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Artscale Swarmlord

This doozie of a project is without a doubt my most ambitious ever.

One of my dream projects since the Swarmlord made it’s first appearance in a codex. The Swarmlord’s very description denotes it as superior not just in terms of intelligence and psychic might, but also physical presence. When the plastic kit was released I was a little irked that the Swarmlord was just a slightly differently armed Hive Tyrant.


The basis for the model is the artwork for the Swarmlord from it’s codex entry. Since the release of the latest codex that artwork has been updated and coloured. I’ll be using the updated version for the final details (things like the spines on the carapace). I may make some alterations from the artwork here and there, but essentially I want to stay true to the source.


To make the conversion I started with the Hive Tyrant kit and basically built an armature on which I could build up the outer layer. The legs and a large portion of the tail came from the Tervigon kit. The legs had to be extensively cut up to fit the bill but worked perfectly. Building a framework like this is essential for creating a sense of an underlying structure as well as retaining symmetry throughout the model regardless of the miniature’s final pose. Of course I could have used a number of materials to make the armature, but using the existing Hive Tyrant kit just makes the whole thing go smoother.


Ironically the whole process of sculpting this figure has been very much an evolution; building up and carving back. So far the head has demanded the most attention. As the focal point of any model I just had to get that right before moving on to finishing every other feature. The head in the photos is probably the fifth incarnation since starting the project but it’s finally done. Most of it is sculpted but with the horn from the original kit and the teeth taken from a Tervigon head. Note, I decided not to include the pair of mandibles either side of the head that feature in the artwork as I felt it simply be more appealing without.

I couldn’t fit the model on the standard 60mm base (unsurprisingly) and the next size up, the oval base, didn’t seem fitting either. In the end I opted to make my own from a solid piece of acrylic on a lathe (yes, I am lucky enough to have access to a lathe :-P). The base width is 85mm wide and the model’s overall height is 130mm, half as tall again as the original model.

The boneswords are still very much a work in progress. Below is my first attempt. Despite the artwork I’m using as a guideline I have an urge to use a design more akin to 2nd edition Boneswords. I’ll have to see how this develops. I have a feeling that I’ll perfect one and then cast it to make the other three.


At the moment I’m at about the half way point with the project. I originally started it for my own collection, intending to build a Tyranid force around him. As pleased as I am with progress so far, it’s going to take a good while to finish as I have to fit it in around other work. If someone wants to take it off my hands and commission me to finish it I may be willing to do that, but be aware that it will be very very expensive as the finish needs to be of the highest quality and cannot be rushed (and the hours put into this already have been ridiculous).


December 14, 2014

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