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Themed Army Ideas

Characters with Character: Converting Ferin Ironhammer by Patrick Eibel
Patrick EibelOne of the most challenging parts of creating a unique army is modeling characters. Games Workshop produces many excellent character figures, but they may not be equipped with the wargear that you want or look exactly the way you envisioned your character. There is also the problem of using a ďnamedĒ figure, such as Mephiston, to represent your character: everyone will automatically assume that it is Mephiston, which can really be confusing if you are not playing Blood Angels.

Recently, Kenton and I were playing a battle in the Tooth and Claw campaign and started discussing the character of Ferin Ironhammer (below). Long-time readers will recognize Ferin as my Space Wolf Venerable Dreadnought. Originally, I used the Bjorn the Fell Handed model, which was equipped with and assault cannon, lightning claw, and a heavy flamer. I made minor alterations to Bjornís paint scheme and put Ferinís name on the scroll on his sarcophagus, but essentially it was the same as the Bjorn and thus the character never seemed to have his own identity. 

The old Ferin
Above: The old Ferin, with assault cannon and lightning claw.
Okay, but not exactly boss, ya know?

We felt that Ferin should have a more distinct feel as he was the focus of the new campaign and a pretty neat character. Kenton suggested giving him a thunder hammer to reflect his past incarnation as an Iron Priest (hence the name Iron-hammer). I really like the idea, but then had to figure out how to actually model it. Here is how I went about it, which may help you in your projects.

The Right Arm
The first thing I should mention is that I was dealing with the original Bjorn the Fell Handed model, which is entirely metal. When the new plastic Dreadnought came out last year, I briefly considered using the plastic arms to make modeling easier, but decided to try to work with what I had instead.

Bjornís right arm is equipped with an assault cannon, which is a fine tactical weapon, but since I was trying to make Ferin distinct from Bjorn, I knew I had to change it. I decided to make a twin-linked heavy bolter arm, as the reroll would mean I would almost never miss. 

Using a dremel (an almost essential tool for converting metal miniatures), I sliced off the assault cannon barrel, but left the back part of the housing (equivalent to his elbow). I took two of the plastic heavy bolters that come with the Land Speeder kit and shaved their bottoms smooth, removing the gun mount clip and raised detail. Next, I had to shave the skull and crossbones from one of the guns as I was going to be using the gun upside down. I glued the two bottoms of the guns together, shaved the back of the guns to get a clean edge, and mounted them to where the assault cannon used to be. I filled any gaps with green stuff and then primed the arm Chaos Black.

The new Ferin
Above: The new Ferin, with twin heavy bolters and thunder hammer

The Left Arm
The left arm was going to be much more difficult, as it was going to hold the thunder hammer. The easy solution was to use the thunder hammer accessory from the Chaos Dreadnought, but this did not fit my idea of what I wanted my model to look like. I wanted an actual hammer and hand, sort of like a mech from an anime cartoon (I know, no more Power Rangers for me). 

After seeing a Dreadnought with a hand (modeled by Scott Smith [aka Mastiff]), I attempted to use the fingers from the Dreadnought power claw (the short stubby ones) to make a hand. Cutting each finger apart and trying to rearrange the spacing didnít work, so I tried making a fist from green stuff. This wound up looking like the Dreadnought was trying to punch with four sausages. I quickly determined that I would have to go in another direction to get the look I wanted.

By this point, I had swapped the Bjorn left arm (lightning claw/heavy flamer) with the standard arm that used to be on my assault dreadnought (Valnir). This actually worked much better, as now my assault Dreadnought had a multi-melta and heavy flamer and Ferin would have twin heavy bolters and a storm bolter, giving him five shots per round. 

I then went to GWís Online Store to find the right bits to create the hand and hammer. I knew the hand had to be big to be in scale with the rest of the Dreadnought, so I went straight to the biggest hand I could think of Ė the Warhammer Fantasy Giant from the Orc and Goblin range. Fortunately, the Giantís left hand was clenched in a fist (the older Giant had his hand splayed out). 

The new Ferin
Above: Detailed view of the left arm

Next, I had to find a hammer big enough to be in scale with the hand, but high-tech enough to look like a thunder hammer. This left out anything from the Fantasy range, and I once again rejected the Chaos Dreadnought hammer, as it did not have a shaft. I finally had the bright idea to increase the scale by looking in a range of larger figures Ė Inquisitor. I found what I needed by taking the hammer from the Preacher Josef figure and cutting away his hands.

Assembling the pieces on the Dreadnought was a pretty straightforward process aided by the use of a dremel and prodigious amounts of green stuff.  The only hitch was the bottom of the hammer. Josefís hammer has a small skull on the bottom that I thought would look cool attached to the bottom of the fist. But since I was using the metal Dreadnought arm, this put the skull directly in the line of fire of the storm bolter (on the plastic arm the storm bolter hangs lower). I ended up just wadding some green stuff and making a small haft to indicate the bottom of the hammer. 

I waited for everything to dry, primed the new parts black, and painted the arms to match the rest of the model. To finish off the figure, I bought the base for the Anvil of Doom (a circle with carved runes), which really adds to the Viking flavor.

I must say that I am quite pleased with the results. I now have a very distinct figure that no one would confuse with Bjorn and is really in keeping with the background I had developed for the character.
 

Related Pages
Ferin Ironhammer
Tooth and Claw Campaign
Other Space Marine Themed Army Ideas
 

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© Copyright Patrick Eibel, June 2002. Used with permission.
 

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