Building a mutant army vehicle is fun conversion

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My first foray at converting a Games Workshop kit and creating something new and different.

I’ve been slowly creating a mutant army as part of the narrative story of the desert world of Morkai. Already, there have been a few military clashes between the mutants and Imperial authorities, and I’m thinking of expanding Morkai’s troubles with a full-scale civil war.

As part of this effort, I’ve had a hankering to build a mutant war machine—specifically, an ork Trukk kit-bashed into what I hope looks like an old civilian vehicle that’s been converted into a makeshift artillery piece.

I finally got around to it, and I’m quite pleased with the result. The converted Trukk looks the part, and the paint job I managed is far superior to my normal paint-by-numbers quality.

To understand the logic behind the conversion, it’s important to understand my premise for this project.

As I see it, the mutants of Ungoloth, on the world of Morkai, live in a ruined hive city abandoned centuries ago by Imperial authorities. It is a post-apocalyptic setting, a morbid and dreaded place that the rest of the planet speaks about only in whispers.

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To make it easier to build, I used the ork bodies that came with the Trukk kit, but replaced the heads with Chaos-tainted heads and painted the figures a distinctly non-ork color. Note the skulls mounted on poles at the front of the truck. My mutants aren’t nice people.

In recent years, the mutants have become increasingly aggressive, attacking caravans and isolated communities in the desert surrounding the city. It is whispered the mutants are being stirred up by a charismatic leader named Haruspex, and he has plans to be a “liberator” of the planet’s sizable and oppressed mutant population.

If the mutants are going to rise up, they’ll need weapons. But they lack the resources and industry of the Imperial-controlled hive cities. So, as I see it, the only choice they have is to dig up ancient vehicles and machinery long buried in the desert sands—and then use whatever is still functional to cobble together their war machines and weapons.

Given the cobbled-together look of an ork Trukk, it was an obvious model to use as the basis of a mutant vehicle.

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The heart of the gun was a nosecone/cockpit from a Space Marine Stormtalon Gunship kit. The gunner looks quite human. Well, he is—not all mutants have horns or massive disfigurements.

There was no major conversion work necessary. I removed the ork icons on the chassis, left the engine exposed, and moved a few small pieces around. I also added poles topped with human skulls along the chassis to make a point. (These mutants are savages!)

The only significant change involved the rear chassis, where I planned to mount a sizable artillery gun.

That meant, for one, that the rear side panels, originally designed to be glued in a vertical position, needed to be lowered to a horizontal position.

As I see it, the side panels would be raised when the vehicle was in motion, to minimize the width of the vehicle when maneuvering and to protect the mechanism of the artillery piece.

But, when it was time to fire, the side panels would be lowered, so the gun could rotate freely and increase its firing arc.

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The completed gun is a mix of bits, Styrene tubing, and electrical wire.

To glue the side panels in a semi-horizontal position was a problem, as the panels connections to the chassis were molded for a vertical placement, I had to support the side panels with styrene strips. So far, it appears this support provides sufficient strength for the model to be picked up by the side panels (and not have them break free of the model).

Now it was time to tackle the gun. The heart of it is a nosecone/cockpit from a Space Marine Stormtalon Gunship, with a bunch of unused bitz from the same kit glued to the nosecone/cockpit to give the gun more detail. The gun barrels were made of various diameters of Styrene tubes, with some electrical wire added here and there as cables and ammo supply tubes.

As I wanted the gun to rotate, I needed an appropriate base. I found it in my bitz box: a gun mount from the Imperial Bastion kit. An approximately one-inch-in-diameter ring is modeled into the top of the mount, just large enough for a metal washer to fit inside.

Thus I glued the gun mount to the floor of the Trukk’s flatbed and a washer to the bottom of my gun assembly. The washer fits perfectly, holding the gun in place and adding weight that keeps the otherwise top-heavy gun from toppling over. The gun rotates nicely.

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Rust, graffeti, and wear and tear indicate both the history of the Trukk’s individual parts and the lack of maintenance provided by the mutants.

For now, the exact “type” of the gun is flexible. As my mutant army (for now) is based on the Imperial Guard Codex, I intend to use the Trukk as either a Hydra with twin-lined anti-aircrafft autocannons or as a Wyvern with twin-linked stormshard mortars.

Given the small-diameter tubing I used for the guns, I suppose that, eventually, I’ll treat the Trukk as a Hydra—and build a second Trukk with squatter, larger-diameter guns that match the mortars of a Wyvern model.

But that’s a project for the future. As I do a lot of solo gaming in my Morkai setting, no one is going to complain about which guns I mount on my Trukk.

Once the model’s construction was complete, it was time to start painting. The first step was, of course, to prime it—and I gave it a coat of Leadbelcher using a Games Workshop spray can.

I didn’t resort immediately to my usual paint-by-numbers approach. I felt it was essential that the Truck looked cobbled together—and old. So, although I’m not comfortable with weathering, I gave it an effort.

I began by using washes and using different colors for each panel clearly identifiable on the model.

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There is rust all over the vehicle, but the most corroded and damaged parts of the Trukk can be found on the underside.

My thinking is that the mutants of Ungoloth do not have mass-production weapons factories. Each weapon is built by hand, cobbled together from whatever spare parts are at hand.

The engine might be pulled from a civilian truck uncovered after centuries buried in the desert sand. A bit of the chassis might come from a different vehicle, and the paneling on the side of the truck might be ripped off a third, fourth, and fifth vehicle—or maybe an old storage tank or industrial container.

Not only that, these components would have faded paint, as the desert sun and wind-blown sand would strip down the paint or fade it to only a faint remnant remained.

For that reason, I wanted to suggest that each part of the vehicle came from a different source and retained the color of the original vehicle or piece of machinery that it came from.

This approach created a vehicle with a very realistic look—one that told a story.

To add to the vehicle’s decrepit appearance, I added some rust to the undercarriage. Although Morkai is a desert world, I believe these vehicles would be constructed and stored in the underground levels of the ruined hive city, where they would be exposed to the dank humidity created by the significantly cooler temperatures of the underhive.

(Mutants aren’t known for devoting a lot of effort to maintaining their equipment.)

Now, I didn’t just slap on a bit of rust colors on the sides. Although there is thin wash of rust over a lot of the vehicle, I wanted some to represent very heavy rust—the kind that has that crumbly, rough texture.

To achieve that effect, I applied a thick coat of Citadel texture paint on the undercarriage. I really slopped it all over the lower edges.

I didn’t worry about what color I used, as I covered the texture paint with a series of washes of rust-like colors. I finished up with drip lines of Thyphus Corrosion and a heavy coat of Nuln’s Oil.

When all was said and done, I think the paint job came out grand. It’s one of my finest painting efforts, and it shows some real progress in my painting techniques.

So, good for me. I can’t wait to put it in a battle.—TheGM

The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi world of Games Workshop.

Categories: Modeling, Painting

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