Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Miniature Showcase: Death Riders

Just before Adepticon 2019 I decided that my next army would be Imperial Guard, thanks to breaking the ice with my Commissar Yarrick conversion of Severina Raine. I had just come off building the Dreadnought list for Warhammer 40,000 Friendly Tournament that year, and was still in a slump with my Adeptus Mechanicus. So I was looking for something fresh, with a lot of options. It really didn't take that much convincing for me to jump on Imperial Guard either, due to my love of World War 2 and films such as Starship Troopers.

I'd always had a vague interest in that faction. But it wasn't until I read Dave Taylor's Armies & Legions & Hordes book that I really got the bug to work on them. Seriously, read that book it's a wealth of wargaming knowledge and inspiration.

I knew going into it that I was going to be transport heavy and the overarching theme would be mechanized infantry. With that theme in mind, I started looking at units in the Astra Militarum Codex and the Forces of the Imperium Index that went along with the idea of a highly mobile force.

That's when I came across the Rough Riders, which are horseback Imperial Guardsmen with spears and chainswords. But, they are an Index unit and without official models anymore, Meaning it was only a matter of time before Games Workshop took the axe to them (which recently happened with their move to Legends.)

It was then suggested that I look into Death Korps of Krieg Death Riders, which have their own HQ unit who can issue them Orders.

Either way, without official models for Rough Riders and only an expensive resin option for Death Riders, that meant kitbashing was the order of the day, and I was all about that idea thanks to the recent release of the Genestealer Cult Jackal bikers

And thus, this project was born.

Making a Test Model

The first order of business was to do a test model and see if this was even viable in the first place. I was fairly certain that it was, but sometimes you've gotta sell yourself on an idea too, before taking the plunge.

I ordered a pack of Death Korps of Krieg infantry and a Jackal Alphus to use as my test model. When they both arrived I got to work.

I knew I needed to use the legs from the original rider. I wasn't expecting that the waist would be oddly shaped though. I would need to trim them and flatten them out slightly in order to make the torso join with the legs as neatly as possible.

Speaking of torsos. I cannot say that I was filled with dread when sawing the first Krieg miniature in half. Maybe it's because by this point I've been hacking up models for ages. Or, since I'd cut up a bunch of limited edition models for Deathwatch, perhaps I'd built up an emotional callous to cutting into expensive or "rare" models. But, either way, I found cutting into the resin to be strangely soothing.

With the torso and legs glued together it was time to do the coat with green stuff. To make the coat sections I flattened a bit of green stuff on a ceramic plate and cut a rectangle out of it. I then carefully placed it on the model. Using silicone colour shapers and dentist picks, I formed it around the model and shaped it to look similar to the original DKoK long coat.

The colour shapers made sculpting these so much easier. With them I am able to easily added creases and billowing cloth effects a lot easier than if I had plastic sculpting tools or even just the dental picks. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to get into sculpting. They're that good.

The next challenge came in the form of the spears. The only models I owned which had spears were either, old high elves (which I didn't have enough of) or Beastmen Ungors (which I had plenty thanks to a recent army build). In the end the Ungor spears won out, because I felt the spear tips fit the look of these models better.

Only one problem arose, the spear shafts were too hefty and larger than the hands of the guardsmen. Cutting the spear around the hand of the Ungor was a no go, since it would eventually lead to spears breaking in half on models. Instead I opted to use a bit of brass rod and drill each rider's spear hand, as well as the spearhead, and glue it together that way. This was a much more elegant solution.

The spear isn't going anywhere and if anything is going to break off, it will be the hand at the wrist, which is an easy fix.  The steering arms are an entirely different story though, and the most difficult part of the whole conversion. I'll get to that in a minute.

With the test model finished, and the proof of concept proven, I took the test model to Adepticon 2019 to show it off and get opinions. It was a huge hit and I knew I had something special on my hands.

It was time to start on the rest of the bikers!

The Handlebar Problem

The largest hurdle in this whole project was the handlebar problem.

Naturally a model that is sculpted to be firing a rifle isn't going to have their arms in a position suitable for steering a motorcycle and I would need to come up with a solution.

The answer worked itself out pretty well on the bikers who were steering with their left arm. I could use the bracing arm for them without any cutting, but they needed a decent amount of gap filling in their armpits.

For the right arm steering dudes, it was a bit more involved. In order to make their right arm line up with the steering hand I would need to cut the arms at the elbow and rework forearm angles to line up with the hand on the bike's handlebar.

Most of the arms worked out really well, while some have a
bit of an awkward anatomy to them. There are some where I had to rebuild entire elbows, others where the cut is completely hidden thanks to the original sleeve folds and still a few more where the underarm is completely rebuilt to achieve the angle I needed. The colour shapers proved their worth once again on those arms, making it silly easy to rebuild folds in the elbow and blend the green stuff to the original resin.

World of Spearcraft

As I mentioned earlier, the spears were made out of brass rod and spear heads from the Warhammer Age of Sigmar Beasts of Chaos Ungors.

Each of these proved to be a new challenge as well. Each one points in a different direction. Some are resting on the handlebars, some are slung low or across their chests. There's even one bro who has his resting on his shoulder.

To build the spears arms, I tried to use arms that didn't need to be cut. That way I didn't have to worry about a weak point in an elbow or something breaking down the line.

I used a melee weapon hand from the Jackals kit and drilled it out to accept the brass rod. This was left loose until it was time to glue the hand to the spear arm, which allowed for adjustment of the hand on the shaft of the spear.

The Ungor spearhead was cut from the original shaft and then drilled roughly 1/8" or 3/16" deep. The spearhead would then mate up to the brass rod and become a stable connection.

So far I've only accidentally bent the shaft of a spear while reaching for a model, but not had any arms or spearheads break off. I call that a major win.

The Bikes and Kill Trophies

For the most part, the bikes didn't need any modifications to hide the fact that they were originally Genestealer Cults bikes. The only major change that needed to happen was on the bag carrying the shotgun and scraping away some of the GSC armor on the legs.

Overall most any imperfections are not really noticeable. Individually, some of these are easily recognizable, but as a unified force on the table, any imperfections basically disappear.

One fun addition to the Death Riders were the Ork skulls on the front end. As the project wore on, I'd done a Grot on the front of the Death Riders Commissar. I decided that it would be a fun idea to add in some Ork skulls to a few bikes to tie them in, as if  they were kill trophies or being used for scare tactics.

The skulls were mounted either above the headlight or over it using glue and string. The ones that were mounted over the light gave me an opportunity to have some fun with lighting effects in the mouth and eye sockets, which ended up looking really sweet.

As for paint, the bikers are painted the same as my standard infantrymen. I went this route so that most of the army looked as unified as possible, except for my Veterans (which I'll get to in a future post). This also helps keep things easy and I don't have to keep track of a bunch of different color recipes.

To help tie these fellas to the rest of the army, I decided to paint the bikes Stormvermin Fur. Which is the color used on my Leman Russ tanks and Chimera APCs for their camouflage markings.

The main color on those vehicles is Zandri Dust, but since the color of the rider's coats is that very color I needed something to contrast with it. Stormvermin Fur being the camouflage color on the vehicles made it an easy choice for the bike coloring and it ties the army together really well.

That's it for now, there's more Miniature Showcases to share soon. Until then, stay tuned for more projects! You can catch me on Twitter and Instagram, but mostly Twitter. There, I'm always around and showing off projects that I'm currently working on.

If you like what I do and want to support the site and my painting endeavors,  you can do so a couple of ways. First, you can toss a couple bucks my way on Ko-fi. All it takes is $3 and it's much appreciated.

Also, you can buy The Brush Wizard shirts and such over on my Teespring shop, where you'll find a growing selection of shirts and other goodies including a new series of Stickers featuring this Death Rider model and other miniatures I've painted!

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

I think that's about it, I give you 15 Death Riders of Armageddon! There's still the Commander and Command Squad to share yet. So look for those soon. Until next time!