Necron Scarab swarms have always fallen short of impressing me. They just don't look like a proper swarm with only three or four models on a 40mm base. I decided to fix that and make my own swarm... one that looked the way a swarm should look.
Image from Forge World
I took my inspiration from Forge World's Tyranid Ripper Swarm. Now that's how it should look. That model looks like you are about a half second from being completely overrun and crushed to death under a wave of tiny creatures. That's the effect I wanted.
Building the swarm
The first thing I needed was more Scarabs. I had a bunch of them from an old box of Necron Warriors I picked up years ago, but I couldn't use them all to build one base. And a unit of these things has 3 to 10 bases. By my math (wanting to put at least 10 on one base), that's anywhere between 30 to 100 scarabs. And that's a lot of money. Enter casting.
I decided I would try to cast up a single Scarab and at least get it close enough that I could use it to build a wall of them on the bases. It wouldn't have to be perfect since I'd add three or four good ones on top of the pile that had all the details on them. I just needed filler for the bottom of the pile.
I kept my greenstuff heavy on the blue (about 60/40) so I'd have some stability to the model overall and I could speed up the process of casting. I used the Blu-Stuff I'd used the other week with casting my shoulderpads.
I let each one sit in the mold for two hours before popping it out and making a new one. That was just long enough for the greenstuff to set so that I didn't damage the scarab when I popped it out. I could have given any Tomb Spider a run for its money. But you can figure out how long it takes to make a single base then. That was a reality check for me.
It's a good bit of work to do all this, but if you're committed to using these guys in your Necron army and you want a certain "feel" to your models, it's probably worth the time if for nothing else than the look on your opponent's face when you set them down on the table.
Assembling the swarm
Once I had a handful of Scarabs, I set about creating my wave of destruction. I started with a wide base of them and built it up so that I had only three or so on the very top of the wave (the good models). Between each layer, I added little blobs of greenstuff so that I could give the individual scarabs the look of crawling or scampering along the ground and each other.
This helped me give the wave some height and allowed me to position them at slightly different angles. In some places, I cut them in half (front and back) and used the two separate pieces to fill in on the underside as needed. It helps bulk out the bottom of the base where I didn't need a whole scarab, but just the front end or back end of one sticking out.
And here's the completed assembly. You can see the few good ones are resting on top of all the cast ones. In total, there are 13 scarabs on the base. Ten casts and three actual models.
Here's the painted model again. I gave it a quick prime of black, a basecoat of GW Boltgun Metal followed by a wash of Badab Black and Devlan Mud. I drybrushed some metallic weathering powder across them real quick and then hit the more prominent edges with a pencil.
In terms of scale, I like their height. Not too tall, but tall enough to appear as though they could cause some real problems as they swept over things.
If I were to do it again, I'd definitely look at how I mold them so I wouldn't have to deal with a mold line running down their backs. That's just inexperience on my part. I think I'd add a few more to the base as well so it seemed more like a carpet of them. Even then, this is still a big step towards creating that scurrying wall of metallic bugs look.
I can't help but to make scuttling noises every time I pick these guys up.
UPDATE: My second Necron scarab swarm base is now posted.
Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
Another way to paint metallic silver
Guest Post: Airbrushing Necrons