Once again the festive season brings with it the annual compulsion for me to make myself hobby for someone elses benefit. Maybe this is the year that my efforts will be the start of some sort of lost momentum, the running start I need to get my hobby back going again. Only the coming weeks will tell I guess… until then though, we will have to settle for what I did in November 2022 for the Hobbyist Network Discord’s Secret Santa 2022.
This year I drew Alexander, and in the notes for what he wanted it was Space Marines or Orks. Im not super keen on space marines and as I was already feeling pretty low motivation between not hobbying much myself and spending all my free time renovating my kitchen. So I thought, I could just try to do something nice and basic… try to spend about £25 on an ork vehicle and try to just do a nice job of it in his colour scheme. I checked his instagram and saw a bunch of his Orks, which in included walkers. A Deff Dread seemed perfect… big enough to be a nice surprise by small enough that he could potentially use more than one in a game. Here is a picture from his instagram of one of his Deff Dreads…
So… Its just going to be a simple thing. I will just paint it like his. I dont have to think about the colour scheme very much, maybe mover some of the colours around. I just have to find one now for the price limit.
While on a run with Warbringer I find out he has a spare one and he is willing to sell it to me for the Secret Santa! perfect. So Im talking to him about it and I say “well you know, I suppose I could make a nice scenic base for it… thats it, I’ll jud do a regular mini and a nice scenic base, maybe some parts of a tank or something on there. Thats should make it stand out a bit more but still be simple enough to not put me off”…
I obviously procrastinated for a while (like a proper hobbyist), before finally gluing together and cleaning up the sub components that make up the arms, legs and body. I’m sat there looking at the now whole arms, whole legs and whole body, trying to decide what pose to give it. I what happened next took me by surprise… not in that very moment, but it certainly was this moment where the seed of inspiration germinated and set me on a path, from which there would be no return. I thought…
“You know, if I cut the front off the body, and the back off, I think I could swap them around… then it would basically still be the same but have a slightly different shape and add some variety between the walkers…”
…The change worked, I liked it. It changed the position of the arm sockets though, making it lean forwards more, which I liked but meant I would have to figure out how that would affect its stance. That would soon be the least of my worries though as I absent mindedly kept cutting bits off the Deffdreads body and adding bits on the make it more “unique”…
It soon became very clear to me that this was getting quite big… much bigger than a Deff Dread should be, so I wondered what the next biggest thing was. If a Deff Dread is a bigger version of a Killa Kan, Whats bigger than a Deff Dread? Than Asnwer, is a Mega/Meka Dread. Here is a size comparison of some of the Ork walkers from Watching Paint Dry. Next to it is a picure of the Dread from the Forgeworld website, beause there is no plastic model.
It seemed like the obivious choice to try and go bigger, the body had already become a head and was already the right sort of size. so I started playing with making the legs and arms longer. I also had a lot of fun making some scaled up melee weapons for the chonkier dread.
So I was going for the starwars AT-ST look and unfortunately… while I was achieving that look, the legs were obviously too spindly, the arms too. The Mega Dread has much chunkier limbs and it looks right, this huge body I made was supported on these weird little chicken legs and it just looked ridiculous… I was well past the point of no return now though, I coultn’t exactly go back and salvage the parts to make the Deff Dread! I Managed to make the arms a bit chunkerbut they still needed a bit more on them. I knew I wasnt going to make them chunky enough, but I thought maybe if I could just thicken the silhouettes so that they LOOKED right instead of actually being as fleshed out… or… mekked out as the forgeworld ones.
So then I started adding more bits onto the arms and legs, armour plates over the hips and shoulders, bits of gun barrel, random ork spares, little tesla coil type things the ad mech have… what ever was to hand from my vehicle spares, and the ork parts that bbothe Warbringer and Krankendoomcool gave to me for this project.
They already started to look way better with the extra bits on. Eagle eyed readers may also have noticed the unecessarily deep base I made. Thats actually hollow and it was my intention to cut a hole into it so that I could have a pit in the ground, something not really option on regular bases.
Once I was satisfied enough with the bulking, I had to crack on with the basing. I got some grots of Krakendoomcool and I thought it would be cool to make it look like there was like a bit of trench warfare going on down there, unbeknownst to the oblivious robotic menace stomping about over head. Once I was done with the basing I had to get on with painting. I remember not being completely happy with the bulking I had done… I felt like it was enough, but not ideal. the circumstances as they were though, I was on a deadline and I had maybe 3 weeks to paint this thing, so I had to just suck it up and hope that when it was painted it would still look ok.
In an effort to save time and get in some much needed practice I used the airbrush to get the base layers of colour down on this thing. It was a real time saver. I borwed some weathering solution from Warbringer that I had never used before, which makes a sort of weak varnish layer between the model and the effect you want weathered. So that when you paint water on it, it goes through the permeable layer of paint you want weathered, softens the varnish, then you can scrape away at the top layer of paint that you want weathered. IT took a little practice but in the end I was able to get some decent effects. rubbing it with a toothrbush just ended up making it look drybrushed with what ever colour was underneath but if you scraped at the top layer with something hard and sharp (I used tweasers) then it looked really good.
You can see where I used the weathering solution on things like the worn checkered patterns. the rest of the weathering was just painted on the old fashioned way, spunged on rhinox and silver. Oh in that picture you acn also see the little oiler grot holding on. I was quite happy with how all the grots came out, adding a bit of narrative to the mini (I wanted it to be quite a narrative thing because I wasnt sure it would ever be used in a game, so I at the very least wanted it to look nice just sat on a shelf).
Oh yeah and the lightening… so I was litereally ready to post this off to Germany the following day when Warbringer sees it and says “that looks great! you know what I think you need to do though, put a bit of glow and OSL on and around those little tesla coils at the back…”. I thought, yeah… good idea! I have time for that… or… I COULD HAVE LIGHTENING ARKING OFF THEM!!??!”. well the idea was in there now, I had 3 days before my hard deadline, so I spend the next couple of days making the lightening and then making the bold step of painting the lightenings OSL over the paint job i had already tried to do will, using the airbrush that I wasnt confident with to do it. I think it turned out pretty well!
I sent it off and about 3 weeks later it was opened along with about 16 other minis live over video call, it was super cool. Alexander was really happy with it (even more so after he reasembled it due to some damage sustained during transit), and says he keeps finding little details all over it which I’m really happy about. I find this sort of thing pretty rewarding, so maybe its time to make something for myself again…
I hope you enjoyed the build, if you have any advice or feedback for my am always super happy to recieve it. Happy hobbying eveyrone and I hope you have had a good festive period.
~Pandora’s Bitz Box~
Well that looks absolutely amazing! What a cool conversion, and the lightning really works well.
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Thanks very much! It’s pretty freeing converting an ork thing because you can get away with A LOT 😂
That is brilliant mate – helluva build, but the general paint job combined with the lightning puts this on a whole new level. I love it!!
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Thanks man! The scheme I copied from the recipient’s Instagram, it was interesting to do. It did actually change a bit as I was doing it…. Like at one point it had a couple of gold teeth but then I realised all of his Ork vehicles had exclusively white teeth. He got back to me and said he really liked the shades of red and yellow because they were vibrant and he noticed his newer stuff had bece more muted than his older stuff and the paint job has inspired him to go back to the old style 😄
It’s nice nice to hear as I feel like the painting is one of my weaker areas.
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