+ inload: Darren Latham's #90smarinechallenge +

+ Monopose Marines: back to the 90s +

+ Darren Latham, one of the GW Studio miniature designers and former 'Eavy Metal painter (and blogger – go check out his blog here), is running an event themed around the marines in the 2nd edition 40k boxed set. Using the tag #90smarinechallenge, the idea is simple: paint up one of the marines, post it on the 2nd September with the tag #90smarine finished. +

+ This seemed right up my street, so I hopped on the rapidly-departing bandwagon to paint up a [REDACTED] for the event. It seemed fitting to do a Silver Star, as one of the seeds for the War of the False Primarch project [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] was to create a Chapter that had been there all along – both in the lore and the real world. +

+ That conceit rather fell by the wayside, but it was fun to reinvigorate it for this event. Neat how things work out sometimes, eh? +


+ Brother Owaikēlā + 

+ Neat, alas, is not a word that applies well to the actual model. He's not 'officially' finished, but I think I'll step away very soon. One of those rather unsatisfying paintjobs where everything sort of fell into place, and then I faffed and fiddled and started to spoil what I had done. +

+ For the purposes of the event, then, I think he'll serve... 

... with perhaps one or two more tweaks... +


+ inload: Volkaeus Orurr +

+ Volkaeus Orurr +

+ 8th Squad, 2nd Company – on patrol +


Unlike the others, his measure of patience had run dry some time ago. Another breakdown. Another pause. Volkaeus Orurr breathed out testily.

Looking for a distraction, he reached for the rail and clambered up to the Rhino's roof one-handed, his boltgun in the other. Magnificence was not the fastest transport in terms of raw speed, but unlike the convoy, he mused darkly, it could at least keep going.

Unlike the all-purpose Rhino, These were not vehicles intended for service in hostile environments like the Dune Seas. With a regularity that struck Orurr as perversely ill-fitting to their mechanical reliability, every few hundred klicks one or another of the tankers or luggers would slew to a halt as filters clogged, tyres slumped, or the over-stimmed and under-rested hiveborn crew passed out in the unaccustomed heat. The convoy would pause, on edge and nervy, as the errant vehicle was coaxed back into life, winched back onto the track, or otherwise repaired.

The worst were the failures that billowed thick, oily smoke – as potent a signal as any the orks might hope for. Easy pickings, the coiling smoke suggested.

+ Volkaeus Orurr +

Not for the first time, the Salamander cursed the name of Herman von Strab. According to Captain Mirsan, it was largely owing to the Imperial Commander's arrogance and mismanagement that these intra-hive transports were all that was available for the backline armies. Hurriedly fitted with bulky external breathers and heat shielding before being filled with vital water, fuel and materiel, the vehicles were slow and unreliable – and thus the convoys were perfect targets for the roving greenskins.

With the cream of Armageddon's armies lost in the early conflict, and the replacements far from confident; upon arrival Chapter Master Tu'Shan had taken it upon the Salamanders' broad shoulders to ensure the world could fight; that its vital roads and arteries would be protected from roving marauders – as often human as ork.

The ever-present chemical tang was acerbic; but the height afforded by the Rhino gave him a moment's relief. The vehicle crews needed rebreathers in the hot, dry air, but the Space Marine's genewrought might made the air merely unpleasant. He wrinkled his nose in distaste and looked about him.

Armageddon's sun was low in the sky, red and ominous. Dark spots across it marked orbital defences – or more likely the wreckage of the same. The ground was seemingly an endless sea of yellow-grey dunes; the road all but hidden. Orurr's belted helm knocked against his leg as he straightened up.

Nothing for five hundred miles in any direction. No landmarks save the distant hive – and that had long been swallowed by the dust. Not even Astartes' vision could penetrate that.


+ inload: Three finished Salamanders Space Marines +

+ Brothers in arms +


+ Brother Tarsidemi +

V'reth Tarsidemi

+ Previously known as Man'Ekes Kenndh, he adopted the name V'reth Tarsidemi following his tempering. Noted as 'Melancholy of aspect and pensive by nature', Tarsidemi appeared to regard his promotion to the Battle Companies as part of a great cycle; an inevitable result of his forebear's consumption in the pyres of warfare, rather than as a result of any exceptionalism on his part. +

+ Regarded as over-analytical and tiresome by his previous squadmates in the 6th Company, he was an uneasy fit amongst the Flamehammers. He found a more fitting place within the Defenders of Nocturne, where his stoic aestheticism came to be regarded as a strength. +


+ Brother Numatone +

+ Unequivocal and single-minded from an early age – 'from the cradle,' joked his parents – the boy who was to become Brother Typhak Numatone had the given name of Br'Tra, which meant 'supremacy' in his city's tongue. Whether through destiny, a sense of filial duty, or simple nominative determinism, Br'Tra doggedly purused Ascension, believing it to be the only way to do honour to his family. Such ambition is not infrequent on Nocturne, but Numatone was able to moderate raw drive to avoid pride and become a considered – if impulse-driven –addition to the 2nd Company. + 


+ Brother Nomix Nor'jargan +

+ Promotion from the 5th Reserve Company proved bittersweet to Nomix Nor'jargan, for he had thrived under the Drake Hunters' light-handed command and dispersed nature. Unusually for the Reservists, he was present during the Badab War; one of the few who had been allocated to support the 2nd in combating the Secessionists.  +

+ A void-warfare specialist employed in the Salamanders' fleet, his promotion was advocated by Pellas Mir'san personally. Having lost a great number of valued veterans in the bitter campaign, the Captain of the 2nd wanted staunch, proven warriors – a description that matched the dutiful Nomic Nor'jargan to a tee. +

+ Warriors three of the 8th Squad +


+ Three complete, more to come +

+ All the batch painting has built to a stage where the final details are relatively quick and enjoyable. I've opted for yellow eyes; taking my prompt from the Salamanders shown in Codex: Armageddon. They were painted by painting the lenses Scorched Brown, then blending in Yriel Yellow. +

+ Beyond this, the painting is really limited to developing the gold with a couple of layers of highlights followed by a brown wash; and highlighting the weapon casings, pouches etc. with a mix of black, white and a touch of dark brown. Finally, I used a dilute combinations of Moot Green and Warpstone Glow in various proportions to add some highlighting to the green armour, particular around the head. +

+ They've come together rather nicely, I think – I'm very pleased with the results, and think they fit well with my conversion (at the back). +


+ inload: Dust of Armageddon markings +

+ Salamanders 2nd Company markings +


+ Work in progress – it seems a long time since I've been putting paint onto models, but it was a welcome return. +


+ 8th Squad, 2nd Company +

+ As you can (hopefully!) see, the models are getting close to being finished. It's been a very different set of techniques to my usual process. Not sure I'd do everything this way, but it's nice to expand my repertoire. +

+ Although it's been a long time since I started them, the actual painting process has taken very little time indeed – though as always, the devil's in the details, so I won't make any promises on when the final touches will be in. +


+ Combat squad 1 +


+ Combat squad 2 +


+ 4th Squad, 2nd Company; and Lieutenant +


+ Markings +

+ The Salamanders' lore is not always entirely clear. Always a bit more nebulous than other First Founding Chapters, what little there was has been partially overwritten by info from Nick Kyme's Black Library books, which itself has only been partly incorporated into the GW books. This is nothing new – nor is it a problem. While there's some security to be drawn from following a clear set of rules in terms of markings, such rules are always subject to the vagaries of time and chance – what was de facto correct in previous editions can easily be swept away. For that reason, I prefer to regard GW's info on markings as 'correct for a point in time', rather than immutable law. That allows you to nod to existing rules (great if your group lean more towards canonicity and pseudohistorial gaming) while also giving you a bit of freedom of expression. +

+ Ultimately, the lore can change, and your models will likely outlast it! FOr that reason, if nothing else, never compromise on making and painting your models to suit your taste first and foremost. +


+ The vagaries of the Salamanders' background does extend to its markings, but as of the 8th edition Codex supplement, there is at least a big block of info, though a deep dive reveals a few awkward gaps. Despite having quite an unusual structure (seven companies of 120 or so marines each) and a number of practices that are decidedly non-Codex, it's sometimes referred to as a Codex Chapter – although perhaps this is an out-of-universe misunderstanding of the Codex Astartes. +

+ The Codex Astartes is essentially a 40k version of The Art of War – not the rigid list of strictures and dictates in which it's portrayed in memes, but rather an expansive and open treatise that has multiple interpretations. In this way, then, the markings we see below can be seen either as very idiosyncratic to the Chapter – and perhaps providing inspiration to their (thin on the ground) successors; or can be seen as a very clear example of Codex-approved markings. The iconography of the Salamanders, therefore, is very much an example of how you wish to interpret it – and this is what I mean by correct for a point in time. There are a couple of slightly contradictory statements in GW publications about the Salamanders' organisation, but we can square that circle by picking one and saying that this is the one that's true during the  Second Battle for Armageddon. +

+ Basics +

+ In terms of the nuts and bolts of the markings, the squad markings are shown above. These show the eternal flame and the squad number or sigil enclosed in the flame. From left to right above is a marine of the 4th Squad, Second Company; a Lieutenant of the Second Company; and a marine of the 8th Squad, Second Company. +

+ Here we see the deviation from the Ultramarines' Codex structure, as the 8th squad in a Battle Company would usually be a designated Assault Squad. For the Salamanders, it's another Tactical Squad. +

+ The left pauldron bears the Salamanders' Chapter sigil: a head of their namesake. 
The white icon on a black field is what denotes them as being Second Company – the black field marks them as being part of a Battle company, and the white specifically refers to the Second. +

+ Variation +

+ When working on an army, you'll often find some models that – for one reason or another – just don't work with the decisions you've made. Happily, 40k background often owes as much to mediaeval pageantry as modern military strictures, so you can happily play it by ear. Try to ignore the nagging voice that says 'this marking should be in this place' and picture yourself being attacked by the model – does what you see announce your attacker as belonging to a particular group? If so, job done. +

+ You can be as consistent or varied as you like. Personally I like consistency in a Chapters like Ultramarines, but for the Salamanders, who have a proud tradition of making their own personal wargear and armour, there's a good argument for variation for variations sake. +

+ Here, this sergeant has a studded left pauldron, leaving no space for the Chapter icon. As a result, it's been moved to the right pauldron, booting the eternal flame symbol to the lower right greave – my thinking being that this allows friendly forces to still identify who the marine is. +

+ Since the squad number would often be unclear, I kept it on the pauldron – you can just see a small white numeral at the front of the pauldron. This is a good example of making a virtue of seemingly contradictory information, for this approach is that presented in the Badab War Imperial Armour books. +

+ This in turn offers a nice narrative twist – we might say that this marine is a veteran of the Badab War campaign, recently promoted to lead his own squad; and granted leave to retain a previous campaign's iconography as a mark of respect to fallen brethren. The Codex, after all, suggests changing markings between conflicts to confuse the enemy... and so it all ties off nicely. +


+ inload: Alaitoc Craftworld Dark Reapers +

+ inload: Reaping, Eldar style +

+ It's looking like the new Epic Legions is going to be delayed – sad face – but to find a silver lining, that means there's space for something a bit different. Enter the swift-striding Eldar, who were first to the front of the queue. +

+ An overview of Rogue Trader army number 2 – my Alaitoc Eldar project – is  found in this inload: [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], and while it's been slow going, it is creeping along. +

+ The Guardians, detailed here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], were relatively involved conversions, but the Aspect Warriors have thus far been very minimal, because the aesthetics of the latest plastics hew fairly closely to the Rogue Trader-era originals. +

+ With a small squad size of three, I could have tackled a little more  involved conversion work, but to be honest I think that would have been making unnecessary work for myself. Both the original and modern sculpts are lovely, so beyond the helmets, I left the modern iteration unconverted. I have nodded to the monopose look (perhaps a deliberate choice, perhaps simply owing to scheduling and available casts) by angling heads and arms to evoke the 'ranked fire' look of the original squad, but couldn't resist including the cool reloading option. +

+ The helms are the only major change. The modern ones are quite distinctive, and very different from the cone-headed originals. While I don't actually dislike the new ones, I wanted to capture the pointed helm with the frowny-eyebrows look, so used Storm Guardian helms, and attached the rangefinder vanes (the big 'ears') that were carefully trimmed from the Dark Reaper helms. +

+ Conspicuously missing from the Guardian faceplates are the distinctive nose and teeth markings; I'll be painting these on. +


+ The aim of the project is not so much to replicate the original army so much as create a modern spin on it – as with my Blood Angels [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], I want to use the opportunity of modern materials and models to evoke the atmosphere of the period. One of the things that I really loved from Jes Goodwin, Andy Chambers and Rick Priestley's original lore was the warpaint. +

+ Beyond conversions, this was never explored in miniature form at the time, so I'm quite keen to include a couple of bare-headed Aspect Warriors in the force. With only three in the squad, however, I didn't feel the Dark Reapers were the place to start; besides which the facepaint itself is fairly predictable. I think I'd rather the impact of the three red helms.  +


+ Dark Reaper Exarch +

+ With just three Dark Reapers needed, I was left with two bodies from the plastic kit. Perfect for converting the Exarch 'Skull-Taker' (not the daemon!):

+ Exarchs have changed quite a bit since Rogue Trader. Where nowadays they're effectively just squad leaders with access to special equipment, in their first appearance, they were relatively high level personalities with access to a range of special abilities and equipment, and like any independent personality, could work as an individual, rather than being tied to a squad. +

+ A snippet from WD138 – these four models make up a whopping third of the points of the initial 'block'. A five-strong Guardian squad, for comparison, is 70pts all-in. +

+ Skull-Taker here is a Dark Reaper Exarch, but unlike the modern version he's armed with a shuriken pistol and an Ancient Weapon (an Exarch-exclusive wargear option) 'Web of Skulls'; a sort of bolas. +

+ Being the default of the original model, the Web of Skulls was for more familiar than any other option for most players of a certain vintage, and was thus a must for inclusion in my conversion. While it can work in melee, I felt that the original pose was perhaps a bit static, and since one of the new bodies is in a moving pose, I opted to use this to help bring a bit of attention to Skull-Taker. +

+ My plan is to drill three wires into the hand and sculpt on small skulls to the ends of each. Head-size skulls would look far too clunky, and fortunately the lore suggests these are crystal skulls rather than literal head-innards! +

+ The new kit is interesting in including a hand clutching a skull; likely a nod to the original. Unfortunately for me, it was in the model's wrong hand, so I had to trim it away and attach it to the new arms; both taken from the new Guardian kit. The big skull is going to form the 'pommel' of the Web of Skulls. A real bolas, of course, doesn't have a pommel, but I'm keen to avoid the weapon looking like a bunch of flowers. A final flourish for this arm is to carve out the shoulder pad and replace it with the Exarch-specific one. A minor (and awkward to do!) touch, but every little helps. +

+ For the rest of the conversion, the pistol arm has had a cable trimmed from the Rogue Trader-era arms, just like my Guardian conversions. Rather than using a RT-era shuriken pistol, I've kept a modern shuriken pistol for a few reasons. Firstly, practicalities. The RT guns are hard to come by, and I'm struggling to equip even the Guardians with them. Secondly, the additional size will help to bring balance to the visuals. Finally, it seems appropriate for the long-ranged Dark Reapers to have a variant gun that has a comparatively long, fluted barrel. +

+ In an inversion of the heads for the standard warriors, I've trimmed the rangefinder vanes off the Exarch's helmet and attached it – though I'm in two minds as to whether to try a bare head here. For the moment, I'm erring on the side of keeping the helm. While I don't love it, I think paint might bring it to life (particularly the red faceplate). Besides, the change in pose is already going to make him less recognisable, so I want to keep as many details of the original as I can. +

+ Speaking of details, I'm going to try adding a necklace of skull-beads. It's a cool and distinctive feature of the original. +


+ The name Skull-Taker is perhaps a little unfitting these days, so I'm open to any elfish-style translation ideas for his name; I'm currently playing around with Gaelic translations and ending up with Neach-gabhail claigeann (Scots Gaelic); Glacadóir cloigeann (Irish Gaelic) and the reconstructed proto-Celtic [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+Krāsjano-tagat (or 'skull-thief'). All rather wordy! +