Within the armies of the Space Marines, there are those that stand-out on the field of battle: daring Commanders that lead their brethren, both into the strongest battle lines, and into the deepest territories of the enemies (of Mankind). Yet even they may be struck down, their bodies broken, their minds intact. One such Commander, was Bjorn, of the Space Wolves Chapter of Space Marines - saved from death, by his internment within the life-preserving fluids of a Dreadnought sarcophagus:
Whilst a Space Marine can live for several hundred years, a Dreadnought can live for several thousand. Bjorn is the Oldest of the Old, having lived for over ten thousand years. Preserved by the Iron Priests (of the Space Wolves), he's armoured form has brought the wrath of the Emperor (of Mankind) to the enemies of humanity, in over a thousand battles. It is perhaps fitting then, that this is the first Dreadnought model that I ever made, and as such, is also the oldest Dreadnought model that I have (of all my armies for 40K). At this time (twenty or so years ago) I decided to construct the kit by: painting each individual part, and then glueing together. I felt that this approach had an advantage - as it allowed easy access to the Chaos black plus bolt-gun dry-brushed areas (near to where the arms attach, and at the bottom of the sarcophagus - where those two sensors protrude). In a saga that's worthy of the Space Wolves, I have repainted Bjorn several times (over the years), and it is only recently that I have achieved the results that I was after (all along). With each re-paint, I was glad that I had got his base colours (Chaos black and Space Wolves Grey) correct from the start - as this has greatly simplified his modernisations. What modernisations I hear you say? The first: it took a long time to equip him with a Dreadnought base (that I liked). For years I'd glued him to a block of wood - that was so large, that fellow 40k opponents used to laugh when I moved him (as he took half my army with him!). This was eventually fixed by using the Dreadnought scenic base (although that decision took several years). The second: for years I'd leaned across my gaming table, and for years a recurring event always occurred - I'd have to straighten his banner pole both during, and at the end, of a game of 40k! This was eventually fixed when I decided to completely remove the banner pole - which I believe actually improved the look of Bjorn. The third: as my painting skills have grown, I just knew that the (original) skulls were not up-to-scratch. These were easily fixed with my new technique (for painting skulls/bone): undercoat in white, cover with ushabti bone (aka bleached bone), then for highlights - mix tuskgor fur (aka terracotta) and gehenna's gold (aka shining gold) with water (until the paint is really quite runny), then soak a small brush in the mix, dragging across paper slightly, then running the watery-paint onto the model/skull (the water helps the paint take its own path, for example, into the cracks). I like to vary the amount of tuskgor fur/gehenna's gold that I use, as it gives different results from model to model (which I feel reflects the different ages of the skulls/bone). Bjorn is my favourite Dreadnought to wield on the battlefield: as I just love the combination of an Assault Cannon with Lightning Claw plus Heavy Flamer (on the underside of the Lightning Claw). As far as battles go, Bjorn is always at the fore-front, with two of my favourite opponents being: Orks (having slain the Warlord Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka many times) and Chaos (in one particular battle, he was in the middle of a squad of Chaos Daemons, who themselves were surrounded by my Space Wolves Wolf Guard Terminators - with so many expectations about the up coming hand-to-hand, that we forget all about the shooting phase of other troops!). Overall: This is a model that holds pride-of-place within my Space Wolves army. I like the fact that this model has made me feel like an Iron Priest: maintaining between battles, with numerous re-paints (somehow avoiding over-painting), and some tweaks to finish off (several years later). I also like the fact that he seems to have a fearsome presence on the battlefield. Whether just lucky dice? Whether just some memories of an older rules version? (When he truly was a force to be reckoned with). Whichever it is - I shall let you decide, when you next face Bjorn!
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