I’ve been working away on painting up forty poxwalkers since models for them were first released alongside Dark Imperium back in 2017. Unlike many of GW’s kits these aren’t available in easily kitbashed, option-filled kits but as a series of 16 snap-fit models, with no alternative builds or opportunities to make them unique unless you want to break out the clippers and start doing your own thing. Naturally I’d didn’t want to keep repeating the same 16 zombies over and over again so I decided to chop things up, kitbash, greenstuff and generally do whatever it took to make each one unique. As I was doing this Azazel of Azazel’s Bitz Box suggested that I round out the project with a showcase of all the converted zombies gathered into sets so that all the different versions of each model could be compared against one another. Needless to say I thought this was a damn good idea and, with the final zombies completed a couple of days ago, now is the perfect time to do just that.
To make things a little easier here’s a reminder of how the studio models look. If you don’t convert your poxwalkers what you’ll end up with will look exactly like these (in terms of pose that is, if you want to paint exactly the same way as the ‘eavy Metal painters you’ll have to practice a bit!). To make life easier I’ve also numbered each one. The first group forms part of the Dark Imperium starter set…
…whilst the second group makes up the stand-alone Easy To Build; Poxwalkers set.
In the main the bits I used for each conversion came from within the Poxwalkers sets themselves, as I recycled spare parts that I’d previously snipped off other conversions. That said I also called upon Mantic’s zombies, Games Workshop’s plague bearers and whatever I happened to find in my bitsbox, as well as the odd bit of greenstuff.
As far as possible I’ve placed the original, unconverted model to the left of each picture. Sometimes there isn’t an unconverted version of course, in some cases I either couldn’t resist tweaking all of them or I just didn’t like the standard version and felt it needed to be improved.
Despite being single-pose these kits proved to be surprisingly adaptable. The one in the middle borrows a head and arm from the Mantic zombies whilst the one on the right uses a Plague Bearer skull.
The one in the middle isn’t a million miles from the original in terms of design, but an alternative head (again taken from the Mantic zombies) goes a long way to creating a very different looking end result. The one to the right is probably the most radical conversion of the lot however, with only the legs of the original model used, whilst the torso and arms come from the old GW zombies kit.
Zombie bouncers, looking like they belong at the doors of the worst nightclub you can imagine. Not much in the way of radical conversions here but proof, I reckon, that alternative heads and tweaked weapons, as well as cutting off some of the bony spikes, can go a long way to differentiating them without the need for anything more involved.
The lab-techs! I learned a lot about painting white from these three (and splattering them with blood afterwards was always a joy!). The one in the middle uses a head from the Blightkings whilst the one on the right uses the arms from Mantic and a head from the Corpse Cart.
Supporting the troops! Just snipping off the spikes can transform the appearance of a poxwalker without having to do anything else, although an alternative head finished things off nicely. The Cadian head with its rebreather tells what I fondly imagine to be a little narrative, recalling the fall of Cadia to the forces of Chaos (about time too!) and suggesting that despite attempting to filter the air he breathed this poor guardsman succumbed to Nurgle’s gifts anyway.
A third version of this model was used to create a particularly unhygienic looking hive scum, ready to be hired out to any Necromunda gangs with a need for cheap muscle and a poor sense of smell.
Just changing the paint jobs can be enough to differentiate the zombies, especially as decaying flesh comes in a wide range of colours (even more so when the foul touch of the warp is upon them). I kept the conversion work on the middle model fairly subtle, playing up features that were already present such as the long-fingered hands and arching horns. The one on the right called for a more radical conversion, including a face that previously belonged on the arm of one of the Gellerpox Mutants.
Some of the original models just didn’t appeal to me and this was one of the worst offenders. Lots of good ideas had been incorporated into the model but there was a lack of cohesion and direction and the result was something of a mess. The studio paintjob, which was very neat and clean, didn’t really help matters – although I can see why they’re keen to tone down the gross out elements a little before pitching this to the general public. Needless to say both versions I created were tweaked in some way, whilst I was able to choose a paint scheme that really played up the body horror, emphasising that what we see here is a lump of fresh offal that’s still walking (and probably mutating before our eyes as well).
This was another one that I didn’t like at all when I first saw it, I think in my review of the set I described it as looking like it was doing the hokey-cokey. If you compare with the studio models above you’ll notice that I made a few tweaks to the miniature, adjusting the angle of the hammer to look more threatening and less jaunty and snipping off the gas-mask which was otherwise flapping around and spoiling the model’s appearance of direction. For the alternative version in the middle three skulls were used to create the symbol of Nurgle.
This is one of my favourite of the poxwalkers, a figure just packed with malevolent character. I’m also really pleased with the two converted versions, each one has turned out very differently to the original and each stands as a character in its own right. I’m pretty sure the head of the middle one is another from Mantic whilst the bell was taken from a Skaven clanrat. It may be a bit too late for him to be shouting “Unclean, unclean!” however…
This one in his tattered hazmat suit is the last of the Dark Imperium set. Again I made a few adjustments to the original, switching the angle of the knife to suggest directed hacking rather than wild flailing, and snipping away the gas tank from his back which was otherwise just flapping around aimlessly.
Shortly after Dark Imperium, a second set of Poxwalkers was released (and these will presumably become the stock Poxwalker set when Dark Imperium is finally replaced by a new starter set when the next edition of 40k comes along). For this one I only made a few slight tweaks, changing the odd horn or spike and swapping out the arm with the weapon (only a zombie would think a flail made of grenades was a good idea!). Most of the work is done by the paintjob, for the original I used a pale and ghastly skin tone, for the converted version I went for bruised and battered flesh, with just a hint of gangrene. Lovely!
Another real favourite here, and another in which the converted version makes a lot from only a few small changes. The gas-mask head with its oozing gunk is such a defining feature of the original that just swapping it out and replacing the blade of the weapon was more than enough to transform him.
As soon as I spotted the guardsman’s head rammed crudely onto a spike on the new Chaos Terminators kit I knew I wanted to use it on a poxwalker. This one also borrows a weapon from the Cawdor gangers and a bloated paw from one of the other poxwalkers. The tentacle has been saved carefully, it’s sure to pop up on a chaos conversion sooner or later!
That huge, swollen hand that appeared on the previous model (and on the centre model of set 10) come from this fat lad. To differentiate the converted version from the original I decided to go to the opposite extreme, giving him the skinniest arms I could lay my hands on. Meanwhile the unearthly glow coming from his belly makes me wonder if he’s eaten something radioactive…
In many ways these two are not dissimilar, but again a few tweaks go a long way to separating them. Both have a large, clawed left hand , the converted version taking his from a plaguebearer (his right hand, with which he’s attempting to hail a taxi, comes from Mantic). The huge bone spikes are very much an iconic part of the Poxwalkers but if you want something a little more toned down it’s easy to snip some of them off.
The final set and again, not a particularly radical conversion. A head-swap, a weapon swap and adjusting the angle of the hammer were really all it took. It’s worth paying attention to the bone spikes on the head and making sure that the angle and shape they form ties in with those on the rest of the model.
Of course, the chances of any set of zombies appearing alongside one-another on the table top has to be fairly low. The real visual impact comes from seeing all forty together and the value of the conversions is in preventing the eye from seeing repeating patterns – as would occur if the same models were appearing time and again across the whole group. Here’s another look at all forty models gathered into a single ravenous horde.
Needless to say I’m really only getting started on the Death Guard, I’ve got some big things in the works. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll tackle next, it may be more Death Guard, more Warcry, or something else entirely. Either way however, with these done I’ll aim to keep building up the rest of Nurgle’s finest soon.