Category Archives: warhammer

Grim Skull Miniatures – Hive Bringer (Typhus)

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There is a small cottage industry focusing on producing figures and other accessories for popular tabletop games. Warhammer 40K is no exception. One prominent company producing resin alternatives and conversion sets is Grim Skull Miniatures; their Hive Bringer (khm… Tyhpus) is the subject of this review.

I mostly choose characters with interesting, intriguing fluff, but honestly Typhus is a d”ck, and there is no way around that. The miniature looks awesome, though, so in my shopping basket it went.

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Games Workshop has a newly issued (plastic) chaos-corrupted version of Typhus, so there are definitely choices out there. Their Typhus looks really nice, but I really can’t be bothered about the silly little deamons crawling all over him… I mean I know it’s a silly table top game, but there must be some limits.

 

This particular figure by Grim Skull is absolutely gorgeous. He holds either a scythe or two sickles (these held in reverse, John Woo style), and he definitely looks corrupted. The detail and definition is simply superb. All the cysts, boils and blisters are lovingly re-created, alongside with the horns sticking out of the cracks of his power armor.

The figure comes with a base which is similarly well detailed with the assortment of maggots, skulls and horns.

The assembly is a breeze; you have to attach the arms, the shoulder pads and the weapon(s). If you elect to use the sickles, the position of arms is less than important; however to line up properly with the scythe, you have to be very careful to make sure the arms are in the correct position.

The really cool part- at least I found it fascinating- is that one of Typhus’ hands is bare… you actually get to see the skin of a corrupted daemon prince under the armor.

As with most figures, painting is the difficult part- and I do admit I’m not an excellent painter. (My main interest is armor models).

I found that glazes are great to produce an uneven, dirty and grimy looking surface. Previously, with Mortarion, I used glazes over black primer; this time I decided to use a similar approach over white primer. I used several shades of brown and green glazes (prepared using Lahman medium and acrylic paints) to give the armor a stained, corroded look. The parts of the armor I wanted to appear bronze received a green base; I chose two green colors that are close to the color of oxidized bronze. Later on I realised I should use a dark, metallic tin color, and layer bronze and oxidised bronze colors onto it.

The blisters and pustules were painted with a yellowish/pinkish color, and received several orange-ish/reddish glazes; it managed to convey the inflamed, blistered, sick skin.

I used some Vallejo diesel fuel stains and engine oil to simulate stuff leaking from our corrupted Astrates. In short, this is a great looking miniature. I do not play WH40K, but I do enjoy occasionally paint the minis I find compelling. Some I want to paint because I like the character’s back story, and some, because they look cool; Typhus belongs to the latter group.

 

(I did a pre-Heresy version of him, too.)

 

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Rescuing a botched paintjob and paint stripping…

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Just a quick post about a disaster.
I did kind of mess up the paint job on a space marine back in the days when I was painting these dudes. I tried to strip the paint using isopropyl alcohol, but it came off in flakes, leaving the surface uneven and blotchy. I was seriously thinking about just throwing the poor guy into the recycling bin- and then came the inspiration.

 

Who else has blotchy, corroded armor? That’s right… the Death Guard. Since I was planning to paint up Morty and some of his pals, I thought I’d give glazes a try on this fella before I move onto the big guys… And what do you know? It actually came out looking good. Remember people: there are no mistakes, only happy accidents!

 

Artel W Miniatures – Eisenhorn (Inquisitor)

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I always loved the dark, hopeless world of Warhammer 40K (look up Grimdark when you have some time).

This is an universe where even the good guys are worse than any actual historical monster you can think of: a collection of xenophobic, genocidal maniacs in different shapes of forms -and that’s only the Imperium of Man. Superhuman, gene crafted soldiers who think themselves as actual Ubermensch, the Imperial Guard, an armed force that throws millions into the meatgrinder without a thought, and of course the shadowy and all powerful Inquisition that oversees the civilian aspects of life in the Imperium. Add to this all the external threats: aliens, renegades and heretics, and you have an empire that is held together by tape and strings, threatened by multiple external and internal forces each of which could spell its doom it by itself, let alone together. So what’s not to love?

There’s a huge collection of books published by Black Library set in this universe; and a large portion of them are frankly no better than some badly written fan-fiction. However there are gems which are great on their own rights, and they are absolutely worth reading and re-reading. The Eisenhorn Trilogy is one of these book series which is a really, really good story regardless of its origins. (Space fantasy tends to be looked down upon by the “purists” of the SF genre, hence the second part of the sentence.)

The series detail the journey of an Imperial Inquisitor, Gregor Eisenhorn from a young idealist on the path of corruption and ruination. Due to external circumstances and small, seemingly unimportant or small actions and choices of his own he becomes something he would have recognised (and executed without a thought) as a heretic in his youth. The story is complex, and quite an interesting one; after all, the same path is trodden by many people who acquire power. Why I like the story (apart of the quality of writing, of course) is how easily it can be transposed onto our own real world: very few people start out with the intention of becoming corrupt, or do evil. Corruption comes gradually with seemingly small and insignificant steps, yet it will twist the person beyond recognition. (Not to mention Eisenhorn remains true to his mission: fighting for humanity, which adds an extra layer of complexity to the story.)

Since I love the story, I wanted to make an Eisenhorn figure, of course, which can be an issue in WH40. Not all characters have figures available, not to mention the silly poses (it seems like everyone and their mother are shouting and pointing at stuff in the grim future). It is fair enough because they WERE made for a tabletop game, but for a modeller it’s a definite problem if you want your figures in a more dignified (and realistic) pose. In case of this specific figure the pose is actually quite nice (and he has his signature sword), the proportions are good, but the problem is that the figure is out of production and hard to get. Not to mention it depicts our favourite inquisitor towards the end of the trilogy; I prefer him in his prime.

Enter the blooming resin industry. There are several companies producing alternatives, conversions for the WH40/Warhammer games; these are miniatures that are not nearly enough similar to the originals to be considered as copyright infringements, but they are close enough to be clear what they supposed to represent. A lot of these conversions and figures are produced because there are holes in the market (if there is no available set by GW; for example conversion sets for space marines for specific legions or chapters), or straight-out improvements. In case of the Chaos Rhino, Mortarion or Abaddon figure in my opinion they are definite improvements, for example. And now we review Eisenhorn, produced by a Russian company, Artel W Miniatures. (Shortly after this figure was issued, WG announced that they were coming out with a new Eisenhorn figure, so now we have three… Choice is a good thing.)

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The name of the miniature is very close to the originals, so it is abundantly clear who it refers to, even if you don’t know the iconic painting of the inquisitor (which actually inspired the books according to the author). The figure essentially copies the artwork: we have Eisenhorn strolling forward with a gun and a tube in his hand, his runestaff mounted on his back. (This setup puts the figure to the last few chapters of the second book, or the first chapters of the third.)

The figure comes in a very impressive package: a box wrapped in brown paper with a wax seal… I have to say I felt quite reluctant to open it, as it had this exclusive feel to the whole set. It’s a feel definitely something you don’t really get when you get a blister pack. (Admittedly it’s not a priority when you buy something, but still.) The paper covers a cardboard box, which contains the few pieces of the model itself, sealed in ziplock bags.

The model consists the torso with the cape, the lower part of the body, the two arms and the runestaff. His iconic power sword is not included, but to be fair it’s not on the original artwork, either. Regardless, he should have Barbarisater on his hip. (Quite possibly the tube could be replaced with a sword.) Despite of the small size of the figure the detail is very fine and impressive; the chains, the folds of his clothes, the inquisitorial rosette, the gun are all very well defined. The expression on his face (which is anatomically well proportioned) is quite grim, but this is the only appropriate expression for him, as you will learn from the books if you have not read them already, so that’s quite on the money, too.

The assembly is very quick. There’s very little cleanup required: mostly the parts where the torso meets the lower body. There is no flash on the bits. The arms fit into their slots well.

Painting was a joy- but I am not a master by all means. Only after looking at the photos do you realise how hard it is to paint a miniature on a professional level for the box art (like the above examples of GW’s minis). When you look at this figure with your eyes it actually looks pretty good. Once you bring out the macro can you see the imperfections and mistakes. Oh well. I can always claim to be an amateur.

The leather overcoat was base colored using snakebite leather, and then layered lots of different brown oil paints on top, trying to achieve the leather effect. The cloth underneath was painted regal blue, the trousers antracite, and the boots gloss black. The stash and the parchment of the purity seal was painted white, and were given a coat of brown filter. The metallic details were painted with AK Interactive’s True Metal gold and steel.

The runestaff was painted with a mixture of these metal paints; the skull in the middle was painted deep green, and some random smears of lighter green and black, covered with nuln oil. (It was supposed to be carved from a warp-infused stone. There you go: here, on this blog only, the sole accurate Eisenhorn Miniature in existence…)

Basically, that’s it. It’s a high quality miniature of an iconic character from the WH40K universe; if you missed the original “official” figure, or don’t like the newer one, now is your chance to get one for your collection. His nemesis/ally, Cherubael is coming soon.

 

Grim Skull Miniatures: Mortarion

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The world of tabletop gaming has given us better and better detailed miniatures over the years, along with increasingly detailed universes through media like books, comics and computer games. One of my favorite is…

 

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Warhammer 40K. The picture above will make it clear why.

 

There are enormous gaps in the “official” miniature offerings in the available fractions, and also what is available tends to be somewhat expensive. A lot of smaller companies spotted these gaps on the market, and started to produce similar-but-not-quite-the-same miniatures that are not available from either Games Workshop or Forgeworld, usually for a friendlier price.

Mortarion did receive an official figure by GW, and another by Forgeworld, but I did not like either of those versions. The WH30K (pre-Heresy or Herey era) Forgeworld model did not really resonate with me, and the daemon prince figure looks very different from the man he used to be, twisted and bloated beyond recognition. In case of Mortarion it is an issue. True, the Primarch of the Death Guard Legion had fallen to Chaos, and has been turned into a Daemon Prince since the Horus Heresy. However the lore makes it clear that he is the one Primarch (alongside with Magnus, possibly) who remained as close to human as possible. Grimm Skull Miniatures has issued a Mortarion model that can be used both as a pre-daemon prince Primarch before or during the Heresy, or as a full-fledged daemon-prince (essentially the same figure plus two big, leathery wings). Yes, you can say it’s just lazy marketing. However since he is the most human of the daemon princes, and fans still debate if he could even return to the side of the Emperor again, as his red brother did, there IS a good argument for Grim Skull Miniatures’ choice.

The figure- as all of Grim Skull Miniatures figures I’ve seen so far- is very well sculpted and detailed. These figures are close enough to the “official” GW/Forgeworld aesthetics, but they also differ enough to look novel and unique; frankly I quite like how most of their figures look. The overall outline of power armor mixed with twisting and turning organic shapes look the way I imagine the Chaos-touched warriors. Talking about Magnus: there is also a figure that looks suspiciously like the Cyclops, only Grim Skull took him towards the Maya/Aztec aesthetics instead the ‘traditional’ Egyptian. (I’m not sure what to feel about the overemphasised feminine figures though, but if you like Tau pin-up girls and sexy female chaos space marines, here’s your chance.)

Mortarion, or Morty for his friends, looks exactly like his description in the Horus Heresy books. A gaunt man in an ornate, baroque power armor, with a cape covering his head, and censers hanging from his armor on chains. He has his power scythe Silence, however he does not have his handgun, Lantern. This is a glaring omission of the model; the gun is a prominent feature of the Primarch. Otherwise I do like it better than the pre-daemon Forgeworld figure, or the daemon prince GW model; he does radiate a sort of dark, solemn majesty with his ragged wings and elaborately decorated, corroded armor.

He comes with a pretty nice base to stand on with a broken pipe leaking who-knows-what. (It must be something corrosive because there is a skull in it.) We do get two such pipes; I used the extra with another Death Guard figure.

The assembly of these figures is usually a breeze. I did not like the original pose, because Morty looks like a particular shepherd the way he holds Silence. I turned his arm a bit to make it look more dynamic, although the attachment point is not designed to hold the arm well at this angle. (A scythe is an unbelievably impractical weapon at any rate; at least he should have straightened it, a’la revolting peasants. I think the Death Guard really puts style over effectiveness, when it comes to weaponry.)

The big issue, however, was the wings. There are simply no attachment points where they can be glued to, and the surface touching the back of the figure is so small, it was difficult to secure them even with small wires drilled into them.

The painting stage is usually where these models are made or ruined, and I have to confess I’m not a master painter. My main interests are armored vehicles, so my skills at blending and painting small details by brush leave much to be desired. I don’t particularly stick to the “Games Workshop School of Figure Painting” with the high contrasts and very fine layering/glazing, either. Since I have the daemon prince version, I did not paint him in clean, pre-Heresy colors; he got the full grime, rust and corruption treatment.

I used Vallejo’s black primer as a first coat, and used Lahman medium to create glazes in various browns and greens. I kept adding the glazes in very thin coats until I liked the greenish-brownish hue.

The bronze parts were painted using True Metal gold first (on larger surfaces I dry-brushed it on to keep the black as shadows in the recesses), and then followed it with several layers of oxidized bronze green colors as glazes. As finishing touch I reapplied the gold on rivets, thin edges, and other surfaces where the oxidised metal would be rubbed off.

The different pipings on the armor were painted with dark blue glazes to create a slightly different color without too big of a contrast.

I was uncertain of what colors the wings should have: they look like a cross between an insect’s wing and a bat’s. I did not want them to stand too much out of the general effect, so they got mostly the same treatment as the rest of the figure. The wings received a purple glaze, and the insectoid wing structure was shaded with ochre and brown oil paint blended into the base dry; it does look slightly iridescent and chitinous.

The tabard/cloak Morty is wearing got a similar layering treatment, only in this case I used a white base and added mostly brown colors. As a chaos prince of Nurgle, the god of disease, he can’t really be expected to have a spotless, white attire. (Having one at all is pretty silly since it would get caught in everything and anything.) I added further highlights, shading and discolorations using oil paints. After weeks of drying it is still somewhat shiny… This is a good lesson on getting out the linseed oil out of the oil paint before using it. (Just put a blob of paint onto a piece of cardboard and wait a few hours… Next time I will not skip on this step.) Right now I’ll go with the “can’t you see it’s leather??” defence. It turned out a bit darker than I would like, but there it is. As I said I’m not the best of figure painters.

The base was painted similarly to the figure: several layers of dark grey and brown glazes over black primer, then a little steel and gold True Metal paint drybrushed on here and there. The rubble got a bit of a rust and dust pigments, and the bronze areas got the same treatment as Morty’s armor.

Overall I really like the results -even with my admittedly limited skills managed to make it out into an impressive renderition of this

Games Workshop – Lord of Contagion

 

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It’s really hard to depict what “Chaos” and “corruption” is; figures, artwork and even novels resort to the usual tentacles, horns, crab-pincers, boobs, and in case of the Death Guard, decomposition and disease. (There’s an awesome video explaining what Chaos really is.) In this latter case I actually think they were right on target; these new figures -except for the silly blob-daemons all over- are pretty cool. They truly look corrupted and frightening. After doing the Chaos Rhino I was looking for another Death Guard figure to paint.

I have to admit I do not know anything about this particular figure, its stats and how it’s supposed to be played; I bought it on Ebay because I liked the pose. (I think it’s better than the Typhus models.)

The painting went reasonably simple; I decided to try using glazes. I created the glaze using ordinary Citadel paints and lahmian medium. I primed the model with Vallejo German grey primer, and then started adding layers upon layers of green mediums (and some brown) in different hues to depict the filthy, corroded, corrupted armor. The cape got a similar treatment using mostly browns with some green; once I got a nice base color I added streaks of oil paints directly from the tube. Once I was happy with the overall effect of the armor, I added dark brown pin-washes to add depth to the model. I painted the brass parts with Citadel Tin and dark bronze; the edges got some Vallejo True metal gold, and then a very thin varnish of turquoise to depict oxidated bronze. After the turquoise varnish I highlighted some edges with gold again.

The fumes of the figure were painted with different brightness of green: starting with a very bright, very light green, and building up darker and darker colors, with the light colors showing only in the deep recesses. As the last touch I rubbed some black pigments on the most protruding parts signifying smoke.

The pipe was an addition from Grim Skull Miniature’s Mortarion model (it came with two pipes). The base will need some work, but for now I declare this figure done.

I think it turned out pretty nice for an armor modeller. Milage may vary.

Games Workshop Custodian

 

What can I say? I just like the way these guys look; even those ridiculous bolter-lance contraptions which make aiming utterly impossible. (They must be among the most impractical weapons of the grim future ever.) Aaron Dembski Bowden’s books bought the Custodes into life for me, so naturally I wanted to build one; not to mention I really wanted to have Kitten (or Corn Cob as the Emperor likes to call him) on my shelf. The problem is it’s not possible to buy one figure; and I did not want to buy a whole squad. The solution, after checking Ebay for a year, was to buy a whole set and sell the rest a bit cheaper.

Well, that’s about it. Due to the gold paint scheme painting was not very difficult; I quite enjoy using AK Interactive’s wax-based true metal paints. I dry-brushed the figure in several steps over a black primer base, applied to washes and highlights, and then finished with the small details.

Easy-peasy. I’m sure die-hard figure painters will take some serious issues with the model, but it’s mine, and I’m happy with it as an armor-model builder. I would like to hear your opinion, though. Shoot away the comments.