+ inload: Finished Blood Angels army +

+ Mission accomplished + 


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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.

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+ 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

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+ 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. +

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4 comments:

  1. Boom, dakka dakka, pew pew! Wow what an army, I’ve loved reading the build up to this and can’t wait to see in person. Nice boards btw, and I love the two little chaps that your medic has tucked up in bed!

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  2. Great work! It’s great the sense of accomplishment that brings putting an end to such a long time project. Really evocative and nostalgia like, but with your personal touch.
    I’m curious why the poor Chaplain is the only character that didn’t get a back banner...
    Just one subtle difference from the inspiration?
    And, I think you need an Ancient for that command squad. The apothecary back in the 90s was doubling as the company’s standard bearer. Now that he is rightly back to his duties as field medic I’d really like to see your take on a proper banner and bearer ...

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  3. Excellent. I ahev followed this since day one; great to see it finished. Very impressive.

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  4. They look great together. Well done on a project completed. Looking forward to Battle Reports.

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