Friday, October 10, 2014

Kits for Bits: What to Buy Purely for Conversion Fodder

I've been asked time and time again how my bits collection got so large, and why I keep half of it anyway if I don't play army "X" in the first place. The truth of the matter is that I collect bits for conversion fodder. The latest articles highlighting the Inquisitor conversion is a perfect example of what an extensive bits collection can help you do.

But what if you're just starting out in the hobby? What if you want to kick off a bits collection of your own from scratch?

Edit:  There has been an overwhelming response to this, and folks are adding to my starter lists every day now!  Keep em coming, and keep coming back to check out the additions!

Before I get into what kits to specifically buy to kick off a bits collection, I wanted to start with a general overview of how my collection got so large in the first place. You see, originally if I didn't think I needed the last few bits on a sprue, I'd toss it into my trash bin and not think twice. I was done, so what did I need it for anyway?

DON'T DO THAT! I regret losing so many bits from 10 years ago.

Of course now my first general rule of thumb is to never throw any bits away. Heck, I'd go even one more step further and tell your friends to not throw any bits away. If they do, at least throw them in your direction! After that, I've bought bits collections from eBay and at local gaming store auctions. That's another way that I get random bits to catalog and store away for future use. The final way I get my bits is to specifically buy kits to clip out and use them purely for bits in future conversions.

So which ones would I suggest buying to kick off your collection? Keep in mind, this is focused on Games Workshop bits, infantry mainly, and in no particular order of importance.

Space Marine Tactical Squad
Space Marine Assault Squad
Space Marine Commander
Death Company
Sanguinary Guard
Furioso Dreadnought
Grey Hunters
Grey Knight Strike Squad
Grey Knight Terminators
Cadian Command Squad
Catachan Command Squad
A.M. Sentinel
A.M. Heavy Weapons Squad
Necron Triarch/Praetorian box
Chaos Warriors
Marauder Cavalry
Empire Foot Soldiers
Empire General
Empire Wizard

YOUR SUGGESTIONS!  Because I just can't leave em out!
Mantic Zombies and Ghouls
Tempestus Scions
Wargames Factory Shock Troops
Dark Eldar Wytches
Dark Elf Corsairs
Dark Elf Sorceress
Dark Elf Witch Elves
Dark Eldar Wracks and Talos
New Marine Vanguard/Vet kit
Chaos Cultists

Whew! There. That should give you one heck of a starting point for a solid bits collection. Yes, I realize that there is very little, if any, Xenos in the 40K section or non-humans in the Fantasy section. Why? Because those races are so highly specific, it's difficult to buy a box and really get your money's worth out of it in bits.

That's not to say that I haven't gotten ahold of some Dark Eldar Scourges just for their wings, or another like example, but that's just it. All I bought that box for was those few bits, and then I don't really see much use outside of maybe some conversion bits for an Eldar Corsair army. But again, it's limited to it's own race in a way. The same can be said for Tau, Dwarves, Elves, Tyranids, etc. The only reason I won't lump Necrons in there as well is because of many of their bits in use for Mechanicus, bionics, Tau and other conversions.

Now I also wouldn't recommend you just go out and buy everything in the list either. That's between 700 and 800 dollars worth of merchandise! However, I would condone the occasional random purchase is the wallet allows, and it makes sense for conversions you have in mind. Use what you want, then clip and store the rest for the future!

Is this an exhaustive list? Of course not, though it is one that I'd be hard pressed to take anything away from. What would you add to it?

- Tim


  1. I'd offer that a person also look at non-GW kits too. Mantic's Zombie and Ghoul kits are hands down so much better than GW's cartoony effort, for example.

  2. I think that you're missing the Flagellant kit and the Tempestus Scions. I would place them a lot higher than a lot of the others in the list.

  3. Wargames Factory shock troops yield some interesting weapons for IG. Plus Cthulu heads for Dr. Zoidberg conversions :).

  4. I'd say dark eldar wyches could be used for Inquisitorial warbands conversions, death cult etc

  5. Holy crap! Great additions!!! I'm just going to all these to the list in the article, with provisions for them being your suggestions of course. Keep em coming!

  6. A few more for the pot:

    - Dark Elf Corsairs are great for swords, cloaks, cool heads, etc.

    - Dark Elf Sorceress is a decent female sculpt, and I've seen her converted (often not that much either) into many armies of all shapes and sizes and alliances.

    - Dark Elf Witch Elves are one of the few successful female GW kits. Expensive, but if you need to bits-order a few from a box, these are an amazing start. Suitable for anything from an Escher Necromunda gang, to an Imperial Callidus Assassin or death cultist, to more appealing Deamonettes.

    - Dark Eldar Wracks/Talos are a great source of blades, surgical implements, vials, etc. Surprisingly versatile!

    - Kroot Carnivores. The Kroot themselves are useful for all sorts of mutants, even if the heads are a bit distinctive. The weapons, blades, armour, grenades, and other accessories are very very versatile for more savage or primitive models. For example, Kroot rifles make great Skaven Jezzails, or if cut down they make great laslock rifles for more primitive Imperial troops, etc.

    - Space Marine Veterans/Vanguard. Much more useful than the dated Commander kit! Far too much useful to list here in them, but they also come with fairly decent heads.

    - Chaos Cultists... Between their low cost, variety of appearances, and suitable small calibre arms, these are amazing for human 40k armies.

    There you go! A few of the more versatile kits I've seen/used, and all of very good quality. As in, they don't have the same issues as the old Catachan or Chaos Marauder plastics (which are really horrible).

  7. Good article, Tim! I'll echo Gilbear - the new SM Veterans kit is chock full of great conversion bits, I've picked up a couple boxes for use to snazz up some of my Heresy forces.

    The Dark Eldar Talos is a great source of Ad-Mech greebles as well!

  8. Some of your friends will always be that guy who throws out bits. Tell him you want them. My buddy brought me all his extras for years with the agreement that I'd help him with any conversion work he needed done. It helped me ramp up my bits box for sure.

    1. Really great point! Having a pile o bits to swap is always a hobbyist dream. Bitz are the currency in our world. Just like bottlecaps in fallout :)