Saturday, November 19, 2022

Building a Better Lictor (Project Deathleaper)

 The Tyranid Lictor has been a part of my hobby DNA since I started Warhammer 40k back in 1997. In second edition, I ran four of the beasts, each equipped with voltage field biomorphs, and when the Inquis Exterminatus art book was released in 2000, I fell in love with Jes Goodwin's original sketch for the Lictor.


So much so that not only was I determined to convert one of my own to match this artwork, I even felt the need to tell Jes about my plans when I met him for the first time at a Games Day Canada in the early 2000's.


That was my first-ever Tyranid conversion, and the first time I ever tried sculpting on models. I was a bit hamstrung by my materials (greenstuff was expensive and came in small quantities, so I worked with plumbers putty :P ), but I didn't make out horribly!

But that was the last work I ever did on a Tyranid Lictor for nearly two decades! The 3rd edition pewter model failed to inspire me, and though the most recent pewter/finecast edition has grown on me, never so much that I felt the need to model one. In the back of my mind, I always thought I'd get to converting my own Tyranid Lictor one day, and when I did, I'd draw on the amazing sketches from Roberto Cirillo that came out in the interim!


Fast forward to early in 2021, when someone approached me with a commission to make not one but THREE Tyranid Lictors for them, all inspired by the unique Tyranid creature known as Deathleaper.


Since Deathleaper has always held a special place in my heart as the creature was initially created by the now-defunct Games Workshop Canada team, I JUMPED at the opportunity.

Though the client requested three Deathleapers, one was meant to be bigger and meaner than the rest, so I used a Hive Tyrant kit for this one, thinking of it as a Lictor Prime-type creature.

My first revelation in the build was inverting the tail that's meant to be used on a winged Tyranid Hive Tyrant. With very little modification, I was able to flip the tail to work well on a walking Lictor, with the tailing curling around as if it's ready to strike.


My next bit of insight came for the overhead mantis-style talons that are so iconic to Lictors. These are usually longer and more slender than your average scything talon arm, and when people use standard scything talons for them, it never works for me.

Enter the wings from the Tyranid Hive Tyrant kit—or, more specifically, the arms from the wings.


Once I'd trimmed the wing membranes from them, they were the perfect things for representing the overhead mantis scythe arms. But I knew I wanted to bring in more of Roberto Cirillo's cool Tyranid sketches into the build, and there's one particular sketch that has plagued me for years: his depiction of the Lictor's mantis claw with additional grasping digits on it and an end that looked like it could fire out as a flesh hook.


And that is precisely what I tried to replicate on the Tyranid Lictor Prime.


The last bit that I really wanted to get right was giving the Lictor Prime a head that didn't read as just another Tyranid Hive Tyrant and was a little closer to Deathleaper. I accomplished this with a face full of tentacles, compliments of the Greenstuff Industries tentacle roller (tell them Modern Synthesist sent you: ), with a piece from a Venom cannon feed in there to be what the tentacles mounted to, and then some little mandibles using the smallest, vestigial scything talons from the Zoanthrope kit.


Ok. Enough blathering about build. Here's the finished Tyranid Lictor / Deathleaper Prime:


And there he is absolutely dwarfing a standard Tyranid Lictor!

To compliment this dude I made two more standard Tyranid Deathleapers who were meant to be about the same size as a standard Tyranid Lictor. However, as is often the case with me, I can rarely keep something small when it can be bigger and buffer!


So those are my two beefy Tyranid Deathleaper-inspred Lictors on the far left and right, with a standard Lictor between them, as well as a conversion from putty-pusher extraordinaire, Greenstuffing, which actually helped inspire some aspects of my own conversions.

Here are some more photos for the upright one with my Tyranid Lictor barry, an envoy from Hive Fleet Hydra:


This version was meant to have a similar pose to it's Lictor Prime big brother: upright and ready to strike!

I also used this pose to illustrate how the mantis claws (Also inspired by Roberto's sketches for this one) deploy as you see the one on the creature's right is retracted, while the one on the left is firing out its flesh hook grapnel.

Though the Lictor Prime used mostly bits found in the Tyranid Hive Tyrant kit, these smaller Lictors were more of a hodge-podge of different Tyranid kits, including Tyranid Warriors, Tyrant Guard, Zoanthrope/Venomthropes, and even an Age of Sigmar Khorne Khorgorath bit for the tail tip!

Another bits hack that I was ridiculously pleased with on both these smaller Lictors and the larger Lictor Prime was the spikey protrusions on their mantis claws, for which I used teeth from the Tyranid Carnifex kit since I have about a million Carnifex heads lying around.


For the second Lictor-sized Deathleaper, I wanted to explore a pose that read more as "stalking" or "coiled menace," so I elected to have this one perched on a piece of terrain, with its mantis claws folded up.


And here's a shot of the whole happy family together, ready to head out to their forever home!


Hope you like them! And if you've got any questions about them, please leave them in the comments here.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Project #DominaNid3: Tyranid Dominatrix scratchbuild is complete!

So it has been a GOOD LONG TIME since I posted my last update on my #DominaNid3 Tyranid Dominatrix project, but I'm happy to report that, after what felt like a very long 2 years of off and on work, the BEAST IS COMPLETE!

Not to worry, little Termagant. I'll keep you safe.

Awww. You little guys think you're in charge of the swarm? That's cute!

As I did with the Dactylis build, I'll post another article a bit later showing the latter half of the build process, but, for now, let's revel in her completion! 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Converting Upright Termagants for the Viridian Stalkers Tyranid Killteam - #StandaGaunts

So just in time for the release of the new edition of Kill Team, I've become completely enamoured with a new take on the humble termagant. Namely: making them stand upright!

This dude was my proof of concept for the idea, and I honestly liked him so much that it wasn't long until he was joined by a friend...
...and then a whole bunch more!
I really liked how this new pose seemed to give your average gaunt more agency and individuality, but I didn't really understand it until a particularly brilliant person on Instagram pointed out the difference.

"Gaunts were kind of white noise in an army before. Not anymore."

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Introducing Hive Fleet Angrboda

If you've been following me for any time at all, you may know one key fact about me:

I don't paint.

I love building, converting, sculpting, but when it comes to painting, my hobby fire tends to dry up. I mean, I managed to grind through painting an entire Genestealer Cult force (helped mostly by an airbrush and a deadline), but, given the choice, I'd rather be sculting!

But then Contrast paints came along. And though they're not the be all and end all that the marketing campaign may have had us believe, they're a neat little hack for skipping a couple of boring steps in the painting process. And I firmly believe that they're the reason I've actually painted some Tyranids for the first time in a decade!

It all started with these two warriors, which I converted up to look a little smaller/slighter than your average warrior so that they could be used by my buddy Matt in our introductory game of Shadow War Armageddon (yes, I know that game is older than dust, but I had the rules and had an understanding of it, so we dusted it off when we played our first game in December of 2019):

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Xenos Alchemist: Talking Orks with GrimNGribbly

In the most recent episode of our Xenos Alchemist podcast, I chatted with one of my hobby idols from Instagram: GrimNGribbly.

If you're not familiar with Grim's work, we get into his work on his Cordyceps shroom cult and his orks, while also talking about Orks in general and how the new line for 40k unveiled so far stacks up against the classics. 

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Haemoxyte Conversion: A new unit for Haemonculus Covens

Welp. The new Dark Eldar/Drukhari codex finally dropped. I picked it up at release, and didn't expect too much new, assuming it would be a simple update for 9th edition. 

But then it hit me with a surprise! A new unit type for my other hobby love, Haemonculus Covens. 

This new unit, the Haemoxytes, are meant to represent elite Wracks, and they were the perfect excuse to dust off my drukhari and convert up a model to represent it.

Enter the dream combination of Delaque gangers from Necromunda, with Kaoric Acolytes from AoS, with a little Idoneth Namarti Reavers/Thralls.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Project #SwarmSentinel: Building Better Tyrant Guards

Ever since Games Workshop delivered us second edition ant-style Tyranid Warriors carrying picnic tables as our Tyrant Guard models, Tyranid hobbyists have been on a quest for better Guards. Warren Beattie and Roberto Cirillo got us close with each of their concepts for Guards, but it wasn't until the current plastic kit that we got a decent model.

Decent, I say, but not perfect. 

Because, let's face it: when it comes to acting as a shield wall for a Hive Tyrant, the current plastic guard models look more like something that would be the Tyrant's dog.

If we want to keep our Tyrants safe, we have to think BIGGER:

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Xenos Alchemist: A Review of Tyranid Design with Moloch & Hydra - #CreatureConference

This one has been a long time in the making. Back in the beginning of the pandemic, Moloch, Hydra, and I sat down to conduct a review of the newer parts of the Tyranid line. It wound up being a bit of a survey of our collective thoughts on Tyranid design, where the newer kits have hit the mark, and where they might have missed. 

And, to save it from just being three grey beards bitching about other people's designs, I kept a little surprise up my sleeve for the end of the video: a challenge that would make the three of us put our money where our collective mouths were. 

I'll save the surprise for your viewing, but the reactions I got from the Germans were pretty fantastic!

Anyway, if you love Tyranids and converting them, this is the video for you!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Converted Tyranid Tyrannofex - #Gunbeast4

In case you're not familiar with my past work on Tyranids, it could be said that I've got a THING for big, beefy Tyranids, and for Tyranid gunbeasts. So it should come as no surprise that my most recent Tyranid project consisted of marrying those two interest into a BIG BEEFY GUNBEAST!

As this is the fourth gunbeast I've made after my Exocrine, Dactylis, and upscaled Dactylis, I decided to organize my posts about the project under #Gunbeast4. 

When Life Hands You Lemons

It all started with me learning the hard way that, if a deal on the internet for a model kit seems too good to be true, IT LIKELY IS. 

I got what I thought were two Tervigon kits for a STEAL of a price...only to find out it was the seller who'd stolen from me when what I received in the mail were two shitty, chinacast recast of a Games Workshop Tervigon kit.

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Tyranid Prime Ordo Xenos Crucifix - #KryptmansGambit

Behold! The most foolhardy machination the Ordo Xenos could devise: Kryptman's Gambit.

This project has been a long time coming. 
Some time back in 2011-2012, Hive Fleet Moloch, Hydra and me synergized a mad concept: what if the Ordo Xenos, in their unmatched hubris, sought to capture a live Tyranid synapse creature with the goal of using it as some kind of synaptic terminal through which they could force access to the Hive Mind. What you see above is that very creature, and what follows is some of the history for how we came up with it, more photos of my work on it, and an idea of what's next for this hideous creation.