Back in the wistful days of early 2018 a particularly interesting model turned up in blurry previews of the new (at the time) Genestealer Cult – a mysterious three-armed gunslinger. Perfect conversion fodder, we all thought. I’d never really been into the purple-skinned freaks before, and any interest in the model was strongly around it’s potential as something else.
Until someone said to me “All he’s missing is a hat and he’d be a great cowboy alien”, and something stirred in me that refused to die – I needed to make a gang of cowboy aliens for this guy to hang around with. The GSC gang from Necromunda was weird and wonderful, and had access to some delightfully shonky gear and skills that would make them perfectly thematic.
But how does one go about building cowboy aliens? Cue the Kill Team box set. It had all the necessary genestealer arms, heads and legs, and a bunch of great space guns and leather dusters from the Mechanicus part of the kit. Smashing them together would be easy, right?
round peg, square hole
The first two models I put together as testers went together a dream – the heads and arms worked surprisingly well with the Mechanicus torsos, I only had to shave a little off the underarms to make them sit flush against the body.
The legs were another story though. Apparently Skitarii must all be a size zero because holy heck those hips are small. The GSC legs are almost twice the width of the aperture in the AM bodies so a LOT had to be painstakingly shaved off every set of legs to fit each body.
I was happy with the concept. All of them had their dusters bashed up a bit with a pin vice and craft knife to make them look a bit weathered, and I made sure to cut off any Mechanicus symbols on the chest and the rear backpack nubbin and replace them with armour plates from Anvil Industry.
In fact, much of the extra parts came from Anvil – I wanted lasguns that looked more like rifles, but I didn’t want to shell out top dollar for Krieg bits or the new Blackstone cultists. I had an issue finding proper ‘pistol’ laspistols and in many cases just ended up tacking a las muzzle onto the end of a gun to make them look sci-fi.
Some poses worked really well – the Mechanicus torsos have so much movement in the flappy bits that I feel gets lost with all the other gubbins the models have.
As a rule, I try to avoid making gangers with the same equipment. It makes every model interesting to create, and it helps me pick them out on the tabletop when I’m still learning everybody’s names. GSC got access to shock whips, which I thought was thematic for cowboys even though the rule were garbage.
Unfortunately/fortunately the rules for Versatile weapons changed when I was basically finished building the gang, making shock whips and shock staves SO much more effective. Many of my Acolytes are likely to have a slight adaption done to them before their next bout…
I tried to equip my Acolytes cheaply as they’re pretty much glass cannons. With Toughness 3, 1 wound, Movement 4 and only a 6+ save they’re no more survivable than the regular mooks, but because of their nature they have a big “SHOOT ME” sign above their heads. Multiple arms gave me an option to try out some exciting poses for them, including this hammer-fanning guy that I’m particularly proud of.
Then there was the boss – with the Necromunda Genestealer Cult you get a choice of two – a souped-up version of the Acolyte (on paper the better option) or a psychic guy who can make enemies shoot their teammates through walls (utterly garbage statline). There was, obviously, only one option for me.
Using the Warhammer Necromancer as a base, he got a genestealer squid-face and the Serpenta pistol from the Adeptus Mechanicus Magos kit. His staff was carefully replaced with the majority of a force staff from the Grey Knights kit and topped with the GSC icon.
All that was left was the easy part (what a fool I was) – making hats.
Suits you, sir
No self-respecting alien cowboy would be complete without a proper cowboy hat, and there must be dozens of 28mm cowboy hats floating round on the internet, right?
After several weeks of fruitless searching (apart from one paltry TTcombat offering) I resigned myself to having to make all the sodding things out of green stuff. I tried a number of different ways, but this one worked the best for me in the end.
- Make a little ball of green stuff and smoosh it thin onto a flat surface, lubricating the underside with a bit of water to make it easier to peel off.
- Let it cure for about half an hour.
- Cut a hole in the middle where the head will go (I used the little protector tube from the end of a brush).
- Gently peel it off and place it on the head of your intended victim
- Using all four of your arms, cajole, corral and stretch the brim to fit over the head. I used a tool in each hand and had to bluetack the model to my desk, your mileage may vary.
- Apply a little tab of superglue at the back and front to keep it in place.
- Apply the trademark bend to the brim and leave it to dry.
- Put a little blob of superglue on his head and apply another little ball of green stuff.
- Gently smoosh the green stuff into the shape of the upper part of the hat, paying attention to actual hat references to get the trademark bumpy bits correct.
Luckily there are so many different types of hat people associate with cowboys, not just the traditional ten-gallon, so it was very easy to turn happy accidents into different hat styles. Doing the hats was extremely frustrating but rewarding, although I might have sent some of these guys into orbit if I was trying to make them all look uniform.
All that was left was to fill in any spaces and make the rest of the hats!
One of my favourite conversions, I was pleased with how his hat came out and how well all the bits fit together. I wanted a second guy with a lasgun for ranged support but needed something to fit the left hand that wasn’t just a boring pistol. Weirdly, GSC get hand flamers super cheap, so I thought I’d take a punt.
Turns out this guy ended up being MVP more times than I could count. He maybe fired his lasgun twice during his life, but that hand flamer racked up more bodies than I could keep count of. It’s a cheap template weapon that messes up a front line, causes panic and sets people on fire and I absolutely should have more of them in the gang!
Taking no small inspiration from Stinky Pete the Prospector, Lashy Luke was my attempt to make a more aged-looking fellow.
Weirdly his shock whip ended up being most effective in defense – people would charge him to negate its effect and he’d annihilate them with a counter-attack.
The Acolyte arms were a little long, but I don’t think it made much of a difference. If anything, it added to the slightly weird proportions of the minis and made them even odder-looking.
You can’t have a team of cowboys without a gunslinger! The original plan was to have mostly stub weapons in the gang for A E S T H E T I C reasons, but it proved to be far more complicated as they’re not in the gang list – they’d have to play their first game to get access to the Rare Trader to purchase stub guns from the common list.
Bit cheesy and meant a lot of guys would have to sit on the sidelines for the first game. Not really work the faff when you could just get revolvers and smash some las muzzles on the end.
Old One-eye Charley
You might be sensing a slightly Niddy theme with the names here…
I loved how his hat came out. Old One-Eye (Charley) ended up being a staple in most of the games, standing at the back and keeping rival gangers pinned down.
Stirland Mud was also applied around the hem of their dusters before undercoating to give them more texture – I intended on doing most of these guys with drybrushing techniques so the more texture I could give them, the better.
Pew pew, long las! My preference is for the hunting rifle as you get the Knockback trait too, but the long-las was a healthy (and cheap) addition to the long-ranged firepower. I had considered grenade launchers many times because they’re so darn good, but decided in the end to go strictly with the aesthetic. Handsome rough-toughs out on the prairies…
He also got a particularly fancy moustache, as nothing says “praise the regular two-armed emperor” like facial hair.
Plenty of nicks and scratches on the dusters to break up all that flat surface.
Quick Draw Mcclaw
Time for some clawbois! I think this guy was originally intended to be a duel pistol wielder, but when I acquired the arm set with the power sword and needle pistol, it was too good an aesthetic to pass up. Yes it makes him super expensive, but cool models always kill more right?
I wanted the Acolytes to stand out from the mooks, but fit in with the gunslinger when he arrived. The classic Clint Eastwood poncho demanded I make ponchos for my champions.
Making them was surprisingly simple, and way easier than the bloody hats. It followed similar steps to making hats, just with a larger amount of greenstuff. Roll it out flat but more of a rectangle than a circle, and cut a much larger hole in the middle.
Before it gets peeled off, take a blade to the edges to make them look like tassels. After leaving it to cure for 30 minutes or so, peel it off and apply it over the head of your guy. making sure to bend it just enough to give it plenty of life. Nobody likes a limp poncho.
It was fine that it looked a bit scruffy – they’re supposed to be weather-beaten after all. I had HILARIOUSLY told myself I would freehand on the Peruvian/south american design to give it more of an Eastwood feel.
Billy the nid
I hadn’t worked out how I was making the ponchos before assembling the models. Who has time for planning? It makes the improvisation stage less interesting.
Some models had to have their ponchos in more ‘dramatic’ poses to get around the fact I couldn’t stuff it down between their arms and chest…
This guy is definitely getting a shock whip in the future. The power pick is nice for killing high-toughness targets, but the 3″ Versatile range of the shock whip is invaluable for Acolytes in making use of their high WS and Strength and actually getting them into combat.
If GSC get a re-do (which they are rumoured to) I’d like to see a movement increase for these guys. I don’t mind them being glass cannons, I object to them being slow glass cannons.
Baron Clint Von Beastwood
And my favourite evil villain, the Baron.
I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a Dastardly Whiplash-type villain that I could enjoyably ham up all my evil deeds with. I couldn’t even get made if I lost, because despite how dastardly my plans might be, he’s always destined to fail in a spectacular and hopefully amusing way. Such is Necromunda!
He has a battered top hat and a “moustache” made of tentacles, and I reasoned he gets away with being a real-life human because of all his mind-control powers. Plus, it gives him something to twirl when everything is going According To Plan.
It’s hiiiiive noon
I’m very happy with how the whole squad came out, and as the Necromunda campaign unfolded more fighters were added to the roster. I can’t wait to show them off as well!
Until then, here’s a sneaky peek: