MOTB: Necromunda Ghast deposits

Finished product first!

As part of a misguided attempt to build every kind of scenario objective or narrative prop mentioned in every Necromunda scenario (which at time of writing is about a hundred), this time I turned my hand to one of my favourite scenarios, Ghast Harvest.

Previously known as Spook, Ghast is a combat drug that has existed in 40k lore since the olden times. It varies mechanically in each system, but it always performs the same function. Anyone who huffs it gets a temporary psychic power – anything from shooting lightning from your eyes, to warp strength or time travel – but doesn’t make them any good at it. Good clean chaotic fun.

Ghast Harvest is a scenario where rival gangs race to hoover up loopy juice from deposits scattered across the map. Ghast is incredibly rare and expensive, so the objective is to gather as much as you can without snorting it. Unfortunately some gangers miss the memo and rail huge lines of the stuff straight from the source, the match swiftly devolving into a coked-up fireball slinging contest. This is, without fail, always funny.

The brief

The scenario requires four tokens representing ghast deposits, and suggests using an obstactle-sized piece of terrain to be more thematic. There is basically no guidance on what ghast looks like in its natural habitat and I’ve seen some fantastic conversions using weird mushrooms or gangly radioactive trees made of hot melt glue.

I didn’t want to recreate things I already found on google so I had a dig around my bits box for something that looked really alien and cobbled something together.

Street urchin

I’d been dragging around some old tropical beach detritus since the 90s, some of which had gone into making some weird asteroid fields, and others had been sat in a box gathering dust.

These were sea urchin shells, washed and dried out, then packed with tin foil for structural integrity. I arranged them around some spare pipes and industrial bits to look like they’d been feasting and growing on whatever horrid waste had accumulated there. A bit of crumbled cork placemat for rubble helped blend the larger shapes together.

I also wanted some smaller structures, like they’d been spawning or growing more, but had no idea how to recreate the unique exterior texture.

The end plan was to make lots of little balls of green stuff and texture them with the urchin shells themselves. I had a few broken bits I didn’t have a purpose for, so after letting the balls cure for about half an hour, gently rolled them along the inside in different ways until I got a desired pattern.

I pushed the top of each ball into the exterior of the shell to finish the look, and ending up with something like the facehugger eggs from alien. A perfect look!

Eggshell blue

Once dried, everything got an undercoat of black, then brown. I masked off all the non-pipe areas with masking tape, then gave it a quick blast of grey. I had a colour scheme in mind for the industrial parts, but deciding on how to do the ghast orbs was a real head-scratcher.

I wanted an interior glow to clearly signpost it as something dangerous, and they could also then double up as other hazardous or explosive terrain as future games might require. My initial experiments with bone, green and yellow colours weren’t particularly gripping, but the minty-blue scheme really stuck with me.

It was using Nihilakh Oxide, a technical paint for representing oxidisation on copper and the like. It’s very watery (so not usually suitable for painting block colours with) but over the porous, rugged exteriors of the urchin shells it worked wonders. On with the painting!

Ghastly glow-up

The industrial sections were painted using a technique I’ve used on other projects, the deposits drybrushed various shades of blue, and anything in between was just a block colour with a wash over the top.

For industrial parts, the whole thing is primed grey and attacked with Agrax Earthshade, concentrating on pin washing panels and giving depth to textured areas. Watered down orange paint is applied in select areas to look like water damage from above. Finally, dark brown paint is sponged onto some extreme edges to look like chipped paint.

The deposits and glow effects were painted with layers of drybrushing. The deposits were painted in light colours first (Nihilakh Oxide), then drybrushed with darker shades of blue. The very tips of the ‘spines’ near the top of the deposits were very lightly drybrushed black to create that last bit of depth.

The glow effects were painted the opposite way round – the darkest blue was drybrushed on first, followed by successively lighter drybrushes leading back to the source of the light.

The bases were made from offcuts of MDF cut roughly into shape and bevelled with a sharp craft knife. They got two coats of black around the rim to seal them and tidy up the whole piece. And with that, they were finished!

Overall I’m extremely happy with how they came out. They were assembled from scraps from the bits box and uses some very unique pieces I’ve had for longer than I can remember.

With their eerie blue glow, they absolutely stand out on the battlefield and can’t be mistaken for anything except danger. They’ll be perfect as ghast deposits, dangerous flora, or any other scenario that needs some horrible glowy orbs. Roll on the next project!

MOTB: Forklift and flatbed truck

Finished product first!

Eagle-eyed viewers noticed a narratively-important piece of getaway scenery in last week’s Inquisitor battle report, and here it is in its full glory!

These are MDF kits from the australian company MiniatureScenery.com, which aside from having an awful name to try and remember, has the best MDF vehicle kits on the market.

The two I picked up are the Heavy Industrial Forklift and Humpt1 Mk2 flatbed truck, although I’ve just noticed they now do a Humpt1 Hauler

I picked these because a) they looked really cool and b) they looked completely scale-agnostic. I play lots of Necromunda and Inquisitor, both separate scales, and it’s difficult to maintain separate terrain collections for them. Vehicles are particularly tricky, so when I can find something that looks convincing enough at either size, it’s a must-have.

Assembly

It unsurprisingly took a while to arrive, what with the company being the other side of the world and my silly little island deciding to make all imports harder so we can have a different coloured passport.

I was impressed at how compact the sprues were – the forklift was just over a sheet of A4. I consider myself an experienced builder, and combined with the impressive design and layout of most model kits these days, makes it straightforward to figure out what goes where. This was the first kit in a long, long time I had to knuckle down and follow the instructions step by step.

These were complex. Not difficult to follow mind, just lots of parts that I couldn’t spatially process how they’d go together.

For example, the truck wheels were each assembled from four different pieces, each slightly offset from each other to produce the wheel tread. Of course muggins here didn’t read the instructions and didn’t realise some of the wheels are oriented differently because of the front suspension arm doohickey and had to prise them back apart.

Ultimately though, these were lovely kits to build, and really showing off how versatile MDF can be as a hobby material.

The instructions did say where to pause construction and paint the interior, but sub-assemblies are for cowards and I pressed on.

There was no need to add extra details, so after a healthy dollop of textured paint it was time to hit the rattlecans.

Flat colours

As is now tradition for MDF pieces, I gave them both two coats of black undercoat to start with. MDF is a thirsty, thirsty boy, and saturating it with a (cheaper) undercoat helps the other paints go on easier, and makes washes go further rather than just soaking straight into the wood.

After black, I tend to give a zenithal highlight before painting. The forklift had a simple grey highlight, while the truck took a blast of Venetian Tan by TTcombat, which comes out much more yellow than it appears in pictures. I always intended the truck to be yellow and figured that would be a better starting point.

Both vehicles were painted with a similar technique, just different colours used. First, the entire chassis gets overbrushed with a lighter colour – Averland Sunset for the truck, Horus Green for the forklift

Tyes, tracks and flatbed get picked out with Eshin Grey, metallic parts get Warplock Bronze. Other base colours are layered on to pick out details, like lights or fuel pods.

Everything except the chassis gets a heavy wash of Agrax Earthshade, while the chassis of the truck got a little watered down orange applied to recesses.

The chassis gets an edge highlight of a slightly lighter colour, and then it’s on with the weathering!

Typhus Corrosion gets liberally applied to just about everywhere, concentrated on moving parts or areas likely to get bumped a lot during use.

Once that had dried, the final touch was to apply a very rough stipple/edge highlight of silver to areas most heavily affected by wear and tear. Rough splodges or scratch marks help sell the idea of badly-treated machinery.

Simple and effective, and helps to visually isolate the shape of the wheels compared to the rest of the vehicle.

And they were done! I’m always intimidated painting vehicles – I still haven’t developed a satisfying technique for weathering things larger than single figures, so I fall back on my usual technique and just scale it up. It produces nice results, but it is time-consuming (and uses a lot of expensive technical paints!).

Overall though, I’m extremely happy with how they came out. I used them almost immediately after finishing them in my latest Inquisitor battle report, and they’re likely to get re-used many times over. They’re such versatile pieces of scatter terrain that I can see them popping up in all kinds of scenarios.

Now, about that larger truck they sell…

MOTB: Tarpaulin-covered cargo

Finished product first!

As part of my “build a honking great 54mm warehouse” project I envisioned some large scatter pieces to fill the aisles and cargo holds of the far future, but weren’t scale-dependent like cargo containers.

I shamelessly stole this idea from a regular at my FLGS Asgard Wargames many moons ago and I’ve kept it in the memory bank ever since (Thank you Ben Cane!). Now I had the time and justification to give it a go.

Ghost boxes

What appealed to me most about this idea was how gosh darn cheap and simple it was to put together. Step one: assemble any old tat. I had some spare mdf cubes that were just taking up space, as well as some smaller cardboard boxes and leftover spray paint caps.

Everything was kept in place by judicious use of hot glue. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t neat – everything was going to get covered up by the ‘tarp’ later on anyway.

After exhausting all the tiny boxes I had in my recycling bin, I assembled a few extra cubes from scraps of foamboard from my STC hab project. I figure if I’m building scenery, it’s worth building a set.

Once dry, I got some heavy duty tissues (thick but unpatterned) and cut them roughly to size. Using some watered-down PVA, I placed the ‘tarp’ on top of each pile and carefully (but liberally) dabbed on the glue mix.

I let the natural absorbancy of the tissue and gravity do most of the work. I avoided doing any brushing motions, instead using the large brush to gently tease the wet tissue into the desired shape. I found the only encouraging I needed to get the best results was trying to minimise the number of smaller creases on flat surfaces, to help with the sense of scale.

Once it was fully dry, I gave it another gentle coat of watered-down PVA to help strengthen it, then it was on to the painting!

It’s a tarp!

Painting was super simple as well. Everything got a heavy undercoat of matt black (making sure the tissue was well saturated), followed by a zenithal blast of whatever other spray colour I had at the time. In this case, a blue and a light brown/yellow.

Once sprayed, everything was drybrushed a lighter colour, then a wash of Agrax, then another final light drybrush. Finished!

Given how little time and money was needed for these pieces, I’m over the moon with how well they’ve come out. I wanted some large, line-of-sight blocking pieces that were setting-agnostic to be used just about anywhere, and I’m blown away with how well the finished product looks.

And they’re huge! Even at 54mm scale they take up a sizeable chunk of the board, and at Necromunda scale they’re perfect for having a whole shootout inside a hangar bay or cargo hold.

This is a great recipe for easy scatter, and it’s completely adjustable to your particular taste. Perhaps you want to get some cheap dolls house furniture and paint the tarps white to look like dust sheets instead? Or get some old minis you aren’t using and have an army of spooky mannequins?

Over the moon with this project, and I can’t wait to get some photos of them in action.

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: 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: 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?

MOTB: Twiglet tube silos

Finished product first!

Last week I put the finishing touches on a gang hideout in an abandoned chemical facility and I happened to have some snack tubes leftover from various Christmas indulgences. They can’t be recycled, but they can be reused, and with a few extra bits here and there, would look very nice in my weird chemical facility family.

The prototype

I made this one long before Christmas to use up some bits from the box and loved the design so much, I put off finishing it until after the inevitable holiday crispageddon furnished me with excess foiled tubes.

Simply put, it was just about finding interesting-looking parts that worked well with together. I talked about the design flow of scenery in last week’s Chem Silo article, and although putting it up on stilts looked cool and gave it the underhive water tower aesthetic I was going for, functionally it was a bit weak. The legs don’t provide much cover, the bulk of the tower doesn’t block much line of sight, and the whole thing was a bit wobbly.

Luckily for me, my partner had just finished up their subscription to Conquest magazine and had a bunch of random battlefield scatter they weren’t using soooooo……

I experimented with a single ladder to the ground and didn’t like it. Adding a platform with a railing meant models could be placed halfway up if they don’t get all their movement, and provides a modicum of cover at the expense of field of view.

Totally tubular

I was in love with the design, and ate many more baked snacks over the next few weeks. I had to draw the line at the number of silos I was going to make however – I already had boxes of scenery piling up in my bedroom, so I had to start being choosy about the volume of scenery I was making.

Three more silos built – this time of varying heights and playability. I wanted them to look of similar design but with slightly different purpose so should the need arise to have a scenario about poisoning water tanks or destroying fuel supplies, they all present different challenges.

Big shout out to this Gothic Upgrade Pack from MAD Gaming – you get a huge number of interesting buttresses, uprights and other greebling for your money. I had some for a specific hab project, but kept buying more becuase they’re so useful for sticking onto literally anything to make it look 40k.

Other features were made from bits of plasticard or random scraps from the bits box. I’m not the proud owner of an MDF bits box too after a particularly long and wood-filled pandemic spent hobbying, so there was a lot of spare bits to arrange in interesting ways.

Once everything was dry, it was time for a hearty dollop of my homemade textured paint – a mix of ready-mixed filler, modelling sand, PVA glue and a splash of poster paint for colour.

Once dried again, everything got undercoated in black, zenithal highlighted with a grey rattlecan, and key areas picked out with a rusty red colour from my local hobby shop.

A series of tubes

Painting was straightforward, and used the same recipe as the Chem Silo, the main difference being a lot more flat surface to paint. On one hand, it meant I got to experiment with masking tape and sponging on the red decal, but it also meant a lot of manual brushwork.

I’m sure there’s a technical name for the technique I use for walls and panels in this style, but it’s basically very heavy drybrushing. I get a natty old brush, wipe a lot of paint off it, and roll it round on the surface to create uneven, patchy layers. Over a dark-ish undercoat, it creates a nice weathered effect, looking like actual paint that has worn off over time.

I think this worked best on the tall silo, I went too heavy on the pair of medium silos and lost a lot of the texture around the corners of the panels. I tried to make up for it during the weathering stage, but it wasn’t the same effect. Shame really!

Glamour shots

On with some closeups, with our classic bickering couple to give a sense of scale and how the silos might be used in game.

Overall I’m happy with how they turned out. I’m a little disappointed that one of them came out much better than the others, something I only really noticed when I put them all together and started taking photos of them. I liked the effect up close, but it was only when arranging them on the tabletop I realised what I should have done.

Oh well, live and learn!

The family photo