Dear Games Workshop – if you’d like to earn the lasting support of Chaos fans everywhere there’s one kit we really need. Not the often rumoured Chosen kit (although I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth), or a Cultists boxset (although as we’re talking I’d buy at least 12). Not even decent Noise Marines in plastic (mind you, that would be amazing – all the other cult troops are pretty solid, or can be converted easily enough, but poor old Slaanesh is distinctly lacking). Oh and a new Bloodthirster that doesn’t look quite as lumpen as the current one would be rather nice. However I’m getting sidetracked. What I’d really like to see (arrogantly speaking for my fellow worshippers of the Ruinous Powers as well) are some decent Obliterators. Because – let’s be honest here, we’re all grownups – the current ones are fairly shit.
There are some great conversions out there but, unfortunately, most of them rely on greater skill as a sculptor or scratch-builder than I posses. The problem I’ve had (and I’m sure I’m not alone) is that finding a suitable proxy isn’t easy. No matter how many guns you load them up with a Chaos Terminator still looks like a Chaos Terminator (albeit one which may now be suffering from the same Swiss-army-knife arms that blight the official model). Alternatively a lot of conversions go towards a ‘gun-spawn’ vibe – which can look cool or disastrous with equal ease, and isn’t what I’m looking for either.
Although I like the idea of Obliterators as hulking, warping flesh-metal monsters the current models don’t really convey that. This isn’t really a criticism of the designer as something constantly flowing and twisting is harder to capture in a miniature than in – for example – a painting, text or on film. I imagine that for the average Imperial Guardsman an Obliterator would be quite hard to look at, the sheer nauseating strangeness of it, combined with the heat haze from weapons and the ripples of warp-energy venting from its body. The current miniatures, on the other hand, are hard to look at for quite different reasons (…ooh, low blow…). As I’ve said the best conversions in this ‘flesh-metal’ style were all produced by individuals whose skill at sculpting with greenstuff far outstrips my own. More attainable were those conversions in a ‘dark-mechanicum’ style, Obliterators who clearly took their power from a mechanical source, albeit one still arising in the Warp.
At the moment my favourite contender for the award of “Best Obliterator Proxy” goes to the official Obliterator itself (albeit with some fairly significant conversion) although these ones based on the new Undead Morghasts are extremely impressive. The only other real contender comes in the form of the Space Marine Centurions (40k era Centurions that is, not Crusade era – an important distinction for servants of the Ruinous Powers who, having been immersed in the Eye for ten millennia may still want to party like it’s M.31 – I know I often do).
I know the Centurions have been regularly attacked from all corners of the Internet but I’ll step into the firing line and defend them. Not only do they look cracking as they are but, as many people have already demonstrated, with just a little conversion, they make great stand in Chaos Obliterators.
In terms of the fiction there isn’t really any reason why the Chaos Marines shouldn’t have access to Centurion armour anyway (although weighing in briefly on the debate about whether it should be available in the Codex – I’d rather see cool new Chaos units than re-designs of loyalist stuff. If you want Chaos Centurions, and I do, then convert the miniatures, convert the rules if necessary, and off you go). Any chapters who fell to Chaos after the rediscovery of the Centurian suits following the Age of Apostasy would simply have taken it with them when they went rogue whilst the fallen Legions of the Heresy era would undoubtedly go about capturing themselves some post-haste. Of course, having acquired them they wouldn’t bother with any of that superstitious mumbo-jumbo about not tinkering with them. Once they’d finished making adjustments, allowing daemons to posses the weapons and so on, the result wouldn’t be too far removed from an Obliterator.
With this in mind I took a stab at converting my own Obliterator based on a Centurion. Here’s a look at my first attempt.
Before I’d even finished him I’d decided I wasn’t terribly happy with him. I gave him a week or so on the shelf with the rest of the collection and he hadn’t grown on me at all (in fact I was getting less and less satisfied – not a good sign). I was once given a great piece of hobby advice by a friend who told me “A miniature is only finished when you say it is. If you change your mind pick it up again. The police won’t come round to your house and take you away just because you thought it was done and changed your mind”. (As a side note his blog is well worth a look). With this pearl of wisdom in mind I picked him up for a second look.
Leaving the shoulder pads off was, I think, a mistake – reducing his bulk a bit too much, the head – which should have added a human touch to the monster – looked insufficiently chaotic, and in general there was a lack of the spikes, mutation and savagery that marks out a follower of the dark gods. Instead of looking like an Obliterator he came across as a Centurion belonging to one of the more barbaric loyalist chapters. Time for a re-think.
Incidentally, one thing I think was a good move – although I can’t claim I did it that well – was to greenstuff over the mounts for the (much mocked) ‘nipple guns’. Even as a fan of the original model I find these a little odd. Unless you’re a follower of Slaanesh of course. Then firing bullets out of your tits is fairly normal.
Anyway, here’s the results of round two.
From an aesthetic (and I stress aesthetic, rather than rules or fiction) point of view the Obliterator and its cousin the Mutilator should bridge the gap between Chaos Terminators and Helbrutes. Indeed, in many ways the evolution of the Helbrute from old Chaos Dreadnaught, has taken away from some of the character of the Obliterator. The Chaos Dreadnaught was always primarily a mechanical walker, a machine, whilst the Helbrute represents a fusion of meat and metal not dissimilar to that described for the Obliterator. Thus the image of a gun-wielding bipedal monster with a tortured human face at its core is now best conveyed by a (highly customisable) Helbrute than by a lumpen, bloated Space Marine caricature with a bitz-box gun-explosion for hands.
Am I pleased with the results? Yes and No. He certainly looks suitable chaotic and violent, but on the other hand he still doesn’t really match my idea of an Obliterator. Perhaps I’ll keep trying to think of new ways to make decent looking Obliterators (and Mutilators for that matter) and instead transform this guy into the leader of a squad of Chaos worshipping Centurions.
At the very least though, this is a man who has dedicated himself to war, setting aside all other interests and fixing his thoughts exclusively on the prosecution of battles (even beyond what would be normal for a Space Marine). Whatever his past or present state, this – in combination with his allegiance to Chaos – mean he is firmly set on the path to becoming an Obliterator.
Anyway, as usual if you have any ideas, suggestions, hints, tips or thoughts I’d love to hear them. Cheers!