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.
I’ve been chipping away at some stuff, recovering from my sprint to wrap up my Killa Kan by the end of 2020.
Remember when I said version 3.0 of my Warlord, Moonkrumpa, was his final form? I was wrong!
I realized how off it felt to have the leader of an army of Orks with expressive, fun-to-paint faces be wearing a mask. Since I had a second Meganobz kit on hand (if you build a Big Mek, the two remaining Meganobz don’t comprise a valid 40k unit…), I popped his head off and replaced it with the unmasked version. This might actually be the end of the road, since I primed him shortly after taking that photo.
I’ve also been building the biggest 40k thing I’ve ever built, the Sanctum Administratus.
This thing is massive. The bottom level is something like 8″x8″, and it’ll be around a foot tall when I have the next two levels on there. The multipart walls are a bit fussy, but I thought about it and decided to build the whole level in a rush so I’d theoretically have time to adjust before it all dried. That worked pretty well, although I did leave run of the floor/ceiling about 1mm too high.
Working on this piece prompted me to think about how much more terrain I might need, so I did some digging. After reading (and re-reading) lots of contradictory advice, some of it based on previous editions, it hit me that I could just read the rules and see what they said about terrain. As it turns out, what they say is that I already have almost enough terrain for a 44″x60″ Strike Force board.
All that puzzling-things-out resulted in a major update to my 40k terrain page, which now links to finished scenery and lists all of my pieces in ways that should be helpful when deciding how to lay them out for play. I think I really just need one more large terrain piece, ideally one that ties the Manufactorum and Mechanicus elements I already have together, to have a pretty solid Strike Force set (less the additional boards, which I still need to buy).
Speaking of terrain, I stumbled across a post by GW terrain designer Ray Dranfield on Twitter in which he suggested not gluing the second story of your buildings because the Sector Imperialis pieces are designed to be swappable, and I had a thought:
I’ll be damned! Fits like a glove. The interior floors look totally different, but the column spacing is identical and the Imperialis column tops and Manufactorum column bottoms are grooved to mate perfectly. This particular pairing doesn’t make a lot of sense (there’s a door to nowhere on the second floor…), but I’ve got some other Manufactorum pieces that would look right at home up there.
Of course, the second thing I thought of was dropping in a few magnets for added stability…
Even though I built Moonkrumpa on November 16, I held off priming him because I couldn’t shake the feeling that he needed a bit more…something. That proved prescient, as I kitbashed him to good effect in December — but he still didn’t feel 100% done.
Last week, I read a comment somewhere (Reddit, I think) to the effect that you should be able to easily spot your Warlord/Warboss because they’re the largest infantry model in your army. Despite 2.0’s added bulk and height, Moonkrumpa’s static, lumbering pose and masked face don’t make him stand out — and even bulked up, he’s not that much larger than a regular Meganob (which I also have in my current army list).
So I did a bit of surgery. I bent and snipped his base until I could force a razor blade under his feet, cut him off the remnants of the old base, and built a fresh base with some height and some scenery. This time, I’m calling him done!
Da Deff Dread
I also built my first Deff Dread over the weekend. What a great kit!
While working on my Killa Kan, I watched a YouTube video in which the hobbyist drilled their own bullet holes to add a battle-worn look. It seemed simple enough, and I loved the look of the bullet holes in the Kan, so I gave it a shot. It is indeed dead simple.
After waffling about it, I decided to take the plunge and magnetize the Dread’s lower arms. The first pairing went swimmingly, with 3mm x 1mm magnets, super glue, and a couple of quick shots with my cheapo hand drill.
After that, though, I messed up just about everything it was possible to mess up. I glued my fingers together (I hate working with super glue…). I glued magnets in backwards even after testing multiple times, because the little fuckers are so small that they flip around on you if you’re not careful. I also glued magnets to my fingers and to one of my assembly tools. I shot bits of plastic into the holes in the Dread’s body while drilling, so now he rattles.
All of that I chalk up to teething. This is still new, it’s all good; I’ll improve. The only real problem I ran into was weight. After messing up the first arm I tried to use, a smaller one, I switched to this larger one. But the magnets weren’t strong enough to support it, so it drooped.
Later on in the process, I realized that I could have glued a stack of 2-3 magnets together, carefully inserted them into the body hole, and possibly gotten some extra oomph out of them. But at that point it was too late.
Magnetizing 1/4 of the possible slots felt like a waste of time, though; I wanted to be able to switch freely from 3 melee/1 ranged to 2 melee/2 ranged. So I chopped away at the small arm and made a flat spot that held a magnet at the right angle, and on my third try I got it right. A firm shake will make it swing down, but I can move the model around and it stays in place. Sold!
Given his two saws and jumbo claw, I’m naming this dude “Facepeela” Snarg,
I might hold off on painting all of the other arm options (2x Big Shoota, 1x KMB, 2x Rokkit Launcha, 1x Scorcha) until I’ve built the second Dread in my list. I don’t know 1) how much swapping I’ll actually want to do, or 2) whether the extra options that second Dread — whose lower arms I’ll also be magnetizing — puts into the mix will really be all I need. Something to sleep on, I suppose.
Anyhoo: rad kit, magnetization is a struggle but also a skill I can work on, and I can’t wait to build the next big stompy thing!
With an hour to spare, I finished a wild push — a week worth of painting in about two days — and wrapped up my final miniature of 2020: Mukkit, one of the Killa Kans in my Deathskulls Ork army.
This is the best miniature I’ve ever painted. It incorporates everything I’ve learned this year, plus a couple of techniques I haven’t tried before, and it features the best highlights I’ve ever done. (I’m not saying it’s amazing, just frankly assessing it against my output to date.)
Light it up like dynamite
I listened to so much BTS in November and December, often while painting, that it’s only appropriate to lead with a BTS lyric (from “Dynamite” on their album BE).
Plus a casual shot for good measure:
Orks being Orks, the 22 minis I’ve painted so far bring me to a whopping…208 points. Down the road, when I paint my Morkanaut, I’ll get to experience a massive completion bump (+340 points, if memory serves).
WIP it good
I don’t usually combine posts for finished minis with WIP photos, but for Mukkit I did a sort of time lapse — and it turned out to be the clearest and most complete set of photos of my process that I’ve done so far. Mukkit was a genuine sprint, although I didn’t speed-paint him; I just did more painting in fewer days than normal.
I primed Mukkit on 12/28 and started painting him in earnest on the 29th. I wanted to book him by the end of the year, and it seemed doable.
This was my first time painting a larger unit with Citadel’s XL handle (which I just got recently), and it’s night and day compared to holding the base. I can’t believe I waited this long!
In hindsight, the moment I decided to commit to using thinner lines for my edge highlights heralded a sea change. Now that I know I can paint more delicate highlights, and can see the direct line of improvement from the start of the year to the end, I suspect I’m going to use more thin lines in the future.
Just imagine a photo of my weathering steps here, because I forgot to take one.
The lighter blue I used for Mukkit’s Klaw — as part of my unifying theme of every model in this army having one blue hand — doesn’t look as different from the other blue parts as I’d hoped, but it is a bit clearer in person.
The Killa Kan kit is amazing. Every part is swappable between Kans, and many parts are shared with the Deff Dread kit, adding even more customizability. There’s a ton of room to add personality in the assembly stage — and the painting stage is just as fun. These models are silly and dark in just the right measure and mixture, and they’re one of my favorite 40k kits.
Up next is probably one of the two Deff Dreads in my current list; I’ve got a three-armed big dude on my desk, mostly still on the sprue. With three Kans, two Dreads, and a Morkanaut (plus “Ork Terminators,” the Meganobz and Big Mek in Mega Armour), this army is full of what I love: big stompy things.
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.