Sunday, November 14, 2010

Making Tracks: Manticore

A manticore is a mythical beast with the body of a lion, wings like a bat, the face of a man and some manner of spiky tail; sometimes like that of a scorpion, in other renditions, able to shoot the spikes at its prey.  All the Imperial Guard artillery is named after some sort of monster (Basilisk, Medusa, Hydra, etc), and with its 4 massive Storm Eagle rockets mounted on a rearward turret, this Manticore comes by its moniker honestly enough.

This was the first Imperial Guard model I ever purchased; although the Manticore is now available as an all plastic kit, for the longest time it was initially only possible to build one out of a Basilisk kit and then replacing the big Earthshaker cannon with a resin add-on kit by Forgeworld containing the turret, missiles and hull extension.  Having the opportunity to buy one of these kits while at the US Games Workshop HQ in Baltimore, I immediately gravitated to the Manticore for its Red Square May Day parade aesthetic; the immense firepower was only the most distant of associations.  In fact, it is only allowed a maximum of four shots per game, but many of my tanks get blown up well before that anyways, so that hardly seems like a setback.

Resin is a chore to work with and is also somewhat dangerous.  (True story: the head of sales for GW Canada told me about visiting Forgeworlds' production facility and his guide had him wear a full-on dual can respirator like you'd see them wearing in an autobody shop.  When Gary asked why, the rep told him that the resin dust was carcinogenic.  'Why aren't you wearing one then?' Gary inquired.  His guide smiled and said, 'It's too late for me, mate.'  Brr!)  I used my Dremel tool to sand off the unnecessary bits and mold webbing, and did it on my front step, with the wind at my back and a dust mask firmly in place.  Once that was done and the hull extension glued on, it primed and painted up the same as any other vehicle.  I left the missiles off until the very end, since they would be hard to reach around once they were glued in place.

The driver is another Forgeworld model, bought when I was exploring a Steel Legion or Death Korps of Krieg army, who all wear gas masks.  When I placed my final staff order with Games Workshop in 2007, I knew I had to get as much of my Guard army as possible, or it was never going to happen, and the knowledge that my 'Commie Rocket Tank' (as some of my co-workers referred to it) was languishing in the wings led me to choose the similarly Russian-inspired Valhallan Ice Warriors.  Still, I thought the gas-mask tanker was distinctive looking and made a degree of practical sense given the amount of fuel and exhaust he would be likely to encounter in the course of hauling those Storm Eagles around.

In the universe of the 41st Millennium, our modern day languages have been ostensibly replaced with High Gothic, Low Gothic and a host of lesser dialects, now that humanity exists on almost a million worlds.  In naming my vehicles I could probably get away with using a Russian word or two, but it's better to sneak in the occasional Cyrillic-looking letter and Eastern European name, like Little Anechka here.  I'm largely happy with it; it is certainly an imposing presence even if it doesn't match the picture in my mind's eye, but it got to a point where I had to weigh putting more effort into it now versus the disappointment of having it destroyed before even firing a shot later on during gameplay.  Most importantly, after more than ten years in a box, my Manticore is finally ready to take the field.

You know, once I have painted up an army for it to support...

1 comment:

  1. that's frackin' gorgeous Stephen. Glad it's on My team.