Thursday 6 May 2021

The Cult of the New Colossus: Feeling Bullish but a Little Horse...

 Wermius clutched his head in an attempt to steady the reeling of his mind. How far could he go in comprehending the works of the Colossus and the beloved Godhead? He a mere man. It felt as though some sphinx of flesh and brass had bashed open his skull and eaten up the brains inside. A sphinx much like the enormous creature, some brutish union of Ogre and Dragon, that reposed nearby in all its impossible majesty. How far did it go Wermius feverishly wondered. The Beastmen had been a revelation and confirmation of the power of the living God he and his brother clergy had pledged themselves to. Yet there seemed no end to the diverse forms of creatures that now flocked to the banner he held dear. His very frame of reference to the real physical world seemed to be spiralling out of his grasp as he encountered each new example of the mutability of flesh. What future had mere men in the plans of the Colossus other than utter destruction and ruin?

Wermius reflected too on how the Cult had fared recently. Some months past and from the forests that surrounded Talabheim had come their menagerie of beast-like men and men-like beasts and the Cult had taken them in gladly. Their existence only proved the power of the Colossus and their ferocity often proved useful when their creed was met with hatred and opposition.

Fortunes, however, had begun to turn and the brethren found themselves beset on all sides by the nonbeliever - whether by the pitchfork and burning torch of the ignorant and fearful peasant mob or the sword and lance of the heretic knight templars who subjugated the masses to the will of their false Gods. The cult was nonetheless forced to retreat from the lands of men. Even passage through the old mountain passes had not been easy, harried as they were by the damnable and recusant Dwarf remnant who still persisted among the high peaks. Forced back in to the Blasted Wastes, the followers of the New Colossus had wandered directionless and here Wermius was to find himself sorely tested - as they all were.

The Cult expands ever onwards with another entry to the OWAC! This time it's the big guys in the form of Minotaurs, more cavalry with the Centaurs and the start of the Chaotic host. As you can maybe tell from the narrative preamble, the original human elements of the Cult are beginning to feel a little lost as more outlandish creatures begin to flock to their banner.

Talking of banners... Previous entries have had Heavy Metal influences and this one is no different and is brought to you courtesy of the excellent Mastodon! I've been listening to a lot of their stuff whilst painting this month's entry - particularly their album, The Hunter - more on which later. Their album cover art is all brilliant and Remission is no exception. The terrified looking horse with what looks like eldritch fire coming from its back and neck looked very fitting for a wild bunch of mutated horse boys - almost as if the poor creature were undergoing some kind of metamorphosis! 

It took me a while to get the proportions on the horse right and by then I'd filled most of the banner with it, meaning I'd need to make another smaller penant for a motto. I'd googled quotes on Centaurs to see if there was any text I could add and came across this quote from Anne Bishop's Queen of Darkness - it's not something I've read but her description of Centaurs rang true for me for this project, "The living myth. Dreams made flesh." As most of the monsters I was painting for April had roots in Greek myth it was nice to reference that in a small way.

I've always loved the Northern Steppe that features in the old Dolgan Raiders scenario, in which Centaurs also appear. These chaps will no doubt appear in future games set there so I based the majority of them on Prsewalski's horse which roams the Eurasian Steppes of our world. Not sure if it comes across in the pictures but when I'd finished wet blending the colours for the horse parts of the Centaurs, the results looked quite translucent which gave them an almost ghostly, ethereal effect which I quite liked - possibly because the sculpts are very smooth, apart from the longer hair on the backs of the legs and don't have the rough hair texture you can see in the reference photo below. Either way it was a happy accident!

I'd mentioned Frazetta among the list of influences and inspiration I'd come across for the Cult so the standard bearer was based on his Moon Maid and the Centaur. Sadly I had no Moon Maiden for my Centaur.

The odd man out is a Boar Centaur from one of Tim Prow's excellent Kickstarters a while back!

In to the wilderness they had been led by madness, or perhaps by their mad God. In to the wilderness of stone where the dead tree gave no shelter and no sound of water relieved desperate ears. Dry sterile thunder mocked them with the empty promise of rain and in their hungry delirium they were driven to look upon the stones on the ground as loaves of bread. Visions afflicted them - a dead mountain with mouth agape and full of rotten and carious teeth, red sullen faces leering from out of the haze, a great horned figure with fists raised to the uncaring sky and always that elusive shadow that walked ever beside them, gliding, wrapped in brown mantle and hood, who faded from sight when looked for. Under the pitiless sun the pitiful crowd maundered, futilely seeking shelter in their own shadows. Yet the agony of this stony place, the cries, the shrieks and the stumbling in the cracked earth were not for naught. Here they came to learn the true fear that lay in a handful of dust, to see that they who were living were dying, and better to be ashes than that frightful dust. With these revelations came a certain sense of peace. Where there was once neither refuge nor shelter, they now enjoyed cool respite in the shade offered by the New Colossus, where others cast no shadow. Here, for a time, the horror grew mild and the darkness light.

Having returned to work this month from a long furlough due to Covid, I had intended on reining in the quantity of miniatures I'd be attempting. That intention was foolishly ignored as I've been champing at the bit to paint some big monsters!

I didn't quite get time to paint all the creatures I had lined up so this represents just part of the Chaotic Host that is bound to the Cult after they are discovered in the Blasted Wastes. I liked the idea of the Cult beginning to run out of control as it grew and the original Human zealots feeling increasingly overwhelmed or turning to madness as a result of what their organisation was turning in to! 

I've long coveted the old Citadel C29 Hydra but it's eluded me at a reasonable price so far. I managed to snag this Marauder beastie fairly cheaply some time ago and I have to admit the model really grew on me as I painted it.

I didn't go to far out in terms of colour scheme - classic lion colouration for the body and greens for the reptilian parts - the hexagonal scales did remind me a little of stain glass window designs when I added in the darker greens and blacks which again wasn't an effect I was striving for but pleasing nonetheless!

The Marauder Cockatrice is another fun model which was relatively quick to paint. 

I'd thought of going quite naturalistic with the colour scheme and painting it up as a literal Death Chicken, however, I'd remembered some old artwork that made the prehistoric Quetzalcoatl and Hatzegopteryx look pretty amazing and terrifying at the same time and ended up going down that road instead. 

Dunno why but I find the idea of these monsters walking about on all fours like this strangely disturbing! 

I went in a little harder with the blues and purples but think I ended up with a decent blend between the two ideas.

I couldn't resist copying the colour scheme from the Citadel Combat Cards for this Dragon Ogre - a mini I have coveted since laying my eyes on its picture on those cards!

He came with the additional chain whips with skulls on the end of them from ebay and I thought it was a nice touch so they stayed! 

I also add a faded flame like pattern to the red armour to add a little interest to the large areas of metal plate.

A shout rang out at the sight of smoke on the horizon and the Cult was drawn to this sign of life like moths to a flame. Upon clearing a small ridge, they looked down upon a truly hellish scene. Great beasts lay all around in the dust, languorously basking in the heat. The air was rent with the bellowing of huge bull headed monsters and the screams of their human victims who they tossed in to the firey mouth of a great brazen bull. Amidst the terrible lowing chorus a name became discernible... Moloch, Moloch, Great Moloch, Nightmare of Moloch!

I have to admit the Minotaurs were the ones that really fired my imagination this month. I've always loved the miniatures but on top of that there was a whole load of mythology and art to draw upon to give them their own flavour within the Cult. 

In particular the cover art to Mastodon's album, The Hunter has been haunting my dreams. It features one of AJ Fosik's artworks and I'm quite a bit in love with his blend of religious icongraphy, folk art, taxidermy and cultural ritual. Not only that but I was amazed to find they were amazingly intricate wooden sculptures too! 

I attempted to replicate his highly stylised colour schemes on my Minotaurs with varying degrees of success!

I mainly limited this to the Minotaurs' heads and faces as either ritualistic warpaint or some unnaturally coloured skin mutation.

I really enjoyed painting these guys - simple, uncluttered but absolutely classic and beautiful sculpts!

Not sure I'd have thought to paint Minotaurs red or white so thanks to Fosik for the inspiration!

I have a larger Minotaur Lord (the wonderfully named Sir Loin Foul Breath!) to add but because he's such a pain to rank up I've left him out as an independent character - he'll probably get done with the command group for the leader month later on. To make up the unit strength to ten I added in Jes Goodwin's Mutant Ogre, who I think actually makes quite a good mutated Minotaur! He got an albino/ghoul flesh treatment to reflect his warped condition although a lot of the pinks and reds are bleached out in the photos.

The banner is based on another of Fosik's artworks entitled Strange Regions in Search of Beauty, Awe or Terror. 

Not only did I feel the title resonated with the Cult but the image of a (possibly skinned?) bull's head thrusting through a Human head and skull was also pretty apt for the Minotaurs!

I had wanted to work in a reference to Moloch (more on which later!) with this piece by Jason Mowry, entitled Moloch, which also features the juxtaposition of a human face with that of a bull but Fosik won out!

I was also very glad to get hold of good old Ox-Roar, Chaos Champion of Ultimate Slaughter once more! 

He was the first and only Minotaur I owned for a long time and was regretfully sold off back when I was raising funds for my big Orc's Drift project.

So as I said earlier, I also had to work Moloch in to the narrative somehow and the bull headed Minotaurs seemed a good fit for this bull headed, sacrifice demanding God. Who else would such bloodthirsty creatures worship! 

Moloch is thought to be an old Canaanite God linked with child sacrifice and very much frowned upon in the bible. Medieval times saw the God portrayed as a bull-headed idol with outstretched hands over a fire - probably a combination of the brief descriptions of Moloch in the Bible and ancient accounts of Carthaginian child sacrifice, along with the legend of the Minotaur. The idea of a statue of Moloch that also functioned as a means of sacrificing victims reminded me of the old torture device, the Brazen Bull...

Which in turn also reminded me of the bible story of the worship of the Golden Calf...

... and the Charging Bull of Wall Street - which some have likened to the aforesaid Golden Calf!

The Wall Street Bull resides in New York, which for me calls to mind Ginsberg's poem, Howl. The repeated refrain of Moloch in the second verse, although a metaphor for the limitless and destructive appetite of industrial civilisation, nonetheless feeds in well to the themes of desperation and being consumed by greater powers that I've worked in to the Cult of the New Colossus.

By which long-winded and torturous mental gymnastics I arrived at this monstrosity!

I guess it'd be some kind of mix between a War Altar, Idol and Demon Engine!

I had hoped to get Scotia Grendel's Eye of Gorath painted up so he could push the whole contraption along and provide a source of locomotion but that'll have to wait for another month.

Whatever it is I had fun building it and attempting heat tarnish effects on the bronze - no idea if verdigris would be present with such high temperatures but the rule of cool won out anyway! Don't even ask how the wooden structure survives the heat - it's magic!

Now don't tell anyone but this aberration is actually made up of parts from three different plastic AOS kits. The Wildfire Taurus from the Beasts of Chaos Endless Spells set (what a mouthful of a name!) was just the right size to be mounted on the Skaven Plagueclaw kit. I added the hands from one of the Giants (or whatever they're called these days) and couldn't resist the helpless captive as it illustrated the narrative quite well!

Once they might have quailed at such a sight. Now though, the spectacle of the absolute dissolution and immolation of their fellow man by fire, offered up as sacrifice to a demoniac and horned God, brought the brethren of the New Colossus renewed religious fervour. They hailed the great bulls of Moloch and came to an understanding with them for they knew that their Colossus, the Beastmen's King Stag and now Moloch were but three aspects of the power they all revered. A frenzied chorus of prayer was offered up by those with any semblance to human vocal chords, in honour of this new union and strengthening of their following -

"O friends and companions of night, thou who rejoicest in the baying of dogs and spilt blood, who wanderest in the midst of shades among the tombs, who longest for blood and bringest terror to mortals, Great Stag, Moloch, thousand-faced Colossus, look favourably on our sacrifices!"

Now, marching away from the wastelands with new purpose, the burgeoning cult yearned to do their God's work. They would overturn the Empire of Man and throw his ashes to the four winds. His towers would fall and they would pile the ruins of his temples in to a heap of broken images. They would kill him and his Gods too. They would watch the world burn. Amongst the hooded horde that swarmed back over the mountains, Wermius still clung to some last vestiges of sanity and with them he reflected on how it was a truly fearful thing to be in the hands of a living God...

10 Minotaurs                                506

Pasiphae’s Brood

Hand weapons, standard

Led by L10 Hero - light armour double handed weapon

7 Chaos Centaurs                           464

Chiron’s Children

L10 hero, light armour, hand weapons, shields

Dragon Ogre                                    87

Hydra                                                200

Cockatrice                                        150

Demon Engine/Idol/War Altar of Moloch            

Free - I guess the easiest thing is to consider it a terrain piece!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks mate - hope you and yours are all well!

  2. Yup... Utterly disturbing. Well done!

  3. I'm still struggling to find the words. Not only the models are awesome, but the inspiration and research behind is breathtaking. Seriously, congratulations, I've enjoyed this post enormously

    1. The Colossus requires no words - only worship ;)

      Seriously though - thanks for your kind words Suber and glad you're enjoying the journey with this project. It's funny that I've never really been drawn to paint or play Chaos prior to all this. Now though, I'm really enjoying being able to bring in some more serious themes that fit the subject matter than I think I could have done with my first love - Orcs and Goblins. I just wonder where I go from here once the project is done...

  4. Each month is a masterpiece in itself mate! Excellent backstory and references, lovely choice of models as always and the idol is just something else!

    1. Thanks mate - happy to ride the wave of motivation at the moment but I'm beginning to wonder what comes next! I was particularly pleased with the idol as it wasn't really planned in originally but seemed to come together well as the month went on.

      That little rendezvous I had some time ago with Old Nick at the crossroads is obviously paying off ;)

  5. Amazing stuff! The Moloch-thing is incredible, and the Fosik-influenced minotaurs look tremendous!

    1. Cheers JC! I should really settle on a name for that thing XD

      I've never been that fussed about (or able to afford!) owning original artworks by artists I love but I'm finding myself really coveting some of those Fosik pieces. Painting my minotaurs like that will have to do instead!

  6. Breath taking stuff, thantsants! Some really lovely artwork here. The monsters and minotaurs are all very creepy and frightening and the standards are beautifully rendered. Love your use of external artwork and mythology as inspiration for the look of your horrible horse. As for the chaos colossus, not even sure what to say other than well done. Doesn't matter that you dont know what it is yet. You seized the moment and the inspiration and you made something cool! You can always make up rules for it later. A very inspiring post, altogether. I am going to go paint.

    1. Thanks Mouse - I think you going off to paint is the highest compliment!

      I reckon old Moloch will mainly be an objective or terrain piece rather than a combatant - "stop the ceremony before the Demon awakes" type of thing. You hit the nail on the head though and it was spawned from the narrative to give the army that little bit more colour - which I agree, is just as, or more important than codifying it!