Wargaming Tradecraft: Pre-Vyper Jetbike (My first conversion)


Pre-Vyper Jetbike (My first conversion)

Zoids Neptune, 1987 catalog
Game Workshop's he-love of Space Marines has existed far longer than you may realize. When I first started playing Warhammer 40k, you could get vehicles like Bikes, Speeders, Rhinos and Land Raiders... but what about us Xenos? I had a codex with rules for Shining Spears, Vyper Jetbikes and I think Falcons and Wave Serpents too...  But no models.

This isn't a tale of conversion for the sake of conversion, this is conversion for necessity!

So what's a kid to do?

Get creative! That's what!

Zoid Wardick, 1987 catalog
On one of many trips to the awesomeness that is the Ontario Science Center, (located in Toronto, Canada) there was an exhibit on robots. (Pretty sure it was robots... I was young) To go along with it, they had a small store area FULL of toys called ZOIDS. These were wind-up toys you had to assemble yourself and came in all sorts of sizes.

My brother got this... the Dick EHI-1 Uo. (Wardick) [seriously, assuming Google is translating that catalogue correctly.] Attached to its back are two "beam cannon X2 - ship missile launcher caliber of sonic cannon (sonic blaster)" I got the Neptune.

Skip years forward, and a young Xeno child was finally fed up with the lack of Eldar vehicles available. Ideas began to stir, and ideas for my first conversion began forming in my youthful mind. Like most of the rest of my Eldar, I found a used lead jetbike at a store and bought it.

"Counts as" wasn't good enough for me... it needed to look like a Vyper Jetbike, or what I thought one might look like since the codex didn't even have art for it. I began digging through bins of old toys looking for anything I could use to make this fabled Vyper... then I found the fish.

Something inside me saw those "sonic blasters" and knew that was what I was looking for. I took them apart, removing the styrofoam, (that's right, that fish actually floated and swam) and began fiddling with the jetbike. It didn't take any time at all to see that the holes for attaching the blasters to the fish FIT EXACTLY on to the jetbike, like two giant booster engines.

The model came together quickly after that. First, it needed a heavy weapon, so I glued a bright lance beneath the vyper. Second, it needed a second person - Using a spare hatch flipped upside down, from a rhino my dad built, I extended the jetbike out backwards overtop the back of the new engines. This made a stand for an Eldar Guardian that I built holding a flag.

My masterpiece was complete! The bright lance was even just small enough that the Vyper could sit on the engines without the lance touching the table. It even actually came out to be roughly the same size as what eventually became the Vyper

So let this be a brief lesson about not letting anything get in your way, especially not a lack of models, and let your creativity soar. Also, that toys work great for conversions, can still look natural, and can save you a bunch of money.

15 years later and Games Workshop still plays the game of not releasing miniatures for armies... amirite Nids? It's enough that Caleb over at White Metal Games practically makes a living off creating crazy custom models.

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