Making a Name for Himself

I think that this particular model had more thought and consideration for story put into it than any of the previous Leaders I’ve converted. The position that an Aspiring Deathbringer finds themselves fascinates me. In my mind’s eye, they have risen above the rabble surrounding them to the point that Khorne is actively taking an interest in their progress. With this in mind I wanted this project to show how that attention might be expressed in their physical form. There is an extant miniature for this Battlescroll, but it was made way back in the day well before I ever started to look at building a Chaos force for Fantasy, let alone Age of Sigmar. To be honest, I do not think it has aged well at all. It lacks just about everything that makes the newer Age of Sigmar models pop, and if definitely doesn’t communicate the transformation from an Aspirant to an Exalted Deathbriner.

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Khorne’s Anvil

I’ve finally finished my own Skullgrinder conversion, and here he is in all of his brutal glory.

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According to their fluff, the Skullgrinders are the blacksmiths of Khorne’s armies, and when in combat they wield the very anvils they use to forge blades as massive flails.

Personally, I think the idea is awesome. Imagining the kind of damage that a daemon aided warrior can do with such a weapon is frankly hilarious. I imagine the effect that it would have on enemy soldiers would be a lot like Sauron’s mace from the Fellowship of the Ring. Every swing of the anvil would create massive shockwaves sending soldiers of Order flying every which way.

In a previous post I mentioned that since Gorechosen included the official Skullgrinder, I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue with my conversion. I ended up finishing the conversion rather than changing him to something else because the original model has some serious flaws in it’s execution. The problem I have with the official model is that the “anvil” doesn’t look anything like an actual anvil at all. Even taking into consideration the magical/daemonic nature of the weapon, it still just doesn’t have the look of an anvil. Sure, it’s a large chunk of metal, but there’s not a single flat surface to be found. An anvil is used as a surface for red hot steel to be drawn-out and shaped. Shaping the steel requires a flat surface so the smith’s hammer can do it’s work. So, are they any possible areas on the Skullgrinders anvil that could be used? Well, the sides of the anvil are decorated with symbols of Khorne so they’re out. The bottom has one end of the chain build in so that’s out too. The only other place it could be is the top, but there’s a giant frikken spike sticking out of the top. There’s not a single spot where any kind of effective smithing could be done. The anvil is bad enough, and if the bad design of the anvil wasn’t enough the hammer attached to the belt of the official Skullgrinder has a raised symbol of Khorne on it’s striking face surrounded by spikes. It’s even more important that the hammer have a flat striking surface than it is on an anvil.

Obviously this is kind of nickpicky. We’re talking about semi-daemonic blacksmiths who forge intrinsically evil and bloodthirsty daemon weapons for an army of rage-fueled cannibals. I am fully aware of how ridiculous my gripes may be to some people. My other hobby is blacksmithing, and the lack of thought put into the official model bothers me. Because of this oversight, I chose to finish my own Skullgrinder conversion to address my gripes with what is otherwise a fantastic model. The first step was to fashion something that actually looked like an anvil to attach to the end of the chain on my model.

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I took two of the large gargoyle heads from the Chaos Rhino sprue to use as a base. I filled the bottom gap between the gargoyles with a piece of plasticard to provide the chain a solid attachment point, and a flat surface for the anvil to rest upon. I imagine that when the anvil being used for smithing, the pedestal the anvil rests on has a gap where the chain may hang down so that it doesn’t prevent the anvil from remaining flat. I then took another piece of plasticard and cut one end of it into a narrow point. This point formed to upper surface of the anvil’s horn. Once the upper surface had been glued to the gargoyles, I used greenstuff to fill in the gaps in the body of the anvil. I then used a diamond file to shape the top of the horn into it’s typical rounded shape. Whew! Once I had the basic anatomy of a London style anvil established, I took two small Khorne symbols from the wonderful Chaos Forsaken kit and added one to each side of the anvil. Paired with the gargoyle heads the end result is a distinctively Chaos flavored anvil ready to be added to my Skullgrinder.

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The next part that I felt was absolutely necessary to correct on the official model was the hammer hanging from it’s belt. This piece took a lot less work. I took one of the hammers from the Chaos Forsaken kit (I cannot express how incredible this kit is, and how heartbroken I was when I found out that it’s now discontinued. *tears*) I removed the head of the hammer and attached it to the handle from one of the small hand axes included in the Warthmongers kit. This last choice was simply because I needed a handle that didn’t have a hand already built into the piece, and I really didn’t want to spend the time to scratch build a handle. The hammer’s head did have a spike in it’s face so I cut it away and smoothed out the hammer’s face to give it a good striking surface for smithing.

Now that I’ve completed the converted model, I’m going to be playing around with the official model to see what I can do to fix the problems I have with it. I’m going to avoid doing a complete swap out of the official model’s “anvil” because I actually do like the general feel of it. Instead, I’m challenging myself to salvage the base piece, and turn it into something that makes more sense while preserving the feel of the original. Wish me luck!

The Spear of Khorne

The latest Bloodbound Leader I built was the Exalted Deathbringer with Impaling Spear. I was in the middle of working on a Skullgrinder conversion, and the parts for this new Leader kind of just fell together.

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I had been thinking about what parts to use to make a nice looking spear. While I was looking over the Wrathmonger kit to find a sutable length of chain for the Skullgrinder, the large two handed toothed sword jumped out at me. When I initially looked over the kit, I really didn’t like the look of that particular sword. It struck me far more like a hacking weapon than something meant for slashing. Being the distractable hobbiest that I am and knowling that I also needed to make a Exalted Deathbringer with Impaling Spear, I set aside the Skullgrinder to work on this new project while the creative juices were flowing. I took one of the Chaos Knight spears and removed the spearhead. Once I pinned the toothy blade to the end of the spear, it made a truly daemonic looking halberd style weapon. It may not be the best suited weapon for stabbing, but I was sure that I could graft on a longer spear tip to the top of the weapon. I’ll be taking some plasticard and greenstuff to the tip of the blade and exending it into more of a spear shape, so it can actually be used to, you know, impale. I also want to add some more features to where the blade meets the shaft of the spear. Right now it looks like teeth, but I think I want to extend them down a bit, and turn a couple of them into fleshy tendrils wrapping around the spear shaft.

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Next was finding a body to use as an imposing base for this conversion. I wanted something with an upraised arm so that the final product would somewhat resemble the official miniature. I ended up using the extra Blood Warrior Champion that was part of the small starter set I picked up from my local shop. I removed the lower half of the upraised right arm and fitted the halberd to it so the weapon is raised over his head. Afterwards I carefully cut away the champion’s head to make room for a Chaos Lord head from the Manticore kit. I wanted this guy to look like he has been through some seriously heavy combat on his way to becoming Exalted in the eyes of Khorne, and I think the piece I ended up using reflects a lot of brutal combat.

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The last part I needed in order to finish the miniature was the remainder of the left arm. I didn’t want to put a weapon in that hand as this particular Exalted Deathbringer is only armed with the Impaling Spear. I looked over some of the extra biz I had laying near to hand and grabbed a left arm from a Khorne Bloodletter. Looking at the finished pictures I’m really not feeling the Bloodletter arm. It’s really out of proportion to the rest of the model. I need to come up with something else for that arm.

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Whew! Now that he’s done, I can get back to the Skullgrinder.

The Conversions Begin

After assembling the two Bloodbound starters I was left with an extra Mighty Lord of Khorne, Bloodstoker, and Bloodsecrator. At first I thought about painting them up and selling them off on Ebay. Then I found this lovely article from The Vanus Temple, Age of Sigmar Converted Khorne Models. Which inspired my own take on the same idea.

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I highly recommend looking the Vanus Temple over, there’s a bunch of great articles on all kinds of hobby subjects. The gentleman who runs the website is currently managing a GW store in his area so he’s not able to post as much as he did, but his archive is worth digging through. With the inspiration his conversions gave me I was able to have a ton of fun converting my own extras along the same lines. Of course I had to do a little bit of my own thing, but I’m very happy with the results.

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I kept the same weapons and just switched them from the original Bloodstoker model to the Bloodsecrator. I removed the shoulder armor and loincloth from the cluster of skulls that went over his chest.

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I used one of the heads from the Wrathmonger kit (another amazing kit that I need to review soon). I used this one because the skin on the lower part of his face has been flayed away to show bare muscle and bone. I has to use some Greenstuff to fill in a gap under his chin, but in the end I think he looks just different enough from both of the original models to stand out on the field.

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I’m just as pleased with the progress on this conversion even though he’s not quite done yet. To be honest he’s been a bigger challenge as I had do more extensive surgery to get the parts to fit correctly. Ultimately, I switched out the head of the original Bloodsecrator axe for another axe from the Wrathmonger kit. I wanted this guy to appear just as terrifying as the original model, but show that Khorne’s blessing take many forms. Getting the head to fit correctly required me to pin the head so that it rested well above the shoulders. This left a large gap between the chin and the rest of the body. I added a double chin under the helmet and started some basic stringy hair going down the back of his head. I’m going to be adding some more to cover up the areas I cut away the original hair. I honestly wish I had thought this through a bit more and left the original hair, ah well that’s the joy of experimentation.

(insert picture of the Bloodsecrator Portal of Blood)

I also removed the extra bangles from the banner itself to give it a different visual profile. I need to figure out what to add to the banner to Khorne it up some more.

For the extra Mighty Lord of Khorne this other article from the one and only Morbak, Arch-Warlord Bogdan Blottrinker has given me some wonderful inspiration for what to do. I have yet to start working on this conversion, but I’ll be sure to post up progress as I make it.

The Bonelords of Khorne are Born

I’ve assembled the majority of my two Bloodbound starter sets for Age of Sigmar, and may I say that these are some of the best chaos models that Games Workshop has ever put out. The only starter models that even come close are the the 40k Chaos Chosen and Chaos Cultists that came with the Dark Vengeance set.

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For now, I’m just going to talk about the Blood Warriors. I’ll be writing another article covering my thoughts on the Bloodreavers, and another on some of the other models later. The sculpting on the Khorne Blood Warrior models have all of the exaggerated depth of detail and sharp lines that I’ve come to expect from Games Workshop, and personally I find that to be one of my favorite parts of their model lines. One of the major failings that I’ve seen when working with miniatures from some other companies (especially younger companies) is their details are sculpted without enough depth to really stand out from the rest of the miniature. To be certain, most companies have very talented sculptors who understand the unique differences in small scale sculpting opposed to sculpting in larger scales, but Games Workshop has continued to do a great job of keeping an over-exaggerated style of sculpting in each of their new releases. This style of sculpting allows painting techniques like washes and drybrushing to really stand out in a paintjob.

Warning: I’m going to go a bit off track for a second because I want to address something that is closely related to my thoughts on the Blood Warriors. As a hobby focused player I find the idea of duplicate models to be annoying. I feel strongly that each miniature in an army needs to be unique from the rest of the army in some way. One area of sculpting that Games Workshop has really improved on in the past few years is how active their miniatures’ poses appear, but the changes they have introduced to make those improvements has caused some other issues. Namely, duplicate models, especially in units with larger than standard unit sizes. The single greatest change that has allowed for these kinds of poses has been the use of the single-pose plastic model. If you compare these new kits to the multi-pose models that have been GW’s standard in the past, you can see how they’ve had to change how they have approached creating their newer models. Single-pose models allow sculptors a degree of freedom that multi-pose models do not. Of course, in order to achieve this freedom they have had to largely abandon the flexibility that the multi-pose models allow players. Multi-pose models allow for far more poses to reduce the chances of duplicates because each part can be placed in a different position. The poses given to the Blood Warrior models are wonderfully dynamic and visually interesting. Each one feels like it’s in the middle of combat getting ready to take it’s next skull, and where would be a better place to find the devotees of Khorne than in the depth of a pitched battle? Games Workshop’s choice to give players single-pose models in their starters has allowed them to produce some very dynamic looking miniatures, but it definitely presents an issue with duplicate models when units made up of minis from multiple starter kits are used. This is certainly nothing new for Games Workshop’s starter boxes

It took me a long time to decide on a color scheme for the whole warband, and I figured that the Blood Warriors. I’m really tired of painting red as I play Word Bearers for my 40k army, so I didn’t want to another mostly red army. I finally settled on a dark bone color for the main color of my Bloodbound. Now, I can’t completely paint a Khorne army without some kind of red to honor the god of slaughter and blood, so I’m using red as a spot color for the Khorne symbols. I’m still not sure what color I want to paint their skin. I’ve thought of painting the skin as lighter tones with hints of blue and purple to contrast against the warm tone of the armor, but I’ve also been thinking of doing darker skin tones to contrast with the lighter colors of the bone colored armor. I’m also playing around with the idea of painting all of the skin with Blood for the Blood God or Tamia Clear Red so it looks like they are all covered in fresh blood. What to do, what to do.

Here’s what the beginning of the color scheme looks like on the Lord of Khorne on foot and the Bloodsecrator. I need to work on the lighting in my photo setup, it’s a little too dark. I’ll add a picture of the Blood Warriors as they currently stand when I fix the lighting.

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I also grabbed a box of the non-push fit Blood Warriors to see what that kit is like. In short, it’s pretty amazing. There are tons of extra bits and some really great sculpts in this box. I’ll be assembling these guys with twin Goreaxes and the leader with a Goreglaive rather than the Goreaxe and Gorefist. I’ll be able to say more after I’ve assembled them, so keep an eye out for a post about them.