Earlier this month, we looked back at all we accomplished in 2020. This is always a fun exercise, letting us consider how we evolved as hobbyists over the year. Even better, however, is to reflect on the hobbyists that inspired us during the strange and turbulent 2020. Like years past, we are always amazed by the quality of work being produced by the community, and wanted to showcase some that stood out to us. The sheer volume of impressive hobbyists makes it impossible for us to acknowledge everyone, but we wanted to focus on a few that really helped us through 2020. We intentionally did not choose hobbyists that we have featured in previous years, so we would encourage you to look back on our selections from years past, as many of them are still actively producing incredible work!
Sometimes mother nature can be as terrifying as any horror movie, like with the Ophiocordyceps fungus that parasitizes ants and alters their behavior patterns, eventually killing them as fruiting bodies erupt from their heads to release spores. Grimngribbly has taken this concept and applied it to Necromunda, with a similar fungal pathogen spreading in the poisonous swamps at the base of Hive Primus. He has masterfully taken Genestealer Cultist, Nurgle, and Necromunda models and crafted them into a coherent collection of miserable souls infected with fungus, mushroom stalks sprouting from their heads and backs in a sickening display. Thankfully, he has even prepared some tutorials so anyone excited about fungal pathogens can build their own hapless victims.
|Fungus Hulk, Mr Blobby - grimngribbly|
|Shroom Magus - grimngribbly|
And while the Mushroom Cult has been one of his more recent focuses, he has also spent an inordinate amount of time building a characterful array of orks. The Orks do not get nearly as much love as the forces of the Imperium, so it is always exciting to see someone tackle them, especially someone as talented as Grimngribbly. A prime example of his superb work is an overweight Freetbooter Kaptain built from a Nurgle Nightmare Hulk model, finding a good use for the questionable model from the Kill Team: Rogue Trader game. His creativity seems to know no bounds as he has started to incorporate trolls into his Ork armies, utilizing Troggoth models from the Age of Sigmar line. These sort of fresh and innovative ideas, often using forgotten models as the basis of conversions, make following Grimngribbly’s work so satisfying.
|Freebooter Kaptain - grimngribbly|
|Troll - grimngribbly|
The best conversions are ones that immediately sell a character and set a mood. You do not see bits from other models, you see something unique. Few people achieve this level of conversion finesse as completely as bitzboxer. He has an astounding eye for selecting eclectic model pieces to splice together to create his models, scavenging from Forge World resin, GW plastic, and even old GW metal models. Critically, and perhaps most importantly, he is a fantastic sculptor. He uses this ability to seamlessly blend his conversions and add additional detail. His conversion and painting styles capture the best and most evocative elements of John Blanche’s work and give life to the macabre art featured in the Mordheim rulebook.
Johann The Knife - Bitzboxer
|Astropath - Bitzboxer|
He has a remarkable collection of downtrodden models designed for Mordheim, perfectly capturing the desperation and decay present in the damned city. Of particular note, he converted the special character Johann The Knife, taking design cues from the illustration in the rulebook, but making it his own. The model has an excellent pose filled with motion, with a hand poised to draw a new blade, cape fluttering behind him. Importantly, the knife in his other hand is rather small, keeping the model uncluttered. Another thing we love about Bitzboxer is his occasional re-envisioning of old models, entirely recreating the classic design in his own style with more modern components. The Moon Duke he created is a lovely example of this, easily recognizable to those that remember the original model, but also new. This conversion, like many of his others, cleverly uses “female” legs, in this case from a Sister of Battle, to make a better proportioned model. This prevents the model from having balloon feet, something that afflicts many of GW’s models, and creates a more natural looking model. This open mind for converting, seeing beyond the original purpose of a piece and how it can be used for something new, is a lesson that will be continually reinforced as you look at Bitzboxer’s miniature output.
Arch-Baron Maldoroy Vavarion Goltz and Arch-Baroness Isadora Anunziata Goltz - Bitzboxer
|Dux Lunaticus, the Moon Duke - Bitzboxer|
Our blog has long been focused on creating models with more realistic firearms and anatomy, things that often get sidelined with the caricatured science fiction that Games Workshop champions. It is always exciting to find a hobbyist who shares a similar vision of adding realism to Warhammer 40,000, and who goes to great lengths to convert delicate firearms. Fevered_velvet is one such hobbyist. She lets nothing come between her vision for a model, splicing together bits, doing extensive sculpting, and incorporating pieces of fine brass tubing, to create stunning work. More importantly, she also creates a large number of female models, something that pushes against the sea of masculinity that is the status quo of the hobby. She also creates models that eschew the standard criteria of beauty and show body types that are not pin-ups. This makes the hobby community more welcoming to all, all the while expanding and supporting a universe that is vast and unknowable.
Battle Sister with flamer - fevered_velvet
|Blackshield Incursor Sgt Demolitions Specialist in Pariah Mk2 Armor - fevered_velvet|
While she has created a wide array of awesome true-scale Space Marines, equipped with bolters that look like functional rifles, our favorite models are those of regular humans. She converted a plastic Mordian Iron Guard Sergeant, capturing the austere imagery of the old Perry brother’s metal models, while showing women should have always been included in the model line. She created a tough-as-nails ganger, Yolonda Catullus, that masterfully combined pieces from Blood Bowl, Necromunda, and 40k models. She also has a series of wonderful Sisters of Battle that have more sensible weaponry, but also have modified battleplate that is less sexualized and more ruggedly functional.
Yolonda Catullus - fevered_velvet
|Mordian Sgt. - fevered_velvet|
Juniper Bout - Voxmorbus:
Although this finally looks to be changing in 2021, Games Workshop has long neglected vampires, particularly since the death of the Old World. Absent are the errant Blood Dragons and the fallen nobility of the Von Carsteins. Voxmorbus tapped into this storied history and macabre imagery to create a vampire and her blasted followers for Games Workshop’s Mordheim, one of the pinnacles of setting and theme. Not limiting herself to the aging vampire range of models, she cleverly converted Lady Jehanne la Tueuse, a Blood Dragon, from a Stormcast Eternal model. While other careful conversion work helps sell the vampire’s dread majesty, the magnificent paint job truly elevates the model. Her dull crimson battle plate looks battered, yet resplendent next to her pitiful followers. Like with all of Voxmorbus’ models, the vampire showcases a masterful use of subtle accent colors to strengthen the visual interest of the model.
|Lady Jehanne la Tueuse, bane of hearts, dragon of Mousillon - Voxmorbus|
|Lady Jehanne la Tueuse’s warband - Voxmorbus|
Juniper has a knack for injecting new life into anything she tackles. The hobby community has been flooded with Genestealer Cult armies with the reintroduction of the army a few years ago, but despite their enigmatic theme, the armies can start to look dull and restrictive, since they are all miners. Juniper has pushed the army in a different direction, but one just as likely to arise from the bloated corpse of the Imperium: a fishing settlement that dredged up a genestealer in one of their nets, sealing the fate of the colony. She made great use of many modern kits, along with the GSC models to create a group instantly recognizable as followers of many-armed Emperor, but more down-trodden than their mining counterparts. The fishing theme is sown throughout the entire warband, each model adorned with fish and tackle, hooks, and other rusting weapons. The model’s are further unified with a chilling paint scheme, one of plaid flesh accented with a stunning sea blue on their chitinous appendages.
Giuseppe Del Buono - gdbmakesweirdthings:
Most of the artists on our hobby radar are taking Games Workshop models and building creations that remain firmly rooted in Games Workshops IPs. Giuseppe Del Buono, on the other hand, takes GW models and uses them to create weird and fantastic creatures that look like they would belong in the nightmare landscapes of Hieronymus Bosch or Pieter Bruegel. While most of his creations could fall somewhere into GW’s vast worlds, Giuseppe’s work is unique enough that it feels like it belongs to his own subversion of those worlds. Fascinatingly, many of his creations do not even have weapons, something that so often is the major focal point of Games Workshop’s models. This places more focus on the wondrous creatures and constructs, breathing further life into them.
|Scary Christmas - gdbmakesweirdthings|
The Holly King - gdbmakesweirdthings
Giuseppe has made a number of holiday/Christmas themed miniatures that are wonderful and unsettling, like a snowman sneaking up on a goblin and the lumbering and naked Holly King. Another personal favorite is a carved rock for his Moonclan Goblins with a tiny red bird perched atop it. He has a good sense of size dynamics, incorporating differently sized models to increase visual interest, like with his Mordheim Carnival of Chaos warband featuring a giant red ball with a orc skull controlling it, a towering skull headed mannequin, and a diminutive defeathered turkey. Max FitzGerald's Turnip28 project captured the imaginations of many hobbyists this year, with Giuseppe building a brutish radish ogre defending one of her young rootings.
|Moonclan Effigy - gdbmakesweirdthings|
|Chaos Carnival Warband - gdbmakesweirdthings|
|Turnip 28 Close Encounters - gdbmakesweirdthings|
Dave Higgins - unsupervised_darkness:
Down-trodden and dejected is always an aesthetic that has appealed to us, though it is frequently overlooked in the miniature hobby which so often focuses on majestic heroes and powerful villains. We always want to see the human element of the fantasy worlds, giving us some small understanding of the foreign lands and worlds. Unsupervised_darkness has expertly captured the aesthetic of the pathetic in the twisted and malformed soldiers of his Turnip28 force. All of his soldiers have traditional human forms, though each is warped by some malign force. Many are hunched and miserable looking, branch and straw sprouting from their backs, dirt and mud caked at their feet.
|Dean, Turnip Brute - unsupervised_darkness|
|War Horse - unsupervised_darkness|
Beyond just the regular soldier, unsupervised_darkness has created some other characterful additions to the force. A group of soldiers huddle underneath a sheet with their pole arms and one at the front holds a horse head attached to a pole. Together they make up a ramshackle War Horse. For another unit, a soldier is perched atop mechanical war stilts, trudging through muddy water, rifle at the ready. All of his models are painted in a dusty and muddy style, filled with rust and decay, befitting of the bleak settings he creates models for. He is also an expert at painting imaginative and plausible heraldry, be it on shields or waving banners, all helping make the world they inhabit seem like something that is lived in.
|Stilt Walker - unsupervised_darkness|
|The morning counter - davexdave|
On top of miniature art, unsupervised_darkness is an accomplished illustrator, watercolorist, and toy artist, as demonstrated on his other Instagram account davexdave. His paintings impart a sense of whimsy, humanoid crows and rabbits sharing a mutual affection for coffee.
War is hell, and the scars it leaves persist long after the last gun has fallen silent. It persists not only in the survivors, but also in the ravaged battlefields, the toppled highrises, empty windows and cracked asphalt. Therealbrokenfingers understands this better than any miniature hobbyist we know. Rather than simply building armies of war-weary soldiers, he builds the battlefields they wade through. Often these are vast cityscapes, the wreckage of humanity, empty and haunted. The building and rubble he constructs to accompany his models often vastly dwarfs the warriors on display, wordlessly conveying the scale of galaxy spanning conflicts and how inconsequential each warrior is, even the legendary Adeptus Astartes. Every model he paints fits within this dilapidated universe, dusty, streaked with grime, creating vignettes into an uncaring universe.
|Armies on Parade entry - therealbrokenfingers|
|Son of a forgotten king - therealbrokenfingers|
Scale is a major consideration in all that therealbrokenfingers creates, from “true-scaling” all of his Space Marines, to crafting buildings that tower above even a Reaver titan. This focus on realism is something that we really appreciate in models, and it shows his dedication to creating an atmosphere. Towards this end, he puts an extensive amount of time into photographing his miniatures, playing with light and focus to achieve different effects and to tell a story. Therealbrokenfingers conveys the magnitude of war that is depicted in Games Workshop’s artwork but rarely in its models. He incorporates the mundane and the futuristic into a cohesive whole, and we cannot wait to see what he builds next.
|Alpha Legion M30 - therealbrokenfinger|
|Free-hand work on lower leg of Reaver titan - therealbrokenfingers|
We hope you enjoyed looking at some of our favorite hobbyists from 2020 and maybe found a new person to follow, or at least keep watch on in 2021!
- Eric, Greg, and Adam Wier