Archive for October, 2013

A recipe for destruction…

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2013 by krautscientist

Even while I was spending time salivating over the new Dark Elves, work on my Centurion conversions continued unabated, of course. Since I last showed you my “Behemoth” test model last week, I undertook a continuous process of trial and error to figure out the best basic template for turning a Centurion into a counts as Obliterator for Khorne’s Eternal Hunt.

Just to remind you, here’s where we left off last time:

Behemoths WIP (14)
The ogre armour plates on the upper legs were a winner, so they stayed. But most of all, the time had come to build an actual left arm for the model. Since I wanted to represent the Obliterators’ ability of using different weapons each turn, I decided to give each of my Behemoths two main weapons. In this case, I chose a Multimelta to complement the Autocannon on the right arm. I also tried a number of additional bitz on the model in order to settle on a final look:

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The multimelta was built by adding some melta barrels to one of the siege drill weapons from the kit. I also added a flamer in the intended spot, although that ended up looking slightly over the top… As you can see, I also experimented with some additional bitz: The marauder shield was replaced with a chain tabard, and a blade/horn from the Mournfang Cavalry was added to the model’s helmet — while I liked the look that resulted from that, the blade did seem a little clunky, though.

Here’s a comparison shot with one of my Terminators to show you how massive the Behemoth will be:

Behemoths WIP (20)

Some feedback over on Dakka and ToS helped me to further refine my recipe: Biohazard suggesed adding an additional armour plate on top of the chain tabard (which I did), and I also replaced the huge blade on the nose with a smaller horn:

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I also added a trophy rack, which I am not really sure about: On the one hand, it makes the model look even more clunky, but on the other hand, if ever there was a squad of ponderous, clunky giants, it’s going to be this one, right?

In any case, and give or take a few bitz, I am fairly confident that I have managed to find the basic template for my Behemoths. Ladies and Gentlemen:

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The Behemoth pattern heavy fire support suit

Even in an army as focused on combat at close quarters as the World Eaters‘ 4th assault company, there are those who hunt by different means. Those brothers of the company are called the Behemoths, and they are an enigma to even their brethren.

During the Great Crusade, the armies of the Legiones Astartes were faced with an ever increasing number of deadly adversaries. Often enough, wars were only to be won by attrition, and the head-on assaults led by the death seeking Primarch Angron were threatening to bleed the 12th Astartes legion dry before long. While Angron seemed oblivious or even indifferent towards such concerns, there were those among his officers who sought a more balanced kind of warfare, at least until the bite of their Butcher’s Nails consumed the remnants of their sanity.

It is said that, during this time, First Apothecary Fabrikus himself experimented on a number of battle brothers, trying to adapt their cranial implants to a different kind of fight. These warriors were outfitted with heavy combat suits, almost on par with the fabled Dreadnoughts. Their suits were equipped with a plethora of heavy weapons, and where the regular World Eaters would throw themselves at the enemy with wild abandon, the so-called Behemoth squads would hang back and lay down a barrage of heavy fire. For Fabrikus had changed the battle brothers’ minds yet again, hardwiring their implants to their weapons systems. The members of the Behemoth squads started to find grim joy in killing, just like the rest of their legion, but the greatest joy for them was to pick out enemies from afar, tearing through flesh and steel alike with bursts of laser fire and plasma, and seeing a red marker turning green in their targeting recticles.

The Behemoths remained a highly experimental unit that only saw limited use during the Crusade and subsequent Heresy: The weapons systems they were outfitted with proved too difficult to maintain during the arduous campaigns, and Angron would always favour a more hands-on approach. Only few of the valuable suits have endured over the millennia, and only those warbands of the XIIth Astartes legion who still count a Warpsmith or Dark Mechanicus ally among their numbers can hope to make any kind of use of this hallowed equipment. For most members of the World Eaters, the kind of warfare exemplified by the Behemoth squads remains forever beyond their reach, replaced by frenzy and costly head-on assaults. Yet within the ranks of the 4th assault company, some of the Behemoths have endured, and in Khorne’s Eternal Hunt, have become hunters in their own right.

These frightening giants still fill the role of heavy fire support, yet the long centuries and millennia have wrought havoc upon their minds: Growing ever more divorced from their humanity, Behemoths are more machine than man, gripped by a tranquil fury where their regular brethren are frenzied. They can only perceive life through their targeting systems, and each situation becomes an equation that can only be solved by heavy fire. They tend to see living beings as either targets or inconsequential elements, even referring to their battle brothers as “fleshkin”.

When away from the battlefield, the Behemoths are normally content to spent time in deep, deathlike sleep. They dream of worlds burning and planets shattering under a barrage of heavy fire, while the other members of the company take relief in the knowledge that their troubled brethren are not at large. Even in an army of frenzied killers, the Behemoths are perhaps the most inhuman of all, since for them life and death are the only variables at any given time, and death is always the preferable outcome…

 
So yeah, this will be my basic approach for the rest of the squad and the vibe I am going for. Here’s the basically finished test model for you:

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After looking at Biohazard’s awesome Centurion conversion, my own model was extended slightly more at the waist, and I think the visible waist improves the overall proportions. I believe I won’t try to cram any more weapons onto the model, going with two main weapons for each member of the squad. Some chains and spikes may yet be added, and I’ll maybe rethink the use of the Marauder shield on the right hand: Another option would be to use some of the very cool Ogre fists that come with the Mournfang Cavalry:

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Once again, the imagery of the Great Maw makes for very convincing World Eaters symbols, don’t you think? I only have very few of these, unfortunately, so I can only use them very sparingly.

I am also considering leaving off the hydraulic struts on the sides of the legs, because I really don’t like their look. The ones on back of the feet are great, though, because they look so similar to the Dreadknight (or, in my case, Wargrinder) legs. Oh, and on a related note, you should also check out Candleshoes’ “Contemptor Centurion” over at The Bolter and Chainsword: also a very awesome project, although it’s not the look I need for my own models.

In any case, I am looking forward to beginning work on the next model. The next Behemoth will be armed with an assault cannon and a heavy flamer, methinks. Or a Plasma cannnon? I’ll keep you posted 😉

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

Spiky pointy people – a look at the new Dark Elves

Posted in Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , on October 2, 2013 by krautscientist

Another month, another new release: This time, it’s the Dark Elves’ turn: The army reveives a complete design overhaul that rivals the redesign of their dark future counterpart, the Dark Eldar. So, once again, let’s take a look at this month’s release in order to figure out the good and the bad and to come up with some conversion ideas.

Dark Elves release (1)

You might be surprised to learn that I have always had a huge soft spot for the Dark Elves: Back in my WFB days (during the 90s), a box of metal Cold One Knights may actually have been the first GW models I ever purchased, and  I even bought the 4th edition army book and had some grand notion of building a Dark Elf army. Alas, the price of assembling such a force proved to be far too steep for my pocket money as a lad: Most models were also only available in metal. So, apart from a squad of Cold One Knights that I bought and painted piecemeal, and a small unit of plastic Dark Elf warriors, my plans of an army of Druchii never quite got off the ground: Instead, I turned to chaos, my one true tabletop love (and, coincidentally, the army with the most plastic kits available back then). But I still marveled at the background of the Dark Elves. But what did I find so interesting about them?

The Dark Elves are truly an evil race, no surprises there. But where chaos as a faction is evil in an archetypal, almost incomprehensible way, the Dark Elves have this strong leitmotif of fallen glory. Champions of chaos only follow their own ambition and the twisted reasons of their dark gods, but the Dark Elves believe that it is their birthright to rule, a birthright denied them by their High Elf kin. It’s great fun to imagine the courts of Naggaroth, rife with perverted beauty and intrigue, a society turning on itself in the desperate struggle to maintain their power and majesty. And it’s also very interesting to have a force that looks every bit as elegant and disciplined as a High Elf army, only with a more spiky and sinister design and some seriously disturbing, even monstrous additions.

So, how does this translate to the new release? Those familiar with the 4th edition army book will immediately notice that the new models were very much inspired by the Dark Elf designs of the early to mid 90s: They look less like Dark Eldar with medieval equipment and more like sinister reflections of High Elves. I think the overall visual direction for these models is a fantastic blend of nostalgia and modern design trappings. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a look at the different kits:

 

Cauldron of Blood/Bloodwrack Shrine

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Let’s begin with a huge kit, and arguably the visually most impressive addition to the Dark Eldar catalogue: The Cauldron of Blood shares quite a few design cues with the Vampire Counts Coven Throne, if you ask me, so if you didn’t like that one, it seems you’re pretty much out of luck. If, like me, you found the Coven Throne to be a fantastically over the top, beautifully eclectic piece, chancec are you’ll find a lot to like about this model as well!

Of course, you could always argue that there’s a slightly silly concept at the heart of it all, with the basic frame of the cauldron making it look like the Witch Elves are bringing along their own set of stairs for their special show act. But even a cynic interpretation like that would be strangely fitting for the Dark Elves for whom evil and style always go hand in hand, don’t you think?

My favourite part of the model has got to be the imposing and immensely spiky statue of Khaine towering above the cauldron. This statue turns the model into a great centre piece for any Dark Elf army, plus it should make for a brilliantly sinister (plastic!!!) Avatar of Khaine for all you (Dark) Eldar players out there. Some work on the pose would probably be required, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

Whether you intend to use the statue as a standalone model in your 40k force or in its original function, though, it’s a brilliant element.

I also quite like both the actual cauldron and the statue bearing it on its back:

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The kit comes with several Witch Elves, all of them in suitably theatrical poses:

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The Death Hag would also make a great character model (both for WFB and for 40k…):

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And finally, the model for Crone Hellebron is another high point. This bonny lass really exemplifies what Dark Elves have always been about for me: spiky bitz, theatrical poses and extremely huge hair:

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I do of course realise that this may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I love the design. Again, used on her own, she could make a great character for a Dark Elf army, a great Dracon for Dark Eldar Kabal or even a Slaaneshi cult leader for INQ28.

In addition to all of this, there’s also the option of assembling the kit as a Bloodwrack Shrine, which gets rid of the Khaine statue and replaces it with a mirror, used to keep a particularly pissed off Bloodwrack Medusa in check:

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Some may feel that the inclusion of a Medusa comes a bit out of the left field, but strange, serpent-bodied creatures have been a part of Dark Elf iconograpgy at least since the 4th edition army book, so it all works out.

While the basic construction remains the same between both variants, some of the additional bitz are really cool. Granted, that mirror will be a hell of a chore to paint if you want to pull of a convincing effect and don’t work for the ‘Eavy Metal team 😉

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But from the beautifully decorated back of the mirror to the alternate face masks for the witch elves, there’s a lot of variety if you assemble the kit this way. The ornaments on the back of the mirror are also an excellent example of the Dark Elves sinister but stylish culture.

The star of the show should be the Bloodwrack Medusa, of course, so let’s take a closer look at her:

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I love the pose! And this girl should be a real looker on the table, both if you use it as part of the shrine or as a standalone model. My favourite part has to be the clawed gauntlet:

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The face is a bit of a letdown, though: I would have loved the snake hair to billow around the face more, for one, and that facial expression makes her look like a dumbstruck idiot. I know GW can pull of much better female faces (as is evident with several models in this very release), so this one is a bit of a bummer. On a more positive notice, for all those who have been lamenting the decrease in bare breasts over the last years: Seems like you at least get one uncovered boob out of this kit. Yay! 😉

One last though: Wouldn’t the Bloodwrack Medusa be an interesting option for a plastic Fulgrim conversion? Just sayin’…

 

War Hydra/Kharybdiss

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Okay, I’ll be honest with you: The War Hydra is the absolute low point of this release for me: The pose seems slightly awkward (what on earth is happening with those hind legs?) and the heads are just plain terrible. It boggles the mind how GW’s designers have gone through three different versions of this creature without ever coming up with a cool looking model. And seeing the awesome monsters Trish Camden is designing for Forgeworld, it’s hard to come to grips with the silliness of this model.

In all fairness, one of the different paintjobs showcased in this month’s WD has the model look slightly less horrible, but there’s really no way of seeing beyond those silly snake heads… Anyway, I just want to put you through anymore of my ranting: The Hydra is my least favourite model coming from this month’s release, period.

That being said, the kit has another option, however: It can also be used to build the sea-dwelling Kharybdiss:

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Let’s just ignore the fact that the whole sea-dwelling thing doesn’t seem to make too much sense, given the fact that this monster will only ever be used on land in Dark Elf armies. And, to get this out of the way as well:  I may not be huge on classical education, but that particular spelling of Charybdis made me die a little inside. Plus did you guys do realise that the original Charybdis wasn’t a monster but a whirlpool, right? Scylla’s the one you want for the monster, people.

That aside, the Kharybdiss variant of assembling the kit does, strangely enough, solve much of what seems wrong about the hydra: The different heads make the creature look completely alien. And since you’re hard pressed to tell what this thing is supposed to be in the first place, the pose doesn’t really matter that much. Strange, I know, but for the, those heads make the model much better, precisely because they are so strange. The one thing I’m not keen on is that growth on the tip of the tail, but that should be easy enough to replace.

So, for me at least, the Kharybdiss is the definite way to go with this kit. It’s just strange enough to work, while the hydra is just silly.

Oh, and let’s not forget the beastmasters: On the one hand, both models are sporting what may be my least favourite elven hairstyle. Still, it’s nice that they got their own, distinct look, with clothes made from tanned monster hide and all.

A final thought: Maybe those Hydra heads could at least be used as Alpha Legion ornaments? I don’t know…

 

Dreadspears/Darkshards/Bleakswords

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Phew, they really know how to motivate the Naggaroth citizens to join the Dark Elf armed forces with those unit names alone, don’t they?
Anyway, these will bascially be the main troops for any Dark Elf army, so it’s clear that this is a pretty important kit.

And GW has really managed to deliver with these: From a visual standpoint, the models  are a definite callback to the older metal warriors, and for me at least, they are everything you could ask of Dark Elf soldiers: They are clearly identifiable as evil, pointy gitz, yet they retain the discipline and sinister elegance that defines the elves.

The one problem I have with these is that, from a converter’s point of view, you lose a lot of flexibility with this kit: All the bodies and heads are single piece, with only the hands and some doodads left as separate bitz. That means they don’t exactly lend themselves all that well to expansive conversions.

In all fairness, though, players will probably need a lot of these guys, so flexibility in posing them is really less important than ease of assembly (and the ability to rank them up without a hitch). And it’s great that they have all the equipment options in the box this time around, giving you three possible regiment types:

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And while I certainly don’t hate the older plastic warriors – they were pretty cool for their time – it’s good that the new warriors’ proportions are now finally in tune with the Black Ark Corsairs and Cold One Knights (although those hands still seem to be a bit on the big side, if you ask me…).

One small thing that bugs me, though: Why is it that helmetless Dark Elves always have to default back to one of two pretty horrible hairstyles?

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However, all in all, these are just what you would ask of your most important troop choice. Good job all around, GW!

 

Witch Elves/Sisters of Slaughter

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While the Dreadspears were the obligatory part, these girls are the freestyle performance, so to speak. And they are definitely the stars of the show for me for a number of reasons, but we’ll be getting to that in a minute.

First of all , these are also very much a callback to the 90s’ metal Witch Elves — the colour of the hair in the official ‘Eavy Metal paintjobs couldn’t be any more telling… The fact that these are plastic now means we get some much cooler poses, and these ladies really excel at dynamism!

And to address the elephant in the room: Yes, these models are clearly on the more stripperific side, but GW at least clearly resisted the temptation of making them too busty.  And in contrast with some of the recent High Elves (yes, I am looking at you, Sisters of Avelorn!), at least these gals really look feminine enough to actually pass for females!

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The alternate option for the kit is to assemble some Sisters of Slaughter, and this is where things really gets interesting:

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With their sinister facemasks and whips made from hair, these models are quite different from the Witch Elves while using the same bodies and poses. They would also make for excellent Wyches, Death Cultists or, indeed, Slaaneshi cultists, if you ask me. Or you could even kitbash them with some Daemonettes for very interesting results…

The one little thing I really don’t like about the kit is the awkward pose of the musician:

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Seems like she has to coordinate some rather complex actions there…

Apart from this one small gripe, this is clearly my favourite part of this release, and as soon as I had seen this kit, I was pretty sure that I would pick up one just for the heck of it.

And then I saw the price tag.

Wow. Just wow. 45 Euros for ten of those? No matter how many bitz you get, that is a bit of a ripoff. Sure, I can see how one of the big kits would cost that much. But ten – rather small – infantry models? I don’t want to keep ranting about GW’s prices, believe me, but it’s really a shame they took what is probably the most interesting kit of this whole release and priced it like that. I mean, that’s almost a hundred Euros for a decent sized regiment of these girls. And even for a huge plastic crack enthusiast such as myself, that seems a bit much…

 

Shadowblade

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And finally, the one new character so far — and the model’s plastic — yay! The standout parts of the model are the highly dynamic pose and the impressive cape flowing behind it. This last part is very obviously GD painter bait, if you ask me…
What’s really cool is that the way Shadowblade is posed on his base means that you’ll be able to almost pose him above his designated target — only a fun little detail, of course, but I still like it. My main gripe with the model is that it seems little devoid of personality, although I guess that is pretty much the whole point of the exercise in this case.

Let me also say that Dark Eldar players could be looking at a pretty cool base model for a counts as Kheradruakh here…

 

Conversion potential

Another thing this release excels at is the amount of conversion potential it brings:

First up, most of the new stuff will prove immensely useful to Dark Eldar players, obviously. The Death Hag or Crone Hellebron would make for awesome female Dark Eldar commanders. The Witch Elves are brilliant alternate Wyches. And the Sisters of Slaughter would be a very interesting and equally sinister way of representing Wyches in a Haemonculi Coven themed army. But all of this seems pretty obvious.

An even more interesting option would be to use parts from the Dreadspears and/or Witch Elves to build more sinister Eldar Guardians, either for use in an Ulthwé army, or in a mixed force of allied Eldar an Dark Eldar. And, like I said earlier, that Khaine statue would make for a fantastic, if sinister, Avatar.

All in all, for fans of the pointy eared armies, the options for creative kitbashing are really endless here.

But worshippers of chaos should also find a lot to like about this release: Many of the models would look great in a WFB or 40k army dedicated to Slaanesh: From the serpentine Bloodwrack Medusa to the daemon masked Sisters of Slaughter, there are all kinds of options (with the one for alternate cultists maybe the most interesting, if also most expensive one).

And finally, INQ28 aficionados should also take a close look at this release: They’ll find ample material for several varieties of cultists and some of the best female GW models to date — always a challenge for every fan of Inquisitor played at the 28mm scale!

 

As you will have gleaned from my enthusiasm for the models so far, I think that this is a very strong release with only very minor design slipups. My main point of contention isn’t even the horrible War Hydra model, but rather the pricing on the Witch Elves — it doesn’t even seem to fit the rest of the model range at all. Apart from that, though, it’s plain to see that the GW designers have poured lots of attention into this complete redesign.

So, the final question remains: Is this a redesign on par with the fabled 2010 relaunch of the Dark Eldar? It seems official now that the new Dark Elves will be released in two waves, and with leaked pictures of the next slew of kits already making their rounds all over the internet, I think it’s fair to say that, yes, this is a redesign every bit as involved as that of the Dark Eldar. I, for one, am very much looking forward to next month already! Will I begin a Dark Elf army now? No, I do have that much impulse control at least. But my dark and forbidden love for the Druchii will fester, and who can say what will happen?

 

So much for my take on the new models, but what do you think? Do you like the new designs as much as I do? Are you already contemplating all kinds of crazy conversions? Or do you feel completely differently about this release? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

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