Meanwhile, on the Bench: Chrono-gladiators

The station-complex of Mercy holds many secrets, accommodates many factions and houses many attractions to the denizens of the Nomad Stars. One such attraction is the infamous Bazaar Arenas, home to all manner of blood sports and high-octane races round its treacherous circuits.

In addition to xenos-beasts, execution victims and gangers trying to prove their worth, the arena fights are dominated by merciless Chrono-gladiators of the Death Clocks guild – cybernetic pit fighters with implanted weapons, vat-enhanced muscles and injectors filled with cocktails of lethal combat drugs. All have a death switch installed – a ticking time bomb attached to the heart that is only set back by the act of slaughter.

For a Chrono-gladiator, death is life.

With an imminent new Rogue Trader game starting up, and a number of games already set on Mercy, I wanted to assemble some members of the notorious Death Clocks guild. Partly to swell the numbers of interesting villains to throw at parties when they go dredging through Mercy, partly because I wanted an excuse to make some super-weird kit bashes.

I didn’t have any goal in mind other than to make half a dozen Chrono-gladiators with unique weapon sets that both highlight their martial prowess and their penchant for style over substance. They’re deadly killers for show, but what use are your showmen if they’re too good at killing?

I also had a strict ‘no new parts’ rule (which I think I’m going to need to start enforcing a LOT more in the new year…), so everything was assembled from bits I already had lying around in my box.

I had quite a few Dark Eldar weapons kicking about from boxes of Warriors and Wyches from assembling my Blood Bowl team, many of them looking suitably bizarre, gladiatorial or downright nasty – perfect for a bunch of cyber-goons.

This first chap was assembled with Wych legs, an old school Space Marine torso, an Ork left arm, a Dark Elf shield and a long chain-whip-sword-flail thing from the Wych box set. It was all finished off with a Skitarii captain’s head to give it a lovely tech-feel.

The bionic arm is actually a bionic leg from Anvil Industry. The current pack I bought is at time of writing no longer available, it seems they are undergoing a bunch of revamps to their old stock. Exciting news! There’s definitely going to be an order put in again next year.

This guy needs some filler work, and some small odds and ends to blend the parts together, but overall I’m pretty happy with how he turned out.

This guy was very much an exercise in answering the age-old bits-box-rummaging question; “What the hell can I use *this* part for?”. I had a collection of Khemri bits from Emperor-knows-where and have been looking for an excuse to use them for some time now. I’m a big fan of their Egyptian aesthetic, and find it suspicious that they’ve dropped off the Age of Sigmar radar entirely…

The body and legs were from a plastic Chaos marauder, bionic arms and legs from the Anvil bionics pack again, and a head from a Skitarii. I love how the power khopesh came out, and I think he’s a firm favourite. A bit of blending work to be done, but considerably less than the first chap.

This bundle of joy is perhaps my favourite pose, using a hooked net from the Wych box set and an original metal Necron Flayed One hand (or it might be from a Necron Lord, not sure…). The legs are from the Wych set again, with a Catachan body and another Skitarii head.

I’m looking forward to releasing this guy on my players the most, as a combination of a stunning, entangling net and poisoned armour-piercing claws sounds like a truly horrifying combination for any poor sod who gets in its way.

For the last angryboi in this batch I wanted something a little less dynamic, a little less subtle. Sometimes you just need a guy with a skull for a head and chainsaws for hands, y’know?

There’s nothing particularly exotic about this build – Space Marine torso, Ork arms and snipped-down Ork choppas for hands, Chaos Marauder legs, an Anvil bionic foot and the skull is from a banner topper.

I like how they all came out, and despite the varying appearances I think they will work well by themselves or as a group. We’ve already had a trial game with the Khemri shield and he was suitably brutal, so I’m looking forward to tidying these guys up and adding them to the painting queue.

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Ash Garrison Enforcers WIP

The planet of Syracuse is the biggest, most sprawling planet our plucky Dark Heresy acolytes will have been to so far in their illustrious crime-fighting careers. It is here they will finally meet their Inquisitor (after 4+ years of real life campaigning) and mingle with other acolytes of the Onus Region Conclave. They will receive their orders, be given a direction and then sent off to the arse end of the planet, Syracuse Magna, to pursue a lead on the potentially apocalyptic Samarra Dynasty.

We’ve already seen one of the factions of Syracuse magna, an organised crime syndicate called The Undertow, and now we’re having a look at their lawful (if not moral) counterparts, the Ash Garrison Enforcers.

A ‘Remedial’ team armed with lasguns with a long rifle or grenade launcher specialist attachment

Ash Garrison Enforcers

On the rest of Syracuse, the Ashigaru PDF, or Ash Garrison, comprise of mercenaries and family members of the Great Houses, refining their martial skills with polearm and lasgun to serve in the largest standing army in the Onus Region. The Ash Garrison are called upon as loyal foot soldiers to tackle uprisings, gang warfare or noble squabbles, and some are shipped off to deal with far away threats where their combined arms tactics of rifle and spear makes for a formidable threat against any foe.

They are intended to support the local laws of Syracuse Magna, maintain order and deal with such common crimes as murder, smuggling and extortion, while the Adeptus Arbites (in theory) deal with crimes directed against the Adepta, such as petty heresy, slaving and corruption that contravene high Imperial Law.

In Syracuse Magna, the Provincial Enforcers are divided, corrupt and unsubtle agents of punishment and social control, and most are little more than state-sponsored extortionists. Their power is granted by the Daimyo and the Quorum, and by extension, they are sanctioned by Magna’s dissolute and corrupt nobility. At their core are the Mandato, a feared secret police force of torturers and killers that exist purely to maintain the Daimyo’s power.

Clad in vulcanized storm coats and conical helmets to deter the worst of the weather, the Ash Garrison are well-equipped and brutal in approach. They operate in 4-man teams, either ‘Disciplinaries’ with stun sticks and laspistols or ‘Remedials’ with lasguns. Remedial teams can be accompanied by either a grenade launcher or hunting rifle.

A four-man “Disciplinary” team armed with stun sticks and lead by a fearsome Mandato officer

Creating the Ash Garrison

The concept art folder and mood boards I had assembled for Syracuse are extensive, and in my travels I stumbled across this rather excellent piece by Keith Thompson and knew I wanted to recreate that flavour in my own foot soldiers.

Doing some digging around, I found these rather excellent heads and shoulder pads from Puppets War that I tacked onto another order, with little thought as to how I was going to assemble them later. Like a big dumb idiot I didn’t order enough shoulder pads either, so although the intention was for big samurai-style shoulder pads on each style, I didn’t read that “x10 shoulder pads” meant literally that, and not “enough shoulder pads for x10 models”. So, lopsided shoulder pads were going to have to happen.

One of my real life comrades was putting an order into Victoria Miniatures  and I figured that was a great opportunity to bang the last nail into the coffin of this project, and had a quick browse through their wares. After taking a few quick screenshots, I bashed together this image to give me an idea of what my Enforcers were going to look like.

I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to get the shoulder pads to work with the moulded capes, but that was a problem that Future Me would deal with. I’m a big fan of the Shogun: Total War games, and have always had a soft spot for the Matchlock Ashigaru units for their aesthetics, so I was going to try and capture that as best I could.

I was 99% convinced I was going with back banners as well, then remembered my utter contempt for painting freehand back banners, and justified it by saying that the Magna Enforcers weren’t as fancy as their upmarket noble brethren in the posher provinces, so wouldn’t have back banners.

Just need a few servo skulls and some Imperial Eagles and you’re away

And then the parts arrived! I had to be strong-willed to not dig in to these as soon as they arrived, as I had a bunch of work I needed to do for Mother of Mercy. With that out the way and some suitable recovery time later, we’re back in the action and assembling cool models.

Is there a better sight?

For their bases, I wanted something a little less dingy than the Undertow, but still equally run down. I opted for a pack of the rather splendid Sector Imperialis bases from Games Workshop, justifying it that I could use the 40mm bases for Inquisitor as well. With the addition of some broken lollipop sticks for wood, and some water effects after they’d been painted, I was hoping to go for a run down manufactorum or derelict fish factory look.

Assembling the masses

Putting the majority of the Ash Garrison together was surprisingly simple. The Victoria parts, as disparate as they were considering I ordered the most awkward combination, went together rather pleasingly. I made a note to pin them through their toes to their bases, as as bouncy as resin is, I didn’t have much faith in my superglue keeping them attached.

The arms and guns slotted together quite nicely, although in once instance I wasn’t entirely sure how the pose of a pair of arms was intended, as it never seemed to match up to the weapon or body whatever I tried. Cue hacking, filing and putty-work and it didn’t matter – it bends to my will.

The first model assembled

Initially none of the models had shoulder pads or thigh guards. I knew this was on the cards, but I didn’t want to start carving parts of my minis away until I had put together the whole team and figured out how I was going to approach this. As I was building them, I knew I wanted to have a range of weapons (similar to the Undertow) for different circumstances and challenge levels, and that was how the idea of different fighting teams came about.

The Disciplinaries were a pain in the butt. As rad cool as the stun sticks from Victoria were, they were extremely bendy and many needed a date with the hair dryer to get them looking less like boomerangs. On top of that, the handles are very thin – not thin enough to be able to remove and replace with a length of brass pole or paperclip, but not thick enough to be able to pin in place. Most had to deal with having a fraction of a millimetre drilled into the hand and base of the shaft and hope I don’t drop them in the future.

And weirdly at this point I  began to notice that many of the left arms didn’t have the little extra shoulder pad, it seemed the ‘melee’ arms were missing them, but the rifle arms all had them. I resigned myself to knowing I was going to need to get the putty out again before this project was over.

After assembling all the bodies, I realised I was going to have to figure out a way of attaching the shoulder pads and doing a little extra on the bodies to being the whole aesthetic together. The masochist in me wanted to sculpt an entire armoured skirt over the trench coat legs, but if I had already trimmed the back banner plans from my list, then this “good idea” could also go and sit in the garbage where it belonged. Nope, I needed a more cunning, time-sensitive solution to this plan.

Very cunning

Cue montage. I snipped a bunch of thick plasticard down into strips and stuck them together with plastic glue, taking care to be liberal with the application but leave one side as mar-free as possible. It all needed to be bonded together for when the inevitable hacking and shaping was to take place, but it still needed to be pretty at the front.

Once it had dried it was a fairly simple, if time-consuming, process of slicing off the desired amount of thigh guard and filing the back down into shape so it would fit against the model snugly.

The first attempt

Although it took a bit of time to prepare each thigh guard, I was happy that the time was well spent, as it allowed me to maintain a consistent look across all the models without hours spent prodding and poking. It was also nice to not have to be concerned about the time-sensitive drying process of modelling putty, which is always a turn-off for me as I know if I have to put the project down (for such weaknesses as human food or waste expulsion) I might come back to a hardened putty and have to restart the process from scratch.

I was happy with the thigh guards – they helped draw the aesthetics together of weird future trench soldier and feudal Japanese plate armour. I wasn’t overly sold on the theme until I started to see several of them together, and along with the cute pointy hats from Puppets War I was really starting to enjoy how they were coming along.

Another issue present was the shoulder pad conundrum. It turned out it wasn’t much of a conundrum, I just didn’t want to address the obvious solution – cutting and filing down parts of the cloak to allow the shoulder pads to fit on the arm more snugly.

Big vulcanised coats to protect them from the shitty rain

Some went on better than others and some needed more encouragement. They all went on eventually, and I think it works as a blend of 40k and ancient east asian aesthetics. I was beginning to feel thankful for my shoulder pad ordering blunder at this point, as I was enjoying the single pad far more than when I draft-built some with both shoulder pads. It gave the models more freedom for poses, and gave it this wonderful lopsided asymmetric look that 40k is infamous for.

Launcher? I hardly knew ‘er

After assembling two thirds of the squad as stun stickers and lasgunners, I knew I needed a bit of variety and specialisation in there. Something to change up the game when they entered the field – some support weapons and an officer class.

The first (an easiest) was a trusty grenade launcher from the plastic Cadians kit. I’m not sure a project goes by where a grenade launcher isn’t added to a group of gangers, house guard or police force, they’re just so pleasingly versatile in the game. From a game balance perspective, these guys would only start turning up later in the escalation of violence. Initially all the Ash Garrison would be armed with flashbangs and smoke grenades, but as the riots step up, they’ll start issuing choke and frag grenades along with the launchers to help break up crowds.

“Boom. Headshot.”

The next specialist was a tricky one to decide on. I liked the idea of a suppressive weapon (like the heavy stubber of the Undertow) but decided against it as it would cheapen them when they did arrive. Flamers were out as well, as that was covered by the Undertow, so I had a dig about in my bits box and found a cool sniper rifle, again from Victoria but something from a previous order. I liked the image of the run-down rain-slick streets of Syracuse Magna being watched over by eagle-eyed snipers from different factions, daring the other to make the first move.

Part of me wanted to do something different with this guy, perhaps add some more camouflage, strip back their armour, make them appear more like light infantry. I decided against it in the end, partly because a) I was feeling hecka lazy and b) I wanted the models to be representatives of character the players would fight on the tabletop.

“Snoipa’s an honest job mate”

These were supposed to be specialists attached to riot squads rather than the pissing-in-bottles snipers that would haunt the doglegs and alleyways of Magna. They wouldn’t need models because, in my head, you would never get close enough to fight them on a battlemap. Those kinds of combats would be handled narratively, with just an indication of where the snipers were. I needed models to represent close-up brawls and add an element of visual wonder to our games.

The final model that needed to be assembled was some kind of leader. I had already established the Mandato, a secret police of torturers and assassins, but had no intentions to have models for them. After all, they wouldn’t be very secret if they had a battlefield presence would they?

I was struck with the overwhelming to try and convert a proper Oni/Samurai helmet. The Ashigaru conical helmets were fine for the footsloggers, but I wanted something impressive for the leader. I initially started looking for a daemonic/chaos head that could become a mask, but found the horns from a beastman and the head from a Tempestus Scion far quicker.

With a little bit of tubular plastic snipped from the end of a paint brush protector, the Mandato field officer had his helmet. While he stood, he would confer bonuses to his minions to help them avoid pinning, so he’s one to try and take out early into a brawl.

Wrap up and painting

I was dead chuffed with how they all came out in the end. From a piece of concept art and a very shaky photoshop mashup that I wasn’t convinced would work, to a bunch of converted minis that I like so much I’m looking for excuses to make more of them in the new year.

I’ve covered a bunch of different elements, giving them a variety of tools to help even the odds in battle, and injected some character into the different kinds of squads.

As for painting, I’m going to be leaning heavily on some Shogun Total War Ashigaru colour schemes, picking out a few that look good in green and beige. I have some Silver Tower minis to polish off first, but with the whole squad currently undercoated and drying as we speak, it won’t  be long before we see some painted minis on the Dreadquill news feeds.

Mother of Mercy – Inquisitor Open Event 2017

Old Mother One-Eye staggered across the conduit platform clutching her dueling wounds. Thin trails of silvery blood seeped between her skeletal fingers, hanging in the air like oil on water.

Her warp portal lay in ruins, carved apart by lance fire from an orbiting voidship. Sickly green lightning arced from the remains of the obsidian pillars that held the portal in place, the impotent rage of the warp venting harmlessly into the dissipating storm high above.

She spat a thick gobbet of black phlegm onto the floor and let out a furious, ear-splitting shriek. The servants of the corpse-god had broken into her home, butchered her children, destroyed her work and secured themselves a fate worth than death.

“Fools!” She cried out, summoning the remainder of her will to push her words into the souls of every being that sullied her home, “Can’t you see what you have done? You have doomed us all! Only I have the power to protect us from my master! You blind, misguided fools!”

Pale green spectres danced around her like a children’s playground game, taunting and mocking. The asteroid shook violently, a hungry stomach anticipating a meal. Warp fire poured from the void in the centre of her forehead as she lashed out at things imperceivable to the mortal eye.

Interrogator Dune slumped against an oily metal ladder. He was as battered and broken, forcing himself onwards despite the daemonic venom coursing through his veins. Above him was the platform the conduit was operating from before it was annihilated by lance fire and a strafing run from an inquisitorial Valkyrie.

He couldn’t take her alone, and the other agents he had encountered couldn’t be trusted to back him up. His splinter pistol was running low, and would it even do anything? He had watched a trained assassin try to take her out, only to recoil in terror and flee for their life.

His hand rested on his belt in exasperation, feeling a familiar shape on his fingertips. Realisation slowly crept across the scars of his face. The gift from his master!

He snapped the psyk-out grenade from its webbing and felt its weight. This had been given to him when he attained his rank, and carried it with him for over a decade. He muttered a prayer of thanks under his breath and activated the fuse rune.

With the last of his strength he pulled himself from the support of the ladder and into the open for a clear throw. The storm raged overhead. The witch was surrounded by warp lightning, screeching in anguish. Chaos spawn bore down on them.

He roared, drowning out the storm; “Mother One-Eye! You have been weighed, and you have been found wanting!”

And the grenade left his fingers.

++++++++

Debriefing

Mother of Mercy was a 1-day 54mm Inquisitor open event held at Warhammer World in Nottingham on November 18th 2017 and ran by the Conclave Inquisitor community.

It followed the potentially calamitous events of a powerful witch trying to cut off two co-dependent sectors from each other with great warp storms. It was set on the station of Mercy, an archipelago of asteroids and docking platforms lashed together with great chains, far away from help or support of the character’s usual network of spies and agents. You can get the whole brief that was handed out to the players on the day here.

Over a dozen people gathered on the day  with beautiful painted warbands, some made specially for the event, and the whoops and hollers of the day attracted dozens more to our tables to stare at the funny sized models and the giant scratch-built 54mm valkyrie. Thanks to the efforts of one of our community we also had leaflets to hand out to onlookers about the game and how they could get involved. If even one person discovered a new passion for the quirky narrative skirmish wargame then it would have been a success.

The day was spread across four of Warhammer World’s “feature boards”, set amid the noisy backdrop of their annual 40k Doubles tournament. It worked out well, with three boards being used for games and the final board being used as the inevitable ‘overflow’ at these kinds of events – a storage for spare models and collections of character sheets.

Next time I’ll make sure not to double book during another busy event so we can snag a few of the ‘plain’ boards. We had the perfect number of people this time, but it would have been nice to have some backup boards to run some extra games on for latecomers.

The day was run across 3 games: two smaller games and a finale on the epic mining facility board. That is a schedule that has worked well for these events in the past and I didn’t want to mess with it. One element that is always a conundrum is how to run the finale game. In some events we’ve had a mega-board with every player present, in some events we’ve had no finale at all,just another opportunity to score points or victory tokens and have a wrap-up in the bar afterwards.

This time I wanted to trial something a little different, using elements I’ve pinched from previous events. Throughout the day, players fought to complete universal primary objectives and were given secret secondary objectives to attempt as well, scoring you Victory Points that would affect whether your warband made it to the finale board or not. Anyone who didn’t make it to the finale board got to play on a satellite board for either control of a valkyrie or the targeting systems for an orbital lance weapon. The idea being you could still affect the finale even if you weren’t placed on that board.  Sprinkled in as well were some resource cards to shake up the early games, such as affecting deployment or rival warbands equipment.

Learning points

It worked well for the most part, and although the feedback we received afterwards was very positive it did highlight some flaws in the formula that would need to be addressed before running a similar event;

  • There was not enough ambiguity. Inquisitor thrives in the uncomfortable grey areas between right and wrong. When writing this event, I concentrated too much on what I wanted to happen rather than present a situation and ask people to pick sides. During many of the warm-up missions, warbands often discovered they didn’t really need to fight over the objective, and many games almost ended up with a mutual stalemate.
  • There were not enough bad guys. Linked to the first point, but I had hoped there would be more outright villains turning up on the day to counteract the lack of ambiguity. In retrospect I should have put out a casting call for baddies to attend the event as well, rather than relying on people mulling over the (not very tricky) moral conundrum of whether to save the sector or not.
  • The finale formula needs reworking. The principle of earning points to a finale board is sound, but the satellite boards finished up much quicker than the overall finale, leaving many feeling a bit let down. One of the suggestions would be to have three simultaneous finales at once, three maguffins that must be stopped to ensure victory, rather than one big maguffin and two helper boards.
The agents who made it to the finale

Final thoughts

All in all I had great fun running the event, and I’d like to think people who attended had fun as well. There are hundreds of pictures still being edited ready for uploading and I’ll be doing breakdowns of some of the scenarios and characters over the coming months to fill these hallowed Dreadquill halls.

Thanks to everyone for coming and keeping the hobby alive, and here’s to seeing you all at the next one!

+++++++++

The explosion had knocked Dune unconscious. The last thing he remembered seeing was the form of Old Mother One-Eye being catastrophically ripped apart in a fury of psychic energy.

He was covered in dust and ash and the lair filled with the shouts of survivors. The air was calm, and although heavy with soot, seemed far easier to breathe in.

It was done. The sector had been saved. The Throat would remain open for humanity to come and go as it pleases, just as the God Emperor intended.

He coughed a mix of blood and ichor onto the metal platform and tried to pull himself up, but his strength had left him.

Stood above him was a blurry figure. Dune’s eyesight hadn’t fully recovered yet, but even blinking through tears and ash he could recognise the silhouette of that damned hat anywhere. The figure extended a hand.

“Howdy!”

Mega Box o’ Bits ebay lot

It’s time to sell off one of my mega box of bits on ebay! (link)

I simply don’t have the space or inclination to hoard any more bits than I have at the moment would much rather they went to someone who can make use of them rather than a dumpster.

The whole haul.
All this stuff has been accrued over 25+ years of hobbying, some parts are well loved, and some parts are still new on the sprue. I like to think I have a decent eye when it comes to identifying models, but even some of these bits baffle me. If you need clarify on anything in this big ol’ box of stuff then just give me a shout!

This list is FAR from exhaustive, but from what I can make out from rooting through the box, we have components from:
  • Imperial Guard/Astra Militarum
  • Warhammer 40,000 Space Orks
  • Orcs and Goblins
  • Heroquest
  • Space marines
  • Chaos space marines
  • Eldar
  • Dark Eldar
  • Tyranids
  • Undead/Vampire Counts
  • Some Forgeworld bits and pieces
  • Dwarfs/Dwarves
  • Lord of the Rings Goblins of Moria and High Elves/Elfs
  • Scenery/scatter terrain
  • Various 1:72 historical and WWII/WW2 figures
  • Lizardmen
  • Some scale parts for a WW2 tank and plane
  • Mantic Avatars of War elf archers on sprues

The Mega Box of Bits ebay lot is available here, and it ends Sunday night (tonight) at 8pm .

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Graveyard scenery

This week I’ve been cracking out some seasonal terrain for my good chums over at Hobgoblin 3D, namely a combination of their Graveyard of Grizliness bundle and the Abandoned Mausoleum kit.

Hobgoblin produce some great models for you to 3D print at home, and although they started out as pure fantasy terrain, they’re starting to branch out into more genre-neutral sets. This is very bad for a sci-fi nerd like myself, as I no longer can continue to make excuses as to why I can’t pick up their sets for myself.

Nyaaa!

Spooky ghoul from Mantic games for scale here, as these pieces are the largest single-piece 3D printed models I’ve painted to date. I’ve no idea how long these would have taken to print, I just get the luxury of painting them without the headache of operating a 3D printer!

The archway in the middle was supplied in four parts admittedly, but they went together very easily and they form a single solid unit when assembled.

Nyaaa!

I’ve painted quite a few bits for Hobgoblin over the past year, but their most recent sets have been the closest thing to tempting me to getting a 3D printer for myself. This set in particular is perfect for the grimdark setting most of our games are set in.

I can just imagine an entire graveyard board scattered with ornate railings and broken gravestones and a big shootout between cultists (up to no good in a graveyard, obviously) and some Acolytes.

Nyaaa!

It wouldn’t be Halloween without pumpkins! I particularly liked the ‘carved’ pumpkin base, there’s lots of nice details on it, and the candles inside the jack o’ lanterns are particularly pleasing.

Nyaaa!

You couldn’t have a graveyard without gravestones could you? There’s a nice variety here, and the nice part about owning the kit is you can print off as many of each as you need, rather than being limited to the ones you buy. Although they look quite nice I wasn’t a fan of the broken headstone pieces, they were a bit too fiddly to paint (and I’m about 70% sure I lost a piece in the painting process).

I can see the appeal, but for me they’d be better off as part of a diorama or scatter piece, such as the pumpkins above or the open graves below.

Nyaaa!

Open graves! I think I had the most fun painting these. They tell a great story and wouldn’t look out of place in just about any different setting. If I had given myself a bit more time, I would want to experiment with some water effects pooling in the open grave and making the mounds of earth around it all soggy. I mean, when else is the best time to go gravedigging if not in the rain?

Oh yes, and it has another adorable feature;

Let there be light! There’s a hollow inside the lantern for an LED and button cell for extra spoopiness, or if you’re cheap like me, a phone light concealed under a sheet of A4.

Nyaaa!

And finally the Mausoleum kit. What a piece! Any doubts I’ve had in the past about 3D printing vs injection/cast moulded pieces have been dashed apart. This is a rather excellent construction that really lends itself to the 3d printing process.

It comes six parts – an upper and lower section of the building so you can remove the top to access minis inside without disturbing your scene, two doors and two hinge pieces (not pictured because I’m a doofus and lost them). The two hinge pieces are glued to the bottom of the door when it is assembled in the building so it doesn’t fall out of its socket.

I hear tell rumours in the tavern that the team might be building an insert for this building with a hex/square grid on it for proper roleplaying compatability, so watch this space for more!

I thoroughly enjoyed painting this kit, and outside of drying times took me far less time than other kits to get tabletop ready. A few choice washes and different coloured drybrushing can go a long way into getting your spooky quota up for your games.

Meanwhile on the Bench: The Undertow

Blackmail, extortion, smuggling and unadulterated violence are all part of everyday life for the unfortunates living in District XIII in Syracuse Magna. When corruption in planetary authorities runs all the way to the top, the only way to get what you need is at the barrel of a shotgun.

The whole painted gang

Next stop for our merry band of Acolytes is Syracuse, ‘the Grey Halo’, a tidally locked planet where only a thin band of habitability exists around its circumference, sandwiched between two extremes of temperature. A hive city exists in this habitable zone, a complete ring of urban sprawl that stretches from pole to pole. Unfortunately for our Acolytes, they’re not going to the nice part of town.

We’re off to Syracuse Magna, a semi-independent section at the bottom pole that for centuries has been in inexorable decline and decay. Corruption and dilapidation are the order of the day, the petty nobles bickering and squabbling over scraps while the rest of the citizenry band together to make the most of what little they have. One such band of economically-minded citizens are the Undertow, the city’s largest organised gang, and one of three factions taking part in the Syracuse Magna campaign.

Since catching the modelling bug for our campaigns (I honestly don’t know how it has taken me so long), Syracuse was always high on my list for having models for each of its factions. One of the exciting things (for me) is that these guys will provide an interesting change of pace for the players, as for the last two years we have fought servitors, assassins, heretek automata, xenos creatures, giant local fauna and genetic abominations.

The Undertow don’t have any fancy special powers, and their gear will barely be worth the rusty metal they’re forged from, but a combination of guerrilla tactics, ambushing, flanking, hidden snipers, punji pits, makeshift booby traps and lots and lots of firebombs will make for an interesting tactical challenge for our players.

All the models were one piece, minus the heads

I needed about a dozen, and the Kolony Feral models from Pig Iron miniatures fit the bill perfectly. They were ragged and grotty but not overwhelmingly chaotic or mutated, so you could still believe they were human underneath their protective rags.

I wanted them to look likely they were hanging out down at abandoned docks and near filth-strewn canals, so it was time to break out the balsa wood!

I think I’ve owned this balsa wood for ten years…

I enjoy a good urban sprawl base, but urban environments come in many shapes and sizes! The first challenge I noticed was that all the white metal minis had pre-cast bases, which presented a big issue if I wanted to mount them on balsa wood dockyards. I debated changing tack for something a little less woody, but decided in the end to commit to removing over a dozen pairs of boots from their pre-cast bases and filing them down to fit. Who needs fingertips anyway?

A decent fit, and pretty sturdy once pinned

The second issue that I hadn’t foreseen was more of an aesthetic choice. As much as I love these minis for exactly what I wanted them to be, I was a little disappointed at the weapon sculpts. I had a very strong aesthetic in my head, and the (again, pre-cast) guns were very lacklustre, and nowhere remotely to the scrappy gutter-forged shotguns and rusty revolvers I had in mind.

With my fingertips barely recovered from de-basing all of them, I set about with pliers and files to forcibly remove the default weapons for all these poor minis, trying to leave as much of the original hands behind as possible.

Cut cut snip snip ouch ouch bleed bleed

I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to fit any weapons in there but I was very much committed at this point, I had to make it work somehow! Luckily a couple of the ‘Specialists’ models didn’t need any work doing to them, I quite liked the bandaged sniper rifle and the makeshift flamer (although the missile launcher thing and heavy machine gun absolutely had to go), and the ‘Feral Blades minis’ were pretty much good to go out of the box.

Changing the launcher for something a little scabbier

The launcher and heavy machine gun were snipped apart and the bits box was raided for something suitably shoddy. I wanted them to be simultaneously deadly but unappealing to players. Poor quality heavy weapons that when used correctly and/or in appropriate numbers can really wreak havoc, but are so unwieldy, unreliable or dangerous to operate that they would never bother looting them from the Undertow corpses.

The flintlock pistol of Quovandius from the 54mm Inquisitor range had this weird archaic strapped-together look that suited me just fine, so the launcher was hacked down to its supports, sanded down and the gun glued on.

Dakka dakka dakka

The heavy machine gun was a lot of fun to build. I had nothing in my bits box that looked even remotely like what I envisioned in my head – something akin to the Crank Cannon from DH1ed’s Inquisitor’s Handbook. Something loud, rattly, shooty and, with any luck, killy. After hacking apart the poor gunner’s body to free him from his weird heavy weapon, the cannon was assembled from a heavily cut down Ork Shoota and the barrel of an Empire repeater handgun.

#Squadgoals

The rest were coming together rather nicely. The combination of raggedy bodies and scrappy wood bases were giving the rain-slicked, grimdark feel I was hoping to achieve already.

Crappy shotguns ahoy!

Once the models had been hacked apart, attaching the shotguns was surprisingly simple. I was immediately reminded why I prefer working in resin than white metal, as the shotguns were so pliable to my commands and made the minute adjustments required to make them fit into the empty hands oh-so much simpler.

They fit almost too well in some cases

The shotguns had a mix of straps and bayonets, so it took a bit of jiggling to work out which combinations of weapons fit best into which hands. Many of the minis were carrying machine pistol-type things, so their hands were very close together. I *think* I just about got away with it on examples like the one above, but in some cases I had to admit defeat and change up the formula.

This guy was last in line for the weapon handouts

I wanted a mix of weapons rather than just shotguns. Dark Heresy has a very versatile combat system, and not only did I want a range of weapon options to throw at the players, but incrementally bigger and badder weapons to upscale the difficulty as the campaign goes on.

My second favourite kind of cocktail

The humble firebomb – cheap, lightweight, zero skill requirements to use and utterly devastating with the correct application. One firebomb can scatter a formation of battle hardened Acolytes, force them into cover or break their aim. Half a dozen firebombs tossed at Acolytes in quick succession can VERY quickly see people passing out, limbs cooking to a crisp and Fate Points being burned. It ignores armour, prevents you from doing anything while you’re on fire and regardless of any other effects, makes you slowly pass out from heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation, so you’re more likely to pass out first and then burn to death.Totally, utterly hilarious.

The completed bomb chucker

When it’s time to up the ante again, that’s when this launcher fellow will come into play. Very much like his firebomb-hurling brethren, he’s got a lovely big bag o’ bombs that he can lob up and over things from a very safe distance away, hopefully causing consternation among our Acolytes who might be getting a little cocky towards the end of the campaign.

You’re legally required to have at least one two-handed weapon thug in every gang

With a trim of their bases and some choice head decisions, the gang was ready! I wasn’t a fan of their overly-hunched poses, so many of their heads were pinned back a little big, so their necks needed some filling with green stuff.

Necromunda Scavvy Gang anyone?

With them finished and basecoated, it was time to apply a lick o’ paint. I had challenged myself to use the JGIDD method of painting (Just Get It Done, Dickhead) for these guys, as although I love pouring dozens of hours into my models, I had 13 mooks to paint and finish before either of the other two factions turned up, another two dozen models potentially! I needed something lean, mean and green.

Ready to hit the town

I already had the colour scheme in my head, they wore heavy green overcoats and muted tanned undergarments, so the hardest part (deciding on colours!) was over. I wanted them to look unified, as I’m a sucker for gang colours on fleek, but also subtly different from one another. Kinda like they all shop at the same dumpster, but add their own fashionable flair to their mook attire.

All the base colours were painted on – a dark green for the overcloaks, a tan leather for sleeves and face protectors, a pink flesh tone for any exposed hands, dark grey for the trousers/leg garments, a dark brown for the boots and a lighter grey for straps, bags and miscellaneous pouches. The guns were painted a dark rusted metal then stippled with a lighter metallic colour. The entire mini was then given a heavy brown wash and left to dry.

How’s that for a plot hook? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

The overcoat was then drybrushed a mossy green with a final dainty drybrush around the hems and edges with a pale green. Every other colour was then simply highlighted again with the same colour used for the base.

Everything was done as quickly as possible to have them in a ‘ready’ state that I could come back to if I felt like it in the distant future. After the last debacle with getting models ready for game day, there’s nothing worse than spending the time to prep them, only to have it half finished for their big moment.

The Pew Patrol

The bases were drybrushed a series of lighter browns and the shoes tidied up afterwards where I had got a bit overzealous with my brush. The bases were looking a little plain, so I got some of Games Workshop’s rather excellent blood effect paint and splashed it liberally about hither and thither with a combination of paintbrush and cocktail stick. Anyone with bayonets or blades got a little dab as well to help make the weapons pop a bit more.

Unsure how happy I am with the water effects

The final part was to do something with the bases to make them look more like they were standing on the side of a dock rather than just on some scaffolding. Water is going to be a big theme for this campaign, so I needed my baddies to be suitably moist.

I picked up some Woodlands Scenics Water Effects to have an experiment. I am loathe to use resin, and I had tinkered a bit with PVA effects in the past, but I had read good things about this particular product. I wanted a semi-submerged look, and this one would apparently fit the bill.

I don’t think I made my layers thin enough

Gosh, I was not prepared for how thick it would be. It was like spooning hair gel onto the bases, not the smooth flow that you get from PVA glue. Applying this substance to my models was a nightmare, as it went everywhere I didn’t want it to go, and it didn’t settle anywhere like water should, but rather stuck to all the raised areas I couldn’t get a pokey stick into.

After much swearing and sticky fingers (phrasing?) and leaving the first thin coat to dry, I was pleasantly surprised with how it came out. Surely fine to spoon another one on, right?

Maybe their gang hideout is the abandoned glue factory?

I don’t know if it was an inappropriate use of the product (I found a more pourable version after I had already bought and committed to this one…) or I wasn’t applying the layers thinly enough, but I’m a little annoyed that it didn’t dry as clear as I had expected. It’s not the end of the world, just a learning experience for next time.

The whole gang

All in all I’m very pleased with how they turned out! It’s very rare I get an entire project done in two sittings, and the painting (which normally takes me the longest) was done and dusted in about two evenings. Lessons learned, fun had, and models ready to kick some Acolyte ass!

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Hieronymous Vyle

Our Dark Heresy group was coming to the conclusion of an important chapter and the beginning of the end for the campaign. We had spent the best part of seven sessions on the planet of Brimstone, a planet of our own devising in our little patch of space, the Onus Region.

The planet was a planned stop-off for the Acolytes to tie up some loose ends from a previous mission, specifically tracking down and stopping the Arch-Heretek Hieronymous Vyle, from enacting any more atrocities against the Imperium of Man. He is a master geneticist, genius cryptographer and bitter rival of the Adeptus Mechanicus as an organisation, believing they are too short-sighted and wrapped up in bureaucracy to achieve any meaningful progress.

The finished product!

His plan was simple: flee the purge of the Kreato Affair to the quiet, technologically backwards planet of Brimstone – the last place the Inquisition would think of looking for a radical techpriest. There he would work on his Symbiote – his Magnum Opus – to strike back at the Adeptus Mechanicus for what the crimes he believed to be the most heinous; conservatism and myopia.

The Symbiote was a poor man’s take on the Obliterator Virus, and worked by fusing to flesh and metal, taking over the host body and forcing it to undergo transformations and binding it through synaptic link to its master. I’ll be doing a piece on Vyle’s Symbiote another time as it deserves its own article rather than being strung along with their boss.

The incredibly tidy work bench

Vyle never had any artwork for him, nor did he have much of a description when the players met him almost three years of real time ago, before he escaped and set up on Brimstone, so I had a blank canvas to work with. I had also developed a spin-off cult for a Necromunda gang called the Scions of Vyle, so I had a starting point for aesthetic – drab green robes and polished bronze.

I needed a suitably eerie, icky model to use as a base, and the ‘Tech Master Baltazar’ from Hitech Miniatures fitted the bill perfectly. I loved the idea of this eerie, decrepit lump of flesh being propelled along by these weird spidery legs and covered in mechadendrites. Time to blow the dust off some of my guitar cabling.

The kit arrived and I was pleasantly surprised with its quality, requiring very little trimming to remove flash or mould lines at all. My only gripe was that the back and base of the walking unit were flat and featureless, so the further off the base I wanted to pin it, the more obvious it would be that someone just stopped modelling anything underneath it. I also had my concerns about pinning the incredibly fiddly legs to the walker and to the base without damaging both. I build my minis to be played with, so they need to be sturdy.

A convenient raised lump to pin Vyle to

A fish around in my bits box turned up some more Cities of Death terrain tiles, and one had a very convenient raised skull in the centre. When mounted at a particular angle, I could have a single massive pin that ran from the body through the base, and raised just enough from the ground to give the appearance that it isn’t touching.

Dry fit, testing different angles
A better look at how he is angled slightly forward

After feeling confident in my massive pin job, I didn’t feel so bad about not pinning the legs. They weren’t structurally integral, so I thought I would do my fingers some favours and avoid pinning them, just a copious amount of superglue in the recesses.

Already looking like a PC’s worst nightmare

Another pleasing aspect of the model that I hadn’t noticed in the thumbnail on the website is that it has an odd number of legs – three on one side and two on the other. It gave it this wonderful lopsided look that to me, epitomises Adeptus Mechanicus high fashion.

Base was trimmed with heavy clippers and a sharp knife. Blood was shed.

I wasn’t sure what equipment I wanted to give him at this stage, rule of cool was going to guide my hand. The only thing I knew I wanted to definitely have was a big tank of horrid goo strapped to his back that he could squirt at foes – perhaps a kind of super-concentrated liquid Symbiote? Either way, it would be miserable to anyone who was caught up in it, doling out toxic damage, corruption points, infection and maybe even mutation. A GM can dream right?

A quick kitbash of the tank and the hose

I have a bunch of tanks lying around of flamers from various vehicle kits, I’m not sure exactly what this one was from – a sentinel perhaps? The nozzle and mechadendrite was from a Forgeworld Mechanicum servitor I had bits-ordered some time ago to pump up the amount of Mechanicus bits in my collection. This arm I tried to just bend with copious gentle rubbing between forefinger and thumb to built up a bit of heat. This was my second attempt, the first ended pretty snappily.

A dry fit of the backpack on the model

I positioned it on the back of the model to see how much it changed the silhouette, and I could already see my multi-limbed metal bastard coming together. I wouldn’t attach this just yet, as it would form the ‘outer’ rim of details, and would just be a pain in the ass to work around at this point. It gets to sit on the side while I work on other gribbly bits.

Trying to replicate the lopsided aesthetic

The first round of ‘inner’ mechadendrites was an exercise in patience and bending. There were a conspicuous number of ‘holes’ in the model where it looked like limbs could be attached to, and were already the perfect width of a paperclip, so pinning things into them was a dream. With one on the left side and two on the right, it seemed natural to fill them all with mechadendrites.

What magnificent squeezers

Dark Eldar Talos bits stand in, once again, for brilliant biomechanical parts for edgy AdMechs, and a couple of their pinchers would work very nicely to manipulators. Vyle’s real, original hands are too busy operating dataslates and poring over files and reports, he has all his other extendo-limbs to operate heavy machinery and backhand rude PCs who interrupt his Machiavellian schemes.

All the tools a growing boy needs

I debated over what ‘ends’ to give his mechadendrites, as I had many blades, saws, injectors and guns to choose from. Although he would be an able combatant, I wanted his tools to be just that – tools first. Manipulators and medical instruments would be fished out from various places, including more Forgeworld Mechanicum and Dark Eldar bits.

Custom made to fit the model’s “arm sockets”

The mechadendrites themselves were from the Inquisitor-scale Delphan Gruss model, of which I had a few tubes handy. Normally I prefer working with resin over white metal, but these had the malleability I was looking for to get plenty of bends without singeing my fingers with a hair dryer. A tip to budding Mechanicus modellers: always give your tentacles two bends at different angles to give them a more realistic feel – a bend along a single axis doesn’t look great.

Clank clank thump scrape

I couldn’t find anything else to add to the model without making it look too busy, so I started mounting the ‘outer’ layer of mechadendrites. These consisted of the goo-squirter I made earlier, and the heavy mechanical arm that came with the model. I wasn’t a particular fan of the big round claw it came with, so I wanted to change that out for something a bit more subtle. One of the power blade utensils from the Delphan Gruss kit fitted the bill perfectly.

His power blade extends quite a way from the model

Having the arm stick out to the far left was a dangerous move, as it had the potential of unbalancing the silhouette of the model too much. With the addition of the backpack and goo-squirter on the other side, it balanced very nicely.

The ‘outer’ layer of ‘dendrites work well#

I was quite proud of this, given it took me only half an evening. Normally I navel-gaze on large projects like this due to having too many options, but with the Big Day rapidly closing on me, time was not a luxury I had. He needed to be finished, primed and based in less than 24 hours!

Could’ve done with more bend in the resin one

There was still something missing, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. The backpack stuck out from the back of the model and didn’t sit particularly well. I figured it was so he could jettison it quickly if needs be, but just by itself didn’t look integrated into the rest of the model. A quick rummage through the Dark Eldar section of my bits box again pulled up one of the bio-injector spines from the Talos kit again, which fit far too well.

Ever looked at a model and thought “Now there’s a guy who needs more spine”?

It was ridiculous and over the top, but it had that back banner aesthetic that I’m very fond of in my 40k imagery. It also helped tie in the whole ‘weird science’ vibe I was going for, as I had planned on painting it a similar flesh tone to the rest of his body. Is it his spine? What are those weird injectors and vials for? Spo0oky.

Is it dumb? Yes. Is it perfect? Also yes.

I was dead happy with it at this point. It was suitably imposing (mounted on a 54mm base) so it was clearly a centrepiece, and had all the aesthetics to tie it in with the existing Vyle models while also standing out from them. I knew I wouldn’t get enough time to paint it up fully for the game, but I would have just enough time to base him and wash him, so at least he would be coloured for the Grand Finale.

You would need a lot of apples a day to keep this doctor away

Finally we have him standing next to one of his minions, a Scion of Vyle. His base is going to be populated heavily with these guys, along with some Symbiotes in various stages of maturity.

“Wow I really look forward to not dying in one game, how about you?”

Dead chuffed with how he turned out, and set a scary precedent for the concept of making models for all my bad guys. Scary because this particular bad guy was never intended to make it out alive, so I was hoping he put up a spectacular fight before going down!

Luckily he did, and the finale was epic and tense – a battle through an underground evil lair, culminating in a shoot out in a missile silo minutes from blast-off and a duel on a snow-spattered mountain top for control of the last ship off the mountain while the base undergoes a self destruct sequence in the background.

But that’s another story for another time.

Meanwhile, on the bench: Zini Dynasty Armsmen

Our games of Rogue Trader often involve group brawls with up to a dozen armed crewmen from our own vessel repelling whatever the eldritch horror of the day has snuck on board and is sucking down our crew like capri-suns. Our captain also has a penchant for giving them names, which never bodes well for redshirts. Rather than use dice as placeholders, I ordered some minis from the very excellent  anvilindustry using their awesome 3d build-a-regiment out of all their parts combos.

The parts arrived quickly, assembled like a dream and had little to no flash on them at all. I picked up some lady heads from Statuesque Miniatures too, as despite all the praise I can heap on Anvil, they don’t include lady heads as part of their regiment builder. C’mon guys, it’s the 41st millennium here – women are equally expendable as men are.

I didn’t have any real plan in mind for assembly other than I wanted to have a good range of weapon and equipment options so I had a good selection of models to choose from when I needed to improvise something. For example, the Anvil specialist squad I ordered came with a variety of odds and ends, including a banner, medkit and bugle (!). Try as I did, I couldn’t make the bugle work with the scheme. In space, nobody can hear you toot.

This guy stands in as the generic medic – if we have a player go down, he/she will pop up and try and patch them up. Because of the heroic running pose, I figured they would also stand in for any macguffin-carrying NPC who needs to hotfoot the death star plans through the ship.

It paired quite nicely with this other specialist, who is carrying a kind of kit bag/satchel charge looking device in one hand, and converted to hold a 40k auspex in the other. I picked one of the Medieval Helmets with a bionic eye to give them an extra techy look and slung a rifle over one shoulder. A little bit of putty for the strap, and this little guy can stand in for any scenario that calls for a specialist, scanner, technical support officer, you name it!

The decision was made quite early on that the armsmen would use las weaponry rather than conventional solid projectile weapons. Firstly, las weaponry would be more robust in harsh void environments – they work just as well in a vacuum as they do in low or zero-G situations, and the ammunition can be recharged theoretically infinitely. Secondly, the Dynasty once made a lot of its money from arms deals with a once-powerful faction of the Adeptus Mechanicus, so the weapons they equipped their troops with generations ago are still functioning just as well (if not better than) modern equipment that would be within a reasonable budget. Why fix what isn’t broken, eh?


The parts went together with no trouble at all, and there was a huge variety of poses (including a left-handed rifle pose!) that really add to the individuality of the models, despite them wearing 90% the same outfit. It also came with a two-handed pistol pose, which I initially thought was too Operator for our gang of hardened space pirates, but after dry fitting it, realised it was too cool to leave out. A putty strap on the rifle helps cement the model as a ‘rifleman’ class, rather than one of the melee characters.

Speaking of melee characters, I also knew I needed a few models that bucked the trend of ‘fashionable space rapscallions’, and given the propensity for boarding actions and angry claw-armed gribblies, we needed a few ruffians in the collection.

I never saw boarding actions as pretty things, but rather grim battles of attrition in tight corridors in hazardous conditions, often with little or no air, gravity or light, so their weapons would need to facilitate that. I was sorely tempted by chain weapons or swords, but settled on some brutish clubs and maces in the end. They didn’t need upkeep or sharpening – a blunt mace is just as effective as a sharp one, and in tricky conditions you don’t want something that you need space to wield (like a sword).

I had enough parts left to build a single armsman, and I was at odds with what to build. My mind wandered back to the idea of the Space Bugler (toot toot) who had some kind of vox receiver built into the instrument and wired into the vox network of all the other armsmen, so they could literally toot in space, but there wasn’t anything in the lore (so far) to back that up yet, and I wanted to cover all my necessary bases before adding new things. Plus, it’s an excuse to buy more minis down the line if I still want to pursue it…

It was a toss up between a leader/sergeant type character and a standard bearer. I hate freehand painting designs onto things, and try and avoid projects that force me to do that to make the most of the minis, so standard bearer was lowest on my priority list. However, I didn’t like the idea of a sergeant for this group, as I wanted leaders to emerge organically rather than be forced upon the crew, or allow the players to nominate anyone they felt was worthy of a position of command rather than the model saying which was in charge.

So, alas, the standard bearer was born.

Painting

The first test model was completed after much pain and anguish. The Captain of our game picked out the colours and symbols and I did my best to incorporate them into a design.

I wanted a House that had been impoverished until recently, so their House Guard are still utilising old armoured space suits that they have tried to repaint and retrofit as a uniform of sorts. The teal armband with the upside down moon is the colour and symbol of the Dynasty, and the red/white kneepad with the teal chevron represents the renewed pact with an old ally, an arms-dealing Adeptus Mechanicus faction.

In their pockets on their backpack they carry handfuls of dirt from their recently reclaimed homeworld, which they scatter on the floor before a boarding action – never again will they allow the Dynasty to lose ground!

Meanwhile, on the Bench: TJ Razor

This week’s theme is Space Thugs, and you don’t get much thuggier or spacier than TJ Razor. A man whom you could strip naked, beat bloody, interrogate for days in a cold brig-cube, finally turning your back only to find a knife stuck in it.

He’s a member of the Pursers Grim, a loose organisation of void-faring racketeers and shakedown artists, often used as a source of intelligence by organisations on both sides of the law if the coin is right. It is said there isn’t a ship in the sector that doesn’t have a Purser on board.

TJ relies on quick wits and quicker hands to stay one step ahead of his quarry, and always has a trick up his sleeve if he finds his back against the wall. That trick, however, is normally another knife. He’s a man of simple pleasures.

As with many of my Inquisitor projects, TJ started off as a totally different concept – an elegant swordsman in the employ of a fancy Inquisitor. What differed is that the parts remained almost completely unchanged while he languished on a shelf for 9 months, only adding the stick grenade and shoulder pad to complete the image.

It wasn’t until we had sunk quite a few hours into a new Rogue Trader campaign that the Pursers Grim faction became a little more fleshed out, and I wanted to have a 54mm representative for our games of Inquisitor. I had a dig through the Box of Shame and found this guy, so he was swiftly rebased onto something a little more space station-y to fit in with the other themed gangers I was building.

I was always a fan of the pose – Sergeant Stone’s legs are very dynamic but can be tricky to build a model that doesn’t look awkward with such a dramatic lunge. The arm reaching across his body to draw a blade gave the model oodles of character, and despite trying dozens of different permutations of sidearm, accessories, extra weapons and such, it was the simplicity of two knives that really worked for me.

NB: As an important pedantic note, I know he doesn’t have a sheath for the knife in his left hand. I couldn’t find one of a convincing size that would fit anywhere on the model and not detract from the flow or silhouette. Fight me. 

To my undying shame, this was the state he remained for another 5 months. I blocked out the colours and had a vague idea in my head of what I was going for. The orange jacket was going to be some sort of repurposed criminal fatigues from his penal colony days, and the shirt underneath was going to be a leather jacket or padded vest to keep him from freezing over in the chilly underbelly of voidships. The stripey trousers are from a classic piece of 40k artwork (that currently escapes me) with a Rogue Trader wearing striped trousers. I don’t know what it was about this image that screamed 18th Century sea faring and naval combat, but I had to replicate it. I knew I wanted him pale as well, from a life lived away from the sun but also covered in gang tattoos, the ridiculous OTT type that you see in buzzfeed articles that you aren’t convinced aren’t photoshopped.

I ran out of motivation at this point realising the sheer amount of hours I would need to apply in one sitting to get the freehand tattoos looking the way I wanted. I also noticed that I had assembled the model incorrectly, and sculpted the arm joins to look like they went underneath the vest rather than connect to it. Pretty harmless when there’s no paint on the model, but after some block colours went on I realised that his shirt has a deep v-neck, and to combine it with the fabric on his arms gives him a weird leather long-sleeve deep neck shirt thing that I couldn’t be bothered to strip, resculpt and fix.

Signing myself up to run an Inquisitor day, “Mother of Mercy” in November seemed to be the trick to get my unmotivated ass out of the gutter and start finishing some models. I blew the dust off him, touched up his base coats and gave him a good couple of washes while I looked up some interesting prison tattoos.

I had a hard time getting the stripes on his trousers straight, but I was quite pleased with how they came out overall. The skin tattoos were an absolute nightmare, built up with painstaking layer upon layer of slightly darker shades of skin colour. I didn’t realise how tricky it would be to get a convincing head tattoo without covering the whole head, nor did it work when I tried to do scribbles and squiggles to “look like” tattoos from a distance. I had to knuckle down and freehand tiny tattoos on his tiny knuckles.

After the agony of freehand, the rest was a joy to touch up, and I’m very pleased with how he came out in the end. As I was painting, I was trying to come up with an interesting edge for the tabletop. Things like the Blade Master special rule and a high Weapon Skill were a given, but I wanted something that set him apart from the stereotypical knife-wielding maniacs.

I borrowed the “Always Has Another Knife” rule from the Community Special Abilities page which seemed fitting, but wanted something to underline the voidbelly stab-or-be-stabbed mentality. I thought about an ability that allowed him to make a free throwing knife attack if he chooses to be pinned while being shot at, injuring or at least distracting the shooter long enough to make a getaway or get stuck into combat. I like the idea, but it needs a bit of playtesting before I’m happy to write it up here.

All in all I’m very happy with how he came out, and I’m looking forward to doing a few more gangers and thugs from our little spit of space. Now all he needs is a battle report to star in…

Meanwhile, on the Bench: Crimson Wake Reavers

Batten down the hatches, sharpen your boarding axes and say your prayers to the Emperor, the Crimson Wake Reavers have you in their sights…

This project was immense fun. The premise was simple; I need bad guys, and lots of them. From our games of Inquisitor to Dark Heresy to Rogue Trader, even making NPC appearances in the odd game of Necromunda, the Crimson Wake have generously given their lives time and time in the name of being good Bad Guys, and I felt I owed it to the little champs to immortalise them in paint and plastic.

This project is perhaps the first sizeable modelling project I’ve completed that had no parts purchased specifically for the job. I wanted around a dozen members of the void-prowling Chaos pirate group, the Crimson Wake, and I was fortunate late last year to get a few big plastic bags of decade-old tatty models that needed rehoming. The models were in pretty bad nick – outrageous plastic glue accidents, interesting conversion attempts, paint that looks like it was applied with a trowel, the works. The upside was the sheer quantity – if you were to buy those today you would easily be set back around a grand.

I cleaned up all the metal models, flogged them on ebay for some hobby funds, and set about salvaging whatever plastic I could from the mix; Imperial Guardsmen, fantasy beastmen, loads of classic Empire bits, Chaos models that I forgot existed. What could be saved was snipped apart and distributed among my bits boxes, ready for the grand assemblage.

I had eyeballed some parts that would fit together very nicely, and decided I was going to just dive straight in, randomly matching bodies, legs and heads together to make my Chaos Reavers. I only had one goal in mind; to make them as varied as I could to represent many different kinds of baddies that might pop up in campaigns; from bedraggled voidsmen barely showing any signs of Chaos taint that could be hanging around in spaceport bars holding valuable information, all the way up to Chaos pirate captains and bloodthirsty ultra-warriors kitted out in ancient armoured void suits from millennia ago.

Let’s have a little look at some of these goons.

This was one of the first guys I put together and still one of my favourites. He captures that haggard, salty seadog look with a bit of weirdness from the right knee downwards. Given the time, energy and money, I’d make a dozen more like this guy to populate the spaceports and rotgut taverns of the 41st millennium, but he’ll have to do for now.

The shotgun is from Victoria Miniatures, picked up for a massive Necromunda bits part order and I still had a bunch lying around.

This guy was another relatively normal-looking Reaver – I still wanted a few models that could just about pass as non-Chaos worshipping loonies. As I was assembling them, I realised that I was going to need some unifying features to make the motley lot look more like a motley crew than a motley mob, so I devised a rebreather system. Nothing says Space Man like a backpack with tubes on it, right?

Most of the backpacks were made from classic plastic Space Marine backpacks with some of the nozzles chopped off, and the rebreather mouthpieces were made from cut-down space marine heads, leaving just the front part of the mask. The head is from the Trench Irregular set from Anvil Industries. I rolled out some sausages of green stuff for the tubes, let them set for about 20 minutes, then rolled them across some corrugated plastic to produce the ribbing effect. Leave them for another 10/20 minutes and they were springy enough to keep their ribs, but pliable enough to be bent, cut and glued into shape.

Time to get weird! I started experimenting with plastic Chaos Space Marine parts. I liked the armoured aesthetic, but I didn’t want my Reavers to just look like space marines, I wanted them to have a flavour of their own, so this was my first foray into using just enough CSM parts to add that asymmetric weirdness without being overt.

It was also at this point I realised that the topless Chaos Marauder torsos would work just fine if I shaved the nipples off and painted it to look like armour. Parts for the parts god!

They were going to need some support weapons too, and I played with the idea of a rocket or grenade launcher for a while. The model looked very cool, but I couldn’t justify the use of long ranged anti-tank weaponry on close-quarters fighters. A nice Imperial Guard heavy flamer would fit the bill, and with an excess of weird pipes going into his rebreather and his ammo tank raises questions about what exactly is being fired from that flamer after all…

Moving on to some heavy hitters, this guy was assembled almost entirely out of classic fantasy Chaos warrior parts, with a heavy pistol from Anvil and a Nurgley-looking shoulder pad to complete the look. I really liked the idea that this ancient warrior of a thousand battles still has the best damn boots on the ship.

I was very much hoping at this point that a nice paint job would offset the goofiness of the whole crew, but that’s what Chaos is there for right?

This guy was actually one of my earlier experiments with a rebreather. I nailed the concept of the mouthpiece, but ran into a problem trying to attach the backpack – the shoulder pads I had selected for MAXIMUM 40K were overmaximum and nothing could fit on his back. I had a rummage round for something suitable, I think they are flamer tanks from some infantry kit? By this point I was really enjoying the mismatched void suit aesthetic – classic Chaos Warrior legs and left arm, Chaos Marauder torso and head, Khorne Berzerker right arm and a heavy caliber pistol from Anvil.

The felt I lacked diversity in the work force, and needed some more Definitely Chaos guys, rather than Suspiciously Chaos. I wanted someone who, when they arrived on the board, left no doubt as to their alignment. I had the flaming head from the Empire Flagellants that was kicking around my bits box begging for a body. Legs and torso were easy to assemble, but I wanted something weird and wacky for his armament. A Plaguebearer left arm was suitable gribbly, and there was quite tight competition for the right, eventually settling on the weird tentacle double arm from the plastic Chaos Spawn kit.

It was at this point that I decided I was going to have a Lot Of Fun(tm) painting fire, as I’d never done it before. Oh, my sweet summer child.

I had some Khorne Berzerker legs to hand from the Bag o’ Doom and wanted someone with a bit more momentum than the others I had assembled. Axe nice and high, bolt pistol from Anvil out front in a run ‘n’ gun pose, I really like this one for its simplicity. It was tricky to see the model come together with so many half-painted plastic bits, but I assured myself it would come together after they were sprayed. A horny head from the classic plastic Chaos Space Marines finished the ‘head first charge’ look I was going for.

One more ‘normal’ guy to round things off, as I had many armoured and voidsuited thugs who would not be out of place by the Captain’s side, but I needed another scummy-looking mutant who could skulk around in the underways and maintenance tunnels getting intel. I have a lot of possessed heads picked up over the years, so I was desperate to use a few of them up in this project, especially the weirder ones that would have no chance of being in anything outside of a Chaos group. A plastic Ork body, legs and arms from an ‘easy assemble’ kit suited the hunched mutie look I was going for. I shaved down some of the iconography, added a few pointy shoulder pads and a big double-barrelled shotgun and he was done!

And finally, the magnificent Captain of the group. I had originally never intended to make a leader, so my group would never associate the models with characters too much and make it easier to chop and change them about. Unfortunately, as soon as I put the Chaos Warrior legs with the Chaos Space Marine chainmail torso, I was already sold. The massive Berzerker head I’ve had in my bits box fit too well, and I was already reneging on my pledge to myself for the sake of a cool model. It didn’t matter, it came out far better than I’d hoped – a big bulky silhouette that should make players shudder when it thumps down onto the table top.

All in all I’m very happy with how they came out. I’ve had several games with them since, and they’ve never failed to threaten and entertain. There will be some painted pictures going up over the next few weeks, so keep an eye on us!