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Warhammer 40k fan fills room with huge Golden Throne diorama

Miniature artist Daniel McGirr has finished one diorama of the Warhammer 40k Emperor’s throne room, and is now making an even bigger one.

Closeup of Daniel McGirr's first Warhammer 40k Golden Throne Diorama - the Emperor, a skeletal figure in dark robes, connected by many wires to the mechanisms of a strange machine

The Warhammer 40k Golden Throne is a massive, mysterious, and incredibly important part of the 40k universe, depicted many times in many different ways by prominent Games Workshop artists. Miniature artist Daniel McGirr (known online as Imperium Nihilus) has already finished one sizable diorama representing the sacred machine, and is working on a second, room-dominating diorama.

McGirr was drawn to the Warhammer 40k hobby “by John Blanche’s artwork at the age of about ten”. Like many 40k fans he drifted in and out of the hobby, but “got sucked back in during lockdown in 2020”. Inspired by Blanche’s amazing illustrations of the Emperor of Mankind from the third edition 40k rulebook, McGirr began constructing his first diorama “using bits and pieces from my bits box that I had accumulated over the years”.

McGirr finished the bulk of that project in 2022, though he admits “it’s taken me a year to finally get a plinth made for it”. Most people would rest on their laurels at that point, but it was then that McGirr saw “the magnificent artwork by Neil Roberts” from the cover The End and The Death volume 1, the first part of the final Horus Heresy book, which represents the Golden Throne in a totally new way.

This cover artwork depicts the Golden Throne when it was still fully functional, before the Imperium of Man lost the knowledge of how to maintain it properly or what its true purpose was. “The sheer scale that’s represented in his artwork is awe inspiring”, McGirr says, adding: “I knew I had to try and replicate something similar in miniature form”.

With his own studio to work in, McGirr is building a diorama on an appropriately massive scale: “The table is 5’7” (170cm) in length by 4’11” (150cm) in width so it takes up a lot of space!”, he says. Construction began in October 2022, and “judging by the rate of construction” it will take at least another year to complete. “It might take longer as I am a bit of a perfectionist and am always trying to add extra little details that will all eventually need to be painted!”

Both this and the original diorama feature a huge number of pipes and cables, which McGirr makes using “Greenstuff and a textured cable roller… yes I get through a lot of Greenstuff!”

Some of the greenstuff cables from Daniel McGirr's second Warhammer 40k Golden Throne diorama

McGirr says his intention “is to not permanently affix the miniatures that will make up the diorama so that it can serve both as a diorama and a gaming table for scenarios based in the throne room. I haven’t played a game of Warhammer since I was about ten years old so I am going to have to learn the rules in order to utilise it as a gaming board!”

If you’re considering making your own gaming board, or a colossal diorama like this, McGirr has some advice: “If I have learned anything from a large project such as this it’s to take your time with it. When you start a big project there might be times that you need a break and it’s beneficial to take them so that you don’t get burned out… Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not in the mood at times and need to take a step back”.

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We’ll keep an eye on McGirr’s progress; the sheer audacity of this build is entirely appropriate for the subject matter. If you’re a fan of gnarly dioramas that cross the line from “miniature” into “sculpture”, check out our interview with Baharroth about his epic recreation of the Coronation of Guilliman: or contributor Joshua Clough’s report from the first Warhammer miniatures in a fine art galllery.