40K 2023

Second Edition Redesign

This was the edition that was around when I started getting into the hobby. The Rogue Trader models were still quite common on tables: Old Dreadnoughts, Beakies, Squats. I had lost interest (and was priced out) when third came out if I recall correctly (my memory is fuzzy).

The models included in the box weren't all that interesting. The Orks seemed too detailed and specific and painting that many Gretchins... well, I doubt many people did. Anyways, I wanted to see what could be done using a more modern approach whilst keeping in the spirit with the original. Plastic is easy to modify and since I'm more of a hobbyist than gamer I'd like to see kits that can be customized a bit.

Warhammer 40K

Warhammer 40000 second edition sprues, Citadel catalog scans from Stuff of Legends. These small sprues were included in some paint sets too (and the tactical squad box), so it probably made sense to include the 25mm base.

Nowadays sprues are more efficient and CAD-CAM tooling is probably a bit cheaper than 3-up analog pantomine methods. Small sprues like these can probably use a single central injection point, with more organic supports webbing out towards the frame. Parts like bent legs might need some extra space around them as the mould line needs to build up around like a hill.

My sketches below were drawn at 455 pixels per inch (chosen for no particular reason) and scaled down to 45% of that for web. For reference I used photos of my own miniatures, and Citadel catalog scans (figures there are usually printed close to 1:1, and one can measure using the 25mm bases of course). My sprues are 9.25cm at the longest side, but could be 10 if some more air is needed for the shut-offs or whatever they're called. They're really not that much wider than the originals.

GW scale fluctuates quite a bit. Mentioned values are 1:60 and 1:56. 1:58 falls in-between so I might go for that. Each millimeter is this 5.8cm. For heads I went for around 6mm. It depends a bit on sex (F/M) and body size (IG/Marine). Regular humans are usually below 30mm to top of head standing fully erect – which is really rather uncommon, though it sometimes happen with walking figures. When sculpting a generic crouch it can be useful to measure and match using eye level as helmets often hide the head. Orks often squat quite a bit of course.

Warhammer 40K

1:1 printouts and some old miniatures.

When working on this I printed some stuff out and immediately noticed a lot of things which looked off compared to real miniatures. When looking at a computer screen there's a disconnect and it's easy to drift towards more realistic proportions and a higher detail level.

Nude studies. These are good for getting a feel for, and homing in on an average scale of sorts. I often chuck photos of miniatures onto my sheet and do a line over which I can then work on.


Sprues with Salamanders, Warhammer 40K

Sprues for 36mm (close to true scale) Space Marines.

I consolidated the heavy, sergeant, special, tactical marine into one sprue. Some parts are double duty depending on where cut. The heavy sprue can make one underslung and one shoulder heavy weapon. I chose to use a shoulder mounted targeter. It's normally on the head and there's also supposed to be a little hand trigger with a cable that I ignored.

I separated out the arms on the basic marine (the old 2e design had the whole body minus hands and backpack as a single piece). My shoulders have embossed heraldry to help with painting the boring tactical markings. Transfers are tricky on curved shoulders, even with microsol/set. It's mostly the legs that are scaled up on these. I included some optional hip plates to mitigate the "X" look of the figure.

The bases could be Space Crusade compatible. Really shallow detailing (so they can be grassed over). I think the Boarding Action ones are too deep.

Space Marines of the True Scale variety, Warhammer 40K

Space Marines assembled. The heads can be turned and I also indicated with the torso cables that it should be turned a few degrees as well. The cables would be covered though. As for the Heavy Bolter and Missile Launcher... I tried to work out a method for allowing these to be underslung or shoulder mounted. Underslung would have to work with the sort of monopose SM. The drawback with my design here is that it'd require assembly with glue (quite many parts too), which means the chest and inside of weapon would be hard to paint after assembling for quick play. So, it'd be more for hobbyists than players. Possibly the whole arms+weapon bit could sit on nubs on the torso and slide off, or be magnetised.

=> I always assemble with greenstuff rather than glue as it allows me to modify the pose while everything is held together. I'd include an inch of greenstuff with the starter box. Greenstuff can also be used to modify the shoulder joints for more interesting arm poses, and fill in gaps. The whole baking soda superglue thing seems super risky and messy, and my glue always dry. For thinner connections (banner poles) I'd have to use plastic glue to properly weld. Pinning helps in some cases.

Anyways, I eventually had to add a right arm pointing out but I didn't use it on this image. It'd be used for the old Bolter (that can't be grabbed), and the Sergeant who could point a sword or bolter. Salamanders might use hammers because Vulkan was a smith iirc.

In the 2e codex Ultramarines it seems you can split a 10-man Devastator squad in half ending up with the 4 heavy weapons in one half. With the Sergeant in one squad, the other one gets to appoint a leader. I'm thinking this would be done by placing an icon on the banner, but there's some leader shoulder marking you can make too iirc. According to a later WD article you could just take 5-man squads from the start.

Femarines, Warhammer 40K

A proportion adjustment, matching my old White Scars successor chapter femarine concepts with this recent 2nd ed starter box project. The old ones were perhaps a bit thin. Did frontmag beakybolters bolters but with drums. Chest-plate is from Jayne & Gabs (i.e. a variant of RTB01). Beaky helmet got a bit of a neck guard.


Orks, Warhammer 40K

Orkses and Gretchins, and a little Snotling. These Orks are less like Citadel Orks and more like Bonner Orks. I also favor the textured leather armour on the older Orks. Never much liked the "new" (mid '90s? and later) plastic RAAAH ones. Also, they wear some sort of cloth diaper onesie?

Orks grow in size with age and power so the older models can still serve as young specimens. They're not really that small compared to old IG (it's harder to explain away human body and head variation). The early Space Ork metal sculpts made them very compact... to much so for my liking. Since I collected SM-EPIC I like mine with shoulder pads like on the 6mm models. The Space Crusade Ork and Gretchin models were a bit larger. I think it makes sense that the more advanced ones adopt a more upright gait (see my Krorks).

I think the Gobsmasha sculpt has like a battlecannon and two autocannon turrets, but the SM2e specs only give it a single autocannon. I changed the design a bit and gave it spiky wheels (needs higher CAF?) and toned down the front turret.

Not sure, but the reason why robots/tinboys are not a thing nowadays might be that the rules for them are both too loose and complex for competitive. Competitive oriented design tends to streamline diversity out of games unfortunately.

Some of the bits here didn't make it onto the sprues. Yet to work out the sprue for Nob in big power armour, and the Dreadnought.

Orks, Warhammer 40K

Sprues for building 20 Boyz, 2 bosses, 30 Gretchins (I don't like the term Grot - they're either Gretchins or Snotlings). I couldn't resist adding parts for a Mekboy, Painboy/Dok and Runtherd. Then I went overboard with the weapons too. I only drew older designs; I don't like the welded scrap plate look. Those shoulder mounted plasma barrels that the SM-EPIC Orks had were fun (carried over from RT). In modern 40K plasma is perhaps a too advanced weapon, not dakka enough for raah-dakka-orks.

The Gretchin wide-shoulder outfit is from Space Crusade computer game. I thought they needed something to stand out a bit so they don't just look like smaller Orks.

Back plates were a thing I remember. Just like with the SM shoulders I turned these into sculpts, covering all of the clans/factions. I also included heads which could be styled after clans. I guess the Bad Moon caps would need to be sculpted on by hand. The spike bits could be attached to Goff things up. Bones and Feathers are appropriate for other clans.

Ork Dreadnought, Warhammer 40K

Ork Dreadnought concept WIP, mixing a bit of each era; though in my mind Orks are more capable builders than the current slap-flat-plates-together ones. Got a more "casted" look, perhaps using looted recombined bits of alien origin. Both the pill shaped Ork dread and barrel shaped dread are just over 5cm to top of head I afaik.


RTB01 Warhammer 40K

The now superseded Cadians are kinda chonky with big helmets. The 2023 ones... well, I don't like the new IG sculpts. They look too much like tactical badasses to fit the true role: Scared drafted soldiers in who got a crude helmet+rifle and will die on turn 1, maybe turn 2.

—"...and this is Private Jack Sargon of my custom IG force the Ravenblood Freedom Fighters. He's got extra ammo pouches and a custom knife strapped onto his chest. Ready for ACTION."

—"Cool. I open up fire with my Mega-Tarantula. *roll* Okay, that's 44 wounds. Remove 3 squads."

Anyways, I drew some women of average (5'4") height here (at 1:58 scale), then threw a Cadian uniform on one. An Escher ganger or sister would be taller and probably well trained. I think IG should be almost stunted in growth.

Space Hulk Terminator got a rescale. It almost makes anatomical sense but I think it's okay to cheat a bit with miniatures.

My (firstborn) Space Marines ended up around 2.10 meters. When scaling up just the legs like I do here the iconic armour loses something I think. I guess I could compensate by scaling up the shoulder pads more.

The new Eldar (since first Dark Eldar I guess) are quite spindly compared to the 2e metal stuff I have. I quite like those leather boots the sculptor (Jes Goodwin iirc) put on the Eldar. They seem to have disappeared (along with the chainmail?).

Sentinel Warhammer 40K

Imperial Guard Jetbike, Ratling, Ogre, (Medic) bike. Mostly stuff from the RT era. Ogryns are a bit of a mix though. Don't like the new realistic small-face ones.

I invented the little armoured patrol car (2-man) because it seems like a fun thing for IG. The Rogue Trader jump-packs were just SM backpacks but maybe something similar (bulbous) in form could work. The grenade launcher stick looks like a kitbash. I'd give explosive spears to the Beastmen, along with faster movement. I don't think they should be another move-and-shoot unit. I think they focus on double-melee in RT but the leader can take a plasmagun. The IG guys during the Bonner years had these helmets and... I'm not sure if they evoke "dystopian cannon fodder" as much as the second edition Cadian Shock Troops do though, or the current (now old) Cadians. But I like the armoured golden/bronze chest plates. I think those carried over. An IG army would probably be the most fun to look at if it had units of mixed origin. Consolidated leftovers, and a few wounded units. A guy with a sling, servo arm/leg. A small group of fresh conscripts, badly outfitted.

As for the Sentinel redesign I wanted to give it something of its own rather than just being an AT-ST. So: Egg, Nose gun, Longlegs.

Warhammer 40K

I always liked the chubby simplicity of this IG heavy Bolter. If made into plastic like this, it would be 5 times more space efficient than GWs current sprue – though I left out the loader which I feel can be adapted from a regular guardsman so I just included the bits for that.

Warhammer 40K

I planned out an IG list back in the day, but could only afford two guys. So it goes.

GW was hecka expensive back then and it's strange to hear people reminisce about 2007 or 1997 prices. I thought it was expensive in the very early '90s. Lump of lead, or a GAME CARTRIDGE?

Due to import fees here, stores would add 50% on top. The GBP was x10 SEK but blisters were x15 SEK, so a 5 quid blister was 75 SEK. They kept removing miniatures from the troop blisters -- keeping the price of course, so in the span of just a few years it got twice as expensive & I quit. GW said in an old article that plastics would make collecting very cheap and affordable and here we are, forking out £10 for three Rhinos. Wait, that was 1988; it's £100 now.

Warhammer 40K

RT era things. People outside might wear a mask since outdoors in 40K is generally unhealthy (indoors too). Including a human for scale in a SM-Ork box might be useful for illustrative purposes. I thought a bit about civilian/peon figs as objective markers (pickup/escort/guard). Outfits from RT book. A 40K car might look something like a Trabant. What would a female-toned Khorne Bloodthrister look like? Mortarion is a tad generic and wonky in 6mm so I borrowed from the new 40K design.

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Some more roughs for survivors/objectives.

Warhammer 40K

Nonsense composition. Mixing in some RT throne designs (from the two pics). I'm thinking he sits atop a big pyramid and this is at the very top platform. Screaming dissolving psykers entubed in the background.

Warhammer 40K

The mass of cables and organic confusion is what really makes the LE10 power armour design work, but I wanted to figure out what's going on with the base shapes. Sidearm is a mystery shape -- I don't own the model.


Warhammer 40K

SM-EPIC bike (too chonky for 40K scale) and Exo Armour.

Warhammer 40K

Squats, imperious. I looked a bit at the WHFB proportions here. The Dwarfs look nice standalone but when next to humans the heads & hands swell up; I tried reducing just the skin parts (face, hands) a bit. Don't like the new ones. It seems Bretonians are possibly a tad shorter than 40k men, judging by the WHFB catalog shots. I think it looks a bit short here, dressed up as a Cadian but maybe that's me not doing a particularly good job making it work. The 40K Squat models are seemingly taller than the WHFB Dwarfs.


Warhammer 40K Rogue Trader Rhino Redesign

Three for £9.99 1988 moneys, or six? This Rhino sprue redesign is about half the size of the original and there is no deep mould for the main body. Rogal Dorn doesn't seem to mind missing bottoms so I made the same sacrifice. I borrowed some surface detail from newer models.

I consider these early Rhinos should be IG/Squat specific due to their look and size. I think I talked about this on the other page. Related: I like the Land Raider prototype model seen in the RT book... it has supposedly been dubbed the "Hellfire". Due to the smaller central body it's probably less of a transport.

Land Raider Hellfire, Warhammer 40K

Hellfire Land Raider -- The best Land Raider. This design comes from the first Rogue Trader book. It was apparently a scratch-built model. When they later made the plastic kit they changed the design a bit, expanding the middle housing. I last saw Rhinos and Land Raiders in person some 30 years ago. I remember the models feeling a bit barren and awkward. The Land Raider actually has a little room with benches inside, going across beween the side doors. There's quite a bit of space inside, though less so in the Hellfire version.

I got greedy -- or stingy rather -- with my take on it. How could it be done using as little tooling as possible? Obviously the tracks are repeated pieces. And the wheels. The sides could be too, except for the outsides which have these structures stuck on. But wait -- those could be build from symmetrical parts too!

I ended up changing the design a bit. Not much is known anout the sides and back as there are no clear pictures that I know of, except for an isometric schematic. The exhauts looked odd so I redesigned those. The schematic lascannons look more modern too. I got the idea that the lascannons and light could sink/flip in behind the debris shields. The banner pole can also bend (helps storage, and imperials care about their banners too). The whole thing is 1+2+4+8 sprues.

Also, GW could've included 6 or 8mm guys where there's space on their sprues. I think everyone would enjoy getting a little bonus mini marine or vehicle. They already include tons of extra spare/alt bits that rarely see use.

Warlord Titan, Warhammer 40K

Random Warlord Titan sketch, vaguely from the SM-EPIC model, which the 40K scale design does seem to follow somewhat closely.

Warhammer 40K

Chaos Renegade Marine sketches. Undivided, I guess. In play, I think it would work better if CMs (and SMs) were more like tough characters than troops. When you need like 30+ in an army, models get lost and also look identical because the kits kinda have to be.

Warhammer 40K

A more grisly take on the Cain mech. Also, the police trooper guys seemed more like they were from ... a Speedball type of game rather than being a local police force.

Daemonette fleshout: I got some of the boobie ones when they remade them, but unfortunately the rubber mould seems to have been squished a bit (perhaps exacerbated by multiple recasts) so the legs and torsos were quite flat. I'd like something between the old ones and the boobie ones, so I made mine a little chunkier and gave them the old outfit.

Warhammer 40K

Ravener draw-over using some design cues from my Tyranid Warrior draw-over (on other page), such as the separate chest plate with holes. Having some softer organs as accents (both colour and shape) seems interesting. Mouth is kinda wild, was thinking of those extinct freaky sharks.

Warhammer Fantasy Battles Dwarf Flame Cannon

WHFB Flame Cannon, with mixed influences.

Warhammer Fantasy Battles Lustrian Amazons

Amazon faction redesign. Trying to do something a bit unexpected, rather than "skimpy Inca savages".


Warhammer 40K

Quick treetrunk terrain idea I got in the middle of the night.

It stays fairly rigid thanks to the wood glue. I'm thinking a base/ground texture could be made using the same method, but with sand in the woodglue+ground colour (and/or tiny bits of torn up paper). It would serve to attach the trunks too. And the leaf work could be paper, painted green double-sided, then cut as a comb. Similarly attached using coloured glue.

I suspect it's best to hack out the water colour discs, crush them and dissolve them in a dash of water in paint pots. Picking the stuff up from the discs using a brush is a bit of a chore and dilutes the pigment too much for the woodglue mix.

Also, using cut-to-shape plastic lids as a base /might/ work (cardboard will warp). The glue paint won't stick to the plastic (hydrophobic), but if one slaps a toilet paper sheet flat onto the plastic (sanded) that might function as a foundation. Currently letting this experiment dry... Toilet paper can apparently also be used as tarp.

Results might be passable for gaming. Probably best to sand gloss plastic lids first for better adhesion. The same woodglue-watercolour mix that's used for texture can be used to attach flock after dry-brushing the stone. On the IG photo earlier I used tissue paper torn into tiny bits to build some volumes. Now I'm wondering if I can also dye toothpicks in red, then wrap a styrofoam ball in green wood glue tissue paper, and quickly get one of those GW cactuses.

Also might be able to make adobe buildings by plastering lightbrown woodglue+sand+tissue paper onto various packagings.

As for flock, I make mine by grinding cork with a very coarse sand paper. Then I divide up the cork "sand" and soak it in various earth colours. It results in finer flock, useful in EPIC where the model must not be buried. I prefer it over railroad grass (also nasty to handle). ...by soak I mean diluted green colours (haven't tried water colour), then let dry on a sheet. I prefer very warm grass colours (more yellow/brown than green) as plain green looks wrong. The cork is a bit brown-yellow of course so that will show through depending on dilution. I've made a whole array of colours that I keep in separate cups. I tried sawdust, but it tends to look like coloured sawdust.


A small tree made from wire wrapping wire. The foam flock can be highlighted using fine lighter flock, making it less monotone green. Flock can be secured using diluted wood glue in a spray bottle.

Here I also did a test: tissue paper on top of sanded plastic, then, woodglue, water and cheap water colour, and small chunks of tissue paper and sand to build lumps.


A cliff done using the Woodland Scenics mould and technique. It's plaster, then dabbed with diluted browns, dark greys and other hues. It produces a quite realistic result. Perhaps it would benefit from some cartoony lightgray drybrushing to pick out the edges and bring it more into line with old GW terrain.



Warhammer 40K

==> Hello and welcome to my modern miniature painting tutorial.

(This is an attack.)

"Now I'll apply chipping with a sponge to a few select spots where it looks natural. Don't go overboard with this."

*Continues to apply it EVERYWHERE as if possessed by the spirit of Jackson Pollock.*

So, this combined with the colour-book mentality and misplaced gradients and lack of freehand fun... no sir, I don't like this modern dibby dabby at all.

And I've probably mentioned this before, but seeing an army painted up in a totally coherent colour scheme is no fun. It's just a blob. Can't tell anything apart. And there's no narrative action. There's no "these here are the special squad guys" and "this particular Ork likes gold". It's also a very boring chore to paint. Do you like Imperial Fist, Aurora Chapter, Deathwing, some old RT camo scheme? Paint up a squad of each. Have a little fun. Like different Ork clans, mix em up! I'm sure there's some ally rule for this stuff.

Rule ideas

I remember playing the StarCraft II campaign which had all sorts of interesting upgrades for the units, but in skirmish and competitive multiplayer those were nowhere to be seen due to streamlining, which was a bit of a bummer. Since I don't care about competitive/meta I will ignore it as a design constraint, thus greatly expanding the possibility space for units and rules. As a hobbyist I don't like rule constraints which encourages me to mass produce 20 Bolter-only marines like a factory worker.

I probably would trim down the complexity of the rules and phases but use special rules for each unit to differentiate and create depth. Based on "gut" dislikes, I would:

• Remove all morale / break / unit-disappear rules which feel kinda gamey. Instead I'd include a radial effects like fear. I'd also include corpse bases. These cause fear and such to nearby models, and persistence of corpses is really neat. These corpse markers could be done by using empty bases decorated by spare bits and mud.

• Remove all squad rules (coherence, melee locking) which feel a bit like artificial star-lanes in 4X games. Instead I'd include penalties (like fear/freeze) when troops are away-from appropriate leaders (and bonuses from highest ranked special leaders like commissars).

• Remove psychic phase, probably. I'd treat it as a model action, like shooting fireballs or teleport for movement.

• Remove squatting mid-field objectives as a main game thing. I think these make the games samey, gamey and also strange and abstract narratively as they're implemented. I'd include more asymmetrical goals (e.g. one player defends, escort, etc).

• Remove most squad buy rules – just buy whatever, but there's a dicey chance you just won't get rare/elite stuff if going overboard. A gamble. Units won't show up on the table or shows up late, whilst common stuff like IG tactical troops are more likely to be ready for action right away. Basically, if you requisition five rare things, someone down the line goes "uh, we have two, the rest might take some time". I like the idea of not being able to build the perfect list and just have it show up as-is on the table. There should be some fuzziness which prevents "solving" the meta game.

• Marines are powerful and rare and move as lone characters if need be. They can take the appropriate allies like IG, Squats or cultists. Battlefield VIPs. Many wounds, or maybe some form of invul save?

• Eldar are also rare, and incredibly fast and elusive. I use the Dark Eldar figures as auxiliary pirates. Maybe there's actual pirates now... for Killteam was it? Ah, Corsairs. I don't think they'd have a coherent paint scheme if they're just a buncha guys though.

• Demons are spooky. Their natural auras (proximity based) and attacks will make e.g. IG loose control, flee in fear (i.e. back off, not go poof). Demons can also possess weak willed units (player takes over control). Not sure if Chaos is currently all that different and spooky ingame. With competitive design restrictions factions often become kinda move and shoot.

• Orks and IG are horde armies.

• Squats are turtles. Well, they might have a few scout bikes.

• Armies are smaller at some 1000pt equivalent. This makes sense since I did away with the squad rules and want to see more independent units which are more fun to model and paint. Perhaps I'd prefer to see data cards for units so the rules can be out in plain sight (no points cost on those though).

• Might be a good idea to balance units for character/fun, then balance mainly with points rather than changing abilities.

• It's fine for units to overlap in function and ability. I'd rather have choice over streamlining.

I don't think I'd mind Monopoly level swingyness (i.e. player skill matters a bit less – again, I don't care about competitive). What's most important is that the game tells a story which amuses players and onlookers. Battle reports do a terrible job with this since people just roll and do stuff and stand on cardboard objectives and the dead units just disappear. This makes it hard to follow, especially if skipping forward. I think... perhaps smaller skirmish games are easier to keep up with as the action spectrum is richer. I wonder if there's a way to design games so they make interesting batreps. Perhaps it comes down mostly to presentation, and no one bothers with it? Compare a Batrep with Kruggsmash's Dwarf Fortress let's-plays for example.

Incidentally, Dwarf Fortress works well as a story telling vessel, and the original X-com too. Maybe something in that vein could be done with tabletop. There are a lot of hobbyists who just want to collect and paint miniatures and maybe /think/ a bit about lists without actually playing. So, maybe I'd like to see something which allows me to "build up forces" then pit them against an AI in various missions (risk-reward)... more at the scale of 500-1000 pt 40K than Necromunda. I don't like modifying the figures so perhaps upgrading could be mainly done by accumulating forces. Persistence across multiple games sponsors batrep narration a bit at least. "I almost got wiped last mission, lost the third platoon, so I'm going to have to rebuild by playing this less risky mission where I ambush an Ork convoy." Something like that. You could have your own fortress too, i.e. Terrain project.

Random Other Idea

I'd like to do a solo Space Crusade game some time. I actually got halfway once but didn't write anything up and now it's lost in my twisty cerebral maze. It just occured to me that playing as the Orks might be more interesting. They have a good reason to raid a space hulk: smash some gubbins, grab some loot and get out. It might fit Freebooters and Blood Axes especially well. Might play like a procgen Nethack( with RPG elements?) or Drakborgen (Dungeonquest).

Art by Arne Niklas Jansson