One of the real problems of the Chaos Space Marines range is that the basic troops are by far the worst looking things in the range. What's more, I'd be prepared to swear that the sculpts are degrading: I bought a box a year or so back and the armour trim on the legs was barely distinct in several places which made them an arse to paint.
And I HATE heavy bolter! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. Whose smart idea was to have it be a three-part assembly with the heaviest component hanging down from the other two? If Nottingham HQ has a woodshed, take that guy out the back of it, please.
The Dark Vengeance box set didn't help either. That starter box had a set of amazing Chosen that showed just what could be achieved by applying the modern design sensibilities of Chaos to the idea. To wit: not just Space Marines in Viking hats. Sadly, its been a few years now and the only model to actively benefit from the new aesthetic those models pioneered was the Aspiring Champion clampack character who came out a week later.
So, what to do, what to do? Waiting has proven ineffective as we've just had a Chaos Marine codex with no model release attached. So its time to kitbash my way out of the problem.
Keeping It Simple:
A Hierarchy of Mutation
The key phrase here is “basic Chaos Space Marine”. Heroes/villains of legend they may be but they shouldn't be so fancy they overshadow the presence of more elite troops like Terminators, Chosen or Possessed.
The basis of the unit will be the plastic Horus Heresy Space Marines in MkIV armour. Its simple enough to kitbash, being a Space Marine kit, and has the benefit of being an armour mark most of the Legions would have had in abundance. Its also the closest to “modern” power armour so its easier to swap loyalist or other Chaos parts into than MkIII, which has a much more distinctive silhouette.
Now, as I mentioned, I don't want to mutate this unit's armour too much. For one thing, it would be hard to do without replacing more parts than I want to spend money on. Keeping legs, torsos and most weapons from this kit intact. Now, I have plenty of old Chaos Marine shoulder pads lying around if I choose to use them but what's really going to sell the conversion is the heads. To be specific, these heads:
Bought off eBay as a set, these are the heads from a box of Chaos Raptors. Mutated, certainly, but also distinctly recognisable as Space Marine helmets (and with a glorious lack of silly, chunky horns). This way the unit gets to look mutated but not overly so. Even if I do the rest of the army straight out of the box the more elite units, the ones higher in the favour of the dark gods, will still look more baroque and changed.
Its also an easily replicated trick if I decide I want to do multiple units like this. Alternatively, its a look I can easily take in a different direction if I want each unit to look like its own warband.
Now I just have to wait for the parts to arrive in the post.