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: 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: Necron obelisks

Finished product first!

As part of a recent scenery purchase from a local terrain company, I also snagged some obelisks from Wargame Model Mods’ weird and wonderful Necrotech range. I’d been meaning to do some proper weird alien terrain as a palette cleanser from all the underhive grime I’d been building, and these looked just the ticket.

Getting more for your money

I wanted enough to reasonably scatter across a 6×4 board, and one pack of Obelisk blocks would give me plenty to litter the tabletop with. They arrived in a series of neat little bundles, already punched out.

They fit together very pleasingly, and I was surprised at how big they were. I didn’t get much of a sense of scale from the original images, and even the smaller blocks were quite imposing against a 28mm guardsman.

I hadn’t read the description properly and didn’t realise that half the panels had no detail on them – presumably so you could stick them together into a mega-block like the one advertised.

I wasn’t going to do that with this set (although I may do one in future), I wanted as many individual blocks as possible to have as much variation on the tabletop, including some half-buried in the ground.

I’d need to come up with some clever trick to detail the plain panels I had.

The kit came with an assortment of smaller flat spacers for gluing the obelisks together into a mega-lith, but for me they would be extra panels to fill out the flat surfaces.

By taking two detailed panels and cutting them up, I could arrange those cut out pieces across four plain panels. With some help from some spacers, I now have four detailed panels!

As an absolute mad lad I also own an MDF bits box, filled with the weird inserts and offcuts from MDF sprues that I use for detailing and greebling. They came in perfectly handy for this task.

I picked out a collection of necron-looking bits that would give me some nice clean edges to show up the colour scheme I was planning.

All the main blocks were assembled first to get an idea of how much flat space I needed to cover. And then a terrible thought struck me. What if I could make one block… into two?

Several intense hacking minutes later and I’d made four bits of scatter out of two obelisks. I wanted them to look sunk in the sand, either abandoned or just being unearthed.

I stuck them to some round bases and smeared a load of pre-mixed filler around the join to look like a buildup of sand.

Some of them got extra smaller blocks added on top to imitate the obelisks at different stages of decay. It was also at this point that it really hit home how big all of these were going to be, and how tricky they would be to paint…

And that was all of them assembled! A thoroughly enjoyable kit to build and very modular, especially if you’re a hobby sadist like myself who likes to squeeze more content out of their kits.

The only thing I’d like to see moving foward is the option to purchase either/or when it comes to the non-detailed plates. Perhaps an option to upgrade/replace to fully detailed plates so you can build 16 obelisks out of the box, as currently you can only “technically” build 8 fully detailed obelisks, with the other 8 being blank.

Great if you want to build a chunky obelisk with only a handful of outward facing sides, but a fully detailed plate option would be ideal!

Absolute tool

Every artist has their “aha” moment when it comes to new tools. Mine came during this project. Specifically, “Aha, I should have bought an airbrush (and pracised with it) a year ago, because holy dicks this would have been a breeze”.

Instead, I gave myself RSI and several grumpy weeks of not being able to paint anything. Note to future self – when your wrist starts to hurt – STOP PAINTING.

Lines upon lines upon lines

I am so glad I persisted however – the overall effect is exactly what I’d hoped. I must have spent at least an evening on each block, repeating the same recipe over and over. Extremely satisfying to paint, so much so that I found it easy to get carried away into the wee hours and cramp my wrist…

  1. Generous undercoat in matt black, two or three coats in some places. MDF is thirsty for paint, so I did a few passes (letting it dry in between) to make sure it was fully saturated.
  2. Thicc line of Caliban Green
  3. Thin line of Warpstone Glow
  4. Tickle the corners and fill the shapes with Scorpion Green.

The last paint is OOP, but moot green didn’t cut it. I wanted an acidic, almost fluro yellow/green for the final stage to give it a proper glow.

The bases were textured paint, then undercoated with Zandri Dust and drybrushed with Bleached Bone, topped with cheeky grass tufts.

The colours for the base were decided before I bought the battlemat, and given they’ll most likely be deployed against this background, I’m tempted to go back over the bases and darken them down a bit to match. A project for another time, I think!

Megalith

I mentioned previously about making a huge obelisk rather than multiple smaller ones, and it’s something I’m genuinely considering for the future. For now, my existing kits can be bundled together fairly convincingly to create weird looking structures.

And, naturally, it works great at 54mm scale. Perfect for Inquisitor!

Standing Stone-Vation

Not much else to say on the painting – simple scheme, tedious to apply, but looks ace when it’s done. I bet it would have been so flippin’ easy to do with an airbrush too. Oh well, I know for next time!

On with the scale shots.

Wrapping up

What a wonderful little kit this is! Aside from some self-inflicted enthusiasm injuries, these have been a joy to build and paint. They’re ideal for all the games I play – Necromunda, Inquisitor, a few TTRPGs like Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader or Wrath and Glory, and they’re super convenient to store.

I’ve already got my eye set on some more obelisks for future projects, and I’ve got a large necron building from the same range that needs photographing, so watch this space!

I picked all these up from Wargaming Model Mods for under £20, so go toss come coins to a small independent business.

Let’s hear it for the humble obelisk!

MOTB: Prototype Arco-Flagellant X206

Finished product first!

The next addition to my latest Inquisitor warband – a band of questionable Magos Biologis and their experiments – including Genetor Vacillus and their stompy Beetle-back retriever.

This is prototype Arco-Flagellant X206 – the product of some late-night radical brainstorming something along these lines:

LOTR second breakfast meme, Pippin is a radical magos, Aragorn is the Mechanicus. What about electric whip limbs? We already have it. We've had one, yes. What about a second set of electric whip limbs?
Designing X206

I knew I wanted a melee monster for the warband. The Zeta-phi “Beetle-back” forms an immovable front line and Magos Vacillus provides ranged support, so I needed something to round out their battlefield roles.

I had lots of Arco-Flagellant bits floating around (hah!) as I never made one for myself. I always found them grossly overpowered for average play, but I loved their horrifying aesthetic.

I ended up with lots of Talos bits left over from building the Zeta-phi servitor, including an uncomfortable amount of neat-looking tentacles. The arms were a perfect fit for the arco-flagellant body, but I wasn’t happy with the running legs. Unless…

The hovering base of the Talos was a perfect fit, and filled with the remaining tentacles and weird fluid vials gave it the perfect Mechanicus side-project aesthetic. It even encouraged me to model it in-flight, as though it was sweeping through the halls like an angry electric squid. Very big Matrix Sentinel vibes.

Very long pins were put through the two tentacles touching the base (with a LOT of superglue) and the resulting pose is surprisingly stable. A little mechanicus backpack covered all the injector holes that come with the torso, and he’s ready for the rattlecan.

A prototype paint scheme

Although I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about painting all that naked flesh (I tossed around the ideas of electoos but seriously, ain’t nobody got time for that), the base colour schemes were already decided by the previous two lads.

The big stinker was figuring out how I was going to do the tentacles without destroying my will to live. I must have done about five or six repaints before settling on the ‘inner glow’ look here.

A few choice pipes were picked out for the yellow/dark grey stripy treatment, as I enjoy hazard stripes as a spot colour (and fits with the Mechanicus aesthetic quite nicely). In the grim darkness of the far future, there are still sacred health and safety tenets that must be unquestioningly followed.

One colour scheme involved lots of electric blue. Although it was different, it was a pig to paint, and really went against the colour scheme. I stuck with the ‘mystery green fluid’ aesthetic that seems to power all the weapons in the warband – the unnatural fit ties everything together visually, as well as reinforces the themes of being powered by something inhuman.

I’ve toyed with some ideas for how he’ll be on the battlefield, but the bottom line is moving fast and hitting hard. His main unique selling point is swimming through the air on electro-aetheric propulsion, so obstacles and pitfalls aren’t really a concern. Unless of course, someone has a haywire grenade…

To balance out his massive mobility, he’ll be significantly toned down from a ‘true’ arco-flagellant. Of course he’ll still be an electric murder machine, but he won’t have all the combat drugs that can be activated to turn him into horrifying 200-something strength monstrosity that melts space marines.

(Also because I don’t like calculating all the new stats on the turn you want them to kill something ayyy lmao)

As for defence, I’m on de fence (hah!). I’ve got two visions for him, and I don’t know which would be more fun to play with/against. The first involves him moving silently – a tentacled horror stalking darkened hallways, barely giving off its presence save for a few dancing lights like a deep sea predator.

The other involves manipulating the unnatural energies into a crackling force field – he’ll be far more resilient but stealth won’t be an option. Instead he’ll be more like a frightening living antibody – an electric nightmare that beelines for its target and doesn’t stop until they are subdued or disintegrated.

The wrap-up

Given how this electric lad sat on my bench for 3-4 years before I got round to finishing him, I’m extremely happy how he turned out. You can see from the WIP photo that he was basically all finished, I just ran out of ideas on how to fill all the little injection holes, whether I’d give him back tentacles, make them from guitar string, whatever. He just needed a little backpack, and that was all the motivation I needed to start slinging some paint on him.

I’m very excited to get him on the tabletop (one day!) as I feel like he rounds the team off nicely. Now all I need to do is finish off the big guy himself…

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: 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.