This is the blog post for my long time secret, recently revealed, conversion project I had been doing. I have been working on this guy on and off for about a year and finally have the modeling pretty well done. This is the sum up what I did as well as my thoughts making this guy.
Hopefully you can tell but this is an undead manticore ridden by the one and only Manfred von Carstein. I usually play it in game as Mandfred Mortarch of Night which was a happy accident really. As I said I actually started this a year ago, at the time The End Times hadn’t even started yet. I originally set out to make a Deiter Helsnicht conversion, he was going to be a vampire at this point so why not make the manticore undead. I also saw potential to use the zombie dragon kit, I had some parts left over from my terrorgheist, to deaden up the chaos manticore kit, which is fairly cool itself. I bits ordered all the manticore body parts as well as the dragon body, legs and wings. It cost almost as much as a one whole kit of manticore or dragon but this way I had all the parts I needed for the price of one. It ended up Manfred was because I didn’t have a real plan just the idea and some parts. When I needed a rider I conveniently had the top half of Manfred left over from my hellsteed conversion and thought it would look suitingly cool on top of my beast. Then The End Times happened and now there is Manfred riding a big beast, way better then a abyssal terror like it would of been originally fielded as, so it became the Mortarch. I also don’t care for the Dread Abyssals either, so this was great to allow me to field one.
I didn’t take a lot of WIP pics because I was often caught up in my work and any given moment wasn’t really a definitive step because I was just seeing where it went as I worked. First thing I noticed was that the manticore is slightly small compared to the dragon kit. I knew there would be a little difference for sure, but it is actually quite a bit and this changed my initial approach a bit. It was so long ago but I think originally I was planning to use the dragon body and add the manticore front legs and head and that would be 90% of it. This simply wasn’t going to work with the size difference. At this point I knew there would be more sculpting than planned or something to make up for it.
Alright I finally set out and started by putting the dragon body together because this was for sure the main piece. I ran into the first bit of conversion right away. I had the dragon neck which was good because it had the saddle but bad because it was so hunched over. I clipped the neck off at the front of the saddle and this got the angle much straighter off the back. I then clipped 2 of the vertebrate sections off the neck and glued the saddle back on. Then with the neck glued to the body I had to do some filling which I actually have a WIP picture of. I also had to do some sculpting around the spine and, when the mane was done, to complete the ribs along the neck because the originals didn’t fit anymore.
Next I got a rough idea of how I wanted the skull. I definitely had to change the goofy forward teeth jutting jaw of the dragon. I cut the front half of the skull off and then glued it back so the jaw is in the proper position. The top of the dragon skull has pretty pitiful teeth because normally it has a second row added but I wasn’t going to use it like that. I maybe could of used those second row teeth for what I did but I added the front teeth from one of the manitcore heads. I cut out a few of the teeth at the front of the dragon skull and glued on a set clipped from the manitcore that fit really well with the bottom teeth.
As you can see in one of my few other WIP pics that is all I ended up using of the original skull. I looked at images of lion skulls to decide how to make it look, rather than a lizard like head of the dragon. I removed most of the skull to make large eye sockets with what was there and took off all but the jaw of the rest. After the teeth had been attached I went at green stuffing the rest of the skull. I added a lot of putty building up the nose area and then pressed holes into it and shaped the nostril part. Then I connected the brow and made big round eye area as well as added much bigger cheek bone parts. I put some contours to it like the line down the center and some shaping around the top jaw for definition. I feel like it ended up looking pretty good, for a model, compared to a real skull.
The mane I actually did most of before the skull. I struggled with it a bit when I first started and it was why I took a break from it for a while when I started the project. As I said earlier the manticore is smaller than the dragon so the mane wasn’t going to be a direct fit. The mane is in 3 sections and there are 2 different styles in the kit. I used all the pieces in a similar layered fashion as the original. I split each mane piece in half and carved out the middle to fit them to dragon neck. The pic below shows the basic idea but is actually an initial rendition when I tried to fit the mane as is. Using all the pieces in the end made it large and full enough. There was still some odd gaps and I attached spare hair parts to fill along with green stuff.
I wanted to add ears to make it more recognizable as a manticore, similar to how the terrorgheist has them. I decided horns would be cool too and originally tried adding the set of ears with horns from the manticore (can see them in the skull wip pic). They just didn’t look right at all; the ears and horns both were small and hardly noticeable. This kind of scrapped the horn idea and I decided I could use the other set of ears without horns. They were still awfully small but some green stuff could bulk them out. Throughout the project I looked at lots of manticore art and models and I really thought this guy needed horns. Besides the behind the ear horns, the manticore kit comes with some that can go on either side of the jaw; they are of more appropriate size. I also remembered that my dragon kit had horns in it and those two combined looked pretty cool. Final touch on the head was adding some tattered skin on the skull to tie the ears.
The last real big step on the beast was figuring out the front arms. Before buying everything, I planned to use the manticore arms but again they were just way to small. To fix this I cut both manticore arms at the elbows and spliced in a joint from the dragon legs. (I got the joints from a plan of some minor conversions on my terrorgheist that I still haven’t finished.) Those elbows added some undead character and brought them to the right scale. I think the angle on them in the end is kind of weird but opted not to change it. I scraped and shaped the arms down a lot trying to match the withered yet muscly style of the rear legs. I glued them to the body where the dragons wings would normally go and sculpted the shoulder similar to how the rear legs join.
Finishing off the beast was finally some easier work. To wings were attatched on the back using the shoulder muscles/tendons of the dragon and putting them directly on the back. In hindsight I think I could of thinned them down to make it a little sleeker but oh well. Of course they were not at the original angles so the muscle to wings as well as muscle to back took some green stuffing. The tail I had done in the beginning to have some conversion work out well when I was struggling with the mane. It was simply taking the manticore tail, cutting it to fit at the end of the dragon tail, and adding some green stuff to finish it off. I bent the tail a bit to give it a little more up curve, it actually broke and I had to pin it back together.
I changed the rear feet and gave them, more appropriately, four toes. I had plenty of extra feet so to do this I removed the one big toes that is part of the legs. I attached the regular two small toes almost as normal and then added another set of the two regularly from the other foot. With a little green stuff they all came together and made it a little more anatomically correct. The rear legs are attached about like normal but I had to change the angle a bit to level Manfred out when all was attached to the base. I originally had a chariot base but that ended up too small. The Mortarchs are actually on a 60mm x 100mm so I ordered one of those up but missed judged assembly before I received it so the feet over hang a bit.
Lastly was getting the man himself on top of the manticore. I attached the normal dragon riders legs right to the model first. I then test fitted the top half of Manfred. I took out nearly all the top half of the right leg covered but the cape to line him up. I then used a long pin to attach him and green stuffed to make the rough shape of his legs. I sculpted the bat wing armor as well as some other details to finish off his legs. Obviously his sword hand and the spikes on his back are just fitted as normal.
One little note I didn’t point out was that I added some trophy/decoration hanging from the mane. These were originally hanging from the dragons neck and I did the same to my manticore. That covers everything I did but there are a few odds and ends to finish off some day. The claws on the wings are kind of incomplete; I need to either add a piece of green stuff bone or add a larger claw on. I haven’t really sat down to decide which and finish it off. I also could do something more with the base. Possibly using some of the rock from the dragon kit to stabilize the front but more likely I think I want to add some of the spirits like the Mortarch’s have. That should look really cool and once I get to the game store I’ll grab some to finish the modeling off. I’ll add the pics when I do and some day when I have time my projects will see paint.
Thanks for looking.