Citadel’s Adeptus Mechanicus Onager Dunecrawler

As any elementary school kid would, I always looked forward to summer. Riding my bike with my buddies, swimming in a friend’s pool, climbing trees, and making forts in the woods were all part and parcel of the days away from school. As time drew near for its start, the days just seemed to get longer and longer. 

By the time the actual last day of school arrived, most kids were fit to be tied. The thought that the bus ride home would mean no more bus rides for almost three months was simply amazing. As Alice Cooper sang: “No more pencils, No more books,  No more teacher’s dirty looks…”

Yeah baby – school’s out for the summer!

Summer camp

Most kids I knew seemed to like going to summer camp. They’d talk excitedly for weeks about all the fun they’d have. Before I went, it sounded like the greatest place in the world.  Living in a cabin in the woods, swimming in a pool, boating, leatherwork, camping out…

I begged and begged and pleaded and pleaded, and finally my parents relented. I was off to summer camp. Right along Georgia’s coast, near a town called Brunswick. Riding the bus over there, I was as excited as I think I’d ever been.

Oh how naive I was.

The cabins were hot and muggy, and the counselors turned out to  be surly teens who seemed to delight in torturing kids. The pool was a veritable mosh pit, with dozens of kids flailing around while trying to find some open space to swim. They told us the pool was treated with a special chemical that turned blue if you pee’d in it. Turns out they lied about that. I tested the theory. Several times. 🙂

Before too many days were out, I’d learned my lesson. Never ask to go to summer camp again. When the week was over, I was more than ready to get on the bus and head home. Note to self… never bring up camp again.

Dad Didn’t Get The Memo

Of course, arriving home, I was full of fabrications, half-truths, and outright lies when it came to my parent’s questions. I knew it had been difficult for them to afford to send me. So I told of how great it was, and all the friends I made, and how everything was roses and blue skies and unicorns passing rainbows.

They seemed pleased. I was pleased they were pleased. And I got on with the rest of my summer, glad to put it all behind me. The summer slipped away, and back to school I went.

As the next summer approached, I was looking forward to my usual fun. The last ride home from school was great… no more school. Walking home from the bus stop, I jabbered excitedly with my friends about our plans. Getting to my house, I ran inside. My mom was waiting with a big smile.

“Guess what?” Oh, boy… a surprise. I loved surprises! “We’ve been setting money aside all year. You seemed to enjoy summer camp so much last year, we’re sending you back.” My heart sank. “This time it’s for the two-week long camp!” I wanted to vomit.

Of course, mom was so happy… I feigned surprise and excitement, and once that duty was fulfilled I went to my room and hid under my bed, with some faint hope that perhaps it would collapse on me, or a meteor would take me out.

Crab Fishing

My arrival at camp that second year was much as I’d imagine getting to prison must be like. I’m just here to do my time and go home. Stay cool, don’t mess with anyone, get it over. 

And nothing had changed. Same surly counselors. The oppressive, muggy weather never left. The urine filled pool was still a cauldron of flailing arms and legs.

One day we went crab fishing. For the first time, we were doing something that seemed mildly interesting. Each of us was given a little cage with some chicken parts in it. We walked to the bridge that led into camp, and each of us lowered our cages down into the water. After a few minutes, we were told to raise them up. A few boys had multiple crabs, others had none. I had caught one.

I reeled him in and examined him. His claws looked a bit dangerous, so I avoided them. But he didn’t seem too perturbed, as he sat calmly munching his chicken meal. I kind of liked him. Deciding he needed a name, I dubbed him “Crab”. (I wasn’t a clever child when it came to names. As my son, Boy, and my daughter, Girl, can attest to. 😉 )

The counselor leading the expedition walked by. “Oh, you caught a nice one. That will cook up really nice.”

I looked at Crab. He looked at me. While I’m sure we could have enjoyed a meal together, chatting about the weather and the latest shenanigans in Washington DC, I think it’s safe to say both of us wanted to walk away from it.

Building The Dunecrawler

As I’ve built more Warhammer 40K kits, I’ve started looking outside of the “human” based options a bit. While I’m no fan of the weird, hanging out guts and creepy slimy factions, there are others that are quite interesting. The Tau Devilfish was certainly a fun build. So upon seeing this Adeptus Mechanicus Dunecrawler, it ort of grabbed me.

For one, it’s spindly, crab-like legs seemed a bit comical to me. And while I don’t know what an Adeptus Mechanicus is, I assume they are adept at mechanical stuff – so their vehicles should be cool. Examining the parts showed typical Citadel goodness – loads of angles and greeblies and bumps to weather and chip.

If you build the kit, pay attention to the leg assembly. The instructions show that they should not be glued in. At first I was a bit puzzled by this, because there did not seem to be a way for them to be held in place. Only in a later step did I discover a small piece that holds them in, preventing unsightly loss of leg.

And while they have some movement, I discovered that they were a bit floppy.  As I tried to move the model around during construction, they’d skitter here and there, which became quite annoying. Eventually the glue came out and put an end to that nonsense. Those legs aren’t going anywhere.

Decisions, Decisions

The upper section looks a bit like the turret on a Scout Sentinel, only larger. What I suppose is the driver’s area is not visible. The option is there to have the main turret hatch open or closed. If open, a figure is provided, holding a big honkin’ machine gun. As the figure is wearing mask, I decided to use him. No face painting is a bonus.

As with most 40K models, there are several weapon options. I opted to use a twin gun arrangement. I have no idea how useful they are in the game, but working on the theory that I always preferred two barrels to one in my time in service, I went with that.

Several other options can be chosen for the antenna on the top. I went with the radar dish/headlight/some thingy bit, mainly because it appeared to be the easiest to mount and paint.

To facilitate painting, I did not glue all the parts together, leaving things in smaller subassemblies. I even figured out a way to mount the figure’s arms to the gun, which allows for easier placement later. Pop the figure into the turret, add the gun to the turret ring, and the shoulders just line up. I also left the armor off of the legs, to allow better access during finishing.

With all in place, everything received a coat of Badger Stynylrez Gray primer.


While I certainly had no problem eating meat, I’d grown a bit fond of Crab. He was pretty chilled out, sitting there finishing up his chicken, wondering where we’d go next in the Adventures of Jon and Crab. The thought of actually eating him was making me a little sick. Plus, I’d never had crab. I pictured just biting into its shell, crunching away on it. That’s the way they’d done it on the Three Stooges, so I wanted no part of that.

As the crab fishing counselor smiled a bit too wide-eyed at Crab, I asked an obvious question. “What happens if we don’t like crab?” He smiled… “Don’t worry kid. We have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches standing by.”

I weighed my options. Kill my new-found friend, and crunch on his boiled, dead body… or eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? While I’d never eaten crab, I had eaten more than my share of PB & J sammiches. There really wasn’t a decision to make.

By now, Crab had finished his chicken. He looked at me as if to ask “what shall we do now new-found human friend?”

While I did not consider myself a hero, I knew there was a time that all men must stand up for what was right. Or for at least what was least icky. Peanut butter and jelly it would be.

Opening the little cage up, I dashed to the side of the bridge. Before anyone could try to stop me, I turned it over, allowing Crab to fall back down into the water. He hit the surface with barely a splash, disappearing into the murk below. 

I gave a sigh of relief. He wouldn’t die, And I would not have to eat him.

All That For This….?

I guess the main motivation I had for buying this Dunecrawler was it reminded me of my old buddy Crab. Though I never did hear from him again, I did hear from the crab counselor. He must’ve had an eye on Crab anyway, planning to do him harm and then dip him in sauce. The counselor yelled at me pretty good as he peered over the bridge. In fact, he told me I was not allowed in the pool that evening as punishment. I had to sit in the cabin and be quiet.

Oh the humanity.

That evening, I sat quietly, eating a stack of PB & J sammiches I’d smuggled from the dining hall. I could hear the kids at the pool, screaming as they floundered in the pee pool. Taking a sip of my Kool-Aid, I smiled. Life was good.

I’m quite enjoying the Dunecrawler, too. It’s a fun little build, and I can’t wait to paint it and weather it. 

I’m sure Crab would want it that way. 😉



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