Archive for January, 2015

The Rat Pack – a look at the Skaven End Times release

Posted in Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , on January 28, 2015 by krautscientist

While everyone was busy settling into the beginning of the new year and getting back into the swing of things, GW has been hard at work bringing us the next End Times release: This time, it’s the Skaven’s turn, and although I have never owned a Skaven army (or even a haphazard collection of Skaven models, for that matter), I find myself strangely fond of these filthy, backstabby guys for some reason. But how does this release compare to the rest of the – amazing – End Times output? And do converters get their money’s worth out of this latest batch of plastic crack? Let’s find out!

Skaven End Times release (1)
I first encountered the Skaven when I bought a used copy of Advanced HeroQuest at a jumble sale many years ago: A pile of plastic Skaven formed the entire villain faction of the set, which seemed slightly disappointing at first, given the fact that the original HeroQuest had contained so many different types of monsters and villainous creatures. Then again, I didn’t even make the HeroQuest connection back then, at least not at first, because Advanced HeroQuest was marketed as “Herr des Schwertes” in Germany, with no HeroQuest connection whatsoever on the box (apart from a strangely similar piece of cover artwork).

Anyway, my disappointment quickly turned into interest as I delved into the sourcebook, because the somewhat samey plastic Skaven models were imbued with a very interesting background, offering glimpses at the various Skaven clans, their devotion to the Horned Rat and also at some of the (pretty excellent) early late 80s/early 90s Skaven metal models — so while it would yet take a couple of years for me to discover the role of the Skaven in the bigger Warhammer universe, my fondness for the race started back then.

Ever since, the Skaven have been a pretty fascinating faction to follow, with their culture based on entropy, backstabbing, plague and body horror, and their steampunk-ish technology that wouldn’t look out of place in the 40k setting. Meanwhile, some of the more recent Skaven releases are some of the coolest and most characterful WFB plastic models, in my opinion (there’s a reason why so many people use those Blood Island Rat Ogres as conversion fodder, for instance) — and now everybody’s favourite entropic Ratmen get the End Times treatment — what’s not to love? So let us take a closer look at the new kits and at all the fun we could have with them. Quick-quick! This way!

Skaven Verminlords

Skaven End Times release (2)
Every End Times model release so far has featured some kind of huge model, and the Skaven don’t disappoint in this respect, providing us with a kit that can be used to assemble one of four different, towering avatars of the Horned Rat, including the special character Skreech Verminking (as seen above). Let’s look at these one by one:

Skreech Verminking actually seems like a modernised version of the original metal Verminlord. Just check out this picture:

Vintage Skaven Verminlord

It’s all there: the glaive, the patches of mangy fur, the half-skeletal face — even the pose, albeit mirrored:

Skaven End Times release (3)I like that kind of shout out, and it’s certainly performed admirably here. A nice bit of continuity between the old model and the new interpretation!

The other variants of the kit, interestingly enough, each seem to embody one of the leitmotifs of the Skaven, with some of them also closely fitting the design paradigm of a specific the Skaven clan. It’s interesting to see how subtle changes to the same body create a set where each model has a rather different feel:

Skaven End Times release (4)
The Verminlord Warpseer is closest in design to Skreech Verminking, sharing the same set of horns, the same glaive and the same pose. This seems to be the Verminlord most attuned to magic, and it shows in the magic orb he holds aloft.

What I love about both Skreech Verminking and the Warpseer is the extremely complex set of horns, because it’s a nice callback to the appearance of horns on the Grey Seers, for one, but also because the design seems quite unlike most of the horns we’ve seen so far in WFB (and we’ve seen quite a few), lending the model a fairly unique and recognisable silhouette.

Skaven End Times release (7)
The Verminlord Warbringer embodies the warlike quality of the Skaven, which is immediately obvious due to the heavily armoured head and the sinister looking punching dagger. There’s quite a resemblance with the various Skaven warlord models and the Stormvermin, and the less ornate looking horns also underline the blunt, more openly aggressive feeling of the model.

Skaven End Times release (5)
The Verminlord Corruptor is slightly more interesting in that he deviates from the Skreech Verminking model a bit more, with a different set of weapons and different resting place for his right foot, making for a pretty different look overall. I also like the signs of rot and decay, such as the broken horns and the diseased face. And the sickle weapon almost gives him a bit of a druid feel, if you ask me…

Skaven End Times release (6)And finally, the Verminlord Deceiver, who is basically….an enormous ninja rat (probably in keeping with the Skaven’s predilection for subterfuge in general and Clan Eshin’s antics in particular). This version of the model comes with all the hallmarks of a Skaven assassin: a vicious looking dagger, an equally sinister throwing star and, of course, a bad ass ninja cowl. So far so good, right?

It’s a cool model, make no mistake, but there’s actually something undeniably ridiculous about the thought of a rat ninja the size of a house…

All in all, it’s a cool and fairly flexible kit that should provide a great centrepiece for your Skaven army. There are, however, some issues with the kit that extend to all the various Verminlord characters: The pose of the right leg seems very precariously balanced — especially on those versions of the model where the Verminlord actually has one of his feet on his own glaive (which, let’s face it, seems like a pretty dumb thing to do). The version with the rock is better, but still looks a bit hokey — it would probably have looked better if the rock had been more massive, with the foot firmly placed on its surface. As it is, the Verminlord looks as though a strong gust of wind might knock him over.
The multi-pronged tail may just be a tad too much for my taste. Granted, he adds a pretty flashy element to the model, but I am wondering whether it was really needed.

What really stands out to me is that the new Verminlord kit seems very different in design to Forgeworld’s Exalted Verminlord: The new plastic model is very slender, very flashy and quite busy, while FWs treatment of the character looks more pudgy and closer in proportion to an actual rat. While the somewhat “videogamey” look of the plastic model appeals to me (being a videogame nerd, and all), it’s quite interesting to see GW’s and FW’s approaches differ so significantly.

Ultimately, it’s an interesting kit that very much goes for visual shock and awe tactics. It’s not without its issues, though…


Thanquol and Boneripper

Skaven End Times release (8)
Another shout out to a classic Skaven character, this modernised version of Thanquol and his personal killing machine has probably been long awaited! It is also where the release really hits its stride, if you ask me!

The huge, malformed monstrosity that is Boneripper really steals the show here, especially given the fact that you actually get different weapon options and heads out of the deal, potentially leading to two fairly different models:

Skaven End Times release (9)At first, I was slightly unhappy with how Boneripper’s upper set of arms have been implemented, because they look like they really shouldn’t be there… this became a bit of fridge brilliance, however, when I realised that this may have been the entire point: The ill-fitting and ill-muscled way his extra pair of arms has been grafted on underlines what a strange and malformed creation he is — pretty cool!

The model is also exquisitely detailed, with lots and lots of fine detail to be discovered (such as the stitching on Boneripper’s torso or the very cool bionic leg). Where the older incarnations of Boneripper always felt a bit ridiculous to me, I really love this guy! Excellent job!

Thanquol himself ends up playing second fiddle to Boneripper, but ist still a cool model in his own right: What seems interesting is that this version of Thanquol lacks the terrible dignity of his earlier, cleaner and more collected 90s’ style incarnation, looking rather frantic and unhinged instead:

Skaven End Times release (10)But then, this is probably a good fit for a fanatic, slightly mad Grey Seer. The one thing that I am not sure about are the warpstone horns: Once again, they are just a bit much, overcluttering the model’s head portion — maybe it’s the colour, but it’s warpstone after all, it has to be glowy, right?

All in all, I really love this model! There’s something excellent about the concept of a spindly, highly dynamic model riding on the back of a huge, hulking brute “Master-Blaster-style”, and the concept is really pulled off wonderfully here — probably my hight point in this release!



Skaven End Times release (11)
What do you do when you have a perfect idea, like the design for Boneripper above, on your hands — easy, you make more of them! The Stormfiends very obviously share many of Boneripper’s visual traits, making for a unit of hulking, partly bionic monster rats — which ends up every bit as awesome as it sounds!

The old Rat Ogres were some of the first GW models to have been designed digitally, if I remember correctly, and they are some of the most terrible sculpts still around today, making them stick out like a sore thumb when placed to their more recent kin. These new Stormfiends, by comparison, take lots of visual cues from the more recent Rat Ogres designed for the Blood Island boxed set and the adding more than a pinch of Dark Eldar Talos on top for seasoning.

The resulting models are huge, heavily armoured, hideous, and covered in totally over the top and fully insane Skaven gadgetry. Just take a look at this guy:

Skaven End Times release (12)This leads to a pack of very impressive and highly detailed models with almost too many tech-y gubbinz: They look every bit like the mad, crudely stitched together Skaven experiments that they are supposed to be:

Skaven End Times release (13)I think the fun the designers had while creating these guys is clearly evident in the over the top nature of the weapons. Almost too much so, in some cases:

Skaven End Times release (14)
The chest mounted gatling is just too much, as is the warpstone-based alternative:

Skaven End Times release (17)That said, the amount of weapon options you get with the kit seems to be pretty staggering, so there’s nothing to stop you from coming up with a combination that suits your preferences. And these guys just look totally badass, don’t they?

Skaven End Times release (15)

One beautiful little detail that I only discovered due to the comment of a fellow hobbyist over at Faeit212 pointed out: Each of the Stormfiends seem tso have a tiny, atrophied Skaven embryo plugged into sockets on their backs: Ewww!

Skaven End Times release (18)When all is said and done, what we end up with is a teriffic kit full of options and details that will allow us to build three huge, monstrous and completely whacky brutes. Maybe you’ll have to get used to these as a Skaven player, but I think it’s safe to say that this is the one kit to come out of this release that has converters and kitbashers foaming at the mouth in anticipation — but we’ll be getting to that! I really like these guys. I can easily see myself picking them up. The only really bad thing about them is how the old Rat Ogres will now look even more terrible…


Skaven Grey Seer

Skaven End Times release (19)As one of two clamshell characters and as one of the Skaven’s well established HQ models, this guy really forms the bread and butter part of the release — and it shows, to be honest. After the zaniness of the Thanquol/Boneripper combo and the Stormfiends, the Grey Seer seems almost pedestrian by comparison.
It is a nice enough model, though, nicely detailed and with the depth and threedimensionality we have come to expect from the plastic clamshell characters. The standout element about this guy is the little rat perched atop his staff, reminding me of Terry Pratchett’s Death of Rats, for some reason…

A look at the sprue reveals that it should be easy enough to swap in a new head, leave off the tail or make some other adjustment to the model, also making it interesting for conversion purposes.

Skaven End Times release (20)
All in all, this is a nice model. Not particularly spectacular, but we have learned that the clamshell characters’ strength is in their versatility and staying power!

Skaven Warlord

Skaven End Times release (21)Another clamshell character, and the one I personally prefer: The Skaven Warlord really looks the part, managing to seem suitably imposing for a warlord and suitably cowardly for a Skaven at the same time — no mean feat! I also like how the pose and base make him look like he’s surveying and commanding his army — because that’s the right place for any ambitious Skaven warlord, right? Not at the front lines, but safely behind them, sending his skittering underlings to their doom!

There’s also something about the combination of Skaven armour and tattered robes that really works for me, for some reason.
Once again, a look at the sprue reveals the model’s usefulness: It should be really easy to freely customise this guy:

Skaven End Times release (22)This is a very nice addition to the clamshell range, and I can easily see myself picking this guy up for a conversion sooner rather than later — good job!


Conversion options:

This release provides Skaven players with quite a few new and amazing new toys. But the true value of the release, at least for me, lies in the conversion options, because some of these new kits could really be a converter’s dream come true: My cup runneth over with conversion options! Let’s take a look:

The first idea that came to me when looking at the blurry, leaked pictures of the Verminlords was: This kit would make for an amazing Greater Daemon of Slaanesh: And it’s really not hard to imagine, isn’t it? The pose is there, as is the lithe build. The ostentatious pair of horns would be perfect! Add a second pair of arms (complete with Tyranid pincers), a different face (something bull-like from the Beastman range? Or a golden mask made from the human head of the Necrosphinx?), lose the silly tail, and you’re almost there! Sure, you’ll have to get rid of the Skaven runes and maybe the fur, but I think this might be a very promising conversion endeavour. It’s also one of the ideas I’ve seen crop up online fairly often, so I imagine it won’t be long before we’ll be seeing results.

So the Verminlords would make for excellent Greater Daemons (or Daemon Princes, for that matter) of Slaanesh. But what about the other chaos gods? Nurgle’s association with filth, decay and plague is no secret, so a giant rat could have its uses in his legions — maybe the Verminlord Corruptor could have a place in a Nurglite army as a very different Daemon Prince? Once again, with even more work, I think one could make a very cool Daemon Prince out of this kit — or maybe even a base for a Mortarion Daemon Primarch conversion?

The  build of the kit would even make a Lord of Change conversion imaginable: Maybe the Verminlord body could be coupled with the head and wings from the High Elf Flamespyre Phoenix kit? Just sayin’…

All in all, the only chaos god I cannot see profiting from this is Khorne: The Verminlord body looks far too gangly for the Blood God — we prefer our warriors heavily muscled, thank you very much! 😉


Boneripper and Stormfiends:
Now this is where it gets interesting, because both kits offer some crazy conversion potential. To wit:

  • both Boneripper and the Stormfiends would make perfect base models for Dark Eldar Grotesques! Just add some Talos facemasks, and you’re golden! They’ll even look great next to those Blood Island Rat Ogre-based grotesques you converted last year! 😉
  • If you’ve been looking for an interesting alternative to the existing Chaos Space Marine Obliterators and Mutilators, look no further! The Stormfiends could work as either, right out of the box! And if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, it should be easy enough to swap in suitably chaotic heads, add more armour, replace the Stormfiend weapons with actual CSM weapons or what have you.
  • If the teeming hordes of the Lost and the Damned are more to your liking, well, you’re in luch too, because Boneripper and the Stormfiends would work brilliantly as Renegade Ogryns, Ogryn Berserkers, big mutants or simply alternate Ogryns or Bullgryns, if you’re still using the Astra Militarum Codex: The crudely stitched-together and mutated look would be a perfect fit! You could even replace the head of that atrophied rat fetus on the model’s back with a crypt ghoul head (or the gas mask of a DV cultist) for a super creepy surprise, once your opponent sees the back of your model 😉
  • This should be obvious, but the models would also work beautifully as Chaos Spawn — although they are almost too awesome for that.
  • And, of course, (Dark) Mechanicus Flesh constructs, weapon servitors or what have you: The crude augmetic implants, stitches and highly experimental looking weapons make this one of the best possible conversion uses. Just writing about it almost makes me want to build a warband consisting of a rogue Magos Genetor and his warped creations — MUST.RESIST…
  • It goes without saying that almost all of the above options would also work for the wonderful world of INQ28, where crude, monstrous brutes are the rule rather than the exception.

Grey Seer, Warlord and Thanquol himself:
These would basically be perfect for any kind of unhinged, frayed-around-the-edges character you can think of: rogue psykers, heretics, (Nurglite) cultists or Scavvies — basically anything that might crawl from the underhive at some point. The Skaven Warlord is pretty much the perfect Scavvy king (even the similar names are a dead-giveaway 😉 ).


So, all in all, I really like the Skaven End Times release — but I believe that I am clearly biased here, due to all the lovely conversion potential. Taking back a step and taking a more even-handed approach, I have to point out that, while I personally love the design of the new models, I do realise that they are fairly flashy and stylised, almost cartoony or, as I’ve said above, videogamey. If that is your cup of tea, you will love these guys, just like me. But I can easily imagine that many people will not appreciate the look quite as much, and in all fairness: This kind of design can be a bit of an acquired taste. One need not look any farther than the difference between the GW and FW Verminlords I outlined above to see what I mean, and not everyone will be happy with this visual direction.

From a purely technical standpoint, these new kits certainly continue the trend of astonishing kits we have seen so far under the End Times label — and I can only repeat myself here: I am really excited at all the conversion potential in these new kits!


So, how do you feel about this release? Any thoughts you’d like to share or conversion options I have overlooked? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

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

The 2014 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 4: A look back at my hobby year

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2015 by krautscientist


One last look backwards, at 2014, and then we’re off to a productive new year — at least that’s what I hope! But as our last installment in 2014’s Eternal Hunt Awards, allow me to walk you through my personal hobby year and present both the models as well as the events that were especially noteworthy for me:


I. My hobby projects

2014 was a pretty busy year, but I still tried to stay as productive as I could. I managed to paint about 40 models (which is only very slightly less than my 2013 result). Not a breathtaking amount of work, certainly, but then I am still happy enough with the stuff I actually did manage to paint. What gives me pause, however, is the fact that I doubtlessly kitbashed and converted many, many more models than I actually painted — I’ll have to keep working on that ratio, I guess…

But what do those 40 models mean if seen in the context of my various bigger and smaller projects? Allow me to elaborate:

1. Khorne’s Eternal Hunt

My World Eaters army certainly remains my most important project, and 2014 was very much a World Eaters year for me! The absolute majority of my newly completed models ended up in the 4th assault company.

All these new additions certainly call for some new army pictures in the near future! However, I suppose it’ll be quite some time before the weather allows me to set it all up outside and take some dapper new photos. Until then, I have this picture (taken this last December for the “We Are Legion!” contest over at Le blog dé Kouzes) showing a pretty big part of the army to tide you over:

Khorne's Eternal Hunt 2014 02
It’s not the entire army (it’s missing the twenty odd “old” berzerkers from before my hobby hiatus during the 2000s, for instance, and a couple of other models), but it’s a fairly accurate depiction of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt in its current incarnation.

And here are some 2014 additions to my World Eaters that I am especially happy with:


World Eaters Gladiators (67)
World Eaters Gladiatorii squad

This project started as a spontaneous kitbash and then grew into something bigger when I decided to convert a gladiatorial Khornate champion along with his coterie of grimdark gladiators. Though these would probably be counted as bog standard Khorne Berzerkers when used in a game, building a squad of distinctly gladiatorial World Eaters has been a great way to explore that particular part of the legion’s background — plus it was lots of fun to come up with different types of gladiators that call back to actual historical sources while also seeming believable in the 41st millennium.

If you’re interested, check out the full story of the gladiatorii here, here and here.


Valkar the Scarred (1)
Lord Valkar, the Scarred One

This was a model that I had wanted to complete for a long time, and as has been the case so often, the ongoing Painting and Converting Contest over at Throne of Skulls provided the perfect excuse to finally get my act together! I am really happy with both the resulting model and the fact that I now own one of the truly effective Khornate unit choices: A Chaos Lord on juggernaut — what could be more Khornate than that, right?

Check out Lord Valkar in more detail here.


Hadrak Firebringer (8)
Thamier-pattern Obliterator

This is a model I am especially happy with for several reasons: It marks the first Obliterator in my army, for one, because it took me so freaking long to finally settle on an interpretation of this unit type I was happy with. I was insanely fortunate enough to procure some wonderful, custom sculpted parts from fellow hobbyist thamier (whose “Balefire Legion” you should definitely check out ASAP) for this project, and the result is a model I am really proud of. And maybe the best thing is that I still have enough parts for a second Obliterator. Yay!

Find out what went into building this guy here.


Helbrute (2)
Brother Khorlen the Lost

Finishing this model was one of the rare instances where I actually managed to surprise myself: I had just seen the newly released multipart Helbrute (which I really liked a lot), but instead of buying it right away (my usual reflex), I rather painted the Dark Vengeance Helbrute I still had lying around ever since the boxed set was released. And boy am I happy about that decision in hindsight! The model was pretty challenging to paint, make no mistake, but finally managing to finish what may be my favourite Dark Vengeance model really felt good — and I am actually rather happy with the result, too!

Find out more about this one instance where I actually showed some discipline here.

Kharn the Betrayer redux (12)
And, of course, my re-imagined Kharn the Betrayer: This model was, once again, built for a contest over at Throne of Skulls, but at the same time, it also kicked off a sizeable painting project of mine that saw me paint more than 500 points for my World Eaters over the Christmas holiday — we’ll be talking about those models in more detail really soon, I promise you.

Learn more about Kharn the Betrayer and my interpretation of him here.


Chaos Knight WIP (79)
Chaos Knight Titan

Last and very definitely not least: My Chaos Knight conversion. Though this model yet remains unpainted, it is probably the one 2014 hobby project I am most happy with: Working at such a scale was a first for me, and I was really intimidated by the project, to be honest — so much so, in fact, that it took me several months to actually get started on the model.

In the end, however, I am more than happy with the result so far: The Imperial Knight is a wonderful kit in its own right, and I think that I have managed to make sure this conversion will be a suitable centre point for Khorne’s Eternal Hunt! I even built a full interior for the model — something I wouldn’t really have considered beforehand.

Chaos Knight WIP (80)

I hope that finally getting this big guy painted will turn into a successful hobby project of mine in 2015 — I am still working up the courage for it, to be honest…

Until then, why not check out my posts on the creation of my Chaos Knight Titan here and here?


2. The world of INQ28

The wonderful world of Inquisitor and the battle for the Emperor’s soul continues to be a fascinating subject and an endless source of inspiration to me. Even so, I am painfully aware that I have only managed to paint a measly four models for INQ28 in 2014:

INQ28 class of 2014
And while I am really rather happy with each of them – and do in fact think that they make for a wonderfully eclectic little group in the above picture – I really want to make sure to produce more finished pieces for INQ28 this year!

In fact, I have kitbashed lots and lots of characters I am really happy with so far, such as my first real true scale Marine, Brother Janus Auriga…

Brother Sergeant Auriga (1)

…among many others, so it looks like I have my work cut out for me — let’s see if I can manage to get this show on the road again!


3. Legio Custodes

Alas, my beloved Custodians received even less attention from me than my INQ28 models. However, I did at least manage to build some models that I am really happy with for this project: A rather convincing (if I do say so myself) version of Chief Custodian Constantin Valdor and a really badass looking Custodian in Pre-Heresy style Astartes battle plate:

Valdor and Custodian WIP
As with my INQ28 collection, I will endeavour to get more of these guys finished in 2015. After all, it’s only a matter of time until Forgeworld’s own Custodes are released, making my kitbashes entirely obsolete — at least in the eye of the public 😉

Find out more about my kitbashed Custodes here.


4. Urash’s Marauders

Traitor Elite (16)
And finally, my Traitor Guard. To be honest, it took me a while to get back to this project, but I did so with an addition that has thoroughly revitalised my interest in this army: After long deliberation and multiple test builds, I have finally come up with the beginnings of a squad of elite traitors, shown above, mostly based on GW’s excellent Tempestus Scions. And though it has taken me quite a while to get these guys finished, I am now really happy with them, especially with the unit champion:

Traitor Elite (03)
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it really does bear repeating: This guy takes much inspiration from PDH’s excellent renegade troopers, and is also the first time that I have come (reasonably) close to reproducing the excellence of those models. In fact, the guy above may just be the Traitor Guard model I am most happy with to date, so expect to see more additions to Urash’s Marauders sooner rather than later.

Until then, read more about the squad here.

II. My favourite hobby moments

So much for my own hobby projects, but what else was cool? Once again, there were several moments in 2014 that really served as “milestones of awesome”, so to speak,  making my hobby year truly special:

First among those moments – and by a long shot – was being featured in Warhammer:Visions — in Blanchitsu, no less!

Seriously, this really took the cake! It also had me running around with a huge grin for at least a couple of days. And it is an achievement that I am pretty sure I won’t be able to reproduce anytime soon, which really makes it even more awesome. Being featured in this column along with extremely talented guys like PDH and Mikko Luoma was the icing on the cake, of course.

I have talked at length about Legion, the model that finally made the pages of Warhammer:Visions, and I promise I won’t put you through it all again — unless you want to, of course, in which case you can find the whole story here.

The various interactions with other hobbyists online were almost as good as my stint in Visions: The friendly and constructive way people in our hobby can interact via the power of the interwebz is one thing that never ceases to astound me, the other is the unending generosity of so many of my fellow hobbyists. Therefore, it’s really hard to pick that one favourite moment from among all the pleasant interactions I have had in 2014. Rather, it’s a collection of warm and fuzzy memories: being sent amazing bitz drops and unique models by PDH, Drone21c and Steifer, sharing friendly banter and thoughts about the hobby with Flint13, Augustus b’Raass and others over at The Bolter & Chainsword, trying my best to produce cool models for the contests at Throne of Skulls and getting my ass kicked time and time again by DexterKong, hammering out the backstory for a whole Imperial sector in cooperation with that same DexterKong, having hobbyists build models that share my name as a shout out (and trying to repay that particular kindness),…the list goes on and on.

Let me maybe show you one small thing to illustrate my point: Here’s a map showing you all the people I’ve done bitz swaps with so far. Without any money involved, I might add — just for the sake of helping each other out:


I think this is ample proof of the amount of generosity present in our hobby! Thank you all, guys and girls! You rock!


I was also really blown away when I received a very special gift for my birthday last year:

Fan Troll (13)
my colleague Annie converted and painted a wonderful fan troll for my Blood Bowl team, the “Orkheim Ultraz”, which really left me speechless. I know you are not supposed to feed the troll, but I really want to 😉 Thanks again, Annie — you’re awesome! 🙂

Read the whole story here.

And one last thing that I am really happy with: As I’ve mentioned above, I really managed to get my act together over the holidays, painting a pretty chunk of new World Eaters models for Khorne’s Eternal Hunt. This all happened as part of The Bolter & Chainsword’s 2014 Call of Chaos event, which not only gave me a deadline to meet, but also provided lots and lots of motivation via the friendly competition among board members. I’ll be showing off the completed models in more detail very soon — I hope you like red and bronze! 😉


III. Blogging

Providing a constant stream of content for this blog remained a fun – albeit challenging – endeavour during 2014: I managed 63 posts and attracted 170,000 views from 138 countries — numbers that may not be all that spectacular in the larger order of things but still feel pretty unreal to me, seeing how this is just my small, uninteresting corner of the internet 😉 I also managed to reach the mark of 300,000 views overall, which I think is pretty cool!

For those of you interested in this kind of stuff, here’s a link to the annual report WordPress has kindly provided.


All in all, it has been a busy year. A productive year. A fun year. Yet also a year full of unpainted plastic — but what else is new? Thank you all for joining me on this ride. This concludes our little retrospective, and we’ll be strictly focusing on new stuff from now on: Here’s to 2015!

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

The 2014 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 3: The Industry

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , on January 14, 2015 by krautscientist


Sorry for taking a while with the next update — completing my painting vow for The Bolter & Chainsword has left me pretty drained — if happy, because I managed to finish all of the models I had pledged (more on them soon). That said, I have certainly kept you waiting long enough, as evidenced by the dip in daily visits over the last few days 😉 So here goes:

As we’ve seen, the hobbyists definitely put out some amazing stuff, but what about GW? How doe the 2014 releases stack up? Was it a good year? What were the highlights and the disappointments? Let’s find out!


I. Best release of 2014:

I think we can all agree that GW has managed to maintain quite the relentless barrage of new releases all through 2014, and most of it was of astonishing quality as well. But to me, there were some kits that stood out, models that really wowed me and turned me into a small boy again, as I wondered at them. And there were models that turned out to be absolutely invaluable for conversions and kitbashes. So, what are my favourites of 2014?


1st place: Imperial Knight

Knight Release (3)
Last year, GW brought over the design of the good old Epic 40,000 warmachines into 40k proper, introducing the Lord of Skulls — and people were divided, to say the least: Maybe the original design of the Khornate daemon engines in Epic was too goofy to begin with, maybe there were 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 best.

But one year later, it seems like the Lord of Skulls was merely GW’s tracer bullet, and the Imperial Knight was the heartshot to follow, if you’ll excuse the somewhat militaristic, albeit very fitting, simile:

Where the Lord of Skulls was maybe too reliant on personal taste, the Imperial Knight has managed to win fans all across the board: Even people without a 40k army or without any lover for games at the Apocalypse scale felt they had to get one of these bad boys — and many hobbyists actually completed several of them. Unbelievable, right?

In this case, the model really justifies the hype, though: It’s a wonderfully designed piece, giving us a giant Mecha with all the right touches to tie it into the 40k universe. It also actually manages to look like a knight, although you could never mistake it for anything other than a machine of (pre) Imperial manufacture. And it is a terrifically well planned kit that is a joy to assemble and convert! I was really scared of the model, when I started work on my own Knight, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well it all went together.

All of those qualities certainly speak in the Knight’s favour, but its biggest achievement may be the way it manages to straddle the fine line between modern design sensibilities and nostalgia for the Rogue Trader and Adeptus Titanicus days: Where the Lord of Skulls may have tried the same thing with mixed success, the Imperial Knight really nails it: It recreates the look of Knight Titans, not as they actually looked twenty years ago, but as you wish they would have looked. It’s basically your idealised memories of 80s GW artwork given form, and that is a towering achievemt indeed!

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the original plastic Imperial Knight kit still surpasses the later Forgeworld variants. I know I may be in the absolute minority with this opinion, but there you have it. In closing, I think the Imperial Knight is a perfectly balanced, excellently designed piece, and it is easily my favourite release to come out of 2014.

Read my original review of the Imperial Knight here.


2nd place: Almost the entire End Times release for Warhammer Fantasy Battles

end times

Well, this may seem like a gigantic cop-out on my part, but the longer I thought about it, the more obvious it became that the entire release was worthy of this award (and the Imperial Knight only came out on top due to personal sympathy and the fact that I think the scale of the model really did pave the way for some of the End Times kits in the first place).

So yeah, I think I don’t need to explain to you how the various End Times kits have generated all kinds of excitement and buzz — and rightly so! Some of the finest plastic kits released by GW so far have appeared under this label, and it’s a testament to the quality of their design that 40k players feel just as drawn towards these kits as the WFB folks.

Even in a release as consistently great as this one, however, there have to be some favourites:

Undead End Times Release (3)
Nagash, obviously, for not only kicking off the slew of awesome kits, but for also thoroughly revitalising one of the most evil characters in the entire WFB lore with a spectacular new model that still calls back to its earlier incarnation in many ways! Read my original thoughts here.

End Times Nurgle Release (26)The Glottkin, for truly being a model for the ages: An excellent, almost painterly and utterly apocalyptic work of art that is truly Mark Harrison’s masterpiece! Read my original review here.

And of course, last but definitely not least…

End Times Nurgle Release (6)The Putrid Blightkings, for being just about the best “Nurgle all stars” showcase imaginable: So many people have already had so much fun with this kit (including yours truly), and the importance of this kit for all things Nurgle really cannot be overstated!

What’s even better, the first pictures of the coming Skaven release show that the quality just keeps coming with the End Times stuff — marvelous work, GW!


3rd place: Tempestus Scions

Astra Militarum Release (22)

It certainly says something about the quality of the 2014 releases that my third place almost looks a bit pedestrian next to the End Times kits listed above. Even so, the Tempestus Scions provided 40k players and INQ28 aficionados with a fantastic toolbox that can fulfill all kinds of functions beyond merely working as the Astra Militarum elite: The amount of options and versatility in this kit is truly staggering, and the models themselve strike a perfect balance between armed to the teeth spec-ops soldiers and baroque and grimdark individuals. The Tempestus Scions may lack the flashiness of some of the other kits on this list, but their sheer usefulness and versatility could mean that they have the potential to outshine far more spectacular kits in the long run. I, for one, have already had tons of fun with the kit and would basically consider it a compulsory pickup for almost every 40k and INQ28 player — it really is that simple.

Read my original thoughts about the kit here and take a look at my experiments here.

II. Worst release/biggest disappointment

When it comes to release, it’s a testament to the quality of 2014’s releases that there were almost no bad or truly horrible models: Event the kits I don’t feel particularly fond of either come with a second assembly variant to soften the blow, or they are well designed models in their own right that just don’t tickle my particular fancy. In fact, in can only remember a single instance last year where I was truly disappointed in a release: GW’s Realm of Battles: Sector Imperialis game board:

99220199053_SectorImperialis01I was really excited when I heard GW were going to release a cityfight themed Realm of Battles board, but the eventual result left me entirely cold: It just seems like an overdesigned, overpriced piece of terrain that is not nearly versatile or flexible enough. I appreciate the fact that it has been designed to fit together seamlessly with all those very beautiful cityfight ruins. But seriously, hobbyists have had a long time to come up with their own cityfight and underhive tables, and with people like thenickeninja in this world, this stuff just doesn’t cut it. Sorry, GW, but you either have to step up your game with this terrain stuff or stick to what you know…

So almost all of the kits were great. But does this mean everything was peaches and cream? Unfortunately, no: I do have some gripes with GW’s releases over the last year, and here are the things that I found most disappointing:

  • new naming conventions: This probably flew below the radar for all native English speakers in our hobby, but maybe some of those whose native language isn’t English can sympathise with me here: As of the spring of 2014, all of GW’s publications use the English names – and only the English names – for any given unit type or character in all of their game systems. “So what?”, you might say, “most of those names are in English anyway.” Well, yes and no. Unfortunately, this creates Codices and publications with lots and lots of gibberish, where plain text is suddenly and rather violently broken apart by seemingly wanton insertion of English terms, even when a perfectly serviceable and well established translation for these terms exists in-universe. What’s more, those armies that have yet to receive their updated books retain their translated names, so a text about, say, the different factions of the elves in WFB happily mixes English and translated names. For the record: I love English. I am also, I believe, reasonably fluent in it. But GW had a pretty solid track record when it came to translating their books into other languages, and I think it’s really sad that a decision like this basically destroys all the good work they have done so far in this respect. Sure, using universal naming conventions may be an excellent idea from a marketing and retail standpoint. But it renders all the non-English versions much less enjoyable to read (if not downright unreadable), and that’s the reason why I am now buying all my rulebooks in English. Which is a pretty good solution, but I’ll still always be playing the game in German, so it does create a rather iffy situation.
  • Where are my Sisters, dammit? I feel like a broken record here, because I believe I’ve said the same thing in 2012 and 2013 as well — but please, please, can we get some decent, upated Sisters of Battle, GW? That would be sweet! Thank you very much!


III. Still on the fence about…

  • all those rules in 40k: I get it, I get it: You want to give hobbyists more options, which is great. You also want to make more money, which may not be great but is quite alright with me. But seriously, folks, this is getting out of hand: The constant barrage of dataslates, formations and DLC has created an environment where it’s almost impossible to understand all that is going on. To wit, they even had to patch their own game (because that’s what 7th edition is: a patch) in order for it to accept all the new supplementary content. I have heard people say that all of this is not a big problem, because hobbyists get to choose the way they want to play, and that is certainly an excellent point. But here’s the catch: I have this problem where an overabundance of options will paralyse me rather than empower my decision making. So in the end, I end up taking no choice at all. In terms of 40k, this means that the sheer difficulty of keeping up with the rules and current state of play has basically led to me abandoning the gaming angle altogether — at least for now.
  • Instant awesome? Just add Forgeworld! Now this may sound a bit cantankerous, but hear me out: With the Horus Heresy releases having become such a smash hit, Forgeworld stuff has become far more widespread, where it used to be a rare but exquisite seasoning on top of an army, so to speak. And that’s okay, of course: More power to them, because they are performing some outstanding work. But it sometimes seems to me like the growing prevalence of Forgeworld materials can hurt both hobbyists’ creativity as well as the FW design team itself: All of their stuff used to be pretty much perfect all the time, but now that they need to crank out huge amounts of stuff at a higher rate, the amount of lacklustre kits has definitely grown. And on the hobbyist side, for every 1000heathens, Mr. Poom or, Flint13, there seems to be at least one guy (or girl) who’s content enough to just throw together a cookie cutter army made from expensive Forgeworld crack. So my issue doesn’t lie with Forgeworld, but rather with those hobbyists who think the way to make your army awesome is to just throw resin at it — really, people, show a bit more dedication 😉

IV. Also pretty cool

  • Warhammer: Visions: I do realise of course that I may be fairly alone with this assessment, but bear with me: Visions gets so much flak for basically being a coffee table book of miniatures to browse through. But therein lies its strength! There are lots and lots of ideas hidden in those pages! There’s a – usually excellent – army of the month feature. There’s Blanchitsu, for crying out loud! Some of my earlier gripes with Visions remain, and I realise that it may have an uncertain future. But when all is said and done, I might pick up the odd WD Weekly every now and then, mainly out of habit –but Warhammer:Visions is the GW puclication I am actually looking forward to each month!


All in all, 2014 has been a terrific year when it comes to model releases, and at the very least a very busy one for GW’s game systems. It’ll be interesting to see where we go from here, and not all seems like it will make us happy (seriously, have you seen those 9th edition WFB rumours — what the heck?). For me, however, it has always been about the models and the lore, first and foremost, and if the first pictures of 2015s releases are any indication, we need not worry on that account.

So what were your highlights and low points when it comes to 2014s releases? And do you agree or disagree with my own assessment? I would love to hear from you in the comments section!


In any case, I will see you soon with the fourth and last installment of the 2014 Eternal Hunt Awards: a look back at my personal hobby year. Until then, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

A short intermission — and a new mandatory blog to follow

Posted in 40k, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , on January 7, 2015 by krautscientist

A short announcement for those of you who may be waiting for the next installment of the Eternal Hunt Awards: I am currently hard at work painting a rather tall order of World Eaters (tall for me, at least) as part of my Call of Chaos vow, and time’s running short — so please sit tight for another few days, while I sort this out first: I promise I’ll at least have lots of neat new stuff to show you afterwards 😉

And fortunately enough, other people are picking up the slack: You may already have heard this elsewhere, but migsula (formerly of Legion of Plastic), Mikko Luoma and Kari Hernesniemi (formerly of the Spiky Rat Pack) have teamed up in a new endeavour and have started a blog that will probably knock your socks of, seeing how those three are some of the most talented people in the hobby. So head over there and subscribe right away — I am convinced that good things are coming our way 😉



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

The 2014 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 2: The Hobbyists (cont’d)

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , on January 4, 2015 by krautscientist


A happy new year to you, dear readers, and welcome back to the 2014 Eternal Hunt Awards! Today’s instalment will once again deal with the achievements of fellow hobbyists, both because there was just so much cool stuff to show off and because I was just too lazy to write it all down in one go last time 😉


Army/warband of the year

Single models are all well and good, but it’s the creation of entire armies or warbands that gobbles up so many of our hobby hours — and by the same token, seeing an excellently realised army, a gorgeous Killteam or an awesome Inquisitorial retinue can probably inspire us like few things can. So which creations were the best in 2014? Allow me to share my findings with you:


1st place: Navigatorial Household by weirdingway

Navigator household by weirdingway

Navigator household by weirdingway

Even though all entries in this category are breathtaking works of art in their own right, there is little discussion about which army stood a head above the crowd this year: weirdingway’s Navigatorial household explores a woefully underdeveloped part of the 40k background in the most stunning way imaginable, taking cues from David Lynch’s version of Dune and producing a collection of models that is equal parts eclectic, wholly original and balls to the wall amazing. It also perfectly embodies what Warhammer 40k is about: the grimdarkness, the eclecticism, the madness and the opulence, all rolled into one fantastic project!

It’s hard to pick favourites from a collection this inspired, yet I instantly remember weirdingway’s model for the head of his navigatorial household — and quite a head it is, if you’ll excuse the pun:

Novator bei weirdingway

Novator bei weirdingway

By all accounts, this idea shouldn’t work: It should come across as goofy and ridiculous — but while it may even be both of these things, weirdingway’s work transforms the concept into a fantastic model that looks like it has stepped right out of the 41st millennium. Amazing!

But standout pieces like this are not the only thing that make weirdingway’s project so great. In fact, the lowly retainers and footmen of the Navigators are just as stunning:

Navigator Household by weirdingway (2)

Navigator Household by weirdingway

Navigator Household by weirdingway

Navigator Household by weirdingway

Each of them is a perfect little island of 40k: They are elegant and ostentatious, yet also frayed around the edges and quite unhinged. Is it any wonder that these guys have inspired me to build my own Navigator warband right away?

There were many amazing projects in 2014, but weirdingway just takes the cake! A veritable triumph!

Check out weirdingway’s spectacular ongoing WIP thread here.


2nd place: Mr. Poom’s Heresy era World Eaters

Heresy era World Eaters by Mr. Poom

Heresy era World Eaters by Mr. Poom

Well, you didn’t think we’d get through this without at least one World Eaters army, did you? 😉 In all fairness, I did choose one of the most spectacular specimens for you, and certainly the best Heresy era World Eaters in existence: Mr. Poom’s version of the World Eaters’ 8th company.

Many feel drawn to the XII legion in its Heresy era incarnation, yet there are quite a few pitfalls along the way: The legion’s trademark colours of white and blue are hard to do well, and so most hobbyists end up covering their World Eaters in so much gore and battle damage that it almost overwhelms the senses (and certainly overpowers the miniatures in question). Mr. Poom’s army, by contrast, maintains a perfect balance between lush painting and gritty weathering — all while being full of excellent kitbashes and conversions that are completely organic and seamless.

Just take a look at this picture featuring  some of our favourite protagonist’s from Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s excellent book Betrayer, such as a wonderful, converted Khargos Bloodspitter, the ill-fated Librarian Esca, and of course: Eight Captain Kharn himself:

Heresy era World Eaters by Mr. Poom

Heresy era World Eaters by Mr. Poom

All in all, this is a marvelous army — and it’s also the best reason for never starting a Heresy era World Eaters force, because Mr. Poom has basically accomplished perfection in this field. Little point in trying to one-up that 😉

Check out Mr. Poom’s ongoing army log here or his wonderful Flickr gallery.

Pre Heresy World Eaters by Mr. Poom

Pre Heresy World Eaters by Mr. Poom


3rd place: McGibs’ Bloody Beasties of Khorne

Chaos Bull by McGibs

Chaos Bull by McGibs

I have only discovered this army fairly recently, but it shot straight to the top echelon of my favourite Khornate armies: McGibs has created a collection of unbelievably original and inspired kitbashes and provides wonderfully lush and visceral paintjobs to match. Case in point: That Chaos Bull above is very possibly the best Khornate Maulerfiend I have seen so far (I want one!). Or we could talk about what may just be the best conversion of GW’s fairly recent plastic Ogryns in existence, his Obliterators:

Chaos Obliterators by McGibs

Chaos Obliterators by McGibs

Do you need any more reasons to check out this army and instantly fall in love with it? How about the fact that some of the models were inspired by creatures from Diablo and the original Doom? The videogame nerd in me rejoices!

But seriously, this is an amazing collection, and a very original one at that! Do yourself a favour and check out McGibs’ highly inspirational army log here!

Hobbyist of the year

Gorgeous armies and warbands are not the most important thing in our hobby: The hobbyists are. They are keeping the hobby alive. They are forming a community that manages to inspire and captivate. Sure, they also produce a lot of noise about pricing shenanigans and torunament level play — but it’s easy enough to tune that out, whenever it gest overwhelming 😉

Meanwhile, there are those who deserve a moment of recognition for their contribution to the hobby in general and my personal hobby life in particular. So here’s to them:


1st place: DexterKong

Who could I put in first place but my good buddy Dexter? We’ve been shooting e-mails back and forth all year, discussing Khornate conversion projects or even fleshing out our own sector of imperial space for INQ28. Throwing ideas at Dexter and getting them back in a much improved form is never dull, plus the guy can also draw up some mean character illustrations! And that’s not even talking about his usually stellar contributions to the various painting and converting contests at So cheers, buddy! You really deserve this small award! And let’s keep doing this, alright?

Unfortunately, Dexter has been a little lax with his blogging for a while — so your best chance to actually catch a glimpse of this reclusive guy would probably be the Contest section over at, where he regularly works his magic 😉


2nd place: Flint13

Ah yes, everyone’s favourite riot grrrl 😉 Flint’s contributions are certainly one reason why The Bolter & Chainsword is such an egaging and fun forum right now: Be it her staggering output of steadily improving, excellent models, her equally impressive background vignettes, her unwavering motivation and good cheer or her role in starting a rather active and rewarding thread of World Eaters aficionados, Flint is very much the heart and soul of the place right now, at least for me. She also called me warlord once, and that has to count for something, right? So yeah, congrats Flint! Here’s to another frantic year, eh?

Like I said, Flint is *VERY* active over at The Bolter & Chainsword, and all of her stuff is usually very interesting and also quite amusing. I recommend checking out her ongoing WIP thread to get started 😉


3rd place: Legatho

Another very well deserved award, not only because Legatho managed to rebound from a hobby tragedy that I do not think I could have survived (read the full story here), but because he also stayed (relatively) cheerful and productive through the whole ordeal and went right back to producing some wicked kitbashes and conversions. Plus I was genuinely moved when he painted a model I had converted as a small tribute to my World Eaters. Cheers, for that, mon ami 😉


Check out Legatho’s WIP thread over at the Ammobunker and don’t forget to pay your respects to the excellent models that were lost in the deluge — it still hurts to actually think about that…


Honorary mention: Jeff Tibbetts

Those of you who already know Jeff may think of him as “the guy with the amazing Imperial Knight log”. And those who do not yet know Jeff, should check out his blog or his ongoing thread on The Bolter & Chainsword as soon as possible, because Jeff’s work on his Imperial Knight is truly something to behold: His work shows an attention to detail and a dedication that we should all strive to emulate — if only to fail miserably. Speaking of which, I will certainly try to adapt some of Jeff’s excellent recipes when finally painting my own Knight. Will I be as perfectionis about it as Jeff? Heck no, I’ll be cutting all kinds of corners, like I always do. But even then, I’ll only be able to get it just so because Jeff blazed the trail!


Thanks to all these excellent people for their army projects, their blogs and plogs — and their being an inspiration to people like me, who sometimes just need a pretty picture to look at and a kick in the butt to finally rekindle their motivation. Cheers, guys! You rock!


So the hobbyists definitely pulled their weight in 2014 — but what about the industry? What were the best releases and the biggest disappointments? Which developments were great or not so great? Let’s find out in the third part of the 2014 Eternal Hunt Awards — coming your way soon 😉

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