This is another one of those dirt-cheap, simple conversions that you can add some punch to your Imperial Guard... sorry, Astra Militarium army (because you can’t copyright “Imperial Guard”).  And, as an added bonus, it ties really well to the Adeptus Mechanicus, too.  Good timing on that...

Many years back, when the Imperial Guard codex worked off the doctrine system, there was a wonderful White Dwarf article about abhuman regiments.  For those of you who missed it, the idea was pretty simple.  With all the various not-quite-mainstream humans kicking around the Imperium, it was inevitable that you’d end up with a few worlds where the large percentage of their populations—and thus, their Guard foundings—weren’t, exactly, well, mainstream human.  Think Ogryns.  Or Inhumans.

One of the most interesting ones, I thought, were the Afriels.  Unlike many of the other mutations which resulted from centuries of isolation in harsh conditions, the Afriels were deliberately engineered by the techpriests of Mars using DNA from dozens of the Imperium’s greatest heroes (think Serpentor 40,000).  They weren’t Astartes, but they were tougher, stronger, and better disciplined than most Guardsmen, and usually equipped with top level kit from the techpriests.

I built a platoon’s worth of them in Adeptus Mechanicus colors... and then the doctrine system went away.  I briefly toyed with just repainting them all to join my Catachans, but I really liked the look of them as chalk-skinned figs.  And I do have a thing for super-soldiers.

It took me a long while to hit on the idea of Afriel Stormtroopers...  Sorry again, Scions (old habits, because you can’t copyright “Stormtroopers”).  It made perfect sense, really.  Afriels and Scions hit so many of the same points.  Better trained, better equipped, less common, more durable, very distinctive on the field, and usually deployed for a specific purpose.  And just this week, we’ve seen the announcement of Skitarii—genetically and mechanically engineered super soldiers used by the Adeptus Mechanicus.  So, yet another possibility...

The cheap part?  Afriels are pretty much just Catachan Guardsmen with a distinctive color scheme (white skin, pale hair, and a contrasting uniform—probably red).  So that’s a full squad of ten Scions (or Skitarii) for almost 60% less than the regular price.

I used a lot of spare heads from Space Marine Scouts.  Each one has a headset and several have monoptics or visors, which helps sell the high-tech idea.  They’re also just a hair too big for Catachan bodies.  I mean, we’re talking like three or four percent too big.  Just enough that it registers and feels a little... off.  Which is perfect for Afriels.

I’m probably going to go through and put Space Marine scopes on the lasguns.  It’s a little touch that makes the rifles look a little more high-tech and helps sell them as either a hellgun variant or just a higher-end lasgun.

My Afriel Tempestor Prime (originally the platoon commander) has a bionic arm.  This is a really simple conversion—it’s just a Space Marine arm without a shoulder pad.  Yes, I know he can’t have a stormbolter.  As I said, he was built when the codex was very different.  He’ll probably end up with a plasma pistol, and maybe a power sword.

There’d probably be some weapons tweaks needed to make an Ad Mech squad out of them, but the basic idea would remain the same. And be just as inexpensive...


Transcendent C’Tan

What the heck, while I’m on this little roll, here’s one other Necron unit you can make on the cheap.  Although, to be fair up front, like the Deathmarks, this one’s more “inexpensive” than flat-out cheap.

Lots of folks love that Transcendent C’Tan, but it is scary expensive.  You’re either paying for the whole Tesseract Vault (about $140) or you’re buying it online as bits (around $60 most places I’ve seen it).  Neither of these is a great option if you’re short on cash.


All along, the Necron fluff has talked about how several of the C’Tan disguise themselves as other creatures.  Even with the slight retcon that the ones we meet are all “shards” of the total entity, it’s not hard to believe they could take on any form.  So any oversized model could work as a C’Tan with the right paintjob.

For example...

The Dark Elf Cauldron of Blood has a great statue of Khaine.  You can pick it up for under twenty bucks on line, even less if you get lucky with an eBay auction.  It makes a wonderful Avatar if you’re an Eldar player, or just scenery. But it could also be used for other purposes...

Here’s the complete statue.  I could cut off the topknot, some of the horns/ vanes on the head.  I could also shave off some of the spur-type horns growing along the arms and legs.  This would leave me with a pretty basic humanoid form with an elongated head.

I could also grab the control panel icon from the Necron Catacomb command barge.  You may already have one of these in your bits if you built an annihilation barge.  It fits very well right on the chest with no work at all.  With a tiny bit of filing and shaving, it would be a perfect fit.

If you can afford to pay a little more, dig around online or in your bits bins for detail pieces from the Wood Elves line.  There are tufts of weeds, blades of grass, and all sorts of small branches and such.  But if they’re painted electric blue or neon green, these would look a lot like the little energy wisps that are radiating off GW's Transcendent C’Tan model.  This would also work with really simple green stuff tentacles.

And just like that... you've got a Transcendent Star Dragon, for under twenty dollars.


Bargain Basement Harlequins

Yeah, they don't look like much right now, but use green stuff to resculpt the faces, cut the limbs to repose them, add some leftover weapons from your Dark Eldar or the bits bins, base them, prime them, add some checkerboard patterns on the legs and arms...

No, forget it.  Just forget I even suggested this...


Necron Deathmarks

I wanted to show off another cheap and semi-cutting edge idea I had for the Necrons.  It’s an idea many people have probably had.  Although, granted, part of that cheapness does depend on already having some things.

The Deathmarks are the flipside of the Immortals. You can build one or the other with the box set.  When I found a few heavily discounted boxes, I went with Immortals. This meant I had a lot of Deathmark heads, arms, weapons, and the backs of their torsos.

Now, I found uses for some of these parts, with my cheap Crypteks and the Heavy Destroyer.  But I still had a lot left, and I wondered if there was some way to use them.  Preferably a way that wouldn’t cost me just as much as buying them outright.

As it turns out, you can usually find the legs and torsos for basic Necron Warriors for about twelve dollars if you dig around online.  Even cheaper if you can find them in your local store’s bits bins.  That’s a whole box’s worth—a dozen bodies—for less than a dollar each.  You’ll usually spend that much for half as many Deathmark/Immortal legs.  Just the legs.

So, now I’ve got heads, arms, legs, torsos, and weapons.  That all adds up to models.

I glued the legs to bases and the torsos went together as normal.  The real trick was going to be putting the arms on.  They’re made for a slightly wider torso, and they also have a very wide grip on the synaptic disruptors.  It doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room.  But it leaves some.
I tried gluing the first two.  I struggled at first because I kept trying to put the “ball” of the shoulders all the way into the torso socket.  That just won’t work, and it led to much fumbling.  But they sit very nice about 1/3 out, and once the glue dries the shoulders are nice and solid.

Helpful Hint—If you go this route, I found (on the second one) that it helped a lot to glue the left arm to the disruptor first.  It cuts down on a lot of fumbling.
However, doing this got me thinking...  What if I used green stuff to fill in a bit of that socket, effectively widening the torso?  I made a tiny ball of green stuff—about the same size as the shoulder ball itself—and fitted that into the shoulder socket.  Then I assembled the arms around that and trimmed away any excess green stuff.

Helpful Hint—You’ve probably heard this before, but be very conservative when you’re mixing green stuff.  You don’t want to end up with a lot of extra sitting around.  In this case, you don’t want a lot of it sitting around drying and getting less sticky.  Mixing tiny amounts will be a bit more time-consuming, but you’ll get much better results

Once I had the weapons on the torsos, it all went quick.  I added the extra conduit to the disruptors, put the torsos on the legs, and then added the heads.  And that was it.  Even switching my build-method halfway through, it took a little over three hours, and half of that was just drying time on some of the bigger parts (arms to torsos, torsos to legs).

Now, using the Warrior bodies does mean I don’t get that “hood” the Deathmarks have, but I’m okay with that.  I think if we made a list of distinctive features of a Necron Deathmark, the hood would probably be number four or five on that list, and this model has all the elements before that.  It also means my Deathmarks are a little smaller than the GW model, but this doesn’t really bother me, either.  One of the jarring elements of the Deathmarks, for me, anyway, is that they’re a stealth/sniper unit and they’re some of the largest infantry models in the army.  Seriously, it’s like asking Jamal Duff to hide behind a coat rack...

However, there’s a dozen Deathmarks for about fifteen dollars, if I count green stuff.  Much better than the ten for $66 they cost normally.  About... 82% off retail, I think, if I’m doing my math right. Heck, even if you bought all the parts for this as bits, you could make ten of these Deathmarks for twenty bucks and a few dollars for shipping.

That's pretty cheap.


Necron Obelisk

Look at that.  The Imperial Knight’s finally done and now I’m being super-cutting edge for the first time in... well, almost a year.  And, well, almost cutting edge. 

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a long time Necron fan.  I had a Necron army that went with the old Chapter Approved army list, when all the models were metal and damn near indestructible.  In all ways.

But I wanted to talk about new stuff.

The Necron Tesseract Vault.  Even before the new rules (which, arguably, just made it better) the Tesseract was popular with Necron players.  Past that, the next best part of this kit would be the Transcendant C’Tan.  Some folks might argue it’s actually first choice and the vault is second.

Why do I bring this up?  Well, since everyone wants either the C’Tan or the Vault (which is the entire kit) the non-C’Tan parts tend to be very cheap.  And all those parts add up to the Necron Obelisk.

As it happens, I found all those parts online for around $45—about 60% the price of the kit.  And that’s a bargain for any super-heavy vehicle.

Now, granted, there’s a strong argument to be made that the Obelisk... well, sucks.  Overpriced,  underpowered, and poorly armored.  But you know what? 

Change the rules. 

Talk to your gaming group about making the Obelisk cheaper or better armored.  If the people you play with on a regular basis have any interest in a fun game, they’re not going to let a cool model sit on the sidelines.  With the new corporate guideline of no models=no rules, most of us probably have a few Apocalypse-level items that have been left in the dust.  Make up some new rules that you can all agree on and forge the narrative, dammit!!

All that being said... here’s a few quick tips on how to put your super-cheap Obelisk together.

The Obelisk is kind of unique as a Games Workshop kit in that it really is put together with leftovers.  Because of this, a few things don’t go together... well, like they normally would.  For example, once the core’s together, you actually need to cut one of the tube/hose sections apart to get the pieces that stabilize the support arms.  Which means buying those component just to cut off a half inch piece.

Or... I cut some scrap plastic down to 3/16” and it worked fine.  They aren’t perfect rods, but the braced the support arms and made them solid inside the core.  And all of this is going to be hidden inside the Obelisk, anyway.

That’s the weirdest part of assembling this model.  The only other unusual thing is how a lot of pieces interlace rather than butt up against each other or fit into simple grooves.  It’s not a completely alien mechanic, but it’s kind of new for GW (I’ve never seen it before, anyway) and it’s probably worth dry-fitting a lot of the components together once or thrice—especially the top and the big side panels--to get a sense of them. 

I assembled the four sides individually and then the top.  I made a corner of two sides, building it right onto the support arm.  Then I added the top into that corner.  Once that was all solid I added a third side, making sure everything lined up, and then the fourth and final side went on.

Helpful Hint—The side panels on this thing are a pain to put together.  As I mentioned above, even the slightest bit of warping means some really bad joins.  I wrestled with it for almost an hour before I realized I could use my big clamps and stretch them diagonally across the entire Obelisk rather than side to side.  It meant I could only work on one seam at a time, but it let me get those seams rock solid.

After this was just final details.  The four arches/ prongs went on top.  Some of the “particle” pieces went on the bottom, all angled to hint at a bit of movement.  The tomb spider heads and claws.  And finally the gauss arrays.

There you have it.  The Obelisk.  A Necron super-heavy for under fifty dollars.  And, yeah, I got the flying stand with that, too, I just hadn’t assembed it when I took the picture.

Also, shameless plug, check out Corrupts Absolutely?-- the new anthology there on the right.  It’s tales of superheroes and superpowers gone bad, and I’m proud to say I have one in there called “Bedtime Story,” about parents trying to explain the new world order to their young son.  Plus there’s cool stories by authors like Joe McKinney, Cat Rambo, Tim Marquitz, and many more.