So here we are again, at year’s end, right before Christmas, and in tune with the overal festive mood, I think we should look at some fantastic hobby projects as part of this year’s first instalment of the Eternal Hunt Awards. Yay!
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that the overall level of painting and converting in this hobby of ours just keeps going through the roof: Some of the stuff appearing online these days is really quite unbelievable, which turns choosing a selection of the year’s best hobby content into both a herculean effort and a task that may be ultimately doomed to failure: After all, I am very aware that for every great project I have managed to witness, I have probably overlooked half a dozen equally inspiring endeavours. So this selection is, more than ever, just my little slice of the hobby universe. That being said, the following projects really blew me away this year, so please give them all a big hand, and let’s get started:
One small disclaimer, before we begin:
It goes without saying that all the photos you’ll be seeing in this post show other people’s work, and I cannot claim credit for any of the stuff depicted — apart from the small but delightful task of collecting it all together here and giving those fantastic hobbyists a much deserved shout out
I. Projects of note:
So, first of all, here are the hobby projects that blew me away in 2018, regardless of whether they were about single models, squads or armies. In hindsight, it occurs to me that converted Imperial Knights make up a rather big part of this year’s selection, but then my love for the artform of converting Questoris Knights is well documented So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are my favourite hobby projects from 2018:
Apologist’s Blood Angels / Nova Terra Interregnum project
Apologist is no stranger to my best of lists, as I am a big fan of his particular blend of really well conceived background material and top-notch modeling and painting, visible in every single blog post over at Death of a Rubricist. His “Alien Wars/Nova Terra Interregnum” project, however, really tugged at my heartstrings, because it is, at the same time, a look at a little explored part of the 40k lore (namely the aforementioned Nova Terra Interregnum, when the Imperium of Man was split in twain for the second time after the Heresy), but it’s also a tribute to a bygone era of hobbying, namely the times of 2nd edition 40k: Apologist has based the project around recreating a Blood Angels army based on this vintage collection here:
And, unbelievably enough, he is going through that army pretty much squad by squad, using modern bitz (and Primaris Marines) to create a modern day (true scale) recreation of those vintage models, while closely keeping the old aesthetics in place. To wit, just look at the old tactical squads from the 2nd edition days:
And here are Apologist’s interpretations of those same squads, built with all the parts and technical prowess at his disposal in 2018:
This approach doesn’t simply make for some stunning models, it also leads to a certain kind of vintage look and feel, something that is no longer Horus Heresy styled and not yet modern 40k: Something so very close to the general look of Space Marine armies from back when I got into the hobby — nostalgia plays a very big part in this project, obviously
But any fond personal feelings for a bygone era of 40k notwithstanding, there’s also the fact that Apologist’s conversions and paintjobs are simply wonderful. Possibly my favourite part of his Blood Angels project is a company Captain based on this old piece of art from the yesteryear:
And by combining various parts, Apologist has come up with a rather wonderful “modern” version of the character…
…that looks even better when painted. I can even forgive the need to paint him in non-metallic metal
I would be remiss not to mention that the Alien Wars project has also turned into something of a community project, with other hobbyists chipping in with their own exploration of the galaxy during the Nova Terra Interregnum. At the heart of it all, however, lies Apologist’s hobby ethos and his dedication to detail – factors that make each of his hobby projects into something truly special.
As an aside, I also want to give a shout out to his Officio Monstrosa, a brilliant Horus Heresy-themed Iron Warriors force Apologist also managed to finish this year:
So anyway, if Space Marines are of any interest to you, you should definitely check out those projects. If not, rest assured that Apologist’s INQ28 are also rather fantastic — plus I’ve heard there are some retro-styled Eldar on the way…
Check out Apologist’s retro-styled Blood Angels here.
Ana Polanscaks’s first exploits in the 40k setting
Ana Polanscak, of The Gardens of Hecate, is another household name in my yearly writeups — and for good reason, because her models are stunningly original, beautiful creations. What’s more, Ana uses bits and parts from GW and other manufacturers to basically come up with her own universe of stories and models — and following that approach over several years has been fascinating, indeed!
At the same time, I was elated to see Ana making her first steps into 40k lore this year, and the results were – unsurprisingly – stunning. So let me point you towards two of Ana’s 2018 projects:
First up are the “Nekroderma”, Ana’s approach to creating some Necrons that are truly creepy. Everything started with these two guys:
I think those models actually look like relics of a past war, and actually remind me more of the rumoured “Men of Iron” than of alien robots. The use of an AdMech mask on the left model is a brilliant touch, and yet I also love the inclusion of a human skull. A really fantastic approach to what can feel like a pretty bland 40k race.
That was only the start, however, as Ana’s version of a Necron Immortal explored yet another angle, making the machine seem disturbingly diseased and malformed:
I felt reminded of the highly disturbing creatures from the – supremely scary – video game SOMA when seeing this guy. He also serves as proof that you can actually return some classic, body horror undead tropes to alien robots, and the result simply works.
I really hope Ana makes some time to further explore the Nekroderma, because hers may just be the best Necron models I have seen so far. The models are also a showcase of Ana’s particular aesthetic approach to the hobby applied to 40k — something I would love to see more of next year!
That’s not nearly all, however, because – to my absolute delight – Ana has also started to assemble an INQ28 warband based on the Blanchitsu-style. Her Inquisitor, for instance, is a wonderful recreation of this particular piece of artwork by John Blanche:
Here’s the stunning model:
The Inquisitrix’s first retainer is, likewise, based on a piece of JB art, namely one of his concept sketches for the Astra Militarum Vostroyans. And here’s Ana’s mode based on that sketch:
The third and – so far – final member of the retinue is a wonderfully medieval looking, converted Grey Knight, not directly based on any artwork, as far as I can tell, but still perfectly at home in the “Blanchitsu-verse”:
Just three models so far, but they already make for a rather stunning retinue, wouldn’t you agree?
So yeah, I think you can see where I am coming from when I say that we absolutely need more 40k models from Gardens of Hecate in 2019!
Check out Ana’s blog, The Gardens of Hecate,here.
Pandora’s BitzBox’s Khornate Knight:
A relative newcomer both to blogging and to the community over at The Bolter & Chainsword, Pandora’s BitzBox has nevertheless managed to hit it out of the park with an utterly brilliant conversion of a renegade Khornate Knight — now renegade Knight and Khorne already ticks all the requisite boxes for me, obviously, but seriously: Just look at the thing:
The running pose is so well realised and would already be something to behold on an otherwise unconverted model. PBB didn’t stop there, however, and created all kinds of chaotic trappings and decorations encrusting every part of the Knight’s carapace. Plus some rather disturbing chaotic alterations, such as a daemonic face and neck basically…erupting from the Knight’s mechanic shell:
…and, talking about erupting, the Knight’s pilot also seems to be rather looking forward to a good battle:
The model is absolutely incredible and easily one of the best hobby projects I have seen this year! It shouldn’t surprise you that the model garnered a fair amount of attention over at The B&C, with many hobbyists offering ideas. PBB did a magnificent job bringing it all together into a fantastic model that, believe it or not, will be given away as a Christmas present. Seriously, I would never ever give away a model like that!
But anyway, I was really happy to be along for the ride when PBB built this bad boy! One of the greatest models of 2018, folks!
There’s a long and wonderfully detailed writeup about the whole project over here.
lindsay40k’s Traitor Legion drop pod
When some new Tyranid models were released back in 2014, I remember seeing the Sporocyst/Tyrannocite and feeling reminded of a more organic looking Space Marine drop pod. And maybe, just maybe I entertained the idea of using that thing as some kind of chaotic Dreadclaw for a split-second. But it just didn’t seem doable…
So imagine my surprise when lindsay40k proved it could be done – and done really well – earlier this year:
I’ll also admit that seeing her mutated drop pod was a bit of a gut punch, because the model is so very disturbing and disgusting: The paintwork on the fleshy parts is really quite something, and the entire thing just looks utterly vile and daemonic — in a good way, of course. But seriously, just imagine that thing hurtling towards your planet. It’s horrifying, even before it has managed to disgorge its freight.
And maybe the most disturbing part: Look at that little CSM face right at the centre of that horrible lamprey mouth:
Every once in a while, you see a model that is just so out-there and audacious that you have to applaud its creator. And this year, lindsay40k’s drop pod definitely takes the cake! Outstandingly, weirdly, chaotic! Fantastic work!
Coverage of the drop pod begins here, but the rest of lindsay’s threat is also quite something, so make sure to check it out as well!
Talarion’s Armiger Warglaives
Talarion’s blog, “WÃ¼rfelwiese”, is one of those blogs that don’t get nearlythe amount of attention they deserve, in spite of featuring unfailingly wonderful content. Case in point, his wonderful converted Armiger Warglaives from earlier this year. Now the Armiger is definitely one of my favourite 2018 GW models, and I had a lot of fun coming up with my own conversion ideas, but while I was still hard at work, Talarion already had this guy to share with the world:
The first model is mostly stock, but Talarion used the helmet of a LEGO toy (of all things) to replace the standard facemask — and to great effect, I might add! The scuffed, turquoise armour plates and rusty metals are also rather lovely! Truly a standout piece!
So Talarion just went and built another one — and got far more creative with the weapons this time around, creating a custom gun arm that works really well,…
…as well as a lance weapon that served as incedibly useful reference material when I converted an Ursus Claw arm for my second Contemptor:
Everyone and their cousin worked on some Armiger Warglaives this year, but Talarion’s models were easily some of the best. And they are only the tip of the iceberg, as his blog has lots of gorgeous models like that, so make sure to check it out!
Capt. Jack’s Praetor Grune Thrael
Capt. Jack’s Horus Heresy Death Guard project is quite fascinating in that it explores the legion between their clean-cut (if slightly muddy) loyalist days and their utter damnation and corruption during the 40k timescale. His legionnaires still look recoginsably like Legion Space Marines, but the rot has already subtly set in, capturing a fascinating moment at the start of the Death Guard’s fall to the ruinous powers, yet long before its swollen, diseased 40k incarnation. His Praetor, Grune Thrael, forms the absolute zenith of this project so far, serving as a perfect little one-man vignette of the entire project: He’s a towering, impressive Space Marine commander, and yet the model already shows the first signs of corruption (such as the bloated breastplate, the verdigris,…). And yet, there’s still nobility there — the wonderfully chosen sword even made me recall Nathaniel Garro for a moment. Everything comes together into one of the best Space Marine models I have seen this year!
Find Capt. Jack’s ongoing Death Guard thread here.
Augustus b’Raass’ Death Guard Warlord and Renegade Knights
And while we are on the subject of Death Guard Praetors, there’s a far more bloated and corrupted specimen I would like to bring t your attention: The gentleman above was converted by my buddy Augustus b’Raass for his rather impressive 2018 Death Guard project, and just as Grune Thrael above perfectly embodies the Legion during the latter stages of the Heresy, Augustus’ Death Guard warlord perfectly represents the corrupted, diseased Death Guard of the 40k universe — plus it’s a rare case of the “bellowing at the heavens” pose really done right. Oh, and did you realise this guy is actually based on the Dark Imperium Lord of Contagion, so he is massive as well. Extra kudos for the sneaky use of an old berzerker chainsword
That’s not Augustus’s only appearance on this list, however, as he has managed to knock it out of the park with his brand new Renegade Knights:
First up, the big one:
Like all of Augustus’ projects, both the conversion and the paintjob are quite wonderful. In spite of my misgivings about his use of the (pretty phoned-in) Forgeworld renegade Knight parts, Augustus has really managed to tweak those stock materials enough for the Knight to look rather wonderful. Another thing that I love about the model is how it combines a very chaotic look with a rather heraldic colour scheme that still recalls the Knight’s loyalist origins — in fact, I think the excellent use of colour and heraldry may be what actually mitigates the gooey look of the Forgeworld armour plates.
On top of the big Knight, Augustus has already finished a coterie of two Armiger Helverins that are just as delightful:
And more models are on the way. Even better, though, all of Augustus’ Knights feature fully realised interiors and pilots — just head over to his thread to discover those beautiful models in more detail!
You can find Augustus’ sprawling Chaos WIP thread here.
Jeff Vader’s and PDH’s Primaris-based true scale Deathwatch Killteams
I have given a shout out to these before, but seeing how they have been instrumental in getting my own Kill Team Ulrach off the ground, it’s only proper to include them here as well: Both Jeff Vader and PDH have been hard at work on their respective true scale Deathwatch kill teams this year, and both warbands are something to behold:
As a matter of fact, I love these even more when directly juxtaposed, because each artist’s personal style shines through so clearly
DuskRaider’s Nurglite Knights,
DuskRaider created, among other things, an entire collection of corrupted House Makkabius Knights (shown above) for his sprawling Nurglite collection this year. And each of those Knights is not only a wonderful hobby achievement, but a detailed exploration of a particular, disgusting boddy horror trope — what’s not to love, right?
I love how each of the Knights explores a different aspects of Nurgle’s gifts, as some of the recent kits do, without ever becoming too gimmicky or caricaturesque, and you should really discover those wonderfully virulent models on your own, so let me just focus on one model in partiuclar…
… the one with a freaking tree growing out of its shoulder…
There was a lot of skepticism over at The Bolter & Chainsword when DuskRaider posted his original WIP of this conversion, and there was a time when even DuskRaider himself didn’t seem quite convinced any longer. But he managed to persevere, and the finished model, Irae Throni, is – literally – a towering achievement. .
What really sells the model to me, on top of the excellent conversion work, are those bright colours that appear on and around the feculent gnarlmaw that has been expertly grafted to Irae Throni’s carapace: Those bright colours recall descriptions of Nurgle’s Garden itself (and may also have given me the missing piece of creativity I needed for my own Death Guard project, namely on my basing scheme) — I only hope that when the time comes, I’ll be as courageous about the use of bright colours as DuskRaider has been!
See if you can spot the remains of Irae Throni’s pilot, hidden amidst all the vegetation…
One last point that I love about DuskRaider’s House Makkabius Knights — and this goes for all of them: In spite of all those grotesque growths and icky special effects, they still retain a – suitably distressed, but recognisable – version of the original house iconography:
DuskRaider’s ongoing 40k Nurgle thread can be found here.
Euansmith’s Enigma Engine Team
Euansmith is one of the household names of the Ammobunker’s INQ28 forum — always quick with an encouraging comment or some really helpful feedback. But euan also comes up with some of the coolest concepts for warbands and retinues from time to time, often with a popcultural influence or a unique angle. Cue exhibit A, his recently completed “Enigma Engine Team” — definitely an expertly built and painted – and delightfully eclectic – INQ28 group, even if (like me) you are too dense to immediately get where the very obvious inspiration came from…
Find euansmith’s ongoing INQ28 thread here.
II. Blogs of note:
There’s no denying it: The blogs and forums are in a bad way. Twelve months ago, the blogosphere already felt the encroaching power of Instagram and Facebook, but it feels like this influence has only grown in the meantime. Which, at least in my opinion, makes it all the more important when people manage to maintain a blogging presence beyond the big social networks. Plus there’s also the fact that I just enjoy what I would call the “longform style of blogging”.
Fortunately enough, there were lots of excellent blogs still around in 2018, and some were actually started up this year! So before I point you towards my new recommendations, allow me a moment for a bit of an appeal:
Whenever you read blogs or browse through threads you like and that inspire you: PLEASE COMMENT! Please engage with the stuff you see on those blogs, threads and forums. Don’t just lurk, don’t just click “Like” — please get involved!
With that out of the way, here’s my pick of the litter for 2017:
Azazel’s Bitz Box
Azazel really has to come first here: His monthly challenges have been one of my main painting incentives this year. Just by way of his monthly challenges, he has managed to start up a veritable community of hobbyists, give lots of shout outs to fellow hobbyists and bloggers and provided me with lots of new blogs and projects to discover, and that alone would be enough reason for Azazel’s Bitz Box to appear on this list!
On top of being a pillar of the community like that, Azazel is also an incredibly talented hobbyist in his own right, however. For one, his monthly completions are often a wonderful potpourri of colourful and highly different models:
He’s also almost insultingly productive. To wit, here are Azazel’s completions for about the first half of 2018:
In fact, with such an amazing output, it’s hard to actually choose a favourite. It’s probably a toss-up between his Flesh Tearers’ assault squad…
…his converted Minotaurs Captain…
…or his absolutely fabulous paintjob on a Sabretooth Tiger from the Conan Kickstarter:
Anyway, both for his community building efforts as well as his fantastic original content, Azazel definitely deserves prime billing on this list.
Azazel’s Bitz Box can be found here.
Not A Collector
One of my main objectives with featuring blogs as part of these awards, on top of pointing you towards some truly spectacular hobby content, is to give a shout out to hobbyists who I think deserve far more attention. And “Not A Collector” definitely deserves far more attention – and comments!!! – than it is currently getting.
The blog is mostly focused on 30k, and Fredrik does have some absolutely delightful 30k World Eaters, for starters, which is already enough to get me excited, obviously:
But beyond that, there are so many cool models and conversions to be found over there, such as his extremely involved Mechanicus Thanatar conversion, for instance:
So if you are at all interested in the Horus Heresy, make sure to check out Not A Collector at your earliest convenience!
The blog can be found here.
A very young blog, still, but one that has been quite a bit of fun to follow: Everything started with Krakendoomcool’s fantastic project to build and paint models for all twelve Wolf Lords:
A project very much after my own heart, as I love building characters! So the blog had me hooked right there. Just as a small shout out, Krakendoomcool’s interpretation of Engil Krakendoom was particularly cool and clever (he’s looking up, as he is a famed slayer of towering monsters):
Spiralling outwards from this first project, the blog has just been growing more interesting and versatile. PBB’s aforementioned, wonderful Khornate Knight also makes a full appearance!
And it’s just fun to follow those guys as they keep challenging themselves to try new stuff and master new techniques, so make sure to check it out.
Krakendoomcool can be found here.
Tales from the Aaronorium
I’ll admit I mostly checked out Tales From the Aaronorium at first because it happened to chronicle the endeavours of one Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s hobby group. But I quickly discovered the other guys, TheActualColin, Ross and Thegrimdocness, were no slouches either
The blog is a very cool look into the activities of a group of passionate hobbyists, with the occasional surprise like these very cool rules ideas for RPG, INQ28-style actions in Necromunda, or stuff like Ross’s spectacular Voidnauts:
I am also a huge fan of the mostly punny post titles, guys
Tales From the Aaronorium can be found here.
IV. The absolute best hobby project of 2018:
Like last year, there has been another hobby project to rule them all, one that managed to stand taller than the rest, in spite of the insane general level of quality. So here’s what I consider to be 2018’s absolutely best hobby project:
Some of you will already have seen this project featured in the last two issues of White Dwarf with two rather expansive pictorials — and rightly so, because the entirety of the Lesotho 2-12 project is just drop-dead gorgeous, in spite of all the grime and disease.
Envisioned as a collaborative project of many hobbyists (among them such luminaries and all time favourites as Bruticus, weirdingway, WilhelMiniatures and, of course, John Blanche), the project tells the story of several warbands trying to do their thing on a space station infested by Nurglite diseases due to all kinds of biological tampering.
As is usually the case for projects like this, all the participants came up with their own warband for the game, and simply discovering those gorgeous models is already a joy in itself. Just take a look at some of the models that appeared in the game:
That’s only a part of what makes Lesotho 2-12 so great, however, because many joint hobby projects and big games like this have wonderful warbands participating in them. Even with the best projects, however, all of those various warbands and artists can seem like a whirlwind of – sometimes clashing – design approaches, leading to a bit of a sensory overload, if you will.
Not so here, because it seems as though every single warband as well as the terrain on show have been conceived for this one occasion, with a strong underlying design language, leading to a Unity of Effect rarely seen in collaborative projects like this.
All in all, certainly one of the most focused and spectacular hobby projects of 2018 – and one I will be taking lots of inspiration from on an upcoming Nurgle project of mine – but if it took any further arguments, models that serve as shout outs to Pyramid Head and Nemesis, names that should be dreadfully familiar to any video game aficionado that grew up during the 90s and early aughts:
I rest my case. Lesotho 2-12 is 2018’s best hobby project.
Check out the detailed picture spreads on the project in WD issues from November and December 2018. Some very cool posts on the project can also be found here.
So here we are, giddy with anticipation for the Christmas festivities, and humbled by the sheer amount of talent on display, I certainly hope I was able to help you discover some projects to check out, artists to follow and blogs to subscribe to (and comment on!!). Like every year, let’s not be discouraged by the stunning talent collected in this post, but rather take this as an inspiration for our own hobby endeavours next year.
Speaking of which, hopefully I’ll be back with the next post before the end of the year. Until then, I would love to hear your thoughts about this year’s selection — did I miss anything important?
As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more! And let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas!