Bustin' Hump

So, to set the scene a bit (and to expose my shuddering laziness), I've had the idea for this unit floating around in my head for over ten years now. It came up during one of my first reads through the new (at the time) 3rd Edition Ork Codex, back in the warm, wackadoodle summer of 1999 - "Ork Penal Squad."

Yes, yes, get the sophomoric guffaws out of the way now, and we'll continue.

Makes sense, doesn't it? Ork society lacks much in the way of formalized law. You either get away with something or die trying. This goes double when it comes to cheezing off the local Warboss. Sometimes, though, killin' a lad really does seem like too much, even in the context of greenskin culture, especially in smaller tribes that can't afford to simply off anyone who makes a boo-boo. So, this sounds like a decent compromise. Orks aren't exactly the masters of taking out enemy armor, so why not outfit troublemakers with appropriate gear, and send them off to do some of the dirtiest, nastiest battlefield work? Offenders will either go out in a blaze of glory, or come back a hero with all (well, okay, most) of their sins forgiven.

It's a nice place to start from. So here's the results!

They’ve actually gone through several incarnations - most none too interesting - but have always been defined by their propensity for wearing helmets. It’s dangerous work, tank hunting! Recently, I got the itch to give the squad a proper modelling job, so they finally fit the rag-tag image boiling ‘round my brain. All it took was one look at the Rokkit Launcha bit from the new Deff Dred kit, and it was like a bolt of lightning struck. It was time to get started.

More inspiration struck in the form of The Bolter & Chainsword’s Dan The Daemon, whose Night Lords army, “The Immortal Terrors,” is something that has to be seen to be believed. The way he gave every member of his squads an individual identity through equipment, pose and armor - without losing a group coherency - was a big help in getting these guys together. I emailed him to say as much, and he responded with something just so perfect:

“Just remember don't take any shortcuts to finish the project fast enough to play with, or to keep the updates coming. Every time i sacrificed some of my vision to finish a piece i always went back and spent twice as long fixing it and making it what i really intended it to look like. Don't be afraid to try new things, as they pave the way to projects and images that your previous hobby skills might not ever have been able to handle. two years ago I would have never thought some of my recent works would one day be mine, but those came from a fierce vision that I was willing to try anything in order to accomplish.”

Wise words. The squad’s not finished yet, but it’s already by far the best thing I’ve ever done in fifteen years of modeling. That’s entirely because seeing things like Dan’s army made me push my skills like never before, and it’s paid off like crazy - not just in immediate results, but in the opportunities it opens up for future projects. Any creative skill needs to be constantly pushed if one is to see improvement. Practice may make perfect, but it’s vision and perseverance that make it a learning experience. I’m going to keep pushing myself with this squad and others, and it’s my honest hope that, a few years down the line, I’ll look at these guys and think “man, that was amateur hour.”

‘Till next time, you wonderful, bouncing, squishy creatures.