Proxy Models and Getting Ready for the Grand Tournament by Andrew Ovel

20 Nov

Proxy models


There is a whole galaxy of great models out there, and I have to face the depressing fact that I won’t own them all.

 I really wish it was as easy to collect and paint my armies as it is to imagine them on paper (I still want to try out a wholly Space Marine Scout horde army) but seeing as I’m not an eccentric millionaire – yet – most of my fevered list building ends up where it started; on a scrap of paper.

 There is however another option: proxying.

Proxying is the use of one model to represent another (e.g. a Marine for a Dark Eldar Warrior), and when you’re playing with friends, this can be quite a useful thing to do. When I battle against my friend Saul, we will often pull the turret off a spare Leman Russ and use it as alternative model Chimera, and this is okay because we both know it’s now a Chimera and agreed this before we started play. When we proxy, we try to use models that are roughly the same size, and are mounted on the same size base. We wouldn’t approve of a lone Grot being used to proxy Ghazghkull, as the model will clearly have a reduced line of sight for being shot at and claiming cover saves, and less models can pile into its smaller base; it would be clearly be modelling-for-advantage.

 Proxying can be especially useful when testing out a new a unit prior to purchase, or trying out a new idea for an army. You can just use some models you already have and play a few games to see how they work out. If it sucks, you have just saved yourself a load of cash, something I’m definitely in favour of. I’ve found it helpful recently as I have been playing some of the concept lists I’m thinking of in preparation for the GT; I’ve been trying out 9 Attack Bikes without having to go and buy 9 Attack Bikes.

 That isn’t where it ends sometimes gamers will deliberately choose to use a different model in their games.

 In some cases, this is because there simply isn’t a model available yet, and you have to find something that fits the role until it’s released. Also, sometimes, players don’t like or are unwilling to pay the high price for the correct models. If you look at the range of models available you can normally find something good to proxy the role (e.g. Space Marine Scouts could be Imperial Guard Veterans in carapace with a little bit of work), but why let your imagination stop at 40k Models? My Psyker Battle Squads are represented by Empire Flagellant models (on the appropriate round bases) because I feel these crazy religious fanatics represent these unstable warp-channelling units really well, and listeners to the 11th Company podcast will know Pat uses suitably painted and based Ogres for his Fiends of Slaanesh in his Daemon army.

 So why stop at just one unit, why not do a whole army?

 A little searching online will show you a whole world of crazy proxy armies, with Orks proxying as Space Wolves, or Skaven as Dark Eldar and many besides. Now, I wouldn’t recommend doing this for your first army, as there will be a lot of modelling and conversion work involved. Getting a little experience at this kind of thing would probably be a good idea before creating your epic Wood Elf proxying for IG army. However, that said, you do know that when you have finished you are going to get something really unique, and this makes a perfect project for those of you that really enjoy a painting/modelling challenge. One recommendation I would give, however, is try to minimise confusion for your opponent, so if possible try to make it obvious what units are, and what weapons they are armed with (I would always try to have my models armed with the correct weapons, because no one will get confused if the model with a meltagun actually has a meltagun). Do take the time to tell your opponent what each unit is, and explain what they are armed with, because it may seem obvious to you but potentially it could be very confusing; and also it’s just polite. 

 Now, I’m not going to get involved in the discussion about whether Citadel models are too expensive or not. What I will say is that when they get it right they make THE BEST models in the world, but they are not necessarily the most cost-effective. So it probably comes as no surprise that a whole host of companies make non-GW models to be used in 40K. If you have a look online, and particularly eBay, you will find a whole range of diverse models. If you don’t fancy buying 5 Canis Wolfborn models at £30 each (so that’s £150 for a squad of 5) for your Thunder Wolves, you can find several different suppliers of non-GW models designed to fulfil this role.

 I, for example, have a range of really nice resin turrets for converting my Rhinos into Razorbacks from (and the turret tops are removable, and interchangeable, so you can still use them as Rhinos if needed – genius) and they do a whole range of other stuff for conversions too.

 Those of you familiar with will know that they do a range of excellently priced fantasy models for the Kings of War system. These models work so well it’s almost as if they are designed to be used as proxy models for Warhammer. Well, the guys at Mantic have also turned their attention to the grim darkness of the future with the Warpath system; this comes in a starter set with their version of Space Dwarves and Space Orxs. These are the only two armies currently released as the game came out in November, but if the models they have produced for their fantasy range are any indication of what we can expect from them in the future then they should be pretty good. In fact, I have already ordered several boxes of their Space Orxs as cheap way to boost the model count of my planned horde Ork army. 

 I have also used proxy models to help theme my Space Ork army, I picked up some pirate orc pirate heads from and these have given my Orks an awesome nautical buccaneer look. These guys provided bionic bits I used for my IG models, and they make some pretty cool guns that I used to convert some Ogres into Ogryn.

 I thought about putting a complete list of non-GW model suppliers here, but there are loads out there. I can say that I personally have been really happy with the models I have bought from the three companies above and would definitely recommend them.

 I would always check the rules at the tournament you’re attending to see what their rules are for using non-GW models. Some can be very strict, but most understand. GW obviously gets a bit “funny” about you turning up and trying to use non-Citadel models at their stores too so don’t try that one either.

 I’m not saying that you should just buy a load of random models, and then play them as whatever army you want whenever you feel like it (I know I would get a bit annoyed if you turned up every week with the same models and said they were something different every time for a year). However, if you are a new player testing an army, or an old player testing a new unit, then once in a while it’s okay as you will eventually get the models or decide the unit isn’t really working out for you. My feeling is if you take the effort to do a whole proxy army right, converting and painting all of the, models to a high standard, and working to make it very clear which each model is to prevent confusion for opponents, then it’s okay too. However, if your opponent says no, then he says no, and that’s his prerogative. You are NOT allowed to get angry, and no amount of crying or name-calling is allowed. If your opponent isn’t happy that they can’t tell what is what, then it’s their right to decide what they don’t want played, and you have to respect that.


So, in conclusion:


  1. Using non-GW models at GW stores and events is not allowed. I would hate for any of you to waste money buying stuff you can’t use, so be aware. 
  2. Basing your models on the right sized bases is essential; otherwise, it will be considered modelling-for-advantage.
  3. I would always try to have my proxying models armed with the correct guns and equipment.
  4. Try to mitigate confusion by letting your opponent know what everything is before you begin playing, you should also consider this when you are modelling the units. (Possibly using banners or markers with unit insignia?)
  5. And The Golden Rule: Make sure everyone is having fun. If you or your opponent isn’t happy, then you don’t have to use proxy models, it’s just an option open to you if you want to try it.


Please, as always let me now your thoughts, this subject just seemed to get bigger and bigger the more I wrote about it, so if any one has any input, or recommendations please add a comment as I would need to run a whole new website to cover this one properly.


If you have a proxy army and you want to let people know about, I would be very interested to hear about it. Also, I know there are many more model companies out there and I couldn’t cover them all, so if you know any that have particularly good ranges then do let me know.


Getting Ready for the GT


I thought I would keep you up to date on how my preparation is coming on for the GT.


I posted my first army list last time, and after a few subtle reductions to the number of meltaguns in my Tactical Squads (“cough”!) I have gone on and played a few practice games to start getting ready. So now I’ve a rough idea of my army list, and got the hang of it by playing a few games, it should now just be a case of tweaking the list and seeing how I like the play the army.


March seems a long way off right now, it is only 5 months away, and if you are as slow painter like me you will need to start planning how to get them finished in time. So I have been working at a timetable for getting my models painted in time:


November – I have chosen my army, and drawn up an army list to begin play testing. Now I know there will be some small changes to the list between here and March, but the majority of models will remain the same.


Painting – Troops: these make up the majority of my army, and probably will for you too, so these are my priority right now. It can be easy to get bored painting big troop squads so give yourself the maximum time to finish them. It could end up taking a few months to paint them, so best to start now.


December – A busy time of year with lots of distracting social/family events going on for me, so I’m not planning any practice still a few games would be a nice surprise.


Painting – Heavy Support (and remaining Troops): this is a nice easy one with only a few models to paint.


January – I will begin seriously practising the missions in earnest, and looking for tactics and weakness to be exploited.


Painting – Fast Attack (possible remaining Troops): depending on your army list this again should be a nice easy one to get done.


February– Go crazy changing your army, and draw up a new list! Not really, but if you are going to have a radical change now’s the time, or you probably won’t finish painting the models in time (presuming you are not a super fast painter of course).


Painting – Elites: by now you should be an old hand at your colour scheme, so when you come to paint your Elites it should be easier to pant to a high standard in a good time because of all the practice you’ve had – in theory.


March – Everything should be ready, you have a list you’re happy with, you’ve played lots of games, and know your weaknesses and strengths, and you are familiar with all the missions; you are mentally prepared.


Painting – Relax and enjoy painting your HQ: as with the Elites you should be an expert at your colour scheme by now, so take your time and paint them really nicely, as these models will be the figurehead of your army. Also if you end up having to paint something the night before I would rather end up painting one HQ model than a 30 man Troop squad any day!


Well that’s the plan at the moment, but could still change. No one wants to be picking a sub-optimal list because they haven’t got the right models painted, or worse staying up late painting models (when you should be up late drinking beer) the night before the tournament.


Please let me know how you are preparing for the GT?


Thanks for reading




6 Responses to “Proxy Models and Getting Ready for the Grand Tournament by Andrew Ovel”

  1. GeorgieP November 23, 2011 at 00:55 #

    Our hobby is soooo expensive that we just have to proxy models. Many people do look at the game differently and from a modeling perspective it doesn’t matter; if you like the model you like the model. But in game terms it seems silly to me not to proxy.

    • Andrew Ovel November 23, 2011 at 10:44 #

      II agree, the hobby is expensive, and those of us with financial responsibilities have to weigh that up when we are making choices. Now I would NEVER tell anyone they can, or can’t buy any model they want to, but for me a good proxy will do and just sometimes is better.

      I think I might be a bit more relaxed about models because I played lots of alternative war games when I was younger, one of which was Hordes of the Things (this has been out of print since 2002 but the writers have kindly put a PDF online and say you have their permission to download a single copy for personal use and not for resale; you can get your copy at ) a fast paced fun, simple, fantasy battle system that actively encouraged alternative modelling.

      The writers of this game realised that the models themselves were not really important, it was the effect those models had in the game and their base size that really mattered. So they devised a system where you could go and find your own models and fit them to certain types of units from a diverse list. So for example crossbows or laser rifles could be shooters, or motorcycles or large bipedal lizards could count as knights, because the effect they had in the game was the same. Now part of the fun was to go out and find models to make your army with (you haven’t lived till you have seen an army of 15mm Garden Gnomes armed with fishing rods and riding on giant snails, fight against an army of Imperial Storm Troopers led by Darth Vader) over the years I have collected 15mm Vikings, Dwarves, First World War British Forces, a Cthulhu Worshiping Confederate force and of course the much feared army of Monopoly playing pieces!

      Anyway check it out it may give you a few ideas for 40K. 

  2. Sl40 November 24, 2011 at 15:11 #

    It may depend on the perspective of the game you come from. I’ll admit I listen to the show because I love all of the tactical stuff and tournament coverage (and the banter). With this approach it is a natural fit to proxy models and see what is the best fit for your army before making an investment.

    Other people approach the game differently, they may play and love the tactical side, but also the way the models look, can be crafted maybe even (dare I say it) painted amazingly. With this in mind I can understand both elements where some people do not believe proxy models while others feel it is essential.

  3. Andy Ovel December 6, 2011 at 09:02 #

    Whoops should be for the Warpath stuff – thanks Pat! 🙂

  4. Matthew Watson July 30, 2012 at 11:47 #

    I find that using a Sanguinary Guard to proxy for my Sanguinary Priests works well, they look a hell of a lot better. I also tend to change out the plasma pistols on my Blood Angels assault marines for Melta’s. I have two models equiped with Plasmas so there usually isnt a problem so long as they know before the game which models are which.

  5. 2006 cbr600rr side Fairings June 21, 2013 at 13:44 #

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you so much, However I am encountering issues with your
    RSS. I don’t know the reason why I can’t join it. Is there anyone else having identical RSS issues?

    Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!

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