Tag Archives: Horus heresy

Atrocity at Istvaan III

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Not a model, but what the heck. I played around with acrylic pencils and pastels since I wanted to try them for weathering, anyhow. (AK Interactive is issuing a new line of acrylic pencils, and I realized I actually have a full set from an art store, but never thought of using it for modelling. Go figure.) The paper is special paper for watercolor painting.

The scene is one of my favorite from the early Horus Heresy books (I think it’s from the “Flight of the Einstein”): after realizing they have been betrayed, a dreadnought is calmly waiting for the virus bombs to hit.

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

Forgeworld: Kharn the Betrayer

Since the Horus Heresy book series started Forgeworld also started issuing miniatures of the most prominent characters. I don’t like all of them, but most are actually pretty awesome (and expensive). Like this guy: Kharn. (Who is a swell guy as we know.)

His character in itself -along his friend, Argel Tal- is one of my favourites. Kharn knowingly slides into corruption because of his loyalties. He is a noble warrior (as far as any Astrates can be noble; let’s face it, all of those guys are kind of dicks), who somehow retains fragments of his nobility even when he turns traitor. You can understand why he betrays the Imperium, and to be honest, he kind of has a point, too.
He is aware of the corruption as it happens to him, and this makes him cynical and disillusioned, as he knows he has no choice in the matter. All of his choices were taken away from him by the Emperor of Mankind (who is either incompetent or just plain stupid), and his damaged Primarch (who should have been put down as soon as he was discovered for the good of everyone, himself included).

Anyhow, since I liked the character I bought the figure. The pose is pretty dynamic (unfortunately Angron’s –another available figure from this series- pose is the mirror image of his), the quality is excellent, and you get a couple of options, too. (Helmet on/helmet off, and different weapons.) I’ve left out the second figure that came in this set. He had his helm caved in, his arm cut off, blood squirting; I felt this was an unnecessary addition. The leaping, axe-wielding Astrates would be perfectly enough to convey the berserker savagery of the World Eater; blood splatters and dead bodies flying around was not needed. (This is why I opted for the helmeted head –it’s scarier to see the contrast of an impassive mask, and the brutal, mad frenzy of Kharn.)

This is the first time I painted anything in white, which was not very easy, truth be told. The figure was first painted with grey primer, and then several light layers of white Citadel paint was added. I used very thin filters of dirt and grey colors to make the armor look used and dirty. Whenever the effects were overdone (several instances) I went back to correct them with white. This actually created a nice, layered look. I also tried to avoid “clean” colors –everything should look dirty, oily and damaged, as our friend probably does not spend as much time with patient armor maintenance as he should be. It’s probably not the “official” GW paint style, but to be honest I was quite satisfied with the results. (Except for the plasma gun. That gun will need some more work looking at the photos…)