Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Baroque of ages

Back here I talked about being inspired to build a handful of age-old, 30K Custodes legionaries out of the single-pose Stormcast Eternals I had lying around. What I may not have mentioned is that as soon as I started this project the word 'baroque' sprung to mind.*

If you look up the definition of 'baroque' you usually get something along the lines of 'an exaggerated ornamentation, designed to evoke grandeur and exuberance'. But the origin of the word comes from the name of an unevenly shaped pearl, so I can never shake the thought that 'baroque' carries an additional meaning. That of irregularity, like the absence of pattern.

In the case of my Custodes I wanted this to manifest as an asymmetrical line down the centre of their armour. So that shoulder pads, greaves, vambraces and any off-centre decorative motifs wouldn't match from one side to the other.

After my initial drawing (in the link above), I set about scouring my various boxes of spare parts for any bits that might be relevant to this project. I also bought a few specific pieces from Craig Randall's Bitzbox.

I glued the Stormcast bodies together and started trying to remove their shoulder pads, thinking that different pauldrons would be a good way to help the finished models look unique.

Eternals without shoulders. Seen here with the first wave of bits 

In some of the Black Library's earlier Horus Heresy books I vaguely remember reading that Custodes legionaries were roughly the same size as Astartes, or perhaps only a tiny bit larger. This seemed a clear indication that their base size should be the same. So my next stop was to build a handful of 32mm bases that looked like the floor in my drawing. I glued simple plasticard squares straight to the base, with a few of the tiles broken or cracked to add interest and imply the location could be taking some hits.

Of course, now that The Burning of Prospero boxed game has been released White Dwarf Magazine has told us that Custodes are a full head taller than an average Space Marine**, and that they should be on appropriately larger bases.

In English money that makes them somewhere over 8ft tall (244cm), not counting the pointy helmet.

I'm not a fan of this particular bit of retconning, so I'll just chalk it up to the general weirdness of scale issues that pervade this hobby. Whenever I stop to think about them my model collector's OCD kicks in and I start to feel a little uneasy. I didn't want to go into it here, but I can feel a rant coming on.

Why are models of towering, superhuman Space Marines the same height as those of regular army grunts? Why do so many other models seem to be getting bigger with every new release? How are ten Terminators supposed to fit inside a Land Raider? What practical benefits are there from measuring a model's scale to its eyes? And why do hive-reared Goliath Gangers so easily dwarf the Emperor's finest genetically-enhanced elites?

I could go on, but I think I've got it out of my system for now. So thanks for sticking by me. Now back to the matter in hand.

I wanted my three golden armoured warriors to not just be more realistically sized (for characters a little bigger than a Space Marine), but also to be wearing cloaks, hanging low off the back of their shoulders. The larger Stormcast models would help with the scale, but the cloaks I'd have to do by hand.

I started by rolling out three or four sheets of green stuff – each roughly twice the size of the proposed cape. After letting the sheets cure for about ten minutes, I tried to add folds by carefully scrunching them together at one end. To aid with this I experimented with rolling them around different sized paintbrush handles, although this resulted in varying degrees of success (or perhaps, more accurately, failure).

When completely dry I cut them down to size and shape, not worrying too much about the top (where they will attach to the models' backs).

At this point I started my second sweep of the bits box, looking for other pieces that could bring the models to life. Arms became quite important. At least half of mine were from Space Marine Terminators. I was also quite excited to get the heads in place. The helmets came from the grim looking High Elf Shadow Warriors kit, while the bare head is from the Space Marine Vanguard box. I wanted the sergeant to look like he based his haircut on Captain-General Constantin Valdor as a mark of fealty.

Most of the chosen bits were added to the models; and the cloaks were then glued to their backs, leaving enough space above them for me to sculpt the rest by hand.

After everything had dried I gave each cloak a couple of watered down coats of liquid green stuff to smooth out my blind mekboy sculpting work.

One of the final jobs was to build the three Guardian Spears. With Grey Knight Force Halberds as the base, I was hoping to get away with not having to do too much chopping and changing. Sadly this proved to be one of those plans that prompts people to look at you like your six-pack is three cans short of a four-pack, and the conversions ended up involving hours of fiddly drilling and glueing – technically referred to as faff.

That said, I still tried to give them all subtle differences so that each weapon appears bespoke. The sergeant's drum magazine is an obvious example of this.

When completed I positioned the weapons to make the finished squad look like they're covering a 180ยบ forward arc.

And with that done the three warriors were finally ready for painting.

Some might say, just in time to be rendered entirely obsolete by the release of Games Workshop's Burning of Prospero game and the stunning, official versions of the Legio Custodes contained within it.

But hopefully not within earshot.

*Something I definitely mentioned was that the Custodes were not allowed to wear eagle motifs on their armour. On reading this now, I'm pretty sure that's utter horse doodoo. So apologies for that, I think I misappropriated that bit of background trivia from its correct place with the Astartes Legions of the Heresy era. Please feel free to tear me off a strip or let me know how the rule didn't apply to the Emperor's Children in the comments below.
**Wasn't that the size of a Primarch? How big are they now?

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