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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…