New Beginnings

I’ve made my peace with Games Workshop. Which is to say, I was never actually at war with Games Workshop, but I had found myself disappointed and dissatisfied with Games Workshop. This led to a kind of semi-hiatus in my hobby. A period of tinkering and experimenting, with no clear direction.

What’s changed is a combination of, well, both them and me.

On the one hand, the more I’ve looked at what other people have done with Warhammer 40,000 in the past and in the present, the more I’ve realised that it can be whatever you want it to be. Conversely, I can choose to ignore anything I don’t like and my setting, my WH40k, my grim, dark future doesn’t suffer one jot as a result.

On the other hand, Games Workshop are doing a lot that I do like right now. The new primaris marines have awful fluff, but are gloriously good miniatures. I’m encouraged by the direction that the story of 40k is moving. The resurgence of Chaos, the Imperium Nihilus, the Ynnari … all of it sounds like it has great potential. I just can’t bring myself to trust Games Workshop writers to do it justice yet though. Not after the disappointment that was Gathering Storm.

My solution is to create my own 40k, my own scrap of the galaxy which can be exactly what I want it to be.

So, I’ll be kicking new life into my hobby and this blog. Expect an update very soon with details of what I’ve been working on and future plans. I did need a break. well, now I’ve had one.

In the meantime, you can see what I’ve been playing around with on Instagram. There’s a fancy new widget in the sidebar. Isn’t technology great? I can remember when all this was fields …

VII. A Time of Ending

It has been far too long since I posted anything on this, my criminally neglected blog. I’ve been planning a post in my head for the last couple of weeks, preparing to wax lyrical about design philosophy, by new found motivation and plans for this year. Then, this happened;

My god, is that thing awful!

I know many people will disagree, but not only is that thing, the worst miniature that I have seen GW release since the Space Wolf Santa, it also embodies all of the reasons why I’m now thinking of turning my back on Warhammer 40,000.

I first started collecting miniatures as a teenager way, way back in the early 1980s. Back then, Warhammer 40k wasn’t even a thing. By the time I went to university, discovered alcohol and girls, and stopped buying little metal miniatures, 40k was still called Rogue Trader. So, I don’t have any nostalgia for how 40k used to be. I don’t know how it used to be. I only know how it’s been for the last few years.

I returned to “the hobby” in late 2013, a little over three years ago now. It wasn’t the lure of 40k which pulled me back, so much as the lure of miniatures in general. I actually spent some time researching the different miniatures and companies now available before I committed to buying anything. It was seeing the work on the marvelous Peter Hudson (usually known as PDH online) and the chaps collectively know as Iron Sleet, which encouraged me to have a go at making my own 40k miniatures. I discovered a hobby and an online community which was full of inspiration, artistry and had a wonderful vision of what the 41st Millennium could be. Sadly though, it often seemed to be a vision at odds with the vision Games Workshop has for its IP.

Knowing next to nothing about the universe of 40k, I bought a few digital codices to read about the background. Every purchase was a disappointment. Poor writing and poor art I can forgive, but there was a jarring disconnect between the wonderful portrayal of a grim dark future I was seeing in the Inq28 community and the bright, plastic heroes and villains of the official codices.

What I loved about 40k and the work of John Blanche, which I rediscovered as a result, was that sense of decay and doom. The grim darkness of the far future is a hopeless dystopia where man is ultimately doomed to extinction. It was Gothic and melancholy and really kind of beautiful in its sense of despair – except in the official material. In the official material, everything is awesome. Space marines are awesome and tanks are awesome and Grey Knights are really awesome. I hate awesome. I hate awesome with a passion. Yet, ironically, I did find grim, dark and beautiful despair by the bucket load … just not in 40k.

About a year before I bought my first box of plastic GW miniatures, Forge World (I can never figure out if that’s one word or two) released the first of the Horus Heresy big, black books. Things of absolute beauty they are. Gorgeously illustrated, a joy to read. I bought the first one out of curiosity and fell in love with the setting. The irony (if it is irony) is that the Horus Heresy is a time when Primarchs and Astartes legions fought huge battles across the galaxy. You would think if anything was going to tip over the top into excessive awesomeness, it would be the Horus Heresy, but far from it. In both Forge World’s writing and the best of the novels, the Heresy reads like some Greek tragedy on an interstellar scale. There is more sense of tragic loss, melancholy and grim darkness in  the Horus Heresy than in any of the 40k material coming out of GW. I’ve even developed a very expensive addiction to Horus Heresy audio books.

So, this weekend has been a tipping point for me. Last Friday, GW showed us the plastic Primarch and I despaired at what is happening to 40k. It has irrevocably moved from being a setting in which great heroes of legend existed thousands of years ago, but now all is doomed, to one in which Primarchs exist again. It has become even more hatefully awesome. Then the very next day, I’m glued to the internet, looking at all the wonderful things being previewed by Forge World at the Horus Heresy Weekender, each more beautiful than the last.

It’s as if I’ve been hit in the face with the revelation that I’d be much happier giving my money to Forge World. Some would argue that it shouldn’t matter if I don’t like what GW is doing with 40k. We can make our own stories, after all. We do 40k the way we want it to be. However, it does matter to me. I don’t have the accumulated knowledge and memories of years in the hobby to draw upon. The things which GW is putting out now is all I know and I’m tired of my hobby feeling like it’s about fixing things I don’t like. I want to be inspired and delighted by the official material and not feel like every purchase is a bit disappointing.

And yet, I still can’t shake the desire to create something unique. The urge to kitbash and convert and tell my own story is insurmountable. I cannot imagine ever wanting to collect an entire army of space marines, it’s just not for me. I feel like a challenge now lays ahead. Can I bring the sensibilities of Inq28 to the setting I prefer? Is there room in the Horus Heresy setting to explore new ideas and make my own stories?

I think the answer to both questions may be, yes. I just haven’t figured out how yet.

 

… and if you made it to the end of my (perhaps self indulgent) rant, then thank you. I’d love to know what you think.

VI. Homunculus Complete

“Yes I’ve seen the Homunculus. No, I’ve no idea what manner of creature it is. Fabius reckons it’s a servitor made from some hapless squat. I don’t believe that. The Duke puts far more worth in the Homunculus for it to be thus. Have you heard it speak? No? That’s because it never does, but it does click and tick and I swear I’ve heard quiet little streams of binaric coming from that thing. So my theory is it’s some kind of cogitator on stumpy little legs.”

~ Armsman Malek

So, here he is in all his inglorious beauty. I’m experimenting with basing colour. I seem to have a developed a palette for my miniatures, which uses dark dull colours, contrasting with stark pale shades and splashes of deep, dark reds. My old, dusty, sandy coloured bases just weren’t doing them any favours. I decided then, to give the Homunculus an orange, Martian dessert style base. I think it makes him come alive and I’ve decided to start revisiting some of my older miniatures for an update.

A final group shot. You might notice that Duke Ko’s heraldic shield is mysteriously blank. I was never entirely happy with the design. It was rushed to get the miniature finished. I feel like my painting has improved since then and I could do better, so he’s going to get an update.

Thanks for reading.

IV. Imperator Vult

On Medea Secundus they say that when the Cult of Serenity takes a life, the last thing the victim hears in the words, “Imperator Vult”. The Emperor wills it, in High Gothic.

This miniature has been very long in the making. Too long probably as I was in danger of starting to grow bored of it. Partly it was due to work and life getting in the way and leaving me very little time for hobbies. Partly it was due to the complexity of the model. In essence, it was more like making two miniatures which had to fit together and work together in the end. I hope I’ve pulled it off.

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His base is an experiment. Washes made by adding weathering pigments to acrylic medium in an attempt to create an old and dusty appearance. I like the effect, so some previous bases may well be getting a repaint.

As always, thanks for taking time to look.

III. The Master of Assassins

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A quick work in progress post. It’s important to me to get the colour scheme for the Death Cultists right. I wanted to move away from the traditional black and red, but not so far that it goes against all expectations people have. So I’m trying a scheme which uses shades of dark greys and off whites, with a red accent.

So far the major areas are painted and metallic areas are blocked in. Still to do is all of the super detailing and weathering. He looks far too clean at the moment. I’d like him to eventually have a look of faded and tattered, antique opulence. his cherub companion is going to be painted separately and added when all is finished.

II. The Cult of Serenity

Death shall come on swift wings to him who disturbs the peace of the Emperor.

~ Lord Tal Kargan

 

***

 

Low in the Spire, yet above the simple dwellings of the Hivers, lives Lord Tal Kargan. A man who walks amongst commoner and noble with equal ease. A man with a darkness hidden behind his easy smile. Tal Kargan is a master of assassins, cutthroats and killers.

 

***

 

Where to begin?

Two miniatures were calling to me back to 40k. One is a miniature I made and finished some time ago. The other is a miniature I built a few months ago, but have yet to paint.

The first converted miniature I made, that I was truly and totally happy with (in fact really proud of), was this Death Cult assassin completed nearly two years ago.

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The idea of Imperial Death cults has always had a bit of a fascination for me. I can’t help feeling though that it really can’t be the case that all Death Cultists are lithe women in bodysuits. Cults need leaders. Leaders need bodyguards and servants. Cults must have priests and acolytes. Assassins, even fanatical Death Cult assassins, must have different favoured methods for making their kill.

So, the first group I’ll be working on for Medea Secundus will be the local Death Cult, The Cult of Serenity. Their leader Tal Kargan is this chap;

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One of those cases of a miniature which grew organically as I built him, leaving me not quite sure what I’d built. Well, now I know. He is Tal Kargan and Death sit on his shoulder.

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