Unyielding Spectres - follow-up

Okay, after several days hunched over my keyboard, I decided to take a break by hunching over some little toy soldiers. I really wanted to give this a try and create a ghastly green squad to help my Relictors out now and then. Why? Two good reasons.

One, it fits the established fluff (and even some of their original rules) that pretty much no one will ally themselves with the Relictors (bar the occasional radical Inquisitor). The rule has gone away, but I’m one of those weirdoes who believes in making an army that matches their history. So while even the Legion of the Damned might forsake the Relictors, the recently-annihilated Squad Marle might come back to fight another war with their battle-brothers.

Two is that it fits so well with the idea of the Relictors themselves. Veteran brother-Sergeant Marle had meditated, purified himself, and been anointed with all the proper seals and oils before he took up the warp-twisting weapon known as the Axe of Tchar. Who could have foreseen the twisted fate that would befall him and leave him and his men as warp-bound spirits?

See? Sounds good, doesn’t it?

So, these first two models were already blue from a half-hearted attempt at an Ultramarines army. I painted them with a solid coat of goblin green. That got a heavy drybrush of scorpion green on top of it, and then a lighter drybrush of bilious green. I did about a 60/40 mix of bilious green and skull white for the next layer of drybrushing, and finished them off with a very light dusting of skull white. I tried to avoid the shoulder pads for most of the drybrushing, except for the trim. Since Relictors are a dark gray with black shoulder pads, I wanted the pads on these spectral Relictors to be darker, too.

Just before the skull white, I also gave the multi-melta barrels a light drybrush of sunburst yellow. It helps them stand out amidst all the green. I might give the plasma gun something similar.

Anyway, there's a cheap way to do a “counts as” Legion of the Damned. I’m going to try to do those Defiler weapons sometime in the next week or two. Still hoping to be back up and running full time just after Thanksgiving.


Unyielding Spectres

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to post anything else while I was working on the book (which is 2/3 done, for those of you who care), but I had this idea last night. It isn’t paperhammer, but it is pretty cheap...

So, maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always thought the Legion of the Damned was one of the cooler elements in Space Marine lore. I mean, in an army of superhuman warriors, they’re the ones everyone points at and says “Whoa, who are those guys?” If you’ve been a long-time player, you’ve probably seen a good half-dozen versions of the skull-and-fire army list, including the Apocalypse datasheet.

They got yet another one in the new Space Marine Codex, and this time they got new figures as well. Absolutely beautiful figures. How could you not love either of those sergeants? I mean, I’ve got a lot of my old figures and I love ‘em, don’t get me wrong. But the new ones with the slightly-different proportions just have a real punch to them, y’know?

Alas, these days all those figures are way out of my price range. Even if you go through someone like the Warstore who’ll give you a discount, you’re looking at about $45 dollars for a bare-bones (no pun intended) five man squad. Get an assault and/ or a heavy weapon and you could be looking at close to $100 for a ten man squad of angry spectral warfare.

So, being poor and clever, I started mulling over it in the back of my mind.

Just recently, it so happens, I was browsing through some old White Dwarf issues from five or six years back. Y’know, when it was fun and exciting to read each month. Anyway, some of you may remember there was a gentle push for “counts as” models to make people experiment with the modeling aspect of the hobby. A lot of examples of this showed up in White Dwarf.

Now, I don’t play Warhammer Fantasy, but I admit there are some gorgeous models and I do like seeing what people do with them. What caught my eye was a run of people doing very offbeat things with undead armies. There were two articles, in fact, about guys who’d made armies using non-human undead, going off the logic that in this world people had to use something besides human corpses. One gent (in WD # 289) had used Dwarves as his Spirit Host by painting the models head-to-toe in ghostly pale blue. Another had made an undead Orc army (WD #309) and used two goblins with bagpipes to represent his Banshee, painted a bright, almost phosphorescent green..

The kicker, though, was a little deeper in WD #309. There was an article on Kill Team (remember Kill Team?) and how to add a “level boss” style nemesis to your game. Unbound deamons, mutant monstrosities, warrior constructs, and at the very end of the article... apparitions. A set of rules for bringing the ghost of an Imperial saint or martyr into Kill Team. Their example was a Space Marine sergeant decked out with a few nice bits and painted in that same ghostly green style.

So last night it hit me (as I’m sure it’s already hit you). The Legion of the Damned are suspected of being ghosts anyway. What about just painting a squad of regular Marines as glowing green or blue ghosts and using them as a “counts as” Legion of the Damned?

It almost works better, in a way, because now you can customize them to your army. There’s tons of history where Space Marines are getting annihilated by company (Ultramarines 1st) or by chapter (Astral Knights), and it wouldn’t take long to find a group of spirits who would be coming to your army’s rescue. Heck, you may have something from your own personal gaming history to fall back on (like when Gillian’s Tyranids wiped out my Relictors last Labor Day).

The best part? You can buy a regular ten-man tactical squad for about $35 dollars, depending on where you shop. That’s a third of the price of buying ten Legion of the Damned models. Still too much? Go to Battlewagon Bits or the Bitz Barn and buy the tactical squad from the Black Reach set. A few less posing options, but now you’re only paying about twenty dollars for a ten man squad of vengeful wraiths. That’s almost 80% less than the LotD figures.

And 80% off is pretty cheap.

I might try one of these this week. I’ll post a picture here if it comes out kind of nice.


The Defiler, Pt V

Today we put it all together and finish this template.

Man, this is the longest it’s taken me to build any of the projects I’ve tackled here. I hope somebody appreciates this...

Before I dive into new stuff, I want to take one tiny step backwards, though. I was looking at the armor plates for the legs and realized I could add two more points along the trim near the center of the plate. They’re the same right-angle triangles I used on the ends, cut from a 1/8” strip, except I glued them on the hypotenuse rather than the side. It’s a tiny, tiny bit more detail, but all these tiny bits are easy and they add up real fast.

The claws attach pretty easy. If you look close, the back edge is a bit long and that gives you a solid point to connect each section to the arm. I also put a drop or two of glue inside each piece so it would run down and add to the join once the claw was in place. Put the two big claws flush with the sides of the arm and there should be a tiny bit of a gap left to fit the thumb in place.

I want to point out I was careful placing the claws because I had specific things I wanted each one to do. The Nurgle Defiler was going to be resting on its knuckles, so those claws had to be double-checked in place against the model. The Khorne one was going to have one arm aggressively raised, so I wanted to make those claws look a bit more dynamic. If you’ve got a better idea how you want the model to look in the end, it’ll help a lot when doing all the extra work you need to do with a template like this, where so much of it needs to be posed.

Helpful Hint-- Whatever way you end up posing the claws, try to have the thumb make contact with at least one of them. Use a drop of glue on that contact point. It’s a very small, subtle thing, but it will make this whole section so much stronger to have multiple connections. And you want it to be solid because you’re going to smack it against a Carnifex or some Storm Shields at least once or twice a month if you’ve got a good gaming group.

The claws are a little bit on the small side, once you get to see the whole thing assembled. If you have paper to spare, it might be worth printing them just 10% larger or so. They should still fit with no problem.

Anyway, I let the claws sit to dry for a little bit and looked at the chassis again. After building the Plague Tower back in the spring, I knew that blank space can look especially deadly on a paperhammer model. So I decided to put some bits on the front and back of the chassis.

The back is easy. I just cut a few thin strips and glued them down to look like they were part of a superstructure. You can do some nice layering stuff in here, too.

The front was a bit more work. I decided I wanted to build a cow catcher, a bit like the regular GW model has, or like the one on the Plague Tower. I cut a piece of card 3/8” wide and 1” long and glued it under the front edge of the chassis so there was a 1/8” edge sticking out. Then I cut out a few 1/2” triangles, exactly like the ones I used on the battle cannon. I glued these in the front to make a cow-catcher/ ram.

With that done, I cut out the sockets for the front arms. These go on the diagonal sides of the chassis, on either side of the cow-catcher I just scratch built. Give them time to dry before you put the arms on, especially if one of the arms on your Defiler is going to be raised.

While the sockets were drying I cut out the armor plates and put on detail the same way I did on the leg plates. I used 1/8” strips on the long edges, then added some right triangles cut from the same strips to create the Chaos look. It took a bit more time, because these forearm pieces are loaded with angles, but I think they came out pretty nice. It’s not perfect trim but it implies the trim, if that makes sense. And it’ll look good once it’s painted.

There’s also the issue of the spiky bits. Defilers have blade-spikes all over their legs and arms, and they are included on the template. However, I don’t think single-thickness card is going to be all that durable. It’s definitely going to be a pain to glue on-edge. So, I decided to combine the blades.

I took the eight blades for the C and bottom of the D armor, then doubled them up so they’d be twice as thick. I added one of the upper D blades to each, too, giving me something very similar to the feet-talons, but with a flat back. This gave me four solid blades per model which I attached to the C armor plates.

Helpful Hint - On the Nurgle model, I put “corrosion” holes on the C plates, placed so there was only room for one blade on each piece. I used the spare blades on the lower D armor to spread them out a bit and help make up for this Defiler’s static pose.

I found that to attach the C armor to the forearm, you’ll need to cut out a few cardboard spacers. With that extra score line to give it a diagonal corner, the plate isn’t wide enough I decided to take care of this before attaching the arms. You can freehand a rectangle to use as a spacer or use a couple of 1/4” discs. Whatever you decide to use, you want to make it two or three layers thick. Also, keep it near the center line of the armor plate--this is going to join on the spacer and at those thin diagonal edges. I cut two long strips, which gave the bonus of looking like pistons or struts when you saw then at the “elbow” or through the gaps in the Nurgle armor.

Now to attach the front arms. This is a bit trickier than the legs because there’s a lot of stuff in the way now (including... the legs). Try to pinch the tops and bottoms (the triangle piece for as long as you can, then lever in the side rectangles.

This is Important - Let these pieces dry for a long time, especially any that are raised. If you have any sort of angle or pressure on them there’s going to be torque on the glue and the pieces will just twist free as soon as you stop pinching the flaps of the socket. I used a bunch of stuff to keep the arms in position and the flaps in place on the wooden bead. Clothespins, books, and even a couple of the skull shot glasses I mentioned before (they’re just tall enough to sit under the Nurgle Defiler). I wedged and balanced them wherever they were needed and left them all overnight.

Last but not least, I glued the armor plates onto the arms. They went on pretty easy, and just like the leg plates, they give the model a good sense of bulk.

And that’s that. At this point we’ve built everything from lustandtorment’s original template, and it is a great template. While I made it look very long and drawn out--mostly because I was building two of them in between work assignments-- I bet one of these could be built over a long weekend without too much trouble. Four days, tops. Heck, you can cut 85% of it out with a good pair of scissors. I think this is a fantastic model, and someone would have to be a real hard-ass not to allow one of these on the battlefield.

I’ll also point out, for those who like the Blood God, that with what we’ve done so far it’d be very easy to build the Brass Scorpion of Khorne pictured in the first Apocalypse book. The one they built using parts from two Defilers. So there’s that and the Soulgrinder as bonus extras for this template as well.

Now, some bad news.

I’m afraid at this point I need to take some time off from the geeky blog. Y’see, I’ve got a book manuscript due at the first of the year, it’s only about 2/3 done, and I need to put some serious work into it. It’s the sequel to Ex-Heroes, which is listed there on the sidebar. Please feel free to check it out. Ex-Patriots is currently going to be released next summer, as I understand it. Assuming, of course, I get it done on time.

Also, as of late I feel like I’ve been rushing things to get them done to put up here, not building things for the sheer enjoyment of it--which is supposed to be a big part of the hobby, yes? So probably nothing else until close to Thanksgiving while I get caught up on the book and maybe work on one or two projects at a more relaxed rate. I’ll still check in regularly, though, if anyone has any comments, questions, or requests.

Plus, I’ve been thinking about the Defilers a bit more and I’m not quite done. If you check back over the next few weeks I should have some instructions and examples of how to make weapons options (and a few very last details) for both versions of the Defiler. Or for whichever version you decided to make.

And when I come back around Thanksgiving... I’m thinking about tanks. Big tanks.


The Defiler, Pt IV

I think building two of these things is taking four or five times longer than it would to build one of them...

Anyway... here’s some more details for the lower section. At the bottom of the template you’ll see sixteen 1/2” circles with some vaguely chaos-ey images on them. These are detail pieces for the joints on each leg and the front arms. Cut them out and glue one to each side. I’ll be honest--I searched local craft and hobby stores for a 1/2” hole punch but couldn’t find anything. It’s apparently a no-man’s land size between 1/4” and 5/8”. Ah, well...

You can cut out most of them with a good pair of scissors. Take your time and use a hobby knife to trim off any sharp edges or points--you want these as close to perfect as possible. When you’re done you may want to press them between the pages of a book to get rid of any curls or bends the scissors may have put in them.

Once those circles were in place, I used discs from a standard 1/4” hole punch to add more detail to the leg joints. On the Khorne model I went one further with a 1/8” disc on top of that. On the Nurgle one I drove myself slightly mad by putting a trio of rivets from the 1/16” punch in the middle of each 1/4” disc. A dozen or so tiny Nurgle icons, all over the model. If you add on the extra-extra bits first (start small and work down, in other words), it might save a few shreds of your sanity. And your eyesight.

Helpful Hint - If you’ve got (or can get) the bits, you could also use round Fantasy shields for these joint-details. There are the older, generic ones that were used by Skaven, Goblins, and Dwarves which are perfect. Skeleton shields would be cool for a Khorne Defiler--bone-rimmed circles with a skull motif in the center.

Don’t forget you need to use superglue when you attach plastic to paper.

Next, cut out the talons. Again, because lustandtorment made such a great template, you can actually do all of this with a good pair of scissors. I cut out all the talons for one model in about an hour. Glue them together as the template shows. Take your time and make sure everything lines up

Helpful Hint - These talons are going to end up supporting the whole model, so you want them to be solid. Use your finger to paint the tips in glue. You want it to soak into the card and harden.

Mark the point where the legs make contact with the tabletop and draw a line straight up. This is your guide to placing the talons. Once you’ve done that, flip the chassis on its back so the legs are up in the air. Attach the talons, double-checking to make sure they’re straight and placed correctly. You don’t want to go through all this and have one talon going off crooked. I also added a little detail piece made with the hole punches. Put one on each side of the “ankle.”

This is Important - Unless you cut out extras all on your own, the big circles from the template do not go on the ends of the legs or the arms (the ankles and wrists). There aren’t enough of them. That’s why I threw together these using the hole punches.

Once all that’s placed, leave the chassis on its back to dry.

For the record, yes, this is also where I realized I’d posed the legs really high on both of these models. They're going to loom over the battlefield.

I also used this time to make the D armor plates for the legs. You can print out an extra template and put “Chaos trim” on these plates the same way I did it with the Hellblade. I decided to try something different and just used a couple long, thin strips of card about 1/8” wide (depending on your taste, you can go anywhere between 1/8” and 1/4”). I cut these to fit on the plates before gluing them in place. I also cut small triangles off these strips and fit them on the trim to give it those spiky edges.

On the Nurgle model, you can leave big gaps in the trim and it’ll just look battered and old. I also used my different-sized hole punches to put a few overlapping holes in these plates. Then I made them a bit more uneven with my hobby knife. When I paint the model, I’ll make these look rusted and corroded.

The front arms go together just like the legs, but here they connect A to B to C. Use those flaps again, too. The curved ends of B should butt up against the tabs in A and C. This means you can glue the arms in two different directions (along the plane of the joint and the plane of the tab) so these pieces will dry rock solid. Add the wooden beads at the end of each arm. You can also put on more of the circle-pieces for detail like I did up above.

Those arms are going to take a bit of careful placement. I decided I wanted one arm raised high on the Khorne Defiler to add to its aggressive pose. Like the GW model, though, I’d still need to put one arm down in the front for balance. On the Nurgle model, I decided to put both arms low, keeping with the squatting, solid posture I’d been shooting for. I might even give it kind of a Biovore pose, as if it’s resting on its knuckles. But this meant I had to wait for all the talons to dry so I could figure the right positions for the claws.

So, next up, all this stuff gets put together.


Helpful Hint

Stepping away from the Defiler for a moment, I thought this was worth mentioning.

If you’ve got a 99 Cent Store or something similar near you, go check out their Halloween section. I just found a four pack of plastic shot glasses shaped like skulls. Yeah, plastic shot glasses aren’t that great, but the real way to look at this is it's a pack of four 1 3/4” skulls for a dollar.

Imperial scenery. Chaos scenery. Super-heavy vehicles. Doesn’t matter what color they are once you prime them and paint them like granite, marble, or steel. If you can’t think of something in Warhammer 40K you might want to build that would benefit from a skull bigger than a Space Marine... well...

For a buck or two, there are worse things for a scratch builder to have in his or her bitz box.


The Defiler, Pt III

It look like the hit counter passed 10,000 over the weekend. Wow.

Okay, continuing on...

Cut out the leg sockets. They’re the vaguely star-shaped pieces on page four of the template. Glue four of these in place on the back section of the chassis, a little bit in from either end. They should be tall, not wide. The extra two are for the front arms, which we’ll get to in a while.

Start with the front legs. Put white glue on the inside of the socket, then pinch the four “arms” of the socket closed around the wooden bead. You’re probably going to have to hold them for a minute or three, and there will be some readjustment needed as you go. I held them for about five just to be safe. If you plan carefully, you can get both front legs in place and hold them both at the same time.

This Is Important -- Make sure the legs will sit flat once the model is in its standing pose. The more of an angle they’re at, the harder it will be to get the feet/ talons to line up when we get to them.

I did two legs on one Defiler, then moved to the other one and did two on that model. If you’re only working on one, you should probably give it about ten minutes for the glue to firm up before moving on. Once I had all four legs on and they were relatively solid, I flipped it over and put a few drops of glue in key points to make it even stronger. I gave this whole assembly about an hour to dry and it ended up good and rigid. Strong enough that I knew a leg wasn’t going to randomly drop off during a game.

While that lower section was drying, I went to work on the torso.

Actually, before I do that, I want to point out something that may please some of you. The majority of this template focuses on the bottom half of the Defiler and lustandtorment did a fantastic job with that. Something occurred to me the other day, though. What else can you do with the bottom half of a Defiler? To be more specific, what else could you do with the bottom half of a Defiler and the spare torso, head, and arms that come with the new Daemon Prince model?

Food for thought, eh?

So, for the battle cannons, I decided to use the same simple design I used to make an engine for the Hellblade a few weeks back. Cut a piece of card 2 1/4” wide by 3/4” long. You want to do a series of scores on it 1/4” apart, parallel to the short side, so when it’s done your piece of card has nine sections measuring 1/4” wide by 3/4” long. That last section’s going to be a tab, so it’s probably better if you cut the corners down. Roll this piece, glue it on the tab, and clamp it so you’ve got an octagonal cylinder 3/4”long. With me so far?

Next, cut three 1/4” strips that are three or four inches long. Wrap them tight around your hobby knife, a round pencil, or something like that so they get a good curve to them. Now wrap them around your cylinder and cut where appropriate. Glue one strip around the base of each cannon. For reference, the seam should be on the underside of your barrel, if your cannon looks better from one angle than another.

If you feel really daring, cut one strip to fit just inside the muzzle, too. That’ll give the sense of a thick, heavy barrel and help add to the illusion that it’s rounded, not octagonal. If you decide to do this, make sure the seam where the strip comes together is towards the top of the barrel. No one’s going to get a good look at the inside-top of a Defiler cannon.

From here on, I’m going to something slightly different with the cannon for each model. You can pretend these are optional bitz. Feel free to do whichever appeals to you on your own Defiler.

On the Nurgle model I glued the last strip around the barrel’s muzzle. Again try to make these outside-the-barrel seams on these strips line up, because you can hide them all on the underside of the cannon. This should give you a squat, very basic barrel, and it’ll look great once you add a few rivets with the 1/16” hole punch.

For the Khorne Defiler, I cut out eight triangles as shown. Score them down the middle and fold. Glue each of these little “spikes” on the business end of the cannon (creased edge up), butted up against the strip at the base. Make sure you set them on the octagonal edges, not on the flat surface. This will help hide the angular nature of the barrel. The triangle-spikes should end up with just a little bit hanging out over the muzzle, and result in a much more spiky-looking cannon.

Helpful Hint-- If you need to cut out a bunch of triangles for spikes (for Chaos or Orks or whatever) try this. For the ones above, mark out a strip 1/2” wide, then break it down into 1/2” x 1/4” rectangles. Sketch alternate diagonals into the rectangles (left-to-right, right-to-left, left-to-right, and so on). Now you’ve got a row of triangles going both ways, top and bottom. Nothing gets wasted and each cut is effectively cutting a side on two different triangles. Make sense?

There’s your battle cannon. Two versions of it, in fact.

As a final touch, cut a strip of card about 1” long by 1/8” wide. Score it to fit so it folds nicely into a “bracket” for the butt-end of the battle cannon. Now there’s something more substantial for the glue to grab when I attach the cannon to the gun shield.

Speaking of which... when you glue these two pieces together, make sure the cannon is lined up with the bottom edge of the gun shield. It will leave a bit hanging out over the top that you’ll need to fill in later on. I played with placement on this for a while and finally decided the easiest way to mount the cannon was just to make it flush with the front face of the shield. Putting it on top, on the angled section, just mkes it look too high up. If you’re more daring than me (and I’m sure some of you must be) you can try to notch the butt-end of the cannon so it can sit right on the angle of the torso.

That’s all for this time.

Oh, new anthology of the month is Robots Beyond, also from Permuted Press. Check it out.


The Defiler, Pt II

I’m getting buried in work stuff which is delaying the far-more-important work on this project. I’ve decided to break up building the Defilers into a few smaller, somewhat more frequent posts rather than wait until I’ve got the material for a full-sized one... which could take weeks.

Before I did anything else, I sat down and divvied up the components. As I mentioned before, I’m building two Defilers at a time here. The cleanest parts went to the Khorne one. Anything with rough edges or “shaggy” surfaces where the template came off went into the pile for the Death Guard model. If it ends up looking rusty or tweaked... all the better.

Back to building.

The waist piece is a bit thin and flimsy, so I decided to do two things to it. First was a bit of detail. Cut a long strip about 1/8” wide. Now cut that up into 3/8” lengths and glue them around the waist at regular intervals. This gave the visible part a bit of heft, too. Second thing was to build a small box. It’s 3/8” tall by 1/2” square, so it should fit completely inside the ring of the waist.

This is Important -- This little box needs to be flush with the top of the ring. If it’s a bit low, cut out another 1/2” square of card and see if that raises it up enough. Check first, then glue it on top of the box. There’s enough variation in card models that some people may not need it. Don’t worry about looks--this is all going to be hidden inside the waist-- but this needs to be flush to give you solid contact with the torso.

So you should have the waist on the chassis at this point, with the box inside the waist. I’d hold off attaching the torso yet. It’ll be a lot easier to work with if it stays separate for now.

Before you start to assemble the legs, it’ll help to figure out what kind of pose you want your Defiler to end up in. I’ve got two, but they’re going to be a bit different. The Khorne one will be a super-dreadnaught geared up to charge into close combat and lay waste to everything it can. The Death Guard one is essentially going to be a firebase, something that just hunkers down and starts shooting big guns. As such, I want to pose their legs to reflect these roles on the battlefield. The two front legs of the Khorne Defiler (or middle legs, depending on your point of view) are going to be higher so it ends up in a more aggressive, rearing-up pose. The Death Guard one will be squatting, all equal, all low.

So, as you begin to assemble these legs, remember those all-important tabs from the A section? This is where they pay off. Slide the D section into A. If you’ve done this right, the curved end of D should butt up against that tab. This means you can glue the legs in two different directions (along the plane of the joint and the plane of the tab) so this piece will be rock solid once it dries.

I assembled four legs for each Defiler. Once they were glued I covered them with wax paper, and set a mid-sized book on them to hold the joints flat. I left these to dry for about half an hour and went on to other things.

A bit of honesty as we move on to the next step. Remember before when I said all the time-intensive stuff was done? I lied.

The Defiler’s front claws are tough. I tried cutting them out with tabs on them and it just became a mess of 1/16” cuts in thirty different directions. I’m actually tempted to say don’t do them the way I did, even though they did turn out very nice and solid in the end. You could possibly save a lot of time and headaches just cutting the claws out of the template as-is and adding scraps of card as tabs where you need them. It might be a bit less structural, but I’m not even sure of that. I tried it on the “thumb” claws and it seemed to work, but they are a much simpler shape. I may experiment with this and get back to you.

While the claws dried I went back to work on the legs. As it says on the template, you’ll need to buy some wooden beads for the ball-and-socket joint on the legs. I went to my local craft/ hobby store and picked up two bags of 5/8” (15.9mm) wooden beads for $1.19 each (that’s $1.19 per bag, not per bead). The suggestion is for 1/2” beads, but in my opinion that makes the joint harder to assemble because of how deep into the leg the beads sink. Go a tiny bit bigger and make life easier on yourself.

Put a few drops of glue in the end of each leg and then push the bead into place. You’ll need to hold it for a few minutes, and it’s best to turn it around a few times so the glue hits as many points as possible. Watch out for leaks around the corners.

That’s all for now. I’ll try to get another quick update posted this weekend.


The Defiler

The Defiler is such a cool model. The first 100% Chaos-only tank. As such, it struck me as odd that there were so few templates floating around for it. I dug around and finally found a nice one at the BWC Archive 2, and the same one has since shown up at Paperhammer 40K, too. It was created by someone using the title lustandtorment (hey, I didn’t pick the name), and if any of you know who that is, please drop a note in the comments section so I can give credit where credit is due.

I was a bit torn about which army to make a Defiler for, though. I’d toyed with the idea of doing an all-paper Iron Warriors army, but that’s still a ways in the future. The Worldeaters could be good. I already made them that nice Mk. I Land Raider after all. But I also thought paperhammer could loan itself well to Nurgle, as it did with the Plague Tower.

In the end, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I decided to build two. One for Khorne, one for Nurgle. That’d let me show off weapons options here on the blog, too.

Helpful Hint -- If you decide to download this one over at Paperhammer 40K, you may have a moment of panic. The PDF opens with some very scrawled assembly instructions at the start that made me groan, too. Don’t worry. Skim past them, the template itself is fine.

One thing to note is that there aren’t any tabs on this one, and there will be a lot of overlapping if you’re not careful. However lustandtorment has made a pretty solid template without overcomplicating it, so it won’t take much work to place a few good gluing points here and there.

The first thing I cut out and assembled was the chassis. It looks a bit complex but fits together very nice. I glued it front to back first, let that dry, and then slid in one side. While that was drying, I cut a long strip of card about 1/4” wide and made some of those consummate V’s I’ve mentioned before. This made the chassis very solid and weight-supporting. Then the other side got glued and pushed into place. The chassis is a bit odd-shaped, so you’ll want to hold it until it dries, just so nothing slides out of position. That left the two flaps at the front, but they closed up with no problem.

So, with the chassis done for each Defiler, I decided to move on to the legs. They’re labeled (by letter) on the template, but I’d suggest actually marking the letter right on each individual piece. There’s a lot of sections here (more so since I’m building two of them), and there’s a few tricks and tweaks I’ve found for each one. I’ll go through them one at a time and explain. I’d label each of these a Helpful Hint but that would just get annoying fast, so hopefully it caught your attention just then.

First up is A. This is going to be the shoulder/ hip piece on all six limbs. Now, there’s debatable flaw in this part of the template. You’ll notice at the top of the A pieces there’s a square panel to fold over and give you a solid end. Thing is... you don’t want a solid end here. This hip/shoulder piece is eventually going to get attached to a wooden ball, so you want a space for the ball to fit into. When you assemble this section, fold the square panel down flat inside the arm. When you clamp your tab, you’ll end up holding it flat as a side-effect. Make sure you don’t confuse this square panel with the small flap on the other end--that one’s important

The B section is the middle of the front arms. It’s very important that you put tabs on the two long ends. These are going to bend around the curve and they’re going to need a tab so they’ve got something to grab with. Bend those end sections gently around your hobby knife before you start scoring and folding. Again, be gentle--you want the card to bend, not fold. Don’t worry if it’s not 100 flush with the curves once it's assembled. When the model’s done, these ends are going to be hidden inside the other sections.

Section C has a problem, but it’s an easy one to fix. This is the last section of the forward arms, where the big front claws attach. Problem is, unlike B or D, it doesn’t have an end piece to attach those claws to. It’s easy to make one, though. Just cut a strip of card 2 1/2” long and a hair under 1/2” wide (go for something like 7/16” if you need an exact measurement). Bend it gently around your hobby knife at the center. Once it’s got a curve to it, glue the sides and slide it into the end of C that does not have a little flap on it (like with A, the little flap is important). Try to make it line up with the curves on either side. If you have to, you can use a pencil to push it out slightly from the other end. Like on B, don’t worry if it’s not 100 flush with the curves--the claws will hide most of it once they’re attached.

Last but not least is D. These are going to be the Defiler’s four back legs. They go together almost exactly like the B sections.

Helpful Hint -- If you’re having a lot of trouble with getting the pieces to curve on B and D, you could just cut that whole section off and use the method I did to create the curve for section C.

Next is the torso, which is a bit trickier, but not much. On the template, you’ll see two large circles on either side of the torso. These are the “shoulders” that the weapons and close combat arms mount on. For now, ignore those circles and just cut along the straight lines (straight through the circles). Just like the chassis, I glued this section front-to-back first. In a rare move, I also decided to glue this tab on the outside of the body. It made things line up better, and it also gave a tiny bit of texture to this pretty blank section.

This is Important - When you add tabs to this piece, make sure that you score the front-to-back tab so it bends the other way. The Defiler’s back dips in right at the join. You don’t want to have to wrestle with this or re-cut it.

Once the front-to-back join was dry, I folded in the side tabs and slid each side into place. Because of all the angles, you may need to hold this for a few beats to make sure everything stays tight. If you end up with faint gaps or something that went in too far, don’t worry. The shoulders will help hide a lot of that.

Using one of new dollar coins (which I think are the same size as a Euro, but I’m not 100% on that...), trace and cut out three card circles for each shoulder. They should be just over an inch (about 1 1/16” if you want specifics again). You can glue these together so each shoulders is three circles thick, but do not attach them yet.

At this point the only thing left is the waist. It’s just a simple rectangle of cardboard on the templates. Put a tab at one end, then gently wrap the whole thing around your hobby knife to give it a good curve from end to end. Once you’ve got that, glue it and clamp it. I’ll be doing a lot more with the waist joint next time around.

At this point, believe it or not, all of the time-intensive stuff is done except for the claws. Next time I’ll build those, make some weapons, and start assembling.


Awakened Monolith, Part II

Very sorry for the long delay. I had a book come out a week early and it messed up my schedules a bit. There it is over on the side. End shameless plug.

So, the bulk of the Monolith got finished last time. The rest of this is almost all detail work, but it’s kind of key and there is a lot of it. In this version of the model, some of it even ends up being structural.

First off, time to glue the structure so far to a base. The bottom of the Monolith is really wide, especially when you consider it’s a little bigger than it should be. I ended up using a 12” x 12” base. It’s a bit oversized, but odds are this will be one of the major pieces on any table, and it’s big enough for units to actually use as terrain.

Helpful Hint - You can buy cheap vinyl-particle tile squares at most home improvement stores like Home Depot or Osh. They’re only about a dollar each and they’re great for larger bases. My girlfriend got me the Imperial Sector set a few years back and I used these tiles for all the building bases, which gives me great city blocks with curbs. My only word of warning is that they’re a bit soft and will bend over time if you leave part of them hanging ou over an edge. You need room to store them flat.

The tile’s a bit porous, but I hit it with sandpaper to give it a bit more texture for the glue to grab. Then I measured to find the exact center. This let me place the Monolith and line up the corners how I wanted them. I used some superglue on the bottom section, the oversized bastion tabs, and also on the bottom tabs of the front and back doors. A few books on top kept it all in place while it dried.

This is Important - You still don’t want to glue the sides. Leave them as two flaps for now (hinged at the top) so you can reach inside when we’re doing detail work in a bit.

While this was drying Under the Dome, I decided to cut out the rings for the top. Usually I’d save this kind of detail for the end, but once the bastion tops are in place there isn’t going to be as much room to work. I also decided I wouldn’t be doing actual rings but large circles to give it more of a “capstone” look which fit with the idea of an awakened (not active) Monolith . It would also make it easier to position models up there during a game.

This is Important - It wasn’t until this stage that I discovered a major flaw with goyo2303's template (available over at Paperhammer 40K). Somehow, while creating his/her PDF, the images got distorted. If you look carefully at the rings on page 11, you’ll see they’re oval, not circular. It’s a difference of about 1/8” altogether. Because of this, alas, I’d now recommend against trying to build an actual Monolith with this template, as it currently exists. I think the oversized parts and distortions may cause too many issues. If you don't mind a challenge or a somewhat distorted final Monolith (again, Doomsday Monolith), go for it.

I went through the cupboards and found a spice jar with a 1 3/4” lid so I could trace new circles. The four circles were stacked, glued, and trimmed with a hobby knife where needed. Then I cut out four small rectangles (3/16” x 1/4”) to represent the brackets that would normally be holding the Necron power matrix/ big green jewel over the rings. I made the rectangles a bit long so a careful score of 1/16” will let you wrap them around the edges of the ring. These got set around the circle at the cardinal points (the lines on the cutting mat are great for this). Once this was dry, I glued the whole disc on top of the Monolith.

Next was those small bastion tops I just mentioned. Normally these would surround the power matrix. For this scenery piece, they’d be cover for anyone on top and a bit of detail. You’re going to need to add your own tabs to these as well, and space is tight on the template so pick carefully.

Helpful Hint - The top bastions have long oval sections to cut out. On the actual model, green plastic rods would go here. By lucky break, these ovals are almost exactly 1/8” wide. You can take a minute, line up your 1/8” hole punch, and get perfectly rounded ends. Then just use a hobby knife and a straight edge to cut out the section between the two holes. As always, it’ll go much easier if you do this fine detail work before cutting the whole piece out of your sheet of cardstock.

Fitting these together is a bit of a pain, and it’s going to take a lot of holding. Try to put them together just like the larger bastions. Glue and clamp one side. Once that’s done, glue the other edges and use your hands to keep them together and square.

Once these were dry, I glued them in place. Note that they don’t sit in the back corner. Each of these should sit near the center of their respective bastion. Another book went on top to hold these down and make sure they dried solid. Keep in mind, you want to use something lighter than a 1500 page Stephen King opus this time around.

Now for the most time-consuming part of the process--the armor plates. On the plus side, goyo2303 included every piece on the templates, so you won’t need to run off a single extra sheet. It may look a bit intimidating at first, but this is actually set out very nice and easy. There are three layers of armor. All the pieces for the first level are marked 1. Once they’re all glued down, move on to the pieces marked 2 (the second layer), and finally the ones marked 3. Take your time and make clean cuts. If your hobby knife’s getting a bit dull, this might be a good time to change the blade so you’re not tearing the edges. When you’re done, you’ll have a very detailed, layered look to your Monolith.

If you peeled off all the templates at this point (like I did), just open the document on your computer and use it as a guide. There are four identical panels, and then the adjoining panel mirrors the others. This means half your plates are going to be flipped over to show the other side of the card if you’re using cereal boxes. You’ll only need to follow the template once and then you should be able to do everything else off that. I’d also suggest assembling the armor on corners, not sides. It’ll be more obvious if things don’t match up at edges, not so much across one of the sides.

Helpful Hint - When you’re doing all the large plates from pages 8 through 10 (and a bit of 7), remember that this scenery piece doesn’t use the bottom section of the Monolith. A lot of these pieces will need to be cut in half at what would normally be crease lines. This is most of the second and third layer. Make sure you throw away the right half (all of the plates are printed right-side-up, for the record).

There’s some details for the back, too. One is the back plate section on page 11, which is pretty straightforward. Alas, the rings for the back are skewed oval, just like the ones for the top. I ended up using a half-dollar coin (1 1/4”) and a quarter (1”) to trace two circles. Again, I’m going for the implication more than actual detail.

The Monolith portal cover normally has some Necron symbols all over it with an elongated skull in the center. There are templates in the set for all the symbols if you want to use them, but I like the idea of the Monolith becoming more detailed as it awakens, as if some of these symbols are rising up to the surface of the living metal. I wanted to imply the skull was only half-formed. I used a disk from a 1/4” hole punch and cut two small triangles out of it. Then I trimmed a tiny bit off one of the pointy edges to give it a slightly more rounded look. I didn’t do it, but if someone felt really daring, you could use a 1/16” punch to put two eyes in it.

Now, an active Monolith has three arches/ buttresses/ arms stretching up to flank the power matrix on each side. These arms are in goyo2303’s templates, but they’re probably the most complex part of the whole model. I decided not to build them because the Monolith is supposed to be more scenery than active. Plus, to be honest, if I couldn’t do them how they were in the game, half folded over, I know I’d get frustrated.

But what to put on the sides? I wanted to imply the arms if nothing else, even if this was supposed to be a barely-awakened Necron structure. So I came up with this...

Cut twelve strips of card, measuring 6 1/2” long by 1/4” wide. Make these as sharp and clean as possible. Measure the height of your sides to your base. Mine came out at about 3 3/4” inches from the top along the side to the base. Take the long strips and score them at 3 3/4” (or whatever yours measured out at). Run these strips down the side and out onto the base as shown in the picture. Once the first six are in place, double them up so each “arm” is two strips thick. There are a few more detail pieces on the template you could add on here if you wanted.

At this point, the model itself was pretty much done. I decided to do some quick patches on a few of the edges where armor plates didn’t line up perfectly. They just helped hide gaps and keep the clean lines of the Monolith.

Helpful Hint-- If you need to do a patch on a paperhammer project, just use white paper. Cut it to size, make any creases you need, and glue it in place with a generous helping of white glue. It’s not structural, but it’s more than sturdy enough for painting and general use.

For a while I considered placing four obelisks around the Monolith, just like in Dawn of War. They’d look cool and they’d be easy to make. In the end, though, I decided they’d be too fragile and easy to break off the base, especially out at the edge where they’d be placed. Instead, I decided to cut down the base a bit. I didn’t want to reshape it drastically, but the solid square base seemed a bit off for what was still an ancient ruin, and an alien one at that.

This is Important - The tile base is resilient and a hobby knife isn’t going to cut it. You need to use an actual tile knife or a matte knife at the very least. On the off chance you’re under twelve and you’re trying this project, ask someone for help with this part. Dad, Mom, or your older brother or sister. This is very tough material and its easy for the knife to slip and hurt you (said as someone whose right thumb has a lot of scar tissue in it). Make three or four shallow passes rather than trying to go through the whole thing at once. If you get halfway through, you can probably even get it to snap off with a clean edge.

I painted superglue across the base with a wide toothpick and covered the whole thing with coarse sand. Not special modeling sand, just some sand I found outside that had a nice grit. There were a few small stones in it, too, which just add to the texture. I made sure to get some of the glue up into the corners, as well, as if the sand had drifted there over the eons. If you have a few spare Necron parts (heads, torsos, arms, scarabs), this would be a good place to add them, half-buried in the sand. Depending on what kind of scenery you and your friends have, you might opt for some trees or grass here, instead (although I’d make it withered, brown grass if it was me).

One other option here (which I did not do) would be to hit the whole model with textured paint. You can buy it spray cans for six or seven dollars. It would give the entire thing a very rough, raw look, as if it had been sitting here for so long it was eroding. If you decided to do this, you could probably skip the whole armored plates step and paint it in slightly more natural colors. The result would give you something even more ominous as it would suggest a Monolith rather than clearly showing one.

I primed the model black, using several light coats over one or two heavy ones. Any places that needed it got touched up with Chaos Black. I also used a bit of Dark Angels Green, so you can just catch a hint of color here and there. It’s as if the systems are just starting to power up.

And there you have it. Suitable for any tombworld... or a centerpiece for the unfortunate Imperial colony that chose their site poorly.