Revamping the Undead

Did you hear that? The chiming of the midnight bell, the chitterling of bats, the groaning of the crypt door… The Vampire Counts, once a staple of Warhammer Fantasy, are rising from the grave and they’re doing it in style!

Vampire Art 5

It’s been a while since I wrote one of these reviews for a big wave of AoS or 40k models. I almost did one for the new Lumineth Realmlords but it would have been easily summed up with the sentence “They’re alright but I preferred the first lot”. Likewise I planned to write one for the Slaaneshi mortals but that would have boiled down to “I love all of it” followed by a string of double entendres – so it’s probably a relief all round that I restrained myself. 

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do one this time though – I bloody love vampires and this was a release I could really get my teeth into. I fell under the spell of the Vampire Counts many years ago, back when Sylvania was the capital of the dead, Shyish was a wind and the Von Carstein family ruled the night. I started an army of them several times but never really got it off the ground although with each attempt I accumulated more – some of which were eventually painted and some of which still linger in dusty obscurity even now. Maybe I’ll start a Soulblight Vampire’s army and finally get them painted up – or maybe they’ll be stuck in their tombs a little longer. Time shall tell – today, let’s grab our shovels and head down to the nearest graveyard to take a look at the new models!

Zombies Art

Vampire Lord

First things first, and where better to begin than with this undead general; the Vampire Lord.

Vampire Lord

What can I say – it’s a beautiful model ruined by, for some crazy reason, having bats in their hair. There’s a time and a place for being a bit OTT but this just comes off as daft to me, and plays to that silly superstition that bats get caught in ladies’ hair. If I get this model, and I might, those will either be getting snipped off or I’ll be giving them a headswap from elsewhere in the range. Otherwise it’s a damn good model, and its simplicity is its greatest strength, which makes adding a silly flourish in the form of the hair bats even more foolish. Mind you, a female friend did comment “Who hasn’t been running late and wished a few bats would turn up and do your hair? This is Warhammer’s answer to a Disney Princess!” I’ll never look at this particular miniature quite the same way again…

Wight King

Vampires may be at the heart of this wave of releases but there are other undead shambling forth alongside them, not least of which is the magnificent Wight King.

Wight King

Skeletal steeds can be hard to pull off but they haven’t put a foot wrong here. He’s a very detail heavy miniature but they’ve shown the sense not to add lots of extraneous flourishes so that every one of those details feels necessary and adds to the personality of the model overall. The result is a very conservative design, rather than one which is littered with unique “Games Workshop only” elements, the kind of thing which doesn’t quite work in practice but which no-one else is doing which they so often allow themselves to be tempted by. What’s particularly impressive is the way in which this model is an almost perfect copy of the old Wight King model (a theme which we’ll be revisiting time and again as we look through these releases).

Old Wight King

However whilst the old one was well past retirement age the new one swaggers out of the gate looking like the royalty he is. I can’t wait to see him leading a spearhead of Black Knights as they thunder down upon the hapless living. Nor is this the only undead cavalry to come galloping out of the gates…

Blood Knights

If you’d asked me a few months ago to come up with a wishlist of models I’d like to see in this release then the Blood Knights would have been second only to the Zombies (more on them below). The old Blood Knights were nice enough models but, and I know this is just personal taste, I never really liked them that much – which is unfortunate because I loved the concept behind them and the artwork which often made them look brooding and terrible to behold.

Blood Knight John Blanche

The price was also a pretty big sticking point, the old models were always phenomenally expensive. The new ones aren’t exactly cheap but this is a rare case of GW’s prices actually going down. 

Having set the bar very high by imagining how good these could look for at least the last decade or so these vampires were going to have to work hard to impress me – but they rose to the challenge with aplomb.

Blood Knights Lance

Forcing myself to be objective, and putting my personal prejudices aside, the old ones weren’t bad models, especially for their time – but they just don’t match up to the new breed at all.

Blood Knights

The new kit appears to contain a range of options, including lances, swords and a variety of heads, allowing you to personalise your own vampiric elite – or put together large numbers of them without having to include any duplicates. Certainly there will be those who build their army around a core of Blood Knights and create all-vampire armies, something that I think will be an impressive sight to behold. 

Blood Knights Banner

Zombies

Next we have the zombies, and if ever there was a kit that deserved a do-over it was this one. These newcomers are nice, straightforward walking-corpses, with a sufficient mix of sexes and appearances to suggest a whole town of people have suffered an unfortunately demise, only to be raised again in service to their vampiric lords.

Deadwalker Zombies

The outgoing zombies kit (below) was hard to love. Like all zombies it kept shambling on long after it should have been laid to rest but at long last it’s suffered the metaphorical headshot to put it in its grave (and this time it can damn well stay there!).

Zombies Old

It’s replacement meanwhile is a joy to behold, although that might in part be a reaction the years of suffering that we fans of the undead have endured at the cold dead hands of its predecessor. The zombies therein appear to be both full of character and fairly versatile – perfect for building up an undead hoard.

Zombie

Being a bit more generic these should appeal to anyone who found the Cursed City zombies a little too gimmicky. Not that I have anything against the Cursed City zombies, who totter around with their graves on their backs, but I do acknowledge that they’re not to everyone’s taste. As an aesthetic unique to the Cursed City game I think it works but for every zombie in the Mortal Realms to look that way would be overdoing things – not to mention making it harder to find alternative uses for these models as kitbashing and conversion fodder – so something a little more generic was definitely in order. And if you do happen to want a zombie in that style but missed out on Cursed City you can still make a few from the contents of this box.

Zombies

The roots growing through the corpses is an interesting touch, although I can’t help but wonder how they’ve managed to grow so quickly before the bodies rotted away entirely. Probably the blame lies with dark magic, regardless I think it looks cool. That said I’m sympathetic to those who’re not so keen, especially as this means they’ll need a bit more work if you want to use them as generic zombies fit for any setting. However just as part of me wants to snip those branches off and turn these into Necromundan Scavies, so another part wants to incorporate some Sylvaneth spares and make the woods come alive in the most horrifying way possible. 

Nor is this element entirely unique, my first thought when I saw them was of the Tribe of Sarrassa from the game Hate, although those guys really were more tree than corpse. 

Hate Tribe of Sarrassa

Skeleton Warriors

Unlike the old zombies which were well past their best the old skeleton kit had aged fairly well. I still have a fair number of them which I’d accumulated over the years and which I really ought to get painted and although they may not be the best models around they’re a very long way from the worst. I’m also rather fond of the Grave Guard, another older kit which has stood the test of time very well (and, I’ll confess, another which I managed to snag at a bargain price years ago and which has been languishing unpainted ever since). These new Skeleton Warriors fall somewhere between the two aesthetically, with a bit more armour and greater bulk giving them a significantly more imposing appearance than their predecessors. A subtle wrongness to their postures emphasises their undead nature (as if that was needed on a warrior already stripped down to their bones) and adds a creepy, unnatural element that the old kit lacked. Overall I’d call this an improvement, and although at first glance I dismissed it the longer I look the more tempted by it I become.

Skeleton Warrior 1

Now I don’t actually own any of these new skeletons (of course – they’ve not even been released yet) but what I do have are the Cursed City skeletons which, to all intents and purposes, are basically the same models, so let’s line them up next to some of the older skeletons in the range and see how they compare.

Skeletons ConvertOrDie Wudugast

Running from left to right we have; a grave guard, a new skeleton warrior, an old skeleton warrior and a mortek guard from the Ossiarch Bonereapers. Before we begin I should also note that, in a moment of silliness, I used a slightly altered model for the old skeleton warrior rather than a standard build. He’s exactly the same as any normal skeleton warrior apart from his head, which I took from the Black Knights kit. The pointed helmet echoes the new skeleton warriors (I was ahead of my time there because I kitbashed him long before these were previewed) but doesn’t add anything to his height – so long as you measure to the eyes rather than the point of the helmet. Anyway, consider my wrist slapped and let’s get on with looking at these models.

The first, and most obvious point here, is how tall the new skeletons are. The pose helps here, they stand a lot straighter than their hunched predecessors, I reckon if the old models had worked on their posture a bit there wouldn’t be much difference. Of course it’s worth remembering that skeletons should be smaller than their flesh and blood allies, strip away all your meat and organs and you’d be considerably smaller too. Back when these guys were alive they must have been giants! Marching alongside the old skeleton warriors however they actually work quite well, looking like professional soldiers in their rusted armour, with the old skeletons appearing more like undead militiamen. If, like me, you still have old skeleton warriors in your collection I reckon you can add in some of the newcomers as well and the results will still look cohesive.

The two warriors on the ends of the line-up are where things get a bit more complicated however. It wasn’t until recently, when I sat down and painted a pair of mortek guards for myself, that I realised how short these guys are. The Ossiarch Bonereapers are presented as Nagash’s elite, an army build from the ground up for war rather than simply harvested from whatever corpses happened to by lying around by a plucky necromancer in a hurry. These are the death god’s counter to Sigmar’s Stormcast Eternals, crafted from the near-infinite supply of bones he has access to, so why did he decide to make them so stunty? However the mortek guard are at least part of a different army, albeit one loosely allied to the Soulblight. The grave guard however are supposed to be the Soulblight’s elite infantry, yet once again we find them to be shorter and less imposing than the new rank-and-file. As I noted above I’ve always been very fond of the grave guard but standing next to the new skeleton warriors you wouldn’t immediately pick them out as the tough veteran troops in the way that you would have done if you’d been comparing them to the old skeleton warriors. Had I been looking to refresh the range of Soulblight models I think my inclination would have been to leave the old skeleton warriors alone, and update the grave guard instead. As it is I would suggest that anyone who wants to really invest in a Soulblight army that stands out from the crowd should consider kitbashing grave guard and black knight parts with the new skeleton warriors to make their own grave guard (and in fact this is something I might play around with myself once I get my hands on a few bits – I’m not sure I have the enthusiasm to put together a whole squad but it would be a fun way to add some skeletal muscle to a Warcry warband). As a cheaper alternative you could always use the old skeleton warriors as skeleton warriors and the new ones as grave guard – but gamers should keep in mind that’s likely to be confusing for both you and your opponent.

Grave Guard Art

Fell Bats

Another kit from the Vampire Counts era that has been desperately overdue for a refresh is the monstrous Fell Bats. Once again, let’s take a quick look at the old models…

Bats Old

… and then compare them to these newcomers who have come flapping out of the gloom to carry off the townsfolk and their livestock.

Fell Bats 1Fell Bats 2

I’ve always felt that bats get a bad press and I’ve never been able to follow why a small, insect-eating mammal inspires such terror (unless you’re a moth of course, in which case you have my sympathies). For the rest of us though so long as you don’t go around eating them and starting a pandemic there’s really no cause for alarm. That said they’ve been a staple of nocturnal horror since long before Bram Stoker hammered out his overwrought prose and have a well established association with vampires. Plus, let’s be honest here, absolutely no-one who took a sane and compassionate view of bats prior to seeing these models will be transformed into a chiroptophobe just by looking at them. If we accept, and I think that most sensible people do, that painting a unit or two of Afrika Korp Soldiers won’t turn you into a neo-Nazi as osmotic pressure draws evil out of the miniature, up the brush and into your hand, then it stands to reason that painting these little horrors won’t lead you into the shady world of batophobia. No matter how much I might have preferred to see a more innovative monster here rather than pandering to anyone daft enough to fear death by echolocation bats are what we got, and they deserve an honest appraisal. And if I’m honest I like them. I probably won’t go rushing off to buy them but if you want some leering, furry gargoyles for your collection I don’t think you can go far wrong with these.

Dire Wolves

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record the Dire Wolves are yet another kit from the old Vampire Counts era that was overdue for replacing. I must confess that I actually rather liked the old version, and even painted up a squad of my own (see image below), but I know I was in the minority there.

Although I was a fan of the old Dire Wolves I’m not blind to their flaws. Time for them to shuffle off into woods unknown and be replaced by the new dogs on the block.

Dire Wolf 3

Much like bats wolves get a bad press. Despite being pretty much harmless unless you’re a sheep wolves have carved out a special place in European nightmares, ready at any moment to set upon hapless peasants, blow up the houses of little pigs or dress up as people’s grandmothers. These wolves navigate neatly around the debate over whether we should live in existential dread of these animals by being zombies – and everything is scary once it’s a zombie! Personally I like these new wolves, they have a nice sense of movement to them and the poses look suitably hungry and predatory. Games Workshop have really struggled to sculpt decent looking wolves in the past but with these, and Belladamma Volga (below) they’ve at last managed to pull off something quite stylish. All the trailing drool is a bit unnecessary and over-eggs things a bit but it’s nothing a hobby knife won’t cure.

Dire Wolf 1Dire Wolf 2

Kritza the Rat Prince

Games Workshop’s vampires tend towards the bestial, with even the more human looking ones snarling with talons raised, ready to tear their victims apart in their bloodlust. Kritza on the other hand is extremely restrained and reserved. There’s something resigned, almost mournful about him; you suspect he would apologise before and after biting you, and possibly during as well. 

Kritza 1

It’s only after a second glance that one spots the sinister tide of rats scurrying beneath his long cape, and recognise exactly what kind of animals he’s used to decorate his robes. They seem to be quite dead now of course, just stuffed heads with glassy eyes – but are they? These are the vampire lords after all, and no-one is quite as dead as they ought to be.

As a vampire Kritza doesn’t really do it for me, there are plenty of other new lords of the night which to my eye look a lot more powerful and vampiric, but I am tempted to pick him up and turn him into a Necromundan crime lord.

Lady Annika

Whilst the Rat Prince tends towards an appearance of civilised melancholy Lady Annika appears to be a much more vicious creature indeed. If you like your vampires to keep their murderous inclinations beneath the thinnest veneer of civilisation then this could well be the girl for you.

Lady Annika 1

Her big hair-do is a bit OTT of course but it suits the model. Taken as a whole the miniature combines barely contained savagery with faded grandeur, and of all the vampires in this wave of releases she looks the most undead – the bloodlust and decay only just masked, and only for now…

Lauka Vai

Unlike the Nighthaunt or Ossiarch Bonereapers these new Soulblight and their minions would for the most part fit seamlessly into the old Warhammer world as well. If you’re still marching around on square bases and flying the banner of Sylvania as the Empire burns then this release looks like a welcome opportunity to refresh your collection. Equally – and unlike the aforementioned Empire models – these appear completely at home in the Age of Sigmar. A corpse is still a corpse after all, regardless of where you raise it, and with the possibility of a dwarf no-one clings to the old ways like a vampire.

However it’s at this point that things start to get a bit bloody weird. Quite why someone decided that a part-bat, part-dragon, part-woman was the centre piece the army needed but needless to say it’s been divisive. Enter Lauka Vai, the Mother of Nightmares. 

Lauka Vai

I’m not going to lie to you, I think she’s really damn cool. She’s a truly weird and unsettling creature who has crawled forth from the same dark pits of the human imagination that HP Lovecraft once indulged. She speaks directly to the part of the human mind that recoils at death, and doubley so at undeath. As our civilisation has grown so the undead have been made safe, gathering around spooky clichés, fun-loving ghosts, Halloween parties, sparkling vampires. An age of reason, science and enlightenment has taught us that there is nothing to fear here. Lauka Vai reaches out and touches the inner medieval peasant lying alone in his hut, heart racing and ears straining to hear the creak and rustle of something lurking just beyond the door, the part of us that knows that reason is for daylight hours and lies awake when all the lights go out. 

I’m not terribly keen on the rosary, or whatever it’s meant to be, that Lauka is holding, it seems like the kind of unnecessary detail that GW sculptors have a habit of including purely to avoid leaving a space, without actually adding anything to the narrative of the model. Apart from that however there’s a lot to like here.

Lauka Vai 2

Despite all this enthusiasm however I do see why she might not be everyone’s cup of tea. What’s more although I think she’s great I actually prefer her as a special character, a one-off horror rather than part of a whole bizarre species. Much though I like her I struggle to maintain the same level of enthusiasm for the Vengorian Lord, the generic version of the same kit. 

Vengorian Lord

 The Vengorian Lord isn’t a bad model, although the Nosferatu vibe is perhaps a little heavy handed and that distracts from the model’s other qualities for me. Beyond that he echoes her quite closely, they’re just different ways of building of the same model at the end of the day, so if you particularly like or dislike one you’ll probably feel the same way about the other.  If I hadn’t already seen Lauka I’d probably quite like him, but I have and so I can’t help but see him as an inferior version.

One thing that I don’t really like on either version of the model is the head. Lauka works well enough but I think I’d probably replace it with one from elsewhere in the range (with the plethora of spares on the Blood Knights being the first contender) in order to put my own spin on it. I’m still trying to judge the exact size of the head however, it may be a little larger than the other vampires in the range but it’s hard to tell exactly with only photographs to go on. Again however I do have a few demented ideas I’d like to explore here…

Indeed the longer I look at Vengorian Lord the more I start to think of the ways I’d tweak him (a new head for starters!) so perhaps, should I decide to get this kit for myself it’ll be an altered version Vengorian Lord rather than Lauka Vai by the time that I finally put brush to plastic. Of all these releases this is the one which has my creative juices flowing the most as a converter so don’t be surprised if some twisted nightmare comes crawling up out of the dark depths sooner or later.

Radukar the Beast

The central villain of the ill-fated game Cursed City (surely a case of nominative predeterminism if ever I heard one!) was the vampire lord Radukar the Wolf.

Radukar the Wolf

Now I’ve not played through the game yet and I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone else but I think it’s a fairly safe bet to assume that, if you win the game where the central objective is to defeat the vampire then the vampire will end up dead(er) at the end. However that fails to account for one of the central tenants of horror, that the baddie always come back. Horror movie bad guys, much like action movie heroes, have a phenomenal ability to come crawling back from the verge of death, shrug off apparently mortal wounds and get all murderous on those who done them wrong. Poor old Radukar has been very wronged indeed, having been “cancelled” by Games Workshop (perhaps he held the wrong opinions?) he’s come back swinging, having swapped rulership of the Cursed City for a gym membership and a lifetimes’ supply of protein shakes. Better yet he’s got a new miniature, which replaces the old one that was available for all of about 15 minutes just a few weeks ago. Seeing all the other replacements for old models that form part of this release actually only serves to make this more striking – the first Radukar having been on sale for about as many minutes as the old zombies outstayed their welcome in years.

Radukar the Beast

The new incarnation is a muscular brute and as subtle as a brick, and I love him for it. As well as being an awesome model in his own right I can’t help but think that he could be converted into a Khornate lord, or a Space Wolf who has succumbed to the curse of the wulfen. Kritza the Rat Prince will undoubtedly take one look at him and start twittering about toxic masculinity, bless his little soul.

Scampering around his feet we have a pair of little Vyrkos Blood-Born. These diminutive vampires were once the nobility of the Cursed City who swore themselves to Radukar and were reborn as these half-feral creatures. Seeing them on Radukar’s base is a nice touch, providing a nod to the Cursed City game whilst also serving to emphasise how big the vampire lord has now grown. However I can’t help but wonder if, in the future, they might look a little out of context. Without the game from which they originated, and with it having remained on the shelves for such a brief time, there’s very little that looks like them elsewhere in the range. Who knows though, maybe someday the little scamps will get their own kit?

Belladamma Volga

Prior to this release I certainly wasn’t expecting the sheer number of vampires that have been revealed, nor the range of styles. Truly there is a vampire here for every occasion, from Kritza, who I feel might actually sparkle if you catch him in the right light, to the murderous Annika or the Lovecraftian strangeness of Lauka Vai. I must admit however that I certainly wasn’t expecting Radukar to bring his gran along.

Belladamma Volga

There’s a wonderfully subtly to this model that to me makes her one of the best things in this release. At first glance she could almost be a fairly normal old woman, albeit one with an unusual choice of steed but allowances can be made for riding around on wolves in a fantasy setting. Then you spot her feet pocking out the bottom of her dress and have to suppress a shudder as she slips across the border into the uncanny valley in search of a gingerbread cottage to lurk in. What sharp teeth you have grandmama…

Skeletons End Times Warhammer

Anyway, if you haven’t gathered as much by now I think this is an excellent set of releases and I can’t deny that I’m thinking very seriously about raising some dead of my own. As I mentioned above I’ve already got a whole heap of undead knocking around that I’ve gathered over the years, and this is giving me the itch to get stuck in about them at last. I don’t know how many of the new kits I’m going to rush out to buy (metaphorically of course – who goes out to buy things these days?), especially given the aforementioned stack of corpses in the spare room (and there’s a line you don’t want to hear quoted out of context…). At the very least I’m going to treat myself to a set of zombies though, you can never have too many of them, and then we’ll take it from there.

One thing that does strike me though, especially as I look at the new vampire characters, is how much old Neferata and Mannfred feel out of place. For the uninitiated these were two of the most powerful vampires in the old Warhammer setting and when the great necromancer Nagash became a god in the new Mortal Realms he raised their souls once more and bound them into his service, reasoning that as their miniatures had only been released in 2014 it might be premature to kill them off without giving people a proper chance to buy them – a fate which Radukar the Wolf can only envy. Now I’m certainly not complaining that the models are still available, both of them are excellent miniatures and I certainly intend to paint one or other of them someday – probably Neferata (sorry Mannfred, you’re a much more interesting character and your devious villainy is a hoot to read about, but I have a secret love for Neferata so she jumps the queue).

Neferata

I’ve always felt however that they don’t really belong to Age of Sigmar, they’re borrowed from old Warhammer and ever since the setting was created they’ve felt like a fish out of water, allowed to linger on in the new setting because we’re all too polite to tell them that the setting they belong to burned to the ground six years ago and they weren’t on it. Whilst some of the other old world survivors, Morathi for instance, or Nagash himself, have really grown into their new roles these two old timers never really seemed to fit. Introducing new vampire characters has only emphasised this divide. I suppose Belladamma Volga could almost come riding across the steps of Kislev and perhaps Lauka Vai might lurk on some lonely island off the coast of Lustria or Naggaroth, but really these are creatures of the new Realms – and Neferata and Mannfred belong to the old. Perhaps as the new range beds in I’ll change my mind, or perhaps they’ll just be allowed to live out their days quietly on the shelves of Games Workshop stores until the Old World project is finally unveiled and they’re able to find their way home at last.

Knightmare Warhammer Vampire Counts

Death has had a strong showing over the past few years, with the arrival of first the ghosts of the Nighthaunt, then the skeletal legions of the Ossiarch Bonereapers and now the old fashioned undead of the Soulblight Gravelords. I suspect, and I’m happy to be proved wrong, that we might not see a great deal more from the forces of undeath over the next few years, as Games Workshop switch their focus to the savage hordes of Destruction currently gearing up to take their turn as the big baddies of the setting and give those Order gits a propa kickin’. That said I think there’s still a lot of creative potential to be explored here, as and when Games Workshop get around to it. Most deserving of a little attention are the Flesh-eater Courts. The ghouls are nice models, and the background – which describes them as deluded, Quixotic knights who believe themselves to be noble and heroic rather than degenerate cannibals – is very clever. It’s unfortunate however that the background has no visual link to the models whatsoever, there’s not a single miniature in the range which so much as hints at knightly qualities. What’s more I really like the available models but I’m put off from even considering an army of them because the range leans so heavily on just a handful of kits, with many units differentiated from each other simply by having a slightly different head. If I had a seat amongst Games Workshop’s team of designers I’d make sprucing up the ghouls my next priority, and I’d want to emphasise the knightly aspect whilst I was about it.

Ghouls ConvertOrDie Wudugast (1)

Anyway, the sun is creeping over the horizon so it’s time for me to slink back to my crypt to wait out another day. I may lie in my coffin, my flesh as cold and white as marble, but I am not dead – nor am I sleeping. I’m waiting, specifically to hear what you might have to say about all this. As even, my fellow lords of the night, the comments box is all yours…

All images of models or artwork belong to Games Workshop – apart from the photos of my own models of course. No garlic was harmed in the production of this post.


29 responses to “Revamping the Undead

  • davekay

    Nice article, and it’s good to be reminded of the models that are being replaced. I think the dire wolves, bats, and skeletons got a great upgrade. I like some of those vampire characters too, especially Kritza.

    • Wudugast

      Thank you! I always find it helps to have a direct comparison between the outgoing models and the new, I don’t know about anyone else but otherwise I end up with a mental image of the old kits that’s more of a caricature than anything else, generally because I haven’t looked at them for years.

  • b00sk0r

    The updates to the undead really bring out some excellent new models, Lady Annika is incredible and the updated zombie sculpts are a grand improvement imo, some of the characters are not my thing, but over all the update has been very good for the ol’ boners. OG Fellbat models will never be beaten though, they are the most perfect thing to ever perfect!

    • Wudugast

      There’s some really nice stuff there isn’t there? We’ll have to agree to differ on the old bats but I loved the old Dire Wolves so who am I to judge! 😀

      You make a very good point regarding the characters, there’s something there for everyone and although there’s bound to be something you don’t like there’s also a fair chance there’s going to be something you will. The main thing is they got the core of the army spot on, and then you can “add flavour” with whatever characters take your fancy.

  • Pete S/ SP

    I’m not an AoS plyaer but those are some really nice models. Those Dire Wolves are due a trip to the Zone I think….

    Cheers,

    Pete.

  • Alex

    Yeah, spot on mate, some much needed reboots of some pretty (a-hem) dire kits is very welcome & very well done! I like pretty much all the new vamps for what they are, and for their awesome conversion potential! Even the weird dragon/bat/centaur/vamp is ok by me. However, the absolute stars of the show & the only models I’m tempted to buy are the blood knights… they are amazeballs!

    • Wudugast

      Those blood knights are downright gorgeous aren’t they? I’m very tempted to treat myself there. Apart from that I’ve already ordered a mob of zombies, and I keep looking at Lauka Vai and thinking of little tweaks and conversions. Think I’ll try to reign myself in there though – have to remember there’s new Orks comin’!

  • daggerandbrush

    A very well written and entertaining review of the new range.

    I am glad that the bats and zombies got a new release. I think the idea with gravestones etc. on their backs is unique and quite cool. I still agree that less of them is more. It is a pity the skeletons don’t feature gravestones and so on. But maybe some of the minis can be combined or converted.

    Otherwise I really like Kritza. He has the right amount of class combined with menace for my tastes. Not sure about the rat cloak, but it is a nice theme nevertheless.

    I am not a fan of the weird vampire-dragon-bat creatures. That said, I also dislike centaurs and Driders. I guess I am not a fan of the joint-at-the-bottom-end idea.

    So I agree it is a great release, with a tad of jumping the shark, but then also a certain groundedness I missed for a while in GW’s creations. So very positive outlook for the future I say.

    I, too, shall retreat to my alcove mein Graf, to wait till you call again … and I shall witness the miniatures bathed in blood…or Agrax Earthshade.

    • Wudugast

      Thank you!

      I too like Kritza – and I think class combined with menace sums him up perfectly. I’m still not sure he’s my kind of vampire but I keep looking at him and thinking about turning him into a crime lord for Necromunda, in which case the rat cape fits perfectly. Really I just need to find the right head and then start thinking about accoutrements.

      They’ve definitely laid on the crazy flamboyance here, and the shark has been well and truly jumped at points, but the key thing is they’ve kept that to the special characters and been a bit more restrained and sensible with the rank and file. I’d say that’s crucial to the success of this range overall – if someone wants to start a Soulblight army but doesn’t like Lauka Vai or Belladamma Volga then they can easily leave them out – whereas if they loved those models but hated the look of the zombies, skeletons or knights that’d make for a much trickier proposition.

  • imperialrebelork

    Geez just when I thought I was done buying stuff from GW for now they release these tasty items. For the last while it seems they’ve released space marines, then more space marines and then, just to change things up a bit, more space marines haha. Like you, I like me some vampires (second favourite ghoul after zombies) so I think I’ll be making some purchases. I think you could easily snip off the bats from the hair on the Lord. Maybe just under where the bats are and that way you’d be able to keep the length and the movement to the hair. I know right I should have been a hair stylist or at least a barber hehe. I’ll definitely be getting the zombies and skellies but now I’m tempted to get everything haha. Great write up mate, just what I needed as I sip my coffee and watch the sunrise. 👍🏼

    • Wudugast

      Aye, apart from the Slaanesh stuff earlier in the year there’s been a lot of space marines and high elves lately. Still we’re back on track now, lovely zombies are here and da orks are comin’!

      Yeah, I think just trimming the bats out of the vampire’s hair should be easy enough (is removing bats a service that barbers provide? I’ll ask next time I’m in, could probably do with it myself…). However I’m increasingly thinking that if you have the Blood Knights just swapping in one of their heads would give a really cool and unique looking vampire.

      Enjoy that coffee bud, I’m just having a beer and winding down at the opposite end of the day. 🙂

  • Mikko

    Thanks for this, I always enjoy these long write-ups as you know! One thing that cracks me up is that in Finland, Annika is a really common, girl-next-door kind of name. Just imagine that vampire as Lady Heather or Lady Amanda!

    Kritza and the skeleton warriors are the pick of the bunch for me, although it’s so nice to finally see some new zombies. “Past its prime” doesn’t begin to cover the old set!

    • Wudugast

      Thanks mate! 🙂

      Haha! Round our way it would be Sarah, when I was left school there were 5 girls called Sarah in my class (and 7 boys called Chris – and there were only 30-odd of us in total). I’ll look forward to Lady Sarah and Lord Chris in the next wave of releases!

  • Calzoni

    Excellent article! I’m a big fan of your release reviews and I’m very glad to see them make a comeback, your in-depth thoughts are greatly appreciated. Regarding the skeleton warriors, I’m quite disappointed to see the outgoing kit being shown the door, while the new sculpts are lovely they feel too ‘professional’ and armoured when the iconic vibe of skeletons in my book is for ramshackle civilian bones walking once more. I agree with your idea of revamping grave guard and leaving skeleton warriors as is, now skeleton armies are in quite an awkward spot with the regulars looking more elite than the actual elite. I was planning to make a deathrattle kingdoms army before the release so I’m kind of jilted about it lol. I’ve never cared much for the other undead but I’m glad to see them updated, the old zombies and fell bats were an affront to the eyes!

    • Wudugast

      Cheers! For me the skeletons issue is the one major misstep with this wave of releases. I love that we can make so many thematically different armies (all cavalry armies with loads of knights, packs of monstrous beasts with plenty of wolves, hunners of zombies and corpse carts etc). The idea of an all Deathrattle army really appeals but I think right now you could either have skeleton warriors or grave guard in an army, but both of them side by side is going to look a little odd. I still really love the old grave guard – they blew my mind when they first came out – but sometimes you’ve got to murder your darlings and this was one of those times. I guess maybe GW think that those who want all skeleton armies will go for Ossiarch but, and I say this as someone who really likes the Bonereapers as well, they’re not the same thing at all.

  • Kuribo

    This is a great write up (as usual) and as someone who had a small Warhammer Fantasy Vampire Counts army, it was cool to see the old and the new. I do miss the Lahmia and other old vampire houses but so many of the new sculpts are vast improvements on what was, it is hard to complain! Of all the new sculpts, the Wight King is still the strongest and is the one I’d be most likely to paint so maybe I’ll get my hands on that one down the road!

    Your article did remind me that I wanted to grab some of the previously released skeletons for my Coven Throne diorama I’ll do one day. A quick check of GW’s site made me realize they’re out of print and then a quick check of eBay helped me determine that the scalpers are already out in force. I think I found a hobby store that has some left for a very reasonable price so you really did me a solid by writing this! 🙂

    • Wudugast

      No worries mate, always glad to help a fellow lord of the night. Can’t believe people are scalping those old skellies already (cheeky swines!). I was after a few random bones to decorate a xenos nest I’m making for Necromunda, managed to find some in my bits box but they’re getting harder to buy already. The armoured skeletons are cool and all but sometimes you just want some old bones!

      Looking forward to seeing that Coven Throne diorama by the way, although I’m guessing that’ll have to wait until after your move.

      That new Wight King really is something else isn’t he? Part of me is tempted to get the new Start Collecting set with him in it but I’ve already got a heap of Black Knights that I need to get painted (and yes, I do want more but I should probably be a sensible grown up and save my pennies). If common sense prevails I’ll wait and keep an eye out for him once he’s available separately.

      • Kuribo

        Scalping is probably a topic either one of us could write a whole article on to be honest. I bet that there are a bunch of buyers (like me!) who feed into it by racing to get these OOP minis once this happens. With that said, I HAD to have skeletons that would match the spirits on the Coven Throne so this was an emergency 😀

        I suspect the Coven Throne is at least several months away from happening but we’ll see. I intend for that one to be really ambitious and to take a long time to complete but we’ll see how it turns out in reality.

        I feel somewhat fortunate that the Wight King isn’t out individually as it keeps me from being tempted by it 🙂 I’d say you should paint a black knight or two as practice in the meantime. Those are pretty cool sculpts as they are!

  • Argentbadger

    I always enjoy reading your thoughts on these big GW release waves, so thank you for taking the time to type them up. I’m not really a massive fan of vampires in modern stories but I am really impressed with what the GW sculptors are doing here. Lauka Vai is a truly amazing model and she’s very much on my radar if my gaming group ever get into playing Age of Sigmar.

    • Wudugast

      Thank you! They take a long time to write and there’s a lot of work goes into them so it’s always nice to hear that people like them and they’re not just self-indulgent. On the other hand I do enjoy writing them so I’d probably do it anyway. 😉

      Lauka really is something else isn’t she. On the one hand she really feels new and original, and on the other hand there’s something almost medieval about her, like something you’d see in an old bestiary. I think a lot of modern stories make vampires very human, I prefer the idea of them as truly monstrous and, in terms of appearance at least, that’s Lauka all over.

  • patmcf

    Nice mate but you are not helping me get back to historical stuff that needs to be done! F…K as soon as I my eyes focused on the wolves my mind said ,Oh great they would work well with the Orcs!! Ahh! its no wonder I get distracted !

    • Wudugast

      Oh yeah, wolves and orcs go together like two very good things that belong in the same place. I wonder if these might be a bit big for your purposes though – I was just looking at some size comparison shots and for wolves these beasts are absolutely massive (more like the size of a horse). Still, there’s got to be food for thought there – embrace the distraction mate!

  • patmcf

    Thanks for that info mate I do have to set a size limit🤔other wise it would start to look a bit silly 😉🤓

  • Faust

    Something must be wrong with me, as I feel I like most of the old models better. The zombies might be the best example of this. Granted the newer zombies are better sculpts, but they lack the general nature of the older ones. In that I mean, I could take the parts of those old zombies and mix and match with any number of things (and trust me, I have!). Trying mix any parts from the new zombies would be a nightmare without some serious converting. Luckily you are Convert or Die, so this is more up your alley! I do like those new Skeletons and some of the Vampires though. On the Vampires they seem to have kept close to the old design aesthetic, which was smart. Don’t change something that is already gold!

    • Wudugast

      What’s wrong with you,  you heretic! Nah, I see what you mean really. Much as I prefer the new zombies to the old they are a lot less modular. I think there are a lot of fantastic opportunities for conversions here but the effort required to create them will be greater. Frankly I’m itching to get started but mine are shambling around a warehouse somewhere still waiting to get posted on to me so I’ll have to be patient.

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