With GW’s release schedule growing ever more crazy of late, it has become quite a task to hang on and try to chronicle all the new toys! That said, with the Grey Knights already having received their new Codex and the first pictures of a massive WFB Undead release already making the rounds, I think it’s safe to consider the small pocket of new Space Wolves kits completed, so let’s just discuss these for today, right?
When I first got into the hobby, my attitude towards the Space Wolves was a rather apathetic one: They basically looked like Space Marine Vikings to me, which I didn’t find all that appealing back then. The fact that the – rather small – models in those days seemed more or less buried in viking-esque decoration didn’t help either.
Since then, I have grown more and more fond of the Space Wolves over the years. Maybe my personal tastes have evolved, maybe it’s the fact that GW’s designers have done a rather good job of making the faction more interesting (both by including some additional visual influences beyond the viking look and by coming up with some wonderfully versatile and beautifully detailed plastic kits). In any case, the picture of hulking, fur clad warriors with elongated canines seems more attractive to me nowadaways than it did back then. So what about this new Space Wolves release, then? Let’s take a closer look at the new kits and, as always, discuss their conversion and kitbashing potential as well.
At first glance, this release seems far less substantial than the last ones — at least looking at the numbers. Upon closer inspection, however, it becomes obvious that this is a release with all the fat trimmed off – but quite a bit of substance underneath. Let’s take a closer look:
Stormwolf Assault Vehicle / Stormfang Gunship:
Well, here it is at last: A dedicated flyer for the Space Wolves. GW could have made it easy for themselves on this one, just slightly revamping one of the vanilla flyers like the Storm Talon or Storm Raven, and no one would have been the wiser. But in a fairly surprising move, we get a model that is equal parts reminiscent of the longships of Fenris (yeah right!) and of Forgeworld’s Cestus Assault Ram. Say what you want, but that seems like going above and beyond the requirements to me ;)
While the resemblance to the Cestus is indeed uncanny, the model also features some visual callbacks to the last few Space Marine flyers (just check out the cockpit section).
All in all, making this model resemble both a Forgeworld flyer as well as the rest of the “Vanilla Marine” flyers is a pretty sound strategy, and I have to say I really like the overall look of the model. In fact, after the Dark Talon, this is the second time that the non-Codex Astartes chapters actually get a cooler flyer model than vanilla Marines, in my opinion.
Oh, and a flyer transporting an angry pack of Space Wolves into battle by way of a storm ramp also seems like a rather good fit for the chapter from a background perspective!
The other option for the kit is to be assembled as the Stormfang Gunship, with an enormous Helfrost Destructor cannon replacing the transport compartment:
There’s really not much to say about this variant from a visual standpoint, seeing how it’s pretty much exactly the same model, except for the gun. The extra versatility is nice, of course. However, let me also take this opportunity to say that I’ll just be ignoring some of the new fluff shenanigans concerning “Glimmerfrost Crytals”, “alien ice that never melts” and the whole deal with Space Wolves now obviously being themed around ice magic: The wolves riding on wolves I could get behind, but this just seems like GW borrowed some World of Warcraft lore right there. Luckily, we’ll only discuss the models here, so that stuff can go happily ignored.
So yeah, back on topic: I really like this model! It’s an interesting and fairly creative addition to the growing catalogue of Space Marine flyers. Good job, GW!
Space Wolves Venerable Dread / Bjorn the Fell-Handed / Murderfang
Alright, this is it: The Dreadnought combi-kit to end all Dreadnought combi-kits! While the Blood Angels Dreadnought can also be assembled as three different variants, this big guy comes with pretty much all the weapon options available to a Dreadnought (plus another, stupidly winter-themed, Space Wolves-exclusive gun) and even provides us with the bitz to build one of the oldest characters in 40k (both in the game and in-universe): Bjorn the Fell-Handed.
Let’s take a look at the proverbial Wolf in the Room first:
The original model for Bjorn comes from a time when all Dreadnoughts were basically looking like ambulatory refridgerators. The new version keeps that design and features all the telltale clues of the original model: the weapons (ridiculously large power claw included), the various wolf pelts and a sarcophagus very similar to that of the original metal version. All of this makes it easy to build a perfect representation of Bjorn in glorious plastic. Huzzah!
My favourite part about the model has to be the wonderul idea to turn the images from Bjorn’s original back banner into engravings for his actual Dreadnought body — a brilliant touch that makes the model instantly recognisable! The fact that those small bitz are a near perfect representation of the older artwork is a testament to the improvements in plastic model design. Just take a closer look:
That said, I would have hoped for a body design closer to the plastic Venerable Dread or the various Forgeworld Dreads, complete with a separate head — it would just have seemed more fitting for an ancient hero like Bjorn. But maybe changing the classic design just seemed like too big a sacrilege to GW’s designers? In any case, the kit comes with enough additional bitz to build just such a sarcophagus, if you are that way inclined, so all’s well with the world!
If I have one gripe with the model, it’s the claw:
Bjorn’s original claw was curved, vicious looking and pretty much perfectly proportioned. The new version just seems too long and overly ornamental: It looks like the designer was trying to hard. Again, this is just a minor problem, though, and easy enough to change with one of the different bitz from the kit. Apart from that, the model is a great modern representation of an ancient hero!
But that’s not nearly all there is: The kit can also be assembled to represent a Space Wolves Venerable Dreadnought:
This version of the kit seems to get the least coverage so far — and entirely undeservedly so, at least from a modeling standpoint: A look at the sprue reveals a veritable cornucopia of weapon options for this guy, and all of them seem to be just as easy to exchange as the weapons from the regular Venerable Dreadnought. You may just as well discard all of those weapon options, though, because you also get what may just be the most awesome set of Dreadnought weapons ever: the huge axe and shield.
Those are really the icing on the cake, allowing hobbyists to build a Dread that really looks like an ancient Fenrisian warrior! In fact, my initial reaction to this version of the model, rules notwithstanding, was: Why would you want to build your Ven Dread any other way?
[I also have it on good authority that these perfectly fit the 54mm scale, so if anyone were to, say, convert a 54mm Space Wolf based on the old model for Brother Artemis, this is definitely the way to go.]
The kit also provides lots and lots of decorative trinkets (among them a very nice, wolf-shaped grenade launcher) to make your Dread as impressive as it needs to be. Again, I do have one minor gripe: The wolf skull head, while awesome in concept, looks like the Dread is wondering whether or not he left the stove on at home. But since an alternate head is provided (and basically any Space Marine head can be swapped in), this is not a major problem.
The third and final option would be to use this kit to build Murderfang:
This guy represents a Dreadnought forever enslaved to the curse of the Wulfen, which makes him one angry guy (this is basically a differently-coloured World Eaters Dread, you know ;) ). The slightly tweaked pose and clawed hands definitely give off a feeling of aggression and brutality, which is a perfect fit.
The claws are also quite awesome in and of themselves:
Again, let’s just ignore the nonsense of them being made from the aforementioned alien ice that never melts — let’s rather imagine how cool they would look painted like volcanic glass (not on a SW Dread of course, but still…).
One thing that should be awesome but doesn’t quite work for me is the head:
It’s easy enough to see what the designer was going to do here: Show us the face of a veteran savaged by the Space Wolves’ blood curse. And while it’s definitely nice to get a bit of a shout out to the Wulfen – in plastic, no less – it doesn’t quite work, if you ask me: Not only does the face look like an angry hair metal bandleader, but bare heads on Dreads should really be limited to Helbrutes in my opinion: They are so mutated that the pilot’s corpse has basically bonded with the Dread. On a loyalist Dreadnought, even on an angry one, having an uncovered head peeking from out of the amniotic tank somehow seems pretty implausible…
I also feel that a stylised, snarling wolf’s head would have been a cooler option, but that’s just me. In any case, the flexibility of the kit really lets you add in whatever head you want here.
All in all, this may just be the most flexible Dreadnought kit released to date. The only thing holding it back is the fact that the amount of Space Wolf decoration makes it mostly unusable for any other loyalist chapter. It would make a brilliant alternate Chaos Dreadnought kit, though, for those of use who prefer a less mutated look — and, indeed, if I ever get another Dreadnought kit, it will certainly be one of these! This guy is definitely the high point of the release for me!
Logan Grimnar on Stormrider
Oh boy, leave it to GW to produce at least one highly divisive kit per release: The Space Wolves’ chapter master riding an antigrav sled has definitely set the hobby scene ablaze: Comments about “Santa Grimnar” abound, people are once again convinced that GW’s designers have finally lost it, yadda yadda yadda… you know the drill ;)
In all seriousness, it may be a bit much: The idea of an antigrav sled pulled by giant wolves does need some getting used to. Then again, this is certainly not a departure from the latest visual development: We knew what we were in for once the Thunder Wolves hit. And the Space Wolves are now so imbued with viking and celtic warrior culture tropes that this thing doesn’t even seem all that shocking, if you think about it…
In any case, let’s ignore Stormrider for a second and focus on Logan himself:
I think we can all agree that he is looking absolutely excellent: Admittedly, he’s quite a bit less dynamic than Jes Goodwin’s prior version of the model, but that probably could not be helped, with the model needing to look good both with or without his sled. Beyond that, he is everything a Space Wolves warrior king should be: towering, bearded and snarling, bedecked in countless trinkets.
Probably my favourite part about this model is that it also serves as an excellent proof of concept: It’s clear now that special characters in plastic can look absolutely gorgeous and pretty much exactly as detailed and impressive as Finecast models, and I love that!
As for the sled,…you know what? I kind of like it. Granted, it may be over the top, anachronistic, slightly cheesy. But if you imagine this guy as this huge, legendary warrior king from a culture of seafaring viking-celts, it may just work. It also adds one more chariot to the world of 40k, which is, at the very least, interesting. And there are several touches about the model itself that I like: The engravings showing Logan’s acquisition of the axe Morkai as well as his fight against a – strangely tyranid-looking – Kraken, for example. And to be perfectly honest, I would just love to cut off that huge wolf head and use it on a Dreadnought, a converted juggernaut (used as a mount for a traitorous Space Wolf) or something similar…
No, my main problem with the sled isn’t that it’s over the top or unrealistic or cheesy (because neither of those should really be categories in a game where people fight using chainsaw swords and miniature rocket-launchers). I am not that fond of the wolves, though: They look a tad cartoony to me (it’s been the same with the Thunder Wolves) and the way they are attached to the sled by way of bionic implants just seems a bit iffy. There was an explanation in WD about how these wolves could not be harnessed and collared and that the augmetics were basically the only way to make them pull a sled like that — but come on. Personally speaking, I would have preferred several of the – much better designed – Fenrisian Wolves to be pulling Stormrider.
But you know what: If you really hate the sled, if you just cannot bear to look at it, if you cannot see a way to make it work for you…
…you can just use Grimnar without it, as in the old days. Jeez.
All in all, sled or no sled, this model is interesting in that it sets a very high standard for future plastic chapter masters in particular and special characters in general. I am really looking forward to seeing where we go from here!
Where bitz from Blood Angels or Dark Angels kits are fairly easy to use for all kinds of Space Marine armies, the amount of trinkets and trophies on Space Wolves gear makes the use for these kits rather limited. Ultramarines players won’t have too much fun with this release, along with a couple of similarly “simple and clean” chapters. That said, some of this stuff will be extremely useful for chaos players, because the heavily decorated, sometimes quite feral Space Wolves parts can be a rather nice fit for the traitor legions — especially if someone were, you know, building a World Eaters army based on the concept of a hunting party, for instance. *Wink wink* ;)
In fact, I’ll admit that this release makes me consider playing my World Eaters as Space Wolves for the first time in earnest. I mean, can you imagine a chaotic version of Stormrider, pulled by juggernauts and serving as a chariot to Lord Captain Lorimar…? That would be awesome, wouldn’t it? Could those wolf heads on the Stormwolf’s hull not represent the ancient legion badge of the War Hounds, and wouldn’t a vehicle like that be perfect to transport a squad o frothing madmen clad in red and brass into battle? Wouldn’t the rules for Murderfang be the perfect representation of Brother Marax the Fallen? Ah, one can always dream…
The good thing is that I can really have my cake and eat it too in this case: Some of this stuff could really come in handy for the small detachment of traitorous Space Wolves accompanying Khorne’s Eternal Hunt. Take the Dreadnought multikit, for instance: Like I said earlier, it would make a brilliant, less mutated Chaos Dreadnought/Helbrute. Just check out my buddy Biohazard’s amazing Dreadnought kitbashes that were made using the new kit!
So, to make a long story short, I think I might yet have some fun with stuff from this release at some point… ;)
All in all, I’ll call this a limited but extremely focused release, adding some really awesome stuff to what is already one of the best Space Marine model lines. If I have one regret, it’s that the release didn’t give us some plastic Wulfen, because I would really have loved to see those guys again! As it stands, though, each part of the release adds something meaningful to the Space Wolves catalogue — which cannot be said for some of the new supplements and dataslates, one of which mostlyseems like a way of selling off the remaining, twenty year old SW special characters. But that’s a story for another time (or another blog, really). From a modeling perspective, I am really rather happy with this release, even though it may not be monumental.
So what about you: Do you like the new kits? Do you feel hatred for “Santa Grimnar”? Would you like to share your own opinion or conversion ideas? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!
As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!