Friday, April 22, 2011

Dactylis - Project De-Sluggify 2.0

To build up some content on the site, I'm going to be posting a few of my past projects that were kind of like milestones in my development as a sculptor. I'll call them "Old Strains," and you can feel free to check them out if you're curious.

11 Dactylis_painted

Though I initially created the Exocrine for Moloch (hence his applying his brush/scheme to the beast), due to certain matters of sentimentality and friendship, he gifted the finished model back to me. However, we made the exchange with the understanding that I would create him an even better version of a Carnifex-sized gunbeast to make up for the lack of Exocrine. For our next tandem effort, I would move on to the next Tyranid beast from the old Epic line that I hoped to DeSluggify: The Dactylis.

Or, as we'd come to call it on the board, The Ol' Tomato Chucker. The Dactylis had always been a kind of supersized Biovore, intended for laying down ordnance support in the form of spore mines. However, where the old Epic Exocrine still had a cannon growing out of its back for the purpose of long range fire support, the Dactylis--in some twisted bit of old-school Tyranid Fluff logic--elected to physically hurl its payload at its targets using long, catapult-like arms. 

Hence the "Tomato Chucker," and we'd be having none of that silliness on my watch. Instead, I had the idea of making the Dactylis a kind of Carnifex-sized Biovore sporting two spore-launching cannons on its back. However, I also wanted to use this creature as an opportunity to explore an idea I'd been rolling around in my head for heavily armoured Tyranid creatures.

Taking part of my inspiration from Warren Beattie's masterful Tyrant Guard revisionary concept sketches (from back in 3rd edition when the Tyrant Guard still had ridiculous spineshields):
Tyrant Guard
Tyrant Guard
...and the other part from the official concept sketches produced by Roberto Cirillo for GW in 4th edition:
Tyrant Guard
Tyrant Guard
I came up with the idea of Tyranid Gunbeast that would have movable armour plates and others mounted on its forelimbs that, when positioned accurately, would present a unified armoured front: an impenetrable wall of carapace plates that it could deploy when responding to withering amounts of incoming fire.

I rationalized that, as it's carrying around a clutch of very explosive spore mines, the Dactylis could stand to benefit from such an armour system. In hindsight, this makes little sense as a Dactylis would, likely, be sitting far back from the front lines, lobbing its spores long-distance, and it is the tank-hunting Exocrine that would be more in need of such armour. Let's chalk that mistake up to a lesson learned ;)

So with this unified armoured front firm in my mind, I set to work on bigenning and armouring up a plastic carnifex.

01 Dactylis WIP
02 Dactylis WIP
03 Dactylis WIP
04 Dactylis WIP
05 Dactylis WIP
06 Dactylis WIP
07 Dactylis WIP
08 Dactylis WIP

Here's how it came out in the end. Looking back on it, I'm still really pleased with the overall shape of the creature, but I'm pretty disappointed with how I handled the back cannons. I think I could have made them look a little more dynamic than the current "two logs" design. Further, Moloch called me on a point that I'd been stumped on: What, precisely, to do with those crushing claws beneath the shield arms. I pulled a real ass move and just mailed the model to him to let him figure them out, making a vague suggestion that he should embed them in the ground of the base or something.

What a prick I am.

09 Dactylis WIP
10 Finished Dactylis

But, of course, despite my reservations about how good a job I did or didn't do, Moloch always makes me look good with his paint jobs:

12 Dactylis_painted _1_
13 Dactylis WIP

And here they both are: the brothers together at last!


And here's the thread on Warpshadow back where it all came together.


  1. I saw pictures of this online so i was looking everywhere for how to buy it. Guess I know what I was never able to find one for sale. It was a custom work, beautiful and amazing though. Honestly the coolest model I have ever seen for Warhammer

    1. Yyyep! It was custom sculpted and converted by me...which isn't you say you couldn't buy one: you'd just have to commission me to make one for you :D

    2. Not sure if my reply went through the first time, so i'll try one more time. About how much for that commission (rough estimate).

    3. Sorry Paul. Your comment got flagged as spam, and I only just caught it.

      If you email me, we can talk commissions. I'm modernsynthesist ( at ) gmail ( dot ) com

  2. are you still selling these still or if you know where i can get them online

    1. Umm, this is a custom sculpt that was commissioned. I was never selling casts of the model.

      However, I'm working on a commission for a newer version of this model for someone right now. Thus, if you're interested in commissioning one, I could make one for you.