The Angels of Caliban: Resurrecting my old (and new) collection

Shane Palmer
Dark Angels Squad
Dark Angels: eternally cool. Traitors? Well…

It was William King’s Deathwing that hooked me. The story follows Dark Angels Two Heads Talking and his Terminator Squad. As they return to their home world, they quickly discover something isn’t quite right with the populace…

The tragic and heroic battle against the Genestealer cult that has corrupted the population delivered me right into the Dark Angels.

With further reading of the 3rd edition Codex: Dark Angels, I absolutely loved the highly secretive, Knights-Templar theme to the chapter; especially with the Hunt for the Fallen (shhh!)

It was a rainy afternoon in the City…

To start, I picked up the new Dark Angels Tactical Marines box, on a wintry and rainy day sometime in the early 2000s. I’d never been more excited to get a box of miniatures than this – I still get nostalgic crossing that same bridge over the Yarra in Melbourne.

The box had 10 Marines, including the metal arms from a Dark Angels Plasma Cannon and a fully metal robed-Sergeant. They were brilliant.

Sadly, the much younger me wasn’t the sharpest or most patient painter. So they didn’t come out looking too fantastic…

However, looking back nearly 20 years on, the very early signs of sticking to scheme and taking steps to make it work were there, which is promising! (Black spray undercoat, Caliban Green armour, a dark grey urban rubble base.)

When I rediscovered these very dusty old miniatures in 2016, it was time to have a crack at restoring and hopefully improving what I had sunk into years in the past.

Dark Angels Squad
Not perfect, but certainly restored to tabletop standard!

Dusting off the Dark Angels

Sadly, due to the less-than-gentle condition they’d been kept in (a big plastic container with 100s of other minis), these Marines looked rough. Some were missing legs, bolters, or heads. I found most of the needed parts floating about in the container. The remaining gaps I filled with other bitz – chiefly a few Ork Shootaz that kinda fit.

Perhaps these Dark Angels have been chasing the Fallen for a lonnnnng time; and needed to make do with what they could find.

The satisfaction of tinkering and recycling would come in hand later on too

Dark Angels Squad
I never get talked into using the Super-charged Plasma Cannon by Rob. Ever…

Again, utilising what I had on hand, which was mostly old enamel paints from the old man. This was before I’d figured out why everyone online constantly bangs on about “thinning your paints!” These guys do look rougher than I’d like, but overall I’m happy with them.

They were among the first of my miniatures to grace the table top as well – I never actually got around to playing much as a kid, I mostly just painted. The 2nd and 6th Squads have formed up as Kill Teams again Rob, and usually delivered too.

Dark Angels Squad
The 6th Squad of the Company. A few members have been lost to the Warp over the years.

Finally for the restoration; a squad of Devastators. I believe my brother bought these guys on a family trip to Dubbo, and they eventually fell into my Company.

Again, the squad is sadly missing a Heavy Bolter Marine, but I’m sure I can find a replacement at some stage via eBay!

Dark Angels Devestator Squad
The nearly complete Devastator Squad.

I’d always wanted one of those!

With these three squads restored to a more acceptable state, the itch to expand the company was well and truly there. But what next? A starter box? Some terminators? More Marines?

With the second hand plastic trade thriving, and at Rob’s suggestion, I started to scour Facebook Marketplace for a model I’d always wanted; the Dreadnaught.

Ancient, powerful and nearly invulnerable, these walking-statis-tombs are brilliant.

And luckily for me, I managed to find 2! A seller – like many – had totally lost interest in the hobby, and was cheaply getting rid of two of his Dreadnaughts and a squad of 10 Tactical Marines, all assembled by barely painted.

I didn’t really need two, so one of the Dreadnaughts was shipped off to Casa del Johnson, and the other into my greedy mits.

This time however, I was a much better prepared, and patient.

Getting a selection of acrylic paints, to get the full dark green variance to the armour, I slowly but surely brought this Dreadnaught back to [half]life, and was thrilled with the result!

Dark Angels Dreadnaught GIF
The Dreadnaught. You don’t get dizzy when you’re a Space Marine.

A light primer coat works best

For the Tactical Squad, I prepared to follow a similar planned and patient method as the Dreadnaught.

Then disaster struck.

Not properly paying attention while priming the squad with black spray, I coated a little too-heavily, and sadly lost a degree of the detail, especially in the faces. Drat. But lesson learned!

Dark Angels Squad
The 4th Squad. You can see the massive progression in the painting quality!

Blurred detail aside; I’m pleased how the squad looks. I love the larger 30mm bases GW have upgraded the Marines with. Something about it makes them look more like Space Marines should. More imposing, thicker and taking up more space; just as Marines were created to be!

Dark Angels Squad
Green. Mean.

Leading from the front – Captain of the Dark Angels

Satisfied with the troops assembled, next we needed a bit of character.

Turning once again to the second hand goldmine of Marketplace, I managed to snag a boss for the Company: A Captain in Terminator armour! 

The Captain was my first proper crack at utilising a wet pallet. Initially this was terrifying – “I’ve got no clue what I’m doing” – but I quickly learned not to fear the mix!

My eye managed to pick pretty quickly how thin / thick the mix was, an imprecise art, but with a bit of practise you just ‘get it’.

The robes had a dark green exterior, while the inner was a blend of reds.

The force sword however, was a different beast!

Working over a silver base layer for a touch of extra sheen, I kept the sword constantly moist, and applied thinned dark blue at the tip, then light blue at the base; with two separate brushes.

Acrylic paint of course dries swiftly, so I had to work rapidly to blend the two colours into each other, keeping the brush wet, and gradually blending each colour into the other, creating a gradient throughout the blade.

I repeated this process again for my Terminator Sergeant – a very Oldhammer number with the classic shoulder banner, a scan and print from an early Codex.

Harvesting that Gene-seed

Having painted a couple of characters, I was loving the break from the constant dark green power armour. So next I started to dabble with an Apothecary for the Dark Angels.

Always loving the clean white power armour and the brutal efficiency of the Narthecium, I decided to dabble in a scratch-built one.

Using a selection of spare bitz lying about the painting desk, including a chainsword, parts of an Imperial Guard Vox-Caster, and a custom bolt pistol, the Apothecary certainly stands out from the Company!

Restored from inside – out

Next was another big restoration job!

I’d bought this Predator Tank many years ago, and quickly stuck it together, slapped on some paint and sent it off to war!

Looking back, or even inside, a lot had been missed. I wanted to keep the original scheme, with the bone white breaking up the dark green. For this, the whole tank needed to be redone, from top to bottom.

Doing this, I pulled the whole kit apart, primed it properly, and painted in stages, beginning with the interior.

I really love how the chapter symbol looksout – that was a patient and plotted attempt at free-handing!

Unfortuantely the side-mounted lascannons are super-fragile, and love falling off when gently bumped.

I re-painted the Predator Tank during a wild and horrendous month living in my final share-house. The tank provided a welcome escape from an extremely difficult housemate, and holds a special place in the collection.

Fast and Furious 40,000: Dark Angels

Continuing the restoration of some timeless Space Marine models, I dug out two Attack Bikes in dire need of some TLC.

Built and painted years ago, without a huge amount of care of patience, the bikes needed some love, starting with the red leather seats. Luckily the Marines aren’t glued to the bikes, so I easily whipped them off. Then I painted each rider individually, while properly detailing each bike – and it paid off!

Sneakin’ and Scoutin’ in the Dark

And last but not least, my three classic metal Space Marine Scouts.

Sniper Rifles are timeless and cool, and provide some precise long-range firepower. Especially in Kill Team, where they are either super useful or agonisingly disappointing.

Akin to the Predator, the off-white / tan secondary colour really compliments the dark green power armour, and the lack of a helmet is a great point of different to the rest of the Marines.

Space Marine Scouts
Death from afar!

Now restored to a decent table-top standard, it’s time to send the Angels of Death into battle!

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