Greetings Terrans, I hope you and your loved ones are all fit, well, and bearing up in these strange times. I have another slice of oldschool fun for you today – yes, another project idea has been dusted off, reappraised, and dragged into the socially distanced light of day.
In order to provide context, I need to mention that I managed to get hold of the first 40k Compendium a few years ago – it’s a great book that collects a load of WD articles from the dawn of 40k and presents them in one neat bundle. I didn’t have it back in the day, but my mate did, and it is full of fond memories. It was the compendium that inspired the Primaris Legion of the Damned that I posted a few weeks back, but I have another project idea that this book inspired… It all comes from one paragraph:
“The Dreadnought is the ultimate form of personal armour. Inside his giant armoured suit, the wearer – or more correctly the pilot – controls the Dreadnought’s movement, armament and defences. To an extent, a pilot’s awareness becomes merged with his suit controls, sometimes to the point where man and machine are inseparable. As a result of this perculiar (sic) bio-mechanical relationship, experienced Dreadnought pilots cooped up inside their suits for long periods run a high risk of insanity. Perhaps it is fortunate that so few live long enough to go mad! Of those that do survive, some go rogue, joining the notorious ‘Dreadnought Bands’ that roam the galaxy, hiring out as mercenaries or living upon the spoils of wanton pillage.”
Now, I absolutely loved the idea of Dreadnoughts, (still do tbh!), and I thought this was such a cool piece of lore. With hindsight, it is almost certainly the origin of later Ork Dreadmobs, and also maybe the birth of the idea of Marines going insane while interred in their Dreads, or of Eldar ‘ghosts in the shell’ type situations, with long-dead spirits having a tenuous grasp on reality. This is all good fluff that is now firmly entrenched in the lore, but back in ’89, we just had that one throwaway statement… Notorious Dreadnought Bands…
My 14-year-old imagination ran riot with this, and I had visions of renegades from Human, (Dreadnoughts weren’t just a Marine thing back then), Ork and Eldar society putting aside their racial differences and choosing to forge mercenary bands of mechanised warriors who were bound only by their shared ‘bio-mechanical insanity’ – a band of iron brothers that stomped their way through the galaxy, hiring themselves out to the highest bidder… That 14 year old boy didn’t have the money to do anything about this vision, but 30 years later it’s game on, and with that in mind, I’ve been picking up the odd classic Dread here and there for a few years now. It gives me a lot of pleasure to present the first three members of the ‘Metal Heads’ Dreadnought Mercenaries.
First up is a classic Ork ‘Super-attack Onslaughter’ Dreadnought – I’ve always had a soft spot for the old Onslaughter egg-dreads – they are goofy as hell and a sod to put together, but there’s just something about them that makes me happy… They also happen to have the best name ever 😊
I swapped the usual weapon mount situation for a pair of ex-imperial las cannons that mated directly to the chassis. I actually think they work better as twinned Heavy Plasma Cannons, so I gave them a bit of a glow effect to sell that idea. I also replaced a missing top hatch with the pilot from an old Scorcher – no doubt he’s popped his head out for a better view of his target, or possibly to escape the after-effects of a particularly spicy squig curry. Either way, I see this guy as a long range specialist, (though like all good Orks machines, it’s no slouch in combat either, with twinned power claws).
The next Dread is a battered old Imperial machine, this one has the thin chassis and the long leg options:
Technically, it’s a Las-cannon equipped ‘Furibundus’ or ‘Fury’ class, but it is missing a twin-bolter arm (donated to another machine, to be revealed in a future post), and instead has a nifty little power claw that I had to hand. It also gave up its imperial pattern las-cannon to equip the Onslaghter above, so it has a slightly less impressive version salvaged from the bits-box. To make up for having such a piddly little cannon, it has a whacking great big missile – no particular reason, I just like it:
Finally we have another beaten up ex-Imperial machine – this time with the wider chassis & short legs:
I think this one was also a Fury at one point, but as with the example above, its arm went to a ‘yet-to-be-revealed’ machine, and its las cannon went to the Onslaughter above. Both missing limbs were replaced with missile launchers from the Sentinel kit – I always liked the idea of a mobile firebase type Dreadnought that doubled down on dakka at the expense of any manipulative limbs. I expanded on this idea with a pair of HK missiles to make an even more impressive fire platform, and I think the wide squat frame really sells that idea. As was the fashion at the time, I am christening this variant and am going for ‘Gundogan’ or Gun-Dog for short.
Here’s a final shot of the three of them together:
They don’t look especially cohesive at the moment, but wait until we add a few more into the mix… Until next time!
Aww man this is awesome. What a concept and what a vision. I can see the Dread Band loping across piles of skeletal remains hunting down anyone and everyone. I remember reading about Dreadnoughts when I was younger and the poor insane pilots entombed inside as a form of punishment/slash continued service to the Emperor God. All very grim-dark indeed and I bloody love it. Love what you’ve done here with the pint work. I actually think they are quite cohesive but I look forward to seeing what other ramshackle killing machines you have in store for us.
Cheers dude, this really is a gift to my 14-year-old self so I’m chuffed you like ’em. There is just something about the concept that appeals isn’t there? In RT days the Orks just jumped in and drove, and the Eldar did the same but with their brains instead of their hands. It was only the poor old humans that got plumbed in :-)
Pete S/ SP said:
Those are great- I remember them starting off like that too.
Cheers mate, more to follow :-)
Love the figures Alex and a fine job you have done on them but more than that I love that you have now, albeit 30 years on, been able to buy them. It makes them very personal and very special and I suspect these will have pride of place within your hordes. Got me reflecting on my own youth now and what I missed out on. Time for some research! 😊
Cheers dude, funny how it goes eh? A lot of my OldHammer stuff seems to be either collecting ‘sets’ or making up for stuff I couldn’t do back in the day… sounds tragic when I put it like that! :-)
Nothing tragic mate, just good fun and gives you pleasure. 😊
Great stuff! Deadnoughts have always been a central element to 40K lore imo (death cults, arcane tech, etc) so great to see this sort of project.
Cheers Warbs, quintessentially 40k I would say :-) There are a few more to follow too!
Fantastic mate. Love the idea of a mercenary dreads!
Cheers dude – should make for a nice & compact RT army!
I feel a scenario brewing between your merc dreads and my Egyptus Origins Squad!?
Bring it :-)
Fun concept! I wonder what they do with the money? Do they have families that they’re sending the pay back to, or are they only interested in maintenance and ammunition reloads?!
I think the heavy support dread is my favourite – I always preferred the squat body shape that the shorter legs give, and I’m fond of missile arrays.
Looking forward to seeing the rest of the crew.
Cheers Jon, glad you approve :-) Yeah, the concept is rather flawed if the humans can’t get out of their Dreads… How else would they maintain their machines or enjoy the fruits of their labour! I’m going to assume that they skipped the surgical insertion and went for the direct drive option :-)
That”s brilliant mec, I can only understand the cheer joy of building this big murder cans like a kid putting all the cool lego bricks on one build !
Haha – yeah, that sums it up perfectly mec :-)
Ha, very cool! I think they go together well enough; with orc tech I think having unifying bases they match quite well. If I have the scale right and they were used in games I think they’d make grand counts-as meganobz, perhaps. Anyway, I think they are great.
Aw, thanks Ann – there is a junkyard coherence about them I guess 😊
They are about Meganob size I think, but there is no way a modern ork is getting his massive quads into those skinny legs 😉
Hehe … I think a “junkyard coherence” sounds pretty orky to me. :) Yeah, you are probably right about the legs; I think the solution there is to probably just call the painboy and tell him to bring along a bunch of grot orderlies and have those offending legs off at the roots!
love ’em, especially the ork one… how do you get your rusty metal looking so good?
Cheers mate – brown wash, ryza rust and typhus corrosion 😉
These are marvellous! The Sentinel missile launchers are a total win, I didn’t expect them to look so damn good on that model. I particularly have a soft spot for the Ork one though.
The group looks awesome, I need more!
Cheers dude, yeah, the Gun-Dog was a happy accident really! I agree with you though, the Onslaghter is such a cool model. More Dread goodness to come next week😊
Mark A. Morin said:
Excellent – really like these ‘Metal Heads’ Dreadnought Mercenaries! Great kitbashing and weathering, and love the revisiting your youth through these!
Cheers mate, yeah, I’m having fun with this project 😁
I always loved how the imperial dreads look so smug. The Gun Dog in particular looks very happy about his missile launchers. Awesome work my friend!
Cheers dude, it feels good to give these old things some attention & get some paint on ‘em 😊
Yup, 14 year old me would have been in complete agreement with 14 year old you, and 35 year old me still is – dreadnaughts were probably the single thing that did most to get me into 40k, and they’re without doubt one of the coolest things about the setting. These are great, can’t wait to see the rest of the mob :-)
Cheers dude, what’s not to love about being encased in a giant robot suit with guns for arms, right? :-)
Exactly! As my old 5th edition copy of Codex Orks put it “An ork with dreams of finding a short cut to power will sometimes make the terrible mistake of volunteering to be a deff dread pilot. He believes that once he is in control of an enormous metal machine bristling with the deadliest of weaponry nothing can stand in the way of his ambitions. However they soon find out that the disadvantage of being permanently wired into an enclosed metal can is being permanently wired into an enclosed metal can”…
I preferred it back when they just drove the bloody things ;-)
Love ’em, Alex! You’ve reminded me that I have a couple of these old things arounbd somewhere. I’ve even tried to paint one of them a couple of times but I keep losing track of the parts! (there’s an arm missing, currently). You’re certainly making me want to dig mine out and get them finally (re)done for the 21st Milennium!
Cheers dude – they’ve aged for sure, but there’s just something about them… 😊