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.

Kryptman's Gambit

If there was one Inquisitor who could have the level of gall needed to try to use a live Tyranid as a tool for hacking the Hive Mind, it had to be Inquisitor Kryptman. And, rather conveniently, Moloch was already working on a force of Kryptman's personal titans, with his first proof-of-concept Warhound having already captured a Gold in the 2009 Golden Demon competition at Games Day Toronto:

Marco Schulze / Hive Fleet Moloch's Tyranid Hunter Warhound for the Ordo Xenos / Deathwatch

With this project under his belt, Moloch was already dreaming bigger: planning for a Reaver titan in the same vein. For the Warhound Moloch had commissioned Hydra to sculpt the Tyranid-slaying relief design on the carapace and on other parts of the titan (here's a link to the point where Hydra discusses this work in our Xenos Alchemist interview with him). For the Reaver, he asked Hydra to do the same on a much larger scale (here's the bit in the video where Hydra discusses the inspiration for that project), and Moloch has already posted painted photos of Hydra's work on the Hive Fleet Moloch Instagram account:

But this time Moloch wanted to make it a full team project, with both Hydra and I contributing parts to the build. As we came up with this idea back in 2012, I can no longer if it was my idea or Moloch's (he swears it was mine), but we thought up the concept of Kryptman's captive synapse creature being a Tyranid Prime. And wouldn't it be gruesome if this STILL LIVING captive was somehow strapped to the structure of the Reaver, acting at once as weapon and trophy!

Here's the flavour text I came up with for the device, alongside it's official title: #KryptmansGambit


The device known as Kryptman's Gambit is one of the most foolhardy creations to have ever emerged from the secret and, some say heretical, manufactorums of the secretive Ordo Xenos. From his extensive work studying and purging the Tyranid menace from Imperial Space, Inquisitor Kryptman hypothesized that the ultimate weapon he could deploy against the Great Devourer would be one that could turn the Hive Mind—the unifying, gestalt consciousness of the Tyranids—back against itself.

For decades the Inquisitor had utterly exhausted scores of gifted psykers attempting to force his way through the Hive Mind's defences, each time failing. From this fruitless effort, he deigned that no human mind could ever infiltrate something so alien, and were he to ever manage it, he would need to countermand the mind of one of the aliens for his purposes. 

Kryptman hypothesized that, with a psychically resonant device tuned to the correct ephemeral wavelengths, and a willing captive to act as a psychic key, he could create an antenna that would finally allow him to broadcast into the Hive Mind.

Once correctly calibrated and affixed to his personal Reaver Titan, such a device could useful in a number of different strategies: from locating elusive vanguard strains of Tyranids on a planet by sending out a synaptic call, to rendering his formidable war machines completely invisible to the Tyranid swarm by broadcasting a repeating "all clear" message, allowing him to slip, undetected, into the heart of the swarm to purge key synaptic nodes.

Though the Adepts and Servitors of the Ordo built the device to Lord Kryptman's exact specifications, none were keen to join him for the Gambit's first field test.


Crucifying a Tyranid Prime

He lives for Kryptman's sins

Very early in the process, we settled on the idea that the Tyranid Prime powering Kryptman's Gambit would need to be alive but wholly subjugated to the will of the Ordo Xenos Inquisitor. And when it comes to symbolic signifiers for such a relationship, I had trouble thinking of one more potent than the idea of crucifixion, so that was the pose we settled on for the captive creature. 

When it comes to the Tyranid Prime itself, I built the majority of it back in the 2012-2013 period. It was my first Tyranid Prime conversion, and it laid the groundwork for a lot of the ideas I've reused since then in my other Tyranid Prime conversions. For example, this was the first time I elected to use the tail from a Tyranid Ravener as a more imposing lower torso/tail for a Tyranid Prime, and it worked so well that I've settled on this as my standard choice for primes now.

For the torso, I took a page out of the Book of BitsofBocks, repurposing the tail section from a Carnifex to act as a ribcage.

And as is well documented on my other Tyranid Prime commission, I used Gargoyle torsos (one of my favourite Tyranid bits ever) for some stompy lower legs, electing to remove the standard hooves we see on most Tyranids for more of a foot/paw option with actual digits. 

The rest of the Tyranid Prime is pretty standard, with stock rending claw arms, and some stock scything talon arms with the talons replaced with plasticard to get a more hooked shape.

The main place where this Tyranid Prime differs from what you can pull out of the Tyranid Warrior kit is the head. Though my other choices for the conversion make the creature more imposing or unique from your rank-and-file Tyranid Prime model, I knew that they head had to be a significant departure as it would be where you could really see the character of the model. I fancied it up with a larger, ridged carapace, some mandibles from a Ravener head, and some large carapace spikes at the back.

It was also the main place where I would try to communicate one of the more grotesque elements of this concept: that the crucified Tyranid Prime is STILL ALIVE!

As the piece would be mounted on a titan, it would look very much like a trophy: a dead Tyranid, strung up on a Titan. But the whole point of Kryptman's Gambit is that the creature needs to be alive for the weapon to work. I thought a good way to do this was to have the head looking to one side, and to give it feeder tendrils that looked to be in motion, rather than hanging down limply.

The Crucifix =][=

With the Kryptman's Gambit project, the Tyranid Prime component was never in question. From the get-go, I had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted to create the Prime, and which Tyranid bits I'd use to do it. 

What stalled me from the off was what the Prime would be mounted to. I came up with the idea of a giant Inquisitorial =][= pretty early on. However, being someone who is far more comfortable creating organics from scratch than with mechanics, thinking of having to build a giant I out of plasticard was pretty much giving me hives. I tried to pass off this part of the project multiple times, suggesting that SURELY it made more sense for Moloch to do this part himself, but he was having none of it.

I honestly think that, were it not for the need to build an Inquisitorial crucifix, this project would have been completed YEARS ago.

Fortunately, there was an unforeseen benefit to all of my sandbagging. In the intervening years, CAD sculpting and 3D printing had come a LONG way, and in early 2020 I had a brain fart, realizing I could pass off the part of the project I was least looking forward to on someone who actually had experience creating mechanical stuff and could output the finished product perfectly!

So I set to work with a 3D modeller from the interwebs to create a cross suitable for the Tyranid Prime.

An early digital mockup for the =][=

After a lot of back and forth, he sent me a preliminary filament print of the design to check the scale.

First test print of the =][=

...and it was decent, but we determined it was of a scale that kind of dwarfed the Tyranid Prime, so I provided feedback on where I'd like to see it re-scaled.

After some more messing around, he sent through the final print in resin, and though it didn't seem to be that very different from the original, it was much better suited for showcasing the Tyranid Prime.

Next up I needed to build in the grubbins that were keeping the Tryanid Prime restrained but alive. 

On the front of the crucifix, I worked up some physical shackles for the creature's arms.

As well as some psychic shackles for its potent mind!

Not really sure if those are meant to be psychic amplifiers or dampeners, but whatever their purpose, they look the part (I stole them from the Blackstone Fortress Negavolt Cultists). 

The next bit I call the Mind Mite:

I built it from two Adeptus Titanicus Knight powerfists (and if you have yet to truly embrace Adeptus Titanicus bits for use at 28mm scale, you're really missing out!), and the purpose of this device was clearly command and control.

Further, ever since my earliest imaginings of the captive Tyranid Prime, I always had wanted it to have a big Inquisitorial =][= sigil branded across its head carapace. I pictured it serving a purpose like the crimson letters of old: advertising that this Xenos monstrosity has been branded by the holy Inquisition! In fact, I was so sold on the idea that I bought a whole frame of Forgeworld brass etched sigils just to be able to steal one for this purpose!

However, I didn't want to just glue the sigil to the carapace, so I decided to mount it on the Mind Mite.

Mathieu the Mirthy Mind Mite

Moloch was not sold on the design, but I won him over by adding a little skull to it and lecturing him at length about how this =][= had been INTEGRAL to my concept from the very beginning!

And I'm glad he agreed for I now feel this is likely the single most Inq28 bit of the whole model!

For the detail on the shackles, I turned again to the Negavolt Cultists and some extra fine brass wire.

For filling in the machinery on the back of the crucifix that would power the whole Gambit, I took another page out of BitsofBocks playbook. I've featured the art of Tom Box here on the blog in the past, and the man himself is AS talented when it comes to repurposing bits as he is when it comes to drawing. If you are not yet following Tom on Instagram, you really need to.

Anyway. When Tom was working up some awesome boat-y stand-ins for a nautical-themed Genestealer Cult commission, and all of his piping was based on Adeptus Titanicus scenery. I was really impressed with how well they still fit at 28mm scale, so I fully ripped off that idea for the back of the crucifix, leaning heavily on the AT scenery box.

Then I just had to add in some controllers, and fill in some gaps with some greenstuff wires and tubing, created using the Greenstuff Industries Tentacle Maker Toolbox.

However, being primarily a Tyranid player, and thus being generally opposed to this whole business of enslaved Tyranid constructs, I made sure to include an extra little narrative easter egg on the back of the crucifix, suggesting that, perhaps, not everything is going to go exactly according to plan for Inquisitor Kryptman... >:)

Gee. I SURE HOPE that wasn't anything ESSENTIAL :D

The Final Gambit

Here's a look at the completed version of the Kryptman's Gambit build, which I shot just before packing it up and sending it off to Moloch in Germany. I'm really looking forward to seeing how he paints it, and finally seeing it mounted on the finished Reaver Titan!

Here are some final photos of the build. 

No comments:

Post a Comment