Tag Archives: Van Saar

Tech-Hunters – Part 4

I’ve been trying to get these posted up for a while but time hasn’t been on my side lately and the weather hasn’t been helping, with dark and brooding skies outside most of the time the ambient light in the room where I do my photography has been awful, forcing me to rely on artificial lighting exclusively – which in turn sucks all the life out of the paintjobs. Anyway, enough moaning and excuses from me, the last two Van Saar are done and the gang is complete (for the moment).

Before we look at the models however, I wanted to write a bit of background, setting the scene and explaining how this latest gang  fits into the crowded landscape of Ironhouse and its surroundings. Feel free to skip over it of course, there are pictures of miniatures further down!

Even along the upper echelons of House Van Saar the name of Koen Margen was spoken with respect, and even a little awe. Far from the clamour of the production lines and the squalor and violence of the gang wars tech-scholars pursue knowledge, constantly searching to expand the accumulated wisdom and wealth of their house. By the scraps of knowledge they claw from the rubble of the past are the wheels of Necromundan industry oiled and the coffers of House Van Saar filled. The innermost circle are permitted to study the STC itself and those who fail are rendered down at once. Not even servitors or corpse starch are made from the remains, so paranoid are the House lords that they are secrets might slip out.

A polymath genetically and surgically enhanced to attain levels on genius far beyond the human norm Margen was one of this gifted few. However during the final years of his life his focus moved from the technical to the biological as he became obsessed with the search for a cure to be poisonous illness to which all Van Saar are subject, and which dooms them to brief and painful lives even by Necromundan standards. Many suspected that for him the struggle was a personal one and the race to a cure was being run against his own mortality and failing strength. More and more he isolated himself, abandoning the core territories of his house and busying himself in a fortified laboratory bastion amongst the spires of Hive Volatos. His lab assistants were replaced with servitors and he traded data with underhive gangs, circumnavigating the traditional lines of communication. Only his assistant Espen Luthrix remained close and in time even she found herself isolated from the crux of his reasoning or dispatched to deal with tangential enquiries. Having undergone cerebral enhancement and a full spectrum of combat training she was able to act on his behalf as an assistant, a bodyguard, an archeotch hunter, even an assassin. Yet she could not truly know his mind, and she came to believe that the tasks she was set, whether ultimately valuable or otherwise, were intended to distract her and prevent her from understanding whatever secret he pursued. Often she would return to the laboratory  only to be turned away by his cybernetic guardians, made to wait for days before a perfunctory message would set out her next task. In the end it had been more than forty cycles since she last saw him when a servo-skull sought her out and, following recognition of her personal codes and ciphers, repeated a simple recording of her mentor’s voice. “Success. Come at once”. Later it would only be that skull, its four spoken words analysed over and over again by House adepts until it’s provenance was proven beyond doubt, that saved her from execution. By then the message recorded by the skull had burned through the backchannels where paranoia reigns supreme and kill-squads were sent to purge those guilty of even the most approximate association to the truth.

All that was still to come however. On reaching the laboratory Espen found only chaos and destruction. The door, designed to halt a charging ogryn, had been torn from its hinges, the servitor guardians left as nothing more than offal and scattered machine parts. Beyond lay fiery devastation. Whatever notes or data Margen may have accumulated, the fire consumed it all. Yet worse was to come. As the House agents dug through the charred wreckage they found bodies, but only those of the machine men with which Margen had populated his kingdom. Of the tech-savant himself there was no sign.

Another ripple of panic passed through the house at this news. That Margen was dead represented an acceptable loss, life – even for the brightest stars of Van Saar – being unnaturally short and cheap. The loss of his data was a greater burden, but one which could be borne. The house would go on and in time all that he had learnt would be rediscovered. The thought that he might live however, and even now be spilling his secrets – willingly or otherwise – to their enemies represented an existential threat to the entire house. Knowledge is a hard currency on Necromunda and the adversaries of Van Saar are numerous. Houses once thought untouchable have fallen before, the names of those once mighty now recorded only in fading ink in the darkest archives. Agents of the house were dispatched to all corners of the planet, every clue to his whereabouts, every hint of information and even the most far-fetched sighting, picked over by sanctioned hunters, although few of them knew exactly who they pursued.

In the end it may have been this that saved Espen’s life. She knew Margen far better than most, and if the house was to recover their lost adept she could well be their best hope. Following her instincts she has headed downhive, taking with her a small but elite crew of tech-hunters, codenamed Scorpion-Null and led by the hard-bitten veteran, Major Solaq. They are an experienced team and one with which she has worked well before. Lethal though she is she knows that where they are going she will meet their backup. Only now does she begin to see the pattern of clues in the missions she was sent on during her mentor’s final months. With little more to go on she gathers her team and follows the twisting road into the hive depths, down into the ash choked streets of that industrial carbuncle known to its inhabitants as Ironhouse.

With the background for the gang set out, let’s turn our attention to those two key characters from the gang (leaving aside the mysterious, and clearly absent, Koen Margen). First of all here’s the gang leader, Espen Luthrix.

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And here we have the veteran tech-hunter Major Solaq.

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Yuk! Despite my best efforts to photograph it that mask looks horribly flat and over-exposed. Would you believe I actually put quite a lot of effort into painting it so that it looked just right? Not with lighting conditions like this you won’t eh?

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You may have noticed that both Espen and Solaq have shields, as does the previously shown Agent Ivanek. No, I didn’t buy a second box just to get another shield – I just think they look cool and managed to get my paws on a spare one.

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Here’s the whole gang, ready to rappel down from the spire heights and start making life difficult for the locals, as they attempt to hunt out Koen Margen, dead or alive.

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In theory the plan is to leave Necromunda for a bit and turn my attention to some of the other projects that have been singing their siren song to me (I still need to finish Blackstone Fortress for instance, and Warcry is a harsh but alluring mistress with a lot of bare plastic that needs to be dealt with). However I’m also itching to get started on my Cawdor gang, who’ve been untouched for far too long and the Dark Uprising box has grabbed my attention too, so I don’t imagine I’ll be away from the Underhive for long.


Tech-Hunters – Part 3

With a number of projects competing for my attention I’m enjoying how quick and straightforward to paint my Van Saar gang is proving to be. The irony that this is a small and elite force is not lost on me, especially compared to some of the veritable hordes that I find myself collecting with far trickier colour schemes. For now this gang is entering its final stages with my intention being to complete it in the near future. After that I’ll turn my attention to one of the more populous gangs, probably Cawdor, although I’ll probably turn my attention to some other projects first. First of all though let’s take a look at the latest two recruits.

The final rank-and-file ganger is Agent Bask. I do find the awkward crouched pose of some of the Van Saar a little hard to get used to, although it helps if you imagine them taking cover behind the ramshackle rusty terrain of the underhive. The Van Saar also appear more organised and military than many of the other gangs, something I’ve tried to emphasise with the pose as he takes cover and gestures to one of his squad mates for backup. A Goliath would probably just wade in shouting!

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Alongside him we have the first gang champion, Agent Weyland, who brings a missile launcher to an underhive knife fight. The instructions which come with the models suggest equipping one of the running figures with the missile launcher but to my eye it looks too heavy, and the gangers of Van Saar are said to be too frail and weak, for such dynamic action. Instead I went for a power pose as he prepares to launch radioactive death into the upper gantries.

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Lastly let’s take a quick look at how the whole group is progressing.

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With them done I now only need to finish off the gang leader and the remaining champion and the project will be complete for the moment. On top of that I also need to write the background story which explains who they are and what has brought them out of their labs and tech-refineries and down into the grim depths of Ironhouse. With the end in sight I’ll aim to tackle that soon.


Tech-Hunters – Part 2

As promised I put in a bit of time over the weekend working on some Van Saar and so the gang continues to grow apace. First to be completed is Agent Nyska, who I’m hoping will make the gang slightly less ineffectual in close combat with her shock baton. I decided to mix things up a little by giving her a green, rather than blue, glow to her plasma pistol, partly to bring some variety to the gang and partly as an excuse to experiment with using contrast paints for this purpose. So far I’ve found blue and green to work well for this but red definitely does not so I’ll be falling back on traditional techniques whenever I need an evil red glow on a plasma weapon.

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Alongside her we have the gunslinging Agent Lucien. There’s something about his eyes that aren’t quite right but it took all my concentration, sniper-style breathing and steady hands to paint them into the little sculpted marks on the mask so I’m frightened of going back and trying to improve them. Maybe I’ll get used to them, or maybe I’ll find my courage – we shall see.

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And of course what progress report would be complete without a group shot?

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With these two done I’ve almost finished with the rank and file gangers already but I still have two champions (including one with the awesome looking rad cannon) and the gang leader to go so I’ll be tackling them next.


Tech-Hunters – Part 1

With the ladies of House Escher and those despicable Chaos Cultists both finally up and running we now have four Necromunda gangs available to choose from whenever we decide to indulge in some underhive violence.  Time to paint something different then and after some deliberation I decided to plump for the Van Saar on the grounds that they would provide a very different tactical and painting experience, with their smooth, clean armour and high-tech gadgets and gizmos. Plus, based on my experience with the test model I worked on previously, they should also be fairly quick and easy to get painted. By way of a reminder let’s take another look at said test model – now named Agent Kleiss.

And here we have two new gang mates to keep him company in the dark of the underhive. First up there’s Agent Ivanek armed with a Hystrar energy shield and plasma pistol. I  must admit that I wasn’t sure about how the clear plastic shield would look on a painted model but now she’s finished I think it works rather well.

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Alongside her we have Agent Larz, toting a lasgun and ready to make trouble on behalf of his house.

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With these three done it looks as if I’m off to a good start already, especially given that the Van Saar tend to be a little more elite than many of their rivals. The eagle-eyed will notice that once again I’d forgotten to finish off the barrel on Ivanek’s plasma pistol, fear not – it’s been sorted now!

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However as it turns out there are even more, already painted and ready for action. This chap was intended as an old school space wolf but when I realised I’d painted him in the same colour scheme as my Van Saar I decided, following encouragement from several readers on this blog, to rebase him and recruit him into the gang instead.  My thinking is that he’s an agent or tech-scout sent down into the underhive by the house, who’s been living off the land for some time before joining up with my gang.

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Each house in Necromunda has access to a pet and, in the case of the Van Saar, that’s the cyber-arachnids. I received these a while ago from Mark at Heresy of Us and had already painted them as pieces of imperial tech, but incorporating them into the gang now seemed like an obvious move.

Add them all together and it starts to look like the gang is well on its way to completion already.

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However I still have several other murder-tech wielding nerds to add and I’m feeling confident that the paint scheme I’ve chosen is quick and easy to replicate. Thus despite having taken an inordinately long time to produce my previous Necromunda gangs I’m aiming to get them painted up in short order. Watch this space!


Looking Uphive – Necromunda Plans For 2019

As we stride purposefully into 2019 I wanted to take a look at just where I stand with all of my Necromunda projects (which otherwise run the risk of degenerating into my usual disorganised chaos). For me Necromunda is the game and setting I’m most excited about of all GW’s canon. The game had a great year in 2018, growing from just two gangs at the start of the year to nine by the end. With all of the Clan Houses now represented it’ll be very interesting indeed to see how things progress over the coming months and years. As for myself I’ve started working away at all kinds of projects with my usual unsystematic enthusiasm. The aim of this post therefore is to serve as a round up, keeping me on track with where I stand with all of my gangs. It’s not all models you’ve seen before though, a few new ones have snuck in as well. Let’s take a look.

 

The Irondogs (House Goliath)

The former lords of Ironhouse have had a fine time of things lately, at least when it comes to getting painted. The backstory I’ve written for them may see them as a shadow of their former glory, struggling to reclaim the turf they once held so securely, but at least they don’t have to worry about unpainted models. As it stands the gang is pretty much done for now, I’m aiming to finish off the bolter wielding ganger Sylus shortly, but I ended up picking up the weapon upgrade for them, and will undoubtedly add the new heads to that, so expect to see further reinforcements arriving in the future as Korak attempts to expand his realm and reclaim the lost power of his house.

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I’ve mentioned previously that I see the Goliaths as having a lot in common with the dwarves of old-Warhammer (brawny craftsmen who rely on sturdy durability over fancy do-whats – just swap the pre-battle start-me-up for combat stims instead of Bugman’s XXXXXX and you’re good to go). However it wasn’t until I was writing this that I realised how deeply this had worked its way into my thinking – as my once mighty Goliaths now struggle to reclaim a corner of their Underhive empire from the invaders squatting amid the ruins. Speaking of which…

 

The Ladykillers (House Escher)

For hundreds of shift-cycles the House Escher presence in Hive Araneus has been minimal, making it the perfect for “Gallows” Grace and her girls to set up shop. Having betrayed her way across the wastes Grace needs somewhere off the radar to build their strength, and the under-defended Ironhouse looks like the perfect place.

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The Eschers haven’t grown as quickly as I first expected but I intend to do something about that shortly. Generally I feel this lack of progress can be attributed to three key factors. Firstly, these ladies are challenging to paint, with all those crazy patterns and colours. Secondly, I’ve been working on this gang for my partner and as she’s also an avowed acolyte of the Void-Emperor and His strange xenos ways my focus has been switched to the genestealer cults over the last month or so. Thirdly, I want every Escher to look unique. After all in a house where peacocking is  more than just a way of life having the same hair-style as one of your gang sisters sounds downright intolerable. Thus my progress has been slowed as I’ve tried to create unique ‘do’s for each of the girls, something I’ve managed to pull off so far, but which the new head upgrade kit should mean becomes much more straightforward.

 

The Radwolves (House Orlock)

I must admit when I first saw the Orlocks I wasn’t that inspired by them. On the other hand the longer I’ve looked at them the more excited I’ve become. I’m still no fan of the running poses, and I’ve steered firmly away from the more “well groomed” gentlemen but I’ve still already kitbashed a little army of them and I’m constantly tempted to do some more. I’ll try to get them painted soon, although I’m aware I’ve promised myself that about a lot of things…

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Tech-hunter Cadre Scorpion Null (Van Saar)

Even more than the Orlocks, I really wasn’t that enamoured of the Van Saar models when they first appeared. They’re just so different to the aesthetic of the wider 40k setting that it took a little getting used to, plus the fact that they’re the harder to build, let alone kitbash, by a country mile makes them possibly my least favourite gang in Necromunda (although it goes without saying I’m still a big fan – what a fan boy eh!). Although I’ve not found myself as captivated by them as I have some of the other houses I’m still working on an elite team, dispatched into the Underhive by the house masters on a secretive mission. Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying out my planned colour-scheme on a test model and I’m rather pleased with how he’s turned out.

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Of course now I just need to get the rest of them done. Hopefully the fact that I’m not planning many of them should mean I could wrap up the project fairly quickly, but with so many things I’d like to be working on getting the chance to focus on them exclusively might not happen straight away.

 

The Oathbones (House Cawdor)

Whilst I only plan an elite strike force of Van Saar my Cawdor will stand at the opposite end of the spectrum; a full blown army of the faithful. I make no secret of the fact that I absolutely love these models, and all the various forgeworld upgrades for them have only served to make them better. The temptation is to paint hundreds of them, although as ever time and money have tended to reign me in so far. That said one of the joys of Necromunda is that it’s relatively cheap so a mighty horde of fanatics could well be within my grasp.

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Plus the stigshambler I made a couple of months ago was one of the most popular models I produced in 2018, and remains one of the conversions I’m most proud of, so I need to get them (and their gangmates) painted soon.

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However, rather than start somewhere sensible like painting up a few gangers, I instead chose to paint a sheen bird as my first model for the gang. I had planned to use the model as part of a converted Tzeentchian cultist but when I realised that wasn’t going to work it ended up in the bits box looking for a home. Now I just need to complete the ash prophet who’ll be its owner.

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I’m not entirely without common sense though, so once the sheen bird was finished I painted the test model for the gangers. My idea, which I know isn’t all that original, is that some members of the house have seen the mighty warriors of the Imperial Fists who base themselves on Necromunda and, wishing to emulate these noble souls who must surely have stood at the side of the Emperor Himself, have taken to dressing in yellow robes. Plus I’ve got into the swing of painting filthy yellow clothing from working on my Skaven and knew I could repeat the look on lots of gangers. Overall I’m pretty happy with him so this is probably the look I’ll be using for all of them (unless some clever person comes along and suggests something so mind-blowing I end up doing that instead!)

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The Children of Whispers (House Delaque)

As it stands I’ve only built one of these sneaky characters but I have to say this kit is absolutely outstanding. Expect to see me working on these a lot more in the future.

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The Cult of the Abyssal Gaze (Genestealer Cults)

Like the Goliaths this gang is painted up and ready to take on the Underhive. Rising from the ash-mining clans of Delving Alpha-12 and led by the ambitious Vyrion the Elder this insidious cult prepare to invade Ironhouse and from there spread their influence into the hive itself.

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Most of the work on this gang happened in December, and really served to demonstrate that I can get these projects painted up quite quickly if I just put my mind to it (and can find the time of course). That said they’re not finished by any means. I’ve always planned to build up a genestealer cults army for 40k and the newest images we’ve seen of forthcoming models have only added to that. For those who’ve missed them (and where have you been?) take a look at this lady for example;

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Of course much as I enjoy building 40k armies it’s not a game I actually play. Thus part of me is drawn to the idea of expanding my genestealer cults into more than one gang, representing different factions setting out from the Delvings to spread the cult. Whilst Vyrion leads the invasion of Ironhouse his young acolyte could take a gang of her own to undermine the Orlock wayforts that dot the ash wastes, or drive out the Cawdor ragpickers that currently control Sumpside. One way or another expect to see plenty more of these in the coming months.

 

The Cult of Ruin (Chaos Cults)

Ah, my cult of mislead, Chaos worshipping helots! Such plans I had for them last year! Sadly not a lot of actual progress has been forthcoming. Part of the trouble is that most of the models I planned to include don’t have the best paintjobs, my skill having increased considerably over the five years or so since I first worked on them. This seems like a fine excuse to fix them up but as a result the project has become a lot more involved than I originally envisioned. That said things may have stalled but they haven’t been forgotten, so I’m aiming to get back to them sooner or later.

Chaos Core Gang

Venators

Not much to see here yet but I’ve got all kinds of ideas planned, starting with a gang of beastmen bounty hunters. Don’t expect them to appear straight away though, as you can see from the list above there’s plenty of other things to tackle first.

 

So there we have it, a solid set of projects to tackle over the next few months (alongside all of the other things I’d like to be painting). Naturally I won’t get around to all of them straight away but perhaps by nailing my colours to the mast and setting out my plans I’ll be encouraged to keep at it. Oh, and I have a heap of terrain to do as well. The Underhive never sleeps…


Hanging On For Dear Life – Part 2

I was hoping to have a couple more Goliaths finished by now but alas, although they’re so close to the finish line they can almost touch it they’re still not quite ready for the grand reveal. However that doesn’t mean I’ve got nothing at all to show you. Despite the shackles of “real life” hanging particularly heavy over the past week or so I’ve still managed to put in a little bit of time on the hangers on available to my Necromunda gangers.

First of all we have the Dome Runner who’s job it is to guide my crew through the dark depths of the Underhive, and who’ll be getting the blame if they wander into the lairs of any mutant tribes. Last time we saw him he was freshly cobbled together and looked like this.

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However I still wasn’t completely happy with him and, following suggestions from various sources, decided to turn the candelabra through 90 degrees so as to avoid obscuring his face and to add to the sense of narrative as the smoke trails behind him in the murky tunnels. I also gave him a backpack to emphasise the idea that here is a man who lives on the road, a wanderer who travels from zone to zone, perhaps even hive to hive. Of course this leaves me wondering how much such a nomad can be trusted and whether his wandering ways have more to do with staying ahead of all the gang bosses he’s double crossed, but that’s a risk it’s worth taking for the insight he brings to the hidden corners of the hive and the treasures to be found therein.

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Of course he’s not the only non-ganger to be found hanging around the hideout. My boys are getting heartily sick of vent scrapings, corpse-starch and protein capsules, and dream of a nicely burned rat like mama used to make. Luckily I’ve made them a slopper, a man skilled at turning Underhive wildlife into nutritious meals.

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Furthermore, in spite of the fact that I really ought to have been painting Goliaths, I gave in to temptation and started assembling my Van Saars. Everyone has advised me that they’re best assembled as per the instructions, and that any attempts to deviate from said instructions (barring simple head or weapon swaps) ran the risk of disaster. Naturally I ignored the advice of these wise heads entirely and set about kitbashing my gang leader with gusto, not to mention a bit of muttered swearing and a growing sense of horror as the kit’s complexity revealed itself. My vision for the model was pretty clear from the outset, I wanted the leader to be posing, one foot on a case of spilled ammo, as per the leader from the studio gang, but I also wanted a woman to lead the gang as that ties in to the background I’ve been planning for them. I wasn’t willing to compromise on either point and, despite the fact that the bits really aren’t meant to go together I reckon she’s turning out fairly well. Here she is waiting to be kitted out with her hystrar energy shield (which I’ll be painting on the sprue and adding later). Obviously she’s still just tacked down at the moment, and the gun looks ridiculously huge in her hand (although in my defence that’s an issue with the kit).

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These are all still WIP so any feedback or suggestions are welcome, although given how tricky the Van Saar was to put together if you think she needs adjusting I recommend you phrase it very diplomatically indeed!