Update 13/01/2022: These models were in the Conversion Corner of the Readers Models section of White Dwarf issue 472 (January 2022)!
It’s been a bit of a turbulent time for my hobby as of late. After finally completing the Emperor Protects – the longest consecutively1 running series of posts on this blog to date – I haven’t quite figured out what I want to do with myself. I’ve bounced around from project to project – painting massive dragons, doing weird things with terrain, and even painting more Sororitas – but I can’t quite seem to settle on my next big project. It turns out there’s such a thing as too much choice and decision paralysis has me wavering back and forth between all sorts of wild notions, unable to commit to one for fear of missing out on the others. It’s a conundrum as old as miniature wargaming itself; sometimes you’ve just got to ride the waves of uncertainty until you fall ass first into the Next Big Thing.
You may remember that a couple of posts ago I mentioned I’ve been playing a lot of Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne recently. I went as far as to try and capture the feel of Yarnham with my gothic ruins terrain, which had me tossing around a few ideas for a second Mordheim warband – the most enduring of which was the Witch Hunters warband. Not only an excellent foil for my Skaven but also sort of the poster boys for the Mordheim aesthetic, which makes them ideal for demonstration games. I also had a lot of fresh and nifty ideas coming from Bloodborne. I don’t often attempt to recreate characters from other fictional settings in my miniatures, but I do like to bring ideas and concepts over as influences on my own content. Weapons like saw cleavers would fit perfectly in with a Witch Hunters warband, but more than anything I kind of wanted my Witch Hunter Captain to evoke the character of Gehrman, the First Hunter.
The Old Hunter has a few distinguishing features – the tattered Witch Hunter-esque attiture (complete with top hat), the Burial Blade trick weapon and, of course, his Victorian-styled baroque wheelchair. I’d never made a miniature in a wheelchair before, and it just really seemed like it would be a fun challenge. To the best of my knowledge, there are no equivalent miniatures in the entire Games Workshop range, so it would be interesting to pair the right kind of seated legs with the right torso and either scratch build or convert the chair itself. I had it all planned out.
And then more Adepta Sororitas happened, leading me to paint up a squad of Arco-Flagellants – and found myself in need of an Inquisitor to lead them.
As much as I wanted to make this second warband for Mordheim happen, I couldn’t shake the idea that this wheelchair-bound Witch Hunter Captain character I was theorising could become something even more unique and characterful in 40K. I had this vision of an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor in a manual wheelchair, flanked by Cherubs and/or Servo-Skulls to spin the wheels and balance the chair. There’s just something innately Warhammer 40,000 about this way of over-engineering a simple problem, employing menial robots to perform a manual function instead of adding a pair of stabilisers and a motor.
I spent some time scouring the internet for inspiration and suitable parts for my Inquisitor – the hardest part to source being a suitable pair of seated legs. I considered Knight pilots, Titan pilots, Sentinal pilots – a lot of pilots. In the end, I found the most suitable legs under my nose the whole time – with Inquisitor Karamazov. Can we just take a moment to appreciate what a cool 40K miniature Karamazov is? An imposing presence, seated on a walking Throne of Judgement styled after an Astartes Castraferrum Dreadnought, flanked by creepy looking servitors and packing a triple barrelled multi-melta. It’s just great. I’d initially written Karamazov off as the basis for the conversion, assuming his legs would cast with the throne as a single piece. Not the case, as it turns out – a Google image search provided me with a snapshot of the components, including a very useful pair of seated – and separate – legs. I bit the bullet and ordered the kit, telling myself it was okay to spend however much on a kit just for a pair of legs because the rest of the kit would be useful for future kitbashing. At the time, I had no idea how right I was about this.
When my order arrived and I saw the parts out in front of me, I realised the Throne of Judgement itself could make a perfect baroque looking wheelchair without an awful lot of work. The back of the throne needed a little filling to create a level chair, but otherwise it was pretty much good to go. I found a pair of wheels for an old Ork Artillery piece on eBay and set about attaching them, after filing them down on either side in an attempt to make them look a little less chunky.
For the torso of my Inquisitor himself, I used an ‘Inquisitor with Inferno Pistol and Power Sword‘, sawed him in half at the waist and stuck him onto Karamazov’s legs. Although I loved the design of his flintlock inferno pistol, his left hand seemed by far the best place for him to hold a meaty power scythe, so I cut away at it and replaced it with my own converted power scythe, made from a Blightking scythe with a power unit taken from a 40K Space Marine power axe. This left his other hand free, which of course demanded a firearm. My original plan here was to use an Adepta Sororitas Inferno Pistol, but I ended up replacing this after painting because it just seemed a little too plain. In the end, I scratch built him a custom weapon out of an Empire Pistolier blackpowder pistol, with a scope and side-loading ammo clip from a Sororitas bolter and a power cable from a Sororitas meltagun. I kind of have it in my head that it’s a custom modified Archeotech Pistol, but I’ll probably run it as a Needle Pistol in games of Warhammer 40,000.
The final touch was the servo-skulls. I stuck one into each of the wheel sprockets on either side, took out my ol’ reliable Green Stuff Roll Maker and made some extensions looping around the wheels with the intention of making it look like they’re the one’s moving it. Just uh… Try not to think too hard about the physics of what would happen to a servo skull intwined in the wheels like that. Anyway, while I had the roll maker out, I made some fatter looking cabling rolls and used them to create further tubing and cabling for the life support systems on the wheelchair – this also helped to fill out some of the flat contact areas left exposed (by not fully assembling the Throne of Judgement).FI t
After slapping him down on a 40mm base, my Inquisitor was finished and ready for a coat of paint. That was supposed to be the end of it, but I didn’t stop there. I couldn’t stop there. I was having way too much fun to stop there.
I didn’t really think that much about it at first. My bitz box was already out on the table, and I was feeling confident with how well my Inquisitor kitbash had turned out. Over the past few weeks, I’d been listening to the Eisenhorn trilogy on audiobook while painting my most recent Sororitas miniatures and I guess you could say I had found my muse. I took the Scribe Servitor from the Throne of Judgement and attached it to a spare set of legs from an Empire Flagellants kit. For hands, I used an oversized pair from a Plaguebearers plastic kit and precariously slipped a large tome and an hourglass attached to a chain into their grasp. I had made myself something that looked a bit like a Savant – like Uber Aemos from the Eisenhorn series.
I kept on going. There was no mistaking the other Servitor from the Throne of Judgement for anything other than a lobotomised semi-organic menial, so I made that one into a Combat Servitor with a set of mechanical crab legs that I fashioned out of what I think are spare toes from an Imperial Knight kit. His weapon arms were made from an old pintle mounted Heavy Flamer and an Arco-Flagellants whip arm. I covered up the awkward joints and gave his body a little more heft with a series of interwinding tubes and cables that I made using a Roll Maker Set from Green Stuff World. As a final touch, I added a Servo Skull emerging from the various cabling and tubings – it just seemed like it fit – and thus the idea to call this Servitor ‘The Twins’ emerged.
I went hunting through my bits box, looking for any odds and ends I might have had that fit the Blanchitsu tone that I was aiming for. Eventually, I stumbled upon a Comms torso from the old Renegades and Heretics ForgeWorld upgrade pack that I’d used way back when to make some Chaos Cultists. In my hunt for a suitable pair of legs, I stumbled on some hacked up Army of the Dead miniatures from my Black Numenorean conversions which seemed just the ticket. A little bit of creative cutting to remove the torso and the cloak from behind the legs and I had a grungy looking soldier with a rebreather, a third eye and a pretty stoic pose. To help sell the pose, I took the sword arm from Karamazov, and replaced the blade itself with a power sword from a Seraphim kit – that way I could match it to a spare scabbard I had from a Battle Sisters kit, which would help cover some of the rough cutting work I did on the legs. I decided that between the rebreather, comms equipment and stoic pose, this model was absolutely a pilot. I almost filed down the third eye on the helmet before it occurred to me exactly who this model was – an Imperial Navigator.
At this point, I sort of knew what I was doing. I was making an Inquisitorial retinue – not just an Inquisitor and a group of soldiers, but individuals with their own personalities and roles within the crew. I already had a Savant, a Servitor and a Navigator – now it was time to add some muscle.
The Navigator and Servitor were both armed with close proximity weapons – a power sword and heavy flamer respectively – so I wanted this guy to specialise in long range firefights. I went digging in my bitz box to find something to represent a Long Las until I eventually stumbled on an interesting looking Meltagun upgrade for Renegades and Heretics which seemed like a good basis for a sniper rifle. I filed the Chaos star from the shoulder and snipped the melta compensator from the end of the gun, replacing it with a long thin barrel which I fashioned from a polearm from the Flagellant kit. The pièce de résistance a muzzle for the sniper rifle, which I fashioned from the end of a Predator autocannon.
I wanted my Soldier character to look a little better armoured – something a bit sturdier than flak without going full Space Marine in powered armour. Once again here, Karamazov is the kit that just keeps giving, and I was able to source both a torso and a left arm from that kit. I was starting to struggle a bit with legs here – unfortunately, I’ve never (in my adult life) built any Imperial Guard miniatures, so I’m a little bit short on suitable spare ‘soldier’ legs. Were I planning this conversion a little more in advance, I might’ve purchased a box of Tempestus Scions or even some Empire Greatswords, but I decided to make do with what I had and used a pair of spare Wood Elf legs I had leftover from some conversion or another. I used my hobby knife to cut away at some of the leafier, triangular patterns on the boots that looked a bit too Peter Pan, and I think I just about got away with it. The stance looked right for a sniper, although – bad ass though he was – I didn’t really like how he was just freehanding a long las, so I combined another Servo-Skull with my trusty Roll Maker and made a little Tripod companion for my sharpshooter. For the head, I combined a Flagellant head with a visor carefully cut away from an Arco-Flagellant. This gave a bit of a grim dark Scout vibe to the model and inspired his backstory as an Imperial Deserter. Finally, I stuck a Sororitas power plant on his back – he might not be properly power-armoured, but I figure he’s got a fair whack of gear to power and – as his torso was designed to be seated – he seemed a bit like he could use the extra bulk.
So, we’ve got ourselves an Inquisitor, a Savant, a Servitor, Navigator and some muscle. The crew was starting to look fairly well rounded, so now I was free to start adding the weirdos – the first of which was the classic Daemonhost. After reading Eisenhorn trilogy, how could I not?
As Daemonhosts are often depicted as bound and restrained, I was starting from a very familiar place – a spare Penitent Engine pilot. The Penitents body provided the basic frame and much of the bondage, but it wasn’t looking all that daemonic yet. I had a look through my various daemon and Chaos bitz baggies and eventually stumbled upon one of the optional bodies for the Rogue Psykers in Blackstone Fortress. This provided with me with a big, ugly bulbous head mutation, as well as a neat little weighted chain used to give the Rogue Psyker the appearance that it’s levitating – ideal for my restrained Daemonhost. Next, I found a pair of hands from a couple of different daemon kits – one Plaguebearer hand and a Daemonette claw – to replace the human hands and bring a little more daemonic energy to the miniature.
To round it all off, I got a little hobby chain and wrapped it around the body of the miniature and down to the ankles – it’s not a perfect match to the plastic sculpted chains on the base, but it’s close enough after a coat of paint. A couple purity seals from a Battle Sisters kit, and the conversion was complete. One of the major differing factors between my Daemonhost and the old Games Workshop offering was that mine was wearing a kind of prisoners jump suit – I decided to lean into this. When it came time to paint the miniature, I painted the jump suit orange with the notion that the host would’ve been a prisoner of some sorts. This was a convenient decision for my colour scheme, really, but it’s also another great example of the conversion taking on a life of its own. I’m learning on this project that it’s surprisingly easy (and rather enjoyable) to come up with detailed backstories for miniatures given enough visual cues such as outlandish gear or unusual physical traits.
The last conversion from my first building session was an Underhive Tracker or a Guide of sorts. My inspiration on this one was a little different from it’s predecessors. It didn’t come from some loose bit that was sitting in front of me or a specific role that I wanted the miniature to fill. This time, I was scratching my head for some inspiration when I remembered a particularly macabre and grim looking conversion from a White Dwarf magazine Blanchitsu feature – one that put a human head on a Skaven Clanrat body. I knew that, deep within my bitz box, was at least one baggy full of loose Skaven Clanrats in various states of disrepair and thought I’d give it a go.
The body came from a Skaven Clanrat with the arms, head and tail removed. In it’s place, I put a pair of arms and a head from the Empire Flagellants kit – a kit that’s been consistently worth its weight in gold for parts like this. This looked grim, but nothing about it screamed far future, so off I went rooting for an autopistol – this seemed like the kind of cheap, low tech weapon a grubby little mutant like this would be packing. When my search turned up short2, I kitbashed my own out of a Bolt Pistol, an old Chaos Space Marine boltgun magazine and a meltagun compensator. It turned out pretty nice for a Frankenweapon. For the other arm, I took the remains of my Rogue Psyker bits from earlier and repurposed the hand with the pointing finger on the end of my Flagellant arm to make him look like he’s spotted something.
While my hunt for an autopistol didn’t pan out, I did however find a whole bunch of Renegade Guard grenades – mostly potato mashers or variants of. My original plan here was to glue them to a little belt of twine and have them tied around his torso attached to a detonator – the Imperium isn’t very friendly to mutants – but I found this made the miniature a little too cluttered. Instead, I glued the grenades down head first to the slashes across the back of his garments – I thought these looked like mechanical implants of some sort, like a receiver or a signal broadcaster. I dunno, maybe the Inquisitor sends this guy ahead to scout the landscape and draw out any threats.
As a final sinister looking touch, I decided to try and freehand a little Glasgow smile onto the little guy. It just seemed like the sort of thing that might happen to a down-on-his-luck mutant in the sewers below Necromunda.
My Skavvie Tracker was the last miniature I kitbashed out of my own bits box, but the next day I started to think about what my retinue might still be missing. The first thing that popped into my mind was a Medicae character. For a time, I kind of considered just picking up Doctor Arachnos from Forgeworld, but something else that bothered me was the absense of female characters3. I decided to kill two birds with one stone here, and thought about how I’d make myself a female Medicae. I went with the body from a female Delaque ganger, arms from the female Rogue Doc sculpt for Necromunda, a backpack from the Gang Look-out included in that kit and a Skitarii head. These parts all came together with surprising ease and minimal green stuff work – pretty much a little Roll Maker cabling to attach the tubing on the backpack to the tubing attached to her rebreather collar and that was that. Everything about this conversion seemed to go together effortlessly – the arms and head both worked well with the pose and the Skitarii hood and respirator fitted seamlessly with the power plant and Delaque robes. With a predominantly white colour scheme, I think she comes off fairly well as a Medicae without having to resort to any freehand iconography.
Alright, so that’s one female support character – but what about a combatant? For that, I decided to pick up a classic Death Cult Assassin. These are fine miniatures, but I’m kind of over the sword(s) held aloft pose, and a unique character needs a unique head. To sort this, I went and picked up some bitz online – I went for an Escher ganger head with a respirator, braided ponytail and mohawk, and a couple Witch Elf bitz to replace the arms and swords. Dark Elf ceremonial blades might not be the most Imperial looking weapons, but I felt they had a sort of vicious death cult vibe to them. I snipped the arms and head off carefully and did my best to reposition them, exchanging the hands for those from the Witch Elf bitz.
While one of the blades worked nicely, I couldn’t for the life of me get the second to look right. Necessity is the mother of invention however, so I decided to replace that entire arm with a flail arm from the Arco Flagellants kit. This was a happy little accident, and resulted in an altogether more dynamic, unique and ultimately more Blanchitsu looking miniature. Once again, I found the backstory practically wrote itself – the duality of the not-so-Imperial looking blade and the flail implant typically associated with Arco-Flagellation hinting at a tale of Heresy and Redemption.
And finally we have a Jokaero Weaponsmith. Look, there’s nothing particularly special about this miniature other than the paint job, which is a maybe little more desaturated than you usually see with these minis. I mainly added this little guy to the retinue because a friend of mine joked to me that, were I to make an Inquisitorial retinue, I must have at least one Jokaero and, well, I kind of agreed. How often does one get the opportunity to paint a little token of 40Ks bizarre and diverse history like this?
The first time I set this miniature down next to my Skavvie Tracker, it was immediately noticeable how the pair are kind of posed the same, but mirrored. I thought this was a neat little coincidence, but the same friend from earlier suggested that the two should be close, or connected in some way. So one last time, the miniatures themselves helped inform the fluff behind the two characters.
Phew, okay, that’s the last of them! Between the fluff in the captions and the conversion commentary, this has been a bit of a mammoth read – and I’ve barely even said a word about the paint jobs. Thankfully, there’s very little to say about these paint jobs that I haven’t already discussed at length, so check out my posts about my Eshin Skaven, Azog’s Legion and Adepta Sororitas if you’re interested in my approach to painting in a Blanchitsu style.
This was a really fun project to work on – it’s something that just sort of came out of nowhere and escalated very quickly from a single miniature all the way up to a whole new warband. I’m definitely going to return to this style of converting and painting miniatures in the future; it’s always gratifying to engage with the seedy underbelly of the Imperium of man, and very rewarding to do something that feels truly creative at every stage of the process.
In the short term, however, it’s looking like I’m set to return to the world of Malifaux next. Lockdown conditions have eased up a little in the United Kingdom, and I’m starting to get in the occasional game again. I’m slowly figuring out through experience what my crew is missing and what I need to add to it – so stay tuned for another exciting instalment of Makin’ Bacon soon.
In the meantime, thanks for reading and happy wargaming!
1 Alright, so parts 4 and 5 might’ve been interrupted by some other content but it’s still the longest ‘series’ of posts I’ve written on the same project.
2 I should really invest in some Necromunda kits. And some Skitarii, some Empire Greatswords, Sicaran Ruststalkers, a Cadian Command kit.. The list of great conversion fodder goes on and ever on.
3 At this point the only female character was the Daemonhost Prisoner 82 – and while the prisoner/host is a clearly female body, but the Daemon inhabiting the body is a maybe a little less clear cut.