To Boldly Go…

For over three decades the Rogue Traders who once gave their name to the entire Warhammer 40,000 setting have been lost in the warp or drifting on the shadowy edges of the map. Now they’re back, and they’ve brought a bunch of gribbly Chaos beasties with them. How could I resist this chance to pontificate!

Rogue Trader Art

Despite Warhammer 40k having existed for over thirty years now, there remain a number of prominent factions who have seen little or no attention from the miniatures’ designers. From Kroot mercenaries to Eldar Exodites there are plenty of options for the developers of the game to explore over the coming years. In recent times many fractions previously lurking in the background have come to prominence, genestealer cults, the adeptus mechanicus and the households of the Imperial Knights amongst them. Launching a whole new race however demands considerable investment of time and resources on the part of the company, and must make for an intimidating proposition. Games Workshop tested the waters with Deathwatch: Overkill, a boxed game which served primarily as a vehicle by which the Deathwatch and Genestealer Cults could be brought back into the game. Now we have Kill Team, building on the concept to form the perfect gateway through which new fractions can be introduced. Some may never grow beyond a handful of models, whilst others could develop in time into mighty fractions hundreds strong. Suffice to say I was already excited about Kill Team but this only serves to increase my interest.

First off the blocks then, we have Kill Team; Rogue Trader starring a plucky band of adventurers on a thirty-odd year mission in outer space to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone before and to exterminate anyone who looks funny in the name of Him Upon Terra.

RT Banner

I actually pre-ordered this set, an unusual move for me, although I’m still not completely convinced of its qualities. When it hits it does so with incredible style, but equally when it misses it really misses. Much has already been made of the idea that this is GW bringing the Inq28 aesthetic back into its main range, with repeated assertions in all the promotional materials, that these models spring straight from the mind of John Blanche. Which is great, of course, and to be celebrated and encouraged, of course, but isn’t enough to make a set of models great by itself. What tipped the balance for me however was imagining all of the ways that what I perceive as mistakes could be rectified – and surely for the dedicated converter there’s no bigger draw to a model than that!

Before I go any further I’d highly recommend you check out Krautscientist’s excellent review of this set, indeed it was when the comment I intended to post on his blog sprawled to truly epic length that I decided to finish off this review and post it so he actually deserves a lot of credit/blame for the fact that you’re actually reading this.

Anyway, without further ado – let’s take a look at the contents of the box, starting with the brave men and women of the New Dawn.

Elucia Vhane

Vaine

The boxset is called Kill Team: Rogue Trader so it makes sense to assume we’d be seeing something suitably impressive from the Rogue Trader herself. The result however is rather subtle, and at first glance almost underwhelming, although it rewards proper scrutiny.

Aesthetically the veil over her face is an odd choice. As a concept it works well, and I find myself wanting to like it, plus it puts a stamp of individuality on her as a character. On the other hand it actually strips her of character, making her more aloof, enigmatic and unique but also fades her into the background somewhat when she should be the kind of person demanding everyone’s attention. In Universe it probably serves to increase her authority – after all a person like you is hardly important enough to merit the honour of looking at her face. Out of Universe however she’s a tiny lump of brightly coloured plastic and so needs to work a little harder to be engaging. Having a face would help with that a lot. Ultimately I’m left in two minds by it. If I decided to paint her as Elucia Vhane then of course I’ll keep it, it’s already as iconic of the character as Abaddon’s topknot. If, on the other hand, I decide to use the model as a Rogue Trader of my own devising I’ll replace it with a different head, I have one from a female vampire which might be perfect.

I must confess I also expected something a little more blinged up from our first Rogue Trader. The clothes and equipment she wears are nice enough and probably high fashion in the Imperium but I’m surprised we haven’t seen a more ostentatious display of wealth here. Where is the jewel encrusted servo-suit, the feathered riding beast or the servitor-borne sedan chair? Surely she doesn’t just walk everywhere like a commoner?

Before I’m accused of damning her with faint praise let me emphasize that Elucia Vhane is a very nice model indeed. The trouble is, she shares a boxset with the likes of Larsen van der Grauss, Knosso Prond and the voidsmen. A Rogue Trader should really be the most commanding and impressive model in any given room, yet poor Elucia is rather overshadowed by her sidekicks and employees. In part Elucia is burdened by being the first of her kind. If she was just another Rogue Trader I think she’d get a lot more leeway in terms of her looks. It’s not fair, and history will probably judge her very kindly, but for the moment this model needs to represent not only Elucia Vhane (something it does very well) but also all Rogue Traders (something which will always be beyond its scope).

Something I do really enjoy about her pose is how relaxed, confident and non-competitive it is. This model doesn’t represent her locked in the heat of battle as much as it does her standing at the helm of her starship or perhaps attending a briefing or the most exclusive of parties. If there is a fight going on she’s not launching herself into it like a barbarian queen but standing back and employing others to get their hands bloody on her behalf.

Also, in spite of its aesthetic failings, top marks to whoever on the design team recognised that a woman in a veil can also be a woman in charge – there are quite a few bigots across several cultures who need waking up to that idea.

Knosso Prond

Knosso Prond

There are some truly excellent models in this set but even amongst them Knosso Prond stands proud. There are few characters as iconic of the Inquistiot/Inq28 scene as the Death Cult Assassin. Like the Rogue Trader this was one of the key models in the set to get right and this time GW have managed it in style.

I particularly like how the model’s Asian aesthetic has been combined with that of 40k. Here we have someone from an Oriental culture which has changed and evolved over 40,000 years, with a result which is far more engaging than, for example, the cut-and-paste Viking trappings of the Space Wolves.

Also, take a look at that head she’s carrying. It’s not wearing a metal mask, making it our only glimpse of the “normal” mutants amongst the Gellerpox. On a more serious note however it’s probably the only thing I don’t like about the model. Surely carrying heads around has been done to death by now? I’d have preferred another blade (a fairly easy conversion to achieve at least) or an open hand as she invites her next adversary to join her in a dance of death.

Knosso Prond 2

Prond has been manoeuvred by her cult in  swearing a vow of silence never to be lifted until she has slain a thousand enemies of the Imperium. Of course it turns out that simply firing a warhead into an ork encampment and loudly shouting “Done” is cheating but thanks to the arrival of the Gellerpox she should be well on her way now. Perhaps she should be accompanied by a squat based off Gimli from Lord of the Rings just in case she goes up against a Chaos Knight or Greater Daemon. “It still only counts as one!”

Larsen van der Grauss

Every crew of spacefaring adventures needs a quirky scientist to look after the tech and amongst the Starstiders that roll falls to Larsen van der Grauss. Of course, given the Gellerpox currently infesting what is arguably the most important bit of the ship (the bit that stops daemons getting in and eating you) it’s fair to suggest he may have been falling down on the job. That’s not something I’m going to hold against him however because once again the miniature is absolutely gorgeous. His complex and archaic equipment ties him in nicely both to the Rogue Traders and to the Adeptus Mechanicus, making him a neat bridging model in a combined Imperial force.

Larsen van der Grauss

The Starstiders team introduces us to the Rogue Traders as a faction and Larsen repeats the trick in microcosm by showing us a previously unseen agent of the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Lectro-Maesters. Like the electro-priests we’ve already seen these are initiates of the Motive Force but whilst those previously released models represent frothing fanatics these are artisans and explorers constantly questing for new sources of energy with which to supply their Forge Worlds. Indeed the background fiction compares them to missionaries, a popular position amongst the priests of Mars.

Sanistasia Minst

Dammit Elucia, I’m a doctor not the unwitting pawn of a dark god!

Sanistasia Minst

When times get tough and the bullets start flying it’s great to have a doctor on your team. Of course if her increasing obsession with battling diseases has turned her into a puppet of the plague god Nurgle then that’s unfortunate…

As every crew of space-faring adventurer’s knows it’s a long way to the nearest hospital so it pays to bring a doctor with you. The task of providing medical support to the Starstiders falls to Sanistasia Minst, and as is often the case with medical professionals in the Warhammer universes, the more closely you read her background the more you start to discover her involvement in sinister goings’ on.

As well as being a doctor she’s also a Rejuvenat Adept, charged with extending the lives of wealthy clients alongside performing various other act of healing. Of course, this is the Imperium where doctors carry concussion grenades and a life isn’t saved for its own sake but rather to ensure the wounded get back in the fight as soon as possible.

Like Vhane, she’s not shown in a combat pose (unless you count stepping on the head of a Nurgling, itself a nice metaphorical touch). Once again this is a good thing, and although she could undoubtedly give someone a nasty scratch with those scalpel fingers – which is probably the point of them – her job is to be a healer and the killing is best left to other people. She even manages to look very young which, giving up her job is to keep other people looking young too, is a clever bit of design work. it also creates a slight air of naivety about her which ties in neatly to her backstory.

Sanistasia Minst Art

There’s a lot of debate going on at the moment over whether the coloured plastics used by GW in some of the more recent sets is more brittle than the grey stuff we’re used to. Lots of technical information has been thrown around and as ever I’ll bow to the greater knowledge of the experts, but I will note that, based on this set the green plastic used for the Gellerpox Mutants seems to be fine whereas the red is distinctly more brittle, leading to real problems with fine details such as Sanistasia Minst’s bladed fingers in a way that I just wouldn’t expect in a normal GW kit.

Voidmaster Nitsch

Continuing to plunder the wonderful world of classic sci-fi tropes, here’s the chief of security, the guy we all look to when the killing starts, Voidmaster Nitsch.

Voidmaster Nitsch (1)

I know it’s just my personal taste  but I find models wielding two-handed weapons one-handed irritates me a little, especially when they’re using the free hand to wield yet another weapon. Space Marines are particularly guilty of this but Nitsch flirts with it too. I see the story that the model intends to convey, the switching from one weapon to another, the range of firepower that he brings to bear, the fact that here is a man who can never have too many guns, and it works – but only just.

What I do like however is the way he looks smartly turned out but still utterly lethal and competent as a killer. From the bodyguards of a mafia don to James Bond there have been plenty of people willing to prove that wearing a suit in no way prevents one from becoming proficient at the art of murder and Nitsch looks ready to step from having dinner with the planetary governor to handing the wet-work and back again without breaking sweat. Overall then he’s another success – it’s just a shame about the guns.

Stromian Grell

Grell

With mutant hoards on the march a big man with a rotor cannon is just the kind of chap you want around. It’s a classic of action movies and for good reason, so Grell makes for an excellent addition to the squad. My only criticism is that I would have preferred an alternative, preferably helmeted, head – the little cap really doesn’t work for me at all. Expect a quick head swap when I get around to him.

He is quite big compared to a guardsman but this is the Imperium where the scale of a normal unaugmented human varies considerably anyway. After all if a Goliath ganger can indulge in a growth stim habit then a rogue trader can undoubtedly afford to make the guy  who carries the rotor cannon suitably sturdy as well.

The Voidsmen

Tough though Nitsch and Grell appear to be they’re not going to fight off the Gellerpox alone. Luckily they don’t have to, because there are three more Voidsmen in the box.

Voidsman

I know it’s a common refrain of mine but there’s really nothing original, exciting or “40k” about the Cadians and Catachans. The Tempestus Scions are great, never let it be said otherwise, but we could still really use a kit for making baseline human soldiers of the Imperium. Like the Scions the Voidsmen demonstrate just what GW could do here if they put their minds to it. In fact just looking at one finds oneself wishing for a multi-part kit and the chance to start a whole army of them. And before you snort your derision and dismiss this as wishful thinking keep in mind that we just saw this with the genestealer aberrants so who knows what the future might hold?

Voidswoman

As a little aside it’s nice to note that although one of the Voidsmen is in fact a Voidslady this wasn’t something I noticed immediately. It’s not that she’s sexless or lacking in femininity, just that it’s rather more subtle than it once would have been. Hopefully the days are past when she would have gone into battle wearing enormous armoured cones on her chest like the love child of Maddona and Magnus the Red. I know this is hardly news these days, especially since the latest Stormcast release, but it’s still a welcome development and worth acknowledging and praising, especially with new Sisters of Battle on the way.

Lineup

It is worth noting that the Voidsmen are rather big compared to a baseline guardsman. In part this will be due to scalecreep, in part to the better diet they enjoy working for a Rogue Trader. Overall it’s not a bad thing, it still falls well within the range of heights normal amongst human’s today, but it worth being aware of nonetheless. Fear not though – next to a Primaris Space Marine they still look suitably frail and mortal.

Aximillion

Finally we have what may be the best model GW has released in the entirety of their history. Rather overenthusiastic praise? Perhaps, but would you say it to his face? After all, he’s such a good boy! It’s that true hero of the Imperium; Aximillion.

Dog

So naturally and obviously popular has he proven that it seems crazy that GW didn’t create him sooner. Surely not everyone in Nottingham is a cat person? Surely with retrospect it’s a little odd that we got a pet octopus before a dog? Picture the heated debate as GW’s board members wrestle with the eternal question of how to make even more money. Another space marine release? More stormcasts perhaps? How about the Primarch Leman Russ riding in a Leman Russ tank pulled by giant wolves with Nagash at the wheel, life getting complicated and the weasels closing in, loaded up on heinous chemicals and driving like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas? And then some mad genius says “how about a dog?”. Oh they must have laughed then but I’ll bet that same great mind will be being pounded on the shoulder by his colleagues now and told “you’re a maverick but dammit you get results!”

Something I hadn’t realised until I actually got the kit was that he’s really quite a little dog. Here he being taken for a walk by an Imperial Guardsman.

Dog and Guardsman

It’s also nice to see that GW’s skill at sculpting canids has come on a long way in the years since the terrible Fenrisian wolves were released. Next to Macula from Necromunda however he looks like he’d be little more than a snack for the bigger dog. Insert joke about cheering for the underdog here.

Ax vs Max

Of course one of the many nice thing about dogs is that they come in all shapes and sizes so although any fans of House Orlock who are hoping for an alternative model to represent a cyber-mastiff maybe slightly disappointed by his lack of stature he’ll still work nicely in all kinds of other Inq28 scenarios.

The Gellerpox Infected

So, whilst Elucia Vhane and her crew have been busy claiming new worlds for the Imperium, down in the engine room things have been going very wrong indeed. Ready to frustrate the plans of the Rogue Traders and spread all kinds of merry havoc we have the other half of the box; the Gellerpox Infected. As a notorious fan of Chaos you’d think this would be the part I’m most excited by but in my view this is where we see the greatest design miss-steps. I must emphasise, it’s not all bad, indeed most of it is very good, but it’s on this side of the box that I see the most things that I’d prefer to have been done differently or that I’d like to change. In part though that may be because I am such a fan of Chaos and so I have my own aesthetic expectations which I’m imposing on these models. However whilst the Starstriders feel very much like a team this lot seem more like a loose affiliation of monsters, giant mutants, outsized insects and zombies with no common purpose or mission beyond running amok. Again this is not necessarily a bad thing, and I’ll certainly find plenty of uses for them in my collection, but there is no denying that whilst the Starstriders are a tight knit team these are a collection of odds and ends cobbled together, and it shows.

Vulgrar Thrice-Cursed

Vulgrar Thrice-Cursed

The big boss of the mutants is, Vulgrar Thrice-Cursed, also known as the Twisted Lord, a towering, stamping, three-headed, four armed machine man with a boiler for a belly. Unlike his opposite number Elucia Vhane he’s unquestionably the one in charge and definitely one of the standout models from the Chaos set. The marks of Nurgle’s influence are present but they’re subtle and whilst this could have been a grab bag of clichés the designers have demonstrated the courage to get outside their comfort zone with the god of plagues and have reaped the rewards for doing so.

He reminds me of the Remade from China Miéville’s New Crobuzon novels, condemned criminals who are grafted with machine parts by way of punishment. As I recall there was at least one who had a boiler installed in place of their guts and had to beg and steal to find enough coal to feed it.

The boiler however is actually my main issue with the model. I know space on sprues is going to be an issue and all kinds of other design issues must come in to play but I really would have preferred it if the flames emerging from the grill on his gut were a separate piece that could be left off easily. To my eye the sculpted flame here is an example of overdoing things which sadly blights this half of the release.

That said I still think he’s ace and even went so far as treating myself to a second model of Vulgrar via eBay, which I’m hoping to turn into a Goliath ‘zerker. Watch this space!

Nightmare Hulks

On the Chaos side of the set the centrepiece models are the Nightmare Hulks, towering mutants grown from the most blessed of the Gellerpox infested crew. Twisted almost beyond recognition by the power of the Warp these men are mere steps away from becoming Chaos Spawn, and indeed would serve very nicely as proxies for exactly that.

As befits creatures spawned from humanity’s nightmares these three each play to a certain archetype; the mad butcher, the man-beast and the horror from the deeps. First up then, the butcher, or as he should properly be called, Gnasher-Screamer.

Gnasher Screamer (1)

Just when you thought GW had done all they could with the trope of Nurgle models having mouths in their stomachs eh?  With all them leading directly into his belly he’d also make a fine ogre Gastromancer (assuming those still exist in AoS).

There’s something truly horrifying about all the mouths erupting from the stomach, but then the designer has over-egged everything by adding cartoon faces to the arms. In my opinion this is a real miss step, distracting attention away from what should be the key feature whilst bringing little to the model themselves. My first move on getting hold of him was to carve them off, not too difficult to do but definitely demanding have a steady hand and a sharp knife. I also went for a different head, the big-haired cartoon redneck look doing the model no favours. Personally I’m much happier with the model now but of course if you feel differently please let me know in the comments box below.

Gnasher Screamer (2)Gnasher Screamer (3)

The sheer size and bulk of these chaps also bears repeating, despite of the promotional photos I don’t think I’d realised how big they are until I saw them in the flesh. Here’s the Gnasher-Screamer towering over my long-suffering guardsman.

Gnasher Screamer (4)

Whilst Gnasher-Screamer is a cannibalistic monstrosity, the Writher appears to have been sewn together from deep-sea beasts and bloated corpses. The designers definitely deserve extra points for this one, despite its bulk it seems to float forward as though carried by the tide. The ghastly face looking out through the hole in his belly is a nice touch, albeit one that the official paint job covers up rather than accentuates.

Writher

The hooded head would be a fine addition to a unique looking Nurgle lord or similar character, whilst the octopus arm would make an excellent head for a marine-themed monster or daemon prince.

Perhaps it’s my resurgent interest in Blood Bowl, perhaps it’s just the fact that Nurgle’s Rotters were released only a couple of weeks ago, but it strikes me that the Writher would also be perfect as a Rotspawn, the “big guy” for Nurgle teams (he certainly features, as the rules describe, a Foul Appearance and a Disturbing Presence, and he has plenty of tentacles to boot!). Now at the time of writing we have just seen early images of an official model for the Rotspawn but frankly I’m not a huge fan of it compared to my mental image of a converted Writher.

Rotspawn

The designers have a really laid the nautical theme on thick here, beyond the octopus arm he is encrusted with barnacles, impaled by a harpoon, snagged with fish hooks (one of which even has a fish attached) and even wearing a seaweed loincloth. Even alongside the hook hands, peg legs and other piratical trappings of the Glitchlings and Gellerpox mutants he just doesn’t quite fit in to 40k. Indeed there is not a single futuristic component on him which means he could transfer to AoS with ease. Indeed, if he was an AoS model I’d be sceptical that he could easily be made to fit into 40k. Slap some suitable shoulder pads and a helmet onto him however and he’d be more than ready to take to the Blood Bowl pitch.

Big Spike

The third hulk is Big Spike, who’d probably be the best of the three if it wasn’t for the fly head that replaces his arm. I do enjoy it when chaos comes with lots of crazy mutations but for my taste the fly arm is just a bit too much. a tiny withered arm on one side to offset the huge claw on the other would be great but this is overkill – most likely I’ll be chopping off the fly head and using it elsewhere, (unsurprisingly I’ll probably use it as a head).

Gellerpoxes (3)

Gellerpox Mutants

Falling somewhere between the plaguebearers and poxwalkers in design, but with a touch of punk-rock peacocking to boot, we have the Gellerpox Mutants, undoubtedly the models about which I’m feeling the most divided.

The pirate theme hangs heavily here in peg legs and hook hands. I found myself half expecting them to throw in a few eye patches and some servo parrots whilst they were about it.

Gellerpoxes (1)

This chap has an ear on his ankle. Talk about keeping your ear to the ground… 

Individually each one is great when you put them all together the result is a little gimmicky. As cool as zombie pirate punks may seem on paper they don’t quite gel in practice. As for the metal masks they make for fine bits for conversions or simply by way of adding some suitably weird 40k vibes but the fact that all three have them calls for an explanation and we end up with some faintly shoehorned sounding talk about metal flowing out of the Geller drive and encasing their heads.

If they had to have masks then why not give them some more in keeping with their role as engineers? Gas masks, welding mask, ad-mech gribby masks, pre-infection cybernetics, there were surely a range of better possibilities than goofy metals skulls? Once again it seems that GW chose a quirky cartoon zanyness over the dark realism some of us would have preferred but that’s true across the set, indeed across their whole range, look no further than some of the faces on the Nightmare Hulk’s for instance. The masks do however make for rather stylish additions to other models (in my humble opinion). I’ve already shown you this model but dammit I’m proud of him so I’ll show him again!

Necromunda Goliath Convert Or Die (2)Necromunda Goliath Convert Or Die (1)

What strikes me as odd is how few of them there are. We’re used to zombies appearing as great hoards and so it’s easy to conclude that a huge tide of plague mutated crewman would be trying to overwhelm the comparatively elite voidsmen. The background even describes them as a “gruesome horde”. In actuality however we only get three of them, which only serves to emphasise their flaws. If any one of them was released alone as a special character it would look excellent, and equally if there were a few more the whole thing might start to work as a gestalt carnival style mass.

Gellerpoxes (2)

In what may be an attempt to explain this we’re told that these three are the Apostles of the Twisted Lord, special characters whilst – presumably – the rest of the horde are lurking out of sight somewhere in the wings. Personally I might be tempted to convert a few more out of spare poxwalkers although that would entail reigning in my desire to decapitate the other existing Gellerpox to make more Goliath champions

Despite these criticisms I actually really like these models, in fact I wish there were a few more of them instead of all the giant insects.

Glitchlings

The Glitchlings are basically Nurglings with a tech/pirate veneer. There’s not a lot to say about them but there’s certainly nothing to complain about either.

 

Glitchlings

There’s also not a lot to add regarding the various other small gribblies to be found in the box. Collectively known as Mutoid Vermin these are the various invertebrates which live in the guts of the ship and, once exposed to the energies of Chaos, have grown to unnatural sizes. In appearance they’re painfully generic which is both a blessing and a curse.

Grubs

On the plus side they’d fit in almost anywhere in either 40k or AoS, from the marshlands of Ghyran to the sump-drains of Necromunda. Regardless of where your interests lie amongst GW’s universes there’s a good chance you’ll find a use for these. On the other hand there’s really nothing unique about them. The same warp energies that turned machines to living metal and gave men claws and screaming mouths for stomachs just took normal insects and made them bigger. Personally I think I would have preferred to see something more iconic of the setting; hybrid beasts, insectile chimeras, corrupted servo-skulls and the like. By making them so generic these feel a lot like filler designed to bulk out the otherwise fairly lean body count amongst the chaos range.

The grubs especially remind me of the larvae from Rackham’s Dwarves of Mid Nor although – despite the technological leaps and bounds we’ve seen since those were released – the newcomers still don’t hold up in comparison.

Larva 2

Overall then it’s a mixed bag although on the whole I’m pleased with it. The Skywalkers – sorry, Starstriders – are an excellent little crew that I can only hope will pave the way for a future Rogue Trader range. On the other hand the Gellerpox set contains a mixture of standout models bulked out by insectile filler with the designers seemingly not quite sure where to draw the line on mutation. The nightmare hulks are generally great, or can be made so with a little work, and the other Gellerpox mutants are nice enough individually but rather too quirky as a group and fail to really fit in with the broader chaos range. The insects, whilst I’ll find a use for them, are definitely the weak link here however and should have been thinned down with at least some of them replaced by more interesting gribblies.

In the end it’ll take a little work to turn me into a devoted worshipper of the Geller Drive but the Rogue Traders were well worth the thirty year wait. Of course I’m always interested to hear your views, if you agree or disagree tell me so and if you have any clever conversions planned for these I’m all ears (I even have one on my ankle).


28 responses to “To Boldly Go…

  • Alex

    Nice write-up mate, and mostly I’m in agreement – RT & crew are cool, Geller-gimps are less well thought out, but still useful. Nothing I’m in a hurry to grab though if I’m honest, though I would love to see a proper Voidsman army…

  • FirBholg

    Thanks for the write up, always appreciate seeing the thoughts of people like you and KS on these sort of releases! I think that I may have to pick up this box set now (I suppose technically I’ve been waiting for an official rogue trader model since the rules popped up in Citadel Journal version 2), it might be the right way to get back into painting and playing again (looking forward to getting into Kill-Team, then to playing 40k again!)

    Like what you’ve done with the chef (I don’t mind the original model – though I know my OH will be getting the gellerpox minis), you’ve really changed the character of the mini with a minimum of conversion (I’m sure it was more effort than you made it look!)

    • Wudugast

      Nah, converting the chef was about as straightforward as you can get, even the greenstuff work was pretty basic. 🙂 It helped that I had just the right head sitting there waiting to be used mind, and I could have made it trickier by trying harder to save the faces on the arms, I did wonder about using them elsewhere but I butchered them taking them off so I guess that’s out.

      If you’ve been waiting for a rogue trader and your partner is keen on the Gellerpox then maybe one to get between you?

      I definitely see Kill Team as a great gateway to 40k (although ruleswise I’ve preferred what I’ve seen of kill team to 40k so far). There are quite a few factions which I’d never dream of painting for 40k but I find myself wondering about exploring with a little Kill Team. Of course once started we all know how these things develop…

      • Alexis West

        I actually did start thinking it would be cool to save the faces on his arm, but only after I’d already hacked them up badly enough that it wasn’t really an option.

  • Azazel

    Great write-up. I ordered two boxes (though only one has arrived so far) with the intent basically to have one each of the models to keep “as is” and one that I’ll feel free to convert. Some more or less so, but I’ll be keeping my eyes on your blog for more ideas to rip off!

    • Wudugast

      I’m starting to see why you have such a mountain of models to climb! It’s a good thing you paint at 10 times the speed of the rest of us 😎
      As ever rip-off away, I’ll be keeping an eye out for what you do with these when you get to them 🙂

  • Alexis West

    Yeah, some definite mixed feeling about these on my part as well, tho largely positive.

    I just couldn’t go with Elucia Vhane as modeled. I swapped the head for an alternate I had from a 3rd-party Callidus Assassin, and I’m in the process of sculpting on some simple flat-soled boots instead of those godawful 9″ heels. I also shaved the tracery off her breasts for a cleaner, less sexualized look.

    Prond, I also had to do some breast reduction surgery. Not much, but her nipples were sharper than her sword, which is just messed up. I also trimmed off the head from her right hand, and I’m looking around for a suitable knife to replace it with. Also, the oath she was forced into is even more difficult to fulfill. It’s not just to kill 1000 Xenos, it’s to kill at least one example each from 1000 different Xenos species.

    Van Der Grauss is great. A nice throwback to the early days of space fiction, the “ray-gun aesthetic” that came to dominate US design sensibilities for a couple of decades in the last century.

    Minst is my favourite Model in the set. I did cut away the Nurgling, as I wanted to make them a somewhat more generic representation of the Elucidians rather than locking them into this one conflict. I don’t really like the bits in her background about her possibly being suborned by Nurgle. Not as an inherent thing, I just don’t want my fave from the set to turn traitor.

    Nitsch, would have been nice to have the shotgun strapped across his back or the pistol holstered or something, but is otherwise great. I love his suit. The other main thing I’d note from the Squad is that Riguez, the one with the cigar, is mentioned as being kind of a whiner and slacker, and the way he’s sculpted, like he’s snuck off for a smoke, I thought was a nice way of referencing that.

    Aximillion is the best. I thought he was a bit small at first, too, but it’s more that the various other canines they’ve done are absolutely huge.

    Vulgrar, the belly flames were a bit much for me, so I replaced that bit with the end of a barrel left over from some vehicle or scenery kit that happened to fit perfectly. Plus, now I have that flaming grille left over to use somewhere else. Also, I feel like they’ve used the epithet “thrice-cursed” at least a couple of times now.

    I actually like the head on the chef, but you’re right about the additional faces on his arm. I’m gonna go back and trim those off.

    The Writher, I thought was a bit too over the top. I trimmed off the harpoon and hooks, and puttied over the face looking out from the belly. I really love the head and octopus arm, tho. I also like your idea of using it for a Rotspawn. The actual model for that looks like a pile of shit to me. Not speaking figuratively there, paint it brown and I’m pretty sure it would look like a Giant used the field for a toilet before the match.

    Agreed on Spike. I’ve been debating whether or not to do an arm swap, and I think you just talked me into it.

    I did head swaps on all the Gellarpox Mutants. One got a Plaguebearer head and the other two got zombie heads. I like them much better. I also noticed that the tolerances on them were a little too tight, and I was unable to get them together without cutting the collars and then gluing them back together.

    I actually really like all the vermin. If you look closely, they’ve been warped a bit further than you might think, and honestly, fleas are creepy-looking enough anyhow that making them bigger is plenty already. The Glitchlings are my personal least favourite of the little ones, since they’re basically just Nurglings with bionics.

    • Wudugast

      As ever an excellent review of my review (once again I’m wishing I’d read it first, then I could incorporate all the best bits into my own review!)

      My mistake re Prond’s vow (and I’m guessing they have to be sentient as well so again, declaring Exterminatus on a jungle world won’t cut it either). Chances are that’s a thousand different xenos species who were minding their own business up to this point, who’ve probably never even encountered the Imperium (otherwise they’d have been wiped out long ago!) but who now have good reason to hate humanity.

      Speaking of xenos I was actually a little surprised that they didn’t use this as a chance to introduce some new aliens. Who knows what’s lurking out there in the darkness waiting to be stirred up by a Rogue Trader and brought back to human controlled space. The Gellerpox on the other hand seem quite capable of turning up anywhere. Not that I think we need new aliens at this stage, in fact I’m happier that they didn’t go down that route.

      I did think about Prond’s breasts (there really isn’t a way to say that which doesn’t sound a least a little pervy!) but, making a ruthlessly aesthetic choice, I think she gets away with it (beyond the fact that they are indeed lethally pointy) and so I decided not to dwell on it. Many people will be saying that they represent an oversexualised view of women on the part of GW (I know this may not be your opinion, I’m not trying to put words in your mouth) but to me it works with the overall look of the model. To my view the issue is the need to have more female miniatures, and more variety of female miniatures. It’s much the same as the issue of Vhane having to be representative of all Rogue Traders, rather than just being herself. When there are very few female miniatures any one of them skews the average. If we only had Eschers we’d be left with a very different idea of how GW views women than if we only had Van Saar. As it stands the number of female models in the range remains fairly low so when the Sisters of Battle arrive they will skew the average simply through weight of numbers – whether or not that proves to be a good thing remains to be seen. Ultimately though it’s something I don’t tend to write about, people regard it as a touchy subject (rightly) and I don’t feel that I have a lot that’s original to say, so I tend to just praise when I see what I perceive as GW doing well and leave things alone otherwise. Hopefully in time we’ll reach a state where Prond doesn’t need to represent women and can just get on with representing Prond. Just my thoughts though (and of course from a male perspective).

      It seems like they’ve only got one story involving doctors don’t they? They set out to combat disease, they get obsessed, they fall under the sway of Nurgle. First time I read it (some Death Guard apothecary pre-heresy in one of the Forge World books I think) I thought it was amazing. Then I found out it’s Festus’s story, and now Anaesthesia Minst’s as well. The only doctors who don’t end up corrupted by Nurgle are the ones being tormented for ever more by Nagash. Can they not come up with something better than just repeating the same story over and over again? The Gellerpox got in via the obsessiveness of the engineers, their fear of it failing leading in the end to it failing. Minst didn’t need to get involved. Plus, in the UK, the Westminster government are forever pushing the idea of selling off the health service to private companies and switching to a US style system so just maybe this constant pushing of the idea that all doctors are spreaders of corruption is a bit bloody unhelpful right now. I can feel my teeth starting to grind so I’ll move swiftly on!

      I hadn’t spotted that bit about Riguez, that’s a nice touch. All too often it feels like they’ve not been joining up the background writing and the miniature’s design properly lately but in the case of Riguez that is skilfully done.

      Vulgrar, good tip on the barrel lid, I’ll take a look in my bitsbox, there must be something there I could use.

      Couldn’t agree more on the Rotspawn. I almost wonder if the pictures we’ve seen are not of an official model, usually when these things appear online an official announcement follows soon after (in fact I’d be surprised if many of these so-called “leaks” aren’t orchestrated from somewhere in the depths of the studio – he said with tinfoil hat firmly on head!). Your description of the official Rotspawn nails it though, it really does look like a turd (although a special rule/random event for a giant wandering onto the pitch mid-match could be rather fun, even if he didn’t decide to “leave his mark”…)

      I agree lots of real insects are pretty crazy-looking, but having looked at a lot of insects under a microscope I think I would have preferred something wackier. As for the glitchlings, I agree – but you can never have too many Nurglings. If they released a boxset of nothing but Nurglings my partner would insist I buy it (and she hates Nurgle otherwise!)

      • Alexis West

        I do tend to get a bit carried away on these. Like you said, tho, you almost did the same thing, but just decided to make it a blog post instead of a comment. Truth be told, I actually thought of that, but I had the comment window already open here and I was sleepy so I took the easy route 😉

        On the topic of Prond’s breasts, like I said, it annoyed me that they were sharper than her sword. It wasn’t that they were oversexualized, just that, dammit, if someone’s got a sword, that should be the sharpest thing around. Similar story with Vhane’s boots. I was looking at them, and something seemed kind of off, and then I started comparing with feet on other Models like Minst, and her feet would need to be absolutely enormous to fit those. Like “would be considered a Mutant” enormous. It would have been slightly more reasonable if they’d made them platforms, but her feet clearly go all the way down to the ground in those.

        I first ran across that trope about medics and Nurgle in the short story Pestilence, by Dan Abnett, It was a pretty cool twist there, but now it’s become a cliche.

        Honestly, Sisters of Battle don’t help that much with representation in my opinion. Their whole backstory is based on sexist assumptions (the High Lords only bothered to prohibit “men” at arms to the Ecclesiarchy), and I don’t really like gender-segregated organizations regardless of which gender it is. Much better would be more mixing of genders within all Factions. Female Guard and Culties and yes, even Space Marines and Custodes. Male Callidus Assassins. Male Nulls in the Order of Silence.

        Good point that they could have embiggened some creepier bugs. I’ve always kind of wanted to see giant Tardigrades show up in some form.

      • Wudugast

        Aye, the old “men at arms” joke. In some ways I like that it pokes fun at the hidebound nature of the Imperium, that they don’t know the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit, and that anything set down in the past can never be changed. That said I do wonder how well that aspect of the Sister’s background is going to come over now, 40k has a lot less jokes these days and I wonder if it might fall a little flat this time around.

        It’s much like the Witch King in Lord of the Rings and his whole prophecy about how no man will kill him. Were his final thoughts really “Dammit I’ve been undone by pedants!” Which would be fair, I knew they were out to get us. Éowyn killed him because she’s a bad-ass, she did it in her own right and on her own merits, it shouldn’t be just because she was a girl in the right place and time to exploit a linguistic loophole.

        As a rough rule of thumb I tend not to be bothered by background of this type if it predates my interest in 40k though, I think I just accepted it when I started whereas with newer material it sticks out a bit more. Space Marines being all male for instance just works for me, it ties into the whole bigoted, super-macho culture of the Astartes themselves (I don’t like space marines being portrayed as “good guys” either for that matter). Plus I love the idea that Malcador wanted to make the Primarchs and their legions all female instead but the Emperor laughed it off – possibly because he was already worried that Leto II of Dune was going to sue him for copyright infringement and that was just going to make things worse. The trouble is it’s been done to death now, it really would be nice to see more variety from now on. If we had a mix of sexes amongst the Guard/Cultists/Gangs/etc then it would help to define the character of the Marines, Custodes and Sisters.

        The way it was shoehorned into the Cawdor background kind of bothered me too (that Cawdor have all male gangs based off the Custodes and all female gangs based off the Sisters of Battle – felt stretched a bit thin really. I almost suspect it was put in at the last moment when people saw the pre-release pictures of the gang and started complaining – quite rightly – that there weren’t any women).

        Oh, and giant Tardigrades would be amazing. 😀

      • Alexis West

        Honestly, because I dislike prophecy and the idea of fixed destinies, I kind of like when they get undone by issues of semantics and such.

        Fun fact: Eowyn getting around the prophecy that way happened because Tolkien never liked Shakespeare’s end run on it in Macbeth. The Ents are also because of Macbeth. He was totally disappointed by the way the “Birnam Wood to Dunsinane” bit played out.

        Also, not being a man was a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. She still needed to be badass enough to actually defeat him in combat on top of that. I haven’t read it in ages, but I believe it was also implied that it was also part of why Merry was able to hurt him so badly, tho since Merry was less of a badass, he also needed the advantage of the Barrow-blade.

        Given that they’ve been writing way more women into the Guard, and the Navy, and the Arbites, and the Imperial Knights, and Titan crews, and basically everywhere except the Space Marines and Custodes, I think it’s really going to stand out if they still go with the “no men at arms” thing.

        On the Cawdor, I actually had a much simpler explanation: They’re all malnourished and scrawny and wearing bulky, form-concealing robes and hoods or masks. Any proportion of them that you like are women, it’s just that none of the characteristics that people use to assign gender are visible.

        Also, the no female Space Marines/Custodes bugs me because there’s no biological reason for it. When Wolverine and the Stallone version of Judge Dredd have a better understanding of gender biology, it makes GW look pretty bad by comparison.

        OK, wow, that got long again. Sorry for getting ranty on your blog.

      • Wudugast

        Please, rant away – part of the reason I enjoy this blog (and the only reason I write posts like the one above) is to stimulate discussion and conversation. 😀

        I agree, I hate the idea of fixed destinies. I love the way Khayon in Talon of Horus slags them and talks about them being unreliable and only making sense with hindsight. For me they only really work in very carefully and cleverly deployed circumstances (Dune again) or if they’re self-fulfilling (for instance if a character believes their actions to be predestined and so acts against their own interest).

        I didn’t know that about Tolkien’s feelings re Macbeth. I actually grew up just a few miles from the real Birnam Wood and spent a fair amount of time as a child pretending there were ents in there.

        I really must read Lord of the Rings again, it’s been far too long since I read it too. My memory of that whole bit is a little sketchy now.

        Completely agree on the Cawdor, I too assumed that some of them were women and when people started fussing over it online I thought that GW would respond pretty much exactly the same way you have. Instead we get this nonsense about segregated gangs. I think in my mind my gang will be a mixture of men and women (after all they’re a long way down in the Underhive and official edicts take a while to reach them. Plus conferring the individuality of gender on a humble follower of the Redemption smacks of heresy to me!).

        Agree re the biology angle, there’s absolutely no genetic reason not to have female space marines. However to me it just plays to the darkness, the ignorance and the totalitarian aesthetic of 40k. The Emperor’s actions were utterly enigmatic, and at times appear to be self-sabotaging in their ineptitude. After ten thousand years of misinterpretation and political/religious wrangling it’s reached the point where it’s hard to tell where he was being inept and where he had some grand design that now beyond our ability to understand. He often failed to understand human nature but he was also very human in his own foibles and failings.

        I’m not justifying it, actually quite the opposite, for me 40k works because it is so unjustifiable. There are no good sides in a war, the best you can ever hope for is good people doing their best. 40k takes that to its conclusion and I love it. On the one side you have the space-Nazi’s doomed by their own ignorance, bigotry and superstition, and on the other hand if you rebel against that you end up as a gibbering monstrosity praying to a hate-filled blood-thirsty god. Everyday heroism helps to define that (a guardsman selling his life dearly to the civilians can escape, a chaos marine fighting to protect his battle brother – even though that brother is little more than a warp-crazed spawn now). However there shouldn’t be any positive political changes (a big risk in my opinion with Roboute back in the frame) because then it becomes a case of the ends justifying the means.” If we hadn’t had ten millennia of totalitarianism then humanity would never have survived and now things can get better” is a far worse message to be sending out than “if we embrace ignorant xenophobia we’re all doomed”. (This, by the way, is why I hate the Salamanders. If they were really good guys they would have abandoned the Imperium long ago. They are a sop, a fig-leaf of respectability to cover up the naked horror of the Imperium, and they disgust me).

        What I would love to see, and what I think would marry the two sides neatly, would be a throw-away line from Cawl saying something to the effect of “Well if you’re so desperate for reinforcements I’ve got literally hundreds of thousands of female Primaris on ice here, waiting to be deployed” only to be told “Shut up heretic, you’ve messed around with the Emperor’s design quite enough already!”. In the novel Dark Imperium he says he has huge armies of Primaris bred from the traitor legions waiting to be sent into battle but Guilliman tells him “no” in no uncertain terms so it’s not so farfetched.

      • Alexis West

        The various issues with the Emperor’s ineffabilty/incompetence came to mind a bunch when I was reading the fluff for AoS 2 and they kept talking about Sigmar’s “infinite wisdom”, often in the same paragraph as they describe him making blatantly terrible decisions.

        I see the Salamanders (and the Space Wolves, for much the same reasons) as being so sunk in doublethink and so bereft of creativity and critical thinking that they don’t recognize just how much their ideals really don’t align with the Imperium.

        Cawl would be a good vehicle to address that, one way or another, yeah.

  • Faust

    I’m not planning on picking this one up, but you do highlight some nice models in there, and several shortcomings. I think Aximillion looks just about the right size to me. The FW one looks like a freakin horse, even if it does look cool with it’s cyber gear.

    Lots of other little things, I could bring up, but I’m going to talk about the elephant in the room.

    Elucia Vhane.

    Based on the way the artist depicted her in the very first image of your post, I would not have been surprised if her background revealed she was transgender or a cross-dresser. The arms have a markedly masculine appearance, and probably not what you would see on a ‘noble lady’. It also might explain why Elucia is wearing that veil. I think it would be pretty interesting to see fan reactions, if they did a big reveal about Elucia’s real gender identity at a later date.

    • Wudugast

      Aye, Macula’s a big dog isn’t he? It comes round (yet again) to what I was saying above regarding Vhane and the fact that her model needs to represent her and all Rogue Traders. The Macula model needs to represent both Macula (who should be an absolutely huge alpha dog, the undisputed king of hounds on Necromunda) and all other cyber-mastiffs who should be a little smaller in my view.

      As for Vhane, I suspect she’s just a lady who works to maintain her upper body strength on these long space voyages – but damn, can you imagine the horror and outrage from the bigots if what you’re suggesting came true? I’d love it if they did it. 40k could use being a little dangerous again 😀

      • Faust

        I vote for danger. If I was playing that, and had that model, I would probably do a head swap with a dude. Maybe a half-dude/half-robot head, as there is a hint of something mechanical there to me as well.

        Hmm, good argument on Macula, though I guess I disagree. I have a feeling if they had the resources or inclination to make a handler with a group of cyber-mastiffs, they would all be the same size as Macula. From my experience buying Blood Bowl minis from ForgeWorld, they have a tendency to go just slightly larger scale than the scale of minis I’ve gotten from GW. Definitely not everything that FW is doing is like that, else none of Necro weapons upgrades would fit! 😛

        But good argument nonetheless regarding the need for these minis to be iconic representations of their kind.

      • Alexis West

        Given how wealthy the Vhanes are, and some of the tech we know they have access to, if Elucia were trans, her gender confirmation surgery would have been thorough enough that no one without access to her history or medical records would know.

      • Wudugast

        Someone like Minst for example, who would then need to be silenced by framing the poor doctor, spreading malicious rumours and false evidence that she was the one who introduced the Gellerpox to the ship. Meanwhile Vhane moves on, going from doctor to doctor, from one operation to the next, with each person who operates on her or sees her medical records painstakingly removed from play – either revealed as a traitor or the victim of an accident or other misadventure that leads to their death. First the gender realignment as Vhane becomes male, then the introduction of new organs, the bulking of her muscle-mass, the grafting on of extra tissue, the modification of her DNA, the psycho-reconditioning program until at last she can return from her mission, stand before Guilliman himself and, as her knife pierces his primary heart, pull of her veil and reveal herself to be Alpharius…
        Hmmm… No wonder Black Library turned down my submission to write for them…

        On a different note I was thinking about this for quite a while yesterday (as one does) and it struck me that to be trans in 40k really wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Naturally I hope we continue to grow as a culture and long before we reach the 41st Millennium people have stopped giving a shit about how other people live their lives. However in the context of the setting any modification of the body that occurs as the result of surgery (either as chosen by the subject or inflicted upon them by the state) is seen as ok, whereas anything out with the human norm occurring naturally is seen as dangerous and representative of the stigma of Chaos. Convert your entire body into a mechanical centipede with no human flesh remaining bar your brain in a jar and you’re seen as a worthy and respectable member of the Cult Mechanicum, be born with an extra nipple and the Inquisition comes round with the flamethrowers. Having an extra mechanical arm grafted to you in order to help with your Emperor-given labours is just fine but grow one as a result of having your DNA modified by xenos who want to devour all of humanity and suddenly everyone freaks out. It’s total hypocrisy I tell you! Changing sex however is probably quite normal and unremarkable, assuming you can afford it and it doesn’t just happen because you stood too close to a Warp rift.

  • imperialrebelork

    Great write up. I finally picked up my box last Thursday. I’m concerned about the red plastic now though. Is it easy to slice, carve and nip etc?

    • Wudugast

      I’ll be honest, I’ve done a lot more (and will do more) with the green plastic Gellerpox, mostly I like the red team the way they are. From my experience it’s fine to work with though, just take care because being more brittle you have the risk of it cracking where you don’t want it to. You’re experienced at carving up miniatures though, you’ll be fine 🙂

  • krakendoomcool

    Great idea using a writher as a beast of Nurgle. I had the same idea but a google search told me I wasn’t the first.

    • Wudugast

      Cheers! Yeah, I’ve been trying out a few ideas there but although I think the core idea is sound I’m not still not entirely happy with anything I’ve made – I’ll be keeping an eye out for your version (I need the inspiration to get me over the last few hurdles!)

      • krakendoomcool

        I’ve popped him on twitter so you can see where I’m at right now, I’ll stick some more upto date pics up soon. More horns and Nurgle details are planned.

      • Wudugast

        He’s looking excellent – you’ve got a really good Blood Bowl vibe going on without losing the qualities of the original miniature. Must confess I’ve been finding it a challenge striking a balance between the two with my own efforts but I reckon you’ve got it spot on so far. 🙂

  • Blood Bowl Stinks (part 3) – Beast of Nurgle (Rotspawn) – Krakendoomcool

    […] to have this idea. Wudagast from Convert or Die talks about using the Writher as a Rotspawn in his review of the Rogue Trader game. So with the words ‘convert or die’ in mind, I had to convert the Writher into a Blood […]

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