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DIY Weekend: Turning toys into war game monsters

Walter Denlinger builds punked-out accessories for tabletop game Warhammer 40,000. His building materials include a Mr. Potato Head.

Believe it or not, this was once a Mr. Potato Head. Now it stomps enemies in Warhammer 40,000. Walter Denlinger

I've seen my fair share of obsessive fans. Walter Denlinger should be in the high priesthood of modeling fanatics.

I'm talking about Warhammer 40,000, a sci-fi tabletop-miniatures war game that Denlinger has been playing for about 25 years.

"Scratch-building your own tanks and vehicles back in the day was a matter of necessity," says Denlinger. "Nowadays, players are spoiled for choice when it comes to models, but I'm still 'old school' and prefer to convert and build my own."

Based in San Francisco, Denlinger produces terrifying little models for Warhammer (aka 40K) out of his workshop Irondog Studios. His modeling has become a full-time job, allowing him to spend more time at home with his daughters.

"My materials of choice are plastic sheets and tubing, and whatever found objects I come across. I'm one of those trash-to-treasure guys who can find a use for almost anything and will sometimes even center an entire project based on found objects. Many of the models I build are for my personal collection for use in 40K games.

"I also build and paint models on commission for clients who hire me through my Web site. Most of my customers generally want to play the game with nicely painted models but don't have the time or inclination to mess with the 'hobby' end of things. Other clients like to paint their own models, but hire me to do the modeling for them."

He puts a lot of late nights into modeling. "But I don't mind, because I get to do what I love as well as spend time with those whom I love."

Check out some of Denlinger's obsessive craftsmanship in our photo gallery.

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