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Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Converting Blood Knights
One of the pressing questions for many hobbyists building an Undead army, whether it's Soulblight, Legions of Nagash, generic Death, or even classic Warhammer Vampire Counts, is what to do for Blood Knights. The Games Workshop kit is a little pricey compared to many of their other cavalry model sets. At $100 USD for a 5-man unit, they are easily one of the most expensive units to field.
The Blood Dragon unit debuted in the 2008 Vampire Counts army book for the 7th Edition of Warhammer Fantasy. Since then I've been wracking my brain with how to convert unique Blood Knights that would look the part and (maybe) be less expensive. I found the solution, which I mentioned a few posts back, so here's a look at how I converted my Blood Knights:
Many people use the Order Draconis Dragon Blades (formerly High Elf Dragon Blades) to represent Blood Knights. It's a great deal at $33 US compared to $100, but I think the horses are a little too small, and have an unmistakable "elven" appearance to them. I'm not a fan of the elvish style of scale armor, or the masks on the horses. They looked like too much work to get them where I want them, so I've been going without Blood Knights until a better solution presented itself.
The vampire lord rider on the zombie dragon kit makes a perfect blood knight (I mean, it IS an armored vampire, after all). I had two Terrorgheists, which gave me two of the spare lords. Over the years, I acquired two more loose riders from eBay. And I had decided that Mannfred form the Mortarch kit could be the unit champion. I'd treat him like a vampire count that was leading the regiment, and if I ever played without the knights, I could use him on his own as a Vampire Lord on a nightmare.
The riders only needed a little bit of work, mainly to remove the pointy "lap" armor so they could sit on a horse saddle. I also wanted to replace the dragon-icon shields with custom shields that better matched my army's iconography.
That left the horses as the only hurdle to overcome. As I mentioned a few posts back, it was Mike Sowby who posted an image in the Grand Alliance Death Facebook group of a Nighthaunt Dreadblade Harrow horse wearing Black Knight barding (credit where credit is due). The perfect horses had been found!
I picked up some loose Black Knight barding from people that had built their kits as Hexwraiths. I had to get five sets so the unit would all have the matching scalloped armor style. The Harrow horses are a little big, so the barding needed to be saparated to "stretch" it. I also trimmed away the cloak and legs that were molded as part of the barding.
To match the flaming skull motif of my army, I sculpted over the ethereal wisps to make them look more like flame. They could probably work as flaming steeds without the extra sculpting, but (as with my Burning Head endless spell) I wanted the style of fire to match the rest of my army.
I filled in the gaps in the armor, and sculpted saddles to fit the riders.
The final bit of work was adding the saddle strap and some skulls along the armor seam. This image shows all of the parts used. Finally, a mount suitable for the Blood Knights of the Legion of the Infernal Skull!
For the knights' shields, I used Chaos Warrior shields with their icons scraped off. For the winged skull emblems, I first attached a wing taken from the plastic bat in the old GW Dungeon Denizens box set.
Over that, I sculpted a skull and then added the jawbone, sculpting in stages so I could get the first part correct and cured before building on to it.
My Legion army is square-based, so these guys needed to match. The standard cavalry base is a little small for these horses, and the riders are much too wide, so I made some custom 60mm x 30mm cavalry bases. That's also a little closer to the footprint of the oval cavalry base.
The horses are pinned in place, and I'm hanging on to the ovals for the option to swap between rounds if there's ever a large enough Soulblight release to warrant new units with a new basing scheme. If I ally them into my Nighthaunt army, I'll also field them on rounds so they match.
I decorated the bases with Skull Forge Scenics tombstones and skulls, and ballast. I modeled the Terrorgheist's bases at the same time. He's also got the round and square treatment, and that's how I'll be doing things going forward– Models that will exclusively be in a new army get rounds, models for my old army get squares, and anything that might pull double duty gets both.
The Blood Knight riders were mostly finished, I just needed to make a musician and standard bearer for he unit. Scrounging through my parts box, I converted a banner arm and and a horn for the unit. In the images below, you can see the breakdown of the specific parts that I used.
Here's the unit all together, before they were based and primed. There were also a few tweaks made to the champion's positioning.
Painting is already underway as I post this. The riders were primed with red Duplicolor Sandable Primer to give me a decent base to work from for their red armor. And good-ol' black Duplicolor Sandable Primer was sprayed on the horses.
Here's a look at the riders, with their conversion parts breakdown. I varied the look of the individual knights by swapping around some of their decorative bits.
To turn Mannfred into a regular-shmegular vampire, I removed the ghostly bits from his cape and smoothed it out to resemble a plain, tattered cloak. His arms gave me the most trouble; I re-positioned and re-glued his lance arm no less than three times, swapping out the armored arm from the vampire lord, and finally settling on his own bare arms, with the gloved hands on the lance and shield. I also gave him a "normal" head from the vampire lord to replace his Klingon-foreheaded face.
And there we are– The end of a ten-year journey, meticulously planning and converting unique Blood Knights. Phew!