Familiarity, we’re often reminded, breeds contempt and whilst I can’t say I’ve ever been contemptuous of the Dark Vengeance Helbrute I have become over time a little complacent. It’s undeniably a modern classic and that, combined with it being in the starter boxset, means that everyone and their dog has at least one in their collection if they play Chaos. All of which means that, although my reaction when it was first revealed was to pick my jaw up from the floor, the passage of time means that now I barely give them a second glance – excepting stand-out painting or radical conversions. Mine languished in the box whilst more exciting projects held my attention.
Finally assembling him then proved to be something of a revelation. This is one of those miniatures that cries out to be painted as is, without conversion, at least once (not that I’ve managed to resist a bit of modification for long – more on that below).
It’s well established in the background fiction that to be interred in a Helbrute is no honour but rather a punishment, a tormented existence from which there can come no glory, nor ascension to daemonhood. Encased beneath such powerful weapons and armour even the freedom of death is unlikely and so the punishment of life within a Helbrute may last for millennia. Looking at him you have to wonder what crime he committed to deserve such a fate. What’s more there’s something so perfectly arrogant about subjecting someone to such a tortured existence, giving them every reason to despise you with whatever shreds of sanity they retain, and at the same time arming them to the teeth. No wonder they’re kept chained up. It’s brutal, yet it’s also pragmatic, turning them into a weapon and unleashing their hate against your enemies. Better still it serves as a reminder to your other followers of the price of crossing their lord. Amongst the followers of Chaos it really is better to be feared than loved, and so the message conveyed by the Helbrute is clear; kill me and take my position at the head of the warband and you’re one step closer to impressing the Gods and becoming a Daemon Prince – but fail and this is what I will do to you. It’s more than enough to make all but the most determined usurper think twice.
Given that I prefer infantry sized figures to larger models and tend to take forever to finish the bigger kits (my previous Helbrute proving to be a particular slog) this one proved to a surprisingly easy model to paint. The large areas of flesh and armour have enough detail to them to keep them interesting, rather than becoming intimidating blank spaces, without getting to the point of being outright fiddly. I powered through him in a few brief sessions (albeit several months apart –I’m not a saint alright!) and am pretty pleased with the end result.
Some of the details are just excellently weird and hideous. Look at this – he’s got a mouth in his hand! I mean, look at it! Talk about living hand to mouth…
I was so excited about getting this bad-boy finished that I’ve already started work on another, built from a combination of the Dark Vengeance Helbrute and its standard counterpart. Here’s a work-in-progress image of it. This one will be dedicated to Khorne (shame there isn’t a way to represent that in the rules really), a berserker used to tear apart enemy strong-points and allow the rest of the blood-crazed warband to rush in behind it.
Edit (June 2021): Sadly the passage of time and a few technological boo-boos on my part mean this picture of the model at the WIP stage is now long lost – but through the miracle of time travel you can see how he looked when I got him finished by clicking here.
As ever, thanks for reading, comments are welcome in the box below!