Zoanthrope Reimagined

Taller, leaner, and so easy to build ANYONE can do it!

Hey guys, Caleb with White Metal Games here.

When the new nid codex dropped a few months ago, I found my wallet reeling.  There were a lot of cool new nids and I wanted at least all of them!  So without a lot of extra money to burn, I was tasked with coming up with a brood of zoanthropes without skipping a few meals.  At $22 bucks a pop, they aren’t cheap.  Why GW hasn’t released a Zoanthrope/Venomthrope dual kit box is still a mystery to me.

A few months ago I wrote an article called Building a Better Biovore.  While the article was only marginally well received, I felt like it reached enough people that it was worth a rematch with an old classic, the Zoanthrope.  I don’t have to please everybody, so this article is for the handful of people out there that did get something useful out of the last article.  
I’ve seen a lot of great conversions for Zoanthropes over the past few years, and certainly with the lack of product support for the Doom I got a lot of practice building proxy models over the years.  So, with the goal of building a brood or two of these, I hit my bits box and tried to see what I could come up with.
I like to think of this as a reimagining, because unlike some of my other kit bashes, this reimagining isn’t necessarily cheaper than just buying a new zoanthrope.  Bits wise, this model can be a bit pricey.  But if you’re a nid player, you probably have enough bits lying around to build at least one of these, or at the very least something similar.

DSCF0003Again, let me emphasize this:  Some of the best conversion out there are only great because of the spares you have lying around your bitz box.  My bitz box is obviously larger than the average persons.

Part of the fun of a good conversion/kit bash is using what you have on hand.  That’s the challenge.  But buying all these bits individually could cost quite a bit, so try to think of this article as just one of a possible series of options you COULD utilize if you have the right bits on hand, or something close to this.

So, without further ado, here are the parts you will need for this transfiguration:

  • Hive Tyrant flying tail and hip insert
  • 4 x Carnifex Horn, Trygon spikes, or something similar
  • 2x Genestealer Extended Carpace (hey, you don’t need them in the new codex anyway)
  • Spare Trygon headplate
  • Spare Genestealer Torso (time to gut those poor Ymgarls)
  • A spare Tyranid head, preferably small, like a gaunt head, stealer head, or tyranid warrior (we used Chapterhouse Alien Cthulu heads, which we love!, but aren’t necessarily needed for the conversion)
  • ‘Green Stuff’ or the equivalent in your favorite 2 part epoxy (we are partial to Apoxie Sculpt)
  • Tube Tool, power cables, or something similar (see below)
In truth, this conversion couldn’t be simpler.  Here’s how it works.
Firstly, assemble the tail.

Afterwards, glue the two pairs of horns/spikes in the place the zoanthrope’s vestigial talons would normally go.  This is the spot the legs would go on a regular hive tyrant.

Grab your genestealer torso.  Clip off the leg(s) and the tip of the tail.  Just the tip.  
 Since we are using the Cthulu Alien head, we needed to cut the ‘eyes’ off to get the head to flushly nestle underneath the Trygon head plate.  However, for the smaller heads, like a stealer head, termagant head, or the like, you just want to clip it, trim it down, or file it down so it smoothly sets underneath the headplate at the far end, where the face/mouth of the zoanthrope will be.

 Now, glue the head into position and use the genestealer body for the main brain.  Yes, I know, you can sculpt a brain and save a genestealer.  But here’s the thing, most of us have a few stealers lying around we don’t need, and using the stealer torso will save you a good amount of time from sculpting the brain.  So pick your poision:  burn a genestealer and save time, or save the stealer and burn time making a brain.  Your choice.

 Okay, whichever way you go, now you need to mount the head to the ‘neck’, which is the old hip.  I used just a little dab of apoxie sculpt to build up a slight bridge between the two.  Don’t make this too thick, as you are going to putty over it in the next steps.  Let this dry, at least until it’s hard enough to glue down permanently.

Once dry, you are going to fill in the rest of this gap with epoxy as well.  Your goal here is to get a nice, smooth transition between the next and the head, without covering up too many details.  Right now his neck looks pretty fat, but we’re going to change that in the next steps.

Now go in and fill in the slight gap behind the new models ‘talon vestigial arms).  You don’t need to sculpt any detail here, since we’re going to be covering this up with the extended carapace anyway.  Namely, you are just trying to get a smooth surface for the extended carapace to adhere to.

 Meanwhile, go ahead and fill the gap at the back of the head too!  I tried to do something similar to the genestealer carapace here.  Since viewers will rarely if ever be looking under the hood of this model, I didn’t spend a great deal of time here.  Just a few simple swipes with a clay shaper and right as rain.

To keep a consistent look, I poked a few ‘brain holes’ in the newly puttied area.

Looking good so far, IMHO, but there is a real lack of detail here. Instead of spending a lot of time working on detail here, let’s try to hide the lack of detail with a few simple distractions.  Namely adding a few simple details, drawing the attention away from the lack of detail and instead towards the detail we put in place.  Painters do this all the time by having you focus on things like OSL, battle damage, and the like.  We can do the same thing with our kit bashed minis, if we are smart about it.

 To start, we need a little white noise background texture.  I used a simple needle to scrape some holes along the side of the grey stuff, to give it some texture.

 Now, here’s the tricky part.  I wanted to add a few bio-tubes to help hide the lack of general detail here.  For these tubes, I used a specialty tube tool from Masq-Mini.  There are other versions of this tool on the market, and the buy in for this tool is high relatively speaking, but the amount of time it saves you is life altering and I have never regretted buying a set of these many years ago.

 So if you have this tool, SUPER DUPER!  Then make a few hoses and apply them to your model.  If you don’t . . . well, . . . time to get creative.  Either make a few green stuff tubes and score the tube marks into them, or alternately find some actual tubing to apply to the model.  Dragon Forge makes some great power cables that would work well for this purpose and you get a ton for your money!!!

 To be fair, the tubes are kinda an extra detail, unnecessary to the total conversion, but if you have the means available, they can really sell the model IMHO.    Finally, glue the extended carapace in place behind the talons/vestigial arms of the model, hiding your earlier gap filling.

Presto, you’re done!  Here’s what they look like presented as a brood.  It’s worth noting that these zoanthropes stand significantly taller than a normal Zoanthrope, so perhaps not GT friendly, but certainly great for friendly games.

I know, I know, I can here it now “Great, here’s an article to build slender man zoanthrope, but ONLY if you have a bagillion bits on hand!  Thanks, buddy.’  So for those of you without the same bitz box I have, here are a few suggestions to rework the article in your favor:

Tail:  Use as spare hive tyrant tail if you have the other one available.  Doesn’t have to be the flying tail.  You could also use a spare ravener tail, if you have one lying around.

Hip/Neck: if you don’t have the hip piece, try using a carnifex head as a neck piece.  Just cut off the face, and glue the head, open end down, into the tyrant tail socket.

You could also use a spare ravener tail, if you have one lying around.  Just clip off the lower half and use the upper half like a neck.

Head/Brain:  Don’t have Cthulu heads (why would you, of course) ?  No problem, here a few substitutions.
Use a carnifex head with the top half shave off for a much BIGGER head.

Use any spare head you have lying around, from an old 2nd edition Lictor head to a ripper head.

Use a termagant head with a spare ravener torso plate for the brain.

Talons/Vestigial Arms:
Prefer traditional arms?  No problem.  Use some spare scything talons from any number of kits, such as the ravener kit, hormogaunts, or genestealers in place of the tiny little arms I crafted above.

Be sure to check out some of our other crazy kit bashes on our facebook page, here, including this bad boy!


Caleb Dillon, White Metal Games

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