Tag Archives: Warhammer 40k

Chaos Knight – One Armed Bandit

Ok beautiful readers, it’s time for me to be completely honestly with; I’m not going to finish the Chaos Knight in July. I know it’s still early to be giving up, we’ve all heard (and probably participated in) heroic, last minute painting whirlwinds that get some model over the finish line to completion in the small hours of the morning ahead of the big game or the painting contest to be held the next day. Why don’t I just man up, gird my loins and crack on you ask? The fact is the July has proven to be even busier for work than I expected and, with three flat-out months under my belt now, I’m knackered (this is also why I’ve not been reading and commenting on other people’s blogs much either). There are only so many hours in the day and in the end the conclusion has to be that there’s more Knight left than month. Fear not, I’ll finish him in August instead – when things should be a bit quieter and more manageable anyway. Luckily Azazel, who’s Jewel of July challenge has been the spur to my tackling the project again, has also extended said challenge through to the end of August as he too grapples with that many armed monstrosity known as real life.

In the meantime however I have managed to make some progress over the last couple of weeks, so this post won’t just be moaning and excuses from me! The main torso, one arm and the infamous “difficult” shoulderpad that started my struggles with this model in the first place have all been completed, leaving just the head, the other arm and shoulderpad and the various accoutrements to complete. Put like that it doesn’t sound like very much does it…

Anyway, let’s take a look at him. Due to the sheer size of this bad-boy I’ve used bigger images than normal, clicking on them will allow you to bask in their glory at full size.

Chaos Knight Wudugast ConvertOrDie (2)Chaos Knight Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)Chaos Knight Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)Chaos Knight Wudugast ConvertOrDie (4)Chaos Knight Wudugast ConvertOrDie (5)Chaos Knight Wudugast ConvertOrDie (6)Chaos Knight Wudugast ConvertOrDie (7)

Despite the set-backs that have slowed progress on this project to a crawl at times I’m still feeling very enthusiastic about it, especially now it’s reached this stage and started to look like a true Knight of Chaos, rather than just a pair of legs. There are still a number of challenges ahead (and those are just the ones I know about) but hopefully by the end of August (and maybe even sooner) the beast shall walk!


Freikstorn Strix – WIP

I’m still working away furiously on the Chaos Knight but at the moment there’s not a whole lot of progress that particularly merits showing. Instead here’s a freshly completed kitbash of another of Necromunda’s dramatis personae; Freikstorn Strix. An exile of House Van Saar Strix is a genius who, unwilling to allow his body to succumb to the cancers and radiation sickness that plagues his people, has rebuilt his bodysuit and body alike to his own specifications, adding new cybernetic components to replace his limbs and organs as they wasted away and failed. Yet machines wear out fast in the underhive and Strix must constantly search for replacements, cannibalising them from dead foes or earning creds as a bounty hunter with which to buy the components he needs.

He first appeared in the Book of Peril and as soon as I saw him I knew I wanted him to come soaring through the upper levels of Ironhouse on his winged jetpack, looking for new victims and allies amongst the tangled streets below. Just look at how imposing he is!

Strix

As of the time of writing however no model has been released for him so I was left to think up ways to kitbash my own. Inspiration struck with the release of the Adeptus Mechanicus Pteraxii, which gave me everything I needed to turn a Van Saar ganger into the legendary bounty hunter – and at a fraction of the likely price of the Forge World model.

Freikstorn Strix Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)Freikstorn Strix Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (2)Freikstorn Strix Necromunda Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)

Of course this means he now joins Gor Half-Horn and Grendl Grendlsenon the shelf of shame, the two bounty hunters I’ve already kitbashed my own versions of but have yet to paint. Probably time for me to crack on with those – just as soon as work settles down a little…


Indomitus

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since we saw the launch of Dark Imperium, the rebirth of a loyalist Primarch and the arrival of a whole new kind of space marine. The adorable little space marines of yore with their squashed torsos and undersized power armour were swept aside by newcomers which actually looked the way GW has been claiming they looked for decades, whilst Abaddon reached out his claw, tore the belly of the galaxy open and let the armies of Nurgle spill into real-space. Now the passage of the years brings us the inevitable arrival of another new edition of 40k (the 9th for those keeping score) and with it a launch box packed to the gunnels with power armour and living metal. The Necrons are on the march and in response the Emperor’s Finest have been thoroughly reinforced.

It goes without saying that the wise and the foolish alike have been bumping their collective gums about this for weeks now, so do we really need another rambling appraisal of the Indomitus launch box written by someone who hasn’t even seen the damn thing in the flesh yet? Of course you do – this one is written by me!

As usual with these things it’s a box of two halves, one half – as expected – the power-armoured majesty of the Space Marines, the other half the implacable alien legions of the Necrons. A new edition of 40k may have the rules fans in a lather but for me this is where the interest lies, the new miniatures. Let’s start by taking a look at the space marines.

Space Marine

When the Primaris range first arrived I was fulsome in my praise. Despite the odd minor flaw and some new background fiction that still hasn’t quite bedded in, the Primaris marines were for me, and a great number of others, an unparalleled success. It took me a while to realise therefore that I really wasn’t actually in love with Primaris marines, only with Intercessors, their cousins the Hellblasters and one or two others. Beyond that the range has struggled to make much of an impression on me. The slimmed down Phobos armour pattern does nothing for me, nor am I in any way keen on the “not terminators” in their odd looking Gravis armour. Oh and the less said about the Suppressors the better!

Should have been supressed

A concept which surely should have been suppressed.

Likewise I’ve not been particularly blown away by the various vehicles, the flying tanks (why?) and the oddly leggy dreadnaughts. The only one that has somewhat interested me has been the Invictor Tactical Warsuit, although even then the concept doesn’t really fit in with my mental image of the space marines. I think I would have liked it better had it been modified into some kind of “super-sentinel” for the Imperial Guard. Someday, if I’m feeling flush, I may get one and kitbash it into some kind of industrial rig for Necromunda (think the powered loader that Ripley makes use of in the film Aliens – only much bigger.

Invictor Tactical Warsuit

These latest space marines however are a lot more like it. Ultimately space marines, as befits their enormous popularity, mean different things to different people. Some enjoy the sleek, high-tech look of the Phobos crowd, but personally I’ve always found it too reminiscent of a better future than 40k represents. I prefer the gothic knights and warrior monks that tap deeply into the neo-medieval aesthetic of the setting – and the ones in Indomitus have that in spades.

Take the captain who heads up the space marine forces in the box for instance. I’ve been imagining space marines that look like this for years and at last here one is. It’s unfortunate, of course, that he has to turn his entire shield upside down every time he wants to time an egg but apart from that he’s pretty awesome.

Captain

Likewise the Bladeguard Veterans. The enormous holsters make them a little busy but that’s a small thing (unlike the holsters themselves!) – overall these may be amongst my all time favourite space marines, at least amongst the ranks of the loyalist scum.

Bladeguard

Whilst some of the marines in the set capture this gothic knightly aesthetic others are rather more straightforward and austere. Generally these are models which will be familiar from years past, recreated in the larger and more imposing style of the Primaris range from the tiny and faintly adorable look of yore. Space marine bikers example have grown from these squashed proportions…

SM Old Bike

… into these brutish outriders. Personally I struggled to like the space marine bikers of yore but these I could get excited about painting!

Bikers

Similarly we have the new assault marines (or Assault Intercessors as they are called in their Primaris incarnation). A quick look at some of my favourite Games Workshop ranges (Khorne, Orks, Goliaths…) should be enough to tell you that charging headlong into close combat is very much the kind of thing I approve of (or as Khârn the Betrayer so wisely said “attack is the only order worth remembering”).

PAM

Back when the primaris were first released I tried my hand at making primaris assault marines of my own, and although I remain happy enough with the results the project never really got off the ground. Still, now might be a good time to resurrect them. As far as I’m aware the rules still don’t allow primaris assault marines with jump packs (although I’m sure that’ll change sooner or later) but rules are for wimps anyway!

Whilst we’re talking about the “primarisising” of the old space marine range it’s worth noting that this makes some people online very angry indeed. That said pretty much anything, no matter how innocuous, is liable to get someone on the internet frothing with rage. Next someone will say that women are people too and the internet really will be “triggered”. Quite why they get so cross is hard to explain, at least in part because they become so incensed that they struggle to articulate the issue themselves. If you happen to have a strong opinion on this matter you’re welcome to share it via the comments box below, even if all you can manage is to bellow with rage and headbutt the keyboard you’ll still make more sense than a lot of the online angry brigade. Plus, as a servant of Khorne myself, I can reassure you that your blood too is welcome.

My own attempts to understand where they’re coming from have been hampered, partly by the anger they’ve been known to direct at me personally (apparently doing what I want with the miniatures I bought with my money is somehow doing the hobby wrong) and partly because I just don’t give a shit. I really would like to address this issue without being catty or making straw men of the pro-short marine crew but despite rolling up my sleeves and daring the dangerous straits of social media to investigate, I’m not really any clearer. Is it just the ropey background when they were first introduced? Do the new primaris somehow invalidate the old marines (surely an issue when any model is replaced – my metal Jain Zar doesn’t really match up to her athletic plastic replacement for example, and I know that’s held me back on painting her)? Is it something obscure to do with the rules (are they broken, overpowered, underpowered, too good on the tournament circuit?)? Frankly I’m buggered if I know – all I can say is that some people get very upset about it. I like them though (the big marines, not people – those I can take or leave). If you can explain to me in simple terms why this makes me a horrible human being then please do, I really would like to understand.

I’m increasingly tempted to make my own space marine chapter into Blood Angel successors, amongst whom lots of assault marines are a natural fit. This got me thinking that, with more and more of the old space marine range converted into primaris variants (and let’s be honest, the days of the little marines are numbered now), there’s a good chance that this edition will see the specialist units of the major chapters also being upgraded. The Psychic Awakening already brought us primaris death company, although an expansion on that – with some cool new miniatures – would be very welcome. In the meantime these would be an excellent base from which to convert one’s own. Primaris sanguinary guard would be equally awesome.

Returning to the contents of the box, the chaplain is an interesting addition to the roster. We already have one Primaris chaplain and so I’d not entirely expected another so soon – although to be fair Games Workshop don’t normally let that kind of thing inhibit them, just look at the number of Primaris Lieutenants that are kicking around these days.

Chaplain

Sure enough another chaplain has come roaring in to join the ranks, looking unbelievably stylish on his motorbike and ready and able to smite heretics and/or promote reading anywhere on the battlefield at a moment’s notice.

Chaplain Biker

Just a man coming back from the shops with his overpriced limited-edition Black Library novel… Not in the Indomitus box by the way.

The old chaplain is, for my money, one of the best models in the primaris range, and stands tall in my mental road map of things I intend to paint. Admittedly he is a little odd in comparison to the wider space marine range, but that only serves to emphasise his otherness as an outsider amongst the ranks, feared – in as much as a space marine can fear – by his battle brothers as a walking icon of their fury. The new one is more traditional, both as a marine and as a chaplain, and whilst being an excellent model in its own right doesn’t quite match the sheer original brilliance of the first one. His partly mechanical face is brilliant, although I might be inclined to use it on a different model and give him a traditional chaplain’s skull helm instead.

Alongside the chaplain we have the Judiciar, which seems to be a new rank amongst the space marines. I must admit I’m still very much on the fence about this guy. Part of me really likes him, there’s no denying he’s a stylish and technically well executed model, but on the other hand there’s something just a bit weird about him. The skull helm combined with the mask looks a bit odd to my eye (although it’s nice to see at least one of these space marines is taking Covid-19 seriously). As a visual it’s a little bit too close to the genestealer cultists, whilst his curved, stylised armour is closer to that worn by the stormcast eternals than to that of his battle brothers. Like his captain he too is enthusiastic about egg-timers – the one he carries being known as the tempormortis – and apparently representing a new item of wargear that can influence time itself (handy for getting those eggs just right).

Judicar

Cool though he is he’s an odd fit amongst the other marines, and based on what I’ve seen of him would have worked better had the design been tweaked a little to turn him into an inquisitor instead, which would have fitted both his unusual armour and fancy archeotech weaponry. Whilst we’re on the subject of marines that just don’t quite look right the Eradicators are the only unit on this side of the box which just don’t appeal to me at all, looking oddly hunched in their gravis armour and appearing to have the squashed down torsos that the old range of space marines were so often criticised for.

Erradicators

There was a time there when it really started to feel as though the space marine range had run out of road in which to manoeuvre. The range was pretty much complete, with plastic kits available for almost every conceivable unit. The Imperium being infamously stagnant and distrustful of new ideas was hardly going to invent new types of space marine – especially when only the Emperor Himself possessed the power, insight and authority to do that and He was stuck on the Golden Throne. On the other hand Games Workshop had no wish to slaughter the goose that laid the golden eggs and so they found themselves between a rock and a hard place – public demand for new space marines was as high as ever (and those shareholders wanted the sales to keep rolling in) but to the fans the background has always been sacrosanct – and that background left them with no room in which to cook up any new marines. Clearly something had to be done – and it was this I’m certain that drove the return of Roboute Guilliman and saw the rebirth of the space marine range more than any other factor. Now they can sell us space marines all over again, and what’s more they have the room to invent new kinds of marine to their hearts’ content.

Now I’ll hold up my hand and admit that so far I’ve not always been terribly keen on the new varieties of marine, as I’ve already discussed above I’ve got little love for Phobos or Gravis armour and flying tanks do nothing for me at all. However the potential is still rather exciting – and makes me wonder what they might decide to do with the space marine concept in years to come. After all if there’s one thing we can be absolutely certain of it’s that space marines aren’t going anywhere (although the short ones probably are).

There’s an argument to be made that the sneaky, lightly armoured scouts of yore have been expanded into the likewise sneaky and lightly armoured Vanguard space marines – the Incursors, Infiltrators, Reivers and Eliminators. Meanwhile the old Tactical Squad has an analogue in the new Intercessors, and the heavy-weapon wielding Devastators have begun to be expanded into the Hellblasters and their new colleagues the Eradicators. Throw the forthcoming Primaris Techmarine into the mix (and as you can probably guess that made my day and no mistake!) and more and more of the old range has found its new niche.  Of course with Guilliman and Cawl at the helm the range is no longer painted into a corner so that, when all the old models do have a new analogue there will still be almost infinite possibilities left for the designers to explore. In this regard the design team has been sensible in introducing really unusual designs like the Inceptors right from the start – and I say that as someone who doesn’t like the look of the Inceptors at all. Last time the Space Marine range started to look “complete” they rustled up the Centurions and the fanbase reacted in horror at the way in which new designs had been introduced (clearly violating the lore and causing the sky to fall on our collective heads). Had the Primaris range simply been an upscaling of the old marines there would inevitably have come a time when the exact same problem would have occurred. The limits of the existing concepts would have been reached, new ideas would be required and we would be back to having either no new space marine models (cue wailing and gnashing of teeth) or – equally bad – models for new kinds of space marines (cue equal levels of wailing and, for that matter, gnashing of teeth). In the meantime the release of the Primaris range would have risked feeling rather formulaic, as each new wave sought only to tick boxes and fill gaps.

Not a Terminator

An Aggressor – pictured busy wishing he was cool enough to be a Terminator…

As it stands the biggest thing missing in the Primaris range today is a lack of new Terminators. I wonder how much Terminators mean to new players who’ve only begun to delve into the 41st Millennium since the release of 8th Edition and the Dark Imperium. Do they carry the emotional weight which they do for us older hands? I doubt it – and why would they? So far the roll of “heavily armoured marines” has been given to the Aggressors, and if I’m honest there’s nothing wrong with them at all. It’s taken me a good chunk of the last three years but I’m slowly growing to like and appreciate them for what they are, rather than just cast vitriol upon them for failing to be Terminators. It’s unfair on them, and it’s unfair on me – especially as these are the kind of models I would have loved if it wasn’t for the fact that I hated them for not being something they aren’t.

Terminator

A Terminator… looking old, bless him.

Still Terminators have a special place in the childhoods of many of us, the ultimate space marines, stamping through the dark depths of a space hulk in search of lurking xenos horrors. Indeed it’s past time for Games Workshop to stop being stubborn and bring back the Space Hulk game – alongside new, bigger and better Terminators (not Aggressors!) and some revamped Genestealers to boot. Come of GW, you know as well as I do that it would be a hit – what’s stopping you?

Space Hulk

Anyway, speaking of the foul xenos it’s time to turn our collective attention away from the Space Marines and take a look at the Necrons half of the box instead. I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for the Necrons for a long time now, roughly as long as I’ve been a hobbyist in fact. Indeed my first proper encounter with 40k came when a friend of mine tried, unsuccessfully, to sell me his Necron army. Despite not breaking out the cash in the end I’ve had one eye on the mechanical xenos ever since, although until now I’ve only ever painted one. Shall we take another look at him? Of course we shall!

Nice for a little nostalgia hit though he is, the new range is an order of magnitude better in pretty much every way. What’s more it’s fast becoming apparent that the Necrons in this box represent the speartip of a wave of new models for the army, something they wholly deserve.

Necron Warriors

For starters the box contains plenty of necron warriors, the shambling mechanical skeletons which make up the majority of the race. These outshine their processors which looked every one of the several million years they’d supposedly spent hibernating. These are much more like it, diverse and packed with personality whilst still looking like very much the overwhelming horde.

Necron Warriors 3

Just as the Eldar are Space Elves and the Orks are… well, Space Orcs (remember when that was what they were called?), so the Necrons have always been essentially Space Undead. Ranks of Space Skeletons march beneath the steely gaze of Space-Lichs and the influence of the Tomb Kings has always been strong. Some readers will know I’m a big fan of the undead so this is by no means a criticism, indeed my favourite piece of art showing this Necrons has been this one which really emphasises them as shambling, corpse-like creatures rather than sleek sci-fi machines. For a long time I dreamed of Necron Warriors which captured this ghastly, cadaverous aesthetic and at last here we have them.

Necron Warrior

Often however this has come at the expense of them seeming particularly alien. They may have evolved millions of years ago on a planet far from – and ecologically different too – Earth but they still like to hang out in pyramids and chose humanoid skeletons as the wardrobe in which to spend eternity. Now although I enjoy sci-fi in which the aliens are realistically alien, I also very much enjoy the Star Trek style universes where all the aliens are just humans with lumpy faces (I’ve been discovering Next Generation during lockdown – and very glad I am that I have too!). Nonetheless it’s hard to see the Necrons as supremely and utterly alien when they go around looking exactly like you or me if we forgot to put on our meat and skin before we left the house in the morning. Surely having transcended one’s biological limitations and achieved immortality and god-like technological prowess one would choose to become something a bit more imposing than an articulated skeleton? That’s fine for your ranks of slaves but for the masters of the empire let’s think big here!

With this release we see the more alien elements that have been entering the Necron range in recent times taken up a further notch. Whilst characters like the Overlord and Royal Warden are still very much humanoid…

Royal Warden

… the wizardly Plasmancer takes off in a new direction, with a model that recalls both the ghostly side of the undead – taking many cues from the Nighthaunt – and the spidery, insectile side of the Necrons that has previously been seen more in their technology – for example the Canoptek Wraiths and Spiders. He also has the finest metal beard since the Kharadron Overlords.

Plasmancer

His bodyguards, the Cryptothralls, are similarly unlike anything we’ve seen from the range previously, and oddly adorable to boot.

Cryptothralls

The strangeness doesn’t stop there either. The Necrons are the ultimate high-tech race of the 41st Millennium – the Adeptus Mechanicus, humanity’s finest minds on this front, would gladly turn their granny into a servitor for a fraction of the knowledge they hold (if they hadn’t already that is – and what finer way for the old girl to continue to serve the will of the Omnissiah). It’s only fitting then that we see some of their machines as well, the diminutive plasmacyte (with his even smaller scarab pal)…

Plasma Guy

… and the mighty Canoptek Reanimator.

Canoptek Reanimator

Again these push into territory quite unlike anything we’ve seen in the 41st Millennium previous, yet the results play on elements that are already familiar from the Necron range (the bladed limbs, the back carapace reminiscent of the destroyers, the flat faces with large lamp “eyes” and other insectile facets).

Taken together these expand the Necrons into something which feels really unique, pushing them out of the tech-undead niche in which they’d sat previously. On the other hand this isn’t a reboot or a re-invention, the mechanical baby hasn’t been thrown out with the million-year-old bathwater. These, and the other new Necron models that are soon to be released, sit very comfortably alongside the existing range and I’d imagine Necron fans are feeling very happy about things indeed.

The one thing I don’t particularly like on this side of the box is the Skorpekh Lord. He’s rather busy, with all the various weapons he’s waving around, and as a result the model seems unfocussed and cluttered, whilst his pose isn’t particularly threatening. Both his gun (an enmitic annihilator for those who like unpronounceable names) and his blade (a hyperphase harvester) are held up to the side rather than ready to attack, whilst the talon is held out – presumably to threaten his adversaries and not simply to pat a large invisible dog. He reminds me somewhat of the early conversions people create (I know I was guilty of this when I started out) that awkwardly clutch every possible piece of wargear on their profile and end up looking less like they’re heading into battle and more like they’ve gone to the gun supermarket, and are regretting not taking a trolly.

There are good things about the model mind you – not least of which is the sense of weight it’s been given as its claws sink into the ground, and even straight through a slab of rockcrete. Hope it manages to pull that claw back out and doesn’t end up clumping around with it stuck to its foot for the rest of the day…

Skorpekh Lord

As previously mentioned this isn’t everything that’s coming for the Necrons, not by a long way. All kinds of weird and wonderful things have been announced by Games Workshop, including mighty new warmachines, he truly outstanding Shard of the Void Dragon, and the Silent King of the Necron empire himself. As a precursor to this release we saw the arrival a few weeks ago of Illuminor Szeras, the megalomaniacal genius who oversaw the process by which the ancient race of the Necrontyr became the mechanical Necrons we know today. In many ways this model represents a very clever coded meta-narrative in which the large figure of Szeras represents Games Workshop, the broken man frantically crawling away is me trying desperately to resist starting a Necron army, the tiny scarab is the part of me that remembers how many other half-finished projects are already waiting for my attention and the stream of blood is the money being skilfully extracted from my wallet.

Illuminor Szeras

So, will I be buying a copy of the Indomitus box? Well, by the time you read this I guess I’ll know. Unlike previous editions of 40k, WHFB and AoS (and indeed the “specialist games” like Necromunda and Blood Bowl) this isn’t a starter set per se, which will remain in circulation throughout the lifespan of the edition thus giving people plenty of time to decide whether or not they want to buy a copy. Instead this is a limited run “launch set” which means it’s very likely to sell out within hours, perhaps even minutes, of being released. Quite how many of these miniatures will become available again is something Games Workshop is keeping very close to its chest. Likewise the price remains (at the time of writing – less than a week before launch) a closely guarded secret, making it hard for people to budget accordingly. Will I still be willing to pay the price when I know what it is? I’m going to have to make my mind up pretty quickly!

Games Workshop have been keen to assure everyone that they’ve made plenty of boxes, whilst at the same time urging us to mark our calendars so that we’re standing ready to hit “buy” the moment it goes on sale. They’ve also limited the number of copies available in any individual sale to 3, which is a good move when it comes to battling the scalpers, whilst still allowing those who wish to grab themselves a bigger army at a bargain price. Originally they planned to limited sales to 6 copies, which didn’t go nearly far enough I felt – and clearly GW felt likewise. Who the hell needs 6 copies, especially when they’re probably going to end up squirrelled away under the bed anyway... I do understand that some people buy multiple copies of these thing and, if you can afford the initial outlay, it can be a good way to save some cash in the long term by getting all the models at a knock-down price. Six copies though – surely that’s just greed, especially when it’s widely believed (and seems highly likely) that if you’re not quick off the mark then you’re going to miss out? Of course now a number of hobbyists that I respect will pop up in the comments section to say “I’ve bought myself 10!” and I’ll have to eat some humble pie…

I tend to write these posts over a number of days in the run-up to a release so although by the time you read this I will, or won’t, have bought my copy (sitting card in hand as the clock ticks down to 10am UK time and thinking how handy it would be to have a tempormortis to hand when the inevitable rush to buy-buy-buy begins…) at the moment I remain undecided. Certainly the set looks good, and – assuming the price is as its likely to be – a bargain for the models it contains. I’ve been feeling the temptation to get back to my space marines lately and if I was to dip a toe into the world of the Necrons – something I’ve been thinking about for at least fifteen years – then what better way to do it.

(Edit: it probably goes without saying given how fast it sold out but I didn’t manage to nab one. I’ll leave discussion of how badly GW seems to have screwed this up for another time, or at least until the outrage currently running through the sense has settled down a little and we find out what, if anything, GW might decided to do about what currently looks like something of a public relations own-goal. For myself I was pissed off for about ten minutes and then I remembered all the other things I could be painting and got over it).

Of course I still have that pile of unfinished projects lurking on, under and around the painting desk waiting for attention, and then there’s this snippet from the new rulebook which has been doing the rounds online and getting Chaos fans very excited indeed…

Red Angel

Say it with me slaughterbrothers! The Red Angel comes! Kill! Maim! Burn! Kill! Maim! Burn! Kill! Maim! Burn!


Chaos Knight – Time To Show A Leg

Cast your mind back to 2015. Suffice to say wherever you were and whatever you were doing there’s a good chance that a lot of things have changed a lot since then, simply through the ups and downs of life rumbling onwards – even without the social and political (not to mention virological!) upheavals that have echoed around the globe. I’ve changed jobs (more than once), moved house three times, dealt with various dramas and tragedies and had some really good times to boot. The one thing that hasn’t changed has been the status of my Chaos Knight – the damn thing still isn’t painted. Last time we saw it, when I was full of big ideas and ambitious chatter, was this time last year. The new Codex: Chaos Knights had been unleashed, along with a rather tasty new kit, and I was full of enthusiasm. Here’s a reminder of how it looked back then.

Enthusiasm however doesn’t get things painted, it helps but you still need to put one end of the brush in the paint and actually get on with it. Simply daydreaming about an army of Knights isn’t enough – we need action! How long the model might have continued to linger in the doldrums is anyone’s guess, but along came Azazel’s Bitz Box with another monthly challenge – the Jewel of July. Azazel’s monthly challenges used to be a major staple of the hobby calendar for a lot of hobbyists but even a painting and blogging machine like him must suffer from mortal fatigue at some point, and until now he’s not been running them this year (although he continues to produce fantastically painted models faster than most of us breath so do take a look at his blog if you’re not already familiar with it). Anyway, this month he’s running a challenge again and I decided I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to give myself a push and get something painted. The rules of the challenge are wonderfully open ended, as usual it’s all about getting things finished, with as little as possible by way of extra rules to hamper that. To quote Azazel himself:

The Jewel of July is about painting (almost) anything you want that you think will be cool, or impressive, or just nice.

It’s for Heroes. Big or small. named or otherwise. A Lieutenant or a Medic or a Warlord Riding a Dragon. An Inquisitor’s aide or a Star Player or a Bounty Hunter.

It’s for Vehicles. A Motorcycle or a Maus. A Starship or a Gaslands Car. A Panzer IV to a Kettenkrad. A Rhino APC or a Konigstiger or a War Rig or a M’ak I. (or M’ak II?)

It’s for the more impressive scenery pieces. A desert oasis or a (ruined?) temple or a bunker complex or a single bunker or a skyscraper or a Ferratonic Incinerator or a Kwik-E-Mart. A forest worth of trees or a jungle worth of plants.

It’s for Monsters. Ogres or Ogors. Dragons, Giants, decent-sized Daemons. Bronze Bulls and Dinosaurs and Great Wight Sharks and Goremaw and Cthulhu.

It’s for Dieties and Demi-gods. Primarchs and Titans. Atlas and Aeres and Abaddon. Horus and Hercules. Venus and Vulkan. Saturn and Sanguinius.

It’s for Mechs and the Mechanicum. Steampunk walkers, Dreadnoughts, Imperial Knights, Warjacks, Tripods, Titans.

It’s for Dioramas and Vignettes. Historical, Fantasy, Sci-Fi. It’s all good. Even better if they also feature something from the above!

So yes. Anything from a USMC Corpsman to a 28mm scale Warlord Titan counts for this coming month’s challenge.

To whit I foolishly opened my big mouth and said something to the effect of “Well in that case I’ll finally paint the Knight”. Now truth be told I might have been a bit of a fool to say that because this is a big model that’s been defeating me for a hell of a long time and July looks set to be the busiest month of the year so far for me workwise. Enthusiasm, determination and kind words from people here will help but won’t change the fact that I’m going to be flat out for the next few weeks with long hours, early mornings and late nights hauling around on mountaintops as we try to catch up on projects that were held back by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Anyway, before we embrace my inevitable failure, let’s take a look at what exactly I have managed to achieve so far. First of all, the legs. These are pretty much done actually, I might add a bit here and there as I go on with the rest of the model but basically the entire lower half of the knight is finished. In some ways this means I’m off to a great start, in other ways however there’s a lot less complexity here as opposed to the torso, arms and head, and yet it still took me half a decade.

Knight Legs

Speaking of the torso I have managed to get some work done on it too. It’s not done by a long way but some ground has been broken at least.

Knight Torso

Finally we have the model’s left arm. Last time I wrote about this I said:

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.

As it turns out it wasn’t as difficult as I’d thought, although a lot of fiddling around and dry-fitting happened first. In order to end up with something I could actually achieve, rather than simply imagine, I simplified the original concept and as a result the greenstuff work ended up being mainly about filling in the gaps on the inside of the arm. Again there may well be more tweaks ahead but this should at least give you an idea of where things are heading.

Knight Arm

I’ve been making a lot of false promises about this model for a long time and I don’t want this to be another case of me saying “It’ll be done soon, promise!” only for 6, 12 or 24 months to pass without any progress at all. I’m really determined to get him done, and I’m well aware that those words probably sound a little bit hollow by this point, but I’ll give it my best  and even if I don’t see him completed in July I’d like to see him wrapped up not long after. I’ll see what I can do though, so watch this space, cross your fingers and prepare your bitingly sarcastic comment for when I post that “one of the arms is almost done” in 2028…


Obliterate Them!

It’s been an absolute age since I painted anything for my Chaos space marines and the army continues to sit in the doldrums between my lingering dissatisfaction with the old kits and my as-yet not fully explored enthusiasm for the new. Time to get something painted then, especially with new-40k bringing my attention back to the grim-darkness of the 41st Millennium once again. The real jolt of enthusiasm however came about as a result of the “Sixty Day Miniatures of Magnitude Painting Challenge” being run by Ann’s Immaterium. I’d already painted a Warcry ruin last month but I wanted to tackle something else suitably large and to get something chaotic and power-armour-clad done into the bargain. The challenge calls for painting something big, at least the size of an ogre, so the obvious candidate was one of the Obliterators from last year’s Shadowspear box.

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As a long-standing (and at times long suffering!) Chaos fan it was a bit of a thrill to finally be able to paint an Obliterator that didn’t look truly awful. Maybe if I pray to the dark gods really hard they’ll give us some proper models for their cousins the Mutilators  someday too…


The Oathbones – Part 9

These will be the last two Cawdor gangers for the moment, there’s only so many yellow robes a man can paint after all! They won’t be the last Cawdor ever by any means however, I still have a fair number to tackle but for the moment I’m going to move on to something else before they become a chore.

First of all we have Basset, a straightforward ganger with a rusty knife and a pistol. His weapons come from the Forgeworld upgrade set and the mask from one of the Thorns of the Briar Queen from Warhammer Underworlds.

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Secondly we have his gang-mate Eadwyg, here to bring the Emperor’s fiery wrath to the non-believers. His mask comes from the Nighthaunt Bladegheist Revenants and although it was a little bit fiddly getting it to fit I think it was well worth the effort.

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It struck me whilst I was working on him what an incredibly versatile kit this really is. Here’s Eadwyg alongside all the other gangers I’ve made from the same base body. At first glance I don’t think it’s obvious that they’re all based around the same figure.

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Finally, before the gang heads out to shake up the streets of the Underhive with their faith, here’s a groupshot. Ironhouse won’t know what hit it!

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I’m not sure what I’ll tackle next or when I’ll return to the Underhive (although that probably won’t take long!). I have a few random odds and ends lurking on the painting desk so I’ll probably take a look at them first then see where my fancy takes me.


The Oathbones – Part 8

More work on the Cawdor gang today, although it’s something of an odd-and-ends collection. First of all we have Harold, another ganger ready for the crusade.

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Alongside him we have this chap from the second Black Crab kickstarter, originally intended as a civilian (either of the underhive, the Mortal Realms or the Old World – perhaps somewhere like Mordheim – he’s nicely ubiquitous). I didn’t want to take away from that by adding anything that would tie him too closely to one particular role but on the other hand I thought he’d work nicely as a Cawdor hanger on, specifically a gang lookout. I can picture him shuffling aimlessly through the dense crowds of a downhive settlement, just some crazy old beggar lost amid the masses. What’s that he’s muttering under his breath? Crazy rantings or prayers to the God-Emperor perhaps? Or is he whispering into a concealed vox, through which he reports everything he sees to his paymasters in House Cawdor?

As a result I painted him in a style which tied him in with my Cawdor gang but not so closely that he couldn’t find alternative employment in the future without looking too out of place.

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Finally I decided it was high time I got around to my bomb rats. Long before Forge World released their (undeniably quirky, cool and official – if as ever rather expensive) version I’d already picked up a set from Anvil Industry. Of course a Cawdor gang without bomb rats is like a Goliath gang without muscles so I turned my attention to producing these most explosive of underhive residents.

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There’s a couple more underhive crusaders still waiting for attention (in the short term – there’s pure hundreds of them to tackle in the pile of shame but I’m studiously ignoring them!) so I’ll aim to tackle them this week, then take a bit of a break and paint something else.


A Right Pile Of Potential

Earlier today I was looking through some of the blogs that I follow, sipping at my coffee and looking blearily out at the world around me much in the manner of a hibernating mammal forced out of its den. Some people start the day with the news but I like to have at least a pint of the black stuff (coffee for those times when Guinness isn’t socially appropriate) before I dare to expose myself to that much rage and misery, so I turn my attention instead to what, if anything, my fellow hobbyists have managed to produce overnight. In this case it was this post from Scent of a Gamer which caught my attention and got me thinking about something which I’ve considered writing about for some time – “The Pile of Shame vs the Pile of Potential”. I started to write a comment in reply and it grew and grew into something so sprawling and lengthy that I decided to post it here instead.

Firstly allow me to recommend, if you haven’t already, that you take a look at that post on Scent of a Gamer and indeed the blog in general – it’s well worth reading at the best of times and this post is very much a reply to it. We’re talking, to quote davekay himself, about “something every wargamer has: the pile of shame. Those unpainted miniatures bought on impulse or with intent years ago, but never touched”.

Unpainted Miniatures

He also links to a video by Goobertown hobbies which isn’t a channel I’ve watched before, in which the presenter digs through a (vast) collection of unpainted miniatures looking for something which takes his fancy to paint – a process which I’m sure will be familiar to many of us. I’ll confess that I didn’t watch all of the video, there’s only so long you can look at a man showing off how many miniatures he’s bought over the years whilst listening to elevator muzak, but I enjoyed what I saw and I’ll take a nose at the rest of his channel when time allows.

I’ll admit too that I had a moment of being “triggered” (as da yoof would have it) into a brief rage when he produced a copy of the Looncurse box out of his stash – a box I myself craved as the start of my long-planned Sylvaneth army, with a whole heap of lovely Night Goblins thrown in for good measure. Looncurse famously sold out in next to no time and I missed out, so it was damn annoying to see someone else proudly admitting to having snagged a copy and not even touched it. On the other hand, I realised with a growing sense of discomfort, I picked up various other kits at around the same time which I’ve yet to do anything with so could I honestly say I wouldn’t have neglected my own copy in just the same way?

Looncurse

This isn’t the first time I’ve had the pile of shame on my mind lately. In fact, a recent inventory of my unpainted collecting revealed a worrying fact – there’s a hell of a lot of it. Years of bargain hunting and snapping up good deals have taken their toll and the “to paint” pile has grown into a mountain large enough to influence the local climate. By my rough count, assuming that I keep painting at my current rate (something I wouldn’t bet on by any means) it’d still take me several years to clear the backlog. Add to that the forthcoming releases for Necromunda and Warcry, the new Space Marines (which would go very nicely with my existing collection), the new Necrons (and you know I’ve always thought a Necron army would be cool…), the mate who’s slowly but surely convincing me to try out Bolt Action, and whatever else emerges over the coming months and years and it starts to feel as though the lead mountain and the grey tide are very much here to stay.

Necron

Resistance is futile!

I don’t like the term “pile of shame” very much. Shame is a terrible emotion, and rarely one that inspires us to action. Excitement and enthusiasm is what gets us to pick up the brushes, whilst shame and embarrassment put us off, killing the joy that our hobbies are intended to engender and starving us off the passion that would otherwise help to overcome the unpainted masses.

At the end of the day miniatures are there to be enjoyed. A particularly good game can stay in the memory for years, even decades. There are plenty of ways of making that happen of course, and for me some of the most memorable contained no painted miniatures at all (indeed in a few cases no models were involved, just blank bases with post-it note labels to tell us what was what and a whole load of imagination). However it’s a fairly safe generalisation to make that well painted miniatures on thematic terrain will stick with us longer than unpainted models on a bare kitchen table. Add to that the fact that “check out this model I painted” is a far more engaging conversation starter than “check out this stuff I just bought and will now shove under the bed and never touch or look at again for as long as I live” and we find ourselves drawn to an inevitable conclusion; our hobby ought to have as its crux the collecting and painting of miniatures. A large number of us however would be hard-pressed to deny that our hobby is collecting unpainted models, with assembling, painting and gaming a sideline at best.

Ogre

Why won’t you paint me? I’m so beautiful…

On the other hand I really don’t like the term “pile of potential” either. The implication is very much that ending up with lots and lots of unpainted models is something to be celebrated, that buying things and then never painting them is inherently a good thing to do. This is quite a comforting idea, after all I have lots of unpainted models already, and there are new things that I’d like to own, and I’d far rather be telling myself that adding to this great mountain of plastic and lead and sitting on it like Smaug is something to be proud of. However I can’t shake the feeling that actually it’s just profligate, that all I’m doing is showing off how much money I would have had in the bank if I hadn’t squandered it instead on miniatures that I’m not painting.

I know that I’m not just speaking for myself here, I’m also undoubtedly addressing something that a lot of my readers will be very familiar with from their own collections, and I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad. After all we’re not really doing much harm, we’re not selling drugs, stabbing grannies or mismanaging the national response to a pandemic, we’re just hoarding bits of plastic. On the other hand I’ve never looked at a miniature and thought “I’d love to store that somewhere and be vaguely embarrassed that it’s cluttering up my house”. Quite the opposite in fact, I want to paint them, perhaps even play with them.

So how to go about it? Well there are a few tricks that have helped me over the years. Firstly, although I’m an occasional gamer at best, planning a game in advance is a great motivator to get something finished. I’ve boosted Necromunda gangs, Warcry warbands and the contents of Blackstone Fortress over the finish line using exactly this method.

Then there’s the old “model a month” trick. Some readers will already be familiar with this, as I’ve described it often enough in the past, but for anyone who’s not encountered it the premise is simple; paint at least one miniature for a project every month (for a year, or until it’s done – it’s up to you really). Now one model isn’t very much, especially when you’re dealing with a horde army like the Skaven (as I was). However Newton’s First Law of Motion can be applied here; Objects in motion tend to remain in motion, objects at rest remain at rest. If you’re painting one clanrat it’s easy enough to paint a second or perhaps even a third, and then your enthusiasm for Skaven is rekindled, you remember what it was about the project that made you want to paint hundreds of the little bastards in the first place, you get some more work done on the warp-lightning cannon whilst you’re waiting for the shade to dry and the whole project keeps shambling forward. Leave them sitting, allow them to gather dust, push them to the side of the desk and finally pack them away and months, then years will go past without so much as a kiss of a brush upon a ratty whisker. By applying this method I went from this (at the beginning of January 2017)…

… to this (at the end of December 2019).

Another trick I’ve been applying recently is simply to keep track of exactly what I’ve added to the collection. I keep a note of what I’ve bought each month and I check it before I buy anything else. For one thing this is just sensible fiscal prudence, but more than that it helps to remind me of all the things I was really excited about before I saw the thing I’m currently really excited about. More than that I also keep a note of all the models I’ve painted this month as well, and I aim (although of course I don’t always succeed) to make the latter number bigger than the former. It’s early days yet, I’ve only been doing this for a few months, but so far it’s helped me a great deal in keeping on top of the “pile of unrealised projects” and even helped me chip away at it a little, so I may come back to it and talk about it more in the future if it proves to be useful in the long term.

Finally, the most valuable tip I ever received was “paint what you’re passionate about”. If you’re excited about painting something then get on and paint it. If you want to paint something you’ll find the time to paint it, and if you don’t want to paint it you’ll find an excuse. Enthusiasm for a project will do far more to get you painting than all the tips, tricks and tutorials in the world and when that enthusiasm inevitably drains away to be replaced by something else you’ll have done a lot more than if you didn’t act on it.

Do you have a pile of shameful potential, and if so how do you tackle it? As usual if you have words of wisdom to share I want to hear all about them and the comments box is open to all comers.


The Oathbones – Part 7

Time to add a champion to the Cawdor gang, and what better way to arm him than with a heavy flamer – perfect for toasting any and all heretics he encounters? This fanatical pyromaniac goes by the name of Berthroc the Unworthy and stands ready to bring the Emperor’s mercy to Ironhouse and all who dare to dwell there. Some men just want to watch the hive burn and all that…

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Of course just because he’s an arsonist extremist hell-bent on destruction doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have a pet, and what better companion than a Necromundan giant rat (which in this case goes by the name “Biteum”)?

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Finally this champion of the God-Emperor needed a bit of background to tie him into the evolving story of the Oathbones.

The first of Marrowkin’s Apostles to declare for the saint, Berthroc the Unworthy was once a champion of the Pithole Preachers. Swayed by the saint’s fiery sermons Berthroc demanded that the Preachers join his crusade and, when his gang leader refused, Berthroc responded by casting him headfirst into Pithole’s infamous pit. At this the rest of the Preachers turned on one another in a vicious schism, until finally Berthroc left taking his few surviving followers with him. His departure, and the fighting that preceded it, has left the Preachers sorely depleted. With the Pithole Goliaths already slaughtered at Korg’s feast the turf is seen by many as ripe for the taking although local hivers fear for just who might attempt to claim it – a concern which is in no way alleviated by the ominous chanting heard echoing up from the pit itself. 

Meanwhile Berthroc seeks atonement for his failure to bring the Preachers wholly into the ranks of the crusade. In an act of penance he has donned an iron mask that prevents him from receiving food, water or even air, something he shall continue to wear until he receives a sign from the God Emperor Himself at he has been forgiven. To date no such sign has been received yet nor has Berthroc succumbed to starvation or asphyxiation despite the passage of many cycles. Whilst some have declared this to be a miracle others whisper that it is the result of a fraud, or perhaps even something darker. None dare to do so within Berthroc’s hearing however for his willingness to put friend and foe alike to the torch remains undiminished. 

With him done the gang is starting to take shape, although I’ve got plenty more still to work on – so watch out for more gangers (and more rats) in the next week or so.


The Bloodied Knight

So, some new space marines are on their way and some people – myself included – are terribly excited about it all. It’s been a while since I did anything with my Angels Mortis but since seeing the new models revealed at the weekend I’m feeling the temptation to dig out some of my neglected power armour (and not the chaotic kind for once!). Also, it’s time for a quick break from painting Cawdor gangers before all those fiddly robes drive me utterly bonkers. Pretty much every 40k fan, I would argue, has a favourite space marine chapter. You need not necessarily be that keen on space marines – I myself am a foul heretic at heart – but they’re so ubiquitous that we’ve all had that “name your favourite chapter” conversation at one point or another. For myself there are a few contenders, all at the more obscure end of the spectrum (because I’m a 41st Millennium hipster). I don’t have any particular beef with the Ultramarines, Imperial Fists or Blood Angels (but don’t get me started on the Space Wolves and the Sillymanders!) but I prefer the Carcharodons, Minotaurs, Exorcists, Angels Penitent and Star Phantoms.

However when push comes to shove I’d have to pick the Knights of Blood as the one for me. The first time I saw the Knights of Blood was back in the old 4th Edition Chaos Codex (which was given to me by a good friend and which set me on the path to damnation). Back then they were clearly fighting for Khorne, their shoulder pad icon shown as a Juggernaught’s head and their sole scrap of descriptive text describing them as “frenzied warriors”. As two word entries go I suppose it beats “mostly harmless”.

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A Chaos Knight of Blood from the 4th Edition Chaos Marines Codex, trying to look as though he’s mostly harmless…

After that they reappeared on my radar as successors to the Blood Angels which lurked on the edge of the background, with only a few scattered lines and a single short-story to their name, as far as I could discover, until their untimely extinction during the Siege of Baal. Much like the Flesh Tearers (and various other Blood Angel’s successors over the millennia) they fell foul of their own inner daemons and repeatedly ran amok, butchering allied troops and civilian populations alike, until the Imperium finally tired of their antics and declared them heretics. So far so standard, and many chapters before and since have suffered a similar fate, either hunted down and slaughtered for their crimes or driven into the always welcoming arms of the dark gods. The Knights of Blood however were having none of it, swore that they were still loyal to the Imperium and continued to fight in the Emperor’s name, even doing any other loyalist troops in the area the favour of not fighting directly alongside them – thus going some way towards protecting those other troops from both the Knight’s violent excesses and the wrath of the Inquisition. According to the novel The Devastation of Baal by Guy Haley they even managed to nullify some of the effects of the Black Rage (admittedly by preying vampirically on unfortunate Imperial serfs but nobody’s perfect eh). Without spoiling too much of an excellent novel (although if you really don’t want to know don’t highlight the following text) they went out like bosses taking on Khornate daemons and tyranid monsters at the same time and allowing the Flesh Tearers to escape (so anyone out there with a Flesh Tearers army – you’re welcome).

Knights of Blood

A “loyalist” Knight of Blood – planning to devour the next hapless soul to pass his way.

I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for these berserk vampires since I first encountered them but I’ve never actually painted one, nor have I ever seen a painted army of them (so if you’ve painted one or you know of one please put a link in the comments – I’d be very curious to see it, us excommunicated heroes of the Imperium need to stick together!). I was thinking about this the other day and decided that it was past time to try painting one for myself so I had a dig around in the pile of shame and found this space marine, assembled (and slightly kitbashed into something suitably aggressive looking) but unpainted. When I built him I didn’t intend him to be a Knight of Blood, if I had I would have used a Blood Angel’s shoulderpad rather than the slim reaver-style shoulderpad I gave him, and I would have covered his head (the Knights tending to avoid showing their faces, partly – I’m sure – because that made them seem more awesome and sinister and partly because they didn’t want people to know that they were becoming increasingly gnarly, red and – dare I say it – Khornate in appearance as the years passed). Perhaps this Knight pre-dates the later years of their fall from grace, or perhaps he’s just not been as badly affected as his battle brothers.

I also didn’t get bogged down in painting the chapter icon on his shoulderpad, instead leaving a blank space where I can paint it on later if I feel inclined. I know that’s the height of laziness, but the aim of the exercise here was to play around with the colour-scheme and give myself a break from Cawdor, not to get bogged down. If I decide to tackle more of these then I’ll come back to him and add in a little iconography, but for now he’s a quick sketch and that means painting him to a level I’m happy with and moving on, rather than obsessing over any details.

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No matter what I do, or how many photographs I take, his left shoulderpad (his left, our right) comes out looking really flat. I’m sure this is something familiar to all bloggers, you slave away getting the highlights looking right (and is there anything on earth harder to highlight than the shoulderpad of a space marine?) and the photos just don’t capture it and part of you always thinks “does anyone believe me? Perhaps they all think I just couldn’t be arsed to highlight it and I’m just making excuses!”. Ah well, you’ll just have to trust me.

He was a fun little diversion to tackle and for the moment that’s all I’m intending, although at some point I may – or may not – put together a few more. As ever I’m also curious to get your thoughts on the model, whether or not the Knights were filthy heretics or hard-pressed heroes doing a difficult job in a dangerous time and of course, for the 40k fans amongst you, if you had to pick a favourite space marine chapter which one would you declare your loyalty to?