Army Showcase: head58’s Boston Orks

Finishing your own army is core to the Warhammer 40,000 hobby. In our Army Showcase series, Goonhammer contributors take a look at the armies we’ve been collecting for years, and the new ones we’ve just finished – what drew us to them, why we keep building and painting, and how they play on the table. This week, head58 (Chris)  presents an army that started as a joke, his Boston-themed Orks, while his Battle Bro PantsOptional (Drew) provides color commentary. 

Okay, I know I’m nowhere near as good a painter as the usual Army Showcase contributors, so bear with me. This one is important. I’m donating this army to the silent auction at the Goonhamer Open US 2023. All proceeds from the silent auction will go to TableWAR Charities, which works to improve the lives of children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. This is a cause near and dear to me, so please read on about how I made this incredibly niche and dumb army, then come to GHO in Baltimore to throw your money at it. Or wire money to friends who are attending. This is a good cause.

So without further ado, I present this Boston-themed Ork army –  Braydeez Nutz!

CHRIS: My first actual Games Workshop purchase ever was the glorious Speed Freeks boxed game back in 2018 and a Boomdakka Snazzwagon to go with it because that name really sang to my soul. But as this was a ridiculous game I wanted to give my crew a ridiculous theme. 

There are two people mainly to blame for the whole Bostonification business. That you, my dear brother, is one should go without saying. You planted the seed by having a Warboss in your WanG rpg game use a Southie accent rather than the traditional cockney back in 2019. The other is Campbell “SRM” McLaughlin, who egged me on with phrases such as “that would be sick as hell” and (paraphrasing) “you should spend a lot of money on this vanity project that will be kind of funny to about three people” and provided the name “Marky Markari.” 

DREW: Oh buddy. I hate to tell you but I never ended up actually doing that. However I’m glad it helped sucker you into spending hundreds of dollars on The Bit. 

It occurs to me that I don’t even remember telling you about the idea, but then again I know that I propose at least one Southie accent for pretty much every RPG. It must have gotten tiring every time that I declared my Minotaur Barbarian was going to “rage ‘n’ chahhge, kehd.”

CHRIS: I’d swear you had used that, but then I also swear I saw Luke and Biggs hanging out on Tatooine back in 1977 so my brain is a questionable place at the best of times.

I Bostoned the Snazzwagon up, turning the Burna Bottles into steaming hot cups of highly acidic Dunkins’ coffee, putting a New England Patriots jersey on the gunner, and dressing the grot on the hood in a Yankees uniform. The three Warbikers got jerseys of the Holy Trinity (Patriots, Bruins, Red Sox). 

A Boomdakka Snazzwagon and three Warbikes, a
The Boomdakka Snazzwagon and a unit of Warbikes. Credit: head58

(Don’t worry, reader living in better places around the globe, I’ll explain all the dumb Boston references as we go. Nothing is better material than explaining a joke!)

Customizing the Snazzwagon was a lot of fun. I’d done a lot of custom models back in my Warmachine days. I made an entire Guild Ball team wearing bowling shirts and wielding balls and pins. And these were metal models, so working in GW plastics was like a dream. The coffee cups were my favorite – they’re just plasticard tubes with a slightly larger tube at the top for the wider part of the cup, and some greenstuff molded to look like it’s splashing liquid. The shirts on the gunner and bikers were just sheets of greenstuff wrapped around the torsos. I really enjoy adding these little touches to personalize model kits, especially when they’re jokey and “fun.”

Side view of a Boomdakka Snazzwagon. The driver is about to throw a cup of coffee
The Boomdakka Snazzwagon, scalding cups of terrible coffee at the ready. Credit” head58

DREW: If only there was a way that you could have rigged the coffee cup dudes up like an ‘80s action figure so they could throw them – preferably at another car and preferably while screaming “what, ya think ya bettah than me?!” For real though this was amazing and I was thrilled to see it even if it had the hated Yankees logo.

CHRIS: So my Speed Freeks crew was done. Terrible coffee and sports – aside from casual racism that about covers all the Boston bases. And I assumed that would be the end of it. 

Fast forward a few years later when I’m debating starting a new army for the second season of our award winning* Battle Bros column.  One day I accidentally bought Ghazghkull and a box of Boyz, and it was on. And hey, I already had a theme for my Orks, why not run with it?

Let’s start with the big boi himself, although he was one of the last models I actually painted for the army: Gronkzghkull Thraka! Even though Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski had moved on from the New England Patriots by then he was still a strong figure in Boston sports lore, and how could I pass up the name? Again, he gets a greenstuff jersey and is painted up in his Pats uniform. And who’s his little friend? It’s the aforementioned Marky Makari, with his trademark backwards baseball cap and Calvin Kleins sticking out of his low hanging jeans. 

Ghazghkul Thraka and Makari, sort of
Gronkzghkul and Marky Markari. Credit: head58

In case Gronkzghkul is too much plant-based beef substitute for the game you’re playing, I also have a generic Warboss named Banga Yuey. I’m not going to explain that one but I swear it’s not racist. I didn’t go too wild with the customizations on Yuey, but he does have a Red Sox “B” made out of scrap parts on his bosspole.

Ork Warboss
Banga Yuey. Credit: head58

DREW: There are so many regionally specific phrases up here that it’s little wonder most civilized people can’t understand us. The fact that I can effortlessly think of at least three of them that absolutely sound racist to everyone else maybe doesn’t speak highly of us up here either.

CHRIS: The last of the characters, my Weirdboy, has enough customization that I swear there’s an actual weirdboy model under there. This is Keytar Bear, a fixture around Faneuil Hall and other touristy spots of the area, and he’s exactly what it says on the tin. This person dresses up in a bear costume and plays a keytar. Magical. The model has a big round ball of greenstuff for his head, and the keytar was 3D printed, taken from a Regular Show stl I found somewhere. The real work here was positioning the model’s arms and hands on the keytar. I think there’s more pin than plastic in those arms. I’m stupidly happy with this model, although it’s so niche that it’s really a joke with an incredibly limited audience.

An ork wearing a costume bear head, playing a keytar.
Keytar Beah. Credit: head58

DREW: I feel like most people from the area would get it without too many dots in City Lore. Hell, you could have gone for an even more obscure regional microcelebrity like the guy who’s spent the last 20+ years scamming newcomer students out of money “for a can of Fix-a-Flat.” Or a Battle Bro.

A person in a bear costume with a keytar
The bear himself. Yes, look at him! Credit:

CHRIS: Look, that guy threw me off guard by asking “do you like meat?” and before I knew what was happening I was handing him cash. It was either a Jedi mind trick or my MK-ULTRA activation phrase. 

At the heart of any Ork army is waves and waves of Boyz. This was back in early 9th edition, pre Codex, so units could be up to 30 models. I figured great, three big blobs. I didn’t quite get there, my last unit only had 20, but then with the Codex that was the new cap anyway so that was one problem solved by procrastination.  Each of the three units would be based around a different town in the greater Boston area.

The first unit is the Allston Rats. Allston is a suburb of Boston known for tons of (relatively) cheap, shitty student apartments and a corresponding thriving rat population. So these dudes get gray shirts, legally distinct mouse/rat head icons, and for a couple I gave them green stuff mouse ears. Yes, I know mice and rats are different, but Orks aren’t smart.

A large unit of ork boyz
The Allston Ratz. Credit: head58

DREW: Allston Rats could easily be a gang name used either online or in Fallout 4. They’d be about as effective either way and significantly less effective than the rats, who have pretty much no-sold all attempts to exterminate them for decades. To be fair, so have the undergrads.

CHRIS: The second blob are the Revere Raidas. The city of Revere is, of course, named for Paul Revere who sucked at OpSec and got his ass nabbed by the British five-oh, nevermind what Henry Wordsworth Longfellow told you, Revere is also the archetypical North Shore Massachusetts locale – the accent, heavy Italian population, beaches full of hypodermic needles and Primaris Assault Seagulls. But I leaned into the Revolutionary War angle because “doped up mafia guys” is a tricky scheme. Blue shirts to reflect the Colonist side of the war, sure. And little green stuff tricorn hats. Thirty-odd of them. We’ve already seen I make incredibly poor choices, yes, let’s move on. These were fairly simple in concept – a triangle of green stuff, cut a slit at the vertices, fold the sides up, put a small ball in the middle. They came out in varying degrees of successful depending on how badly the green stuff stuck to my board. Could I have gone back and made them all perfect. No, no I could not. Who do you think I am?

Ork Boyz wearing tricorn hats
The Reveah Raidas. Credit: head58

The last group of Boyz are the Framinghammas. Framingham is a fairly far suburb but it’s where my wife grew up and a decent brewery there makes my favorite an incredible porter with a 10+% abv also called “Framinghammer” pleasedon’tsue. I slapped little hammer icons on these guys, easy peasy. Ironically they don’t use hammers – I decided to give half of this unit Shootas on the logic that they might possibly be good again some day. 

A unit of Ork Boyz
The Framinghammas. Credit: head58

Now that many Boyz, how are they going to get to the party? They’re of course going to need a Trukk, and when I think of trucks and Boston there’s only one inevitable outcome.

A truck driven by an idiot stuck under a bridge
A right proper Storrowing. Credit: NBC10 Boston

DREW: Just like a sunset, no matter how many times you see it it still stirs something deep inside you. I feel the need to salute while crying one tear.

CHRIS: “Storrowing” used to be an annual tradition where on the weekend that all the college students were moving into town someone would ignore the many very clearly labeled height restriction signs and take their moving van onto Storrow Drive. But in recent years this has moved to a year-round event. #blessed.

So yeah, I only had one option really.

I was able to find a 1/43 scale box truck toy that – and this was the most crucial part – didn’t have a die cast box. It had to be plastic, for reasons you can see above. I cut the roof very jaggedly with a utility knife and then spent a lot of time dunking it in boiling water, then bending the roof, then dunking again, repeat. I was able to get a Boy into the driver’s seat because the bottom of the truck unscrewed, and that made me very happy.

Oh, the thing on the side? One of the stupidest days I can remember in Boston history. Seriously, local Livejournal (this was before Facebook and Twitter were big, thankfully. Kids, ask your grandparents about Livejournal) was just bizarre that day.

DREW: I am contractually obligated to point out that Lite Brite is not a crime. Are you surprised that pretty much everyone involved in the official reaction turned out to be a giant moron and probably a piece of shit as well. We don’t often have officials up here that have any other mode, though, so it was business as usual.

Three Ork meganobz painted to look like sports mascots
Lucky’s Mob. Credit: head58

CHRIS: It’s been a page and a half since a sports and/or racism reference so that means it must be time for Lucky’s Mob. Lucky is the Boston Celtics pipe-smoking, shillelagh-wielding, shamrock covered mascot character. The Red Sox have Wally the Green Monster. And the Patriots have…Pat, a guy with the lanternest of jaws in a football uniform and tricorn. Kind of phoned that one in. But such “legendary” characters needed powerful models, so they became Meganobz. I had intended to add in Blades, the kind of terrifying bear mascot from the Bruins, and Slyde the Fox from the New England Revolution, but I’d probably have to explain who they were even to people from Boston so I passed.

Remember that Speed Freeks box way at the start of all this? Well I still had a Shokkjump Dragsta from that kicking around, so I used it to honor the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (known locally as “The T” or “the transit system where you roll a d6. On a 1-2 your train catches fire. On a 3-4 you are 2d3 hours late to work. On a 5-6 the train just never shows up at all, take d3 mortal wounds from subarctic winter temperatures.”) It teleports around the table, probably skipping your stop! I painted this one as a car from the Green Line, somehow the least shitty of all the T lines, so it earns the name the Great Green Liner. Not my best name, but what ya gonna do?

Ork Shokkjump Dragsta
The Great Green Line. Credit: head58

DREW: Yeah, this one’s kind of a gimme. I haven’t checked it out in 10th Edition – does it have rules for accidentally hitting a pedestrian or another train while the Grot driving it is on his phone?

CHRIS: I treat it as a house rule. Or just play Necromunda and drift into stuff.

Boston is known for more than sports, chowder, and a cop-eating playground slide though. We also have a booming music scene so let’s have a warm welcome for the Morky Morky Waaghtones! You’ve probably heard of the Bosstones, who I guess were okay before singer Dicky Barrett went full mask off anti-vax and the band coincidentally broke up the same week. These Boyz were a lot of fun to put together, and I’m glad I never have to do it again. Their instruments are tiny metal charms I found on Etsy with various rocket or grenade bits stuffed in the end to show their Tankbusta roots. I had to do unspeakable things to their arms to get them into position to hold the instruments. And then there’s the plaid. SO much plaid. Some of this was with very fine brushes, some of it was with micropens. Let it not be said I don’t commit to a bit.

Five orks with musical instruments laden with explosives
The Morky Morky Waaaghtones. Credit: head58

Lastly we have Ol’ Ironsidez, because remember I started putting this army together back in early 9th when Mek Gunz were a thing. It’s named not for the Raymond Burr detective tv show that you’ve probably never heard of but for the USS Constitution, a wooden frigate from the War of 1812 that got its nickname when a British ship utterly flubbed its Wound roll. I tried to give the model a wood grain effect; whether I succeeded or not is left as an exercise for the reader. 

An Ork mekkannon
Ol’ Ironsidez and its utterly useless grots. Credit: head58

DREW: References that no one under 70 gets and too much effort for a joke that doesn’t land. Nothing has ever been more Battle Bros battle brand. 

CHRIS: Somehow I refrained from making a “Joe Green in the WBZ traffic copter” reference in here. 

So that’s the whole thing. It comes out to 1535 points in 10th edition by my count. I had some ideas on other things to add to get to 2000 points but never got there. I wanted to make some Deff Dreads with big Pilgrim hats. I had a Big Mek with Kustom Force Field and a Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun that I had planned to call “Klik and Klak” for Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the beloved long time hosts of the NPR show Car Talk which did more than anything else to spread the Boston accent far and wide. But most of all I wanted to get a scale model of a World War II DUKW amphibious truck, the base for Duck Boats that schlep tourists around the city. 

But just because I didn’t see those dreams come to fruition doesn’t mean that YOU can’t, dear reader, if you throw piles of cash at this army at the GHO US 2023 silent auction. Bid early, bid often. Maybe I’ll even throw in a Channel 2 tote bag!

*The Battle Bros column has not, and never should, win any awards of any kind.

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