Tag Archives: Tzeentch

Return To Prospero

On the whole, we who follow the Ruinous Powers have enjoyed an excellent few years. In many ways the story of Chaos-loving 40k fans and the story of Chaos in the 41st millennium can be seen to mirror each other, surely a case of the warp twisting reality and reflecting it back at us! For many years we were isolated in the wilderness, forgotten by the Imperium that had birthed us, reduced to sticking spikes on to loyalist marines by way of generating new recruits and brooding on our bitterness. The glory days of the Heresy (that would be Realm of Chaos and Codex 3.5 then!) lay far behind us and, despite the occasional Black Crusade to enliven things (2012 was a good year) we were undoubtedly surviving rather than thriving. Then, after an eternity in exile, our luck finally changed. The Cadian Gate fell, the little green army men tasked with defending it receiving at long last the kicking they so richly deserved, the Cicatrix Maledictum split the galaxy in two and we were back in action! Since 2016 we’ve seen the appearance of the Thousand Son, Death Guard, Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Knights, Gellerpox Mutants, a growing army of traitor guard thanks to Blackstone Fortress and choirs of daemons for all four of the gods. Assuming that western civilisation doesn’t collapse in the meantime (hardly a safe bet these days) it seems sensible to assume that the World Eaters and Emperor’s Children will come bellowing and screaming out of the warp sooner or later, probably within the next couple of years. It’s a good time to be bad! Even if the worst happens and the dubious leadership of our political masters leaves the planet as a wasteland us Chaos fans will at least find a comforting familiarity to life as mutant tech-barbarians whilst the oldhammer fans amongst us will survive the fallout in style, comfortably ensconced behind a wall of lead.

Despite the fact that Games Workshop haven’t dropped so much as a single hint to this effect (and it’s worth noting that traditionally they don’t) few fans feel any real doubt that the Khornate and Slaaneshi legions are on their way. After all, the idea that GW might abandon the Chaos project unfinished seems desperately unlikely. What about the Thousand Sons though? Surely they are a finished entity, done and dusted for the foreseeable future? Allow me to argue otherwise.

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When the Thousand Sons were released at the tail end of 2016 for many Chaos fans it was a revelation. Writing about it now it’s easy to sound hyperbolic, after all these are still just toy soldiers we’re talking about right? Nonetheless for fans of the legions this changed everything. Suddenly Chaos went from just two fractions (Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Daemons) to potentially dozens – something GW hasn’t failed to capitalise on since. I think we’d all hoped to see a plastic kit for Rubrics someday but Scarab Occult Terminators had always floated close to being a pipedream for me, and seeing things like tzaangors or a living primarch fell well out with even my most enthusiastic daydreams.

In days of yore the range of models available to any given chaos legion were all drawn from a single codex (Codex: Chaos Space Marines to be precise). There were a few upgrade packs and/or metal bits for cult troops (these being the plague marines, rubrics and noise marines), plus the distinctly elderly looking berserkers and a small group of special characters, but in the main the way to distinguish one legion from another came down to the colours in which they were painted. With the release of the Chaos Space Marines and Death Guard codexes we’ve seen a widening of the gap between Nurgle affiliated Chaos Space Marines like the Purge and the true Death Guard legion of old. There are commonalities but each is a distinct entity – allowing one, if you so wished, to create two very different collections of models. The same however really isn’t true of the Thousand Sons.

Rubric

For one thing I think it’s worth noting that whilst there are many similarities between the Death Guard and the Purge, or the Emperor’s Children and the Flawless Host, the Thousand Sons and any given Tzeentchian warband are worlds apart. If anything of the Thousand Sons deserve more uniqueness not less. Despite this the Thousand Sons find themselves leaving much more heavily on Chaos Space Marine units than the Death Guard. The former share 15 units with the chaos space marines, with 8 units unique to them, whilst the proportions for the latter are 13 each (by my count – and my figures may be wrong, I’m no plaguebearer).

Those differences serve to really define the Death Guard as more than just Nurgly Chaos Marines, allowing them a radically different aesthetic and range of units available to them. Of course we cannot know the future but it is to be hoped that the Emperor’s Children and World Eaters, assuming they do appear, will follow a similar format. Where once some models would be painted green for Nurgle and others pink for Slaanesh, now the potential interest and depth in the Chaos range at last begins to be tapped.

However by sharing so much common ground with the Chaos Space Marines the Thousand Sons feel to me to be a lot less unique than their Death Guard cousins. Despite having their own troops, even their own terminators (albeit only the one type compared to the Death Guard’s two) by falling back on the same vehicles and other kits as the Chaos Space Marines that uniqueness is diluted. A heldrake for example shares a lot of aesthetic ties with the wider Chaos Space Marines range that makes it fit in perfectly alongside them but no amount of a blue and yellow paint will make it look like anything more than an outsider amongst the Thousand Sons. I must confess to cursing when the heldrake was removed from the Death Guard range but time has proved the wisdom of that decision (for me at least). Heldrakes based on zombie dragons swooping above maulerfeinds kitbashed from maggoths, whilst warpsmiths surrounded by semi-organic mechadendrites bursting from there cancerous armour and bloated plague bikers roaring alongside – it’s a wonderful and entirely attainable image for an army and yet a very different entity to the Legion commanded by Mortarion.

Crucially despite these differences a Nurgly chaos space marine remains similar aesthetically to a member of the Death Guard. Both start out as fairly standard looking space marines upon which are layered the unpleasant attentions of Nurgle. The same however cannot be said of the Thousand Sons and their peers amongst the Tzeentchian chaos space marines. Magnus’ legion already looked unique at the time of the Horus Heresy. With their ornate armour and tall crests they deviated far further from the marine aesthetic blueprint than even the most radical of their cousins. Since then they’ve been essentially trapped in amber – spared the mutation which blights their fellow traitors by Ahriman’s rubric which turned them to dust within their armour. A later-day space marine breaking his vows to the Imperium and swearing his soul to Tzeentch would be unlikely to choose to cosplay ancient Tizcan ceremonial dress as he hurries to make his escape into the Great Eye. Likewise mutation will be rife, Tzeentch being rather keen on gifting his followers with a constantly changing array of mad appendages, something the modern Tzeentchian needs to learn to cope with without the dubious benefits of Ahriman turning him into a mindless automaton.

Sorceror

Perhaps the most striking example of the aesthetic divergence between the Thousand Sons and the Chaos Space Marines is the helbrute. These fleshy giants are to the traitor legions what dreadnoughts are to the loyalists, huge and powerful walkers piloted by mortally wounded space marines. Rather than see a great hero of the Imperium die he is placed within one of these engines to battle on – yet whilst for a loyalist space marine there are few higher honours, for the traitors incarceration within a helbrute is a terrible punishment and curse, and the result is a lifetime of torture.

Featuring as much bulging mutated flesh as it does metal the helbrute fits in well with chaos marines of all stripes, with the exception of the Thousand Sons. Here its meaty, bloated form seems out of place – although it would fit in well with other Tzeentchian marines. The developers acknowledge this contradiction and attempt to explain it away with a little success.

In the early days following the Heresy the Thousand Sons were wracked by mutation as Tzeentch showered his gifts upon them. Rather than see the whole legion degenerate into idiot spawn Ahriman cast his infamous rubric and the majority of the Legion were saved from mutation – instead ending up as perambulatory suits of armour, containing nothing more than weak psychic ghosts and the dust of their former occupants. By the time this happened however many of the legion’s dreadnoughts had already mutated out of control turning into the first helbrutes. Recognising their utility in battle some sorcerers decided to try making more of them. Finding themselves mysteriously short on applicants from within their own legion the Thousand Sons set up the internship program from hell, inviting wannabe sorcerers to join them to enjoy a full training program. Rather than the 41st millennium Hogwarts they had been promised the unlucky aspirants find themselves bundled kicking and screaming into a helbrute’s central coffin. Why such an elaborate scheme is considered necessary when any injured space marine would do, and how word has failed to spread amongst the cut-throat warriors of the chaos legions that unexpectedly generous offers by the Thousand Sons might not be entirely trustworthy, is glossed over.

Helbrute

Personally I love the helbrute model but, despite this explanation, I find myself sceptical and I just don’t think it fits in all that well amongst the Thousand Sons. I’d rather convert a loyalist dreadnought to represent a member of the old Legion turned to dust inside his sarcophagus. However what I’d really love to see someday is something akin to the Blood Angel’s Librarian Dreadnaught, a psyker dreadnought by which a sorcerer might continue to work his schemes in a mechanical afterlife. After all, whilst the other Chaos forces must make do with helbrutes, a legion devoted to hunting out secret knowledge should be more than capable of getting a dreadnought up and running satisfactorily, allowing a powerful psyker to stamp his way across the galaxy in style.

I’m sure the presence of gaps within the Thousand Sons range, particularly as opposed to the Death Guard, won’t come as news to Games Workshop. In an effort to flesh things out they delved into their other ranges in search of kits which might find a suitable home amongst the sons of Magnus. Alongside a range of daemons (mirroring the approach taken with the other chaos forces and harking back to my early days as a collector when daemons and mortals fought side by side) they also borrowed two tzaangor units to swell the ranks of the beastmen. The tzaangor shaman is an excellent model and fits in perfectly here, whilst the Tzaangor Enlightened may risk looking like fantasy escapees when armed with bows but fit in much better when given chainswords and pistols.

Mutalith Vortex Beast

Lastly we have the hulking Mutalith Vortex Beast. It’s a bit of an odd model, a giant beast with a mass of tentacles for a face and a huge magical star mounted on its back. The kit can also be used to build a Slaughterbrute, a model I’ll confess I find impossible to like. The Mutalith Vortex Beast is better but still flawed. Perhaps if I saw it in the flesh it would help me make up my mind but I can’t recall ever encountering one and so I remain on the fence regarding it’s questionable aesthetic charms. Even at my most charitable however it’s hard to see it as anything other than an ugly old model shoehorned into an army it wasn’t originally intended for. Giving its unappealing appearance and meaty price tag, it’s easy to assume it didn’t sell as well as they hoped and that shoving it into the Thousand Sons range is a desperate attempt to boost its sales. In my opinion the Thousand Sons deserve better.

Indeed I’d go further than that. Chaos deserves better; the legions should be explored in full, with the Death Guard and Chaos Space Marines ranges as the model for the depth and quality to which they are treated. The fans deserve better; whether they love Chaos or simply want to see a fully realised adversary against which to pit themselves (and indeed see their own faction given the same care and attention). Games Workshop deserve better; to hold their heads high and say “This is what we do, and we do it well, and even if something seems a bit niche or strange we have the talent to pull it off”.

And yes, I’m aware that these things take time, the resources are finite, that not every faction can be given their full attention all the time. Rome was not built in a day. GW however are fond of advertising “aspirational armies” at me all day so I shall respond by describing aspirational product!

Magus

Part of the reason for the Thousand Sons being on my mind is that my birthday is coming up soon (aye, happy birthday me!). Last year my partner gave me Magnus the Red and so far I’ve only got as far as assembling him before my trepidation for tackling large miniatures, combined with my determination to clear my desk of half-finished projects, caused me to stall. I did promise myself that I’d tackle him as soon as the Chaos Knight is done, and yes – I’m aware that I owe you all a progress report on that too! In the meantime I’ve made a pretence of progress by thinking about the Thousand Sons a lot instead.

Magnus, Magnus I call it gladness

Tzeentch has always been a tricky god for GW to tackle. Khorne and Nurgle are relatively straightforward – if in doubt a roaring chainaxe or some exposed guts will go a long way. Slaanesh was harder, a heady mix of sex, drugs and rock and roll, which has both attracted and repulsed the company over the years. Tzeentch however the most problematic of all, combining magic with mutation – neither of them easy to achieve. Mutation may be a hallmark of Chaos but it’s a double-edged sword. Played right and the result is fantastic and creative models, played wrong and you end up with the Chaos Forsaken from old Warhammer, an ill-defined mess.

Meanwhile magical effects are a clear case of less being more, and even with the undoubted talent of the GW design team and the advances in modern model making its hard to render sheets of living lighting or warp-flame in plastic. The Tzeentchian daemons range captures this neatly; some are good (the Lord of Change, blue horrors and heralds), some are bad (the less said about the pink horrors the better) and some are just plain weird (even after many years of careful study I can’t honestly tell you if I like the flamers or not…). Given these challenges you can hardly blame them for concentrating on the ever popular Khorne and Nurgle.

Returning to the Thousand Sons, GW showed remarkable restraint in not throwing magical fireworks everywhere, whilst the Rubric of Ahriman saved them from the thorny mutation issue. However the Rubric also creates an issue in that it serves to limit the range of roles available to be explored with future models. Regardless of what you did before the Rubric, afterwards you were either turned to dust or psychically powerful enough to survive. If you fell into the latter camp then a career as a sorcerer was yours for the taking, with all the power that brought. If you were amongst the former then you didn’t get much say in the matter anymore. What’s more the traditional specialist ranks become essentially redundant, with no-one having much call for apothecaries, tech-marines and so-on when magic can fix anything. New specialist sorcerers would have a certain merit, perhaps based on the cabals and disciplines of ancient Prospero which take a prominent role in the Horus Heresy novels. However the further the sorcerers are explored the more top heavy the legion risks becoming, with loads of HQ’s and not a lot else.

More troops would be nice but it’s hard to picture rubrics doing anything fancy and although in theory I’m sure you could have rubric assault marines (if the controlling sorcerer gave the appropriate psychic nudge) it doesn’t really fit with my mental image of the army to see them hurtling through the skies. Plus the Thousand Sons, sadly, exist in a scale of their own – the models being a little bigger than the older Space Marines but still a bit short compared to the Chaos Marines and Death Guard that came after. As a result I suspect  GW might not want to draw attention to the fact by returning to the rubrics any time soon. Rubric Havocs and phalanxes of close combat rubrics are nice to imagine but I suspect they might be a long time in coming…

More Tzaangors and mutant beasts are always nice (I’ve never met a Tzaangor I didn’t like) but the greater their presence in the army the more the power-armoured element is diminished and the less it feels like a Thousand Sons army.

One thing it would definitely be nice to see is some more vehicles and daemon engines. The Death Guard have the Plagueburst Crawler, the Foetid Bloat-drone and the Myphitic Blight-hauler to call their own, the poor old Thousand Sons have to borrow the Black Legion’s wheels when Abaddon isn’t using them. Surely some uniquely Tzeentchian vehicles aren’t beyond the wit of GW’s designers to conjure up? Or how about replacing the heldrake with something more uniquely Prosperine?

Thousand Sons

On the whole the Thousand Sons remain one of my favourite factions in 40k. Seeing them reborn in 2016 was one of the defining moments of my hobby career and I have no real complains about the range of models we received. However I do feel that it’s not just greed that leaves me wanting more. Right now the range feels as though it’s been bulked out with filler rather than being afforded the attention that was lavished on the Death Guard (wonderful though that was too). Hopefully the time will come when GW recognises that something is needed to elevate the range to the giddy heights enjoyed by their peers. Even if we have to wait until other legions are explored I’ll be happy enough, just so long as they don’t leave Magnus and his boys in the dust forever.

Do you agree or are you too busy standing around on Fenris widdling on a tree? Do you have a dream model you’d love to see added to the Thousand Sons some day? The comments box is all yours!

All images copyright Games Workshop and half-inched by Ahriman when he went in to renew his membership of the Black Library.

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Any Spare Change – Part 12

It’s been a while since I did anything with my followers of Tzeentch but they’ve not been forgotten. Part of the trouble has been my increasing dissatisfaction with the scale of the older space marines which has put me off doing much with chaos in general lately. The Thousand Sons were a great improvement over their predecessors but now look just a little too short in comparison to the Death Guard and Primaris ranges. My ambition is to recreate my old chaos army but with marines of a sensible size instead of the tiny models I found myself tolerating in the past. That won’t happen for a while though, indeed it may prove to be many years in the making. In the meantime though here’s a WIP Thousand Sons sorcerer who can hold his head up in pride next to the bulkiest of the False Emperor’s warriors.

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I’m not sure yet whether this chap will be the Machiavellian mastermind behind my Inq28 change cult or the first of a small cabal of sorcerers and a little Thousand Sons force. Watch this space I suppose.


Any Spare Change – Part 11

I’ll confess that since building my retro-influenced Tzeentchian cult leader I’ve been itching to do more with my little change-cult. However I’ve also set myself a rather ambitious target with regard to Azazel’s Neglected Model Month challenge and diving off into another sideline, albeit one which is fairly neglected itself, won’t do anything to help that. When all is said and done though I’m only human and as this beastman was already more than half-way painted I didn’t see the harm in finishing the job.

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Now then, with the influence of the Changer of Ways out of my system (hopefully) it’s time to crack on with those under-loved miniatures – probably starting  with the Helbrute. Who knows, I may even have something to show you by the end of the week.


Any Spare Change – Part 10

I suspect that this next picture may illicit rather different reactions from viewers, depending on their age or immersion in Citadel’s history. Whilst oldsters may feel a warm glow of fond recollection newcomers will be more than entitled to raise an eyebrow. It’s a chaos renegade of Tzeentch, dating from the Realm of Chaos era (better known as the ’80s) but beyond that I’m still a little sketchy on its provenance. I remember seeing it many, many moons ago in White Dwarf but which issue now escapes me and in spite of digging back through old issues, and being sidelined by many an interesting article, I’m no clearer. Anyone with a better memory who wants to illuminate me please feel free. Thanks to a combination of my own (slightly fuzzy) memories, and the wisdom of Azazel and the crowd on Twitter, I know it’s a conversion, based on a chaos champion of the same era with pink horror arms. Beyond that however my knowledge is sketchy and I’m not certain who deserves credit for creating it.

Anyway, here it is as it appeared in White Dwarf all those years ago, alongside some equally cool looking models.

Renegades

And here’s a better image shamelessly borrowed from the blog Realm of Chaos 80’s (which if, for some reason, isn’t on your reading list really ought to be).

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It’s certainly a unique miniature, so odd and wrong it shouldn’t work, yet somehow perfectly balanced and beautifully executed (at least to my eye). Regardless of its origins I’ve always had a real soft-spot for it and as I’ve been looking over my Tzeentchian gang again lately (which to my slight horror haven’t really been touched since last July) I realised that this would work perfectly as a champion. Time to take a stab at creating my own.

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Consider the cables on his back as WIP for now, they’re going to need some improvements once the greenstuff is properly cured.

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My aim was to create a model in the spirit of the original, duplicating as many parts as possible, but built from modern bits (finding Realm of Chaos era models now would be a quest in and of itself and then chopping them would feel like sacrilege to me).

Here he is hanging out with a modern Tzaangor.

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And introducing himself to gang he’ll someday lead.

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As usual if you’ve got any feedback, or if you know any more about the mysterious origins of the original, the floor is yours.


Any Spare Change – Part 9

The bird-headed man is finished at last and ready to promote the labyrinthine schemes of Tzeentch with the business end of his shotgun.

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Any Spare Change – Part 8

With the Nurgle caravan rolling into town some might have feared that my butterfly mind has flitted away from Tzeentch but worry no longer – the Changer still has me firmly in his grasp. However I have been taking some time out to think about my biggest problem with my Tzeentchian cultists, the fact that they are all difference sizes. Now really that shouldn’t be an issue, after all the god of mutation is probably the most likely of all the Chaos powers to have followers short and tall, thin and wasted scholars marching alongside bloated horrors tumbling into spawndom. However when I put the models all together it never looked right, they were a jumble without anything to give them cohesion or create the appearance of a unified force. Bases were also an issue, the big models hung off the sides of 25mm bases, the smaller ones were lost in the middle of 32mm bases and when I tried a mix of base sizes in the squad it only served to highlight the disparity in sizes. Time for a re-think.

The answer came to me when I was considering the Tzeentchian cultists in Age of Sigmar and their ambition of ascending through service to their God and being transformed into Tzaangors. Surely the cultists of the 41st Millennium would harbour a similar purpose. With this in mind I split my Tzeentchian collection into three groups depending on how far along the road to ascension they have travelled. Some of these regular readers will have seen before, some will be new. Yet under Tzeentch’s influence not all that appears familiar is unchanged…

The Least

The weakest, and often the least experienced, of the Great Architect’s many followers, the Least are desperate to prove their value and rise in their master’s gaze. Already some have begun to manifest changes and ambition seethes around them for truly each is bound for unrivalled power and glory.

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A raw recruit, risen from a worker gang, determined that a better life can be his if he has sufficient will.

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This one may possess a bestial form but he is still a long way from achieving true ascension into the ranks of the Tzaangors.

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This one is watchful… ever watchful… What schemes and visions boil and churn within his birdlike skull?

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The Ascendant

Whilst countless of their brothers have fallen along the way the Ascendant care not. The glory for which they strive is almost within their grasp and even as those around them are pulled down into darkness and spawndom they force onwards, towards the light and the spiralling laugher that echoes from it.

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This one has grown in stature but his head remains a tiny, half-moon. Tzeentch does not need wits to challenge his own amongst his followers, sometimes raw strength is enough to achieve what must be done.

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This one is just a straight up, unconverted Silver Tower acolyte. I just happen to really like the look of him.

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This one is well on his way to becoming a Tzaangor.

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However the Changer clearly has a much stranger fate in mind for this one.

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And this one is no less twisted!

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The True Children

Only the strongest and luckiest survive Tzeentch’s labyrinth of trials to join at last in the braying flocks of the Great Conspirator’s chosen. They have seen many things along the road however, exposed to the raw energy of the Warp and the capering flocks of daemon’s therein. They know now that to become a Tzaangor is not the end of the road, merely a stepping stone from which the ambitious can rise toward a greater destiny. Princedom calls and the Changer’s twisting web pulls ever tighter.

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I’ve only made one Tzaangor so far, converted from one of the Silver Tower models. More will come eventually.

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A comparison shot to demonstrate the differences in size that have been troubling me.

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Next steps will be to bolster the ranks with more cultists of various stripes, plus coming up with some characters to lead the flock in enacting its labyrinthine schemes.


Public Service – Kairic Acolytes

Yesterday, fellow hobbyist Harrison commented that, in spite of their efforts, they was struggling to find any comparison pictures between the Kairic Acolytes released alongside the other Tzeentchian models for Age of Sigmar earlier this year, and those released as part of the Silver Tower boxset last year. Could I, they wondered, provide any images that allowed them to see them side by side? Naturally, as I’ve gained so much from all of you down the years in terms of support, encouragement and inspiration, I was more than happy to return the favour now.

Here we see Kairic Acolyte from Silver Tower (right) alongside one from the boxset (left, doing a fine impression of the Venus de Milo with his lack of arms). You may notice a very slight difference in height between the two but I’d put most of that down to the boxset model having been tacked together for the photoshoot whilst the Silver Tower model is cleanly stuck together with glue. Naturally I couldn’t glue the boxset model together as all the bits are needed for separate nefarious projects (watch this space!).

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Certainly one could mix and match parts from the boxset to covert unique models for Silver Tower, or throw the Silver Tower models into a AoS warband to add a little more variety. However although they match each other fairly well fairly well for size there’s no denying these are big models. I’m keen to use some of them as Tzeentchian cultists for my forthcoming Thousand Sons, and have already had fun building a few for exactly that purpose, but it’s hard to overcome the fact that they’ll look oddly big in comparison to their power armoured masters.

Here the model from the Silver Tower attempts to get the attention of a stubbornly disinterested Space Marine who glares passive-aggressively in the opposite direction.

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Indeed, for what should be skinny armed wizards, they’re almost as big as Khorne’s rank and file butchers, the Blood Reavers. From what I’ve been told about their background this is because they’ve thrown off their disguises and bloated their bodies into their warforms ready to do battle in the Changer’s name. There’s no denying however that with their bulging muscles and small heads they look more like beefy idiots than cunning wizards.

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Once again, thanks to Harrison for suggesting I covered this, hope this helps you out and your own Tzeentchian scheme comes together just as planned. And of course if anyone wants to see a Kairic Acolyte posing next to any other model just let me know – if I own the requested models I’ll be happy to oblige!