Iron Without

If I’m entirely honest, for a while there, I was worried that my IV Legion might have been the first project I ever left unfinished, or abandoned completely.

There were several compounding reasons for this, which I go into in my previous Iron Warriors post, but suffice to say that finishing this army feels like a huge weight has been lifted. I’m not the kind of guy who normally makes large-scale hobby purchases and then forgets about them; yes, I’d be lying to claim I didn’t have a backlog of some description1 to get through, but it’s largely fragmented bits and pieces and small expansions to existing, otherwise complete projects. Certainly nothing quite on the scale of three thousand odd points of fine, expensive ForgeWorld resin sitting around neglected. Every day, this project has loomed over me, psychically draining my soul that little bit every day, while every other ‘more pressing’ project that has supplanted it in the queue.

Well, I did it. It took about eight months (four of which was spent doing literally anything else instead), but I finished2 my Iron Warriors Horus Heresy legion.


In my last post, I covered my return to the project with Perturabo, my Legion Cataphractii Terminators and my Typhon Heavy Siege Tank. This left my ‘Iron Circle’ Domitar-Ferrum Class Battle-automata, 10x Iron Havocs, a pair of Medusa Artillery Tanks, and a couple of characters left to paint.

First thing that I did was finish my pair of Iron Circle automata – these models were already left in a halfway-finished state and felt like a relatively quick and easy win, compared to the Terminators or Typhon (which, admittedly, were both fairly quick jobs).


One of the big winners of the Cool Model, Terrible Rules Awards.. alongside maybe Legion Destroyers and Recon Squads.


Like a good many miniatures in this project, I felt as if you could really take as long as you wanted on the Iron Circle automata. The miniatures themselves are absolutely dripping with detail and look every inch a monstrous, cold and unyielding foe. Their grav-hammers are packed with little details, while their bodies bristle with various panels with layered plating. There’s a good amount of nice flat surfaces too, and I could definitely see where a more skilled painter (or at least one willing to put a lot more time into these miniatures than I was) could absolutely go to town on with several thin coats – but by this point, I just wanted these suckers done. Aside from my usual all-over coat of Vallejo Metal Colour Silver, I slapped them black panelling here and there, some chevron-shoulders akin to Perturabo’s and settled on a black/chevron/iron scheme for their shields. The whole thing was washed, sponged and based in my usual fashion – and thanks to the aforementioned details all over them, I think they turned out pretty well for the time investment. Between the shield wall rule these guys have (benefiting from having 2+ in the unit) and how easy they were to get from nothing to painted, I came really close to outright buying one or two more for the army; it was only that they’re pretty much only useful in Zone Mortalis games that held me back. Still, even on their own, they make for a cool centrepiece for the army on display, dwarfing Contemptors and Primarchs in equal measure.


The Iron Havocs, like my standard Legion Terminators, unfortunately suffered a little bit from my early plans to do this army as cheap as I possibly could – as a consequence, the lascannon-operators are MkIV plastics from Calth with ForgeWorld resin weapons, while the other five missile launchers are 100% Calth plastics (with Iron Warriors heads) that I found on eBay for about a fiver. For the most part, they look fine as the Marines themselves are all the same, and they all have ForgeWorld Iron Warriors heads.. but looking back, I wish that I’d sprung for another fresh box of Tacticals and some ForgeWorld missile launchers instead, and kept them all with backpacks/handheld heavy weapons instead mixing with shoulder mounted.


Next up were my Iron Havocs – the last Infantry I had to do in any real quantity, and my elite anti-heavy armour/aircraft option. As a unique unit for the Iron Warriors, I decided to distinguish them from my Tactical Marines in two subtle ways – the first being that every member would receive an Iron Warriors helmet, not just the squad leader – who received the customary Iron Mask, along with the only real kitbash in the squad in the form of a Chaos Space Marine Champion torso, which seemed fitting. The second was that I went to town with the chevrons and hazard stripes on this squad.

Cards on the table, I’m not the biggest fan of chevrons on Iron Warriors – at least not when it’s plastered on every other knee, pad and boltgun casing throughout the whole army. The iron, black and brass scheme is grim and pragmatic, but the hazard stripes just felt a bit novel, a little camp – a little too 80’s, in my opinion, for where the legion went narratively. I’d have forgone them entirely on my own interpretation of the IV Legion if the yellow didn’t add a really nice splash of colour to an otherwise potentially monotonous force. Instead, I settled for using them ‘sparingly’. Vehicles would all have a singular, large panel with the chevrons or stripes, while characters and elites such as Terminators might have some shoulder pads. My Tactical Squads were entirely bare of them, save a single yellow stripe on the Sergeants right shoulder as per the illustration in Extermination.

Iron Havocs, however, really felt like they deserved to be marked out as not your run of the mill Heavy Support Squad, and received adornments similar to the level that I gave Perturabo or my Iron Circle. Every right shoulder pad was emblazoned with hazard stripes, along with some stripes on the Lascannon power packs – as well as being the only squad with the chevron helmets from the Iron Warriors helmet upgrade pack. As with my Iron Circle, Typhon and several units before them, they all looked a bit daft until the weathering stage, at which point the whole model sort of comes together – the weathering hiding my imperfections in the chevrons and providing an extra layer of depth to the otherwise flat yellow and black.


A part of me also wishes that I’d went for MkIII or even MkII armour on my Iron Havocs to properly distinguish them as a unique unit – however, an early modus operandi with this army was that I wanted to build it largely out of MkIV armour – I had, at the time, used so little of it on my Space Wolves, and wanted this army to be diametrically opposed to my Wolves as much as I could. This had changed somewhat by the time I got around to painting these guys, as I had 10 Veterans, 10 Seekers and 6 (still unpainted) Jetbikes in MkIV in the end.. but I still like that my Iron Warriors force is consistently MkIV across the board – Quad Mortars, Tacticals, Iron Havocs, Master of Signals.. there’s not a MkIII power armour model in sight! Still a cool contrast against my mish-mash Space Wolves, and kind of befitting the disciplined ‘no-one is special’ attitude of the IV Legion.


At this point, I was starting to get pretty excited about finally finishing this army. I decided I wanted to end with the pair of characters as a nice, quick finisher so set myself to work on the pair of Legion Medusas.

Overall, they weren’t too challenging – after how quickly I churned out the Typhon, I was feeling pretty confident that I could knock out something decent looking fairly quickly. That said, these tanks have a lot of nooks and crannies, and the addition of the two crew members meant that there was a bit more to do with each Medusa – and two of them to boot. This was the first time I’d ever worked on armour in any number great than one at a time, too – although that turned out to me more daunting than it was challenging. In fact, as I left the crew out as a sub-assembly3, I actually had a whole bunch to consistently get on with while the biggest time sink on armour – the washes – dried. It was a pretty fast process. The whole model was sprayed with AP Plate Mail primer, and then tracks were coated in Typhus Corrosion, several panels painted black, copper or bronze. I covered the flooring in the interior with Typhus Corrosion as well – largely as I just like the colour it dries as an alternate tone to metal, but I imagined it would be filthy and gritty from the crew standing in it anyway, meaning the extra texture wasn’t much of a problem. It also has the added benefit of having good grip over metallics – after painting a full 5000pts force in this fashion, I can now comfortably say that you are absolutely better off priming black and then spraying leadbelcher over the black primer layer when painting a fully metallic army. Aside from the fact that silver over bare plastic dries a bit bright, it’s a very slippery surface and can be a bit tricky at times to paint over. For something like Grey Knights, I imagine this would be a boon – you could mix Nuln Oil Gloss with a bit of Waywatcher Blue and get an easy, recessed shade with a very mild blue tinting, while maintaining a spectacular sheen! For my grim, pragmatic Iron Warriors however, it simply meant that I needed to shades of Nuln Oil over everything – the first would tint things a little, but leave the armour still very bright. It always took a second coat, which would cling a little better to the now matte-finished layer of wash over the metallics, before the armour went down to an acceptable hue.


A brace of Mesuda Artillery Tanks. I’m really happy with how they turned out considering the speed of execution, though this was probably my first instance where I noticed a bit of weathering creep sneaking into the project, if I’m honest.


But I digress. While the several layers of wash on the first model took it’s time to dry, I was able to base coat the second Medusa, and then work on the crew, and by that point, I was ready for details and weathering. Weathering was as simple as ever and used the same techniques as I detailed previously on my Typhon, including applying texture paint to the tracks – this required leaving to dry overnight, and I was able to throw some drybrushing and weathering powders onto them before I left for work the next day. When it was finished, I painted the console with my usual dark green display and yellow keys, and super glued the crew in place. Dead simple, and the pair were finished in a couple evenings and a brief 15 minutes before work!

Finally, I was on the home stretch.


My original 20 Tactical Marines, now weathered to match the tone of the rest of the army and the first unit I finished for the project, along with the very final two pieces – Narik Dreygur and a Primus Medicae.


The last pair of unpainted miniatures I had in my case were two character models – the Cataphractii armoured Primus Medicae, and Narik Dreygur – a named Iron Warriors Praevian character. Both of these Consuls were limited edition event miniatures that I picked up when I spied then for a reasonable price on eBay. Neither were miniatures that I had particularly considered for the army, until the opportunity arose, but I’m glad I did. Dreygur himself makes for an excellent, cheap Centurion option with some nice IV Legion flavour, and when I inevitably pick up a Castellax-class Automata or two, he’ll open the door as a Praevian for running a robot-heavy Zone Mortalis game with my Iron Circle models. The Primus Medicae will also be super helpful for keeping Tyrants or Legion Terminators alive, and I think the stock mini looks particularly suited for an Iron Warriors force.

In both cases, the miniatures themselves received pretty standard paint jobs. I made more of an effort on each to highlight the brass and iron, before going mad with a sponge anyway – there wasn’t much else special about the basing and paint jobs to say, other than a transfer on Dreygur and some Blood for the Blood God on the Primus Medicae.

With my characters finished, I was just about to start celebrating a job well done, until I pulled out all of my minis for a quick group shot. That’s when I noticed some serious weathering creep.


Clean.. dirty.. FILTHY!


The thing is, when I started this project, I didn’t really think so much about weathering. One of the first things I did for the Legion was smash through my 30 Betrayal at Calth Tactical Marines, all of which were walking straight out the factory in brand spanking new MkIV plate with a crisp, Nuln Oil wash and a crisp, silver edge highlight. I smashed out these guys in a weekend, and never once considered weathering. It wasn’t, in fact, until I got around to my Tyrant Siege Terminators – I had rather densely decided I’d glue their cyclone missile launchers to their backs, making the hazard stripes a challenge to basecoat, never mind edge neatly. My solution was to use sponge weathering across the unit, which made the look more interesting – but more importantly concealed the imperfections in their hazard stripes on their shoulders. This worked great – so well, in fact, that I applied it across the whole army. The sponging often times would catch the edges more than the recesses, and would over just ruin any edge highlighting that I’d attempted before the weathering stage, so it became a fun and effective way to absolutely smash through my models really quickly. But the consequence of this was an increasing reliance on the technique as the project progressed, which made my first few painted units – particularly my Tactical Squads – look a bit out of place.

And thus, my final step was to sponge up all 30 of my Tactical Marines – which was a little tedious in that size of batch, but it’s hard to complain when the whole process was finished in around a half an hour. Hooray for corner cutting! Before I started the process, I did debate with myself internally as to whether I should leave them as is – the idea being that Iron Warriors get thrown through the meat grinder so quickly that while the Veterans would see signs of wear, the neophytes in the Tactical Squads would be fresh off the factory floor, ready to get thrown straight under the bus. Novel as that idea was though, it just wasn’t obvious enough at a glance, and so out came the sponge for one final hurrah.


Family photo with the whole gang – why, just look at that amorphous blob of grey and silver!


So, that’s my IV Legion Iron Warriors finally finished after six months in storage. It’s been a long, exciting, disappointing, tedious and then once again exciting and affirming journey, and one I’m thrilled to finally be at the end of. I’m pretty proud of how they’ve come out in the end, and I can’t wait to get them on the table in some form. Whether I decide to take them down to Company of Legends with me, or whip them out for a demo game against my Wolves, it’s just great to be excited once again about the project.


So.. WHAT’S NEXT? For Age of Sigmar, I have a couple of Stormcast Hero models I need for Tempest in January (which will likely be appearing on my Twitter sometime shortly), and back in Middle-earth, there’s still the matter of my Grey Company expansion to my Rivendell for now. I have a sneaking suspicion that my Angmar army will be receiving some reinforcements over Christmas. For Heresy, I plan on taking some cues from my Middle-earth projects, and will be expanding my Wolves and Iron Warriors with bitesize allied detachment projects – some Talons of the Emperor and Dark Mechanicum respectively – not a full 300pts army for either, but at least enough goodies to run them as both a meaningful allied detachment in 3000pts Age of Darkness games with my Legions, as well as stand alone Zone Mortalis forces. More updates on that later!


Until then, thanks for reading, and happy wargaming!






1 At the time of this post, I’ve got a couple frames of Nurgle Daemons, a couple of Drop Pods, Fenrisian Wolves and an Axe/Shield Dreadnought for 40K, some Grey Company Rangers to expand out from my Rivendell, a Skaven Warp-Lightning Cannon, a couple Star Players for Blood Bowl and six VI Legion Jetbikes sitting around in various states of completion.

2 And by ‘finished’ I mean ‘cleared my pre-existing backlog.’ The army is ‘finished’ in the sense that there is a sizeable amount of units available, and all the models I had sitting built in my cupboards have now been painted. Expect to see a Castellax-class Automata or two on my Twitter and Instagram feeds in the next week or two – Narik Dreygur needs the company!

3 As much as I despise working in sub-assemblies, this was too easy to do for too great a gain not to. I didn’t bother painting the interiors of the Rhinos – largely as I bought them second hand and they were already glued shut – but the Medusa’s were out there open topped for the whole world to see! How could I not?

2 thoughts on “Iron Without

  1. Great post, and inspirational. I’ve painted my IV Legion troops in a similar style to yours and just assembled and primed a Perturabo model… your post has inspired me to just get stuck in 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words! I’d love to check out your IV Legion when they’re ready – feel free to leave a photo or a link, I never get tired of seeing Heresy minis!

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