Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dark Eldar: Haemonculus conversion

Terminate with extreme prejudice. 

With it being Halloween here in the United States, I thought it would be suitable to share my latest conversion for my growing Dark Eldar force. Pain and cruelty, as well as the notion of evil are synonymous with the Dark Eldar. In fact, they sustain themselves through the suffering of others (who else can say that?). But nothing in the Dark Eldar army captures these elements so fundamentally as does the haemonculi. Butchers as much as they are artisans, these fleshsmiths practice all manner of occult rituals, surgeries, and experiments, trying to distill down pain and torment, as well as craft marionettes of bone and sinew. I have long wanted to include one of these maniacal geniuses in my Dark Eldar army, and went as far as purchasing one of the finecast ones from the last Dark Eldar release. The model was so rife with bubbles and miscasts, that I put him aside, doubtful if I would ever return to him. So I was quite excited to see the release of a plastic haemonculus with the new codex, and quickly got one of them and set to work on him.  

The plastic haemonculus is quite a stunning model. Steve Buddle did a wonderful job sculpting the model, conveying his own vision of what these flesh wrights would be like, while still maintaining and building upon their already established concepts and themes. The parallels between the plastic model and two earlier models by Goodwin and Diaz’ are evident, from their emaciated bodies levitating amidst a sea of corpulent worms (or elongated spines!). And while he is certainly not the first of Games Workshop’s plastic character series, he is likely the most layered and dynamic of them. Quite at odds with the static cruciform generic haemonculus of the past, this one is a complex web of interlocking and overlapping parts. He has an impressive patchwork cloak of flayed skin that sweeps around his body and is pinned in an unsightly way to his chest. Bulking out his rather skeletal frame is a swollen hunched back that stores his organs.  From this sprouts a multitude of limbs, each brandishing a sinister weapon, like a hooked ritual dagger or mutilated hand that has replaced fingers with scissor blades. This all culminates in an extremely gaunt and arrogant looking face (that looks to be from another victim), perfect for an evil that has been plaguing the galaxy from before the Eldar’s fall from grace.

Adding a facemask and making a few changes to the wargear the haemonculus goes a long way towards giving the model an interesting and unique flare.

While the model is excellent in its own right, it being plastic, along with the parallel release of plastic Wracks, convinced me to try my hand at converting the model. The haemonculus has a vast array of esoteric and bizarre wargear, so I knew I would have to consider the direction that I wanted to take the model. As I was trying to formulate a plan for the model, I began to dwell on the idea that the haemonculus has been in existence for longer than most beings could even comprehend, and has begun to think himself above other lesser mortals and does not want to sully himself by coming into physical contact with them. I realized that a hexrifle would be ideal for such a character, allowing him to maintain suitable distance between his foes, yet still inflict suffering as he unleashed the Plague of Glass upon those unfortunates that fell into his crosshairs. Luckily, the new Wrack kit contains a plastic hexrifle, perfect for the vision that was taking shape in my mind.

The hexrifle from the plastic wracks integrated nicely with the haemonculus. I added a scope to the rifle from a dark lance. 

The first order of business in the conversion was to attach the wrack hexrifle to the haemonculus. To do this, I simply trimmed off the wrack arm holding the hexrifle at the elbow used that to replace the haemonculus’s bionic arm holding the syringe. With the arm in place, I filled any blemishes and gaps with greenstuff. Next, I decided that being a sniper rifle, the hexrifle needed a proper scope. For this I cut the scope off of one of the Dark Eldar dark lances and glued it into place on the hexrifle. As a final detail, as per tradition with my models, I remodelled the haemonculus’s trigger finger to be at ease, away from the rifle’s actual trigger (I sculpted in a tiny trigger for the rifle too!).

I replaced the haemonculus’s stinger pistol with the open hand of the wrack Raider pilot. 

Now that the haemonculus was carrying a hexrifle, I decided he could do without the Stinger pistol that he came equipped with. In its place, I attached one of the plastic wrack arms, in particular the open hand used for the raider pilot. This free hand could then be used by the haemonculus to better support his rifle in combat (no need to have a weapon is every hand, ha ha).

The complexity of the plastic haemonculus and all of the interweaving components creates countless seams that benefit from a little greenstuff work (most of it was not really required but I couldn’t help myself…).

Finally, to distance the model a little further from the base sculpt, I decided to give him a small rebreather (no self respecting haemonculi should be forced to breath the air of other lesser races!). I crafted the rebreather from one of the rebreathers found in the Cadian command squad (this piece is loved by many converters and can be found in conversions across many 40k armies). To make the mask look a little different (and less Imperial), I shaved down the sides making it more slender and had the chin shaped into a point.

Overall I am very pleased with how the conversion turned out, almost making me want to try to convert another haemonculus right now! However, looking back over the additions to my Dark Eldar army, I have come to the realization that they are nearly all character models…  Duke Sliscus, several Archons, and now this haemonculus. If I ever want to really play some games with my Dark Eldar, I need to get working on other things. With the advent of the new codex, I have been considering getting a pair of Razerwing fighters, but that may be the subject of another post!

-Adam Wier


  1. Adam,
    Great conversion pieces. That kit does look pretty amazing. At first I was balking a bit at the price, but it doesn't seem to be one heck of a character filled HQ. Looking forward to when you get paint on him!

    You'll probably want more Haemy's too...since they are all fearless in the supplement!

    1. Thanks for the comment! The model is certainly not a cheap one, but the quality of the sculpt and the material it was cast it largely alleviates the issue.

      I should start thinking of the next one to convert and what wargear I could give them.

  2. Thanks for suddenly making a lackluster model (imo at least) a lot more interesting to look at. I have never liked that face and the mask changes the mood of the model tremendously. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for the compliment! It really is pretty striking the difference adding the facemask makes to the model. I am tempted to get some of the other Dark Eldar plastic characters and convert them too...