Earlier this month, we looked back at all of the models that we worked on over the course of 2019. And while this is always fun to consider how we evolved as hobbyists over the year, our favorite thing to reflect on is the hobbyists that inspired us during the year. We say it each time, but the quality of work being produced by the community keeps getting better and better. The sheer volume of impressive hobbyists makes it impossible for us to acknowledge everyone, but we wanted to focus on a few that really stood out to us during 2019. 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 (2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014), as many of them are still actively producing incredible work!
Warhammer 40,000 is touted to be one of the most grim and dark science fiction settings, yet this is rarely depicted in the colorful and tiddy paint schemes Games Workshop displays. Many hobbyists have begun to push back against this with more “Blanchitsu” style painting that is dirty and quick, focussing more on emotion than precision. Pax_acrylica is the rare artist who combines these two broad schools of painting, taking the dark and moody tones and energy from the Blanchitsu crowd and the technical brilliance from the ‘Eavy Metal team. The result is some of the most stunningly painted miniatures we have ever seen. Few would classify the Tau as intimidating, much less terrifying, but that is exactly what Pax_acrylica achieves with a lone fire warrior holding the decapitated head of a Cadian in one hand and the instrument of his demise in the other. The Tau’s armor is fantastic, flat panels look pitted and worn, chipped and weathered, a pure white dulled with the grim finality of a life of constant war. The pallid flesh of the slain guardsman parallels this armor, while the blood dripping from his dead lips mirrors the baleful red lenses on the fire warrior’s helmet. This same attention to detail and skill has produced one of our favorite Death Guard models ever. It is just a simple Plague Marine stalking forward with a hand grenade, but the restricted palette of colors, muted greens, silvers, and a touch of red, make it chilling. The armor holds a wonderfully corroded texture, making the silver and green run together, conveying 10,000 years of suffering in the Eye of Terror. This is broken up by spots of dark crimson, emanating from deep pockmarks, suggesting of life buried within that ancient armor.
|Tau Fire Warrior - Pax_acrylica|
|Plague Marine - Pax_acrylica|
It would be a mistake to think that Pax_acrylica only paints models. Far from it. He is also an accomplished converter. We are particularly fond of some Hive enforcers he created. They are largely based on the Necromunda Palanite Enforcer models, but with some slight modifications that completely change the models. By modifying the shoulderpads and breastplates, along with adding bulky goggles, the models take on a more austere character. Our favorite modification, however, is more subtle. He cut the models’ legs and ankles to reposition them so that they are no longer in a ridiculously wide stance, but instead are standing tall. This gives the models a more natural look, one that screams authority and power. It is such a little thing, but it makes such a huge visual difference. This really speaks to Pax_acrylica’s eye for detail, and makes him one of our favorite hobbyists of 2019.
|Hive Enforcers and a corpulent crime boss - Pax_acrylica|
It is no secret that we at Between the Bolter and Me are very concerned with scale and proportions, and have worked extensively at trying to improve the anatomy of Space Marines, making them into the terrifying beings that they should be. Lunax7070 espouses these same principles when creating models, especially with his collection of brutal looking Iron Hands Space Marines. He expertly crafted a true scale Space Marine wearing MKII Crusade armor and made a mold of his creation. Impressively, he made this fully modular, allowing him to build an entire squad of Primarch-sized killing machines, each more unique than the last. Not resting on his laurels, he teamed up with lieutenantdan76 to create an appropriately-sized Spartan tank to accompany his warriors!
|Centurion Valius Dran of Clan Vurgaan Order Quarii - Lunax7070|
|Iron Hands veterans with an up-scaled Spartan tank - Lunax7070|
Excitingly, he does not limit himself to Space Marines, but also creates all sorts of other Inq28 oddities. Like his Space Marines, all of his other creations experiment with scale and height. For the Gelida narrative event, he built a stunning series of skeletal walkers that look like questing knights blended with the iconic silhouette of an AT-ST. Their volkite lances complement their thin avian-looking legs. They look utterly unique from anything currently in the 40k universe, but also like they have been there all along. All of his creations are painted with a gritty realism, chipped and battered, like they have been engaged in endless war. What could be more fitting for Warhammer 40,000?
|Gelidian Scouts - Lunax7070|
Oftentimes when a hobbyist has an ambitious idea for a project, they look for the path of least resistance to achieve it, so as to not spend too much time on any one model. When Nordic sets his mind to a project, he pulls out all the stops. A perfect example of this is his Realm of Chaos-inspired Tzeentch warband that channels the nautical themes of Ian Miller’s artwork and the profound weirdness of the paintings of Pieter Bruegel and Hieronymus Bosch. He created a group of Knights riding flying fish, where he sculpted the fish heads to have the needle toothed grins of deep sea fish and slippery eels. The whole force is filled with such delightful oddities, wholly unlike any miniature you can buy from Games Workshop, while using parts from across their model line. Just creating the warband was not enough, as he built a display board for the army, consisting of the gate of a castle. The castle gate was built from foam board, balsa wood, and clay, an ominous three eyed face with mouth agape forming the actual gate!
|Knight of Chaos - Nordic|
|Chaos Lord on Daemonic Steed - Nordic|
|Tzeentch Mortals Warband - Nordic|
In a similar vein, when he decided to build a Sister of Sigmar warband for Mordheim 2019, he built a complete rosters of 15 models, including building a vastly improved version of Bertha Bestraufrung, and even an ogre bodyguard (in case of a lucky triple 6 during the Exploration phase!). Each of the models was transformed beyond recognition from its original form with extensive green stuff work. Importantly, he kept the general Sisters of Sigmar imagery while moving away from the trite and comical, sexualized nun imagery that some of the old metal models conveyed. Most of the sisters have shields that Nordic took the time to paint impressive imagery upon, many of the images inspired by Hieronymus Bosch.
|Sisters of Sigmar Matriarch - Nordic|
|Sister of Sigmar - Nordic|
|Witch Hunter Captain - Nordic|
Another thing that Nordic excels at is taking old, out-of-production models and injecting new life into them. He took the model of Uriah Jacobus, a missionary from the 2nd edition Warhammer 40K Sisters of Battle codex, and turned it into a Witch Hunter Captain, and it fits perfectly. Nordic has a real talent for making inventive miniatures that are mindful of the past, but look towards the future.
With their rapid release schedule, Games Workshop has made kitbashing much easier. Making a model that truly stands on its own in this environment, however, requires an incredible eye for detail and scale, as well as a strong understanding of the use of color when painting. LarsonicMiniatures understands these concepts on an innate level and is able to rapidly convert and paint scores of evocative miniatures. His growing Dark Eldar army is a testament to this; it is a seamless incorporation of Eldar, Dark Eldar, and Warhammer/AoS elf models into a cohesive whole that reads as Dark Eldar, yet looks nothing like the stock models. His Talos Pain engine is a stunning achievement of vision and skill, a towering three-legged monstrosity of wraith bone and flesh. Necron-scythed limbs are merged with Wraithguard legs to support the chitinous rib cage of a Tyranid warrior with the silent void of a Wraithguard head, haloed by vicious barbs from a Hellion skyboard. All of these disparate parts work together in a synergistic fashion, creating something entirely new, yet instantly recognizable.
|Talos Pain Engine - LarsonicMiniature|
|Rogue Astropath Aden M’kha - LarsonicMiniatures|
Importantly, LarsonicMiniatures’ painting skills live up to his conversion skills. He effortlessly achieves deep greys and blacks, with sharp edge highlighting. He also has an eye for texture, effectively transitioning from matte to gloss finishes where it best suits the composition. This is evident with his Dark Eldar, where most of the models are painted with matte combat armor, while the Wraithguard-style heads are an eye-catching gloss. What sets his painting apart most, however, is his considered, yet sparing addition of more vibrant colors. His Dark Eldar have lovely blue accents, and spots of green and brown that really bring the models to life. His Namorra Prime tribe, for the upcoming Ondroma event, is another wonderful use of color. While most of the models are drab greys and browns with pallid white skin, he adds a touch of color with small stripes of red on feathers, or orange on the leaves of foliage adorning their bases. Together, this makes for some remarkable models.
|Namorra Prime Tribe - LarsonicMiniatures|
When most people think about kit bashing, they think about taking a few different model kits and combining parts. Taking a head from one kit and using it on the body from another. It is a simple way to make unique models, but they usually always maintain the visual identity of what they were built with. When Ingrimmson does a kitbash, he creates something entirely unlike the sum of it parts, combining countless disparate pieces to make a seamless miniature. He spends time making miniatures for both Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar, and manages to add a level of esoteric grandeur to everything he creates. Every character he builds has a larger than life aura about them. He is extremely prolific, building more models that we could ever hope to cover, but below are a few highlights:
|Inquisitorial Henchman - Ingrimmson|
He built an Inquisitorial henchman in a suit of ancient power armor that resembles an antiquated underwater diving apparatus with its mammoth headpiece. Very little about the behemoth remembles the more humanoid and nimble aspects of conventional power armour. The anachronistic appearance of the suit is accentuated by its weaponry. A battered shield and mace, as opposed to a long-range weapon like a boltgun.
|Tomb Kings Lord - Ingrimmson|
The Tomb Kings have not been explored by Games Workshop since the destruction of the Old World, but that has not stopped Ingrimmson from exploring the faction. Using parts from some Necrosphinx kits, he created an imposing skeletal giant. The hulking form is complemented by an atmospheric paint job, particularly its jet black face and eyes like twinkling stars. And to make things even more perfect, when he posted the completed model to Instagram, he paired it with an apt quote to H.P. Lovecraft’s story “The Hound”: “Madness rides the star-wind . . . claws and teeth sharpened on centuries of corpses . . . dripping death astride a Bacchanale of bats from night-black ruins of buried temples…”
|The Shepherd - Ingrimmson|
Another favorite is Ingrimmson’s take on a humble skeleton with The Shepherd. Based on his title, he is not the traditional warrior and his armaments reflect that: a staff and an impressive padlock. Beyond that, he abounds with other details that send your mind on a curious wander. Why does he have that ring of keys in his mouth, and that sword through his head? And what grim tidings does he bring with two gallows poles at his back?
Games Workshop has made a lot of games over the years, but of them, Gorkamorka holds a special place in our hearts as the first one we played properly. It is always great to see hobbyists explore that setting, even if it becomes less common as the years drag on. Fabio_morghot’s Gorkamorka models are some of the best we have ever come across in painting, composition, and sculpting. Gorkamorka was a game of vehicular gang warfare on a planet of Orks, so most of the gangs people built were of Orks. However, the game’s only expansion, Digganob, added a few more, including the Diggas, a tribe of feral humans that attempt to imitate Ork culture, and Muties, horribly mutated descendants of an Imperial Surveying Ship that crashed on the planet. Fabio_morghot has focused his attention to exploring these two factions. He turned the Khorne Slaughterpriest into a towering Digga Nob with some careful sculpting. Hats off to him for realizing that the Slaughterpriest would be perfect for the job. He repurposed a bunch of Poxwalkers into Diggas by cutting off all of the boils and spikes, and smoothing out their skin. Additionally, he used some of those poxwalkers, along with Genestealer Cultist parts (and many other pieces) to build some spectacular Muties on malformed steeds. All of them make us want to try to play Gorkamorka again!
|Digganob leader, Snork - Fabio_morghot|
|Digga - Fabio_morghot|
|Mutie - Fabio_morghot|
|Automaton of House Voralberg - Fabio_morghot|
Nic Evans (nic_the_evans):
Nic Evans is an extremely busy person, creating a host of amazing models in 2019, all while completing a Masters of Arts at Chelsea College of Arts in London! His hobby interests span a wide range of game systems, exploring Inq28, AoS28, and even historical gaming (SQPR). Nic’s commitment to creating imaginative and memorable characters shines through in all of his endeavors. Here are a few examples:
|Lord Librarian Xaryq and Grief Spectres - Nic Evans|
Lord Librarian Xaryq has cast off his role as Librarian after the horrors of the Warp fractured his mind. Now he is on a quest to regain his sanity, and is constantly haunted by dreams that manifest themselves as spectres and speak in the tongues of fallen battle brothers and carry relics from their wartorn past. Nick has even created models of these dream spectres!
|She who rules the nameless void - Nic Evans|
She who rules nameless in the void. She is a daemon that appears as a tear in space, sending entire populations into the depths of madness. The model was made using a piece of driftwood and some sculpting, and is part of a fantastic collection of daemons that take the form of abstract shapes, some floating and other ambulatory. The three of us have long talked about making some floating geometric shape creatures (à la Ramiel from Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Nic has beaten us to this notion.
|Abstract daemons: Angel (left), The Pontiff (middle), The Cardinal (right) - Nic Evans|
|Cyrr Cyrokk Cylbyrn, Last giant of Albion - Nic Evans|
Cyrr Cyrokk Cylbyrn is a character Nic built for his Gallic warband to use in the historical wargame SQPR. Cyrr is a monster of a man, spreading terror into the hearts of Roman Legionaries before ending their lives. We have seen lots of great conversions come out of the Khorne Slaughterpriest, but this is probably the best we have ever come across. Nic has transformed it into something completely its own, but just as terrifying.
|Old Man Moon Pin - Nic Evans|
On top of miniatures, he also has a penchant for crafting rules to support his narrative-driven games! Planet 28 is a rule system he is developing for Inq28-style games that fits into only a handful of pages! It is light on rules and was designed to serve as a framework for building stories about your characters. Furthermore, he started a small company called Mammoth Miniatures to sell wargaming products, including a game he designed called Super Tiny Skirmish. It has rules for deathmatch style games between two opponents, packaged with two paper miniatures! And as if all that was not enough, he also sculpts and casts his own miniatures and pins for Mammoth Miniatures (All of which have sold out very quickly on his online shop. We missed out on Super Tiny Skirmish but were able to get a few pins, which will look sharp on Greg’s jean jacket). We are all very eager to see what new ideas Nic pursues in 2020.
Jonny Lashley (witchhammerstudio):
The Warhammer 40k setting is a dark one, but often it can come off the opposite after seeing one more caricatured Imperial Guard or colorful Space Marine. So when you find a hobbyist that creates models that truly capture the grim underpinnings of the setting, it is worth celebrating. Jonny Lashley of Witchhammer Studio is one such person; his work approximates manic, dark energy given corporeal form. Excitingly, many of his models explore areas of the 40k setting that have not been defined by Games Workshop, yet they always feel like they belong. One such creation is the YOD trade conglomerates, a shadowy organization we know little about, save the terrifying models that Jonny has created for them. Perhaps they are a trade group that assists the Administratum in matters of supplying the Imperium's crusades? If so, they employ a host of revolting creatures, like HE34 - YOD.MTCU, which verges on body horror. Perhaps his most iconic model in this group, however, is Viegt Kaelin, pilot of the relic ship Moon Hoof of the Golgotha Forge Moons. Kaelin is absolutely chilling, head to toe matte black, aside from a gleaming red on the forehead of his skull mask. Just glancing at the model fills your head with aggressive rock music, as though you just stepped into the world of DOOM. Rip and tear!
|HE34 - YOD.MTCU - Witchhammerstudio|
|Viegt Kaelmn - Witchhammerstudio|
He builds lots of other awesome models, unrelated to the YOD trade conglomerates, including a tractor wrecked on the snowy hellscape of Gelida. Ingeniously, the model appears to be based on a chibi M4A1 Sherman battle tank (possibly from Meng models), with salvaging arms and other odd bits added on. The vehicle is battered and buried in snow, but what truly sells the model is the warrior perched on top. Decked out in heavy cold weather gear, the lone figure pulling out sheaves of wire, as they attempt to salvage the forgotten relic. Altogether, it is remarkable diorama, one that tells the story of the death world of Gelida better than any other model I have seen created for the narrative event.
|Gelidian Gorla (gorilla)Tractor wreck - Witchhammerstudio|
Warhammer 40k is a war-ravaged science fiction setting, so it is no surprise that firearms, such as thunderous boltguns and mass-produced autoguns, play a major role in the narrative and define many of its models. Unfortunately, despite their prevalence, Games Workshop often makes questionable design decisions that make many of their weapons nonfunctional, or have models holding them in laughable ways. Few have the patience or attention to detail to correct these issues, but Wardsylvania is one such person, and we absolutely love his creations because of it. Virtually none of GW’s rifles have stocks, nor are the users holding them in a way that would facilitate accurate firing. Wardsylvania adds stocks to many of the guns on his models, and even modifies their arms such that they are actually shouldering them, with their eyes looking down the weapons’ sights. He often replaces weapons’ optics to be more sensible for the user, and replaces their barrels to better reflect the ammunition they are carrying. He built a series of Inquisitorial Stormtroopers with boltguns that embody these ideas. What had once been a ridiculously oversized hellgun, became a perfect bolter, with a skeletal folding stock. His attention to practicality extends beyond the weapons themselves, with the troopers actually carrying appropriate combat gear, including extra magazines and sidearms. Although the Stormtroopers are based on Scion models, he had the excellent idea to replace their legs with the newly released Palanite Enforcers, which have substantially smaller feet, a minor detail that does wonders to make the models look more realistic and less comical.
|Inquisitorial Stormtrooper - Wardsylvania|
|Zealot - Wardsylvania|
In addition to building tactically-focused warriors for Necromunda, he also experiments with other larger projects. One that really stood out to us is a massive cargo rig for his Carrion Pass event. Rather than strictly relying on Games Workshop models, he ventured into the world of scale historical models, and converted a 1/16 scale T34, adding all sorts of armor plating and gun platforms! The model fits seamlessly into the 40k aesthetic, reminding us that the scale model community is not far removed from the miniature wargaming community, and that much could be gained from merging the two together. We hope to see more innovative work like this from Wardsylvania in the future, as he is on the forefront of injecting a semblance of realism to Warhammer 40k.
|Carrion Pass Cargo Rig - Wardsylvania|
With each year here at Between the Bolter and Me, sculpting has played a larger and more important role in our hobby projects. The work of Requiem_82 in 2019 served as an inspiration for us to further delve into sculpting and use it to further the creation of our own unique miniatures. Requiem_82 is an incredibly talented sculptor that has a knack for knowing how to synergistically combine sculpting and parts usage to create models that look like they come directly from Games Workshop. His sculpting work is precise and he is not afraid to sculpt entire models or minute details, like belt buckles and heraldic emblems, when the need arises. This patience and attention to detail really strikes a chord with us, as it is something we are always trying to strive for with the models we create.
|Doctor Morton and Medi-Wagon - Requiem_82|
Over the course of the year, he has been slowly adding miniatures to a rag-tag band of mercenaries. Each model feels like a unique character that you would like to read a story about, with every model being more interesting than a muscle bound tough guy with a firearm. There is venerable Doctor Morten, hunched and grimacing, followed by his medical robot. Another highlight of the mercenaries is a stand-in for a Culexus assassin in the form of a young girl. She is a war orphan and a psychic blank. The model was made from the plastic Red Gobbo model, and abounds with clever details. She has a teddy bear with a skull face, emulating the face of a Culexus assassin. To highlight her small size, she is reaching up towards the severed hand of an Imperial Knight, which is far bigger than her.
|Kitty, "Culexus" Assassin - Requiem_82|
Requiem_82 is also a tremendously talented painter, who has a great eye for color composition. His painting style has a classic ‘Eavy Metal feeling to it, making many of his painted models seem like archetypal examples of their kind. His Dark Angels remind me of why I feel in love with them so many years ago! He also has a tendency to paint little details to add additional character to his models. The symbol on Artur Cobain’s shirt comes to mind, where he lovingly painted Nirvana's smiley face logo.
|Artur Cobain and Storm the Dog - Requiem_82|
|Khorgus Khul - Requiem_82|
We hope you enjoyed looking at some of our favorite hobbyists from 2019 and maybe found a new person to follow, or at least keep watch on as 2020 progresses!
- Eric, Greg, and Adam Wier