The Five Day Duel

On the 31st of July, I decided to take part in a completion on Twitter to win some goodies. the catch? I started late! so I only had 6 days to build a scene depicting two duelling GW minis, to a standard I thought would have a chance of winning a public vote.

Day 1

The first issue i faced is… I’m loath to waste models. There is a reason I’ve never made a diorama before, if they can be played with, i want them to be playable. So i had to pick two models i didn’t mind sacrificing into this tiny ornament.

To hand, at my hobby table, the first choice was easy a box of vanilla Space Marines that i bought as fodder for my Possessed unit. I had fewer Possessed left to build than i had models left in the box, so one of the models would be a Space Marine. For my next choice i ran upstairs and took barely two steps into the craft room where my stock is… To my right on a low shelf is a sad looking Space Hulk Genestealer, already painted roughly but with one pair of arms fallen out of the socket. I palmed it and ran back downstairs.

So i had my duelists, i needed a base so i just grabbed the nearest one which was a 40mm base I had tested some snow effects on for my Norris Possessed. Now i needed some context… And from this point, much like with many of my conversions, the models basically told me what to do.

  1. The base was small… At least for 2 models normally standing on at least 25mm each. This meant it would be up close and personal.
  2. One combatant was a genestealer, which are known for having amongst other things, very sharp hands. So i wanted him to be dicing the other guy.
  3. Even though I’m first and foremost a Tyranid player, i recognise that Marines are meant to be bad ass super humans… So he want going down without a fight, despite the odds.

I decided on a scene depicting a marine sacrificing his arm in order to stay alive. That turned out to be a bit difficult to figure out for i settled for killing the Genestealer and losing his arm in the chaos of hand to hand combat with a genetically engineered, scissor monster.

I started by looking through the Space Marine leg options, and after some pretending slice my wife’s arm into the air, picked a pair based on how she moved. I didn’t want any old space marine to be holding his own against the ‘Stealer so i thought it would be cool if he was a Sargent, so i got him a tabard and a power sword. I couldn’t find a bolt pistol but fortunately the power sword was a lefty which meant he could hold a boltgun in his right.

Ok, so i had all my parts. Now what are they doing? I figured that after losing an arm, any thing other than a fatal shot to the ‘Stealer would be game over for the Sarge. Classic head shot it would be then. Now the tricky part…

I wanted to capture the head shot, which meant i had to have a reasonably realistic and dynamic response, visible in the ‘Stealers body. Being a Space Hulk Genestealer… Snippy (as i shall affectionately refer to him from now on) wasn’t terribly poseable. I cut almost every major join in the body, poking scrap plastic into the gaps to open up joints and turning others.

Simultaneously posing the marine into roughly the right position i knew that i need to be able to pose both minis simultaneously without error if i was going to finish this project in time. To make sure the gun lined up with the head shot i had an idea. I had already planned to model the muzzle flash and trajectory of the bolt shell (with no idea if it would work or time to test). I clipped an unspent shell that was dangling from a different boltgun and cut it in half. I stuck it onto the end of some thin brass wire and stuck the other end into the boltgun. I then drilled a hole through Snippy’s head and clipped away at the plastic until the top of his head was open down to the side of that hole. I could now pose both models, with the wire resting in the hole in Snippy’s head. When i was happy, i used some very technical know-how to keep them in the right positions while plastic cement and super glue set overnight.

Day 2

The next day i decided to tackle the power sword arm, its severance and the effects that would give the diorama a bit of “wow” factor, as well as the main qualifying feature for Azazel’s Technical August Challenge (which was the other thing that encouraged me to try out this competition). I wanted to make it look like the arm was being cut off near that moment, so i thought an arc of blood connecting the severed sword arm to the claw would work. I curved a thin brass wire as the support and ran another one from the claw to the rest of the arm (even though structurally to wasn’t required). Just the wire, even painted with blood effects would look super weird and uniform so using curved toothbrush bristles i formed the basis for some finer blood sprays an arcs.

I was pretty happy with how this went, it was a bit fiddly to get all the curves in the same plane. Also you can see i also had a chance to green stuff most of the gaps and also ad bristles and gore to the head blast.

Day 3

I posted updates of my progress on twitter at the request of the competition organiser, and would get loads of positive feedback which was nice. One person said though, that while they really liked how it looked, it could do withe a bigger base. I was worried about the time pressure but thought… What the hell… I’ve come this far. I didn’t have anything handy so i quickly got some foam board, cut a circle out of it and painted the edge with PVA to seal it. I glued on some large rocks I made out of foam and then glued some medium sized coarse stone over the rest of the base, including the edge. I planned on adding snow at the end so i wasn’t too worried about a wide variation in grades of stone, more an interesting and visible texture.

Not really worried about how long the PVA having time to dry properly given the time constraints, I gave it an undercoat (thinking that this would also help glue the components together). I found i also also had time to start trying some blood effects and get a yellow base coat onto the marine.

I chose an Imperial Fist as the chapter for the marine after a little deliberation regarding contrasting colours. I wanted the snow, the blood, the armour and the Genestealer to all contrast well together, so couldn’t duplicate the colours very much. I also know someone who plays Imperial Fists and as far as i know, doesn’t read the Blog or use Twitter… So it then became an entry for a competition, Azazels’s challenge AND a Christmas present.

Day 4 and 5

On the friday i mostly concentrated on getting the marines paint job looking decent, but also getting the base coats onto the rest of the models. On the Saturday my son did me a real solid and slept for 2 hours during the day so i got in a little extra hobby time. I had a decent stab at that Imperial Fist Colour scheme and got some shading and highlighting done on everything, and also adding a few smaller arcs and “off plane” flicks of blood, to make it look more natural. This left me the evening to do some snow, and to try some blood spatter on the snow.

Im actually really pleased with how the spatter came out on the snow but it was barely visible in the photos I submitted as it looked quite realistic but that was in contrast to very stylised blood spray from severed limb.

Day 6… actually relaxed after the super intense conversion and just took the photos for submission. Then after 4 days of voting (8 contestants, 2 heats of 4 and then a final), I won! This is the first non-random, skill based competition i have ever won so I was pretty thrilled with that. To be honest I was really pleased with what i made anyway, the effects came out better than i thought, and i had loads of positive feedback. So had i lost the disappointment would have been softened.

Oh and just in case you wondered, the prize…

I have really wanted a Goliath for my undeveloped GSC army. The other guys i was in two minds about what I would do, but after winning i felt like i should do something with them as they are my first real prize… Then a new idea was born from their existence. Ill save that for a new post though!

I hope you all like it. Let me know what you thought, what you would have like to have seen or improved. Happy hobbying people!

…Oh and one more thing, Id like to thank @Tetrisdroid for running this very cool competition on Twitter, and also these guys:

They were my competition and without them, none of us would have been pushing each other or learning anything from the experience. Their entries were cool, so if you’re a Twitter user, check all these people out and give them a Follow if you like their stuff.

~Pandora’s Bitz Box~

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27 thoughts on “The Five Day Duel

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    1. It was pretty mad how quickly it came together. As for my next project…personally im going to be working on my Warp Talons. Otherwise, ill also be working on Christmas presents, but i obviously i wont be able to post those until Dec 25th πŸ˜‹

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  1. That’s really cool and congrats on winning! Really imaginative piece, and I bet you’ll see people copying it all over the place now. πŸ˜‰

    The snow is great, but I keep expecting to see some blood flecks there. Maybe some dirt/mud, but it looks like there is rock underneath.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This cant be an original idea, someone MUST have done this somewhere before. I appreciate the sentiment though, thanks!

      Its snow on bare rock, and there IS blood. Unfortunately it looks kind of realistic, by comparason to the spray. The photos don’t pick it up that well because its so fine, theres green and red blood. I didn’t want to do more as the arm has JUST been cut upwardly. I wasnt sure what to do about it but fortunately i did enough!

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      1. There is no original ideas anymore. That being said I don’t believe you plagiarised anyone so amazing job. Really impressive what you can achieve in 5 days!

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      2. Thanks, yeah it was quite fun to do and i was surprised there wasnt anything i felt like i had to change part way through. Everything kust seemed to look ok. If im honest i would like the paint job to be better, the blood on a floor to be more visible (without looking rediculous) and i should have used straight bristles for the head explosion rather than curved ones… That being said though im very happy with it. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ah, ok. I could see it going either way, on the blood thing. If everything just happened, then there might not be any mess on the snow yet, or maybe it carries past the base area. Just something that got stuck in my brain.

        I’ve seen sort of similar stuff, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do a head explosion yet. Granted, I’m not much into the whole GW diorama thing, so there’s a good chance I’ve missed it. At the very least, it’s the first time I’ve seen it done, and done well. πŸ™‚

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      4. Thanks 😁. You know, im not really into making Dioramas… But this could be a legitimate avenue for Christmas presents if i need to save some money. Somone pointed out something i had noticed too but them mentioning it gave me an idea. You the shell coming out of the head, but they are explosive rounds, which means that one didnt go off. Some time i might do one with someone shooting something in the body and try to sculpt the explosion as the body is begining to be torn apart.

        Thr blood thing does bother me too, bit it does look better with the naked eye. I just didnt want to add too much and it looks like the lift doors just opened in The Shining. Easier to add more than to take it away. I also planned to add spatter to the armour, but when it can to it i just couldn’t figure out how it would have got there when the arm is pointing away from the body and the hand is flying upwards after a clean cut. I picked Yellow armour specifically to show up the blood spatter!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. You can only get away with that amount of Shining blood with the right music and camera work, haha! Such a masterpiece. Yea, you definitely don’t want to go overboard. I think you got the right amounts overall.

        Nice call on the yellow armor. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but makes perfect sense. Knowing me, I would have painted the armor completely in red, finished the last highlights and then it would have dawned on me that the blood won’t show up! ;P

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      6. A lot of thought went into the chapter! I thought Ultramarine for classic match up, but wanted it to contrast with the genestealer… How about blood angels because of space hulk… Nope, needs to contrast woth blood, how about white scars!… Nope, need to contrast with the snow…

        …Its a minefield!

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    1. Thanks! yeah i am pretty pleased with the prize and when i started i had no idea if i had a chance of winning.

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  2. Congratulations! That is a very impressive piece, and even more so for coming together in only five days! And yeah, first victories like that are awesome. I remember several years back, I took second in a 40K Tournament, but there were trophies for the top 3, and it was the first time I’d ever won a trophy for something, and it felt so awesome. Cool to see someone else getting that.

    The snow came out really well here. The amount and placement on the Marine is perfect, you can totally see how it would have accumulated like that.

    Excellent job on the yellow armour, too. The newer paints make it easier, but getting a good yellow is still a serious pain in the neck.

    What really grabbed me about the poses is that the Sergeant isn’t even looking where he’s shooting, just trusting his sense of the Stealer’s movement and his arm positioning while his visual attention is all “Dorn’s Metacarpals! That was my second-favourite arm!”

    On the Bolter round, I can think of a number of possibilities for why it didn’t explode. Most simply, it could have been a dud. It also could have caught an exceptionally weak point, and passed all the way through before the mass-reactive detonator could trigger. Space Marines also have access to a number of different types of Bolter ammo beyond the standard mass-reactive ones, including at least one solid slug variety. Those specialist rounds are normally restricted to Sternguard and the DeathWatch, but given the Imperial Fists’ particular emphasis on Bolter technique, it seems reasonable that a Sergeant might also have been entrusted with them.

    The Goliath is such a cool kit. Have fun with it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. If it’s an explosive bolter round, there’s probably a minimum distance that it needs to travel before the explosive element is armed, much like real munitions. You could argue that marines are wearing power armour, but I’d argue back that their save isn’t worth the risk in terms of the resources needed to make a space marine.
      I’d also point out how often marines seem to be sans helmet and proper eye protection…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Minimum Arming Distance is another good possibility, yeah.

        It really does boggle my mind how often GW has Power/Terminator Armoured dudes with their helmets off. Even more so how often it’s described as being advantageous, especially for Space Wolves.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It’s also an amusing point to me, the whole no helmet thing. Someone topped it recently on Twitter when they converted a living marine riding in a redemptor, but with the runt open and pointing. I thought it was both awesome and hilarious.

        I have averted it a bit with this on, his helmet is on the floor and has cuts in it, suggesting it may be too damaged to use or possible got forcibly removed. Good Call Alexis on the different rounds and also Azazel on the distance arming of the round. It makes total sense, although I have to be honest with myself and know that I just didn’t think of these things. I’ll remember them though if it’s questioned in future πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Helmet damage is one of the few situations where I can see it making sense. I did appreciate that you covered the issue that way here.

        I also sometimes model Psykers with their helmets off, on the assumption that they can psychically shield their heads and it maybe sometimes interferes with their ability to perceive the flux of the warp or something.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Congratulations on winning this one and very well deserved. I particularly like the way that you’ve taken and shared the photos here in order to show the step-by-step of the assembly/composition of the figures. Just insane that it took you only five days, though. It’s been a real stand-out from August.
    I’d say the biggest take-away from this is that you really should “waste” more figures!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha ha, thanks. Yeah I guess it’s not a waste if it’s a successful model. I’m a player first though so ornaments are only going to be presents for other people… I say this realising with no small trace of irony that I have so little time to play and so many models… They are all uite ornamental at the moment.

      Yeah… 5 days. If you had showed me that a year ago and said I could make that in that time, I probably would have called bullshit. I was so happy with the result in that time It would have easily mitigates losing the hi competition. I’m really glad you appreciate the progress shots, I would have taken more if I had a chance but the breakneck pace of my modeling and painting only allowed for a couple of photos each day.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know were you’re coming from. I don’t get to play all that often, but I still like all my models to be “game-ready”, but then again I also paint all kinds of random stuff with no real gaming target (like that bloody armadillo) – but even then, they’re ready to go if needed.

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