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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fitting an Old Peg into a New Hole

Well, another few weeks have elapsed and I have once again failed to deliver an update.  So, let's remedy that, yes?

A few entries back I had mentioned some Kroot that were a part of my Praetorian force and I'd like to talk about them a bit to segue into my main topic for this entry which is making use of old models to represent elements of newer army lists.

My Kroot are another "counts as" (love that option!) addition to my army that fills the slot of Penal Legion troopers.  For those unfamiliar with the Imperial Guard codex, Penal Legion fighters are a Troops slot choice which represent incarcerated Guardsmen who are forced to fight on the front lines.  It is a neat concept, and seeing as there are no official "Penal Legion" miniatures currently produced by GW, there are some extremely creative kit bashes floating around the internet.  It seems some of the more common conversions involve using Cadian and Catchan parts with some Warhammer Fantasy Flagellants bits.  While those make for effective representations of dirty, lunatic fighters, I wanted to have my penal legionnaires stand out a bit and be as unconventional as the rest of my army (which is a beautiful and unique snow flake in my eyes).

So, I began to think that captured Xenos might make a compelling band of prisoner warriors.  Due to the background of the Praetorians I immediately thought about adding captured Orks to my force but for one reason or another that just didn't seem like the right fit.  When digging around GW's catalog of figures I stumbled upon Kroot which instantly appealed to me.  The Kroot miniatures were attired in simple scraps of cloth and armor which helped with the hodge-podge look I imagined penal legionnaires to have, plus they had primitive looking weapons that actually looked similar to what the penal legion is outfitted with in the Guard codex (lasguns).  And best of all, Kroot were currently available for purchase and not another OOP item that I'd have to track down on eBay. 'Sold!' said I, and bought myself a box of Kroot.

Now, I didn't think that simple chains would be an effective form of bondage for a badass Kroot warrior. Nothing against my noble Praetorians, but they are dwarfed compared to the lithe, muscular bodies of the Kroot (at least in miniature form), so chains just didn't seem like a plausible deterrent for misbehavior.  Also, chains lacked the appropriate grim-darkiness of the bleak 40k setting.  Then a fit of inspiration hit me as I remembered a horrible B-movie a family friend had been an extra in called Wedlock.  In that movie criminals are bound with explosive collars around their necks that explode if they...well it doesn't matter. Explosive collars are what matter, and I thought that would be the perfect thing to keep a bunch of cunning Xenos in line.

So, Kroot with explosive collars were born!

As you can see in the photo, the collars have two lights on them, green which means the collars are active and in "safe" mode, and red which means an infraction occurred and Mr. Kroot is in for a free decapitation courtesy of the Imperium of Man.

Now, one of the key components of the penal legion is the overseer, which acts as the unit leader in game terms, and in fluff terms is the whip-cracking asshole who herds the doomed legionnaires to their deaths.  Of course I needed to use a Praetorian figure for this role but most of the range isn't really suited to represent that particular combat role.  Which brings me to the whole point of this posting, using old figures in new ways.

While the Praetorian range that came out in 1997-98 didn't have penal legion models, or specifically an overseer, they did have a Mortar operator that was standing around holding a lasgun and a remote control. 

Photo Courtesy of Col. Gravis
I felt that the remote control fit perfectly with the explosive collars.  If a Kroot got out of line, or refused to fight, the overseer keyed in the frequency for that collar and boom goes the dynamite. This was a straight forward substitution of a figure designed for one purpose (mortar operator) plugged into a new role (penal legion overseer).

Unfortunately, I have used both Mortar Team crewmen in other conversions, namely artillery crews, so I wanted to spice up the overseer a bit to make him still stand out.  A little green stuff coat courtesy of Drew Olds at Garden Ninja Painting and I was in business.

So, never overlook an old figure to fill the gaps in a contemporary army. So many of the older, out of print models have details on them that may lend themselves to telling a story that is appropriate for whatever project you are working on. In this army alone I have used Rogue Trader models for my Rough Riders and  my Sanctioned Psyker overseer.  I also have older models in my Dark Eldar force.  Consider it going green for modeling, recycling something old into something new with a bit of putty and paint.  It is a lot of fun and helps justify having drawers full of miniatures gathering dust in the garage.  Right?  ;)

Next time I'll discuss adding some gender equality to my army and go over the female figures that make up a small portion of the Praetorian 77th.

Thanks as always for reading and if you have some cool conversions or have made use of older figures in your current armies please add a comment below and share your experiences.

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