Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tenth Painting Challenge Entry - "Curtgeld" - Cally Samstag, Activated 26, Orestes PDF

Cally Samstag (centre), Golla Uldana (left) and Janny Wirmac (right)
When you participate in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, Curt asks for a single 28mm figure to be done for him as an "entrance fee" (and he makes a donation to a local pet shelter for each figure received, as an added incentive).  The figures in question are to match the theme of a given Challenge, although you can make a wide interpretation of this. These figures have come to be known among the Challengers as "Curtgeld", and I used my 10th entry to the Challenge to pay my Curtgeld for this year.

The theme this year is a figure characterized as a "risk-taker, daredevil or gambler." I spent a while trying to come up with something Curt might find interesting, and I settled on these three figures.  They are meant to represent Cally Samstag, member of Activated 26, from the Tertiary Reserve of the Oreastean Planetary Defence Force.  She is joined by two fellow members of Activated 26 - Golla Uldana, and Janny Wirmac. Who are these folks? Why would Curt care?  Here is the background...

If you enjoy 40k, you need to read this book
These are all characters from Dan Abnett's novel "Titanicus".  This is one of my favourite novels, and I think Curt really enjoys it as well. To understand why I thought these characters would be good Curtgeld, I need to share a bit about the novel and its story.

I imagine this figure as Cally Samstag

She is equipped with basic kit, and a MK2 lasrifle.  Use against enemy titans? Zero.
"Titanicus" is set in Games Workshop's 40k universe, and features an "engine war", an invasion of the Forge World of Orestes by the forces of the Archenemy - a traitor Titan Legion.
Golla Uldana, a delivery nurse from Orestes, called out to join the fighting as a member of the reserves
Normally, worlds like Orestes are well-defended - Forges have their own Titan Legions, and Titans kick ass. Who worries about invasion when a huge force of 100-foot walkers, 200-foot walkers and 300-foot walkers, together with assorted support elements, are handy? But in "Titanicus", most of the Orestean Titan Legion (Legio Tempestus) has been sent elsewhere, and the skeleton force left behind is falling rapidly in battle.  The Imperium has messed up, and Orestes is vulnerable. The situation is so desperate the Imperial Governor calls out the tertiary reserves of the Oresetean Planetary Defence Force.

Janny Wirmac, young daughter of a high-born family in Orestes

The Victoria Lamb sculpts are incredible
An "engine war" in 40k is the worst kind of battle - Titans vs. Titans, laying waste to everything in sight.  The scale of destruction is enormous, and victory in this context is pyrrhic at best. In such a war, even elite heavy infantry can do little but pray to survive.  The tertiary reserves, the very last line of defence, have even less of a chance.  Cally Samstag, Golla Uldana and Janny Wirmac are members of that reserve, and they go to battle in "Titanicus"...

For a 40k setting fan like me, this "engine war" as related by Abnett is, of course, the coolest! Big machines! The Mechanicum! The Archenemy! Massive Titans beating each other to bits! Entire hive cities in ruins! Awesome! But what Dan Abnett does so well as an author, in my opinion, is that he calibrates the context properly.  Through the eyes of Cally Samstag, you see the Titan war not as a fan boy of the genre and setting, but as a real "civilian" might.  Not the vista of heroic, genetically modified soldier, or configured mechanicum engine god, but a regular person, who had been living a regular life, called forth to face terrors you mostly read and heard about, but never thought were real.  It is terrifying - and so well done in the hands and mind of a gifted writer like Abnett.

So why is Cally a "risk-taker, a daredevil or gambler"? Cally and her husband Stefan had relocated to Orestes from a different Imperial world in the hopes of a better life.  Stefan is a skilled labourer, in high demand on Orestes, but Cally is a junior clerk.  To get the permission needed for relocation from the Imperium's Maoist-style government, Cally had to agree to serve with the Tertiary Reserve of the Orestean PDF.
"No," he whispered.

"It was always a possiblity."

"I can't believe it."

"It was always a possibility Stef." she repeated

Cally Samstag took a risk of agreeing to join the PDF so she and her husband might have a better life.  When war found Orestes, the gamble catches up with Cally and other members of the reserve...

Three members of "Activated 26"

These figures are 28mm female Arcadian Guard from the excellent Victoria Lamb.  I have to say I was a little disappointed at the amount of flash on the figures - lots and lots of prep needed - but overall, they are just tremendous sculpts, and it is great to see a line of figures which includes female sci-fi troops without having them appear to be complete dork fantasies or BDSM play acting rejects.  The Victoria Lamb sculpts are everything the plastic GW Imperial Guardsmen might have been, and her range of figures affords Imperial Guard fans a whole new outlet to collect for the setting without having to use the roid-addled and overly round plastic Cadians from GW's current line of figures.

I used a colour scheme that would match my other, older, GW Imperial Guard collection.  I don't recall any specifics about colours of the Orestean PDF in the "Titanicus" book, so I thought the colours would work OK. I hope Curt will enjoy them!

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