Citadel’s Space Marine Stormhawk Interceptor: The Rule Of Cool

I’d just graduated high school earlier that day. My parents had taken me and the entire family out to a very fancy restaurant. (Meaning they had tablecloths AND multiple utensils already set in place.) We enjoyed our dinner, and I was so happy to be finished with high school. Now free to further pursue my burgeoning career flipping burgers, which would eventually lead to rock stardom, I thought “it can’t get any better than this.”

Once dinner was over, my dad made a nice speech about me, and then he surprised me. He asked everyone to step outside for a moment for a last surprise. A surprise in the parking lot.

At this point, my heart began to pound.

Something in the parking lot meant something needing a parking lot. And generally the only thing needing a parking lot is something that must be parked. And we all know what must be parked.


I don’t know how it was in the rest of the world, but in the mid-80s, a young male was defined by two things. How cool your hair looked, and what car you drove.

I had the hair. It was your standard, 1980s rocker mullet. Sort of a cross between Dirty Harry and Huey Lewis. So I had that going for me. (Which was nice…)

But the car… {sigh}

My first car was a blue 1973 Chevy Impala station wagon. That car, though very fast and built like a tank, was as far from cool as you could possibly find. While it was good for transporting up to 11 of my closest friends to the beach (at $5 a person…), it was not one that turned heads in a good way.

The second was a little better… a 1978 Caprice Classic two door. It had a big engine, and the two doors sort of kind of maybe helped disguise the fact that it was just a sedan. And it did have air conditioning, which the Impala did not. Very important on those trips to the beach with the now adjusted figure of 5 of my closest friends. (Still $5 a person… I am not a businessman, obviously.)

But I wanted something more. Something that looked cool. Because cool was what mattered.

As we walked into the parking lot, I failed to notice that half the restaurant had followed us out. Apparently my dad had let it be known far and wide what was about to happen. With no small drama, he pulled a set of keys out of his pocket, handed them to me, and gesturing towards a car, said “Congratulations son. I am so very proud of you.”

My heart sank.

It was a sedan.

Not cool.

The Little Blue Tumblebug

Citadel’s Stormhawk Interceptor, from an aerodynamic standpoint, is laughably improbable. Dimensionally it is essentially a square box, being about as tall and wide as it is long. I can’t imagine physics in any universe would let this thing fly. It’s a marvel of aerodynamic inefficiency. Still…

To my eye, it looks cool. And though I’m in my 50s now, and my once cool mullet is now a laughable memory, I still think the rule of cool applies when it comes to models. It is cool because it looks cool. And cool means fun, I think.

I’d done the actual construction of this model during Hurricane Frances, as it passed over my home. Once the power was restored, I primed it.

I decided to stick with Citadel paints to give it the distinct  blue color of the Ultramarines, a faction from the 40K tabletop games. Though I don’t play the game, I’ve gathered that the Ultramarines are a faction that people either love, or love to hate. They’re like the grim, dark version of the Dallas Cowboys.

The trouble with Citadel paints is they can be quite the pig when it comes to airbrushing. They are very pigment dense, so a great deal of thinning is needed in order to get them through an airbrush. I’ve found that by mixing them in a separate cup with some Vallejo airbrush thinner, they can be thinned enough to get them on. It takes quite a few misted coats, clogged nozzles, and perhaps a one or two paratrooper words. But once on, they dry quite smooth and durable. And I’ve yet to find a good replacement that matches it.

The box art showed various yellow adornments on the airframe, and while they looked nice, it just didn’t seem to fit. The splash of color was nice… but it just didn’t look, well… cool.

What I did think looked cool was some white stripes. I’d applied a few to the Citadel Valkyrie that I’d recently finished, and felt they really made that model pop. 

I masked off the wing tips and tips of the tailplanes, and using Vallejo Mecha Color Offwhite, gave a good coat to those areas. Various silver bits were then picked out using Citadel’s Leadbelcher, which in my opinion, is the best grimy metal color you can use.

For the next step, I was not sure what to do. Part of me wanted to hit it with my standard “distressed” look, using a lighter color to randomly fade the model. Another part of me wanted to go for more of a modulated, highlighted approach. (A third part of me wanted a cheeseburger, and could have cared less about the paint. It’s complicated in my brain…)

A compromise was reached. I’d try to combine the two painting methods, striving for a somewhat distressed, faded look, while focusing more in the areas that would have been traditionally modulated. I used Tamiya’s XF-23 mixed with a bit of white, and heavily thinned with Mr. Color Leveling Thinner.

As with most compromises, neither side was happy. (Although everyone was happy with the cheeseburger.) It’s not bad, really, but still not quite what I’d hoped to achieve. All is not lost though, as I can go back at later stages of the build and boost the modulation a bit. A gloss coat was then applied, using Future floor polish. 

Decal application was simple and without drama. Citadel’s decals are very good. Not Cartograph good, but certainly very workable. They are a bit generic, as I think I have gotten the same set in each Space Marine model I’ve built. Location for application is left up to the modeler’s discretion. I applied the Ultramarine’s symbol to the cockpit covering, and to the outer gun armor. (As it is a white horseshoe, I suppose the Ultramarines are Indianapolis Colts fans or something, though I am not fully up to speed on 40K lore.) A few Roman numerals were chosen to designate the aircraft number. I chose VIII because I didn’t have enough IXs. And I’d wanted IX because that’s my favorite Mark of Spitfire. But I do like the VIII… I digress… sorry.

Looking the little Tumblebug over, I thought perhaps a bit more color still might help. I began to look for a place to apply some of the yellow I’d initially eschewed (word points!). I saw that the decal sheet had a few markings of the Roman numeral II inside a yellow circle. These were listed as “Company markings”. I suppose it is the logo for the corporation that sponsors the Ultramarines. (You know, like NASCAR.) Applying those decals, I now had the bit of color I wanted.

For all decals, I used Solvaset to make sure they settled down nice and snug. If you use that product on your decals, be aware they may initially wrinkle up. That’s normal – avoid the temptation to try to straighten them. They will eventually settle out.

With markings on, I once again applied a good coat of Future, to seal it all in. This was followed by a panel line wash (shade) of Nuln Oil Gloss. Applying gloss on gloss works well, as the shade will be mostly free of tidemarks, yet with the super fast drying time acrylics bring.

The next steps of course will be the weathering. I normally go into a build with some sense of where I’m going in terms of finish, but for this one, I’m still up in the air. With its loads of edges and facets, the surface just begs for weathering. Still, those sporty stripes would also look nice on a fairly clean, racing like appearance. We’ll see where it goes.

Great… Now About The Car

I tried to appear happy. It was a nice sedan. Newer, cleaner, shinier. And it could have been worse… many kids I knew were getting watches. (Or nothing…) I’d take a car over a watch any day.

As I walked towards the car, my dad called out to me….

“Not that one, son. The one next to it.”

I dang near fainted.

My knees literally began to shake, and my head swam about quite furiously. Vision became blurred, breathing became labored.

I stood and stared. Dimly, I heard people behind me laughing, cheering, and clapping. But my eyes had focused down to that tunnel vision where nothing else was seen.

A white 1982 Pontiac Firebird stood before me. Black racing stripes swept the length of the lower body.

As my brain slowly ingested this information, my sense started to return to normal. I let out a yell without restraint, whooping into the warm Southern night sky. I jumped around. I shouted. I hugged my dad. I hugged my mom. I hugged everyone in sight. The good looking girl I’d been eyeballing at a nearby table may have gotten two hugs. (She was happy for me and hugged right back!)

Then I got in my new Firebird. Its soft, cloth interior wrapped around me. The seat was set far back, and leaned way back, as was my habit. I started it up, thrilled to hear the engine roar to life. My favorite box of cassette tapes had been thoughtfully placed in the center console. After all the well wishers and gawkers had stepped back, my dad stood there. “I hope you enjoy this son.”

Sometimes cool appears in unlikely places. While it may be a haircut, or a shirt, or even a sporty new car, the coolest things often comes from directions you least expect it.

Like when your dad, a solid, somewhat serious businessman, buys his 18-year-old son a really cool car, because he remembers what it’s like to be that age, and to want to be cool, and to want a cool car.

That is cool, my fiends. That is cool.

To be honest, the conclusion I was headed towards is not the one I just wrote. I’m suddenly overwhelmed with thoughts of my dad. I miss him. He passed away a few years ago. And while he worked hard every day of his life, right to the end, he was loving enough to indulge an immature son in a quest for cool.

And I’m quite sure, if I showed him this little blue Tumblebug, he’d smile, look at it curiously, and say “that’s cool son. You did a good job on it. I’m proud of you.”

Build models because they’re cool, my friends. It’s far more satisfying.



2 responses to “Citadel’s Space Marine Stormhawk Interceptor: The Rule Of Cool”

  1. Very cool flying brick! I think I still have the 40K codexes (codecii?) for the Ultrasmurfs and associated marines. If I still do, would you like to have them for reference material? They may be out of date/edition, but they are always good for reference. Free of charge, don’t need or want anything in return for them.


    1. Thank you for the kind comments, and thank you so much more for the kind offer! Yes, I’d be immensely grateful for that. I’ll contact you at the email address you used.

      Again- thank you!


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