The Joy of Kitbash part1: Originality and Necessity

Now I have to admit that I love kitbashing. I like my models to be unique, which is fairly straightforward with Space Wolves. If I want certain units: Swift Claws, Long Fangs etc. then it’s also necessary.

Coots, the Kitbashers of the bird world sometimes get a bit carried away with adding more and unusual bits to their nests!

Coots, the Kitbashers of the bird world sometimes get a bit carried away with adding more and unusual bits to their nests!

The big advantage with making individual Space Wolves compared to Tactical Marines is in the kits. The Space Wolves pack has a wider range of poses for legs, a large choice of heads and a fair amount of choice in weapons and accessories. I bought a Tac Marine box the other day and I was rather shocked to realise that the legs all have the same pose! Of course, it is possible to repose bits and I’ll talk about that in another post, but it’s nice to not have to do so.

Of course, by the third box of guys, there is a risk of them starting to look a bit samey, even with a bits filled kit like the Space Wolf Pack box, this is when kitbashing for originality becomes fun.

In this series of posts I’m going to look at kitbashing both for originality and necessity. Technically there will also be green stuff work involved, so I guess that it’s really conversion rather than kitbashing, but why let accuracy get in the way of a good title! I’m going to look at two cases, both Space Wolves. For originality I am going to look at building troops, Grey Hunters and Blood Claws, whereas for necessity I am going to look at Long Fangs and Swift Claw Bikers.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of kitbashing? Well, I suppose the main advantage is originality. Even a simple head swap can lead to a unique looking miniature, while by playing around a bit you can really customise your models to fit your theme. It’s why I kitbash and it’s also why I like to use freehand. It means that my Space Wolves are not yet more members of Ragnar Blackmane’s Company, they are of Ælfhere Great-Paw’s Great Company, with all the fluff and heraldry that I can think of! The second advantage is that of cost. To buy Ulrik the Slayer or the Rune Priest model from Games Workshop is €16 in Europe, to build one using bits from the Space Wolves Pack kit and a bit of green stuff is around €3 or €4.

The time cost though can be a disadvantage, as a more involved conversion, involving green stuff or reposing can take a considerable amount of time, particularly if you have to wait for things to set. Also, the more detailed and involved the kitbash becomes, the more difficult it becomes, whereas I’ve found that most of the troop-sized models that I’ve built as suggested are fairly straightforward. There is also a risk that parts do not fit together well and bodging or green-stuffing is required to hide an unsightly join. If you’re going for a uniform look, you need to be certain that you have all the bits to make every guy look the same. If one guy in your Ultramarine squad has Death Company legs, while another seems to have borrowed his armour from a Space Wolf, well, things don’t really fit well any more. There’s also a risk that if you go too far the model becomes unrepresentative of the unit type or is no longer game legal: i.e. it is too big or too small or has the wrong type of weapons.

However, while the disadvantages list does seem longer, I think the advantages carry more weight, as most of the disadvantages can be countered by basic planning or experience and hopefully in this series I can show you a few tips and tricks to make kitbashes and conversions a little bit easier.

I’m going to stick to using Games Workshop products in this series. There are plenty of nice conversion bits out there on the web, but if I manage to get a game in it is at a GW store, so I really should try to stick to GW parts. Also, they are fairly easy to get hold of, and I have plenty of bits in my box. Finally, I don’t really have much experience with third party bits, so I feel that I can’t really talk about them.

I guess that I should finally apologise for the lack of posts over the last month. I was preparing a duel for a painting competition (and more about that after next Saturday). I have some free time again now but I was painting and modelling until the day that I entered it so I haven’t really had enough energy to blog, or any time to do much “fun” painting. I am going to try to get back on schedule now and write up a few posts in advance, so I can fill in any gaps, so hopefully I will be back again on Tuesday with another post.



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