A desirable vintage piece of Rogue Trader lead joins my Deathworld Flora and Fauna project today: the Ambull.
As per Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, p.207
“Ambulls originate from the dangerously hot polar rock-deserts of Luther McIntyre IX. They can survive extremely hot temperatures for long periods, a factor which has led to attempts at domestication on several desert planets. As a consequence, Ambulls can be found on many planets throughout human space.”
“Ambulls have huge barrel-chested bodies and an ape-like stance. Two arms reach almost to the ground whilst two legs are crooked and short. Both arms and legs end in iron hard claws used for tunneling through the soft stone that covers their native land. Ambulls will excavate tunnels in which to live, spending much of their time underground, sheltering from the direct heat of the sun. This subterranean lifestyle is shared with many of Luther McIntyre’s inhabitants, including the Ambulls’s favourite food, the Crawler.”
“Ambulls will pursue Crawlers and other prey through the soft rock by tunneling at considerable speed. The Ambull’s huge expandable jaws are then used to grab and yank the food from the loose rubble. These jaws make the creature look extremely ferocious and are it s most characteristic feature. The Ambull’s eyes are adapted to sense heat, giving infra-vision at all ranges. The creatures live in family groups, often occupying the same tunnel system for years on end, slowly excavating a vast underground network many miles long. While specially evolved to live below the surface, they adapt well to most environments and will eat all manner of living creatures.”
The Ambull is one of the very few wandering monster type models that Citadel ever manufactured for 40k back when the rulebook was full of those sorts of things. From horses, to harridans to hamadrya plenty of miniature creatures have been made for the game, but by and large they have consisted of part of the military forces lined up on the table, rather than wild animals with their own agendas. This makes the Ambull something of a Rogue Trader poster boy and definitely one of the highlights of this project for me.
The model is covered in a number of interesting, different textures which correspond pretty directly with the illustration from the book. There is a peculiar, vaguely Giger bio-tech look to some of the tubing and other parts of the model which is simultaneously part of its charm and slightly off-putting to me.
While I wanted the Ambull to look unfamiliar and unlike real life Earth creatures, I didnt want to miniature to look like it was artificially created in any way. I wanted it to look like the man-in-a-suit monster that might have attacked William Shatner or Gil Gerard in an old sci-fi tv show, not like a post-modern fusion of technology and the artificial. That shtick is reserved for other toy soldier projects.
After a lot of hemming and hawing about what colour to paint the model where many different exotic schemes were proposed, I went for a greyish brown and purple with fairly traditional bone claws and mandibles.
I wanted my Ambull to look unique, but also to look vaguely credible as an animal that crawls its way around underground most of the time, with a scuffed, worn look to its armoured areas. Painting the fleshier parts purple worked as a decent enough contrast. Miniature sci-fi wouldnt be sci-fi without peculiar looking eyes either of course, but I think that the big fella still looks plausible within the constraints of the imaginary universe that it inhabits.
While I have many more models planned for this project the Ambull completes the holy trinity of Rogue Trader bestiary predators as I see them, the Robin, Maurice and Gary Gibb of the project.