TOC: Italy's first Titan and an Astorum engine at that. Yet it's the unique style you have that really drew our eye to you. What inspired you to go outside of the box for your Warlord and choose such a unique style of painting and colors?
Paolo: First of all, thank you for the opportunity to speak to Titan Owners Club. I really appreciate it. Your community is an amazing source of ideas and wonderful stories of Titans. The color scheme was chosen after a search. I started searching for a legion that doesn't have red and Black colors due to the fact I painted a lot of models with those colors. At the beginning I thought to go for Legio Gryphonicus but then I saw a Titan painted with the heraldry of the Legio Astorum and it was a blast. I really loved the contrast between blue and yellow and I really wanted to try paint those colors.
TOC: Astorum's blue, yellow, and gold certainly fit that bill. Your Titan has occasionally been described as being comic book or cartoon-like. What influenced that decision?
Paolo: Well, I wanted something that really popped on the tabletop and that was really different from the usually dark color scheme I saw around. Furthermore, during my first try I found it really comfortable to paint those colors. The gold trims were really good compared to the blue, and at the same time, they didn't look bad against yellow. To make the gold different from the yellow I decided to add a lot of dark areas, taking every part of the gold piece that resembled darker to me, and I tried to emphasize the darker areas by highlighting the parts where I thought they could be lighter.
TOC: Was the decision to go with Astorum strictly color-based, or did fluff also play a factor?
Paolo: To be honest, I went with it for the color scheme. I barely looked at the fluff. What made my decision, apart from the color scheme, was the fact the Legio has very unique decals that are really far from the more classic decals of the other legions such as Mortis. The constellations were really cool and I never saw anything like that on an Imperial engine.
TOC: They definitely have a unique look and way of war. Is Avatar Belli your first engine, or are there others?
Paolo: Avatar Belli is my first Forge World Titan ever. Before I painted a Lord of Skulls and a Traitor Imperial Knight that have the "Titanic" Keyword.
TOC: Why did you start with the Warlord? Most Titan owners start with the Warhound, and some with a Reaver.
Paolo: When I went to Warhammer World for my Bachelor Party, I literally felt in love with it. It was my first time in WW and everything was so wonderful, but the Warlord Titan model was something more. Huge, really detailed in every part, the ultimate challenge... I wasn't able to resist. It was only a matter of heart and guts. Actually I was really scared to start with it, especially because I never worked with resin model from Forge World before.
TOC: Those are some amazing friends. Will there eventually be other Titans to follow?
Paolo: Actually, I have another warlord. I'm taking a long pause between Avatar Belli and the other, probably years; you can easily understand why. I've built and assembled Avatar Belli for one year and painted it and it isn't even really finished because I still have to apply decals. I'm not ready to start another one-year, one-model project so close.
TOC: What's been your favorite part of the journey so far?
Paolo: The painting is the part I've most loved. Building the Titan was really hard for me; I never worked with such big parts or models before, and I struggled to get things done well. I feared making the wrong decision many times, and many times I made mistakes that required a lot of time to get rid of.
Painting the plates is the best part of all. It required a lot of time to mask them, but when I finished the gold trim and removed the masking, the reward of seeing the finished plate was really huge.
TOC: What do you ultimately wish to get out of Titan ownership?
Paolo: I'm really proud to be the owner of a Warlord Titan. It is an amazing thing. There is no bigger model you can own, no greater painting challenge in terms of hours and surface to paint. A Titan is at the same time clay and canvas. You have to shape it like a statue and to paint it like a painting. I think it is the Titan that takes the most out of the owner in terms of effort and dedication. Everyone who has seen it has been really impressed, even if they don't know what Warhammer is. The Titan is an impressive art piece that the owner makes unique. What I want from it is just for people to recognize the effort and dedication I put in it.
TOC: This Titan is clearly very special to you both from how you got it and the effort. What's next for you? You mentioned the decals and we also know the leg issue will force a base for the Warlord.
Paolo: Yes, my next step will be the base. I designed an oval of the right size and had it cut for me. Now I'm thinking about what pieces to put on the base. I will definitely have to "mask" the wedge I have to put under the right leg, but also I want to put something between the two feet of the Titan. Most probably I'll go for a ruined Aquila icon (GW plastic piece). Then I'll go for the decals. I still have to check which ones to put on. I’ll definitely put the number of the certificate somewhere, but also I want to put some constellations here and there where they fit.
TOC: That will be fitting. What forces do you have and what drew you in to Titan ownership?
Paolo: I've been a World Eaters player for decades. I have a lot of models such as daemons, greater daemons, Skarbrand, Lord of skulls, and so on, with of course Berserkers and the like for Heretic Space Marines. I chose the Titan to have something very different from what I usually do. I also wanted to have a non- Chaos model that was important and that has a weight for the forces of the Imperium.
TOC: One thing is that Avatar Belli is magnetized. What options do you eventually plan to have ready for its armament?
Paolo: I already have another volcano cannon. In my first battle with it I saw how powerful it is. Furthermore, from the model point of view, it makes its silhouette more balanced. I'll go for it once the rest is finished. I'm also planning to take a plasma annihilator as it will be really cool , both in terms of game statistics and how good-looking is it on the model itself.
TOC: Do you have any advice for other Titan owners on the various aspects?
Paolo: I think my greatest challenge was to keep focus on the Titan. In my case the entire work required one year in which I did nothing else in the Warhammer hobby. Sometimes it was really frustrating because I was really excited to start a Blood Angels Primaris army but I had to finish Avatar Belli before starting a new force.
What I suggest is to keep focus only on the Titan until it is finished. It is a huge reward once done, and you won't regret the choice. Those wonderful machines deserve all the attention you can give if you want to have a very good final result. Regarding the process of building and painting, I suggest you keep an overall image in mind but proceed step by step. I think my build sequence was good. I saw a lot of owners build all of the "skeleton" of the Titan and then paint it, and then go for the plates. This is what I intended to do, but when I finished the legs, I saw so many details that I wanted to focus on before moving out. Furthermore, if you try to do the entire model all together it will be really frustrating, since you will never see the end of the road. That could lead you to make some quick decisions that you could regret or to pass over some details or cool feature because you want to finish the model quickly.
I was really happy with my step by step sequence because as I finished a piece of the Titan that would encourage me to go on and to finish it. Building the legs was probably the worst part of the model, but when I finished it, it was really rewarding. I also had the chance to see how the colours fit together and if the pattern was good before moving to the upper part of the Titan. So I definitively suggest this approach to the building and painting of the model: step by step, stay focused, finish the whole parts you are working on.TOC: What can we expect to see after the completion of your Titan? Great battles, entry into painting competitions?
Paolo: I want to deploy the god-machine on the battlefield once more. Once I have decals on and a good base ready, I'll go for paint competitions.
TOC: How does it feel to field them on the table? Do you find it to be like in the 40k/Horus Heresy novels?
Paolo: It is a strange feeling. I’ve never felt it before. In game terms, you have 4,000 points (in 8th edition) all in one model. You have at your disposal an arsenal of amazing weapons, and you feel like you can obliterate entire units with one shooting phase (actually you can with the right targets, for example Stompas.)
But what really impressed me was the fear and discouragement in the eyes of the opponents. It was really fun for me to obliterate a Stompa in the first round of game using only the volcano cannon and then unleash all the other weapons on the infantries around the table.
But after all I must admit that it is not at the level of the stories that are told on the books. The game mechanics are always different from fluff, so you have to deal with it when you field a Titan. You must be proud of it, you will love it the moment you use it, but you must endure the hits of the enemy weapons like you are the actual Princeps in the Titan head, and so you must be prepared to have it "removed from play." I think it is the hardest part when you play with a Titan is that the dice don't respect the amount of time and dedication you put on the model to make it what it is. I was also so scared that it could fall that I was nervous for the whole battle.
TOC: It sounds like you're on your way to a great future with your Titan. Final, always fun question. Any challenges, shoutouts, or special words?
Paolo: I don't have a special word or shoutout for the Titan yet, I just can report one of the Imperial mottos I love most: "Life is the Emperor's currency, spend it well!"
TOC: Thank you for your time. It was a pleasure to interview you.
Paolo: It was an honor for me. I hope you find something good in my words.