This month brings a new release for the World of Warhammer Fantasy Battles in the form of new Lizardmen models. And even though my WFB days are well behind me, I’ll still happily take a look at the new models, talk about what I like and don’t like and scrutinise any conversion potential this release might have – maybe even for the world of 40k. So, once, let us take a closer look at the new release.
Before we do that, though, it’s time for me to come clean. So let me start with two confessions:
One, I used to be a huge Dinosaur nut for most of my childhood and even quite a ways into my teens. I was very proud of being able to identify and name a huge number of prehistoric lizards big and small in what was an endless stream of garbled (and probably mostly incorrectly pronounced) Greek and Latin. So Lizardmen should be right up my alley, right?
Yes, well. That’s actually confession number two: I’ve always felt the denizens of Lustria to be a rather awkward fit for the world of Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Allow me to elaborate:
Regarding most of the WFB armies, their basic design ideas can be summed up in a single sentence for me: The Empire is “Hieronymus Bosch meets Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail“. Bretonnia is “Medieval France plus Arthurian Legend plus the ugliest sides of feudalism, all rolled into one and turned up to eleven”. Warriors of Chaos are “spiky vikings who worship evil gods (and sometimes have tentacles)”, and so on. I think you get the idea…
Lizardmen, then, would be “Fantasy dinosaurs who are also aztec wizards”. And I think we can all agree that this already sounds fairly funky and not all that easy to pull off. The other problem for me is that these guys…well, they’re lizards. And it’s really not that easy to imbue lizards with lots of character. I can imagine most of WFB’s factions off the battlefields: I can imagine the bustling, clockpunk hellholes that are the cities of the Empire. I can imagine the fierce tribal culture of the northern chaos wastes. It’s easy to get an idea of the grim, and probably darkly humurous, interactions of the greenskins.
All of this is much harder for the Lizardmen. They are the servants of the Ancients, yes. But that’s the problem right there: They are tools. They were bred for their tasks. The different breeds are well designed and thought out, make no mistake. But they don’t really offer much by way of character — at least that’s my take. Your mileage may vary, of course.
Oh, and don’t get me started on all those punny names…
At the very least, though, a well-painted Lizardmen army will make quite an impression on the table: Its vibrant colours and mix of lizards and dinosaurs big and small does have a certain je ne sais quoi. So what about the new models then?
Carnosaur / Troglodon / Kroq-Gar on Grymloq
The biggest new kit gives us a huge, reptilian predator that can be assembled in several ways. The first option is to build a Saurus Oldblood riding a Carnosaur, as pictured above. While the Carnosaur’s last incarnation looked a bit too much like an 80s/90s action figure, if you ask me, the new design is really great: Instead of looking like a slightly hokey Tyrannosaur with longer arms, the creature now takes design cues from more evolved, sleek and deadly carnivores like the Allosaur. The sickle claws even make it seem like there’s more than a little Deinonychus in there somewhere…
Meanwhile, the shortened jaws seem almost mammalian, making the Carnosaur look even more dangerous.
The fact that the pose is very dynamic and that the model looks like its anatomy would actually work in real life, helps of course. I also really love that black/white/orange paintjob, by the way!
So the mount is a succes. But what about the rider? In fact, the standard Oldblood head included in the kit is a real favourite of mine: That guy looks like he really means business!
The second possible way of assembling this kit is to build the special character Kroq-Gar (…) on his ride Grymloq (oh boy!). All the necessary parts are included, which is really a brilliant idea that I would like to see far more often (and in 40k as well as WFB)! The resulting model looks like this:
While the Carnosaur remains mostly unchanged, the rider gets a spiffy artifact gauntlet. While this weapon was already present in the charcter’s last incarnation, I really like the rather more statuesque redesign of the weapon: It looks like it really wasn’t necessarily designed to be worn by a Saurus in the first place, which I think is a nice touch, especially with regard to the Lizardmen’s backstory.
The other huge option is to build a Troglodon, an eerie, troglodytic lizard ridden by a skink:
This version of the model throws even more real-life influences into the mix, with the head recalling that of a Baryonyx or a crocodile, if I am not mistaken, and some Spinosaur thrown in as well for good measure. While the change mainly amounts to a headswap (and a tail swap, to boot), the result is quite stunning: The model looks quite distinctive, even more so if painted in the pale, slightly translucent skin tones befitting a cave dweller.
The skink rider, meanwhile, is nothing to write home about — but that’s probably a matter of personal taste: I always tend to think skinks are a little bland, and they don’t really register as characters for me (even though they seem to be far stronger individuals than the rather dense Sauri, in the background at least).
Lastly, this kit offers you an additional Saurus Oldblood on foot under certain conditions,…
…but for some reason, this guy feels like a bit of an afterhought — nothing that canot be fixed with a couple of bitz, though.
All in all, I think this kit is great! Sure, at 65 Euros, it isn’t exactly a steal, but seeing all the extra bitz and options you get out of it, I still consider it a good amount of bang for the buck!
This big boy is a dead ringer for the good old Styracosaur. A very nice design, if you ask me, and a great and distinctive addition to the Lizardmen’s huge warbeasts.
The kit comes with two different weapons arrays for the Bastiladon’s back: The first one, called the Solar Engine, is pretty much what you would expect from an Aztec inspired precursor culture like the lizardmen. The fact that the crystals are solid plastic is slightly disappointing, but there would really have been no easy way around it, so I’ll let it slide. As it stands, this will be an interesting task for accomplished painters (not unlike the whole Lizardmen catalogue, as a matter of fact).
The fact that the activation panel on the back of the engine has room for five fingers, but the skink only has four, is a nice touch. It may not really be a poignant embodiment of the Lizardmen’s tragic history, as suggested by the PR-speak in WD, but it’s a neat idea!
There’s also the option of building a Troglodon that carries the Arc of Sotek…
…and it’s a little silly, really. Whoever would think of a warmachine like this? The Ancients? Some skink shamans high on Mezkal? However, it’s so silly that it almost works in a zany, Indiana Jones-esque way. Moving on…
Terradon / Ripperdactyl Riders
The old Terradon models were pretty awkward in many ways, so it’s great to see GW chose to address this. And with a multi-kit, no less! For the Terradons, I love the choice of making them look similar to a Pteranodon, not only differentiating them from the other option in the kit, but channelling what has to be one of my favourite dinosaurs ever. My one gripe with the terradons themselves is that their toes, holding the Drop Rocks are so short as to look almost nonexistent, making it look as though the rocks were bolted directly to the creature’s legs. Apart from that, though, I love the design, and even the skink riders with their dynamic poses and more athletic builds are really nice! Oh, and in case you were wondering, those little guys attack by hurling “fireleeches” at the enemy:
Because why the hell not? I believe this might actually be due to a translation error in the Ancient’s great plan: The passage in question said something about “hurling balls of flame”, but there was a crack in the tablet or a translation error by some inexperienced skink scribe or something to that effect, and now the poor guys are stuck with hurling burning leeches. Or GW’s design studio just wanted to test the boundaries of what they could get away with. Your choice!
The other kind of unit to be built from the kit is a flock of Ripperdactyl riders:
The piranha-styled underbite on the Ripperdactyls makes them look like really angry, evil birds. I am not 100% sold on this design element, to tell you the truth, but seeing how the kit is all plastic, it should be reasonably easy to get rid of if you wanted to:
And finally, the kit lets you build the special character Tiktaq’to (I swear I am not making this up!), which is a nice additional option, once again!
While I can sympathise with the notion of giving special skink characters huge and ostentatious looking golden ceremonial masks, this has the slightly problematic effect of making them look even more devoid of personality, in my opinion. That sickle blade is looking wicked, though!
And let me just point out that the paintjob on the model is really stellar:
Just check out those wings! Marvelous work!
While it’s a refreshing idea to give us a skink priest on a throne instead of yet another Slann, I am not sold on this design. It may have something to do with my general apathy when it comes to skinks, but I suspect the actual problem lies somewhere between the slightly awkward pose (the cross-legged pose really isn’t working out — just check out that right foot), the staff looking completely unlike anything in the Lizardmen army (or, indeed, GW’s entire catalogue) or the slightly hokey feathers adorning the throne. It’s certainly easy enough what they were trying to do here, though, with Tetto’eko supposed to look like an ancient, wizened member of his race, but I actually think that an enterprising Lizarmen player could kitbash/scratchbuild a suitable model without having to spend 40 Euros on the Finecast version…
This may be purely a matter of personal taste, but Tetto’eko is probably the weakest part of the release for me.
I love the idea of fielding what basically amounts to a giant, scarred albino crocodile that JUST WILL NOT DIE. Gor-Rok seems far more imposing than his regular Saurus kin, both due to his huge frame and to the heavy scarring all over his body. I am not perfectly sure about the position of the left arm, and the teeth/horns on that shield do look a little silly, but both elements should be easy enough to change. The question remains, as usual, why this had to be a Finecast model in the first place. In my opinion, Finecast should really be reserved for the remastered older models and for new releases that are really only possible in that particular material. Apart from that, though, I like this big guy!
As per the usual routine, one of the new characters also gets a plastic release. Again, this guy is a skink, so don’t expect any hymns of praise from me 😉 My problem with the model is that it’s facing some stiff competition from several of the brilliant WFB plastic characters, and this little guy really doesn’t hold up all that well, in my opinion. The model’s position on the remains of a ruin are a nice touch, but there are quite a few much more impressive models in the catalogue. Still, having access to a plastic skink priest is certainly a nice asset for Lizardmen players, so I won’t let my mixed feelings about skinks as characters stand in the way of that.
Now, all these reptilian additions to the Lizardmen catalogue are certainly great news for the army. But what about the new kits’ conversion potential for other hobby projects? Continuing a trend started by the High Elves and continued by the Tau and Eldar, the Lizardmen are yet another faction with a very unique, somewhat eclectic look. That makes it slightly challenging to just use them in other armies. That said, using elements from the army (and the new kits) to individualise an Empire, Bretonnia, Dwarf or Greenskin army to show how it is currently on a tour exploring (and likely plundering) Lustria could be a pretty cool idea.
When it comes to the world of 40k, the new Lizardmen kits could be used to great effect on highly cutomised Eldar Exodite armies or even particularly colourful regiments of the Imperial Guard. For instance, fellow hobbyist wonkobaggins recently posted a really cool counts as Catachan Sentinel built by using a Tyrannosaur model — something similar could be done using the new Carnosaur! And since quite a few people are already using Cold Ones for their Rough Riders, why not go the whole way and add some Terradons/Ripperdactyls as well?
The Bastiladon could make a nice, smaller Squiggoth-variant for an Orc army, or a similar beast of burden in a Kroot-themed army, with a little conversion work, And the Troglodon head looks sufficiently eerie and otherwordly to be an interesting head choice for a (Tzeentchian) Daemon Prince, Greater Daemon or daemon engine. Several of the new beasts could also be used as enslaved creatures in a heavily converted, beastmaster-themed Dark Eldar army to represent the beasts captured and used in gladiatorial spectacles by the lanistas of Commoragh…
Finally, I could also see some of the kits used involved in some serious kitbashing with a pile of Tyranid parts, but to be perfectly honest, that could almost be seen as doing a disservice to the beautiful new kits.
When it comes to the wonderful world of INQ28, some parts from the new kits could be used to build members of minor xenos races. like bounty hunters and mercenaries travelling the galaxy in search of employers. Jeff Vader’s excellent Glarrg the Brontoglorrg (well done indeed on the name, mate!) would be a sterling example of this.
So, what to make of it all? Will this release bring me back to WFB or my erstwhile passion for Dinosaurs? No, probably neither. In fact, I may probably completely pass on the new kits. That said, I am prepared to call this a really strong offering! Most of the designs are great, especially the bigger kits. I also love the amount of options present in some of the models, and the opportunities to build special characters from plastic kits, and this is clearly something I would love to see more of. Just imagine a Chaos Lord plastic kit containing the parts to build Abaddon (or a custom general for one of the four chaos gods). Or a Dark Eldar vehicle kit containg the parts to build Asdrubael Vect (like the old model, just all in plastic). Or a Greater Daemon kit allowing us to build characters like Skarbrand or M’Kachen. The options are endless, and one can always dream…
In any case, Lizardmen players receive some standout pieces for their army, and the designs are top notch! And while the prices are, once again, nothing to scoff at, I am tempted to forgive that when looking at the amount of options and customisability in most of these kits.
It also becomes clear, browsing through the new issue of WD, that these kits deserve to be painted with the utmost care: Some of the ‘Eavy Metal paintjobs on these are truly outstanding, and making your own Lizardmen army look as vibrant and characterful is certainly quite a challenge, even for accomplished painters.
So what do you think? Do you like the new models, or do they leave you cold(-blodded, hur hur)? And do they remind you of a childhood spent gazing at extinct lizards as well? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Oh, and just for the records: I still think dinosaurs are pretty cool!
As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!