Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Scratch-Built Skaven Doom-Flayer

One of the Skaven weapon teams is the dreaded doom-flayer, a cross between a push lawnmower and a miniature doom wheel. I've overlooked this contraption until recently, mainly because the only official version available is in Finecast, and metal ones are going for outrageous rates on the secondary market. 

Without a model to field, I had largely ignored the rules for the machine. Looking over the stats for the doom-flayer team, I realized what a mistake it has been to neglect it for so long. The weapon team is only 55 points (the cheapest available) same as a rattling gun team, and can inflict a comparable amount of hits per attack. Furthermore, since it's a melee-oriented weapon, when the doom-flayer malfunctions (as Skaven weaponry is prone to do) it will be in combat, so it can still inflict a fair amount of damage on the enemy. Ranged weapon teams, on the other hand, are usually on their own when they misfire or run into friendly units before exploding spectacularly.



With this new-found interest in the doom-flayer, I decided to scratch build my own. After some searching, I found some items that I could use to make the chassis of the flayer: Round wooden discs, and a Steampunk medallion with a gear motif. One of the benefits of the current steampunk craze is that there are tons of accessories and gear parts to be found at craft stores!


The medallions were about $6.00 each, and I bought one with a half-off coupon. The discs were about $4.00 so I was able to get everything for under thirteen dollars. Those items, combined with spare parts, some plastic card, and modeling putty would make a suitable doom-flayer.


The gears were super glued to the large discs and then the excess wood on the disc was trimmed away. These parts formed the inside of the wheel halves.


Next I made the wheel's outer rings. This plastic wagon wheel was the prefect diameter, so I used it as the frame on which to build the ring. I cut some plastic strips and curled them to they would easily wrap around the edge of the wheel.


I wrapped two layers, gluing each layer together, but not to the wheel itself. Using a double layer gave the ring more stability and prevented it from flexing or losing its shape.


To make some gear sprockets around the inside of the ring, I used plastic card that's smooth on one side and ridged on the other. This was cut into thin strips, which were then glued around the inside of the ring.


The rings were then glued over top o the interior wheel section to create the recessed clockworks of the doom-flayer.


The black plastic rings were shaved down with a hobby knife to create a tapered edge.


Over this, I sculpted the metal plates with two-part brown stuff modeling putty. The basic shape was sculpted and smoothed first and then I pressed in lines with my sculpting tool to create the separations between the plates. I also added cuts, dents and some scratched Skaven runes.


The rivets were made by pressing the tip of a mechanical pencil with the lead removed. The putty was allowed to cure overnight.


The blades on the outside of the wheel were made from the excess parts I had left over from my Stormfiend conversions. These were drilled out so they could be pinned in place on a length of thick floral wire. I also added a Skaven shield icon as the blades' mount.


The gear medallion had a divot marking its center, so I drilled through this with my pin vise.


One of the small wooden discs was added in the center as a spacer between the two wheels, and the halves were glued together on the wire.


The blades were attached on the outside.


The small metal wheel is from the classic warp lightning cannon. I cut out a section so it fit around the central disc and super glued it in place.


To make the spikes on the wheel, I cut the spikes from some spare Warmachine Protectorate heavy warjack maces. Heating the parts under a heat lamp softened the PVC plastic and made cutting it much easier.


These spikes, and a few others I had laying around were pinned onto the doom-flayer.


I used a section of a plastic 40K Ork wheel to make the fender, and then wrapped a strip of plastic around the central wooden disc.


The Skaven pushing the doom-flayer is one of the crew from the classic warp lightning cannon. He's got a handle in his hands already. I added a length of wire along the fender and drilled a hole in the Skaven's handle so it fit over the wire. Once I had everything spaced correctly, I glued the flayer in place and added sand to the base. I decided to keep the crew separate for painting. It would make it easier to get at all the details, and one of them was already done.



To match the design of the actual doom-flayer model, I attached a pair of spear blades to the front of the wheel. A piece of plastic tube was fit over the spear shaft, and each one was pinned in place.


The second crewman was taken from the rattling cannon weapon team. I bent his legs so he could sit on the other rat's shoulders and pinned him in place. I further tweaked the model by modifying his right hand to work a second crank and replacing his tail with a plastic Skaven tail.


The final touch was to add the connection between the crewman's pedal crank and the machine itself. This was accomplished with some plastic Warp Lightning pieces, plastic card and a little bit cut from a Space Marine jump pack.


With the construction finished, it was time to start painting! Here is the finished result:


The doom-flayer has already seen action in one of my campaign games, and it performed exceptionally! I rolled maximum impact hits when charging and scored a ton of attacks in the following melee, which directly helped turn the tide of battle. But the Skaven are notorious for their unmaintained, malfunctioning equipment, so I'm certain that's all the luck I can expect and the machine will explode in every battle from here on out!

'Til next time!


  1. That's a fantastic scratchbuild. I don't do fantasy but I certainly admire what you achieved,

  2. Clever. Great tutorial and an excellent finished model.

  3. Very clever and effective. I like it a lot!

  4. Awesome stuff! Very inspirational. I might have to adapt this to make myself a deathroller for Blood Bowl.

    Where do you get your brown stuff? It seems kneadatite has stopped making it.

    1. I had bought a case of the stuff a few years ago before they stopped making it. I think Privateer Press was selling it for a while, but I can't find it on their web store anymore.

  5. I always wondered how someone would do a scratch built doom-flayer. This is amazing work!

  6. Thanks for the kind words, everyone! Glad you like it!

  7. Excellent scratch build, and certainly better than a finecast model. The brown stuff wheels in particular are very good, and elevate the model above "sticking stuff together".

  8. A most excellent scratch build miniature.
    Awesome stuff.


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