Archive for January, 2014

Fun with Rot…

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2014 by krautscientist

Among the first steps on the way to rediscovering my missing painting modjo was to do some experiments using two of the new Citadel Technical Paints. Yes, I realise that I am rather late to the party when it comes to using these, but I had picked up a bottle of Agrellan Earth and Nurgle’s Rot, respectively, shortly before christmas, and now it was time to put them to the test.

And what better way to play loose with paints than to paint a follower of Nurgle? Not only do the Technicals chiefly lend themselves to doing rather squicky effects related to decay and bodily fluids, but painting Nurglite models can also be a ton of fun — and if something goes wrong, you can usually pretend it was planned to look that way, too…

That said, I didn’t want to sacrifice a highly involved conversion, so I chose a really old, early 90s’ plastic Plague Marine as my test subject. I also rather like the slightly corny charm of these early plastic models (the Khorne Berzerkers from the same time are still one of my favourite retro designs). A missing arm was replaced with a mutated CSM arm from my bitzbox (which also gave me the added benefit of being able to paint an area of distressed flesh). Then I broke out the paints and let rip with all the effects at my disposal in order to create weathering, decay and just general unpleasantness.

Here’s the finished model:

Crackle Plague Marine (1)
Crackle Plague Marine (2)
Crackle Plague Marine (3)
Crackle Plague Marine (4)
Crackle Plague Marine (5)
Crackle Plague Marine (6)
As you may be able to tell from looking at the pictures, I went for a quick and dirty paintjob, mostly using washes and brushing techniques to achieve the effects I wanted. I wanted to make sure painting this guy would be fun and not get bogged down by intricate detail work. And it worked, I mostly had a blast — even though the resulting model is not very likely to win me any trophies 😉

But what about those Citadel Technical Paints? How did they perform?

As you can see, Nurgle’s Rot was used to create…well, Nurgle’s Rot, actually: I added a healthy amount of it to the Plague Marine’s twisted claw, for one, to make it look like a daemonic stinger of sorts, leaking virulent fluid:

Crackle Plague Marine (8)
The colour was also used on the model’s backpack, creating disgusting slime leaking out of the vents:

Crackle Plague Marine (9)
And finally, it was added to the torso, showing where the rot is actually breaking through the legionnaire’s armour, especially around the tubes and cables:

Crackle Plague Marine (7)
All in all, it basically performed like you would expect it to, creating a wet-looking, glossy slime in a pretty evil green hue. It’s a really easy and effective tool for adding slime to followers of Nurgle, but I think it would fare just as well when adding puddles of toxic sewage to your bases or terrain pieces. Granted, it may be a bit of a one-trick pony, but being able to open up a bottle and just add the slime is definitely preferrable to having to mix your own stuff by combining green colour(s) and gloss varnish (or having to work in several coats). The fact that it’s semi-translucent also really helps, making it actually look like slime instead of green colour with gloss addded on top.

The picture above actually nicely leads us to the second technical colour in question: I experimented with Agrellan Earth, hoping to create an effect at least slightly similar to the corroded armour on LuckyNo5’s excellent Mariner’s Blight models. I think we can all agree that having a simple way of creating flaking paint and a general crackle texture on the armour of Nurgle Marines (or on terrain pieces, of course) would make hobby life easier and more interesting. Well, here’s how that went:

I began my experiments by adding Agrellan Earth undiluted (and in a rather thick coat) to a base. I followed the instructions given by GW themselves, and this was the result:

Crackle Base (1)
A rather nice crackle effect, don’t you think? In fairness, it is slighly less pronounced if you see it with your own eyes instead of having an enlarged photograph. But the effect’s pretty cool — and also proof that I didn’t get a bottle from one of the bad batches.

So my next step was to add the colour to the marine’s armour, mixing it with a different colour to arrive at a suitably Nurgly colour scheme. Having to add light brown to the green led to the armour having a slightly lighter shade of green than I had originally planned, but that was quite alright.

The problem, however, was that getting a noticeable crackle effect here was way more difficult than when working with the colour on its own: I actually used several passes, experimenting with the ratio between Agrellan Earth and green paint. But even when using only very little green (and slathering the mix on rather thickly), I only managed to get a very slight crackle effect on the model’s stomach and shoulder pads. It’s nice and subtle, but it could be a bit more pronounced. Plus it’s really hard to get the colour to perform consistently: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, with no discernible explanation for the inconsistency.

Worse yet, when mixing Agrellan Earth with Vallejo Negro Black for the base, the paint refused to crackle at all. Take a look:

Crackle Plague Marine (10)
Maybe this means that using non-GW paints messes with the crackle effect somehow? Or maybe I just couldn’t get it right by that point…

To be fair, GW themselves are advertising the colour as a means for base design, above all else. So painting flaking armour with it might never have been all that promising a plan in the first place. Still, I would have hoped for the colour to be somewhat more flexible — or am I doing something wrong? Anybody out there among you readers who knows how to make the most of this particular Technical colour?

Anyway, while I am slightly disappointed with Agrellan Earth, I do believe the colour warrants further experimentation. Here’s an idea, for starters: Do you think it would be possible to paint the colour onto an unpainted model in order to create the desired crackle effect, then add the undercoat on top of that, thereby conveniently sealing the effect in place? I may just have to try that next…

 

In any case, the overarching goal in this small project was to have fun painting again, and that worked out swimmingly. So we can maybe look forward to some more painted stuff in the near future? Keep your fingers crossed! 😉

Until then, though, let me know what you think! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Crackle Plague Marine (11)

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Getting started again…

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Pointless ramblings, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2014 by krautscientist

Having been unbelievably lazy for a couple of weeks, I have recently undertaken a couple of steps to get back into hobby mode. As is so often the case with restarting an engine that has lain dormant for a while, the first moments aren’t pretty, with lots of sputtering and grinding. But it finally feels like I am slowly getting back into the swing of things, so today I would like to show you a number of smaller projects I am currently working on:

 

1. The Brazen Wall – revisited

First up is an Aegis Defense line for my World Eaters. I started working on this some time last summer, but then it more or less fell by the wayside. So, time to get some more work in! Here’s the aegis as it looks right now:

WE_Aegis (9)
While I wanted the defense line to look like it clearly belonged to my army, I didn’t want to go overboard with the spiky bitz. I basically used some spikes an armour plates from the chaos vehicle sprue to spruce up the different segments. Nothing amazing, certainly. But the true achievement was to get rid of all those pesky Imperial aquilas.

WE_Aegis (12)
To be fair, though, after I had found the right approach for doing this, it turned into an almost relaxing task. I was able to shave off all the loyal iconography in a single evening.

WE_Aegis (8)
And while the defense line will still need some additional bitz, mostly trophies, skulls and impaled Astartes, it’s definitely getting there! Again, not the most creative and groundbreaking endeavour in the world, but just the right project to slowly ease me back into hobby mode!

 

2. Death from Above

Let’s continue with something slightly more involved: I also finally found a way to make what may be my favourite model from the Dark Vengeance boxed set into a member of my World Eaters:

Harrier Lord (2)
Harrier Lord (1)
Harrier Lord (3)
Harrier Lord (4)
I always thought that the Chosen wielding lightning claws would make for an excellent jump infantry officer or lord, so I added a raptor jump pack and some clawed toes from the warp talons. It’s a rather simple conversion, of course, but one I am nevertheless rather pleased with. It also resembles GW’s own Chaos lord with jump pack (as a matter of fact, I had originally intended of using that model’s jump pack for this conversion, but abandoned the idea when it turned out to be far too unwieldy).

Oh, and I do of course realise that using a flowing cape like that directly underneath what ultimately amounts to a jet engine may not be the smartest idea in the world, but there’s always the Rule of Cool, isn’t there? Let’s just pretend it’s made from flame-retardant fabric, okay?

 

3. Hammer Time!

Building chaos lords is one of my favourite hobby activities, of course, and with the Raptor Lord out of the way, another traitor officer was quick to follow. I was beginning to feel more adventurous, too! But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First things first: Does anyone remember these guys?

Mk_01_concept
Long before FW redesigned the whole Pre-Heresy stuff, there were a number of highly interesting older models put out by GW proper. One of them was the Mk I Tactical Dreadnought Armour, indeed going back to one of Jes Goodwin’s concept sketches for the later Terminators, I believe:

Mk_01_concept

Image owned by Games Workshop

There was actually a model for this particular armour design as well! And as luck would have it, I even have a picture of a chaos conversion of an Mk I Termie. Take a look:

Chaos_Red_Right_Hand
This must be one of the first wargaming related pictures I ever downloaded from the internet, back in the early 2000s, when the blogosphere was far less developed than it is today. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you who originally built and painted the model, since the blog seems to have disappeared. If anyone knows the creator, please let me know!

Anyway, these scraps of half-forgotten lore were lying around in my various inspiration folders. And then I came across an illustration by the ever-inspirational Greyall, depicting an Imperial Fists marine wearing an updated form of Mk I TDA.

Seeing that image made me realise that it might be interesting to build a model that took design cues from that rather ancient design, and another piece of the puzzle fell into place.

Things really got underway when I started messing around with a couple of leftover armour plates from the Heldrake kit, because they almost look like those Mk I shoulder plates, if you only look at them long enough

So I formulated a plan for yet another chaos lord conversion: I would build a chaos lord wearing custom armour that would take inspiration from both the Mk I and Cataphractii designs. Not a straight recreation of either, but something that incorporated elements from both in order to create an armour that looked archaic and massive. And of course, my beloved plastic Terminator Lord would be at the heart of the conversion once more.

Anyway, after messing around with a pile of bitz for a while, here’s an early mockup of the model:

Hammertime (5)
Hammertime (3)
Hammertime (4)
As you can see, it’s a fairly simple kitbash, any by no means an involved recreation of either armour pattern. But some of the elements are inspired by those seen on the Pre-Heresy armour: The shoulder pads and slightly recessed, helmeted head recall a more ornate Mk I design, while the topknot and pteruges skirt are a clear reference to the Cataphractii armour. And the decorative trim and heretical symbols clearly communicate the fact that we are dealing with a member of a traitor legion, after all.

I wanted to create a hulking character in highy archaic armour, and that much seems to have worked. And while the thunder hammer was only intended as a placeholder, I think that it really nicely complements the overall look of the model — even though it’s not really a weapon associated with followers of Khorne…

Another possibility would be to use one of the mauls from the Deathwing Knights that I have conveniently lying around:

Hammertime (7)
As you can see, the model’s only tacked together for now, held together by lots of modelling putty and my prayers. But I am already rather fond of this guy, even though he’s only a rather simple kitbash and nowhere near as involved as, say, Dark Rage’s faithful – and incredibly cool – recreation of actual Mk I armour.   I can imagine this guy as one of Lorimar’s bodyguards, encased in ancient armour and ruthlessly efficient: a silent and deadly warrior crushing everything in the Lord Captain’s way…

Update: In a rather interesting development, Fellow hobbyist carnosaur93 over on B&C suggested I turn around the shoulder pads in order to make them look even more similar to the Mk 1 design. And while I didn’t believe him at first, I tried it and was amazed:

Hammertime (7)

Consider my mind blown! The model actually looks 100% more like the old Mk I Termies now! It even has that slightly “alien” look to the shoulders, I don’t know how to describe it any better: The curvature of the shoulders is quite unlike anything seen on modern (traitor) Astartes models.

I have yet to decide which version I actually like better, but the changed one really looks more like the older armour pattern. And it also has a certain “je ne sais quoi”…food for thought, definitely!

 

Anyway, these are my first small hobby projects for this year! And of course, I am always happy to hear any feedback you might have! In any case, it’s  good to be back in the game, especially considering all the crazy rumours about new CSM kits to be released soon-ish.

Now if I can only find my misplaced painting modjo, everything will turn out fine…

Anyway, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The 2013 Eternal Hunts Awards, pt. 3: A look back at my hobby year

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Pointless ramblings, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2014 by krautscientist

Awards

While it may already be a little 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 couple of my personal hobby moments in 2013:

Looking at the bare numbers, 2013 may not have been my most productive year: I only painted around 45 models (compared to 2012’s 90) and converted around 72, further adding to my backlog of unpainted stuff. That said, I feel that at least the first half of 2013 was fairly productive, and some of the 45 models I managed to get finished were complex and/or huge enough to count for several regular models, in any case. At the same time, it’s true that during the second half of the year, hobby time became more sparse as RL issues took over, but I think that every hobbyist is familiar with this: It just happens, from time to time.

Nevertheless, looking back on the stuff I managed to finish, I am reasonably pleased with myself. Let’s take a look, shall we?

 

Khorne’s Eternal Hunt
WE_Army08
Ah, yes, my World Eaters. The one hobby project it always comes back to: Above, you can see the World Eaters’ 4th assault company, more or less as it looks right now: While I only managed to add some 15 models to the collection, the army does look slightly more impressive than its 2012 incarnation. I also tackled some pretty interesting projects, among them a squad of custom Chaos Spawn, some traitorous Space Wolves and my converted Heldrake, the Hellrazor.

And I tried to come up with some additional characters for my army, trying to build suitably World Eater-esque versions of the Dark Apostle and Warpsmith, respectively:

Huntmaster Deracin (13)
As a matter of fact, my heavily converted Warpsmith, Huntmaster Deracin, is clearly one of the 2013 models I am most proud of:

Huntmaster Deracin (11)
Assembling this guy from a huge pile of plastic bitz was just as fiddly as it was ultimately rewarding!

By sheer coincidence, one of Deracin’s own engine of destruction is the other World Eaters model I am most proud of: the Wargrinder:

Wargrinder (26)
Inspired by Chris Harman’s excellent kitbashed Decimator Daemon Engine, the Wargrinder was quite a bit of work, and also basically the first time I tackled a walker conversion of this scope. To be honest, I am immensely pleased with the result, and the model makes for a pretty cool centre piece of my World Eaters! Although some people really didn’t like the head… 😉

Anyway, check out these posts, in case you’re interested to learn more about this big boy.

 

A Legion of one…

And while we’re on the subject of models I am really proud of, let’s not forget my favourite AdMech monstrosity:

Legion (16)
The creature called Legion is one of my most involved conversions so far, and arguably one of the projects that really made me step outside my comfort zone. The model and the history surrounding it also double as one of my personal crowning hobby moments of awesome in 2013: PDH was cool enough to involve me into an international hobby project featuring lots and lots of supremely talented artists producing excellent models for a very special game of…well, Necromunda, I suppose, if you wanted to be technical about it, set aboard the mysterious Arrke. The models were to be given to none other than John Blanche afterwards, and the moment when JB himself sent me a picture of Legion going about his business on the banks of the underground rivers of the Arrke will remain a moment that’ll be hard to surpass!

Legion at home (5)
Fun fact: While I did myself to make Legion (essentially a devolved amalgamation of several Tech Priests and explorators of the Adeptus Mechanicus) as grotesque and disturbing as possible, the more recent AdMech releases by Forgeworld are even more disturbing. Seems I was overtaken. Oh well, I still love this guy!

Legion at home (7)
In fact, I really loved the whole project, and waxing poetical about it comes naturally to me. Instead of indulging my urges, however, let me just point those of you who want to read the whole story here.

 

The wonderful world of INQ28…

…is still going strong, and has been for the whole of 2013! While my own output of INQ28 characters may have been a bit lacking, I did at least manage to build a fairly important NPC for last year’s Inqvitational, one Inquisitor Zuul: a radical Xanthian and enemy to Inquisitor Tybalt:

Inquisitor Zuul (43)
Zuul was built to resemble a particular piece of artwork, which was a novel and interesting challenge. And sending him off to the Inqvitational on his own meant I was once again in the delicious position of receiving pictures of my model doing its thing during a game:

Zuul_Inqvitational (10)
Zuul is now a permanent part of PDH’s collection, and while his prospects may look bleak (being pursued by a fanatic puritan will do that to you), I am looking forward to finding out whether the old rascal still has some surprises up his sleeve…

Learn more about Zuul’s creation and fate here.

In any case, the INQ28 scene with its many talented members remains one of the most inspiring influences in my personal hobby life: From Commissar Molotov’s and PDH’s work on the Inqvitational and Jeff Vader’s constant stream of awesome new minis to the fruitful exchange of background ideas with DexterKong, INQ28 simply rocks — even in those cases where I don’t have anything to show for it…

 

Da Boyz

Another thing I am quite proud of is how I managed to build and paint a complete Orc Team for Blood Bowl in a pretty short amount of time (and mostly from leftovers, no less) — the Orkheim Ultraz:

BB Team with Star (2)
Working on those guys was a wonderful change of pace, and an opportunity to build some rather humorous models for once! And the brilliant recipe for painting Orc skin I discovered on A Gentleman’s Ones really made the painting side of things a lot of fun as well!

If you want to learn more about the Ultraz’ antics, take a look here.

Orkheim Ultraz Teaser_lores

 

The rest…

Of course, there were even more great hobby moments in 2013: Being immortalised as a member of the Night Lords 15th company by Brother Heinrich for example:

Night Lord weapon teams by Brother Heinrich (3)
Or AgnostosTheos building 30k versions of two of my World Eaters characters:

Brother Marax by AgnostosTheos (1)
Brother Khoron by Agnostos Theos (1)
Click here for the whole story.

When it comes to the blogging side of things, WordPress was nice enough to compile a report on 2013 for me, so in case you’re interested, take a look:

Click here to see the complete report.

 

All in all, it has certainly been an eventful hobby year! And with the blogosphere currently abuzz with all kinds of crazy news and developments, it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. So here’s hoping that I’ll be able to keep up and keep going. There’s certainly enough on my plate — now if I only had more time…

In any case, thanks for taking an interest in this blog and my ongoing hobby projects during the last year! Here’s to a new year of hobby-related craziness — in fact, I’ll be seeing you next week with some actual new content! Promise!

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

Big eaters – a look at the new Tyranids

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2014 by krautscientist

I realise I still owe you part three of my 2013 review. No worries, it’s still coming, but I want to do it justice, event though I may run the risk of it being totally outdated by the time I get around to posting it. But while we are all waiting for my creative juices to get flowing, why not take a look at the new Tyranids in the meantime?

Tyranid release (1)
The Tyranids have sometimes been dubbed “Alien Dinosaurs”, and it’s a strangely fitting description. Sure, they are taking design cues left and right from sci-fi staples like Giger’s Xenomorph, the bugs from Starship Troopers and many other slimy and chitinous monstrosities we know and love. But in order to make a range of creatures into an army, there also has to be a pecking order of sorts, an ecology of bigger and smaller creatures that nevertheless need to look like they are part of the same species, at least at the basic level.

Getting this particular element right took GW quite a while: The Tyranids started out as a wildly disparate race, with models that shared very little common ground except for a general “alien-ness”. There were also enslaved races (like the Zoats) and genetic “infection” of other races (the Genestealer cults, only added into the Tyranid background after the fact, IIRC), the latter possibly leading to the general idea that the Tyranids as a race would make use of their prey’s genetic makeup. So a pretty large redesign during the late 90s/early 2000s saw the codifying of some common anatomical traits (the six limbs, the bone protusions on the forehead) as well as the idea of mirroring characteristics of certain races in the different creatures’ design. Since then, this has been the basic design template for the Tyranid race. Tyranid players received a new model here and there, but things had grown rather quiet for the fans of omnivorous alien gribblies. And now, a new release that finally brings the Tyranids up to snuff for the 6th edition. So, what have we got here?

Harpy / Hive Crone

Tyranid release (2)
Most Tyranid players were dearly hoping for a big flying creature, I suppose, in order to get their part of this new aircraft fad. The Harpy / Hive Crone neatly fills this role, giving us…well, a huge, flying Tyranid creature.

The model features all the hallmarks of  Tyranid design, while also striking a pretty good balance between a living creature and an attacking aircraft. If anything, I’d say it adheres to the design formula a bit to closely, essentially making the model look quite a bit like a flying Carnifex, but that might just be me:

Tyranid release (3)I’ve always felt slightly ill at ease with the idea of flying Tyranids not having any kind of hind legs (to serve as landing gear, as it were): It just seems biologically dubious to have a flying organism that has no way whatsoever to land and then take off again. But then, this might actually become a bit of fridge brilliance when you imagine that those creatures are either intended to deliver their payload to the battlefield and then get back to the mothership to be reabsorbed, or the Hive Mind doesn’t even expect them to survive their first attack run in gthe first place, in which case any legs would be surplus to requirements anyway. It’s a small detail that actually begins making more sense the longer you think about it 😉

The one thing that doesn’t make sense, however, is the fact that the wing membranes have these open spaces instead of being fused to the creature’s carapace, as can be seen here:

Tyranid release (4)
Now I am not a biology major, of course, but it just seems off to me for some reason. Maybe there’s an explanation (apart from the requirements of the model’s production process)?

Anyway, the other option to assemble the kit gives us a slightly different weapons loadout and a bioconstruct that’s named Hive Crone:

Tyranid release (6)
This version of the kit definitely gets a thumbs up in the extra grossness department, what with the fleshy ammo feed running directly through the creature’s mouth. Ewww…

And there’s the way those evil little spore mines (or whatever they are) attach to the underside of the wings. You have got to love that attention to detail…

Tyranid release (7)

A (smaller gripe) I have with the kit is that, while we do get different head variants for both builds, the heads still end up very similar – not only to each other, but also to the rest of the bigger Tyranid creatures’ heads:

Tyranid release (5)
Visual consistency notwithstanding, this seems like a bit of a missed opprtunity.

All in all, Tyranid players get a big flying monster that looks more or less like everyone expected. No more and no less.

 

Haruspex / Exocrine

It falls to the release’s second big monster to feature some kind of craziness, and boy does it deliver:

Tyranid release (11)
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! We’ll take a closer look at that maw in a second. Before that, let me just say that I am certainly not going to lament the fact that neither the Haruspex nor the Endocrine look anything like their Epic 40,000 forefathers, because those models really didn’t look like anything, and they also came from a time where the only unifying characteristic of all Tyranid kits seemed to be that they all looked completely different and highly disparate.

Their updated versions conform to the basic design outline for the Tyranids once more, which is probably for the best.

So, back to the elephant in the room: The Haruspex’s gaping map (that clearly reminds me of a certain scene from Beetlejuice, by the way):

Tyranid release (12)
So yeah, this is certainly something different, an element not seen so far in the army. Good job! While the look may be a bit of an acquired taste, I think the mout cavity certainly offers painters around the world a very good chance to really let rip with their colours and gloss varnish, in order to create something truly disturbing. After having the Tervigon model actually give birth to Gaunts, this was probably just the next logical step…

There’s one problem with the model, if you ask me, and that’s the fact that the whole layout of the maw, including the tongue, seems to be perfectly symmetrical. Take a look:

Tyranid release (13)
I think some of those “feelers” (for lack of a better word) should have been a little less symmetrical. And the tongue might have looked better if it had been coiled in a more erratic way. Again, this might be due to the production requirements, but an organic horror could have used a little more visual chaos, if you ask me.

Since this is yet another multi-kit, it can also be assembled to make an Exocrine:

Tyranid release (8)
There’s not much to be said about this one: It’s basically a giant walking cannon, and the design nicely communicates that. In fact, my one gripe with this guy is the head, once again: It really doesn’t look all that threatening, but rather cartoony, if you ask me.

Tyranid release (10)
It feels like this model would really have profited from a more sinister design: What about an eyeless head? Seeing how the Tyranid cannons seem to be covered in eyeballs anyway (which is a bit of a strange concept, come to think of it…), wouldn’t it have been cool for the model to actually feature an eyeless head? It would have been fun to imagine by which senses the creature does its actual targeting. Instead, we get yet another rehash of the Carnifex look, only that this particular head looks far less interesting than all of the heads from the Carnifex kit for some reason.

Again, the kit gives Tyranid players what they were looking for, although it doesn’t seem all that surprising (apart from that Haruspex mouth region, of course) — do we see a theme emerging here?

 

Hive Guard / Tyrant Guard

The Hive Guard and Tyrant Guard were only available in metal and Finecast so far, so making both unit types into a plastic combi-kit seems like a very sensible choice indeed! But do they hold up to their older incarnations?

Tyranid release (14)
The Hive Guard took a hit, if you ask me, but that’s because I really loved the older version:

Tyranid-release-21
When seen in silhouette, the model just looks perfectly proportioned to me — well, as perfectly proportioned as is possible for an alien horror, of course, but I think you get my point. Much of the effect relies on the dynamic between the head and the carapace above, that seems to act almost as a cowl of some sort. The new version has a more recessed head and gives the Hive Guard a slightly more hunched pose. Not all that different, to be sure, but it somehow ends up looking more awkward than the older version, at least in my opinion.

Tyranid release (16)
And again with the eyes… I mean, I get it: These weapons are symbiotes, creatures of their own. But why would they have eyes? I realise that this is a characteristic that can be found on nearly all the Tyranid kits, but I only realise now that it seems like a strange choice somehow…

Then again, I might have the answer to that one:

Tyranid release (15)
Buddy, I realise you are doing your best to hit the opponent, and even though the cocentration is clearly evident in your face, shooting without eyes seems like a pretty bad idea…

Seriously, though, I actually like the eyeless head! It makes the model look more alien — there is a reason why Giger designed the Xenomorph without eyes, I suppose…

So while the Hive Guard gets the short stick in this particular deal, the Tyrant Guard are much improved:

Tyranid release (17)
Where the Hive Guard look more awkward, these guys have finally come into their own thanks to the slight overhaul: They seem more massive and threatening. And I like that they now seem able to actually do something with their frontore legs, even if it is only seen on one of the models:

Tyranid release (18)
A lovely detail, that 😉

All in all, I am going to call this an improvement. Sure, that subtle bit of extra coolness on the Hive Guard is lost, but considered the improved Tyrant Guard and versatility that comes with a plastic kit, it seems like a fair deal. Definitely one of the high points of this relase for me!
Tyranid Warriors

Tyranid release (19)
These one are not exactly a surprise: The design remains the same, but the new kit finally gives us all the weapon options we need — and then some. Yet while the added flexibility when arming them is a big plus, it’s not easy to get all that excited over the models, seeing how these are exactly the same designs as before.

As an extra bonus, the kit also contains the parts needed to build a Tyranid Prime:

Tyranid release (20)
It’s a bread and butter kit for any Tyranid player, so the selection of bitz is clearly a step forward. Then again, the kit also seems to have received quite a price hike. The sensible compromise seems to be that the new kit contains far more weapons than you’ll need for three models, so for those of you who still have lots and lots of the older models lying around, getting a box of these for the equipment options should last you a while.

 

Conversion potential

Hmm, this one’s a toughy… The very firm design guidelines in place for the Tyranids mean that all the parts from the kit will always look like Tyranid parts. That said, I suppose there are some uses for the new bitz if you’re feeling slightly adventurous:

The wings and tentacles as well as some parts of the carapaces might come in handy for your daemon conversion needs, especially for Slaaneshi daemons. There’s a certain combination of elegance and grossness in the Tyranid design that should nicely fit the servants of the Dark Prince. For the same reason, some of the parts would probably work like a charm to convert flesh-constructs for your Dark Eldar army: There are some hobbyists who are using Tyranid appendages to great effect when converting their Grotesques and Taloi (among them Mechanicum Jon with his beautiful Cabal of the Drowned Gardens), so I guess that might be a good use for all those bitz as well.

And it goes without saying that Tyranid players should find it easy to use some of those leftover bitz to make the rest of their army more interesting.
I’ll go out on a limb here, though, and state that this doesn’t seem like a release overflowing with cool new conversion bitz. But if you have fantastic ideas, you’re very welcome to prove me wrong — maybe I’m just lacking the necessary creativity here…

 

All in all, this release seems like a  solid effort, yet one that is also far from groundbreaking: It’s great that the new release (and the new rules) will bring the ‘Nids up to snuff with the requirements of 6th edition, giving them stuff that seems to be standard nowadays (a flyer, for example). But it feels like this release lacks any real surprises: No bold reinvisioning, no huge kit, no characters (for obvious reasons). It’s a necessary update, but mostly one without any bells and whistles.

Let me also point out that one thing I would love to see for the future is a more fleshed out concept for Genestealer cults: In my opinion, these are one of the most interesting aspects about the Tyranids, and the one area where the Tyranids can actually transcend the – very obvious – source material that went into their creation. There’s also the fact that a Genestealer cult offers all kinds of crazy conversion opportunities (and a lot of potential when it comes to INQ28). Granted, the main codex release might not have been the perfect place to revitalise this rather specific background element. But I think it’s a shame how Genestealer cults have more or less fallen by the wayside, and a dataslate or supplement release would be a fantastic way of reintroducing them into the game, if only for those who like that particular element of 40k lore.

Oh, and one more thing: What I am really looking forward to is to see these kits with a very different paintjob: In my opinion, Tyranids should look more visceral, more disgusting: I want lots of glistening carapaces, distended fleshy parts and huge amounts of gloss and slime. All of this is lacking in the “official” ‘Eavy Metal treatment of the army. They are beautifully painted, make no mistake! But I think a more realistic treatment would go a big ways towards making the new models look slightly less cartoony and far more disturbing!

 

So, what’s your take on the new models? Were you, like me, ever so slightly underwhelmed? Or am I being unfair here? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section!

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