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

Awards

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!

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7 Responses to “The 2014 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 3: The Industry”

  1. I’m also among the rare Warhammer Visions fans – you’re not alone in that!

  2. An excellent recap, and agree with your choices mostly.

    One thing that bugged me in Visions lately (perhaps it’s the December issue alone in this) that the Paint Splatter part is missing and it was a thing I look forward to during my subscription period.

    • Well, to be fair, the December issue did seem a bit lacklustre overall, didn’t it? I hope this was just due to end of year fatigue, though, and doesn’t bode badly for the fate of the mag…

  3. As a counterpoint to GW’s “dice cocked fest” of a gaming table…secret weapon mini’s tablescapes seem to have given everyone what they wanted!

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