Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Showcase: Kitbashed Legio Custodes army

Hey everyone, KrautScientist here. Yet another showcase post from me. And while the project I would like to show you today may be a little rougher around the edges than my World Eaters, Traitor Guard or INQ28 retinue, it’s because this is a fun project that helps me to recharge my hobby batteries whenever I feel tired of my other armies.

So what we are looking at here is a small army of Pre-Heresy Custodes, the Empire’s personal bodyguard. I have been in love with the Legio Custodes ever since I read through German WD 112 (from April 2005): Not only did it feature rules for a Horus Heresy campaign, but it also marked the first time I ever saw Dave Taylor’s spectacular Legio Custodes army. There was something about those guys that really clicked with me. And even now, quite a few years later, Dave’s Custodes are still easily one of my favourite armies ever.

So the seed was planted, and some time ago, I took a look at all the fantastic new Space Marine kits, and my love for the Legio Custodes was rekindled. I wouldn’t even have to work nearly as hard as Dave, since all the cool new bits would allow me to build the models by mostly sticking to kitbashing. So I did a bit of research and discovered some more great Custodes armies (Kaleb Daark’s Custodes thread on B&C and Hashashin’s blog The Buddy Times come to mind, above all else). And so everything was in place.

To make things a little more challenging, I wanted to kitbash the entire army from GW (plastic) parts. I also wanted to explore several different unit types: The iconic Praetorians with their conic helmets as well as Custodes in older pattern Astartes armour (again, a callback to Dave’s army), Cataphractii Terminators, jetbikes and maybe even Sisters of Silence.

I started by building a small squad of Custodes Praetorians, using parts from the Grey Knights, Dark Angels Veterans and the Sanguinary Guard (and the occasional Tac Marine bit). I also used heads from the WFB White Lions of Chrace:

As you can see, this recipe allowed me to create a couple of pretty convincing Custodes models. Here’s a look at the whole squad:

As my next project, I started building a squad of Custodes in regular power armour. I am not sure whether there is any precedent for this in “official” HH artwork, but the fact that Dave Taylor had also done a squad like that was definitely a good enough reason for me ;-)

I tried using different plastic parts to make the armour resemble various, older patterns of power armour that would have been widely used during the Heresy. My background for this squad is that they are basically “field-testing” different marks of armour before they are adopted for mass production for the Space Marine legions (and they sticking to their older armour even after the testing phase is completed, as a way of showing the pride they take in their task).

First up, a model in armour resembling the Mk. III “Iron” pattern:

Next, a model wearing armour resembling the Mk. V “Heresy” pattern:

This next model was rather easy to complete, wearing straight up Mk. VI “Corvus” armour:

There’s no actual precedent for the next model’s armour design. Still, I think the rather classical, almost "hoplite" look, makes it fit in rather well:

And finally, the squad leader in mastercrafted armour (actually measly Mk. VII, but that hadn’t officially been invented during the Heresy, so…):

All of the models in the squad were built using parts from different Marine or Chaos Space Marine kits, with a bit of deft cutting involved in places. Here’s the finished squad:

Putting these guys together proved to be so much fun that I decided to add additional models to the squad until every armour pattern from Mk. I to Mk. VI was represented. Here’s a sneak peek at some additional models:

A Custodian in Mk. I “Thunder” armour…

…and another model wearing nonspecific, older-looking armour. The model was originally a DA tactical Marine from the Dark Vengeance boxed set, by the way.

After having built these two squads, I wanted to add a commander to make the models I had so far  “legally” playable as a very small army -- at least in theory ;-)

As you can see, the model is basically a Space Marine Commander from the AOBR boxed set with a couple of minor changes.

I also used the remaining Sanguinary Guard and GK parts to whip up some Custodes jump infantry. Here are two test models for an eventual squad of five:

And with that, I was basically prepared to call this small army project finished. But then something made me reconsider: All those lavishly detailed DA models from the Dark Vengeance box were begging me to be used for something worthwile. And kitbashing blinged-out Pre-Heresy bodyguards was also simply too much fun! So I decided to use most as many as the Dark Angels as I could as Custodes.

I started by transforming the Deathwing Terminators into a squad of Custodes wearing Cataphractii pattern Terminator armour. First, I built a proof-of-concept model using an old AOBR Terminator and a couple of bitz:

The next step was to actually transform the Deathwing models into Custodes, which was quite a challenge, given the snap-fit nature of the models. Still, with a bit of deft cutting and kitbashing, I was able to bring the headcount of my Cataphractii squad up to five. Simply by taking a Deathwing Terminator like this…

…and using some impromptu surgery make him look more like this:

Same model, ladies and gentlemen ;-)

Here’s the whole squad:

As you can see, I added a model wielding an ornate flamethrower – a callback to the “flame lances” Custodes Terminators are normally using in most of the HH artwork. I also built a Sergeant for the squad:

Granted, my kitbashed Cataphractii may not look nearly as “official” as the models released by Forgeworld. But they were reasonably simple to build, and I didn’t have to sell a kidney to be able to afford them. What’s more, since I really had no other use for all those DA Terminators, these guys basically came at zero extra cost!

With the Cataphractii done and dusted, I finally turned my attention to yet another part of the Heresy I had always been fascinated by: The Sisters of Silence.

Kaaleb Dark’s Custodes thread had shown me that it was possible to build SoS *very* close to the artwork by using Dark Eldar Wyches and Kabalite warriors as base models, so I tried it for myself. And sure enough, I soon had this small collection of Sisters:

Once again, I took extra care to build a suitably impressive squadleader:

And last but not least, addicted as I am to converting characters, I also built an imposing champion of the Legio Custodes, inspired by a conversion I saw over at The Buddy Times:

So that’s my small Custodes force. Whenever I get tired of the forces of chaos, it’s great fun to go “ultra-loyalist” and simply kitbash a few new models for the Emprah’s bodyguard ;-) What’s more, I think the army is a pretty good example of what simply combining existing GW parts can achieve.

As for the future of the army, I should possibly finish this project before FW release their own Custodes and render it all pretty much obsolete ;-)

Until then, I think it will mainly remain a fun project, with me adding small squads or single models of whatever takes my fancy: I’d like to add some jetbikes, bring the SoS squad up to five members and convert an additional character or two. I’ll also try to use some more Dark Vengeance DA models. Here’s a look at a WIP model: The DA company master with just a small head swap:

Pretty simple, don’t you think?

Before winding up this post, let me thank you for looking! If you have any questions, remarks or criticism to share, I’d be glad to hear from you in the comments section! And if you would like to read more about this army, also feel free to check out my blog!
This has been KrautScientist. Thanks for tuning in!


  1. That is some downright amazing work, KS! The bashing and the color scheme on the painting are perfect! Well done!

  2. What a great conversion army. I really want to make a straight up conversion army and while mine are filled with mostly converted models, they aren't a stand alone force like this that comes straight from the realm of imagination. My hat once again is off to you, KS.

  3. Bloody awesome work bro! Ever since I started this hobby I've loved the custodian guard as a force and wanted at least a squad of them to convert and paint up! I just never actually got round to it! This has just reminded and inspired me to get on this.


  4. Dammit, I read that as Kitbashed Lego Custodes and got really excited -_-

  5. Thanks for the comments, guys! Apart from the necessity to have a rather deep bitzbox for a project like this, the actual conversion work is fairly easy, so if anyone wants to build a couple of Custodes, I say go for it!

    One box of GK, DA veterans and Sanguinary Guard each will give you not only the bitz you need for Praetorians like the ones I built, but pretty much enough parts for a small force (maybe you'll have to add the odd tac Marine part and, of course, the High Elf helmets, though).

    @ Lars Panzerbjorn: Sorry for getting you all riled up for nothing, mate, but Lego Custodes would probably be beyond even my abilities at kitbashing ;-) Come to think of it, though, there used to be a Lego Knight helmet that would have been fantastic for a Custodes kitbash, when I still played with that stuff...

  6. Some really fantastic models, great use of bits and a great theme running through the force. I'm particularly delighted by the different marque armours, that thunder armour conversion looks brilliant.

  7. So awesome!
    I too have always been a huge fan of the Custodes and was inspired by Dave Taylors force as well. Now you've got me thinking of making a small Grey Knights counts-as Custodes force!

  8. May i ask two questions of the writer? First, if you don't plan on using the Sanguinary Guard Kit wings, may I have/trade for/purchase them? I have seen a few nifty kitbash ideas for them, but they are expensive, both by purchasing the whole kit or by purchasing them from bit selling websites. Second, what helmet does the model in Thunder amour have? I really like the look! Thanks a million. if you could email a reply to boythefirst@gmail.com that would be amazing.