“Its been months and we have yet had no contact with the enemy. The winter-cycle of this forsaken rock has begun and snows are already impeding our movements. We dig-in, patrol, wait, move-out to the next ridge-line and dig-in again. ‘War is waiting’ old Creed once said, Emperor bless him.”
– Captain Drear’s Personal Log.
Band of Brothers, what a series.
My Cadian Last were inspired by the raw grit and punishing reality of Band of Brothers, the Pacific, and of course, Saving Private Ryan. I wanted to capture this sense of ordinary men, ‘citizen soldiers’, enduring the trials of a relentless galaxy the only way they can – by trusting each other, trusting their rifle, and of course, trusting the Emperor.
That’s the theory at least. Getting it across is trickier.
It’s difficult to get the balance of realism in a setting that is utterly bonkers and unreasonably grimdark. I started with the basic form of the men themselves. In the scenes on television, soldiers seem to spend the overwhelming majority of their time in combat moving. They duck and hunch and dart from cover to cover, firing their weapons sporadically – ammunition is a real consideration – maneuver is the name of the game. Unlike those regiments that are known for their mass suicidal charges or Napoleon-era tactics, like the Vostroyans or Mordians – the Cadian always seemed to me to be pragmatic and dogmatic soldiers. I can see no reason why the basic principles and practices of modern warfare would not be utilized on the most warlike of the Imperium’s worlds. Cadians are the grimdark embodiment of the ‘citizen soldier’.
Modeling this into every trooper was more important than the painting I think. A rough and gritty paint scheme would still look out of place on a typically-made Cadian. The plastics are great, don’t get me wrong, but they make men that are too upright. I wanted their postures to reflect the terror of combat, the determined and huddled look of men under fire.
Here I think you can see what I mean, a lot of the men have their legs cut and repositioned, turning the traditional proud standing poses into awkward running/jogging poses. Also, this provides an infinite possibility for individual variation, while maintaining a common look of movement in the squad.
Secondly, was the shaving away of the joint where the torso and waist meet. This literally bends their back over and gives them a universal hunch. The construction straight out of the box has the men bending almost backward and looks stiff and unrealistic.
Thirdly, the rifles are positioned tight across the chest, not too high and silly in the air as I so often see.
Finally, the head, most important of all. Every head is tilted, no soldier can look straight into the storm of battle. I tried to angle the heads to reflect their fear and adrenaline. No one looking too high or at an unrealistic angle. Chins are low and or hesitantly looking along the line of their rifle, some are outright turned away from the direction in which they are moving, perhaps because of a detonation or explosion nearby or an enemy round passing too close for comfort.
It’s time-consuming, but the end result is the most rewarding of any of my hobby-endeavors.