Muties – Part 1

There’s a mutant for every occasion. Need a horde of luckless bullet catchers driven ahead of your advancing chaos legion? Call in the mutants. What about some low-level troublemakers for your Inquisitor to deal with? How about civilians/wildlife/scenery/lurkers-in-the-dark to trouble your Necromunda gangs? If you want to live in the seedy underbelly of 40k then mutants are indispensable. Even more so than everyone else in the Imperium they were born to lose. The 41st Millennium’s ultimate underclass they play the part of the victimised serf with a natural grudge just as well as they do the spiteful villain. Plus, the range of modelling and creative opportunities they represent are just too much fun to pass up!

Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (7)Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (6)

This is a project I’ve been working on for a ludicrously long time, some of these models have been sitting around half-painted for at least five or six years, so I reckoned it was about time I actually bashed on and got something finished. All of the current batch are based on the Lord of the Rings goblins, which make for excellent mutants in and of themselves. Indeed some, like this chap, I’ve painted up entirely “as is”, without needing to do any converting at all.

Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (8)Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (9)

Others, like this one, are a bit more radical. Although the goblin models themselves aren’t multipart kits they really forgive cutting them and sticking on bits from other kits, and on such lumpen, ugly-looking characters even the crudest greenstuff can cover a multitude of sins.

Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (4)Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (5)

This one was the first to be finished, several years ago now, but the slow progress of the project as a whole meant I decided to go back and give him a bit of a repaint by the time the rest of the clan were nearing completion.

Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (2)Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (10)

There’s something about this one that even gives me the creeps!

Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (3)

This chap is one of my favourites, a task-master who really does have eyes in the back of his head!

Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (11)Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (12)Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (13)

As intimated by the “Part 1” in the title I’ve got quite a few more of these still to finish so I’m aiming to bash on with them alongside other projects. Despite the fact that in some ways I feel that I should be concentrating on one thing at a time and getting a few things finished these have been waiting for attention for so long it’s getting embarrassing so I’m keen to get them done once and for all. Hopefully it won’t be another five years before we see “Part 2”!

Mutants Convert or Die Wudugast (1)

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HeroQuest

I’m definitely painting an eclectic mix of models lately (or to put it differently, I’m skipping around from one project to another with the attention span of a goldfish on a sugar rush). Fear not however, this isn’t the start of another new project – just a brief spin off. I’ve previously mentioned that I’m planning to get a full set of models painted up for Blackstone Fortress, on the grounds that the last time we played it we did so with unpainted figures despite the fact that I have an inordinate number of painted models kicking around the house. The motivation to get on and do something about this stems, in part at least, from the efforts of fellow blogger KrautScientist, who’s been busy painting up an entire set of HeroQuest miniatures (if you haven’t seen this project I highly recommend you check it out at once, the combination of quality and dedication to the task should warm the cockles of any hobbyist). 

What’s more, HeroQuest is thirty years old this year. I must admit it passed me by entirely the first time round, no real surprise as I was only four at the time. Still I wanted to do something to mark the anniversary of this venerable gaming institution (which has proved, after all, to be the gateway drug for a great many other hobbyists). Thus I’d been vaguely planning to do something HeroQuest related at some point between now and the end of the year, but I hadn’t made any actual efforts until KrautScientist inspired me into action.

Some time ago a good friend of mine gave me a box of retro models from his childhood, a wonderful gift full of some really classic miniatures of yesteryear. So far I’ve not got around to doing a great deal with them, although I’m aiming for them all to show up here sooner or later. In amongst them I found two HeroQuest figures, a Chaos Warrior and a Fimir. Let’s take a look at the Chaos Warrior first.

HeroQuest Chaos Wudugast (1)HeroQuest Chaos Wudugast (2)

Admittedly this model falls a long way short of the modern standard but I feel it still has a lovely, old-fashioned appeal to it that’s hard to resist. Alas the Fimir is less charming. Cool though a cyclopean chaos-lizardman might sound in theory these models don’t come close to doing the concept justice, the details were rather soft and ill-defined whilst the mould-lines were the kind of ridges normally thrown up by continental drift. Still, I did have fun painting him – although I don’t imagine I’d paint another in a hurry. 

Fimir ConvertOrDie HeroQuest (1)Fimir ConvertOrDie HeroQuest (2)

And here we have the two of them side by side, waiting for a hapless adventurer to happen along. They’ve been waiting for three decades now and so far, no luck! They must have picked the wrong dungeon to lurk in…

HeroQuest Wudugast ConvertOrDie

Anyway, hopefully you enjoyed this salute to HeroQuest – and to all the talented hobbyists who took their first faltering steps into it’s dungeons and, in spirit at least, have never left. A big thanks to Tom for giving me the models and do go and take a look at KrautScientist’s work (without a trace of false modesty it puts these to shame and proves that chunky, thirty year old single-piece miniatures can still look absolutely magical in the right hands).


War Eternal – Part 5

Since I started working on my Khornate warband for Age of Sigmar one of the units I’ve been most keen to include has been a Wrathmonger. Released back at the tail end of old-Warhammer as part of the chaos horde that finally put paid to the Old World the Wrathmongers set proved to be one of those kits which the various chaos ranges sometimes throw up, and which are in my opinion both a blessing and a curse for fans. A blessing because in the sheer range of parts lie the seeds of a thousand conversions, a curse because the models built out of the box tend to be lumpen and weird-looking, and not in the way that a chaos enthusiast might hope. For my money the Chaos Spawn and Forsaken are other classic examples of this and although the Wrathmongers are somewhat better than these they still fall a long way short of the Blightkings, who were released shortly before and proved to be life changing for Nurgle fans, and the Blood Warriors who came later as AoS burst upon our shores, and did everything and more which the Wrathmongers had promised, yet failed to deliver.

When they were first released I decided to snap-up a box, something of a guilty impulse purchase as I don’t believe I ever had the slightest intention of painting them, although plenty of bits have since found their way into various conversions – and undoubtedly will continue to do so. Thus this warband seemed like a perfect opportunity to go back to the Wrathmongers try to create something closer to my vision of them, something more akin to the bestial, savages I would have preferred, a creature which – although clearly once a man, has been reshaped by Khorne into a form more pleasing to the Blood God and better able to carry out his murderous will.

Khorne AoS Wudugast (3)Khorne AoS Wudugast (2)Khorne AoS Wudugast (4)Khorne AoS Wudugast (5)

I’ve been feeling really enthused about all things Khorne lately, and I wanted to bulk up the warband a little further, so whilst I was about it I also painted up this Blood Warrior. I also reckon that he qualifies for Azazel’s Armoured April challenge given that, unlike the Wrathmonger who’s happy to go to war in only his shorts, this gentleman has at least taken the time to get properly dressed before battle.

Khorne AoS Wudugast (1)Khorne AoS Wudugast (10)Khorne AoS Wudugast (9)Khorne AoS Wudugast (8)

And in honour of the other part of Azazel’s challenge, “Army April”, here are a few gratuitous group shots and atmospheric images of the Blood God’s followers ready to go on the rampage.

Khorne AoS Wudugast (6)Khorne AoS Wudugast (7)Khorne Wudugast (6)Khorne Wudugast (5)Khorne Wudugast (1)Khorne Wudugast (2)Khorne Wudugast (3)Khorne Wudugast (4)

Skulls for the Skull Throne and all that!


An Age of Chaos

It’s a fine time to be a heretic. After many fallow years the forces of Chaos are back, and in a big way. First the Thousand Sons came marching back onto the galactic stage, accompanied by our first ever plastic daemon primarch, then the Death Guard joined them (with an even bigger selection of miniatures, and another daemon primarch). Now it’s the turn of the broader sweep of Chaos’ mortal followers, those who have not dedicated themselves utterly to a single god, who have broken from the legions of old or who have turned from the service of the Imperium more recently, and of course the dreaded Black Legion themselves. For an avowed heretic like myself this is a moment to celebrate so indulge me as I take a look back over the past several weeks of releases and enthuse rabidly about my plans to raise a force sufficient to bring the realm of the Corpse-Emperor to its knees once and for all!

Those who’ve read these editorials before (and come back for more? Surely you’re a glutton for punishment!) will know that I do tend to ramble on. Chances are this one will prove to be especially lengthy, covering as it does several weeks worth of releases – including the Shadowspear box – almost worthy of a review in its own right – various WIPs as I test out ideas, a great deal of fanboyish enthusing over my favourite 40k faction (don’t tell the orks!) and (because this is the internet after all) just a little bit of self indulgent moaning. Anyway if you think reading this post is going to take you a while you should try fighting the Long War!

Shadowspear 1

Everything kicked off a few weeks ago with the release of the Shadowspear boxset. This may sound like something the Eldar would use but there are no perfidious xenos here, just power armoured warriors; the servants of the gods and the weaklings who oppose them. On the grounds that reality is for those who can’t handle chaos I’ll be concentrating on the real heroes of this set, although I will grudgingly acknowledge that it also contains a load of filthy loyalist scum, (the less said about them the better!) That said I am harbouring a scheme to convert the stealthy Space Marines of the Ultramarines 2nd Company Vanguard into Alpha Legion and thus ring even more Chaos Marines out of the set. Blame all those years spent sticking spikes onto loyalist space marines because it was the only way to add models to my army – it turns out the habit, once developed, is hard to kick!

Master of Possession

Taking charge of the baddies in the Shadowspear box we have the Master of Possession. Essentially this is a specialist sorcerer who has focussed his powers on binding daemonic entities to living flesh. Indeed they could easily have released it as just a new sorcerer model and no-one would have been any the wiser.

As the warlord heading up the box set – and the only Chaos character in shadowspear – this one had to make an impact. The design pulls out all the stops – indeed to my eye it pulls out too many stops. Let’s start with the good; the skull helm with it curly rams’ horns is pretty much perfection, the staff is also brilliantly executed and the flying pose, which could so easily have looked silly, is pulled off in style. Overall the model is deliciously over-the-top and heavy metal (with an “h”!)

Master of Possession

However I’ll admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Master of Possession to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great model but the level of detail is so high the eye is almost overwhelmed (and this is coming from someone who thought the detail on the Death Guard was about right). The model is already flying and equipped with a number of sorcerous accoutrements – including the very eye-catching staff – so to my mind he really doesn’t need for burning skulls as well. What’s worse is that these skulls serve to distract the eye from the otherwise perfectly composed piece and particularly from the fearsome helm. For all their skill and experience GW’s designers do at times seem to forget that less can be more (something we’ll return to when I get on to talking about the Dark Apostle). In this case I decided to do without the burning skulls, although despite my general aversion to sculpted flames I might yet make use of them on a different model. He still needs a little greenstuff and general tidying up but here’s a look at my toned down version so far.

Master of Possession WIP (1)Master of Possession WIP (2)

Greater Possessed

As mentioned above the Master of Possessions isn’t the guy charged with looking after the Chaos Lord’s property but instead is dedicated to manifesting demons in mortal flesh (or as Slaves to Darkness put it “possession is nine tenths of the lore”).  Possession by daemons has always been a shortcut by which those without the moral fibre or work ethic to slaughter their way to ascension honestly can still achieve a modicum of power, or as a means of transforming loyalist space marine prisoners into vicious shock troops. Sometimes however the possessed individual is powerful enough in their own right to attract the attention of a daemonic herald and the result is a Greater Possessed, a fearsome warrior respected by mortal troops and never born alike.

The shadowspear box contains two of these new monstrosities. Rather than tackle the infinite variety of possible possessed they instead decided to create two exemplars. Apparently during the design process they were known as “slimy wet guy” and “bony dry guy” – no prizes for guessing which is which! Top marks to the creators of these models however for managing to conjure such different textures whilst still keeping them looking consistent and matching as a pair.

Greater Possessed 2Greater Possessed 1

These won’t be the easiest things to convert and, although you may find yourself wondering if I’ve had a personality transplant, in my opinion that’s not a bad thing. Truthfully although it may be fun to raid the Possessed kit for parts too much compatibility did it no favours and the streamlined new Greater Possessed have really put their lesser cousins in the shade. Like the Wrathmongers and the (now retired) Chaos Forsaken the Possessed tend to sprawl into an ill-defined morass of useful bits but which struggles to produce a single cohesive model let alone a squad. Hopefully when they do redo it they follow a similar path to that employed with the Greater Possessed, much as I enjoy an infinitely poseable multi-part kit pulling it off with something like the Possessed may well be beyond the skills of even designers of GW’s calibre.

Venomcrawler

Skittering in alongside the Greater Possessed we have another newcomer to the range, the deliciously creepy Venoncrawler. This mechanical arachnid joins the ever growing ranks of the daemon engines, and once again it’s absolutely outstanding. It looks fast, lithe and supremely deadly and even for a fan of spiders like myself there’s something nightmare inducing about the thought of it scurrying through a war torn hive city in search of prey.

Venomcrawler 1

Now it’s true that spiders come in for a bit of a rough press and vast numbers of these harmless and helpful animals are unthinkingly killed as a result of people’s irrational phobias (depending on where you are in the world of course. Readers in Australia are probably looking askance at me right now, or they would be if they had time to read blogs and weren’t busy defending the barricades against a rising tide of ravenous arachnids). Part of me therefore wants to criticise GW for perpetrating this harmful myth and demand that if they want to try and frighten us they should base their models on things that are genuinely scary like climate change, economic recession or a Tory MP. That however would be unnecessarily po-faced and would do a disservice to a wonderfully creepy looking model. The face alone is the stuff of nightmares and the background fiction ups the ante even further by describing it hunting down and devouring daemons which escape the forges – when it comes to being frightening anything which sees daemons simply as prey is going to be hard to beat!

Venomcrawler 2

Often, as a Chaos fan, one find’s oneself sounding rather like an escapee from Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen. I fondly recall the release of the Defiler and the exciting realisation that Chaos vehicles could be something other than loyalist tanks with spikes stuck to the outside (at which point someone should chime in “Tanks with spikes – you were lucky! In my day we were still making tanks out of cereal packets and plans from White Dwarf!” “White Dwarf! You were lucky!” etc etc).

Daemon engines used to be rather thin on the ground, especially outside of Forgeworld. Picture if you will a younger me (looking like a Dickensian urchin) dreaming of plastic Juggernaughts or even a kit for a Chaos Dreadnaught that wasn’t three-quarters of a ton of lead. Understandably, as these kits have started to emerge, it’s been something of a drip-feed so to begin with everything looked rather disparate. We had the crab-like, industrial construct of the Defiler; the bulky, bullish Maulerfiend; the spikey, draconic Heldrake; the fleshy Helbrute – and although all were excellent, and the result was suitably chaotic, until the variety reached a certain, critical mass their shared characteristics were outweighed by those that made them different. Luckily that point now feels as though it has been passed, especially with the inclusion of the various Death Guard beasties and the Lord Discordant’s Helstalker (more on them below).

Obliterators

We live in an age in which much which once seemed impossible or miraculous is now commonplace. Humans have walked on the airless surface of the moon and explored the lightless ocean depths. Armed with nothing more than a normal household computer I am able to write blogs which can then be read by strangers on the other side of the world, in countries I might never visit – but which I could with only a moderate amount of effort, rather than needing to spend months at sea struck down with scurvy. In such an age of wonders however one stands out above the rest; GW have finally managed to create Obliterators which look good. For as long as I can remember these monsters have been represented by ghastly, poorly sculpted lumps with Swiss army knives for hands and nothing at all to recommend them. Saddled with such terrible models it’s no wonder that so many chaos fans have degenerated into bitter, hate-filled heretics.

Now however that cruel era is over and our loyalty (or should that be disloyalty) down those long and pitiless years has been rewarded with a brace of these fearsome mutants.

Obliterators 1

For those who somehow missed the outgoing models, managed to blot out the memory or even started complaining about the Chaos release “going on too long” and eating up valuable time in the GW schedule that could otherwise be devoted to Stormcast Eternals, here’s a reminder of how far we’ve come.

God Awful Old Obliterator

Putting that horror behind us and returning to the new models, a view from behind shows just how wonderfully far they’ve been willing to push the body horror, although it also reveals their only real flaw – that from the back they look a little like a fat man squeezing into a pair of shots far too small for him, an image which – once conjured – is hard to shake.

Obliterators 2

That little bit of silliness aside there’s a lot to enjoy here. The new Obliterators share a lot of visual elements with the Helbrute, jagged armour panels emerging from bloated muscle and bruised, tormented flesh, whilst the head is recessed within a fanged maw, all of which brings a pleasing visual consistency to the range. There’s even a mirroring of poses between one of the Shadowspear Obliterators and the Dark Vengeance Helbrute – both have the gun arm thrust forward aggressively and the claw hand upraised, whilst the left foot is propped on a rock. Some things never go out of style I suppose!

Helbrute vs Obliterator

Of course this leaves the Obliterators’ twin kit, the Mutilators, looking even more neglected but there was always going to be a limit to how much GW could do for Chaos in one go. In theory I’m sure it’s possible to convert the new Obliterators into Mutilators the amount of large, sculpted in details means this isn’t for the faint hearted. It seems like a logical progression to assume that, since the Death Guard and Thousand Sons have brought us Nurgle and Tzeentch themed Chaos Marines in recent years, a Khorne focused World Eaters release might not be too far distant – at which point the close-combat focused Mutilators might be the lucky recipients of a new kit of their own. Or, of course, that might be nothing more than wishful thinking, and we’ll be stuck with this for a few decades more…

Mutilator

Chaos Marines

As well as all these bigger beasts Shadowspear also contains a squad of Chaos space marines, and in the weeks since they’ve been bolstered further by a whole new kit. Fans of Chaos Marines have been waiting (I cannot in all conscience pretend we’ve been doing so patiently) for new models for many years now. As the years and editions have passed the loyalists have come to look better and better whilst our poor traitors have wallowed in the ugly lumpen doldrums. At last of the dark gods have rewarded us and as a long-serving heretic, I’m thrilled!

Chaos Marine 2

Like the plague marines released with the Death Guard each of these is a real character in their own right, as befits a fallen hero of the Imperium with ten millennia of villainy under his belt!

Chaos Marine 3

The rank-and-file are head and shoulders above their predecessors (both literally and figuratively) whilst the champion from Shadowspear outshines even some of the special characters of yesteryear.

Chaos Marine 1

There is a plainness to these models with little sign of the rampant mutation found in some of the chaos ranges. It’s a good move on the part of the designers, resulting in a very different texture to the models when compared to the slimy organic surfaces of the Death Guard. Plus it makes them perfect for more austere legions like the Iron Warriors, whilst all Chaos fans know that it’s easier to add mutations than it is to take them away.

I’ve already managed to paint one of my own and although I’ve already shown him here I couldn’t miss the opportunity to show him off again.

Chaos Space Marine Wudugast (5)

In terms of size these compare closely to the Rubric and Plague Marines (and we all love a good size comparison photo!)

Chaos Size Comp ConvertOrDie Wudugast 2

Better yet they tower over the old Chaos Marines, who stood no taller than an unarmoured guardsman.

Chaos Comparison

They are however just a little bit smaller than the Primaris Marines. This is a pity, despite all of the background about Primaris being bigger and better than the standard marines, a lot of us hoped that the new chaos marines would match them for size a little more closely. Thus my first thought when I saw them was to curse them; they had one chance to fix their screw up and rather than commit they fluffed it. However they are certainly a big improvement on the midget marines of yesteryear and the more I look at them the more my eye becomes used to them. Ultimately although an extra millimetre here and there might have been nice it’s really a case of splitting hairs and not worth getting agitated over (for me at least).

Chaos Marine WIP 3

Whilst not quite the blank canvas that we saw with the Primaris Marines there’s still plenty of room to kitbash these to create unique warriors or tie them into your own preferred legion or warband. Those who feel they can suffer another moment with the ugly old Khorne Berserkers kit for instance could do well mixing these with AoS Khorne parts whilst Death Guard fans who found the plague marines too mutated for their tastes might prefer hybridizing them with these to create something a little more toned down. For myself I’m inclined to try them out to kitbash some better raptors and warp talons.

I’ve had a bit of a mixed relationship with the raptors and warp talons. Like many people my age I emerged from university blinking into the harsh light of the 2008 recession, with jobs as scarce as unicorn shit and my hard won degree nothing more than fancy paper. Fast forward a few years, and another round in academia, and my first proper wage cheque was burning a hole in my pocket just as the new raptors kit was released. Bursting with excitement at my new-found fiscal stability and the first opportunity to treat myself since my student days I naturally rushed out and bought it. In the years since however I’ve never actually managed to finish painting a single one. Alongside the Dark Vengeance chosen these are the granddaddy’s of the modern plastic chaos marines, yet to my critical eye they haven’t aged that well. Their proportions are all over the place and rather than soaring dynamically through the air they appear to be engaged in an enthusiastic jig. Would it be possible, I found myself wondering, to kitbash something better using the new chaos marines? Well, here’s my first attempt and overall I’m pretty happy with him.

Warptalon WIP (1)Warptalon WIP (2)Warptalon WIP (3)

Based on this success I’m very tempted to make a whole squad, so as every any comments or feedback is greatly appreciated.

As I’ve noted above, although there has been no official announcement from GW it seems like a safe bet that sooner or later the World Eater’s and Emperor’s Children will be similarly blessed with new models. One thing that seems unlikely to appear however is another new incarnation of Kharn the Betrayer who received a new model just a couple of years ago. Unfortunately I’m no fan of it, the whole model looks awkward and ungainly and I much prefer the old version. I did fear that my old metal Kharne would by now be suffering from SAM syndrome (Short Angry Man) but to my surprise he’s not actually that bad. That said I am tempted by the idea of making my own version using parts from the new chaos Marines kit (the Shadowspear champion – pictured above – practically is Kharn, he just needs a different head, although I’m sure I could come up with something more interesting and challenging with a little time to drum up the bits).

Khaaarn 40k

Havocs

Alongside the new chaos marines we have their heavy-weapon toting brothers, the Havocs. These are the Chaos equivalent of the loyalist Devastators, space marines with big guns who’s main joy in life is to rain down destruction from afar.As you’d expect these are similar to the standard chaos marines, and generally cross compatible, but a little more tech-ed out. They’re more heavily set than their colleagues too, and their braced poses match the weight and heft of the big guns.

Cry Havoc

The chaos marines may have had a plastic kit that was well past its sell-by date but the havocs didn’t even have that, relying instead on an old upgrade set. As a result I never had a squad of these heavy in my old army, even converted, so I’m very intrigued to get to work building them now.

The squad leader comes with an optional bare head, although to my eye this marks him out too much and makes him look like he belongs to a different squad, so I’ll most likely be using the helmeted variant instead.

Havoc

A rather nice touch however is the similarity between the face of the havoc leader and those of Obsidius Mallex from Blackstone Fortress and Abaddon himself. In the Horus Heresy novels it’s noted that many of Horus’s legion, the Sons of Horus (many of who went on to join the Black Legion after the Sons of Horus were essentially driven extinct by the vicious fighting of the post-Heresy Legion Wars) shared Horus’s facial features, and as a result were known as “true sons”. Abaddon was even rumoured to be a clone son of Horus. Thus the decision to give each of them a similar facial structure helps to reinforce this familial effect, as well as being a nice nod to the background.

Sons of Horus

From left to right; Horus (the Dead Warmaster), Abaddon (the Successful Warmaster), Havoc Champion (Big Man With A Gun) and Obsidious Mallex (bothering adventurers down the local Blackstone Fortress).

The squad leader notwithstanding there’s really only two poses in the Havoc kit however, so any variety of appearance is provided by the different guns and details such as the torso fronts. The result is a duplication of profiles  which aesthetically just doesn’t look quite right to me. The compatibility between these and the chaos marines however should give plenty of room to manoeuvre.

Havoc CSM comp

Another thing I’ll have to do something about is the way this one stands with his arm sticking out awkwardly. What’s meant to be happening here? Luckily there’s an alternative way of building the model with a less inelegant pose otherwise some cutting and adjusting to remedy the situation would be vital!

Havoc 2

Noctilith Crown

It’s becoming standard practice at the moment for every major GW release to include a piece of terrain, something I can only applaud. As a result gaming tables the world over become more interesting and hopefully we can leave the flat, tedious landscapes of the past firmly behind us. Thus it didn’t require the predictive skills of Nostradamus to guess that we’d see something of this nature but it was always going to be interesting to find out what.

When it comes to producing terrain the challenge is coming up with enough of the stuff without it being either painfully generic (the galaxy is full of hills and rocks, and sure enough everyone fights over them but who cares?) or so specialised that only a minority will be interested (I’d love to see a Dark Eldar themed city but as I don’t collect Dark Eldar I wouldn’t be buying any of it). Plus terrain is big, expensive, takes up space, is often seen as intimidating to paint, is hard to transport – the list goes on. The solution has been to create a selection of fairly generic terrain, in the case of 40k a war torn Imperial city (which – as a major plus – is also perfect for Necromunda) and then add in kits which tie in to certain races for a little extra flavour. However whilst troops can march and vehicles drive to reach a warzone hardly anyone hauls buildings with them wherever they go (the Tau being the obvious exception with their floating bastions). Therefore anything which isn’t an everyday part of an Imperial city has to have a good explanation for being there – the Eldar webway gate for instance has just “decloaked” having lurked invisibly all alone, the mek-shop has been cobbled together by industrious grots, whilst  feculent gnarlmaw has sprung up with unnatural vigour straight from Nurgle’s garden.

Noctilith Crown

In this regard chaos has almost total free rein. Anything goes because anything can be explained as having been twisted, summoned or spat out by the warp. Given such potential the Noctilith Crown is surprisingly restrained. That shouldn’t be too surprising however, the same has been true throughout this release wave. Compared to the heavily mutated Death Guard who won’t get out of bed in the morning if they don’t have a mouth for a stomach these Chaos Marines are quite austere and the same is true of their building. This is no bad thing in my view, too much mutation could have ended up looking a little over the top or weird for the sake of it – always a potential challenge with Chaos and hard to fix on very large kits (look no further than the mulalith vortex beast for an example of how wrong things can go). Plus this isn’t so overtly chaotic that it would necessarily stand out to the locals, at least not to the same degree that it would if it was covered in eyes and mouths or kept grabbing people with its tentacles. On a backwater Imperial planet it could easily be just another strange old ruin in the wasteland, avoided by superstitious locals but no cause for alarm – at least until its builders turn up to reclaim it or the Inquisition arrive and start asking questions.

Noctilith Crown 2

Despite this lack of warp touched gribblyness the piece still looks immediately Chaotic (the huge chaos star certainly helps with that!) and avoids too many obvious aesthetic choices. It’s worth drawing a comparison here with the Skull Altar recently released for Age of Sigmar.

Skull Altar

Unlike the Noctilith Crown I found the Skull Altar to be a bit dull and workmanlike. It’s not bad by any means but it’s certainly predictable. The Noctilith Crown on the other hand manages to put its own spin on things and that, combined with a masterful use of negative space to create a large piece without forming a solid wall on the gaming table, or quite such a large hole in the wallet as might otherwise have been, must be commended.

Abaddon

Each of the traitor legions released so far has been headed up by a daemon primarch and it seems safe to assume that the trend will continue. Likewise the daemonic choirs each have a monstrous greater daemon, ranging from the corpulent great unclean one to the sinister new keeper of secrets. The rest of us don’t have quite such a big monster to call upon to lead our chaos hordes. Instead we’ve got Abaddon, a miniature who needed to convey an impact and authority at least the equal of Magnus and Mortarion, but making use of a considerably smaller canvas. This isn’t to say Abaddon isn’t a bit of a beast, he’s still a big lad in comparison to chaos lords and terminators but he doesn’t come into the same weight category as his peers. Nevertheless he packs a real visual punch.

Abaddon 2

They could have done so much more here, and thank god they didn’t! They could have had him wondering or leaping into battle, throwing himself through the air or trailing great clouds of semi-sentient fumes, all of which would have served to reduce his impact. Whatever the Daemon Primarchs may like to tell themselves Abaddon remains the big daddy in the chaos ranks and Horus’s true successor. He’s also one of my all time favourite characters from the 41st millennium. In many ways I was dreading seeing them make a mess of him as much as I was looking forward to him. Having already seen the Master of Possession I feared that they might decide to overdo things here so it was with a great feeling of relief that I saw the finished piece and discovered that, with admirable restraint, they had avoided using any gimmicks – and the result is pretty close to perfect.

He comes with a choice of heads (Angry Abaddon, Sneering Abaddon and Gas-Mask Abaddon – for those moments he has no choice but to stand in the same room as Mortarion) and can also be built without his cloak – although personally I’m not sure why you’d want to.

Abaddon 1

This feels very much like Abaddon as he might have been first time around, if only the technology had been available then. At the end of the day if I didn’t have a chaos army already I would want to start one just to have him lead it. Model of the year? Undoubtedly! Go on GW prove me wrong!

Dark Apostle

Nothing is perfect (except Fulgrim) and this wave of Chaos is no exception. After seeing so much quality emerge from the GW vaults it was inevitable that at least something would disappoint and, sadly for the sons of Lorgar, it’s the Dark Apostle. Just as Abaddon displayed a degree of restraint, improving on the predecessor only when they needed to, the Dark Apostle seems determined to turn everything up to eleven with a result that’s more jarring than impactful.

Dark Apostle 1

Part of the problem is that the outgoing Apostle was pretty much spot on, albeit cursed by an extremely small stature that made him out of scale with the rest of the range even when he was newly released.

Old Apostle 1

Simply taking that model and scaling him up would have more than sufficed. Instead the wonderful halo which topped the old version has been replaced by a candelabra, the striking “preaching” pose has become an awkward “jabbing whilst waving a book” and the spiky head of the crozius has been toned down, the one thing that should probably have been toned-up. The streamers of parchment, surely a feature easier to reproduce in plastic than in resin, have been reduced and – at the back, where they previously formed a unique cape – been replaced by a normal, tatty cloak.

Dark Apostle 2

Then there’s the book. Did the designer not know when to stop? It’s drooling (presumably noxious) fluids, whilst at the same time blazing with unnatural fire – surely a librarians worst nightmare. Either would have been a bit over-the-top for my taste, both is just ridiculous. It’s not an irredeemable model mind you and with certain art of cutting and kitbashing I reckon I can make something of it, but straight out of the box it leaves a lot to be desired.

Dark Disciples

The redeeming element however is the two willing sacrifices known as the dark disciples. This grubby duo you wouldn’t look out of place in any Inq28 collection and indeed will undoubtedly prove to be grist for that particular mill – looking at them only makes me realise what could have been if only GW had seen fit to furnish us with a proper kit for new cultists (more on that particular rant later!)

Terminators

Speaking of taking pre-existing models and scaling them up that’s exactly what happened with the terminators. From a reviewers point of view of course this doesn’t leave a whole lot to add. If you liked the old terminators then here they are again, just bigger, meaner and more imposing. There are a few tweaks to nod to modern miniature design but no major changes to the core concept.  Ultimately I loved the old models but thought they were looking past their best and so these fit the bill nicely for me, scaling everything up and adding bulk whilst not attempting any unnecessary reinventions.

Terminator 2

I remember the first time I saw the outgoing chaos terminators being blown away by the bullish power implicit in those tusked helms – everything I already loved about terminators but with all the brutish spiky aggression of Chaos.

Terminator 4

The one thing I’m not particularly fond of is the little crest used to mark out the leader. It’s a design element shared with the helbrute and personally I think it looks awkward there and worse here.

Terminator 1Helbrute Crest

Despite being such a fan of the old Chaos terminators kit I’m not sure I’ve ever actually painted one, and I certainly never bought the kit as a straight-forward box of miniatures. Instead I ended up acquiring bits and pieces of it from various sources and cobbling them together with whatever else I had to hand. Thus my attempt at a size comparison between old and new leaves a little to be desired, although I’ve given it my best shot.

Terminators New and Old ConvertOrDie Wudugast

Of course the question on everyone’s lips is; how do they compare in size to the other Chaos Terminators that are out there (and what a wonderful question that is for Chaos fans of my generation to find ourselves asking!). Well, as it happens, I have a member of the Scarab Occult and a Blightlord Terminator handy, so let’s take a look.

Chaos Terminators Size Comp ConvertOrDie

As with so many things the warrior from the Thousands Sons appears a little slight in comparison to his colleagues, although its nothing a plasticard spacer under his feet and the odd dab of greenstuff wouldn’t fix if it bothers you.

Master of Executions

If the Dark Apostle is the token Word Bearer in this release then the Master of Executions is the token World Eater. He’s a loner, an executioner, a gallowsman, one-eyed and warlike, a slayer of champions. Stick a wide-brimmed hat and a couple of ravens on him and he’d be Odin! Another new leader amongst the ranks of the Chaos Marines the Master of Executions is a close combat specialist, a man interested in little else but chopping off the heads of enemy champions. Well everyone needs a hobby, I paint little models so who am I to judge?

Master of Executions

GW have been making models that carry other people’s heads around for decades now and at last they’ve found the perfect candidate for it – it’s just unfortunate that they’ve overused it so many times previously that the impact is almost entirely lost. Likewise he’s lugging around a downright massive axe, and again he’s the perfect choice to do so, but after seeing so many comically outsized weapons in the past it’s power is somewhat lost.

Master of Executions 2

I do rather like this model but if I was to be harsh there is something a little uninspired about him. All the infinite variety and possibility of Chaos and we end up with a chap who likes chopping off heads. Surely they could have come up with something a little more interesting? Again let me stress that I think he’s rather cool, should be a lot of fun to paint, and – despite having a choice of two rather stylish heads (and those are just the ones on the end of his neck) – will probably look even better with a Khornate helmet. Nonetheless, and despite my being a huge chaos fanboy, I can accept the accusation that this one appears at first glance to be just a little bit bland.

Lord Discordant

Last but not least we have the Lord Discordant. With a name like that he may sound like he belongs amongst the Emperor’s Children but in fact he has more in common with the Dark Mechanicum. Here we have a strange fusion of Warpsmith and something akin to a mediaeval knight, who scurries into battle atop a bizarre insectile riding beast. It really shouldn’t work but somehow it does so perfectly.

A new type of commander for the chaos legions the Lords Discordant are obsessed with machines, working constantly to destroy all orderly functional engines and harvest their power to fuel the arcane daemon engines of there warbands. Apparently his mere presence is enough to make technology short circuit and fail, something which many of us will find all too familiar.

Lord Disco 4

It’s a complicated figure and I can imagine that many serious gamers will complain about bits snapping off as they try to transport it to their next tournament. Fans of painting and modelling however have a challenging and potentially very rewarding kit to get their teeth into, and one which encapsulates the weirdness of Chaos at its best.

Those Left Behind

Having received such a bounty of excellent models it seems almost churlish to complain about things we didn’t get – but never mind, it’s my blog and I’ll churl if I want to!

The fact is the Chaos range was neglected for a very long time, which means now GW come to work on it there are an inordinate number of gaps to fill and models to update. Rather than simply housekeeping they instead provided us with a range of new units, but wonderful though this is it did mean they lacked the resources to fill in all the existing gaps. Even though I’m delighted with everything we’ve seen so far, and my wallet is now in serious need of a rest and a lie down, I didn’t think it would hurt to acknowledge those gaps anyway and think about where GW might hopefully turn their attention in the future. As usual this is wishlisting, plain and simple, and most likely the passage of time will demonstrate it to be nonsense, but it’s fun to speculate all the same.

Berserkers and Noise Marines

The mortal followers of Chaos, whether they be the barbarians of the Old World, the savage nations of AoS or the power armoured super-soldiers of the far future, can be crudely separated into five camps. There are those sworn to each of the four gods, and those allied to Chaos (to a greater or lesser degree), either as a pantheon or as a single primeval force – the so-called followers of Chaos Undivided. Of this latter camp the Black Legion are the 41st Millennium’s posterboys, whilst the followers of Nurgle have already been blessed with the release of the Death Guard, whilst Tzeentch’s servants set the ball rolling for Chaos with the emergence of the Thousand Sons. As I’ve mentioned above, it seems like a logical progression to assume that Slaanesh and Khorne will soon follow, bringing their legions onto the galactic stage.

Khorn Berserkers Embarrassing Themselves

Nonetheless the old berserkers now look so embarrassingly poor quality compared to the newer kits that one finds oneself cringing on GW’s behalf, it’s hard to imagine that they’re actually asking for  people’s money in exchange for these things. At least they have a kit of course, the Noise Marines only have a finecast upgrade sprue.

These days GW usually steer away from showing kitbashes and conversions in official publications, reasoning that this is confusing for newcomers to the hobby who might be put off by discovering that they have to stick random kits together to make a unit rather than just buying it off the shelf (whereas when I started it wasn’t just encouraged it was downright compulsory). However the Noise Marines don’t have an official kit, even an old one, and instead rely on the sonic weapons upgrade kit to tide them over. Thus, I find myself wondering why GW chose to illustrate the Noise Marines in the codex using the old (and now unavailable) chaos marines kit rather than the newer version. I ever planned to build a new chaos marine wielding a sonic blaster by way of demonstration but alas time ran out on me.

Noise Annoys

Of course wishful thinking says it’s because a new Noise Marine kit is just around the corner so building anything else to stand in temporarily wasn’t worth the bother – no harm in hoping right! More likely however it was simply an oversight, or a case of running out of time, or – most likely of all, GW recognising that the fans of Fulgrim’s legion have been suffering and, given that they’re probably enjoying it, they should be rewarded with one more painful turn of the screw to counteract the pleasure of the forthcoming Slaaneshi daemons.

Cultists

Ultimately I knew there would be a limit to how much GW could produce in one go but I’ve been bumping my gums about wanting new cultists for long enough that I couldn’t let the occasion pass without dragging my arguments out for another airing.

Cultists

Like a lot of people I felt a brief thrill when the chaos cultists kit was marked as “sold out” on the GW website, only for it to reappear repackaged a few days later. It’s true that you can kitbash some fine looking cultists from existing kits but just imagine the things we could be kitbashing if we had a proper kit for them as well. Plus that’s a lot like saying we don’t need space marine miniatures because with sufficient time and practice most of us could sculpt our own. The existing push-fit cultists are very nice but there’s not a lot of converting potential in there and given that I always envisioned cultist in massive maddened hoards that’s a problem. Whenever I encounter such a horde only to see the same five faces repeated over and over again, such as in the photograph used to illustrate the cultists in the new codex, I feel as though something has gone badly wrong with my eyes. Unlike the Noise Marines and Khorne Berserkers I don’t really expect to see them with World Eaters or Emperor’s Children release either. A theoretical future Slaaneshi faction might come with its own cultists but these are liable to be of a “specialist” nature (able to reach all the places normal cultists can’t!), whereas for a warrior of Khorne the only good baseline human is a blur of arterial spray in their peripheral vision. Yet whilst those two factions seem likely to make an appearance sooner or later cultists will probably have to wait until GW return to the chaos marines – whenever that turns out to be. For now the armies of duplicate cultists will continue – when Fabius Bile told us he was working on a clone army this wasn’t what I had in mind!

Huron Blackheart

With Abaddon now strutting his stuff centre stage, and the other characters from the old legions having either recently received new models (Typhus, Ahriman, Kharn and Cypher) or probably coming soon(-ish) (Lucius and Fabius) poor old Huron Blackheart is starting to look a little left behind. Then again there are still plenty of gaps in the Chaos range that need to be filled (have I mentioned cultists? And what about Chosen, Mutilators, a generic plastic Sorcerer?). Add in the fact that Abaddon gave away one of his Blackstone Fortresses to Huron (don’t say he’s a nice guy – the prick forgot my birthday altogether) and we have the possibility of a second, smaller wave of Chaos releases coming at some point in the future as Huron launches a crusade of his own out of the Maelstrom. Not only would this break up the Chaos releases to everyone’s satisfaction, allow the bank accounts of the faithful to recover and lulling the weaker races into a false sense of security, but it would avoid Huron and Abaddon launching at the same time and one overshadowing the other. As usual of course, it’s just a theory.

Huron

The Galaxy Must Burn

I’ve long argued that Chaos is the Imperium’s shadow – humanity’s shadow even – and for the various factions of the Imperium to really function as sympathetic protagonists they need an enemy who can truly threaten them with something more than just bigger guns or more soldiers. Chaos represents the corruption of human qualities not simply via external pressure but through the twisting of noble ideals. At best the decline of a character should stem from an over abundance of positive rather than negative qualities (although as ever the Night Lords are the exception that proves the rule, remaining compelling despite being utter bastards to begin with!). The result creates room for enormous narrative depth and complexity. Add in the range of aesthetic possibilities (who knows what Noise Marines might look like nowadays but I can guarantee it won’t be Plague Marines in pink!) and the diversity of potential rules for gamers to take advantage of, and it would be fair to say that GW has been sitting on a treasure trove, seemingly ignorant of the wealth of concepts their IP could have been laying open to them. Imagine if the Imperium was lumped together into a single fraction with nothing but a special character to differentiate the Space Wolves from the Dark Angels, and the Imperial Guard relegated to 5 push fit models, and you have some idea of the discrepancy between the way in which the Chaos range has been treated historically and the potential it contains. Luckily the tide seems to be well and truly on the turn (as usual, and as an outsider it’s hard to say anything with 100% confidence, it’s worth noting that the departure of Kirby as CEO has, as on so many other matters, coincided with a rush of common sense to the company’s collective head).

For a long time GW neglected Chaos and got away with it. These power armoured baddies haven’t had it as bad as some races or factions (I’d like to nominate my poor hard-done-by Skaven for that dubious honour) but the range has always been considerably less than it could have been, its potential often hinted at but never fully realised. Naturally some fans complained but as whining and nerd rage is as much a part of Warhammer as rolling dice and accidentally drinking paint water I’m not convinced anyone took much notice (we have all encountered people who claim not to be involved in the hobby anymore since GW ruined everything  yet who still managed to spend around 18 hours per day online moaning about the latest developments and then trundle down to their local store at the weekend to fill a wheelbarrow with the latest releases. Well here’s hoping they enjoyed this one, Chaos needs the support – especially from the bitter and corruptible).

So there we have it. It’s not been a perfect release, there are certainly things I would have liked to have seen included or done differently, but these are small things and not worth any more than a brief acknowledgement. Predominantly this has been about the resurrection of the Chaos Space Marine range and on the whole the result is nothing short of outstanding. Now when we turn up to burn down the Emperor’s palace we won’t have to worry about the loyalists laughing at our ugly old miniatures. How’s that old saying go? From shame and shadow recast – in snazzy new plastic reborn. Something like that anyway…


Blackstone Fortress – UR-025

“Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind”

– Dune; Terminology of the Imperium, Frank Herbert

I’m aware that I’m juggling projects a bit at the moment but I’ve been inspired to try and get my Blackstone Fortress set painted up as soon as possible. Part of the blame (or, more accurately, credit) for this decision has to be laid at the feet of KrautScientist, who has been busy painting up a full set of HeroQuest models – if you’ve not seen this work of art I highly recommend you check it out at once.

As mentioned back when I showed the Spindle Drones I have quite a lot of models kicking around which could stand in for some of the adversaries (traitor guard for instance are not in short supply!) so I’m starting off by trying to fill in the gaps where useful proxies aren’t easily available. Today it’s the turn of one of the most interesting heroes in the set; the Man of Iron UR-025.

Of course this model isn’t just wearing a suit of armour, it is a suit of armour and thus, to my mind, definitely counts towards Azazel’s Armoured April hobby challenge.

UR-025 Blackstone Wudugast (1)UR-025 Blackstone Wudugast (2)UR-025 Blackstone Wudugast (4)UR-025 Blackstone Wudugast (5)UR-025 Blackstone Wudugast (6)

I’ve been curious about the Men of Iron ever since I first heard of them, tucked away in one of the little snippets of text that hint at pre-Imperial history in the 40k setting. We’ve only ever seen hints regarding them before although that in itself was enough to demonstrate how awe-inspiringly terrible they were in all their sun-quenching, planet-devouring might – and by extension how powerful the humans of the Dark Age of Technology must have been to have defeated them. Factor in that the Eldar of that era still regarded the humans as little more than animals scampering for scraps around their feet and we begin to see that, despite the Emperor’s best efforts, by the 40k era we truly are living in the twilight of the gods.

In the war with the Men of Iron we see that once again humanity ended up battling with the weapons that outgrew them, just as they would go on to do to the Thunder Warriors and Space Marine Legions. Those chapters still loyal to the Throne beware!

Then again, although one of the key narrative points of the 40k setting is the Imperium’s struggle to make do and mend, facing the horrors of the galaxy without access to the technologies they once possessed, what little we’ve seen of the Men of Iron at their height should be more than enough to confirm that some things really are best forgotten!

UR-025 Blackstone Wudugast (3)

“War to the death should be instantly proclaimed against them. Every machine of every sort should be destroyed by the well-wisher of his species. Let there be no exceptions made, no quarter shown; let us at once go back to the primeval condition of the race.”

– Darwin Among The Machines, Samuel Butler

UR-025 isn’t about to single-handedly bring the Imperium to it’s knees of course (or is it?). It’s just a friendly robot, a survivor from a lost age, trying to make its way through a hostile galaxy, isn’t it? Wouldn’t that be a surprise for Abaddon and Guilliman alike if it managed to turn the Blackstone Fortress into a factory for making new Men of Iron and the galaxy fell, not to the daemons of the Warp or to a horde of hostile xenos, but to the return of humanity’s first spurned angels?

All that aside I think it’s very unlikely we’ll be seeing the Men of Iron return to the setting in a big way (although of course I may find myself eating my words). Rather I prefer them lurking in the corners, hidden by thousands of years of corrupted history or vanished off the edges of the map, into the dark spaces of the galaxy where human feet do not tread, where the lone survivor of a long ended war can live in peace, free from the depredations and paranoia of the species that spawned it.

“I am not a machine as you would understand, I am not a slave. I am not a thing. I am beyond and above you. I am a Man of Iron. And I am free.”

– UR-025, in the short story Man of Iron by Guy Haley


An Hour of Wolves and Shattered Shields

Just a quick one today, something a bit different that I spotted in amongst some other models and took a fancy to painting; a warrior of Minas Tirith. To the best of my knowledge this is the first Lord of the Rings model I’ve painted (that hadn’t been converted into something else – more on that soon). I received it as part of a bits drop from fellow blogger IRO and rather than cannibalise it for components for other projects decided to just paint him as is.

Gondor Lord of the Rings Wudugast (1)Gondor Lord of the Rings Wudugast (3)Gondor Lord of the Rings Wudugast (2)

I don’t really know why I’ve always steered away from painting Lord of the Rings models. For me the books were one of the key moments in my introduction to fantasy fiction and something which has proved to have a lifelong influence, and the films are, in my view, amongst the greatest movies ever made (I even enjoyed the Hobbit trilogy, although I admit there were a few moments that missed the mark). However the aesthetic of the Middle Earth models from GW have never really done anything for me so although it all sounds great in theory I’ve instead ended up focusing my interests in the myriad other possible settings. Still I did enjoy painting this brave warrior of Gondor so who knows, perhaps the age of men isn’t over quite yet.


Walk Softly (And Carry A Big Gun)

Actually, looking at this chap, I don’t imagine he’s walked softly in his entire life…

Mad Puppet Wasteland Warrior (1)Mad Puppet Wasteland Warrior (2)Mad Puppet Wasteland Warrior (3)

I got this model a number of years ago and, being more young and enthusiastic than actually capable, did a fairly poor job of painting him. He’d been lurking, as so many of my models are, in the bottom of a box until I spotted him, dug him out and gave him a quick repaint. He comes from the Mad Puppet range, which also supplied the base model I used for this Escher juve. I actually have most of the Mad Puppet post-apocalyptic models kicking around somewhere so, as I locate them, expect to see them popping up here (almost certainly following a repaint of their own).