The Doomsday Device

It struck me that with a lot of the random projects I've been starting and planning, none of them really applied to my main army, the Alpha Legion. And they could use some heavy firepower, especially in the two or three Apocalypse games I get to play each year. While I was paging through a bunch of datasheets, one such thing caught my eye-- The Doomsday Device.

The big thing with a doomsday device, of course, is it has to look ominous. Yeah, you could just use a black box or something but that'd be boring. You want something awe-imposing and scenic on the table, not just a big marker. The coffin-shaped one on the Apocalypse sheet set a high bar because that shape is very imposing and also gives an automatic sense of age and history. Tough to beat.

Inspiration finally struck while watching a Doctor Who epiode, the one with the Daleks and their giant cosmic engine--the Reality Bomb. Something about that huge brass dome with all the pipes and cables coming out of it struck a chord, and over the next few days of casual thought I figured out how to do it.

I also figured out a way to tie it right into Warhammer 40,000, but I won't say how. See if you can figure it out as we go along...

I gathered up some supplies, all of which were junk or scrap (this is going to be the cheapest Doomsday Device ever built). I knew I wanted it to be larger than a dreadnaught, but not building-sized.

Helpful Hint--I've mentioned this before. One of the best ways to make cheap, oversized bases is just to glue three old CDs together. Most of us probably have a few dozen AOL discs kicking around, discs that didn't burn right for some reason, or things like that. Even if you don't, look at the check-out aisles of your local department or grocery store. They've usually got a few free discs hanging there waiting for someone to take them. Three discs glued together is almost the precise thickness as your standard 40K model base.

The bottom of the device itself is the top from a plastic jar of cat treats. The next section above that is the upside-down screw-top to a small spice jar. Both of these lids had raised rings on them, and they nestled together perfectly. A bit of superglue made them rock-solid. The final section, the dome, is half of a plastic Easter egg, the kind that pop open to put candy and such in. It nestled right into the spice jar lid, and some more superglue made that solid, too. A few quick measurements got the whole thing centered on the CD base. Another bead of superglue and it was all one solid piece.

Now I needed to add power cables, conduits, and some structural pieces. I liked the idea of implying there's far more to this device than we can see, that it's just the tip of some vast, technological iceberg. So some of these additions run straight off the base and others end at nodes or terminals.

I started with just four big struts that reached out to the edge of the base. They're made of strips of plastic and sprue scraps. The one thick leg is two of the ammo/ tool boxes from the old Rhino kit.

Helpful Hint--The ribbed cables are guitar strings (a .053, if you care). I bought a pack of inexpensive ones years ago for less than ten dollars and I've been using them pretty regularly since then. I think you can even get them at Toys R Us these days. They're awesome for cables and hoses, and there's about four feet of each string. So on 40K scale it's almost an unlimited supply.

Well, until we get to the stompas and titans, anyway...

Once these were done I wanted to add taller elements to keep the whole thing looking three-dimensional. I put one between each of those long struts, and these didn't reach out to the edge. That way the overall design of the device has some variety and doesn't seem too repetitive. For some of those bent conduits I used the rounded sprue from that tank model that became the Skullhamma. It makes great pipes and tubes. I glued two together side-by-side because it gives them a bit more heft (one alone is a bit skinny) and also makes it easier to balance and position them for gluing.

I also liked the idea of it having this one large, almost Tau-looking vane with an antenna. Does it disperse heat? Absorb positrons? Check wind speed? I have no idea, but whatever it is I'm sure it serves an evil purpose. And it keeps things from getting repetitive again.

Plus, all of this helped with that link to Chaos I mentioned up above.

I added a few details around the base of the device. Just odd bitz and scraps that had been kicking around my project board forever. I used some angled plastic I had to make two little nodes on the shorter, "inner" conduits. I had some other scraps so I made one large node, too, and put that on one of the struts that ran to the edge.

I briefly toyed with making the big "outer" node be a control panel (something cut our from a spare Rhino or Land Raider interior panel). In the end I decided against it. There's something more ominous, I think, in the idea that the doomsday device just sort of controls itself with some malign intelligence.

Note that none of the pipes, cables, or other elements go higher than the base of the dome (the antenna just brushes it). That way the dome's always the dominant feature, and it keeps the model from looking too busy. Featuring the dome also gives the model a sense of solidity despite all these pipes and cables. No one wants a Doomsday Device that looks skinny and frail.

Just before I primed it I wanted to deal with those little dimples on the dome. (they were part of the Easter egg manufacturing or casting process). I put a very small drop of superglue in each dimple, then carefully siphoned off tiny amounts with a paper towel until the drops were flush with the dome itself. Once that had dried, I primed the whole thing black because it was going to be mostly metallic.

The bottom section went green to help tie it to the Alpha Legion, and so did those guitar-string cables. The dome was tin bitz with copper, shining gold, and burnished gold drybrushed over it. The pipes and conduits got various amounts of gunbolt. I may repaint that section below the dome to stright tin bitz, or maybe even black, to give a nicer contrast to the dome.

There you have it. The Reality Bomb. A doomsday device guaranteed** to lay waste to Baneblades, Titans, Stompas, Trygons, or anything else your opponent wants to throw at it.

And if you've been picturing all this in your mind or following the design on paper, you've probably figured out how the Reality Bomb is an unquestionable tool of Chaos. But I won't ruin it for you right now if you haven't.

** Not a guarantee. Not all Doomsday Devices perform the same. Your results may vary.


  1. Perhaps a view from the top would help others figure out why this looks like a tool of Chaos (epsecially from above).

  2. Yes, but that would defeat the whole "not ruining it for you" part of it... ;)