Friday, 18 April 2014

Creating a Warmachine BioShock Army, Episode II: Booker DeWitt

Hello again, lovely readerfolk!  If you had a nose at the last article you'll have seen that there are grand plans in motion to create a BioShock themed army for Privateer Press' Warmachine tabletop system.  In that article I talked about how the idea came about, so here we'll be taking a look at the first model to find its way onto the painting table and get the ball rolling.
The centre point of any Warmachine army is its warcaster.  With no warcaster there is no army, and generally the entire army will be built around the warcaster's spells and abilities so as to pull off the most effective combos.  This created a bit of a dilemma right off the bat: who should take on the role of the warcaster?  With a universe as rich and well-designed as BioShock's there are no shortage of characters to choose from, so who should get the honour of being the pivotal character when this army finally gets to march to war?
For many, the most central BioShock character is Jack - the protagonist from the very first BioShock game.  The player watched the story unfold through his eyes, and heard the tale of the rise and fall of Rapture through his in-game discoveries, making for quite a personal experience.  However, you never see more than his wrists in the game, and you never hear his voice, so he didn't give me much to work with in terms of fashioning a model in his image!
(EDIT: Having just finished the Burial At Sea DLC from BioShock Infinite I do now have a slightly better image of Jack, so he may well feature in the army at some point...)
In BioShock 2 you take on the role of one of the Big Daddies - a Delta - not as iconic as the classic "Mr Bubbles" Big Daddy, but much more human-looking, and therefore more relatable.  However, in spite of this, there's still an overall lack of the human connection.  His relationship with Eleanor Lamb in the second game was superb, but the lack of a face, a voice, and a real name still severs the human connection somewhat.  Delta will certainly be featuring in the army, but he didn't quite cut it as a pivotal character.
Then we move onto BioShock Infinite, where the player takes on the role of Booker DeWitt.  So straight away we have a full name for our protagonist.  His image dominates the box art.  He's the most vocal character in the game, whether he's muttering to himself or conversing with Elizabeth, so we have a very clear idea of his personality.  In short, he's real.  He's tangible.  He's someone we can connect with.  Booker has a tragic past, he's on a mission of redemption, and the developing relationship between himself and Elizabeth tugs at every heartstring from their initial meeting to the final scene of the game.  If there was ever a character who deserved to be the centre of a BioShock army, it's this man.
So the BioShock character had been decided, the Warmachine character had been decided in advance as Magnus the Traitor, so that just left the hard part: bringing Booker DeWitt to life in 30mm form!
It was quite obvious from the offset that I wasn't going to find a miniature in the Warmachine range which was even close to resembling Booker, so it was off to the Malifaux shelves to try and find a suitable doppelganger.  After looking through all of the crews on offer at Titan Games and coming up short, it was starting to look like I'd have to start trawling through the more obscure tabletop systems, until someone suggested Lucas McCabe of the Relic Hunters - one of the Malifaux crews not on the shelves at the time of my browsing.  As a stroke of luck, one of the regulars had an unpainted McCabe crew which they no longer wanted, and so a few days later I was able to see if he really had the makings of Booker DeWitt!
As soon as I had the miniature in my hand I knew I had the base for Booker!  I've always described McCabe as "Indiana Wolverine", and I'm sure I'm not the only one, but in terms of outfit he was pretty much perfect for the role, even down to the neckerchief!  So now came the task of converting him into the hero of BioShock Infinite...
It should be noted at this point that I'd like to post some photos from various stages in the process, but seeing as the suggestion for this article series didn't come up until after Booker was finished this wasn't an option, however GMorts has granted me permission to steal photos from his Malifaux unboxing articles to help ease things along!

The first thing I did was clip the whip out of his right hand.  I left the hand on at this point as I wasn't sure how I was planning to use it, but the whip was distracting me and had to go asap.  The second thing that had to go was the "stupid Wolverine hair" as I kept calling it.  This required some very delicate knife-work with a very sharp hobby knife, so I had a more conversion-savvy friend take on this task for me!  With the whip gone and Lucas' new haircut in place, it was time to move onto the weapons.
Now as awesome as Booker is, there's nothing particularly distinctive about his outfit.  Sure, at a convention I can spot a Booker cosplayer a mile away, but at the end of the day it's just a shirt, a waistcoat, a pair of pinstripe trousers and a neckerchief.  When people look at my warcaster I want them to know straight away that this is Booker DeWitt and not just a generic waistcoated character, so he needed something to make him stand out, and if there's one piece of equipment that defines BioShock Infinite, it has to be the skyhook...
Being a floating city, the best way to travel around Columbia is to ride the skylines, and to do that you need a skyhook!  This became the most iconic piece of Infinite equipment, and so I knew that my Booker had to be equipped with one.
Seeing as skyline riders obviously don't want to fall to their deaths 30 seconds into their journey, the skyhook is designed to fit snugly half way up the user's forearm.  Upon looking at the gun in Lucas McCabe's left hand, it seemed to me that the makings of the skyhook were right there!  The stock nestles in against his forearm, and the way the strap falls against it actually makes it look as though the stock is lashed to his arm.  I clipped the barrel off the gun, just leaving the trigger guard, and stock.  From this point on it was going to be a custom build, so I dived into the bits boxes at Titan and started searching.
For the hooks themselves I had it in my head that the best thing would be to find some meat hooks, and glue them at the centre with the hooks an equal distance apart.  A short distance in, however, I found a Dark Eldar sprue with some very fine hooks which would do the job perfectly.  It took a bit of trimming, dry-fitting, and trimming again to get them to a suitable size (originally they dwarfed the rest of the weapon!), but eventually I had them looking just right, and applied a spot of superglue to fix the formation in place.
At this point, however, my iconic skyhook was nothing more than a trio of hooks glued onto a trimmed back gun barrel.  It certainly looked as though it was heading in the right direction, but didn't yet look like the finished article.  It still needed something at the centre of the hooks, as well as something to hide the point where they attached to the barrel.  I did try a few bits and pieces from the bits boxes, but the thickness of the plastic on even the finest detailed pieces bulked the skyhook out far too much.  Fortunately Games Workshop have released basing packs which contain a selection of brass-etched cogs and gears, which were just what I needed to complete the skyhook without the bulk of plastic alternatives.  With one small gear attached to each side in the centre, and half of a larger gear hiding the joining point on each side, the skyhook was done!
This just left Booker's right hand, which needed a period-suitable firearm.  This took a mercifully short search, and I found a hand holding a revolver on World War 2 miniatures sprue (possibly Bolt Action, I can't say for sure).  I have to confess I wanted to give Booker a rocket launcher that was on the same sprue to increase his awesome factor, but a friend reigned in my enthusiasm and suggested the less-is-more approach!
Seeing as the hand with the revolver was the perfect size for the miniature, I clipped off the entire left hand from the Lucas McCabe model and replaced it with the new one.
The streets of Columbia are smart, white cobblestone, so I found a suitable resin base to attach Booker to, and all that remained was the painting!  So it's my great pleasure to present to you the first model in my BioShock Warmachine army: Booker DeWitt!
I hope you've enjoyed this article, and if so then please check back for future entries when I'll be putting together Elizabeth Commstock, Eleanor Lamb, Andrew Ryan, splicers, and of course those iconic Big Daddies!

No comments:

Post a Comment