Who doesn’t love the idea of the mouldy remains of a long incapacitated astartes psyker piloting a huge walking sarcophagus? Well, apart from the denizens of /tg/ on 4chan I mean? I certainly do and I have no problem with the idea of said walker sprouting magical red wings and flapping across the field of battle like a furious pigeon. Yes ladies and gents we are talking about the Blood Angels Librarian Dreadnought.
That being said, I’ve never been a massive fan of the Games Workshop model. Something about the little golden face makes the model unnecessarily derpy in my opinion. Fingers recently added a Contemptor Achillus Dreadnought from Forge World to his Custodes army and I could see it’d make a great ‘counts-as-librarian-dread’; the noble pose, the epic spear/halberd and even the wrist mounted weapons seemed to be a perfect fit.
On the battlefield the Librarian Dreadnought is great fun. He is a character with 8 wounds so in 8th edition he can’t be targeted unless he’s the closest model to the shooter. He has a fairly measly 3 attacks but if you choose Quickening as one of his psychic powers you can get an additional D3 (plus an additonal 3 inches to his charge and advance rolls). Use the Red Rampage stratagem for another D3 attacks and he starts to look pretty nasty. He hits on 2+ and his force halberd increases his strength to 10 at -4 AP. Sadly he doesn’t get an invuln save and it sometimes feels like he needs one when he fails to kill his target and gets smacked back hard! You can give him a 6+ fnp (rerolling ones) if you make him your warlord and give him the Gift of Foresight warlord trait which helps a little. His base move of 6″ is pretty slow for a Furioso chassis but I’d never run him without choosing the Wings of Sanguinius psychic power. If cast (warp charge 5) the dreadnought can immediately move as if it’s the movement phase but his move distance becomes 12 inches. He also gains the fly keyword which is nice for hopping over enemy screening units. And finally the power allows him to reroll failed charges. Gross!
Now on to the build…
I’ve not had much exposure to resin kits so this was a bit of a learning experience for me. I tapped into the hobby knowledge of the lads at RFW and learnt about washing your resin before priming (to remove the mould release agents used in casting), heating the parts to straighten them out and which glues worked best. The kit itself comes in a terrifying number of pieces (46 to be exact) and took a while to clean up and prepare for assembly. I built the kit in small sections to ensure I got the pose I was after. I roughly assembled the legs and hips, joining them together with blue tac. Then I stuck the feet to the base with epoxy glue to ensure they sat flat. And then glued the greaves and leg pieces together and attached them to the hips ensuring the hips sat level to the base. For ease of painting I’m leaving the legs blue tacked to the feet so I can paint in sub assemblies. I then constructed the main body of the model with the custom head inserted into the sarcophagi. Finally I attached the shoulder joints and magnetised the arms (see below).
I detail my basing technique in a previous post. For this model I really wanted the dread to be holding down an enemy with his foot, spear raised for a dramatic lunge. However after a bunch of failed attempts at choosing the correct ‘victim’ mini I just gave up and went for the less dramatic but much easier ‘foot on rock’ approach. I did manage to sneak in a cheeky little Genestealer skull though as a nod to the Devastation of Baal. I added a bunch of grit and gravel around the piece of slate on the base to settle it in a little sealed it with a watered down PVA glue mixture.
No self-respecting psyker would go into battle with a helmet on. I decided that I wanted to swap out the helmeted head with a suitably ancient and vampiric bare head. A 10000 year old preserved corpse would probably look a little haggard so originally I started searching for an Age of Sigmar vampiric head to use. However I couldn’t settle on one, they all looked a bit cartoonish to me. So I revisited my bits box and found and old and warped resin sculpt of Astorath the Grim, the High Chaplain of the Blood Angels. Perfect! After 10 minutes work with my clippers and craft knife I had the head roughly the correct size and it looked suitably epic! I imagined blue warp flame pouring from the eye sockets and mouth of this corpse-like face, lank white hair whipping around in a tornado of psychic energy. To make the head sit correctly in the sarcophagi I needed to extend his long hair with a bit of green stuff. I’m not too happy with my hair sculpting efforts but I’m hoping it’ll look ok when I’ve painted it up. I also added some cables from the skull to the back of the head as a rough approximation of a psychic hood.
The greaves of the Contemptor Achillus are emblazoned with the imperial aquilla. All well and good, Praise the Emperor and all that, but I thought a dutiful artisan of the Blood Angels would probably replace them with blood stones to envoke the chapter symbol. So that’s exactly what I decided to do.
I had limited experience sculpting in green stuff so i decided to do a couple of test blood drop gems before attempting the real thing. I found some old rhino doors and had a go at adorning them with blood stones. After mixing the blue and yellow parts of the green stuff I rolled a tiny amount into a ball before sharpening one end of it to make a rough drop shape. I pressed this carefully onto the surface using some petroleum jelly to prevent it sticking to my fingers. Using my fingers and a silicone sculpting tool I carefully flattened and smoothed the blood drop to form the mount for the blood stone. I did a bunch of these at different sizes and left them to cure over night. The next evening I repeated the process but this time, instead of flattening the blood drop, I formed them into the distinctive Blood Angels gem shape. They turned out alright and I learnt alot about working with green stuff.
For the greaves themselves I carefully removed the eagle in the centre of the aquilla using my trusty craft knife. I then followed the same process as above, sculpting the gem mount, then waiting for a day and creating the gem. I found the hardest part here was to make the gems about the same size and shape. Much cursing ensued. I found the natural stickiness of green stuff was enough to adhere the gem to the mount and the mount to the resin.
Magnetisation and Weapons
I have a thing for magnets. I love the idea of playing WYSIWYG and so always like to make sure my units can take as many different weapon options as possible. For the Achillus this meant adding magnets to the left wrist of the model and to each of the three weapons in the kit. Forge World kindly made this easier by leaving a roughly magnet shaped hole in the underside of the weapons. I enlarged them slightly to take 3mm magnets. I also decided (for better or worse) to upgrade the ancient looking weapons in the kit for slightly more ’41st millenium’ versions. So I added a storm bolter and melta gun from my bits box. The melta gun looks a bit weird but I might revisit that weapon before I paint the model.
One of the great things about the Achillus kit is that it’s extremely posable (I go into more detail below). I decided I wanted to preserve some of this dynamism in the built model so I added magnets to the upper arms (and also in the wrist of the spear arm). This allows for a variety of stances but also means I can take the model apart for ease of transportation.
It took a while for me to settle on a stance for the model. I ended up going with the classic ‘librarian with arm outstretched blasting a heretic with mind bullets’ pose. It might not make sense, I mean why would an entombed space wizard thrust out the arm of his walking coffin? But it looks cool!
So there you have him, one foot raised on a lump of rubble, arm out stretched to casually blast some xenos and halberd nonchalantly held at his side.
I leave you with the thought that just because you can do something it doesn’t mean you should. Put the wings back in the bits box Danvers…
Edit: I’ve posted some pictures of the painted model here: http://www.rapidfire-wargaming.com/2019/07/08/danvers-army-update-blood-angels-2/