Hobby: Rich.D’s Freeborn Ferals

Rich Dando of the Warlord web team has something of a reputation (well… several, but that’s quite another matter) for a Dr. Frankenstein-like obsession with chopping-up Warlord models, and re-assembling them in all manner of bizarre configurations…

If you’ve not seen some of his other mad-cap creations, have a look at some of these articles;

With the recent release of the first Beyond the Gates of Antares supplement, and the swathe of releases in it’s wake, he couldn’t resist but find some way of busying his hobby knife….

RichD Feral Vardanari table

Introduction

I’ve never been the kind of person to collect a straight-forward ‘vanilla’ army… over the past 15 years or so of hoarding far too many models collecting wargaming miniatures, every force I’ve collected has been accompanied by pages-upon-pages of flavour text and backstory conjured from the weird and wonderful depths of my imagination.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for themed forces – something with a story behind it… and something that contains a hook upon which I can create narrative through future battles…

So – when it came to Antares, there is a rather deliciously tempting blank canvas… the universe is vast and unimaginably varied… with a near-infinite number of potential worlds and species – it would prove to be a dangerous ideas-breeding-ground for my hyper-caffeinated brain… and so I ploughed head-first into the Rulebook, and wandered the hallowed aisles of the Warlord warehouse to hunt for inspiration…

Dodging the warehouse crew (a strange and little-understood species – widely believed to be entirely fuelled by cake and other sweet baked delights), it was very quickly settled. The Mhagris Feral miniatures quickly captured my imagination – and thus, an ‘out of the norm’ army concept was born… (plus, the fact that the models are REALLY COOL helped a little, as well.)

It was decided – the entire force would comprise of Feral miniatures, and miniatures converted to fit-in with them. This would prove an interesting challenge, given that there are only 6 Feral sculpts (not including Bovan Tuk,) from which I’d need to sculpt not only regular squads, but also support team crew members, vehicle crews and the like…

The force would use the standard Freeborn Army List and Force Selector…. but there’d be a little creative license and theming used to apply the all-Feral theme…

Starting with the ‘Feral Squad‘ entry in the Army List… these would be re-titled ‘The Unbloodied’ (thanks to Warlord forumite ‘CommissarMoody’ for the name!) – these are young, juvenile Ferals – who are new to battle. They must take the heads of several enemies in battle if they are to climb through the ranks….

Next – the ‘Domari Squad‘ entry… these would be re-named ‘The Bloodied’ – experienced fighters who’d earned their rightful place among the core of the Feral army…

Then – the ‘Vardanari Squad‘ entry… these are the elite fighters – which I’ve not come-up with a name for just yet… answers on a postcard!

 

Setting the scene

Here are a few notes and ideas that I’ve had so far regarding the backstory of my force… they’re rough and a little jumbled, so go gentle with me!

When it came to writing a backstory for the force – the first thing I did was to decide-upon the unit’s home world – or the system in which they’re stationed. Again, I went for something out-of-the-norm – remembering some astronomical documentary I watched a year-or-so ago, about Binary Star Systems.

In short, a Binary Star System is a dual-body system – in which two stars are caught in each other’s gravitational field, spinning ever-faster around each other at an ever-decreasing orbit trajectory… destined to one day smash into each other at a date long in the future…

Name-wise, I wasn’t nearly creative enough to come-up with something brand new – so I referred to my good friend, Google – and I defaulted to Latin (because let’s face it, everything’s derived from Latin, right?!)

And so – Geminorbis Septem came to life.

‘Gemin…’ comes from ‘Gemini’ – meaning ‘Twins’
‘…orbis’ means ‘Planet’
‘Septem’ means ‘Seven’

It doesn’t follow Rick’s naming conventions for Antares (sorry, Rick!) as it draws from Latin – but my brain’s not creative enough in that area!

Admittedly, this was all whipped-up on a certain web search engine, and the translation is therefor prone to wild inaccuracies and piffle!

As for their specific homeworld – when watching a movie late one night, I remember mis-hearing some city’s name, and hearing the word ‘Pellemar’ – which I quite liked the sound of… I again consulted Google to see if this was a real place, or if it was some commonly-used non-word – and came up relatively clean – so it would be ‘Pellemar, in the Geminorbis Septem system.’

 

Backstory

The core planets are known simply as ‘The Twins’ – or Gemini…

The constellation Geminorbis Septem, is situated between the Northern Interface and the Determinate – (just above Xilos on the starmap from page 208 of the Rulebook)… an area which sees heavy traffic – and the presence of Algoryn, Concord, Ghar, and some as-yet unidentified forces…

The gravitational wash/turbulence stirred-up by the oscillating planets drags-in asteroids and smaller astral bodies… the system is constantly swamped by a converging asteroid field… meaning that the wider region is hostile, largely uninhabited, and often unpredictable – as asteroids bounce off of one another, their trajectories constantly changing… a constant sea of collisions of all sizes… cataclysmic

Due to the volatile nature of the system, it has undergone little exploration by the Concord… and it largely remains unknown.. a ‘dark spot’ on stellar maps – though some unmanned cartographical probes have managed to chart some areas.

The Ferals of Pellemar

There are occasional sightings… infrequent and often unconfirmed… their location, movements and motives are never quite known or clear. They are an evasive and secretive group – what little sightings we have recorded show that they are known to use weaponry originating from both the forces of the Concord and the Algoryn – and other equipment of a less obvious origin – not as advanced as that of the C3.

Several theories have arisen as to where they acquired this equipment – the majority seems to have been salvaged from the battlefields of Pellemar (their native planet, found ‘North’ of Xilos – on the border of C3 and Algoryn territory)

The battlefields were littered with wreckage and abandoned equipment as the forces made a hasty retreat… it seems that these Ferals salvaged the scraps of war and put them to use once more – putting them into service amongst their own ranks.

Much of their equipment has been field-modified – however they are not a sophisticated people, and don’t have the capability to service some of the more advanced weaponry. Hasty and ill-conceived modifications and attempts to soup-up the weapons have resulted in countless accounts of the Evran Support Teams having blown themselves up by overcharging plasma reactors – or simply overheating them…

All of this is not to say that they aren’t to be feared – quite the opposite – the Ferals from Pellemar possess a primitive, guttural hunger to fight… they are fiercely territorial and have spent the past several generations militarising their people – stockpiling weapons and equipment, and undergoing a relentless, tireless training regime – an Exhaustive, Relentless and punishing regime of drills which makes for a battle-hungry spirit.

Though from the outside, they may seem unregimented, unruly, and unwilling to take orders from others outside of their clique society, these willings would prove to be a valuable, vital and irreplaceable ally in the wars to come…. anyone who is foolish enough to mistakenly take them at face value – perhaps seeing them as a disorganised rabble – is quickly punished as the headhunter patrols close-in…

They are a society in which pride and status are achieved through battle – and are seen as savages by those outside of their bubble…. a primitive and uncivilised society who pride themselves upon taking trophies and totems – and can often be seen carrying elaborate trophy racks adorned with the heads of their most prized kills… they have earned a well-deserved reputation for killing by unnecessarily savage and violent means.

Their most skilled units are sent with specific targets to kill…. Unit commanders, squad leaders etc – high-value targets. whereas youngbloods must prove their mettle simply by taking the head of any enemy soldier – or the sensory cortexes of downed drones… young males are handed Mag Guns at an alarmingly early age – with many having no idea how to use them, rather instinctively charging into battle weilding them as Clubs and melee weapons, hungry for blood…

Pellemar is almost entirely Fungal, and is cloaked in a nutrient-rich atmosphere…. Huge bioluminescent mushroom-like structures and organic spore-chimneys tower above the forest canopy… Porous, hollow, almost sponge-like – peppered with holes through which these towering spore-stacks breathe – they emit clouds of near-invisible spores which choke the air, and hang like a mist – shrouding the planet in a perma-fog…the flesh of the fungi is covered in vein-like tracks of pulsing glowing vibrant blue… because they’re peppered with holes, hollow, and they have chimney-like openings at the top – the spore-chimneys whistle when the solar winds blow over them – emitting an eerie resonance…”

 

Conversions

In the past, I’ve merrily converted an absolutely mountain of Warlord plastics – butchering kit-after-kit with a demented smile plastered across my face… I’ve dabbled with converting metals before a little – it has something of a reputation as being a less conversion-friendly medium… but I’m not one to shy-away from a conversion challenge – so I affixed a fresh blade onto my Hobby Knife, prepped my clippers, and set to work!

Freeborn Captain

Initially, I planned on simply using the Bovan Tuk model to represent my Freeborn Captain, because he’s such a great sculpt! – I would simply replace his Mag Gun with a Plasma Carbine for a little extra punch… a really simple conversion with help from the remnants of a Concord sprue that I had lying-around

RichD Bo Conversion

…however, I soon began hunting through sculptor Steve Saleh’s back-catalogue (who sculpted the Freeborn models for Antares) and uncovered the Savage Core Cro-Magnon miniatures… which – with a little up-gunning and by using a cohesive paint scheme, I thought might fit into the force…

The Cro-Magnon Chief is a particularly nice model – and soon became my Freeborn Captain model of choice!

RichD Feral Leader

I lopped-off his pointing hand, and replace it with the hand from our ‘Kai Lek’ limited edition miniature, holding a dead Ghar Battle Suit head – a war-trophy… his spear also fell to my clippers, and was quickly replaced with a Plasma Carbine…

Bodyguards/Vardanari

I took our Feral models, painstakingly removed their Mag Guns, and replaced them with plastic Plasma Carbines (again – spares from Concord sprues from a previous project.) This wasn’t easy by any means – however once I started to see the finished models, it was well worth the effort (and scars!)

I then (with help from my much-more-artistically-inclined girlfriend) added Grey Stuff fur-cloaks, to represent their ‘Impact Cloaks’

RIchD Feral Vardanari group

RichD Feral Vardanari table

“…but what’s that in the background, Rich?”
– Oh, that’s nothing… nothing to see here, move along…there’s a good lad…

These are still on my workdesk as I type – I’m not 100% happy with them yet, so I may go back over them once the Grey Stuff has hardened and rough-up the edges of the cloaks to create a more natural look…

 

Domari Squads

My Domari (or ‘The Bloodied’) are rather boringly the standard Feral models… I will however in future be converting more – simply re-posing them a little by chopping-off arms and/or legs to create different poses, to avoid an army of clones!

Feral Squads

For my Ferals, I once again raided the Savage Core Cro-Magnon range…

I’ve again added the ‘Kai Lek’ hand with the dead Ghar Battle Suit head (in some cases, putting this on the other arm through more chopping) – and their spears (or empty hands) will see Mag Guns in the not-so-distant future…

I can’t wait to convert some wielding their Mag Guns as clubs!

 

Support Teams with Mag Light Supports

Initially, I begun converting Support Teams by combining the Feral models with random bits from my ever-growing bits box…

RichD Feral MLS1

As you’ll see – there’s a mix of metal and plastic components… there are pieces from some ‘Standard’ Freeborn Support Team Crewmen… there are plastic components from our USMC sprue… and other bits I can’t recall right now…. there’s all sorts! My rule with conversions is to ‘go with the flow’ – if it looks cool, use it.. it doesn’t matter which kit it came from, which faction it’s from… one it’s painted, I’m hardly going to notice…

HOWEVER…

…But then a voice descended from the heavens “Come on, Rich – you can do something far weirder than that, surely?!”

While working as part of the web-team, I’m lucky to be privy to snippets of information before they’re made public – and so, while I was photographing some Project-Z items for a Newsletter article, I happened to gain access to the ‘Zombie Beast’ model… and the cogs in my brain started whirring…

What if I used them? What if they were some sort of genetic mutation – either natural, or some kind of weird experiment… maybe the Ferals worship these great brutes – and they carry the Support Weapons to battle…

…and so two Mag Light Supports were re-modelled…

RichD Feral MLS4

RichD Feral MLS3

Support Team with Mag Cannon

Next-up was a Plasma Cannon (pinched from an Algoryn Support Team) which – with a quick snip – fit quite snugly onto the Zombie Beast’s arm. To achieve this pose, I had to remove both of the model’s arms at the shoulder, and also cut them at the elbow…

Once I’d gotten the arms in-place and looking relatively natural, I decided to add a second head because… why not?

…and so with that, I had the basis for my first three Support Weapon teams… all I needed now was to represent the additional crewmen…

I think I’m going to have Handlers, goading the brutes into battle… using Mhagris minis as the base, and either a) adding some of the Mag-Lashes from the Ghar Outcast Command, or b) creating some sort of ‘Space Cattle Prod’ type device by mounting some of the components from the Electro-Cordon piece from the Judge Dredd range upon a spear/staff….

RichD Feral Support Teams

Sky Raiders

Caught-up in a fierce case of ‘Shiny model syndrome,’ I couldn’t resist the Sky Raider kit – and quickly set-about butchering them – using the original riders’ legs, I added upper-torsos from Mhagris models… so far, I’ve left-off the stabilising fins… however I feel they need *something else* – they don’t quite look right just yet – and I’m not quite sure what’s missing… plus, as my force’s backstory has developed, I’m not sure if they’re too high-tech – so they’re sat to one side of my hobby desk for now…

Incidentally… I also magnetised them to their flying stands using small Neodymium magnets, for easy removal and to avoid snappages… very handy, and easier than you’d think!

 

Buddy Drones

I’ve had an idea swimming in my head since before we released Antares, of another Warlord product which might look good in the game – but until now I’ve not had the chance to use them…

RichD Feral Buddy Drones

The Satellat from the Judge Dredd range is a cool little model – it looks a little less hi-tech than the official Antares Buddy Drone models – however I think that fits the theme of my force quite nicely – they’ve scavenged whatever equipment they can get their hands on… maybe these were originally drones from some long-since-dead force…

I’ve used the arms and add-ons from our Buddy Drone packs to help designate which drone is which – and with the usual enthusiastic snipping and clipping, they don’t half look good!

“Alas, poor Yorrick…”

When tidying my hobby desk late on Sunday evening, I spotted a random Freeborn crewman from the Mag Light Support blister… and couldn’t resist tinkering…

RichD Feral Crewman

I quickly lopped-off his head, and replaced it with a spare Mhagris head… then removed his hand, replacing it with that from the Cro-Magnon Chieftain model… and then added a spare Ghar Battle Suit head – to which I added some cables (pinched from a Ghar Battle Suit Plasma Claw.)

It’ll make an interesting addition – maybe as part of a Support Weapon Crew…?

 

Future Additions and Ideas

…all models shown are in the early stages – they all need cleaning-up, some green stuff, and maybe some paint (at some point in the very distant future)… but there’s plenty more coming – more Support Teams, some vehicular nonsense, and who-knows-what-else…

There’s also more-than-a-few M4 Drones sat at home, and some *interesting* extra goodies which could make a few other variants… there’s even talk of a siamese/twin drone in the works…

I’ve also been thinking about Hound Probes, and how to thematically represent them in the force… the official Hound Probe fluff makes them feel a bit anti-Ferals…. so that’s a bit of a no-no…. perhaps they could be some form of native life form… based upon either the Xilos Drummers or Snapper models… maybe with more legs – more millipede-like…. or I might do something with some of the Small Demonic Pact, or just his wings… we’ll see….

There’s also those lovely Drop Capsules released recently for the Algoryn… I wonder what a Feral Drop Capsule might look like… maybe some form of giant flying Manta Ray, or Sunfish….

I’ll be pinching equipment from both the Concord and Algoryn ranges – as well as the Freeborn models (and of course, knowing me – from everywhere else as well! No model is safe from my clippers!) – the idea being that they’ve traded and scavenged equipment from variety of sources – including some older, obsolete pieces – so it should prove to be quite an interesting project

If you want to follow the project a little more closely, and in a little more detail, take a look at the thread over on the Warlord forums, where I’m keeping a project log!

Signing-off

Well – it’s time for me to return to my hobby desk, and commence surgery! – there are more models requiring my scalpel’s attention!

As you’ll have noticed – the path taken when creating my force has not been straight-forward… I’ve adapted (and scrapped!) models along the way as new ideas have taken hold…

I’ve also not shown a number of other stages – where I’ve assembled models in one configuration/pose – then decided against it, and torn them apart again – only to re-assemble them in a different pose/arrangement later…

I’m no expert… I’ve had no form of training… I’m just a keen idiot… I like to tinker with our models… the more you tinker, the more little tricks you learn… with every model and every project, you’ll learn something… so what are you waiting for?! Dig into your bits box, grab a few components (no matter what mixture of kits they were originally intended for!) and create something!