Ork Boyz Old And New

Fans of the Orks in Warhammer 40k have long been familiar with the humble Ork Boy. Mobs of these green thugs have been forming the core of Ork armies since the very earliest days of the game, and the miniatures have remained pretty much unchanged since the 3rd edition, making them older than many of the people currently playing. With the Ork range currently seeing its biggest shake-up in at least a decade many people are casting a critical eye over their Ork mobs and naturally, I’m one of them.

First things first, let’s remind ourselves of the models I’m talking about. This is an Ork Boy, built especially for this article and armed with the standard gear – a slugga and a choppa. He originates from the Assault on Black Reach set, the starter set from the 4th Edition of Warhammer 40k but aside from being “push fit” he’s identical to the Boyz you can pick up from your local GW store today.

Ork Boyz Line-up Warhammer 40k Wudugast ConvertOrDie (3)

I have a long-standing affection for this kit, in fact I’ve painted 100 of them and will undoubtedly paint a few more in the future. Want to take a look at what 100 angry greenskins looks like? Of course you do!

For the most part these lads have stood the test of time fairly well but, with the quality of modern miniatures improving on a seemingly daily basis, I’ve started to expect that Games Workshop will soon decided that they should be shuffled off to wherever Orks go when they retire and replaced by something newer (and possibly also greener and meaner). Of course, as those who’re familiar with Games Workshop’s sometimes anarchic, sometimes simply arcane, business decisions will no doubt have already surmised, that would be far too straightforward. Yes, new Ork Boyz have indeed been released but no, the old Ork Boyz don’t appear to be going anywhere. Rather than just discontinue the old kit and release a new version like normal people (and I’m sure that it’s because I make comments like this that puts them off from sending me cool stuff for free like they do with those fancy-pants Youtubers and Instagram kids) GW decided to release their new Ork Boyz exclusively in a new box set: Combat Patrol: Orks.

Ork Combat Patrol

Now in all fairness this box has a lot of good stuff in it. Alongside the boyz there’s a warboss in mega-armour, three new deffcopters and a deffdread. In fact there was no way I wasn’t going to buy myself one, so the fact that the Boyz are currently only available there is no real skin off my nose. However Boyz are something that many Ork armies contain a lot of. This box will get you 20 of them, but my army contains 100. I’m not much of a list builder and I don’t have access to the latest points values, but based on my fairly rough calculations you could get almost 400 Boyz into a 2000 point army. Would it be any “good” in 9th Edition 40k? Would it get you to the top tables and the big prizes at your next tournament? Buggered if I know but it would surely impress your opponent and you’d have to employ a team of people to roll all your dice for you. However to assemble this mighty green hoard you’d need to purchase 20 of these boxes, which wouldn’t just be hard on the wallet but would leave you with a lot of spare plastic from all the other models that come packaged as part of the deal. Quite what GW are about here isn’t entirely obvious (beyond wanting to sell more models as fast as possible) but then isn’t that often the case? I’m sure it’ll all become clear in time…

That aside let’s take a look at the new Boyz. Here’s one I made earlier.

Ork Boyz Line-up Warhammer 40k Wudugast ConvertOrDie (1)

I chose to build this one specifically because he echoes the old Black Reach boy I showed above, even going so far as to hold his slugga and choppa in the same hands as his predecessor. Now let’s now beat about the bush – much as I loved the old Orks this beats them hands down. As miniatures go he looks fantastic, full of character and crisp details whilst still maintaining the various traits iconic of his faction.

Ork Boyz Line-up Warhammer 40k Wudugast ConvertOrDie (2)

Standing next to the old boy he’s clearly superior, a little bigger and more natural in his pose. The old Boyz could often end up looking a bit static and awkward, whereas this lad practically breathes, his warlike bellow almost echoing from the plastic. If I planned to paint just one Ork the new lad would win over the old hands down. However he’s not without his flaws. For one these new Boyz are all “easy to build” with tabs that can be used to push them together without using glue. It’s a clever idea, when it works, but usually I just snip the tabs off and glue them together properly like an adult. All too often the tabs aren’t quite the right size for the holes they’re meant to fit into and pieces get stuck, necessitating fiddly cutting and pushing to rectify things, by which point some fragile detail or other has been irrevocably damaged. However the real issue I see here is that each of the Boyz in the Combat Patrol box is designed to be built in one specific way. Unlike the old Boyz which could mix and match heads, arms and so on freely these Orks are designed to go together in one way only and woe betide if you start changing things.

Now it only takes a quick glance at the name of this blog to realise that I’m a convertor at heart. I like my models to be unique. The Combat Patrol box contains two sets of sprues to make two sets of identical Ork boyz (the boyz with heavy weapons and the Nobs can be built in one of two different ways but the other 8 models on each sprue have one “correct” build each so if you stick religiously to the instructions you’ll end up with 4 unique models and 8 pairs of twins). Obviously that’ll never do for me, I made sure that every single one of my 100 Ork boyz was unique and even to the 100th Ork it remained a fun challenge. With these guys it’s going to be harder work and I don’t see myself reaching 200 without things changing. That’s not the same as “impossible” of course, and I’m damn well going to find a way to convert every last one them, but it won’t be easy, and there will always be a risk of the converted version loosing something of what makes the unconverted version great without really gaining anything. For now however that challenge still lies ahead.

It’s also worth noting that Boys can be armed with either a slugga and choppa (that’s a pistol and an axe or big knife for those of us who don’t speak ork) or a shoota (a gun). These new lads are mostly armed with sluggas and choppas, although some are armed with shootas. If you want to convert a shoota boy into a slugga boy with these you’d better bring your converting A-game and even then you’ll be pushed – whereas with the old kit it was simply a case of choosing different arms from the sprue. Presumably someone in an ivory tower in Nottingham can explain why this was done but we mere mortals can only guess.

At the end of the day I’m very happy with the new Ork Boyz as models, but as replacements for the old kit they’re pretty terrible. What would delight me would be if GW kept these models as exclusives to the Combat Patrol set and released a new kit for making Ork Boyz separately, something which combines the quality and character of the new boyz with the ease of making lots of unique models that the old kit provided. I think it’s safe to say this isn’t going to be happening anytime soon, but someday – who knows?

Now as it happens these are not the only new Ork Boyz to have been released over the last little while. We’ve also recently seen the arrival of the Beast Snagga Boyz – orks who supplement their lives of fightin’ with wrangling any savage animals they can get their hands on. I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear I’ve built one of them for this article too!

Ork Boyz Line-up Warhammer 40k Wudugast ConvertOrDie (5)

I’ve heard these referred to a lot as “Primaris Orks” – a nod to the Primaris Space Marines which were released over recent years, and which are considerably bigger than the old Space Marine models which preceded them. This seems to stem from a misunderstanding that the Beast Snaggas are much bigger than the Boyz so let’s put that to bed once and for all – they aren’t.

Ork Boyz Line-up Warhammer 40k Wudugast ConvertOrDie (4)

Indeed, apart from a few bits of fur which any Ork might choose to wear these aren’t that much different to the other new Ork boyz. That aside there’s not much to add here that I haven’t already said about the Boyz – they’re lovely models and I’m looking forward to painting them but they’re not multi-posable – if you want lots of these in your army you’d better either accept a lot of clones or get to work converting (naturally I strongly suggest the latter). They’re damn cool but I don’t really know what they bring to the range that couldn’t have been achieved by just branding them as Ork Boyz. They’re nice to have and I’m not going to turn my nose up at them but they’re not what I was asking for any more than the new Boyz are.  I can’t help but wonder if they sprang from some piece of concept art depicting Boyz from the Snakebite clan – which in turn makes me dream of seeing Boyz themed around each other the other clans (snazzy-looking Bad Moons, hulking Goffs, wild-eyed Evil Sunz running full pelt and dreaming of the day they can save up enough teef to buy a motorbike of their own). I know it’ll never happen but if I’m going to dream I might as well dream big right?

Anyway, you’d think that these lovely (albeit imperfect) new kits would be all the new Ork infantry we’d be getting in this wave of releases but you’d be wrong about that because I’ve been saving the best for last. New Kommandos have come sneaking out of the undergrowth and they’re perfect – everything I was hoping they would be and more.

Ork Boyz Line-up Warhammer 40k Wudugast ConvertOrDie (6)

Despite being an elite unit, which is only likely to appear in small numbers in most armies, these are the most poseable and convertable of the lot. Each Kommando has two “standard” builds straight out of the box – that is to say just by following the instructions you can build two radically different miniatures around each body and if you bought two sets you could build two entirely different looking units. Compare that to the new Boyz which have one standard build each from which you diverge at your peril. GW would have done very well to have applied a few lessons from these to the rest of the new infantry but never mind. Expect to see me painting lots of Kommandos in the future.

Sneaky though they are I managed to coerce this one into lining up with the rest of the ladz for a nice comparison shot.

Ork Boyz Line-up Warhammer 40k Wudugast ConvertOrDie (7)

Anyway, with that I’m going to draw my ramblings to a close. Needless to say, strange though some of the decisions GW have made here seem to me as an outsider, I’m still going to be having a lot of fun with these green gits over the next little while. After all, Orktober is just around the corner…


18 responses to “Ork Boyz Old And New

  • Alex

    Nice write-up mate, and this quest for ever-better models at the expense of flexibility is a subject close to my heart. Being an old lead-head, I’m ok with duplicate minis in an army, and with the necessity to convert heavily if you wanted to have all unique minis! Thing is, I keep having to remind myself of that because (without realising it) I’ve come to expect move flexibility…
    At least the various incarnations match size-wise 😂

    • Wudugast

      I know what you mean, as a lead veteran myself I remember desperately wanting to break out of the same repeated poses throughout my collection, but for a kid with none of the right tools and no clue about what he was doing it was a nightmare. Nowadays I think multiple duplicate sculpts in an army of metal miniatures looks fine, but a big part of my attraction to plastic is being able to avoid that issue and have the freedom to build things as I please. Beautiful models that can’t be converted doesn’t feel like it’s entirely a step in the right direction does it? 

      • Alex

        That’s right. It’s doable of course, but the skill levels & effort needed are proper conversion (and even sculpting) skills rather than kitbash-fu… And who’s going to be practicing those skills on their nee megabucks pieces of plastic!

  • CC

    Thanks for this article, I was interested to see what the new ork boy kits were like. I often felt the old box would have been improved by including arms more similar to those in the Stormboyz kit as they are more varied (particularly the pistols).

    I recently bought the Octarius box but haven’t got round to building the kommandos yet. Nice to hear they’ve got different assembly options but a bit disappointing that this isn’t the case for the new boyz (without converting). Is the kit split across 6 with pistols and 4 with shootas?

    • Wudugast

      I’d very much agree, there’s a lot more detail and character to the Stormboys than to the old Boys. I think what I was hoping for was something like the newer space marines (chaos and loyalist), nice looking models but versatile and easy to kitbash. The Stormboys are great like that. 

      I have to say the new Kommandos are fantastic, I’ve only built a few of them so far myself but I can see myself having a lot of fun with them in the future – I think you’ll enjoy them when you get to them. 🙂 

      Each set of 10 new boys makes 2 shootas, 6 slugga/choppas, 1 heavy weapon and 1 nob. The nob and the one with the heavy weapon have 2 alternative builds each, the others only have one standard build without converting. 

  • Pete S/ SP

    Those new boyz look the business. I won’t be getting any but they are cool though.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    • Wudugast

      Very wise. I’m teaching myself not to be tempted by absolutely every new miniature that comes along (with varying degrees of success). Orks have been my thing for a decade and a half now though so I’m treating myself! 

  • theimperfectmodeller

    It’s an odd thing that I’ve discovered as I’ve grown considerably older and that is that new additions of something rarely means they are better. In fact in many instances improvements, if we can call them that, make things worse. It’s a funny old world and one day when the time is right I will get off it. That said I’m delighted to read that you will be having fun with future orc conversions and I’ll look forward to seeing what you come up with. 🙂

    • Wudugast

      I know just what you mean – even nostalgia was better in my day! Silliness aside I did read that according to research people tend to regard anything invented before they reach their late teens as just part of the world and “how things have always been”, then anything invented between then and their mid-30s will always seem new and exciting, and anything invented after that is new-fangled nonsense. It’s a broad brush statement of course, and I think it will vary a lot from individual to individual but I can’t help but see a grain of truth in my case at least. Now get off my lawn! 😀 

  • Kuribo

    I had a little bit of an Ork force in 40k around 2000 and I’m pretty sure the Ork troops I painted up back then were ancient. I also had what I think were the Ork’s jetpack infantry that had the “classic” mix of metal and plastic on the same sculpt. What a nightmare those were to assemble! From what I recall, despite the Ork kit being pretty old, it was really flexible and easy to build various kinds of Orks. It seems like the new ones aren’t nearly that flexible which sadly isn’t too surprising. GW has really moved away from that in recent years it seems like. I do think the new Ork faces are a lot nicer and should be easier to paint than the old (though the old ones have charm to them too I suppose). The new ones you’ve put together all look nice and will be even better painted up, I reckon! 🙂

    • Wudugast

      Oh mate, metal and plastic hybrids were the absolute worst! Especially things like Stormboys with their jump-packs. I’m sure if I end up in hell Satan will give me a heap of those to assemble, I’ll be begging for a transfer to the red-hot poker room in no time! 

      I know what you mean about the lack of flexibility in modern kits and in the main it’s true sadly, really its the main downside (well, that and the price!) to GW’s recent plastics. It doesn’t have to be this way though (just look at the space marines we’ve seen in recent years). 

      You’re right of course, some paint is exactly what these boys are missing! I’m planning to see what I can do about attacking my backlog of unpainted orks in Orktober, just need to wait and see how busy work turns out to be. 

      • Kuribo

        They really were hell! I’m pretty sure some of my Stormboys never got fully assembled because they were so hard to work with. Also, I can wait until Orktober if you really push me on it, but that’s as long as I can give you 😉 If I need to talk to your supervisor at work, I’ll be more than happy to do so.

  • Argentbadger

    Thanks, it’s interesting to see these Orks side by side like this. I guess if one wanted more variety then it would be a conversion more like that of the old days of cutting bits off metal minis rather than the much simpler and easier process of kitbashing that we have been used to recently.

    • Wudugast

      Cheers. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there, converting these would be much more like converting in the days of metal miniatures, easier perhaps because you’d be working with plastic so not such a struggle to make cuts and so on, but certainly more complex than swapping parts in and out in the way we’ve become used to. 

  • Mark A. Morin

    From afar I admire your passion!

  • Jellious

    Thanks for this, I’d been wondering about the new Boyz. Given I quite like the new proportions, it’s a smidge depressing to see how limited the kit is especially in light of the Kommandos, and even more especially given I’ve a preference for Shoota Boyz.

    Judging by eye the simplest solution would probably be to lop the torso off the new ones above the belt, trim down a classic torso to fit atop them, plonk one of the new heads on(and probably do a bit of neck sculpting) and use classic Shoota arms. Bit wasteful though, and Ork armies don’t really need any extra help getting expensive.

    • Wudugast

      I think you could be onto something there, but you’re right, that’s going to mount up in price very quickly. I think at the end of the day these are lovely character models, and as individual painting projects they’re fantastic. As something to make an army out of though they miss the mark. 

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