Roughriders. One of my favorite entries in the Imperial Guard codex ironically has extremely limited support from Games Workshop's miniature range. The current Roughrider models available for purchase are Attilans and (personal opinion here) they look pretty shitty.
I knew that I wanted a Praetorian Roughrider unit early on as I was planning my army and understood that such a unit would require extensive conversion work due to the limited nature of the Praetorian model range. Even when the Praetorians were available for sale there were never any Roughrider models produced by Games Workshop for that particular regiment. With the knowledge that a unit would have to be built from scratch I was given the freedom to really make something unique, so I spent a few weeks mulling over how I wanted the unit to look.
Primary among my considerations was what sort of transportation the Praetorian Roughriders would utilize. I quickly rejected the idea of using horses. This was partially due to the prevalence of horse mounted units already on game tables, and because there were few if any horse models that appealed to me. Especially in the case of GW's horses which always looked small and aesthetically unpleasing.
I had seen some clever conversions using other motive systems for Roughriders, everything from ATVs to Segway-esque personal two-wheeled scooters. While all of those ideas were interesting I didn't feel that they maintained the anachronistic aesthetic of the Praetorian models. I didn't want my Roughriders to be on super-high tech devices, nor did I want the pendulum to swing to the other extreme and have my troopers riding beasts or steam-buggies. Thankfully eBay saved the day (again) and I stumbled upon some old Rogue Trader-era motorcycles that looked perfect as a means for my cavalry to get around.
I then turned to another favorite resource of mine, The Stuff of Legends online catalog of out of production miniatures and found this page. Well, my little idea wasn't so unique as GW originally had bike mounted Imperial Guardsmen listed as "Roughriders." Still, I liked the idea enough to run with it. The bikes were perfect--they were large and clunky, and had just enough mix of sci-fi and the modern to create the sort of collision of eras that the Praetorians represented for me. Plus I loved the idea that my OOP army would utilize Roughrider mounts that were from an earlier era of the game. Totally cool, and something you wouldn't easily see crop up in someone else's army.
So I had the mount taken care of, but I still had to locate enough of the bikes to get a viable Roughrider force. From my WARMACHINE days of playing the concept of a full unit meant 10 figures, so I originally set out to locate that many bikes. Unfortunately the search for the bikes proved even more difficult than my search for Praetorians, and ultimately I had to settle for 8. Now all that was left was figuring out how to get some Praetorians to fit onto the bikes.
Looking to existing Praetorian horse cavalry conversions it seemed that most people used the Attilan legs with the Praetorian Heavy Weapons Gunner torso attached at the waist. This created a rider that looked to be holding the reins of his horse close to his chest (as the gunner is position of firing a butterfly trigger). This solution absolutely would not work for my project. Fearing I was coming to a major road block I began looking for alternatives that would not require full sculpting of Praetorian motorcycle riders. Luckily I found a person on Bartertown that sold home-brewed resin torsos for Praetorian Roughriders! Unfortunately said seller is no longer an advertiser on Bartertown so I am unable to provide links to his sales page. However, the torsos were originally sculpted by Col. Gravis, one of the best sources of information on the Praetorian miniature range and the sculptor of many fine conversion kits for would-be Praetorian enthusiasts. Col. Gravis' blog may provide information on where those torsos can be obtained.
After locating my bikes, and finding some torsos I went to Empress Miniatures to snag some pith helmet heads. My Roughriders were coming together! The easiest part of the project was going to be the arms and weapons as I planned on using Cadian arms and those are readily available. I was hung up on the blasting pikes that the Roughriders employ but Crocodile Games saved the day with their Egyptian-themed miniature line for Wargods of Aegyptus. Crocodile Games sells some fine weapons packs for customizing their miniatures and one of them happened to be...you guessed it...spears!
With all of the pieces obtained after months of searching I finally had the parts necessary to construct my Roughrider unit. Of course I e-mailed Drew at Garden Ninja Painting and he was very interested in the project. A few short weeks later I received the marvelous finalized product and was blown away by his efforts merging so many diverse and disjointed miniature parts to create such wonderfully unique models.
Below are some examples of the unit that he created for me. There are 6 riders with lances and two with Melta-guns. The unit's sergeant has a plasma pistol and melta-grenades. In the two games that I have used these Roughriders they have died gloriously tying up the attentions of a Chaos LandRaider and a Chaos Demon Prince. Still, they remain some of my favorite miniatures in my collection despite their rather lackluster performance on the game table.