Monday, February 27, 2012

Converting units that don't have models: Is it worth it?

Old School here to talk about converting missing models. While the photo above is just for fun, the topic I am referring to is taking time, money and talent to convert units games workshop has published in a new codex, but hasn't released a model for. The question is whether or not you think it is worth it and what you do about those units that are missing.

So with Necrons being the new kid on the block, let's pick on them. There are a number of units in their codex that are missing models and all of these units are capable of being great additions to a competitive list. The example below is the Night Scythe/ Doom Scythe. The reason I use these as an example is that the other missing models are going to have pretty obvious sizes and shapes based upon their unit type. The Scythes however fall into the grey area the Tervigon and Tyranofex fell into for so long. There are bound to be arguements about what base they use, the size of the hull, ect.

Even with that said, many people out there are building scythes. The example above is what I would consider to be pretty legit, based on the pics in the codex and the size reference that would provide, though I have seen pics from tournaments where players had simply turned half built Anhililation Barges up side down and based them on clear skimmer bases, which I would consider small, but hey, there is no model.

The former example invested a great deal of money and time, while the latter example invested some money and very little time. Both, in the meantime, will likely be considered legal in many of the events they attend if any.

This brings me to the example below:

Cheap you say? Well, I admit, it isn't going to win any Golden Daemons, but does this player have it right? What if the scythes came out next month during the rumored second wave? His minimal investment would save him from some of the trouble people who made little Tervigons from carnifexes likely feel right now, but it brings up the question of how much do we invest in a model when the company doesn't release one and what they release will likely have an effect on our wallet.

I felt no regrets building big momma, but I had some hook ups, I certainly didn't pay over $100 to build my own bug. Many others used parts from the Trygon and the Carnifex, again, spending drastically over the cost of the new kit to have one in advance. If I had come out of pocket fully on Big Momma, would I still be so happy? What about the people who spent some serious dough on their Tervis?

The good news is that Big Momma and many of the combination kit Tervigons out there mounted on oval bases are just as big as the new Tervigon and will be perfectly suitable in tournaments and pick up games. While they may have paid the cost, they have also enjoyed their conversions for quite some time and will continue to do so.

What about the guys with re-purposed carnifexes? Well, they might still have carnifexes, but they don't have a suitable Tervigon in terms of size and shape (certainly not for tournament play or even competitive friendly games). Did they lose out with their minimal investments compared to the guys with massive conversions?

I don't know. Look at the GW Tervigon below. I think it looks better than Big Momma, which makes me want to buy one, even though my Tervigon is suitable. I am also sure I am not alone. Does this mean we all lost out? I had fun, I love my model and nothing will change that, but I don't know if I would do it again.

This brings me to the question behind this whole article. Where do you stand? Is it worth it to spend the time and likely larger amount of money to convert a model to stand in for a unit GW hasn't produced? What are your thoughts? Go big (awesome conversion), go cheaper (buy one model, slightly change it) or go super cheap (foam, baby!) .... or do you just wait for models to drop? Have things changed due to recent developments?

I personally have zero regrets, but I would like to see what the community thinks about the issue as I think this is an issue where opinion can tell a lot about a person.


  1. Well, OST.. Would the same thing apply to those of us who invested in 3rd party models when their GW equivalents were not out yet? I know I bought 6 of Mr. Dandy's Thunderwolves pretty early on to play over at Adepticon and just.. to field Thunderwolves. I spent a good ~120 bucks on them all things considered - shipping, models, extra parts, green stuff, etc. but I think they were very much worth it, because I used them and won many games fielding them. Certainly plenty of games at Adepticon as well. So in my opinion it was a great investement at the time. I never actually finished painting them, because I didn't want to invest too much time and effort, because deep inside I knew that GW would release TWC models... at some point in the distant future. And they did. It will cost me ~$100 to get six Thunderwolves but the price is well worth it given the quality of the models. And the old resin Mr. Dandy Thunderwolves? I'll use them in bigger games, but I'd rather use the "official" models now.

  2. I think that if you get a lot of satisfaction from doing an all out conversion, go for it. If cost is an issue, I might hold off.
    It also depends on the group that you play with, if they are going to force you to go out and get the new model by declaring the conversion unusable, it may be best to wait.

    Personally I am going to wait until Night Scythes come out to use them. My group would have no problems with a proxy, but I want to have the official model.

  3. That's a good point as well, Skarvald, on two counts. One count being the third party models and people who spent money there. So add that to the conversation and there is a whole other level to this post.

    The other point you brought up was budgeting time and effort. You had the models, but you eased off on the hard core painting front because you knew GW would release models.

    I felt the same way about the Tervigon. I didn't feel like making another because I was just waiting for GW to release one themselves and I am pretty good with the occasional proxygon or just using one Tervi.

    @ Throatpunch, yeah, I think I am in the same boat. Veil Teks can make up for a lack of movement anyway, though I could use the extra destructors. I think my group would be good with it too, but I think there will be much less lag time with the scythes than with the tervigon.

  4. It's worth it if you think it's worth it. Which is to say it'll be different for everyone. Personally I've enjoyed the reaction from people that used the lack of a Tervigon model to cheap out and either use a stock Carnifex kit, or to ruin in a bad conversion. Alternately I've seen some awesome conversions, the Big Momma bug being a prime example. Indeed, I recall reading how you weren't worried about getting cover-saves because looking good was more important than gaming an advantage. That's something I agree with.

    I think the best rule of thumb is to take a look at similar models (Dark Eldar jet fighters for the Necron 'Scythe fighters, Trygon/Mawlocs for the Tervigon/Tyrannofex) and err on the side of caution so that your conversion will be acknowledged as a beautiful and unique model rather than a crappy, modelling-for-advantage, dollar-store kludge. Not to mention playable when the kit comes out...

    In conclusion: Convert for a fun and characterful model, not because you're a cheap WAAC bastard and you should be fine.

  5. I think the big issue this comes back to is the hobbying vs. competitive play.
    Personally, I've built 9 Tervigon for clients over the last two years, and not only did I have fun doing it,I feel they hold up to the current models, and, the big one, the clients still love their models. This hobby is just that: a hobby.
    I understand people worry about sizing in relation to gameplay, but in the end, they're just models, and as long as the guy didn't go too overboard with sizing, then I see no problem with scratchbuilds, kitbashes, etc. I'm just glad to see Games Workshop releasing some of the most popular units in 40k!


    1. I have seen your Tervigons and they are some very nice work. Your clients should be very happy with them!

  6. Here's the thing; I love to convert every model in my army. Not everyone does that, but alot of people do. One of the reasons people put the time and love into their armies is so it doesn't look like all the others.

    If you put love into scratch building a model that doesn't exist (or is horrible and old), and then a gorgeous official model drops much later... well then you have yourself an embarrassment of riches... nothing to complain about at all.

    You have the joy and satisfaction of making something new during your hobby time, and the privilege/advantage of playing that unit before an official model is released, and now the option to have another version of the model.

    If you're mad about spending money twice; then don't spend money twice.

  7. I had 4 carnifexes, I made two into tervigons, and two into Tyrannofexes. I'm probably going to buy one, maybe two depending on tax check, and make them into tyrannofexes. Then take my old ones and make them into tervigons. I'll have the tyrannofexes as size references, and 4 tervs based on Carnifexes. I'll put them on oval bases if need be, and maybe make them stand on something to make them higher, but if anyone tells me they can't be used, I'll tell them to give me $50 for the real model if they don't like it.

    With out some kind of WD rules update, I don't see any real need to update my nids yet. Not like that many nids are being taken to tournaments in their current state anyway.

    1. I think that is a valid response for sure for those heading into a competitive environment with their old models. Clearly, you plan to make adjustments, but when it comes down to it, if they don't like it they can buy you the models.

      As a TO, that is something I struggle with, especially when it really just comes down to an oval base or an inch too thin ect. You can't make everyone happy and in the end, I think TO's and players just have to use common sense.

      Also, reading your batreps, you don't seem like the kind of guy who would model for advantage and I am sure your average opponent knows that too.

  8. Actually, I do models for the love of the hobby. GW is disrespectful to release a new kind of figure. It doesn't matter they don't release a SM variant, cause you have the scale to make your own. But in the case of tervigon, it disrespectful for all who wanted to play a Tervigon, for competitive or hobby purposes, it doesn'nt matter.

    Considering the tournament, it depends of the spirit of it. A tournament for fun would not have to banish tervifex. Otherwise I understand that for a competitive-minded tournament, it's necessary that TLOS could not benefit to anyone. Nethertheless for this reason I would never play a competitive tournament. I build models that I love and that I want, and value in play come in second. I will not buy a GW's Tervigon cause it's the law of tournament and everybody want one in his army. I want buy a Carnifex cause I love the model and **** it if it suck in play. And what about people who have an Armorcast's reaver?

  9. There were some fairly obvious comparative indicators for size for alot of the recent models. Wolves had Canis as a reference, Nids knew the models were as big as Trygons with similar toughness wounds, Oval bases should have been used (that was the reason I did).

    A good conversion isn't just about putting the parts together, it is also about recognizing the context of the model in comparison to the rest of the game. The Necron Scythes are a wonderful example. Most people describe them as "flyers" and with the Aerial Assault and Supersonic, it seems pretty obvious they should be the size of the other flyers, which are all mounted on an oval base that they hang over hugely.

    The real problem is when GW doesn't give a context for the size of a model. I remember when the Defiler was first added to the Chaos codex, it was described as a walker, with a battle cannon, so you got all manner of conversion from dreads with chest cannons, to Vidicators with legs. Then when the actual model came out it pretty much dwarfed them all. The Necron Stalker may be in that boat, but atleast there is some reference in the pics.

    1. This is how I see it. There are certainly good comparatives, between codex pics and various types of models with similar rules out there, I think the line between the right way to do it and the wrong way is there and when people cross it, the Bull**** flag can be thrown.

      I think GW got much better about this after they released the BA book and the Stormravens people were coming up with varied so wildly in size, shape and base. In the end, the people who used just the valkery and it's rules as a point of reference came out on top ... and that was without the codex pic Nid and Necron players had.

      I have seen some people with old defiler conversions. It sucks when something changes that much. That's why I feel for the guys with the single carnifex build Tervigons. They still paid almost as much, likely spent some time on them and now are in a wierd size position.

  10. I approach this from a different point of view. One that doesn't care if the model is official or not, and frankly one that doesn't care if it is the right size or not. I play with my wraithlords on little 40mm bases. Why? Because they came that way. Does it matter in a game, not really. The only reason I don't play with my old cardboard space marine drop pods is that they aren't finished (and I don't play with the army as a general rule). If the model looks cool and can reasonable be what it is supposed to be I'm fine with it.

    Doesn't really matter to me what the official model looks like. Cvinton's thunderwolves are a good example. Are they right shape and size, no but who cares. They are cool so they should get played.

    Hell I had a converted undead dark elf army that was cool as hell. The center piece was an hydra based off a toy undead dragon. Model was probably double the size of a hydra (but base size was correct), but it was the definition of a large, terror causing creature, no one ever complained.

    That being said I do usually try to match sizes as best I can. When I converted a reverent titan for my eldar a number of years ago, I tried hard to make the sizes match. I've never put it side to side with a real one but I think I got it pretty close.

  11. IMHO, the answer regarding whether it's worth it to build a model that has no official counterpart via conversions will always be yes. Not because it's crucial to have access to all the models in a codex but because I just love making conversions.

    The reason why I love playing WH40k is due to the fact that GW produces plastic kits that are very to modify and they are also much more accepting of conversions than other table top strategy games (as long as you're mostly using GW or scratch-built parts).

    Thus far I've already got conversions for a Harpy, a Trigon Prime, a Tervigon, a Tyrannofex, a Warrior Prime and thus don't need either of the 2 new kits but I'll still end up picking them up as I can see great potential in them for making a souped-up Swarmlord conversion.

    By the time I'm done with it I figure it will be the size of a Dreadknight rather than the size of a normal Tyrant but at least it will have the same base size as the more Monstrous Creatures. Will it be technically legal? Probably not. Will it be modeled for advantage? Absolutely not. Will people mind playing against it in spite of the size discrepancies? More than likely not seeing as how it will just have the cool factor to justify it's appearance.

    1. Make sure you let me know when you make that Swarmlord. I want to see that conversion, it sounds awesome already.

  12. I say all the power to anyone who wants to create their own model... BUT I also think a manufacturer has a duty to release models for all the units they've balanced into an army. Not everyone has the ability or money to do a conversion, and it's unfair to force someone to go without the option of even using that unit... I still remember when Eldar didn't have ANY vehicles except for the basic Jetbikes, while Marines had all their fancyness... it affects the balance of the game.