Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Trouble With Models.

I have been fortunate enough to see some downright beautiful Inquisitor models in my time, excellent concepts realised with technically perfect conversions and superb paint work. I've had the pleasure of seeing some of these models “in the flesh” as it were, and been happy to have lost out in Painting and Modelling competitions to them. There's nothing better than a stonking model, something that I'm sure all Inquisitor players can appreciate.

Conclave user Kaled's beautiful scratch-built Sister Hospitaller quite rightfully won the Inquisitor Grand Tournament top model prize a few years ago.

As I alluded to in my first entry in this blog, I feel that Inquisitor was the first game I played where I was encouraged to create my own character and given free reign to put him or her together in any fashion I liked. Inquisitor Mikael Van Helser was hardly a breathtaking example of kit bashing, but I wanted my character to have a daemonsword, hand flamer and shuriken catapult, and that's exactly what I modelled him to have (in hindsight, he was a bit of a travesty with that combination, but we live and learn). The freedom to create someone that did not have to be tied to a specific faction from the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop was completely new, and we newly liberated Inquisitor players only had our imaginations as a limit to our creations. I feel that the new scale I was building models for was a fantastic chance to get away from the familiar 40k tropes too, as everything was new and there would be no familiar archetypes in my new miniatures. I soon fell in love with 54mm, and really enjoyed the process of fine-tuning painting techniques for the scale. Converting too became a favourite past time, and no amount of cutting, pinning and gap filling seemed too much of a stretch. I have Inquisitor to thank as well for teaching me to sculpt: I went from struggling to jam greenstuff between joints to sculpting (imperfect, but passable) models from scratch.

A passable Celestial Lions Space Marine Scout.

In my opinion, the Inquisitor range included some of Citadel Miniatures best sculpts, with my personal favourite being the Adeptus Arbites Judge. There were some not so great figures too (I'm looking at you, Callidus Assassin), but the quality of the line was generally pretty high. One of the best things about the line was that, for the most part, the miniatures were multi-part figures, which allowed for easy conversion by simply swapping out components. Goodness knows how many combinations of parts there were, especially when the booster packs of additional weapons, heads, arms and legs were included, and the Painting and Modelling forum of The Conclave would see novel constructs each month that made even veteran modellers wonder how no one had come up with that combination before. We were also blessed by the heroic scaling of 28mm Citadel Miniatures that meant that a large number of components worked just fine at 54mm. I have a few models that use 40k ork arms with no adaptation needed, and plenty of weapons from 28mm look realistic in the hands of Inquisitor figures (rather than ridiculously large!).

40k ork arms were put to good use on this mutant.

The golden years weren't to last though, and first Games Workshop stopped its component service, and then started to reduce the Inquisitor range as moulds began to wear out. Finally of course, all the Specialist Games ranges were discontinued in 2013. The lack of immediate access to Inquisitor figures is an inconvenience, but it is not really that much more difficult to game at 54mm than it was a decade ago. Ebay is always an option, and at any one time you're likely to find a handful of Inquisitor figures up for auction. Most don't tend to go for more than they would have when Games Workshop were still selling them, and if you don't mind paint-stripping, you can usually pick up pre-owned, painted characters for a few pounds/dollars/euros each. There are some models that were rare even when GW were selling them, including the Civilians and Kal Jerico, so expect to pay big bucks for those.

There are Inquisitor models for sale right now! If you're quick you might still catch these auctions...

Through Ebay, a manufacturer of cheap, plastic 54mm figures was discovered by members of The Conclave a few years ago. This Russian company came to our attention through its “Insurgent” models, who all had Inquisitor Eisenhorn's face. Clearly, this wasn't above board, but surprisingly, Games Workshop either didn't notice, or didn't care enough to stop them, and a number of us now have a squad of these “Insurgents” as NPC goons for our games. For around £10, including delivery from a seller in Moscow, you could have these models in your hands, and with a quick paint job, and minor conversions if you were that way inclined, a fully functional warband for Inquisitor. Bargain. It turned out that the company behind these models had a large range, including Roman gladiators, Cossacks, American Confederates, Minotaurs, Orcs, and the hilariously named Battle Gnomes (dwarves to everyone else), which were all available at knock-down prices. As well as the “Insurgents” I put together some pirates and cyborgs. They all look the part with minimal work.

Conclave user Brother_Brimstone shows off the Battle Gnomes.

If you are a bit more discerning about the figures you like to own, the historical figure market is saturated with exceptionally high quality 54mm figure manufacturers. One of the wonderful things about the 41st millennium is that practically any time period from history can be represented in the Imperium, so Roman generals, 17th century pirates, and members of the 101st Airborne can all rub shoulders in the service of the Inquisition. A number of fantasy and sci fi ranges have blossomed over the last few years too, and from these ranges can be found aliens, daemons and barbarian heroes. For those interested in checking out these alternative ranges, the Carthax Wiki has a page dedicated to alternative model suppliers, and can be found here.

Another of Kaled's models, Jessamyn Rae began life as Pegaso Models' Nokjagerin.

So, is there trouble with getting hold of and working with 54mm Inquisitor figures? I don't think so. Hopefully you'll now be aware of the beauty of the Citadel range, and have seen a few examples of alternative figures that have impressed you. Dispelling the unease that some people have about working at a different scale to what they're used to is a bit more of an ask, but you'll just have to trust me that all the techniques you know already are transferable, and will result in a great model. Most of the weapons and gadgets in your bits box work fine at the larger scale too. Just give it a try, and even if you don't end up gaming at 54mm, you'll have a nice display piece for beside your computer.

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The Carthaxian Inquisitor

P.S. a week has passed since Scum, Subs and Muties was made available for download. I've had a bit of feedback so far, but would love to hear more!

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