Adeptus Mechanicus Explorators


The Adeptus Mechanicus Biologis dig site on Memphis IIX-4 : live to work, don’t work to live.

I painted a few Adeptus Mechanicus pieces for a game last year.

These figures (and the terrain pieces half seen in the background – to be covered in a future post) were prepped for a game with “Tears of Envy” last summer. We decided to play a game that harked back to the old White Dwarf scenarios that were published when the Necrons were first introduced to 40k, so that we could have a reasonably era-accurate game of 40k second ed, just for the sake of the retro.


Back in 1998, the Necrons were a weird unknown. The vibe was twofold:
1) exploring the space mummy’s tomb while being attacked by the remnants of an ancient undead civilisation and
2) remnants of an undead civilisation suddenly and unexpectedly appear, perform some sort of inscrutable task involving mucho disintegrations, and then disappear just as quickly.

There was a classic set of dig site terrain made back in 1998 to go with this theme, so I decided to incorporate some of that into my themed Necron terrain/campaign plans.


Necron Dig Site Terrain, White Dwarf #217

This spun out into painting a few Adeptus mechanicus figures that I have been planning to paint for about a decade.


Techpriest Zon

Zon above manages to unexpectedly become Choose Your Own Adventurer #20. I added glowing eyes to make him look more obviously Ad Mech (like the outwardly more human liaison officer character in a Black Library story that I can’t quite remember right now).


Howard got an undeniable kick out of dress-like-industrial-machinery-day.

I converted the middle model in this photo of Ramshackle Games miniatures back in 2012, and part painted it twice before finally settling on this approach, in a very much just-get-it-finished frame of mind. I expect that the guy in the middle is essentially just a brain and spinal cord, and has a variety of different bodies, like the anti-Worzel Gummidge. I expect that he has a b-boy body that he wears at the weekends.


The model below is the definitive Adeptus Mechanicus model for me, a Bob Olley sculpt that I assume was partly based on the John Blanche illustration above, from Rogue Trader.


Biologis Vorath

Since then, the classic Techpriest look has developed into a look that features a servo arm backpack. I had a few parts left over from a Fabius Bile conversion that I did in 1999 and I thought that adding them would be a fun way to make the figure unique and make the silhouette tie in with modern interpretations.

The surgical nature of the attachments suggested that the figure might be an Adeptus mechanicus Genetor or Biologis. It makes sense to me that a Tech Priest with an interest in organic machines – making him an oddball niche in an oddball cult – would be involved in digging up the remains of a long forgotten race of formerly organic machines too. Like the rest of the figures here after indecisive dithering about it for decades Vorath got a fairly rapid paint job .

Skullz Necron Examination Table

The limited edition “Skullz” promotion, Necron Examination Table

I intend to cover the other bits and pieces in the dig site terrain at a later stage, but I wanted to mention that after watching absurdly overpriced auctions for the above examination table miniature sit unsold on Ebay for years, I was donated one for free by Rochie. Rochie won the model in GW Dublin when he was a kid in the late 1990s, and even though it had corresponding sentimental value to him, he generously donated it to my project all the same. I owe him for that.

I’ll get photos of the dig site including the examination table together at a later date.


26 Responses

  1. You know, I have a few of those waiting for paint myself. You make both the Ad Mech and the Necrons seem just a bit more interesting. I very much look forward to seeing where this goes and how it comes out. Splendid stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Symphonic Poet!
      I find cyborg meat mechanics and skelebots hugely appealing, so I’m certain that you will enjoy working on a few of them.


  2. Great looking team, perfect for scrabbling around the half-buried remains of ancient alien tombs. Of course the requisite counterpoint to a team of serious scientific types is a swaggering all-action hero. Any plans?

    The Olley techpriest really does look the definitive business with the added servo arm. Looking forward to seeing the terrain in more detail.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do like the balance that the servo arm gives the Tech Priest visually. I got an urge to do it at some point a few years ago, and just did it. I don’t usually convert these days, but it was fun.

      The Tech Priest is an archetype from the “Inquisitor” rulebook ticked off, and I hadn’t really thought further than that. I’m not sure that a Harrison Fordian type expert is where I want to go next. .. but maybe this is an easy way to incorporate CYOA #21… hmmm.

      I’ll get to photographing the terrain soon I hope. I haven’t had a good look at it together since the rush to finish it last year.

      Thanks for the feedback Axiom!


  3. Mmm… lovely. AdMech exporator teams hit me right in the sweet bits, and with the addition of the lovely details like the examination table, oh my. I recall that game you’re referring to, it looked great. Nothing like working toward a set-piece like that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • For me it is all about setting the scene these days. I do my best to keep as much as possible modular, but it was nice to focus on Religious Cyborg Raiders of the Terminator Mummy Tomb Ark for a while.
      I resisted the urge to plaster the Icon Mechanicus on the generic tents, which went against theme, but makes the tents useful in other places. It’s a mild compromise, but applying that sort of thinking is its own kick really, plus each terrain project builds in what came before that way.
      By way of example, even my Gaslands terrain set, in a different scale to most of my terrain, benefits from the work previous projects.
      I suspect that I may have enjoyed amateur dramatics set management, had I given it a go 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Brilliant stuff mate, lovely to see – I do love your weird AdMech 🙂
    High-fives to Rochie for being such a good lad!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rochie is a ledge, no doubt.

      Weird? You think? I don’t think that they are that weird, considering the concept 😀

      I have such longterm AdMech plans that I will likely never get to them all, but these few pieces and the associated terrain were lots of fun and scratched a lot of the itch.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Old school servitors FTW!!1!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t remember what school I attended, and for the schools own sake, I hope that it has no record of me either.

      However, groovy space cyborg reanimates are KEWL. On this we can agree I am certain.


  6. Very cool indeed

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely stuff. I’m a bit fan of the retro mechanicus look you are channeling here. Where did the tents come from?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Daveb, it has been fun to work on.
      The tents are single piece plastic pieces from the Mantic “Terrain Crate” range. I considered using tents from Army Men toy ranges, but didn’t find any that suited, plus I was concerned about whether paint would stick to those properly anyway.


  8. As probably said a million times, there’s that certain something about getting stuff painted that has been waiting for it for literally decades. Great job on these!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mikko!

      The robed Mechanicus model is definitive, iconic. It is a paragon of early 40k concepts and is certainly the model that has come to mind when I thought of Adeptus Mechanicus for the last 30+ years. Ridiculous that it took me this long to get one painted, but I did it eventually at least.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. […] Adeptus Mechanicus Explorators @ Sho3box – Oh, hey, some proper Oldhammer!  The author shares some old fashioned explorators that they’ve painted up and, with it, shares some background and images of the old Adeptus Mechanicus miniatures.  This is a nice piece full of cool, retro images.   […]

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think it’s all pretty interesting. The Olley Techpriest is among my favourite minis of the time (maybe even of all times), and the first pic of the post is absolutely charming. I love it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad that you like it Suber. As you mention, it doesn’t really get more classic 40k than that Ad Mech, so finally getting it ready for a few games was a kick 🙂


  11. Acid yellow blackletter text in a cartoon metallic border. Man, that one image is pure 1990s Dwarf.

    I always wondered if that partial Necron torso was a miniature or part of a 3-up for abandoned plastics or a prop like the Blood Angel Terminator helmet was.

    This is a great job on the figures. I like the bronze boots on the Techpriest. I’d spin Zon’s blue eyes as too much Spice Melange. Were you influenced by the figure’s original description as a telepath there, perhaps even just indirectly?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The detail on the damaged torso looked to me to be a little too fine to be a piece intended as part of a production 28mm model I think, so some sort of novelty display piece or prop or similar is my bet.

      I don’t usually think of Zon as being a “Telepath”. I had for years planned to paint him as a non-Fat Mech scientist type, maybe a bit like the Talisman Scientist, but at the last minute while painting the Tech Priest, I decided to bundle Zon into the process.

      He got the eyes mainly to give him some sort of out of the ordinary feature that suggested tech, as the model is pretty lean on sci-fi trappings. I see the blue as more of a circa 2000 mobile phone backlight, rather than a dodgy 1980s rotoscope job, but either is fine really 🙂


  12. Mechanicus explorator excavation camp scenary and details look great. Lots of scenarios you can spin off of a “What terror from beyond will be disturbed this time” starting point. The book of terrible excavation after action reports must fill many volumes on each forgeworld while the thin volume of successes is trumpeted throughtout the land.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly that Pagumb, the vibe is intended to evoke any number of tomb raiding movies.

      Tropes are not (necessarily) clichés, and I’m a big fan of mining the shorthand to assist the narrative side of games. Terrain is more important than even the toy soldiers themselves to me.

      Thanks for the feedback Pagumb!


  13. […] This plan gave me composition guidelines and a deadline for rattling out a number of some of the older Necrons, which bolster my 40k army, but also make up a nice force for a game played as a retro snapshot of 1998.  In the end I also put together some terrain for a dig site of my own, an homage to the old set in many ways, but that will be in a different post, eventually. In the mean time you can see some of it in the background here. […]


  14. This looks incredible! great Job!

    Liked by 1 person

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