Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Building a Lictor Alpha or Lictor Prime (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 Tyranid 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 Tyranid 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: Tentacle Maker Box at Greenstuff Industries), 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 Prime / Deathleaper Alpha:

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 Tyranid 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 Tryanid 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 Tyranid Lictor Prime used mostly bits found in the Tyranid Hive Tyrant kit, these smaller Tyranid 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 Tyranid Lictors and the larger Tyranid 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 Tyranid Lictor 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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