Ogres to Ogryns

There’s some old stories in the Catachan fluff about how the Catachans like Ogryns.  There’s something about the straightforward, no-nonsense approach both groups have to warfare that make them bond.  They’ve even got more specific stories, like how Nork Deddog served with the Catachan II for years.

So when my Catachan army started coming together, Ogryns were kind of a no-brainer.  What army can’t benefit from a pile of brainless muscle that shrugs off damage and hits like... well, like a pile of brainless muscle?

But seriously!  Twenty-two bucks per model?  That’s $66 for a bare-bones squad of three.  And even with the drastic remodelling, the Games Workshop Ogryns still look... well, a bit goofy.

So I started looking at other options.

A box of Fantasy Ogre Bulls is just forty dollars for six models--less than a third the price.  If you’re willing to go with fewer options, you can buy them piecemeal online and save even more.  Ogres are big and beautiful, in a modelling sense.  They’re so big there’s lots of room for modifications and modelling.

First thing is the feet.  The soles of the ogre boots are metal, but they’re also pointed.  It goes with the whole Mongol tribesman look that you can see all through the Ogre Kingdoms line.  I snipped off the pointed tip and used a file to round it down.  The Imperial Guard isn’t going to have anyone prancing around in pointed shoes like Mr. B Natural.

On the torso, I used a knife to carve down the edges of the gut-hole.  They’re just a bit too sharp as is, and reach out a bit too far.  I don’t mind Ogryns looking big, but they shouldn’t look drastically overweight.  Then I filled the hole with little scraps of plastic sprue and put a few drops of plastic glue on it.

Once that dried, I made a little ball of green stuff (about half the size of a pea) and pressed that on top of the scraps.  A little work with the sculpting tool made it match up with the rest of the body.  I was even able to sculpt really simple abdominal muscles.  It’s not that hard, honest.  I did it while splitting my attention between sculpting and watching reruns of Firefly.  Just make a cross in the green stuff and smooth it out in all directions.

That’s a good point, actually.  One nice thing about the ogre bodies is that they’re so big it takes a lot of the pressure off me as a modeler.  Like I mentioned above, I’ve got space to work, and on these guys tiny mistakes are... well, tiny.  It’s not like when you’re trying to put hair on a Space Marine and one wrong pass with the sculpting tool gives your veteran sergeant a reverse-mohawk.  When it comes to green stuff I’m a mediocre sculptor at best, but even I could pull these details off.

Then I took a sliver of green stuff and rolled it into a tiny snake.  This got flattened across those new abs to make a continuation of the belt. Just like above, I used my sculpting tool to smooth and blend it into the belt on the model.  It got topped off with a little 1/4” piece of plastic for a belt buckle.

I also rolled a longer snake and used this to make a strap across the Bone‘ead’s chest and over his shoulder.  It gives me a little something more to make him stand out.  I’m not worried about it being perfect because I’m going to stick gear all over it.

One more detail on the Bone ‘ead.  I used a spare icon/ clasp from the Space Marine Commander set on his belt buckle.  The way I see it, his belt was probably a packing strap on a Baneblade that some Techpriest gave the Bone‘ead as a thank-you present for pushing it out of the mud or something.  It’s a small, simple detail that helps the Bone’ead stand out a bit more.

I wanted to give my Ogryns pouches and bandoliers to help sell their military aspect and also to distinguish them from Fantasy Ogres.  The best thing to use was Space Marine pouches.  If you play any type of Space Marines, you know there’s that one double-pack pouch that’s just a bit too big.  It’s tough to plant it anywhere on a Marine and not have it look like a little bit of overkill.  But on an Ogryn, scale-wise, it’s perfect.  It looks just like an ACU belt pouch would look... if you were making them for nine-foot barabrian giants.

Next time I’ll show you how I built some ripper guns for these guys, and also look at the Penal Legion Ogryns I built a while back that were the unofficial test run for these guys.


Heavy Destroyer

Yeah, Destroyers kind of got the short end of the stick in this codex.  Games Workshop wanted to sell some more models (fair enough—it is their business).  So they came up with the Tomb Blades—which many older players have noticed look a lot like the old Destroyer design.  Of course, this new unit meant Destroyers had to become something else.  And that something else...

Well, it isn’t the best thing.  At least they work much better under the 6th Edition version of Preferred Enemy then they did when the codex came out.

Anyway... That’s a debate for some other website.

I already had half a dozen Destroyers and a Destroyer Lord (from those long-ago film industry days of disposable income), and I decided I wanted to make a Heavy Destroyer.  But—as has come up here a few times—I’m a cheap bastard.  I didn’t want to drop nine dollars on an upgrade kit on top of the twenty bucks for the Destroyer model.  That’s just too much for a single, non-character model.

So I started thinking...

I have a lot of leftover Destroyer parts.  Some I found in bins, but there’s pretty much half a sprue leftover from my Destroyer Lord, Pophitar (bonus points if you get that reference).  This includes an entire right arm with a gauss cannon.

It struck me that the cannon is very symmetrical, and it wouldn’t take much work to stick two of them together and make it twice as long.  With the extra green rods, I thought that’d make a fine looking heavy gauss cannon.

And, as it happens, I got a Destroyer in my stocking for Christmas.

So, I built most of the model right out of the box.  I assembled the torso and the hull.  For the moment I didn’t connect the two, and I also left off both arms and the head.  These are all parts that help add a little bit of life to the model, so I generally don’t connect these until the end.

To build the heavy gauss cannon, I took the regular cannon from the Destroyer set and the spare one I mentioned up above.  Using my hobby blade, I cut the spare cannon in half right behind the barrel assembly.  I shaved and filed this until it was smooth and level.  Then, on the other cannon, I cut off the little nib that the muzzle normally attaches to.

Helpful Hint—I made both of these cuts before assembling the cannons.  It’s always easier to cut through less material, and all of these cuts were at places with very clear guides.  So why make more work?

Once all the cutting was done, I glued the cannon halves together and let them dry a bit.  Then I glued them together, front to back.  This was a bit of work, because everything needed to line up perfectly.  I triple-checked the top and bottom seams, and I also kept checking the whole assembly to make sure it was straight. 

Helpful Hint—With something this long (scale-wise) it will be really clear things don’t line up. Take your time with this, because if you don’t... that little crooked bit will be the only thing you ever notice about this model.

I gave the assembled cannon plenty of time to dry and then put the whole arm together.  Because it’s so long, that’s a lot of torque on the shoulder.  I held it in place for several minutes, and then I braced it with a few clothespins until it was dry.  That meant letting it sit overnight, actually.  I didn’t want to risk it sagging or ending up with a weak bond.

In the fluff, it mentions that Destroyers usually come from the Immortals and Lychguard, and sometimes from the Deathmarks.  Well, it seemed to me that if a Destroyer was going to have a “heavy” ranged weapon, it’d probably be a Necron already used to such things.  So I decided to use a Deathmark head on the model.  It’ll make him stand out a bit more and it ties him to the theme of “gunners” usually only having one eye.

And there you have it.  Heavy Destroyer for the price of a regular one.  I’ll probably paint his shoulders black to add to the Deathmark feel.  Overall, though, I’m really happy with how this quick little conversion turned out.


The Bitz Bins

I know I mention the bins now and again.  I think most game stores have some version of the bitz bins.  People bring their unwanted bits and models into the store in exchange for credit, and the store re-sells them for a bit of profit.  The downside is it's a bit like a rummage sale and you’re working around poses, paint jobs, and leftovers.  The plus side is you’re usually getting them at a big discount.  Often 60-70% off.  Sometimes even more.

I know some people have this kind of phobia about using pre-owned models, but if you can get past that it’s possible to save a lot of money.  In the past ten years or so, here’s a few of the things I’ve found in the bitz bins of my local stores (first in San Diego, then later up here at my favorite store in Los Angeles)...

* an Eldar Avatar of Khaine—I don’t play Eldar, but I’ve always thought it would be neat to paint an Avatar like molten metal—darker on the outside, hotter closer to the core.  Kind of like the Balrog from Lord of the Rings.  He also had a Thousand Sons head in his hand, so a little glue remover and I had a spare trooper for my Thousand Sons army.  Bonus.

* three Krootoxes—a few editions back (when I had more disposable income) I had a very nice Kroot Mercenary army.  Now I just have a lot of Kroot, and the hopes that the upcoming Tau Codex will address the issue and make it a viable allied force, at least.  Still, three metal Krootoxen (Krootoxi??) were a nice bit of heavy firepower, especially at five bucks each.

* legs and torsos for about twenty-five Ork Boyz for my lovely lady, plus an unassembled Black Reach deffkopta.  If all this cost me ten bucks, I’d be amazed.

*a little over two dozen Catachans—their heads were crooked, and two or three needed their arms redone, but other than that they just needed paint.  They were put together with superglue, so on the really bad ones it just meant popping off a head or an arm, scraping it down, and then putting it back on with proper plastic glue.  I think that find cost me twenty dollars.

* a plastic Eldar Wraithlord—Again, I don’t play Eldar, but my friend Gillian does.  It was missing its weapons and posed a bit awkwardly, but other than that it was fine.  Well, it had a really awful paintjob.  She’s already salvaged it and sent it back out on the battlefield.

* parts for a solid Lizardman army – I don’t play Warhammer Fantasy, either.  I have no interest in it.  But, as I’ve mentioned before, I love the models and I have a long-time love of Lizardmen (reaching back to the Sleestak on Land of the Lost).  I found the parts to make a dozen Saurus warriors, a dozen skinks, a skink hero, an Oldblood on a cold one, a salamander, and even five of the Temple Warriors.  I just liked building and painting them.  I might do a whole post on these guys. 

* at least twenty assorted Dark Angels detail pieces for Marcus.

* a box’s worth of Bloodletters--  Alas, one had a twisted leg and two of them had one foot snapped off, so I only took home eight of them (and who wants a unit of eight Khorne demons...?).    They’ll make a great allied force for my World Eaters.  I used one of the old skeleton helmet horns and a skull to replace the missing foot on one of them.  They’re about half-painted and already itching to fight.

* probably a dozen Dark Eldar heads, arms, and detail pieces, not to mention a double-handful of the older bodies.

* a handful of Blood Angels pieces for Matt.

* parts for at least twenty zombies – These mixed with leftover Catachan parts to become a full squad of Catachan plague zombies.  Poor bastards...

* two Black Reach Space Marine captains.  One was really just the larger back half with legs and cape, but I've got a use for it.

* about fifty of the old Bretonnian bowmen, plus about two dozen detail elements from the new ones to make them pop—Even without playing it, I know enough about Fantasy to know the bowmen get mocked a lot.  I also know enough about math to know that anything is dangerous in large numbers.  Goblins, grots, Kroot, scouts, bowmen... anything.  More to the point, I just love the look of dozens and dozens of archers standing ready with their bows.

* just shy of a dozen Daemonettes.  These showed up a few at a time, usually in pieces, but I kept picking and saving them.  First it was just a few to add to my existing units.  Then it was a nice, Slaneeshi six of them.  Then nine (one with a standard).  Then eleven.  One more and I’ve got a nice group of allies for my Emperor’s Children.

* and tons and tons of bitz.  Almost anything you can imagine.  Shoulder pads, ammo pouches, canteens, purity seals, knives, daggers, bolters, holsters, sheaths, targeters, backpacks, banners, spare arms, spare heads, spare skulls, chains, spikes, tentacles, tails, wings, bases, and much, much more.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying your local bitz bins are going to be some kind of gold mine (again, this is ten years worth of finds), and they’re not really a place you can plan on finding something.  But for the hobbyist on a budget, it’s always worth taking some time and sifting through.  Sometimes you can find some fantastic, useful detail pieces.  Or models.  Or whole units.

And if your friendly local gaming store doesn’t have bins... why not?  It’s a win-win for everyone.


Flat Scenery, Pt. II

Hope you all had a happy holiday season, with a Glorious Ascension of Tzeentch and a very violent Mayan Doomsday.

So, last time I got my background panel all set and cut out all the individual terminator components.  Or all the ones I was going to use, at least.  Now let’s start putting the figure together and see how well this idea really works...

I glued the main part of the figure on, wrapped it in wax paper, and let it dry under a few books.  As I mentioned last time, it’s important that this whole thing stays flat.  Large swaths of glue like this can make it bend and warp.  So I wanted to take my time and make sure it stayed two-dimensional.

Once the main body was dry I added the chestplate piece, and then the gorget.  If you’ve cut these out carefully, it should be clear where each one goes, but I kept the original PDF open for reference.  After that was the tabard, and then the knees.

Helpful Hint – The tabard and the knees are a tight fit.  Make sure you do the tabard first and let it set before adding the knees on either side of it.  You don’t want to do the knees first and then find out they’re that 1/32” too close together...

Another Helpful Hint—Keep a hobby knife handy to make fine adjustments to these small pieces.  Fingers are big and clumsy compared to a knife tip, and they can also block your view.

As the terminator came together, I realized it might’ve looked a little nicer if I’d placed it on a small riser or platform.  Just something 2” wide by 1/4” high or so.  It would’ve filled the space a little better.  Something to keep in mind for the next time I try this.

The next bits to cut out were the arms.  Since I was doing this figure with its arms out, I only needed the inside piece.  Then I tried to figure out the best angle for them against the body so it didn’t look too “wide open.”  This didn't need to be exact, because the actual line where the arm and torso met would get hidden by the shoulder pads and their straps.

I wanted to emphasize the weapons just a bit, too.  I took another right arm (there’s three to a page, so there’s plenty) and cut out the body of the stormbolter.  I also very carefully lined up my 1/16” hole (LINK)  punch to make the front “vent” hole on the stormbolter barrel. Then I cut out the “knuckles” of another powerfist.  These were glued place and pressed flat. These are all very small touches, but they add a lot of implied detail because they draw the eye.

I glued the arms in place and pressed the whole thing under a stack of books.  As I’ve said before, it’s very important this stays flat.

The shoulder pads were the most challenging bit.  As I mentioned above, this template is pushing into three dimensions (about 2.5-D) so the shoulder pads are intended to wrap over the model.  I needed to make them two dimensional, but also make sure I don’t end up with any odd gaps between the layers of my mural. I cut them in two just past the center line on each side, so I ended up with a sliver of leftover material between them.  Then I gave the top pad (the one without the leather straps) a slight curve to it.  I tried to match up the curve of this under-pad with the curve of the arm’s shoulder section.

Helpful Hint—Just like I did with the (LINK) tabard, a light pass with my hobby knife helped the straps on the bottom shoulder pad-sections stand out.

Placement was a bit more challenging.  I used the image from the front of the template as a reference.  In the end, it didn’t look fantastic, but it didn’t look bad, either.  For a first attempt at this, it was pretty solid.

Another Helpful Hint – I ended up with some gaps between the layers, where one shoulder pad extended out past the other, or past the arm element.  I toyed with the idea of cutting slivers of card to fill these gaps, but realized it was easier and quicker to use glue.  Just put a small drop next to the gap and use the edge of your hobby knife as a spatula/ putty knife.

I cut a strip of card 1/4” wide and cut it into small rectangles.  I wanted these details to be a bit thinner, so I used card from an aspirin bottle.  I spaced these out along the top and bottom row of the panel for a touch more detail.  I also made up a few purity seals to fill some of the empty space alongside the terminator.  I wanted to make them look like part of the mural, though, so I used the thin card for the ribbon to make them look a bit more solid.  Doing them the regular way would work fine, too.  It would just look like dozens of chaplains, priests, and other devotees had left offerings or signs of respect over the years.

As a final touch, I went over the whole thing and added some rivets I made with my 1/16” hole punch.  Not a lot, because I want to keep the “sculpted” look, but enough to keep the architectural aspect of it clear.

And there you have it.  For just over an hour’s worth of actual work (minus drying time) I’ve got a nice bonus element for my scenery.  The best part is, it works whether I’m using Games Workshop’s models or if I’m building my own scenery from card.  If—more likely when—I try this again, I’ll probably make a point of cutting out the eyes on the helmet.  The image is kind of lacking a focal point, and I think having a pair of eyes would fix that.

You could also do much simpler things with this method.  A big Imperial eagle would be believable above the doors or balconies of any building.  With a little work you could trace out a cog that would look good on the side of any manufactorum.  It wouldn’t even take much work to put a skull inside it.

Or, on the flipside, you could download Guardsmen or Chaos Marines and take this mural idea to the extreme.  Chronicle the many heroic deeds of Marneus Calgar.  Show the brave men of the Imperial Guard at war.  See the classic battle of the Emperor vs. Horus.

If you’ve got the cash for some thin plastic, this might be a nice project for the sole reason that you could file some of the edges.  If they had a bit of a curve they’d look even more like they’d been carved out of the wall.  But honestly, the cardstock looks fantastic and it costs pennies.