Our beloved Warhammer 40,000 has been around for a long time. Over 30 years ago Games Workshop* begun pumping out models and some of these tiny soldiers we lovingly build, paint, and spend countless hours going to war with, are starting to look a little dated.
There are a few key reasons why a mini gets old:
1: Technology changes. The quality of minis GW now produces is insanely better than the stuff I had as a kid. The details are far superior due to the improvements in plastic injection mold technology and the capabilities of the GW factory**. And now mold lines are taken into consideration during the modern day design process to make models look as seamless and clean as possible.
2: Sizes change. There is a slow, but steady scale creep going on and it is impossible to deny. 28mm used to be the norm, but a stereotypical trooper from any army is far from the same size their original squad mates were when GW first launched them. Have you seen the countless memes of old vs new Space Marines standing side by side?! In the far future (and apparently the present day), bigger is better.
3: Style changes. Fashion trends are not just for supermodels…they are a thing for miniature models too. Our mini’s armor, weapon designs and even hair have all totally changed over the years. And most obvious is how, the general gaming population seems to prefer more dynamic poses over stationary ones- classic sculpts are now forever clearly classified as antiques due to their lack of an action-hero-stance that each new model is brilliantly blessed with.
While there is a constant release of new models, many of us still have a private “shelf of shame” composed of unopened models that are just waiting to be built. Some of these models we once loved and spent good money on, have been patiently waiting and waiting and waiting to finally get busted out of their boxes. Years may have gone by, and these models now fall victim to one or more of the changes mentioned above, rendering them officially “old.”
Other armies are comprised of having EACH of their troops choices badly in need of a rework. Ork Boyz, Eldar*** Guardians, and Catachan Infantry are all over a decade old! And each of them are critical to building those oh so necessary battalion detachments. We are forced to use these dated models despite how ugly they look, because there are no official alternatives produced by GW yet. And while third party models are a thing, they are also not something that many tourneys allow.
So instead of settling with the old sculpts and building an army that shows its age, I have found that you can take shiny new sculpts, and cleverly convert them into the models you need to win your next GT. Here are a few success stories to help you modernize old minis:
- Look to the Old World**** for new inspiration – Age of Sigmar is a newer game than 40k and has been getting a lot of love from the GW design studio. Entire new army lines and races/species have been created recently and generally are vast improvements over their 40k counterparts. Compare Orruks (both Ironjaws and Bonesplitters) to 40K Orks. Or the newest seafaring Aelves to their scifi cousins. Even Chaos Warriors just got an update that one-ups the most recent Chaos Space Marine sprue. So take bits or even the entire body from an Age of Sigmar model and add some 40K flair to make a model that fits in the Grim Dark. I used the full torso, legs and head from an AoS mini to make a far more interesting and dynamic squads of Ork Boys (photo below).
- Gangs got the gear – Necromunda, as mentioned in another article, can be perfect for finding alternative heads. Changing the head of a mini can entirely change one’s opinion of that mini, because faces are natural focus points. Human beings can’t help but first focus on a face when looking at a human (or humanoid) object. This is due to how we evolved as a communal species that communicates through nonverbal body language and cues that are given from minuet facial movements. So, a new head can add that atheistic awesomeness, that the rest of the model is lacking. While each Necromunda sprue has plenty of head-swap options, they are also filled with awesome weapons that can totally work with so many of the basic troop choices mentioned above. Need something that looks a bit better than the standard guard issue Lasgun? Looking for another special weapon or maybe a more exciting close combat weapon for your squad leader? Just spend a few minutes looking at the Necromunda boxes and you will be pleasantly surprised with the possibilities. Importantly, Necromunda weapons will often times be considered 100% ok, as properly representing WYSIWYG.
- Enemies can become allies – Some 40k armies are from the Rogue Trader Era, while others are nothing more than new-born Tau. If your codex’s units have not had a resculpt in a few years, than snag a spruce or two from a sworn enemy and go crazy. The most current GW 8th ed Astra Militartum codex has some great examples of basic guard troops that have been kit bashed with models from other armies. Not only do these create a thematic army, but they update the old troop choices with something a bit newer that fits the atheistic we are gravitating towards nowadays. The Genestealer Cult product range is all relatively brand new and the models clearly show it. They are detailed and posed interestingly and have a kick-ass atheistic. Many items from the GSU range can stand in for Imperial Loyalist. For example, a Goliath Truck would work fine as an AM Taurox. Several of the new GSC characters could easily stand in for company commanders. And of course, the basic GSC troop choice, the Neophyte Hybrids, just need a few bits swapped in and a few things trimmed off to become true warriors of the Imperial creed.
- Don’t mess with a good thing – Some models are timeless. They don’t need modernizing. Just a bit of repurposing. There are a surprisingly quite a few models, that despite being made entirely from metal and being older than some 40K players, just have that special something that makes them worthy of a modern day army. They can bring character and can even look better that some of the stuff recently released. These models don’t need much fussing with: just a new base, a paint scheme that ties them in, and perhaps a bit of fluff to explain their slightly different appearance. With GW rereleasing some of their classics (even if they are limited time only), some of these timeless models are far more readily available. And places like the Front Line Gaming Second Hand shop might just have the perfect mini that is ready to be repurposed for your next army. This 40K inquisitor is simply a rebased Warhammer Fantasy Witch Hunter and totally fits the new role:
Hopefully the ideas listed here, will inspire you to create an army that properly personifies the vision you had when you first started reading your codex, so that you do not simply settle for outdated models that really need should be shelved.
*Our Lord and Savior
**The Ad Mech aint got nothing on the Brits when it comes to plastic model making
*** Who calls them Aldari?!
****Well technically now called the Mortal Realms, but you get the point
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