A Project Is Born - "von Körtig's Backscratchers"

Hi everyone!  Got back into the swing of modelling this week with some time off in the flat.  So, what to do?

While watching the famous scene in Enemy at the Gates, where retreating Soviet soldiers are machine-gunned by NKVD 'blocking troops', I thought that's just the thing my Penal Legion could do with ... although they weren't as keen as I was.  I promptly went on a bit of a spending spree and got:

  • Various Vicky Lamb parts - mostly flak-armoured torsos and heavy weapon arms, with some conversion bits too
  • Some legs of unknown origin, mostly Guard plastics but some other generic-looking limbs
  • Some heavy weapons carriages and gasmask heads from Maximini
  • SM Terminator Assault Cannons from BitzBox
  • And 60mm bases and a Commissar model from GW itself.
The vague idea was to make three Assault Cannon stands, one of which would have a commissar on it, 'encouraging' the Penal Legion to carry on.  Not quite sure how it would work in game terms, but I'll come to that in due course.  Nothing should get in the way of a great idea!

Fluffwise, I thought the commissar could have a suitably Teutonic name, that fits in well with the pose of the model I think.  How about von Körtig.  I love umlauted names, they look somehow more sinister.  And as for a nickname ... well, with typical cynical understatement, "The Backscratchers" - in reference to their tendency to machine gun their colleagues in the back.  I imagine von Körtig not getting along well with Hellbrooke - despite not being a convict, Körtig is probably still on the lookout for an excuse to slot Hellbrooke.

I'll let the pictures do the talking with some explanatory captions.  All these guys have gasmasks, because while the Last Gasp platoon can always spare some convicts when attacking a gassed position, it takes time to train commissars and gun crew.

My lovely bitz

The three emplacements.  I used builders filler around a semicircle of card on the front to make the mud -
this is exactly the same formula as my old Guard lascannons (my first ever post, there).

Side view.  You can see the card quite well here, as well as the MaxiMini resin gun emplacements which were very nice - but quite expensive.  You can also see I had to cheat and use an ugly blog of Green Stuff to get the gun to sit on the carriage securely.

Milliput isn't as high quality as GS so it's perfect here to fill in some gaps.  There's also matchstick wooden poles, some mesh, a radio and spent casings.  Builders' filler is good for getting the bulk of the mud, then milliput for the remainder.

Some of the heavy weapons crew.  Some very nice MaxiMini gasmask heads.

The Commissar himself ...
There we have it!  There will be lots of grubby muddiness in the painting so I can look forward to that. I'll try and get some pictures up this week.

Oh, and two little admin announcements:

Victoria Lamb is now doing Penal Guard conversion sets in resin - pre-orders being taken now.  They are quite steep at $50 a pop, but you save a bit on buying them individually.  Don't know how I'm going to afford my 100-man human wave of convicts.  But just take one look at the models and you won't care!

And this just in - 122/7 Coy have a new commanding officer after the death of Capt Nero!  First Lieutenant Severus has made planetfall and is assuming command.  I've decided to bring out Lt Creticus' old model (he died early on, but I love the model so I want to use it again).  Service record and fluff to follow - but rumour has it he's a rigid disciplinarian.  Uh oh, a bit of a change of pace after Nero's laid-back tenure.

That's all folks!

The Colonel


  1. Ruddy superb, I did the same thing with autocannons for my landing party "gatling gun." Would love to be working on those right now.

    An excellent idea all round and looking forward to seeing them on the table. Going to have to start converting my "leftover" components in Adelphian chaps.

    Also particularly looking forward to hearing more about Nero's replacement, and the Palladian's reaction to him...

    1. Thanks - don't worry, it'll all be over soon! Don't want to make them too uber, possibly a lower BS than normal to represent non battle-hardened troops.

      Short story going in soon for Severus ...

  2. Awesome, man! I'm really digging how those are coming along. Love the new resin VL penitents, looks like they've added in some new torsos and the chained lasguns are great! Darn it, now I'm gonna have to add another squad to the 7th!

    By the by, I've started the repair work on the Vets from our unit exchange, I hope to have them back in fighting trim within the next week or so. I'm going to have to do some paint touch up here and there but I'll do my best to keep them true to the original vision.


    1. They look amazing. I've already put a few orders in the post - it'll be interesting to see their quality, up to now FW has been the only real contender in this arena.

      Good to know - they did get quite badly mauled didn't they :s although we can put something in the fluff about a bumpy warp transit maybe?

  3. Love it, love it, love it! Penal legions are so much fun and you have a cool story to go along with your own.

    Vickie Lamb's sculpts continue to impress. When I opened my newsletter and saw those resin penal troops I had to hold off from giving her yet more of my funds. (Guiltily have still to get started on those highlanders I bought from her site around Xmas....)

    Looking forward to reading up on the new OIC!

    1. They really are! I've always wanted to do a proper penal legion. Yep, I rarely buy things on the spur of the moment ... the exception being every month when I open the newsletter!

      New OC will probably be next post, if I can get the story finished.

  4. I love the idea of the blocking detachment, I would not want to be found wanting while the commissar has an assault cannon. I think they could use a flag, inspire with one hand, depress the firing stud with the other.

    1. Out of all the 'inspirational' weapons there are, an assault cannon can probably 'inspire' the greatest number of people to stop retreating in the smallest space of time. Oooh, a big flag waver - good idea!

  5. Smashing concept; great execution.

    Pun intended.


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