Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Wolf Time Is Come!

Shortly after the release of the Space Wolves (and the mighty Canis Wolfborn, pictured above), an enthusiastic hobbyist was pointed in my direction by Jeff Wilhelm (the man behind Dragon Forge Designs). This soon-to-be client was looking for five conversions of Canis Wolfborn to create a kick-ass Thunderwolf Cavalry unit.

I took a look at the Canis model, one that certainly fits Jervis' mantra of "bespoke" character models, and was immediately excited about the possibilities (if not the amount of work) for creating some great models. While we'd all obviously love plastic Thunderwolves, there's just no way a Space Wolves army should take to the battlefield without at least one unit of these bad boys. A friend of mine, Brendan Bell, is currently building 20+ of these beasts for his Adepticon Team Tournament army. We sat down a couple of times and talked about various poses, bouncing ideas back and forth. It was during these conversations that I was really able to nail down my vision.

Anyway, enough of the guff. Here's the finished product.

I wanted this pack of Thunderwolves to all work as characterful individuals as well as a coherent group. I like to think I was pretty successful in achieving that aim. Materials used?
5 Canis Wolfborns, 1 box of Space Wolves, plastic rods and strips, greenstuff, brownstuff, paper clips, glue, and five 60mm round bases from Dragon Forge Design's Slate Wasteland range.

This is the first model I completed, a simple conversion straightening out the right foreleg, replacing the tail, and replacing the head and arms. I'm very happy with the strength of the pose and working on this guy first helped me understand the intricacies of the model and its components.

This was the second model started, but fourth finished. The Thunderwolf is in the same pose as Canis' mount, but I replaced both forelegs with bionics and armor plating, and twisted the head to the right. In the process of the twist I effectively "extended" the neck, slimming down the look of the Thunderwolf. I also replaced the tail, rider head and arms.

This is one of my favorites, inspired somewhat by one of the old metal Chaos Warhounds, low to the ground sniffing around for the trail of its prey. Only the right rear leg escaped extensive conversion. I also added a helmet of sorts to the Thunderwolves head, although Brendan calls it a gimp mask. It was Brendan that helped my out by "dremeling" off the helmet that is attached to Canis Wolfborn's left side. A bit of well-smoothed putty and the cloak was back to normal, and the rider could wear a helmet. I couldn't resist adding my favorite, the wolf helm.

This leaping pose was the inspired by one of Brendan's wolves, but I had to take it a bit further with a bionic jaw and left forepaw. You'll have noticed that there are a few patches of putty beneath the feet of the wolves. This was the most straightforward way of ensuring that the flat bottoms of the wolf paws got maximum glue area on the base, particularly important on this model.

The final model of the group (and the pack leader). The client wanted a Frostfang and Storm Shield on this model. As one of his regular opponents plays Orks I thought there was another opportunity to help build that rivalry while creating an integral prop for this pose. Known as "The Howler", this model certainly required a hefty chunk of greenstuff. I think there might be more DT-sculpted fur showing than the original model's fur. I went again with the bionic jaw and a bionic right forepaw, as well as another armored helm for the wolf. The Frostfang is built from two carefully trimmed and sliced Space Wolves chainswords sandwiched between two "slices" of thin plasticard. I wanted it to be a bit reminiscent of Ragnar Blackmane's Frostfang. I hope you like it.

So there you have it. Although many people derided the Canis Wolfborn model when pictures first surfaced, I hope I've helped everyone see that not only is it a cool model, but that it is a cool model that, with a lot of work and greenstuff, can be posed in a variety of very dynamic poses just perfect for the heroic Space Wolves.



  1. Nice work! I especially like the addition of the bridles.

  2. Wow, them thar is some good lookin puppies.

    It's hard to believe they all started out as the same model. While the green-stuff work is top-notch, what really does it for me is the detail on the bionic parts.

    Very nice stuff....

  3. wonderful work Dave. Although the greenstuff is great, I like the different poses of wolves and riders. They all give you something different.
    Very cool!
    Santa Cruz Warhammer

  4. Exceptional work considering what an awful model you had to start with.

    I need to do something like this for my space wolves at some point. The only downside is that I may need 19 of them in due course.

  5. Looking good! I am just amazed that you bought all those Wolf guys!


  6. I am amazed how nice you've made the Canis wolf look. With that said, I had no doubt that when I saw you were doing a conversion based on it Awesomeness would be the result!

    Now I may have to go the Canis Conversion route, darn you Dave Taylor!


  7. couldnt agree more with Adam! the model is an appalling mess normally but you really have created a stunning unit from them!

    well done indeed sir!

  8. What an AWESOME job, Dave! It's impressive the result of the unit, starting with the same ugly-miniature. Pretty awesome!

  9. You know dave I hate it when you do stuff like that because it gets me thinking "hrmm that type of this would be AWSOME on my mantle". Great work look forward to your next blog.

  10. very very nice sir, there going to look great with some paint on!

  11. Like everyone has said, ridiculously great looking stuff! I really like some of the details echoed in the rider and mount...the wolf's mask similar to the riders wolf helmet, the howling wolf with the howling rider. Too easy to get lost in the great details you've put into these!

  12. This conversion really highlights what's wrong with the original model; the absurdly stubby neck. The way you've lengthened it into a more natural looking creature makes an amazing difference (and a more vicious looking wolf!).


  13. Hey Dave, Andrew Old here. Long time no see.
    These are beautiful. Love your work as always.

  14. Fantastic! These will doubtlessly be the envy of the player's friends (and opponents!)

  15. Dave, that is amazing work!

    Are you painting them or is the client?
    Is there a way to get an update when the unit is done being painted? I would love to see the finished product.

    Q1. How on earth did you make those bionic paws??? Simply stunning work.

    Can you do some plasticard tutorials for us lesser mortals?

    Q2. What is the difference between greenstuff and brownstuff?

    Thanks for sharing your work. I've been a big fan for a long time and a regular reader of your site. Keep up the amazing work.

  16. Thanks guys for the kind words. As I mentioned in the post, a lot of work but very satisfying results!

    @ Harun, to answer your questions.
    A1. the bionic legs were built from plastic rods and tubes, with thin plasticard strips carefully cut and shaped for the paws themselves. I might have to do one soon.

    A2. While they both appear similar (both are two part epoxy putties) greenstuff and brownstuff behave differently and those differences are particularly important for toy soldier modeling.

    Greenstuff is a bit easier to work with (push around etc) and is stickier to start with. It also has a slightly longer time to work with it before it cures. It is good for organic shapes and finer detail. When cured it can still be a bit flexible.

    Brownstuff cures more quickly, is stiffer to work with and cures as hard as a rock. This all means that it is better for larger flat surfaces and anything that needs a sharp edge. It can be sanded, filed and carved a lot better than greenstuff.

    That's why I used it for the mask/helms on two of the wolves and the armor plates on the bionic legs. In areas where it appears as fur on the wolves, that was when I had mixed too much putty and my daughter decided to choose that time to wake up from her nap ; )

    I hope this helps.


  17. Beautiful work! Somehow I've always preferred working with metal minis to plastic, and it was wonderful to see your reposed wolves. Well done!

  18. These conversions are absolutely stunning. Some really dynamic poses that suit these minis perfectly. I'd love to see them painted!

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