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.
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!