Yet Another Dark Vengeance Update

Just wanted to share these real quick...

I’ve been holding off assembling the Hellbrute for two reasons.  One was that I wanted to actually read the codex first and see if there were any noteworthy changes or options I wanted to make as far as the model went.  Two is that I wanted to read the fluff behind it and see which of my Chaos armies it’d best fit into... which could also result in changes.

Overall, though, it struck me that the Hellbrute is just a renamed dreadnaught.  Which feels like a bit of a cheat, but hopefully it means Chaos is finally going to get a new dreadnaught model after just... oh, sixteen years or so.

Anyway, I decided to make two quick changes to the Dark Vengeance Hellbrute.  Like a lot of models in this set, it’s built into a very static pose and there’s not a lot of places to alter it.  One place you can, though, is the head at the center of the model.

I’d decided this particular Hellbrute was going to join my Thousand Sons army, so it seemed very out of character to have an exposed head.  I dug around and found one of the very old Chaos Warrior helmets from the Fantasy line (back when all those models were a bit more hunched and cartoonish).  Once the tall spike was cut off its top, it had a surprisingly solid resemblance to a Thousand Sons helmet.

The big trick, though?  I didn’t gouge out the Hellbrute’s face, I just flipped it around.  By turning that face plate front to back, it gave me a nice little cradle to set the helmet in. I also discovered if I rotated it 90 degrees the edges fit well against the inside shapes of the “sarcophagus.”

The other little tweak I made was the base.  I had a spare dreadnaught base—the one with all the rocky terrain and shell casings—and decided to see if the Hellbrute would fit on that.  Turns out he does once you snip off the support pegs.  The two low quadrants are pretty much level.

Helpful Hint – You’ll need to clip the inside corners of the scenery-slab under the Hellbrute’s left foot to make this work.  Not much, just maybe an eighth of an inch.  There’s also a shell casing or two that can be trimmed off the base to get a good fit.

Voila.  Cheap and easy conversion to make my Hellbrute stand out.

Here’s another one.  Some of you probably caught this already, but Chaos has a bonus HQ model hidden in the Dark Vengeance set.  Let’s take a look at that Chosen champion, Draznicht...

He’s dressed in pretty elaborate robes and capes.  He’s got a power mace.  His helmet is a stylized skull that’s grown some horns somewhere along the way.  The “vents” of his backpack look like a censer.

He’s a Dark Apostle.  You don’t even need to convert him.  He’d work absolutely fine as is.  However, if you wanted to make two simple tweaks...

I filed down the top of his backpack and gave him one of the chaos star icons from the basic Chaos Marine set.  Someone you know who plays Chaos has a pile of them, I guarantee it (assuming you don’t already).  I also gave him a little banner from one of the old Plague Monk sets (I think that’s what they’re called—it’s a fantasy Skaven thing).  This is a great little piece I grab whenever I find one, and I use it all the time as an additional frilly-prayer piece.  It looks great on Relictors, Grey Knights, and random Word Bearers.  And now on Dark Apostles, too.

And there you have it.  Dark Apostle Keven of the Alpha Legion, ready to lead his cultist army to...  Well, to their deaths, probably.  That’s what generally happens to cultists, after all.

And, yes, Keven is a subtle reference to The Cabin In The Woods


Big Slabs o' Meat Update

I just thought I’d toss up some shots of how the Grotesques ended up looking with a little paint on them.  Here they are with just two or three colors each.  Please keep in mind, I’ve said many, many times here that painting is not by strongest suit (in fact, I'd ask you to remind yourself of that quite often on these pages).  I’m also using up the last of my old paints, so feel free to grab the Citadel conversion chart if you want to follow along...

First, though, I wanted to show off this one last guy (who's still waiting on a perfect head).  I mentioned that I was going to go with two squads of four most of the time.  This is my other Aberration, the one who’ll probably end up with my ancient haemonuclous, Pyn (last week’s guy with the scissorhand will be with Rakarth most of the time).  Like all the Grotesques, he got a pile of spare vials and cylinders, and like the other Aberration he got one of the spare Talos racks to help mark him out.

I wanted to give him a venom blade to go with his close combat weapon.  It’s a cheap way to give an Aberration a little more punch in close combat.  I tried a few different things (including the blades off old Dark Eldar rifles) before I settled on these.  They’re some of the spare fins from the new Raider sets.  In this guy’s hands, they look like curving knives, which is perfect.  The pommel of each knife is actually an old Space Marine dagger.  I cut off the hilt, then cut the blade so its back sat against the guard.

So, as to painting... I primed the Grotesques black and then based their skin with Fortress Grey.  The next step will be a drybrush with Pallid Flesh and a very light brush of Skull White.  The loincloths will go red to tie them in with the rest of my army (I went with the Obsidian Rose Kabal color scheme).  Yeah, it's not much so far, but I just wanted to give a sense of how these guys would look with some paint on them.  

It’s worth noting that their pants are essentially just painted on.  The uneven texture of the Rat Ogres gives the appearance of ragged material, and once there’s a dark gray drybrush on some of the “bandages” at the ankles and thighs that’ll really sell it.  A wash of Nuln Oil should give them a semi-glossy, leathery appearance.

Hopefully next time these guys are seen, they’ll be doing awful things to Marc’s Orks.

By the way... I’ve lucked into a very nice contract with the Crown Publishing Group, but it does mean I’m going to be very busy for the next couple of months.  I’d hoped to do a paperhammer Destroyer Tank Hunter this month and maybe start a Warhound before the end of the year.  Alas, the Warhound’s definitely not going to happen now, and I might not get to the tank until the end of the year... and someone just tempted me with a new Thunderbolt template.  But I’m going to try to keep offering all my cheapskate ideas and tips on a semi-regular basis.


Big Slabs of Meat

So let’s talk about cheap meat.  Scratch-built Grotesques.

I like the whole Karnival of Pain idea.  It might not be a guaranteed win, but it is guaranteed to freak out my opponents at least once or thrice a game.  And in the group I play with we tend to value those dramatic moments and a well-themed army a little more than just a sledgehammer win (which can also be fun, granted).  If sixth edition is anything to go by, Games Workshop seems to value them, too.

Right up front, these are going to be cheap, not free.  I figure if I can make a Grotesque for one-half or one-third the price of the GW model, that’s fantastic.  That means I can make a viable squad for the price of one or two Finecast figures.

As the base for all these guys I used the plastic Rat Ogres that come with the Fantasy Isle of Blood set.  You can usually find them online for about eight bucks apiece at The WarStore’s Battlewagon Bitz, eBay, or any number of other places.  Right off the bat, that’s one-third the price of an actual Grotesque model.  These figs are already top-heavy with a lot of stitched-together muscles and some tubes, so they’re a great model to start with for Grotesques.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, here’s another way I saved some money on this.  I got two Pain Engines for my birthday last year.  Like the Dark Eldar Kabalites, there are tons of extra bits on these sprues.  I ended up with lots of leftovers, almost all of which are the perfect size for Grotesques.  If you don’t have these already, check your local bitz bins, other friends who play Dark Eldar, or some of the places I just mentioned up above.

I ended up getting eight of the Rat Ogres.  I plan on splitting them into two squads of four, one of which will usually be Rakarth’s chosen.  I’m going to go over each pair of them so each set builds on the last one and gets a little more modified. 

This first pair is pretty much just a straight head swap.  Instead of the Rat Ogre head, I used some of the spare helmets from the Talos set.  It’s a little bit smaller than the Ogre head, which makes the body look even larger and more swollen in comparison, and they create an immediate link to "real" Dark Eldar models.  On the model with both arms down, it glues on with no problem.  On the model with one arm up, I used a tiny bit of green stuff (about half a pea) to fill in the little hole and let me straighten the head out a bit.  The only other thing I did was snip off the tail (which got used on the Khymera I built a while back) 

You could leave it like that and this is a fine Grotesque, but I decided to add on a few small details to push it just a bit more toward the Dark Eldar.  I had a bunch of little vials and injectors left from the Talos set.  Each Grotesque got one or two of those.  The little armor plate at the waist is a Fantasy Lizardman shoulder pad.  I found a ton of them in my local Bitz Bin for about a buck.  I added one to the wrists, too.

On the next pair, like any good haemonculous, I swapped and cut a bit more.  These guys use the big swords from the Ogre Bulls sprue—again, found in the bitz bin.  It's just a straight hand swap.  The wrist difference gets hidden by the Talos bracer. 

I also snipped off that built-in blade on the left arm and replaced it with a spare rending claw from a Tyranid Warrior (again, the bitz bins).  There are a few little spurs/ fins on the side of the claw that can come off it.  Once it’s flesh-colored, it should blend right in.

The Rat Ogre with its arm up also has a good-sized chunk of warpstone imbedded in his/ her/ its shoulder.  I debated what to do with that for a while and, in the end, decided to clip it off.  Once I scraped down the edges with my knife it actually looked a lot like a mess of big scars... which is just fine, as far as I'm concerned.

The third set gets even more changes.  I traded out the built-in blade for a liquefier gun from the Talos set.  This looks scary-great, I know (it freaks me out, too) but this was actually a very easy and simple conversion.  The Talos has a twin linked liquefier, so I only need half of it.  I used the one with the shorter hose.  I filed the butt/ back of the gun flat and it sat right up against the Grotesque’s wrist.  By sheer luck, the hose curves right down to his abdomen, as if the liquefier is sucking material out of his gut.  Which it’s supposed to be so... bonus.  

The scissorhand on the Aberration is actually a collection of Catachan swords and knives.  I cut off the hilts and glued them into a fan that looked a bit hand-ish.  Using a smaller blade for the thumb and reversing direction on it helps convey that look, too.  A Kroot shoulderpad as a central hub finished it off.  It gives the whole thing a very Edward Scissorhands sort of look, which is just... well, perfect.  He got the vial-covered Talos bracer to help hide the wrist join.  His gas-mask like helmet is the Talos helmet with the hoses on either side.  I just cut the hoses off and trimmed it down to the connectors.  It makes him stand out a bit more.  It makes me think of calling him Bane, too.

I also gave him one of the extended spines from the Talos.  It helps mark the Aberration as the character in the squad, and maybe the focus of just a little too much haemonculous attention.  I had to trim the middle post of the piece just a bit, and then I drilled holes for each of them.  For the most part, though, the curve on the spine-piece matches the curve of the Rat Ogre's back fairly well.  

Even if you had to buy all these online as bits, I think the average price for these guys is only about ten bucks.  Even less if you get the bits from your own collection or barter with friends.  So, they’re about 40% the price of the GW ones. 

Which is pretty cheap.