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The Crooked Hand Waaaagh! showcase, part 2 of 3

The Crooked Hand Waaagh!
This week: the niche stuff on the far right.
Image credit: Boris Altemeyer.

This week's focus: da uvver wunz. Some light Photoshoppage was done so you can see through the rotors on the koptas to make it easier to see what's what.
Image credit: Boris Altemeyer.

Today we have the second part of our showcase of Mark's massive ork army (catch part one's Bad Moons here). We've got moar konversions to share, plus also some comedy notes on the making of at the end. This penultimate episode could reasonably be titled "da uvver ladz," since as the above group shot indicates, it covers the smaller factions that Mark dabbled in.

I say dabbled... he embarked upon a full army of Blood Axes. It has some amazing kustom vehicles, most of which he didn't finish. In the cabinet* in which his armies are kept there is an entire shelf of 80% finished models. That Mark was an itinerant dabbler in many concurrent projects wasn't news to me, but I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole went. All the projects within a stone's throw of completion have made it to the cabinet, such that we might one day help them over the finish line.

Behold the shelf of many almost-finished vehicles!

We made a point of keeping unfinished things out of this showcase, though. As amazing as the kustom artillery, trukks, boyz, blasta-bommer and kommandos might be, they will for now have to serve as a cautionary tale to the rest of us: finish your stuff, or leave your nearest and dearest with absolutely no idea what to do with your WIP cairn.

And now for some kultural tokenism: the Snakebites, Evil Sunz and Goffs are represented in Mark's collection by only a single unit each. As an Evil Sunz player myself I do of course find that completely preposterous, as Evil Sunz is clearly da best. The Goffs (at least, I think they're Goffs, but they might just be miscellaneous orks...) are your classic mob of 30 lads, and the Evil Sunz are your classic biker gang. The Snakebites, however...

Here we have 5 converted boar boys, and an ork called Pigless. Many have asked what happened to Pigless' mount, but the other boar boyz just mutter that it weren't natural what he done to that pig, and won't be pressed on the matter.

I'm pretty sure the nob's quad bike is scratch built or at least very converted, but feel free to correct me in the comments.

These are pretty early paint jobs, as are the bikes, which becomes even more evident if you compare them to some of the other lads in this post.

With those light entrées out of the way, let's talk Blood Axe. In usual orky fashion, these Blood Axes have understood the value of having camo, just not the importance of having consistent camo.

Believe it or not, this is based on a real RAF camo scheme. Mark's original post on converting the chinork is here, and his post on the painting and camo scheme is here.

Battleship dazzle camo on a Kill Blasta?! Glorious.

These nobz clearly also wish they were battleships, judging by the camo.

Captain Slab, complete with mega armour, mega blasta, and mega fast thinking helmet.

It takes a special kind of enthusiasm to have a model as big as this with only one foot on the ground, but it does give it a greatly enhanced sense of movement.

OK we need to talk about these gretchin. FUBAR is just a lowly grot oiler who has yet to pass any of his workplace competencies. Grotface, on the other hand, is... wait for it... a roleplay character.

I can explain.

The first RPG Mark ever ran was set in Orktown. Most of the players were orks trying to find their stolen trukk. Tom, however, played whichever unlucky gretchin the orks had most recently collared. Given the astonishing rate of attrition, the ork players just referred to Tom's current gretchin as Grotface. If memory serves, Tom was playing Grotface the Third by the end of the first session. I forget which Grotface ended up wearing a bucket, but he was the bestest Grotface, and spawned many romantic novels (most infamously The Grot in the Iron Bucket by renowned Weirdboy Volt Hair).

If the klaw has dazzle camo, you can't see it coming. Fact.

Major Ordnance and Sergeant Nibbles: one boss and his squig, herding his tribe to the promised scrap. Brings a tear to me eye, it does. Actually it kind of does, since this warboss conversion was actually something I did some work on. Mark was an absolute boss at converting mechanical parts, far above and beyond anything I can do, but didn't have much experience with sculpting, so asked me to sculpt kunnin' hats for da Major and his pet.

When you really look at them, peaked caps are quite complex shapes, and I felt like I might have over-promised. At the least, I was expecting to have to do it in several sittings to stop things squidging or sliding around. Surprisingly, though, it went on in one hit. Before the primer went on, the boss looked like an orky Luigi.

The group shots, how they was done, and who done 'em

Taking pictures of an individual unit is easy: stick it on a curved bit of paper, point a decent amount of light at it, and take a picture. Do some cropping, white balancing and resizing in Photoshop, and boom, that's it.

Decent shots of a whole army? Sweet baby Jesus on a little squeaky tricycle. It's too dark, or it's too blurry, or more commonly both. It's doable but I'm often disappointed with the results compared to the shots I can get of individual minis.

So, I knew I wanted to do a good showcase of Mark's orks, but had no idea how I'd get a shot of the whole army. Then, at Mark's wake, a stranger approached. "Are you Charlie?" the stranger asked.

"Yes?" I responded, apparently in the throws of an existential crisis.

"I'm Boris. I do photography. Mark asked me to help him take photos of his army."

Delicious, I thought. About both the photography, and Boris' lustrous mane of hair.

Of course before any photos could happen, we needed to sort out Mark's hobby workshop nest: a mammoth task which a number of people have pitched in with, most notably Maisey (cheers again, dude). Thankfully, Mark left instructions about what to do with his hobby stuff. I strongly urge everyone else to do the same. My plan is to have a folder in my house labelled "Open in case of Charlie being very dead," and then tell people where to find said folder, and also share a folder in Google Drive in case the cause of death is a mild case of Exploding Firey House syndrome.

Eventually, we had everything in one place. A date was set, and Boris drove down to Oxford equipped with hench photography gear.

Our backdrop: both ghetto and ludicrously high budget.

Any photo this big needs some sort of backdrop. Sadly, I didn't have one. We had to make do with the biggest plain objects I had to hand: three Realm of Battle Boards. Since that was already three comically expensive objects in play, I doubled down and used... I don't know how many pounds' worth of GW books to prop up the STRUCTURAL PLANK.

Planky plank plank.

RoB boards: not just modular battlefields.

Those things on tripods in the photo above are flash bulbs set into diffusers. They link up with Boris' camera. It was very important to avoid looking straight at them when he took a photo.

The flashbulbs had their own screens, because of course that's a thing. Apparently.
Whenever they went off, they then made a noise much like Iron Man's hand blaster things while recharging.

The original images he took are absurdly high res. Far too high res for Blogger, in fact, but there's a dropbox of some of the group shots here for the curious.

The photos are technically composites; Boris would set his focus to different distances, then stitched the photos together so that everything's in focus. The end results are vastly superior to anything I could have managed. This is his first time photographing miniatures, and fair play to him. Boris' face meltingly pretty portfolio is well worth checking out, unless of course you don't have eyes.

We've definitely underused his talents, given that the primary purpose of these group photos was to illustrate rather than offer cinematics, but he seems to have enjoyed the challenge; we may yet get him back to try taking some more atmospheric shots of the Beard Bunker's population of tiny things.

Next week is the final part of the showcase, and it'll be covering the Deathskulls. Expect kustom battle wagons and other glorious conversions.

*  Said cabinet has been dubbed the Mark Sarton Memorial Cupboard by Mark's widow Caroline, who retains her gloriously blunt sense of humour even in the face of serious adversity.


  1. If the many Grotfaces ever had individual names they were unimportant things known only to their fellow Gretchin and beneath the notice of proper Orks.

    Grotface the first died somewhat anticlimactically when one of the Ork players casually smacked him about the back of the head for being annoying. Or possibly for being right. The first time it happened Mark surprised us all by demanding the Ork player roll a melee attack. He rolled low and Grotface survived, but that didn’t deter the players from continuing to smack him about the head. Grotface the first got lucky twice, but the third time’s the charm.

    Grotface the second was, I believe, the one who wore the bucket as a defence against meeting the same fate as Grotface the first. Sadly he met his demise when the party couldn’t work out how to get the attention of a Mek who was working inside his locked workshop. Grotface the second heroically attracted the attention of said Mek by being launched (somewhat unwillingly) through the skylight. Sadly he died on impact with the floor below. Perhaps some padding to the helmet would have been in order.

    Gortface the third actually managed to survive, escaping the clutches of the party through some cunnin’ planz and the manipulation of an angry Runtherd. He was last spotted wearing a red coat and urging his fellow grots to unite against somethig or other…

    Gortface the fourth lasted a relatively long time and died heroically but horrifically whilst trapped in the footwell of a trukk and being assaulted by a Big Mek with a buzzsaw who wasn’t too happy we’d found our stolen trukk before he’d finished repainting it.

    Grotface the fifth is, I believe, still alive, having miraculously (or cunningly) survived the entire second adventure. He may also have been wearing a bucket which would certainly have aided his survival.


  2. Glorious! I wish I had a mega fast thinking helmet :-)


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