Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Making an Imperial Beastman: Part 1: Finding bits and assembly

When I originally set out to try and make some Imperial Beastmen, I decided to try and document the process to give a good 'step by step' guide for what I'd done to put them together. My test model has been finished some significant time now, but I still haven't finished my tutorial / step by step / warning for future generations. Until now.

Well, not right now, because at the time of writing, there is a massive terrifying white space beneath this text, rather than what you're reading, which is full of deranged ramblings and badly taken photos. That's the magic of the internet. On the subject of badly taken photos - while my photos are still pretty poor, I can now see that back when I started this project, they were absolutely terrible! So, please be understanding of some of the ropey earlier photography.

Selection of Bits

In order to make an Imperial Beastman, you first need to source your parts. For my kit bash, I used Ungor bodies, Gor heads and horns, and Catachan arms. I chose the Ungor body over the Gor body as it has much less in the way of Chaos iconography, so it is much easier to work with. Advanced modellers who are comfortable with scraping off iconography and using green stuff to resculpt bits of a kit may want to stick with Gor bodies. Likewise, if you are doing Chaos worshipping Beastmen for use as cultists or similar, the Gor bodies will do just fine. The Catachan arms are well-muscled and fit in with the Beastman's general proportions. I used Gor heads for the classic goats head and horns, as the weedier Ungor heads just didn't inspire me.

If you are a Guard player, you will probably already have a big pile of assorted other bits and pieces, such as grenades, pouches and purity seals which will help up the "40K-ness" of the model. On this example, for instance, I added a couple of grenades to his belt at the back, although I failed to take any photos of this at the assembly stage.

Buying the parts

I thought it worthwhile to mention that there are a few ways of sourcing your parts which don't involve you buying three full infantry boxed sets from your local Games Workshop store or the GW website. The first option is to look at a discount retailer such as Dark Sphere or Wayland Games. I've used both in the past and have found both to be reliable. You should be aware, however, that Games Workshop is moving a large portion of its range (including the Catachan) to direct only sales. Some stores may be able to order them in for you, but will not be able to offer you as big a discount (or in some cases, any discount at all).

Either of these options do leave you with a large collection of parts that you aren't using for this conversion. Now, for some, this may not be the end of the world - you can just put them in your bits box for future use. I was certainly tempted before the Catachan went direct only to pick up a full Battalion box and save everything that wasn't a pair of arms for future conversion projects. Don't under-estimate how much you can get for a bit pile of leftover bits on ebay, either. I'll cover advice on how to do that in a separate post.

For conversions like this, however, I would recommend sites which sell bits. For converting large squads, when you need a lot of the same sort of thing, Hoard o' Bits in the US is one of the best sites for that sort of thing - offering things like "all the arms out of this box" or "all the bodies out of this box" - perfect for what we're doing here. If you're doing a more individual conversion, then you're likely better off using Bitz Box or Bits and Kits. If all else fails, hit ebay - but you will generally find that prices there are a little higher without a lot of bargain hunting.

Putting the bits together

This is an incredibly easy kit bash to do. The parts basically fit together well, although if you are dealing with a set of Catachan arms which both hold on to the lasgun, you may have a little more work on your hands. In my case, I went with the easy option of one hand with a gun, and one hand with a knife.

So, after cleaning up all the parts, I glued the body to the base, and the arms to the body. Meanwhile, I glued the horns onto the head. This was my first rookie error - I did not do a "dry fit" and did not realise that the pony tail on the head was going to cause me incredible problems painting the right arm.

I then glued the head to the body. You will notice that there's a teeny bit of a gap between the head and the horns, which will be really rather obvious once under-coated.

I used liquid green stuff to fill in the gaps that were around. I use clay shapers to make sure I've got the stuff into the right places. I prefer it to a brush as its easier to clean, and I feel like I have a little more control, although that may just be preference. While it looks messy, it's really fine once you undercoat. You'll also notice I've realised that the arm was not in a good place and pulled it off again. You will find it really hard to pull pieces off if you use polystyrene cement (AKA plastic glue) - super glue will actually provide a weaker bond in these cases, which is actually advantageous for correcting mistakes. I've discovered this accidentally due to my wife's allergy to polystyrene cement fumes, but there have been a number of projects since where I've been incredibly glad of the ability to pull an arm off again without damage.

And here we are, ready for undercoating. You'll also see another excellent trick my wife taught me here - lollipop sticks. I bought mine from Loynds, but since I bought from them, they now sell the sticks as Yolli. This has the added advantage of selling an assortment of sugar related goods, which resulted in me ordering honeycomb in industrial quantities.

Distraction of sugar based goods aside, a tiny drop of super glue secures the small part to the stick, fine for painting, but also light enough that it's easy to pull off once your painting is finished. You'll need to touch the join up a little, but you will have a lot fewer problems with hard to reach spots.

So, that's how to find the parts for and assemble your Imperial Beastman. I'll be making a separate post shortly covering how I painted mine.


  1. Nice job ! How do you plan on playing him?. I do like the big belly of recent ungors but have you considered adding the cadian armoured chest insted to show the armour if you're playing them ?
    I go to the same sites as you do but I sometimes need to find others like bitzarium or letthedicedecide because there is always a shortage of imperial guards arms (and other fancy bits).

    1. I considered adding some body armour, but decided to go with the easy option and not do it - the legs and torso come as one part, and cutting them up would be a pain!

      I'm planning on running them as Penal Legion, and I'm really hoping they aren't removed in the upcoming Codex!

      I have used "Let the Dice Decide" before, and was impressed by them, tho I usually find them out of stock of most of the things I want (quite possibly bad luck more than anything else). I've not used Bitzarium before, but I shall start adding them to my browsing list!