Ever since Butcher2’s theme list came out at the start of Mk2, I have been fantasizing about my own horde of customized berserkers, but as I can’t stand duplicated sculpts in my models and hence feel the need to repose and individualize each model with small added details, I couldn’t bring myself to get the ‘Mad Dogs of War’ theme list, repeating four 12 years old metal sculpts over 40+ times… For me that is simply unacceptable (this is just one of my many OCDs), therefore I have been keeping an eye out on the market for alternative bare-chested muscly warriors that I could convert into ‘new and improved’ Doom Reavers.
Initially (years ago) the best fit I found were the ‘old’ Warhammer fantasy Chaos marauders with flails, but I didn’t particularly like their sculpts, so that plan was put on hold until recently, when GW finally released the new Age of Sigmar Blood Reavers with great weapons box (just what I was waiting for!). Granted, I will spend several hours cutting/scraping/filing off assorted marks of Khorne and other ‘clutter’ from the Citadel models, but overall the sculpts are of the usual GW high production quality, for a surprisingly acceptable price (20 models per box, meaning I can make 3 units of Doom Reavers from each GW kit). The current plan includes at least six differently themed units (maybe going as far as 10 units, if I get more ideas down the line), each squad with a uniquely shaped Fell blades (all my Orgoth-styled weapons will have the same green glow, so I decided to differentiate the squads of madmen by the outline of their swords).
Vanilla Fell blade:
As a ‘proof of concept’ the first unit I converted were ‘plain Vanilla reavers’, mimicking the original PP models, mainly to see if I can actually turn GW Blood Reavers into convincing Doom Reavers and to set a ‘baseline’ for comparison and contrast of future units and their individual themes. Let us start with their characteristic cursed swords (Vanilla version):Like I have done several times for my cursed weapons, I first cut the desired outline of my custom Fell blade out of 0.5 mm thick plasticard, scaling it so that the blade is as tall as the model wielding it (since the GW Reavers are slightly beefier models, my swords are also slightly bigger than the original, as you can see on the right end of the picture above). Next I sculpted the soul storm pattern in the middle of the blades, let it cure and added the cutting edge and borders (for a more detailed explanation of this process check out: Circle of Doom 02 – Orgoth Blades ). As usual I then made a silicone mold of my ‘green’ and re-cast in resin 6 copies of my sculpted sword to later equip my unit with. With that taken care of, let us get to the time-consuming part of this project…
In the GW box set you get 4 sprues providing 2x 10 unique bodies (legs and torso together) that you can combine as you wish with 2x 10 unique two handed weapon arms. Out of the 10 poses 7 require ‘minimal’ cleaning up and reposing, while the last 3 bodies require a bit more hacking and slashing to clear up. In a similar fashion, of the 10 arm pairs, 5 are great as they are (gripping the shafts close enough to be used for two handed swords) while the other 5 pairs will need some serious re-posing to work (to get the hands closer together). I plan to get around this inconvenience by using armor, chain-mail, fur and scaly hides to cover up the ‘surgery scars’ in future units, but for this first squad, I just tried to keep them as ‘clean and basic’ as I can, so I used the ‘more convenient’ (less cleaning up required) body and arm poses.On the left of the picture you can see the body used for this grunt and you might notice the ritually scarred mark of Khorne across the chest of the model. This and any other such details (shin/thigh armor plates, talismans of Khorne, swords…) have to be carefully removed without damaging the rest of the model (for the most part I used my hobby knife and for the finishing touches some fine grit modeling files) before you set out to apply putty on. Also I should point out that I ground off a portion of the front side of the models legs, to leave a flat area to later sculpt my shin armor on; I also chopped up the left leg at the knee and ankle to repose it slightly (its original stance was a bit too wide with the feet spilling off the base).I started by sculpting the typical shin armor pads to my model. First I made an elongated pentagonal plate, left it to dry then added the lower edge of the armor (and added the leather strap on the torso), left this layer to cure and finished off the shin guards by making some inverted pentagons again, curved slightly to act as knee-pads. As you’ve seen I purposefully split the sculpting process of this rather small detail in 3 different sittings, keeping the shapes of sculpted details in each sitting simple; the main reason is that we are working on a unit and need to reproduce these details consistently another 5-10 times (in this case I was sculpting the other 5 members of the unit in parallel to this model, so each detail you see also had to be repeated on the other models in the same 2 hour(-ish) sitting or the very next…). Another small detail that ties the unit together are the bandages/wrappings the original Doom Reavers have over their legs and arms; in my conversions that became a sort of ‘uniformed fashion statement’, as in any models that didn’t have this detail already, got some ‘extra’ bandages on the back of their boots.After finishing the leg armor I glued on the head and proceeded to scrape off its face; as we did for the legs, it is best to have an even base surface to sculpt on. Then I flattened a small ball of fresh green stuff on the ‘face’, using silicone tipped sculpting tools to round it up nicely, the ‘knife shaped’ tip of the classic metal sculpting tool to ‘cut off’ the edges of the mask (where the excess putty got pushed to the side) and neatly define the shape of my masks. When I was satisfied with the curvature of the the face plates I got one of my knitting needles with a 0.3 mm point and while the putty was still soft I pressed in the various holes for vision in an easily repeatable pattern (3-4-5-4-3 holes in vertical columns). At the same time I also added some ornate belt buckles on the leather straps on the torso (front and back). After that layer hardened completely I sculpted the hair and leather strap (meant to hold the mask) on the back of the head. For the arms again we first scrape off any extraneous details (especially demonic-looking armor plates or chaos mutations) and before pinning the limbs on the body I sculpted the characteristic bandages to cover up the area of the right forearm I filed-down previously. The left arm is typically covered in armor so I first made the main armor plate from elbow to wrist, let that dry, then added the smaller bit of ‘back hand armor’ and finally some more bandages to tie the bracers to the arms.For the shoulder armor I started with some simple armor plating over the biceps, let that layer cure and then flattened a small tube of fresh putty over the shoulder and like I did for the mask used silicone and metal sculpting tools to flatten/smooth out/cut off the edges and shape the shoulder pad (once the shape was neatly defined I used a small metal tube to press in the rivets like usual). Lastly I flattened a small ball of green stuff on the elbow and shaped it up as an elbow-pad to complete the armor covering the left arm and pinned on my resin ‘Vanilla Fell blade’.As I mentioned earlier, I have been sculpting all 6 models at the same time, so at this stage you can see how the individual troopers came out. They all followed the exact same steps, except for the unit leader, that I posed to more closely mimic the original Doom Reavers’ leader model. Here are the ‘extra steps’ to make the head trophy holding arm:First I picked a left arm from the Blood Reavers’ kit, that was in the right pose, filed off all the original armor plating (most of the forearm was covered, so I ended up clearing most of that limb, but that is also fine, since we would cover it all up with our own armor later on) and then pinned into it a severed bald head I found in my bits box. Once the arm with hanging head was attached to the body I also sculpted the clump of hair held in the fist (covering up the brass wire pin), let it dry and then added some loose hair on the front and sides of the head, while also adding smaller locks of hair spilling out of the fist’s grip (partly to cover up the ‘flatness’ in that area of the hand) and some time later I added some more hair on the back of the head to complete the coverage naturally.
For my usual ‘montage’ of painting steps lets take the leader model:I always start with the ‘zenith spray undercoat’ technique (first apply black undercoat over the entire model, then spray a grey coat from a 45 degrees angle and finally spray with some white from the top) and patiently and neatly apply all my base colors, adding some minor highlights to the dark green cloth of the pants and the reds of the armor. Next I seal everything with some spray varnish and apply some Burnt umber oil paint wash on all the warm colors. After a few rounds of feathering, scrubbing off with Q-tips and re-feathering, when I am happy with my shades, I leave the oil paints to dry overnight and then re-seal the model with another coat of spray varnish. On top of that I finally have some fun painting on all the highlights of the skin, reds, metals and the green glow of the screaming souls in the blades.And in this picture you can see each individual model in my first unit of plastic ‘Vanilla’ Doom Reavers. I am pretty happy with how they turned out, if I say so myself:) In case you were wondering as to why there is no blood on the blades (in spite of the leader holding a freshly chopped-off head), it is because I still haven’t yet decided on some finishing touches to all Orgoth weapons cutting edge and will likely paint them on all the models in the army at the same time. Then I will also add splattered blood on the blades and bases.Anyway here is the obligatory group shot of the swelling Red Army of Doom (It is finally starting to look more like an army list…). Hope you like it:D
Well this concludes another hobby article, but as usual if you have any questions, suggestions or comments check out this article series’ thread on the Muse-on-Minis forums ( -Linky- ).