Sunday, November 30, 2014

Project Review: Death Watch Detachment

The Space Marine Death Watch is an organization that operates in conjunction with the Ordo Xenos, it is the elite anti-alien space marine group. Rather than recruit new marines from various worlds, the way most Space Marine chapters do, the Death Watch draws members from existing chapters to serve the Death Watch on a temporary basis. Because of this Death Watch combat teams tend to include individual members from several chapters. In this fashion a Dark Angel may find himself serving alongside a Space Wolf being commanded by an Ultramarine.

This particular project was as a preparation for an Apocalypse scale Warhammer 40,000 game I was going to be running. I really like the idea of the Death Watch and had wanted something that would allow me to field some representation of it on the board for a while. The idea of pulling from a variety of chapters to form a single unit gives me immense freedom for customization and convertion, but with out needing to be uniform in my approach. A Dark Angel robed body isn’t generally something that can be used alongside a Space Wolf’s legs for instance. When  Games Workshop released a datasheet for a Death Watch detachment I knew I had to make one of my own.

Actually planning the deathwatch team proved to be an interesting challenge, and of a different type than most of my conversion projects of the past it wasn’t enough to simply create 21 different marines and paint them all black. Rather I had to create 21 Marines that were from different chapters yet look like they were operating in the same unit. In order to address this particular challenge I used a different planning approach or the unit as a whole. Essentially I approached it more from a story perspective than from a tactical one. The detachment would be led by a captain that broke the detachment into two smaller 10 man squads. But in order for each squad to maintain its own flexibility, they would be as similarly equipped and outfitted as possible. Basically what this boils down to is I had to make 210 man squads that could be identified on the squad level but neither would be the “space Wolf” squad or the “ultramarine” squad.

I referenced the deathwatch role-play game books quite a bit in this regard, reading up on the strengths and advantages each respective chapter brings to a deathwatch squad in that game.  It took me a little while to really decide on the chapter breakdown of the detachment, deciding how many Marines from each chapter I was really I represent in the detachment. Finally I decided on a breakdown for the 2 squads. The entire detachment would be made up of a captain, to Imperial fist space Marines, two Crimson fist space Marines, two blood Angels space Marines, to space Marines from the Aurora Chapter, too dark Angel space Marines, two spacewalks, two Black Templars, two iron hand space Marines, three ultramarine’s, and finally one black shield space Marine.

A black shield space Marine is a concept I first encountered in the deathwatch role-play game. The idea is it is a loan space Marine that does not have a chapter to return to. He either has no chapter because he is the last surviving member of the chapter, yet or he has been excommunicated from his chapter and thus is not welcome in that chapter anymore. According to the game manuals black shields generally do not speak of their history so the exact reason that they are a black shield is generally something known to the game master and the respective player only. The idea of a loan space Marine that has no chapter to return to just really hit the court in my mind and I had to put in the detachment itself.

So with a plan in mind about what I was going to build, the first big step in this project was actually acquiring the materials to build them. For this project I knew I was going to be building individual diverse Marines I want them somewhat unified by their bases. Once again I turn to Dragon Forge designs, and ordered an assortment of bases from his ancient ruins series of bases; two sets of 10 of the 25 mm size bases, a 40 mm heroic base for the watch Captain, and a couple larger 60mm bases. I got the 60mm bases activity because I thought it will be kind of cool to have a deathwatch style dreadnought and I want to make sure I had the base on hand when and if I got around to building that model.

Next up I had to get the core materials to build the squads, and for that I made a trip to games I placed a order for two of the 10 man title squad box sets, the Pedro Kantor figure, three of the deathwatch conversion kits, the Imperial Fist/Crimson fist shoulder pad package and two of the iron hand conversion kits. Beyond these specific purchases I did a considerable amount of bit box diving and collected chapter specific iconography and bits for the rest of the detachment. In the course of the bit box diving I also found pieces from other sources that I decide to use, from Forge world.

Converting the watch Capt. was the first serious challenge to the project, due to the Pedro Kantor modeled being fine cast resin. The fine cast resin is a tickly light and soft material that if you are not cautious while working with can easily become deformed or damaged. The main reason I chose to use this model for my watch Capt. is because of all the space Marine special character models this one looks the least flamboyant. Unlike say Marnues Calgar, whose motto can practically be identified from across the room while you’re looking the opposite direction, Pedro Kantor’s model looks almost like any other captain figure you could build of the space Marine commander box set just have a little bit more bling to him. Thankfully the head of the model is separate from the body being it was a simple matter to replace the intended head with a head from the deathwatch conversion kit. The real challenge for this particular model was the wrist mounted storm Bolter on the left arm. The size of the arm on the model itself is actually smaller than a comparable shoulder pad should be from say the deathwatch conversion. The shoulder of the model also puts the arm in an odd position relative to the backpack which creates an issue because of the low enlarged shielding edge on the deathwatch shoulder pad. Ultimately what I had to do was cut off the arm and then segmented just above the elbow, replacing the upper segment of the arm with a plastic space Marine arm and then reassembling the pieces together redirecting the belt feed for the storm Bolter behind the deathwatch shoulder pad.

The next section of the project I worked on where the four heavy Bolter equipped space Marines. Initially the seem like it would be a simple shoulder pad swap operation, replacing the shoulder pad from the tactical squad With the chapter specific shoulder pads. There was just one thing that I overlooked; the fact that the plastic devastator heavy Bolter shoulder, shoulder pad,  and upper arm of for the heavy Bolter are all one piece, so I couldn’t simply replace one part of that single piece. In order to accommodate this I would ask a have to cut out the shoulder pad, and then mount the chapter specific shoulder pad in place where the original shoulder would have been while still keeping the heavy Bolter ammo feed going back along the shoulder line so that it would marry up with the heavy Bolter backpack once the Marine itself was built. For the black shield space Marine this was actually a non-issue since it meant I didn’t actually need to add a chapter specific icon to the shoulder. But for the other three it was a bit of a challenge that I had to go very carefully and very slowly with to avoid damaging the finished product.
the four converted Heavy Bolter Armed marines for the Death Watch Detachment

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