+ inload: Legio Sumer-Nikator +

+ Reaver Battlegroup +

+ My Titan Legion, The Sons of the Temple [CROSS-REF: Legio Sumer-Nikator] have received some reinforcements in advance of the upcoming release of the new Warmaster Titan. I'd pop some pictures of that up here, but to be honest you'll get a better view direct from GW's own Warhammer Community website – go have a look, I'll wait. +


+ Cool, isn't it? Like the Warbringer, my initial reaction is cautiously positive rather than glowingly excited, but I suspect that it's a figure which has a lot of presence. I'm looking forward to seeing one in-hand. +

+ Reaver Battlegroup: Serpens +

+ In the meantime, I'd better get painting. I snapped up a bargain of three partially-built Reavers, and have used them to give myself a second battlegroup. That will allow me to field a full strength Corsair group (that is, five Reavers), alongside an additional reserve Reaver. +

+ I've temporarily glued the weapons in place – with three magnetised, I thought I'd make a few more dedicated options. The first is this as-yet-unnamed close-in Reaver – a Vandal, to use the old terminology. Alongside a melta cannon and chainfist primary weapons, I've given him a Vulcan megabolter on the carapace. This selection keeps him relatively cheap, and allows the Princeps to focus his reactor on getting him safely across the table with shields alight. +

+ The Vulcan Megabolter is from Vanguard Miniatures [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]; sadly out of stock, but a snip at £4 for two. I think Forge World's 'official' one is perfectly serviceable, but at £11 for one, I couldn't really justify it. +

+ The one criticism I have with the Reaver Titan kit – an absolute favourite of mine – is the lack of head options. Sure, there are three different mask, but they're all fairly similar. I'm hoping that Forge World (or an enterprising third part) come out with a head similar to the old second option. In the meantime, I've bashed my own: 

+ The top, rear and 'eyes' are from a Warlord head with the detail trimmed down and replaced. The front is from a 40k scale Knight, again trimmed to alter the proportions slightly. The grille is from one of the spare Reaver masks. +

+ I also tweaked the second Reaver's head; though that was very minor, simply cutting back the 'tusks' of the standard kit. This head sits atop a Goth class Reaver – the old term for a long-range 'heavy' Reaver. I just couldn't resist a dual Volcano Cannon option. +

+ Far from optimal, I suspect he'll spend a lot of time trying to cool down, but the visuals and rule-of-cool override all else! Perched on top is the Forge World Warp missile, making this Titan a long-range threat to enemy models whether they have shields or not. I hope that he and his Vandal brethren will work together well; the long-range Titan herding the prey and slowing them down for the other two to close in. +

+ The third is currently another Vandal, though I might tweak him to a more generalist role. I think I might swap the chainfist for a Power fist, as I think I have one spare; and possible substitute the melta cannon for a gatling blaster. +


+ Warlord +

+ No great progress here, but I have managed to lay my hands on a 3D print of a fan-made Lucius-Alpha head. As soon as it arrived, I got it primed and popped it in place – very pleased, and looking forward to giving it a coat of paint. +



 + [/.../]ceiving? Is this thing on[/..../]+

+ Ah, much better. Apologies for the vox-silence recently; as you'll all likely be experiencing, things in the real world have been a bit complicated recently! While my hobby time has been substantially curtailed, I'm happy to say that all is safe and well in the Rubricist's quarters. +

+ Many happy returns; and while the annus horribilis that was 2020 staggers onwards, zombie-like, into the new year, I live in hope that things'll get better. What's that 40k line? Hope is the first step on the road to... Huh, maybe I won't invoke that, then! +


+ Minimal time; maximum breadth +

+ With time and energy at a premium, I've got a little area set up so that I can work for a few minutes whenever the urge hits me. That proved a great way to keep my spirits up in the last lockdown, and so far it's buoying me up now, too. +

+ Thus, it's been a year of oddments so far:

+ Exhibit one: an extremely large miniature, and one that I definitely can't get away with pretending isn't a toy. So far Brother Caban here has turned up all over the house, having various adventures. I'm planning to paint him up as a Gatebreaker, but need to get him primed and prepped. +

+ Next up was polishing off a techpriest; one I picked up from Anvil Industry's kickstarter. Lovely little model, and a fun testing ground for Contrast paints. She's sat half-completed for a while, and a half-hour stint got her here. Nothing particularly of note except for the sigil on the paper – that of an extremely mysterious figure... +

+ Back on solid ground, a hefty techpriest and his servitor, along with a strangely archaic marine. Those of you who've followed my stuff for a while might rememeber the [REDACTED], which I'll be [REDACTED] this year so I hope that [REDACTED]. +

+ [/.../] Ah, c'mon, I can't post that and then not reveal [REDACTED], can I? Oh, it turns out that [REDACTED]. Who knew? +

+ Best of luck for the new year; and remember – Some Things Are Best Left Forgotten... +

+ inload: Painting Inquisitrix Barbari Kills +

+ Inquisitrix Barbari Kills +

 There's subtlety in the application of the Emperor's will – just as there's good hard work in interpreting it. 

'Righteousness, willpower, divine grace... You'll hear them all used as justifications for why you should do as an Inquisitor says; but right now, the fact I've got an n-point discharge derringer pressed to your forehead is all I need.'


+ Well, all painted up and ready to wage a one-woman war on the Endworlds – I'm pleased with how Barbari Kills has come out. My notes on building the conversion are here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], so I'll concentrate on painting in this inload. +

+ The first thing you'll notice is the drab scheme. The plan was for the poncho to be a muted brown leather, with a bright inner lining – the idea being that this anonymous-looking figure suddenly threw back her cloak to reveal a big gun and bright colours. In the end, I think I got a bit carried away with the detailing and washes on the lining, so it's more muted than I had intended. +

+ The heraldic ermine pattern has got a bit lost, and has ended up looking a bit blurry... but them's the breaks when you experiment. I'm still pleased with the result, which has plenty of impact and contrast, if not precisely how I'd planned it! +

+ The face came out well, I felt. I've experimented with a lot of different skintones in the Gatebreaker project, but with the marines I'm guaranteed a contrasting tone near the face owing to the quartered bright yellow and dark green scheme. Not so here, so I had to work carefully to make sure her dark skin didn't get lost against the fabric. Note the embroidered details on her collar (touches of freehand help to identify something as non-skin), and the use of the brighter inner lining of the cloak near the collar, too. +

+ A few flashes of colour are dotted around the figure to make things slightly less realistic and more obviously sci-fi: the orange band on the gun; the gold Inquisition symbol on her loincloth; the red rubricising (see what I did there?) and bookmark ribbon on the book; and – of course – her blue hair. +

+ Typically, eye-catching 'hot spots' are bright, warm colours; but as long as they contrast with the overall scheme, they can be any colour. The scheme here as a whole is a warm sepia-yellow tint; almost nicotine-stained. Blue (or green, or pink) would all work to contrast. +

+ The image above shows the skin best, too. Subtle spot-glazes of red applied to the lower lip and cheeks are all that are needed to give a healthy complexion. Kills doesn't strike me as a striking make-up sort of girl. +

+ Another little flash of red; the Inquisitorial sigil of the Ordo Propter. Again, hidden beneath the cloak until the dramatic reveal. Note the profusion of pouches and webbing; I wanted Barbari Kills to look prepared for anything. This shot shows the ermine decoration on the cloak a little better, too. +

+ The basing is similar to most I do; a warm brown highlighted up with cream, then dotted with a mix of flock tufts and scatter foliage. +

+ ... and here she is pictured alongside Castaway, Coriolanus and Septival. She's starting to build up a little entourage. I must return to Haim and Brunski soon. +

+ inload: Gatebreaker infantry +

 + Another step closer +

The claviger-wielding Rift Team had come through here; as evinced by the heavy percussion fractures in the solid plate of the deck and walls – and the aerosolised gore still hanging in the microgravity. 

Member-Cardinal Boegnor picked his way over the brittle bodies of the Sa; the rest of the sweep group following in his footsteps. His face was puckered into its usual scowl as he took in the dead; his unflickering eyes set deep in creased, leathery skin. 

'Just dead Stilties,' he growled, 'Nothing of salvage here. Move on'. He waved his squadmates forward, two fingers of his bionic hand indicating the route.


+ Five more Gatebreakers polished off; which makes for three ten-man squads ready for the field. As before, these are a mix of easy-build Assault Intercessors with bits and bobs from various other kits; all with the aim of suggesting the Gatebreakers' poor supply lines – and looking cool, of course! +

+ I quite like incorporating asymmetry – like this Mark III helm – into this army, as it adds to the hodgepodge, salvaged feel. While this force's bases show scrubby plants and soil, this sort of look also helps to reflect the Chapter's void-boarding specialism. +

+ Use of reliable close-in weapons like flamers and snub-bolters help this group fit in with the background, too. Besides the equally low-tech grenade launchers, this is the only special weapon in the army so far. Not sure whether to embrace the reliance on small arms, or scatter a few special weapons in. What do you reckon? +

+ Mark VII helm, pauldrons reinforced with molecular bonding studs, and a backpack covered with extracts from the Tenets of the Ten Divine Princes. Again, nothing hugely remarkable, but little variations and details like this add up across the army. +

+ I've deliberately used pieces from various different Chapter and Legion upgrades. The main advantage is giving me access to loads of cool bits; but it also stops the Gatebreakers from looking like they owe too much to any one particular Legion or Primarch; which in turn hopefully raises some questions and makes the army more engaging visually and conceptually. +

+ The flip side of using such a wide range of material is that you need to be careful to make it a bit more neutral. This White Scar helm, for example, has has the cheek decorations trimmed away, the radio ridge on top squared off, the topknot plucked, and generally been tidied up to make it less distinctively of the Fifth Legion. I find converting pieces like this quite fun – you're basically cutting away the bells and whistles to find the form beneath. +

+ ...and last today, Member-Cardinal Boegnor; one of the officers of the Gatebreakers Ninth Strikeforce. I've used an arm from the Space Wolf Primaris upgrade spread here, though you'd be hard-pushed to tell: the stock component is completely lacking any features that would identify it as such. +

+ This is the other nice part of expanding your eye to look at other ranges and sub-factions when building your models; you realise that there's frequently nothing beyond the label that identifies a particular component as 'belonging' to a particular group. It's easiest to see on Space Marines, but the principle applies across the GW range – and beyond. +

+ inload: Bludgeoning force +

+ More Gatebreakers +

+ Having rested on my laurels for the past few days, I picked up a brush while chatting with the PCRC last night and polished off a few new Gatebreakers. +

+ Adding new figures to a playable force can sometimes be a bit of motivational challenge; particularly when you've taken a break in working on them. I felt a bit rusty working on these, but soon got into the swing of things. +

+ Emblem WIP +

+ One figure that gave me no hesitation was Emblem [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], who is ticking along nicely. Although the basing is done, the model himself is not quite complete – I just wanted to complete the base while I was doing a small batch. +

+ The mysterious sigil-blade (probably not that mysterious if you've been following the Endworlds story)was painted using the same method as K0rdhal's Necrons; namely working red into the recesses of a dark metal. +

+ I like how he's coming along overall; the additions will be minor – working up the coat more, and adding a few markings. Not quite sure what to put on his right pauldron... As a wandering Eremite [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], he doesn't really have a rank per se. Perhaps I'll have a play with some freehand. +


+ Members-Ordinary +

+ The standard 'battle-brothers' of the Chapter, the Members-Ordinary are always fun to paint. The squads are a mongrel mix of Chapter 333 Primaris Intercessors and uplifted Astartes of the original Chapter; so to represent that I've included a mix of armour marks, helms and boltgun types led by nothing other than random whim while building. This is probably not the clearest on the field, but then I've got other armies for that – the Gatebreakers are an unapologetically freeform project. +

+ This marine has a Mark II 'Crusade-pattern' helm. Up to this point I haven't used too many bits that are so old in-universe; instead sticking with a preponderance of shiny new Tacticus helms [vizref: below] punctuated with the occasional Mark VI and VII helms. That's deliberate – I want the army to visually reflect that the Gatebreakers have either willingly adopted the new armour, or have been forced to do so through damage and disrepair. The scattered few non-Mark X helms are thus presumably either owing to battlefield necessity or the wearer's stubbornness. +

+ However, a select few older bits here and there – there are so far just two marines with helms so old – also help reflect the patchwork nature of the Gatebreakers. More importantly, they add some visual flavour, which is really the important bit. The cycloptic Crusade helm is lovely, and it's been a treat to paint it up in the grass green and sun yellow of the Chapter. +

+ The Tacticus helm is, after all, a lovely design. It combines the cool grille of the Mark IV Maximus with the batlike ear-coverings of Mark VIII; design features that give it a simultaneously novel and familiar impression. This marine is built using one of the new Assault Intercessor models – the easy-build ones from the Indomitus box set. As with different armour bits (like the shoulder pad), varying the poses within squads helps to give a slightly less-disciplined impression that fits with the Chapter's demeanour. +

+ Speaking of Chapter style, this marine is a Member-Cardinal; an equivalent to a sergeant. I've built two of these; and will add them to the existing squads. I've taken a rather (dare-I-say?) chaotic approach to building this army; simply making individual models without planning out how they'll fit into squads and so forth.  Partially this was just to provide me with a break from the extremely formal and structured approach I was taking with the Blood Angels [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], and partially it was because I think this is going to be my primary 'Crusade gaming' army for a while. I therefore wanted to make sure that it was game-legal. +

+ Having bought the new Codex: Space Marines (more on this in a future inload, I think), I'm pleased to see that the Successor Chapter Tactics – that is, the Chapter's special rules – I picked for the army's first game, Massacre at Phen Mun [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], are still there. These are, for the record, Rapid Assault, which reflects the Chapter's mobile small-arms-led approach, and Stalwart, which represents their historical desperation to endure in the face of extinction. +

+ Coming back to the Member-Cardinal models, I think I will eventually come back to the squads to add some squad and rank markings and organise them more permanently. I really like adding these markings and details, and I think that it'll be a lovely way to reflect their growing history: picking out new skills learned and battle scars endured. +

+ I promise I'll stop banging on about the minutiae of Space Marine helmets soon, but this last group picture shows how much personality a few select pieces can add to a uniform group. The simple inclusion of different helmets, weapons, shoulder pads and similar details really helps them to look a bit ramshackle and hotch-potch, without making them look out-and-out orky. +

+ Mark X is exctiging and new; Mark VI has retro appeal; Mark IV is perfect for fans of clean sci-fi; Marks II and III look pleasingly crude; and Mark V is wonderfully brutal... but having been the default for so long, Mark VII is rarely celebrated in the same way as the other armour types. The Mark VII helm on the Member-Cardinal is a reminder to me of how much I like Armorum ImpetorNow that it's starting to be phased out, I've realised that the bulldog snout and frowning mask is the classic image of Astartes for me. I'll have to make a mental note to include a few more of these. +

+ inload: Endworlds +

His head ached. This was, perhaps, to be expected; as Member-Ordinary Gond had been roundly clouted by a Taran's cudgel while suppressing the turquoise-skinned biped's foxhole. He grinned. 'Suppressing', he thought, as orange blood trickled and dripped from his armour. I'm picking up the Coreworlder's coy speech-patterns now. Musing on this, he jogged after the rest of the squad.

The arrival of the Primaris marines had heralded changes for the Gatebreakers. New armour, new equipment. New training to take it on. Adaptation and compromise – not every marine would relinquish his hard-won and ancient wargear; though many welcomed the opportunity to replace their patchwork or jury-rigged systems with the clean lines of the new Mark X plate.

More than that, though; there was a fundamental change in the Chapter. All the long-hidden maladies of their failing biology: the lost organs, the fading rituals; all that had seemingly been resolved. Indeed, Gond was perversely glad of the pain in his head – it reminded him of all the bodily ailments from which he no longer suffered. The Belisarian furnace within him roared; and its voice meant that the Gentles would no longer need to wear the black and surreptitiously steal material from their Deathwatch cousins, merely to stave off a terminal decline. It was more than physical improvement: it cleansed the Chapter's collective conscience. Pride could be felt once more; the yellow and gold of Andocrine could stand in the light.

Even the marines who steadfastly refused to 'cross the Rubicon' – another euphemism – felt the optimism. After an age in which the Chapter had suffered incremental losses, from which they could not recover, the arrival of Scipius and his men – a thousand tall, clean-limbed Primaris marines – had given the old Chapter back its teeth; and swollen the strength of the various Strikeforces. Contact had been made with Eremites on previously abandoned frontiers.

It was good to be back in the field. It was good to reclaim lands lost generations before. It made Gond, and all his brethren, glad. The simple joy of feeling one's body moving and working in the way it should was revitalising. 

And yet... something nagged at Gond, as it nagged at all the old Gatebreakers, and none of the new. The sorry state of their domain was not owing to a failing Imperial grip; it was considerably more than that. As all Gatebreakers once had known – though none would speak it for shame – the Endworlds had never been Imperial, not truly.

Would their new strength be sufficient to break the shackles of Uridimmu?


+ inload: Necrons, Eldar and Krell +

 + Elder races +

+ Dread species abound in the grim darkness of the far future; many of which pre-date (and predate upon...) humanity. With the Blood Angels polished off, it's time to have a look at some more xenos. Some will join the Alien Wars project, others will be coming into conflict with the Gatebreakers in the Endworlds. +

+ Necrontyr +

+ Primary antagonists of the Gatebreakers, the Necrons from the Indomitus boxed set will be serving as a subserviant group under K0rdhal's Urdimmu. My ones will be very straightforward – a typical zombie robot horde, to provide some contrast with K0rdhal's awesome conversions. +

+ Some of the unpainted Necrons are shown more clearly in an earlier inload [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], and I'm pleased to say that they're painting up both quickly and effectively. Starting from a black undercoat, the batch above was cranked out in an evening using the following process:
  • Place small pools of black paint, dark brown paint, silver paint, pearlescent ink and sepia ink on your palette.
  • Muddle the colours together in the centre, leaving some areas of the pure colour still available.
  • Use a large brush to paint the figures semi-randomly. The idea is to create a varied underpainting, with some areas of brighter silver and duller browns and blacks.
  • Once dry, layer with Agrax Earthshade (or other dark wash).
  • Once dry, use a fine-tipped brush to selectively apply Stormhost silver (or other bright metallic) to the armour plates; emphasising the edges and leaving gaps and interesting shapes.
The scribbly, patchy effect that we're looking for.

+ This is a variation on my method for painting Iron Warriors [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], though the result is brighter and cleaner – which suits the more high-tech aliens. +

+ The effect will be further refined with touches of green, yellow and purple washes, as per Designation Samaritan [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], the Cryptek that's raising all of these warriors. After that, it's down to painting the purple that will – I hope – make everything pop. +


+ Eldar +

+ Having built and painted an homage to the WD139 Blood Angels, it was all but inevitable that I'd end up creating the opposing force, wasn't it? I'm not anticipating these being ready anytime soon; but equally I'm hoping it won't be years and years before they're fit to grace the table. +

+ The modern Banshees are lovely models; and I hope to see the other Aspect Warriors receive updates in a timely manner. My prognostication/supposition-augurs suggest that Eldar infantry have been particularly slow to transition into plastic because of the distinctive background of the Aspects: offering alternative weapons etc. goes against the background principles of the units; and creating new units that share the same base body would dilute the supposed uniqueness of each aspect. +

+ The details above mean that Aspect Warrriors don't fit into GW's dual-build box structure. That's a problem, as I suspect the reason behind GW's decision to have most boxes building two distinct units (e.g. Ogryns and Bullgryns, Deathmarks and Immortals etc.) is twofold: minimising SKU codes and maximising shelf space; and helping to insure against a flop gaming release – if one unit is seen as uncompetitive, the other might still be worthwhile from a Match Play gamer's point of view. With the exception of the Dire Avengers, they're all specialist units, and therefore are unlikely to be taken multiple times in an army. All of these points weigh against the likely commercial success of a launch of an individual Aspect box. +

+ Part of me wonders if the Ynnari background is GW's way to sidestepping this issue. By making units like the Banshees available to two in-game armies – Craftworld and Ynnari, you're broadening the number of potential buyers – in the same way as having the same plastic kit serving multiple Space Marine forces, or allowing the Leman Russ tank to be taken by Genestealer cults. Having a 'year of the Eldar' or something, in which both Craftworld and Ynnari are released, would allow all the remaining aspects to be brought out in swift succession – but not so close together than they cannibalise each others' sales. +

+ To be clear, I don't have any insider knowledge on this – I just find it interesting to speculate, based on what GW have done in the past. It's not beyond the bounds of reason for an army to receive half a dozen kits at once – just look at the Sisters of Battle or orks – but I think GW are slightly more wary of the Eldar. They could easily go back to being hugely popular, but as-is, they strike me as in a uniquely awkward position in terms of the armies. + 


+ Krell +

+ 40k, like a lot of sci-fi, has a lot of fairly similar protaganist species. With the exception of the Tyranids, almost all of the main factions are humanoid. Also known as the Enslavers, the Krell are the perfect example of a non-humanoid alien species that hasn't really been seen since Rogue Trader – and they're a species that, frankly, I think are pretty much the coolest thing since sliced bread. +

+ I created the Alien Wars project with the idea that it'd give me a space to play around with less familiar forces, like the Saharduin and the Fomn. The project stems from a simple concept: what would X model/faction look like if it were released today? +

The weird, warp-based, gribbly, mind-eating tentacle monsters have had some cool hints as to their continued existence in 40k – they appeared as the Psyren in a couple of short stories, and some concept sketches and conversions appeared in a Creature Feature article in White Dwarf. Had you asked me a few years back, I'd have said there's no chance of seeing GW re-release them; but we've now seen the release of models like the ambull and zoats. I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility that we'll eventually see official GW models. +

+ For the moment, however, I'll be using the rather delightfully grotesque figures from Tagged Events [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. Drawing heavily on the White Dwarf concept sketches I mention above, I got these as part of a Kickstarter, and the quality of cast is lovely – judging by the box they arrived in, they were cast by the excellent Artel "W" [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]. The design is slightly awkward, requiring quite a bit of hot water work (I'll try to get some shots when I build the remaining two), but I'm delighted with the results. +

+ The models are very fragile, and I'm very sceptical that the delicate tentacles would last any time at all in storage, let alone play. To help avoid (or at least minimise) damage, I've used wire to connect them to the bases to relieve the weight and pressure. I've also shifted them from the 40mm bases with which they were supplied to large 50mm bases. As well as helping to avoid overlapping the base edge, it also gives them a bit more table presence – fitting for these creepy invaders from being reality itself! +

+ As mentioned, I love the design. The only reservation I have is that there are no options, and the head on the portal/gate figure. I trimmed it off mine, and I think its loss is a substantial improvement. Other than that, it's classic 50s style B-movie monsters from space, and I'm really looking forward to painting them. +

+ inload: Finished Blood Angels army +

+ Mission accomplished + 


A hot wind blew in from the north, stirring the grasses. A great rushing sound swelled in the woodland as the strange air rushed through the trees and sent them waving; as though in silent alarm. In its midst stood a gold-armoured Space Marine, his crimson cloak likewise perturbed.

Prince Dauhavron – Erasmus Tycho; First of that Name – turned the impassive mask of his helm to face the wind. Inside, clicks and warning chimes sounded alongside vox-request tones. Ancient runes crawled across Tycho's vision, marking the on-rush of hard radiation and spiteful gamma-rays. The vox-net erupted as his men began curt reports from across the valley. To his left, he saw brother Brunellecci hurriedly donning his own helm, his skin darkening protectively under the aegis of his melanchromic organ. 

Atomics. The greenskins had bombarded the city.

Though it still stood clad in autumnal finery, the woodland was already dead; its potential curdled and soured in an instant.

The gilt surface of Tycho's helm gleamed in the low, late sunshine; and the large black eye-lenses gave away nothing.

He said not a word, but dipped his head to unholster his boltgun, and began to march north.


+ Retrohammer Blood Angels complete +

+ At last; here we are. The army is complete and the project at an end (well, at least this first part). The ambition was to re-create the GW studio army of 1991. The original was painted by Tim Prow, who now runs the amazing Diehard Miniatures [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]; and the list and accompanying article by Andy Chambers, who went on to work on an array of formative tabletop and computer games at GW and Blizzard. (As an aside, Andy once wrote a very encouraging hand-written reply to a hastily-cobbled together Kroot Codex that I sent in to White Dwarf – very gently suggesting that it was perhaps a little overly-enthusiastically inspired by Predator. I appreciate his tact! :)) +

+ Based on the then-current Rogue Trader rules, the army was detailed in White Dwarf issue 139, along with a painting guide, and later appeared in what I believe was the first Warhammer 40,000 battle report in issue 141. +

+ The pict-capture below shows my army alongside the inspiration. I hope you'll excuse the lack of goblin green on the bases! +

+ Alongside its Eldar and Ork counterparts, the army appeared numerous times, notably in issue 166; when a battle report to showcase the release of 2nd edition Warhammer 40,000 saw Captain Tycho felled by an ork psychic blast. +

+ That period – from 1991 onwards – was when I got into the hobby, and this army was the seed for my enthusiasm. Like many, I suspect, I started building my own Blood Angels force. I've still got a couple of them – and Brother Engel [pictured below] even made a reappearance:

Brother Engel – one of the Space Marine Strikeforce figures

Brother Engel – a conversion based on an Intercessor


+ Theoretical: Re-imagining +

+ I do like a bit of 'high-concept' in my hobby; so rather than simply swapping things out for their modern equivalents (Intercessors in place of Tactical marines, for example), I've converted the relevant figures to better match the modern scale. I've got a lot of fondness for the originals, so I wanted to make sure my figures paid homage to the classics. +

+ In essence, the idea was to create the army that Tim and Andy would have made had modern manufacturing methods been available at the time. Good design, after all, is timeless. Balancing putting my own spin on things with them being instantly recognisable was key. +

+ Space Marines +

+ At the heart of the army are the two Tactical Marine squads. Long-time inloaders will know that the basic infantry are my favourite part of 40k – perhaps because I grew up looking at armies like the GW studio ones, with few, if any, tanks. +

+ The proportions of the new Primaris marines are, in my opinion, a big step up over the more stylised older models. In the past I've built large armies of Ultramarines, Iron Warriors and various other marines; all converted from Terminators, in the style that's been dubbed truescale. It's rewarding, but time-consuming; so having the opportunity to use far more standard parts opened up the converting palette nicely. +

+ This army has enabled me to experiment more than in the past – have a look to the right for the +High-access datacores+ column with links to the tutorials for converting Primaris-sized Terminators and Mark VI marines. +

+ I still feel that opposing mobs of infantry make the closest, most tense games; if for no other reason than the results are less 'swingy' than using high-risk, high-reward war engines and characters. I'm very much looking forward to gaming with the army – the new edition of 40k includes actions like raising banners and securing comms-links for units to do. I hope this'll lead to more cinematic games, where units can – and should – have more to do than line up and shoot until they die. +

+ The scale differences between Primaris and the firstborn/normal marines is marked – and has led to lots of online discussion. It's interesting to see that the same thing happened back in the 90s. The original army used both the original 'beakies' – from the RTB01 and the accompanying lead range – and the new, larger Mark VII marines. Even here the difference was marked: sufficiently so that there wasn't a mix within squads. The Devastators were all RTB01 plastics, while the Tactical squads were the newer marines. +

+ Finding a way to nod to this without introducing an odd, artificial distinction was tricky. The way I did it was to convert and mix parts on a roughly 4:1 ratio across the army; with the majority of models sticking faithfully as updates to the originals, and the remainder swapping out things like helmets or chestplate styles. Subtle stuff, but I think it makes the army as a whole work more coherently. +


+ Artwork +

+ It wasn't just the models that grabbed my attention originally – the surrounding artwork and mythos of the Warhammer 40,000 universe was wonderfully grotesque, and shot through with a streak of black humour that has stuck with me. +

+ In particular, David Gallagher – who you can follow on Instagram via @david.gallagher.art – produced a fantastic piece depicting Blood Angels fighting a genestealer cult. This artwork directly inspired my version of Captain Tycho [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+] – and later Chaplain Savonarola [+noosphericinloadink embedded+], pictured above. +

+ Studying the artwork closely just kept revealing more and more details, I must confess that I hadn't really paid much attention to the Chaplain and background marines as a nipper – it was only coming back to it that I even realised he was silver. I think that really demonstrates the sheer evocative depth David invested into the piece. +


+ Going your own way +

+ This project could easily have been a direct duplicate; using period models rather than modern reinterpretations. I might have followed Tim Prow's painting recipes more closely – though I doubt I'd be able to match his skill! I might have decided to recreate the army in Epic scale, or perhaps tried to build a complementary force made up of the members of the Third Company who weren't present – Tactical squads 3 and 4, for example. The point is simple: There's no right way to collect or game. +

+ Whenever you start a project, I recommend that you don't fix the plan too rigidly. Leave yourself space to grow into it. This army started as a quick and less intensive way of converting 'truescale' marines; so the early Tactical Marines still have the long-barrelled bolt rifles of the Intercessors. As I progressed, I decided to invest more into what had been a bit of a side-project; until it became a very central part of my hobby. In contrast to those early marines, the later ones are as near to being copies of the originals as my skills allow. +

+ This applies to the background, too. I enjoy finding plausible explanations for apparent contradictions and ret-cons in the background. A lot of these are based on real-world developments, but it's fun to have an in-universe explanation for why Space Marines have different armour styles, or why back banners suddenly fell out of use. +

+ The silver-armoured Chaplain is one of a number of slight detours I took in producing my version of the army; both aesthetic and background-driven. As the tagline goes, Everything you have been told is a lie. I love that phrase. As well as sounding cool, it also highlights the creative freedom you have. Rather than our armies being perfect replicas of a particular moment, they're slightly nebulous possibilities based on partial data. 40k is sci-fi, but it's also heavily influenced by the Dark Ages – lost records and ignorance are critical. +

+ I've called this army the Third Company of the Blood Angels; but there's at least two alternative versions – the 1991 GW Studio version and the modern Studio army. Am I trying to say mine's the right one? No, not at all – but that doesn't mean it's something lesser. Rather, this is my vision of a future history; slightly different to Andy and Tim's, different again to Dave Gallagher's. Like two historians putting together a recreation from the same partial sources, we can each give shape to our own version. +

+ There is at root no definitive, final version of this fictional force; but by being creative we can still tie it together. To explain why the army is different to the current GW studio one, and polyfilla over the inevitable narrative gaps between 90s-era GW and now, I've set mine in M35; during the Nova Terra Interregnum. Hinted at but unexplored, the army thus has a definite, staked 'place' in the galaxy. +

+ Of course, it's nice not to answer all the mysteries – is this Captain Erasmus Tycho the selfsame one as in M41? Probably not; but the necessary doublethink required to explain this to yourself is perhaps the most 40k thing I could create! +


+ Enough pontificating +

Thanks for reading this far. I'll leave you with some atmosphere shots of the army. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas – either through the +Commentary Submission Access+ portal below, on Instagram (@death_of_a_rubricist)or on the +Death of a Rubricist+ Facebook page. +

+ Thought for the day: Weigh the fist that strikes men down and salutes the battle won. +