I started building this squad of Allarus Custodians — the first three of 10 Terminators in my draft army list — last night, and finished it up this afternoon: Kanumba, Cathalan, and Adomako.
As with my first squad, I stole the Shield-Captain’s build for one of them — Adomako — because I love the stance and how tall the model is with its upright spear. I’ve also got a pretty good sense now, after two Custodes kits, for how I can twiddle some of the monopose elements and do a bit of mixing and matching in order to keep them all distinct from one another.
I looked to Africa for two of their names: Ghana for Adomako, and Tanzania for Kanumba. The third, Cathalan, is an Old Irish name — a variation on Cathaláin.
While these kits have the awesome “turtle shell” vibe that defines Terminators (for me, at least), and huge presence, I think I still prefer the Custodian Guard models by a narrow margin. They’re still pretty boss kits, though — and I’m not sad I’ll be building more of them.
I finished my first Adeptus Custodes squad tonight, adding Halfden and Konstantyn to my first custard lad, Inkaef, to form a full unit of Custodian Guards with Sentinel Blades and Storm Shields.
In 9th Edition, this unit is 234 points. Three troops in my Deathskulls Ork army would be . . . 24 points.
Playing around with points, I think I’m probably only going to get three sword-and-board Guards — so I picked my three favorite poses, stealing the Shield-Captain’s build for Halfden (center) and swapping out the pre-molded Misericordia hand for a Storm Shield.
The Guards have my favorite helmets in this army, so when it’s time to replace Trajann’s bare head with a helmeted one, I think I’ll be tracking down one of these — or maybe I’ll have a spare, if I stick with 9 Guards (since two boxes is 10).
So far my naming scheme for Custodes is “whatever sounds fun, and has a basis in Earth history.” Halfden is a riff on an old Norse name, Halfdan; Konstantyn is a one-letter shift from a 12th century Russian monarch, Konstantin. They’re an unusual force, largely flat on an organizational level, and they don’t have squad leaders or a monocultural origin. I like that their names reflect that.
I’ve been maintaining my hobby streak for miniature-painting (today is day 495), but over the past few months my pace has slowed considerably. I’m okay with that, and I stand by my philosophy on this: Any forward progress beats the zero progress I made for many, many years. Even if all I do is paint one Deff Dread’s horns, or one Marine’s Bolter, I’ve done something to keep the train moving.
If the train stops, it may not start up again for a long time (if ever).
But it hit me this morning that just as working on terrain was a great palate-cleanser between finishing my Blood Angels army and starting my Deathskulls Ork army, a third army might be just the ticket here. If I’d done that when I first got into painting, with my Angels, I probably would have lost all my momentum and burned out.
But now, with one 2,000-point army ready to go and a second with 37 figures done (32 standard-sized and 5 large ones)? That feels quite different.
It’s custard time
Way back in the before times (March 2020), when I was deciding what army to paint, I almost picked Adeptus Custodes because of the sheer awesomeness of the Vertus Praetors and Custodian Guard models. Blood Angels were the right call, though, and Orks were the right call after that — but now it’s time for the golden legion!
As a palate-cleanser, they fit the bill perfectly:
It’s an elite army, so it can be tiny. My current draft list is 20 infantry models and 6 bikes! That’s about half the size of my Marine army and a third the size of my Ork army.
Assuming I make them gold (which I will be), they’re like 90% gold — which means I can spray them with Citadel’s Retributor Armour, and treat them more like terrain. Primer and base coat in one, with just a handful of details to pick out after that. Boom.
Custodes should play quite differently than either of my other two armies.
They should also look different from my Angels, even though they might wind up gold/red. I’m basing them on Stirland Mud, and the studio recipe for their gold is slightly different.
I can also paint them as being clean and perfect, a marked shift from my Orks — which have a whole bunch of steps after I’d normally be done with a Blood Angel (checks, weathering, etc.).
Hell, I can probably even fit them in my existing overflow storage without needing to buy more cases. (And even then, they need one case at most!)
I also considered Grey Knights, who can rival the Custodes in the low model count category — and take Terminators, my favorite 40k unit, as troops (yes, I knocked together a 100% Terminator list just to see what it might be like). Ditto Harlequins, who have fascinated me since high school, but I was surprised to find that they’re not nearly as elite and actually need a fair number of bodies on the field. And I’d previously thought about Necrons and Death Guard, too. But none of them ticked as many boxes, nor felt as right, as Custodes.
At my fevered 2020 summer/fall pace, I could paint this entire 2,000-point army in 6-8 weeks. Now, something more like 4 months is probably reasonable. If I keep slow-rolling it, maybe 5-6 months?
I still don’t know if it’s “cuss-toe-dees” (my brain’s default pronunciation), “cuss-toe-dess,” or “cuss-toads,” but I do know that this is about half of my entire army:
I’m drawn to the Shadowkeepers based on their lore, and they do also look cool — but I want gold Custodes. As with Marines and Orks, it seems silly to go the custom route and lose access to rules for the canon shield companies (the five in the Codex), and not at all sporting to choose a custom color scheme and pick the best rules that week.
Setting Shadowkeepers to one side, I find myself drawn to the Dread Host — the Custodes who will smash your whole planet just to show the other planets what’s what. And I dig their color scheme, which uses black pauldrons, white leather bits, and blue gems. Even if I go with red plumes, they’re not going to be confused with Blood Angels.
As is traditional, I’ve kicked things off by building my first Custodian to mark the official start of my army: Inkaef, Custodian Guard of the Dread Host shield company. (For BA it was Sergeant Karios; for Orks, Moonkrumpa . . . who I tweaked and rebuilt like four times.)
I was tempted to lean into the whole pronunciation thing — and gently deflate the over-the-top bombast of the Custodes — and name the members of my custard shield company using Latin words for food: Shield-Captain Prandium (breakfast), Warden Bubulae (beef), Vexilus Praetor Capsicum Anuum (potato), Custodian Acetaria (salad). But that’s not me; I like the pretentiousness of the Custodes, who make the Astartes look like bastions of modesty, and I generally take my names seriously.
With so many Renaissance Italian, Latin, and Greek names in my Blood Angels army, I want to avoid the obvious choice — Roman names — for my Custodes. Since they’re drawn from the ranks of all the myriad noble houses of Terra, why should they all have similar names? My plan is to name every model (unlike my other armies, where I only name the characters, squad leaders, and vehicles), but beyond that I’m not sure how or if I’ll theme their names. (Inkaef was a 4th dynasty Egyptian prince.)
Yeah, it works fine afterwards — but doing it first allows me to exert as much force as I like on the piece, while holding it wherever I like, without worrying about breaking an assembled miniature.
Magnetize before assembly, too
Soooo much easier this way! It involves drilling, so the above applies here as well. But working with a single loose piece also means less stuff I might accidentally glue together — and I can clean up the inside of the holes before putting the model together. My first Deff Dread, Facepeela, still has a couple shavings rattling around inside his body.
The whole point of magnetizing my two Deff Dreads (two…so far!) is to enable weapon-swapping one each model, but by matching polarities on both models I can also freely mix and match between them. While building Ripfist, I carefully checked (and re-checked, and re-re-checked, and re-re-re-checked) each magnet against Facepeela and the component of Ripfist that I was magnetizing.
I also paid attention to what went where. So Facepeela has his KMB on the right and Ripfist has his on the left. If I want one of them to have two KMBs, they’re both ready to accept that swap.
Trim, clean up, glue
With larger models, I’m in the habit of clipping pieces off the sprue, tidying them up, gluing them, and then starting on the next section while the first section dries. But with the two Killa Kans I just built, I tried clipping 100% of the parts, then sanding/filing 100% of the parts, then gluing the model all at once — and dang, but that’s both easier and more fun!
Moonkrumpa: never actually finished
It’s becoming a bit of a running personal joke that I’m constantly tinkering with Moonkrumpa. This time around the impetus was building the other Warboss in my army, “Bigtoof” Skragga (to get a Morkanaut into my list, I needed two detachments), and this incredible, dynamic sculpt screams Warboss in a way that Moonkrumpa doesn’t.
Even with Moonkrumpa 3.0’s height, banner poles, looted wargear, bulk, and customized base, it isn’t immediately clear at a glance which of the two is my Warlord. Based on an idea I saw on Reddit, I starting tinkering with him again.
Having done more kitbashing — and a full-fledged conversion — since I first built Moonkrumpa, I’m a bit more confident about it now. My bits box has more stuff in it, too.
This kitbash does mark the first time I’ve significantly altered the silhouette of the original model, and you could certainly argue that I’ve strayed from WYSIWYG wargear by adding a second claw — and I’m not sure how I feel about that! The original Big Mek in Mega Armour mini is bulky, but doesn’t have a huge “wingspan,” whereas — by design — my version sprawls to the top, front, and sides.
It’s not “suddenly, he’s Ghazghkull,” though, and it feels consistent with a rule of thumb I saw on Reddit: Your Warboss should be the largest infantry model in your army. To boot, I can always take the stratagem Da Biggest Boss for 1 CP (making him literally a bigger boss), or give him Super Cybork Body to represent the Killa Kan arm in game terms.
More importantly, it’s a fun kitbash, it brings me joy, and it’s exactly what the Mek leader of a Mek-driven Waaagh! should have going on.
Now there’s no mistaking who’s in charge here:
As I was wrapping up this revision and re-kitbash, I looked at the time and realized that I’d been at it for five hours! But I couldn’t have done it all up front, when I first built Moonkrumpa, because I didn’t know as much about Orks, my army, or kitbashing when I started this army. Even though it’s meant more work modifying him after the fact, it’s been a fun process.
My bonsai tree, Hulking, dropped a few leaves during his first couple of days with me — which Alysia said was probably just because he was adjusting to the new environment. She was right. After a little adjustment period, not only is Hulkling not dead, he seems to be thriving.
I’ve had to prune new shoots several times, and more are always popping up. I’ve got a little routine for where to place him during the day for the right amount of sunshine, including rotating which side faces the window, and he seems quite content.
I finished Da Fancy Wun last night, so while the varnish is curing I figured I’d post the WIP photos I took along the way.
This is the final post in a five-post series documenting this Trukk. Assembly is in part one and part two, the color guide is in part three, and the finished product is in part five.
There are three great milestones in any miniature-painter’s life: drinking your brush-rinsing water (I haven’t done this, but I’ve come closer than I’d like), shaking an open pot of paint (check!), and spilling an entire bottle of Citadel shade paint.
Overall I’m pretty happy with how Da Fancy Wun turned out. There are things I’d do differently on my next Trukk, but that’s always the case. I’m looking forward to getting it into my new, larger lightbox to see what it looks like up close.
Currently working on a few too many Boyz and Gretchin at once, so I’ve been taking breaks to do some assembly.
First up, a Killa Kan:
Mechanically, Killa Kan mobs don’t have a leader, so perhaps it’s more apt to say that Mukkit considers himself the leader.
I’ve heard these are terrible units, but damn this is an incredible kit. 100% of the parts are interchangeable, and they ooze character from every rivet. I was going for a sort of “Rarr! Mukkit stomp you!” pose, but wound up with more of a Macarena/posing for a tourist photo kind of deal…and I’m not even a little mad. Love this dude.
Alysia got me an Age of Sigmar Weirdnob Shaman for Christmas, so I spent a couple of pleasant hours today figuring out how to kitbash him into my Weirdboy.
On the AoS model, I test-fit the cape to see which of my arm swap ideas might work, and I trimmed off the smoke and shaved the spot under it flat. Everything else stayed.
I used the arm from the standalone Mek kit, which I snipped at the wrist; a standard from the Meganobz kit, which I stuck where the smoke used to be; two shoulder pads from the Boyz kit, which I used to camouflage the kludging I did around the smoke; and a jaw plate from the Nobz kit, which I used exactly as Gork (or is it Mork?) intended.
As befits a Deathskulls army in general and Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas in particular, “Warpmek” Nakk is both a Weirdboy and a Mek (achieved by taking Da Fixer Upperz for him).
Since I’d destroyed the Mek kit’s clamshell packaging to steal one of his arms, I decided to just slap him together as well.
Alysia also gave me a new paint storage solution, a nail polish rack that can swallow 100% of my current paint library. I believe it’s this model on Amazon (not a paid link), and as the reviews show it’s been battle-tested by fellow hobbyists. I can confirm that it does a bang-up job of holding Citadel paint pots.
I’ve seen folks organize their paints by color, but I alphabetized mine by type instead. I mainly follow GW recipes, so this makes the most sense for my approach. The top row is Technical paint and some non-paints (glue, etc.). The second row starts with shades/washes on the left and then jumps into base paints, which run another full row and the first couple slots of a third. After that come all of my layer paints.
I’ve mounted it with room for a second one, which I’ll need at some point. (I’m currently storing all my backup pots somewhere else.) I loved my previous paint storage solution, but my paint supply had outstripped its slots and I wanted to free up that corner of my desk.
Having started my paint collection back in February with the bare minimum I needed to do parade-ready Blood Angels, it feels funny to be actively using 85-90 paints now.
Happy holidays, merry Christmas, and I hope to be back in a few days with some finished Orks and Gretchin.
I kicked off my Waaagh! by building my Warboss, Moonkrumpa, back in November, and ever since then I’ve been noodling about how to make him more Mek-y and Warboss-y (and whether or not to magnetize his wargear options). This morning things finally shook loose, and I busted out my bits boxes and kitbashed Moonkrumpa 2.0:
I used a Killa Kan pauldron, a Blood Angels Dreadnought arm plate and Blood Talon, the light from a Space Marine unit (Dread or tank, I don’t recall), and two boss poles from a Nobz kit. He has to compete with an actual Warboss model (Grukk), so my goal was to make Moonkrumpa unmistakably Da Big Boss — but without meaningfully changing his silhouette, or doing anything that could be taken as modeling for advantage.
Not being able to fit the pauldrons under the sides of the Tellyport Blasta was what sealed the deal on 1) not magnetizing him, and 2) committing to the Kustom Force Field. Now all I need to do is practice a bit more armor-weathering — probably on Killa Kans — and I’ll be ready to prime and paint him!
Over the past couple of weeks, I also built a mob of Lootas, Gark’s Git-Blastas:
Getting their massive backpack/frame/gun jobbies to stay put for gluing was a bit fussy, but apart from that they’re a fun kit. And there are enough bits left over to build Burnas (by adding torsos and legs) or make a nice deposit in the ol’ bits box.
I also assembled my first Gretchin, Runt-Eata’s Grots, who are just fucking adorable:
I’d normally grumble about the number of mono-pose minis in this kit — three mono-piece Grots and six mono-pose models, leaving just 1/10 with minor posability — but they give you a ton of extra heads and the models are so cute that I don’t even mind. I might mind if I needed to paint more than 10, but even then the heads and paint jobs would provide a decent amount of variation.
The Grots came up at the same time as I was touching up the rest of my first mob of Boyz, Skrudd’s Krumpas, so I decided to break with tradition and paint 15 models at once. They’re actually almost done at this point, so I should be able to book them all this month.
Over the past week or so I’ve been busy with Orks and terrain.
I started off my building the rest of my first 10x Ork Boyz, the “back five” of Skrudd’s Krumpas.
I finally found a head that worked for my “pauldron as a hat” idea, which looks just the right amount of goofy for Orks.
After Thanksgiving, I saw that more sunny days might be in our future and hustled to build my next batch of Manufactorum terrain. Until I put them together I didn’t realize quite how large the two show pieces in the Vertigus box really were.
After spraying all of these pieces, I’m down to three sprues in my Vertigus box: two buildings and a bunch more pipes. I’ve been mulling over ways to combine some of GW’s other industrial terrain, notably the Sector Mechanicus stuff, with my Manufactorum pieces so that they look like they belong in the same place. About half of the Mechanicus stuff looks like I could blend it in pretty well by anchoring the color scheme with Wraithbone/Khorne Red.
With terrain comes the need for more and different ways to store my 40k stuff. I thought about my needs: primarily at home, modular, capable of holding the largest pieces on my radar, not too pricey. Where that landed me was plastic storage tubs and acoustic foam.
The listing for the bins was a bit misleading, as it made it look like the bottom was 12″ wide — perfect for my 12″-wide foam squares — when in actuality that was the width of the top. But a gentle curve to the foam lining the bottom, or a quick trim, should sort that out.
The tiles come vacuum-packed in a foil bag that doesn’t look nearly large enough to contain them. Unpacked, they smelled dreadful. But after a couple days in the garage, they’ve expanded to full size and no longer stink.
Back to the actual terrain, my pot of Nihilakh Oxide arrived, so I got to experiment with applying a verdigris effect for the first time. Like every Citadel technical paint I’ve tried so far, this stuff is great.
Over the weekend, I finished the outside of one Manufactorum ruin (plus three smaller pieces) except for weathering. I’ve never painted terrain before, and I started with a good set; it’s been a joy to paint.
These pieces mark my first foray into contrast paint (on the Cog Mechanicus), the first time I’ve used two washes on the same area of a single model, and the first time I’ve consistently drybrushed stuff twice as well. After the crisp, polished aesthetic of my Blood Angels, painting a run-down, timeworn building has been a lot of fun.
I’m looking forward to applying blast damage with a sponge and making some rust streaks — and finishing the inside, of course.
Ever since I built my first Ork — Moonkrumpa, the Warboss of my Waaagh! — on November 16, I’ve been nervous about actually painting my initial mob of Boyz.
Which sounds kind of silly after I’ve just spent nine months painting 2,200 points of Blood Angels, right? Especially considering that Orks are a faction for which folks regularly kitbash stuff out of toilet-paper tubes? Well, yeah…except that Orks require a lot of painting techniques with which I don’t have much experience, including some — like freehand — that I’ve assiduously avoided attempting.
But at the same time, I sensed that I was stalling. So I took stock of what, exactly, I was nervous about trying and then decided to see what shook loose while painting one Boy.
Here’s the list:
Freehand checks and dags
Getting skin right
One shade of blue vs. several shades of blue
Mixing layers and drybrushing on the same figure
Not yet having a brand/spot color that identifies Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas as my Orks
That last one was the biggie. I’ve seen two fantastic examples of personalized Ork armies in White Dwarf, one Goff army where every Ork has a red stripe painted across one eye, and one Freebooterz army whose theme is “rust and hazard stripes.” Both are brilliantly simple choices, allowing room for creative expression and variations between models, and neither requires any real additional steps (green stuff, adding bits, etc.). I’ve had a few ideas, but none have felt like The One — and this is an important conceptual step for me.
So I went into my test Ork hoping that the big question mark would sort of shake loose as I painted — and figuring that even if it didn’t, I could resolve some of the other list items in the process.
A few months ago, I read a heartening comment (I can’t recall where) about freehand that was along these lines: People will respect your attempt at freehand even if it’s not great. To which I’d add, maybe more importantly, I will respect my attempt at freehand, even if it’s not great.
With that in mind, I tried freehanding the glyph for “krump.” (I used a Princeton Velvetouch #1 round for both glyphs.)
That’s…not terrible! Separate the two elements a bit more, and it’d be totally serviceable. It looks like I tried, and didn’t just phone it in. What the heck, can I do “moon” so I can have moon + krump on Moonkrumpa’s banner pole?
Yes, apparently I can! Again, not going to win any Golden Demons here, but it gets the job done.
War paint…also yes?
Bolstering by not embarrassing myself with the glyphs, it hit me that my simplest idea for establishing “Waaagh! identity,” painting one hand white on every Ork (as white is a Deathskulls accent color), had a logical iteration that was better in every way: paint one hand blue.
It’s the Deathskulls’ primary color. There’s a Warhammer TV video that features Duncan doing blue Deathskulls war paint, so I have a guide. It fits their lore, as they often apply blue war paint before going to battle. And, for good measure, testing out blue war paint would also help me answer the question about mixing shades of blue on the same model.
Well, shit: check, check, and check in my book. Even with only base coats — no washes, highlights, or weathering — that reads as war paint, and the clear difference between that blue and the darker tone on his helmet feels like an appropriately Orky mismatch (it’s not like these guys are nipping down to Pottery Barn with fabric swatches to get the blue juuust right; they’re kicking the nearest Gretchin and shouting, “Oi, make dat blue or I’ll krump you.”).
And fuck my ass, I even like the blue hand. Really like it. I’m going to add it to the bits of lore I’ve written about my army: Moonkrumpa’s original tribe was the Blue Handz, and their tribal identifier became a mark of membership in his Waaagh!. This is seriously as big a moment for me as coming up with Moonkrumpa; it’s the missing piece of the puzzle that clears my path to painting Orks that feel like mine.
How’s the list looking now?
Freehand checks and dags
Getting skin right
One shade of blue vs. several shades of blue
Mixing layers and drybrushing on the same figure
Not yet having a brand/spot color that identifies Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas as my Orks
Based on how freehanding glyphs went, I’m no longer nervous about checks and dags, either. My first few won’t look great, but I’ll improve with practice and experience. Ditto weathering, which I may also get a crack at on my terrain before I try it on my Boyz.
I have a hunch that skin and mixing layers/drybrushing will sort themselves out, too. Skin is basically cloth, and there’s an excellent article in White Dwarf #454 to use as a step-by-step reference.
So all in all, I’m feeling pretty good about my list, much less nervous about painting these Orks — and downright excited to see how they turn out. Sometimes you just gotta paint it and see what happens.
On Sunday morning, I picked up where I’d left off with my terrain on Saturday: Wraithbone done, all-over Seraphim Sepia wash. Next up was a pin wash with Agrax Earthshade.
The pin wash is subtle, but I like the effect. Both of these pieces have had their all-over Seraphim Sepia wash, but the one on the right has had some grimy areas pin-washed with Agrax:
I used a cheap #5 brush for the pin washes.
I was a bit nervous about doing a full-coverage drybrush over my precious washes…but it turned out to be no biggie. And as the video notes, it looks quite subtle at first but it does actually make a difference.
I used my giant flat-edged 5/8 brush (the cheap one I used for the washes) for this messy, brush-killing job.
My buildings are noticeably darker than the ones in the video at this stage, which I think comes down to the thinned vs. straight wash. I dig it. Next up, a lighter drybrush with Praxeti White, same brush and same circular motions.
This is subtle, too, but in this case I’m just not that confident in my technique. Both the amount of paint and the weight of my brushing make a difference, and I’m not there yet in terms of experience — but even so, it’s a nice effect.
And that’s the stone done! (Except for, maybe, a final weathering step of some sort.) Warhammer TV didn’t steer me wrong: two washes and two layers of drybrushing really does tidy things up and produce an organic, lifelike weathered stone — and surprisingly quickly, too.
Next up, Mechanicus Standard Grey on the floors (top and bottom), applied with an inexpensive flat-edged #5 brush.
That’s where I ran out of steam for the night, after a pleasant Sunday spent almost entirely working on this terrain or futzing with my Orks’ basing colors. Next terrain-painting session, I’ll finish the edges and borders on the floors, wash them, drybrush them, and then move back to the walls to work on details.