Choose Your Own Adventurers #5: Nebuli Tsar, Ventolin Pirate

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My second model in this group painting project is the Ventolin Pirate – the one figure I actually had when I started this project!

Ventolin Pirate and Squats

Nebuli Tsar with a Squat boarding party.

The Adventurer range is full of a great many concepts that weren’t developed further in Warhammer 40,000.  The Ventolin Pirate has two pieces of background written about him. The first is “Ventolin”. The second is “Pirate”. Let’s explore each of these in turn.


“Ventolin” is a brand of asthma medication that’s been on sale in England since 1969. However, out of context it does look like the name of a planet / alien species / Imperial Army regiment / pirate warband. Presumably Tim Pollard slipped in the name as a joke as the model has a rebreather helmet. I like to think that Ventolin is actually a conehead alien race, and if I get a second figure I may convert it without its helmet on. There was a lot of scope in the early days of Rogue Trader for this type of humanoid alien race with brightly coloured skin and prosthetic rubber foreheads – just take a look at the Ironclaw Pirate range.

If you go with the “space is an ocean” concept, it must have pirates. Instead of being on boats, these Space Pirates are on board spaceships.  Instead of being in sailor garb, they’re in astronaut suits. The model has vacuum-sealed cuffs where armour panels join on his arms and legs. I’ve avoided the stripey trews for this model, and instead he’s painted to match the Furnace Valley Squats for reasons that will become more apparent in future episodes of Choose Your Own Adventurers.

The vacuum-sealed cuffs, rebreather helmet, backpack and studded shoulderpad are reminiscent of the early Rogue Trader Space Marines. I’ve got a theory that this miniature was one of the dozen-or-so rejected Space Marine design attempts that Bob Naismith sculpted before he and Bryan Ansell settled on the LE02 Space Marine.

LE02 Space Marine and Ventolin Pirate

LE02 Space Marine and Ventolin Pirate.

To evoke a Rogue Trader vibe I added a freehand “GET VENT” on the shoulder pad.  The phrase was AJ’s suggestion; others I considered were:


I kept the other shoulderpad free for a Claw Nebula Pirate symbol in the future.

Here’s a list of the other episodes in the group project:

CYAO Episode 4 – Short Jern Silvo, Ratling Cook (axiom)

CYAO Episode 3 – Garnier Wangst, Eldar Trader (sho3box)

CYOA Episode 2 – Paradox Zeeman, Pirate Captain (Curis)

CYOA Episode 1 – Obi-Wan Sherlock Clousseau, Inquisitor (axiom)


Curis has painted for Games Workshop, Forge World, Warlord Games, Mantic Games, Avatars of War, Wargames Foundry, Studio McVey and many others. He's won at Golden Demon and Salute. He publishes monthly painting tutorials on Patreon.

13 thoughts on “Choose Your Own Adventurers #5: Nebuli Tsar, Ventolin Pirate

  • July 4, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    VENTI LA VIDA LOCA perhaps.

    The Furnace Valley scheme never fails to please and it brings out the best in Ventolin.

    Your theory about Vento being a proto-marine is very interesting. Perhaps the guy in the suit is a super-soldier if some sort too, lending his services to the Furnace Valley.

    A tough act to follow Curis, lovely work.

    • July 4, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      Fanks sho3box.

      Reading Bob’s Chapterhouse interview, it does mention the bedroll on the top of the backpack feeding into the Marine design – that’s an actual bedroll on the Ventolin, but it is incorporated into the armour panels of the backpack of the actual Space Marines.

      What goes against my theory is the legs and arms aren’t actually armoured.


      Q How did you go about determining what artistic design elements went into the Space Marine?

      A …The all enclosing armor was really a development of again my historical information, you know, the idea of like Medieval armor with knee armor that had to articulate, you know that the feet would have to articulate but still be armored. These are common elements in Medieval play armor, full play armor. The helmet, again, we knew it was fully enclosed. We knew that these guys were going to be I suppose kind of like Roman soldiers. So they were like legions. There were going to be loads of these guys, loads of them. So the helmet was loosely based on I suppose like a Roman legionary’s helmet with neck, neck protector, ear protectors that roll-over the ear, and sometimes you would have a heavy browband….

      …Now, the backpack was kind of, in design terms, again it was almost kind of like it had a historical root in my mind, in the sense that it is a cylindrical form at the top which was — you could say it was like based on a rolled blanket from historical periods, like the Napoleonics. There was a backpack type shape in the center, which if anything probably resembles like a Second World War American GI’s backpack. Then the nozzles at the bottom were surrogates for some of the equipment packs that I referred to earlier on. So that the guy looked like he always had equipment with him.

  • July 4, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Now this is the best version of him I know of and I know he’s not the easiest guy to paint.
    I also totally want to believe the marine prototype theory.

    • July 4, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      Thanks! Glad you said that, is it the belt buckles and vac-seals that gave you the difficulty? I’ve managed to paint square buckles with defined edges, but it took a lot of paint-cheating were I added edges with thick paint and did some sharp contrasts to give the illusion of sculpted detail. He’d have benefitted from darker colours and a looser painting style.

  • July 4, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Orange and white for the win! Were you tempted to do a two tone blue? All the unnecessary ribbing and weird cone shaped helmet makes for a strikingly unusual sculpt. I would very much like to see a future helmetless alien version. I urge you to address this forthwith!

    • July 4, 2017 at 6:15 pm

      Mark Elster’s just shown a version he’s converted with the helmet off, but the rebreather and earphones attached. It’s great.

      Two tone blue? Ahhh, referencing an inhaler. Nyah, but you’re welcome to do that with yours!

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  • November 3, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Very cool work on this guy. One that I saw from a distance but never owned. The white and orange works really well for a “Star Wars-y” space vibe, such as we had mashed up with everything else and no end of 2000ad back in the Rogue Trader days.
    LE02 works very nicely on the 32mm as well. :)

    • November 8, 2017 at 10:46 am

      Thanks! It’s suprising how many of the older figures look better on 32mm. I’m trying not to rebase any I’ve previously painted, as that way madness lies. But every time I start a new one it becomes a bit of a dilemma.

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