Archive for March, 2015

There will be blood — a hands on with the Bloodthirster and Skullreaper kits

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Pointless ramblings, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2015 by krautscientist

In my last post, I promised you an account of my first practical experiences with the new Bloodthirster and Skullreaper/Wrathmonger kits, and today’s post will deal with just this subject. So you may look forward to quite a bit of kitbashing. Huzzah! 😉

But all in good order: Before we do anything else, there’s something that I absolutely need to share with you guys. It would probably be far more modest and professional not to talk about it at all, but I am just too much of a blabbermouth — sorry! 😉

So yeah, here’s what happened over at Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s blog a while ago:

YES!

I was chuffed to bits, as you can probably imagine! Unbelievable! I just couldn’t stop grinning afterwards!

But enough about my ego: I promised you Khornate WIPs, and you shall have them. So allow me to show you what’s been happily bubbling away in the depths of my kitbashing laboratory for the last days and weeks. One last warning, though: Beware ye, who enter here: There be lots of unpainted grey plastic ahead!

 

I. Bloodthirster

I bought my own Bloodthirster on the day of the release, although I hadn’t even planned to: I just couldn’t resist when seeing the box at my FLGS, and seeing how there was still one of the kits available for purchase, I jumped right in. So far, building this model has been a lot of fun, since it continues the trend of well-planned huge kits begun with the Imperial Knight. But let’s take a look at some pictures, shall we?

Bloodthirster Impressions (1)
This is my Bloodthirster after an hour or so. Now I did take it fairly slow, even though it may not look like it: Like I said, it’s a wonderfully engineered kit, and it went together extremely well, for the most part.

For those of of wondering about the size of the model, here he is, next to a standard Space Marine:

Bloodthirster Impressions (2)
The Bloodthirster could always have been bigger, of course, but I am rather happy with the model’s size and bulk. There’s also a very handy scale conversion pic here, for those of you who want to know how the model measures up next to the other Bloodthirster models released so far.

One interesting thing is that nobody forces you to build your Bloodthirster all armoured up: Here’s what he looks like with all the armour plates removed:

Bloodthirster Impressions (4)
In fact, Noctus Cornix’ Bloodthirster conversion (which I already recommended you check out in my last post) goes for a mostly unarmoured look, and it works like a charm!

The only armour you will positively need is that belly plate, since he’ll have a pretty big hole in his torso, otherwise.

Oh, and I know you all want to know about the size of that axe, so here’s another scale comparison for you:

Bloodthirster Impressions (6)
Pretty big, huh? I added some measurements, for those of you who are planning a conversion involving the axe:

axe_measurements
So, what’s in the kit beyond that? First and foremost, you’ll get the option to build either of the three advertised variants, of course. You also get to mix and match between them to a certain degree. I suppose it should even be possible to create new weapons setups (twin axes, for example) with a bit of cutting and gluing. Now when it comes to extra bitz, here’s a a quick overwiev of my observations so far:

  • You get an additional set of arms (for the two handed axe) plus an additional left arm, depending on whether you go with the whip or that – very ridiculous – meteor hammer.
  • There’s an alternate breastplate, loincloth and belly plate. You can mix and match between different setups with these.
  • You get three complete heads (except for a tongue bit that is shared between two of the designs). The leftover heads are slightly larger than those in the plastic Daemon Prince kit, so they might even be usable on your DP conversions.
  • There’s a bunch of chains and talismans of Khorne that you can use on the wings or be used on different models
  • you get two axe heads for the one-handed axe.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the bitz:

Bloodthirster Impressions (5)
I. The optional skull shoulder pad is interesting in that it would possibly work as a facemask on a daemon engine or *gasp* even an Imperial Knight conversion (it works fairly well on an Imperial Knight head — I checked 😉 ).

II. If – like me – you think that flame pillar is a stupid way to elevate the model on the base, you’ll get it as a leftover bit that might make a cool objective marker or something similar…

III. Here’s the alternate armour set you get: Those belly plates work pretty well as bespoke pauldrons for Chaos Terminators. And the breastplate could be used for an Imperial Knight, with a tiny bit of bending.

IV. The chains and talismans for the wings — I think I’ll rather be using these on a couple of different models, as the Bloodthirster seems cluttered enough for my taste 😉

In closing, let me point out two more interesting bitz:

First up, the chaos icon used on the Bloodthirster’s whip:

Bloodthirster Impressions (3)
I think this would make for an excellent squad standard or a back-banner. I also decided not to use it on my Bloodthirster, because I preferred a whip without a bulky object on its end, but the part is still very cool on its own. More on this in a minute!

There’s also the Rogue Trader-era styled bone crown:

Bloodthirster Impressions (7)
As you can see, it comes as a separate bit, so you could also use it on your DPs, juggernauts or even on a Terminator lord (it almost looks like the top of a Terminator torso front anway…).

So, what about my own Bloodthirster, then?

The model is still in its building stage, and I have settled on the axe/whip combo now, because it’s just so brilliantly iconic that I couldn’t resist it. Here’s what the model currently looks like:

Bloodthirster Impressions (10)
Bloodthirster Impressions (8)
I’ve glued the model to the fantasy base for now, so I can have it upright. A couple of observations:

  • As you can see, this guy is fairly massive, even without his wings. I really like that!
  • After much deliberation, I chose the asymmetrical axe head: While the other axe is beautifully designed, it just looks slightly wrong to me, held at that particular angle — more like the ‘Thirster is presenting it to the audience. The asymmetrical version doesn’t have that problem, at least not to the same degree, and looks like he is actually preparing for a swing, so it was definitely the way to go for me.
  • You wouldn’t believe how much messing around it took to sort out that whip arm — the instructions are slightly ambiguous, with pictures that aren’t all that helpful, so getting the whip into a position where it both cleared the floor and didn’t interfere with the head did take some doing. In all fairness, however, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you use something to elevate the model a bit on its base. As you can see, I also left off the chaos star, shaving down the whip so it tapers down into a pointy end instead — this seems more natural and plausible to me, plus I got to keep that burning chaos star for something else 😉

Most of the assembly work has been completed at this point: Only the wings remain, and they seem like a fairly straightforward affair. All in all, the model really went together very well for such a huge piece, with well-planned seams making the model look organic and natural — well, as natural as a daemonic killing machine the size of a house could ever realistically look, at least…

That’s not all though: At the same time, I have also been using some leftover bitz on some other projects:

Since I knew I wasn’t going to use the meteor hammer weapon, no matter what, I used the chain from it to add a final, gladiatorial dash to one of my Daemon Princes:

World Eaters Daemon Prince (34)
World Eaters Daemon Prince (32)
World Eaters Daemon Prince (33)
Some leftover icons of Khorne (and two runes from the vambrace of a leftover Bloodthirster arm) were used to add some extra oomph to his armour and make him look more Khornate. The main attraction is his weapon, though: Both hookswords are now joined by a length of daemonic chain, courtesy of the Bloodthirster’s meteor hammer:

World Eaters Daemon Prince (30)
World Eaters Daemon Prince (29)
I think this pushes the gladiatorial look even further, which I really like! And while we are at it, here’s a scale comparison picture with the WIP Bloodthirster and the Daemon Prince:

Bloodthirster Impressions (9)
I also promised you that I would be using that flaming chaos star for a conversion, right? Well, I did:

Dark Apostle Belzas Azalon (3)
As you can see, it makes for a teriffic Crozius Maul for my Word Bearers Dark Apostle, Belzas Azalon (I also touched up the right shoulder pad, while I was at it).

So in addition to the Bloodthirster itself, the kit has already provided me with a way to make two models considerably cooler — very nice! 😉

II: Skullreapers/Wrathmongers

I have also started experimenting with the Wrathmonger/Skullreaper kit.

First up, take a look at this scale comparison between a (slightly modified) Chosen model and a Wrathmonger:

Wrathmongers_first_impressions (1)
While the Wrathmonger may be slightly taller, the scale is still pretty similar — so similar, in fact, that parts from the Chosen will fit the new models without much of a hitch. It’s also important to stress that the guy on the right doesn’t even qualify as an early WIP — I just tacked together some bitz, in order to show you the scale.

I also find it interesting that some of the – almost comically brutish – Skullreaper heads work much better when used on “regular” CSM models. Take a look:

Wrathmongers_first_impressions (2)
Much better, don’t you think? I’ve merely shaved off those stupid “cheek horns”, but now the head makes for a very fitting World Eaters berzerker!

Oh, and one thing that really excites me is that you basically get twice as many torso pieces as you need: One set for the Skullreapers and one for the Wrathmongers. And each of those pieces has its own breastplate, which can be used as intended or cut apart to use on your other WoC/CSM models — all in all, this kit provides an enormous pile of leftover bitz for conversions, which makes it a pretty good purchase, if you are not totally disgusted by the look of these guys.

I also decided to follow my idea above, playing around with a combination of Skullreaper/Wrathmonger parts and Dark Vengeance Chosen. Let’s start with something boring: The same Wrathmonger pictured above, now with a tacked on Chosen arm:

Wrathmongers_first_impressions (3)
Everything’s just tacked together for now, in order to show you how well those Chosen arms work with the models.

And here’s something more involved: A mix of Wrathmonger/Skullreaper and Chosen parts:

Wrathmongers_first_impressions (4)
Wrathmongers_first_impressions (5)
Once again, all the parts have only been tacked together with modeling putty for now, but there’s something suitably gladiatorial and feral about this guy that I like. I also think the model serves as proof that those leftover Wrathmonger chests can really be put to good use!

One important thing, though: Once again, the stock Wrathmongers/Skullreapers are a bit taller than the DV Chosen:

Wrathmongers_first_impressions (6)

So the best approach would probably be to save the Wrathmongers/Skullreapers for unit champs, Chaos Lords etc. Or you could choose an approach similar to that of Wonkobaggins and use the Skullreapers as counts as chaos spawn and/or Red Butchers. Check out his first experiments with the kit here.

One last thing I did was to play around with the reverse-jointed set of legs for a while: I think it would make for an excellent start for building a plastic Herald of Khorne — or even a counts as Skulltaker! After a bit of messing around, here’s what I ended up with:

Plastic Skulltaker counts as WIP (1)
Plastic Skulltaker counts as WIP (2)
Plastic Skulltaker counts as WIP (3)
Plastic Skulltaker counts as WIP (4)

All in all, this has been a surprisingly easy conversion: Most of the model is simply a stock Skullreaper, with the arms and head replaced with Bloodletter (and Bloodcrusher) bits. The body already has the characteristic, pocked skin, so it looks like it belongs to a Bloodletter anyway. And the armour is jagged and organic enough to pass for daemonic, don’t you think? One thing I did was to graft on a Bloodletter neck, so I would have a more natural way of attaching the head.

I am still thinking about adding a cape like the one the original Skulltaker has: On the one hand, it seems like a fun challenge (and I do have an idea that might work), but on the other hand, I am really happy with the dynamic posing and striking silhouette the model has right now, and I fear an added cape would just overclutter the model…

And finally, in an act of nearly unprecedented heresy, at least for my own standards, I used some of the hip plates from the Skullreapers’ armour in order to make the armour of a true scaled Slaaneshi Marine I built at an earlier point look more, well, Slaaneshi:

Emperor's Child (3)
Emperor's Child (4)

So far for my first round of experiments with the Skullreaper/Wrathmonger kit. In any case, I’d like to point out that I am really going to take my time with these guys, so it will probably be a good long while before I complete all five models. Even so, I’ll be using some of the additional bitz from the kit for all kinds of projects, so you’ll be seeing a lot of stuff from this kit making an appearance in Khorne’s Eternal Hunt! 😉

III. Generosity

In a move of nearly unbelievable generosity, Commissar Molotov recently sent me a huge pile of stuff, including a lot of leftover Dark Vengeance Chosen and Chosen parts. It’s his generosity that has made my experiments above possible, for which I am very thankful. But that’s not even all: Mol provided an amazing bitz drop with lots and lots of fantastic contents. For instance, he sent me this wonderful Kharn conversion: Malthus Dire, a champion of Khorne:

Model converted by Commissar Molotov

Model converted by Commissar Molotov

Mol informed me that this conversion is actually about ten years old! Which goes to show that good, clean conversion work never goes out of style. It also goes without saying that I’ll make sure to paint him up to the best of my abilities, in Mol’s honour!

I have also used yet another Chosen from the batch he sent me for a different conversion: Taking inspiration from DexterKong’s brilliant World Eaters counts as Huron Blackheart, I have created my own version of the character for Khorne’s Eternal Hunt. Now my version is certainly somewhat less impressive than Dexter’s, and it’s not a true scale model either, seeing how it needs to be scaled correctly to fit the rest of my army, but I am nevertheless very happy with it. Take a look:

Counts as Huron WIP (7)
Counts as Huron WIP (8)
Counts as Huron WIP (9)
As you can see, most of stock Huron’s characteristic elements are there — I even got a bit of a kick out of having the model in a pose similar to that of the stock model, albeit more dynamic. Oh, and let me just add that the axe was inspired by a similar (albeit much more elegant) weapon conversion done by Biohazard!

One thing I really like is how carefully shaving off the original head allowed me to keep some of the cabling from the stock head and make it look like they are feeding into the bionic side of the head:

Counts as Huron WIP (6)
The model’s pretty much finished at this point — although I am still considering whether or not to add some longer claws to the left fist…

 

So, as you can see, the great forges of the Blood God are running hot right now! I’d be happy to hear any feedback you might have about these models! Just drop me a comment and feel free to share suggestions or ideas of your own! And expect more Khornate madness soon 😉

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

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Plastic for the plastic god! A look at the new Khorne release

Posted in Chaos, Conversions, Pointless ramblings, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2015 by krautscientist

Those of us familiar with the Realms of Chaos know that all blood serves Khorne in the end, so it is only fitting that, at the end of the huge maelstrom of bloodshed that is the WFB End Times, there should be the servants of the Blood God. So we get a release in red and brass, adding some substantial new material to the legions of Khorne in WFB and, with a little cutting and gluing, 40k. It should not surprise you that I consider this a pretty good month, and will only be too happy to walk you through this release. Yay!
Khorne End Times release (1)
This is only one way of looking at it, of course: Fans of Tzeentch and Slaanesh are rightly annoyed that Nurgle and Khorne seem to be getting all the love, once again. But with a plastic Greater Daemon forming a substantial part of this release, I think it is safe to say that followers of the other chaos gods are probably not all that far behind. Take heart in that conviction, brothers and sisters in chaos! 😉

Until then, however, let us focus on the hordes of He who hunts at the head of the pack: The release brings us one huge kit, one clamshell character and one multi-kit for rather monstrous infantry. So let’s take a look at each of the kits in turn and talk about their strengths, their shortcomings and, of course, their glorious conversion potential. Grab your axes and step this way, please!

 

Bloodthirster

Khorne End Times release (2)
To say that this has been a hotly anticipated model would probably be quite an understatement: People have been beggingfor plastic Greater Daemons for a very long time now — so long in fact that it seemed almost guaranteed that GW could never possibly do all the expectations enough justice. And some people even stepped up to fill the void, among them Creature Caster, offering some very impressive alternate Greater Daemons as part of their Kickstarter campaign.

I’ll be honest with you: I was very impressed with CC’s Warrior Demon when I first saw it, and I actually asked myself whether GW would be able to produce a new Bloodthirster to match. Sure, there was the amazing Forgeworld Bloodthirster, but the presence of that model only made the designers’ task yet more difficult. And when I saw the first few fuzzy photos of the new Bloodthirster appearing on the internet, my biggest fears seemed to become reality.

I was wrong, fortunately: Once the official pictures appeared, along with the release of the kit, I really fell in love with the new Bloodthirster. After taking forever to redesign the model – and I don’t even hate the old Bloodthirster, mind you. It’s just that it’s very much a product of its time – GW’s designers have really managed to deliver an amazing new version. And we get three different variants out of the kit, no less! Let’s take a look at each of them in turn:

The Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster, pictured above, does not merely have the most idiotic name of the bunch (seriously, guys: Whatever happened to adjectives?), it’s also my least favourite version by a few degrees. It’s still a pretty stunning model, make no mistake, but it has a couple of elements that don’t sit well with me:

The meteor hammer, for one, seems like a somewhat counter-intuitive weapon choice for a horned, winged daemon, because wielding it effectively might be quite a bit of a task with all those extra appendages in the way, but that in itself would’nt be too much of a problem. What I really don’t like though, is how the head of the hammer seems just about to smash down onto the daemon’s own head:

Khorne End Times release (3)
Sure, the model just serves as a kind of “freeze frame”, but that detail really stuck out to me. There’s also the fact that I think the pillar of flames that comes as an optional part is a pretty tacky and goofy way of elevating the model’s height:

Khorne End Times release (16)
While the bit itself has been beautifully sculpted, there’s something ever so slightly off with the whole concept. And it doesn’t really work all that well on the Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster specifically, because it makes the already slightly awkward pose created by the weapons even stranger, making the whole model seem as though it doesn’t know whether it’s landing or taking flight.

There are really cool things about this specific variant, though: The axe head is a work of art, even though it looks slightly wrong held at that particular angle — more as if the daemon were presenting it to its opponent instead of preparing for some actual chopping action. The HeroQuest and Oldhammer inspired head with its stylised headdress is a wonderful idea, though — what a fantastic shout out to the vintage models! And the armour worn by the Bloodthirster is also wonderfully detailed and very cool. All in all, even the weakest variant of the kit is a massive, threatening and highly dynamic daemon, and certainly a centre piece for any chaos army.

So let’s move on to the next model in line, the Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage:

Khorne End Times release (6)
This guy supposedly works as some kind of hero and character killer, and what better way to go about that task than to be wielding an enormous axe, right? The axe is very much the focal point of the model, and it is a truly awesome piece:

Khorne End Times release (7)
The design of the weapon manages to balance daemonic/organic and metallic elements perfectly, for once, giving us something that looks like an organic chain axe, without being too creepy crawly. I also love how the arms and axe give the model a very striking pose and silhouette — I still don’t like the flame pillar on this model, but it works much, much better with this weapon setup!

The partly bestial face may be my least favourite part about the model:

Khorne End Times release (8)
It’s not even bad, mind you: It just seems like the designers could not decide whether they wanted this guy to look like a daemon, a dog or a troll. Even so, the detailing is top notch, and the icon of Khorne dangling from the head’s chin as some kind of piercing is a very cool touch.

And finally, the third variant of the kit: The Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury:

Khorne End Times release (9)
This guy is described as the weakest kind of Bloodthirster in the background, but you know what: He is by far my favourite of the bunch! Maybe it’s the fact that he hews so closely to the original, iconic Bloodthirster design? He also happens to be a pretty good representation (at long last) of one of my favourite pieces of artwork by Mark Gibbons:

Artwork by Mark Gibbons

Artwork by Mark Gibbons

For me, the Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury is just a perfect representation of what I want a Bloodthirster to look like: I love the iconic combo of axe and whip, for one. And this particular axe head works better than the more ornate one used on the Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster, if you ask me: Due to its asymmetrical, more workmanlike design, it actually looks as though the Bloodthirster is preparing for an attack with it.

But the face really has to be my favourite part of the model: It’s just perfect, a brilliant mix of bestial, skeletal and human. The quintessential demonic face, if you ask me:

Khorne End Times release (10)
The fact that the ‘Eavy Metal paintjob on this guy is pretty much perfect helps, of course. This version of the Bloodthirster is really close to Tolkien’s seminal Balrog as well — and I’ve always imagined Bloodthirsters as the Warhammer version of Balrogs, anyway 😉

I also like the highly detailed whip, both for its iconic quality and for the depth it adds to the model (even if sorting out the whip arm is a bit of a pain, as I can say from painful experience). Maybe my one small gripe with the model is the chaos star used as a tip for the whip, though:

Khorne End Times release (11)
It looks really awesome, but it may just be a tad much. Plus it actually changes the whip into more of a flail, doesn’t it? Anyway, adding that chaos star may have been overdoing it a bit 😉

Oh, and the model also serves as proof that the Bloodthirster’s running legs work really well without that stupid flame pillar: In fact, the model seems to be more aggressive and have a greater sense of agency without it, if you ask me.

When all is said and done, I think you should just choose your favourite visual elements from across all three variants of the kit and then happily mix and match. If anything, I actually dislike the fact that GW chose to create different rules for the different Bloodthirsters: In my opinion, the different weapons, heads and pieces of armour should have been a visual choice, above all else. But that’s just me.

In any case, there are some strengths and weaknesses shared by all three versions of the Bloodthirster:

First up, the amount of detail on this guy has to be seen to be believed. Every part of the model is beautifully and lavishly detailed: Seriously, just take a look at that armour:

Khorne End Times release (12)
You even get several optional parts and variants to mix and match, which is amazing (on a related note, those breastplates would look great on a Chaos Knight, and they are just about the right size to replace a standard Imperial Knight breastplate too — just sayin’…).

Khorne End Times release (13)
What may be even cooler, though, is that the skin beneath the armour is fully detailed as well, allowing you to build your own Bloodthirster as armoured or naked as you like!

Another thing I have ended up liking quite a bit is the model’s size: Sure, the avatar of bloodshed and war could always have been bigger, but at least it seems like the designers put quite a bit of thought into this particular choice. As a consequence, the model works really well from a scale perspective when compared with some other models: The Nemesis Dreadknight, for instance, was created to go toe to toe with Greater Daemons. The new Bloodthirster finally looks like it would make a worthy opponent for the machine! The Bloodthirster also looks perfect when placed next to a bog standard plastic Daemon Prince (or the more impressive FW Daemon Prince of Khorne). And while the model is noticeably smaller than an Imperial Knight, it still looks like it could give one of these quite a headache, thanks to the bulk added by the wings.

As for things that I didn’t like, I have already touched upon that (optional, thankfully) flame pillar, but there’s more: The wings take some getting used to. For quite a while there, I just kept referring to them as “mac & cheese wings” when talking about the model, due to the somewhat gooey looking texture. That was something that I grew used to over time, but one problem remains: Who ever thought the addition of chaos stars and icons of Khorne to the model’s wings would be a good idea?

Khorne End Times release (14)
Seriously, this is just overdoing it a bit for the sake of coolness, isn’t it? The best way to deal with this particular detail would be to just paint it to look as inconspicuously as possible, if you ask me, in order to make it look like these were brands of some kind.

All in all, however, I’ll have to call this model a triumph! I wasn’t sure whether GW would be able to produce a Bloodthirster that could live up to the fans’ expectations, but this kit just delivers. Small gripes aside, I would call this a landmark release, and if this model is serves as the standard for the new plastic Greater Daemons, then chaos players will have a lot to look forward to!

Oh, by the way, allow me to share one small anecdote: When talking to Jeff Vader about the model, Jeff complained that the Bloodthirster even had horns and spikes on his arse — and he was right, too:

Khorne End Times release (15)
Jeff pointed out that no Bloodthirster would ever be able to sit down because of this — and I was just about to agree with him that this seemed pretty stupid. But then the fridge brilliance kicked in: If there is one daemon in the warp whom his patron would never ever want to merely be sitting around, it would be this guy, right? So maybe those spikes are not such a bad design idea, after all…

 

Skarr Bloodwrath

Khorne End Times release (18)
We have grown accustomed to each (End Times) release providing us with at least one new clamshell character, and this time is no exception. Giving us something more interesting than just another towering, fully armoured chaos warrior, though, was a very good call! In fact, Skarr Bloodwrath reminds me of Haargroth the Blooded One, a converted champion of Khorne from the 6th edition WFB WoC army book (and subsequent Storm of Chaos campaign).

The model itself is looking excellent, with its twisted and mutated body perfectly straddling the line between a mighty warlord of chaos and a daemon of Khorne. Let’s just address the elephant in the room, though: Removing those stupid chain flails should be the first order of the day! Seriously, they just don’t work. Even the description of how Skarr uses them in GW’s own materials doesn’t work. Imagining these weapons in motion actually makes my head hurt. They also completely ruin the model’s silhouette and composition. It’s really hard to understand why someone would have considered this element a good idea. Off with them, I say!

Beyond this very obvious gripe, the weapons themselves are rather stunning:

Khorne End Times release (19)

The model’s armour is also very cool, with lots and lots of detail, and a pretty cool and rather original horned helmet to match. What’s more, we even get a bare headed option for Skarr:

Khorne End Times release (21)
Granted, the bare head does seem a bit …challenged, for lack of a better word, but maybe that’s just the unhealthy red skin tone? In any case, it’s great to have the additional option — maybe this would make a pretty sweet plastic Abaddon head, come to think of it?

There’s one more thing beyond the chain flails that I don’t like: If you take a closer look at the way Skarr’s legs interact with the base, you will see that his reverse-jointed daemon legs are posed on a bit of rock:

Khorne End Times release (20)
So far, so good, right? They even added some skulls to the base of the rock. Good job! My only problem with the whole arrangement stems from the fact that this seems to be the only rock of that size in the immediate vincinity. So Skarr seems to have carefully picked a suitable rock in order to perform his little charging forward pose, doesn’t he?

Seriously, though: This would be easy enough to solve with some additional rocks on the base, but it does look a bit strange on the stock model, if seen from the right angle.

A glance at the sprue reveals that…we actually get two sprues this time around. This might actually be a first!

Khorne End Times release (23)
Khorne End Times release (22)
Beyond that particular novelty, the model should be easy enough to convert. You can even leave the chains off from the start — what a relief! And it looks like you could possibly replace the legs with something less mutated (or more 40k).

All in all, a very cool and original Khornate warlord with some pretty minor shortcomings.

 

Skullreapers/Wrathmongers

Khorne End Times release (24)Okay, these guys are an interesting case. And also a fairly divisive kit, as evidenced by the rather mixed reactions all over the blogosphere. Let’s take a look, shall we?

In many ways, these can be seen as a Khornate version of the brilliant Putrid Blightkings — and those guys are certainly a tough act to follow. What both kits have in common is that they provide us with massive warriors of chaos pledged to a particular god. The Blightkings’ approach seems to have been to work as a “best of collection” of everything that has ever been cool about a Nurglite model. And on the face of it, the Skullreapers/Wrathmongers seem to be going for a similar attempt.

So we get huge weapons, lots and lots of skulls, horned heads, helmets with bunny ears and yet more skulls, an unbelievable amount of Khorne runes and some mutations resembling Khornate daemons and/or daemonic hounds. And two ways of assembling the kit, no less. Sounds great, right?

Yes, well… Let’s just say that not everything works out quite that well. But all in good order. First up, let’s take a look at the Skullreaper variant of the kit:

Khorne End Times release (25)Let’s point out the good things first: These guys are pretty massive, very threatening and do look pretty Khornate, too! So far so good! The bare arms are a nice shout out to the look of Kharn the Betrayer, and combined with their size, this should make them stand out from regular warriors of chaos. The amount of detail on the models is also rather stunning.

But it seems if the designers weren’t quite content with that alone and just kept adding stuff until they finally snapped and lost their minds. And that’s when those mutated weapons happened. I mean, just look at them:

Khorne End Times release (28)

The weapons are certainly one of the divisive elements of the kit: In addition to the extremely organic and mutated swords and axes shown in most of the offical photos, there’s also a slightly less OTT set of weapons included in the kit — but even those are extremely ostentatious and decorated to the point of ridiculousness. They are almost too ornate to be considered Khornate, but they might still work if used sparingly. But using two of these on each character in a unit? Definitely overkill!

There’s also the fact that the organic weapons remind me of nothing so much as the demon blade SoulEdge, from the Soul Calibur series of video games:

SoulEdge (1)
And that’s not where the parallels end, either. I mean, just take a look at the Skullreaper with the pincer claw in the picture below:

Khorne End Times release (26)
That guy is about one helmet and a bucket of blue paint away of looking exactly like Nightmare, from the same series:

SoulEdge (2)Sorry, but this cannot have been a coincidence. Recent WFB model releases have occasionally been slightly videogamey in their aesthetics, but this is certainly a new milestone when it comes to that particular development!

All in all, it just seems…a bit much. As if some of those ideas should better have been left on the cutting room floor. Each of the visual elements could probably have worked on its own. But the bare arms, hooligan heads, mutations, organic or highly ostentatious weapons and super-spiky armour just seem like overkill if appearing on each of the five models. Where the Putrid Blightkings work as a collection of awesome, Nurglite elements while also looking fairly cohesive as a unit, the Skullreapers just seem a bit over the top. Like the designers were possessed by their 12-year-old younger selves. Which leaves us with a kit that provides some absolutely amazing conversion fodder, but will also produce some fairly …eclectic models if assembled as intended.

But wait, there’s also a second variant to build the kit: The Wrathmongers.

Khorne End Times release (29)
If you can get behind the idea of followers of Khorne swinging around huge hammers, these guys are actually slightly less silly than the Skullreapers. At the very least, they do seem a little more balanced and less cluttered.

Khorne End Times release (30)
There are some pretty brilliant touches, too: Those helmets may just be some of the very best Khornate helmets currently available! And I just love the idea of the champion’s torso being studded and quasi-metallic, like the body of a juggernaut!

Yet there’s also a bit off silliness here and there: Some of the hammer poses do seem a little too stylised for their own good (the unit champion is a prime example). And let’s not get into that three-armed Wrathmonger: He’s just silly, really. Although maybe I just dislike guys with three arms?

Khorne End Times release (31)
All in all, this kit is extremely interesting, because it combines some of the best Khornate bitz released in the last decade or so with some of the worst clichés I’ve ever seen on a wargaming model. The resulting models seem a tad…uneven, to say the least: They make you want to facepalm and pump your fist in excitement at the same time — which is a pretty rare feeling…

On its own, this kit is a bit of a mixed bag: Almost great, but with some dubios design decisions and questionable visual influences. If seen as a conversion kit, however, this becomes and almost compulsory purchase. Seriously, use this as a conversion kit and a toolbox to customise your warriors of chaos, chaos lords or 40k berzerkers, and this should become one of the best purchases you’ve ever made. Use the kit as intended, and you may just end up with a unit that you hate. I’ve never seen anything quite like it (with the possible exception of the warhsrine of chaos kit): The mind boggles…

 

Conversion ideas:

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I have been thinking about possible conversions involving these new kits for quite a while now. In fact, I think that converters with a Khornate army of any kind will probably be the most happy with this release — and with good reason! So allow me to share a couple of ideas with you:

Bloodthirster:

This guy might be quite a bit more interesting for converters than seems obvious at first glance. The first thing that really warrants some exploration is the amount of customisation options, giving you the chance to build your very own, personalised Bloodthirster:

First up, you can happily mix and match between the three different kinds of Bloodthirster, combining different configurations of heads, armour plates, horns and weapons. And while the kit is constructed in a fairly straightforward way, there may be yet more options for possible customisation: What about using the lower part of the two-handed axe’s handle (or the hand holding the whip) as a base to convert a second hand axe, building a ‘Thirster equipped with twin axes (Skarbrand, anyone?). And while we are at it, it should definitely possible to use the Bloodthirster as a base for a Daemon Primarch Angron conversion. In any case, when it comes to customising the Bloodthirster, you should really head over to Noctus Cornix’ thread over at The Bolter & Chainsword: He is currently working on an amazing Bloodthirster conversion and is really putting the kit through its paces. Highly recommended!

But there’s more: Whatever configuration you choose, there will be a pretty tidy pile of leftover bitz to use on different conversions: What about using the two-handed axe on a World Eaters Contemptor (as Augustus b’Raass is currently planning to do)? Or using the head of the big axe as an alternate weapon for a Chaos Knight conversion? And speaking of Chaos Knights: Those Bloodthirster brestplates and the skull pauldron would definitely work as armour plates (and, in the latter case, an additional facemask) on an Imperial Knight!

It would also be really easy to cut apart that meteor hammer and use its head as a weapon on a Khornate Dreadnought/Helbrute, while the chain would look great on pretty  much any chaos vehicle (or bigger model).

Wrathmongers/Skullreapers:

While these may be a bit of an acquired taste if seen on their own, I will go out on a limb here and claim that these guys will become a highly popular conversion kit when it comes to spicing up Warriors of Chaos, Chaos Space Marines and Chaos lords of every stripe. Just off the top of my head, you could use the kit in order to…

  • convert champions for your warriors of chaos or Chaos Space Marines — it goes without saying that the Skullreaper bitz will look excellent on World Eaters champions, Lords and Chosen.
  • they are also big and intimidating enough to work perfectly as stand alone Chaos Lords in both WFB and 40k
  • some of them would make a great base for custom Kharn the Betrayer conversions…
  • …or for actual true scale World Eaters: They may seem slightly too small for that at first, but these guys are easily as tall as Terminators! And they will look great when combined with parts from the Dark Vengeance Chosen — trust me on this 😉
  • the running, mutated legs could form the base for a very interesting plastic Skulltaker conversion for those of you who would like a slightly more massive, muscular Herald of Khorne. Skarr Bloodwrath would also work wonderfully for this!
  • If I didn’t already have a squad of gladiatorial World Eaters, I’be be building one now — based on these guys!
  • And finally, the models could be combined with the Skullcrusher kit to either make more ostentatious Skullcrushers or slightly less OTT Skullreapers: The two kits should work really well together, giving you the option to make massive, Khornate warriors that are as detailed or as simple in their design, armour and weapons as you want. And it goes without saying that just a few additional touches will transform the models in question into suitable 40k characters as well.

There’s nothing stopping you from using these for other chaos gods, either: While they may seem utterly Khornate at first, just leave off some of the icons and more Khornate bitz, and they could just as well work as huge, hulking champions of Slaanesh of Chaos Undivided. Oh, and even the INQ28 crowd may find something to like here: All those fleshy, organic weapons would work really well as daemon weapons for particularly radical Inquisitors (or downright heretics). The head that has been partly flayed would be great for a death cultist, a chrono-gladiator or a similarly unsavoury type. And the mutated, dog-like head might make a cool xenos mercenary.

All of this is really just the tip of the iceberg, and I should add, in the interest of full disclosure, that I already own two kits from this release (the Bloodthirster and Skullreapers/Wrathmongers), so you may look forward to reading some in-depth observations about both kits and my first conversion projects involving them on this blog in the very near future!

 

When all is said and done, how could I not call this a strong release? I am heavily biased, after all. Even so, I think the Bloodthirster alone is very exciting, while the other two kits may indeed be a bit of an acquired taste. For converters and kitbashers and for owners of chaos armies, however, this release contains an enormous pile of new toys and conversion options — it’s just a shame that some of the models, especially the Skullreapers, are a bit problematic in their standard configuration. I am also not actually sure whether the general development towards a more videogamey look for certain characters will really pay off in the long run: Will the World of Warcraft crowd really start liking Warhammer if the designs are just zany enough? Those seem like long odds. We shall see.

I, however, am pretty happy with this release and shall keep tormenting you with projects and conversions stemming from it for quite a while to come. But what’s your take on the new kits? Are you happy? Are you disgusted? Or would you like to share some additional conversion ideas that I might have missed? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments!

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

Inquisitor 28: Lady of War

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2015 by krautscientist

I think I may have mentioned before that I consider the Sisters of Battle, or Adepta Sororitas, to be one of the most interesting and original parts of the 40k background — there’s just something brilliantly quirky and narratively compelling at the same time about an order of “space nuns”, and I think when GW’s designers and writers were tasked with creating a (female) foil for the Space Marines, they couldn’t have come up with a better solution.

Likewise, John Blanche’s iconic cover for the Codex Sisters of Battle remains one of my favourite pieces of 40k-related artwork, because it really encapsulates the 40k universe in one piece of art. Take a look:

Adepta_Sororitas_by_John_Blanche

Artwork by John Blanche

It’s all there, isn’t it? The eclecticism, the grimdarkness, the medieval and renaissance influences, the traces of sci-fi — and of course the charming lady dead centre: A Sister of Battle — or should that be the Sister of Battle?

When I first saw this illustration, I didn’t know anything about the Sisters’ place in the background, or about the ecclesiarchy or any of that, but the picture captivated me nevertheless. And maybe – or very probably, come to think of it – my interest in the Sisters was planted then and there.

Alas, we still haven’t seen a plastic re-release/re-design of the Sisters of Battle, so what was I to do in order to scratch this particular hobby itch (without having to dig through piles of old lead)? That’s right — I had to get creative and make a suitable kitbash!

Which I did: I built a Sister of Battle for my collection of INQ28 characters, using nothing but plastic parts. Some of you may remember the model’s first appearance on this blog, quite some time ago:

Sister Kitbash (5)
Sister Kitbash (7)
Sister Kitbash (8)
Like I said back then, I do realise that the model is not entirely without its problems: The head may be a tad too big, the legs are maybe just a tiny bit too long. But I think that, under the given circumstances, I did the best I could with the materials available to me, and I am really enormously proud of the model, to be honest.

For those of you who want to attempt something similar, here’s a short bitz list:

  • the leg and torso are from a Dark Eldar Kabalite warrior and remain mostly unchanged. The only exceptions are that amazing aquila bit (I have absolutely no idea where I got that or where it’s from!) and a Fleur de Lys shaved off a Bretonnian bit.
  • the head came from the plastic gunner that comes with the SoB Immolator kit — one of the two plastic SoB heads in existence 😉
  • the upper arms and the left forearm are shaved down parts from the WFB Empire Knights (from the Knights of the White Wolf, to be exact)
  • the right forearm is from the Bretonnian Knights
  • the bolt pistol came from the Cadian command squad, IIRC
  • the backpack was spliced together from a cut-down GK backpack with a GK heraldic plate, some vents from a Dark Vengeance Chosen backpack and an iron halo from a servo-skull
  • I also added some purity seals, pouches and decorative gubbinz that I cannot pinpoint accurately — the kind of stuff any INQ28 modeler has heaps of, I guess…;)

It’s also important to point out that it’s very easy to use a virtually identical recipe in order to create Sisters of Silence — as I have done repeatedly for my own, kitbashed Custodes army.

So what about the paintjob, then? Well, I have to admit that it actually took me ages to settle on an approach, possibly for fear of ruining the model. One thing was easy to figure out: The general colour scheme. Even though the model would have been a great opportunity to invent my own SoB colour scheme, I knew I wanted the model to be painted in the colours of the Order of Our Martyred Lady, for a number of reasons: It’s easily the most iconic SoB scheme, for one, and I really wanted to use it. But there’s also the fact that I needed the paintjob to make the conversion believably read as a Sister of Battle: I have learned from Ron Saikowski that, on a kitbash like this, it’s important to really nail some of the details, so the model will come across as “correct”, even if many pieces are different from the source material. And using the most well-known colours would probably sell the viewer on my model as a Sister, even if there are some notable differences from the official metal models.

When it came to the actual painting, two sources proved invaluable: One was a picture of a squad of Celestians from Codex: Witch Hunters. They had exactly the colour scheme I wanted, but with some additional decoration and golden trim that made the models look even cooler.

The other source that really helped me paint my model was Valhallan 23rd’s kitbashed Sister, because she was also converted using DE bitz, and I really needed an idea about how to apply the classic SoB colours to these particular parts. In a nice bit of symmetry, I seem to have inspired Valhallan 23rd to actually create the model in the first place, while I now took some invaluable inspiration for my own paintjob from that very model — I like that! 😉

So, without any further ado, I give you Sister Euphrati Eisen, of the Order of the Martyred Sword:

Sister Euphrati Eisen (9)
Sister Euphrati Eisen (11)
Sister Euphrati Eisen (12)
Sister Euphrati Eisen (8)
Sister Euphrati Eisen (16)
Sister Euphrati Eisen (13)
Sister Euphrati Eisen (14)
Sister Euphrati Eisen (15)
You may have noticed the helmet on the model’s belt. This was a last minute addition I made, using part of a resin piece from the 40k basing kit. It just seemed more professinal and accurate to have the helmet actually displayed on the model.

One thing I am particularly proud of is that I even managed to give her a beauty spot on her left cheek:

Sister Euphrati Eisen (7)
As you can see, there’s also some minor texture buildup on her cheek, due to the colour I used. This would normally have killed me, but in the end, I think it could represent some slight scarring on her face, which seems a nice fit for a Sister of Battle (and is an element that keeps appearing throughout most of the artwork).

The face may actually be my favourite part of the paintjob, warts and all. This has been the first female face I’ve painted in over a decade, and I am really happy with the way it has turned out, in spite of a few smaller problems:

The sculpt of the head is certainly a bit of a problem. The hairdo is much more rigid (and less interesting) than that of the metal Sisters. But it was really the only (original, “official”) option if I wanted a bare head. It was also clear that my usual approach of “paint the basecoat, wash heavily, apply highlights” wouldn’t work as easily, because this tends to result in a pretty gnarly looking face — great for followers of chaos, grizzled Inquisitors and seven foot tall killing machines, but not so much for a grrrl 😉

So I tried softer highlights, which worked reasonably well. The application of makeup may have been a bit clichéd (if not sexist), but it was also a good way of moving the face away from the usual look. The glossy lips (painted with Tamiya Clear Red, btw) were something that I have wanted to try for a while, and it worked rather well. It’s also a shout out to the obvious absurdity of the Sisters of Battle, as is the blue-ish eyeshadow (created with a careful application of Drakenhof Nightshade). It’s a fairly stylised approach, all in all, but I am pretty happy with the result. Not because it’s perfect or particularly realistic or anything, but because the Sister at least doesn’t look like a Space Marine.

All in all, I have to say I am really happy with the finished model — I think she definitely reads as a Sister of Battle, which was the most important thing. And I’ve also managed to keep a female quality to her face, which I consider a pretty big achievement.

All that remained was a small background vignette, as per my usual routine:

Sister Euphrati Eisen (10)
Sister Euphrati Eisen, of the Order of the Martyred Sword

When the Crusade army of St. Sabasto moved to reclaim the Velsen Sector for the Imperium of Man, a detachment of the Adepta Sororitas from the Order of Our Martyred Lady joined the crusade and fought alongside Sabasto for the entire duration of the campaign. After the saint had sacrificed his own life to guarantee the reclamation of the sector, those Sisters reconsecrated themselves in order to honour the martyr, becoming the first members of the Order of the Martyred Sword.

Sister Euphrati, named for a particularly beloved Imperial saint, is one of the sisters of the Order who have been requisitioned several times to aid the Ordo Hereticus Velsen in operations of utmost importance, and so far she has excelled in her service to the Ordo and the Velsian Ecclesiarchy.

Let me know what you think — I’d be happy to hear any feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Rest in peace, Terry Pratchett

Posted in Pointless ramblings with tags , , , on March 13, 2015 by krautscientist

RIP_Terry_Pratchett

Damn. There’s really not much more to say. Far more intelligent and eloquent people are singing Terry Pratchett’s praises even now, so suffice to say that this is terrible news! Even though his illness was well known, I would have hoped that Death would still save him for later — but in the end, he probably wanted to finally meet the man who had made him into one of the best supporting characters ever, I suppose.

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books have a very special place in my heart, because they are a triumph: Wonderful fantasy with an abundance of humour and some excellent stories hidden within: Few fantasy writers seem to realise that fantasy novels need compelling worlds and interesting narratives above all else — narratives that could even stand on their own if all the fantastic elements were to be removed from the equation. Sir Terry was one of those people, which makes his loss all the more tragic.

I remember wanting to be fluent in English, so I could read his books in the original. In that, Terry Pratchett probably did more for my multilingualism than any school lesson. I remember being overjoyed late last year when I discovered the Discworld Diary had made a comeback after several years. I remember reading his last few books and wondering, time and time again, whether the book I was reading was going to be the last one. Or whether it would – possibly even worse – be the one where the rot finally set in.

That never happened, and maybe we should be glad for that, in spite of everything. Terry Pratchett’s work seems far removed from the grimdark setting of Warhammer 40k at a glance, but in the end, all of this may have come from a similar breed of very British satire. So it is probably safe to assume that many 40k fans frequenting this blog will feel this loss just as keenly as I do.

My condolences to the family. And all the best to Sir Terry Pratchett, wherever he may be now. May you live in interesting times, sir!

 

EDIT: It has since come to my attention that fellow hobbyist and very talented artists Henry South is holding a raffle/auction that will allow you to own some of his beautiful models (which have already been featured in Blanchitsu, no less), with the proceeds going towards supporting Alzheimer’s Society, in honour of Terry Pratchett. Please take a minute to check out the following links and maybe make a contribution! And thanks for the wonderful idea, Henry!

The raffle is here, and the auction can be found here.

Inquisitor 28: Back in business!

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2015 by krautscientist

You are probably aware of the fact that this will turn out to be a rather Khornate month, all things considered 😉 But all in good time: Before the realm of blood and brass inevitably engulfs us all, let me take the chance to address the wonderful world of INQ28 once more:

As you probably remember, one of my most important hobby-related new year’s resolutions was to be more productive when it comes to creating shadowy and/or eclectic INQ28 characters. And so far, I am happy to say that I have managed to keep this promise. So I’ll be showing you some new INQ28 characters and conversions in the very near future! Yay!

For starters, let’s focus on some of the things that have managed to renew my passion for actually finishing INQ28 models. While some of the work has been my own, I was also happy enough to receive some wonderful motivational help from fellow hobbyists. So let’s take a look:

 

I. A Traveler From the Warp…

One event that made me particularly happy last year was when Ron Saikowski got in touch with me late last autumn. For those of you who don’t know Ron (and shame on you, if you don’t!): He used to run an absolutely excellent hobby site called From the Warp, a very prolific resource for excellent hobby advice, and a site that was very important for me when I got back into the hobby in 2010, after a longer hiatus.

Ron unfortunately no longer updates the site — but it’s still there! And you should definitely check it out, if you haven’t already — it’s every bit as excellent as it was a couple of years ago! Anyway, I was still very happy to hear from him — even moreso because he had discovered my love letter to his hobby work. Anyway, to make a long story short, Ron is still in the hobby, and I think that alone is an excellent thing!

Things became really awesome, however, when we talked about an old model of Ron’s that I really love: An Imperial mystic he converted and painted. The model has a very grimdark, Blanchian look, which was probably the main reason why I liked it so much. Now imagine my surprise when Ron simply suggested sending it to me as a gift! And he did! Take a look:

Model converted and painted by Ron Saikowski

Model converted and painted by Ron Saikowski

 

Model converted and painted by Ron Saikowski

Model converted and painted by Ron Saikowski

 

Model converted and painted by Ron Saikowski

Model converted and painted by Ron Saikowski

A wonderfully evocative piece or work! And it’s now mine! MUHAHAHA…erm, sorry –got a bit carried away there. Anyway, I am really happy to have come into the possession of a great model like this, created by one of my favourite hobbyists, no less! What makes this even better, though, is that the model’s Blanchian feel is no coincidence: The character was actually based on a piece of artwork depicting an Astropath by none other than John Blanche. Take a look:

Insignium p1-10:-

Artwork by John Blanche

I think this actually further enriches an already great model! I also think that Ron has really managed to capture the mood of the original illustration. Oh, and for those of you who want to learn more about the model’s creation, I recommend you check out Ron’s original post on the matter here on From the Warp.

It goes without saying that I am really, really grateful to Ron for this amazing gift! The Astropath, named Skorin Saikov in Ron’s honour, will be a treasured part of my collection, and certainly an interesting character for all INQ28 related adventures in the Velsen Sector…

 

 

II. Presents from Down Under(hive)

Believe it or not: Ron wasn’t the only person to be so very generous, either: Fellow hobbyist Drone 21c, owner of one of the most beautiful and Blanchian Inquisitor warbands I have seen so far (make sure to check it out here), was also awesome enough to send me some wonderful stuff last autumn — all the way from Australia, no less!

Everything started with this handsome gentleman:

RT era IG soldier (1)
Yes, that’s right: A Rogue Trader era plastic Imperial Guardsmen. I discovered this model when Drone21c posted a wonderfully painted version of it on his blog, and I was shameless enough to ask whether he would send one over to me.

He actually sent two of them, if you can believe it! And I have to admit that I actually spread the love and gave one of the models to the owner of my FLGS: He’s a great guy and provides excellent service, and he is also a huge IG nut, so it felt like the right thing to do. That said, I made him promise he would paint the model, to be presented here on this blog, so we may look forward to seeing it at some point in the future.

But as if that wasn’t enough enough, Drone 21c also included some more amazing stuff: Some wonderfully converted and individualised heads for my conversion projects, some of which you can see here:

Heads converted by Drone 21c

Heads converted by Drone 21c

With the exception of the head on the right (which, I believe, is a Perry Miniatures bit), each of these heads has been expertly converted and customised with sculpted elements — if anything, I am actually scared of using them up for “standard” conversions (that said, I do have a cunning plan regarding the flagellant head with the dapper hairdo — watch this space).

And even that was not enough: No, Drone 21c also included a copy of a model he had sculpted himself, — possibly the star of the show:

model sculpted by Dorne 21c

model sculpted by Drone 21c

You can see better pictures of the original model over on his blog, but the amazing thing is that the model was very obviously based on an iconic John Blanche sketch from the 40k 2nd edition Codex Imperialis:

illustration by John Blanche

illustrazion by John Blanche

I finally started painting the model this past Sunday. Take a look:

Model sculpted by Drone 21c

Model sculpted by Drone 21c

 

Model sculpted by Drone 21c

Model sculpted by Drone 21c

 

Model sculpted by Drone 21c

Model sculpted by Drone 21c

 

Model sculpted by Drone 21c

Model sculpted by Drone 21c

The model was originally envisioned as some kind of Imperial dignitary (or even governor), but I think he’ll also make for an excellent High-officiant, Arch-Deacon or even Cardinal of the Velsen Ecclesiarchy, once he’s done.

Only now that I have painted the model can I appreciate all the fine detail that Drone 21c has managed to create, like the small aquila clasp on the model’s shoulder, the cabling on the back of the head or the lined face — the latter one is a particular achievement, if you ask me. Excellent stuff!

You will probably have noticed that the model doesn’t have a finished base yet. I think this could conceivably become a little project of its own, because I feel the model would look great with a lectern, a pulpit, or even riding atop some kind of walking servitor-shrine or hideous, vat grown monstrosity — we shall see…;)

In any case, thanks again to Drone21c for letting me have this amazing model! In fact, the most humbling thing about this entire affair is that I have yet to send something back over the great pond! But I have been collecting suitable bitz for the last months, and it won’t be long now until I can finally repay this kindness — if it can be repaid at all, that is!

 

III: An officer and a gentleman

And finally, yet another thing I want to share with you, but one that doesn’t owe anything to other people’s generosity (for once…). Still, this project really made me get my arse in gear on the INQ28 front. So, what is this about?

You may remember this Inquisitor/Interrogator I converted from the plastic commissar. I posted him quite a while ago…

Gunslinger Inq WIP (11)
But you know what? I actually wasn’t really happy with the guy before, there was just something off about him for some reason. He seemed kinda pompous and ineffectual, for lack of a better word: More like an NPC than an actual character. A foppish military type without much character to speak of.

Back when I built him, I tried a different pair of legs (from the Eisenkern Stormtroopers), which seemed promising…

Gunslinger Inq WIP (10)
…but wasn’t quite there, either. But a while ago, due to a spontaneous moment of inspiration, I tried replacing his original legs with a pair of legs from the Tempestus Scions, and I think this changes the overall look of the model rather drastically. Take a look:

Brynn Yulner WIP (1)
Brynn Yulner WIP (2)
I think he looks quite a bit more formidable and dynamic this way, wouldn’t you agree? Less like an arrogant officer type, and more like a desperado who knows his way around the underhive, even though he’s wearing such a dapper uniform.

The new legs really add some dynamism and agency to the model. And even though he may seem a bit squat now (mostly because he’s leaning into the shot), I think it’s far preferable to the previous version!

However, the new legs prompted some additional changes to the model: I may have spent a long time splicing together that Xenos pistol, but it really no longer suited the character all that well, as PDH rightly pointed out — funny how that will happen sometimes, isn’t it?

So I went for twin autopistols instead:

Brynn Yulner WIP (4)
Much better! But there was one last thing that bothered me, and Bruticus really nailed it: What’s the deal with that chain running from the model’s lapel to the pistol grip?

The longer I kept looking at it, the more nonsensical it seemed. So it had to go! I carefully cut it off and replaced it with an oath paper, affixed to the model’s lapel:

Brynn Yulner WIP (6)
Excellent! And with that, the model was basically ready for painting — at long last! 😉

I really didn’t want to mess this up, and I wanted to go for a mix of a military, regimented look, with a dash of ostentatiousness. Here’s what I came up with, after a while:

Interrogator Brynn Yulner (2)
Interrogator Brynn Yulner (1)
Interrogator Brynn Yulner (3)
It may not look like it, but this paintjob was actually quite a ways outside of my comfort zone: The colour of his coat, for instance was a bit of an experiment for me. That said, I am truly happy with how the model has turned out, and my success with this character has inspired me to go and paint some additional INQ28 models — just you wait and see!

Fairly atypically for me, however, I have not yet completely worked out the background for this model: The change in the conversion and subsequent painting happened so quickly that I basically let myself be carried along by the tide. However, the first ideas are slowly congealing into something resembling a character background:

I think the character should have a pronounced Imperial Guard background: Maybe he was a member of the prestigious Bastold Oathblades, until a momentous event cost him his arm and left eye? Maybe the same event also lead to him being requisitioned as a retainer (and ultimately, Interrogator) by one Inquisitor Marius Solland (we’ll be hearing from him in a future post). I think having an Inquisitor of the Ordo Militum, concerning itself with supervising the Imperium’s military, would be a nice change, after all the Malleus and Hereticus nutjobs 😉

And there are also the small touches on the model itself that could possibly tell small stories: Somebody over at the Ammobunker pointed out the very clunky bionics on the Interrogator’s face: But maybe there’s a story there? If you look closely, you can see that some cabling feeds from the bulky, optical implants into the power pack on the model’s back and into the bionic arm from there — maybe he consciously chose the somewhat clunky implant to gain a battlefield advantage?

Anyway, I am still very open to suggestions and ideas as to the character’s background, so feel free to share any ideas you might have! Only one thing is already set in stone: the character’s name. After some lenghty conversations with fellow hobbyist DexterKong, we came up with the name Brynn Yulner for this Interrogator — a cookie to anyone who gets the joke 😉

 

So yeah, as you can see, I am back in business when it comes to INQ28! I would love to hear any feedback you might have — rest assured that we will be seeing more shady characters around here very soon!

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

Send in the clowns! A look at the Eldar Harlequin release

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

Oh boy, the mythical and elusive Harlequins are here, and in plastic, no less! So while the rest of the world is already salivating over the new servants of Khorne (we will be getting there, don’t you worry 😉 ), let us take a look at the recent Harlequin release and at all the wonderful conversion options it brings. Follow me into the ring, if you please:

Harlequin release (1)
My first contact with the Harlequins happened during the glorious days of 2nd edition, when I saw a couple of Harlequin models in the colour section of the 40k rulebook. I instantly fell in love with one of the models (that, incidentally, resembled the modern design for the Shadowseer rather closely). Alas, my sympathy for the model never amounted to much, as my FLGS back then simply didn’t stock the models, and ordering something in those wild and medieval days always felt like a bit of an adventure. And after those early-to-mid-90s models, the Harlequins just seemed to fall by the wayside, until GW decided to give them a new lease of life a couple of years ago, in the form of some uniformly excellent metal/Finecast models sculpted by the one and only Jes Goodwin.

This new release, then, mainly attempts two things: Translating Jes Goodwin’s beautiful designs into plastic versions, and rounding out the Harlequins’ catalogue into something that can support an entire supplemental Codex. So let us take a look at all the parts of the release in turn and gauge the success of the endeavour, shall we?

 

Harlequin Shadowseer

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The Shadowseer has always been my favourite Harlequin model, all the way back to those models from the early 90s. And the great thing is that the design has only become cooler over the years: Jes Goodwin’s Shadowseer from a few years back is one of my favourite Eldar models of all time — and may just be one of my favourite 40k models altogether. There’s just something about the cowled, faceless look of the model that speaks to me (maybe the fact that the design recalls the brilliantly designed villain from Vidocq has something to do with it…).

Good thing, then, that the new plastic Shadowseer turns out to be an almost perfect, step by step recreation of the earlier metal/Finecast model in plastic. Here’s the earlier version again, for comparison:

Harlequin release (30)
The main differences between the two versions are a different leg pose and a new pistol (which serves as a great little shout out to an incidental piece of artwork from the 3rd edition rulebook, if I am not mistaken). If anything, the slightly more acrobatic leg pose does a good job of bringing the Shadowseer in line with his fellow Harlequins, while he also retains his mysterious aura.

It seems like all the detail from the earlier version has managed to make the cut, including the characteristic staff and the facemask dangling from the Shadowseer’s hip — I’ve always liked the idea, that the Shadowseer actually wears his stylised face on his belt, while his facemask remains a mirrored visor.

Harlequin release (6)A look at the sprue reveals that it might be interesting to figure out ways to convert the model and tweak some of the details, as is always the case with GW’s clamshell characters:

Harlequin release (7)But when all is said and done, the truth of the matter is that the Shadowseer was pretty much perfect in design to begin with, and you know what they say: If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it! If anything, the fact that this character is now available in plastic makes it more likely for me to finally pick him up. Very nice!

 

Harlequin Death Jester

Harlequin release (2)

 

Okay, this is where things get slightly more interesting, because while the Death Jester is also very similar in design to its earlier incarnation, the pose is markedly different this time around. Here’s the old version, for the sake of comparison:

Harlequin release (29)And you know what? I hate to be that guy, but I actually like the “classic” version better (funny feeling to apply the word classic to a fairly recent model, but there you have it): The very composed, even somewhat static pose works great for the sinister, reaper-like aspect of the character, while the one extended leg does hint at a little playfulness after all — as I’ve said before, whatever they pay Jes Goodwin, it cannot ever be enough!

The new model doesn’t share this amount of subtlty, unfortunately, with the Death Jester crouching on a piece of fallen Eldar masonry in best Dark Knight pose. There’s also the fact that I like the full skull facemask better than the half-mask version of the plastic model. And let’s not forget that the classic version is actually a fair bit cheaper as well!

What we get out of the new version, of course, is flexibility: A look at the sprue reveals that it should be fairly easy to replace the Death Jester’s legs, creating something closer to the original pose, if one wanted:

Harlequin release (4)And the new Death Jester is certainly a beautiful model in his own right, with all the abundance of detail we have come to expect from GW’s plastic characters:

Harlequin release (3)Although that piece of Eldar architecture on the base just seems a bit much, doesn’t it? It almost threatens to overwhelm the model atop it…

All in all, it’s an expertly made and beautifully detailed model, no question about that. In my opinion, however, the new Death Jester loses out against his earlier incarnation. It’s a cool model, but it’s also good that the classic version is still available!

 

Harlequin Solitaire

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Oh boy, here’s the Harlequin character we’ve been waiting for for the last twenty odd years. At last! The Solitaire is here! And he’s…well, a bit underwhelming, if you ask me.

Let’s start with the good stuff: The model is amazingly dynamic, which is definitely a plus. I also like the casual way the model interacts with its base – a forté of the new Harlequin models, and the Solitaire is certainly no slouch in this department.

But this guy is supposed to represent Slaanesh, right?…

Harlequin release (9)
Maybe it’s just me, but he just doesn’t seem threatening enough. Sure, it’s only a stylised representation of She-Who-Thirsts, but such a big deal is made about the dark and sinister and, well, solitary nature of the Solitaire in the background that the actual model just seems slightly bland. I do like the tron-like embellishments on his coat, though…

All in all, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the Solitaire seems much more interesting as conversion fodder than in his actual function — but we’ll be getting to that. Suffice to say for now that a look at the sprue reveals that the model should be deliciously easy to convert into something else:

Harlequin release (10)
Maybe there was really no way to win this: Everybody has been waiting for years and years, so whatever model gets released cannot possibly keep up with the hype. And yet, I somehow expected more — is that weird?

 

Harlequin Troupe

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Okay, this is basically the bread and butter of the release, and the one part GW needed to get right: They’ll be selling more of these than of any of the other Harlequin kits, I suppose, so the kit had better be good, right?

And it is. As is the case with the Shadowseer and Death Jester, the new plastic Harlequins mostly seem like a recreation of  Jes Goodwin’s earlier metal/Finecast models, and that was definitely the right way to go!

What’s more, this approach works exceptionally well for the most part, creating a bunch of very dynamic models that have all the strengths of the earlier versions, with a couple of really nifty details added on top: I really love the idea of having more facemasks than you actually need, for instance.

Harlequin release (13)
But I won’t beat around the bush here: Unfortunately, the one model to take a tremendous hit is the troupe master. The Trinity-pose of his earlier incarnation may not have been all that realistic, but it was still pretty fantastic. In my opinion, they should just have recreated that pose step for step, because it was pretty much perfect:

Harlequin release (31)
But maybe it was to special for a multipart plastic kit? Whatever happened, the new pose just seems like we’ve caught the troupe master during an awkward moment between jumps:

Harlequin release (12)The legs may not even be the worst part of the pose, come to think of it: It’s the way he’s stretching out his arms. The older troupe master looked like a magnificent bastard fully in control of the situation — the epitome of a sinister clown. The new guy seems to be yelling “Look Ma! No hands!” at the top of his lungs.

Now don’t get me wrong: This should be easy enough to fix with a bit of cutting and reposing, and one slipup like this doesn’t devalue an entire kit. But it’s still unfortunate that the most iconic and characterful model in the old kit was the one thing they messed up in the new version.

Beyond this unfortunate fact, it’s a fantastic kit, make no mistake. I imagine it’ll be lots and lots of fun to play around with, both for Eldar players and conversion nuts (like me).

Harlequin release (16)All in all, it’s a great kit, marred by one unfortunate design decision. But we’re all men (and women) of the world here, eh? We’ll make do 😉

 

Harlequin Skyweavers

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Giving the Harlequins some fast and dynamic attack vehicles and means of transports seems like a bit of a no-brainer — and here we go! Personally, I would have wished for a return of the old Harlequin jetbikes, with the entire front canopy being made up of a giant, grinning face. Those things were rad! But alas, you cannot win them all.

Harlequin release (18)What we get instead is still very cool: An elongated jetbike with a design squarely between a Craftworld Eldar jetbike and a Dark Eldar Reaver jetbike — with some distinct Harlequin touches added on top.

.Harlequin release (20)And that’s what I really like about these: The way they seem so much like a missing link between Craftworld and Dark Eldar jetbikes — although I cannot shake the feeling that this kit seems like a bit of a “Screw you!” to all the hobbyists who have been waiting for new craftworld jetbikes for years on end…

All in all, however, it’s a cool kit, and they come in sets of two — what’s not to like, right?

 

Harlequin Starweaver/Voidweaver

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And finally, a bigger jetbike variant that does the shooting or transport the dangerous clowns into combat! Yay! I think it’s no coincidence that the Starweaver and Voidweaver resemble the Dark Eldar Venom really closely — once again, this does a good job of matching existing (Dark) Eldar designs. I imagine it also shortened design time on this kit by a fair bit, but that’s neither here nor there.

The Starweaver mostly seems to echo the Venom’s role as a quick transport and light attack vehicle:

Harlequin release (24)Yet there’s also the option of assembling the kit as a Voidweaver, a far more shooty version of this particular vehicle type, by the look of it:

 

Harlequin release (27)
Both are pretty similar from a design standpoint. For me, the most interesting part of this particular kit is the fact that – exactly as has been the case with the Venom kit – the crew are some of the finest and most interesting conversion bitz in the entire catalogue. I mean, just check out how awesome these guys are:
Harlequin release (25)And words cannot express how much I want that Voidweaver gunner in my bitzbox: Those robes are just amazing:

Harlequin release (28)
Perfect for a (radical) Xenos Inquisitor or a custom (Dark) Eldar character, don’t you think?

Another solid kit that plays to the (Dark) Eldar’s visual strengths. It’s not exactly extremely creative and original, but it will have its place.

 

Conversion options:

As always, here’s where things get most interesting — at least for me 😉 So what can we do with all these new kits? How can we put them to good use? And how can we cut them up? …erm, sorry, that must have been the Haemonculus side of my personality getting the better of me for a second there…

It’s plain to see that these new kits will probably have the biggest impact on Eldar and Dark Eldar players: Finally, a whole plastic catalogue is available for the race, spanning almost the entire range of possible Eldar factions (Exodites notwithstanding), allowing you to mix and match in order to create whatever custom Eldar army you want: An entirely kitbashed corsair force is now a very simple and exciting possibility!

Beyond that, the release certainly provides lots and lots of interesting bitz. The clamshell characters could make for very nice custom Exarchs, Autarchs or Farseers — and  if you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can finally convert the new plastic Craftworld jetbikes you’ve craved so much, Eldar players! 😉

Beyond those who already own an Eldar army, I can easily see the INQ28 folks getting next in line — myself included:

The Harlequin Troupe seems like a perfect go-to solution for all kinds of Inquisitorial agents: These guys could become the base models for death cult assassins- Inquisitorial agents or, obviously, particularly deadly clowns of a particularly sinister Circus Imperialis. What’s more, the models are also great conversion fodder for eclectic underhive gangs in the Confrontation vein! For those of you not in the know: Some of the Confrontation (read: Proto-Necromunda) models and concepts seem to have served as the actual inspiration for the Harlequins, so it seems only right to now use Harlequin bitz for your Confrontation needs — just check out Johannus’ work right here. He is making wonderful brat gangers from all those new Harlequin parts!

There are also quite a few possible ideas for the clamshell characters (and that beautiful Voidweaver gunner): I can see quite a few (possibly radical) Ordo Xenos operatives and Inquisitors coming out of this release. In fact, the Solitaire seems like a very promising base model for an Imperial agent — I actually have an idea right now for a somewhat unhinged and very, very dangerous Inquisitorial agent based on that very model! And there’s always the option of using the Harlequin bitz for Slaaneshi cultists and similarly sinister figures.

In any case, I think we can safely expect to see many, many of those bitz and models in the INQ28 section over at the Ammobunker, in due time…

 

All in all, I think this is a pretty solid release — if a somewhat “safe” one. It seems like GW mainly put the Eldar catalgoue’s visual strengths (and Jes Goodwin’s excellent designs) to good use here, reaping the fruit of earlier design and expanding some pretty brilliant ideas into big enough collection of kits to sustain a sub-faction. There’s nothing wrong with it – I would actually like more factions to get this treatment – but it’s not exactly high-hanging fruit, either.

But let’s be fair: When all is said and done, this hobby is very much about variety, about options. And this release provides us with new options without forcing our hand. The kits are solid, and it’s all in plastic. Good work! And I think it’s a safe assumption that we’ll be seeing something a little more involved – and daring – next month 😉

Oh, and before we tune out for today, a word about the paintjobs, perhaps: ‘Eavy Metal sometimes seems to take a bit of flak for particular colour choices and their way of doing things, but if there’s one thing I really love, it’s how the new “official” Harlequin paintjobs manage to connect the earlier Harlequin designs with some touches that recall technology like projection mapping and almost seem inspired by TRON — very nice!

 

So, what’s your take on these new kits? Anything you would like to add to my observations? Any conversion ideas you would like to share? I would love to hear from you in the comments section!

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