PAINTING AND CONVERTING - Manticore

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So, I've been working on my guard army for nearly eight years now. During that time, I've been an active player for about 3 of them, for over a hundred games. At least half of them have had a Leman Russ of one variant or another on the table. Yet, in all that time, I've never managed to field a painted russ.

There are a few main reasons for this. Firstly, I've long disliked how russes look, and have made many, many attempts to convert my original russ kit that I bought. It has always been in vain. Without having a design that I liked, it stood to follow that I never bothered to paint it. And even if I did, I have had a bad, brief history with painting vehicles. They always seemed to show brush strokes, and always looked... well... bad. That I didn't have a vehicle color scheme that I liked only made this problem worse. And so I've been painting infantry instead.

A few things have changed, though. Firstly, I'm starting to run out of infantry to paint. It turns out that when you have 200 guardsmen, you don't wind up needing any more on an average gaming night - you already have the weapons upgrades that you're likely going to want. Secondly, a couple of months ago, I bought a sentinel. Working with this, I FINALLY got down what I want my vehicle paint scheme to look like.

Also, for said project, I discovered washes, now shades. I've never been a big fan of washes before, and I guess I'm not all that sold on them for infantry models, but I was really shocked by how awesome they make vehicles look with such minimal effort. With a paint scheme I liked, a way to make them look good quickly, and with nothing else to do, I finally set about buying and painting my first leman russ model.

As my old russ had been so badly hacked about, I decided to buy a new one. This is my first experience with the new russ sprue, and I was really rather impressed. The new track system is a godsend, and I'm really glad that they copied this idea from the new chimeras. Also, I was rather impressed with how simple things are now. Where before there were parts of the tank that took several pieces to put together, now there are many fewer parts - things that weren't optional in the first place now being moulded on to the plastic in a single piece. The old russ turret was something like 18 parts. The new one is only 11, and for the same level of detail. The whole tank was faster and easier to put together than before. Also, the sponson and hull weapons are MUCH better, and I really like the new interchangability, without even needing magnets. My only regret is the complete lack of vehicle accessory sprue. I'll have to be putting on some of my old bits to make up the difference.

Anyways, after much deliberation, I eventually decided to build the russ in a stock, unconverted format. The more I looked things over and the more experience I got with it, the more the russ aesthetic sort of started to make sense to me. I think, if anything, this project has trained my eyes to see the model better, and not just as some big blob of tank. I did do a tiny bit of conversion work, though. While the hull weapons were interchangeable, the main weapon was not. After doing a little thinking, I eventually settled on a solution.

I started by chopping off the barrel of the main gun from its mounting lug. I wouldn't be using it anyway, and the knobs sticking off the side were just going to interfere. I instead mounted the gun on a piece of plasticard tubing. Then, I gouged into the bottom piece of the turret The front of the bottom has a semi-circle cut in it to hold the barrel. I simply repeated this in the part of the plastic behind. That way, the plasticard tube would be able to sit on two semi-circular points of contact, keeping the barrel snug and straight. Then, all I needed to do was to glue down a bit of plasticard so that there was a backstop for the tube to bump into, ensuring the whole thing wouldn't wind up getting pushed all the way back into the completed turret.

Once this was all done, it was time to hit the paint. I primed black, basecoated light grey (though in a slightly streaky way with my large brush - in this case, the inconsistencies add to the model, rather than detract), and then painted on my large camo swatches and bordered it with my rotting flesh color. I then hemmed and hawed about detail work, and finally decided on recognition stripes that I liked, putting them on both sides and doing the detail work on the turret. A quick bit of tin bitz and boltgun on the tracks, and the whole thing was basecoated.

Then I did the washing. One light pass of agrax earthshade and then a heavy pass of nuln oil (with a second light pass on a few places). Instatntly, the tank went from blah basecoated, to wonderfully grimy. Washes really are great for tanks.

After this, it was just doing a little more detail work (like the searchlight), and then doing some weathering. I already had a vehicle that looked ancient, grimy, and altogether gross, so I wanted to keep a little light on the weathering. I didn't want to make things TOO busy. I decided to just do some rust spotting, throwing down a bit of black on the edges, followed by some brown.

Behold, "The Tempest"!

I still can't get over just how easy this was. Really, it was just basecoating and washing with a touch of detail added on. I could have pounded the whole thing out in a weekend were it not for the fact that this was split over a holiday.

Secondly, I still can't get over how good this looks. Really, for very minimal effort, I've got what I can confidently say is the best looking miniature in my army at the moment. I've shied away from vehicles because they were hard to paint and looked bad. Now neither of those things is true.

This is the second vehicle I've done with this paintscheme, so I thought I'd also throw up a picture of what my first russ looks like next to my sentinel with the same scheme.

Anyways, I'm really pumped about this. I've already purchased my second russ, and hope to finish it relatively soon. Now that I don't have to sit and think about how I want it to look, but can just copy the other one I've already gotten done, that shouldn't be too much of a problem.

And, as is my custom, your poster.



With all of the agonizing done over the design work, it was now time to go into a more mass-production mode. For this, I decided to go with a pask vanquisher. Not only did I want to try out this unit, but I also wanted to proof what a russ without sponsons would look like. Basically, now that I did it at all once, this second time would be to get all the steps and technique down pat. After that, proper mass production could begin (I'm already working on a pair of russes simultaneously right now).

The assembly went pretty well for this, with only some hemming and hawing over which tank commander head I wanted to use. I eventually decided on a forgeworld something or other model that I'd gotten in a trade some time ago and didn't have another use for.

I also spent some time scratchbuilding some vanquisher cannons. I don't like the fact that they look so much like battlecannons, and, as they're basically giant lascannons (rules-wise), I decided to go with that theme. Time was pressing on my 40k night, though, so I made up a pair of actual vanquisher cannons to throw in while I continued work on the others. It turns out, though, that the vanquisher cannons DO look pretty cool, so I think I'm actually going to stick with them. Plus, I can always use the vanquisher cannons as regular battlecannons in the future once I get my lascannon-style vanquisher cannons done.

Anyways, it all painted up pretty nice and easy, now that I have a plan and a method.

Behold, the "Prince of Wrath"!

The basic story to this is that it is commanded by lord Taiaphas Vask. Once a humble tank gunner, his talents quickly raised him to a commander of a Leman Russ. Years ago, his russ was hit by a vindicator round, ruining the tank in the cataclysmic blast and killing all of the crew but Vask. His legs crushed, he desperately attempted to escape from the burning wreck, inhaling noxious smoke and flying cinders. As his body began to burn, he only barely escaped.

He was declared dead and posthumously elevated to lordship in respect of not only the personal sacrifice, but also the 27 enemy tanks he knocked out, turning the tide in the Battle of Arjax Pass. It later turned out, by some miracle of the emperor, that he had in fact survived. Left all but unable to walk on his own, and with most of his body badly burned, he had choked back to life. His lungs had been charred black by the burning fumes, requiring him to be on a respirator at all times just to breathe, and his vocal cords can now only scratch out a few painful words at a time before he is forced to stop.

His body may be broken, but astride a Leman Russ, is is mightier than any other man. He continues to serve the Emperor as one of Folera's top tank aces, knowing that at any time his tank may explode again, and next time, he might not be so lucky...

Anyways, I also did up other vanquisher cannons for the rest of my russes, including my previous one. My tiny tank army slowly grows...

As mentioned, I'm already along my way with two more russes, so look for more armored destruction soon.

And here's your poster:



Once I finished the first one, I knew the scheme, and in making the second one, I got down the process. This complete, it was time to go into high productivity mode.

The first russ I was able to get at a discount from someone I knew, and the second I bought at-price from my FLGS. I had decided that I was going to make more, of course, so I had my FLGS order me another one. I asked how long it would take for the order to get in. They told me that their GW rep was pretty behind, so it could take a few weeks. I put the order in, but then went to the internet and bought a russ from an eBay store.

Two days later, I got my russ. To my shock and surprise, I opened up the bubble wrap package, and TWO full russ sprues fell out onto the table. I emailed the seller, because I didn't want to accept such a windfall without at least notifying them. They emailed me back and said "keep it".

So, then I had two russes!

I decided to do both of them at the same time now that I have my process. Things were assembled quickly, and, as usual, the painting on such a scale was a bit of a chore, but it did make things go quick. There was nothing all that different about it, accept that I've got more practice, and so some things that used to take a fair bit of correction and reworking went more smoothly.

The only thing new was that, while at my FLGS, someone suggested to me that I do some sponge-work. In this case, I used little pieces of ripped-out army foam that I still had lying around. I just ripped off the end a bit, dabbed, and then applied the little black dots everywhere, especially on corners. It actually came out rather well at making things even grimier than they already were.

Almost before I was done with them, my third russ arrived earlier than expected. I picked it up and did the whole thing in just three days. I'd have done it in tandem again, but it turns out that, even at the deep discounting I was getting, I can only afford SO many russes.

Anyways, I got them all done, and took some pictures.

They are the "Steel Badger", "Iconoclast", and "Lawbringer", respectively.

I'm just about as proud as I can be of my russ collection, now that it's done (for now...). I like that they still fit the theme of my guardsmen, are so easy to paint, and I love just how grimy they all look.

Also, what has kind of come as a surprise is the scope of what I've accomplished. Three russes in 10 days is rather fast, even for me, and, more importantly, I've gotten just over a thousand points done in a month. It took me three years to accomplish that from when I first started. I guess that's what armor does for you.

Anyways, tomorrow I'm going to play my first game with five finished russes, and take some hopefully awesome pictures. In the meantime, they certainly look cool lined up on my bookshelf.

And here's a couple of pictures of them in action: