Archive for March, 2016

Corruption has never felt so good – a look at Deathwatch: Overkill

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2016 by krautscientist

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So here we are, at long last, with my look at Deathwatch: Overkill. Sorry for being so awfully late to this particular party, but I really had to force myself to sit down and create a suitably long writeup, especially given the huge amount of conversion potential inherent in these new kits. But I persevered, and here I am, probably the last person in the world to discuss this new board game release on their blog. I hope you’ll be taking a look, nevertheless 😉

Say what you want about the constantly escalating scale and rules complexity of 40k or about GW’s somewhat aimless treatment of Age of Sigmar, but I cannot deny that GW has been steadily ticking boxes off my personal Most Wanted list for quite a while now: An 28mm Imperial Knight, check. More and better Khornate models, check. A fully fledged plastic AdMech release, check. Plastic Sisters,…no, wait, we haven’t seen those yet.

But possibly the only thing quite as interesting as a proper Sisters release is a new version of Genestealer Cults, and lo and behold: That’s exactly what we are getting with Deathwatch: Overkill, the latest boxed game by GW. Oh yeah, some Space Marines are also included, of course, but I suppose that’s a given 😉

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So join me as I ponder the new models and their possible use in all kinds of conversion projects — in fact, several highly talented hobbyists are already hard at work, putting the new sprues through their paces, and it goes without saying that I’ll be pointing you towards their work as well. Also make sure to check out Heresy & Heroes` and Wudugast’s posts on the matter, as I enjoyed reading them and they should make excellent companion pieces for my take on the matter.

So here goes:

 

Team Deathwatch:

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You simply cannot have a Deathwatch centered game without a Deathwatch Killteam, obviously, and here we are. Now it’s of course perfectly obvious that this collection of models is a pretty shrewd move by GW, because what we are getting here, beyond the scope of the game at hand, is basically a collection of eleven custom Space Marine clamshell characters that would look great in any Astartes army. What’s more, there’s also a model for nearly every popular chapter, probably making this box an auto-purchase for Space Marine players while also giving rise to a healthy shadow economy of selling the different models on ebay.

But what of the models themselves? Let’s take a look at each member of Killteam Cassius in turn:

 

Ortan Cassius:

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Well, what do you know: It’s a great little surprise to encounter a younger version of one of the Ultramarines’ special characters, dating back to before he fell, head-first, into the meatgrinder known as Hivefleet Behemoth — or it was a surprise for me, at least, because I didn’t follow BL’s string of Deathwatch related short stories. But let’s talk about the model:

The obvious thing is to check for parallels to the older version of the character, and it’s nice to see how quite a few parts of the model create a nice sense of continuity: The general design of the armour, the crocius, the book at the hip. What I really like is how some of Cassius’ equipment yet seems free of the Tyrannic influence: the book of prayers will end up bound in Tyranid hide, and his crocius will one day be crowned with a winged Tyranid skull. But his is a younger version of him, so his equipment is still more generically imperial — a good thing for once 😉

I also like the model’s powerful pose, and even though it’s fairly static, the flowing seals and dangling chain create a nice, subtle sense of dynamism.

All in all, Cassius is a worthy leader of the Killteam and also, arguably, a much better chaplain model than the one included in the Reclusiam Command Squad.

 

Drenn Redblade:

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Drenn seems like the archetypal Space Wolves Blood Claw: Running forward? Check. Bareheaded? Check. Mohawk? Check. But there’s an elegance to the model that I really appreciate: The running pose is well done, but I especially like the way the sculptors have treated Drenn’s gear: The underslung bolter with the strap running across the model’s chest, the empty scabbard for the combat knife — stuff like that. I realise that many people are unhappy with the unsubtle “Vikings in Space” look of the 40k Space Wolves, but while Drenn shows all the hallmarks of modern SW design (the pelt, the runes, the totemic doodads), there’s also an air of restraint and focus about the model that has been pulled off rather beautifully — easily one of my favourite Astartes from this box!

 

Jensus Natorian:

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Jenus is the first plastic Blood Ravens model we get, so hooray for that! Beyond that, he’s a fairly standard Librarian model. I like the implementation of his heraldry, but his face seems a bit too “generic angry dude 101” for my taste. A solid model, certainly, but no match for the awesome, bearded clamshell Libarian, if you ask me.

 

Garran Branatar:

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Am I the only one reminded of Pat Benatar by that name? Anyway, the model: The inclusion of a Terminator certainly makes for a nice change of pace — unfortunately, the model itself is a bit underwhelming, though, especially the somewhat generic pose. Space Hulk really showed us how to make loyalist Terminators look great and imbue them with lots of character, even with their helmets on, but Brother Branatar seemingly never got the memo. I also think the heavy flamer/melta combo seems a bit iffy, although I realise that it’s probably a Salamanders thing. Speaking of which: FW’s Firedrakes are some of the cooler legion-specific Terminators, and I guess I would have liked GW to have taken a few more design cues from them instead of going for an – ultimately fairly generic – set of Indomitus Pattern Terminator armour.

 

Jetek Suberei:

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Another standout model in that the character comes with a bike, being a White Scar and all. But while the idea is cool enough, it’s all a bit much really: The bike, the gear, the topknot and the cyber eagle. It feels like the model is just trying to do too much at once, where a bit more restraint would have been the better way to go, in my opinion — in fact, this is an ongoing tendency for some of the Deathwatch models from the box (and also one or two of the Genestealer pieces).

It’s not all bad, however: I really like the sabre with its scabbard and the hybrid head trophy! And I am pretty sure that Brother Suberei would make for an excellent Khan. He just seems a bit OTT for a Deathwatch Killteam.

 

Edryc Setorax:

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Raven Guard models often oscillate between badass and silly, and it’s good to see Brother Edryc fall into the former camp. While the pose seems, once again, slightly awkwardly balanced between landing and jumping (it seems like GW’s sculptors have some issues with jumping/flying models…), there are some touches that are really well executed: The more beaklike design of the Mk VI helmet, complete with nostrils, really works for once.  The lightning claws have just the right curvature to make them suitably sinister and menacing. And the spiked toecaps are a very nice touch. All in all, certainly one of the stronger models from Team Deathwatch!

 

Vael Donatus:

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A very iconic Ultramarine, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, especially if it’s as well executed as here: strong pose, very good detail, looking suitably different from the other Ultramarine in the box. Vael Donatus seems like the quintessential Space Marine, really, and I rather like that quality. I also think he would look absolutely terrific in Ultramarines colours°

 

Zameon Gydrael:

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A nice enough model, but not that different from what is already available (or convertable) from existing Dark Angels bitz, which makes this character a bit of a letdown. The way the belt is picking up the model’s motion is a nice touch, and he instantly reads as a Dark Angel, but he really doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Solid enough, but not really all that special.

 

Antor Delassio:

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Also pretty similar to models you can already create from existing Blood Angels bitz, but the face really saves the day here, as it’s more delicate than your usual, broad-featured Astartes mug — something that not even the other available BA heads have managed to pull off so far.

That bit of plumbing serving as the attachment point betweeen the model and the base does seem a bit silly, though. Why not use a nice, chunky rock? And I am also wondering whether the left arm would work far better rotated outward by a few degrees. All in all, however, Brother Delassio boasts enough cool touches to make him one of the better models from the box.

 

Rodicus Grytt:

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The gun is fairly close to looking helplesly OTT. That helmet is excellent, though, providing exactly the right sense of knightly armour. I expect this guy to look great if painted in Imperial Fist colours. the head arguably works even better on true scale models, as the slightly bigger scale gives it a bit more room to breathe. I also like the subtle Devastator touches on the armour and the inclusion of a targeting servo-skull.

 

Ennox Sorrlock:

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Easily one of my favourite Space Marines from the kit, mostly because he adds some really nice elements to the – very small – pool of possible Iron Hands bitz: The face and backpack, in particular, are excellent, and we also finally get a plastic bionic leg — yay! All of that makes for a model that looks at once heavily augmented and suitably implacable. Very nice!

 

All in all, the aim with these models seem to have been to create models that were archetypal avatars of their respective chapters — and by and large, this objective has been accomplished rather successfully. At the same time, however, this seems to make the group somewhat less coherent, beyond the common colour of their armour. Compare Space Hulk to see how a squad (of Terminators, no less!) can be made to look coherent and effective as a collection, while also having each of its members read as an individual in their own right. Granted, all of those Terminators belong to the same chapter, which must have made things a bit easier. But the fact remains that the Deathwatch Marines do seem a bit too much like solo artists where a band would be required.

Oh, and before we move on, let’s not forget the inclusion of a servo-skull and teleport marker! Even though both of these elements seem to be slightly touched-up versions of earlier bitz, it’s still a nice bonus and something I would love to see more often!

 

 

Team Broodkin:

 

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Now these guys are the real starts of the show, and have certainly been highly anticipated by many hobbyists, myself included: The concept of Genestealer Cults has always been one of the more interesting parts of 40k lore for me, especially since it moves the Genestealers a bit beyond their, very obvious, Xenomorph inspirations by creating something that is arguably even more disturbing: The idea of aliens not only invading human society, but of also interbreeding with our species with horrific results. This part of the background had seemingly been dropped by GW, so it’s a fantastic surprise to see it return with aplomb! So let’s take a closer look at the members of Team Broodkin:

 

Genestealer Patriarch:

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First of all, I am actually glad to see that GW has moved away from the old concept of a Patriarch that’s bloated to the point of immobility. Sure, the old models had a grotesque charm, but the Patriarch should work more as an “end boss”, if anything, and the new model is much better suited to that function. There are also some parts of the model that I really love, such as the mean and grotesque face and head and the way some nameless alien …residue has been used to coat those skulls on the base in a coat of vile mucus:

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I do think, however, that the Patriarch falls victim to the aforementioned problem of trying to do too much at once: Trying to have him mimick the design of the cult’s wyrm seal in silhouette is a very clever idea, but it also means that quite a few elements have to be crammed together in very little space: That stinger (or ovipositor, possibly?), for instance, is a cool idea in and of itself, but it does look pretty awkward, wedged in there between the model’s legs and the ventilation shaft the Patriarch is standing on. And those dorsal spines are just a bit much, aren’t they?

What’s more, if you ask me, GW already had a pretty much perfect template for an eventual Genestealer Patriarch on their hands. This guy:

Space Hulk Broodlord

The Space Hulk Broodlord gets it all right, in my opinion: The pose is fantastic, creating a sense of menace and malice, but also one of alien elegance and lethal mobility. This guy already looked like a perfect Patriarch for me even before Genestealer Cults were, once again, a thing.

And GW must have agreed with me, because they used the basic design template to come up with this guy, the Spawn of Cryptus:

Tyranid Release 2014 (27)But you know what? The added tweaks and details actually watered down the excellence of the initial model instead of adding to it. So the Spawn of Cryptus ended up being a pretty cool model, but arguably inferior to its predecessor.

And, unfortunately enough, the designers seem to have used the Spawn of Cryptus, in turn, as a template for the Patriarch, adding yet more stuff on top. And I just wish they had gone back to the original Space Hulk Broodlord for inspiration, cutting out the middle man, so to speak.

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As it stands, the Patriarch is still a suitably massive and monstrous model, but it lacks some of the finess of the Broodlord and could have profited from just a tad more restraint.

 

Genestealer Magus:

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Confession time: For me, the classic Genestealer Magus from the early 90s is easily one of GW’s all time greats. Just take a look at this picture, taken from the 2nd edition rulebook’s colour section:

Classic Genestealer Magus

Now, slightly tacky retro paintjob notwithstanding, this model just does so much right: It’s diminutive in stature and has a fairly static pose, yet it excudes a palpable sense of menace and alien power. I love the quasi-organic shapes of its armour, especially the high collar. And the face is just something to behold: Those slightly alien features that could never quite pass for human upon closer inspection. That subtle scowl. He knows things, this guy.

Now GW’s sculptors must have known they already had solid gold on their hands with this design, because they simply emulated most of it for the modern incarnation:

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The armour shape, flowing robes, staff and alien head — all of that is still there, nicely updated to the current design standard. Along the way, the Magus became quite a bit taller, but I don’t really mind — I like my centre piece models with a bit of stature. I also really like the way the stole adds another layer to the Magus’ clothing, while managing to incorporate some more cult imagery   — very nice!

If I do have one minor quibble about the model, it’s the head: It just doesn’t match the older version’s quiet malevolence. The main reason for this is that they slipped up and made it look too angry and shouty (why does he need to shout in the first place? Doesn’t he communicate with the brood through some kind of psychic link?) I think much of the original Magus’ impact came from that inscrutable facial expression, and the new version unfortunately falters in this small – but crucial – way. I also feel the head could have been recessed into the collar a bit more, although the converter in me thinks that it’s good that we won’t have to painstakingly dig it out. Anyway, it’s a problem that should be easy enough to rectify by replacing the head with a less shouty one from one of the 3rd/4th generation hybrids, I suppose?

The model is still excellent, though, all the more so because its one disadvantage should be easy enough to get rid of.

 

Familiars:

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The Broodkin get some bonus models as well, and they are even brand new sculpts. Now granted, those familiars do seem ever so slightly awkward and silly (especially the one on the left), but they are also a delicious reminder of the yesteryear, when there were lots of strange little models and familiars like that. An awesome little bonus! And if all else fails, they could make for excellent, subtly disturbing statues when painted in suitable colours, especially the crouching guy on the right.

 

Genestealer Primus:

Deathwatch Overkill release (23)I really like the idea of expanding the various types of hybrids beyond the already established phenotypes, so the Genestealer Primus is a very interesting addition! Although I do have to say that, in the context of the game, this guy seems a bit undecided as to what he wants to be: He’s not quite human enough to blend in with the populace, but also not quite alien enough to work as a killing machine like the Patriarch or the purestrains. And the face is, once again, arguably the model’s weakest point, failing to capture that (admittedly very tiny) sweet spot between believably human and subtly alien (I do like the tube feeding into the model’s nostril, though).

That’s not really that much of a problem, though, as there are so many cool parts about the model: I love the clawed (and augmented) left hand! We finally get a plastic needle pistol! And I think it’s easy to see why the body will become *very* popular with converters — in fact, half a dozen of my fellow Ammobunker forumites are busy cutting up this guy as I write this. And to wit, I already have one of these coming in the post 😉

So while I don’t see this guy as a hugely relevant addition to the Genestealer lore, the model is a godsend for converters! One last thing, though: Let me take a moment to share my thoughts about those alien daggers we see on the hybrids: They…do not make a whole lot of sense, do they? At least not when you think about them: Are they manufactured? That seems like a bit too much work for a mere CC weapon, especially when you’ve got a set of scything claws hidden under your mackintosh, right? Are they organic? Do the hybrids grow these as separate weapons? But that would run counter to the whole Tyranid concept? Or do they, I don’t know, break them off bigger organisms that we have yet to see? The mind boggles…

Probably best not to think about this stuff too closely, however. They do look awesome, and that’s good enough for me 😉

 

Purestrain Genestealers:

Now these guys don’t really get much coverage, to the point that the GW homepage doesn’t even feature any pictures of them, but we do get two purestrain Genestealers with the kit. But that’s possibly due to the fact that they are mostly the standard Genestealers we already know. A small voice in the back of my head says they should have taken the effort to give us bigger, “true scale” Genestealers for this game, to really make them look like the Apex Predators they are presented as, easily able to take out a Space Marine, even if the latter is wearing Terminator armour. But that’s well beyond the scope of this game, especially since we already get so many original sculpts in the box. So let me mention one small detail I like: Both models have been outfitted with hideous, Xenomorph-like ovipositors — a very nice and fitting touch, given the setting of the game!

 

Genestealer Aberrants:

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I was really excited about the inclusion of these guys, because, like I said, it always felt like it would be interesting to explore more possible variations of the hybrid concept, beyond the tried and true generations we already saw in the old fluff. GW seems to have decided to do just that, giving us hulking, malformed brutes that seem quite a bit less genetically stable than their smaller brethren, just like the  kind of unforeseeable half-breed you would probably end up with, were you to wildly tamper with human and Xenos genetics.

And in spite of their rather mono-pose nature, i really like these guys: They are hulking and overmuscled and lopsided and make for a stunning visual contrast among the smaller, more human cultists. Plus they bring back the concept of working with rather striking silhouettes:

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All in all, these are a fun little addition, and I would love GW to experiment with further Genestealer hybrid types (what about lithe, almost daeonette-like female hybrids? Just saying…)

 

Acolyte Hybrids:

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Now here’s where the real fun begins, as the various hybrids are easily the most exciting part of the release for me.
All of the hybrids so a perfect job of recreating the strangely organic shape of the classic models’ armour while also giving it a somewhat believable context: It’s miners’ equipment, complete with lamps and rebreathers, and while it will make the hybrids useful far beyond their original function, it also really beautifully approximated the older design.

The Acolyte Hybrids are the more bestial members of the Brood, looking like a missing link between humans and purestrains. I like the subtle progression between the 1st and 2nd generations: They look very similar when seen from afar, but upon closer inspection, subtle differences become visible. It’s a tough and delicate look to get right, but these really succeed at capturing the look of breeding out certain alien characteristics over the generations.

I only have two, very minor, quibbles with these: One thing I really loved about the classic metal hybrids was how puny some of them looked, with seemingly atrophied claws hidden under their tattered robes. By comparison, the new models seem almost too formidable and monstrous — but then, they arguably make a better fit as dangerous, lethal combattants, so it’s all okay (I can always build my own, pathetic hybrids using Crypt Ghouls, Flagellants, Plague Monks or what have you).

Deathwatch Overkill release (29)The second problem is that they are slightly too uniform for my taste, with the same number of limbs appearing in the same configuration on too many models — this should be really easy to remedy, however, by cutting off and reattaching some limbs for greater variety.

All in all, the hybrids are excellent redesigns of the older versions, taking all the right ideas from the classic models and bringing them into the 21st century.

 

Neophyte Hybrids:

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And finally, arguably the best models to come out of this boxed game: The 3rd/4th generation hybrids brilliantly continue the trend of becoming gradually more human, and its their humanity that makes them into such fantastic and versatile models — but all in good order.

First of all, this is one of the few cases where the classic models were really rather terrible: The almost human hybrids of the yesteryear ended up looking pretty silly and hideous, and in all the wrong ways. The modern versions are far more subtle: These guys could really pass for humans…almost.

I also really like the way their miner’s gear and ribbed armour plates hint at their darker nature, in spite of having a perfectly plausible in-universe explanation.

Possibly the best single model is the guy with the glasses:

Deathwatch Overkill release (32)Now for all intents and purposes, he looks perfectly human and could be used as such. But that’s the beauty of the piece: Place him among his more openly alien brethren, and he becomes one of them, by virtue of a common visual heritage. But remove him from that context, and he could become a voidfarer, a miner, or any other human archetype. I also think that head is one of the best faces produced by GW — Eat your heart out, clunky metal Delaques! 😉

At the other end of the spectrum comes this, rather heavily mutated, heavy weapons guy: Good thing he has that third arm, eh? 😉

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To have a collection of models with so much variety yet also such an unified look is nothing short of a brilliant accomplishment. The restraint and subtly evident in these models is something so very rare in recent GW releases that it really needs to be pointed out: This is brilliant stuff!

And possibly the best thing is how freaking many of these guys we get in the box — trust me, converters all around the world are going to have a field day with these. But we’ll be getting to that in a minute!

 

In closing, let me talk about the paintjob GW chose for the official models: In my opinion, ‘Eavy Metal knocked it out of the park with regards to the hybrids’ clothing: The colour of the armour and fatigues are just perfect, evoking the design and colour of the spaceships and props from the Alien series — which seems extremely apt, for obvious reasons. It’s a brilliant little shout out, and one that is far more subtle and delicious than the very overt Giger-influences exhibited by the Genestealers.

There’s also a part of the paintjobs, however, that I am not all that happy with, and that’s the way the actual Genestealers (and Genestealer body parts) have been painted: Now I am pretty sure that we all have a certain fondness for the classic blue and purple Genestealer paint scheme — but it’s really rather a nostalgia thing, and I think those colours just seem a bit too outlandish for alien creatures nestled at the heart of human society. Since the Tyranids so obviously take design cues from Giger, I think they would work far better when painted in a more restrained, organic and ultimately disturbing palette, in order to reproduce some of the Xenomorph’s creepiness. Take, for instance, Stephen Flack’s Genestealer scheme here. I think that’s what modern Genestealers should look like! It’s funny that the ‘Eavy Metal painter seem to have adapted the Alien look so readily when painting the models’ clothes, but have shied away from it on, you know, the actual aliens.

I like this approach much better, and if (when) I am starting my own Hybrid warband, I think I’ll be trying something more along those lines. And even before that, I would really love to see someone take the new models along a more realistic route, such as this.

On a semi-related note, painting the Magus’ robe red seems like such a strange idea — Thraxas of Turai’s approach here shows how the Magus will arguably look quite a bit cooler when painted closer to the “classic” colour scheme for once.

 

All in all, the box certainly provides us with a huge pile of brilliant models! The Broodkin are a fantastic reimagining of the earlier sculpts, a few very minor slipups notwithstanding, and easily one of the best surprises in a long time. If anything, the Space Marines seem a bit lacking by comparison, mostly because GW seems to be going through the motions a bit when designing Astartes these days. Make no mistake, some of those models are very nice, and even the worse ones are still more than solid. But compared to the sheer brilliance of those Genestealer sculpts, they just seem a bit uninspired.

 

Conversion options

 

Okay, so much for the models, but what about the possible conversions? Allow me to share some ideas and to point you towards some particularly interesting examples:

Deathwatch:

Now this is the easy part, as the various models will certainly be useable for all kinds of Space Marine projects, especially with a bit of deft cutting: It seems to be easy enough to remove most Deathwatch trappings, turning these into characters for their respective chapters (or, at the very least, Deathwatch veterans). By the same token, it should also be easy enough to turn most of the models to members of different chapters, successor chapters or what have you. And of course some of those helmets, weapons etc. will certainly become sought after conversion bitz: The IF helmet, the IH augmented head — the list goes on.

On the other hand, some of those Deathwatch bitz would of course be perfect for any kind of Deathwatch project moving beyond the chapters included in the game — or even beyond the scale of the models. For instance, Commissar Molotov is making excellent use of the various Deathwatch bitz for his true scale Deathwatch, and some of those bitz really shine when used at the slightly bigger scale.

One of the Space Marines’ biggest strength is the compatibility of their various kits — and even their clamshell characters. So as long as you’re careful and use a sharp knife, those new models should provide you with lots of options, if you’re a Space Marines player.

 

Broodkin:

Here’s where the  conversion fun really begins, as most of the Broodkin models could be used for several different projects, armies and warbands. Just off the top of my head…

Genestealer Patriarch:

Well, who am I kidding: He’ll always look like a massive Tyrandi/Genesealer monster. That said, he’d obviously make for a pretty cool Broodlord in a Tyranid army — or for a great “boss monster” in games of INQ28 and Necromunda. Moving on…

Genestealer Magus:

This guy is quite a bit more versatile. Personally, I’d try to give him a less shouty head and he would be perfect. But even beyond Genestealer cults, he could be turned into all kinds of characters with a bit of work: A Navigator or Astropath? A radical Inquisitor? A renegade psyker or Chaos Sorcerer? It all seems quite feasible to me!

Genestealer Primus:

Like I said, the INQ28 scene is already in love with this guy. And rightly so, for he’s a great base model for all kinds of possible characters, among them…

  • Inquisitors, especially for the Ordo Xenos
  • Chaos Demagogues or cultist leaders
  • a Magos Explorator of the Adeptus Mechanicus
  • a slightly more militaristic Navigator

Aberrants:

I think it should really be easy enough to get rid of their obvious Genestealer characteristics and turn them into big Mutants, Scalies or Traitor Ogryns.

1st & 2nd Generation Hybrids:

It would take a bit of work, but I think these would make for excellent mutants, Scavvies or particularly downtrodden Traitor Guard soldiers.

3rd & 4th generation Hybrids:

And finally, these may just be some of the most versatile human-sized models ever released by GW, easily on par with the Dark Vengeance cultists! Depending on which bitz you use, these could become…

  • Imperial working crews or miners
  • voidfarers, naval crews or crewmen of a Rogue Trader’s vessel
  • all kinds of cultists or Traitor Guard
  • Tech Gangers (or alternate Delaque Gangers for Necromunda — just use Skitarii trenchcoats and you’re set 😉 )
  • Members of an explorator team, hive delvers, maintenance workers or all kinds of underhive adventurers
  • members of a Navigator’s retinue — their somewhat astronaut-like clothing would work really well for that!
  • members of an Astra Militarum regiment or a planetary defense force

And all of those ideas have only taken me five minutes to come up with. In fact, I would argue that, between the Skitarii, Genestealer Hybrids, Dark Vengeance Cultists and Tempestus Scions, we now basically have the perfect toolkit for making every kind of grimdark soldier/explorer/footman at our fingertips. For starters, check out the following projects:

And it goes without saying that I cannot wait for weirdingway to start using the new models for his Navigator House Merz-Itano. That’s going to be brilliant, trust me! 🙂

 

So yeah, this is really a rather brilliant kit and a fantastic way of revitalising a part of the lore that we had thought permanently eliminated. As far as I am concerned, they could even have dropped the Space Mariens from the deal — but that just shows my excitement for the new Broodkin models. It seems like GW’s designers are always at their very best when coming completely out of the left field. And the subtlty of the hybrids is certainly something that some of the future kits (especially for Age of Sigmar) would do well to emulate!

So what are your thoughts on the new models? And do you have any crazy conversion ideas to share? I would love to hear your feedback in the comments!

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

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Greetings from the pit…

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2016 by krautscientist

So, yet another round of fresh INQ28 models this week — I just cannot help myself, and I know far better than to second guess any motivation I might have for painting stuff. Next week, we’ll finally be taking a closer look at the models from Deathwatch:Overkill, in case you were wondering, but such review posts take a lot of time and work to complete, and at least for the time being, I would rather use this energy to actually create something new and not to merely write about models 😉

So anyway, one thing that I have wanted to do ever since I saw Bruticus’ brilliant pit slave gang last year was to build a pit slave or two of my own. A recent conversion by Legatho taught me that the combination of an Age of Sigmar Bloodreaver and a Skitarii Vanguard head would be a terrific mix to start the project, so I grabbed a Bloodreaver body, carefully shaved off all the chaotic and Khornate runes (HERESY!) and tried my best. But the model just refused to come together for some reason, and so the parts landed on my desktop, glowering at me accusingly every now and then — at least that’s what it felt like.

The project wasn’t kickstarted back into life until I started messing around with some of the – brilliantly crude – bionic limbs from the Ork Nobz kit, but when I discovered a brutal looking bionic harpoon arm among those bitz, I knew I had found the missing piece for that pit slave gladiator. And just a short while later, I had a finished conversion. Take a look:

Pitslave WIP (5)
Pitslave WIP (2)
Pitslave WIP (4)
Pitslave WIP (3)
The crude bionic arm really sells the model, if you ask me. And the Skitarii Vanguard helmet adds a sinister, quasi-robotic look that seems really fitting for a heavily augmented killing machine. For the pit slave’s right hand, I chose a standard CSM chainsword that was made quite a bit more spiky and hideous by making a few small tweaks. I also added some of the Ork armour plate and some tech-y bitz that I had shaved off from some Skitarii backpacks. Those latter parts were used to disguise the areas where I had had to shave off chaotic detailing from the original Bloodreaver model.

When it came to painting the model, I went for a main colour that I don’t use all that often: a very strong industrial yellow for the various armour plates and bionics. My reasons for choosing the approach was that I wanted the armour and augmetics to slightly recall heavy duty construction machines. Plus I thought that the gladiators in the fighting pits would go for bold colours to serve as some kind of “stage outfit”, so to speak. I did add several layers of scratches and sponge weathering, though, to make the yellow parts look suitably grimy and damaged.

So here’s the finished pit slave model. I give you Grimspyke “the Impaler”, former champion in the fighting pits of St. Sabasto’s Reach:

Pitslave Gladiator Grimspyke (1)
Pitslave Gladiator Grimspyke (2)
Pitslave Gladiator Grimspyke (4)
Pitslave Gladiator Grimspyke (3)
All in all, I am really rather happy with the finished model: Grimspyke looks suitably gladiatorial, but there’s also an Imperial underhive angle about him that removes him from his roots as a Khornate model.  In fact, I was so happy with the model that I almost instantly started converting another gladiator. Go figure…

This time, the inspiration I chose was one of my favourite classic Inquisitor models: Arco-flagellant Gryx from Phil Kelly’s seminal warband for Inquisitor Lichtenstein:

warband built and painted by Phil Kelly

warband built and painted by Phil Kelly

Back when Phil wrote about this warband in White Dwarf, he said that Gryx had been inspired by Judge Dredd’s Mean Machine — and even though I actually experimented with several different versions of my own conversion, I wasn’t happy until I had decided to recreate the one-armed look. Here’s the conversion I came up with:

2nd Pitslave WIP (1)
2nd Pitslave WIP (2)
2nd Pitslave WIP (3)
As you can see, a Bloodreaver from the AoS starter box forms the base of the conversion once again. I chose a massive Ork power claw for the right arm and cut off most of the left arm so it ended up looking like an augmetic stump where a bionic arm may once have existed. I wanted this model to explore the slightly grotesque – and ultimately rather sad – angle about pit slaves: that they are crudely augmented to serve as tools or fighting machines, divorced from their humanity and turned into misshapen creatures. This is also the reason I chose a more human head (originally from the Space Marine Scout Bikers, I believe). All in all, the model looks lumbering and lopsided, with an overmuscled look to its right side — exactly the effect I had intended.

I chose the same recipe for painting this guy that I had already used on my first pit slaves — these guys might actually end up in a warband together at some point…

So here’s the second pit slave: “Crusher” Vex, also known as “Old Man Claw”:

Pitslave Crusher Vex (2)
Pitslave Crusher Vex (4)
Pitslave Crusher Vex (3)
Something that doesn’t show well in most of the pictures is that I have added some greying fuzz to Crusher’s head:

Pitslave Crusher Vex (5)
I wanted to show that he’s a rather old guy, and definitely well past his prime as a pitfighter.

And here are the two gladiators together:

Pitslaves (1)
“The championship match between Grimspyke and Crusher Vex? One for the ages, that was! I’ll never forget when Grimspyke took Crusher’s arm clean off during the fifth bout!”

“Shug” Holn, Sector 2 Habber

 

For now, these are mostly a fun little diversion. But I do like the idea of spinning these off into their won little warband at some point. I don’t even see these as members of a simple pit slave gang, either, but rather as a crew of former pit slaves, mutants, workers and other malcontents. In fact, they would work great asa warband hailing from the world of St. Sabasto’s Reach that DexterKong and I invented for the Velsen Sector. Here’s the outline for the planet that I wrote a while ago:

St. Sabasto’s Reach

An extremely rich hive world grown fat and depraved through slave trade and the exploitation of its mutant lower class.

The world originally earned its name when the Imperial Saint Sabasto rested here after his great victory on the fields of Belzifer, before engaging in the last stage of his holy crusade for the defense of Velsen against the forces of the Arch-enemy. While Sabasto’s crusade army was still magnificent at this point, it had also suffered heavy losses (a fact, it is argued by some contemporary Velsian historians, that contributed to Sabasto’s eventual defeat within the Veil of Impurity).

When the Saint contemplated the price in blood paid for the reclamation of Velsen, he decreed that the entire world of St. Sabasto’s Reach would be given to the orphans of the slain and that the Imperium would see to it that the children of martyrs would never need to go hungry. This spurred the planetary populace into religious fervor, and countless orphanages and scholae were opened in the saint’s name, earning the world bynames like “The Planet of Orphans” or “The Orphans’ Cradle”.

However, with a slow decline in piety and a general economic recession, many of the world’s orphanages have had to close over the centuries, while others have turned to a far darker trade, giving the world’s epithet a new, sinister meaning. It is true that Imperial organisations like the Schola Progenium, the Ecclesiarchy and even the Inquisition still maintain a presence on St. Sabasto’s Reach and recruit from the ranks of the homeless orphans, choosing the most talented or devout to serve in their respective organisations. And in the deeper levels of the world’s hives, missions and orphanages still offer a real, if meagre, chance for survival to this day. Yet that is only one face of St. Sabasto’s Reach. For at the same time, the world has also become the biggest fleshmarket in the entire Velsen Sector, providing human resources in a very literal sense, from mutant workers to household servants. Moreover, it is rumoured that there exists a slave for every kind of service in the almshouses and slave pits of St. Sabasto’s Reach, and the masters of the world have long prided themselves on being able to cater to every taste and desire, no matter how “eccentric” it may be.

Another mainstay of the world’s culture, the countless circuses and fighting arenas, are also fueled by a constant influx of “material” from the slave pits. At one point, the world’s renowned Circus Imperialis served as a front for a cult of chaos worshippers and was purged by the hand of Inquisitor Antrecht. But even after this upheaval, the remaining slavelords and ringmasters of St. Sabasto’s Reach quickly regained their step, slightly realigning themselves in the resulting power struggle and carving out a new pecking order among themselves. Because the Inquisition’s issue was never with the slave trade itself, but with the presence of heretics, and so the House of Blossoms, the Angelflesh Lodge and countless other establishments like them continue to ply their dark trade to this day…

 

I think a group of former slaves would be an interesting concept, plus it would allow for all kinds of different character types, including pitslaves, mutants, workers and some more exotic members. I don’t consider this a high priority project at the moment, but it’s still a fun diversion. In fact, this mutant overlord that I built recently, using the Bloodstoker from the AoS starter box would also make for a great member of that particular warband:

Mutant Overlord WIP (4)
Mutant Overlord WIP (2)
Mutant Overlord WIP (3)
As it happens, the Ork Nobz kit provided the final missing piece for this model as well: a crude trophy pole that looks great on the mutant’s back:

Mutant Overlord WIP (4)
I am normally *very* reluctant about adding back banners or trophy poles to models, because they end up looking very silly more often than not, messing up the model’s silhouette. But I thought this guy needed that precise pole ever since I started building him, and I like it a lot. It also has the added benefit of adding another layer to the model, so to speak, as the base model is surprisingly two-dimensional.

Anyway, I think this could become a rather interesting project somewhere down the line! Keep your eyes peeled! 😉

For now, I am happy enough with my first two pit slaves, though:

Pitslaves (2)
Let me know what you think! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Inquisitor 28: Can’t stop!

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2016 by krautscientist

More INQ28-related work this week, which may or may not be good news for you, depending on what it is you want from this blog 😉 But I really can’t help it, I seem to be on a bit of a roll when it comes to INQ28 lately, in spite of everything, so I guess you’ll just have to indulge me.

There are two projects I would like to share with you today, and the first is basically a further exploration of the things I talked about in my previous post, that is the idea of exploring INQ28 characters by building retainers and familiars to further their background. Hot off my recent work on Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue, I focused my attention on this gentleman here, Praetor Janus Auriga of the Golden Legion, my first true scale Marine:

Praetor Janus Auriga (13)
I am still tremedously pleased with the model, but there were still a couple of loose ends for me to tie up: Shortly after completing the original conversion, I came up with two retainers for Janus Auriga, creating something like a “mini-warband” of sorts.

The first of those was a converted chapter serf carrying Praetor Auriga’s helmet:

Chapter Serf
This model was originally created for a fairly mundane reason: I had a nice helmet for my true scale Marine, but I also definitely wanted the model to be bare headed. Of course I could have just glued the helmet to the model’s belt, but building a chapter serf for the task of carrying the helmet just seemed like such a great way of channelling the medieval nature of the Space Marines, so I just went for it. You also don’t usually see too many chapter serfs in model for, so there was that, too.

Afterwards, ing simply fell into place: I still had a cherub carrying a bolter back from when Codex: Witchhunters was originally released. My cousin Andy gave the model to me a while ago:

Bolter_Cherub
And while the sculpt is not without its problems, this little guy just seemed like the perfect addition to Brother Auriga’s small retinue: One servant to carry the helmet, one to carry the bolter — ideal, really! So I merely rebased the cherub, and he was ready for painting.

Bolter Cherub WIP (1)

What I ended up with was a rather characterful little group, if I do say so myself:

Brother Sergeant Auriga and Retainers WIP
And in addition to giving up a very strong 40k vibe, the two retainers also contextualise the Astartes, making him seem even more massive and monstrous.

So with my recent success while working on some older models for Inquisitor Gotthardt’s retinue, I felt it was finally time to return to Brother Auriga’s servants and finally complete them.

First up, the chapter serf. Here’s a PIP shot:

Golden Legion Chapter Serf PIP (1)
It was clear from the start that the helmet would be painted to match the Praetor’s armour. So in order to really make the helmet stand out as the priceless chapter relic it probably is, I had to paint the chapter serf in mostly drab, earthen tones, so as not to make him to overwhelming from a visual perspective. This proved to be an interesting challenge, because while I did want the model to clearly read as a servant and chapter menial, I also didn’t want the character to come across as (too) filthy and downtrodden, because while that would certainly have highlighted the whole medieval angle about him, it would also have felt somewhat unsuitable for a Space Marine chapter, even a rather archaic one. What’s more, while this guy may be a mere menial for the chapter, his task is still an important one, and he takes pride in it (I am actually feeling reminded of the Bright Carvers from Gormenghast, if that makes any sense).

I also realised that I would need something beyond the helmet to suggest the model’s affiliation with the Golden Legion chapter, and golden armour was out of the question, for fairly obvious reasons. Hence the inclusion of a small heraldic plate featuring the Golden Legion’s trademark black and white checkerboard pattern (that also appears on Praetor Janus Auriga’s left pauldron).

So here’s the finished chapter serf:

Golden Legion Chapter Serf (2)
Golden Legion Chapter Serf (1)
Golden Legion Chapter Serf (3)
As you can see, I added a backpack to the model. I really wanted to invoke the impression that, in addition to carrying that helmet in a suitably dramatic fashion, the chapter serf also serves Janus Auriga as a personal artificer:

Golden Legion Chapter Serf (4)
Golden Legion Chapter Serf (5).JPG
Golden Legion Chapter Serf (6)
Something I really like about the finished model is the combination of fairly mundane equipment (like the hammer and wrench) with the more esoteric gear underneath (small caskets of what I imagine to be holy oils and unguents, and a small book containing the correct rites of maintenance for the Astartes warplate): In spite of all the mysticism surrounding technology in the 41st millennium, what are you going to use, at the end of the day, to get a dent out of an armour plate but a hammer? Of course you’ll be singing the required hymyms of repair at the top of your lungs during the act, but my point still stands 😉

So here are Janus Auriga and his chapter serf. I really like the dynamic between the two models:

Janus Auriga of the Golden Legion and Chapter Serf
After the challenge of painting the serf model, getting some paint on the cherub was a pretty straightforward affair — the main challenge here was to work around some of the kinks inherent in the model itself. I’ll be honest with you: I am really just about through with metal models at this point. But the little guy made such a beautiful retainer for Janus Auriga that I gritted my teeth together and persevered:

Bolter Cherub (1)
Bolter Cherub (2)
Bolter Cherub (3)
So here are all three models together:

Praetor Janus Auriga and retainers (3)
I really think the combination of Janus Auriga’s somewhat archaic artificer warplate and his two servants underlines the quasi-medieval and archaic nature of the Astartes as monastic warrior knights, for lack of a better word.

Interestingly enough, the whole project wasn’t really about rules or gaming concerns — …appearing, so to speak, and they felt like a great way of fleshing out the nature of the Golden Legion. That said, the helmet bearer and cherub really have the feeling of a fancy wound counters, don’t they? Maybe one mini-mission could even be to reunite the Astartes with his helmet and bolter, with the two pieces of equipment being carried by those familiars…?

Anyway, I am pretty happy with this “mini-warband”, and it feels good to be able to cross two more formerly unpainted models off from my list 😉

 

The other project I would like to share with you today is one that really makes me profoundly happy, even if it began with a very sad event: As you’ll remember, Wayne England passed away recently, and we have seen all kinds of tributes to him across the blogosphere and the forums. One particularly beautiful  tribute came in the form of a very elegant conversion inspired by one of Mr. England’s illustrations courtesy of the very talented Brothers Wier.

Now when I saw their model, I actually felt a pang of envy, both because the conversion was excellent, but also because I really didn’t feel able to come up with a similar tribute in model form, and that irked me a bit.

But then the strangest thing happened: PDH posted some thoughts about a new Inquisitorial Ordo, the Ordo Scriptorum, over at the Ammobunker. To quote Peter on the matter:

Ordo Scriptorum
The main task of the Ordo Scriptorum is to find errors and failures within Adeptus Administratum and Adeptus Astra Telepathica. The Ordo examines and investigates the communications and record keeping of the Imperium. Since its inception it has branched out and subsumed the roles and responsibilities of Ordo Scriptus, preserving the official historical records of the Imperium too. The Ordo Scriptorum maintains and scrutinises the record keeping of the entire Imperium from the present and going back to its inception, prior to the Horus Heresy and the Great Crusade. For millennia the Ordo Scriptorum has been based solely on Terra but factions within it have begun moving resources off the Throne World; they feel a presence in Sectors throughout the wider Imperium would reduce the error rate and the time it takes to discover and rectify mistakes. Plus being able to proportionate blame in person is seen as a good deterrent to scribes of the Adeptus Administatum.

Some find is surprising how well armed and militant Ordo Scriptorum Inquisitors can be. But the Ordo Scriptorum often finds itself acting within the remit of the Ordo Hereticus upon bureaucults and the fallen within the Adeptus Administratum. Plus the philosophical wars with the Ordo Scriptorum mean that its members are often required to bear arms for protection (…)

And while this already reads like a rather promising outline, Peter also added a piece of artwork by none other than the late and great Wayne England to illustrate what he thought an Inquisitor of the Ordo Scriptorum might look like. Incidentally, I have featured the very same illustration as part of my recent tribute post to Wayne England, and it’s easily one of my favourite pieces of art done by him:

illustration by Wayne England

illustration by Wayne England

And seeing these ideas and concepts being brought together by Peter just resonated with me, for some reason: Things just started to fall into place, and suddenly I found myself starting to convert a model, and I didn’t really come to until I was halfway through the project.

At first I merely started trying out some bitz and shapes. One thing I really wanted to get right was the stunning silhouette and pose from the original artwork. So this is what I ended up with after a bit of messing around:

Redactor early WIP (2)
Redactor early WIP (3)
Redactor early WIP (1)
I was lucky enough to have some bitz lying around that really came in handy during this process: The robed legs from the WFB/AoS Chaos Sorcerer were a bit of a no-brainer. Then I discovered that the bitz best-suited to producing the pose and overall look I wanted came from the Dreamforge Games Eisenkern Stormtroopers. And the part that really made the conversion promising, even at this early stage, was a servitor head from the Space Marines Stormraven kit — easily one of the best overlooked bitz from GW’s entire catalogue, if you ask me.

So I was off to a fairly promising start, but the model wasn’t quite there yet, obviously. So I didn’t stop until I had this:

Redactor WIP (1)
Redactor WIP (2)
Redactor WIP (3)
Yes, definitely getting there!

And thanks to an abundance of helpful feedback on the Ammobunker and Dakka, I was able to make the final push and complete the conversion:

Redactor WIP (15)
I decided to add another book to the model’s hip, in spite of my misgivings about it possibly messing with the silhouette: What really won me over was the parallel between those books and twin pistol holsters: It seems as though this Inquisitor were wielding his knowledge as a weapon…

I also added a scroll (from the 54mm Eisenhorn model, no less) to the left hand. And a key from the WFB Empire flagellants, an element hinting at hidden knowledge and a certain mysticism.

Redactor WIP (14)
I also couldn’t help myself and added a small Inquisitorial symbol to one of the books 😉

Redactor WIP (13)
The model’s back is where I deviated from the original sketch: I didn’t recreate that big, augmetic sack of scrolls appearing in the artwork, but rather went for something a little more subdued, mostly because I think it better fits the character: An Inquisitor of some standing should have a menial to carry around all of those scrolls, after all (which also gives me a handy excuse for building yet another model):

Redactor WIP (12)
All in all, I am really very, very happy with the model! Here’s another comparison between the orignal illustration and my interpretation of it:

illustration by Wayne England

illustration by Wayne England

Redactor WIP (15)
As for a possible retinue, I think it would have to have a very special feel, like the Inquisitor himself. Right now, I am considering at least one menial carrying books and scrolls (similar to a couple of models PDH is building at the moment). And maybe a hulking member of the Guild of Parchment Scroteners, doubling as a bodyguard? This model would probably be based on the Brian Nelson Nurgle Lord (or a Putrid Blightking) and use an approach similar to conversions done by PDH and Jeff Vader. Maybe I’ll also have to source those scribes/assistants from the Celestial Hurricaum kit…? Anyway, I am open to suggestions for possible characters, of course!

 

So yeah, so much from the wonderful world of INQ28 for today! It goes without saying that I would love to hear any feedback you might have!

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