Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Okey Dokey, Sarge: A Quick Look at some Serious and Silly Sergeant Conversions

The guy in charge of any given squad of marines, the sergeant probably represents the most numerous example of an officer in any space marine army. As such it makes sense for him to be the mini that gets that little bit more attention than the other chaps lugging around bolters whether that takes the form of a more interesting paintjob, individual wargear or even a minor conversion.

The usual method that GW use to differentiate a sergeant is to model the character with a bare head, and while some people object to this on the grounds that it would be suicide to do this in the real world it does help to remember that this is a fictional subject!

This sergeant to the right is the bog standard plastic model that was prevalent for most of the 90's. Pretty boring in terms of stance and wargear, but this mini does present a good starting point for a number of possible conversions. In addition the mini is both numerous and cheap to get hold of making it also a great choice for experimentation for the less experienced modeller.

All that was done here was to simply change the standard right arm for one intended for a multi-part tactical marine and add a bolt pistol. Rather than the original, I always thought rather static pose, this adds a measure of depth to the mini. I had to note as well that I was very impressed with the amount of facial detail that a few applications of Ogryn Flesh showed up.

On the other hand, you can just opt to do something silly for the sake of seeing the effect and using parts from your bits box.

I had used components from the WHFB Bretonnian range to great effect to convert a squad of scouts and then to cobble together a collection of minis intended to represent chapter serfs equipped as support combatants and this sergeant was a result of the last of the spares being thrown together with a mini that had just been sitting around in the bits box gathering dust.

I really have no idea why this chap has a helmet like this or why he needed a bolt pistol with such elaborate sights. I also have no idea as to whether he'll ever see the light of day as part of an army. To be honest he reminds me of something out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail...perhaps he'd make a good minion for those Spanish Inquisition themed minis I saw an independent website selling the other day? Or maybe I was just unconsciously bashing the Black Templars?

I think this is how you officially go crazy with Green Stuff when you first start out learning how to use it! Had I done this today I would have started well before the mini was assembled and sculpted the robes over the entire torso of the marine. As it is the guy's back is totally devoid of any sculpting whatsoever, but I was banking on the fact that no one would be looking under his backpack.

I'm not showing this as an example of the wonders that can be achieved with Green Stuff (god knows it's a crappy first attempt with the stuff!), but more as an example of what this kind of mini can be great for.

You'd have to be pretty well off and blase about the idea of converting and making the inevitable mistakes that you will always make to begin with on something new and rather expensive from GW.

This is where making a savvy purchase on Ebay, getting stuff second hand from a local independent games store or even trading stuff with a friend who shares your addiction to the hobby really comes into its own. The skills that can be gained from this sort of experimentation are endlessly useful and you may end up with some great and unique minis as a result as well.

While the most common place that most people visit for alternate marine parts is the chaos marines range (of which I am as repeatedly guilty as anyone), another priceless source of bits is the plastic chaos warrior kits from WHFB. Chaos warriors tend to be modelled larger than life in a similar manner to marines and a Space Wolves or Black Templars collector ignores them to his or her own detriment.

This sergeant has the head and torso of a chaos warrior atop the legs of a standard tactical marine. I sculpted his belt and the purity seal on his powerfist from Green Stuff to disguise the join and filed off the horns on his head.

I've seen an example of Sternguard veterans converted using the back half of the chaos warrior torso with a great deal of Green Stuff used to disguise the joins. The minis looked great, but I have to state for the record that I saw them months after I had completed this guy, so there is the vague chance that someone over there in Nottingham saw and copied me...but then it's far more likely he just came up with the idea on his own. Damn it, one day I will have proof that someone, somewhere has been inspired by something that I've done!

I suppose that this last sergeant is really more of a kitbash than a conversion, one that came about from the remnants of a marine commander kit. His legs are from a chaos marine, leather skirt, head and augmetic arm from the commander kit and the rest from standard tactical marine parts.

For me this is what the commander kit is really all about: using the majority of the bits for a commander mini and then milking every last bit that's left over for effect on other models afterwards.

The chaos terminator lord was the same and I would urge anyone who has the ear of GW to do more stuff like that. In an age where the back catalogue is unavailable and the ability to order specific components has been taken away, kits like that are the most common way to obtain interesting and useful parts.