Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Chronicle Siege Gun, or better yet the Ass Cannon…

Back in the early noughties, when I seriously started collecting 3rd edition Chaos Dwarfs, I was searching the pages of And while browsing that site I stumbled upon a picture of a very strange siege device. A demonic cannon that shoots cannonballs from its rear end and which is operated by Chaos Dwarfs (the Petard crew and Dourgrim). It was called the Chronicle Chaos Siege Gun and was sculpted by Nick Lund.

Even though I own many Citadel miniature catalogues I had never seen this model. Apparently it was only released through mail order for a short while around 1989 and promoted with a flyer (probably added to the White Dwarf magazine). Judging by the looks of the model, it probably wasn’t very popular (to be honest it’s not a very good sculpt) and no rules were ever released for it so it was hard to effectively use in your games.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor chaos ass cannonBut I loved the cheekiness of the model, so another chapter was added to my 3rd edition Chaos Dwarf collecting saga. Even though it is regularly claimed to be unreleased (because on the flyer it says unreleased (this actually refers to Chronicle releases), this is not true, it was released but only through mail order, it is still rare but not that rare.

(The cannon pictured on the left is owned by a fellow Chaos Dwarf collector, who went to great trouble sourcing down this miniature. We found this picture online and traced the cannon back to somewhere in Spain, where he managed to buy it of the owner for a significant amount)

Chronicle Miniatures was originally an independent company ran by Nick Lund. Citadel bought out Chronicle Miniatures and Nick Lund went to work for Citadel. His Chronicle range of miniatures was incorporated into the Citadel range. Nick left Citadel around 1986 to start working for Grenadier UK. So apparently Citadel had that cannon lying on the shelf for at least 3 years before they decided to release it.

The Solegends entry gives the following description:

The image of a cannon that blows things out of its rear end is supposedly connected to the sculptor's feeling towards his boss, whom the face may resemble. It is not certain that the crew were designed for the gun or were for the other chaos dwarf artillery pieces.

So that probably means, that if this were true, the face of the cannon resembles Bryan Ansell. The same Brian Ansell that left Games Workshop somewhere in the early nineties and started Wargames  Foundry and the same Bryan Ansell that has the original Marauder Chaos Dwarfs in his collection (see my previous entry). Nick Lund disappeared of the radar, and to this day I have no clue as to what he is up to, too bad because I would really love to ask him about the background of the cannon.

Now rewind a couple a couple years to around 2007, by then I still hadn’t found an affordable Ass Cannon for my collection (these things were reaching prices up to 500 Euros). And the gap in my collection was hurting, an itch I couldn’t scratch. So I decided to make my own and cast it so I could help out some fellow collectors.

Luckily there are a lot of good pictures to be found online of the model and its individual parts. And because the crew was pictured alongside the cannon I could easily calculate the exact size. So I went to work, I used clay to sculpt the cannon because it would have cost me a fortune in Green Stuff. The barrel I made from a White Board Marker. The sculpt was fairly easy to make, the model is not very complex. I deliberately made a few changes to the design so it wouldn’t be too difficult to distinguish the original from the tribute model. The last thing I wanted was that my cannon would end up being sold as original.

This picture describes the differences:

Then I had to figure out how to cast, of course I wouldn’t invest in a spin caster and other professional tools, it had to be drop casting. Since the model wasn’t that complex I felt it was achievable. Finding the parts and ingredients to do the drop casting was the hard part. I the Netherlands I couldn’t find room temperature vulcanizing rubber that was heath resistant. Eventually I found a shop in Germany Berlin, Berliner Zinfiguren:

Great shop highly recommended!

I didn’t feel comfortable having the rubber and other chemicals shipped to the Netherlands so I convinced my wife to make a short city trip to Berlin. So in between drinking beer and eating bratwurst I went to the shop and bought all the stuff I needed and set to work. I first practised with another sculpt I did, which turned out ok, so then I went to work on the real deal. It’s a delicate and time consuming process but very rewarding. I had to make a total of 3 moulds, one for the base plate, one for the two sides and one for the body and the cannonballs. I casted about 6 of the cannons and sold them at cost to other avid Chaos Dwarf collectors under the promise that they would never sell them. Later on I did a second run because of high demand, but that’s it, if you don’t have now, you will never get one.

My itch was finally scratched! Or was it, to be honest if I find an affordable original cannon I will still buy it, but on the other hand it is also nice to have something to strive for, collecting wise.

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