Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Genestealer Cult... They Have a Baneblade...

The Baneblade - an improbably large super heavy tank fielded by the Imperial Guard has been one of my favorite Warhammer 40K vehicles since I first saw the plans for one in late 1990. As a Brood Brothers detachment, my Genestealer Cult army has access to these behemoths, so I figured at some point I absolutely had to paint one up for the cult. Of course, this month's theme for the painting contest at the local Warhammer store is "monster or machine," so I figured a "monster of a machine" would work just fine!

History of the Baneblade in 40K

In the late 1980's and early 1990's Games Workshop was a very different entity. The whole company had more of a garage industry feel to it. Absent was the slick corporate branding that pervades the game today and the vast financial resources to create mountains of detailed injection molded kits. Warhammer 40K itself was also still in its infancy as the original Rogue Trader book had only been released in 1987. Given their limited resources, Games Workshop still actively encouraged players to convert off the shelf toys into vehicles or simply scratch-build through regular "Modeling Workshop" features in White Dwarf magazine.

Enter White Dwarf issue #132 in December of 1990. That month's "Modeling Workshop" by Tony Cottrell included a complete set of plans and instructions to scratch-build your own Baneblade!  Taking a step back, at that time I was a college student, avid gamer and 1/35th scale model tank builder with a subscription and the desire to up my skill level. The minute I saw the plans I knew I had to build one of these behemoths for my Imperial Guard (as the Astra Militarum was known then).

By modern standards, the end result shown above (Tony Cottrell's example from the original article) is both fairly crude and surprisingly small. My personal example which was built during early 1991 hasn't survived, but included a few personal modifications. For example, I borrowed some 1/35th scale tank bits and used 1/35th scale Tiger I running gear for the wheels, and the epic 8.8cm for the turret gun. If memory serves I pulled a 7.5cm off of a dead 1/35th scale StuG III for the hull gun giving my version a bit more menacing look (at least in my mind!).

As this was the 1990s, garage scale model companies were really beginning to take off, so it wasn't long before third party companies like Armorcast took up the mantle and started making resin models for use in Warhammer 40K. They offered a Baneblade (Anthony Karl Erdelji's example shown above) along with several other subjects. The kits weren't cheap, with the Baneblade coming in at $130 US in 1997 - roughly $210 US today, but they were a huge step up from having to scratch build your own with styrene sheet

Eventually Games Workshop would see the potential for this market and created their Forge World division in 1998 to produce large-scale and lower production variants in resin. One of their early models was a Baneblade (one in box shown above). The casting quality was generally pretty good though the initial subjects were quite a bit simpler than what we see today both in resin and in plastic. I still have one of the old Forge World resin Baneblades kicking around, along with one of their Shadowswords, and those may at some point also see the light of day. Unfortunately the Baneblade appears to be missing a couple of bits.

Both the Armorcast and Forge World (Imperial Armour line) Baneblades are a bit smaller than the current plastic leviathan which was released around 2007. Interestingly, though the new plastic kit made the old full resin kits obsolete, Forge World immediately moved on to making conversion kits for the new plastic vehicle for Shadowswords and other variants. These were short lived as now you can get several variants of Bane/Shadow - sword/hammer/blade in one convenient plastic kit. The kit is still fairly spendy at $140 retail, but there are discounters out there...

Baneblade Joins the Cult

My unstated goal for this year has been to get one of my 40K armies ready to play in anything from Kill Team all the way through larger scale 40K games, and now with the re-re-release (is that enough "re's"?) of Apocalypse I'd like to be able to wade into that pool as well. I love the core Genestealer forces, but I also loved the Twisted Helix concept, so I've tried to include as large a Brood Brothers contingent as I felt I could get away with, and that includes bringing some of the heavy hitters to the table so hopefully my opponents will channel their inner Boromir just a little.

I started with the standard Baneblade kit, and decided from the outset I wanted to go with the vanilla version. Construction was a bit tricky as I wanted to leave the tracks off of the vehicle and paint them separately before adding them to the vehicle. I found that supergluing the wheel segments on so I could easily hold them in alignment until they dried was effective. The rest of the construction process was relatively straight forward, if time consuming. Honestly the hardest part was converting one of the commander figures to a four-armed genestealer hybrid - and mostly because I had to find a right arms set that would fit above the cupola.

Except for the tracks and a few details, painting essentially follows the pattern I've set forth with my other vehicles for this army. I'm using Ammo of Mig 4BO green using transparator thinner over a pre-shaded black and white base coat. This is followed with very liberal chipping and then oil streaking with an dark brown Ammo of Mig oilbrusher finished up with a black wash.

As I always like to try something new, I went a different direction on the tracks based on examples in Mig's Enclyclopedia of Armour Modelling Techniques. I started with a red oxide primer, then used shadow rust and medium rust as an airbrushed base followed by polished metal highlighting. I then thinned down some Kursk Mud as a wash and finally went back with gunmetal pigment (essentially graphite) brushed on as a final highlight. Getting the tracks on and aligned was fairly tricky, but the end result looks pretty cool.

Another difference is I used one of my chrome paint pens - well, okay the paint from a chrome paint pen - as backing for the clear and clear red fixtures on the vehicle itself. I also added some stowage from the kit and a couple of other bin dives. Decals as always are a mix of Games Workshop and Scumb4g Kustoms who I simply can't recommend highly enough.

Overall I'm really happy with the end result. It fits the theme of the army perfectly and looks pretty darn nice. Now if I can just place this time around at the competition that be nice!


  1. Nicely done, and a great historical recap!

    1. Thanks! I still have fond memories of painstakingly assembling my "Mark 1" from styrene sheet...

  2. Excellent model. I too built a 'blade out of card stock in the '90s and painted it in Caunter Camouflage. It went to bring and buy, so is hopefully still fighting away somewhere in a distant corner of the 40K Universe :-)

    Regards, Chris.

    1. Caunter is a great choice for the Baneblade. Did you do all of your armored vehicles in that scheme???