Totally rotten – a hands on with the Putrid Blightkings

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2014 by krautscientist

There I was last week, talking about my ambitious goals for this year’s Call of Chaos — and already, I have been distracted. But worry not: I am still reasonably optimistic about my ability to go through with my vow, and there’s also the fact that the new Putrid Blightkings are the kind of kit you just have to start working on right away — and I would like to show you the results of that work today:

The basic idea with these guys seems to have been to collect all the best elements and details from every cool Nurgle model and piece of artwork so far and mash them into one box of plastic crack, thereby creating a bit of a “Best Of” collection. It works surprisingly well, though, finally giving us a way to emulate the hulking, pustulent characters that have only ever appeared in the artwork so far.

When it comes to actually reviewing the kit itself, Eric Wier of Between the Bolter And Me has put together a very concise and informative piece that I can only recommend. So with the hard work of reviewing the kit already out of the way, I am free to get my hands dirty and dive right in! Before we do that, though, I’d like to add a few observations of my own (in some cases reiterating what I said in my last post):

First up, I already commented on the size of these guys, and if anything, this aspect seems to have become even more relevant since my last post: It looks like many people were planning to use the Blightkings either as Plague Ogres and/or chaos spawn, yet the scale comparison below shows that they are not all that well suited to either function:

Blightkings WIP (2)
Many people seem to be disappointed about this. And, indeed, if you are looking for a way of converting Plague Ogryns, I’d suggest looking elsewhere: It would be far easier to just get a box of Ogres or Ogryns, the mutants from the WFB Warshrine of Chaos or a couple of Blood Island Rat Ogres and convert them accordingly. Some of the weapons and armour plates from the Blightking kit might come in handy for that kind of conversion, but I don’t really see a readily apparent way of making the heads, bodies and most of the arms fit Ogryn scale — unless you’re going for vestigial and/or atrophied limbs, that is…

But in my opinion, the glass is really half full rather than half empty: We really have enough possible conversion fodder of Ogryn/chaos spawn size readily available, as it stands! The Blightkings, however, are interesting in that they provide models that would work well as alternate Plague Terminators or, and this may just be the most interesting option, true scale Plague Marines — and without much need for making them bigger or bulkier. In fact, that’s the route I’ll be taking for my own Blightkings for now.

As people are beginning to work with the new kits, the first conversions are beginning to roll in: The spectacularly talented Jeff Vader has been working on some truly excellent Blightking conversions of his own that have been a huge inspiration for me. PDH has built some equally awesome Blightkings as an addition to his Realms of Chaos Nurgle warband (which, by the way, gets a feature in this month’s Blanchitsu, if the teaser on the GW website is to be believed) — I hope Peter will be showing his models to the general public soon. And I imagine other talented artists, such as JRN, migsula and the Spiky Rats, won’t be too far behind — I think we can look forward to a world of rot ;)

So, allow me to add my own pound of (maggotty) flesh: Let me walk you through my first couple of (mostly) finished Blightking conversions.

It shouldn’t surprise you that my basic approach was to bring the models into the 40k universe. I am not 100% sure what the function of these will be (or whether or not they’ll ever see the gaming table), but for now, simply exploring the kit and trying to bring it into my favourite grimdark universe is very much its own reward. So, without further ado, some pictures:

Here’s my first Blightking model. You already know an earlier incarnation of this guy:

Blightkings WIP (24)
This may still be my favourite of the bunch, although that doesn’t have anything to do with my conversion, but rather with the fact that the champion model is pretty much pitch perfect right out of the box. I chose a helmeted head (easily the coolest head in the kit) over the Plaguebearer face, because I liked the ominous look created by the helmet. Apart from that, the model was mostly assembled according to the instructions that came with the kit. To be honest, I did struggle a bit when it came to making this guy look more like a 40k model, but in the end, I think I came up with a pretty good idea: I added a cracked CSM breastplate to the model, making it look like the armour had burst under some hideous internal pressure. I am really happy with the result, because it adds a 40k element, leaves the hideously wonderful belly completely visible and, if anything, makes the model even more gross!

I also gave this guy a slightly modified backpack from the Dark Vengeance Chosen. I think the slightly twisted look is a great match for the overall Blightking aesthetic, plus the champ now has a bolter:

Blightkings WIP (25)
Several people have suggested using more futuristic weapons — but in the end, I just couldn’t go through with it. There’s just something about the sword and axe combo that I really like, and I just couldn’t bring myself to cut them apart…

The second model started out similar to one of Jeff Vader’s conversions, although I tried to take it into a slightly different direction. Take a look:

Blightkings WIP (27)
The base for this conversion was one of the (almost) fully armoured Blightkings, which made it much easier to turn this guy into a 40k model: The right arm was replaced with a Chaos Terminator arm (which also provided the gun). The left arm is from the Blightkings kit (although I used a bone from the WFB Crypt Ghouls to add a crossguard to the sword).

After quite a bit of deliberation, I chose a WFB chaos warrior head for the model: Not only is this one of my favourite heads, but it also fits Nurgle rather nicely, I think. Several people pointed out that the head was a bit of a missed opportunity, because a more Marine-like head would have helped making the model more futuristic. While I did want to keep the head, I also agreed with their point to some degree, so I added an array of tubes and pipes to the helmet, with some of them feeding into a custom backpack that I spliced together for the model:

Blightkings WIP (28)
It goes without saying that the backpack does have an ominous tank on top — par for the course with Death Guard models, really ;)

I also added some more detail to root the model more firmly in the 40k universe: some grenades and gear as well as a washer screw (painstakingly shaved off an Ork boy weapon). All in all, while the model still retains quite a medieval look and feel, I think it’s definitely futuristic enough to work in the context of 40k!

And finally, my third model so far, and possibly the most involved conversion of the three:

Once again, Jeff Vader provided the inspiration here (I shudder at my derivativeness… ;) ): I wanted to build a Blightking conversion wielding a heavy weapon — but I did want it to look markedly different from Jeff’s approach, rather going for the classic pose of a heavy bolter being held in front of the body. Now let me tell you: The Blightking kit does not exactly lend itself spectacularly well to shenanigans like that, and getting the arms and pose to work out turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. I persevered, however, and after much cutting and gluing, I ended up with this:

Blightkings WIP (29)
The model ist still missing quite a few details, but I think it already gives you a good idea of what the finished model will look like. The arms holding the heavy bolter were painstakingly spliced together, using bitz from no less than four different sources (a WFB Chaos Knights right arm, Space Marine Sternguard heavy bolter, Space Marine Terminator left upper arm and, finally, the actual Blightking’s shield arm. All in all, I am really extremely happy that I went through with this idea, even though it was a lot of work! And even though I only realised it after the fact, the model could even be seen as a small tribute to this illustration by Adrian Smith.

I also think that the clunky heavy bolter backpack does a nice job of bulking out the model. I have begun converting it into a more Nurglite form, with yet more tanks welded on beneath the main body of the pack:

Blightkings WIP (31)
This is certainly the most WIP of the three models at this point, so there’ll be more details to come. But, again, I am really happy with this guy.

All in all, I’d like to quote an excellent point made by Eric in his review of the Blightking kit:

Games Workshop’s new approach  with the Blightkings provides some freedom to the consumer, while also letting the sculptors truly explore and convey their own creative vision.  And while some may argue that it makes conversions more difficult because you cannot simply swap an arm or body, I think it just encourages people to step out of their comfort zone and attempt more elaborate conversions, ones that are more than simply kitbashes.

This is so true! It took me quite a while to get started with these models, because the specific way the models were constructed seemed a bit intimidating. I was also forced to come up with at least a rough idea beforehand, instead of just seeing where the conversion took me. But in the end, this more involved and conscious way of working was a lot of fun, and I am really happy with the models I have managed to produce so far:

Blightkings WIP (32)
You can probably guess my verdict: These guys are excellent, and quite a lot of fun to work with. That said, they demand more work and more planning ahead if you want to make the most of them than, say, a Space Marine kit. They are a very interesting resource for true scale (Chaos) Space Marines. And they’ll give you a huge pile of Nurgle-y bitz (and then some) that you can use on your Death Guard or Chaos Daemons. Oh, and just a word of warning, perhaps: Once you’ve hit your stride, working with them gets quite addictive ;)

As for my own models, so far I’ve managed to come up with three characters that I am thoroughly pleased with. I am not sure whether these will be used as counts as Terminators in a small Death Guard detachment, as villains for INQ28, a Killteam or if I am just going to build an paint them for the heck of it, but when has that ever stopped me from kitbashing and converting, right?

It goes without saying that I would love to hear any feedback you might have in the comments section! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Blightkings WIP (33)

Heeding the call…

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2014 by krautscientist

Alright, everyone: There’s quite a bit going on at the moment, so let me give you a rundown of my current projects. Most of these are chaotic in nature — in more than one sense, I suppose ;) Anyway, here goes:

1. The Call of Chaos

In a rather uncharacteristic move, I have decided to join the VIIth Call of Chaos over at The Bolter & Chainsword, vowing to paint four new units for my World Eaters before January 15th. I am using this occasion to force myself to finally get a couple of things that I really want to see finished painted, but make no mistake: I am such a huge hobby butterfly that participating in a vow like this is quite a challenge for me. There’s a very real danger of failing this thing, so if you have any fingers left, keep them crossed for me, okay?

Anyway, which models are part of my Call of Chaos vow, you ask? Well, let me walk you through them. The first two should already be known to you:

First up, I am finally going to complete the Forgefiend I built and undercoated what feels like ages ago:

Forgefiend WIP (3)
Since then, the poor thing has remained completely untouched, and it’s definitely time to change that!

The next model is a character I am really looking forward to seeing finished:

The Doomwall WIP (22)
“The Doomwall”, my World Eaters Terminator Lord in Mk 1-ish armour. I am still extremely happy with this conversion, and I hope I’ll be able to make the model look even cooler when painted!

But I am not limiting myself to models you already know for this challenge: I will also paint two model’s you haven’t seen yet:

First up is a Chaos Dreadnought/Helbrute that I recently converted, using the AOBR Dreadnought as a base. I wanted another Dread because I’ve built so many different interchangeable weapon arms for my existing Dreadnoughts that it only felt logical to have another model that could make use of them. Plus I really enjoy converting Dreadnoughts for some reason. Anyway, here’s the model:

Breacher Dread WIP (1)
Breacher Dread WIP (2)
Breacher Dread WIP (3)
It actually took me quite a while to wrap up this conversion, because the AOBR Dread is a rather limiting base model to use. I also couldn’t get too crazy with the pose, because the model needed to be flexible enough to be able to use all (or at least most) of the extra weapon arms I had built. I kept messing around with various parts, but the model just refused to come together — as it turned out, what I needed in order to finally make this Dread happen was an idea about him as a character: I needed to figure out what kind of guy he was.

In the end, I decided that he is a former Breacher Sergeant whose calling is still reflected in some elements of his ironform — the Mk. 3-ish helmet, the shield on his left arm recalling a stylised boarding shield and the melta, for example. And that was the spark of inspiration that made the whole thing happen.

One thing I am pretty happy with is the brutal looking siege claw on his left arm: The standard powerfist was just looking so boring, so I just tried adding some spiky bitz from the wheels of the WFB Chaos Chariot — and I think the result really works!

The final part of my Call of Chaos vow will be an old acquaintance, in a way. Take a look:

Kharn the Betrayer (3)
Kharn the Betrayer (2)
Kharn the Betrayer (1)
Kharn the Betrayer (4)
It should be pretty obvious who this is supposed to be, right? ;) As it happens, the model was actually built for the latest Painting/Converting contest over at Throne of Skulls: The theme of the contest was to take one of the Khornate characters from among the 40k and WFB universes and build a better/updated/reimagined version of them — and what better character to choose for that than dear old Kharn the Betrayer?

Since this is going to be a piece for the contest, above all else, I took the liberty of truescaling Kharn a bit, and I think he wears it well ;)

Oh, the head was, once again, very kindly provided by my fellow hobbyist Belphoebe, by the way. Thanks a lot, mate!

So, like I said, I’ll be trying to get these painted until January 15th. I am slightly scared. Wish me luck, boys and girls! ;)

2. The art of chaos

And while we’re still on the matter of The Bolter & Chainsword, I am supremely happy to announce that I am one of the winners of a recent challenge by fellow hobbyist Greyall. If you don’t know his thread, you should check it out right away: Greyall does incredibly detailed and intricate drawings of (Chaos) Space Marine characters in black and white, and he held a little conversion challenge where all the board members could enter one of their converted models, and Greyall would draw a number of them. I entered my conversion for Lord Captain Lorimar…

Lorimar WIP (10)
…and guess what: I am one of the chosen few. I am so happy! Especially since the competition was absolutely amazing. Definitely make sure to head over there and check out those models! Anyway, I can hardly wait to see Lorimar rendered in Greyall’s trademark style — this will be SO awesome!

3. Creeping Rot

Like I said, I am a hobby butterfly of the first order, so I couldn’t resist opening yet another can of worms…literally: You’ll probably have seen GW’s recently released Putrid Blightkings. Well, one look at the models was enough to decide that I needed a box of these, and I finally picked them up late last week.

So far, I’ve only spent a bit of time with the models due to having been super buys last week, but allow me to share some initial observations:

  • the level of detail in this kit has to be seen to be believed! Seriously, those guys are every bit as spectacular as they looked in WD Weekly
  • the amount of bitz you get is equally impressive: Even after building five complete models, you should have lots and lots of leftovers for the rest of your Nurglite conversion needs: The amount of heads, rusty weapons and armour plates alone is staggering!
  • the kit is pretty flexible, and you’ll be getting quite a few very different looking models out of this one — however, the kit is not as flexible as many “classic” multi part plastic kits (most of the (Chaos) Space Marine range comes to mind), due to the way the models are put together. This is not a problem per se, but it does mean you’ll need to plan ahead in order to convert these guys…
  • …speaking of which: (Chaos) Terminator parts will work great on these, from a size perspective.

This last point is pretty important, I think, because many people planning to use these models in 40k seem to be unsure as to their actual size: I’ve seen speculations that the Blightkings are Ogre/Ogryn-sized, and I’ve snapped a quick comparison shot for you:

Blightkings WIP (1)
As you can see, these guys are definitely NOT Ogryn-sized. In fact, they are slightly smaller than Terminators. In my opinion, that makes them useful as stand-ins for Chaos Terminators (probably what I am going to do), true scale Death Guard Marines or something of the sort.

In fact, I have made a few – very early – attempts at “40k-i-fying” the Blightkings:

Blightkings WIP (4)

Blightkings WIP (3)
Nothing huge so far, just messing around with a few 40k parts and seeing what works. A more involved conversion was trying to add a breastplate to the one Blightking in the set that normally HAS to be assembled with a bare belly:

Blightkings WIP (5)
That did take quite a bit of cutting (and the model still needs some serious gap-filling).

But those are just a few brief initial impressions — I guess you may expect a more in-depth writeup about the ins and outs of this kit at some point in the near future ;)

4. Pretty pictures

To wind up this post, let me share one more thing with you: Since messing around with pictures of my models and some image editing software turned out to be so much fun (see my last post), I gave it another try and tackled some more involved photomontages.

First up, a picture of the Hellrazor in action:

Hellrazor
I used both Pixlr and Photoshop to create this image, and while there may be a lot of stuff that can be improved, I am still reasonably happy with the outcome.

I also found this very interesting post over at Tyler Mengel’s blog and decided I needed to try something similar. So here’s a composite picture of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt having some fun on the plains of a conquered Hive World:

The Red Tide
Once again, both Pixlr and Photoshop were used in the creation of the image. I also found out that Pixlr is great for quickly obscuring rough areas noticeable seams between different parts of a composite picture.

Granted, I still have much to learn, but I definitely like where this is going!

 

Anyway, so much for my current chaotic projects. I’d love to hear any feedback you might have in the comments section! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Grimdark in technicolor

Posted in 40k, Blood Bowl, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Orcs & Goblins, Traitor Guard, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2014 by krautscientist

One very important part of sharing your hobby projects online is learning how to take good pictures of them — and indeed, many, many articles have been published on the subject. As for my own pictures, I am usually reasonably pleased with them — they may not be perfect, but they usually show a pretty “truthful” version of my models ;)

However, there are more ways of showcasing models than just posting “regular” photos: We have all seen excellent pictures where hobbyists have tried to use various filters and effects in order to add another dimension to their work — granted, there are also those cases where Photoshop becomes a quick fix to camouflaging shoddy paintjobs. But those are usually in the minority. I, for one, am often awestruck by the quality of retouched photos online, and I think they are an interesting additional option to breathe life into your creations — unfortunately, my own attempts in this respect haven’t been all that successful so far: While I am reasonably handy with Photoshop, I have somehow never managed to end up with the kind of retouched image that actually looks awesome and brings my models to life.

This changed however, when, at the recommendation of my fellow hobbyist Talarion, I checked out Autodesk’s Pixlr last weekend: Pixlr is a very streamlined and easy to use piece of software that helps you add effects, borders and various filters to your photos. And while the amount of functions is pretty limited, the software is great fun to mess around with and, what’s even more important, it’s exceptionally great at what it does!

So, being a pretty huge Web 2.0 villain myself, I couldn’t help experimenting with some of my hobby photos. It has been great fun so far, and today I’d like to share some of the results with you:

Kill!Maim!Burn!

Kill!Maim!Burn!

Well, this one was to be expected, wasn’t it? It won’t surprise you that messing around with some army photos of my World Eaters was one of the first things I did, and I used some flames and a couple of additional effects to create a pretty archetypal, Khornate image.

And once I had started on the World Eaters, it goes without saying that I also had to give one of my favourite models another spin as well:

Engine of Destruction

Engine of Destruction

And why limit myself to Khorne? Giving some of my Nurglite models another layer of grime and neglect turned out to be great fun as well:

Nurgle's Children

Nurgle’s Children

The next stage of my experiments was to actually try and bring out a new quality in certain models and images. One of the first pictures I chose for this was a standoff between one of my Helbrutes/Dreadnoughts, Marax the Fallen, and a downed Space Marine (built as a special objective marker to accompany Marax).

Heroic Last Stand

Heroic Last Stand

The original photo of the scene was nothing to write home about, but it certainly seems rather dramatic now, don’t you think?…

The same goes for this scene of a charging Huntmaster Isgarad:

Isgarad attacks

Isgarad attacks

The original photo was pretty terrible, but with the help of some filters, it became a rather more interesting battlefield impression.

Next up, another Helbrute: Khorlen the Lost:

Lost Soul

Lost Soul

I liked the result so much that I had another go at this model, focusing on its wonderfully creepy face and thereby creating a  more portrait-like image:

And I must scream

And I must scream

This is maybe one of my favourite pictures, because it really embodies the horror about being interred into a corrupted sarcophagus. This picture also led to further explore the portrait approach, trying to explore the essence of specific characters (or creatures):

Instrument of Wrath

Instrument of Wrath

 

Scarred Hunter

Scarred Hunter

And of course, I did not only deal with my World Eaters, but also tried to create some images showing my various INQ28 characters plying their shadowy trade. First among them, of course, was Inquisitor Antrecht:

Inquisitor Anrecht in the field

Inquisitor Anrecht in the field

The picture showing him and his retinue against the background of a homemade terrain piece was nice enough before, but now it really clicks with me, for some reason.

Some of you may remember the model for Inquisitor Zuul I converted and painted for the 2013 Inqvitational. The old boy remains one of my favourite pieces of work, and so he warranted his own, touched up picture:

Servant of the Emperor

Servant of the Emperor

And while I did not participate in the Inqvitational myself, I really love the picture of Zuul being apprehended by some of his more puritan colleagues that Marco Skoll took on the day of the game, so I messed around with that as well:

Game's up

Game’s up

Like I said, the original photo was kindly provided by Marco Skoll.

And I’ll never tire of showing off my model for Legion, of course:

We are many, we are one

We are many, we are one

The original photo, taken by Fulgrim, was already a favourite of mine, but I think this touched up version really does an even better job of capturing this unspeakable horror stalking the depths of the Arrke.
In stark contrast to Legion’s creepiness, I also made a more lighthearted piece: It was really fun to make a photo of my Blood Bowl Team, the Orkheim Ultraz, look like the boyz were actually part of a vintage TV broadcast:

Orkheim Ultraz on TV

Orkheim Ultraz on TV

And, last but definitely not least, this rather moody shot of an Imperial monument:

Know fear

Know fear

In this case, the original picture was actually pretty terrible, but I simply love the touched up version!

All in all, this was really a great way to discover new aspects about some of my models and bring out a new visual narrative in some pieces. Call me crazy, but working on these pictures and coming up with titles for them really made me think about several of my projects in slightly different ways. And, if nothing else, messing around with the software was just a lot of fun ;)

So, in case you want to try something similar, I would recommend you check out Pixlr yourself. And, of course, I would like to hear any feedback you might have!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Another day in the flesh pits – a look at the 2014 Dark Eldar release

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , on October 10, 2014 by krautscientist

The 2010 Dark Eldar release was possibly one of the most spectacular GW releases ever. After basically fumbling every attempt at handling the Dark Eldar for over a decade, GW managed to entirely redesign an entire army, putting it on the map as one of the most beautiful and visually arresting factions in 40k, while also keeping all that had been cool about the army to begin with. Whatever they pay Jes Goodwin over at GW, it cannot possibly ever be enough…

The release also brought me back to the hobby, albeit in a rather roundabout way — Dark Eldar had been my first 40k army, after all! And even though I eventually settled on revisiting my World Eaters instead, it was the first look at the new Dark Eldar that rekindled my interest in little plastic men — the release was just that good!

All of this makes for a pretty tough act to follow, yet here we are, four years later, with another helping of Dark Eldar. In all fairness, this release doesn’t constitute another dramatic revamp, but rather serves to fill out the existing army with some of the kits yet missing from the lineup. But it is may just be the curse of the Dark Eldar now that any release will always be compared to that legendary offering of ’10.

Dark Eldar release 2014 (1)

This release also brings a new Codex — which, by the look of it, already gets hotly debated all over the internet. But instead of shouting over the din, let’s rather focus on the models, because we’re all here for the plastic crack anyway, right? ;)

So, as has become a treasured custom here at Eternal Hunt, allow me to walk you through the various parts of this release and to share my impressions about the models as well as a couple of ideas for possible kitbashes and conversions. Here goes:

 

Voidraven Bomber

Dark Eldar release 2014 (3)
This kit seems to be marketed as the big thing about this release — and indeed, DE players have been without a kit to represent the bigger of their two fliers for the last four years. Here it is now, the Voidraven — quite a beast!

Probably the biggest pitfall for GW’s designers to avoid was the danger of ending up with a model looking like a bigger version of the Razorwing, and they seem to have been very aware of this particular problem. Because, while the Voidraven clearly takes quite a few design cues from its smaller brother, it is still immediately recognisable as its own thing. This is mostly due to its “double cockpit”, and element that manages to give it a very distinct look and silhouette, while also immediately communicating the idea that this is a bomber rather than a quick fighter aircraft. Plus the model’s silhouette also recalls real-world cutting edge bombers, only with a serrated, sinister twist:

Dark Eldar release 2014 (4)In any case, the cockpit not only defines the model’s silhouette, but also serves as one of its key visual features: I really like the idea of the gunner being surrounded by glass panes, the better to see his enemies at all times. The HUD elements molded into the clear plastic canopy have appeared on other (Dark) Eldar vehicles before, but are really taken up to eleven here: I love it as a concept, although I’d probably suffer a heart attack if I actually had to paint these finicky details ;)

Dark Eldar release 2014 (5)
The rest of the model basically adheres to the design cues laid down by the Razorwing: This is very obviously a vicious looking, serrated Dark Eldar aircraft — no doubt about it.

The model also comes with the results of GW’s attempt at designing an evil looking bomb — and boy did they succeed with that! By adding a hideous, organic spine to the thing, it really ended up looking quite disturbing: You don’t want that thing anywhere near or army — or, for that matter, yourself:

Dark Eldar release 2014 (6)
You better believe that this is one dirty bomb! Just look at the thing!

It’s certainly a great kit, all in all, and if it fails to utterly blow me away, then that is not due to lack of quality, but rather due to my general lack of interest in vehicles. Moving on.

 

Dark Eldar Wracks

Dark Eldar release 2014 (7)
Okay, this is where it gets far more interesting: When the Wracks were first released as during the second wave of the Dark Eldar revamp, GW finally delivered on the torturer archetype they had introduced with the Grotesques over a decade earlier. We all know what came next: The Grotesques were promoted to rather more monstrous creatures, while the newly created Wracks moved into the Grotesque slot — but the important part was that the new Wrack models were truly glorious! The only caveat to these models was that they were only available in Finecast.

Well, no longer, because enterprising sadists and torturers all over thh Webway are now free to field the glorious new plastic Wracks.

Apart from the material, the Wracks‘ design was already pretty much perfect as it was, so Steve Buddle made a good call by basically re-envisioning the existing models as a more versatile plastic kit without changing the overall aesthetics. He also added a ton of customisation options along the way, creating what may just be my new favourite Dark Eldar infantry kit. I mean, just look at these guys:

Dark Eldar release 2014 (8)
Maybe my favourite part about the models are the slowly advancig legs: While the Wracks certainly share some of the other Dark Eldar’s elegance, their poses make it clear that they slowly but purposefully stride forward, making them all the more sinister and threatening!

Some of the weapons are also truly something to behold: I really love the hideous, curved twin blades held by the Acothyst in this picture:

Dark Eldar release 2014 (12)Or the creepily sinister scissor hand that also comes with the kit:

Dark Eldar release 2014 (10)
Of course, there is a bit of silliness as well: One of the heads in the kit has a little friend:

Dark Eldar release 2014 (11)
But even if you – like me – are not a big fan of this particular element, it’s all cool! The kit has so many heads and weapons that you can get rid of whatever you don’t like! Speaking of extra bitz, GW even included some additional bitz to make sure your vehicles could be piloted by Wracks as well:

Dark Eldar release 2014 (13)Although I suppose driving (or hitting anything) with those maks on must be quite a daunting task…

Seriously, though: The kit seems to be a great toybox that allows you to tailor your own wracks to your needs and aesthetic preferences! I only have two minor issues with the kit:

One, the transfer to plastic and modularity of the kit creates a new problem too: The arms of the models can now end up having a slightly tacked-on look. This is only a minor problem, and one that should be easy enough to address by carefully aligning the arms and sanding off a bit of plastic where necessary — and this problem is merely the price of poseability.

The second concern is the amount of models you get: The Wrack kit certainly fills a role similar to that of the Kabalite Warrior and Wych kits, yet it only gives you five models, compared to the ten that come with the other kits. Maybe that’s the price for the amount of options you get, but at the end of the day, it could be seen as a bit less bang for the buck.

But those are really minor quibbles! All things considered, it’s really awesome to have three distinct kinds of foot soldiers for a DE army now, with each of the kits following the same system and being fully compatible.  And the Wracks provide a great kit, chock full of conversion options — definitely the high point of the release for me!

 

We also get three new plastic HQ models, with each of them serving as one of the Dark Eldar generic HQ options, so let’s take a closer look at those as well:

 

Dark Eldar Haemonculus

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The Haemonculi have always owed a huge debt of inspiration to Clive Barker’s Cenobites, and the new plastic Haemonculus makes the visual connection even more obvious, in some ways (just check out the way his cloak seems to be sewn to his very chest). At the same time, the model also seems to serve as a remix of several elements already seen on earlier models: The sewn on face and weapons seem rather reminsicent of Urien Rakarth, for example.

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At the same time, the new Haemonculus seems somewhat more flamboyant, for lack of a better word, than his Finecast predecessor: He has more bare skin on show, for one, and there’s the flowing hair. To be honest, I did prefer the slim, leather-clad form of the Finecast Haemonculus to this new guy, but that may just be a matter of preference. And in any case, the Urien Rakarth model still hews pretty close to that design, while the new plastic model seems to represent a slightly different kind of “artist”. So while I personally prefer the older model, the added variety is still appreciated!

There are still one or two areas about the model I am not completely sold on, however. The way the skin-cloak falls seems a little messy when compared to the overall composition of the model. And the curved dagger seems surprisingly clunky when compared to some of the rather disturbing surgical implements wielded by the Haemonculus.

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A look at the sprue reveals that more involved conversions using this kit as a base would be slightly tricky, but certainly not impossible:

Dark Eldar release 2014 (17)All in all, it’s a solid model. If I am sounding slightly disappointed, that is mostly due to the fact that I had high hopes for the concept of a plastic Haemonculus and was looking forward to using it for a particular conversion project. As it stands, the new model is nice enough — but working with the Urien Rakarth model seems like the better way.

 

Dark Eldar Archon

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This guy replaces a model that was arguably one of the more iconic parts of the 2010 revamp: The Archon released along with that wave, with his daemon face helmet and hideously organic husk blade, really encapsulated the Dark Eldar’s visual change to a more baroque (and also more visceral) design.

When it comes to equipment and basic constituent parts, the new Archon model seems to mirror his predecessor pretty closely: We get the same basic armour design, almost the same weapons and also a cloak (although this one is made from tanned skin — nice touch…).

Let me address the elephant in the room right away: I think this new Archon model falls flat when compared to the earlier version, and that is mostly due to the pose. Oh, I certainly see what they were trying to do here — the Archon is shown in full magnificent bastard mode, and those arms are certainly a clever bit of engineering. No doubt about that.

But there are a couple of problems for me: First of all, the pose doesn’t look relaxed and natural, it looks like this guy is trying too hard. And what were they thinking when they added that rock to the base: That element makes the pigeon-toed stance even worse! And then there’s the face:

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Again, I get the basic idea: The Archon is supposed to be wearing an arrogant smirk — but this guy just looks like a doofus, trying his darnedest to seem like a tough cookie.

The other problem with this pose and composition is that it gets really awkward once you end up with two of these in the same army or on the same table: Now you’ve got two of those prancing idiots facing off in a posing contest. What a horrible thought! Anyway, I think a generic HQ model might be better served with a slightly more neutral pose!

Now don’t get me wrong: There are parts of the model I really like: The stitched together skin cape, the trophy rack (why does it punch through the cape, though? That doesn’t make sense…) — those are great touches. But the pose and face really ruin the stock model for me — why on earth didn’t they include a helmeted head? The older version had two to choose from, for crying out loud…

The really good news is that all that is horrible about the model should be quite easily remedied by a bit of kitbashing: The Archon is advertised as being fully compatible with the different DE plastic kits, and a closer look at the sprue reveals that this is no understatement:

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It looks like the arms could simply be swapped out for basically any DE arm in existence. The head, likewise, would be easy enough to replace (and good riddance!). As a matter of fact, it might even be possible to replace the legs with a regular set of Kabalite Warrior or Wych legs.

So, all’s well that ends well, then? Yes and no: As a stock  model, the Archon is the worst part of the release for me. It’s also a pretty poor replacement for the 2010 Archon. It can be used as a base for a great Archon model, no doubt about that. But one could argue that it’s equally possible to kitbash an awesome Archon without this kit altogether. Just off the top of my head, Picta Mortis’ amazing Archon conversion is far more awesome, and it doesn’t use a single component from the new model.

One last thing that strikes me as slightly odd: This new Archon seems to be designed to look very similar to the guy depicted on the 2010 edition of the codex while the new codex shows a character who is the spitting image of …the 2010 Archon model — is that some kind of hidden message or trolling on GW’s part?

 

Dark Eldar Succubus

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Okay, now we’re talking! Like the Archon, the new plastic Succubus seems to be a re-envisioning of its earlier Finecast version, but the transition ended up beeing a much smoother one with this lady! I love the fact that the model is now pictured in running pose (which seems more apt for a Wych), and several flowing elements about the model support the sense of movement and dynamism.

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I have to say I also really like the glaive!

At the same time, the model shares the Archon’s flexibility, so swapping in a new head or alternate arms would be really easy, as a look at the sprue reveals:

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All in all, the new plastic Succubus may not be a revolutionary revamp: Rather a re-envisioning of the earlier model that actually manages to improve on the original — at least in my opinion. Good job!

 

Conversion options:

No review on this blog would be complete without a look at the conversion options that the new kits bring, so let’s get right down to it:

Dark Eldar players are obviously the big winners, because they now have even more highly versatile plastic kits at their disposal: Almost the entire army is available in plastic now, with all of the kits perfectly in line with the current design, and all of them fully compatible and, in some cases, interlocking. Not only does this make the Dark Eldar one of the most stunning armies from a visual standpoint, it also pretty much turns them into a kitbasher’s dream! So yeah, good for you, Dark Eldar players! ;)

Looking beyond this army, however, there are certainly quite a few areas where some of the new kits could become pretty useful as well:

The Wracks are very much the jack-of-all-trades in this respect: For instance, they could be used as a wide variety of different cultists, among them Death cultists (or rather, torture cultists, as it were) Imperial traitors, renegade medics (!), Slaaneshi cultists — the sky is really the limit here! All it takes is some shaving down of the DE-like characteristics and some external bitz, and you’re golden! In fact, these could even become a very interesting base for very sinister Genestealer cultists with a bit of work — just sayin’…

But the forces of the Imperium may also profit from these: Just imagine an added brass etch =][= added on top of the wrack’s facemask, and you have a pretty serviceable Inquisitorial torturer! In fact, I think we can be fairly confident that the enterprising INQ28 scene will come up with all kinds of uses for these bad boys.

One last idea: Imagine a radical Genetor of the Adeptus Mechanicus, having made a name for himself as an expert flesh-crafter. Or even a Heretek of the Dark Mechanicus pursuing a similar career: Maybe some suitably twisted followers of these magi could also be built using the Wrack kit? Interesting thought, isn’t it?

The Haemonculus seems nearly as interesting for conversions: Like the Wracks, he could be turned into a flesh-crafting member of the Dark Mechanicus with a couple of changes. The dangling feet also remind me of a Daemonhost — or a rogue Psyker for a force of Traitor Guard, or as a character in games of INQ28 — once again, I am pretty sure that the INQ28 scene won’t disappoint when it comes to finding creative uses for this guy!

And, finally, the Succubus seems like an interesting base model as well. Maybe she could be turned into a lithe Imperial assassin? A Death Cultist? Or an Inquisitor’s beautiful and deadly operative? Again, due to the models being avaiable in plastic, it should only take a bit of kitbashing and a small cut here and there to truly change their overall look!

 

So, what’s the verdict about this release? All in all, I am inclined to call it a solid offering. This certainly doesn’t revolutionise the Dark Eldar catalogue like the prior release, but that was never the point. Rather, this release builds on the fantastic foundation laid down by the 2010 redesign and fills out a some of the few remaining gaps in the army’s catalogue.

Speaking of which, some of the gaps that still remain are maybe my biggest gripe with this release: Sure, I would have loved to see an Inccubi/Trueborn combi-kit in glorious plastic — but the Wracks were really the more essential infantry kit to be released. So far so good. But no model for Asdrubael Vect? Or any other of the named characters? That seems like a bit of a missed opportunity, especially since most of these characters have been dropped from the codex altogether! I mean, Dark Eldar players have gone without a model for Keradruakh for more than 15 years — why drop him now?

Even if some (any) of these characters should eventually get patched back into the army via an additional supplement, this does seem like a bit of a dick move on GW’s part. But I guess hobbyists can just never be happy, myself included ;)

 

Again, this seems like a solid, middle of the road release. But that’s just my take on it: How do you feel about the new Dark Eldar? Any opinions you’d like to share? Any conversion idea? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Striking a rich vein

Posted in 40k, Blood Bowl, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, old stuff, Orcs & Goblins, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by krautscientist

Late last week, the most wonderful thing happened to me: While browsing through the stuff at my FLGS, I found out that the owner was currently selling two huge lots of assorted miniatures and bitz: One of those lots came from a former hobbyist who wanted to get rid of the last part of his collection, while the reason for the other lot being sold was, sadly enough, its owner having passed away. Anyway, the owner of my FLGS found himself in the (temporary) possession of two huge piles of models — and it shouldn’t surprise you that I was very eager to have a look at all of that stuff.

This provided me with one huge moving box and several smaller shoeboxes of stuff to sift through, which was already brilliant fun in itself: With the internet so full of collectors, professional sellers and general information as to the worth and availability of miniatures these days, finding such a hoard of stuff has become increasingly unlikely, and so the simple act of digging through the piles of models alone was an experience to savour! Most of the models came from WFB, but there was such a mass of different models (and factions) present that it took quite a bit of discipline not to just buy the whole thing outright.

Anyway, I tried to reign myself in and only dragged away about a shoebox’s worth of stuff. And whether or not my haul was all that spectacular surely lies in the eye of the beholder. But I went home utterly content, I can tell you that much ;)

Anyway, let’s take a look at the best parts of my haul (and also at the provisional ideas I have for this stuff), alright?

First up, tucked away in a plastic bag labeled “Vikings” was most of the dwarf army from the WFB “Battle for Skull Pass” boxed set from a few years back:

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While some of the regular models are missing, all the special characters, standard bearers, champions and musicians are still accounted for. Plus there are also the little additional bitz and bobs and terrain pieces. I basically picked this up as a bonus, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I might already have a new home for these guys (Michael, if you’re reading this: Make sure to bring a big enough suitcase, when you’re in the area again, okay? ;) ).

I also picked up two more pieces from the same boxed set:

One, the plastic troll accompanying the Night Goblin army:

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This was actually one of the high points of the purchase for me, because this guy will look perfect as a troll player for my orcish Blood Bowl team, the Orkheim Ultraz  — as a matter of fact, you can already see the first parts of his Blood Bowl gear in the picture above. Nothing’s glued together yet, but I already like where this is going!

Two, this strange shaman’s tent/tree trunk hut:

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This might come in handy for my Blood Bowl team or for the Mordheim Orc warband I’ve been planning for a while. Come to think of it, including terrain pieces like this in the starter boxes was a really neat touch! They should do that again!

Upon closer examination, it becomes obvious that the sculpts and level of detail for starter box minis have increased dramatically since these models were released. But I still like them well enough, and finding them all together like this without a hassle certainly was a nice surprise!

While we are on the subject of greenskins, I also bought this assortment of brilliant goblins and snotlings:

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These are part of the still available Doom Diver Catapult — as a matter of fact, pretty much the whole catapult was included in the deal, although the greenskins themselves are definitely the stars of the show! Again, these will probably be used for Mordheim or Blood Bowl (the winged goblin would be perfect for the latter…).

Like I said, most of the stuff available was from WFB, but I did manage to find a 40k treat or two. First up, a small pile of Tyranid nuts and bolts that, while not all that impressive in and of itself, will come in handy for a future INQ28 project of mine…

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And there’s this lovely OOP Eldar Warlock from the 90s, sculpted by Jes Goodwin. It’s trange: Even though I have always loved Jes’ Eldar models to bits, I have never owned any of them, so picking this guy up was an absolute no-brainer:

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And, last but not least, a lucky find at the bottom of a box of bitz: Exactly half a Delphan Gruss model from Inquisitor:

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This guy may actually become my first (and, quite possibly, only) foray into the world of Inq54 — just watch this space ;)

And as for the WFB universe, there are some final highlights to share:

First up, this guy (from one of the old WFB mercenary regiments, if I recall correctly):

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I keep racking my brain for a way to make this guy into an INQ28 character — maybe a member of a particularly archaic Astra Militarum regiment? I am very open to suggestions ;)

Then there are three of the 6th (?) edition metal chaos knights:

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Pictured here is their champion, but I also purchased a standard bearer and an additional knight. While I don’t have any actual plans for these, I just had to pick them up due to nostalgia:  I loved them so much back when they were released, but they were completely unaffordable to me. I just bought the riders, btw, because there is no more room for those terrible, generic 90s plastic horses in my life. But as you can see, the new chaos knight horses work like a treat with the older metal models.

And finally, another lucky discovery:

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The Dark Emissary from the Albion campaign. This guy was re-released in Finecast a while back and is still available. But finding him in a pile of shoddily painted Hormagaunts was still a rather nice surprise!

I’ll spare you the piles of Catachan, Night Goblin and generic Space Marine bitz that were also part of the bundle: Much of this stuff will come in handy sooner or later, but it lacks the appeal of the highlights shown above ;)

In addition to the models, I also picked up some older 40k related books:

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From left to right: The 40k 3rd and 4th edition big rulebooks (believe it or not, I have never owned those until now), one of the hallowed Chapter Approved compendiums (containing wonderful but somewhat outdated Index Astartes articles on the creation of Space Marines, Dreadnoughts, Librarians and on various chapters and legions: Dark Angels, Emperor’s Children, Iron Warriors, White Scars & Flesh Tearers) and Codex: Witch Hunters (obviously a must for any fan of the Inquisition).

All of these are in excellent condition, and I suspect the old 40k source books will merit a more detailed writeup in the not too distant future…

So yeah, quite a haul! I am immensely pleased, both with the stuff I did and didn’t buy: By sheer force of will, I resisted the urge to just grab the whole, enormous box — although my restraint made me miss a mint 2002 Games Day Chaos Champion which my colleague Annie later picked up (*sigh*). And I did find a 1998 Games Day Female Commissar, but pointed it out to the owner of my FLGS, since I knew that, as an avid IG player, he would probably be extremely interested in the model — I was right :)

But even beyond the stuff I purchased (at a very good – albeit not unreasonable – price, by the way), digging through the various strata of the boxes served as a trip down memory lane. Before long, me and the owner of the store were exchanging old hobby tales and thinking back on innocent days long past. Good times ;)

Anyway, so much for a very nice, hobby-related surprise! And wherever the original owners of these models may be now (in this world or in the warp), they may rest assured that their lead and plastic have found a good home with me!

As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The End is Nigh – a look at the Undead release

Posted in Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2014 by krautscientist

Right, I do of course realise that I am a bit behind on my stuff — even as I write this, we are already seeing the next release rolling around. But man, this breakneck pace is just too fast for me to keep up ;) Seriously, though: The latest release for what is referred to as “The End Times” in WFB surely warrants a closer look, even if I have taken my own sweet time to finally get around to it…

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By the look of it, The End Times will be receiving a chain of books that are less centered around single armies and more around greater factions and the accompanying campaign — not unlike the various Forgeworld publications, come to think of it… It’s also very interesting to see that GW seems to be using the End Times scenario as an opportunity to introduce several things into the WFB world that a number of very vocal 40k fans have been clamoring for for years, such as…

  • significantly advancing the timeline and general background of WFB…
  • …while introducing a big narrative event that seems like it will shape the future of the setting
  • murdering quite a few darlings along the way

Whether GW are using WFB as a testbed for these changes due to its lower popularity compared to 40k or even because, as some suspect, the setting is in a terminal state anyway, seems hard to ascertain at this point. I am reasonably sure that WFB isn’treally going anywhere, even if it sells less stuff than 40k, but given GW’s track record and reluctance to advance their settings’ narrative beyond a certain point, this new development does seem pretty astonishing. In any case, it’ll be interesting to see where we go from here, what the WFB setting will look like afterwards, and what implications these new developments will have for 40k…

For now, let’s focus on the first slew of modeld accompanying the release, because these are quite something. And what better way to start than with the return of one of GW’s most notorious characters…

 

Nagash, Supreme Lord of the Undead

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Boy, did this model come out of the left field when it was released! Plus I can’t help feeling the release of a new Nagash model (and a gigantic one, at that) as a bit of an “Up yours” towards all of the endless bickering about the old Nagash:

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Alright, confession time: I know that the old Nagash is a staple of countless “most horrible models ever released” lists on the Internet, but here’s the thing: Once upon the time, I really loved this guy to bits! He was actually one of the first (non-HeroQuest) GW models I owned, and the very first big model I ever tried my hand at! Unfortunately, the model was taken apart (and partially stripped) a long time ago, or this would have been the perfect time to show him to you. A shame, really ;)

In any case, the vintage Nagash may not seem like much if judged by the standards of 2014 (or 2000, for that matter), but I think it’s important to remember that this used to be the basic design approach for many of GW’s bigger models at that time, and there was a time when this model seemed like such a cool thing — at least to me.

Anyway, GW chose the model that probably gets ridiculed the most in online discussions and re-imagined it as this:

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It’s such an enormous piece that I’m really not sure where to start. Maybe with Nagash’s size, because this guy is huge — as evidenced by the diminutive skeleton warrior in the lower left corner… I understand Nagash gets prime billing as the Warhammer world’s biggest villain in the new book, and the model’s size and stature definitely match that importance.

What I like most about the model, after giving it a bit of thought, is how it basically keeps all the different elements of the classic miniature: The hat, sword, staff and various details from the old model are still there:

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All of these have been thorougly redesigned, but they still hark back to their earlier incarnations, which I like very much! Instead of pretending the earlier Nagash model simply didn’t happen, GW’s designers have re-imagined it in a stunning way while remaining true to the original source, and I love that approach! The other great thing about the model – and an element that carries over to most of the models in this release – is how Nagash is hovering in mid-air, borne aloft by a host of tortured spirits:

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There are things about the model I am not entirely sold on, however:

The first of those is the strange collection if twisted spines emerging from Nagash’s back: I see what they were trying to do here, adding the spines in order to give him a more imposing silhouette, presumably. Still, that element just seems slightly iffy to me — maybe some skeletal wings would have been a better idea?

The second thing that seems a bit much for me is the enormous hat:

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Seriously, this guy looks like Movie Skeletor on speed! In conjunction with the rest of the armour, the hat just seems a bit too video gamey for my taste (I’ll be coming back to this concern later).

As a matter of fact, make no mistake: While the new Nagash has been heavily redesigned and modernised, his look remains fairly eclectic. I am happy enough with it, but the question remains whether future generations will look upon him as kindly — just remember what happened to the model’s earlier incarnation…

That said, this is a stunning model and a fitting centrepiece, both for any undead army and for this release. Nagash really looks like the immense villain the background paints him as, and the model itself is certainly at the cutting edge of plastic miniature design. Will everybody like his look? No, probably not. But personal preferences notwithstanding, the model itself stands as an achievement (and I applaud GW for engineering a comeback like this for one of their most-maligned models!).

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Mortarchs of Death

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If the enormous model for Nagash wasn’t an indication that GW meant business, this combi-kit at least will clue you in to the situation: The Mortarch kit gives you the opportunity to build one of Nagash’s closest lieutenants, each of them based on established characters from the Undead background (in fact, one of my favourite parts of this release is how GW brought back these classic characters, turning them into a Quirky Miniboss Squad for Nagash).
And while their mount will always use the same base components, the kit offers a whopping three completely different riders, along with some serious customisation options for the mount itself. Wow! Let’s take a closer look:

Mannfred von Carstein, Mortarch of Night

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This is probably my favourite of the bunch for a couple of reasons: First of all, I have always loved the last incarnation of Mannfred, and this new version is closely based upon that appearance, spiky armour, batlike visage and all:

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Mannfred’s weapons are also pretty awesome, even if wielding a scythe and longsword at the same time seems to be a bit much. But the design of the weapons is very cool, giving them an ethereal, very sinister aspect (and making them into very interesting conversion bitz…):

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Mannfred’s mount, the dread abyssal Ashigaroth, is an enormous beast with a batlike countenance that seems like an escalated version of it’s master’s face. Strangely enough, it also reminds me a lot of the last couple of incarnations of Final Fantasy’s poster dragon god, Bahamuth. Anyway, the beast looks great (as an aside, I also really like the combination of blackened bones and red hot skulls used for the paintjob!).

Oh, and extra kudos to Mannfred for being pretty much the only guy in Nagash’s inner circle without one of those enormous hats ;)


Arkhan the Black, Mortarch of Sacrament

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Aw, man, this guy adds quite a bit of nostalgia to the whole release: Arkhan already had a – somewhat clunky but still pretty awesome – model in the olden days, complete with ostentatious chariot and all. This new incarnation turns the bling up to eleven, though. And seeing a classic character brought back and upgraded like that does bring a tear of nostalgia to my eye!

The model itself is also really nice: Arkhan looks like the quintessential undead sorcerer lord, and the Khemri style even makes him look like a slightly smaller (somewhat less improbable) version of Nagash himself:

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His hat, while still pretty big, seems to be somewhat more realistically scaled than that of his boss. I also really like the ostentatious (and very clearly Khemrian) armour that is also repeated on his mount! The one thing that I don’t like about Arkhan is his tattered cloak, precisely because it seems so tattered that it’s utterly improbable. I mean, it seems as if the designer really, really, wanted to make this cape as tattered as it could be, and he ended up overdoing it a little.

Undead End Times Release (15)Arkhan’s dread abyssal, Azarak, has a slightly more skeletal, less batlike head than Mannfred’s Ashigaroth. The Bahamut look is still there to an extent, but I think this would also make a fantastic head for a Greater Daemon, Daemon Prince, Heldrake,…erm, sorry, moving on!

Neferata, Mortarch of Blood

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Being  the equal-opportunities employer he is, Nagash brings back another classic character: Neferata the Vampire Queen. Those of you who still remember the old model might agree with me that it was terrible: Neferata looked like she had slinked away from a the set of a 50s Hollywood movie about with lots of mummies in ancient Egypt. But what about the new incarnation?

Well, there’s good stuff and there’s bad stuff: On the positive side, I love how Neferata is riding side saddle: Such a wonderfully elegant little touch! Just because you’re riding a hulking undead monstrosity doesn’t mean you get to imperil your modesty, right?

I also love how that sense of elegance seems to pervade the entire model, also covering the armour design and the abyssal’s bearding. Good job, GW!

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I have two main problems with the model, though: The smaller of the two is the look of Neferata’s weapon: It seems like it cannot quite decide whether it wants to be a staff or a glaive of some sort, settling into a strange limbo between the two that ultimately makes it look somewhat goofy and ineffectual (although, in all fairness, it would probably easy enough to remedy this by swapping in a new blade).

My main gripe with the model is the head, or rather, the hat: Out of all the models (and out of all the really impressive hats) in this release, Neferata’s headwear somehow seems the most ridiculous to me, may due to the slightly awkward looking, dangling spines, maybe because it actually draws away attention from her face:

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As a matter of fact, designing her head like that almost seems like a bit of a cop out on GW’s part: I, for one, would much have preferred a beautiful female face with flowing hair, something closer to the vampires from the Coven Throne. That said, maybe a different paintjob would go a long way here? Anyway, the head seems like a bit of a missed chance, if you ask me.

Neferata’s mount, the dread abyssal Nagadron, again picks up some of the visual cues of its rider. It also gets yet another unique head, this time with an armour plate covering its eyes — a very nice and sinister touch, if you ask me.

Speaking of which, let’s take a closer look at the abyssal and its various variants:

Generally speaking, I really like how the abyssal seems like a suitably apocalyptic mount for an important and utterly evil character! Being a devout follower of Khorne, I also buy into the idea of having a beast whose skeletal form is filled to the brim with skulls — I mean, come on, this is Warhammer, after all ;)

I love all three heads that come with the kit and think that they are doing a great job of tying together the abyssals and respective Mortarchs:

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And finally, I like the rather elegant way the abyssal is attached to its base via a combination of its tail and the ubiquitous skeletal spirits — that is really clever design right there!

A small gripe is the abyssal’s slightly awkward leg pose — although it seems like that is to be expected with a four-legged, wingless (!) creature designed to be floating in mid-air. But maybe it’s precisely the lack of wings that proves to be a bit of a visual deficiency here, making it hard to imagine how this beast would actually look in motion.

But by and large, the Mortarch kit is very impressive indeed — maybe even more impressive than Nagash, as a matter of fact! While the latter has the shock and awe tactics on his side, the Mortarch kit seems like a brilliant and expansive toolbox, both for creating an imposing centrepiece for an undead army and as a great source of conversion fodder — maybe my favourite part of this release!

 

Morghast Archai/ Morghast Harbingers

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These guys definitely add something new to the undead armies: A daemonic, skeletal footsoldier for the Nagash’s armies. Both variants of the kit are reasonably similar, and both share many design elements with the abyssals, like the skeletal body structure and the heaps of skulls inside the skeletal bodies.

So let’s take a closer look at the kit’s two variants:

Morghast Archai

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The Morghast Archai are Nagash’s elite guard, and – fittingly enough – their helmeted heads and glaive weapons give them a somewhat more official, regimented look

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One of the best parts of the models are their two-handed glaives…

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These are just wonderfully creepy and threatening, with their look halfway between ethereal and organic.

My gut feeling is that their armour and helmets somehow give these a slightly egyptian/Khemrian look: They would look right at home in a Tomb Kings army (and are a slightly more awkward fit for the Vampire Counts).

Morghast Harbingers

Undead End Times Release (28)I actually like these better than the Archai, because it somehow feels like the lack of ornamental helmets makes them look less like some kind of temple guard, and more like actual individuals — does that make any sense? I also like the sense of dynamism created by the twin swords setup:

Undead End Times Release (30)There’s also something wonderfully creepy and evil about the rather unnatural looking heads.

And again, I expect the weapons to become really popular with converters, because they would just make for very nice Daemon weapons. We’ll see…

The tattered wings are a bit of an acquired taste…once again, the objective seems to have been to make them as tattered as humanly possible. And while  I do like the way the Morghast are attached to their bases by way of ghostly apparitions…

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…the leg poses of the models just seem a bit awkward to me. This is less of a problem for the Harbingers, in my opinion, since their slightly more dynamic poses make the legs seem more believable, but the Archai just seem ever so slightly awkward, hovering in mid-air like that…

Such minor gripes notwithstanding, I can see this kit become rather popular, simply by the amount of conversion fodder it offers for various armies — but we’ll be getting to that in a minute!

 

Spirit Host

Undead End Times Release (33)Now these guys may be the least obviously spectacular part of the release, but they are certainly no slouch! The Spirit Host is cleverly engineered to seem ethereal, but also give the model’s a fair bit of presence. And similar spirits do appear in everykit of this release, making for a nice bit of visual consistency.
Actually, you’ve got to wonder whether, having used these ghosts in pretty much all of the other kits, GW designers finally decided that it was only fair to give these guys their own little spot in the limelight…

Anyway, these make for very effective and evil looking ghosts! And my absolute favourite part has to be how the ghosts of the spirit host emerge from tortured skeletons:

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That’s just an excellent little touch right there!

Conversion options:

So, time to deal with my favourite subject: How useful will these new kits be for converters and kitbashers? Allow me to share some early ideas with you:

Interestingly enough, my conversion ideas mostly deal with Nagash’s followers and not so much with the big man…skeleton…thing. Maybe the model is still too huge and intimidating in my mind for it to actually register as conversion fodder? The two spontaneous ideas I came up with were to either use Nagash as the base for a conversion of Mortarion, Primarch of the Death Guard, in his ascended form. Or he could be turned into a new and terrible C’Tan by a crafty Necron player? In any case, seeing what converters come up with for this model will surely be interesting!

Anyway, looking at the entire release, the big winner when it comes to conversion options seems to be …40k chaos, surprisingly enough. Now maybe I am not exactly neutral in this regard, seeing how chaos armies seem to be one of my main areas of interest, but the options just seem too good to ignore. Let me just list a few off the top of my head:

The Mortarch kit seems to be a treasure chest of conversion bitz: the abyssal could be converted into a Greater Daemon, a Maulerfiend or even into a mount for a chaos lord, a Heldrake — you name it! Likewise, part of it could be mixed with existing daemon engine and/or daemon kits in order to create new and terrible monstrosities. Even the leftover heads from the Mortarch kit alone would be great little bitz to play around with…

Oh, and wouldn’t you agree that Mannfred’s head would look great on a Chaos Lord — especially on a Night Lord?

The Morghast seem to provide an almost ridiculously versatile resource for chaos armies, the possible uses of the kit including but not limited to…

  • Daemon Princes: Even on their own, the Morghast could make for fairly convincing Daemon Princes: the slightly Khemrian/Egyptian look of the Archai would make them ideal for Tzeentchian Daemon Princes, while the amount of skulls stored in their bodies would also make them a nice fit for Khorne. They could even conceivably be used to represent Nurglite daemons, if one were to focus less on a visceral, slimy and mouldering approach and more on a skeletal, reaper-like aspect. Only Slaanesh seems to be left out in the cold a bit (don’t fret, though: The new Dark Eldar release will provide you with all the toys you need).
  • Obliterators/Mutilators: For those (like me) who don’t like the stock Obliterator/Mutilator models one bit, the Morghast might be a very interesting alternative: Just check out VonKessler’s gorgeous Thousand Sons Oblitz, based on Morghast models: I think those are really just the tip of the iceberg!
  • Parts of the Morghast models should also be supremely useful for chaos players: I expect to see those evil looking swords and glaives all over chaos armies before long, and both the skeletal body pieces as well as the mounds of skulls forming the Morghast’s inner workings should become really popular with chaos players!

This may be a somewhat far fetched idea, but what about using the Spirit Host as chaos spawn in a Thousand Sons army? Just imagine the swirling souls of destroyed Rubric Marines (or, alternately, their victims) filling the same role as the usual, boring mutated creepy crawlys. Or maybe those spirits are the Thousand Sons’ familiars? Anyway, it would be a nice change to see these new models used instead of the same old spawn models…
Another faction that I can see profiting from the new kits are the Necrons: The Khemrian look of many of the new models might make it possible to use their wargear and decoration on Necron models (who are, after all, often referred to as “Tomb Kings IN SPACE!”)  to great effect. Arkhan might make a stunning Phaeron with a bit of work (and an influx of mechanical skeleton bitz. And, like I said, Nagash could be an interesting base model for a new and terrible C’Tan…

And finally, there’s the wonderful world of INQ28, of course: It shouldn’t surprise you that I think some parts of the release would be really useful for INQ28 as well, both because of my love of the setting as well as the wide scope of the game:

  • again, the Morghast variants would make for interesting daemons or daemon princes — even moreso in the INQ28 setting, where undivided daemons are still an actual thing…
  • the Spirit Host could be used as unbound daemonhosts, or they could be turned into familiars for chaos magi — the possibilities are probably endless.
  • I think Neferata might make a cool Matriarch for a Death Cult, enormous hat and all.
  • And maybe, just maybe, Mannfred could be turned into a (ultra-)radical Inquisitor with a bit of work?

 

All in all, this release was certainly designed to blow WFB players away, and it seems like it mostly suceeded. One thing I think we can all agree upon is that the sheer size and complexity of GW’s recent plastic kits gets ever more baffling.

What I love about all of the new models is how certain elements are used to tie the various kits together from a visual standpoint: The ghostly apparitions resembling the models from the Spirit Host appear on all of the models in some shape or form. The armour based on fused bone. The skulls making up the interior of many of the undead creatures. And yes, even the huge hats ;) Additionally, it’s fascinating how GW’s designers have managed to make these new undead models fit both the Vampire Counts’ and Tomb Kings’ look and feel, while also imbuing them with an identity of their own. These factors are quite impressive and a big design achievement, in my opinion.

However, at the same time, I do have one overarching gripe with the new models, and that is what I would like to call their “WOW-ness” . What I mean by that is that parts of the new models seem so over the top that they wouldn’t look out of place in a PC game such as World of Warcraft or Diablo — and seeing how Blizzard’s own Warcraft universe owes GW more than a bit of inspiration, it seems pretty ironic that GW’s designers would now, in turn, produce something that seems at least partially inspired by designs from World of Warcraft

Nevertheless, it still seems like a rather strong release, both for the actual kits and for the new conversion options they bring to the table. It just seems like a hearty portion of videogame design sensibilities have been added to the WFB universe — at least to the undead factions.

I hope the next books/releases for the End Times will keep up the effort to revitalise existing armies while adding something new and special to them. For instance, there are rumours floating around about a coming End Times book focusing on chaos and giving various classic characters – Archaon, Arbaal, Valnir,… the Mortarch treatment — and even though I don’t play WFB anymore, the sheer prospect at seeing some of the iconic chaos characters revisited that way has me very excited indeed!

 

So, what do you think about this release? Did you love it or hate it? Did you feel a resemblance to WoW designs as well, and were you happy with that? And would you like to share your own conversion ideas for the new kits? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Seaside laziness…

Posted in Pointless ramblings with tags , on September 18, 2014 by krautscientist

seaside
This week, I spent a couple of days on a seaside vacation, visiting one of the Frisian islands and having an all around great time. Like last time, I had all these great plans for getting creative stuff done while on vacation — like preparing a blog post or two. And exactly like last time, I did precisely nothing, save for eating, sleeping, reading, and messing around with the panorama function of my phone’s camera. Sorry folks, there’ll be a real update soon ;)

Until then, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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