A couple of months ago I picked up a cheap second-hand Rhino on eBay and got to work on rescuing it from the paint job it came with. After several hours of soaking it in Dettol and scrubbing it with a toothbrush I got most of the paint off and was able to start rebuilding it under the nurturing eye of Grandfather Nurgle. Cutting to the chase, here’s the finished product:
I had so much fun working on this. I experimented with a bunch of different techniques for the first time. The most obvious at first glance is probably the crackle paint. I smeared Agrellan Earth in sections all over the chassis of the tank, to give it a decrepit aesthetic without the standard drab, rusty look. I also used a bunch of different Forgeworld conversion pieces on it. And I even busted out some carpentry to make the custom base that’s holding the Rhino.
The body of the Plague Marine gunner is from the Death Guard upgrade kit. The model I rescued from eBay was pretty badly beaten up, particularly the gunner, probably because it sticks out a bit. So I had to cut away a lot of the ruined parts and rebuild some of it from scratch using Green Stuff, chunks of plastic from sprues, and copious glue. The result was that the gunner is standing a lot higher in his ‘seat’ than the original model. I could have fixed that easily enough, but once I had him positioned like that I decided that I actually prefer it this way. It looks like he’s proudly showing off his position front and center of an awesome machine of war. I liked that so much that I put a Nurgling beside him, matching or maybe even mimicking the gunner’s position, complete with a gun for the Nurgling to shoot too.
Speaking of which, the Nurgling’s combi-plasma is magnetised on, so that it can be switched for a combi-melta or combi-flamer, or removed entirely to save on points. I also magnetised the missile launcher rack on the mid-section. I think the Nurgling’s position works well for this, because he still looks appropriate with or without the gun in front of him. The second Nurgling, having a ball riding on the ram spikes at the front of the Rhino, is also a mimickry reference, copying the horns and gleeful expression of the skull on the front panel of the tank.
There are a bunch of different visual references to the Horus Heresy included on the model, apart from the mainly heresy-era colour scheme. The front and right-side panels are from the 40K door upgrade kit, but the left-side panel is from the 30K Horus Heresy door kit. There are also a few etched brass pieces glued on to give it even more of the post-heresy vibe. I like the idea of an Astartes legion that’s proud of its origins but also slovenly or nihilistic enough to let its iconography warp and fester. I think that suits the prevailing attitude of the pre- and post-heresy Death Guard in the lore. (I’m reading The Flight of the Eisenstein at the moment. Come back in a month or two for my review of it if you’re interested.)
I’ve looked at dozens of people’s Nurgle tank conversions for inspiration, but I ended up going a little more understated than most. I think there’s a danger of overdoing the tentacles and spikes that are so popular, especially for a model as big as a vehicle that will draw a lot of visual attention. But I couldn’t resist altogether! At the back of the Rhino, I’ve put a small daemonic tentacle creeping out from the tread-well, built from Green Stuff. In this pic you can also see a fun little detail I added; the guage/dial piece from an Ork Killa-Kan I think.
The crackle paint was interesting to work with. It so much fun to play around with, and I’m pleased with the outcome, but I’m not 100% satisfied with how it turned out. I learnt that you have to really commit to it, in order to get a good crackling effect. I started out with a relatively thin layer in just a few patches. As it dried out, the crackling effect ended up very fine, without as much contrast as I was going for. So I ended up doing it again with a much thicker layer over the first layer, and the combination of those two layers looks a bit weird. But the thick sections look great. I think that as long as you seal it onto the model with subsequent layers of washes and paints to hold the crackles on, you can afford to go really thick for really bold crackle effects.
Luckily I did the crackly fly icon after I’d already experimented on the other patches, so I knew I wanted it thick from the get go. In these pics you can see the gradual crackling effect as the Agrellan Earth sets. I discovered that watching paint dry is a lot more fun than people admit!
The base I made from MDF compound wood. You can buy it cheap at any hardware store. I cut an oval shape out and sanded the edges roughly into the angle of a base. I decided that I wanted a base because I don’t like touching the paintwork of my models during games or for transport, and also because the base does a lot of story-telling work and ties the model in with the rest of my army (including mushrooms!). You can also see the tracks at the back of the base where the Rhino has driven through the Stirland Mud.
I’m now working on a squad of close-combat equipped Plague Marines for the Rhino to transport to the front lines. Stay tuned for that.