Brother Vlad, the Flawless

During the last campaign I have run, we had rules to let out heroes gain experience and suffer serious injuries. In addition to the rules I already posted on this blog, we had mechanics to allow “squad characters”, like Aspiring Champions or Space Marine Sergeants, to be promoted on the field and become Independent Characters, and thus I started building a model worthy of a rising hero.

I wanted to use the Chaos Space Marines Raptors kit as a base, and I had a spare World Eaters Terminator head that an ex-colleague gave to me. The champion had to be a follower of Khorne, but he had to be very particular to fit in my Betrayers of Pain army. Why a follower of Khorne would be in a warband that does not venerate any God? Who was he? Where does he came from?

Brother Vlad was once a member of the Sanguinary Guards that formed the bodyguard of Sanguinius himself, and was at his side during the events on Signus Prime, when the madness flowing from Ka’Bandha almost drove the Blood Angels Legion on the blood path of Khorne. Vlad was seriously injured during that battle, and left for dead on the field. Many days later, Fabius Bile landed on Signus Prime to try to recover samples of the Blood Angels gene-seed for his experiments. There he found Vlad, broken in the body but still alive. In the time he spent alone on that deserted world, the darkness within his soul had grown bigger and bigger, changing him forever.

In the beginning I thought that he should be heavily mutated, having been in the service of the God of Battle for ten thousand years. So I tried equipping him with a brutal-looking axe from the Chaos Forsaken kit, but it looked too big and disproportioned, even if it cannot really be seen from this angle:

An early version of Brother Vlad

Yes, as you can see from the background, I was still working on my walking altar to Chaos at that time.

Then I thought of using the daemon wings from the Possessed kit, but still was not satisfied.

A damonic version of Brother Vlad

Then I was struck by a thought. Vlad was a son of Sanguinius, the most noble of all the Primarchs. His mind might have been shrouded by darkness, his body might have been broken, but the taint of the Warp might not alter him beyond recognition. He is a fallen angel, but an angel nonetheless. Perfect. Flawless.

Brother Vlad, the Flawless

Even though I decided that he was a Sanguinary Guard, I did not want to clad him in a gold armour. It would have been too flashy and not “Blood Angels” enough. Also, I wanted him to stand out more from the rest of my army, to mark his difference. Gold would have been too similar to the muted green of the Betrayers of Pain. I painted him red, with gold trims as a nod to the rank he held 10,000 years ago.

The armour mostly doneThe armour mostly done - rear view

Note that in the end I decided to swap the plasma pistol for a combi-melta, for I wanted his squad to carry out an anti-tank role. I also gave him a ceremonial dagger from the Sanguinary Guard kit, a memento of his former life he is unable to get rid of. The death mask on his base, instead, was of one of his many victims. He has a particular hate for his former legion. They abandoned him on a doomed planet and almost killed him during the bombardment on the Cathedral of the Mark. He will have his revenge for this.

Brother Vlad the Flawless - finishedBrother Vlad the Flawless - finishedBrother Vlad the Flawless - finishedBrother Vlad the Flawless - finished

And, to conclude, here is a couple of shots of Brother Vlad in action:

Brother Vlad in action

Brother Vlad, the Flawless, guiding his men in a Kill Team mission.

Brother Vlad in action 2

Brother Vlad assaulting the lines of the Children of Torment

Through the Currents of the Warp

It was October 2012 when I began my Chaos Space Marines army, the Betrayers of Pain. The new Codex was just released, and leafing through its pages I encountered a dilemma: I knew that I had to add to my army at least one Heldrake, for its rules were too god to overlook it, but the model did not excite me, and I just cannot force myself to buy models that I do not like. I was thinking of ways to solve the problem by converting something else or buying a Hell Talon from Forge World, when a member of the staff in my local Games Workshop showed me his Heldrake conversion. It was a simple repositioning of the wings in a more aerodynamic shape, but it was really effective and, most importantly, I appreciated the result. Knowing that I could do something similar, adding the model to my army was not a problem any more.

As soon as I started assembling it, however, I discovered that I could do something even better. Dry-fitting the two halves of the body and looking at the exhausts on the back, it was clear that there was a face there, the face of a creature born from the Warp and not just altered from its mutagen effects. It just needed a little bit of greenstuff here and there.

Converted Heldrake - 1

The spine-like structure on the new front of the model has been the most difficult part to sculpt. As I could not use the regular armoured plate that came with the kit, for it did not fit at all with this new look, I did not know what to use to cover that part. Maybe the final result is a bit raw, for that was the first time I tried to use greenstuff to sculpt something ex-novo but I am satisfied with the overall look I have achieved.

When it went to paint it, I decided to try a new approach. This was my first creature from the warp, an evanescent monster phasing between the materium and the immaterium, kept stable only by the enchantments woven on the armour used to submit it to the will of its master, so I could not use a layering approach on its flesh, for the end result would have been too “physical” and would have not satisfied me. So the idea of trying to wet-blend colours thinned down to glaze consistency struck me.

Converted Heldrake - painted

It was an experiment, but I am pleased of the result I have achieved.

Maybe it was unclear from the pictures of the unpainted model, but from these you can see that I also modified the flying stand socket on the underbelly of the Heldrake to change its flying angle. With the tail in that position, the model has a natural movement toward right, and I wanted to accentuate it even further to make this Hel-Manta ray look as if it was swimming through the evanescent currents of the warp and not flying in a physical atmosphere.

On the base I tried to recreate a small battle scene with a wounded Burning Ashes Space Marine (my personal Chapter). At the time I was happy with it, but the more time passes, the more I feel unsatisfied. It is too empty and boring, it needs more rubble and more colours, and maybe a bit of wreckage and some difference of height in some points. I do not know when, but I will probably change it in the future.

I was thinking to add another Heldrake to my collection, to make a different conversion and to add some strength to my Chaos army, but the armour has been such a pain to paint, with all those trims, that I don’t know if I will be ever able to persuade myself!

Centurions to Obliterators Conversions

(Yes, another WIP project)

It probably is not yet clear to you, as this blog is too young, but I am a hobby butterfly. I constantly think to dozens of projects, and sometimes one of them becomes a vision, a driving idea so strong that I stop to work on whatever I was doing at the moment to embark on this new quest. As a result, I have a lot of unfinished projects scattered through my cabinets, miniature cases and hobby table. Will I ever finish them? Who knows. Probably not, if I keep on buying new miniatures that I like and amassing new projects, probably. These Obliterators conversions, however, were not abandoned due to a new project stealing all my attention from them. They are still unfinished because I seem unable to find the right idea to complete them.

I never added a Obliterator to my Betrayers of Pain Renegade Chapter, even though they are almost universally regarded as some of the most powerful models in the Codex (and I can clearly see why). The reason is simple: I do not like their original models. Never did. So I considered various options to replace them, but none really pleased me. I have seen a lot of wonderful conversions based on Chaos Terminators, but those were not bulky enough. Obliterators are bigger than Terminators, and my skills were not enough to do such conversions. Then the Centurions were released. To me, they looked a bit out-of-place in a Space Marines army, but their potential was clear. Basically, they are a loyalist version of the Obliterators, so it is not a crazy idea to turn them to Chaos. Especially as my Chapter betrayed the Imperium only recently, and a touch of imperial design here and there really fits their background.

So I surfed the net to see how other hobbyists with the same idea (it went without saying that there were) did tackle the problem and found two exceptional sources of inspiration on the Bolter and Chainsword forums, Krautscientist and Biohazard. So, having now get a sense of what could be done and what kind of results one could expect, I started to dig into my bits box and looking for suitable components. And I managed to get there:

Obliterator 1Obliterator 2Obliterator 3

While Biohazard’s and Kreautscientist’s models basically kept the Centurions’ hands, I wanted to integrate the weapons directly in their arms, as a nod to the original Obliterators. There’s a bit of everything in there: a loyalist assault cannon, weapons from the Chaos Raptors and Terminators sets, a couple of plasma pistols from the old (early ’90-ies, I think) Chaos Weapons sprue and even a Heldrake’s leg (the left-hand cannon on the third model).

The main problem of using the Centurions for this conversion is that they have too many big, flat and empty surfaces. They shout “Hey, I am a loyalist!” when you look at them, and to mask this effect you need a lot of components to add or a lot of greenstuff. Both is better.

Obliterator 1Obliterator 2Obliterator 3

I tried to sculpt flames and daemonic faces (and flames which look like daemonic faces) here and there, but that was not enough. I should have probably covered all their legs with them, but then the risk was that they would have looked too “heavy” and “boring”. Unless I can come up with some different, lighter, design to use, I do not think I will go that way. I will probably try sculpting some trims, as Darth Mustard suggested on Bolter and Chainsword. Well, I will try it someday, as now I am too focused on the Adeptus Mechanicus to think to anything else.

I will also need to find a way to make their “forearms” more interesting, by adding some skull, blade, spike or icon. I could probably break their flatness with some freehand, but then, again, they would not be baroque enough – there would not be enough Chaos on them.

Obliterator 1 - rearObliterator 2 - rearObliterator 3 - rearThe icon on their backs is a nod to the Adeptus Mechanicus symbol on the loyalists’ equipments, but, as you can see, the corrupting influence of Chaos is clearly evident.

I hope you liked them, and maybe some of you could come up with some advice for them that is interesting enough to relight my devotion to the Chaos gods and lead me to complete these guys?

Mechanical Devotion to the Chaos Gods

In a previous post I said that I do not plan collecting a Dark Mechanicum force, for I do not feel attracted by its concept. That did not mean, however, that I will never field some creations of the Dark Mechanicum in my Chaos Space Marine army. On the contrary! I love those bizarre and gothic fusions of tech and flesh, especially when they are walkers. The Defiler, for example, has been one of my favourite model for years. In the beginning I really liked it, but then began looking a bit disproportionate. I mean… that huge body just to hold up such a small turret? Why? That marvellous mechanical arachnoid structure could have supported something bigger and a lot more interesting!

In the years, I have seen a lot of interesting conversions based on the Defiler kit. It probably is one of the favourite kits from the modellers out there. Well, at least until the Imperial Knights gave us a more interesting and detailed robotic structure to work on, of course. It was not one of these conversions, however, to inspire me to convert the Defiler I had bought years ago. It was the Chaos Warriors War Altar from the fantasy Warhammer to strike me like a lightning. A walking altar to the Chaos Gods? Sure, why not? But, it wouldn’t have really fitted in the grim darkness of the far future with a couple of mutated giants supporting it. It had to be something mechanical. What better use for my Defiler, then?

Walking Altar - left sideWalking Altar - right side

Walking Altar - Front

Look how the daemonic face of the altar adds to the sense of menace of the model.

Walking Altar - top

As you can see, I chose put a Tzeentch Sorcerer (converted from the plastic Space Marine Librarian, as my Renegade Chapter betrayed the Imperium only recently) on it, instead of a Dark Apostle, like someone might have thought (it is a walking altar to all the four gods, after all). The reason is that I like to play with models that more or less clearly represent their options. Most of the times I am going to play this model as a Defiler, so what could stand for its main cannon and the power flail, if not a psyker ready to unleash all the might of his powers on the trembling enemies? Ok, this might seem a poor excuse to someone, but it works for me.

Even if a Dark Apostle preaching from the front pulpit would be really awesome, I must admit it! Maybe I should convert another walking altar? Maybe one that will be ridden by champions of all four Gods, like in a mini-diorama? It would be amazing, no doubt. I am really tempted to do something like that, but at the moments I have other priorities for the money in my wallet.

Chaos Sorcerer

Look at the Sorcerer focusing his mind to cast a devastating power upon his unlucky enemies. Can you feel the power crackling all around him? No? Well…

The Sorcerer's Familiar

Every powerful Sorcerer needs a Familiar to boost his already mighty psychic prowess (unless he is Raistlin Majere, of course), so I finally found a way to use this little model that comes with the Chaos Space Marine Terminator Lord kit. It is a nice little addition to the model and helps filling some space on such an empty surface.

I must admit that I like almost all the Familiars produced from Games Workshop, and it is a pity that most of the old miniatures are not available any more. I would like to collect them and paint them for my psykers. I might even consider starting a Thousand Sons army just for them.

Defiler's Back

I tried to apply a Scorpion Green glaze on the flames to give them an eldritch look, but the effect is too subtle, almost invisible. I probably thinned it down too much and should correct this error

The Altar with the BookClose-up of the book

A close-up of the book on the altar. Maybe it describes the ritual to direct the blue Warpflames that burn in the braziers upon the unlucky opponents