In recent years Games Workshop has gone hard with adding animals to its Warhammer Underworlds and Warcry releases, to the general delight of hobbyists. Commission painter Thomas John was so captivated by the Gnarlwood Howlaz in the Kruleboyz Monsta-Killaz warband he converted them into mini Warhammer 40k Planet of the Apes dioramas.
John got into Warhammer 40k and painting miniatures “about two years ago” and “fell pretty hard into it”. He is already painting miniatures for commission, and his “hobby dream is to enter Golden Demon someday”. His Instagram is full of gorgeous Space Marines, Blood Bowl teams, and some gnarly DnD miniatures.
John received the Monsta-Killaz as a gift, and says “the idea of a monkey with a power fist was too funny to pass up”. The model of the baboon hanging from a tree “had the perfect pose to show off the power fist”. Once that was in place, he “felt like it was missing something”, so added the shoulder pad.
Once the salvaged Space Marine wargear was on the mini, John says “it gave me a Planet of the Apes vibe so I added the ferns, Space Marine helmet, and old road sign”. The signs and ferns come from Epic Basing, and the entire conversion took just 30 minutes.
The second baboon was even quicker: “his pose, hunched on a tree on all fours, made me instantly think of a rocket launcher”.
The trickiest part of the conversion “was the rocket being launched from the missile pack”. John explains that, after “trying to make my own smoke trail and rocket out of stuff I had laying around” he sacrificed the Space Marine Heroes missile launcher model to finish the conversion.
You can find more of John’s work on his Instagram. He has some advice for conversion fans; if your conversions go together neatly, but still don’t look right in a way that you can’t quantify, you may need to consider the “Golden Angle” for the model: the angle that models are photographed from in most production shots.
“I’ll hold models at that angle and see if the conversions I’ve made are visible from the angle or obscured by it”, John says. He adds “I had to learn that lesson again with the Baboon marines… on the power fist guy the sign actually gets in the way of the power fist and breaks up the silhouette”.
If you’re a fan of converting miniatures and want some out-there inspiration, check out this Space Marine dreadnought made from chestnuts, or look through our guide to the best hobby knives if you need to add a new tool to your toolkit.