The 2013 Eternal Hunts Awards, pt. 1: The Industry

Awards

Hey everyone, update time 😉

While the first week of my longer vacation was mainly spent sleeping, eating and playing up all the videogames I didn’t have time for during those last  stressful weeks and months, I do of course hope that you all had a very merry Christmas! Now with the end of the year fast approaching, it’s time again for a retrospective on the releases, hobby developments and outstanding hobby achievements of this past year. So I welcome you to the second annual Eternal Hunt Awards!

Let’s kick it off with a look at the industry. Let me tell you what I did and didn’t like this year, and for what reasons:

Best release of 2013:

1st place: Khorne Lord of Skulls

Apoc Release (2)

Now I do of course realise that this may be a controversial choice, but the longer I thought about it, the clearer it became to me that this model deserves the top spot in my personal list. Is it because I am a huge Khorne fanboy? That’s certainly a part of it, yes. But there’s more: For one, I can still recall the moment I first laid eyes on this model when pictures were leaked over on Dakka. I actually sat there with my mouth open for a while, and that doesn’t happen all that often. I was stunned — and not the bad kind of stunned where you’re just preparing to emit and earth-shattering groan.

While tons and tons of scorn may have been heaped upon this model online, I love it, pure and simple. It embodies the kind of models we dreamed of during our childhood and teenage years, but that could never have been possibly produced. Heck, GW even had to introduce a dedicated scale – Epic 40,000 – to feature battles between models at that scale. And looking back on those models now, we would never have guessed that it would one day be possible to add huge walkers, tanks and all kinds of superheavies to our forces at 28mm. Then Forgeworld came, and provided you were willing (and able) to sell a kidney, you could use Titans and Greater Daemons that really deserved the name. And then, a relatively short time ago, GW proper actually started to produce plastic kits at that scale. And here we are now, with a kind of model we could only imagine in our wildest dreams when we were children, available in glorious plastic. GW have taken my childish dreams and given them form. Is the resulting model realistic? Certainly not. Is it too OTT and corny? Quite possibly. But face it, guys and girls, this hobby of ours is certainly not the most grown up pasttime in the first place.

So while it may be a corny, ridiculous model in certain respects, and while I am not even sure I like the fact that the game has to get bigger all the time to accomodate stuff like this (more on that below), and while I am pretty sure that I’ll never get one for myself, there was one perfect moment in 2013 when my mouth hung agape in amazement at the coolness of a model. And if that model doesn’t deserve the top spot on this list, then nothing does.

Read my detailed opinion of the model here.

2nd place: Dreamforge Games releases

Eternal Hunts Awards 2013 (3)
Mark Mondragon certainly deserves a place high on his list for his amazing models. Be it the amazing Eisenkern Stormtroopers pictured above or the two variants of huge walker, the Leviathan Crusader and Leviathan Mortis, these models are certainly giving GW a run for their money. The Stormtroopers may be slightly more futuristic than 40k players are used to, but they have that retro, faux-WWI/II aesthetic I enjoyed so much about the old Warzone models, and that alone was reason enough to pick them up. The sprues abound with extra bitz and conversion options, and I am more than a little ashamed to say that I have yet to complete my first test models — it’s certainly not due to any lack of quality!

The walkers are equally impressive, with lots and lots of options for customisation, and they even come in “good” and “evil” flavour, for those of us wanting to induct them into their 40k forces:

Leviathan Crusader by  Dreamforge Games

Leviathan Crusader by Dreamforge Games

Eternal Hunts Awards 2013 (2)

Leviathan Mortis by Dreamforge Games

Dreamforge Games‘ releases deserve this spot on the list for another reason, though, even if the quality of the models would normally already be enough: These kits were made possible by a Kickstarter that spectacularly exceeded its original goal. It is only the one Kickstarter I have ever backed so far. And my first experience with this medium could not have any better: Mark Mondragon worked tirelessly to let the backers know which decisions had been taken and why and how far the products were along. He posted regular updates and went out of his way to accomodate backers’ wishes, even squeezing some additional bitz onto the sprues when it turned out there was some capacity left. If GW ever want to improve their communications with their customers, they could certainly do worse than take a look at how Mark approached these things.

So head over to Dreamforge Games’ website and check out their models. Chances are, you’ll be amazed — just as I was.

3rd place: Redesigned Dark Elves

Eternal Hunts Awards 2013 (5)
GW’s designers always seem to be at their best when designing spointy, evil, elf people. Another case in point: This year’s complete revamp of the Dark Elves. And they are glorious! The redesign certainly puts them on par with their 40k cousins, the Dark Eldar, and that alone is no mean feat! Will I get a Dark Elf army and return to the Old World? No, certainly not. But just looking at these new kits already provides enough eye candy to tide me over until the next amazing chaos release…

Read my two-part review here and here.

Honorary mention: Betrayer

Betrayer_cover
World Eaters players had precious little to go on when it came to their legion’s background and identity. The Horus Heresy releases from FW and Black Library did alleviate that problem, especially with the excellent short story “After Desh’ea” by Matthew Farrer. But the one book to really flesh out the legion was Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Betrayer, and I cannot recomment it highly enough. Read my review here, in case you are interested.

II. Worst release/biggest disappointment of 2013

Well, good news first: As far as I am concerned, when it comes to the models GW have released this year, there really haven’t been all that many slipups from a design perspective. Sure, a couple of models were hit or miss, like some designs for the new WoC models, while others were just downright awkward (yes, I am looking at you, Loremaster of Hoeth). But all in all, not only did GW manage to keep up a relentless pace with their release schedule, the overall quality of the different releases also ranged from solid (High Elves) to mostly really cool (Space Marines) and even to  outstanding (Dark Elves). So instead of focusing on particularly bad models, of which there were precious few, let me instead address my biggest disappointments:

No Inquisitor-based Skirmish game

Well, it was certainly to good to be true: For quite a while there, the forums and rumour sites were awash with whisperings of an Inquisition-themed skirmish game at the 28mm scale. A codified version of INQ28/Inquisimunda, if you will. Unfortunately, nothing came of it. The good new, obviously, is that we still do have INQ28, Inquisimunda and the original 54mm Inquisitor, so the lack of new rules certainly doesn’t hurt all that much. Still, seeing the Inquisition being given the Dark Vengeance or Space Hulk treatment, complete with a unique collection of delicious plastic models would have been totally awesome – oh well, one can always dream…

Inquisition Codex

Instead of a skirmish game, we did get a digital codex to better use and represent the forces of the Inquisition in games of 40k. While the idea itself is great (and hints at the more obscure factions of the Inquisition in the new codex are a nice bit of fanservice), the overall book seems to be a rather slipshod effort, by the look of it. Which could become a problem if this digital release were to be used by GW to gauge the interest in the Inquisition: This codex could have been a great way of getting people who mainly focus on INQ28 these days “reacquainted” with 40k proper. That doesn’t really seem to have worked all that well, though. And if the codex leaves most of the people interested in the Inquisition cold, what hope is there of future Inquisition releases? Seems like a bit of a vicious cycle…

No love for the sisters

The Sisters of Battle, or Adepta Sororitas of late (can anybody explain to me why it’s not “Adeptus Sororitas”, like in the German version btw? Surely the fact that it’s composed of women doesn’t make the order itself feminine…), also got the short stick — again. Sure, waiting for plastic sisters seems a bit of a running gag at this point, but still…

I realise that all three things on this list effectively tie back into the same problem: GW just cannot seem their act together when it comes to the various factions of the Inquisition, their military arms and supporting organisations. Which is really mind-boggling, if you ask me, because they already really nailed it before. Twice.

The various Ordos of the Inquisition as well as the Adepta Sororitas are easily among the 40k universe’s most iconic and recognisable features, yet they somehow seem to mess up whenever they get near one of these factions. It’s just a crying shame…

Honorary mention: Azhog

On second thought, there was one model that really, really disappointed me:

Eternal Hunts Awards 2013 (4)
Azhog was the star of the first Hobbit film for me. His hulking, malicious presence provided an excellent villain, even though he certainly isn’t the most well-rounded of characters. Then GW dropped the ball (or were possibly forced to drop the ball, due to some NDA nonsense) by not releasing an appropriate model for ages. And when the model finally was released, it somehow ended up far less impressive than I would have liked. I couldn’t even tell you precisely what’s wrong with the model, since it seems like a fairly accuate representation of the character design. But it doesn’t feel like that hulking, malicious brute I remember from the film.

III. Still on the fence about…

  • Digital supplements and codex releases: Maybe this is just me. Maybe I just like paper too much. But I have yet to decide what I think about all those digital releases. It’s complicated too: On the one hand, releasing digital supplements seems like an awesome way of not only keeping the codices and rulebooks updated but also of introducing new models and squads. And they even bring back some of that “Chapter Approved” flavour, with alternative army lists and scenarios. I am even okay with the fact that they all cost money — I’d rather pay for something than never get it at all. But like I said, I like books on paper. A lot. And it somehow seems wrong that the (more expensive) book becomes the lesser product. And some of those smaller supplements and background pieces do seem a little…unconventionally priced, if you ask me. All in all, it still seems like a bit of a two-edged sword at this point: If GW manage to use this additional channel of publication to release meaningful content and test the waters for future releases, that’s great. If they just wanted to find a way to introduce micropayments into the world of tabletop wargaming, that sucks. Big time. But like I said, maybe it’s just me…
  • 40k plastic clamshell characters: Last year, one of my favourite releases were GW’s plastic characters for WFB, released in a clamshell. And I wished for GW to introduce similar models for 40k, which they did. One year later, I have to say that I appreciate the effort! And some of those characters, like the Space Marine Librarian, are really awesome. But I don’t see why all of the 40k characters have to be more expensive than their WFB counterparts. Nice try, GW, but not quite there yet… 😉
  • The scale creep: Well, I’ve said it before: The fact that the games (and models) keep getting bigger and bigger all the time seems slightly discouraging to me, because it really runs counter to the idea of customising and individualising each of your models: With infantry squads only cannon fodder and superheavies the true stars of the show, the game somehow becomes less interesting for me. But this is strictly a personal preference, of course…

 

IV. Also pretty cool:

  • The Horus Heresy: I said last year that I am not perfectly sure whether or not to like FW’s focus on the Horus Heresy, and that still holds true — which has nothing to do with the – mostly excellent – models so far, but rather with the fear of a Star Wars-like state of affairs, where every minute of the Heresy will be accounted for at some point. My philosophical musings aside, though, the one thing I love unconditionally about the setting is how it has given rise to a couple of amazing and astonishing hobby projects that take a look at this very different period of Imperial history — just check out projects like Pooms’ Pre Heresy World Eaters , Agnostos Theos’ force from the same Legion or my favourite HH thread at the moment,  and you’ll see that there’s lots and lots of inspiration to be had, even if you have no plans of starting your own HH army.
  • The new White Dwarf: I’m going to go out on a limb here and confess I really like the “new” White Dwarf. By now, the novelty has worn off, and the shape of the mag has congealed into something more solid, and I have to tell you I like what I see. Sure, we can always go back and compare today’s WD with the 90s’ version. But if we judge the mag against itself, I think it’s really a good concept: I like the focus on the staff’s and hobbyists’ armies over ‘Eavy Metal pieces (even if the armies of the editorial staff seem to appear a little too often…). I like the look at kitbashes and conversions and the army showcases. I love Blanchitsu, obviously. Is it still a sales brochure? Undoubtedly. Is it more of a coffee-table book and less of a fanzine? Yes, possibly. But looking at it gives me new ideas and inspirations more often than not, and that is certainly nothing to scoff at.

 

So yeah, all in all, I think we can call this year an overall success. With a constant stream of new releases and some amazing products by different manufacturers, we have lots and lots of new toys to play with. As always, there’s always quite a bit of stuff to bicker about, but I suppose that par for the course at this point 😉

The hobby’s more than just the official releases, though: It’s really about the hobbyists. So in the next installment of the 2013 Eternal Hunt Awards, let’s take a closer look at this year’s oustanding hobby projects and talented artists. Until then, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section!

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

10 Responses to “The 2013 Eternal Hunts Awards, pt. 1: The Industry”

  1. elbjornbjorn Says:

    Nothing much to say except that i like these articles, almost as much as the ones with pictures of red genetically engineered killing machines. Probably wouldn’t follow the blog if it was just pics.

    • Cheers, mate! Really glad to hear that, because churning out written pieces like that – in a foreign language, no less – can turn out to be just as much work as painting something 😉 Glad to know somebody likes actually reading that stuff! 😉

  2. Great article and lots of insight that I really chewed on for a while. Thank you for the thought provoking epics like this that have become a hallmark or Eternal Hunt. I’m looking forward to another great year of blogging and sharing the hobby. Merry belated Christmas and a happy New Year!

  3. denna0natt Says:

    Great article! While I loath the Lord of Skulls, my number 1 this year would be the new technical paints, I agree on your other points. I look forward to the next part, and a new year of Eternal Hunt.

    Happy new year Stefan!

  4. […] late for the third part of my look back at 2013, bear with me while, having already pointed out my favourite releases as well as the most amazing models and hobbyists of 2013, I wrap this up and tell you about a […]

  5. […] White Dwarf we’ve been seeing for a little over two years now, and I have gone on record stating that I rather like the format. You still get a visually fairly comprehensive coverage on […]

  6. […] this Kickstarter, namely the different plastic Titans and the Eisenkern Stormtroopers, were one of my favourite hobby releases in 2013, as some may recall. And it’s the latter of the two I would like to talk […]

  7. […] too many skulls — whatever the reason, many thought the Lord of Skulls was a ridiculous kit. I have gone on record as being a fan of the model, but overall reception of the “Skulldozer” was mixed, at […]

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