Necron Crypteks

Crypteks are probably the most interesting addition to the Necron codex, in my opinion. There’ve been a lot of tweaks and adjustments (not all of them good, some openly bad), but Crypteks are a unit that live up to their fluff. Plus, I think most of us have been waiting for a chance to legitemately use a phrase like “techno-sorcerer.” However, while the model’s nice, it is rather lacking in options, especially for a unit that has so many different potential builds.  And at fifteen bucks or more each, that Necron Court will add up as fast as... well, a Dark Eldar court, really.

I’ve seen a couple conversions that used Lychguard or Immortal bodies for Crypteks, and those always felt a bit wrong to me.  Looking at the art and the existing model, Crypteks aren’t tall, powerful beings.  They’re just as small and hunched as your standard Necron Warrior.  Which kind of makes sense to me, fluff-wise.  Crypteks are in a strange place within the tombworld ranks, and I feel safe saying they probably wouldn’t rate the top-of-the-line bodies (and would probably customize them to some extent like Illuminor Szeras has done).

As such, most of these conversions are built off basic Warrior bodies.  I found a bunch of them in my local bins for about fifty cents each.  If your local store doesn’t give you that option (for shame) it’d probably be worth buying a sprue from Battlewagon Bitz or a similar place, or even just the small Necron “booster pack” GW put it out a few years back.  Out of the baker’s dozen warriors I found, about 3/4 of them were too twisted or poorly assembled to be of use.  One or two of the others joined my faceless legions.  And I grabbed a few of the last ones for this project.  All the others...

Well, I’m sure they’ll be showing up here again soon.

The rest of the bits are just extras and leftovers from assembling my Necron army.

This first Cryptek’s an all plastic one.  It’s a Warrior body with a Deathmark head.  His open hand is the optional one from the Command Barge.  His staff is the one-handed Rod of the Covenant from the Praetorians set.  I’ve seen a few folks use the Rod as a Staff of Light (or some variation thereof). 

Helpful Hint—I used my knife to cut off that little focusing array-thing that sits in the crest of the staff.  The Staff of Light doesn’t have that, so it’s a nice small touch to help distinguish the two.
If you can make straight cuts, use a really sharp knife to cut the little power orb off the top of the warscythes (which you’ll also probably find amidst the Praetorians/Lychguard leftovers).  Cut the lower set of “blades” off the staff and add the sphere there to give the staff another little nudge away from Rod-dom and more toward Eldritch Lance-dom.

Helpful Hint – One piece you or one of your Fantasy-playing friends probably has tons of is the Saurus standard arm (from the Fantasy Lizard Men).  I find these all the time in the bitz bins.  Two very easy cuts leaves me with a wavy piece of segmented decoration.  A few of these together make for great sashes, simple cloaks, or other decorative touches. 

I’ve found putting one or two long pieces in the front helps give the sense of a robe rather than a straight cape, which is a nice distinction for a Cryptek.  I also used the loincloth/ tabard piece from the Lychguard.  Take your time placing them so they sit right against the different carapace sections of the Necron.
Finally, I added a scarab to the base.  Fluff-wise, Crypteks control all the scarabs, spiders, and wraiths of a tomb world, so it was another character bit.  It’ll also help make the Cryptek stand out in a big squad.

For the record, at this point there was some cat-related destruction in the middle of the night.  Contrary to tombworld propaganda, Everliving protocols are not all they’re cracked up to be.  If this poor Cryptek (let’s call him Heron) looks posed a bit different... well, it’s a miracle he’s in one piece.  The same could be said of the cats... 

The next one’s also an easy conversion.  Same body/head/decorative setup.  I gave him a scarab, too.  His arms are the optional Destroyer Lord arms.  They’re resin now, but mine are still from the old metal kit.  They’re a tiny bit too big for the body, but I think it actually helps sell the “twisted old sorcerer” look for the model.  With the clear plastic rod, the Staff of Light will make a fine Voltaic Staff.  And that scarab-like thing on his arm could count as any number of Cryptek wargear items. 

The last one’s an idea I had that made me feel clever.  At least, it did until I saw someone else online had the same idea and beat me to building the darn thing.  Also, this uses a base model, so it probably doesn’t end up costing too much less than just buying a resin Cryptek.  But it looks a bit cooler and more themed toward one of the Cryptek cabals.
I bought the Fantasy Tomb Wraith.  It’s one of the new one-model plastic kits that line’s been getting a lot of (yet 40K still gets more-expensive finecast with no options...).  When you assemble the model, you’ll see there’s a “core” piece that you build the cloak around.  That little tip at the end is where the Wraith’s hollow masks/skulls hangs.  I’m using a Deathmark head, which is rounded in the back, so that little nub can go away (right at the red line).

Next I took one of the Rods of the Covenant that had two hands on it.  They’re too wide to match up with the spaces on the Wraith body, so I cut out three of the segments and added them to the end of the staff.  This kept the staff the same length but let me “move” the hand placement.  I nipped off the array at the top and added the orb at the bottom (as mentioned  above).

The “wrists” on the staff are from the stock of a Kroot rifle.  If you  know anyone who uses Kroot, they have lots and lots of spare Kroot rifles.  They’re small, but they help the staff line up against the cloak.  When it’s all painted, it’ll also be another touch of silver to contrast against the dark cloak.

I toyed with the idea of using one of the Lychguard tabards here, to add to the sense of an invisible body, but I kind of like the idea of the cloak being completely empty.  My girlfriend agrees it looks better visually, too. 

Helpful Hint—Put a little bit of thought into where you attach this guy to his base to make sure he balances.  The square Fantasy base has him a bit off center, because he kind of leans over and back, and the staff adds some weight to him on one side.   I made sure the scarab was directly opposite him.  It’s not much weight, but it’s someting.

I think he makes a fantastic Harbinger of Despair  Off one of the little bits of fluff in the codex, this is Dagon of the Shadowed Matrix.  I’ll probably use him as a fully-loaded psychomancer in larger games where I’ve got points to spare. 

There you have it.  Two cheap Crypteks and one cool conversion for about the same price as the regular model.

Next time I wanted to talk about Kroot a bit.  Because Kroot are very cool.



Watching Paint Dry

Hey, just a quick bonus post for all of you to consider...

With the huge new paint collection from Games Workshop, I’ve been going through my paint box and figuring out what I need more of (and what it’s being called now).  I’ve also been discovering a few older paints that have gotten a bit rubbery, or openly dry at some times.  There was a point that these paints went right into the trashbin.

Then money got tight.  And I got thrifty.  And I was already clever, so...

If you’ve got rubbery or dry paint, try this.  Use your hobby knife and make a lot of cuts through it.  The drier it is, the more you want to break it up.

Now add in a few drops of water.  Let me stress—drops of water.  If your paint is rubbery, you’ll probably only need around five.  If it’s very dry, you might need ten or twelve.  Maybe as many as twenty.  Then put the cap back on tight and shake it hard.  Shake that little paint pot like it was a can of spraypaint.  At least a hundred times back and forth.  Let it settle for a minute and then shake it again.

This probably isn’t a terribly new idea to any of you, and I can guess what most of you are thinking.  It’s not going to help.  There’s a good chance the paint will be too watery for fine detail work, probably too coarse for broad coverage.  Once paint passes a certain point, it’s just dead.

And you’re right.  This won’t help me do camo patterns on my Catachans or their Sentinels, and I definitely don’t want to use it on that pair of Necron Scythes I got for my birthday. 

However... it’s fine for their bases.  In fact, for bases, terrain, and some scenery pieces, this restored paint is perfect, because these elements are almost never the focus of attention.  All those different greens, browns, and grays can be used for different plants, soils, and stones.  Various blues can make fine water in moats or rivers.  If these colors end up too watered down, they make great washes.

It’s texture and it’s cheap (since I was thinking of throwing it out anyway).  So when your paint isn’t good for your primary pieces, think about some of your background pieces before you send it to the bin.

Now I’m off to finish the Crypteks.


Ironclad Dreadnaught

So, I wanted to toss up something quick as my current project (a trio of Necron Crypteks) isn’t quite done yet.  I thought about putting up a Kroot article I’d scribbled out a while ago.  Then I dug around and found some photos of this nice little piece I did a year or so back.

Like most people who play Warhammer 40K, I like dreadnaughts.  I love the fluff.  I love the models.  I even love the rules.  Loyalist.  Venerable.  Chaos.  Cults.  Grey Knights.  Dreadnaughts are just cool. When the new Space Marine codex introduced the Ironclad Dreadnaught, I thought it was pretty interesting.  Alas, as I’ve mentioned before, since becoming a full-time writer the cash flow isn’t what it used to be (though it’s better than it was when I started).  I didn’t think it was worth springing for a model which wasn’t really that different from a baseline dreadnaught.

And then, as often happens, inspiration struck.

I had a right arm/ shoulder/ weapons mount that had once been a spare assault cannon arm.  I’d shaved off the assault cannon to use on a revamped Terminator and saved the rest of it for... well, bitz.  It struck me that it wouldn’t take much to mount some other weapon there.  Or multiple weapons.

I had a basic dreadnaught I wasn’t using.  Back when I was in the film industry and had money to burn, I’d toyed with the idea of building a dreadnaught-centric Iron Hands army (I did mention I loved dreadnaughts).  But the idea died and the dreads all got repurposed to other armies when I consolidated a lot of stuff.  This would also work fine with a Black Reach dreadnaught if you can dig one up.  They’re usually around twenty-five bucks or so, but be quick—time is running out for that set.
STC data from Dakka Dakka

I dug through my Space Marine stuff and found some of the very old bolter sprues.  Some of you long-time players might remember them.  Each sprue came with three sets of bolters, combat knives, backpacks, and shoulder pads.  Those bolters are pretty blocky and archaic by the standards of today’s models.  However, they also don’t have any venting or grips on the barrel that clearly make them hand-held weapons, which makes them perfect add-ons for a project like this.

Helpful Hint—It’s amazing how much of this old stuff you can find for pennies if you look around.  If your local store has a bitz bin, spend some time sifting through it.  Or check ebay a few times—there’s always somebody who thinks this stuff is worthless.

I took six bolters and cut them down right at the aquilla.  I used the sharpest blade I had and took my time.  These needed to be straight cuts so the guns would all sit right.  I filed them a bit, too, just to make sure they were all square and the same length.

Rather than wrestle with them and the “shoulder” piece, I took a piece of plasticard and cut it down to a clean 1/2” x 3/8” rectangle.  This would serve as my hurricane base, and also be an extra little bit of detail.  I tried the bolters a few different times to find the best arrangement (allowing for minor variances) and then glued them on in sets of two.

Helpful Hint—Whenever I do a project like this, I start at the top and work down.  Most of the time this model’s going to be seen from above, so it’s most important that everything lines up there.  If I run out of space or horribly misjudge something, the mistake ends up lower down and hidden from 90% of lookers.

I let the assembly dry so the bolters would be on solid and then drilled out the barrels with my pin vise.  Then I filed down the plane where the assault cannon had been (or the multi-melta, depending on your dreadnaught) and glued the hurricane bolter in place.  It fit perfectly, and once it’s painted it’ll look perfect.  A purity seal near the join also helps draw the eye and distracts a bit.

The chainfist was even easier.  I used a left arm with a dreadnaught close combat weapon, but I didn’t attach the “claws” that go on the end.  I took my file to the end of the little peg/ piston at the end of the arm.  

The big chainblades are just the head of an ‘uge choppa from the Ork Nob set.  My girlfriend plays Orks, too, so there are plenty of Orky bits in our home, even at our budget level.  I cut it off the handle, carefully trimmed down a few of the cruder details, and then glued it onto the peg.  It was that simple.  This guy’s geared up for close firefights and assaults, so I decided to give him a heavy flamer.  Another purity seal pulls attention away from the join, just in case (plus, the Relictors love purity seals).

Last but not least, I did break down on one thing.  I wanted to add the assault launchers because I like the look of them, and I also like the idea of a charging dreadnaught with grenades.  I played around with how to scratch-build them for a little bit, then realized I could get them (and more purity seals) in a little bundle from Battlewagon Bits for four dollars.  I was weak.  You can probably find them even cheaper if you shop around.

And voila--  Veteran-Brother Amontillado of the Relictors.  Bonus points if you get the reference.  A perfectly acceptable Ironclad, even with his bare-bones paint job.  That’s a $45+ model that I just made for about thirty bucks.

Oh, one last thing.  If you want to pop over to Atomic Warlords you can read the tragic account of our attempt to reenact the second War for Armageddon during our annual Memorial Day/ Carnage Asada Apocalypse game.  There’s also some nice pics of some of my Ork scenery and my Skullhamma (during its brief time on the field...).

Next time, Crypteks.


Silver Towers of Tzeentch, Part VI

First off, I must bow to marketing and plug my new book.  14 just came out this week from Permuted Press.  You can buy it in paperback, for your Kindle, your Nook, and in another week Audible.com will have the audiobook version, read by Ray Porter who a bunch of you might remember from a bit part in the LOST epilogue.  This is how I pay the bills. so it's a great way to support In The Grim Cheapness and still come out ahead.

But now, to conclude with the Silver Towers.

I’ve got all the bulk stuff done.  At this point I just wanted to add a few little details here and there.  The thing is, I don’t want to overwhelm it with details.  There’s something very unnatural and appealing about the clean lines of the original Epic model.  Plus the fact that none of the towers have doors or windows...

On the original model, each tower has one or two big cannon barrels jutting out of their walls. Common courtesy (and rules) said I should have something that counts as a “fire point” for the Towers’ random Bolts of Change.  I didn’t want something as crude as a  barrel, though.  I toyed with the idea of simple gargoyles made of card triangles and also with having mystical banners hanging off the towers.

In the end, I decided on stacking disks from my different hole punches.  I did a 1/8’ on top of a 1/4” one.  They don’t distract from the sleek lines of the towers as much as gargoyles or banners would.  I can also paint them blue to help tie them to the Thousand Sons a little more.

Helpful Hint—If you wanted to drop another buck or two and had a hobby store nearby, you could get a few small fake jewels that would work, too.  Figure out if you’re going to want them as-is or if you plan on painting them so you can decide when to attach them.

Remember way back when I drew the horizontal lines on the towers?  This is why.  Now I can add these fire-points across the tall and short towers and keep them level.  It gives me a nice symmetry that helps to tie them together.  I put them all around the model since the Bolts are random and also “turret mounted,” effectively meaning they can fire in any direction.  I used the lower line on the short towers, the higher one on the tall towers.

This left the Beam of Power.  It’s a single weapon, also turret mounted.  I decided to do three more fire points for the main tower and put them higher up (on the highest horizontal line).  It makes them stand out, and my gaming group is relaxed enough for them to count as one weapon.  I also traced three small 1/2” circles and cut those out, so these points are three discs deep.  They went on the highest of my horizontal lines, which also added to the sense of “the big gun.”

I added a bit of sand (plain old sand from the alley—not modeling sand or textured earth or anything like that) around the base of the towers.  It’s a hair more support.  I left it tight around the bases because I really want a lot of the top to be grass.  Some of the sand got a little too high and I scraped it back down.  These are mystical towers, after all.  I added a bit on the underside of the plauteau as well, to break up the textures there.

I decorated the base with some sand, some pieces of broken cork, and a few big rocks, too. That will help hide the ridge of the plate.  I briefly toyed with the idea of a big Tzzentch symbol “burned” into the ground, or maybe a chaos star, but it didn’t really work with the odea of a moving tower.

I spray painted the whole thing black to start.  Base, cylinder, and towers.  The towers took two coats, because I wanted to make sure the rocks on the bottom were all done, as well as all the spaces between the towers.

Helpful Hint—I decided to leave these three separate pieces unglued.  It makes for much easier transportation, and for touch-ups if it ever needs them.

To do the silver, I used spray-paint again.  First, thought, I wrapped the entire plateau-section in paper (another use for junk mail) to mask it.  I did two coats to make sure they got covered from every angle.

Another Helpful Hint—Never do heavy coats of paint with Paperhammer models.  Getting them wet is one of the worst things you can do.  Take your time and do light coats.

I haven’t finished painting (this is an early-on photo), but when I do I’ll add a picture to the bottom.  Here’s how it’s going, though...

The plateau is just lots of Camo Green and eventually some grass.  The bottom and sides of the plateau got a few drybrushes with Space Wolves Gray and Fortress Gray.  Yes, I’m still using the old names.  Sue me, I’ve got paint to use up.  I touched a few places with different browns to give the appearance of loose soil clinging to the granite.  I did the same on the base of the stand.
The vents on each tower are done in black.  Nice and simple.  From a distance, it even makes them look a bit like they’re cut into the surface, not sitting on top of it.

I painted the fire points as gems, using the gem technique from the old Codex: Eldar.  On the larger ones for the Beam of Power, I made the outer ring gold to help it stand out and  look a little more impressive.  The gold also gave it another link to the Thousand Sons.

And there you have it (or them).  The Silver Towers of Tzeentch.  In retrospect, I might’ve made the island a tiny bit smaller—maybe just an inch or two across—but overall I’m pretty happy with how this came out.  It’s a bit bigger than a Monolith, a bit smaller than a Warhound, so that puts it in a good size range for 400 points. 

Helpful Hint--If you’re into Warhammer Fantasy as well as 40K, you could probably do also this all at one-third the size and make a nice Arcane Fulcrum of some sort.  Just get a square tray or plate for the base and leave off one or two towers so you’ve got room to place a figure or two.  This is a very easy model to scale down.

Final cost for this Grim Cheapness project was probably around eight bucks.  A dollar each for the plate, wine glass, pens, and glue.  Call it four dollars for the spray paint (even though I already owned both colors).  Even if I’d had to buy the foam core for the plateau, I think it only would’ve been two or three dollars more.  So we’re talking ten bucks and maybe twenty hours of work (if you count drying time) for a 400 point model.

Next time I’ve got some more simple, cheap Dark Eldar conversions to show off.  After that are a few Necron and Ork ones.  And I might try to cash in on the popularity of this whole Summer of Fliers thing with a new Paperhammer project.  Hopefully before summer’s over.

Oh, and a few posts down I added an in-progress painting shot of Gigan.


Silver Towers of Tzeentch, Part V

Okay, very overdue.  Thank you all for your patience.  I ended up with a whole new concept for my base, and it forced me to rethink a few elements.  And then I had a ton of work to do in the real world which forced most of my 40K stuff to the back burner.  What little time I did have was spent getting my ancient Tyranids ready for the non-human, non-power armor league my friends and I did this spring.


So, I’ve got a plastic plate and a Halloween wine glass.  I flipped the plate over and scuffed it up with some sandpaper to make it easier for the superglue to grab.  I didn’t worry too much about the ridge because the whole thing’s going to be based and painted, but I hit it with my clippers just to make it a bit more irregular. 

Helpful Hint—These plates aren’t made from soft plastic like polystyrene (the stuff models are made from).  It’s hard and much more brittle.  Don’t try to do anything big with the clippers because you’ll risk shattering the whole plate.  Tale your time and do small bits of it, or use a large file if you have one.

This Is Important—It probably goes without saying these days, but be a bit careful with a plate made in China.  If it’s not microwave safe, dishwasher safe, or food safe, you probably don’t want to breathe any of the dust that comes off it while you’re sanding, clipping, and grinding.  Work on it outside or in a very well-ventilated area.

I used the saw blade from my hobby knife set and trimmed the bell off the wine glass.  This gave me a solid base with a stem to glue in the center of the plate.  I saved the bell for a potential later project.

The path to Chaos is very, very dark.
Now, this is one of the big changes I made.  I went back to the 99 Cent Store and bought a pack of “jumbo pens” (bringing the grand total for this project up to about four dollars).  They usually have sports teams or Disney characters on them.  These particular ones are from the film Camp Rock.  Once they’re disassembled (they just unscrew) they give me a perfect cylinder of plastic.  And they’re fun to deface.

Helpful Hint—Play around with the pens a bit once you’ve taken them apart.  The quality is pretty crap, but odds are two of them will screw together to make one long cylinder.  Add a little superglue on the threads and you’ve got a solid flying stand post.

I worked the cylinder on the base of the flying plateau a little more to give me a solid, deep socket.  This meant a tiny bit of carving with my hobby knife to make sure it sat straight.  Once I had the socket, I put some white glue on my finger and ran it along the inside, just to make it a bit more firm. 

The pen- cylinder slots into the socket (once the glue’s dry) and then slips over the post of the wine glass.  And there’s a giant flying stand.

Now it was time to attach the towers to the plateau.  I started with the main tower and centered it as best I could.  I glued all the tabs and also the edge around the base.

Once the main tower felt pretty solid, I put the four other towers around it.  The trick is to hide as many of the seams and gaps as possible.   I’d built the towers so all the best sides were marked as the front or outside, so I knew which edges to  turn inward.  Then I needed to locate the matching points on the main tower and place the others accordingly.

Helpful Hint—I used shot glasses and mason jars to help keep pressure on the towers while they were drying.  The overall round shape of the towers means they’ll sit solidly, and the tops are tall enough that the glasses won’t tilt or slip off. 

Terminator Sorcerer shown
for scale purposes.
I put the two short ones together and the two tall ones behind.  This gave me something very similar to the classic Epic model for the Silver Towers.  Alternately, if you wanted, they could alternate around the main tower (tall, short, tall, short).

Next week, I’m going to do a last few details and add some paint to finish this thing off.  And, yes, I do  I realize I said the same thing a few months back.