MOTB: 54mm Genetor Vacillus

Finished product first!

This is Genetor Vacillus, the second minion in service to the radical Magos Quinn from our cancelled Inquisitor campaign, the first being this big stabby chappy

MAGOS BIOLOGIS WARBAND

The main antagonists of the campaign are a radical Mechanicus sect headed by Magos Biologis Lingus Quinn, who is very interested in ++++REDACTED++++ in the campaign. His hobbies include tentacles, electricity, and vats of green goo. He surrounds himself with prototypes, experiments, and like-minded tech adepts who can be trusted to not ask too many questions in the quest for knowledge. Vacillus is just such a like-minded tech adept.

Evolution of a miniature

Vacillus was one of the first models I ever scratch-built back in the noughties, starting life as just a head and an arm. You can tell how old it is, 720p was the native resolution for whatever device I took this photo on.

It was inspired by an iconic piece of imagery from the Inquisitor rulebook, and armed with a block of green stuff and some vaseline, I set to work.

He ended up as a cool Adeptus Mechanicus character (originally called Lingus Quinn!) who worked for my own warband’s Inquisitor. He ended up being the villain of so many games of Dark Heresy that he ended up splitting off from the Inquisitor to do his own thing, and his notoriety was born.

I wanted to keep the name but change the model for something a little more imposing, so old Quinn didn’t have a purpose any more. I figured what could be more honourable than giving him a refurb and having him fight alongside his namesake?

To fit the theme he needed a few adjustments and a new paintjob, but I had plenty of Talos bits still lying around…

Waste not

This must have been one of those beginners’ luck sculpts, as I’ve struggled to do anything as good as this since! Nothing needed changing on the body or left arm, I only wanted to swap his gun out for something more imposing and give him some new gubbins and cables.

I feel much more confident installing cables on models now, and I feel they give that added *chef kiss* to Mechanicus miniatures especially.

I’d picked up a few Talos kits in the past for various conversions – they are an absolute godsend for Mechanicus/Dark Mechanicum projects – and I had one of the cool goo-spitter arms handy.

I loved how it fit on his arm (once I’d popped off his drum stubber) and gave him a really weird “admin guy with prototype mega-stapler” vibe that I think perfectly suited the warband.

I added a few pipes and vials from the same kit, and used the Greenstuff World pipe roller to make the rest (which is another Mechanicus fan must-have).

I wasn’t quite sure what would be in the pipes and vials, but they’d be painted the same eerie green as the Zeta-Phi Servitor’s vials to help tie the warband together.

I was still on the fence about what the weapon would actually be. Initially I was thinking some kind of acid thrower, using a combination of the acid spit and flamer rules, but I was also toying with a Neural Shredder as they don’t get a lot of table time.

Then my mind wandered into dangerous territory – perhaps it’s an experimental mutagen that helps flesh bind with metal? He could act as handyman/medic for the servitor minions, while having a wicked spray weapon that could potentially prompt victims to roll on the minor mutations table… Is that too evil?

The backpack was made from some kind of heavy weapon platform from Anvil Industry, picked up during one of their grab-bag sales. It had a pleasing amount of greebles on it to look like a tech power pack with side tank/ammunition storage for his super soaker.

The extra mechadendrite is from the classic Inquisitor range, bent slightly to my purposes. It balances the model out nicely, and I figured he’d want more than one spare hand, what with the squirt gun taking up the entire right hand side of his body.

The power pack on his front is a backpack from the plastic Skitarii range, chopped down a bit to hide its origins, which gave him some nice detail on the front that would take paint well.

As for his paint job, I’d already done most of the hard work with the Zeta-Phi Servitor hashing out the colour scheme, so it was a simple job to apply that palette to this guy.

Conclusion

I’m very happy with how he turned out! It was a bit nerve-wracking taking apart one of my favourite models, but the glow-up he got was well worth the risk. I’m undecided about his backstory and main armament, but it doesn’t look like the Backstreet Boys World Tour is letting up any time soon, so I’m in no rush. Plenty of time to playtest, methinks…

MOTB: 54mm Biologis Servitor, Zeta-Phi pattern

Finished product first!

When our Inquisitor campaign was unceremoniously cancelled last year by the Back Street Boys’ Reunion Tour, I never got round to displaying all the miniatures I had lined up. I wanted to keep them secret so I could do a Big Reveal in the campaign, but a year later, I’ve accepted that it could be another year before I’m comfortable back in a store setting breathing on each other across a table.

Time to showcase some more 54mm Inquisitor goodness!

Magos Biologis warband

The main antagonists are a radical Mechanicus sect headed by Magos Biologis Lingus Quinn, who is very interested in ++++REDACTED++++ in the campaign. His hobbies include tentacles, electricity, and vats of green goo. He surrounds himself with prototypes, experiments, and like-minded tech adepts who can be trusted to not ask too many questions in the quest for knowledge. One such prototype is the Zeta-Phi pattern Specimen Recovery Servitor.

Zeta-pHi pattern servitors

Nicknamed “Beetle-backs” for their hunched gait, these now-proscribed servitors were pioneered by the Mechanicus of the Zeta-Phi Facility on Kreato to help with their studies of the native lifeforms. While nearly all the life on the planet is microscopic parasites, gathering the rare, larger speciments required something more advanced than a bucket on a rope.

The planet’s constant lightning storms make long-range communication unreliable, so the Zeta-Phi Facility built their recovery servitors to work alone or in packs, independent of constant commands. They were built with dozens of failsafes, self-repair protocols and armed with non-lethal capture tools, so in the most cataclysmic of circumstances they would hurt nobody and/or simply return to base.

Tragically, the facility was targeted by radicals looking to destroy their research. Something about “you can’t put parasites in our food to make us work harder”. The radicals introrudced a mind-rusting agent to the facility’s organic noospheric network, polluting the machine spirit of the facility.

The only place that remained untouched was the generatorium deep beneath the facility – the plasma glow apparently staving off the worst effects of the mind-rust. The Tech Priests began to die off, and the Beetle-backs started saving them the only way they knew how.

One by one the living Tech Priests of Zeta-Phi were subdued and grafted together in a horrifying pillar of flesh, suspended above the generatorium. They were alive in the strictest technical sense, but their suffering bled back into the noospheric network and overrode the facility’s mindrusted defenses. The Zeta-Phi facility gained a tortured sentience and sealed itself off from the world while the servitors continued to keep it alive.

An Inquisitorial purge was lead into the facility a year after this tragedy occurred, burning out the mind-rust and destroying the flesh amalgam and its servitor carers. All the Zeta-Phi pattern servitors were proscribed for their abhorrent behavious and all were scheduled for incineration.

In an unrelated turn of affairs, a subsidiary of Quinn Enterprises was negotiating the contract to handle logistics for the incineration. The errant servitors were shipped off by the subsidiary, and although conflicting reports arose of delays and an additional stop-off en route to their destination, the servitors were reported as destroyed.

These machines would serve Magos Quinn’s interests perfectly.

Building the beetle-back

For my sins I have failed to get any WIP shots of these creations, so I will break down the parts as best I remember.

The bulk of this servitor is a plastic sentinel and plastic Talos kitbashed together. The legs are from the sentinel, with Talos arm-plates over the shins, and joined at the spine to the Talos body and arms.

A beacon objective marker from the Battle for Macragge box set served as a power generator and tail analogue to help balance it out a bit.

The upper half is almost completely from the Talos kit. The arms were reshuffled a bit to fit more naturally on the shoulders, and the left arm had to be rebuilt with some mystery greeble from my bits box as I’d already used the other upper arm on another project (tune in next week!).

The only Inquisitor bit used was the head – an arco-flagellant head from the Simeon 38x expansion kit with the horn filed down. A few purity seals and Imperial shoulder-pads secured the “Imperial but only just” look I was aiming for.

The base is lasercut MDF – not the ideal material to work with for a base, as its extremely porous surface makes it hard to get an even flat coat when trying to do something Necron-adjacent.

TTcombat have since discontinued this line of bases and are doing far more impressive resin versions, which I would have opted for had I started this project today, rather than a million years ago.

Armed and dangerous

This is an imposing figure, looking an Inquisitor-scale miniature in the eye, and I wanted its armament to be equally imposing. Both straight from the Talos kit, it’s equipped with a barbed grappling hook hand and a large injector needle filled with vials of green goop.

It would be easy to make a servitor with heavy armament, but I wanted this giant to be (relatively) gentle, using a range of non-lethal tools to take down opponents.

It’s not been playtested yet, but the general idea is the hook launcher would be a melee/short ranged weapon of 6″-8″. The servitor would cast it out like a fishing line at an intended target, digging into different locations to make it tricky to remove. It then reels the target in, delivers a cocktail of pacification drugs, and slings the target over its back to take home.

Although it would be a powerful (and difficult to kill) character on the tabletop, its “power” is tempered by its focus. It aims to neutralise a single target and leave, avoiding the armoured rampage that many powerful servitor characters tend to gravitate towards in Inquisitor.

Debrief

I’m extremely happy with how this project came out. It was something I visualised for a Dark Heresy campaign of yesteryear and brought to the material world through plastic kits. I’m very excited to get to play with it (whenever that will be…) and even more excited to show off the whole warband together.

I just need to dial in my lightbox setup a bit…

MOTB: Slaver Guild Entourage

Finished product first!

In the World That Was, I was involved in a Necromunda campaign where I unlocked the Slave Guild as allies to my gang. Aside from a few perks and pitfalls, the Guild and Criminal Organisation alliances also grant you a small mini-gang to deploy along with your regular gang. You get 3-5 extra characters (using pre-built statlines and equipment) and only take the place of a single ganger, so they’re something you want to convert up and get to the tabletop quickly!

At the time, there were no miniatures announced or released for any of the ~10 different Guilds and Criminal Organisations. Inevitably, the only thing that has ever been released since then has been the “official” Slaver Guild Entourage on Forgeworld, so my enthusiasm for painting them after I’d assembled them diminished.

I got involved in a painting competition earlier this year with my local FLGS Asgard Wargames and it was a good excuse to bust out the old minis and slap a coat of paint on them.

Bits box only

When I decided to build the Entourage, I wanted to only use bits from the bits box. It’s getting dangerously full and I didn’t want to spend any (more) money on something that might never see the tabletop, so this little creative exercise was perfect.

There are four characters in an Entourage – the Chain Lord, the Shakleman, and two Pit Fighters. Their equipment was set apart from the Chain Lord, who had the option of chain glaive or whip and chain axe. I can’t resist a good sword-on-a-stick, so chain glaive it was.

I’ll try to identify all the bits as we go, but some are so eclectic even I can’t place them!

Chain lord WIP

The big boss man, described as bloated and hedonistic, but also juiced up to the eyeballs on combat drugs. The head from Neferata had this wonderful Pharoah vibe that I couldn’t turn down, and the little pointy goatee had to come with it. The head is from Anvil’s Bionic Heads collection, shaved down a bit to fit the new headress.

The body is from three generations of Chaos Warriors – the breastplate from a Khorne Knight, the cloak from a previous generation Chaos Warrior, and the legs from the classic plastic Chaos Warriors from the 20th century.

The arms and staff came from a Nurgle plague lord(?) left over from my Jackal Mask conversion with the chainsword blade from a Khorne Berserker. I wanted to pick a kind of chainsword I had three of so I could duplicate the look across the whole Entourage. The pommel(?) of the chain glaive came from a Tau Battlesuit, some kind of radar gubbins or something.

The rest of him was adorned with various chains from the Empire Flagellant kit and my personal favourite bits, some vials from a Dark Eldar Talos Engine to represent his combat drugs.

Everything was blended together with green stuff, there were some gaps where the body halfs met each other and some damage around the fur on the cloak. Nothing fancy, just rough and ready.

Pit Fighters

I had a lot of classic plastic Marauders in my box from an old ebay lot I acquired a million years ago, and with their hilariously buff physique, scant clothing and two-handed weapon grip, they were the perfect base for some chain glaive-wielding pit fighters.

The heads are from the plastic Blood Angels Honour Guard, a set of heads I’d kept for a while for their creepy cult death-mask vibe, and they’re a perfect fit for this! They needed something to represent all their combat drug injectors, but I didn’t want to use all my good Talos vials for these scrubs.

Super-conveniently I had a bunch of smoke launchers from various tank kits I’d owned over the years, and angled correctly (and with the right paintjob) they could look like a little peacock fan of injectors, and make the models’ silhuoettes more interesting.

Shakleman

I’m a dummy and didn’t get a closeup of the Shakleman’s WIP but you can scroll down for the finished photos and piece it together with the power of imagination.

This guy was the hardest to figure out – he had a lot of weird equipment and seemingly not enough hands – a cult icon, a shock stave and a harpoon gun. Two of those have been modelled as two-handed weapons, so unless I could come up with a very convincing argument why this five-armed guy wasn’t a genestealer cultist, I’d have to get pretty creative.

I went for a hunched Ork body to make him more distinct from the other ‘fighters’ – he’s described as a weasly character who preys on the weak, and I couldn’t shake the image of the cackling jailer from Life of Brian.

I found an old skaven back banner that would work for the cult icon (I had no idea what I’d paint on it, but that was a problem for Future Me) and a cool Ork Nob arm with a built-in harpoon gun thing, so that was a definite. The head came from a classic plastic cultist who’d been decapitated for another project.

I take umbrage with weapons that are described as having a 2″ reach and then being the same size as the regular zap-stick on the official models, so I wanted something long and archaic-looking. Something you could really stick between the bars of a jail cell or use to keep the Talent at a safe distance.

I had loads of Khorne Knight lances lying around, and I’d sequestered the blade on another project, so this was begging for some kind of zappy bit on the end. A skitarii electro-prod fit the bill, and it was finished off with some chain heraldry from the Bretonnian Men At Arms kit.

A small pauldren crest helped hide the join between the knight arm and ork body and I can punish myself with more freehand later. More skulls and chains and the Shakleman was finished!

Painting the entourage

As part of the competition I was in these guys needed to be painted in under a week, so naturally I decided to try a new painting technique and a colour palette I rarely use. Why not make things harder for myself?

I wanted a dark purple/scarlet colour scheme, and wanted to experiment with coloured washes over metallics. I went through a different variations, but settled on Ironbreaker silver with Carroburg Crimson splashed over the top. This was then weathered with chips done in Rhinox Hide and Ironbreaker and a healthy dollop of Blood for the Blood God.

I’ve got an enthusiasm for banners and heraldry (directly in contradiction with my disdain for painting banners and heraldry) so I wanted to tie these guys into my larger universe. Some chrono-gladiators have appeared in other games I’ve run, including Inquisitor, so I wanted to build on that.

In that warband, ‘Aries’ is a callsign for an old Chrono-gladiator, and I picked Leo (or ‘Lio’ to High Gothicify it a bit) as the symbol for this group, with a two-tone banner and the Deathclocks guild logo appears on the Shakleman’s banner.

Chain Lord

Everything was done with a base colour with a wash, very little was highlighted afterwards – quick ‘n’ dirty. There are a few exceptions here – the fur lining on the cloak was picked out and the flesh was blended up from its original colour, but I didn’t waste any time trying to highlight the metal or armour.

The themes of purple and dark grey were the unifying colours across the Entourage, represented in his armour and both sides of his cloak. His ‘Lio’ symbol was painted a few times on his shoulderpads and kneepad, although they didn’t come out very well and just look like dicks, but the one on his cloak I’m quite proud of.

The vials were painted with this classic Duncan tutorial, and the green is a good spot colour that contrasts nicely with the dark red/purple of the rest of the model.

Shakleman

This fella took the most re-working out of the four. It took me several attempts before I was happy with the exact combination of light grey/dark grey/purple for his various straps, belts, and bits of clothing.

I tried not to go overboard with the freehand, as despite hating it, I can get very carried away once I start.

He has the most heraldry, and is the only one sporting Deathclocks colours too, rather than just the purple and grey Lio colours. I figure he’s Geoff from Corporate, here to keep an eye on things down in Lio branch.

Pit fighters

My favourite boys! I enjoyed painting these guys the most, I think because they were the most dynamic of the four and the ones I’m most likely to get use of outside of Necromunda.

Similar techniques were used as above, except there was a lot more flesh on show, which gave me an opportunity to do some Bane-like green veins pulging through the skin to help integrate the combat drug design a bit more.

Side note, these guys had their trousers repainted three times, and they’re back at the colour I originally decided for them. It was a surprisingly hard colour scheme to work with, Ikept changing my mind on how to implement the limited palette. I only mention this as I forgot to wash one of their trousers after painting them back to original purple, which I’m not only noticing in editing… It’s not all sunshine and rainbows in Dreadquill Towers!

Conclusion

All in all I’m very happy with how they came out. I could easily have spent more time on them and had them on my bench for a month, but getting them finished in under a week was a very satisfying experience. I’d got to experiment with some new techniques and generate some content for the ol’ blogaroo too.

I’m so happy with them in fact, I’ve been eyeing up other sidelined projects due for a lick of paint…

WIP Chrono-gladiators anyone?

MOTB: Necromunda Ambot

Finished product first!

This is a rarity – I buy something, I build it from the box, and it gets painted. No conversions, no elaborate paint jobs, no carving it up for bits… What’s got into me?

When the Ambots were released in the World That Was almost two years ago, I fell in love with them. Multi-part plastic robot alien kit? Sign me the heck up. I split the box with a friend and took home my very own am-bot.

The ambot was introduced before the Ambull miniature from Blackstone Fortress (sadly discontinued already), and the first in-game mention of Ambulls since the Dark Heresy RPG reintroduced them in the Creatures’ Anathema monster manual back in the noughties.

We’d just had Ambulls rock up in our Rogue Trader campaign and I’d used some DnD miniatures to build my very own Ambulls so I was stoked to see them returning in an official capacity!

The model went together very pleasingly, with lots of little odds and ends that make it so great for conversions.

I didn’t realise that each sprue comes with two sets of legs, so I assumed one of the sets of legs I had belonged to my friend, so I soldiered on with the goofy set. Had I known, I would have likely picked the other set to avoid the slightly awkward tick-tocking stance.

It’s not the end of the world, and it does mean I have another set of cool heavy industrial legs for use in other projects.

Sadly it sat on the shelf for another two years. My Necromunda campaign at the time never had an ambot crop up in it (there were lots of converted Ogryns though!) and without it having a “purpose” it never found its way to the top of my to-do list. Then of course 2020 rolled round and everything ground to a halt.

Aside from all the awfulness of 2020 (and 2021 aka 2020 2: Electric Boogaloo) it has helped give me some breathing room and perspective on my hobby. Previously I’d been creating and painting for a purpose – deadlines to meet, games to run, villains to put on the board for regularly scheduled RPG nights. I’d never painted anything solely for display or fun – having a competition run at my local FLGS Asgard Wargames helped kick me in the pants and start painting things for the hell of it again.

And it’s been a hoot!

I wanted a “normal” paint job for this guy, which meant no elaborate backstories or freehanding iconography or trying to tie it into an existing gang colour scheme. I also wanted to try using colours I don’t normally paint with – namely blue.

It was undercoated Army Painter Tan Leather and all the metallic bits were roughly drybrushed with Ironbreaker. Block colours went on next – Cantor Blue for the panels, Brass Scorpion for the tubes and cables, Iyanden Yellow for the hazard panels, a cheeky bit of Mephiston Red for the eyes and buttons. Black stripes are painted onto the hazard panels just before washing.

Everything then gets washed! Agrax Earthshade for the metals and hazard panels, Nuln Oil for the other areas.

Once dry, the panels get wet-blended back up to their original colour with the help of my new love, Lahmiam Medium. I used to use water for wet blending, but this stuff makes it so much simpler. The blue edges get highlighted with a lighter blue and the hazard stripes get touched up with their original colour. I never claimed my process was fancy!

Then my favourite part – weathering! I kept it dead simple this time – tear off a bit of sponge about the size of a fingernail and dip it in Typhus Corrosion with a pair of tweezers. Wipe a bit off, then gently dab dab dab on corners and edges.

When that’s dry, I touched up any edgees with Ironbreaker again to look like exposed metal, and the job was done!

I finished off the base to match my other Necromunda minis – a variety of metals and greys, washed black, then brown/orange/pale flesh stippled over the top to look like corrosion.

It took me about 2-3 evenings, including drying time, and I’m very happy with the outcome. It’s not something I spent ages on, I didn’t go the extra mile to painstakingly convert it to something unique, and I didn’t agonise over the paint job.

And you know what? I loved every second of it.

MOTB: Citizens of Mercy

Finished product first!

My local FLGS Asgard Wargames is running a competition on its Facebook group to get a new unit painted every week for a month. Motivated by the prospect of material reward, I figured it was also an excuse to clear my grey mountain and splash some colour on miniatures I’d otherwise never get around to painting.

The loose theme I went for was Necromunda, and first on the chopping block was my group of kitbashed “civilians” that I put together a while ago.

Since their creation, they’ve been incredibly versatile for not only being civilians in games of Necromunda, but also as hired guns, NPCS, and stand-ins for RPG characters.

The brief

They needed to be painted up in just over a week, which meant no dilly-dallying and lots of easy techniques, but I also wanted them to be vibrantly coloured. It would be easy to do another Beast House of grey and brown, but I didn’t want any two to look the same.

So, just come up with a dozen different easy-to-paint colour schemes in a week… sure…

The preacher

First on the table was this religious-looking chap (although the least nutty of the religious bunch) because his character spoke to me the most.

I hate painting yellow, and the thought crossed my mind to attempt some OSL from the lamp but quickly remembered my brief – I coudn’t spend all week on this guy.

His clothes were a technique I’d use on 90% of the rest of the gang – drybrush a colour over the brown undercoat, wash it, then roughly highlight. I went for a Jedi Robes colour scheme to get that itchy hessian sack kinda feel.

Headwound guy

This guy was popular on the internet when his WIP photo did the rounds. His truths seemed to resonate with people.

Another simple colour scheme, but with a splash of Blood For The Blood God on his headband as a spot colour. The real pull was his crazed sandwhich board message, for which there were too many great options to choose from.

A close third place was “Heresy is stored in the balls – change my mind”, and was rejected solely because it was too long to squeeze onto the tiny sandwhich board.

The Water Carrier

I liked making minis that looked like they were out on an errand and got caught short. This one in particular has some nice movement to it, and I tried to tell a bit of a story with the colours.

He’s wearing Orthesian colours and has a faded ‘7-B’ on his back, implying he’s a docker or rating working on a ship somewhere and had just popped out to grab a can of something before it all kicked off.

The off-duty guardsman

As detached as Mercy is from the rest of the universe, it’s fun to sprinkle in some mainstream bits from time to time. News of Cadia’s demise would have reached Mercy eventually, along with numerous refugees, AWOL soldiers or old veterans who find themselves without a home.

This was also my first Cadian I’d ever actually painted(!) and only realised halfway through that I didn’t have the correct colours for the armour. I tried mixing my own but I’m not super happy with how it came out.

I still like the overall mini, I like the little touches like the helmet on his belt and tattoo on his arm, and his attitude of “Oh I guess we’re fighting today huh”.

The hammer priest

Although I initially envisioned her as a kind of blacksmith, the idea of making her another member of the cloth was more enticing.

A neatly painted hassock with some rough Aquila freehand was enough to sell the idea of her being a low-ranking priest of some kind, and a touch of blood effect paint on the hammer, robes and face gave her added menace. It changed the body language from “Over there!” to “You’re next!”

Technical support

I wanted at least one mini in hazmat colours, and this chap’s metal arm and waistcoat was a good opportunity to try out a new recipe for yellow – using an orange wash instead of a brown or black one. I wanted his bionic arm to have the same yellow as his clothes, as though his arm is company-owned.

I tried to turn his waist sash into something like a ticker tape, or somewhere he wrote things down, but it ended up looking like a religious garment.

The prospector

You couldn’t have some citizens of a mining space port without some old retired prospectors, and I’m getting real Stinky Pete vibes from this guy. His arms were from the Genestealer Cult Neophytes, so have very mutant vibes to them. I wanted to make them as human-coloured as possible, as making them purple or green would give them a GSC/hidden alien flavour that I didn’t want.

Some of these minis were so fast to do, many of them didn’t even get a highlight stage. I’m following my 2019 mantra of ‘finished, not perfect’, and I think it really works when painting up minis like this!

The miner

I definitely wanted one mini in an orange jump suit, as I really like the aesthetic that many GSC colour schemes have. Unfortunately the minis I used didn’t lend themselves to jump suits, they are all leathers, pelts, tunics etc, so I had to improvise.

Double-unfortunately I didn’t have all the orange paints I wanted either, so I had to make do with a drab foundation orange. It gets the message across, but it wasn’t the vibrant jumpsuit colour I was looking for. I painted a few lines on to try and make it look more like a uniform, but I don’t think it worked very well. It’s a good proof of concept for future miner endeavours.

The old captain

One of my favourite of the bunch – he’s got a lot of character and I wanted to give him a mysterious past too. Painting his tattered clothes in noble, luxurious colours implies he’s come from wealth and privilege, so how did he get here?

Lots of opportunities to use him as a fallen Noble or old Captain, missing plenty of bits of himself but could still take your head off with that spade if you pushed in line at the bar.

The pressganger

This was a simple guy with a club and a sack, perhaps he’s out clubbing vermin for dinner or something, you can’t judge him. His only tell is a pistol on his hip, which implies he’s in a dangerous line of work. Perhaps he’s a pressganger?

As I was splashing some basic colours on him, my mind wandered to a hitherto unmentioned project involving circus clowns, and I couldn’t shake the image of having him in classic circus attire.

A quick red and yellow quartered pattern and he looked much more interesting. Why is he dressed like that? Is he moonlighting as a pressganger? Perhaps it’s a guild of pressgangers that have adopted a strange uniform? So many narrative threads from a simple change in colour scheme.

The youth

The closest to a ‘normal’ citizen I made, this one had an air of youthful energy around them – they bring a gun and a knife on their errand runs.

It was probably the simplest colour scheme too, and I was in danger of falling down a classic grey-and-brown hole with my colour palette, so I threw a dark green in there to visually distinguish them from the rest of the citizens.

I assumed the head had some kind of headband or braid running around the crown, but when I was painting it I realised it was a kind of beanie hat. This gave them a pleasing old fisherman vibe which helped tie them to the theme of ports and docks.

The troublemaker

I like painting red, what can I say.

I wanted to do a kilt pattern on a miniature, this semed to be the best bet. I used my own family’s tartan as a pattern, which got a bit lost under the wash. A matching red face covering and arm band gave her strong anarchist vibes, so naturally she needed the black leather jacket to match.

Bright hair really set off the look, and I think she is one of the more striking miniatures in the bunch.

The gang’s all here

Overall I’m very happy with how they came out. Without an arbitrary deadline I don’t think I’d ever have gotten round to painting them, and for them to have come out so well in such a short time gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

With my rough goal for this year to complete more projects than I start, I think I’m off on the right steps.

MOTB: 54mm Bloodletters

Finished product first!

2020 was a hell of a year, and 2021 is looking to be more of the same. At least this time we’ve had a year to figure out how to cope better. In my case, it’s been to buy a lightbox and an LED lamp so I can actually take photos and paint during the winter months without relying on the sun like some ancient oracle.

I’ve been picking away at projects to photograph, and with so many lined up it’s time to start blogging again. First is an early Christmas present to myself – a set of Forgeworld Ruinstorm Brutes that I had been eyeing up to make Inquisitor-scale Bloodletters.

A brief brief

In the World That Was, I was halfway through my first proper Inquisitor campaign, the Gorgon Crystals, at my local store Asgard Wargames. The pandemic hit, and aside from the social, emotional and financial devastation it left (and is still leaving) in its wake, it also left my campaign grossly unfinished.

I still had the Inquisitor bug, and I’ve been having vivid hallucinations about setting up an Inquisitor livestream (but one tangent at a time…), and I had set myself a task to try and create some 54mm Daemons.

Our games of Inquisitor have lots of Ordo Malleus characters and daemon-killing toys, but rarely (if ever) does something pop up. It would be easy (albeit expensive) to just buy one of the plastic Greater Daemons and plonk it down, but it would always look a bit off – it’s just a 28mm Greater Daemon but just a bit smaller. I wanted things that looked right when scaled up a bit.

So, with this needlessly pedantic brief, I set about putting in a Forgeworld order…

Resin for the resin gods

Although they’re not a spitting image for the 28mm versions, I figured it makes them more interesting. They’re much chunkier and covered in protruding spikers – nothing like the battlefield versions you see in the pages of White Dwarf. Chaos Daemons have a few distinctive features, and as long as you can mirror those, I figure you can make just about anything look like an aligned creature of Chaos.

The elongated skull and horns were the bits I wanted to emulate – the rest of the minis were basically perfect. I had to dig through my bits box to find the perfect sets, and although I set out to try and find three identical sets of horns, I much prefer the three different heads. It makes them much more characterful!

I also gave each a unique haircut to help further split them apart. The horns are from various sources – the far left were snipped from an original metal Bloodthirster, the middle horns are from the largest horny skull from GW’s box o’ skulls, and the horns on the right are tentacles/bony growths from the plastic Chaos Spawn kit.

They were coming together excellently. The bodies needed very little doing to them – just some hot water to bend the ankles back to make them less hunched over. The sand is an attempt to emulate the weird bumpy texture on their skin.

I briefly thought about about making balls out of green stuff and gluing them on one at a time, but my sides split from laughing at myself. Even after 9 months of working from home and never leaving the house, there wasn’t enough hours in the day for that nonsense. Just slap some sand on it.

Bloodletter by Pig of Sparta, pinched from Coolminiornot

I thought about replicating the iconic blades out of plasticard, but common sense prevailed. For one, see above about good use of time, and for two, I liked they were all equipped differently. It made them easy to tell apart on the tabletop and I started conjuring up some interesting character concepts – maybe one of them was the fastest, one the strongest, one the best fighter…

The only change was to change the hammer head out for something bladed. I had a cool Khornate lance tip, but then found an OG metal Bloodthirster axe in my box (seriously where did these come from?) and it was just too good a fit to turn down.

They didn’t have much armour, which was fine from a gameplay perspective, but it meant I wasn’t going to get a lot of bronze into the colour scheme. Again, I thought about painstakingly sculpting on some bracers and anklets, maybe some rings and other piercings like the 28mm versions do. Or…

*slaps minis* these bad boys can fit so much jewellers’ chain on them.

I smeared them with some finer textured paint to break up the larger sand particles (and help them stick, I wasn’t convinced PVA on resin was a particularly tough bond). Let’s get some paint on them!

A contrast to my usual style

I figured the year of our lord 2020 was a good time to try out these new-fangled contrast paints that everyone has been banging on about. The minis are organic and almost completely one colour, which from my research was what contrast paints were practically designed to work best with. One black and red purchase later…

Holy moly! Why haven’t I used these before? One thicc coat later and pretty much all the work is done for me – 20 minutes rather than half a dozen hours of painstaking layering. The only downside I found is that they don’t handle well.

I’m an ape who doesn’t use a mini holder when painting, just my big ol’ sausage fingers, and I found the paint rubbing off where I was holding the models to rotate them. After layering over those areas with original paints that seemed to fix the problem, but it was somethign I needed to consider if I planned on using these kinds of paints on minis I expected to handle on the tabletop quite a bit.

Final parade

Time to crack out the light box! About halfway through painting I realised they were missing another key Bloodletter element – a big ol’ licky tongue – so that was added with green stuff between watching paint dry.

And some scale shots…

28mm
54mm
I want to axe you a question

I layered a little extra red over the contrast paint to prevent the aforementioned rubbing off, but otherwise the only major change to the skin tone was touching up the extreme edges with orange.

The spikes were initially done with a black contrast while the red contrast was still wet, and they blended quite nicely into each other. Time saving!

I want to great axe you a question

I went with a classic look for the weapons – edge highlighting up from crimson, through orange, yellow, and finally white on the finest points.

I was mulling over the idea of having the glyphs carved into their flesh expose a lava/magma effect underneath. That seemed like a lot of effort, and then I realised that I hadn’t used ANY of the most important paint on the models – Blood for the Blood God.

I splashed a little bit in the recesses to test and it was perfect! I was worried the two shades of red wouldn’t stand out, but BftBG has a purple hue which contrasts nicely with the yellowy-orange used to highlight the scar edges.

I want to sword you a question

I wanted some fancy bases, but being a lazy-ass I wanted something I could just slap some paint on. The Chaos Waste bases from Micro Art Studio were the perfect fit to the bill, and I picked them up before Brexit made everything horrible.

Drybrushed a few cheeky shades of grey and beige, I splashed a bunch of slightly watered down BtfBG into the skully bits to make them look like horrifying charnel pools. Skulls for the skull throne!

Conclusion

I’m dead happy with them. They came out better than I imagined, and I already have half a dozen different scenario ideas in my head for them.

After looking at the Inquisitor ‘Build a Daemon’ articles from yesteryear’s Exterminatus magazine… wow Bloodletters are absolute shitlords on the tabletop. Maybe three of them is excessive…

Maybe it’s time to get that grey knight conversion off the starting blocks…

MOTB: Stone Guardians

SKELETON! WARRIORS!

A while ago I become obsessed with the Yu’Vath – a long-dead Chaos-worshipping alien empire with a penchant for corruption, sorcery, and warp-based technology. They all got bumped off (supposedly…) a few thousand years ago, their empire long in decline as they had fallen to the worst of their perversions and excesses.

The only thing that remains of them are their undiscovered facilities, filled with strange technology and powerful guardians animated by warp-sorcery. The perfect Cthulhu/Necromantic crossover that can spook a 40k RPG group that thinks they’ve seen all the universe has to offer!

They originally appeared in the Rogue Trader RPGs, and I was so hooked by a particular enemy that I knew I had to assemble them. That enemy has yet to surface in any of my photos, but what I did end up with was a box of skeletons that was just begging to be turned into skeleton warriors.

Box o’ bones

I ordered a wholesale lot of cheap plastic skeletons, which came to less than a fiver including shipping (2017 was a wild time).

They came in this charming box of pepper sachets, which excitingly enough, still contained a single sachet.

Holy moly that was a lot of skeletons. It was at this point that the thought struck me to make more than one project out of these lads – even the most elaborate construction wouldn’t use up as many skeletons as there were here.

“Why not a bunch of giant skeletons?” asked my professional degree-worthy creative genius.

Building a bunch of giant skeletons

It wasn’t obvious from the pictures when I ordered them, but these skeletons are big lads. They’re easily 54mm scale rather than the traditional 28/32mm of regular 40k miniatures, which was a pleasant surprise. It meant they were the perfect scale for any skeletal Inquisitor shenanigans.

I was impressed at the variety of poses too, and despite them being obviously very goofy, I could have a variety of weapons and armour to keep any encounters interesting.

At the time I didn’t have enough round 40mm bases to mount them on, but I had loads of square bases from my time with Warhammer Fantasy in the early noughties. A big square base inset with a smaller one gave the perfect statue plinth look, and when attached at a jaunty angle, the skeletons looked like they were stepping off the plinth and coming to life, Jason and the Argonauts-style.

It has to be said that these are probably the worst miniatures I have ever worked with. Obviously I’m getting exactly what I paid for, but I’m still allowed to be mad.

They were covered in mould lines and connection points, and the plastic was some awful cheap stuff that was too hard to scrape clean but too soft to file down, so they all ended up with these horrid jaggedy marks around them where I couldn’t be bothered to clean them up any more. Not only that, but nothing seemed to stick to them, even when pinned down, I had to bathe their feet in superglue to keep them attached to the base.

The bases got a light smothering of the new (at the time) textured paints to break up the monotony of the classic WHFB square base texture.

I cleaned up what I could be bothered with, knowing that I’d get diminishing returns on something I paid a few pennies per model for, and gave them a blast with some grey primer.

I did mention they were tall, right?

Painting the skeletal horde

The painting scheme for these guys was minimum viable product – I had a game lined up with them in a few days, so they just needed to be game-ready. They weren’t going to win any beauty awards, so they just needed a wash, a drybrush and to pick out key areas.

NYAAAAH!

The recipe was simple – wash them with Nuln Oil over their black primer, then a drybrush of grey, with a lighter drybrush of lighter grey.

I rejected the classic boney skeleton look as I wanted these to be made of stone rather than the skeletons of some huge 10-metre race of humans.

The metal sections were a mid gold colour and a liberal application of another technical paint I hadn’t really experimented with, Nihilakh Oxide, to get that lovely tarnished effect. The Oxide was applied liberally, then roughly wiped off the raised areas with my big sausage fingers.

Once they were done, I felt like they were missing something. Of course they looked cheap and cheerful, but they didn’t look spooky enough. I toyed with the idea of giving them classic glowing eyes, but that just didn’t feel right.

I wanted to give them an other-worldly glow and the chest cavity seemed like a great place to start. It my first time experimenting with Object Source Lighting (OSL), and at the time I feared that I had overdone it, but on reflection I don’t think I went far enough! The purple is very subtle, and I wanted a more powerful and obvious glow to it.

Whereas traditionally for undead constructs you would remove the head or destroy the brain, I wanted to slightly subvert that for these guys. Our Voidmaster has become an expert at headshots, and I wanted him to have to put a moment’s thought into the encounter when realising that it doesn’t immediately work.

I figured whatever sorcerous artefacts are powering these constructs, they are doing so from centre mass. I made an effort to explain how they were glowing from the chest cavity, and how blowing off their arms and legs didn’t seem to bother them at all. Even when their heads were removed they seemed to unerringly detect the players, as though the creatures that created them didn’t know or didn’t care about the function of the humanoid body, it only mattered that it looked like a terrifying visage of death to them.

The story began to build around that – these were not Yu’Vath, nor were they created by them. They implemented Yu’Vath technology, but they were build by some humanoid race in thrall to the Yu’Vath empire out of fear, necessity, or both. Why were they built? Who built them? These were all exciting questions outside the scope of our Rogue Trader game, they only needed to exist to build a bigger picture of a wider universe, and reiterate how small our characters were in it.

All in all I’m very happy with how they came out! For a project that was technically part of a different project’s budget, I’ve got some nice tropey villains that work at any scale and can be inserted into a game without much effort. Chuffed!

Skeleton gallery

I took some more glamour shots alongside my recent arcane ruins, crystals and Demeten Hastati too for a flavour of how they all work together.

MOTB: Void Whale

Finished product first!

With a triumphant, haunting cry, a titanic creature bursts into realspace, a wave of pure warp energy following in its wake.

The augers shriek in protest. The great void creature is nearly five times the length of the vessel with the mass of a small station.  Its sleek body is pockmarked with strange lights and lashed with deep scars, and it propels itself through the void on massive pinions.

It lets out another fearsome psychic wail and banks through the asteroid field to bear down on the Unbroken Resolve, its terrible vantablack jaws open wide.

Creatures of the void sea

What’s space without vast, unfathomable creatures borne from the dark between the stars?

Our Rogue Trader campaign is packed with exploring the stars, and while the 40k universe has plenty of strange aliens to interact with, sometimes you just want something really alien.

Every space game needs space whales, and with our adventurers travelling to a domain called ‘The Void Sea’, it was a perfect opportunity to come up with a very large encounter.

Life, uh, finds a way

Many moons ago I picked up a pile of cheap dinosaur toys with the express interest of using them as a basis for conversions. I was sure there was something I could do with this lad.

The head was obviously not intimidating enough, and his lil leggies had to go, but the shape was good and it was covered in lots of interesting bumps that would paint up nicely.

Off with his head!

Tyranid bits are a classic, although you have to be careful disguising them if you want to make a non-Nid creature. This is the enhanced senses biomorph from the old plastic Carnifex, the multiple eyes and big antenna seem perfect for tracking prey in the depths of space.

I wanted something that looked like flippers or wings – something to propel him through vacuum on strange alien biology. Some nice Tyranid scything talons fit the bill, and mounted sideways gave him lots of lovely girth.

Even more yranid bits for the underbelly, this time like the extra leggies on the underside of a horseshoe crab. There was a lot of Tyranid pieces in this build, so I’d have to be careful painting them to avoid making this creature look like a Tyranid.

Blending the bits together with some green stuff did the trick. It helped smooth the joins between the legs and the body, and made the head look like it was part of a whole rather than an angry turtle.

I did my best to match the patterns of the shell and blend it into the remnant of the armour plate on the head, disguising the Tyranid origin a little better.

Time for paint!

Colours of the deep

Ugly undersea fish were my inspiration for this, and a chance to paint with some of the brighter colours in my collection.

I love how a basecoat can pull together a modelling project, and bringing out some of the textures with a simple pinky/purple drybrush was a delight.

I was imagining different biologies and what could sustain a creature this size in the nothingness of space. Perhaps its main prey (space jellyfish!) have inbuilt solar reactors, generating food from nuclear energy in a similar way plants do, so this big boi has to feed to keep its own plasma drive equivalent running.

It does mean a player’s spaceship would look an awful lot like a big, delicious jellyfish…

The paintjob was a simple one – drybrush everything purple and pink, darken down some areas with washes, then pick out the key details.

I tried my hand at blending between the pink and blue areas, but it turned into an indistinguishable grey so I don’t think that worked very well. The extreme blue highlights are enough to tell the story, so you don’t really notice the failed colour blend.

It’s got this lovely angry fish/turtle feel to it, I’m very happy with how all the separate pieces came together to make something quite frightening.

[Jurassic park theme intensifies]

I did’t want them to kill it, just drive it off. It’s psychic as well (naturally), so the Astropath would be able to pick up weird signals from it. After wounding it, I’d want it to limp away crying for its mummy.

Wait, so this was just a small one?

Every victory should always come with a sense of dread in the Void Sea.

Overall I’m extremely happy with how this project turned out! It cost me 90p in dinosaurs, helped reduce the size of the bits box, and made for a thrilling session.

It’s got me thinking what else could be lurking out there…

A View from the Bridge: Tales of Onus

Sergeant Caleb gazed out into the inky abyss. Frore, the world he stood on only days ago, was now just a puncture wound of shimmering blue light. He held a stub round up against the window and watched the planet shrink into nothingness. A bullet bigger than a planet – he thought to himself – why Caleb, that almost sounds profound.

He looked over his shoulder at the entrance to the command bridge. Great bronze doors loomed over him, vault-like in construction and lavishly decorated. A grand mural engraved into it depicts a scene of copper-coloured warriors laying waste to warlocks and sorcerers. The voidship’s name is carved into marble – the Bronze Harvest.

Caleb hated void travel. The constant noise and alarms, having to suck down someone’s recycled stink breath and the terrifyingly thin skin that separates twenty thousand souls from a horrifying, unnatural end. He found himself tapping on the plas-glass with the bullet. Just how hard would he have to hit it to break it?

“Missing home already, Sergeant?” An impossibly calm, soft voice cut through the chaff of noise from the great voidship. It chilled Caleb to his core.

He span on his heels. Down the corridor strode a tall, cloaked figure, moving effortlessly and silently. His face was skull-like – his skin pale and sallow, his eyes sunken and his head completely hairless. He was the visage of death. Not the violent, bloodthirsty, screaming death that all guardsmen knew. No, this was the death they all feared – the one that came swiftly and silently in the night.

The figure wiped a bead of sweat from his brow with a long, bony finger, producing a tall peaked cap from the recesses of his cloak and placing it carefully on his head.

Caleb mustered a salute and pushed out the bare minimum of respectful greetings through gritted teeth. “Commissar.”

By now the Commissar had glided gracefully next to the Sergeant and stared out the window alongside him. His eyes were as dark as the void, but with no glimmer of light in the distance.

“So good of you to join us to keep us updated on your failures,” The Commissar spoke in deafeningly hushed tones. “It’s always better to soften the blow in person, mm?”

“Powers damn it Jeremiah, it was a trap and you know it!” Caleb snapped, “You’ve read the reports!

“Aahh yes.” The Commissar began tapping on the window with his forefinger. It made the same noise as the bullet. “The reports that say you were surprised not once, but twice by the same acolytes, and while they were wearing their Sunday Best, no less.”

“By the Saints, do you think I don’t know what’s at stake here?” Caleb was seething. “Don’t you think that if I’d had even just a handful of my Ultraviolet cell instead of those Borzoi Hiver cretins I’d have cleared house and secured the Pattern? Why, if I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought someone was setting me up to fai-”

A deep boom issues from behind them, drowning the Sergeant out. They both turn to watch the elaborate series of locks and bolts disengage with the percussive tempo of a marching band. With a shudder, one of the doors opens a sliver.

A young girl steps out, barely in her twenties, dressed in an immaculately pressed Navy Officer’s uniform. She holds herself like a woman twice her age and four times her experience and addresses them both.

“Sergeant Caleb, Commissar Krell, the Inquisitor will see you now.”

Death of a Nobleman: Tales of Onus

A tray of measuring tools clatters to the ground. A boney finger readjusts a pair of half-moon spectacles on the bridge of a long crooked nose. Scrivener Malkin pores over the transcription scroll in his hands, a long ream of parchment that snakes around his small chamber and terminates at the vox-receiver. It has been furiously producing vox reports for over an hour now, its transcription arms squealing under the sudden workload.  

He had read enough. His pallid cheeks had drained of what little colour they had left. He gathers as much as he can manage and bunching the bottom of his robe together in one hand, stuffs the transcription into the cavity with the other. Holding the bundle of robe and scroll close to his chest he barrels out into the dark stone corridor.  

He staggers his way through the Lithologist Guild undercroft. The thick parchment had been re-purposed from heavy duty field seismograph readouts, and he finds himself stumbling every few steps. The sound of his feet slapping against the smooth floor echoes down the hallway.  

“Master! Master!” He bursts into Lithologist Tamfrey’s quarters in a flurry of paper. Tamfrey barely looks up from her quillwork.

“What is it now, Malkin?” She responds in a throaty rasp. “I thought I told you to stop scrubbing the vox network for data, you know full well we don’t have the resources and if anyone finds out we’ve-”

“Lord Hojo is dead!” He exclaims breathlessly, cutting her off mid-chastisement. “There was a gas leak on board his train and-”

In a blink Tamfrey was within inches of Malkin’s face, thumbing through the readout for herself. Malkin is breathless at how fast his crippled master in a wheelchair can move.

“Tell me, scrivener,” she scrutinises the quivering scribe with her good eye, “this engine, millennia old, the pride and joy of the Mechanicus of Forlorn Hope, archeotech from the Golden Age, a vehicle that has never once stopped for refuelling or repairs since records began – you want me to believe it runs on gas?” The sounds of her bones creaking as she moved was painfully audible.

Malkin tries to suggest a half-baked theory in consolation but is cut short by the spittle of his master’s conjecture.

“No no no, this is not an accident,” she continues, her good eye glazing over, “This is a power play alright, but by whom? House Chosokabe? House Cutter? The Glassmakers’ Guild?”  

She postulates loudly while sifting through papers, each one headed with a different noble household crest. Malkin watches, wide-eyed and dumbfounded.

“Whoever it is will come looking for us sooner or later, such is the price for corruption and moral bankruptcy.” Tamfrey continues, sweeping piles of Hojo-branded documents into Malkin’s arms.

“Burn it all.”