If there is one thing I always liked about this hobby, that would be the endless possibilities to customize and create your own army of toy soldiers. Not only it is a joy to mess around with different miniatures and paint them but there is a certain satisfaction when you finish a whole project that is actually unique, no one else has the same thing you do.
When I first looked into Conquest miniatures, I immediately noticed that the sprues for most kits were very flexible when putting together: arms, heads, torsos and legs were for the most part separate. Without a doubt, this is the best approach I can wish for miniatures. It permits freedom of combining elements without being forced to fit piece X with Y just because it was design that way. Or with monoposing style, a truly terrible thing for miniatures.
So when I ordered a couple of boxes of Spires and Hundred Kingdoms, the gates of miniature conversions were wide open. Although simply explaining my personal experience, maybe it will help/inspire you to do the same (or something better)!
Converting command models and retinues
Currently, we do not have many unit upgrades or retinue models available. And since many of these models don’t really follow a specific appearance, it is an ideal situation to do whatever you want. Some will simply give a model in a unit a more unique paint scheme to represent a leader, while others might add a regular infantry model to a character’s stand to represent a retinue member. That is all good and fine but the situation opens the possibility to customize your models, which is always cooler!
Diving into the Core Box, one may notice there are no command sprues. I do not see this as a problem considering the amount of miniatures and material you get (can’t think of a better value for money starter box in ALL wargaming history). However, some people tend to complain about it. Instead of grumbling, I see it as an opportunity to build my own unit upgrades. After all, there are quite a few spare bits.
Getting hold of a spare Household Knight’s head and shield, it’s as simple as adding them to a Men-At-Arm to have a more distinct model that fits a Leader or Seasoned Veteran. Need of standard bearer? Nothing like grabbing some brass rod and adding a banner (from your bits-box or just the old paper-painted way).
Clean, easy and efficient.
Spires are not left behind. Since I first had the adorable Force Grown Drones, I always wanted to add a Catabolic Node to a model. Make it clear that those poor Drones are ready to blow themselves up for the greater good of the Sovereign they serve and die for. This one was a very easy step, 3 or 4 mixing metal balls and spreading some greenstuff all over give the impression of some protuberance sticking out a Drone’s back, as a sack containing a bio-bomb ready to explode!
Retinue models for Spire could allow some pretty wild ideas. No boundaries to the horror creations of a Biomancer! The Avatara box has an extra pair of legs, arms and head. Will I just discard that? No way, that’s half a model. So I thought of a way to use the totality of the Avatara box content. Using the legs and head, adding some other random bits and a not so elegant application of greenstuff, and I ended up with a freakish tall looking creature. Fits the bill perfectly.
Having bought more than one Core Box, I had extra objective markers. There is a model that looks like a little Spire fetus. Poor little thingy. Put it on an infantry base and you have a retinue model that should represent well a tier of the Mastery of Flesh, for example.
Combining kits across factions
One thing is to add a few Household Knight bits to your Men-At-Arms to create a Seasoned Veteran or giving your Steel Legion some spears to have alternative Gilded Legion models… Another completely different idea is to combine kits across factions. Granted it may not always work and may require a bit of tetris skills (and greenstuff!) to make the pieces fit but some ideas may emerge as a very cool alternative.
I found the Spires to be a main beneficiaries of such practices. The fact this faction runs all sorts of crazy scientific experiments and has among its rank alien monstrosities leaves plenty of room for interpretation for their appearance. Since Spires tend to absorb all things surrounding them, my own Spire army could in some way imitate the Hundred Kingdoms in a twisted way. Spires in disguise that integrated part of what their human foes were doing. With this more or less reasonable fluff explanation, I started combining Men-At-Arm with some left-over bits from the Vanguard Clones box.
Indeed, Dual Kits are a superior source of bits. After building my Infiltrators, I had extra heads and arms with swords and shields. Sticking them to Hundred Kingdoms bodies, I ended up with creepy looking “humans”. A bit of greenstuff, sculpted as fur over the shoulders, was required to cover the joints but the results are quite pleasing. The standard bearer was done by using a Household Knight’s lance cut and inverted. In such position, it looks as a brazier on a pole.
I even had extra bits of the Noble Lord, perfect for a commanding High Clone Executor! Adding small details such as Mercenary Crossbowmen helmets to the Clone heads or Abomination nails to Noble’s helmet (as some sort of horns) make all the difference. In the end, no bits are useless.
Converting kits for unreleased models:
Despite the fantastic effort by PB to release all those lovely models, we know that some of them are far away before we see them in stores. So why not make your own unreleased kits available by converting models? As per rules in the army lists and bits of fluff, we know what these not-yet-available kits should more or less look like at least in concept.
With three spare Household Knights, I wanted to test something different: applying a Spire filter on them. Armed with greenstuff, mixing metal balls and chains, I started to shape what appeared to be Clone-Cavalry. No such thing in the Spire army roster but these fellows could certainly fit well as Centaur Avatara or perhaps even Prowlers, both of which are yet to be released. The extra Avatara arms and weapons appeared to fit remarkably well, giving the models are very menace air of shock cavalry. Similar to the Vanguard Clones disguised as Men-At-Arm, filling the gaps around the joints helps to give a better look (sculpting fur for example). A mass of greenstuff thrown without much care over the horses (and a pair of Abomination feet!) gave them the Spire-touch, straight out the most hideous Underspire laboratory. For better or worse, the result is a unique looking unit that was fun to customize.
Other ideas come to mind, such as using replacing Force Grown Drones’ hands with blades to represent Onslaught Drones or adding the very own Force Grown Drones spears and shields to Vanguard Clones to have some Bound Clones but I have yet to test such wicked experiment. So many ideas….
So as we see through these couple of examples, Conquest kits offer a lot of possibilities for kitbashing goodness. The only limit is the imagination!