As I mentioned in an earlier blog I am half-way through a Word Bearers army from the times either at or just before The Horus Heresy. Don’t ask me how long I’ve been working on it – it’s certainly into the years by now – but I remember that it started a little after I read all about them in a copy of White Dwarf and was thoroughly stunned by the picture of one of their Dark Apostles urging on some reluctant followers. I decided then and there that I simply had to convert a figure inspired by that artwork, basing it on the Chaplain in Terminator Armour.
Once that first Word Bearer was finished I knew that I had to have at least a small force for him to command and so I started converting. And converting. And converting…
Before I knew it I had three transports based on the original Rhino models, a mobile reliquary built from the same vehicle which redefines the word ‘mental’ (but more of that in later blog), three squads of battle-brothers, a host of Imperial Cult fanatics to support them, Lorgar and a kick-ass dreadnaught. Thanks to this year’s new Armies on Parade competition I even have a few pieces of themed scenery and weapons emplacements for them too. Naturally all of this will one day be photographed and blogged for all the world to see and pick to pieces, but one of them has to be first to show itself above the parapets and the choice was obvious. I just have to go with the heavy hitter.
So, here’s the dreadnaught’s story.
His legs and body are based on a Thousand Sons dreadnaught from Forge World given to me because it had too many casting errors on it (the person who had it didn’t want to put in all the effort required to get it up to spec and thought I might have a use for it – how right he was). It seemed like an appropriate starting point because it was – at the time – the oldest form of dreadnaught available, the venerable dreadnaught being not then released. The first step was to clean off all the extra detail on it that didn’t fit in to my plans – naturally any and all Chaos/chapter iconography was first to go. A few bits and pieces were left behind to add interest to the piece and prevent it from being too sterile (the skull on the left shin and the remnants of the wing design on the right ‘chest’ for example), but most of it was cut or ground off with my multi-tool. Miliput was then used to ensure that I had clean surfaces to work with since it can be smoothed when wet and sanded when cured.
Arms next. The original left arm was missing and the right one was unusable so appropriate donor parts were scavenged from my bits-wardrobe and test fitted. (And that’s an important lesson right there – test fit everything at every stage, just in case. There’s little worse than finishing a beautifully crafted component and then finding that it won’t go into place properly.)
So far, so good. But something was missing. Since most Word Bearers are practically walking reliquaries it made sense that a battle-brother granted the privilege of being trapped beyond death in a mobile killing machine (always a dubious honour in my book) would have something just that little bit special. Banners on dreadnaughts are a classic, but I wanted a more impressive shrine mounted on his broad and impressive shoulders. Plus a banner. After all, there’s no such thing as overkill when you’re showing your love for the Emperor, is there? (And if you think there is please have a quick word with your nearest Confessor, Inquisitor or Commissar depending on your location and chosen career path.)
After sounding out a few ideas with Steve Buddle he suggested that I have the occupant’s former armour on a rack, displayed for all the Universe to see. It was my dumb idea to make it an obsolete mark of armour. Shattered and obsolete. Easy peasy, eh?
The shoulder pads were (like those of all of the battle-brothers) normal pads with the rims removed and then tidied up with putty, the body was sculpted over a normal chest piece and the legs scratch-built over the pieces of rod that made up the frame and the power-fist is an ooooold piece (not quite RTB01, but close to it) from which I first removed and then rescuplted the digits. The helm was trickier but in the end I cleaned up a Cadian helmet, extended the cheek pieces with plasticard and putty, sculpted the visor and then topped it all off with a Chaos Marine’s top-knot. Like I said, easy peasy… Yeah, right! Two holes were drilled into the dreadnaught’s shoulders to mount it along with a third in the back to house the banner pole, making sure that the components wouldn’t crowd each other out when they were fitted.
The banner-pole was constructed from two lengths of brass-rod fitted together, lashed with fuse-wire for appearance sake and finally crowned with a Bretonnian symbol (meant for a shield if I remember rightly). The banner itself was made out of plasticard detailed mostly with miliput. (I often use this for banners and cloaks rather than green-stuff as it’s easier to achieve the fine blending where the edges of the folds I add meet the plasticard surface.)
Other details were added with components from the Empire Flagellants sprues, green-stuff and ragged-edged rectangles or strips of thin plasticard. An extra note on the candles – these were made from cut-down sections of plastic-rod culled from the shafts of the Flagellants’ weapons with wicks added from more fuse-wire. The wax pooling around their bases was sculpted from green-stuff.
And basically that was that – a quick paint-job and my main-man was ready to rain doom upon the enemies of the Emperor. Well, right up until the point he became one of them, but that’s a whole different story.