Promethium Pipes

I have to admit, I like that scenery is a lot more interactive now in Warhammer 40,000.  Different buildings have slightly different rules, bunkers are more durable than office buildings, statues can inspire, and all that.  Just recently we’ve seen the Plasma Obliterator (limited edition, already gone) and the promethium pipes (not limited, but also already gone).  It’d be nice if Games Workshop made something besides Imperial scenery, but... well...  You can’t have everything.

Where would you put it?

Anyway, for no reason whatsoever... I thought I’d show how you can build some great refinery/ pipe pieces that’ll cost you, well, pretty much nothing if you have some really basic modeling supplies and a few empty boxes.

I stumbled across these basic templates in a scenery pack five or six years ago.  This led me back to the creator’s DeviantArt page, where taerSliver (his spelling) had created a few more options (including a horizontal bend, a T-intersection, and a double support).  I’m also going to try to get all of them up into the STC Archive in the next couple days (there’s some kind of recurring error happening at the moment).

I decided to build some basics and printed these out two each of the basic pipe length and the ground pipe.  They look a little complex on the page, but I was impressed how well they quick they went together.  The two ground support pieces took about an hour to mount on cardstock, cut out, and assemble.  Once I started folding it,  taerSliver’s template became clear and easy to work with.  I built the bottom first, sat a spare bottle of glue on it while it dried, and then folded the top over and used the bottle to hold that in place, too.

Next was the actual ground pipe.  This is probably the most complex part out of all the different components.  There are regular and inverted folds, and on some of the underside points they’ll actually triple up.  This piece requires the most time and patience.  It’s complicated to cut out and most of the joins require you to just hold them—it’s not possible to get a clothespin on them.

Helpful Hint—There is no actual bend to the underside of this piece.  It’s a right angle.  I wasted about ten minutes assuming taerSliver had left off a fold line or two.  The template’s fine—just assemble it as directed and be amazed by the optical illusion.

The pipes themselves are very simple octagons, just like a lot of the gun barrels, engines, and towers I’ve made in the past.  Once they were scored and glued, I clamped them and let them dry for about ten minutes.  One nice thing to consider is it’s very easy to extend or shorten these if you’ve got a specific layout in mind you want to build.  Either cut the template short, double it up, or just extend the lines as long as you’d like.

The other support was very simple.  It’s not much more than a box with two angles at the top.  Again, it went together without any challenge.

There’s a plug piece as well. This gives the pipe a bit more solidity, and also a surface to fasten the pipe ends to the supports on either end. I didn’t build them for this example, but they’re good to use if you want to make this whole thing rock-solid.

And that was pretty much it. I’d built two groundpipes, two regular pipes, and two supports in a little over three hours.  That’s from printing them out to dried and done.  Well, done as they are on the template, anyway...

I decided to toss on a little more detail.  I used my 1/16" hole punch to make a bunch of rivets, and these gave me some nice texture.  I almost put a little control/ monitor panel on one of the regular supports.  They’ve got tons of room for such things.  And once this was painted, it’d be very easy to add on tank decals and such to the pipes.  Numbers, aquillas, warning signs.  These templates have so much empty space it’d be easy to load them up with whatever details you want.  You could mount the whole thing on a piece of foamcore and have a great, solid scenery piece that matches up with a refinery or fuel depot or whatever else you may have in your collection.

I joined these pieces up so you’d have a sense of what it looks like.  I also realized, at this point, I’d had my printer settings off and these template were a bit larger than they should’ve been. Maybe about 10-15% larger.  Even then, that would make these about chest-to-neck-high on a Space Marine.  If you wanted to get these very close to the GW Promethium Pipes, you’d probably want to print these out at around 80% normal size.  This will make that ground pipe really nightmarish to assemble, but it’ll be worth it.  In fact, on that scale it almost might be worth doing some of  these components on heavy paper rather than cardstock, but that’s going to depend on your own tastes and comfort.



This is another one of those dirt-cheap, simple conversions that you can add some punch to your Imperial Guard... sorry, Astra Militarium army (because you can’t copyright “Imperial Guard”).  And, as an added bonus, it ties really well to the Adeptus Mechanicus, too.  Good timing on that...

Many years back, when the Imperial Guard codex worked off the doctrine system, there was a wonderful White Dwarf article about abhuman regiments.  For those of you who missed it, the idea was pretty simple.  With all the various not-quite-mainstream humans kicking around the Imperium, it was inevitable that you’d end up with a few worlds where the large percentage of their populations—and thus, their Guard foundings—weren’t, exactly, well, mainstream human.  Think Ogryns.  Or Inhumans.

One of the most interesting ones, I thought, were the Afriels.  Unlike many of the other mutations which resulted from centuries of isolation in harsh conditions, the Afriels were deliberately engineered by the techpriests of Mars using DNA from dozens of the Imperium’s greatest heroes (think Serpentor 40,000).  They weren’t Astartes, but they were tougher, stronger, and better disciplined than most Guardsmen, and usually equipped with top level kit from the techpriests.

I built a platoon’s worth of them in Adeptus Mechanicus colors... and then the doctrine system went away.  I briefly toyed with just repainting them all to join my Catachans, but I really liked the look of them as chalk-skinned figs.  And I do have a thing for super-soldiers.

It took me a long while to hit on the idea of Afriel Stormtroopers...  Sorry again, Scions (old habits, because you can’t copyright “Stormtroopers”).  It made perfect sense, really.  Afriels and Scions hit so many of the same points.  Better trained, better equipped, less common, more durable, very distinctive on the field, and usually deployed for a specific purpose.  And just this week, we’ve seen the announcement of Skitarii—genetically and mechanically engineered super soldiers used by the Adeptus Mechanicus.  So, yet another possibility...

The cheap part?  Afriels are pretty much just Catachan Guardsmen with a distinctive color scheme (white skin, pale hair, and a contrasting uniform—probably red).  So that’s a full squad of ten Scions (or Skitarii) for almost 60% less than the regular price.

I used a lot of spare heads from Space Marine Scouts.  Each one has a headset and several have monoptics or visors, which helps sell the high-tech idea.  They’re also just a hair too big for Catachan bodies.  I mean, we’re talking like three or four percent too big.  Just enough that it registers and feels a little... off.  Which is perfect for Afriels.

I’m probably going to go through and put Space Marine scopes on the lasguns.  It’s a little touch that makes the rifles look a little more high-tech and helps sell them as either a hellgun variant or just a higher-end lasgun.

My Afriel Tempestor Prime (originally the platoon commander) has a bionic arm.  This is a really simple conversion—it’s just a Space Marine arm without a shoulder pad.  Yes, I know he can’t have a stormbolter.  As I said, he was built when the codex was very different.  He’ll probably end up with a plasma pistol, and maybe a power sword.

There’d probably be some weapons tweaks needed to make an Ad Mech squad out of them, but the basic idea would remain the same. And be just as inexpensive...


Transcendent C’Tan

What the heck, while I’m on this little roll, here’s one other Necron unit you can make on the cheap.  Although, to be fair up front, like the Deathmarks, this one’s more “inexpensive” than flat-out cheap, and

Lots of folks love that Transcendent C’Tan, but it is scary expensive.  You’re either paying for the whole Tesseract Vault (about $140) or you’re buying it online as bits (around $60 most places I’ve seen it).  Neither of these is a great option if you’re short on cash.


All along, the Necron fluff has talked about how several of the C’Tan disguise themselves as other creatures.  Even with the slight retcon that the ones we meet are all “shards” of the total entity, it’s not hard to believe they could take on any form.  So any oversized model could work as a C’Tan with the right paintjob.

For example...

The Dark Elf Cauldron of Blood has a great statue of Khaine.  You can pick it up for under twenty bucks on line, even less if you get lucky with an eBay auction.  It makes a wonderful Avatar if you’re an Eldar player, or just scenery. But it could also be used for other purposes...

Here’s the complete statue.  I could cut off the topknot, some of the horns/ vanes on the head.  I could also shave off some of the spur-type horns growing along the arms and legs.  This would leave me with a pretty basic humanoid form with an elongated head.

I could also grab the control panel icon from the Necron Catacomb command barge.  You may already have one of these in your bits if you built an annihilation barge.  It fits very well right on the chest with no work at all.  With a tiny bit of filing and shaving, it would be a perfect fit.

If you can afford to pay a little more, dig around online or in your bits bins for detail pieces from the Wood Elves line.  There are tufts of weeds, blades of grass, and all sorts of small branches and such.  But if they’re painted electric blue or neon green, these would look a lot like the little energy wisps that are radiating off GW's Transcendent C’Tan model.  This would also work with really simple green stuff tentacles.

And just like that... you've got a Transcendent Star Dragon, for under twenty dollars.