PAINTING AND CONVERTING - Chimeras

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Well, after over a half a decade of playing Imperial Guard, it was finally time to get myself some chimeras.

The journey began when I finally came up with a vehicle color scheme with a sentinel, and then everything was solidified when I made my russes. After that, I went back and repainted my old chimera blanks as a practice for how well the theme would transfer over to the chimera chassis.

Now, when I made these blanks, the idea was that I'd be able to do ANYTHING chimera-based with them. What I didn't know at the time, though, is that the top part of the chimera doesn't actually fit all that well onto the blank chassis. It looks fine when glued down, but that would defeat the entire purpose of having a blank. I tried to think of a few creative ways around this, but it became obvious pretty quickly that I'd just have to buy more stuff.

The thing was, though, that I still had all of the chimera parts from the chimera blanks, so all I needed was new chassis, and I'd still have the rest of the bitz. I went to the internet and picked up a pair of unassembled hulls (so, everything required to make a chimera blank, in this case, the non-artillery sprue from a manticore), and was good to go.

Once I got them and got them glued together, I spent some time thinking about what I wanted. I had a few ideas, but wanted to keep this all pretty low-key. I've been doing a lot of 40k work recently and don't want to get too burned out with an over-ambitious project. Having what I wanted more or less planned out, I went and bought a third chimera, and got ready to do some batch vehicle building.

One of the changes I wanted to make was with the side hatches. The reason a chimera gets five fire points from the hatch isn't because it's a big hatch. It's designed to replace the old rule where two dudes could fire from the hatch, and you could also fire the hull-mounted lasguns. When they ditched the old lasgun rule, but kept the 5-shots rule, it kind of implied that there are three guys shooting their own weapons out of the little circular side hatches.

This meant that those ugly ball-lasgun-things were going to have to go, and something that looks like people could open them up and shoot their own meltaguns out was in. For this, I'm going to use something I've seen others use - a wire mesh made of screen door material.

This particular conversion was pretty easy. Just cut out some screen door material, and greenstuff it in.

Just cram it in and glue the hell out of it. That will hold just fine. Just make sure you don't put down too much GS, or else it will squish out and you'll see it from the holes.

That done, the second thing I wanted to change was the hatch. Almost everyone I've seen with chimeras has some strange way of showing what's in them, whether it's putting a model behind, trailing the vehicle or, more commonly, standing on top. That's always looked silly to me. Surely there would be a way of having the model popping out of the hatch, right?

To begin, of course, the hatch would have to be removable. The solution seemed pretty easy, actually.

I started by gluing some plasticard to the back of one of the doors. Then I just dry-fitted the door into the hatch gap, put some glue on the top of the tabs, and then just stuck the other door down.

Throw some handles on the top, and you have a door that easily fits in the slot, but is also easily removable.

I then tried to put a model in, but the floor was just too low, so only the head was going to stick out, at best. As such, these things would need to sit on some sort of platform.

I decided to make the plaform based on the small infantry base. I basically traced a base on a bit of plasticard and cut it out, and then used that template to cut out the tops. That way the platform was a bit bigger than the base. Then I had to decide on just how much I'd want the models to pop out, and cut out some plasticard of the right height.

It was just a matter of putting it together and gluing it down in the right place.

Once that was done, I primed and then painted all of the inside stuff black.

Before gluing the cab down.

With this done, there was only a question of if I wanted to do some alterations on the turret.

The first thing I needed to do was to make the weapons swappable. The hull ones are easy. I just don't glue them down, but the turret was going to take some amount of work.

I decided that what I really liked was the sensor array shield of the heavy bolter more than the plain one of the multilaser and heavy flamer. I could only have one or the other of the shields, which meant that there was going to be some adaptation either way, so I might as well pick the one I liked better.

So, to start with, I cut out a hole through the back of the plate where the heavy bolter would fit in, and then mate the appropriate fitting into the drum mount that the plate fits on.

Then, all I needed to do was to extend the back of the heavy bolter so that it had more of a long, square pin, rather than just the tiny nub it came with.

With the multilaser, though, it couldn't have its usual sideways orientation. That's fine by me, because I always hated how that looked. The conversion was really just to chop off one of the flanges, mount it sideways, and then add more to the nub to make it more of a pin like the heavy bolter.

That and I also changed the end to get rid of that stupid pin-and-sleeve thing and mounted a piece of aluminum tubing in the sleeve to make it look more like a cannon.

The pins fit in okay, but it helped when I glued in some greenstuff and smushed it into the slot, sort of making a reverse mould, and making the pin fit in very snugly.

With this necessary bit of conversion work, it was a matter of if I wanted to do anything aesthetic.

For this, there were two things that I was looking for. Firstly, the chimeras come with searchlights, but I thought that the side-mounting way that the kit had it was dumb. I'd much rather have something that matches the upright orientation found on the russes.

I started out by making a half-box thing to stick on the back of the turret. It took a lot of measuring and plenty of trial and error, but I finally got what I wanted. Then it was a matter of wrapping a bit of plasticard around the bottom of the searchlight, and mounting it to a little circle cut out of plasticard.

And then mounting that all on to the turret.

And that was all pretty well. There was only one more simple thing I wanted to add. Once again, to make it look more like my russes. That thing is to put some side armor on the turret. It's not just to make it like the russes, though, it's also because the regular chimera turret looks rather strange to me, given that it has no rivets on a model otherwise coated with them.

To start out with, I needed to cut out some armored plate that was basically the size of the turret sides, but smaller.

And then glued it to the side of the turrets, got out my thin-gauge plasticard rod, cut it into tiny pieces, and glued them on as rivets.

Which looks pretty neat, I think.

Basically, I fixed all of the little annoyances, but didn't want to really go farther than that. I had to paint them all, and was also working on other stuff after all. Satisfied with the conversion work, and with a bit of kitbash bitz thrown on, I went on to painting.

Having already painted most of the chimeras, things went pretty easily. The only problem was my stupid agrax earthshade. It turned out that the white color that sunk into the cracks of my chimera chassis was, in fact, a result of the wash itself. Furthermore, it turned out that it was a residue. Frustrated, I scraped some of it off, but then relied on a new pot of nuln oil.

Also, the agrax didn't go on smoothly. It kind of went on splotchy and thick. The end result is darker and grungier than I wanted it. In the end, though, there was nothing for it. It's not like I was going to repaint them by that point. Live and learn, I suppose.

The end results were certainly good enough:

And some shots of how they look like on the table.

It will certainly do. They match the russes well, and... well... they're chimeras.

While I was finishing things up here, I was already starting to work on my next project. Russes are great, but they're also slow. The solution? Hellhounds!