Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Blog 014 – Big Red aka The Crimson Inquisitor.

One of the things that has always bugged me about the fact that certain Inquisitors could wear Terminator armour was that there were no appropriate minis scaled to show normal humans doing so. Yes, there were (and are) plenty of Terminator minis, but they all depict eight foot tall superhuman killing machines rather than normal humans – if the term “normal” can actually be applied to members of the Imperial Inquisition.  During a recent conversation I was challenged to convert one from a standard Space Marine to represent the reduced scale, and it’s quite possible I’ll do that at some point (my so-called friends keep creating challenges that are just barely the right side of insanity for me to consider viable and so I’ve already started thinking about which components will form the basis of it), but on the more immediate front it did make me reconsider an old conversion of mine from a few years ago.
The basis for the conversion was one of my favourite older minis, a figure of a vintage far enough back that it may indeed be from the era of Rogue Trader. I already had the figure made up as a display piece, but it was old enough that it was really showing its age and so it became a donor via a trip through some paint-stripper.

In order to upgrade the look of the piece I grabbed one of the Chaos Terminator arms from my bits-box and cleaned off the unwanted detail and iconography. I simply had to use it – the combination of the power-claw and the wonderfully detailed shoulder-pad was irresistible. I love power-claws. They’re my favourite weapons. If they had them in real-life I’d buy two – one for day-to-day use and one for Sunday-best.
Look closely at the fingers and you’ll see how I’ve curled the middle and smaller fingers in slightly to give a more natural pose. Little tweaks like this can make for the simplest of conversions but still deliver a good-sized visual impact in terms of giving a miniature a touch of life and naturalism.
The main draw-back of using this arm was that it left me with nowhere to put the shoulder pad with the Inquisitorial symbol upon it – you can’t give a figure two left-arms after all. Or can you…
No. You can’t.
What you can do however is remove the left shoulder-pad, reshape the rear so that it fits the right side of the Terminator and then scratch-build an arm and hand for it. And yes, it is a lot of work just to keep a symbol that could just as easily be painted on the finished conversion, but I didn’t get called “Mad Converter” for nothing. You can also see that I’ve used a vehicle-mounted storm-bolter as outlined in Blog 013 – I’m fairly sure this was the first time I did so.
The only other notable addition to the piece was the shrine pinned to the top of the armour. Once again it came from my bits-box so I’m not certain of the provenance, but I’m fairly sure it’s from one of the Black Templar sprues. I chose it because I wanted something that would both identify the Inquisitor on the battlefield and also display the strength of his religious zeal to anyone who faced him. This is a man who is armoured in ceramite and in the armour of faith.
As is common for me the figure was fully based before being broken down into its several pieces and painted in components before final assembly and varnishing. I have to admit that, despite the work I’d done, I didn’t lavish a similar level of effort on the paint-job as it was intended for gaming rather than as a display piece (you may note that the shield is still blank pending the eventual addition of a force insignia).
Although the finished figure isn’t as ornate or impressive as some of the others in my cabinet it still ranks as one of my favourites. It could be the clean lines, the pleasing asymmetry or the martial arrogance of the character, but if I had to admit to a reason why I like him so much I’d have to say that I simply like his overall look – he just seems “right”, if you know what I mean.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Blog 013 - A pair of simple Terminator conversions.

An uncharacteristically short blog entry this time, but not because I haven’t been busy. The zombies of my Horror Horde are far more numerous than they were only this time last month (thanks partly to my having found inspiration, partly to my having found a decent feldblau for some of the German contingent but mostly because zombies just naturally seem to increase in numbers if you take your eyes off them for five minutes) and my second novel is finally finished and in the process of being edited. A whole novel of more than 80,000 words completed in less than a year – I had no idea that I’d be able to do it, but do it I did. Now I just need to find a willing literary agent and/or publisher…
Anyway, the idea for this blog came from a conversation with my old friend Steve Buddle. I was telling him what I’d been doing for a Terminator conversion I’m working on when is occurred to me that I’d never seen anyone else emulate one certain part of the process which, for me at least, has become a routine modification.
There are two components of the common or garden Terminator that I’ve converted more than once in exactly the same way (truth be told, the only conversion I’ve carried out more often is the creation of my drum-mag bolters) and those are the Terminator’s arms, bearing their various versions of the storm-bolters and chain-fists. Not that I have anything against any of the components as they come on the sprue, I just prefer to have certain things show a bit more ‘oomph’, if you know what I mean.
First off is an easy one – the chain fist. Step one is to remove all but the drive section of the chain attachment from the fist. Step two is to cut the hilt section from a chain-sword. Step three is to pin and glue the two pieces  together. It really is that simple. The end result is a chain fist with a very long – one might even call it sweeping – chain attachment, and it’s an image that I think provides the finished conversion with an aspect of brute power and devastating lethality. Visually it’s the difference between a dagger and a broadsword. Also note that the two smallest fingers on the fist were removed and wire inserted so that I could resculpt them and create a partly closed hand.

You can also adjust the look of the finished item by varying the chain-sword used. In the above example I’ve used the basic weapon from the tactical set but in the past I’ve used others, including the various double-edged versions of the weapon, to good effect.
The second change is the modification to the storm-bolter. It’s even simpler to execute than the upgrade to the chain-fist, but I think it’s a staggering improvement on the visual of the Terminator. First off I carefully remove the existing storm-bolter (saving the part of course – more than one space-marine in my collection now carries a weapon previously held by one of the first company) and make sure that the top of the is smooth and pristine. Next I trim flat the rear underside of the storm-bolter from the vehicle sprue and glue it in its place. Job done. No, really, it’s that simple. The only caveat is that you have to make sure the finished piece won’t interfere with any other component on the figure, but that’s always the case even if you’re just constructing a bog-standard, unconverted figure.

“But Neil,” I hear you all cry, “from where did you get the idea?” Well, I’m glad you’ve stopped asking why I do these things (that’s a question for very well-educated men with many letters after their names and a disturbing propensity for giving things Latin labels) and started asking how the ideas come to me. The 40k fluff states that storm-bolters were originally nothing more than two bolters strapped together as a combi-weapon and while the newer models still pay a small homage to that visual it’s the ones on the vehicle sprue that more clearly show that development. They have two separate magazines and a clear delineation between the halves so that the body of the weapon looks like two bolters fused together and given a new casing. And so when I wanted to give an old (and I do mean old) model of an Inquisitor in Terminator armour a relic-weapon it seemed obvious to take they one from the vehicle sprue. I liked it so much it’s become one of my staples.
And you’ll be seeing that crimson-armoured hero of the Imperium next time.