If you’re a follower of 40k, and especially if you’ve sworn your soul to the dark powers, you’ve almost certainly noticed that last weekend saw the release of a new kit and codex covering the wrathful and rapacious Knights of Chaos. Like the Space Marines long before them these once noble and hale warriors of the Imperium have been twisted and corrupted into monstrous servants of the thirsting gods.
I’ve yet to get a proper chance to read through the new codex, or pour over the new kit as much as I’d like, but it goes without saying that this release grabbed me by the throat from the very beginning.
Most of us I think assumed that this kind of release would never come or, perhaps more accurately, wouldn’t appear for many years yet. On the other hand there really isn’t any reason to be surprised. To a casual observer (without the benefit of any statistics to back this claim) it often seemed that the popularity of the original Knight kit was almost as high amongst Chaos fans as it was amongst those sworn to the Corpse-Emperor. Indeed the first words on everyone’s lips when the model was first revealed seemed to be “how can I create a Chaos version of that?”
In a lot of ways this is democracy for Titans, or at least Titan ownership. My vision for my Chaos army has always been a massive horde not dissimilar to an army of fantasy barbarians, the traitor marines surrounded by swarms of twisted cultists and mutants, whilst amongst them daemon engines and hellbrutes come stomping out of the murk like monstrous beasts. Greatest of all would be the Titans, looming over the advancing masses like the terrible gods themselves.
However, truth be told, the chances of me ever owning a Titan are next to nonexistent. If, by some strike of fortune or considerable hard-work and careful budgeting, I was able to afford one I’d almost certainly choose to spend the money on something else instead. Either that would be something else for the hobby (there’s always so many awesome things I’m interested in – and they all add up!) or, more likely, just the demands of everything else I want out of life. After all, having a Titan is nice, but having a home, good food, clothes, books and other creature comforts is altogether nicer. And even if I did acquire the necessary wealth, and the will to spend it on a Titan rather than something else, I’d still have to paint the damn thing – which looks like a lifetime of work in and of itself. Just look at how long it’s taken me to paint a single knight for instance (more on that below)…
However, whilst Titans may be beyond the grasp of almost all of us, a Knight is a little more affordable. It’s still pricey, there’s no getting around that fact, but it’s a lot closer to the realms of the possible. In the UK they may come in at almost £100 currently, a sharp kick to the wallet by anyone’s standards, but a Warlord is more than ten times as expensive. At that price a Titan simply ceases to be appealing, but a Knight – now there’s a proposition I can get my teeth into.
Let’s not beat about the bush here, the new kit is gorgeous. If you like big angry robots who’ve been corrupted by hellish powers then this is sure to appeal. It builds either the Knight Rampager, a true close-combat monster (and co-incidentally, also a communications device handy for contacting a sheep) or the slightly more restrained Desecrator, which prefers to stand back and shoot you a few times before tearing you to bits with a claw the size of a small house. Add to that the ability to mix-and-match bits with loyalist Knights and a whole world of conversion opportunities opens up – and if you want an army of these bad boys those are skills you’re going to want to call upon. After all, whilst the Rampager and Desecrator are things of beauty in and of themselves, there are other options laid out in the codex for which the kits are rather less ready to lay waste to the Imperium the moment they leave the box.
In an element of the new codex which to a modern fan must seem quite shocking, the majority of the entries have no official miniature to represent them. When I first got into 40K and Warhammer this was standard practice and in the Specialist Games like Necromunda and Blood Bowl it still is to an extent, but in the core range it’s long since been weeded out. GW have been firm; they are not in the business of making rules that are not accompanied by suitable models. Of course in this instance they find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Imagine the discontent amongst those who had carried a torch for Chaos Knights all these years were they do be told that their lovingly converted army could no longer take to the gaming table under the current rules. Thus the Chaos Knights range sits in a liminal space with most of the options borrowed from the loyalist cousins. One could just paint on a few chaos stars and have done with it but we’re encouraged to push the boundaries, to explore creatively, to kitbash and convert. How long, I find myself wondering, will this situation be allowed to stand? How long before official kits are produced for the War Dogs (Armigers) and their ilk?
Something which would have been nice to see alongside this release was a new version of the Chaos upgrade sprue. Naturally the best conversions and kitbashes of other classes of Knight (that’s everything in the range apart from the Rampager and Desecrator) will be those where the person responsible simply lets loose and allows their creativity free-reign. Unfortunately there’s always a risk that such enthusiasm will also produce rather shonky results. In GW’s own previews Armigers etc were shown decorated with the old Chaos upgrade sprue but it’s really showing its age now, the chunky, low detail components sticking out like a sore thumb amid the smooth lines of the new kits.
As it happens I have a couple of Armigers that I picked up at a bargain price when Forgebane was released. My plan was to add them to my Adeptus Mechanicus army (the one you didn’t know anything about because I’ve still never built any of it? Yeah, that’s the one…). Like the rest of the army they’ve been gathering dust but now I’m finding myself reappraising them and I’m strongly tempted to liberate them from the clutches of the machine god and swear their iron souls to the True Mechanicum instead. And, although money may prove to be the sticking factor here, I must confess that, although I wasn’t terribly impressed with the look of the Valiant/Castellan as a loyalist warmachine a Chaotic version could be a whole other kettle of fish. Most obvious of all we have the Rampager/Desecrator itself, which has grabbed my heart in it’s savage claw and refuses to let go (a feeling which, although hard on the wallet, is a lot more pleasant than it sounds at first).
However before I run off to buy myself a new Chaos Knight I really ought to do something about the one I already own…
I last worked on it back in 2015, since which time it’s life has been one of ups and downs, but mostly – if I’m honest – downs. Here’s how it looked last time we saw it, all those years ago when it was just a pair of legs…
And here are those same legs now. I decided to rework them a little, adjusting the pose into something more fearsome and aggressive.
As you can see the armour panels have been removed, allowing me access all over the model to make the required adjustments. Whilst I was about it I gave all the metalwork a quick spray of leadbelcher to allow me to start again with a newer, nicer paintjob rather than trying to touch up and work over the older paintwork.
The main torso is assembled, including a suitably chaotic face looted from the warshrine (and idea which I may, I now realise, have borrowed from KrautScientist, the creator of one of my favourite Chaos Knight conversions). Again the metal parts have been sprayed with leadbelcher whilst the carapace (not yet glued in place) was sprayed with Army Painter Skeleton Bone. In many ways this proved to be a mistake, the coverage has turned out a little lumpy and “bubbly” – my error for trying out an untested paint on such an important and expensive model. Luckily, as far as the carapace goes at any rate, the damage is slight enough that I can cover it up with weathering. For a long time I planned to leave the carapace separate, so that it could be removed to reveal the inner workings of the knight, complete with pilot, engine and other chaotic gubbins. However at the moment I’m finding myself leaning away from this idea. Although it sounds in theory like an exciting mini-project to get my teeth into, and I’ve certainly enjoyed thinking through some of the possibilities I could explore with it, my concern is that the more extra challenges I add to the model overall the more likely it is that I’ll never get it finished at all. As there are already quite a number of issues and problems to overcome with this model adding more to the list when I don’t need to seems like making a rod for my own back.
Rather than just spray one panel of the kit (or better yet a suitable test model) with the untested Army Painter spray I decided to compound my foolishness by spraying both of the shoulderpads as well. This was where things went from “minor but fixable mistake” to “monumental fuck up” in short order. As an aside I’m not knocking the Army Painter spray, they seem to work well for some people, it’s just unfortunate that my only experience of them proved to be such a headache but I can’t pretend to have tested them exhaustively.
On one of the shoulder pads the result was pretty much perfect, a lovely smooth coat of bone coloured white that would have taken considerable time to paint, instead created in an instant. On the other shoulderpad however I found myself staring in horror at a gummy, lumpy mess of clogged details and fouled surfaces. Rather than step back and consider my options I panicked and doubled-down on the mistake. Surely another quick coat would smooth things out (two thin coats and all that right?). So I looked up into the clear, cloudless sky, shook the can like a terrier with a rat and fatefully sprayed the offending shouldpad again. I popped the piece to dry in the sunshine on a seat by the front door, stepped round the corner to get something from the shed… and the heavens opened…
Everyone knows that if you’re going to spray a model you do it in a well ventilated area, with nothing that can be caught by a dusting of paint (I once watched in horror as a colleague accidently sprayed the lenses of an expensive pair of binoculars with white paint – now there’s a screw-up for the ages). There’s really nowhere that fits that description better than the great outdoors, so long as any passing raindrops stay firmly up in the sky. A damp environment is death to a freshly sprayed model, a shower of rain is utterly cataclysmic. The most expensive model I’d ever bought, the product of careful saving up and planning, was now well and truly bollocksed.
Of course I knew, even then, that I was just being melodramatic, that a fix could be found and that as an experienced and enthusiastic hobbyist I was more than capable of finding one. Still the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth and so I kept putting it off and working on other things rather than face up to the chore of trying fix it.
Recently however I realised I really ought to man up and stop hiding from it so I set to work greenstuffing over the damage, adding some more chaotic elements and generally doing what I could to repair it and create the impression of corruption acquired over millennia of war rather than a few moments of carelessness. There’s still a little more to do on this front but here it is now, heading back in the right direction after a long and shameful period of abandonment.
Lastly we have the Knights head. I’m particularly proud of this, the sweeping tasks really make it look especially fearsome and primeval in my opinion.
Put it all together with a few lumps of bluetac and a whispered prayer that it doesn’t collapse until I’ve taken a photo or two and it looks like this. Obviously quite a lot to still needs to be painted and some parts still need to be assembled but he’s on his way again at last.
The right arm is entirely standard at the moment but I’d like to make a few tweaks to add some chaotic flavour. Likewise the left shoulder pad (not shown) which survived the destruction which consumed it’s brother now needs a little corruption of its own. The armour panels on the legs need to be reattached and the base has hardly been started. The biggest job of all is the left arm, which looks as though it will need to be sculpted in part, probably my most ambitious use of green stuff yet and potentially almost a project in its own right. Still with chaos on the rise at the moment I’m feeling very enthused about this project for the first time since that disastrous moment back in 2015. Indeed I’m feeling the urge to resurrect my entire chaos army and its time there was a knight at the heart of that – or who knows perhaps even more than one…