This article is the first of a new series I’ll be writing for MoM, focused mainly on the ‘hobby side’ of Warmachine and Hordes. In the series we will discuss conversion ideas, green stuffing tips and how to make your own ‘ghetto sculpting tools’ on a budget…
In my opinion sculpting is no different from painting models: if you have enough ‘brush control’ to free hand or layer, you have already enough skill to green stuff details on models and all you actually need are some tips and the patience to put them into practice.
Anyway to start off in grand style today we’ll take a look at the largest WM conversion I’ve done so far: Katyusha (aka Conquest). In this article I tried to organize in a comprehensive manner the build up from start to finish. Hope you like it…
As the names suggests, the main focus of this conversion are multi-rocket launchers. I have always preferred the look of multi-rocket pods over ordinary cannons and light artillery. Because I find the secondary batteries on my colossal a bit too ‘puny’, I decided I would, at the very least, swap those out for rockets…
While pondering on how to execute the conversion, I noticed the top of the red colossal with double cannons reminds me of the Mammoth tank from Rad alert 2 (one of the first RTS games I ever played), so it needed a beefier main gun turret, that would allow me to put more rocket pods on the model.
Another element, I wasn’t satisfied with, were the fists: not threatening enough for base P+S 22 weapons. You could add some sort of ‘blade fists’, ‘punching spikes’ or convert ‘bear claws’ like Black Ivan’s fist, but since I was on a rocket spree, I chose to go with ‘blasting fists’, akin to the Behemoth’s armor piercing blasting charges.
Bouncing ideas around with my brother, we re-designed the head and applied some other minor decorative details from the Behemoth (armored ‘loincloth’ and more spikes). The final sketch, before I started converting the actual model, was the following:
Colossals are the biggest models produced by PP so far and if you intend to take yours on any non-local event, you have to plan ahead on how you will transport it… I went with magnetizing the joint between torso and legs, both arms at the shoulder and the main gun turret. Nothing special there, but since some of the bigger pieces of the colossal are hollow you could run into some minor setbacks. In my case I accidentally drilled too deep into the ‘abdominal’ joint, meaning that magnet had no foothold. If you run in the same issue with your Conquest, here is how I solved the problem:
I cut two rectangular holes on the sides of the ‘lower torso’ of the jack, slid in a thick strip of plastic card (2 mm) and glued it in place. Then I cut off the excess sticking out from the sides and covered the holes with green stuff.
This is the most relevant detail (theme wise) and the one I have spent the most time experimenting on; I got the rockets right on the third try – this ‘trial and error’ process alone took up ¼ of the green stuff used overall…
The basic trick was ‘crafting’ a custom tool to make consistent ‘rocket warheads’ quickly (think something like a 3D stamp). First I drilled 4 mm holes in a precise pattern in some thick plastic card. Next I got some green stuff and ‘sandwiched it’ between the drilled plastic card and a flat surface, to force the fresh putty trough the holes I made. After that I took my custom ‘rocket stamp’ and pressed the bulging green stuff into rockets.
Once the fronts of my rocket pods were done, I made the pods’ boxes out of multiple layers of plastic card. I tried to follow the lines/inclinations of the existing elements, so that my additions would fit in with the original model’s overall look.
While building up the details I made an effort to use a coherent style, or copy details already present on the original. The most obvious of these details are the ‘square clamps’ on the edges of most of my scratch built pieces, that help bring my added elements together and not feel out of place…
There is nothing particularly wrong with the original head (it is a matter of personal taste), but since I can sculpt, might as well change it up:
The first step was clipping off the more pointy edges (the forehead and sides of the ‘jaw’) and making a longer jaw out of green stuff. From there on it was just a matter of patiently building up the layers of detail on the face and crown…
This is a purely decorative detail (even on normal sized warjacks), but it fills out the silhouette of the model and gives me another little thing that makes my colossal different from the stock pose:
Here I just cut out the shape of the armor plate on a thick piece of plastic card, covered its front with green stuff and sculpted the layers of plating, the border and finally the spikes (taken from the Behemoth).
As mentioned at the beginning, for the fists I decided to go with Blasting punchers, like the Behemoth, but one detail that always annoyed me about the Big B was: ‘How does it reload the warheads between strikes?’ With that in mind I needed a design that included a sensible reload system. Since I like the look of ammo magazines with visible rounds, I used that (looking at it now, it resembles a Grey knight’s Storm bolter):
First I glued a row of plastic cylinders (no need to worry too much about the cylinders being all exactly of the same length, since we will hide the edges right in the next step…) on the underside of the forearm, added the side walls of the magazine and finally glued some strips of thin (0.5 mm) bendable plastic card on top to close up the magazine, while using green stuff to fill in gaps or uneven surfaces. After that I just made the shape of the loading mechanism out of plastic card and used the putty to give it more sloped sides (not just perpendicular like a box).
At the same time I built up the front end of the ‘blaster’ with the same tool I made the rockets with, just in this case I sculpted some extra rings around the warheads to give them more bulk. Once the front explosive charges were done I built up the rest of the ‘box’ and added details like on the rocket pods.
When both components were finished I glued them together and this is how the Blasting punchers looked at this stage:
Main cannon’s turret
Another visual reference that factored in this conversion is the Mammoth tank from the old PC RTS game Red alert 2. I wanted to make a tank turret, which would both increase the perceived size of the main gun and allow for rocket pods to be added to the model in a sensible manner…
The first step was to modify the barrels of the main cannon. I filed off the gun’s original underside and in several steps built up additional pneumatic pistons and gears to carry and stabilize such long barreled cannons.
Next in line was the actual turret. I copied roughly the shape of the Conquest’s shoulders and added the same details I’ve been using in my other additions so far. After this last bit was done I just pinned the various elements together:
Looking at the assembled turret it became evident it was still too empty on top, so I copied the triple row of big rivets from the top of the model’s shoulders (and applied that pattern to the blasting fists as well…).
Katyusha (aka Supa-Extremoth):
So, after 3 weeks of patient crafting and the occasional blood spilling involved with that much cutting, I am pleased to present my first completed colossal conversion:
Afterwards it took me another 3 weeks to paint this colossal model by brush (what I wouldn’t give for an airbrush…), but finally here’s Katyusha in all her glory:
That will be all for this week’s article. My next article will most likely be about conversion ideas and concept drawings for the other colossals and gargantuans… In the meantime, if you have any questions, requests or suggestions for future sculpting articles leave a comment below.
P.S. Answering Moonova’s question about the magnetization of colossals:
As you can see in the pictures I tried to keep the model in compact pieces, that would be easy to arrange in a standard KR pluck foam tray (10-11 cm tall for the legs and torso, thinner trays for the turret and arms if needed). The main turret has just magnets (since it is pretty light), while the other joints have both magnets and thick pins. The reason for the pins is that the easiest way to detach magnets is to slide them laterally and the pins keep them from sliding off each other, greatly improving the ‘hold’ these magnets then have.
Hope that helps. Cheers:)