MOTB: Inquisitor-scale STC habs

Finished product first!

I’ve been on an Inquisitor kick recently, working on finishing some bits for an upcoming campaign with some chums. I’ve been finishing ancient WIP projects like Archmagos Quinne or Von Koppola, as well as building new pieces to furnish future battlegrounds.

This time I turned my hand to something different – building something new out of something old.

Standard Template Construct

Very few “official” pieces of Inquisitor scenery exist from the early noughties – just a handful of (absurdly priced) gothic resin scatter from Forgeworld and the iconic STC Hab, a single piece cast from hard foam.

It had seen hundreds of hours of tabletop use, usually representing settlements or frontiers, but its loneliness never sat right with me. I toyed with the idea of buying several more pieces off ebay to create a small town, but it was prohibitively expensive and I’d end up having to hack them apart to make them look different, which felt like sacrelige. What if I made my own?

With some bevelled MDF bases from ebay and some chunks of balsa wood to make the base, I had my foundations laid. My primary material would be foamboard – a material I’d never used before – as I’d pinched a load of off-cuts from work. It also was a landmark moment for me as it necessitated the purchase of a cutting mat.

For the first time in almost 20 years, I finally acquired a different hobby surface than my old high school sketch book.

A sticky(back) situation

The foamboard was 5mm thick, making it easy to roughly work out how many sheets I’d need to make walls different thicknesses. What wasn’t easy was realising I’d assembled a bunch of walls using sticky-back foam board without peeling the protective paper off. I had to pull it apart and start again.

I had two goals. Firstly to replicate the look and feel of the original design, and secondly to make a large playable space inside the buildings. As much as I love the original piece, you can barely fit three miniatures in there, not to mention plot maguffins. The new ones would need to have nice wide interiors.

Buttress on both sides of the bread

On the subject of the original design, the more I studied it, the more I realised there was none. It was a scenery designer cutting cool shapes out of I presume pink foam and gluing them together in a cohesive piece.

There are no rules or repeat patterns, very few standard shapes, and very little logic apparent in its construction. It is very warhammer in that respect, but that makes it very frustrating to copy.

I picked out a few designs I liked and replicated them around the buildings. Buttresses came in two widths – thick (20mm) and thin (15mm), and would vary evenly in height. Some touched the top of the wall, some exceeded it.

By this point I had got exceptionally good at hand-bevelling, as any sloped edges are at a constant 0.5mm depth.

Some corners were gien buttresses, some were left bare, and some were given 45 degree slabs to round them off a bit. I tried not to have any repeating patterns – the original doesn’t have a single corner the same as another.

The only exception is perhaps the larger square building with its uniform front. I wanted it to be more like an operational or commercial building (I had code named it ‘town hall’ in m head) so needed a slightly more impressive entrance.

I had thought about taking measurements to turn into a 3D model or used as a template for other people to follow, but honestly it would be almost as much work again. Every section had to be painfully measured, cut, re-cut, shaved down, wiggled round etc just to fit. If someone wants to pay me to produce a template though, I’m all ears!

Filler? I hardly knew ‘er

Foamboard is a great construction material – cheap, lightweight, holds its shape perfectly, but isn’t without its downsides. It has exposed polystyrene edges, which will melt if you apply superglue/poly cement or hit it with a spray can. Also, no matter how careful you are, several bits of foamboard stacked up will never have a flat edge – they’ll always appear like three little sandwhiches. I needed to fill the sides.

Enter the all-purpose filler, increasingly becoming one of my favourite hobby materials alongside PVA glue.

After adding a few strips of thick plasticard around the windows and doors help define them a bit, all the exposed edges got a thick covering of filler, applied generously with an old Tesco clubcard, and kept very wet throughout to help shape it.

I wasn’t worried about the look at this point, only for coverage. Once it dried I hit it with the sandpaper to define some of those corners and smooth the edges. The biggest downside to filler is that it’s porous and incredibly powedery when it dries, making it not ideal for regular tabletop use.

Luckily its porous nature makes it perfect for my other favourite building material – PVA glue (aka white glue, school glue, etc). Give it a very generous coating over the filler it sucks up the glue like a sponge and dries rock hard. I was shocked how well it worked even after one coat, I was expecting to have to do several to see any benefit at all.

On with the detailing!

Raising the roof

I raided my bits box for various plastic gubbins to break up the flat shapes of the walls. Many of the original greebling is lost to time, although I could definitely ID a few bits here and there, including parts from ancient space marine tanks and some classic warhammer Orc shield designs. The chances of me getting those were slim, so I improvised.

Random bits were applied all over, with vague and indistinct shapes to suggest function without particularly describing it. I tried to follow the original’s intent, even if I couldn’t copy the design.

Once all the plastic had gone on (and I’d figured out where my ladders were going), I started to shape the roofs.

This was about as unscientific as you could imagine. I roughly measured where certain buttresses would be that I’d have to cut out allowances for, but due to all the extra filler and creative placement of features, it ended up being far easier just turning the whole thing upside down and tracing the shape onto the foamboard, with extra fine-tuning to make it fit.

Ultimate heresy

I dared to believe I could improve upon the wisdom of the ancients. Once I’d figured out my roofing system, I applied that to the original STC hab and was a) surprised at how well it worked and b) felt a strange string of emotions as I changed the shape and silhuoette of something that has been in my life for almost 20 years.

And yet in all those years, I never once imagined what the roof would look like. This felt right.

The other roofs were similarly patterned. A second round of foamboard on top vaguely followed the flow of the walls and buttresses. This created natural empty spaces that I filled with plastic embroidery sheeting, or ‘granny mat’, a super-cheap material that works wonders as industrial flooring.

The roofs were given the same treatment of filler > sanding > PVA to smooth down the edges, and by the time that was complete they fit very snugly onto their relevant bottom halfs.

Some details I made sure to add was the long ammunition cylinder from the OG crates and tank traps sprue (still in production today!), as the original had a few of those crates stacked up at the far end, and I picked out a Warhammer Orc shield design to add to one of the buttresses like a weird gargoyle. Both buildings got ladders on them too, much like the original had.

The interior of the habs was covered in plasticard in an embossed treadplate design, and broken up with strips of flat plasticard to emulate the floor of the original hab.

Final details done, it was time to get messy.

True Grit

Everything got a healthy dollop of my homemade recipe for textured paint. Equal parts PVA glue, filler, modelling sand, and poster paint for colour. The colour isn’t particularly important but it is necessary – the darker, the better. As this mixture is getting poked into the deepest recesses of the model, it’s better to have it a similar colour to how you intend to have the whole model undercoated.

Spray paint inevitably misses some bits or fails to get into troublesome nooks, so having a dark neutral colour in the gaps as part of your pre-undercoating process helps cover up a whole heap of sins down the line.

Let us spray

Everything was given a couple of healthy coats of matt black undercoat, with a health checkup halfway through to ensure the paint wasn’t eating through the foamboard.

Satisfied my PVA trick was working, I gave them a coat of TTCombat’s laser cut brown spray. As a side note, as much as I like having access to affordable coloured sprays, they do have an annoyingly glossy finish.

A final zenithal coat of grey spray paint was applied, leaving plenty of brown in the cracks and crevices.

Changing rooms

Painting these big boys was a matter of drybrushing and washing. I didn’t want to do any detail work as I didn’t want to distract from the big vague shapes (and I’d spent enough time bevelling foamboard, I just wanted to get them done).

  1. The habs were given a drybrush of light grey to pick out the textures and edges
  2. Athonian Camoshade and Agrax Earthshade were sponged on, largely in corners were rot might gather, but also applied as drips of muck.
  3. The dirt was given a coat of brown paint, then lightly drybrushed. Agrax went over the top, with another even lighter drybrush to pick out the larger rocks.
  4. For metal parts, these were given a flat coat of Typhus Corrosion with a light drybrush of metal picking out key details
  5. The finishing touch was adding some posters I found on the internet (and some I’d made mself), printing them out and roughing them up a bit before attaching them with PVA.

They were simple to paint, with just a handful of colours applied in interesting ways. There’s not much else to add about that part, so on with the show!

The S-shaped one
The Town Hall one

I’m overjoyed with how well they came out. The only thing I’d change is perhaps go a little lighter on the weathering so they’re not so green, but otherwise I’m really happy with them!

I wasn’t sure it would be possible to create convincing replicas of an ancient kit with no instructions or design logic, but it was! I’m thrilled to bits with how they came out, and I can’t wait to put them on a tabletop and live out my sci-fi spaghetti western dreams.

Let’s just not talk about why they don’t have any doors, eh?

MOTB: “Face-off” Von Koppola

Finished product first!

2022 is the year of Inquisitor. It divides perfectly by 54 (don’t look that up, just trust me) and I’ve got a big summer campaign planned that can’t possibly be stopped by another pandemic.

In anticipation I’ve been tidying up some long-standing WIP projects and building some 54mm scenery, like last week’s warehouse racking. The first to get photographed was this fancy lad, Nikolai ‘Face-Off’ Von Koppola, leader of the Koppola Independents and personal bodyguard to House Dacien.

Two by two, hands of blue(tack)

I’d hazard a guess and say this project is upwards of 10 years old – at least pre-2017 – as we were still playing the 1995 version of Necromunda. I went through a phase of recreating my favourite Necromunda figures in 54mm, and one of the gangs I made was a kitbash of plastic Cadians and Empire pistoliers. (Yes, I was doing Ventrillian Nobles before it was cool, get off my back)

I had a tatty pair of Slick Devlan legs from an ebay job lot a million years ago and started sculpting on some poofy trouser sleeves. I had picked out a rifle from a collection of resin printed 54mm weapons I picked up a million years ago and decided he would have the classic Imperial Guard skull head concelead beneath a big floppy hat. His arms were vaguely bluetacked into place with a clear intention to finish him off sooner rather than later.

Then I left the project in a box for half a decade.

I’m determined to cut down or finish up old projects, so this chap would be a perfect addition to the upcoming campaign.

Lots of layers and lots of patience helped me finish this guy off. I would spend 30-60 minutes every few knights tinkering with a new pouch or arm sleeve, building up the layers of detail into a miniature that told an interesting story when you looked at it.

I like big hats and I cannot lie

I had also fallen headlong down the Warhammer Fantasy hole. I’d been a fan of the Total War: Warhammer series for a while and played a decent lick of Vermintide, but I’d dipped my toes in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay waters and completely and hopelessly fallen in. I had to work that into my 54mm pieces somehow, and this miniature seemed like an excellent way to exorcise these particular creative daemons.

Empire Militia by Karl Kopinski

Classic Warhammer Empire artwork, particularly by Karl Kopinski, often had them bristling with knives and trinkets and gubbins. This is quite tricky to do at 28mm, but at 54mm you get extra space to build in lots of little touches, and the sword-through-the-hat is an excellent motif I wanted to replicate in my own work.

I wish I could say there’s a neat trick or life hack for working with green stuff like this. Internet users hate him with this one neat trick: do everything really slowly and in really small batches so you don’t put your stupid fat fingers on stuff that’s already curing and ruin an evening’s work.

Big feathers are also an important part of the aesthetic. As I was assembling this half-robot man with flamboyant clothes, I was trying to figure out what kind of character he would be. He’s certainly not a sniper – he’d be spotted a mile off. He’s also missing a few chunks of his original body so he’s clearly been on the losing side of a scrap on a few occasions.

I figured him as a kind of duellist or a warrior from a Napoleonic gun-line – the kind where you stare your opponent straight in the eyes and never let them see you bleed. In no way inspired by a film that was on at the time of sculpting, “Face-off” was born.

Trooping the colours

I had already determined the colour scheme from a previous set of miniatures I had done for classic Necromunda, and then reappeared briefly as some Rogue Trader baddies. A quartered yellow/purple fabric pattern, with lots of flamboyant silvers and golds.

The golds were washed with Reikland Fleshshade to give them a vibrant orange hue which I was quite pleased with. I’m always conscious about mixing gold and silver in a colour scheme because it can look really tacky, but I think it works here as it’s very much the vibe I’m going for.

There’s a part of the Inquisitor Rulebook in the painting and modelling section where the colour schemes of the stock models are discussed. One part that always stuck in my head as an impressionable youth was Slick Devlan’s painter discussing their choice of paint for his gun handle.

It’s such a throwaway part of the miniature, but they talk about painting the handle of one of his pistols in a white ivory because he’s the kind of guy who customises and looks after his guns, even if his clothes are all tatty and horrible. I try to work that kind of sentiment into the colours I use, even if it’s small and insignificant.

(Naturally this means that all my gun-nut characters tend to have ivory grips on their weapons, but shh.)

One of the vestiges of the miniature’s previous life as an ebay job lot was a strange tattered piece of cloth wrapped around his waist. I originally attempted to remove it but realised it was covering up a horrifying remodelling job underneath and I didn’t fancy making more work for myself.

So the question became, why does this wealthy well-kept fighter keep a raggedy piece of clothing wrapped around him? I reasoned it would be of sentimental value to him, and perhaps impossible/impractival to repair, so I painted it up as an old regimental banner he would have fought under. Perhaps it was his proudest moment, or a crushing defeat he very nearly didn’t walk away from, and keeps it with him as a reminder.

As for weaponry, I decided this weapon would be a kind of long las with lots of single-fire hotshot packs. The image of him tearing off las rounds dangling from his belt and lining up a shot under fire was too good to pass up, so I gave him Quickload and a high Nerve characteristic to compliment that.

Usually I try to avoid handing out True Grit except to very special cases or it loses its sheen, but I figured this guy absolute warrants it. He’s not particularly hard to put down, but it’s incredibly difficult to make him stay down. Perhaps he’s the kind of ‘sporting’ fighter that lets his quarry take the first shot…

I’m very, very happy with how he came out. Not only has it been great to blow the dust off my sculpting muscles again, but completing a project I started almost a decade ago feels excellent.

I always feel I’m being harsh on myself for wanting to cut corners on larger scale minis, something I actively encourage myself to do on groups of smaller minis, but I think taking the time and seeing it through has paid off.

Fingers crossed I can get the next one done in under 5 years!

MOTB: Crates and racking

Finished product first!

A while ago I bought some wood in a Kickstarter and thought nothing of it. I had no idea what it would awaken in me.

Fast forward many moons and I have returned several times to MAD Gaming for their excellent modular wares. As part of one of those orders I picked up their rather excellent Warehouse Alfa 5 kit, which was ostensibly just a lot of shelves and boxes. Little did I realise just how many shelves and boxes I would get.

Wood you kindly

I’d been doing some terrain auditing during the Plague Years, and realised I didn’t have anything to represent interiors. The last Inquisitor game I played before The Long March of 2020 involved a warehouse raid, and I didn’t have anything particularly decent to bring that wonderful skirmish battlefield trope to life.

I was surprised at two things. Firstly, how little warehouse terrain is commercially available. You get the odd resin piece from Mantic or TTCombat, but trying to actually fill a warehouse with that stuff would be madness.

Secondly, how huge the MAD Gaming warehouse kit turned out to be. Not just in physical presence on the tabletop, but how well it scaled up to 54mm.

You can buy all the parts individually, but you save a bit of dosh with the bundle and pretty much get the crates thrown in. You also get lots of adorable little palettes, which I was a little disheartened to see that they didn’t fit any of the crates that came with the kit, so I tucked them away in the bits box for later use.

Crate expectations

Bad news first: building those crates was a very unpleasant experience. They look great when they’re done, but they were so fiddly to assemble. It wasn’t obvious from the instructions whether I had the wrong number of edge/feet pieces, or I was supposed to freestyle it.

The stacking crates (red-coloured ones in later pictures) were the main offenders. You build the six sides of the box, then you have to force the collars over each end, then secure them with the bars on top.

These have been cut to such small tolerances that you have to exhert an uncomfortable amount of force to squeeze them on, often bursting them in the process. I ended up having to shave down corners and edges just to make them fit. If I was to build them again I’d simply cut the collars in half and glue them in place.

Nice rack

A neat little touch is having the freedom to have the racking shelves at any height, and they come with lots of little L-shaped widgets to help you do that. You don’t get much leverage on them to push them into the holes as they’re barely 3mm across.

I made it much easier on my poor thumb by shaving down the pegs a bit so they slid in easier.

You’ll also want a couple of rubber bands to hold them in place while it all dries. You don’t want a wonky rack now, do you?

Mindless shelf indulgence

The good news now: Once built, it takes paint brilliantly and is probably some of my favourite terrain I own. Everything was tabletop-ready in an afternoon of rattlecans in the sunshine, with details and weathering taking another few hours.

The racking was given two coats of matt black spray, followed by a zenithal highlight of grey spray. A delicate blast of white spray was applied straight down the middle to highlight the shelves. A poor man’s airbrush!

Weathering was easy – a rough uneven pin wash of Agrax Earthshade in the corners, and Typhus Corrosion applied with a piece of torn off sponge. Done!

Did I mention they were big?

Fat stacks

Another trick that helps me with modular scenery is gluing smaller bits together into larger modular chunks, such as stacking crates or barrels. I’ve had some bad experiences with things being too modular, as you spend so much time setting up and tearing down a game board. Play with larger building blocks, and break it up with smaller pieces.

This is one example of a larger building block – five crates from the MAD set glued together with a smaller 40k plastic crate on top for garnish.

These were painted in much the same way as the shelves, but with block colours painted in before the Typhus Corrosion stage. A light flesh colour was used for the numbers, and the crates were Castellan Green, Nuln wash, then drybrushed with Straken Green.

The red crates were blasted with red spray (the white zone is for loading and unloading only), with a fiddly lot of masking tape applied for the hazard stripes and sponging on the yellow. It turned out not to be worth the bother in the end, as I needed to do so much cleanup with a brush that I may as well have brushed it on in the first place.

Grouping them into stacks makes it easy to drop them into the tabletop to create interesting shapes of cover, or pile them together into a megastack without worrying about stability if models decide to go for a climb.

Show me your wares

I was also careful assemble the shelves at different heights to accomodate different stacks of crates. Being able to pop in a stack makes the shelf look busy and populated, without having to do any of the actual menial work of stacking a shelf!

They look great combined combined with the racking, and I’ve got tonnes of other scatter that would look great on these shelves too.

If you leave enough loose crates spare, you can also create a pleasing mess when players inevitably knock them over (accidentally or purposefully).

Despite being unreasonably fiddly to assemble, the finished products are also very durable and stack perfectly inside standard-sized boxes (A4, A3 etc). They can be stored without packing with bubblewrap too, so you can fit a big battlefield in a small container.

racking my head for more puns

Despite my frustrations with assembly, I would still unreservedly recommend this kit. For Necromunda and other RPG games, I can see these crates and shelves being used as scatter to add flavour. Just be sure to trim down some of the close-fitting parts to save yourself lots of finger pain.

For Inquisitor players however, I can’t recommend how much you need these things in your life. These should be a must-have for anyone’s 54mm collection. The scale is perfect – I’d argue more suitable to 54mm than the smaller 28-32mm counterparts. Warehouses and hangar bays are the inevitable battleground for any investigation, so do yourself a favour and get yourself the best rack money can buy.

MOTB: Pringles Crane

Finished product first!

I have a penchant for tubular snacks, whether it’s a tower of pringles or a silo of twiglets, there’s something about a big foil-lined cardboard cylinder I find difficult to let go.

Last year I acquired some Galvanic Servohaulers to add some flavourful scatter to my games, and in my idling over the Christmas break discovered that the circular rail the crane sits on is the perfect diameter of the bottom of a Pringles tube. Haha jk but what if…

Buttery biscuit base

The core structure of the project was naturally the Pringles tube, but it needed weight and stability. The bottle of Old Speckled Hen I was enjoying while musing over the project fit so snugly into the tube I didn’t bother trying anything else. I gave both a rinse out and sealed it in with hot glue.

I build a rough box out of old beer mats I had lying about and decorated with lots of lovely gothic MDF inserts from MAD Gaming. I designed it to fit the theme of my Mercy table, which I haven’t shown off yet other than some very early WIPs.

The crane itself was a joy to put together. The only real change I made was to add a kind of balcony so that models could stand at the top. The whole point of building tall towers is so people can climb it and get knocked off, right?

The crane largely stayed in place by friction, but being so unbalanced I didn’t want to chance it toppling off mid-game. I added a pair of magnets at the very centre (one is visible in the first picture) so the crane could still swivel.

After playing with magnets for my Mercy board, I’ve come to appreciate their applications in scenery. I’m still not fully sold on them for minis, perhaps for some larger ones where you want to swap the weapons out between games or remove wings for storage, but being able to fold down scenery for transport seems like a must.

It’s big! Even with a double Move, a Goliath ganger wouldn’t be able to reach the top. Some house rules might be necessary I think…

The finishing touch is to smear on a load of my home-made textured paint recipe. Equal parts PVA, cheap filler, sand and black poster paint. Great for filling gaps and adding texture to flat surfaces.

A crane canvas

This was possibly the largest single piece of scenery I’ve painted to date. Luckily I already had my painting recipe down to a T from painting all my hab blocks (I really should get those photographed soon eh).

  1. Blast everything with black spray paint. MDF often needs two passes, as it tends to absorb a lot of paint.
  2. Give it a zenithal highlight of brick red, I use Autotek Red Primer.
  3. A very light dusting of grey primer, again I use Autotek
  4. Main colours are blocked in – Averland Sunset was used for the yellow parts, Deepkin flesh for the wall sections around the base
  5. All the grubby areas were given a wash with Agrax Earthshade. It also gets splattered and dribbled down walls to look like grime.
  6. Watered-down orange paint was then applied to recesses and walls to look like rusty water damage. Just slap it on anywhere and let it dribble down.
  7. With a bit of torn-off sponge, light brown is dabbed on to exposed edges to emulate paint chipping, followed by a lighter application of dark brown
  8. Posters and decals are added, just tiny bits of paper printed off from a home PC, scrunched up and with some more paint dabbed over the top.

A time consuming process, but it looks wonderfully grubby when it’s done.

I’m very happy with how it turned out! It was relatively quick to paint for its size and does exactly what I wanted it to do on the board – be big and tall and playable.

I’m counting down the days for when someone topples off the balcony. You better believe it falls under the 10″+ category for fall damage…

MOTB: Archmagos Lingus Quinne

Finished product first!

It is finally complete! After 9000 years, I have finally finished my latest Inquistor warband. Leader of the gang Archmagos Lingus Quinne finally stands alongside his best buds previously featured on this site, including Genetor Vacillus, Arco-flagellant X206 and a Zeta-Phi pattern speciment recovery servitor.

Quinne is a radical Magos Biologis with a terrifying amount of power, both physical and political. He has a long and productive history with his Biologis peers, and his resume is littered with redacted periods from his time in the Inquisition. He knows exactly how to keep things above board and off books, making sure his science toes the line between “far enough” and “too far”.

That is, until he discovered a Yu’Vath artifact.

Assembling the magos

Building radical Adeptus Mechanicus minis is always fun, and Lingus Quinne was no exception. The biggest difficulty I actually had was narrowing my options down – I just had too many wacky concepts and weird weapon options to choose from.

Lingus Quinne started life as a different model entirely, and over years of gaming slowly graduated from Inquisitorial retinue member to dangerous radical antagonist. He needed a glow-up.

I had always been enamoured with the classic metal Navigator, and many years ago I bluetacked Hieronomus Tezla’s chain axe to the empty arm socked and thought “Oh yeah, you’ll be an AdMech one day”. He was put back in the box and immediately forgotten about until this project came about.

He wasn’t designed as a player character originally – him and the gang were supposed to be the NPC villains behind the Gorgon Crystals campaign that was sadly abandoned during the first lockdown. As a result I had very little intention of making him fair or balanced to fight against – he was a final boss of sorts, able to take on entire warbands by himself!

Freed from the shackles of even-handedness, my mind wandered to radical places. What if he was also psychic?

The narrative of the campaign centred around a bunch of weird xenos artifacts infused with warp energy, and at the centre of the web was a radical Magos Biologis who had found the keystone that gave him incredible power (with definitely no downsides, obviously). I originally tried to model him telekinetically manipulating the floor hexes around him, creating a barrier or shield, but I wasn’t happy with how it looked.

Using Scarn’s spooky mechanical hand, I flipped it over from ‘jedi mind trick’ to ‘holding a macguffin’, which suited the stoic pose of the Navigator mini far more. With the end snipped off a Dark Eldar heavy weapon to pose as the weird crystal and some thin wire as sparking energy, I knew I was onto a winner. I was just dreading painting it…

The power axe came from the 40k Techpriets Dominus figure, surprisingly well scaled for one of the taller 54mm figures. The awkward angle of the elbow join added an extra uncomfortable element, like there was an extra elbow hidden up his sleeve, or hinting at a non-human form beneath the robes.

The base was made from a now-discontinued TTCombat set – a bunch of laser cut hexagons that I stacked up to create a facsimile of stairs. I imagined his reveal being very Dracula-esque – walking purposefully down an elaborate set of steps, cloak billowing behind him, monologuing about foolish mortals daring to tresspass on his domain.

As with the rest of the gang, his power pack and mechadendrites came from Talos kits. It ties him in aesthetically to the other members of his retinue, and gives him a imposing presence on the tabletop. This fella doesn’t need to hide behind cover, and he knows it.

With the easy part done, it was on to the daunting task of colouring him in.

50 shades of Lahmian Medium

This was a daunting miniature to paint. There were lots of flat surfaces that would benefit from some freehand designs, and two separate parts of the mini that I wanted to try my hand at Object Source Lighting (OSL) on. I’ve done it in the past on smaller test figures, but never on something so large (or as important!).

Despite it being the last thing I did on the model, I want to talk about it first. The OSL was hard. After dropping a dozen or so hours into painting this figure, I was about to spend the same amount again repainting it in a different colour.

My first attempt was so poor I wanted to re-prime the whole model, I didn’t know how I was going to recover it. I watched a lot of youtube tutorials before bringing myself back to have another crack at it.

What I learned? Firstly, watch some damn tutorials. Second to that, patience. When people who do this often say it takes a million thinned layers, they’re not joking. Don’t faff about with water, get some proper blending medium too – Lahmian Medium is what I used, but shop around for your favourite.

Finally, and this was the bit I tripped up on, get your colours right. There are painting tutorials of people much smarter than me who can explain colour theory and lighting far better than I can, but I’ll do my best.

I originally tried to have a mid-range purple and thinly blend that over the existing colours, and highlight up by blending in white. That looked disastrous because I was missing other hues to give it proper depth.

When I started using other purples and pinks, lining them up in rough order of shade, and blending those on top of each other, the results were striking. The recesses were a dark bluey-purple, the mid tones were a warm light red, and close to the origin was electric pink. Pure white was only ever used on the object itself.

And by gum, I think I pulled it off! I made a bunch of mistakes on it, and doing it again I would be more bold with my darker tones, but given how little I’d done before and the stakes involved in getting it wrong, I’m very happy with it.

The first OSL on the model was actually these plasma coils, where I got my eye in for how to thin down colours. I borrowed from this tutorial on plasma glow, which gave me the confidence to try it at a much bigger scale.

Turns out it’s much easier to hide mistakes on a small scale!

Once I got into it and understood what I was supposed to be doing, I massively enjoyed it. I’ve been eying up future minis to experiment on too, so that must be a positive!

The robes colours were also problematic. I had a colour palette from previous retinue members to copy, but annoyingly I used the same colour scheme for armour on the servitors as I did for the robes on the Magos, and Quinne was the only one of the four who had both robes and armour in any real quantity.

With all his layered clothing and armour, I made several attempts at a coherent scheme before I settled with the red/black/white combination. Cog teeth patterns were mandatory, of course.

Deciding what to put on the cloak was fun, but required several re-works too. I definitely wanted the Genetors symbol on there – a stylised double helix representing his background in DNA meddling research. Given his new-found interest in Yu’Vath artifacts, I toyed with the idea of alchemical symbols too.

He’d essentially found a Philosopher’s Stone and could transmute substances previously thought impossible by science. Symbols having two meanings was a nice touch – Iron and Mars having the same symbol (♂) seemed like an obvious choice, and the symbol of Mercury, Spirit and Fusibility (☿) was a nice representation of his new hobby.

Unfortunately when I put them together, he looked like a gendered bathroom sign.

Back to the drawing board! I decided I just wanted one symbol in a cog, perhaps a new sub-faction of Mechanicus he had founded, and found the Philosophers Sulpher symbol (🜎) particularly intriguing. It represented the ultimate ‘spiritual goal’ of alchemy – the perfect marriage of spirit (mercury) and soul (sulfur). Something he’s attempting to do with his psychic awakening from the Yu’Vath artifact perhaps?

It was hocus-pocus enough to be interesting, and I could potentially use it as a plot hook for later down the line. For now though, it’s a cool symbol that toes the line of heresy. Perfect!

The base was painted as the others were – edge highlighted with dark to light greens, then given several thin layers of gloss varnish to give it that xenos feel to it.

And he was finished! The only thing remaining was to put him with the others and see how they looked as a warband.

Pretty bloody excellent I think!

I’m very happy with how he came out. I must have sunk close to 30 hours into him overall, including research and repainting, but it was worth it. Inquisitor minis deserve that level of attention and patience, and I’d like to think the results speak for themselves.

Now I just need to come up with character sheets for them…

MOTB: Bedlam Feast chaos cultists – killer clowns

Finished product first!

Previously I’ve showcased some grubby Bedlam Feast cultists and some equally grubby but slightly fancier Bedlam Feast Red Revellers, so it’s time for some muscle. Some grubby, pustulous muscle.

Clowning around

Our Dark Heresy campaign needed some bulky enemies. I had intended the cultists to be cut down in droves, potentially even borrowing from Black Crusade’s Horde mechanics for later encounters. Among those would be some hardcore melee mutants that had real staying power – a must for high-level groups.

I had a sprue of poxwalkers from the old Conquest magazine, and it was obvious what had to be done. You can’t have a circus without clowns.

Very little conversion work was done to the models individually – almost everything was adding circus attire with green stuff. A few weapons were swapped for weapon variety and make them more viable for cross-pollinating with Necromunda.

The ruffs were done by following this rather excellent tutorial.

They’ve been a hoot in Necromunda using them as Helot Cultists with Frenzon Collars. Turns out if you’re always on combat drugs, you don’t suffer the side effects from not being on combat drugs. Win win!

And of course with any Necromunda gang, naming convention is important. Despite them being all nameless goons in Dark Heresy, they needed important-sounding names that binded them together. This Bristol primer to all available woad-paste colours in 1574 was ideal.

Guide to colours - a primer on the available woad-paste colours of Bristol, 1574

With their very serious and fearsome-sounding names chosen, it was time to assemble the squad.

Gooseturd

This lad probably had the most extensive green stuff work, which wasn’t so bad when working with a large batch of minis. It’s easier to do little bits on all of them and wait for them to cure.

When it’s just one mini I’m working on, the temptation to keep adding layers is far too great, and I always end up smushing my big sausage fingers onto a piece I’ve just spent half an hour sculpting. Patience and layers, people!

The mini was originally armed with a broken chisel in the left hand, which clearly needed removing. An old Empire pistolier arm was the perfect replacement, and the big poofy sleeves helped tie the mini into the Venetian jester look. A rattly autopistol also serves him well on the tabletop, giving him versatility and making target priority much trickier for opponents.

The jester bells were the trickiest part to figure out, but once I had the technique down I could do them all in one sitting. It involved rolling tiny tiny balls of greenstuff and letting them cure overnight, before supergluing them to the mini with a pair of tweezers.

I must have rolled out about 40 or 50 tiny balls in total, lined them up in order of size, and took the median. I’m bad at eyeballing sizes so I figured if I did shitloads I’m statistically more likely to get ones in a similar range.

The colour scheme followed the same recipe as the cultists – red, yellow and brown with a wash, then highlighted with the same colour.

The diseased flesh was a pale grey-green colour as a base with a sepia wash. Buboes were highlighted again, and particularly gnarly areas of guts or growths had a smash of crimson wash.

Ape Laugh

This fella had some surgery to remove his broken gas mask head and replaced with something a little more festive. A classic Night Goblin head looked suitably jovial, and was disguised by adding another couple of points to the hat.

The same ball trick was used as before, selecting larger balls for the hat, and smaller ones for the points on his clothing.

Sometimes you don’t need anything other than a two-handed axe and a really big smile. In Ape Laugh’s case, you absolutely needed more than that. He hasn’t had an outing in Dark Heresy yet, but his Necromunda track record has been appalling.

He currently holds the record for a ganger who has been killed the most. Four iterations he had – his great axe being handed down before the previous owner had gone cold. He huffed some Ghast and exploded his brain in the opening turn of the first game. He slipped and fell down a pit, 66ing himself on the way. He ate a melta gun at close range. Finally he was left bleeding on the floor, technically saveable by a doc, but after three failed attempts at getting him off the starting line, his boss decided he was worth more as a fine paste, and sold him to the sausage man.

Maybe next time, eh?

Ham colour

Probably the least work I did to any mini, and the one I think came out the best! Sometimes all you need is a rictus grin and two spiky ham hocks for fists. In Necromunda I ran him as having two mauls, which despite being an objectively bad choice, does make for a fun game.

They are entirely underwhelming weapons (and the only thing in the game that improves the armour save of the victim), but their Damage 2 makes for an unpleasant surprise for an Orlock leader who fails a couple of armour saves.

Spiky bits were done with Ushabti Bone, washed brown, then thin lines of bone painted back on. All the muck on the feed and clothes was Typhus Corrosion stippled on with an old manky brush.

Raw Flesh

Another lad with a weapon swap, this time from a maul made from old rebar. I already had a lot of clubs in the squad, and despite them being thematic they’re just not very good in either Dark Heresy or Necromunda, especially not when I have the option to give one a chainsword!

I always try to make my model loadouts unique where possible. It encourages me to be creative with parts, and makes them easier to pick out on the tabletop. Which Ganger With Lasgun was this again? Forgettable Larry #5?

In game I’ve counted his tentacle arm as a flail, which turns out to be a disgusting combination with a chainsword and Frenzon collar. This guy cleans house.

Anybody who plays Chaos (or any Outlaw gang) should absolutely be investing in Frenzon Collars for their melee lads. They are absurdly cheap – 30 credits – and make your ganger tough as nails. Nerves of Steel, True Grit and Unstoppable ensure they get into combat, are harder to put down, and heal off Flesh Wounds if left alone too long.

Coupled with the added benefit of a nominated ‘owner’ being able to group activate collared gangers from any distance across the tabletop? shutupandtakemycreds.gif

Bristol Red

I enjoy the simplicity of this fella. Just a happy lad taking his grenades for a walk. Another good flail warrior, and gives me scope to write an interesting weapon type for dark heresy!

Bomb flail: 1d10+1 Impact, Primitive, Flexible. On a Critical Hit, in addition to flail damage, centre a frag grenade on the target. On a Critical Fail, centre a frag grenade on the attacker! It’s excitingly random and will likely kill the attacker either way, but it throws up enough variation for players to come up with novel ways of avoiding explosive death at the hands of a mutant clown.

In addition to having a collection of Talents to bump up their meanness in Dark Heresy, the change that has had most impact is giving them Critical Damage. It’s something I reserve almost exclusively to boss characters as it slows the game down massively and ups the bookkeeping for the GM.

However, after dipping my toe back in and giving these lads Critical Damage, it’s been a huge success! It nearly doubles their health without artificially bloating it and makes them feel uncomfortably tough. The bookkeeping becomes easier too, as they’re all uniquely equipped it’s easy to keep track of which clown is missing which arm.

Lustie-Gallant

Yikes, maybe I need to cut back on coffee while I take photos. The final lad was another simple weapon swap – exchanging his spiked bar for an axe head, and his little mutant hand for another whole axe.

Axes are cool, fact. They’re also very deadly, both in Dark Heresy and Necromunda, so giving him a pair of them seemed appropriate. I imagined him as a kind of axe juggler, so I made sure to include some throwing axe rules for when players think they’ve got a couple more turns before he gets into melee range.

I also gave him a little tuft of hair, Krusty the Clown style, to help balance out his silhuoette a bit.

in clownclusion

I am very happy with how this horrible bunch came out. Simple conversions with a simple paint scheme that work really well together. They’re versatile enough to be used in a range of different systems, and they’re great baddies to roll out when I don’t need any morally grey villains.

Send in the clowns!

MOTB: Bedlam Feast chaos cultists – Red Revellers

Finished product first!

Last time we looked at the first wave of cultists for a Dark Heresy/Necromunda crossover project – a group of carnival miscreants called the Bedlam Feast. This time we’re looking at the cultists that infiltrate the upper echelons of society – the Red Revellers.

Cut to the chase

Our Dark Heresy campaign had our characters grapple with all rungs of the social ladder, from the mucky footsoldiers that pursued them from the Red Cages and attack in numberless waves, to the sneering elites that had fallen into the Dark God’s embrace.

Basically I needed some fancy-dancy slicey-dicey NPCs that could threaten our players in otherwise “safe” social situations, or provide dangerous and unpredictable muscle in traditional combat encounters.

The campaign book called them Redjacks, barbershop-looking nutjobs with sliced up faces and wielding cutthroat razors. I would reskin them slightly to fit the carnival theme of the Bedlam Feast, and I wanted some mean Assassins Creed-looking assholes to act as Champs or Leaders for potential Chaos Helot gangs in Necromunda.

I looked around a lot, and the rather excellent Brotherhood range from Freebooter Miniatures fit the bill perfectly. To date this project massively, this was pre-Brexit postage fees. I dread to think how much it would cost for a handful of (admittedly brilliant) miniatures like that these days.

When my handful of revellers arrived, there wasn’t much to do except assemble, base, and paint them.

What’s yellow, white, and red all over?

The first lad is the most regal looking, potentially a leader of sorts. He is the Master Assassin miniature, and certainly looks the part. The only editing I did to the base model is remove the crossbow in favour of another sword.

I knew I wanted to paint him in yellow so I could lean into the Lovecraft ‘king in yellow’ vibe if I needed to. I just really, really didn’t want to paint yellow…

I’m glad I did though, as it’s come out rather well. I guess that’s what tediously painting 10+ layers of watered down yellow will do, huh.

The miniature also had a strange split across its face, the store model painted to look like a kind of skull face? I wasn’t really sure what the intention was, but for me it was an opportunity to break out my favourite gore paint, Blood For The Blood God.

These guys would be big on self-mutilation and hiding it behind their masks, and what better than having a creepy leader who has a mask in place of skin?

A little trickle of blood on the inside of the mask and dribbling down his top helps sell the imagery, and he definitely looks like someone who’s going to cause trouble when the mask comes off.

What’s the matter, never seen a black and white before?

Next up was this sneakthief from the Coscritti and Harlequin set. I wanted to do a domino look with white and black alternating patterns, but there was a lot more cloak than I was anticipating.

I didn’t have the time or energy to give the stitched-together cloak as much attention as it deserved, so I went for a boring grey on the outside.

I wanted to have some unifying colours across all the squad, so even though they were brightly coloured and individual, you could tell they ran as a pack.

The inside of all the cloaks were painted the same crimson, and traces of fresh wounds are visible under all their masks. Finally, all their weapons were given a blue wash rather than the usual brown or black, giving them a slightly uncomfortable hue.

Maybe if I had more time I would have painted different shades of grey on the cloak patches to emphasize the domino look. But hey, perfect is the enemy of finished.

Digging the Dancing green

This lady I really liked. She is the other half of the Coscritti and Harlequin set and had such a dynamic pose I couldn’t help but spend some extra time on her. I opted for green as her base palette, but I had real difficulty figuring out which bits of clothing ended where, and which shade they should be as a result.

I am particularly proud of the pinstripe pattern across her arms and legs that match her feathery headdress. It actually came about by accident, as I was painting different coloured swatches onto her legs to figure out which kind of green worked better against the darker tone I’d picked for her corset and poofy leg bits.

The contrast of both stripes really worked and I talked myself into doing some freehand across the arms and legs, and I’m glad I did!

I used Athonian Camoshade as the wash for most of this miniature so the green tones come through more. I also took a craft knife to her face before priming so there would be lots of lovely gouges I could splash some gore paint into.

The bases were same as the other Bedlam Feast – cobblestone resin bases from Ragnarok Hobbies – painted in various shades of grey and tan, then given a heavy black wash. Typhus Corrosion was stippled around to look like muck, and flicked onto cape hems and boots.

Silent night, holey night

This was my favourite by far. The Bonaccia miniature, unchanged, and painted in a variety of purples. This lady struck a chord with me, I think because she reminded me a lot of one of my favourite Oldhammer minis, Aenur.

Pinched from the internet

The silhouette is very different, but the vibes are the same for me. It has the same stoic pose (with thigh high boots), grasping the cloak in one hand, and a single blade in the other. They both have an aura of menace about them.

You can tell I enjoyed painting this mini because I went all out on the cloak. A freehand starry night scene, complete with multi-tone blended background? Who on earth am I trying to impress with that?

I tried to bring the design over to the front as well, painting a little star on her mask, but I’m not sure how well that translated.

I also very much enjoyed her ruff collar, a clear visual tie-in to something I attempted with my previous mooks and I would continue on to use on my killer clowns…

But that’s a story for another time!

I’m very happy with how these came out, especially given the short time I had allotted myself for painting them. They had their first brief outing in the World That Was, so I’m excited to bring them back out again when we start out game nights back up. Perhaps this time with slightly better stats!

MOTB: Bedlam Feast chaos cultists – first wave

Fnished product first!

In the World That Was, I was running a Dark Heresy game that was entering its final stages of escalation. Our mid-high level characters had woken up naked and bloody in a pit of despair, deep in the filthy clutches of the Beast House. After escaping, they find themselves in the middle of an end-of-the-world carnival riddled with mutants, heretics and witches.

Where those three venn diagram circles overlap, you get the Bedlam Feast. A Chaos faction out for mayhem who have been responsible for several atrocities in our characters’ lives and are now moving to put their final plan into action. For this, I needed some cultists.

A brief interlude

I needed at least a dozen cultists, as I expected them to be mown down in droves by the climax of the campaign, along with some specialists and hero-type units. They needed to be carnival/circus-themed, as its imagery I’ve been obsessed with since Mordheim’s Carnival of Chaos range.

I wasn’t about to drop triple digits of cash on some ancient metal models, and I’d always wanted to own a set of the (now long oop) Dark Vengeance cultists. Anvil Industry do some excellent hooded cultist and masquerade heads turn out to be a perfect fit for human-sized 40k miniatures, who’da thunk?! I’d also identified some potential hero figures from TTcombat’s Carnevale range, but we’ll come back to those later.

I wanted a cobbled street base, and the heck I was making those myself. Mine came from Ragnarok Hobbies (previously Gladius Game Art).

Preparing the feast

Along with some Bretonnian and Empire odds and ends from my bits box, I cobbled together a test miniature with a GSC grenade launcher and was very happy with the fit.

After examining the minis I’d be converting, nearly all of them had a kind of mantle that the hood would join up to. This would make the red/yellow circus tent colour scheme I had in my head work very well, but some lads had the nerve to be topless.

Some like it ruff

I didn’t fancy sculpting mantles on everyone, so in-keeping with the venetian clown aesthetic, some had large ruff collars sculpted on them to hide the joins.

I used this rather excellent tutorial on sculpting ruffs, and I had it down pretty well after one or two passes.

The cultists are equipped with a variety of hand weapons as standard, but I didn’t want that for my lot. From both a book-keeping and a deadliness perspective I wanted more axes – a simple melee weapon that can still threaten a well armoured high-end PC, whereas clubs tend to bounce off.

Hot or not?

I wanted to include some classic entertainer archetypes, and the firebreather was one I was desperate to include. Not only does being on fire really, really suck in Dark Heresy, but the mini could very reasonably double up as a flamer or witch in Necromunda. Reusability of minis is always at the forefront of my mind!

This lad was made from an Empire Flagellant with a Skaven cleaver right arm. I always avoid sculpting where possible because I’m incredibly lazy, and to commit to making a jet of flame seemed like absolute madness.

Luckily I had the perfect piece in the bits box – a scenic flame piece that I honestly cannot identify any more. I thought it was from a Chaos Lord of some kind, and I can vividly picture it being part of the classic mounted Archaon kit but my Google-fu has failed me. Anyone know what it is?

I did a bit of hacking down to make it look more directional, but I was extremely happy I had exactly the right piece for the feel I was going for. I’ve gone 32 years on this planet without ever having to sculpt flames, and I’m not about to start now.

Crusty Jugglers

Another archetype I wanted was a loon juggling some grenades and some kind of spooky plague doctor. Luckily the Bretonnian men-at-arms had a jester-type sculpt perfect for me, and some absolutely painstaking pinning and gluing with some Goliath stick grenades gave me a rather excellent juggler.

The plague doctor was another Men-at-arms (Emperor bless that kit) body, with an Anvil masquerade head, a sickle from a Mantic kit, and a big spooky head potion from the classic Empire Wizard plastic kit. Simple but effective!

Painting the town red

Finished, not perfect. I needed a lot of these guys done quickly, so they’d be painted in my signature ‘speed paint’ style – Base, Wash, Highlight with Base Colour.

My Agrax Earthshade was reaching the end of the pot so some of them came out with a little oily sheen in the recesses. Not the intended outcome, and were it a more important mini I’d likely be a little upset at the effect, but as it’s for a bunch of grubby bullet-fodder I don’t think it takes anything away.

The skin tones were done with Idoneth Deepkin (or a pale grey/green) with a sepia wash, extreme edges highlighted with Deepkin again. Any sores/piercings had a little spot of Carroburg Crimson wash dotted on them to make them look inflamed.

Guns were Leadbelcher with a wash of Agrax. The dark grey/black robes were Eshin Grey, a splash of Nuln Oil, and an edge highlight with Mechanicum Grey.

I was happy to paint as many cultists as I could assemble. They’re lovely miniatures to have for just about any purpose, and they’re a great nemesis in Dark Heresy. Don’t underestimate the power of a handful of mooks with autoguns firing on Full Auto!

I think the circus theme really comes into its own on sculpts like the juggler. I’ve also had great fun in a recent Necromunda campaign running him as a Helot Cultist armed with frag grenades and two clubs. Every game, without fail, he would flub his frag grenade, immediately fail his ammo check for more frag grenades, charge into combat with his clubs and get kerb-stomped by a retaliation attack. 10/10 game of the year.

I wasn’t quite sure what I’d use the plague dorctor mini for, but the parts just came together serendipitously as I was sifting through my bits box for inspiration. She’s already had an outing in Necromunda as a Helot Cultist with Shard Grenades from the black market.

She never directly took anyone out, but the look you get from a Goliath player when you ask them to make a Willpower check on their cluster of heavy hitters is worth its weight in guilder creds.

I’ll concoct something suitably nasty for our Dark Heresy group too, likely with oodles of corruption points.

Finally my firebreather. This was my second-ish time of painting fire, so you could say I was getting pretty hot at it by now. I still had to pore over tutorials and reference images, paralysed in fear of getting it wrong. I shouldn’t have worried.

Drybrushing was the biggest help here. Previously I’d attempted to wet blend, which usually results in obsessively picking over details with diminishing returns. This was quick and easy, and with enough natural variation in texture that it looks good from a few feet away.

Were this a different project and I had more time/resources/inclination I might have attempted some OSL from the fire to add some drama to the mini, but as a wise woman once said, ain’t nobody got time for that.

The gang’s all here

And just like that, the first wave of basic fodder cultists was done! I have a collection of others on their way to bulk them out, including some heavies, specialists, and a few hero units, but I have to finish painting them first…

MOTB: Chaos Reavers – The Crimson Wake

Finished product first!

Once upon a time (Yikes – 2017) I built a handful of void-faring space bastards to terrorise my various RPG groups and then… promptly forgot to make a followup post to say I’d painted them.

The paint scheme was straightforward – dark red with a black wash over the top, with plenty of nicks and scratches to represent a life on the hoof, many lightyears away from the nearest B&Q.

Paired with some dark greys and sunless flesh tones, you get get a pleasing colour scheme without having to put much thought in. Splash on some Blood for the Blood God for garnish, and *chef kiss*.

All my build notes are in the WIP post, so there’s not much left to do other than roll the gallery!

Cleaver Dan
Mister Tickle
Hornsome Harry
Lobbing Sally
Axe Daddy
Pump-action pete
Henrietta Hotpocket
Handsome Barry
Double-Barrel Daryl
Freddy Five-toes

I’m very happy with how they came out. They were a joy to assemble and paint, and have seen more action on the tabletop than most of my other mooks I’ve built. Aside from being built for Rogue Trader, they’ve seen action in Dark Heresy, Wrath and Glory, and now a few of them are pressed into service as Hired Guns in Necromunda. What an illustrious career!

I’ve always been tempted to return to these guys and add a few more unarmoured goons to plump the numbers out, but I think that’s a project for another time.

MOTB: Arvus landing pads

Finished product first!

Many moons ago I was fortunate enough to get an Arvus Lighter kit on the cheap and decided over lockdown to put some colour on it. Getting to the chopper is an iconic moment in many games, and owning the equivalent 40k miniature seemed sensible. Plus, the Arvus is indisputably the best and cutest spaceship in existence, and that is scientific fact.

Having an atmospheric brick is great, but what is a spaceship without a landing pad? I still had a bunch of MDF board tiles from my Celestine Wharf build, and with no intention of building any more Celestine tiles, I figured I could press them into service as simple landing pads.

Cutting corners

The first task was simple – knocking the corners off to make it more landing paddy. I had to google what landing pads looked like and it turns out they’re quite boring, so I took some inspiration from the OOP forgeworld landing pad.

I used a mix of embossed plasticard and modelling mesh to break up the surface, and went for a ‘pad within a pad’ design. Thicker plasticard ran the edges to neaten it up.

When it came to gluing these bits down I roughed up the back of the plasticard sheets and glued them down with PVA rather than waste a tonne of superglue. The mesh went down with PVA as well, although I dabbed bits of superglue in the corners and raised areas to help it dry flat, as getting modelling mesh perfectly flat is a Sisyphian task.

With the ol’ pencil and ruler I knocked up a frame out of plasticard (it took hours, I’m so bad at geometry) to overlay the landing pads.

I wanted big chunky rivets for that industrial feel but I have neither the resources nor patience to glue them on by hand, so I grabbed a pointy-but-blunt coping file and jabbed it hard into the back of the plasticard. It was thin enough to emboss, and stabbing a pair of rivets every couple of centimetres did the job.

Some extra strips of plasticard were cut to make the central frame meet the edges, and a few thin strips were added to cover any holes I made in the modelling mesh during assembly.

I also constructed some ramps out of thick plasticard – I did some slip tests to see what the shortest ramp was I could get away with before models start slipping down, so lots of plasticard strips and mesh were added to help give the bases some traction to avoid mid-game slippage.

It all fit together! At this point the Arvus had been largely assembled (with the canopy kept off to paint the pilot) and awaiting its turn on the paint station. There was lots of time to work on other projects during this build – most of the time was spent waiting for PVA to dry weighted under piles of books.

The ramps were designed to fit any of the sides, and were hollow at one end to accommodate the little lights I glued onto the exterior of the landing pad.

The last thing to go on is my textured paint signature dish – a mix of PVA, brown paint, ready-mix filler, sand, and whatever cuttings I’ve swept from my desk. Globbed on to make it interesting to paint and provide crucial extra grippy material on the ramp. After it had dried, it was time for the rattlecans!

painting the pad

All four pieces got several liberal coats of black rattlecan to saturate the MDF, then the walkway sections got a dusting of grey, and the mesh sections got a blast of red.

After they dried, the red becomes more crimson and rusty, while the grey takes on a ghostly blue.

The whole thing was drybrushed grey to pick out the raised sections, and watered-down orange paint splashed liberally into recesses to emulate rust and water damage. Brown paint was dabbed onto extreme edges and corners to look like chipped paint.

Can’t be a landing pad without hazard stripes! Black paint was sponged on as a base, and the areas to be yellow were meticulously marked out with masking tape.

Iyanden Darksun was sponged on with a small piece of foam, and the tape peeled off while it was still wet.

Halfway through constructing these fiddly masked patterns I always wonder if it’s worth the faff – surely it’s quicker to just eyeball it, or brush it on, or make touchups after you’ve finished?

I can confidently tell my past self (and reaffirm to my future self if you’re reading this) it absolutely is worth it. Once the tape is on, it takes 30 seconds to sponge the yellow, and another 30 seconds to peel it off. You get a wonderful chipped-paint texture and there is never any clean up.

Repeat after me, future self: ALWAYS MASK YOUR HAZARD STRIPES.

The only extra I did was re-up the brown paint sponge chipping from an earlier step – the yellow and black stood out too much and needed blending in with the rest of the piece. A good reminder to paint all your block colours before you do your weathering!

The only bit left to do was stencil on some big letters and numbers to make it look more industrial. I opted for LZ for landing zone, then some other numbers that looked nice. Big numbers help your environmental storytelling, implying there are loads more landing pads just like this.

The Arvus was painted in a very similar manner, lots of drybrushing and sponging on brown paint for chipping. Transfers came from old Imperial Guard tank sheets, and the teeth from an old Warhammer Fantasy Orc transfer sheet.

Finally it needed a name, and knowing that the ground crews tended to nickname the Arvus “little hog” for obvious reasons, the name came very easily.

All that’s left is to roll the gallery!

5-by-5, we’re in the pipe

And to top it all off, while I was painting the Arvus I had a lovely message from the Warhammer Community team to host Lucky Pig on the hobby roundup.

What a lovely time in the sun she’s had!

I’m very happy with this project, both getting the Arvus painted and finding a use for those mdf tiles. Landing pads are a great focus for games so they’ll see plenty of use, and they can act as risers for other buildings if needs be.

And it means I can finally make airplane noises while playing with my toy soldiers – and isn’t that what the hobby is all about?