A simple but potent word that also comes closely related to its sister term kitbashing. Beloved by those who play Orks or Chaos in 40k as it is very simple to steal something vaguely interesting to you, and load it with spikes, heretical symbols, or random armour plates to denote its newly corrupted/looted state.
Back when apocalypse first dropped, Games workshop released a few ‘formation’ box sets. I found out, after reading through the book, that anything the imperials could get – chaos could take. This led to the acquisition of the basilisk 3 pack. I took two and built them normally. Then I took a soldering iron to them to show battle damage, and that they had been salvaged from a long-lost battlefield. The command tank (which at the time could be a basilisk) was built from half a mk2b rhino, and a spare earthshaker cannon, and why did I have a spare cannon? Well, that’s because I grafted a warriors of chaos hellcannon onto the third basilisk chassis.
Now, with these being chaos basilisks, I built up a box of chaos marines, and a chaos lord in terminator armour, to man the vehicles – placing the chaos lord on the platform of the command tank. I did not glue them to their vehicles, but left them on their bases so that they can be used on foot if needed.
This strange fascination with the forces of chaos led me to look for more unique conversion opportunities. Some of these involved my chaos lord, and his retinue of chaos lieutenants. It was the time of apocalypse, also see on their bases victims from my opponents space wolves, black Templars, and a IG force that was based around using LOR, and warhamer fantasy models. Only the Black Templar player is still a regular opponent now.
What everybody did with daemon princes back when you only had the metal CSM inspired offering
Some models however do not need conversion to function as something more than what they once were.
Take this lord of the rings Sauron minature as an example. He is not converted as such, but still makes a great daemon prince. However
This Balrog has undergone a more noticeable change, having gained new limbs: Blood thirster axe, lord of change arm, nurgle daemon prince sword, lord of change staff, collar of khorne made from the semicircular part from the chaos vehicle accessories sprue. Also, a tzeentch inspired blue flame deco. This was due to the fact that in the 4th edition chaos codex you could get unmarked daemon princes, and he could be a counts as for any of the four dedicated types.
This is where many people undertake in kitbashing or conversions. Sometimes it is so that a model with the same starting point looks very different to another that shares its base. An example would be these chaos lords. Both use the old metal terminator lord kit as a base.
Galrauch is close to the base version of this model with only his third arm being a converted part. Agra, however, deviates quite significantly, and looks very different to his fellow chaos lord. The combi melta is a stolen loyalist part, while his power fist started out as an obliterator’s left arm (flipped around, and given only power claw blades), with his head being from the chaos terminator kit, which was then green stuffed into position.
Blood angel characters made over the course of campaigns, and for one-off battles, and kill team missions.
The two blood angels in this picture started out as stormcast eternals, and now with added blood angel parts, function as a captain and chaplain when used with 40k ,and a preator and a centurion when used in 30k.
While Valnir (Chaos lord with flaming sword) is a true kitbash in its purest form. His legs come from the old iron hands upgrade kit, his chest and head come from the iron warriors upgrade kit, his sword belonged to archaon, his plasma pistol arm came from a space marine assault squad, his backpack from the normal chaos space marine kit. With the gaps filled by CSM offcuts. Anslem, his fellow chaos lord in this picture, is made from an old space marine with tyranid, and chaos space marine parts added – along with a dimensional key and a daemonette consort on his base.
This image also shows three versions of the same character from my blood angel army, showing how a commander may evolve with your forces. The first was involved in a campaign where you could create your own weapons twin linked storm bolter/heavy flamer. The second has a power sword/axe [choose when attacking], and a combi flamer/melta [choose in army list]. Third has an inferno pistol, the same power axe/sword/paragon blade, and the angels wing/jump pack [depending on 30/40k use].
The next thing you may attempt when kitbashing is making a unique variation of a standard vehicle. Some army lists will include options that have no official model available. An example would be the space marine legion list where blood angels can go berserk and get a Baal predator with turret mounted twin linked assault cannons, sponson assault cannons, and a pintle mounted assault cannon. My effort to create one of these led to me doing this
This old old tank is currently held together with curses, and copious amounts of green stuff (courtesy of it falling off, and even through a table at one stage), but still serves my blood angels. It was the fourth model I bought for 40k. I still use it for nostalgia’s sake. It even still performs as well as it did back in 3rd edition. With its most recent pass from the hand of time, I pulled the heavy flamers free and glued on the spare assault cannons you get with the fire raptor kit (those from the storm raven), and placed a metal land speeder tornado assault cannon onto the top of the turret. In 40k the sponsons count as heavy bolters as you cannot create the assault cannon tank of ultimate dakka in the 40k blood angels codex.
VDR will mean a lot to many and nothing to others. One of the bonuses, hidden within a book called chapter approved, was a set of vehicular modification and upgrade rules, which opened the floodgates for creativity within a friendly environment. But, like everyone else in my gaming group, the urge to go nuts took hold. After 6 hours, and 1200 pts later, the Firestorm land raider emerged from the deepest parts of game breaking concepts and turned into a model:
4 Sponson mounted gatling lascannons, 4 sponson mounted demolisher cannons, 4 sponson mounted whirlwind missile launchers, hull mounted demolisher cannon, chassis mounted hyperios launcher, and two imperial void shields. At over 1200 points, and considered to be a super heavy vehicle, it was hefty, and simply erased anything within range. The vehicle still exists, but as a curiosity more than a gaming piece.
Now, this is a more normal use for the VDR rules. This tank is based off the tracks from the khorne lord of skulls model with a dual battle cannon turret, and a coaxial long barrelled autocannon. It also features heavy bolter sponsons, and defensive flamers. It costs 280 points, and has been balanced through playtesting and use. Yes, I have a VDR vehicle that I have used in 7th edition 40k multiple times. Thank you, friendly gaming group.
This a VDR vehicle designed, and built, by a friend of mine after we had a discussion, and thought that a walking land raider would be awesome!
Back to Normal Service
This defiler has been equipped with two more legs, and had his claws moved up onto the torso, with the weapons being moved onto the forearms.
The land raider has two predator annihilator turrets instead of sponsons. The hull mounted heavy bolters are from the sicaran/Fw predator kit with a dark angels storm shield used as a cover, and a crewmember with multi melta added on top.
The razorback has had its front replaced with the faring from the land raider, and the twin linked heavy bolter nestled within. The plasma predator is based off the Baal predator kit with the plasma destructor, and sponson plasma cannons added, as well as a pile of dark talon parts to make it look more like a dark angels relic..
My techmarine contemptor dreadnought is the one with the highest amount of conversion work present on him. He is made from a raven guard contemptor dread with a power fist holding a thunder hammer from the dreadknight kit. The servo harness uses a plastic sentinels legs, a metal sentinels legs, a twin linked lascannon from the storm raven, a land speeder multi melta, with the servo harness claws being made from sprue, two sentinel chainblades, and the spare fingers from the power claw.
The other model is a heavy warjack which I use as a dreadnought, as it is very very close in size to a normal box dreadnought, and the addition of a thunder hammer helps the look.
The chaos heavy weapon team is a very old kitbash using the old monopose ‘block’ marines and a spare defiler part.
These two heldrakes were created after I bought and assembled one of the kits in a vanilla manner. I thought to myself, well this could be cool if I could make a phoenix/bird variation on the design. Caving, I bought a second heldrake kit and got to work cutting off the flying stand at an angle to better pose the model mid swoop.
The drake form heldrake was an evolution of the design, and the artwork in the chaos marine codex, making the unit look like a dragon tearing through a valkryie gunship. Buying my third heldrake kit, I started the drake conversion. Sprue, greenstuff, a thick metal wire, and a crudely drawn plan led to the models completion, and unlike any normal heldrake this one can stand on the ground without the need for a flying base.
So, you can if you want do some impromptu marine vs dragon posing, or…..
use the model for something not even remotely related to warhammer 40k. Prepare to die, chosen undead!
So, in closing I would like to say that kitbashing and conversions lie in every army, and every game system. From the most basic parts swap when you want to add variety to a unit, or a sergeant.
To adding your own touch to a centrepiece model.
To going all out and making the model you always wanted to make.
To having strange ideas, and filling your painting area with your ideas.
Not being able to complete a project without planning your next one:
The idea that led me to write an outline for a pirate space marine army complete with conversion options.
A gallery of images showing some of the other conversions I have done over the years, and some more pics of the walking land raider for those who are interested:
I hope this post inspires you to create your own converted models. As for me, I have a mastodon to finish normally before I turn it into a pirate battleship, and set sail into the building of my proposed pirate space marines.
Apologies for the image quality on some of the pictures. I am currently in the spare room as the room I normally store/paint/convert my models in is being worked on. Hence why some are in a garage, and some are from the spare room. Also, the camera would not take consistent images. It especially hates red models for some reason. Except the baal predator, which is actually the correct colour.