I was originally writing this as a piece for the 40k radio webzine but due to some recent problems I will not be submitting it there.
I originally picked up the Steel Legion models upon their release as they were the coolest thing I had seen. I built a rather crappy army and took it to the 2001 Dallas GT, and got STOMPED I took second to last place.
Here's a couple of crappy old photos.
With the release of Armored company rule-set I picked up about 18 more leman russes and expanded the force to this:
Well I ended up finding out that 4th edition mech guard were crap, so I shelved the army for a while.
After a while the 5th edition guard codex preview copy came into my work. I spent every minute not helping customers pouring over this book writing lists changing things and talking to people. I knew this would be the book that brought back my IG and I started cruising the net looking for a good GT to go to and I found the Big Waaagh coming to Memphis, TN. Only being a 6 hour drive away I figured it was worth going, and I wanted to use the new hotness at the time, the Imperial Guard. Since my painting had improved significantly, and I had begun to hate the old gray scheme, I wanted to repaint the army in something more keeping with the Armageddon theme. So I sat down and read the guard book over and over and over trying to find something that was different enough to be noticed by a painting judge, but fit with the theme of the planet.
Then like a bolt of lighting it hit me, the 339th Iron heads. In the codex there's a story about a unit of guardsmen that defend a tank factory assembly line by assembly line as tanks are constructed around them. The guardsmen then mount up on freshly built but unprimed tanks and proceed to rout and then kill the orks. This is what I will do. I started doing research on tank metal rust and other things. I found a super bright metalizer Steel paint that worked well for a fresh from the factory look, and a desert yellow that worked well for the troops.
I wrote a bit of a back story about the 339th and how on the inaugural battle of a campaign they always strip their chimeras down to bare metal before assaulting an enemy position.
Now that I had a back story and a paint scheme I wanted something else. At the time I was play-testing a list led by Creed and none of the current Steel Legion models fit the air about him that Creed has. So I decided I'd make one.
I fell in love with this commander and decided he would be my creed.
But he needed a skull mask so he could fit in the army. So I ordered an extra steel legion commander and swapped their face masks.
With the commander sorted out I decided to paint the army. I saw the "priming stick" method in white dwarf and decided to try it out.
I cannot recommend this method enough if you are priming large numbers of models. It definitely saves the amount of paint needed to cover such a large number of figures as you are saving the over-spray.
So I set about painting my models. It took 2 sticks to get the entire army primed but after wards I had an army that was ready to be painted.
I then sealed the models so that the GW acrylic paints would stick as the spray was lacquer based.
Next up was scorched brown boots, gloves and pouches. Followed by catachan green helmets.
I then dipped the models in "Special Walnut" Minwax to give them a nice shaded look and then spray them with another coat of sealer. So the acrylic paints will stick to the laquer based Minwax.
Then I highlighted the leather with calthan brown, painted the guns with testors gunmetal, painted the lenses black, highlighted the coat with commando khaki, and picked out silver details with chainmail.
Which gives me the following look:
The model on the left is the test model, the middle model is post dip with leather highlights, and the model on the right is post dip with coat highlights.
Well now I've got a large group of guardsmen with no way to tell them apart. Steel Legion troopers don't have armored shoulder pads like Cadians so it's hard to put numbers on them. I came up with a military stencil font and then printed my own decals for squad lettering. I devised a 3 digit system the first digit being the platoon number and the second two being the squad number IE: 101 being platoon 1 squad 1. Command squads would have the relevant digit replaced with a skull so platoon 1 command squad would be the number 1 and a skull.
Next up were the tanks. I knew that I needed a way to differentiate the tanks as easily as I had done with the guardsmen. However the white decals I ordered from forgeworld didn't show up very well on the Steel hulls of the tanks so I had to come up with some way to have a different color on the tank. I decided I would paint the side skirts of the tanks in the normal Armageddon scheme, I came up with a BS story about techpriests not wanting the machine spirits inside the engine disturbed by stripping the paint and a painting I went.
No good guard army can survive on men alone and this one is no exception. I decided that I could use 6 meduasas to back up my very kill-able troops and after about a day and a half I scratch built the breech of a medusa, then with some metal working skills and a lathe I turned out a barrel to fit it.
I then cast up 6 of these beauties in resin
and test fit them to my medusas.
Now the meduasas needed paint. First up was another batch of awesome spray metalizer this time Gunmetal for the big guns.
Next was the usual Armageddon scheme for the hulls, plus some additions. Each squad got squad markings and decals, they also got battle slogans or names depending on the squad.
Well after this flurry of painting I decided that the next cool thing the army needed was a display board. After a quick trip to home depot I picked up some pink foam and some edging and laid out a base.
I apologize as there are no WIP pictures of the base. After taking the pictures of the set up (mainly so I'd know where to put stuff back as I cut) I finished the base in less than 2 hours. This was rather critical timing as this was done the night before I left for the tournament.
Here are some completed pictures of the base and parts of the army. The chaos army that is also on the base is my friend's chaos army. We entered a team tournament that ran before the main GT. We were team FETC (Face Exploding Throbbing Cannons)
We massacred game 1, Game 2 we lost due to funky scenario writing, and game 3 we were soundly massacred.
The next 2 days during the GT I had a great time and came in 15th out of 82 people.
After returning home I realized how many more guardsmen I had to paint. To add more fuel to the fire a friend of mine made me an offer I couldn't refuse and I purchased 10 more leman russes. I realized I have tons of anti tank fire power already and I need some anti troop weapons. I started by converting up a leman russ punisher from an Terminator T-1 toy and one of my newly purchased leman russes
I painted that bad boy up and put him with the army
After a few games in a local campaign I realized that while I had tons of anti-tank and anti-light troops I needed something to kill marines. So I ordered some forgeworld ryza plasma cannon turrets and combined them with the new Demolisher tank turret and made some plasma-saurus' (My play group calls the leman russ Executioner with plasma cannon sponsons)
I then began to take stock of the guardsmen I had left in the house and decided to get them painted up. I started by building a ton of heavy weapon team bases and painting the rest of the guardsmen I'd acquired over the years
You can see a few more WIP pictures of the army here.
After that flurry of painting I decided that since I have 30 leman russes I would organize them into 3 companies. The first company would be the plasma russes. Well since I had 3 of them painted I needed a few more to get to the 9 per company. I've now got 2 full squads and the start of 1 squad.
Closeups of one of the tanks. You can almost make out the weathering on the tanks and the different colors in the camo.
Since taking these pictures I've started the 2 final russes for this company.
Next better shots of the finished punishers.
I'm not going to be finishing the turrets as I have a different gun in mind for later. I'll keep these turrets gray and that way I can sell them later.
I also painted some more command figures.
A commissar lord.
A commissar (This is a reaper figure but it fits).
Uriah Jacobs, you can barely make out the really cool way the coals came out.
And Redemptor Kyrnov.
At the moment this is where my guard army stands. I have almost another platoons worth of Guardsmen I've acquired since these photos but They are all bare metal and waiting for more guardsmen. I'll probably strip my Inquisitorial stormtroopers and put them in my guard scheme but I'm still debating it.