Time for the last of this year’s Fembruary models, and yes I know we’re well into March now but I did paint her back in February, it’s just taken me until now to post her. In fact I’ve been working on this model, on and off, since since not long after she was released (without going and checking I’m going to guess 2018). I made a concentrated effort to get her fully painted in Fembruary of 2020, tried again in 2021, returned to her in 2022 and noticed the other week that she was 99% done and I should stop mucking about.
This is Belladonna, a special character for Necromunda who can be hired as a bounty hunter to join your gang. With any model painted in fits and starts over such a long period there’s bound to be things I’m not entirely happy with about the end result and that’s certainly the case here. That said I’m happy enough to call her finished, and having the deadline of the end of February certainly stopped me from messing around any further – and potentially messing her up in the process.
Her story is one of the great revenge narratives of blood-soaked Necromunda. Once a noble of House Esher, and a skilled assassin in her own right, she was married into one of the noble houses in an astute political move intended to win the Eshers much power. To her own surprise she fell in love with her new husband only for him to be assassinated at their wedding when one of the gifts turned out to contain a starved and ferocious alien predator. Belladonna survived, barely, losing an arm and a leg in the process (well they do say a fancy wedding costs arm and leg these days…). She did however manage to kill the xenos beast armed only with a shoe, ramming one stiletto-heel through its eye and into its brain. Now she stalks the underhive on the trail of whoever arranged her husband’s murder. She is not, of course, to be confused with Mad Donna, Necromunda’s most infamous trouble maker (and a character who really deserves a nice, new plastic model – hint hint GW!).
A bit of a rescue job this one and there were times when I wasn’t sure if it was ever going to work out, but I got there in the end (and just in time to be another contribution to Fembruary as well!). Something I’ve been enjoying about the “House of…” series of books for Necromunda has been the introduction of new hangers on for each of the gangs, each of which adds to the unique flavour associated with each House. House Escher for instance produce all the chems relied upon by other Houses and the drugs (legal and otherwise) consumed by residents of Hive City. Do your Goliaths need steroids to help those muscles grow and combat stimulants to turn them into berserkers at the touch of a needle? Do your Van Saar need radiation therapies to stop their own weapons from poisoning them? Does your Enforcer captain need a pick-me-up before he hits the streets for another long beat, and something to help him sleep when he returns to his bunk after the horrors he’s seen? Then you need to buy them from House Escher!
Of course as well as the senior Chymists who run the labs of Hive City there are plenty of underlings, not yet inducted in the deeper mysteries of the Chymist Cults or ready to become Matrons of their own labs, who end up going downhive to pick up some practical experience by running with the gangs. These Apprentice Clan Chymists lend their skill at mixing chems to the girls in the gang, whilst getting to explore new areas of the underhive, discover exotic fungi from which new concoctions can be brewed, and try out experimental “cures” on gangmates too desperate or too badly injured to resist.
I based my conversion on Sanistasia Minst from the Kill Team Rogue Trader box, with a head swapped in from an Escher ganger. I started to paint poor old Sanistasia some time ago, made a bit of an arse of it, tried to fix her, failed, shoved her in a box in disgust and then retrieved her and tried to fix her several more times before we got to this stage. As a result she’s acquired quite a catalogue of flaws which I had to attempt – not always successfully – to work around, cover over and generally deal with. Thus the end result is not quite as good as I’d have liked, but she’s good enough and she’s finished so I’m happy enough to call her a win.
It wouldn’t be Fembruary without some Eschers, especially as my Necromunda gangs have been a little neglected of late. Since they were released last summer I’ve not got around to painting any of the new Escher models and this month was the perfect excuse to give one of them a try.
I did toy with the idea of painting a Death Maiden for my gang but I’ve not managed to get around to her yet. Maybe I’ll find a moment before the end of the month. I did however tackle one of the Wyld Runners, the rebellious youth of the house who grow up roaming far into the underhive and outland wastes. I wanted to strike a balance between the bright outlandish colours of the Eschers and a darker scheme suitable for a ranger, hunting alone in the darkness of the ruined cities. Honestly I’m not entirely sure I got the balance quite right but I certainly gave myself some food for thought for when I get around to painting her sisters.
With so many different models from all kinds of projects crossing my painting desk at the moment you might be forgiven for thinking that I’ve forgotten all about the acolytes of Tzeentch that I was working on back in January (and indeed I’ve put that project almost entirely on the backburner until Fembruary is over). However almost entirely is not the same as entirely so tomorrow we’ll take a look at a lady who’s dedicated herself to the god of change…
If you’re reading this, congratulations – you’ve survived as far as September 2020! (And yes, I will be reusing that joke for the Christmas round-up – assuming we all live that long…).
Last weekend saw, at long last, the release of House of Blades, the latest Necromunda expansion which focuses on the Queens of the Underhive, House Escher. Much earlier in the year the Goliaths enjoyed the release of their own book, House of Chains, and the Escher were intended to follow soon after – except of course that then we went and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like “Oh god, there’s a global pandemic on, we’re all fucked now!” Ever since we Necromunda fans have been waiting *cough* patiently for the girls to arrive and thankfully now they’re here and we can see in the apocalypse with two house-specific expansions clutched in our paws. Who knows, we may be lucky enough to be able to buy the Orlock book, House of Iron, before the asteroid hits and stops our civilisation in its tracks. Fans of the other three houses must face the day of reckoning with bitter hearts and unfulfilled expectations, or pray for a slightly less bumpy time in 2021.
Anyway, having spent the last few days pouring over House of Blades my head is suddenly full of thoughts and I’m damned if I’m missing out on the opportunity to share them!
The format and content of the “House of…” series becomes a little clearer with this release. We, the fans, already knew that each of the six major houses of Necromunda (Goliath, Escher, Orlock, Van Saar, Cawdor and Delaque) would be getting a book dedicated to them but until now we could only categorically say that we knew what House of Chains looked like, because it was the only book to have been released. Now that we’ve got House of Blades as well we can start making some assumptions about just what will be included in the future books; a ton of new background, an expanded gang roster, new gang specific hangers on, tactics, scenarios, timeline, house agents and allies.
Every Necromunda book released since the game’s relaunch has contained a number of new special characters and House of Blades is no different. Yet whilst House of Chains contained six, House of Blades has only three. Now it’s worth noting that one of the House of Chains personalities, “Sparky” is an ogryn so the Goliaths only get five new heroes (and one of those is a gigantic crocodile). What’s more the Escher already have a bounty hunter available exclusively to their house, the Death Maiden Kria the Huntress.
In addition to her we have Belladonna, an ex-Escher turned (briefly) noble-bride turned underhive assassin on a quest for vengeance (think Kill Bill but with bigger hair and no bright yellow jumpsuit), and Yolanda Skorn (another ex-Escher turned gun for hire) whilst the Goliaths have only Krotos Hark, treated as an outsider to his house after being born intelligent. On the other hand all of these latter characters will work for any house, which leaves the Goliaths with five characters unique to them, and the Eschers with four.
Now many of you may be thinking “so what” and I don’t really disagree. The situation regarding the dramatis personae of Necromunda seems a little odd to me at the moment. For one thing there are a hell of a lot of them. We now have rules for 49 different special characters, although only models for 21. Games Workshop have noted that they intend to create models for all of them “at some point” although so far they seem more enthusiastic about coming up with even more of them. Two more special character models were announced back in March – the Cawdor Rattus Tatterskin and the Enforcer Scrutinator-Primus Servalen. Neither of these are on my list of 49 given above, and if each of the “House of…” books contains only a further three dramatis personae we could easily be looking at more than 60 special characters. I don’t think this is a bad thing, far from it, although given the price Forge World tend to charge it could be quite an expensive thing. However unless they up the rate at which they release special characters a lot the supply of new models will never catch up with the rate at which they’re coming up with new ideas. On the one hand I don’t want them to stop turning out new characters because they’ve got a lot of interesting ideas but on the other hand there are a lot of cool concepts already out there in books which I’d love to see models for. Yes, I could convert my own and I already have made models for some of them (it’s a lot of fun and a hell of a lot cheaper than paying Forge World prices) but there are some that I’d love to see given official miniatures – Jorth Slither and the Catallus twins for instance (which would also be a fine name for a band). Plus there are a lot of other things I’d like to see models for – nobles, criminals and guilders for instance.
Something I’d like to see more of is dramatis personae being used to demonstrate the range of possibilities within each house. In House of Chains for instance we have Old Three-eyes (the mother of all sumcrocs), Ajex Gorgoth (one of the most powerful Goliath alphas on the planet), Attilus the Axe (a champion pit fighter), Tess Arc-Up (a particularly wild prospect) and Djangar Gunfists (the former head of the house now roaming the wastes with no memories and a knack for spectacular violence). Now there’s none of the above that I particularly dislike, that I wouldn’t try to convert a model for and wouldn’t take an interest in an official miniature were one to be released and not outwith my budget. Every one of them brings something to the house and tells us something about the planet of Necromunda and its mightiest sons.
I could be harsh and say that Tess (see my kitbash above) is basically just a rambunctious juve and Attilus is an angry dude with a saw for an arm but they do expand the character of the range all the same. I’ve already converted my own Tess and I’ve got plans to make Attilus and Djangar as well. However, in some ways I can’t help but feel that they could be doing more with these characters and using them to expand the idea of what it means to be a Goliath even further.
For example, so far the only female Goliaths we’ve seen have been prospects, that is to say youngsters. We’ve also seen models for male prospects. Both sexes have been smaller and lighter than the muscular giants that make up the rest of the gang. A fully grown Goliath lady would have been interesting to see, perhaps strutting her stuff in a massive suit of handmade armour much like Ajex Gorgoth.
Another possibility that immediately appealed to me, was the Goliaths of Gothrul’s Needle. For those who’ve not been glued to every development in Necromunda over the last couple of years Gothrul’s Needle is home to one of the most dangerous forms of sedition known to the Imperium, having fallen under the sway of something they call “democracy” and broken away from the rest of the planet. Obviously this isn’t something which Lord Helmawr, the Imperial Governor, is terribly impressed about, and considerable effort is being brought to bear to bring the renegade hive back into line, all whilst pretending to the wider Imperium that House Helmawr retains absolute control over their domains and would never be so weak as to allow one of their holdings to slip the leash. In defence of their independence the Council of Gothrul’s Needle have recruited the local Goliaths, offering them wonderful things such as advanced weapons and armour, proper medical care and even education. Here we see the Goliaths as they could be, not brutish tech-barbarians but the superhumans they have the potential to be, yet which they are never allowed to become elsewhere on the poisoned world. A Goliath hailing from the Needle, sent abroad to carry out some mission or other, would make for an amazing miniature and a chance to look at a very different side of a house normally associated with boneheaded violence and not much else.
Likewise the three new characters in House of Blades are all interesting in and of themselves, there’s none that I dislike or would want rid of. We have Betti Banshee – a woman with a sonic scream instead of a throat, Necrana – oldest and most terrible of the Death Maidens, and Cyniss, a mistress of poisons and close confidant of the Matriarch Primus herself. Again however there was the potential to really push the boat out here.
The story of House Escher begins even before the coming of the Imperium, when three sisters – known collectively as the Blades – carved out a legacy for themselves beneath the gaze of the ancient Iron Lords who ruled the planet. When Imperial warships filled the sky and space marines poured onto the surface the Blades sought to ensure their endurance into this new age, hiding banks of clones scattered across the world. When one sister died a clone would arrive to replace her, stepping into her life and continuing her legend – until she too died and was replaced by another. This situation would remain for the next three millennia before the sisters combined their bloodlines to form a new house, swearing allegiance to the House of Helm’ayr and destroying their old clone banks forever. Except of course nobody really believes they destroyed all of them do they? Indeed a timeline entry even refers to a lost clone vault being found and activated in M38, leading inevitably to bloody mayhem. Surely a mysterious and powerful character, who steps from the shadows to aid the cause of the Eschers in their time of need then vanishes into the shadows of the Underhive from whence she came, and might – just might – be one of the lost clones, would be a fantastic special character? Especially as there would be plenty of Eschers keen to cut her up, take a look at her DNA and find out if she contains something to keep their menfolk from dying – and others who would see her as a natural replacement for the current Matriarch Primus – for good or ill.
Or, as another possibility, how about an Eschaki chem-soldier, specifically a male one? Again, for those who’re willing to indulge me as I enthuse about the new background, before they were the Escher the house was known as House Eschaki. Given to tinkering around with their own DNA, consuming chems and pushing the boundaries of science even further than the modern Escher, the Eschaki eventually screwed up and developed the so-called Flesh Curse, which lead their entire male line to be born weak, stupid and sickly – female readers may be thinking that some things never change – on those rare occasions that male children were born at all. In the end the women of the house gave up on the male line altogether and rebuilt their clan under the new name Escher (although they have made several spirited attempts to recreate a male bloodline – most notably the so-called “Project Goliath”…). Whilst they lived however the Eschaki fielded all kinds of “combat-drug fuelled murder squads, ash-dancer assassins and genehanced berserkers”. It might be sensible to assume that the Eschaki are now safely extinct but as recently as the latter part of the 40th Millennium a colony of Eschaki chem-warriors was found, only to flee into the wastes and vanish. Whenever there’s discussion of the Escher online there’s always someone who pops up and asks why they can’t have male Escher (because everyone knows you can’t have something nice for the girls without the boys muscling in and demanding to be included too). Now I’m going to stick my head above the parapet and say that I don’t want to see male Escher any more than I want weedy Goliaths, healthy Van Saar, agnostic Cawdor or Space Marines who find this whole purging business a bit tiring and would rather stay at home and read. However wouldn’t an Eschaki chem-warrior (with appropriate mystery and hand-waving over the details of his background) make for a very interesting special character and a chance to give whoever wants boy-Escher a boy-Escher without actually changing things so radically that we now all have to have boy-Escher?
Anyway, moving on before I wear the patience of my audience any thinner than I probably have already, another thing I wanted to talk about was the models that Forge World have released, or will release, in conjunction with these books. When House of Chains was released Forge World accompanied it by bringing out the Goliath ‘Zerker (a brute unique to House Goliath) and the Slavers Guild – the merchant’s guild with the closest ties to the house of musclemen.
With the arrival of House of Blades I must admit my fingers were tightly crossed that we’d see the Khimerix (the Escher’s unique brute – think of a Chaos Spawn which has somehow become fabulous) and their favoured guild allies, the Water Guild. Instead there’s been no sign, and instead we’re looking at new Escher champions (see below) – which are nice enough but nothing to write home about and could easily have been accommodated with an upgrade set or two of new heads and weapons. This is frankly slightly galling when you consider all of the aforementioned bounty hunters that we’re yet to see, plus guilder allies, criminals, hangers on, etc etc.
Anyway, I suspect I’ve probably worn this topic thin so let’s move on, because there are a few other developments I’d like to give a little more attention to. For one thing we have another new gang in town in the form of the slave ogryns (or as they should be called the Free Ogryns – because these boys aren’t going to be anyone’s slaves anymore!). First revealed alongside House of Chains back at the start of the year they’ve only lumbered into our homes now, their mighty muscles proving no defence against the global havoc caused by C-19. So far I’ve only had the time to build one of them, kitbashing him slightly with a head from the Imperial Guard ogryn kit.
Of course this is a fine chance for some size comparison photos, so here he is next to some more normally-proportioned underhive residents.
Not all the Goliaths look weedy next to him however, this Stimmer for instance actually comes across as pretty imposing.
And he doesn’t look quite as big as this partly painted Ambot.
Interestingly there are six ogryns in a set, and all six houses can take an ogryn as part of their gang. Part of me is already tempted to pick up another kit (not a cheap investment mind you) and make a themed ogryn for each of my gangs. The Escher one would be especially interesting, resplendent in brightly coloured armour and leopard-skin pants, but picture the possibilities – the masked and scrap-armoured Cawdor version like a shambling candelabra, the high-tech Van Saar version, the terribly un-stealthy Delaque version (with bionic eyes of course!). Of course then I’d need to cook up a Corpse-Grinder and Genestealer Cult version. At least I already have a Chaos Helots version already made…
Anyway, there’s one final thing to discuss before I realise that I’ve entirely outstayed my welcome and that’s the new Orlocks. Frankly I don’t have a lot to say about them apart from how downright amazing they are! Take a look at these very good dogs for instance (but keep in mind that if they bring you your slippers they might still have someone else’s foot inside)…
And I’m also very fond of the chap with the servo-arms and the big hammer, and seeing female miniatures for the House of Iron is long overdue.
I reckon this gentleman, the only Orlock I’ve painted so far, won’t be on his own for long!
I often find myself thinking about writing Necromunda themed editorials so I’ll probably make this into an occasional series (hence the “part 1” in the title). In the meantime I’m off to think about all the new Eschers I want to build. If you have any thoughts you can confidently say you’re not an Ogryn, and if you want to share them the comment’s box is all yours.
After spending quite a while in the doldrums the gangers of House Escher have seen a fair bit of progress lately, with three new members – including the leader – recruited over the last couple of weeks. However that still left me with three remaining which had been built and base-coated but never finished. Time to knuckle down and get them done as well.
Of this final set the first to be completed was Sirena who just missed out on being ready in time to be shown alongside the previous two. Should an occasion arise when nothing short of a very big gun will do, she reckons she’s the girl for the job!
Alongside her we have Nyska who continues to demonstrate my predilection for inflicting fiery demise (as mentioned in my previous post) and backs it up with a chainsword, an excellent hair-do and a razor-sharp sense of style. Much like Meria, the lady with the flamer thrower I finished last week, she has a laid back attitude to health and safety, and has tied a ribbon to the business end of her flamer, something which I’m sure won’t result in any kind of drama or danger…
And thirdly we have Elika, painted in part because nothing says “House Escher” like shooting someone with poisoned needles, then carving them up with a power sword, all whilst dressed to impress.
All together these new recruits, combined with the others who’ve joined them in recent weeks, almost make a mini gang in their own right and definitely deserve their own group shot. Plus, by adding these three models to the gang I’ve actually managed to “complete” it for the time being (more on that dubious claim below) and I’ll be counting these as my first submission towards Azazel’s Squaddie September challenge (and I’m sure you’re well aware of Azazel’s blog and his monthly challenges by now – if not where have you been?!).
However Mellix has gathered a lot more followers than just these, indeed so ambitious is she proving that her gang is starting to look like a little army. Then again she does need to prize Ironhouse from the meaty fists of the Goliaths and the claws of the Genestealer Cultists, not to mention looking into those worrying reports of Chaos Cultists moving in on what should rightfully be her turf, so arranging some extra back-up is probably a wise move.
…And why stop at a group shot when we can have some moody action photos to send them off in style?
Anyway, with these complete I’m going to turn my attention to some other projects for the next little while, although I still have a lot of ideas I’d like to explore – both as part of the gang and as spin-offs and side-projects. Trackers from the Crow-skull girls are making their way across the ash wastes, Vatra Nighteye clings to life whilst her surviving allies struggle to restore her and claim their vengeance, Lashoth Katilesh may well seek out her errant daughter (bringing her Escher elite guard with her) and down in the darkness of the hive roots the former Queens of Hive Volatos hiss and crawl, their gaze already turned upon the usurper who seeks to claim their lost holdings. It’s safe to say we haven’t seen the last of these girls yet!
With the leader of the Escher gang now complete I’m aiming to ride a wave of enthusiasm through getting the rest of the models painted up. As it stands I have a surfeit of Eschers already finished but, as a result of my love for the Underhive’s best dressed, I still have five more unfinished miniatures waiting for attention and I’d like to get them all painted up at last.
First up we have one of my personal favourites, Dutch – a gang champion lugging around a suitably imposing heavy stubber, ready to chew through any rabble the girls encounter. I’m painting the gang on behalf of my partner and she’s been a big fan of Dutch since she first saw her assembled – no pressure to get it right then! Luckily my efforts met with the official seal of approval so chances are good that this lady will be unleashed on my unfortunate Goliaths next time we manage to get a game in.
I must confess to an unhealthy attraction to flamethrowers in miniatures games, which of course makes a Cawdor gang a must! However they’re not the only ones who get to unleash fiery destruction in the Underhive and there was no way the Eschers were going to miss out on the fun! Again contrast paints proved their worth when it comes to painting tattoos – definitely something I’ll be making more use of in the future.
With these complete we’re two down three to go, so I’ll see what else I can finish up over the weekend. At this rate I’ll need to beef up the Goliaths as well, otherwise the girls are going to walk all over them!
I’ve been banging on about getting a House Escher gang for Necromunda up and running ever since the game was relaunched in 2017 and as a result of this enthusiasm for the best dressed ladies in the Underhive I’ve now gathered a small army of them, even recruiting some pet phyrr cats and a mighty khimerix. What I didn’t have until now however is a leader, and there’s really nothing more imperative to a gang than that!
To me the leader is the most important member of the gang, and the driving personality behind their evolving story, and so I wanted her to look a little bit special even amongst the ranks of her flamboyant, peacocking followers. Thus rather than use the standard gang leader model – cool though she is – I decided to convert up someone unique based on Theddra Skull-scryer from the Godsworn Hunt. I first showed some work-in-progress images of her way back in January but it’s taken until now for her to finally see completion.
Of course such a personality demands a backstory so, like the good rememberancer I am, I set to work recording her deeds thus far for posterity…
Decanted as the 17th clone daughter of Lashoth Katilesh, Matriarch of the House Escher Spire Maidens of Hive Furian, Mellix Katilesh was raised to a world in which the shackles and burdens of minor house nobility hung heavy, yet which enjoyed few of its privileges or freedoms. The genetic inheritance she was gifted by her mother granted her a fearsome intelligence bonded to a lethally quick tactical mind and she took swiftly to her education, particularly in the two subjects central to an Escher girl’s tuition; chemical synthesis and the art of assassination. Only the feuding trueborn daughters however had any hope of inheriting their mother’s throne. Instead Mellix was sent to be the ward of Vatra Nighteye, the Gang Queen of the Crow-skull Girls. This band of rebellious ganger Eschers lived on the fringes of house life, yet their underhive labs produced feral strains of great wonder and potential. Ostensibly, by entrusting her daughter to her care Lashoth honoured Vatra, establishing a tie by which the gang-lab might strengthen its bonds to its parent house. Some however suspected Mellix as being little more than a spy sent to discover the secrets of the Crow-skull Girls and determine if their creations were the results of untamed genius or the influence of shadowy patrons. For her part Mellix appeared to chafe at the duty and made no attempt to hide her disgust at being used as a political pawn. Whilst her sisters fought over the scraps they might inherit she was far away in a world of gloom and filth, destined to receive only the runt’s portion. Apparently cast aside by her own family, distrusted as an outsider by the senior Crow-skulls and with less control over her own life than the most lowly juve, Mellix was left to watch, to wait and to plan. Finding herself begrudged and ostracized by the court of senior gangers who surrounded Vatra’s throne Mellix instead found common cause with the ragtag rebels of the rank and file. She led them on daring raids, bloodying the noses of local rivals, using her quicksilver cunning to spirit them out of danger or save sisters in trouble and giving up her share of the loot to cement their loyalty.
Ultimately she knew that her mother had sent her to the Crow-skulls because she was both valuable and disposable. Should any harm befall her, honour would demand retribution but no real damage would be done to the Spire Maidens themselves. Thus, when the Crow-skulls’ mysterious benefactors revealed themselves as a fraction within the Spire Maidens, led by one of her trueborn sisters in a carefully constructed bid to seize their mother’s throne, Mellix knew she could expect no help to come from above. In the chaos of the attempted coup Escher fought Escher and Mellix led those loyal to her in cutting their way to freedom and fleeing into the ash wastes.
Before she and her new gang vanished however Mellix had one last trick to play, implanting a black market xenos parasite in Vatra’s brain. It was an act of spiteful retribution, petty revenge for the years in which she had suffered Vatra’s minor cruelties, but nothing is without cost and the time will come when the echoes of that moment must be faced.
That time however remains in the future. Mellix and her crew, who named themselves the Ladykillers in mocking honour of the house nobility they found themselves set against, took to the wastelands beyond the hive in a desperate search for sanctuary. The feuding of the wealthy had seen them driven into the rad-storms and mutie-haunted ruins and so the gangers proudly dug in their heels and spat in the face of power and privilege. Mellix however had more practical concerns. The toxic dune fields and ash-thick air would kill them soon enough and she had no desire to embrace martyrdom. To the north lay a desolation of poisonous run off lakes and dead hives, to the east the jagged mountains riddled with the mining cities of House Orlock. Thus she took her girls south and east, until they reached one of the huge arterial highways that criss-cross the face of the planet like a thousand scars. There she smuggled them aboard a great land-train hauling ore towards Hive Volatos. Hidden amongst mountains of unprocessed metal she listened to the acid storms lashing the pitted hide of the train and dreamed of the hive reaching out to draw her into its embrace. Volatos had long featured in her grandest and most ambitious daydreams for she knew that the Escher nobility there had long since vanished, poisoned by their own experimentation to leave only leaderless gangs and unclaimed power. There she could begin anew, rising through its thousands of floors until she became a Spire Matriarch in our own right. There at last she could stand on the battlements and spit in her mother’s eye across the hundreds of miles of poisonous wasteland.
First however she must establish a foothold, a corner of turf she can claim as her own and nurture into an empire. Already she has begun to draw outcast Escher to her banner, and each tells the same story; that the Goliaths who once ruled the underhive of Volatos are in disarray and the battle for the city is already half won. All she has to do is drive the last of the brutes from their final stronghold, plant her flag in Ironhouse and name herself Queen.
Now it’s worth emphasising that the gang is a long way from being finished. With Mellix finally complete their story is ready to begin and already there are plenty of narrative hooks I’d like to explore. For one thing I’m already considering converting Mellix’s manipulative mother Matriarch Lashoth (Yvraine seems like she’d be perfect for this) and since the Corvus Cabal were revealed for Warcry I’ve found myself seeing the Crow-skulls in a new light as well. Originally intended as just a name and a few lines of background, the opportunity to bring them to life seems too good to pass up. Then there’s the question of what became of the original Escher nobility of Hive Volatos – did they truly die out, or do some endure, lurking in the dark places, waiting to reclaim their crowns? Would they be willing to allow an upstart ganger to take what they know to be rightfully theirs, or would they attempt to make her their puppet in the eternal House-war – or even attempt to destroy her outright?
All these questions will have to wait however. One thing I do want to do though is get the remaining five partly-painted Eschers currently sitting on my painting desk finished at last. Before I move on to any other painting projects I really do want to get them completed as all of them have been sitting around for quite some time, so if all goes as planned expect to see them next.
I had great plans to get the Escher gang rounded up this month, and once again those plans look set to miss their target. Ah well, I have been busy with other things so I guess I’ll let myself off! Nonetheless I feel like I’ve been working, very slowly, on the Eschers for quite a while so I’d like to try and get the last few members of the core gang wrapped up ASAP.
On that note here we have the gang’s brute, the giant genetically modified monster known as a Khimerix. These monsters, described as “flesh-fused chimerae” and “gene-spliced hybrids” are created by the gene-wrights of House Escher as attack beasts, status symbols, gladiatorium combatants and, above all else, proof of their ability as queens of the genetic and flesh-sculpting arts.
As no official model has appeared as yet I decided to use the Tiger of Dirz model from the Confrontation range (that’s Confrontation – the game made by French miniature’s company Rackham, not Confrontation – the name for the original version of Necromunda, although there is a pleasing symmetry at play nonetheless!). The Tiger of Dirz was itself a flesh-crafted attack beast, created by the genetic manipulators of the Alchemists of Dirz so the creature seemed like a natural fit. All I had to do was give her a suitably Escheresque paint job and she was ready to join the gang.
As brutes go she’s perhaps not quite as big as she could be, although she still towers over the gang’s collection of phyrr cats…
…and looks suitably imposing next to the gangers themselves…
However an ambot still makes her look a little small…
…and she’s actually no bigger than the sumpkroc.
Thus, as and when an official model for the Khimerix is produced I’d expect it to be somewhat larger than this (given that she’s brute whereas the croc is merely an exotic pet), but for now she more than fits the bill.
Working on this has reminded me (as if I needed reminding!) of how much I loved the Rackham range. I used to drool over their miniatures each month but, given that I was a poor student and they were terribly expensive, never got around to buying any until the company hit the rocks and foundered into bankruptcy in the 2008 recession. Suddenly the market was flooded with cheap miniatures from the range which I greedily snapped up (the silver lining to every cloud and all that). Maybe it’s time I got around to getting them painted…
After a slow start I’m pleased to discover that the Escher gang is coming together nicely. I’m now reaching the point where there’s almost a glut of gangers, although there are still a few weapon options I think it would be fun to throw into the mix, so my next move will be to add the gang leader and another champion before moving on to one of the other houses. First though here are two more of the rank and file gangers, both of which have been sitting around half-painted for long enough to become embarrassing.
When I built Kherrisa I wanted to give her a chainsword but back then the Forge World weapon upgrades were no more than a distant dream. Of course, clever though I thought I was in finding a suitable alternative, it’s still taken until now to get her painted.
Melikka used to have a different head but I was never entirely happy with it as it strayed rather close to one I’d already used for one of the other girls, so as soon as the Forge World alternative head kit was released she suffered a quick decapitation and the installation of a new face.
As noted above I think the gang is almost at what I would consider fighting strength (that is to say, not done – because no project is ever done and this one especially is a very long way from that, but ready to take to the tabletop as and when things quieten down enough to let us get a game in). With this in mind I’m aiming to get the last few members of the core team painted up ASAP so as usual, watch this space!
Fans of House Escher could be forgiven for feeling somewhat neglected in the pet department. Whilst the Goliaths enjoy their monstrous crocodile and the Orlocks have an similarly titanic hound, the ladies find themselves currently lacking their cats. I’ve found suitable proxies for the equally pet deprived Cawdor and Van Saar, the former using a Vulcharc from the AoS Tzeentch range, the latter the skull crabs from Heresy Of Us.
Alongside these creatures the gangers of House Escher keep this odd looking predator, the Phyrr Cat. The name of this beast has proven to be a source of contention – I always pronounced it as “fire” cat, and I’ve even heard people say “fur” cat, although I now understand the official pronunciation is “fear” cat. I’m not sure it really looks like a scaredy cat to me but presumably this allows us to compare the phyrr cats – and indeed we shall.
Official models for the phyrr cats were previewed around a year ago but, with the response being almost universally negative, the decision was made to start again with new sculpts. Personally I tend to agree with this, the models shown were well below the premium standard expected of Forge World. You are of course welcome to judge for yourself. My apologies to whomever took this photograph originally as it has now circulated online so much that I have new idea to whom credit should be given. If anyone knows let me know and I’ll update things accordingly.
In search of a suitable alternative I explored numerous ranges, soon discovering that cats are thin on the ground as miniatures. I even tried roping in this beast although she proved to be in entirely the wrong scale and even the Goliaths refused to go up against her after she took to knocking them off their shelf…
Finally I stumbled upon the Hoar Cats from Wyrd Miniatures (a creature which gives quite a different impression written down as opposed to spoken aloud). Last time I paid any attention to the range was many years ago when everything they produced was rather spindly and metal, and as a result given to bending out of shape in a stiff breeze. Thus these solidly plastic cats were a nice surprise.
I did consider using a bright and exotic colour scheme to tie them in with the rest of the gang but on consideration decided that their small-size meant less is more and too much detail would swamp them.
I’m pleased to have these done, partly because they add to the variety of units available to the gang and partly because in a place like Necromunda which is swarming with rats (many of which are carrying bombs) it pays to have a few cats around. Indeed the Underhive may prove to be prime habitat for them due to the distinct lack of trees for them to get stuck in.