Tag Archives: Review

2019 – For Anyone Who Missed It

Well, that was 2019 was it? In terms of miniatures releases it’s been an incredible year, packed to the gills with exciting releases – the downside of which is that, despite painting like a dervish all year I’ve still got projects queued round the block waiting to be completed (or in some cases even started). Never mind eh, there are worse problems to have – although I’ll certainly be aiming to buy a bit less and concentrate on catching up with myself in 2020.

The early part of the year was certainly non-stop with the kind of releases I dream of, to the point where I started to pray they’d turn their attention to the Tau, Stormcast Eternals or something else which doesn’t really interest me, if only to give me a chance to catch my breath. No such luck!

In January GW opened the batting with the arrival of the Gloomspite Gits, an AoS reinvention of the old Night Goblins accompanied by lumbering trolls and a sea of bouncing squigs. For me this was a bit of a weird one. I’ve always regarded Night Goblins as the iconic WHFB species, representing for the Old World what Stormcast Eternals do for AoS or Space Marines for 40k. Seeing them in the new Realms was just weird, they looked out of place, visitors from another world scurrying around the ankles of Sigmar’s golden champions, flying dwarves, undersea elves and other inhabitants of this new and creatively-inspired setting. To me they represented the “proxied” quality of early AoS. Much in the same way as we’ve all seen new games tried out with existing models standing in for those as yet unpainted or unpurchased, the early years of AoS saw the Realms populated by the existing WHFB races, many of whom had seen next to no effort spent on incorporating them into the new setting.

Feeling strongly that Night Goblins had no place in the Mortal Realms, and that when I started painting up an AoS collection it would be for one of the new races, I went ahead and – in the closing months of 2018 – finally tackled my unpainted WHFB Night Goblin army…

…only for GW to produce the Gloomspite Gits at the beginning of 2019 and throw everything I thought I knew into disarray. Like a fanatic crashing through the front ranks of my preconceptions  they overturned my previous conviction that Night Goblins could never be successfully integrated into the Mortal Realms. At first I decided I’d pick up some of the new kits and incorporate them into my WHFB army (almost all of the new releases having suitable Old World equivalents), then I decided to leave the Gobbos as they are and make a Trogherd (that’s an all troll army to you and me) and now I’m slowly being corrupted by the Gloomspite and starting to get tempted by the idea of rebasing the whole lot of them, covering the land in fungal spores and dancing beneath the sickly glow of da Bad Moon. To begin with common sense tells me to paint some of the new stuff and see where I decide to go next. After all, despite falling for the new range in a big way so far I’ve only got around to painting these three squigs.

Hot on the heels of the gobbos came the next major release from GW, the genestealer cults. Again, this was something I’d been working on during the latter part of 2018, putting together a gang for my partner to use in Necromunda. As it stands I’m only planning to roll some of the new kits into this gang but if I only complete half the ideas I’ve come up with we’ll probably still have more than enough for Apocalypse!

However almost as soon as they’d appeared they were overshadowed, for me at least, by a full scale Chaos invasion of realspace, spearheaded by Abaddon himself. As a devoted servant of the Ruinous Powers this was huge news; we saw new Chaos Marines, new Obliterators and all kinds of new characters, headed up by the big man himself. Again other projects have eaten up a lot of time so I’ve yet to really get my teeth into these, although I have started chipping away at a new squad of Chaos Space Marines with which to found my next Black Crusade.And things didn’t stop there either. The forces of Chaos continued to go from strength to strength, with the arrival of new Daemons of Slaanesh (including a downright gorgeous Keeper of Secrets), a few more Khornate daemons (you can never have too many of those after all) and a kit for Chaos Knights (and yes, I know my converted Chaos Knight remains unfinished after yet another year, you don’t half nag you know!).

However the really big news for Chaos fans, apart from Abaddon and co. of course, was the arrival of Warcry in the middle of the summer. I may not have painted very much for it (a solitary dwarf so far) but that hasn’t stopped me enthusing about it non-stop ever since. The fact that it’s Chaos meant it was always going to grab me, as was the chance to really explore a corner of the Realms entirely warped by the Dark Gods, but it was the sheer quality and originality of the miniatures that had me hooked. Plus it’s that rarest of things, a game system that I’m actually enthused about playing. I’ve got my fingers tightly crossed that GW continues to pour support into it in 2020 (early indications look hopeful anyway) – either way expect to see plenty of models appearing here over the next few months, with the Untamed Beasts and Iron Golem leading the charge.

 

Warcry Iron Golem Chaos Dwarf Wudugast (1)

Dipping my toe into the Bloodwind Spoil…

The second half of the year was a bit more sedate in terms of releases, from my point of view at least. In many ways that’s no bad thing, having so many of my favourite factions enjoying attention one after another is great in theory but my unpainted pile, and my unpurchased wishlist, were attaining truly mountainous proportions, with the former now so big I needed to install a ski-lift just to get to the top. There were plenty of Space Marines, mostly of the modern, stealthy type that forms the Vanguard Chamber, and as these aren’t really my cup of tea at all I was more than content to let them pass me by. That said they did release a few others including a Salamander so stylish and imposing that he almost made me forget my deep-seated enmity towards the Sons of Vulcan.

Stylish Salamander

Midsummer also saw Contrast paint arriving, which promised to revolutionise painting into an almost magically quick and simple process. For my money this can only be a good thing; the fact is that there are plenty of people out in the world who like to play games but don’t have the time/interest/skill to paint their models well. On the other hand nobody actually wants to play with unpainted models, despite what edge-lords might pretend. All other things being equal you’ll have a better time playing with painted models than unpainted ones, just as you’ll have a better time playing on beautifully crafted terrain rather than a bare tablecloth. Secondly, if you can paint something quickly and have it end up looking decent you’ll undoubtedly feel more enthused about the process and are more likely to paint more, and to put more effort into your painting, than if you struggle laboriously to end up with something that looks a bit duff.

Ultimately there is no technique or tool that will magically make you a better, quicker painter apart from enthusiasm. The way to paint more is to want to paint more, and if Contrast makes your painting experience quicker, easier and better then you’ll be more likely to do more with it. Looking forward to painting = spending more time painting = getting more things painted = painting better; it’s as simple as that.

For me I’ve not found myself overturning my old painting techniques and relearning everything with Contrast, I’ve got close to two decades of experience as a miniatures painter and I have no inclination to learn something completely new. On the other hand I know I’m something of a neophile when it comes to paints and I’ve found that mixing Contrast into a project alongside your traditional paints can lead to some very useful results, so even if it’s not your thing I recommend picking up a couple of pots and having a play.

October saw Jain Zar receive a new and wildly dynamic new miniature (which only serves to remind me that my old metal version remains stubbornly unpainted) alongside a rather pedestrian looking Drazhar (I must confess I expected more from a man who calls himself “The Living Sword” but there you go). It did however get me thinking about all the other old GW models that it would be nice to see replaced, something that crystallised into a bit of fun wishlistingaround the time that Mephiston appeared.

However the really big news for the latter part of the year was the Ossiarch Bonereapers, a new faction of undead bone constructs which served to demonstrate AoS’s continued evolution away from the Old World. I’ve been a fan of GW’s Undead since I fell under the spell of the Vampire Counts years ago and having been drawn ever further into Nagash’s service by the Nighthaunt that appeared last year I was very curious to get a look at these newcomers. On the whole I’d say this range is a bit more hit and miss than the Nighthaunt but when they get it right they really knocked it out of the park – and despite my longstanding love affair with Neferata I’m forced to admit the Bonereapers have far and away the best looking Mortarch of the lot (more on him below!). It’s almost inevitable that I’ll be starting a small collection of these undead taxmen, the tithe must be paid after all!

The final major event on GW’s calendar for the year was the arrival of the Sisters of Battle, who came marching out for a brief but dramatic crusade of faith. A full release for the range is due early in the new year but it was preceded by a limited edition boxset which – to the surprise of precisely no-one at all – sold out in less time than it takes to blink. I may not be a big fan of the Sisters but some of these models are really outstanding, and after twenty years of waiting fans of the range are in for a real treat. Junith Eruita, for instance – a Canoness Superior character soon to join the range – rides around on a flying pulpit, which may very well be the coolest ride in the entire setting. Needless to say I’m sorely tempted to evict her from it and put a tech-priest up there in her place – praying to the Emperor is all very well but the truly devoted need look no further than Holy Mars!

Junith Eruita

Meanwhile some scurrilous individuals have been asking how this lady manages to hold up a banner made of solid stone. Faith, heretic scum – that’s how!

Nuns on the run

Of course 40k and AoS are all very well but I prefer something a little more gritty. Glorious crusades of faith and titanic struggles are to be applauded but most of the time you’ll find me down in the grubby back alleys and beneath the streets, where rats rule and Inquisitors roam. Thus the setting which speaks to me the most of all those which GW has to offer has to be Necromunda. After a hugely enjoyable 2018, which saw all of the original six houses given new plastic gangs, 2019 was considerably quieter. In the first half of the year we saw only an Ambot and of course that never-knowingly-humble hero of the Underhive that is Kal Jerico, but it wasn’t until August that things realy kicked off again with the arrival of the Palanite Enforcers (that’s the long arm of the law to you and me). Later in the year these were backed up with more Enforcers, this time the shock troops of the Subjugators, which is just as well because a bloodthirsty cannibal cult is on the loose and looking for their next meal. Needless to say, I have plans…

Necromunda

I’m hopeful that the relatively quite spell for Necromunda in the early part of the year was just the calm before the storm and next year will see the inhabitants of the Underhive back in the spotlight. Blood Bowl also saw a quiet year after the first wave of teams that followed it’s re-release and now they enjoy a new team every quarter. This year saw Halflings, Wood Elves, Lizardmen and Ogres arriving on the pitch and I’m hopeful we’ll see a similar performance next year. I love the aesthetic of this game and once again I’m reminded that I really need to get a team or two painted up.

Gnoblars

I’ve not been paying quite such rapt attention to the world beyond GW as I might have been but there have been a few highlights that have caught my eye. Anvil Industry’s Daughters of the Burning Rose kickstarter arrived – and although so far I’ve only painted this Alchemist I’ve got a box of models just waiting to get my teeth into. In some ways I feel a little sorry for Anvil here, after years of GW ignoring the Sisters of Battle range entirely they decide to tackle them with their “not-Sisters” range, and GW immediately get the finger out and start producing some truly outstanding miniatures of their own. Not that I’m conflating the two events, the argument that “GW had to do it ‘cos Anvil was” is frankly ludicrous when you compare the relative sizes of the two companies and their fan bases. Anyway, I’ve never been that interested in the Sisters of Battle – either GW or otherwise – but the Daughters of the Burning Rose range also contains some miniatures which are just great for Inq28 without any conversion at all (which is probably some kind of heresy).

Meanwhile Knightmare Miniatures continued their series of kickstarters, expanding their ranges for Chaos, Greenskins (of various types), Greenskin Hunters (can’t an honest gobbo live in peace?!) and even Space Goblins. As I’m a sucker for old school Chaos and Goblins I couldn’t resist dipping a toe into these and now I have a nice box of lead waiting to be tackled soon.

Space Gobbos

Finally Ana Polanscak of Gardens of Hecate ran a kickstarter for some of her wonderfully dark and weird models. I’ve been a fan of Ana’s work for some time (if you’re not following her already where on earth have you been?!) so there was no way I was letting this one pass.

Gardens of Hecate

Miniatures of the Year:

Mostly, I’ll confess, this is a thinly veiled excuse to look at some cool miniatures. This year saw a whole heap of really outstanding miniatures released and I’m not going to pass over an opportunity to take a look at them again! As with many things on this blog my focus has been heavily slanted towards Games Workshop and so that’s what I’ll be focussing on here, although I’ve no doubt there’s been some amazing models from other companies which have managed to pass me by. Nonetheless GW really did the business in 2019, from the hulking beast that is the Ogre Tyrant to Nayam Shai Murad who seems to have stepped straight out of the Inq28 scene’s collective unconscious, to the underrated brilliance of the Chaos Sorcerer and of course the character-packed (and monumentally wasted) Shroomancer. Here’s a quick rundown of some of my favourites.

I almost declared Orpheon Katakros to be my favourite and it remained a close-run thing, he really is a wonderfully imposing and powerful miniature. I’ve been tempted to buy him ever since he was released and sure enough he turned up under the Christmas tree thanks to my amazing fiancée, so expect to see him appearing here sooner or later.

Katakros Chrismas Tree

However there can only be one winner and my top-pick has to be the Warmaster himself, Abaddon the Despoiler, probably my favourite 40k character (and easily one of the most important figures in the story of the 41st Millennium) and now with a miniature to match his stature. Needless to say, as well as being simply awesome he’s also proved to be deeply intimidating to paint so as yet my Chaos forces will have to make do without his authoritative presence, hopefully I’ll pluck up my courage and break out the brushes soon though.

Top 5 Black Library Novels of 2019

As well as painting miniatures, and all the other hobbies I enjoy, I’m a keen reader – and I’ll confess that Black Library novels are something of a guilty pleasure for me. A lot of them – I’ll be the first to admit – are basically pulp silliness, high of melodrama and blazing bolters, low on the kind of emotional or intellectual punch that makes a book stick with you for life. Never mind that though because most of them are good fun, and that’s good enough for me. Plus some of them are actually, dare we whisper it, really bloody good. Inspired by a conversation with Savageddt of Wordaholicanonymous I decided to pick my top Black Library novel of the year.

It’s been a strong field, with some cracking novels appearing. Spear of the Emperor by Aaron Dembski-Bowden was as excellent as you’d expect, and although I’m only part way through Requiem Infernal by Peter Fehervari is shaping up to be another contender. This was also the year that Horus finally reached Terra in the Horus Heresy series. Things started well enough with The Solar War as the heretics fought their way across the solar system but things really kicked up a gear when we reached the throneworld itself in The Lost and the Damned. Partly it’s just a case of the new series finding its feet, partly it was the tighter cast of characters – as opposed to the zoo that populated Solar War, and partly it’s because – for my money – Guy Haley is one of Black Library’s better authors. Sanguineous of course is front and centre – he’s on the cover after all, but all the Primarchs get a good showing (Angron rampaging around being himself is always a fine thing to see). Zardu Layak remains a wonderfully moustache-twirling baddy, that rascal Gendor Skraivok, ‘The Painted Count’ reappears, Lucoryphus of the Night Lords puts in a cameo that fans of the Aaron Dembski-Bowden Nights Lords series are bound to enjoy, and the relationship between Lotara Sarrin and Khârn remains as compelling as ever. Oh and Legio Solaria walks, which is usually worth the price of admission by itself for me! However the real standout here is Abaddon, clearly well on his way to becoming the next Warmaster as Horus is consumed by the forces to which he has bound himself.

However if called upon to pick a favourite I’d have to choose Honourbound by Rachel Harrison. I’d been following Commissar Severina Raine and the 11th Antari Rifles since their first appearance in the short story Execution and it was great to see them get a full novel to really stretch their legs and demonstrate the depth of their characters. The plot is good enough, there’s nothing wildly out of the ordinary here, simply the long shadow of treachery and corruption against the flames of grinding, attritional war, a small group of people trapped between the enemy without and the enemy within, and a woman attempting to prove her worth from beneath a family legacy that contains vaunted heroes and hated traitors in equal measure. It’s the characters however that really make the book; Raine herself is always compelling, Andren Fel continues to demonstrate that you can have a straight-up “good guy” even in the grubby darkness of 40k, whilst Daven Wyck leans to the opposite end of the spectrum, a hero so deeply flawed he totters constantly on the edge of damnation. Meanwhile The Sighted make for excellent baddies, subtly Tzeentchian in much the same way as the Corpse Grinders of Necromunda are Khornate, it’s there if you’re looking but we’re not seeing Thousand Sons and Pink Horrors tramping all over the place – and that alone adds to the sense of scale and depth in 40k.

Honourbound

I had hoped to include a picture of my finished Severina Raine miniature but alas she’s going to need a lot more work before she’s done – and an Imperial heroine of her stature deserves the time and effort that will require.

My Projects

Anyway, enough about a model I didn’t paint, let’s turn our attention to things I did. Necromunda continued to dominated my painting desk in 2019. After a slow start in 2018 House Escher spent the year growing into a veritable army of the 41st Millennium’s best dressed…

… whilst the similarly tardy Chaos Helots eventually unleashed a horde in the name of workers’ rights and some poorly understood rituals involving “dark gods”.

Inevitably, drama ensued!

They wouldn’t be allowed to dominate the Underhive alone however, with the murderous nerds of House Van Saar soon putting in an appearance.

Inspired by the Genestealer Cultists released early in the year the Cult of the Abyssal Gaze did a bit of recruiting, and I plan for more to emerge in 2020.

Genestealer Cults Wudugast ConvertOrDie

And not to be left behind House Goliath called in a few more boys as well, before their turf is entirely over-run.

Even House Cawdor got in on the act at last, with the first steps on the road to a crusade of faith to shake the hive to its roots and remind these heretics and non-believers that the God-Emperor judges all.

About time they turned up really – this place has been crawling with muties lately!

And speaking of ugly creatures I also painted the deeply divisive bounty hunter Ortruum 8-8 (known in some places as “the flying testicle”). GW pushing the boundaries of their creativity to new heights or the most hideously unsightly thing you can imagine painting – I’ll let you judge for yourselves.

It’s not just muties, gangers and other scum though, the Underhive does contain a few upstanding citizens, just trying to make a living. I have a lot of plans for this, as yet mostly unrealised, but here to set the ball rolling are three weird looking characters from Black Crab Miniatures. 

The other project which dominated my attention in 2019 was Blackstone Fortress. After playing a few games of it last winter, in which unpainted models fought various unlikely proxies in the twisting halls of the xenos starfort, I decided that this year I’d get the whole set painted. And, barring a few of the explorers, I have – we’ve certainly got enough now that never again need our heroes step into the unknown without a coat of paint to armour them, or face a mob of goblins pretending to be spindle drones.

My Chaos Space Marines army is looking a bit straggly at the moment. Having grown over recent years into a veritable Black Crusade progress slowed down following the arrival of 8th edition 40k. The coming of the Primaris marines only served to emphasise how tiny and oddly proportioned those old Chaos Marines were and my enthusiasm for the project, once so unassailable, began to dwindle. The release of the new models earlier this year was a real shot in the arm however and I’m hungry to get back to them now. As a precursor to this the army has been split into three parts; models I’m happy with, models I plan to retire and pack away (or break up for bits) and models I still like but which need a bit of a re-paint. It’s these latter which are causing the hold up, I do want to sort them out and include them in the collection but right now they really don’t look that good, and there are a lot of them. Sooner or later however the Beasts of Ruin will be unleashed once more. In the meantime here’s the start of my first squad of the new models (and there will be plenty more to come in the years ahead).

My Death Guard, on the other hand, look considerably healthier (if such a word can be used here!). With their first plague marine recruited and a reborn daemon prince to lead them, they trudge into 2020 with an air of purpose. I’m aiming to complete the poxwalkers early in the year and then tackle adding some more plague marines. After that – who knows, maybe some terminators, a daemon engine or two, or perhaps something even bigger…

Death Guard Wudugast

However my biggest 40k achievement was the completion, after over a decade of slow progress, of my horde of 100 ork boyz. Regular readers will know the story all too well by now so I won’t bore you all by repeating it, if you’ve not read it before or if you want to hear it all again click this link and all your questions will be answered! For the rest of you, here’s a reminder of what 100 angry orks looks like. Waaagh!

And here’s the whole army, a sea of green and rusty metal – and with plenty more waiting in the wings ready to join the ranks.

2019 was the year that HeroQuest turned 30 and so, inspired by KrautScientist who painted up an entire HeroQuest set (plus extras) in one of the year’s “must see” projects, I dug out a couple of old models and got them painted. I’m rather proud of the Chaos Warrior, and for my money the miniature still holds up very well even today. The same cannot be said of the Fimir of course – perhaps there’s a reason why one range continues to stand out amongst GW’s catalogue whilst the other has rarely emerged from the mists over the past three decades…

And if that doesn’t sate your hunger for old plastics I also painted this elderly proto-Necron, scavenged from the same box of dusty miniatures.

Whilst we’re looking at odd, one-off projects, I also painted my first ever Lord of the Rings miniature this year. Will it be the only one? Despite a long standing love of Middle Earth (books and films) the miniatures have never really grabbed me but who knows, the future may surprise us all.

This year also saw me taking my first steps into the Age of Sigmar. Up to now AoS has been something of a closed book to me – not because I was fundamentally opposed to it or married to WHFB – but simply because I understood the Old World and found it difficult to get enthused by the combination of pseudo-mythology and open-ended vagueness which characterised the new setting in its early years. The second edition has tightened that up considerably and the result is a living world of fantastic dimensions and possibilities. Inspired to give it a go I put together a small skirmish warband of Khornate savages led by a brutal Slaughterpriest.

Khorne With The Wind

Naturally these violent barbarians needed someone to fight so I followed them up by putting together a Nurgle warband, combining some new models with others cannibalised from my 40k chaos army.

Nurgle AoS Groupshot Wudugast

Despite assembling these Chaotic savages I’ve still not actually played any AoS Skirmish. Perhaps I’ll find the time during these dark mid-winter nights, although really I’d like to take a crack at Warcry – and for that I’m going to need to finish off some miniatures…

2019 Hobby Goals

In my round-up of 2018 I set out a series of hobby goals for 2019 – and then spent the year failing to complete most of them. With retrospect I’m not sure that annual hobby goals really work for me, for most of the year the deadline is comfortably far-off and I can relax and ignore it, focusing instead on whatever takes my fancy at the time. Then suddenly it’s bearing down upon me with no time to spare, by which time it’s far too late to do anything about it. Smaller monthly goals work a lot better to my mind so next time I’m aiming to finish off a project like that this is likely to be the technique I use.

It’s also worth noting that hobbywise I had a very productive year indeed, completing a not-inconsiderable 250 miniatures in 2019. That’s down a little on the 277 I painted in 2018, although in fairness those numbers were boosted considerably by the fact that many of them were Night Goblins, and it’s certainly well up on the 129 I painted in 2017 – the first year that I kept any kind of record. Nor was I entirely scattershot, I knuckled down on a lot of projects – some of them longstanding. I powered through almost the entirety of the Blackstone Fortress set, knocked out some Necromunda gangs and AoS Skirmish warbands, finished off my Skaven army (more on that below) and completed my long-planned horde of one hundred Ork boyz. However the goals I set out at the end of 2018 remained mostly unfinished. Let’s take a look and remind ourselves.

Skaven; one of my key plans for 2019 was to finish off my WHFB Skaven army and I’m proud to say that one is very much in the bag. Well where is it then, some of you might be asking? Fear not, although the final models might be finished (pending, perhaps, the odd added detail if I find a spare few minutes to fuss over them in the next couple of days) I’ve not managed to get the time (or sufficient ambient daylight) to get them photographed. Expect them to come crawling in at some point in the next week or so, as soon as I manage to get the whole army set up and some decent pictures taken. In the meantime here’s the army as it looked back in June, suffice to say we’ve seen plenty of growth since then!

Necromunda; again I’ll count this one as a success, especially because my original goal was pretty vague (basically amounting to “paint some gangs”). I certainly managed that, adding to the Goliaths and Genestealer Cults and getting the Eschers, Chaos Helots and Van Saar up to fighting strength. Last January I put together a post summarising everything I’d done so far and everything I had planned for the future and it really helped to focus my ideas, so I’ll probably do something similar this year – if nothing else it’ll certainly encourage me to get some of my current batch of test-models finished!

Terrain; this is where the wheels start to come off. I knew this was going to be a big and intimidating project and I expected progress to be slow but I did intend to do a lot more than I have. This is a bit of a “white whale” project for me, something I’ve planned to tackle for many years, and I’ll definitely be coming back to it soon – especially as Dark Uprising has equipped me with a lot more of the materials I need to construct the Underhive. However as terrain is bulky, and we’re planning to be moving house in the next couple of months, I’m pushing this onto the backburner for now, until I see what kind of space we have to work with at the new place.

Poxwalkers; I may not have finished this one but I have managed to break some ground. My aim was to complete a horde of 40, yet as it stands I’ve only finished 32. Still, better than a poke in the eye as they say, and with luck I’ll get the rest done in the early part of 2020.

Poxwalkers Wudugast ConvertOrDie Nurgle

Chaos Knight; I’ve been chipping away at building and painting a Chaos Knight of my very own for a number of years now and I really thought 2019 would be its year – especially since GW released Codex: Chaos Knights and a multipart kit for them back in the summer, giving my enthusiasm for the project a huge boost. Alas, the year has ended and the knight remains as unfinished as ever…

Blood Bowl; 2019 was supposed to be the year I finally got around to painting a Blood Bowl team yet the year has ended and I’m no closer to that goal. The game continues to interest me however so hopefully 2020 will be the time that it all comes together at last.

Given that setting myself goals for 2019 didn’t really pan out as intended I’m cautious of repeating the idea for 2020. In fact, when I add in the forthcoming move, and all the various other “real life” events that either will or are likely to take place in the coming year, I think it’s very probable that I’ll be a lot less active over the coming year than I have been in the past. That doesn’t mean I’m going to vanish entirely, spending time painting miniatures is extremely important to me and I’ve no intention of stopping, but – beyond the odd quite spell in the height of summer – I’ve kept up a torrent of posts here over the last couple of years and I don’t foresee myself managing to maintain that. We’ll see how it goes, I would like to tackle a couple of Warcry warbands, some more Necromunda gangs, the rest of the Blackstone Fortress heroes and finally get that Blood Bowl team painted so don’t relax entirely – you haven’t see the last of me!

Whilst we’re at it however, a couple of pieces of housekeeping in regards to the blog. Firstly, as some of you may have noticed, I now have a links section in the side-panel, something I’ve wanted to include for some time. All the people listed are interesting, talented hobbyists and I do highly recommend you check out any or all of them. This is where I go for my inspiration, and these are the people from which I steal all the best ideas and pretend that they were mine to begin with. If you’re a talented blogger yourself and I’ve not included you on the list it’s probably because I’m an airhead and I’ve forgotten, please don’t take it as an insult (if I mean to insult you I’ll come round your house and do it properly). I do intend to keep expanding the list so just keep being awesome and sooner or later I’ll realise I’ve missed you, suffer a twinge of embarrassment and update the list.

Secondly, I’ve discovered that many of the older posts were missing their pictures (a side effect of using various external hosts in the early days and then not moving everything to wordpress as I thought I had). I think I’ve fixed them all but one or two may have slipped through so if you’re reading one of these old posts and you think there ought to be pictures but there aren’t please help me out by leaving a comment to catch my attention and I’ll go and fix it.

Anyway, all that remains is to wish all my readers a happy New Year and here’s to plenty more hobby shenanigans in 2020!


Reboot-me Guilliman

The galaxy of the 41st Millennium was in a terrible state to begin with, with war and madness everywhere, xenos baying at the gates and daemons cavorting amid the ruins. What’s more things seem set to get even worse, which is obviously a very good thing, as the latest of Games Workshop’s 40k “events”, the Psychic Awakening, spills across the war-torn Imperium. Even I, a huge fan of the background lore that GW have created, am struggling to keep abreast of all the new developments in the advancing storyline, and who knows what all the rules mean (although I’m sure, as usual, parts of the Internet are seeing conflicts just as ferocious as anything that 41st Millennium has to offer over the question of who deserves a 2+ save and how broken the game now is) but never mind all that because what really matters is the new miniatures.

Traditionally GW have saved up all the new models for a faction and then released them in one lump sum, or sometimes in a series of “waves”. If a particular model or unit didn’t get an update this time round don’t worry about it – they’ll come back to it sometime in the next decade or so. With Psychic Awakening they’re taking the opportunity to do something different, filling in corners as it were, and releasing single models, or small groups, to replace those looking passed their best – without revamping the whole range whilst they’re about it. So for example we’ve seen the ancient model for Jain Zar, that most dynamic and top-heavy of the Eldar Phoenix Lords, replaced with this stylish new version (which of course only reminds me that I still need to paint my old one).

Jain Zar

We’ve also seen new Howling Banshees (also for the Eldar), Incubi (which are frankly gorgeous and everything I hoped they would be), Drazhar “The Living Sword” (an ok model at best but you can’t win them all), a new Chaos Sorcerer (the hidden gem of the release in my opinion) and most recently the jaw-dropping new model for Mephiston “the Lord of Death” (put that in your pipe and smoke it Nagash).

Mephiston

Inspired by these new arrivals, and finding myself stuck twiddling my thumbs in the truck waiting for the rain to stop so I could go back to work, I decided to play a little game. If GW where to release just one new kit for each faction to replace an old model or unit which has either been discontinued or which hasn’t aged well, what would it be? Rather than tackle every faction I’ve decided to focus on those which are a little older, passing over those which have fully plastic ranges (although I may break my own rules from time to time).

 

Space Marines

You would think, given how many models GW releases for this particular faction – not to mention their enduring (and well deserved) popularity, that there wouldn’t be a lot of gaps here – but one has stood out to me for a long time and still hasn’t been addressed. Recent years have seen this range reborn as properly-proportioned, cleverly designed primaris marines. It’s not just the rank and file either – if you need someone to command your forces there’s a choice of stylish looking captains, if you want to address the spiritual health of your battle brothers there’s a primaris chaplain which looks simply outstanding, if wizards are more your thing I can recommend an imposing librarian, but if you want your tanks or dreadnaughts repaired you’ll have to turn to a stumpy old techmarine.

Techmarine

Earlier this year we finally saw a primaris techmarine but sadly only as a special character for the Iron Hands, Iron Father Feirros. Now I’ll stress that Feirros is an awesome model in and of himself, and the Iron Hands certainly deserved to have their own special character at last, but that doesn’t make me want to see a normal primaris techmarine any less.

Feirros

Blood Angels

Given that Mephiston has just been revamped (boom boom) the other key candidate for a new model amongst the Sons of Sanguinius has to be Commander Dante. The chapter master of the one of the setting’s most illustrious chapters, the great hero of Baal and Armageddon, and the Lord Regent of Imperium Nihilus he’s one of the key figures in the 41st Millennium. He’s also probably the oldest loyalist space marine still alive (not counting those entombed in dreadnaughts that is), having fought in the name of the Emperor for at least 1,100 years. It’s unfortunate that his miniature was also released 1,100 years ago. Time to give the old boy a refresh I reckon.

Dante

Space Wolves

A picture is said to be worth a thousand words so rather than waiting for me to write two thousand words let’s look at a couple of pictures instead. First up let’s take a look at Marneus Calgar, the great hero of the Ultramarines.

What about the Space Wolves though – do they have a mighty and storied champion beloved by generations of hobbyists who might stand as a peer to the lord of Ultramar? No not the old boy in the dog sled – I’m talking about Ragnar Blackmane!

Ragnar Blackmane

‘Nuff said really!

Dark Angels

Unpainted, one space marine looks a lot like another. A squad of Ultramarines may look distinctly different to their peers in the Imperial Fists or White Scars but it’s almost entirely down to the colour scheme. There will be flourishes of course, a few pelts, fetishes and big hairdos for the Space Wolves being the most obvious, but in the main most chapters have shared the same basic profile. You bought a box of space marines and painted them yellow and they were Imperial Fists. Had you painted them black instead they would be Raven Guard. Your friend buys the same box and paint them dark green with an orange flame pattern and they were Salamanders (which begs the question of why you’re friends with a Salamanders player – don’t waste your excuses on me, you’re guilty by association). Not so the Dark Angels. Whilst other chapters trusted blessed ceramite to keep them alive these closet traitors spruced it up by donning monastic robes over the top of their power armour. Part of me likes to imagine that this foray into fancy dress is intended to allow them to creep up on the less observant of the Fallen by pretending to be monks.

Dark Angels

I may not the biggest fan of the Dark Angels but I’m happy to admit that they look damn cool. As with all of the old space marine range however they were a little on the short side. The other chapters have been reinforced with the new(-ish), imposing and generally awesome looking primaris marines but without the robes these just don’t look like Dark Angels to me. We have seen one example of a primaris lieutenant in his dressing gown but really it would be great to see a multipart kit that allowed us to make entire squads. The fact that I could then convert these into the Fallen is just a happy coincidence of course…

Zakariah

Imperial Guard (or Astra Militarum if you must).

Of course whilst the Space Marines grab all the glory the real work is done by the hard-done-by grunts of the Imperial Guard, the normal men and women of the Imperium who – without the blessings of power-armour, high-tech weapons and fancy additional organs, hold back the savage tide which otherwise threatens to sweep our species from the stars. In the olden days we have all kinds of different regiments, all raised from different planets and cultures across the Imperium’s hundreds of thousands of worlds. Today we have only the Cadians – which to my eye are painfully generic – and the Catachans – musclemen who’ve escaped from an ’80’s action flick. Neither are particularly resonant of 40k, particularly when compared with the wonderfully gothic figures in the Imperium’s other ranges (the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Sisters of Battle, the Custodies and of course the primaris space marines). What’s more, with Cadia blown to smithereens by the advancing forces of Abaddon the Despoiler, now seems like a fine moment to release a new regiment.

Necromunda has served to remind us that a single planet in the Imperium can be home to dozens of very different cultures. There are no Goliaths or Delaque on any of the Imperium’s million or so other worlds but there will be a huge range of social structures and ethnicities, each shaped by their planet of origin – be that an industrial hell like Necromunda, a shrine world, an ice world, a desert world, a jungle-covered death world and so on – and each a potential candidate for raising a new regiment. We’ve seen a little of this with the Space Marines but even the more unusual of these are still Space Marines first and exemplars of their culture a long way second. The Cadians work well enough as generic humans, and make for a fine basic frame for kitbashers and convertors, but there’s very little of the 41st Millennium about them if built straight out of the box.

Blame Cadia

If you’re going to force me to pick one of the old ranges I’d probably suggest the Armageddon Steel Legion, although recreating Forge World’s Death Korps of Krieg or Solar Auxilia in plastic would be even better. Or how about something entirely new, something which relies less on recreating real world armies in space and instead draws upon the wealth of creativity and original ideas possible in the 41st Millennium. Just a thought…

The Adeptus Mechanicus

I said I’d not be tackling the newer, fully plastic ranges but I’m going to break my own rules here because a)a piece of my heart will always lie on Mars and b)there’s an obvious candidate for new models that just doesn’t fit in anywhere else. Whenever you read more than a few sentences of 40k’s background lore you discover that pretty much everything is done by servitors. They’re an intrinsic part of the world, built or modified for pretty much every task imaginable and hardwired into every sort of machine. However despite being so ubiquitous we’ve not seen many models for them, which to my mind is a bit like designing a game set on the modern planet Earth and not including any computers or motor cars. Plus, those models we have seen are mostly old, and either discontinued or rather ropey looking, or represent expensive specialists like the Kataphron. Some nice new (and eminently convertible) servitor models would go a long way in 40k – and what better place to include them than amongst the ranks of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Whilst they’re about it they can re-release the Tech-Priest Manipulus outside a Kill Team box and throw in a load more new Martian goodies to boot.

Servitors

Craftworld Eldar

There are a lot of potential options here, despite the recent addition of the aforementioned Jain Zar and the Banshees (a fine name for a band if ever there was – Siouxsie should have changed her name). Much of the range continues to rely on old metal models (now converted to finecast). New kits for the aspect warriors and their attendant phoenix lords are something that people have been crying out for, and who can blame them? An injection of new kits would do a great service to one of GW’s most iconic and well established ranges.

On the other hand however the majority of those old aspect warriors have held up fairly well. The phoenix lords are definitely showing their age, and again Jain Zar really serves to demonstrate what could be if this range was given a little more attention, but for my money the kit that really needs replacing is the Guardians. I’ve often said that the rank and file are the most important kit to get right in any army, because they’ll be the heart of the project and the models you end up painting the most of. If one commander or elite unit doesn’t take your fancy you can simply pick an alternative but the core troops are far harder to avoid, and far more important to the aesthetic appeal of the collection as a whole. The Guardians have heaps of potential to bring to the Eldar, a goldmine of character that springs from seeing alien civilians taking to the battlefield. Instead they’re dreadfully dull and lacking in personality, and that’s a missed opportunity. These are Eldar poets, artisans and workers – they should be beautiful, exotic and inspiring but instead they’re drab, tedious and ugly.

Eldar Guardians

Dark Eldar

I thought long and hard about this one. If you’d asked me a month or so ago it would have been easy – I would have picked the Incubi of course – but they have their new kit now (and indeed inspired this blog post in the first place). Thus my first instinct was to go for the Mandrakes. They’re wonderfully creepy creatures, emphasising the place of the supernatural in 40k and bringing a really sinister element of chilling horror to a setting which otherwise often falls back on revving chainaxes and sprays of gore.

Mandrakes

However the current models aren’t too bad and although I’d love to see what modern plastics design would make of them there’s another candidate who really deserves to go first; Asdrubael Vect.

asdrubael vect

Vect, for those too young to remember him, is the ultimate big boss of the Dark Eldar; a grandiose gangster-turned-autocrat who rules the dark city of Commorragh and likes to ride around on a transport named – in gloriously heavy metal style – the Dias of Destruction. He’s the epitome of swashbuckling, moustache-twirling evil (he once gave a rival a present with a black hole in it, because if you’re going to do it you might as well overdo it) and he’s older than Slaanesh to boot. Sadly he hasn’t had a miniature for a number of years now, which is like depriving Chaos of Abaddon, or leaving the Ultramarines without Marneus Calgar. Things hit rock bottom for him when recent background developments saw him betrayed and murdered but he’s now back (resurrected at his own funeral no less) and more powerful than ever – and if that isn’t an excuse to give him a brand, spanking new model then I don’t know what is.

Orks

Speaking of xenos overlords it’s time to turn our attention to da best of da aliens, those rambunctious boyz, the Orks. The greenskins have actually been fairly well served with miniatures, despite what you might hear in some quarters, and some of the older models, such as the Kommandos and Tankbustas, remain amongst my favourites. That said it would be nice to see them get the multi-part plastic treatment at some stage so that I might gather an even greater and more varied army of these warlike hooligans. However my pick for the model most deserving of replacement has to go to the boss of bosses, Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka. His current miniature isn’t bad by any means but, with 40k luminaries like Calgar, Abaddon and Mephiston demonstrating just how outstanding modern character sculpts can be it would be wonderful to see the Beast of Armageddon returned bigger and meaner than ever.

Ghazghkull Thraka

Tau

Another one that had me scratching my head here, and for quite a while I was inclined to suggested something Kroot. However I still think that if GW do decide to introduce a new xenos race as a fully fledged faction the cannibal bird-men of Pech have to be the most likely candidates. The Kroot rank and file have aged relatively well but the same cannot be said of the Krootox or Kroot Hounds, both of which I feel are best left to the history books.

Krootox Rider

Refresh all these kits, with a few alternative builds to create new units, and a revamped Knarloc in place of heavy armour and a whole new race could take their place on the galactic stage. It’s worth noting as well that not all Kroot are subjects of the Tau empire so separating them from the faction could be as straightforward as splitting the Plague Marines from the Chaos Space Marines – with some units remaining available to both.

However the Tau Empire was always more than just a coalition between the dominant Tau and their Kroot allies.  Indeed the background describes a whole swath of client races, united by a belief in the Tau’s guiding principle of the Greater Good. Nowadays however those kits that remain are old and ailing – yet seeing them relegated more and more to the sidelines does the Tau as a whole a disservice. A new kit for the Vespid Stingwings would, therefore, go a long way towards maintaining the diversity of both the Tau and the 40k setting as whole. After all despite the Imperium killing off most of the xenos species that once called the galaxy home during the Great Crusade it’s nice to see the occasional reminder that wilderness space remains vast and uncharted and not all of the aliens dwelling beneath those distant suns are those few powerful enough to have full model ranges of their own.

Vespids

Necrons

My first 40k army was almost the Necrons, which a friend tried to sell me not long after I started university. I didn’t buy it, having only the vaguest understanding of what 40k was at that time, but I’ve always had a soft spot for those legions of metal men. Since that time the range has expanded and improved considerably and now contains some really excellent models. They’ve also shrugged off many of the undead cliché’s that once dominated them and have grown into their own entity. Yet whilst the other Necrons have marched to power on the back of utterly relentless, unfeeling efficiency, the flayed ones continue to scuttle along the fringes – wearing someone else’s face in an attempt to disguise the fact that these are basically just WHFB’s ghouls transposed into space. To me they’ve always seemed shoe-horned in, out of keeping with the rest of the faction, but if we’re going to keep them around then some better models wouldn’t hurt.

Flayed Ones

Tyranids

The Tyranids have had a pretty good run of things over recent years, building up their range over multiple editions and replacing most of their older models with new kits. Of course this makes my life all the easier, the only real contender for replacement being the lictor (with an optional build for the Deathleaper of course). I suspect that many of us hoped that the current clash between the Blood Angels and the Hive Fleets, in the third chapter of the Psychic Awakening, would be accompanied by a new lictor model but alas it seems now that this was merely wishful thinking. Still, one has to wonder, once a new lictor does emerge from the shadows the range will be well stocked with modern plastics – so where might the Norn-Queens of Nottingham decide to go next?

Lictor

Chaos Space Marines

It’s been a damn good year for us fans of the Chaos Space Marines but, unsurprisingly given our megalomaniacal hunger for more, we’re still not satisfied – and why should we be? After all there are still plenty of gaps in the ranks of our beloved  traitors. The most obvious contenders have to be the Noise Marines and the Khorne Berserkers, the latter being amongst the oldest and ugliest plastics in the GW catalogue, the former having only a resin upgrade kit. However both are, I suspect, strong contenders to become the seed of fully developed ranges in the coming years, as the Emperor’s Children and World Eaters join the Death Guard and Thousand Sons in breaking away from the Chaos Space Marines. Likewise there are various heroes (and I use that term loosely of course) which could use a revamp – a new version of Fabius Bile being particularly welcome, but it would be good to see Huron Blackheart, Lucius the Eternal and a generic Warpsmith whilst we’re at it. The Possessed are looking past their best and although the Obliterators which were released as part of Shadowspear are excellent a multipart box for them would be nice to see soon (especially if it also allowed an alternative build to replace the Mutilators as well). However, if there’s one kit which really cries out for replacing above all the rest it has to be the chaos cultists.

Chaos Cultists

I’ve made this case more times than I can count so, at risk of boring my regular readers, I’ll keep it brief. When the traitorous legions invade real-space they bring with them hordes of cannon-fodder, the ragged dregs of their cursed society, the lost and the damned. Meanwhile demagogues raise secret cults which burst from their hovels and manufactorums. By their very nature these cults should form large mobs, making up in strength of numbers what they lack in strength of any other kind. What’s more these are not trained troops but at best a militia, and at worst an ongoing riot. No two should ever look the same, or even similar, as each has armed and armoured themselves with whatever they can scavenge. The rise and rise of Necromunda, and it’s range of plastic gangs – especially the new Corpse Grinders, has helped to give us more options, and Blackstone Fortress has added a few more, but in terms of official models we still need to fall back onto five sculpts, none of which are particularly easy to convert. Put some effort in and you can swap heads and weapons without too much trouble but imagine what could be if we had access to a truly versatile kit – and of course it would be a goldmine for Inq28 as well. Make it so GW, and my money is as good as spent!

Chaos Daemons

Like the Tyranids the Chaos Daemons are nowadays mostly plastic models, the old kits – many of which were pretty ropy – swept aside by modern versions. There are still a few gaps however, with the legions of Slaanesh being the worst offenders. A few new models earlier this year covered most of the gaps but She Who Thirsts still has a lot of ground to catch up against the other gods. However, despite this fact, and despite how strongly I feel that Slaanesh deserves to be my pick here, I must instead give my vote to another. The kit which I believe needs to be replaced more than any other – perhaps even in the entire GW catalogue – has to be the Pink Horrors. Horrors they certainly are, but perhaps not quite in the way that one might have hoped. Here’s the previous version, twisted creatures of raw magic gifted with spiteful sentience.

Pink Horrors Old

And here’s the current crop (and I may have misspelled that that last word).

Pink Horrors New

If that isn’t proof that upgrading to plastic isn’t always a good thing I don’t know what is. Come on GW – you know we all deserve better than this!

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So there we have it, my pick of those kits I’d most like to see replaced with a new iteration. Do you agree or disagree? Did I pick on your favourite model, or do you have a candidate of your own which you think surpasses my suggestions in its desperate need to be renewed? As ever the comments box is all yours!


Warcry

My love of Chaos is no secret. If you’re looking for someone to take up an axe and lead his barbarian tribe against the Empire of the Old World, to stand at Abaddon’s right hand as Cadia burns, or conduct dark rituals on some grim and bitter moor to conjure daemons into the Mortal Realms, then I like to think I’m the man for the job.

Likewise I’m drawn to skirmish games, to small bands of warriors packed with character and personality. Thus, if Games Workshop’s developers had reached into my head by some arcane means – and who’s to say they didn’t? – and tried to craft the perfect game based to what they found there, then the result would have been something a lot like Warcry. Given the hype that’s been generated recently it seems I’m not the only one who feels this way – indeed the concept of small groups of Chaos-loving warriors beating merry hell out of each another is starting to feel like the most obviously popular, yet previous unexplored idea, since Games Workshop invented dogs.

For those who’ve managed to avoid that overenthusiastic juggernaut that is GW’s promotional engines, Warcry is the latest of their skirmish games, the tale of small bands of Chaos worshippers drawn from all corners of Age of Sigmar’s Mortal Realms to gather at a place called the Eightpoints. Once there they attempt to inveigle themselves into Chaos overlord Archaon’s  good books through committing heinous acts of violence to each other, armed with everything from swords to whips to meat tenderizers, bones, even live snakes. Don’t try this at home kids!

Warcry

Rather than the armies of the gods which we are familiar with these are people born and raised to the cultures abandoned by Sigmar when he hid himself away in Azyr and ceded control of the Mortal Realms to Chaos at the end of the Age of Myth. Rather than the all-encompassing top-down view enjoyed by fans of the game or the blinkered fanaticism of an acolyte bound to a single god, like a blood warrior or a blight king, these are in the main just people to whom Chaos is an ever-present elemental force which must be appeased, for whom being mauled by a spawn is an occupational hazard and who cannot rely on the Stormcast Eternals to come and rescue them, but are otherwise attempting to get on with their lives. Or at least they were until, for one reason or another, Archaon called them to the Eightpoints. That’s not to say that they’re just misunderstood, that they are a top bunch of lads if you just get to know them or that they’re all nice to their mums. Indeed I think it’s fair to assume that they’re a bunch of right bastards, as evidenced by their love of gritty violence and their willingness to throw in their lot with Archaon rather than let millennia old bygones be bygones and give Sigmar another chance. In the main however these are not professional warriors – indeed much like Necromunda these are armed civilians – the man on the street in the Mortal Realms.

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Untamed Beasts

Walking adverts for steroid abuse and guaranteed to give every man they encounter body image issues, the Untamed Beasts hail – perhaps unsurprisingly – from the Realm of Beasts. These are your classic barbarians, caked in ’80s charm down to the last loin cloth, oiled muscle and cod-Austrian accent. They’re comfortable enough to at least indulge the trappings of civilisation with the odd metal helmet and so on but for the most part they like to keep things as primal as possible, using bones for weapons and wearing enough fur to turn a Space Wolf green with envy.

Seriously, if you can look at their leader and not hear a shredding guitar solo ringing in your head then you have no soul!

Untamed Beast 1

If you hadn’t already gathered from the above, I’ll admit I’m a sucker for an old-fashioned, cheesy barbarian so this warband was always going to appeal to me. Nor are they solely devoted to the art of masculine power posing. Indeed the best model in the group is this dynamic young lady. Note also the tail she’s wearing (or at least we presume she’s wearing it – you know Chaos!) – a nice visual reference to the Beasts and the predatory animals with which they are intrinsically linked.

Untamed Beast 2

And who doesn’t love a part-goat part-lion?

Goat Lion

However it’s not all perfection. Part of the knack of pulling off over the top cheese is not taking it so far that it ends up looking like a pastiche of itself. Making the weapons of some of these warriors a little smaller (something I’m told happens as a side effect of taking steroids anyway…) would have made a big difference. Take a look at this chap for example and see if you agree that the huge bone in their hand (chortle chortle) throws out the proportions of the whole model.

Untamed Beast 4

Another offender is the First Fang. Overall there’s a lot to like here but his pose makes him look awkward and undecided, as though he’s torn between throwing his spear and hitting someone with his axe. I suspect that the intention was to have his sweeping someone aside with the axe, blocking a low blow perhaps or knowing their feet from under them whilst the spear jabs in to make the kill, but it doesn’t quite come across. Personally I’d have preferred to see the axe strapped to his back whilst he goes all in with impaling someone on that spear.

Untamed Beast

These are minor gripes though, things that I’ll either kitbash my way around or learn to live with. They may not be my favourite warband but they still look like they’ll be a lot of fun to paint and frankly it would be a sin not to be listening to Manowar whilst I’m about it!

Iron Golem

Speaking of heavy metal the Untamed Beasts share the Warcry starter set with the Iron Golem, a group of blacksmiths from the Realm of Metal. As someone who enjoys painting bare flesh and battered iron and who’s been feeling the itch to paint some more Goliath gangers lately, these are pretty much perfect for me. They don’t look particularly subtle but who needs cunning when blunt force trauma will do?

Iron Golem

You could see these as being somewhat simplistic, there’s no cloth, nothing soft, no blades or sharp edges, just heavy armour and heavier hammers, the very epitome of Warhammer. It’s a straightforward concept but it’s kept interesting by the style with which it is pulled off and the variety of models to which it is applied. Whilst traditionally such thuggish brutality would have been exclusively the domain of the male, the Golems continue the diversity demonstrated by the Beasts, including amongst the ranks what I can only describe as iron maidens.

Iron Maiden

As though the humans weren’t enough to emphasise their raw power and aggression of this warband they’ve also recruited an ogre (I still refuse to write Ogor) who looks more than capable of taking on anything life throws at them all by himself. We seem to be having a good run of Chaos Ogres at the moment, and I’m already wondering about getting my hands on a second one to turn into a Goliath ‘zerker. Many people have asked how he eats without the use of his hands, which is a fair question although I suspect that the answer is implied by the horrifying, lamprey-like aperture in the front of his helmet. After all it only takes a quick glance at him to confirm that he hasn’t been missing many meals.

Ogre Dammit

Of course if you’re going to have an ogre, why stop there? Who better to join up with a band of craftsmen and metal workers than a dwarf? Fans have been muttering about the absence of Chaos Dwarves for many a year and so it’s nice to see that they’re still around in the Mortal Realms. (I must admit I thought their next official appearance would be for Blood Bowl – I’m sure a team will be along sooner or later). Like the Squats that have been popping up in Necromunda, skirmish games like this are a golden opportunity to keep these concepts current, even if they don’t have an army of their own in the main games at the moment. The dwarf himself obviously feels glad to have been included – rarely has a worshipper of the dark gods looked so delighted!

Iron Dwarf

Cypher Lords

Whilst the Iron Golem may be cloth-phobic and brutally simple, and the Untamed Beasts wild and, well, bestial, the Cypher Lords sit at the other end of the spectrum; civilised, subtle, some might even say downright sneaky. There’s something unearthly about these denizens of the Realm of Light and with their masks and crests many people have suggested something Tzeentchian about them. Personally I’d go so far as to say these are everything that the Kairic Acolytes should have been – I wonder how they’d look wearing those wonderful masks, far and away the best thing about the Kairics? That said there is something rather Slaaneshi about them too, a product of the dancing poses and air of sophistication.

Cypher Lord 2

I’ll admit I’m still in two minds about these. When I first saw them I loved them but the more I looked the more uncertain I became. However the past couple of weeks, and particularly looking at them again as I write this review, has reignited some of my enthusiasm. Part of a problem is their top heavy appearance, a side effect of those wonderfully ornate helmets combined with their trailing hair-do’s. I did consider whether building them without the hair would improve matters but I’ll wait to pass judgement until I’ve explored that option further. That said, I really love those sinister helms and beautiful crests, so my fall to the embrace of madness is surely assured.

Cypher Lord 3

These models are very much defined by their grace, leaping and lunging more like dancers than fighters, and a world away from the straightforward brutality encapsulated by the Iron Golem. With many of us starting our path to darkness in the Old World of Warhammer Fantasy, or amongst the hulking power-armoured marines of Warhammer 40k, our mental image of Chaos is often tied up with muscular barbarians in heavy armour, bludgeoning their way to daemonhood. It’s exciting to get a fresh look at Chaos, and once again explore the creative options opened up by the Mortal Realms. After all, why shouldn’t a servant of the Dark Gods be light on their feet?

Cypher Lord 1

Of course even whilst I took the time to make up my mind about the rank and file of the warband the leader grabbed me from the start. It hardly needs to be said that this Thrallmaster is the epitome of style and a truly outstanding miniature, or at least it will be once I snip off that silly looking smoke effect!

Cypher Lord

In their stylish costume, and with a third arm hidden beneath their robes, one could even convert them into a Locus for a Genestealer Cult that’s infiltrating the very highest echelons of Imperial society.

Splintered Fang

So I there was, sitting on the hillside, eating my sandwich and about to start writing about the Splintered Fang when along came this awesome little dude, sliding right past my boots. It’s a sign I tell ye!

Adder

As it turns out it was a sign that I should really take a second look at the Splintered Fang before giving them the slagging I intended to. The fact is they’re actually quite a nice-looking gang, let down by their leader, the Trueblood. The gladiatorial rank-and-file in their scaled armour are excellent models. Like the Cypher Lords there’s nothing overtly chaotic here, file off the odd blasphemous symbol and these would fit in nicely amongst the loyal Cities of Sigmar, indeed these are closer to my mental image of what the common man of the Realms might look like than the old citizenry of the Empire.

Splintered Fang 1

Continuing at the racially inclusive trend started in the box set they’ve even managed to recruit an elf.

Splintered Elf

Furthermore, as denizens of the Realm of Life, they can bring along a bunch of snakes, reminiscent of the old jungle swarms that used to accompany the Lizardmen.

Snakes Alive

Indeed, despite my initial uncertainty about this warband, the more closely I look at them, and the more I get over the Trueblood and the Serpent Caller and turn my attention to the rest of their colleagues, the more I grow to like them. Indeed, leaving aside those two, the rest of the gang may be amongst my favourites of the whole range.

Splintered Fang

The Serpent Caller however is, in my opinion, simultaneously the best and worst model in the warband. On the one hand the dynamic pose is pulled off in style, the fanged mask beneath the hood is wonderfully sinister and there’s a nice sense of danger and motion. On the other hand I feel like he’s about to hit the floor face first after getting tangled up in all those snakes  whilst the dart in his hand appears to be being flicked away to the side with no suggestion that it might actually hurt anyone, apart from possibly one of the poor snakes. For these reasons I want to dislike it but it’s still a charming model with a lot of appealing qualities, and I suspect once I learn to stop taking it seriously I’ll grow to like it.

Hello I'd Like To Speak To A Serpent

The Trueblood on the other hand is another matter. There are so many other poses that could have been used here to greater effect; casting the net, stabbing with the trident, posing ominously. Instead they’re neither one thing nor the other, stepping forward whilst wafting the net to the side in a manner that leaves them looking awkward and ineffectual. It’s not a terrible pose but it’s a long way from being the powerful, attention capturing stance one expects from a leader. Something with a bit more punch would have made a world of difference. Whether anything can be done about it remains to be seen, without pictures of the sprue available online – we’ll have to wait and see what can be done once I have the model in front of me.

Trueblood 2

That said, when viewed from the side the model has a lot more power, and the tail is a nice touch. There may be hope for it yet!

Trueblood

Corvus Cabal

I’ve mentioned dynamic poses a few times in this review so let’s turn our attention to the gold standard, the warband that consistently gets that (and pretty much everything else) right. Hailing from the realm of Shadows this crow loving tribe are strong contenders to be my favourite of the six warbands we’ve seen so far.

Far more so than the Splintered Fang or the Untamed Beasts they wear their totem animal on their metaphorical sleeves. The crow theme is stamped across all of the models in the warband down to the lowliest Cabalist and the result is a strikingly cohesive, yet wonderfully diverse and original, group of characters.

Corvus Cabal

The dynamic poses are pulled off with universal aplomb, there are loads of details for a painter to get their teeth into and every last one feels like a unique character. Meanwhile the prize for the most spectacularly creative model in the entire war cry range has to go to the wonderful Shrike Talon. Channelling all of the weirdness that’s made the Inq28 scene great, and bound to be the basis of some gloriously strange conversions, this birdman is proof positive that GW are at the top of their game when it comes to creativity. Speaking of crazy conversions I’m very curious to see if I can kitbash these with some Space Marines to create a suitably strange Raven Guard squad. Watch this space!

Corvus Cabal 2

Overall then these are the best of the bunch for me although there is one other warband left to discuss and they’re so mad  that they almost snatched the Cabal’s crown.

The Unmade

What does one do when all of one’s learning and sophistication has come to naught and a hoard of the undead is kicking down the door? Why cut off your own face and swear yourself to the Dark Gods of course! Bringing a whole new meaning to the expression “where will I put my face” it’s the grimmest of the bunch, the hideous masters of body-horror that are the Unmade.

Unmade 1

You could be mistaken at times for thinking that life amongst the Slaves to Darkness might not be so bad. Everyone is welcome regardless of race or gender, there is little sign of hideous mutation or daemon worship here and if you’re lucky you even get a pet. What’s not to like? Luckily the Unmade are here to set the record straight chopping off their own appendages and replacing them with instruments of torture.

Torment and cruelty are the order of the day here – just look at this flail for instance and imagine the fate of someone unfortunate enough to be snagged by it.

Awakened One Flail

Unlike some of the other warbands which star all kinds of characters the Unmade are actually quite uniform, although the rank and file are still a long way from being faceless drones (boom boom). However the real star of the show has to be the terrifying scarecrow like figure of the Blissful One. One almost suspect that this figure was approved simply to put to bed once and for all the claims that GW had dumbed down and become family friendly.

Blissful One

Of course that’s still not all. The starter box set also contains a selection of chaotic beasts; the weird looking but oddly endearing Raptoryx…

Chaos Duck 2

… And a reimagined version of the old furies.

Fury

In the latter case this was something desperately overdue, these unaligned chaos daemons being amongst the oldest and least attractive models in GWs entire catalogue.

Ugly Old Furies

What’s more the box also comes with a range of handy train perfect for recreating the three-dimensional environments in which the warbands battle it out. Here we see the ruins of an ancient civilisation long eroded by time and war and now build over by barbaric newcomers.

Warcry City

Amongst the details of these ruins we see a fallen statue of Sigmar and this skeleton which appears to have been queuing for the toilet for quite some time…

Warcry Scenery

Looking at the selection of terrain in the box one wonders if Necromunda had any influence here. When the new edition of the classic game was released many people moaned about the lack of terrain in the box set. Personally I felt that including enough terrain for a game of Necromunda would have made the box too heavy to lift and too expensive to buy, that the terrain of yesteryear which so many people praised may not have been quite as perfect as nostalgia suggests and that the use of tiles was an elegant solution, but the carping was certainly pervasive. Warcry meanwhile follows in the footsteps of Kill Team with a smaller footprint and enough terrain to create a densely packed, immersive environment. Of course I’m still miles behind with my Necromunda terrain collection let alone adding anything else…

+++

So there we have it, plenty for us fans of the Dark Gods to get our claws into regardless of which faction takes our fancy. Much like Necromunda and Blood Bowl I can easily see myself trying out all of these in time – part of the joy of skirmish games for me being that each faction is relatively inexpensive, I’d never have the time or money to apply such a broad brush interest to one of the main games for instance.

Those who refuse to bow before the True Gods can always indulge their craven weakness with one of the other available factions, with everything from Stormcast Eternals to Gloomspite Gits (on a quest to collect glass bottles – I kid you not!) having rules for the game. Indeed I may well take the excuse to paint up a few warbands for these other factions just for the fun of it, regardless of whether I ever actually play the game.

Speaking of playing though, I tend to avoid mentioning the rules in these reviews – I rarely if ever play, preferring to focus on painting, and my rules insights are likely to be less than engaging. However from what I’ve seen so far this does look like a lot of fun, and fairly straightforward to get the hang of, so I may well give it a bash in the near future.

Meanwhile GW have been keen to remind us that this isn’t intended as a flash in the pan, but that plenty more lies ahead for the game. What that might be remains to be seen, although we do know that there are two more Chaos warbands which we’re yet to see revealed. The Scions of the Flame originate from the Realm of Fire and like to catch and eat fire elementals to prove their strength – much like some lads on a night out encountering a particularly vicious vindaloo. They worship Chaos as the Ever-Raging Flame which they believe will someday consume all life, with a little encouragement of course. Turns out some men really do want to watch the world burn!

Having seen warbands from seven of the eight realms I must admit I assumed that the final set, the Spire Tyrants, would be coming from Azyr itself, as hints have been dropped in the background fiction that even amongst Sigmar’s great bastion a few scurrilous rogues have hidden away, plotting the downfall of the God King and the final victory of the Dark Gods. The Tyrants however turn out to be natives of the Eightpoints, champions of the arenas and fighting pits of the Varanspire who have cut their way to freedom and now seek even greater excesses of violence and glory by joining Archaon’s elite. Angron would be so proud!

As for what comes next your guess is as good as mine, although personally I’d love to someday see a Destruction themed spin off. Rather than questing all the way to the Eightpoints it could instead features tribes of Orcs, Gobbos and Orgres knocking seven-shades out of one another down their local cave.

Having got this far I’ll confess that I mostly started writing this whilst waiting for my copy of the boxset to arrive and, having watched the poor postman struggle to the door with it, I’m off to delve into it properly. As usual though I’m interested to hear any thoughts or comments you may have. Will you be starting a warband of your own, and if so which has you tempted? Have you, or a loved one, ever been called to the Varanspire for a life of unremitting violence, or been affected by any of the other issues discussed in this blog? If so, the comments box is as ever, the place to speak your mind.


An Age of Chaos

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

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

Shadowspear 1

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

Master of Possession

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

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

Master of Possession

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

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

Greater Possessed

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

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

Greater Possessed 2Greater Possessed 1

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

Venomcrawler

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

Venomcrawler 1

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

Venomcrawler 2

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

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

Obliterators

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

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

Obliterators 1

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

God Awful Old Obliterator

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

Obliterators 2

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

Helbrute vs Obliterator

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

Mutilator

Chaos Marines

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

Chaos Marine 2

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

Chaos Marine 3

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

Chaos Marine 1

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

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

Chaos Space Marine Wudugast (5)

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

Chaos Size Comp ConvertOrDie Wudugast 2

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

Chaos Comparison

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

Chaos Marine WIP 3

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

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

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

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

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

Khaaarn 40k

Havocs

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

Cry Havoc

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

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

Havoc

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

Sons of Horus

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

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

Havoc CSM comp

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

Havoc 2

Noctilith Crown

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

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

Noctilith Crown

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

Noctilith Crown 2

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

Skull Altar

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

Abaddon

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

Abaddon 2

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

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

Abaddon 1

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

Dark Apostle

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

Dark Apostle 1

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

Old Apostle 1

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

Dark Apostle 2

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

Dark Disciples

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

Terminators

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

Terminator 2

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

Terminator 4

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

Terminator 1Helbrute Crest

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

Terminators New and Old ConvertOrDie Wudugast

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

Chaos Terminators Size Comp ConvertOrDie

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

Master of Executions

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

Master of Executions

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

Master of Executions 2

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

Lord Discordant

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

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

Lord Disco 4

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

Those Left Behind

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

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

Berserkers and Noise Marines

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

Khorn Berserkers Embarrassing Themselves

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

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

Noise Annoys

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

Cultists

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

Cultists

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

Huron Blackheart

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

Huron

The Galaxy Must Burn

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

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

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


Ambots Assemble

This weekend saw the long-awaited release of the new Ambot kit and naturally I bought a brace of these glorious beasts and set aside a couple of hours to get them built. As I was doing so it struck me – alas slightly too late to take WIP shots – that this might be of interest to fellow Necromunda fans so here’s a few early thoughts on the models from someone enthusiastic enough to grab them straight away.

Ambot Wudugast Convert Or Die (4)

Like most people I was expecting this model to be a big, expensive, lump of Forgeworld resin so getting a plastic kit instead was a really nice surprise. Rather than sticking religiously to the same set-up as the studio models for fear of ruining a ludicrously pricey model one can relax a little and adjust things as you see fit. To begin with I wanted to stick fairly close to the design of the originals as they’re cracking models in and of themselves, but I must admit I’m tempted to buy a second pair and go to town on kitbashing them (not something I’d ever do with a Forgeworld model).

Building the kit according to the instructions (an absolute must with Necromunda models where kits are often so complex that even the neck is separate to the head – hence Neck-romunda) one ends up with four natural subassembles; the legs, torso and each arm. Rather than build the first model to completion then start over with the second I recommend building each one up to the point that the subassembles are complete and then mixing them around to create a pair of unique models. Again, I’ve been fairly conservative with mine so far but I’ve got a lot of ideas brewing so now I’ve built two I’m increasing tempted by another pair with which to go a bit more crazy. Let’s take a look at what I’ve built so far.

Ambot Wudugast Convert Or Die (7)

I’ve already come to think of this one as “Aggressive Ambot” with his lunging pose and powerful grav-fists.

Ambot Wudugast Convert Or Die (6)

His colleague meanwhile is “Surprised Ambot” – he’s either been startled by an enemy ganger sneaking up on him or the fail-safes have just stopped working and he’s suddenly released some bastard has stuck his brain in a robot…

Ambot Wudugast Convert Or Die (5)

There are only two styles of head in the kit, the mandibles of A being moulded to the face whilst those of B are separate. However it certainly wouldn’t be difficult to snip off A’s mandibles and exchange them with those intended for B to create two more unique faces.

Ambot Wudugast Convert Or Die (8)

Ambot A – “Stabby!”

Ambot Wudugast Convert Or Die (10)

Ambot B – “Bitey!”

Perhaps not the most exiting shot in the world but I’ve been curious to know what the back of the models looks like, as none of GW’s previews have shown it.

Ambot Wudugast Convert Or Die (11)

Another thing that hasn’t been entirely clear from official previews is exactly how big they are. When faced with a kit like this the first thing that springs to mind is generally a dreadnaught and although I assumed these would be smaller it was still tricky to picture exactly how big they were going to be until they were finished. Thus, for your assistance and edification, here are a few handy size comparisons.

Ambot Wudugast Convert Or Die (12)

Right now, on the mean streets of the Underhive, these are definitely the biggest dudes around, looming over humble gangers in exactly the way one would expect from a monstrous alien which has been crammed into a deadly robot without the slightest consideration for health and safety.

Ambot Wudugast Convert Or Die (1)

For those whose mindset is associated with the more traditional side of 40k here we see one posing next to those staples of the size-comparison shot; a space marine Intercessor and a humble, if probably terrified, guardsman.

Ambot Wudugast Convert Or Die (2)

And, just in case I’ve caused any confusion with my earlier comment about dreadnaughts, here one is dwarfed by a dead space marine in a walking coffin.

Ambot Wudugast Convert Or Die (3)

And of course if any of you were wondering how big he was before he was a brain in a jar, now you know that too…

Anyway, hopefully you’ve found this useful and/or entertaining, particularly if you’ve been thinking of getting yourself an Ambot. These won’t get painted for a little while as I need to think up a suitable generic colour scheme to use with them but all being well I should have something painted to show off by later on in the week.


Squabblin’ Goblins – Part 11

Last weekend saw the long-awaited release of new plastic squigs from Games Workshop. Formerly part of the Orcs and Goblins range these crazy little beasts have now found a home amongst the Gloomspite Gits, a re-imagining of the old night gobbos in the Mortal Realms. As a long-standing fan of greenskins in general and squigs in particular it’s fair to say that I’ve been looking forward to this release since long before the models were even sculpted, let alone announced. Having got my hands on them* I wanted to take the opportunity to share a few thoughts regarding my early impressions – illustrated with a few moody and atmospheric black and white images to compensate for the fact that I haven’t painted anything yet.

*I know I have plenty of other things to paint at the moment, and I know buying new models when I haven’t painted what I have is profligate, but how could I resist after dreaming of them for at least a decade?

The new Gloomspite Gits are an interesting proposition. Despite it being three years since the arrival of Age of Sigmar this release would have fitted quite comfortably into the Old World of Warhammer. Previously Age of Sigmar releases have either been entirely new races, such as the Stormcast Eternals or the Idoneth Deepkin, or have evolved old races into new forms, such as the Daughters of Khaine or the Sylvaneth. Sometimes models for this latter group would have fitted in well in the Old World, and some might even be effective proxies for older units – like Ironjaw Brutes as Orc Big ‘uns, but never have we seen such comprehensive coverage of models widely desired for an old Warhammer army as part of an Age of Sigmar release. Long before the End Times, before Nagash returned and with the Stormcasts no more than a games developer’s fevered imaginings, people were crying out for new squigs.

Having waited all these years for a nice plastic kit for the squigs (surely always a glaring gap in the Games Workshop roster) I found myself giving in to temptation and snapping them up as soon as I could. Acquiring them however has led to considerable food for thought. Many old school players will be rejoicing at the opportunity to add this iconic creature to their Orcs and Goblins armies but with the scale of many GW models creeping larger every year will these newcomers even fit on an old 20mm square base? They, at least, can relax, the answer is a firm “yes”.

squigs convert or die wudugast (1)squigs convert or die wudugast (2)

Indeed although many things have become bigger over the years the boisterous squig remains roughly the same.

squigs convert or die wudugast (3)

For myself I’m still debating exactly what to do with my newly acquired squigs. Long ago I started to build a Night Goblin army for WHFB and last year I actually got a sizeable chunk of it painted. When I painted the army last year I threw in a handful of squigs but left the squad incomplete in the hope that sooner or later more would come bouncing along. All too often such manoeuvring proves to be wishful thinking but this time it seems I guessed right.

Night Goblins Convert Or Die

As squigs were always intended to be a part of that army surely I should just pop the little beasts onto square bases and get painting. On the other hand however the style of base very much directs the game for which the model is intended. As it stands I’m unlikely to actually play with these, so the point is probably entirely academic. Nonetheless the idea of some AoS skirmish has a distinct appeal. In the unlikely event that I do ever decide to play some old fashioned Warhammer it’ll be my Skaven that hit the tabletop.

It’s also worth considering that despite the aesthetic punch which an old Warhammer army with its ranks of troops neatly defined possesses, a quality which no AoS army can quite capture, some models just don’t look as good in ranks. By putting them on round bases I’d be able to really enjoy and show off everything these dynamic models can do, rather than struggling to make the best of things and force them into ranks which they were never intended to form. After all “ranking up” was a rightly cursed aspect of old Warhammer, a chore which impeded miniatures design and made hobbyist’s lives a misery in equal measure, so burdening myself with it unnecessarily seems like foolishness.

Convert Or Die Squigs

A release as long awaited as this was always going to be of key importance to GW. This was a chance to win over lingering WHFB sounds to the new world of AoS. Furthermore there must have been a temptation to indulge the freedom of the new realms to push the Night Goblins in new and crazy directions, an urge they have wisely resisted. The Night Goblins and Squigs have always been amongst the company’s most classic and iconic races and as the old saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Look no further than the wailing and gnashing of teeth that accompanied the upscaling of the space marines, a range who’s undersized proportions meant it certainly was broke and did need fixed.

On the other hand as a species so intrinsically associated with the Old World there was always a real danger that these little dudes would seem glaringly out of place amid the Mortal Realms. Luckily good models save the day. Just as the sudden availability of truescale marines made it easier for many of us to swallow the new landscape of 40k so too do Night Goblins in the Mortal Realms seem much more palatable when accompanied by these glorious new squigs.

This is not to say that everything is just a rehash of the “good old days” however. New ideas have been brought in but they’ve done so in a way that sympathetic to the old. Take the new Boingrot Bounderz for instance. Again old school WHFB fans could use them as alternative squig hoppers (which the kit also makes) but there’s something irresistible entertaining about goblin knights. Picture, if you will, a whole court of them in full heraldic pageantry, with the squig hoppers as squires and a suitably deranged-looking king bouncing in the lead. Of course, in a process which will be familiar to all hobbyists, now I’ve thought of it I can’t stop thinking about it. Bretonnia may be gone but there is still room for a green knight or two.

squigs convert or die wudugast (6)squigs convert or die wudugast (7)

The only thing I’m not entirely happy out regarding these is the way they are held aloft on heaps of mushrooms. It’s just a little over the top for my tastes, although I stress that’s just a personal opinion, but it’s also rather tricky to do very much about it. The fungi are sculpted directly to the legs of the squigs, probably a sensible move when it comes to supporting the weight of the model but making it distinctly tricky to separate them. I did manage it with this one but, given what a faff it was, I don’t think I’ll be losing too much sleep over the others.

squigs convert or die wudugast (8)

The Night Goblins were always a race which combined spite and silliness with aplomb. there was an element of slapstick comedy about them that brought something uniquely enjoyable to their murderous ways. Whilst still clearly evil creatures this cheeky, quirky element put them in a class of their own, a long way from straightforward baddies like Chaos or the Vampire Counts, whilst their status as weak yet cunning distinguished them from the loutish Orcs. Again it’s pleasing to see that this trait lives on in their new iteration. Goblins of all kinds have always enjoyed seeing their mates suffering misfortune and goblin fans are no better. Can you imagine Stormcast fans universally applauding a model of a liberator being swallowed by a dracoline, as this poor little grot is gobbled up by a squig?

squigs convert or die wudugast

Amidst all this praise for the new models it would be remiss of me not to take a moment to mourn the passing of the Doom Diver from the range. It was a true icon of the old Orcs and Goblins army which seems not to have made the cut for a new model and has been quietly shuffled into retirement. Luckily for me I was given one a few years ago which will be joining my Night Goblins sooner or later.

Likewise goblin wolf riders, a staple of many childhoods thanks to The Hobbit, have been shuffled off into the great dank cave in the sky. These days if you want to go riding into battle on a big bad wolf you need to be a power-armoured futuristic Viking with a questionable hair-do’s.

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Few things are as evocative of GW’s stable as Night Goblins and Blood Bowl, so I’ve also found myself pondering how the two could be combined, a subject I’ve found myself returning to lately following conversations with fellow blogger and blood bowl enthusiast Faust. So far I’ve only dipped my toe into it but as this combination of Blood Bowl player and the (now retired) Night Goblin Fanatics shows, there’s certainly room to create some alternative members for a diverse looking team.

squigs convert or die wudugast (4)

Once again though I’d like to emphasise that I have plenty of other projects I ought to be concentrating on so although these squigs and gobbos will definitely get a turn on the painting table it won’t be straight away. In many ways however this is a blessing. I’ve been thinking about what to do with a release like this for a number of years so I won’t be rushing into anything, but instead will be taking the chance to explore the models, see what other hobbyists do with them, and bounce a few ideas around before I commit to anything. At this point I often say watch this space but this time I’ll add don’t hold your breath as well. However if you have any suggestions, ideas or words of wisdom, I’m all ears.


2018 – In Case You Missed It

As the curtain falls on 2018 or (depending on where you are in the world and assuming you’re not reading this at the very moment of publication) the sun rises on 2019, it’s time to take a rambling look back at the year that’s past.

For fans of the various universes created by Games Workshop it’s been a packed twelve months. 40k has continued to grow into its post- Guilliman landscape and although at first I feared the impact a loyalist Primarch would have on the flavour of the setting I have to say I’m pleased with how things have developed so far. Guilliman himself, often maligned as the most boring of the Primarch (even by the other Primarchs), has developed into a strong character and may now hold the title of my second favourite loyalist (after the Khan of course). The reason this has been successful, in my view, is that GW have not forgotten the grim darkness which lies at the heart of 40k. Rather than allow Guilliman to become the super-heroic “good man” who saves the day at every turn, they’ve allowed the speck of light and hope he’s brought to the galaxy to emphasise how truly dire the setting truly is. 2016 saw the first Primarch making a return (the spectacular Magnus the Red), followed by two more in 2017 (Guilliman and Mortarion). 2018 gave us a bit of a rest, allowing us to become familiar with the new setting whilst turning the focus onto the dark corners and less explored parts of the galaxy, the shadows where Inquisitors roam and mighty heroes are few and far between. Thus, much like buses, after waiting thirty years for a Rogue Trader, this year we saw two of them come along at once, accompanied by a whole host equally interesting, but traditionally sidelined, characters; from mutants to death cult assassins, ratlings to navigators and beastmen to dogs. Who, at the start of the year, would have guessed that GW could reveal both a glimpse of the Old Ones and an actual Man of Iron, and what’s more do so to almost universal acclaim?

Doggo (1)

The only truly good boy in the 41st Millenium

My own relationship with 40k as a game remains complicated. Much as I love the setting, and building armies to fit within it, the game itself still fails to engage me. My heart as ever belongs to small-scale, “crunchy” games, which is why I’m being drawn ever further into the embrace of Necromunda. Thus the arrival of Kill Team did manage to excite me as a chance to engage with smaller, character driven, forays into the 41st Millennium, rather than the sprawling maths-fest of 40k proper. As yet I’ve not given the game itself a shot but the idea of creating some teams is certainly compelling, as is the opportunity to dip a toe into some of the factions which don’t engage me sufficiently to build a whole army around. For instance the likes of the Dark Eldar, Tau or Necrons have never really interested me but the chance to make a little Kill Team and see what I make of them could be a lot of fun.

Mobile Artillery

A plucky band of heroes who could someday become an Imperial Guard Kill Team, if only that Catachan would get off the phone!

Speaking of games which sound like they might be fun to play this year saw new editions of both Lord of the Rings and Adeptus Titanicus. Lord of the Rings has always been something of an oddity for me. I grew up with the books, indeed some of my formative memories are of my dad reading me the Hobbit, and later Lord of the Rings, when I was a child, something which undoubtedly paved the way for my love of fantasy and science fiction. The Lord of the Rings films remain some of my all time favourite movies, and are amongst the few films I’m happy to re-watch on a semi-regular basis (less so the Hobbit films which were a little hit-and-miss, although when they got it right they too proved to be outstanding). Thus I do find myself wondering why, given my love of Tolkien’s worlds, and my even greater love of painting miniatures, I’ve never been that interested in painting Lord of the Rings’ models? Admittedly some of the sculpts are less than impressive but some are truly outstanding, and from everything I’ve seen and heard the game itself looks like a lot of fun to play, but beyond the occasional brief flash of enthusiasm the thought of painting any models for it rarely raises any more than a mental shrug. I do have a heap of goblin town goblins lurking amongst my hobby stuff, but in typical fashion I’ll be converting them into Necromunda mutants. That said I did recently receive a warrior of Minas Tirith as part of a bits drop sent by the inimitable IRO so who knows, this could be the start of something.

Adeptus Titanicus is another game that looks genuinely entertaining. After all have many of us not dreamed of piloting a titan, duelling like metallic Godzillas as buildings tumble around us, or simply stepping on your boss’s flash new car on your way into the office? Watching a few demo games online it struck me that this one could be a lot of fun, but luckily the miniatures have failed to really capture my imagination, probably a good thing as the cost is quite eye-watering. Instead I think I’ll stick to things like Necromunda and Blood Bowl, where one can start a new faction without needing to give up food or take up crime to pay for it.

Unicorn Convert Or Die

Without a hobbit or a titan to my name, here’s a handsome unicorn instead.

2018 was also the year in which Age of Sigmar began to realise its potential, outgrowing the (frankly shoddy and underdeveloped) early years and tapping into the rich veins of creativity that the setting allows for. Morathi became perhaps the first of the established characters of old Warhammer to transition to the new setting without seeming jarringly out of place, a whole faction of ghosts were summoned (including some truly outstanding models) and GW even managed something previously thought impossible and created a faction of Stormcasts that seem genuinely interesting. In one of the standout releases of the year GW completed their elemental quartet, adding the watery Idoneth Deepkin to the firey Fyreslayers, earthy Sylvaneth and airy Kharadron Overlords (and proving at last that Fishmen would indeed get models before the Sisters of Battle).

As it stands I’ve yet to dip my toe into AoS properly. For me an interesting setting is one of the most important things when it comes to getting me into a new game and until recently AoS was almost completely lacking in this area. Like 40k the Old World had plenty of dark corners which you could make your own, and thus for me struck the right balance between the potential to develop your own ideas and still having a framework to work within. The “anything goes/make it up as you go along” blank canvass of early AoS was a little too intimidating and so I stuck with what I knew and kept my Skaven and Night Goblins firmly in the dank caves and filthy cities of the World That Was. The new edition however has reinvigorated my interest. At last the world has come alive and I’m finding myself drawn in. Over the last six months or so I’ve found myself increasingly tempted to sell my soul into Nagash’s service and recreate my Vampire Counts army in the Mortal Realms. I managed to get my hands on the ghosts from the AoS starter set when they were first released and I’ve enjoyed putting the first few together, so who knows – 2019 could be their year.

Ghosties

So what about the developments in my own collection? Tallying up the numbers I’ve discovered that, in 2018, I managed to paint a total of 277 models. This may not equate to  the same giddy heights which some hobbyists can accomplish but I’m still rather proud of this achievement, especially as I feel I’ve managed to achieve a reasonably high standard on all of them. It certainly beats (indeed it more than doubles) my 2017 output of 129, even if many of this year’s recruits were the (relatively easy to paint) Night Goblins.

Although I like to avoid deadlines as much as possible in my hobby activities I still took the chance to get involved in a number of challenges throughout the year, in addition to my self-imposed goal of “at least one Skaven per month”. Probably the most defining of these, in terms of my own output, were the monthly challenges organised by Azazel, a phenomenon which is fast becoming an institution amongst the blogging community, and which I’m pleased to hear is set to continue in 2019. Once again therefore Azazel deserves a huge “thank you” from me, and if you’ve not been following his blog, or getting involved in his challenges, I strongly urge you to do so. I’m not entirely sure how many models I painted this year that I wouldn’t have completed without Azazel’s challenges but there’s no denying it was a fair number, ranging from mighty centrepieces like the Screaming Bell to hordes of little Night Goblins. May, for example, was Neglected Model Month, aimed at encouraging participants to pick up that miniature which had been gathering dust and just finish the damn thing. With this as a spur I managed to complete this heap of chaotic characters, each of which had been abandoned on the shelf of shame for far too long.

Convert Or Die (3)

Meanwhile February was renamed Femruary by Alex of Leadballoony which aimed to encourage us to add some female models to our respective collections. This year I took the opportunity to paint up this little group of 41st Millennium ladies, and I’m already thinking ahead to Femruary 2019, with a heap of unpainted women ring-fenced to tackle.

Fembruary Group Shot Convert Or Die

February also saw Big Boss Redskullz putting out a call for genestealer corrupted civilians to take part in the Nestorian Infestation. This ongoing project is the product of collaboration between Big Boss RedskullzEchoes of Imperium and Wilhel Miniatures, and is set around a world overrun by genestealer cultists and the arrival of Imperial forces in the form of the Deathwatch.  The whole story has been a joy to follow and it was a real pleasure to be able to get involved. Here’s a few shots (courtesy of the guys themselves) of my models lurking on Wilhel’s beautifully grubby terrain, and probably only moments away from being casually murdered by the Imperium’s finest.

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Meanwhile at the opposite end of the year Orktober continued the longstanding tradition of greenskin fans building up their collections. Despite being an Ork fan for over a decade now I’m fairly certain this is the first year I’ve actually participated in it, turning out this mob of new recruits for the Waaagh!

Convert Or Die Orks (1)

I’ve already shown you the current state of my Skaven army but I’m not ashamed to show it off again (although you can read the full story here).

Skaven Convert Or Die Wudugast (29)

Their dominance of the tunnels won’t go uncontested however as a green menace has begun to emerge in the form of a growing clan of rapscallion Night Goblins. Most of these were painted in September and October which goes to show what one can achieve if one put other projects aside and focuses one’s efforts. Speaking of Night Gobbos I’m sure it comes as no surprise to many of you that, having seen the latest previews from Games Workshop, I’m already planning to expand my greenskin horde in the new year.

Night Goblins Convert Or Die

They are not the only greenskins I’ve worked on either as, in the grim darkness of the far future my Ork Waaagh! continued to gather in strength. Since the end of Orktober I’ve only managed to add a single Ork nob to my collection so this image still shows almost the full extent of the army.

Convert Or Die Orks (7)

That said when I finished the aforementioned nob I also completed his squad and as I never took a group shot of them all together at the time here’s one now.

Ork Nobs Convert or Die Wudugast

Greenskin fans will be pleased to hear that there are still plenty of Orks and Goblins on the painting desk waiting for attention so expect further additions to both collections in the new year.

Another army set to grow soon is my Death Guard collection. With the recent change in scale of the plague Marine models I’ve decided to retire many of my old models, whilst some of the others will be tweaked and improved upon. Expect to see this army growing larger and stranger over the next twelve months. Here’s a look at how it stands currently;

Nurgle Convert Or Die 2018 Wudugast

Of course whilst some of the older models have been banished to Nurgle’s garden a host of new recruits have crawled from the plague pits in the form of a growing hoard of poxwalkers – and you can definitely expect to see a lot more of them in 2019.

Poxwalkers Convert Or Die Wudugast

Faced with such a foul hoard it’s a good thing that the Imperium has received reinforcements in the form of a growing number of space marines, imperial guardsman and even a dog.

Imperium Convert Or Die Wudugast

2018 has also been the year in which I’ve really started to take an interest in Necromunda. Regular followers of the blog over the last month or so will have seen me painting up a gang of Genestealer cultists with which to carve out a corner of the Underhive in the name of the four armed emperor.

Genestealer Cultists Convert Or Die Wudugast (2)

Their foul xenos scheming will not go unopposed however, with the muscular men of the Goliath Irondogs gang standing ready to defend their turf.

Goliath Necromunda Convert Or Die Wudugast

The Ladykillers of House Escher are slightly further behind, boasting only six (exceptionally well dressed) ladies so far. Expect to see them undertaking a recruiting drive early in the new year.

Escher Convert Or Die Wudugast

Finally I also started work on a large terrain project for Necromunda. With each piece being so big this is taking me a while to produce but fear not, a desolate industrial hell will soon be revealed.

Terrain Imperial Convert Or Die Necromunda (8)

New Year’s Resolutions.

As noted above I don’t usually go in for setting myself strict targets when it comes to my hobbies, after all the aim of the exercise is to relax and enjoy myself. Deadlines are for work. That said here are a few things I’d like to do in the coming year.

Skaven; as mentioned previously I’m now at a point where I have pretty much everything I want for my Skaven army (unless of course Games Workshop decide to release some new models for the rats – no harm in hoping eh!). All that needs to be done now is to get them painted. Getting it all done by the end of 2019 looks quite achievable if I just knuckle down and get on with it.

Necromunda; this one almost goes without saying but you can expect to see plenty more of the denizens of the Underhive coming up. I’ve got another Goliath I want to finish, a few Eschers to work on plus various bounty hunters, scum and hangers on. I also have several new gangs planned, although I’m not sure which I’ll start with first but it’s safe to assume there will be plenty more of them appearing in the coming months.

Cawdor Convert Or Die

Terrain; this is a big project and as a result slow going. Nonetheless I’m keen to crack on with it and aiming to get it done in 2019 should be the spur I need to make sure the project doesn’t stall.

Chaos Knight; speaking of larger projects, it seems that every year I think “let’s get the Chaos Knight done this time” and every year it gathers another layer of dust. This time though right, this time I mean it!

Poxwalkers; a hoard of part-built/part-painted plague zombies is currently occupying my painting desk. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were all finished instead?

Blood Bowl; I know I’m about 20 years behind everyone else but I do like the look of Blood Bowl, I’ve just never got around to painting a team. Will I do it in 2019? I’m sure with people like Faust to chivy me I’ll get something done!

Blood Bowl Orcs

Of course only time will tell how many of these goals I actually managed to achieve, or whether some of the other projects I have planned manage to seize the entirety of the limelight.

Lastly I’d like to wish all of my readers a very happy New Year (there really are an intimidatingly large number of you now!) and to offer a particular thanks to everyone who has commented, offered feedback or encouragement, or just appealed to my ego in 2018 – here’s to plenty more hobby shenanigans in the coming year.