Monday 12 January 2015

The Lure of the Cult,..

Firstly, I want to say a massive thank you not only to Olrygg from Realm of Chaos for mentioning me in his new blogs post, but to everyone who has popped by to check out my pile of guff.  So rad to be featured by such a sick hobby journal and so good to think that my stuff might inspire new projects and whatnot. Anyway, enough gushing, onto the little men!

There was always something alluring about the Cultist forces listed in the second edition of 40k; the was just enough fluff to ignite the spark of interest, but little enough rules and miniature support to make developing a force a real challenge to create and play with. Despite always wanting a Cultist force of some persuasion as a kid, I never had the money to make a real go of it. There was an abortive attempt at a Genestealer Cultist force using the third-hand remnants of old Space Hulk Hybrids and Necromunda proxies, but it never yielded the kind of army I imagined. That's why I'm kind of so bummed out on my recent, second attempt of a Genestealer Cult not really working out; maybe it was never meant to be!

Anyway, a more successful project came in last year when I found myself at the end of an army project. I was once again bitten by the old desire to create a Cultist force, though this time inspired both by nostalgia and the insane work coming from the spiky rat pack collective. This time around it was to be Chaotic in tone. Again, my main source of inspiration was from the late Rogue Trader and second edition 40k period, but more specifically from a certain piece of art. There is the most amazing Adrian Smith drawing of a group of Nurgle Cultists in Codex Imperialis that for me, defines a Chaos Cultist force better than any other illustration. The version below however is taken from the Lost and Damned book.

Utterly brutal. Adrian Smith ist kreig.

The picture has such weight to it, you can almost feel the press of bodies as the pestilent masses push against the swamped marines to the left and forward towards the viewer. The work has a distinctly unhealthy, tainted feel to it, all of the subjects being somewhat warped and damaged versions of the people they once were. However, they are all seemingly vulnerable in their barely-armoured state, yet give off such an air of brutality and madness that they still inspire great terror.  My modelling and painting skills are nowhere near good enough to do justice the the illustration above, so I resolved to model this army in the spirit of this picture. I also wanted to create a Nurgle themed army that didn't look overly Nurgley either, so played with the idea that the force is made up of Cultists and Imperial Guard from a recently turned renegade force. Thankfully the task was made easier by the availability of the excellent cultist miniatures from the ubiquitous Dark Vengeance boxed set. With them as a base and with some Imperial Guard and Forgeworld bits, I got (albeit slowly) to work. The end result were these guys.

Don't look under the bucket.

Okay, so it's a massive cliche to be using this guy for anything these days, but he's just so perfect. It's no wonder GW capitalised on his success and came out with those Blightknights recently. This loveable brute acts as the leader of the force, hence why he's the gribbliest looking one. There's no major conversion work on this guy, just a weapon change and some guitar wire. Stoked that I finally found a use for the Tamiya buckets I've amassed over the years! One massive breakthrough with this force was the use of Laimian medium for mixing flesh transitions - where has that stuff been all my life? It's especially useful on large, flat areas of skin. Well worth trying!

Distinctly unhealthy.

This is the only close-up shot I have of the 20 cultists I haven but they're all very much the same. Some of them have hoods sculpted up from the original heads as a nod to the Smith artwork and some of them have buckets over them instead because er,.. buckets! In all seriousness, the buckets were a little nod to the dark humour that permeates the earlier version of the 40k universe and it balanced out the grimness of the Forgeworld stuff in a kind of Mad-Max way. Other than that, all of them feature heavy weathering and differing levels of blood smears on weapons and hands. The FW apostate preacher at the front was especially fun to paint, so many differing textures to play with.

Love Sentinals, such great models.

The force has two Sentinals, both pretty similar to the other in terms of paintwork and armourment. The motif on the placard has been lifted from a John Blanche Plague Marine illustration from the original Codex Chaos.

Improvised weapons are awesome.

Managed to snag this fella from ebay super cheap as he was originally covered in several lumpy paint-jobs. Thankfully he stripped easily and there wasn't that much missing from him. Love the narrative behind this figure, the up-rooted street light really gives the impression of hulking power. Mark Bedford made an incredible job of the Vraks renegade range; all the classic GW tropes are there, but all turned up to 11 in terms of grimdarkness.

It's all gone a bit Event Horizon,..

This renegade pysker is one of the most disturbing figures Forgeworld has ever produced; well done Mark Bedford on the grimdark front! I think the things where his eyes are are supposed to be bolts or screws, neither having any business being in that area! It also looks like he's wearing someone else's skin over his face, so that's why there's a horrific/comical amount of blood.

Every army needs at least one tanky-thing.

This is the first new version of the Chimera chassis I've painted and it was okay - I kind of preferred the original with its silly one-eyed skull motif thing. The Wyvern turret thing was fun to assemble and paint though. As always, weathering tanks is a joy, especially when you get to do old regimental markings and stuff!

The completed force on my modded Necromunda tile.

Here they are, the Opridian Seditionists (okay, so not all of the fluff was nicked from second edition) ready to ruin somebodies day. I doubt they'd ever be winning any battles, but I'm sure they'd at least ruin the carpet or something. I came third in the GW Chester Armies on Parade competition in the end which I was stoked with as there were some amazingly painted forces entered. I'd like to build on them more in the future, perhaps using some of the Empire flagellant figures as a base for more Smith-esque cultists. The idea of a swarming mass of cannon-fodder baring down on a small, elite army is also quite exciting!

So yeah, Cultist themed armies will always have a soft spot in my heart and will always inspire me, no matter how many times I leaf through old codices and magazines. They'll never be popular as mainstreams armies as they're difficult to win anything with without diluting them with predictable allies. On the plus side however, for smaller skirmish games or narrative campaigns, I imagine they'd be characterful and fun things to play with and make great side projects as you don't need too many models for them. There's also so many avenues of modelling and painting ideas to go down, so if you're looking to challenge yourself you can't go wrong with a good Cult!

Unless you bump into the Rev Jim Jones that is,...


  1. They look great.. but I can't help thinking that man with the bucket on his head should be a KFC bucket lol

    1. Haha, the temptation was there! I've load of them left over, so that will probably end up happening!

  2. i love what you've done with these cultists...I remember the picture well and it disturbed me as teen and still does now. You have done an excellent job of capturing its atmosphere with your minis.

    1. Thanks so much for checking them out! Yeah, there is something about nearly all of Smith's art that remains with you after the fact, wish I could put my finger on what it is exactly!

  3. Nice work indeed - Mad Max came to mind when I saw the first figure

    1. Thank you! I think Mad Max has an awful lot to answer for - can't wait to see the new film that's out this year.

  4. Really nice work!
    Adrian Smith's art is the shizz!

    1. Cheers! Smith is the dude. Keep meaning to buy that new HATE project he's got on the go right now, looks insane.

    2. I'll have to give it a look =)