The only real option for the Empire seems to be a griffon unless you want to field Karl Franz on a dragon. While there are several metal versions available, I really wanted to use the new plastic model designed for the High Elf army in the Island of Blood box. A brief search on e-bay netted me the bits without the need to buy the whole set. The package arrived last week and I set out for what I thought would be a simple rider swap...
Ok, maybe not so simple. As a kit designed for beginners, Games Workshop designed the bits to go together with a minimum amount of fuss which means a minimum amount of pieces and limited options for someone looking for a quick conversion. Most of the rider is molded as part of the mount. Fortunately I am not afriad of taking clippers to a model and in short order, I had my griffon ready for my character.
There is a small area on the monster's side where the former rider's leg was, but most of this will be covered by the new rider. My new rider is based on the plastic Empire General kit, however, remember the bit about this not being as easy as I anticipated? All of the Empire cavalry models I own have relatively straight legs, but the way the rider of the griffon sat his mount requires bent legs. To get my Empire general to fit properly, I needed go at it with the clippers again. It was tricky to remove the calves and leave the decorative armor on the knees intact, but by carefully cutting behind the knee first I was able to keep the armor intact.
After a test fit with the torso, I discovered I need to twist the torso slightly to the left to make sure my rider's arm meets up with the only element I left of the original rider: the fist on the reins. I used a modeling saw to separate the hips from the upper torso.
After reassembling all of the dismembered bits of the rider, all I needed was a small amount of greenstuff to fill in the gaps for the thighs and the wrist. I used small extra bits of equipment to cover the remaining rough areas on the griffon. The head came from the Empire Knights command sprue - I wanted the rider to look as though he were bellowing a challenge rather than stoically riding into battle like the heads from the general kit.
The final decision was which weapon to arm my character and I decided on a greatsword. If I decided not to kit out the model with a magic weapon, the greatsword will give the general a formidable Strength 6 - even though he has to strike last, the griffon gets four attacks plus the Great Stomp attack that will go off on initiative. If I decide to arm the man with an enchanted weapon, swords are by far the most numerous on the Empire list and will give me the most options.
In any case, here is the finished model...
I am looking forward to painting this mini - with everything else going on, it may take a few weeks, but I'll find time to fit this in.