somehow, especially in combination with the slightly wonky poses of the arms. I think a pair of claws or a massive sword and knife would have been excellent options, respectively, but the setup we are getting here just seems like a bit of a compromise. I remember that this guy was rumoured to be Bjorn the Fell-Handed, back when the first rumours of the boxed set surfaced, and his equipment would have made lots of sense in that light. But it seems like GW chickened out and turned him into yet another super-important character that we have never heard about — and in that case, a different combination of weapons would have worked better, if you ask me.

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Don’t get me wrong, though: Geigor’s still a beautiful model that should work well both in 30k and 40k armies. He’s just not as good as Ahriman 😉

 

Tartaros Terminators

burning-of-prospero-release-7Getting a full squad of plastic multi-part Cataphractii out of the deal was one of the most pleasant surprises about Betrayal at Calth — and now the new boxed set follows suit and gives us a squad of the other iconic heresy-era pattern of Terminator armour. And it seems like GW’s sculptors have once again done a good job of recreating the design in plastic, at least where the amount of detail is concerned.

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Now I have to admit I am not a big fan of the Tartaros pattern, but that’s just me. Even so, I cannot help wondering whether these are actually a bit clunkier and more angular than their resin cousins. In any case, I do think the models end up looking a bit silly if the shoulder pads are placed too low, however. Just check out this guy:

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Beyond those observations, it looks like the kit comes with just as much customisation as the Cataphractii — and we even get some choom out of the deal! 😉 I also like the extra detail on the sergeant’s armour, which is something I would have loved to see on the Cataphractii as well!

All in all, this is another rock solid plastic rendition of heresy armour, and I imagine many people will be really happy with these guys! My lack of appreciation for the general design of the armour means I am not perfectly sold — but I do think the plastic Tartaros Terminators provide some excellent conversion fodder. But we’ll be getting to that in a minute…

 

Tactical Marines in Mk. III “Iron” armour

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Where the regular Astartes are concerned, the inclusion of plastic Mk. III armour is actually the most exciting part of the boxed set for me! Iron armour is possibly my favourite heresy era armour mark — even moreso than Mk. IV. There’s just something about the very archaic look of the armour and the added mass that’s immensely appealing to me for some reason — maybe it’s the fact that the heavyset Mk. III armour captures the massive, archaic feeling of the classic Wayne England Horus Heresy artwork like nothing else?

Anyway, these guys look great as a squad, and it’s cool that they are getting the whole tactical squad treatment (with all the options that entails) once more. Granted, though: If you are not into Space Marines, then this is just the umpteenth tactical squad — but then I guess you wouldn’t exactly be this boxed set’s chief target demographic, either 😉

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While the basic options and additional weapons are just like what we got with the Betrayal at Calth Mk. IV Marines, there are some additional tweaks that I appreciate: The models come with yet another bolter design (the Phobos pattern) that’s arguably a great fit for the archaic armour and makes for greater visual variety. And we get some chain swords for the Marines to wear at their hips, whoch is nice — and arguably a bit cooler than the somewhat bland combat knives. Maybe next time, we can get some actual chain sword arms, though? Thank you very much! 😉

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The armour design itself seems to have been tweaked ever so slightly during its transition to plastic: The back of the backpack seems to have streamlined a bit, for once. There have been some tweaks to the helmet design. The shape seems ever so slightly different, especially towards the back of the helmet. And the main difference is that the eyes – formerly just eye holes, really – have been turned into actual helmet lenses that can be painted. This definitely makes sense, but the look it creates needs some getting used to.

burning-of-prospero-release-12On the other hands, GW sweetens the deal by giving us several subtly different helmet designs, which is definitely appreciated.

Much as I love the design of the armour, however, my earlier criticism from the Betrayal at Calth release applies once more: Why not include some CC weapon arms (which would have made even more sense given the “physical power vs. sorcery” vibe of the whole game) and leave those to FW upgrade kits? I would have loved to finally see some close combat arms on a wider scale, especially with a kit that is otherwise so big on options and customisability.

Apart from this one piece of criticism, however, the Mk. III Marines are one of my favourite parts of the boxed set, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on them!

 

Custodian Guard & Sisters of Silence

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Right, if you had told me one year ago that we would be seeing plastic Custodes and Sisters of Silence in an upcoming Horus Heresy boxed set, I would probably have laughed long and hard and called you a wishlister of the highest order. And yet, here they are. Of course their inclusion makes sense from a background perspective — seriously, though: I would rather have expected them to be releaed as resin models.

Of course the recently released Deathwatch Watch Captain served as a fair warning, what with wielding a Guardian Spear and all — I was actually going to suggest using him as the base for a Custodes conversion. Clever, GW, very clever 😉

The Custodes in particular have long been a bit of a holy grail for many hobbyists (myself included), and the attempt to recreate them in model for has spawned many awesome armies — with Dave Taylor’s seminal Custodes army being first among them, of course. All the more reason, then, to take a close look at the models:

 

Custodian Guard

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“Oh, right, now I understand: That’s what GW kept doing all those golden Age of Sigmar dudes for: They were merely test runs for the inception of plastic Custodes…” 😉

And, funnily enough, just when we thought we couldn’t stand any more huge golden dudes, GW gives us plastic Custodians — I wonder whether or not the irony behind it all was intended 😉

In spite of never appearing in model form so far, the Custodes have a fairly well-documented history, with quite a few depictions in the Horus Heresy art. Many of the most iconic illustrations featuring the Emperor’s bodyguard were part of the Horus Heresy trading card game and subsequently appeared in the collected Horus Heresy artbooks. Such as this piece:

legio-custodes-artwork-1
I think it’s really astonishing how much of the visual splendour of the Custodian armour appearing in the image above has been faithfully reproduced on the actual models, from the iconic helmet design to the small details of the armour:

burning-of-prospero-release-15I also really like how the armour seems decidedly unlike standard Astartes power armour, thanks to its very different lines, integrated backpack/reactor etc.

What’s more, you may not like those massively clunky bolt-pistol swords, internet, but if nothing else, there’s a precedent for them in the classic HH artwork, and they are just as clunky there:

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The shout outs to the artwork don’t stop there, however: In his aforementioned post, Wudugast points out how much the bare head included with the kit resembles the various depictions of Constantin Valdor, Captain-General of the Legio Custodes:

legio-custodes-artwork-3

All of this makes it seem like GW’s designers have really gone above and beyond in the attempt to do these guys justice and make them resemble the classic artwork as much as possible.

Even so, I will say that – beyond the sheer surprise of these guys being featured as part of a boxed set, and in plastic, no less – I did have to warm to the Custodes models for a number of reasons:

First up, they seemed so big and clunky to me: Sure, so many of the elements from the classic artwork have been expertly reproduced in model form, including the contoured armour that separates them from regular Astartes, but they still felt so massive to me at first glance, when some of the old artwork rather suggested something more lithe and elegant:

legio-custodes-artwork-4
Of course John Blanche’s style is always rather open to interpretation, and the actual models usually end up looking fairly different, but there are also different pieces of art that have the Custodians look powerful, but in a rather elegant way. Just check out the guys on the far right in the picture below:

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The actual models seem incredibly massive, however. Especially so in certain configurations:

burning-of-prospero-release-16At the same time, I have come to like the bigger scale when compared to regular Astartes: Sure, it seems a bit strange at first, but the Custodians really should be between an Astartes and a Primarch in size — just imagine how stupid they would look surrounding the Emperor otherwise 😉

Still, the added mass takes some getting used to. But even as I write this, I can feel myself liking the models more and more. So I don’t think it’s much of an issue.

The other gripe I have doesn’t seem quite as substantial, admittedly, but it just keeps bothering me: Why are the Custodes models lacking any kind of robes or capes? This feels like a pretty baffling design choice on GW’s part, because if you look at the various pieces of artwork above, the crimson robes and capes seem as emblematic of the Custodes as their Guardian spears and their iconic helmets. Yet they are completely missing on the models, not even showing up on the Shield-Captain.

Now I do realise that this probably has something to do with technical issues and/or the way the models are assembled — but come on, these models are so spectacularly detailed, and you have gone out of your way to feature elements from the artwork. So how hard could it have been to add some (optional) capes on the sprue?

To add insult to injury, the Custodian appearing on the pictures of FW’s new antigrav tank even sports an added cape:

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Looks like I’ll have to source some plastic capes, then — any suggestions? 😉

Of course having Custodes available in plastic also carries a bit of a bittersweet taste for me: After all, I happily kitbashed together a small Custodes army a couple of years ago, and I think I had a pretty good recipe as well:

Custodes (2b)
Custodian Squad (2)

Custodes army Teaser Shot
And these guys have now obviously been rendered rather irrelevant by the new models — bugger! 😉 I really only have myself to blame, though, as my last models for the army were painted back in 2013 — I should have been faster!

All in all, these guys have grown on me quite a bit — and to actually see them as what looks like a multi-part plastic kit still seems kind of unreal to me. What’s more, the amount of detail on the various parts of the kit is really rather outstanding, and I imagine playing around with the bitz should be quite a bit of fun. Sure, the swords are too big (even if they are accurate), but at least we get a full set of Guardian Spears, so that’s not much of a problem. It really is a shame about those missing capes, though…

 

Sisters of Silence

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Where the Custodes depart from the artwork in some rather surprising ways, the Sisters of Silence seem like a perfect representation of the various pieces of artwork from the Horus Heresy artbooks: The design of the armour, the iconic weapon and facemasks, and the weapons wielded by the various squads in the artwork: all accounted for.

In addition to this, it’s always a treat to see some additional female models, and the Sisters of Silence are an especially welcome breath of fresh air in between all those bulky killing machines in the boxed set!

Another thing I really like about the models is that they feature all of the weapon loadouts we have seen in the art so far, allowing for swords as well as bolters, which is a very nice option to have (and also adds even more possible conversion parts).

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Oh, and that Sister Superior ist just a stunning model — it’s going to take all of my (almost nonexistent) willpower to resist the temptation to convert her into an Inquisitrix…

Incidentally, a squad of kitbashed Sisters of Silence were part of my Custodes project as well, although I’d argue they are still close enough to the new models to actually still work once painted:

SoS (15)

Do I see any negative points about the Sisters? I think some of the hair looks ever so slightly unnatural — but that’s not a huge problem and should be easy enough to sort out. In closing, let me just state the obvious, though: If GW can do these, they can do plastic Sisters of Battle. Just sayin’…

 

conversion options:

So much for the models, but what about possible conversions? I think the boxed set provides us with lots and lots of promising bitz and opportunities. Let me just outline some initial ideas for you:


Ahriman

I think the model could easily be turned into your own, customised Thousand Sons Librarian or even Praetor, for that matter: Just a head and/or an arm swap, and you are there. By the same token, he would work really well as a Chaos Space Marine Sorcerer in 40k: His armour is just ornate enough to work, and adding some spikes, trophies and chaotic symbols as well as a suitably chaotic staff and head shouldn’t be a huge challenge.

Geigor Fell-Hand
Like Ahriman, it should be easy enough to turn him into a custom Praetor with a new head, new arms or what have you. It’s also important to point out that the thing I consider the model’s biggest weakness (his over-the-top Space Wolfiness) is what makes him a great fit for a 40k Space Wolves army.
Given the amount of detail on his armour, I think it would be pretty difficult to convert him into a member of another legion. However, I might eventually try to turn him into a member of my Traitor Wolves. We’ll see…

Tartaros Terminators

I am pretty sure we can look forward to all kinds of crazy kitbashing involving these guys, especially if it comes to recombining existing parts to create new (or customised) marks of Terminator armour.
Possibly the most interesting thing about the models, however, is how they provide excellent parts for true-scale conversions! My first true-scale Marine, Praetor Janus Auriga, uses Tartaros legs, and they work really well for true-scale Marines because there are few visual cues that actually make them read as Terminator legs, making for very uncomplicated conversions. By the same token, I have seen some very convincing true-scale conversions making use of Tartaros torso pieces, so I definitely think that true-scalers across the blogosphere will appreciate these new toys. For instance, I can hardly wait for Apologist to get his hands on these guys… 😉

Mk III Marines

It’s easy to imagine how versatile a tool these will become for Space Marine players — after all, they should work great in both 30k and 40k, and it’s easy enough to mix and match with all of those plastic parts now available. This is great because it allows for extra flavour in your Space Marine army, regardless of which legion you are playing. It also means that you can now create a plastic Horus Heresy Astartes army without having to rely on a single armour mark for most of the models. What’s more, mixing different parts will lead to a more improvised, ragtag appearance that would be a great fit for specific legions (yes, World Eaters, I am looking at you! 😉 )

I also love the fact that the Mk. III Marines would arguably work really well for Chaos Space Marines as well: The added detail and mass make them look just archaic and sinister enough, and some legions immediately come to mind —  such as the Death Guard, Iron Warriors or World Eaters.

Man, I really want to get started on those guys…

Custodian Guard

Well, these would be great fíf you wanted to build a suitably massive Inquisitor, of course, but I am pretty certain that we are going to start seeing actual Custodians appear in INQ28 and Necromunda games, especially if they happen to be set on Terra 😉
Beyond that, I am already considering using leftover Custodian parts to turn some of those Sigmarines into yet more Custodians — this should be interesting! And finally, those very same leftover parts should make for excellent conversion fodder for Space Marines and Inquisitorial retinues alike — those shields alone are almost worth it! Invictarii, Breachers or Honour Guard, anyone…?

Sisters of Silence

I predict a bright future for the Sisters of Silence models, especially among converters and the INQ28 crowd: Additional female models are always a much-appreciated resource, and it looks like the new sisters could be the legitimate heirs to the female Dark Eldar Kabalite Warriors and Wyches when it comes to building female assassins, death cultists and Inquisitorial operatives. Beyond that, like I said, the Sister Superior looks like she would make a teriffic base model for an Inquisitrix. And if you have already given up hope that GW will ever release plastic Sisters of Battle, then these girls might be your final way out 😉

 

So what’s the final verdict? Back when Betrayal af Calth was realised, my main criticism was the generic look of the models: I realised that this choice arguably ensured that the box would have a wide appeal to more people, but the lack of character still felt like a problem, especially with regard to the HQ models. The Burning of Prospero addresses this criticism, giving us squads that are once again generic enough so as to be useful to everyone, while imbuing the HQ characters with a lot of character. And then they added some of the most eagerly awaited Horus Heresy troop types on top of it all in a move that seems to have been plucked from the big all time wish-list in the back of my head — well played, GW, well played indeed!

With regard to the Horus Heresy setting at large, I think the writing’s definitely on the wall now: GW seemingly wants to move the Astartes squads to plastic and leave the special upgrade kits and characters to Forgeworld. At the same time, we have now seen the first important character in plastic, and we have proof that the Daemon-Primarchs (or at least one of them) will be produced as plastic kits. So I think we can expect a sizeable part of the future Horus Heresy output to be produced by GW proper (and in plastic) at this point, and I applaud that choice. I realise that not everyone is quite as enthusiastic as me about this change, since many hobbyists seem to fear a sellout of the setting (to that I say: No shit, Sherlock 😉 ) or a decline in quality. But if the boxed sets are anything to go by, I do not think there’s that much to fear.

If anything, it’ll be interesting to see what comes next: Additional armour marks in plastic? More named characters as clamshell versions? And let’s not forget the Custodes and Sisters of Silence: I feel myself being drawn back to that one massive piece of classic artwork time and time again:

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This hints at additional troop types, such as Terminators and jetbikes, to name just a few. And with the models we have now so clearly inspired by classic artwork, the obvious question is: What if this is just the beginning…?

Wishlisting aside, though: What we have here is another very tempting Horus Heresy starter box. And how does the new box compare to Betrayal at Calth? I think that, between the two, Betrayal at Calth is still arguably the better “starter kit”: The contents are a bit less exciting, but also slightly more useful. That being said, the new box still seems like a more refined sequel: If Betrayal of Calth was the teriffic proof of concept, The Burning of Prospero is GW’s pièce de résistance — at least for now…

 

So what’s your take on the new boxed set? What do you like or hate about the new models? And do you have any conversion ideas you would like to share? I would love to hear from you in the comments section!

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

Bringing a boltgun to a masked-ball — a closer look at Death Masque

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2016 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, it has been quite some time since the last review here on the blog, because for what is probably the first time in my hobby life, I am productive enough to keep showing you finished models instead of talking about releases. Go me! 😉

At the same time, however, the backlog of released stuff I want to talk about keeps building up, so the recent release of Death Masque seemed like a good excuse to dip my toes into this particular pool again (I also want to discuss Silver Tower in more detail one of these days, probably as the last hobbyist in the world, but that will have to wait until I finally get my act together and write the rather comprehensive post I know the game deserves).

Death Masque release (1)
Anyway, here we are with a new boxed game, and it’s centered around the Deathwatch once more. Which is pretty cool, because the Deathwatch has always been a bit of a red-haired stepchild, at least when it comes to the Inquisitorial Ordos’ Chambers Militant: The Ordo Malleus’ Grey Knights have now enjoyed full faction status for years, and the Sisters of Battle, allied by ancient decree to the Ordo Hereticus…well, let’s not get into the whole drama and tragic release history surrounding them right now — suffice to say that they at least did form a complete army at one point.

The Deathwatch, on the other hand, was always restricted to a couple of conversion bitz, so if you wanted to run a Deathwatch killteam or, god forbid, an entire army, some OOP metal conversion bitz and a couple of plastic shoulder pads were all the material at your disposal.

All of this has changed with Deathwatch:Overkill, which provided us with some pretty excellent characters that already defined a general outline of what the modern Deathwatch could look like. And now we get another boxed game — this time chock-full of actual multi part kits and delicious conversion fodder! We also get a Deathwatch Codex to boot, but as my perspective is chiefly that of a converter, let’s focus on the models and discuss their strenghts and flaws as well as possible conversion ideas:

 

Team Xenos

The Xenos are definitely getting the short end of the stick in this box — at least in terms of new sculpts: All of the models (except one, but we’ll be getting to that in a minute) are the plastic Harlequin kits that were released a while back. They are still pretty cool, of course, but there’s really no need to talk about those models again — all my thoughts on the plastic Harlequin models can be found here, in case you’re interested.

But like I said, there’s one notable exception. This guy:

 

Eldrad Ulthran, Farseer of Ulthwé

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Well, quite a surprise, this one! I don’t think many people were expecting a plastic version of this classic 2nd edition character, seeing how Eldrad seemed to have died a typical Disney villain death at the tail end of the Eye of Terror campaign all those years ago, but mostly because the original Jes Goodwin sculpt is certainly one of the most iconic 40k models:

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Confession time: I consider this one of the best 40k models ever, period. Easily one of my top five if one considers the whole 40k catalogue, and certainly one of the models you should show somebody if you were trying to explain to them what 40k is. Sure, the model is slightly two-dimensional, being very much a product of its time, but the amount of detailing, strong triangular composition and perfect pose make this model one for the ages, in my opinion. And now they have chosen to update this piece. Ho hum…

GW’s respect for the original Eldrad model shows in that they basically chose to keep almost every part of the original model: The staff and sword are virtually identical, as are most of the clothes and various doodads dangling from Eldrad’s belt and arms. The helm is also really similar, although I really hate the fact that Eldrad now sports one of those silly “pharao beards” that have been the bane of every Farseer design for quite a while now.

The pose is also very similar to the original, but while adding a bit of depth to the original sculpt, it also ends up looking ever so slightly less iconic. Now maybe this is just nostalgia getting the better of me, but for some reason the new Eldrad, for all his excellent detail, doesn’t seem to be quite as tightly composed as the original piece:

Eldrad comparison
While some will certainly welcome the slightly airier pose and sense of depth and motion to the model, but I just cannot get over how brilliant the original is. Nothing is better proof of this than the fact that the new Eldrad instantly becomes far inferior if you drop the sword arm and use the alternate, “casting” hand for him:

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Of course it’s a huge boon that the new model is plastic, so it lends itself to converting much better than the old metal model, allowing for using it as the base as a customised Farseer conversion (or for smaller tweaks like, for instance, getting rid of that beard…):

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When all is said and done, it’s a very nice and fitting model when taken on its own merits. When compared to its legendary predecessor, however, I have to admit that it doesn’t quite hold up: If I were to build the new plastic Eldrad, I would do my darnedest to make him look as much as the original metal model as possible by tweaking the pose (and by GETTING RID OF THAT BEARD!), and I think that says al lot about which version is the superior one…

I wonder what this means for the (rumoured) plastic update of Khârn the Betrayer…?

 

Team Deathwatch

It takes no rocket scientist to figure out that the Deathwatch are the more appealing faction in this particular set, mostly because there’s more original content for them. But even so, the Deathwatch side of things also makes heavy use of pre-existing kits: It looks like you basically get one Vanguard and Venerable Dreadnought kit and then the new Deathwatch Veteran sprue to build five Veterans and use the remaining bitz to spice up the other models to your heart’s content. Regarding the base kits, all of them are excellent kits, whether you’re starting a new Astartes force or adding to an existing one. Some detailed thoughts of on the Vanguard kit can be found here.

But yeah, beyond those kits, there’s the new Deathwatch Veteran sprue — and quite a sprue it is:

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Looks like we are getting lots of weapons and decoration, but also a dedicated set of bodies and legs, which is very nice! And here’s what the bitz from the sprue will look like when used to create a squad of Deathwatch Veterans:

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The inclusion of already establised visual elements, such as the Inquisition symbols, shoulder pads covered in scripture and special bolters, was a given, of course. What I really like, however, is how the main point of this new sprue seems to be to give the Deathwatch its own visual identity: Deathwatch Marines basically used to be standard Marines with a special bolter and one slightly more interesting shoulder pad. The new parts, however, really create a new look for them:

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Their armour has a more streamlined and modern look to it (is that an Mk8 breastplate, I wonder?), which befits an Inquisitorial special force. If anything they have a sleek “Spec Ops” looks that is rendered even stronger by their armour being black.

It’s very interesting to see how they differ from their obvious counterparts, the Grey Knights: The Grey Knights look like, well, Knights: very ornamental and medieval. The Deathwatch, on the other hand, look like a particularly bad-ass black ops team from your favourite 90s military shooter, thrown into a blender and turned up to eleven — which also happens to make them look far more believably like an Inquisitorial sub-organisation now!

In addition to the sleek new armour designs, the sprue also seems to be featuring some of the Ordo Xenos’ more…esoteric gear, such as the sword on the squad leader:

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Seems like we’ve been stealing some tech from the Necrons, eh? 😉 Now while this particular weapon seems a bit hit or miss to me, I still think it’s neat that some of the equipment seems to be both more esoteric and seemingly inspired by Xenos tech.

For those of you who want boisterous and ostentatious instead of sneaky and subdued, however, the good news is that the new Deathwatch bitz seem to allow for that option as well:

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Ah, what would we be without huge hammers and crazily ornate boarding shields, eh? They are looking awesome, though!

But whatever happened to the handle on this poor fellow’s hammer…?

Death Masque release (14)There’s also a collection of shoulder pads bearing quite a plethora of different chapter symbols on the sprue, which should really help to make any given Deathwatch force look like it has actually been assembled from Astartes hailing from many different chapters. And the fact that we don’t just get yet more heraldic elements of the “big” chapters like the Ultramarines, Dark Angels or Blood Angels, but rather a collection of more obscure iconography, is both a great shout out to the wider 40k lore and a great modeling opportunity!

And finally, the bitz on the sprue can also be used to convert Dreadnoughts into a Deathwatch variant:

Death Masque release (15)All in all, the new sprue seems like a deliciously versatile new toy, and I can see it becoming really popular, both with 40k players and the INQ28 crowd alike! For instance, Commissar Molotov, being both the Godfather of INQ28 and quite the Deathwatch fiend, will probably find much to like about the new sprue 😉

 

Watch-Captain Artemis

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Well, this was another really excellent surprise: Whom do we get as the Deathwatch commander but a veteran of 54mm Inquisitor? For those of you who haven’t been into this hobby for years and years, Artemis will merely seem like a cool enough Deathwatch model. But if you remember the old 54mm Inquisitor line of models, you will also remember Artemis, arguably one of the most spectacular models at the bigger scale. And just check out this comparison to see how closely the new model matches the earlier incarnation:

For the sake of the comparison, both models are displayed at the same size, when they are really anything but...

For the sake of the comparison, both models are displayed at the same size, when they are really anything but…

It’s really crazy how GW’s sculptors have managed to incorporate almost all of the visual elements from the 54mm Artemis! Especially if you consider that one of the huge draws of the original Inquisitor models was how 28mm plastic couldn’t hope to capture the same amount of detail — I think it’s a testament to the quality of GW’s modern plastics that almost all of the detail has been retained at about half the size!

There are some smaller differences: Artemis seems to have done rather well for himself since we last saw him , earning the right to wear a snazzy cape. His Deathwatch boltgun has also been exchanged with an actual combi-weapon, and both his sword and his backpack have received some additional bling. I kinda miss the Crux Terminatus necklace, though, as it provided a nice extra bit of dynamism to the model. And I think I’d add a purity seal to the front of his left shoulder pad, just for old times’ sake 😉

The main difference is in the face, if you ask me: Where 54mm Artemis’ face is classically handsome (in the way many retro Space Marines used to be), the 28mm models have noticeably broader features — whether this is merely due to technical factors or an actual attempt at giving him the broader, heavier features that seem to be a trademark of Space Marines in some of the literature, I cannot say. Personally, I prefer the 54mm face, not because of the additional detail, but because the callback to the older, more handsome Marines appeals to me in an entirely nostalgic way. Curiously enough, the bare head that came with the old Dark Angels veteran sprue really resembles 54mm Artemis, though, so if you want to change that part, that’s the face I’d recommend — in fact, there’s a fantastic older 28mm Artemis conversion by Siamtiger that happens to be using the head in question.

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But that’s obviously nitpicking: Artemis’ new incarnation is a brilliant call-back to a classic miniature and also a fantastic looking centrepiece for a Deathwatch army in its own right — very nice!

 

Conversion options:

It goes without saying that I won’t be discussing the general conversion options for the older kits contained in the boxed kit, for obvious reasons, although my thoughts on possible conversions may be found in the aforementioned reviews of the respective kits linked above.

So this leaves us with the two special characters and the new Deathwatch sprue to discuss:

Eldrad could obviously become a building template for your own custom Farseer with just a few cuts and a bit of kitbashing. The prospect isn’t hugely exciting, certainly, mostly because we already have a generic clamshell Farseer who can fill that role, although it’s nice to have the option. Seeing how his breastplate (with most of the Eldaresque decoration) seems to be a separate piece, it should be possible to use the model as the base for a non-Eldar robed character, such as an Inquisitor, Imperial Psyker, Chaos demagogue or what have you. And of course it goes without saying that his sword and staff would also be cool conversion bitz for any Eldar players.

But really, when all is said and done, there’s no doubt that this model should probably be used to build Eldrad, above all else. So the most appealing conversion options here would be to make minor tweaks to make him resemble his classic incarnation even more closely (rotating the head counter-clockwise by a few degrees, and OFF WITH THAT BEARD!).

Artemis should be easy enough to tweak as well with some careful cutting — but once again, I find myself strangely reluctant to even think about using the model for a conversion. It’s such a cool shout out to the 54mm model, and using it for anything else would just lose that — and there’s really no shortage of Space Marine bitz to use, so we might as well leave this guy in one piece, eh? Just this once 😉

Come to think of it, the one tweak I think would improve the model would be to slightly rotate its head so as to mirror the 54mm version’s pose even more closely.

So with the two special characters best left untouched, for the most part, the Deathwatch sprue is obviously the true star of the show here, and rumours have it that GW really intends to package it with a huge number of Space Marine kits to give the Deathwatch a real push. And why shouldn’t they? The designers have been building up the compatibility of the various Space Marine kits literally for decades now, and towards this end, releasing a sprue that will allow you to turn virtually every Space Marine kit into a Deathwatch kit is a pretty shrewd move!

There’s also the fact that the sprue seems far more comprehensive than the Dark Angels and Black Templars sprues that were its distant predecessors (and those weren’t half bad either): If you carefully divide the contents of the sprue between your squads, you’ll get quite a bit of mileage out of those bitz!

Possibly the best part of the sprue, however, is that it really plays to the appeal of the Deathwatch: The great thing about them is that they allow you to build a Killteam or force that is very much centered around the individual models, as they all hail from different chapters. So if you want to test some ideas for a DIY chapter or build a model belonging to one of the more obscure chapters, building a model for your Deathwatch project will allow you to do just that without having to commit to an entire squad or army.

And we finally get a distinctive look for the Deathwatch — one that goes beyond the concept of standard tac Marines with black armour and a silver left arm. True enough, these are still Space Marines, but even if they lack the plethora of kits the Grey Knights have nowadays, at least they now have their own visual identity!

The flexibility of the sprue means that it should also become quite popular with converters: Whether you are looking to add a killteam (or a single Deathwatch veteran) to your army or want some suitably original and esoteric equipment for your chapter masters or Inquisitors, there should be something for you on this sprue. Even if you are going for true scale Deathwatch (because true INQ28 aficionados will only ever settle for true scale Astartes), you’ll be thankful for the Terminator-sized Deathwatch shoulder pads.

 

All in all, Death Masque seems like a cool boxed set that basically combines several of GW’s most successful recent ideas: If you look at the kits in the box, that’s some pretty major bang for the buck. The game functions as a standalone entity, drawing in new people and working as yet another gateway drug, so to speak. The redesigned Deathwatch will pluck at the heartstrings of veteran players and hobbyists. And the special characters provide that extra bit of sugar sprinkled on top — well played, GW!

So what’s your take on the new models and conversion bitz? I would love to hear your opinion, so feel free to drop me a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!