TOC: I must say that it's a wonderful opportunity to get to interview you and speak with you about the amazing Titan that you've created and the amount of originality that has gone into your work. What started the path to such a unique look?
The lovely Titan in question and its owner.
Jonathan: It was a long path of decision. I've collected Chaos Space Marines for close to two decades now and my primary forces have been themed as World Eaters and Thousand Sons. Due to this, my initial thoughts were to paint my Reaver to match one of those classic color schemes to serve as a centerpiece. However, the more I thought about this, the less it appealed to me.
When I would do an image search for Chaos Reaver Titan, the top results would almost always depict the Titan in the red and brass Khorne colors. I was already looking heavily at the TOC at this point, and was inspired by all the personality showing through on each Engine, signs of love from their owners. My World Eaters’ bases are all snow themed to pay homage to the Battle at Skalathrax and its extreme low temperatures that led to Kharn's betrayal.
This sparked the idea to do an arctic themed Titan maniple for the blue would tie in both to my Tzeentch forces and pay homage to the original Legion colors of the World Eaters. This satisfied me on two levels, but it still took a couple of months before I decided how I wanted it to merge the colors and be brave enough to attempt it.
TOC: Is that what prompted the use of airbrushing to ensure a clean gradient? The colors on your Titan blend in very well.
Jonathan: It absolutely is. I had never actually used an airbrush before this year, but had always wanted one. I decided that a smooth transition from white to blue on the armor plates was very important to what I was envisioning, so I invested. This project was really important to me so I wanted to take that extra step.
I did a series of models beforehand to learn to use the airbrush, and in final preparation I painted an Imperial Knight in the intended color scheme to prove to myself that I could pull it off before actual work started on the Titan. It actually turned out better than I was expecting and I became even more excited about the model as the first armor plates came together. It stands out so much from the dark colors dominating the rest of my Chaos collection.
TOC: It really does. The light colors of your Titan will certainly stand out against the drab and dull colors normally associated with 40k. You mentioned the Titan project being very important to you. Is that from the standpoint of it being your first Titan, or something else?
Jonathan: A fair bit of both. I've looked at the Titan models for as long as since they were first released. Having a healthy love of giant robots and the grim darkness of 40k, I have always wanted one, but it's a hard plunge to take that step to purchase one.
At the beginning of this year, I lost my girlfriend and domestic partner of seven years suddenly due to complications with cancer. It obviously put me in a very bad place and I needed something to focus on. A friend encouraged me to make the step and do something that I had only ever talked about in a hypothetical sense, purchase an engine. It's been a cathartic presence for the last five months as I have worked on it and attempted to create something I never thought I would actually have in my collection. My girlfriend, Kim, was a really positive source of feedback for my previous models, and I think she would have loved to see how this one turned out.
TOC: I'm sorry to hear of your loss. You have done a Reaver Titan justice, and you have done well. She would have indeed seen the quality we do. It is good the hobby has been a release for you and you've also received feedback from other TOC members. How does it feel knowing other TOC members now get to see your efforts pay off?
Jonathan: It's a great feeling. Even before the event that led to my commitment on the purchase, I was looking at the TOC frequently for updates. It was one of my favorite 40k-related sites as all the models were so personal and labors of love. They each had stories already existing or just waiting to happen. There was also a strong sense of community and support of the contributors appreciating each other's work that I just loved to see. I really wanted to be able to participate in that community and perhaps bring a small bit of inspiration to other members that reflected the fascination I had flipping through the pages of all the registered engines.
TOC: And now you're a part of that community. And it sounds as if you, too, are ready to tell a story of your own. What do you hope to most get out of being a Titan owner and weaving such stories?
Jonathan: For myself I see the Titan as more of a narrative device than an army component. The amount of satisfaction I took with working on it has inspired me to start a completely new army of Dark Mechanicus Skitarii to maintain and worship the engine. I'm about 22 models into that force, each sharing the arctic theme on their cloaks and walkers. I see them as inhabitants of a frozen heretical forge world, working to unearth the great machines of days after the Heresy from the ice.
This gives me a strong sense of the army's personality as they hit the table, and when the opportunity comes to play a large game and field a Titan, it will feel like an evolution of their progress to reclaim the treasures of their world.
Also, there is just a strong element I've noticed among members of my local 40K community of just being excited to see one of these models on the table; it's a very special experience.
A very beautiful and unique color scheme. It certainly feels like his vision has come across.
TOC: So it's by no means a status symbol for you. Story is a big aspect of the hobby for you from the sounds of it.
Jonathan: Yeah, I love the setting so much and I've always wanted to theme my armies around narrative elements. I won't lie though, in the past I have been pretty fascinated with players that have owned Titans, and have seen their models as symbols of something just absolutely grand.
TOC: They do have a way of defining a part of 40k we read about often. How much do the existing stories influence what you do with your Titan? And what have you read so far?
Jonathan: The two biggest works I have read besides the Imperial Armour books are Abnett's Titanicus and McNeil 's Storm of Iron. I really loved the descriptions of the corrupted Dies Ares in Storm of Iron and the descriptions of the Loyalist legions feeling honor bound to bring it down. Titanicus had great descriptions of some of the Dark Skitarii and a great focus on how much the Engines meant to the Imperial citizens, as well as just how terrifying and destructive the Traitor engines really were. They gave me an idea of more than anything of what kind of forces to surround my own machines with and how they should be viewed by those who marched beneath them.
TOC: Does this mean we'll be seeing a lot of conversions in your force? And what else can we expect supporting your corrupt engine?
Jonathan: So far I'm working with just the standard models for the ground forces, but I've been looking around for conversion opportunities. I'm kind of fascinated with a cleaner look for my Skitarii so far. It seems to work really well with the paint scheme but inspiration can hit hard at any time.
I have recently purchased a Chaos Warhound that I will start after the base units for my Skitarii are playable. I also have another Renegade Knight to add, and I plan to add a second Warhound next year. And I can't forget my force of World Eaters and their Daemon engines and the previous grand model of my collection, my Brass Scorpion.
TOC: So it will definitely be a very cohesive setup and follow the lineup of a Venatarii Titan Maniple, but of course Chaos-based. Are there plans to add a Warlord to all of that at some point, especially if they make a Chaos Warlord?
Jonathan: It's definitely something I would love to have. The Warlords on TOC are all works of beauty and it's the ultimate project in the hobby right now. If they do indeed make a Chaos Warlord, it might just be time to start saving up.
TOC: What else going on with the Titans has your eye? There is the upcoming Titan Legions video game, the rumored (at the time of the interview) return of Adeptus Titanicus, the Secutarii coming out, and of course Forge World continues to put out supplements that let us do more with our God-Engines.
Jonathan: I'm most excited about seeing the Secutarii and whatever other resources Imperial Armour 14 will provide. The return of Adeptus Titanicus would also be pretty fantastic as I missed it the first time around and the potential of what can be achieved with the model designs has come so far.
Soon, others shall aid in defending this Reaver.
TOC: It definitely seems like it is a good time to be a Titan owner, or even just a lover of the machines.
Jonathan: Definitely; this is the most excited I've been about the hobby in a long time and I've been so inspired to get more involved in the communities and strive to improve my modeling skills.
TOC: Any words of advice for your fellow Titan owners as you go through the process of building and painting a Reaver?
Jonathan: I think the most important thing I learned was to really look at where all the armour plates and pistons attach before you start the pinning process. Pinning became way easier and efficient for me when I realized I could just go through the joints and cover them with armour instead of having to line up the holes on opposite parts to get the pin to go down their length.
TOC: And final, though always fun, question. Any shout-outs, dire threats, machine curses you wish to throw out there to the TOC?
Jonathan: Thanks to you and Drake for making this community possible. It has been a true inspiration and helped me focus through the hardest time of my life. To all the owners of Loyalist engines, your machines are all beautiful and unique and I have looked at them all with great admiration. Make no mistake though, Legio Glacius is rising and the galaxy will be encompassed in a new Ice Age.
TOC: It's so on now. The Legio Kurogane will be there to face you. Thank you for your time today and for giving us a glimpse into the mind behind the beautiful and unique engine of yours.
Jonathan: Thank you so much, it's been an honor.