The State of the Hunt — Week 37

Hey everyone,

I think I’ll be turning “State of the Hunt” into a semi-regular feature to show you smaller stuff I am currently working on and to discuss various subjects that maybe wouldn’t warrant a post of their own but are still important to me. So today let’s look at a collection of Khornate Miscellany:

 

I. A Champion Reborn…

What else could be the first item of interest for today, if not the release of the new plastic version of Khârn the Betrayer? There have been rumours about new versions of the iconic Chaos characters for a rather long time now, and now here’s Khârn, hopefully ushering in a slew of releases (one can always dream…):

plastic-kharn-the-betrayer-release-1Now before we take a look at the new model, allow me to mention that I have written at lenght about Khârn and his various incarnations in the art, the lore and in model form, so you may consider the following thoughts a late addendum to the respective post from 2014.

So as I’ve said in the aforementioned post, I really consider the original Khârn the Betrayer a model for the ages (but then that’s Jes Goodwin for you). I would also argue that the old model has managed to age far more gracefully than most special characters from 2nd edition. For instance, while Abaddon just looks rather puny next to the much bigger modern models in Terminator armour, Khârn still seems imposing, even twenty+ years later. He’s also a thoroughly iconic piece, debuting (or at least refining) so many of the visual elements that define the look of the World Eaters and the Khorne Berzerkers in particular to this day: the chains, the skull motifs, the bare arm. And, of course, the iconic crested helmet.

Now updating such an iconic model is not without its dangers, and when a new plastic version of Eldrad Ulthran was recently released, I felt it lacked the original model’s iconic quality. So what about Khârn then?

plastic-kharn-the-betrayer-release-5
When we look at both versions side by side, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that the new version still definitely reads as Khârn — and that alone is no small feat! In my opinion, the best decision of the new model was to basically stick to the classic design of the helmet and only make very minor tweaks to it. Back when I converted my own true scale version of Khârn, I quickly found out that no model will look like Khârn unless that particular helmet design enters the equation, and by the same token, Khârn’s helmet is the one helmet that isn’t easy to kitbash by using available bits. So basically leaving the helmet alone was a fantastic – and ultimately crucial – design decision, in my opinion!

All of the other classic elements are there as well: The bare right arm (after Forgeworld’s Khârn version switched the axe to the other arm, it’s interesting to see how GW chose to stick with the layout of the 90s version), the chains wrapped around it, the various skull motifs adorning the armour, and countless other little touches. All of this sells the model as Khârn without a doubt!

Of course things only really get interesting when one considers the parts that have been changed when compared to the original model: First of all, Khârn seems to have bulked up quite a bit, to account for about two decades of scale creep. And he wears it really well, as a look at some additional angles reveals:

plastic-kharn-the-betrayer-release-1
plastic-kharn-the-betrayer-release-2
Another really cool part is how GW has managed to bring the armour in line with the very baroque look of the Dark Vengeance Chosen or the plastic Raptors/Warp Talons without resorting to adding any wanton mutations: I think this basically works as the perfect template for new chaos models: Give us more jagged and baroque looking armour that clearly differs from the smooth contours of loyalist Astartes armour, but focus the gribbly stuff on optional bits and upgrades. That way, everyone would be happy, right? 😉

Anyway, the redesign achieves the trick of making the new Khârn look right at home next to both vintage and modern chaos models, which is great, and arguably my favourite part about the model!

Then there’s the pose, of course: Where Khârn’s pose used to be very static (and powerful), he is now running forward like mad — which, admittedly, is a pretty great fit for the character. Now to be perfectly honest with you, I wouldn’t have minded a static pose on the new Khârn, but then most people seem to have taken issue with it, and the new running pose also creates a nice resemblance with Forgeworld’s Khârn model, albeit mirrored:

plastic-kharn-the-betrayer-release-6
Of course the problem with highly dynamic running poses is that the model in question might end up looking as though it were tripping over its own feet, and the new Khârn is getting a bit of flak over possibly tripping over those dangling skulls — but seriously, I am not really seeing it. In my opinion, the running pose is more believable than the slightly awkward pose of Forgeworld’s version. And if you take a look at the 360 degrees view of the new model over at the GW website, there’s a depth and three-dimensionality to the model now that is hard not to admire.

So do I love everything about the model? No, I do have my gripes, of course. So let’s take a look at the bad parts:

plastic-kharn-the-betrayer-release-1
Those weighed down chains dangling from Khârn’s left wrist are easily my least favourite part of the model: They just seem too clunky and kill the flow of the model. I think I would have gone with something a bit more subtle, and my first tweak to the model would be to take off those chains or pare them back a bit.

It also seems to me that the ripped muscles on Khârn’s bare arm look slightly too angular and sculptural, although that could always come down to the paintjob. I will say, however, that the pose is maybe slightly too stylised for its own good, with Khârn looking more like the statue of a running guy that an actual running guy, if that makes any sense.

And my third gripe with the model is the design of Gorechild, Khârn’s axe:

plastic-kharn-the-betrayer-release-2
Considered on its own, it’s a very cool and vicious looking Khornate axe — and look, they’ve even redesigned the teeth to more closely resemble the Mica-Dragon teeth from the lore. So the design is pretty cool, but by changing it, the entire sense of visual continuity goes out of the window. Because one thing I have always loved is that, regardless of whether you were looking at Forgeworld’s Angron, Forgeworld’s 30k Khârn or the 40k Khârn model, they were all definitely wielding the same axe, and that sense of continuity is now lost. Now you could argue that the axe had probably undergone some warping and mutation over the 10,000 years of the Long War, but after so much work on the sculptor’s part has gone into ensuring that the axe looks exactly the same on all three models, this change almost seems like an oversight now, and while the axe itself looks cool enough, that really, really bothers me (because I’m an obsessive weirdo like that 😉 ).

I have one very minor gripe: The backpack seems strangely narrow to me, but I’ll reserve judgement until I have seen the model firsthand.

Interestingly enough, a closer look at the sprue reveals that the model might actually be pretty conversion-friendly:

plastic-kharn-the-betrayer-release-3
For one, it should be pretty easy to return the new model to a more static standing pose, should you want to: Just some careful cutting and maybe a set of DV Chosen legs, and Bob’s your uncle! Those bothersome chains should be easy enough to leave off or tweak as well, seeing how they come as a separate part. And I guess one could even replace Gorechild’s blade, if one were that way inclined.
The fact that the plasma pistol arm, axe and backpack could easily be used as conversion bits is a definite plus as well!

So, what’s the final verdict?

All in all, I am pretty happy with the new Khârn! Where the plastic version of Eldrad failed to capture the coolness and iconic nature of the original model, it feels like Khârn is definitely a step into the right direction! While I do have a couple of minor complaints about the model, the new version also brings enough to the table to be a strong model in its own right. Maybe it’s not quite as timeless a classic as the original Khârn, but that also seems impossible to ascertain right now, especially given the fact that I’ve grown up with the original 2nd edition model. Anyway, I like this guy! Where Eldrad was a bit of a disappointment, Khârn is – at the very least – a modest success.

At the same time,  I still think my custom, true scale Khârn from 2014 manages to hold up:

true-scale-kharn-the-betrayer-conversion
At the same time, I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll also be purchasing the new version: I think it’s a pretty awesome new interpretation of an iconic character, and the parts I don’t like about the model should be easy enough to tweak. I’ll keep you posted 😉

plastic-kharn-the-betrayer-release-4

 

II. Travelers from afar…

My hobby life has been massively improved by other people’s generosity for a rather long time now, and I’ve been fortunate enough to receive two more incredible additions for my collection from fellow hobbyists recently.

First came BrotherJim, who recently completed a rather stunning Nurglite CSM force as part of the ETL V event: I provided some feedback to him, and he actually built me a model and sent it over to me by way of thanks — how awesome is that? Now the really cool thing about BrotherJim’s conversions is how much they are inspired by Adrian Smith’s rather iconic art from the 3.5 Codex Chaos Space Marines, and how BrotherJim is pretty much the first person to have managed to give his models the same, massive, lumbering look. This leads to a very distinctive style, and I was really happy the day one of his creations arrived allll the way from Australia to bolster the forces of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt:

Conversion by BrotherJim

Conversion by BrotherJim

Note the amount of gear and the imposing backpack, both trademarks of BrotherJim’s style. Now I was really happy with the model, but wanted to make one small alteration – a different head – mostly because that particular berzerker head already appears on more than one model in my army, and I felt this guy deserved something more original. So I spliced together a suitably ornate helmet, and here’s the new Huntmaster soon to be part of the 4th assault company:

Model converted by BrotherJim

Model converted by BrotherJim

 

Model converted by BrotherJim

Model converted by BrotherJim

 

Model converted by BrotherJim

Model converted by BrotherJim

 

Model converted by BrotherJim

Model converted by BrotherJim

 

Model converted by BrotherJim

Model converted by BrotherJim

Just get a load of the amount of weapons on this guy! 🙂

Anyway, thanks again to BrotherJim for this amazing gift! And make sure to check out his excellent work on a growing chaos collection here.

But wait, there’s more: When I came home yesterday, the cutest little package had arrived from the UK. Inside I found this wonderfully sinister and bloodied champion of the War God built and painted by none other than spectacularly talented Terrain-Overlord extraordinaire Neil101 of Opus Maius’ fame:

Model built and painted by Neil101

Model built and painted by Neil101

 

Model built and painted by Neil101

Model built and painted by Neil101

 

Model built and painted by Neil101

Model built and painted by Neil101

Now I was already aware that Neil had built this model for me a while ago, but the fact that he also chose to paint it in his trademark style was a wonderful surprise indeed! The result is something far more painterly and visceral than anything I could have come up with, and I am really in love with this guy right now. And that wasn’t all, because accompanying the Khornate champion came a wonderfully macabre “Bucket o’ Blood” (followers of Khorne never leave home without it!):

Model built and painted by Neil101

Model built and painted by Neil101

As is usually the case with Neil’s work, there’s a wonderfully macabre and demented nature to the whole affair, calling to mind both the infamous Yggdrassilliumme as well as the kind of characters you would see in the golden days of Realm of Chaos. And while I am already hard at work figuring out a suitable angle for this guy as a part of the Velsen Sector (he’ll be a member of the so-called “Duelists”, an insidious Khornate lodge operating in the sector), Neil was also kind enough to provide his own little vignette of background:

Models built and painted by Neil101

Models built and painted by Neil101

 

Coal black eyes kindled the embers of hate, as the headsman daubed his breastplate with the aged ichor of his enemies. His skull face plate chafed at the nape of his neck, the fitting too tight for comfort.

So much he had given, but the Blood God’s bucket had a hole. Never enough, always more.

The unsaturated hunger for power, for glory, always gnawed at his soul. Like the itch of his helm, the one he couldn’t scratch…reminding him that his work was never done. His bucket never full.

 

Anyway, thanks to Neil for the fantastic model! Job’s a good ‘un, mate! 🙂

 

III. Twenty years of bloodshed…

I myself have not been idle either, even though I felt I needed something small and fun to unwind after my recent, rather massive Daemon-Primarch-related shenanigans…

But the right opportunity did present itself, fortunately enough! Back when I showed you this OOP mid-90s Bloodletter…

Old Skool Bloodletter (2)
…fellow hobbyist AMaximus offered to send over some old metal Bloodletters of his own. Now the models he offered me were a slightly never incarnation, released around the turn of the century (teehee), between the mid-90s design you see above and the modern plastic Bloodletters. I had never been a huge fan of those particular models, feeling they didn’t really bring anything new to the table, but there’s always time for a little fun, so Andrew and I worked out a small bitz swap, and I got my hands on another Bloodletter version.

My eye was instantly drawn to one of the models that was missing his two-handed axe, and I decided to paint him right away and add a small tweak or two while I was at it. So here’s the mostly finished model (still missing its base):

bloodletters-wip-9
bloodletters-wip-8
Like I said, the standard armament for this model would have been a two-handed axe, but I decided to replace it with one of the modern plastic Hellblades (once again, I might add). And I actually think the model is improved by the change! I also had to replace the left hand, and a severed head seemed like a logical choice. It has been pointed out to me – and correctly so – that the head seems to be the victim of some wonky physics, but I think we can just consider this a match for the stock model’s inherent clunkiness and move on, eh? 😉

Seriously, though, this guy has really grown on me! This particular incarnation of the Bloodletters turned out to be a bit of an evolutionary dead end, and from a time of occasionally strange and slightly uneven releases on GW’s part, no less, but I think the model works pretty well with my established daemon recipe in place 😉

And while I was at it, I also painted one of the modern plastic Bloodletters in the exact same way:

bloodletters-wip-4
bloodletters-wip-3
And, once again, I am pretty happy with the result — take note that this model still makes used of the slightly tweaked skin recipe taken from Duncan Rhodes’ Bloodthirster tutorial!

Ultimately, the guy above will be joined by a full unit of Bloodletters. Until then, I have a nice little comparison of Bloodletter models from the last twenty years:

bloodletters-wip-6
I should probably paint one of the spindly, serpentine first edition Bloodletters to complete the set, but I really don’t like that particular version of the daemon, so this is not really a priority project at the moment. If someone wants to get rid of an old Bloodletter, though, I am always open to suggestions… 😉

On a related note, AMaximus was also awesome enough to include a pretty old vintage Bloodthirster head in his bitz drop:

vintage-bloodthirster-head-2
vintage-bloodthirster-head-1
Now what am I going to do with this lovely face…?

 

IV. Out of the woods, at last…

Now this last subject has nothing whatsoever to do with cutting up little plastic men, but I am still very happy to inform you guys that my time as an unemployed slacker is finally at an end: Starting October, I will finally have gainful employment once more! Yeehaw!

Now it’ll only be for a limited amount of time so far, but it sure feels good to be back in business! And while this could mean less hobby time in the immediate future, my sigh of relief when I learned the news could still have extinguished a raging bonfire. Work for the Work god! 😉

 

So anyway, so much for this latest news roundup. 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!

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27 Responses to “The State of the Hunt — Week 37”

  1. The Bloodletter holding the severed head looks great, but the blade being clean strikes me as a bit odd. I could see the soul of the blade consuming the residue, but it seems like there should be some trace of the butchery evident.

    • Thanks a lot! I did think about adding blood to the blade, but my take was that the Hellblade is aflame with daemonic fire and would burn of any blood, just like an activated power sword — well, that and I think the blood would look slightly silly on a non-metallic blade like that 😉

      • I could see that. Daemonic faces leering out of the blood mist are things that really only work in prose or 2D art.

  2. The models are great, as always, and I agree wholeheartedly with basically every single point you made in your assessment of Khârn.

    However, I’m most excited about your final point. Congrats, buddy! Believe it or not I’ve been thinking about it on and off this whole time, hoping I’d hear some good news. It took longer than I might have wanted it to, but I’m glad to hear you found something. They’re lucky to have you, I’m sure.

  3. Andrew Anderson Says:

    Wooo! I agree on most of your points about Kharn for sure. The backpack looks kind of like a noisemarine pack with it being narrow and tall. I agree 100% on Gorechild. I love it as an axe, hate it as Gorechild for the same exact reason. Luckily, I still have a finecast original somewhere so when I convert the new Kharn, purely out of duty since I love my current conversion of him, I can give him the continuity. I may actually cut off the teeth from the new one and put them on the old one. However, I feel like he looks like he is tripping. Not because of the chains, but because of his legs being connected at the ankle and the knees being so far apart in addition to the angle. That is just not a natural forward angle for the leg positions, IMO.

    So glad to see that you’re already having fun with the metal I sent you. The Bloodletter looks great. I knew you could do something fun with the one missing the weapon! Also, can’t wait to see what you do with the old Bloodthirster head.

    My package arrived today, BTW. Awesome! A couple of the extras you added were bits I was looking at for farther off projects! Thanks for the trade!

    Congrats on the job!

    • Andrew,

      thanks again for the sweet bitz drop! I still feel like I got the better deal out of the whole affair 😉

      So glad to hear you’ll be able to make use of those extra parts — I included the skull shoulder pad from the Bloodthirster kit to coax you into giving it a try for that Daemon Engine of yours, by the way, as I suspect it might work even better than the LoS helmet… 😉

  4. Inquisitor Mikhailovich Says:

    Alright, lots of thought here.

    First, I love the new Kharn, which is quite a feat, considering that I never liked the older one (no offense). The static pose was too much for him to read as a Berserker for me, and the way he held the axe gave the model a sense of unbalance in my eyes. I much prefer the new one. I’m especially sold on those little hip armour panels are. I have no idea what they’re called, but everywhere they show up, I love them. I wonder how hard it would be to improvise some for my Dark Vengeance Tactical Marines as part of my efforts to turn them into Deathwatch?

    Second, when I saw the gift model that you had turned Huntmaster, I got excited because I thought you were going to give us a KrautScientist style Dark Apostle from the Word Bearers, whom I have always found a compelling legion. I was mildly disappointed to see him turn Khornate, but, that said, I think that you’ve done a brilliant job bringing the base model into line with the aesthetic of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt. I can’t wait to see him painted!

    Third, speaking of the Duelists, should I modify my fluff to take place in the Velsen Sector? If I remember correctly, the last time we discussed combining stories, the reason for Mikhailovich’s initial engagement with the Eternal Hunt was an attempt to save a planet from a Duelist Cult, which turned into a full blown war between the Inquisitorial Crusade force and its allies and the Eternal Hunt and its allies, eventually spreading to involve Necrons and Tyranids as well. Just a question.

    Fourth and finally, the Bloodletters are brilliant.

    Cheer mate!

    • Andrew Anderson Says:

      I also love hip armor, aka, tassets. I was super excited to see that the new Death Watch Vets come with it! Also, the Warhammer, err, Age of Sigmar, Grave Guard shoulder pads make excellent hip armor for marine sized models and are usually pretty cheap. They may be a little ornate for Death Watch, but a couple of them would work for Dark Angels if they are kitted out with a alot of bling. However, if you needed plain style, like the Vets, I would just hit up some plasticard.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tassets

    • Cheers, for the comment, mate! As for the fluff: No need to change anything, really, as I think the duelist movement really strikes me as decentralised enough to exist across several sectors, albeit under different names. For the lower ranks of the cult, I don’t even see it as much of an organisation, more a 40k version of the Fight Club. It’s only once you have progressed past a certain point that the whole thing openly turns chaotic, and the armed insurrections you use in your fluff would definitely be put into motion by higer ranking champions of the movement that may or may not have direct dealings with traitor Astartes. Little of this is set in stone so far, however, so the sector can definitely stay the way it is 😉

  5. congrats on getting a job! excellent work on the bloodletters. i can’t wait to see some of your conversions using that kharn sprue!

  6. Looking forward to seeing your conversions for Kharn mate. Whatever happened to Neil101? Where can I find his work now?

  7. Sadly Opus Maius appears to be an invite only blog and I am not invited 😛

    I was pondering using Kharn to convert a Chaos lord to be honest as I currently have the 90s version soaking in a bath of white spirits in an attempt to strip the thick layers of paint on it.

    Good review and glad to see you have acquired some gainful employment.

    • Thanks, Rory! Let me clarify, however, that Opus Maius definitely isn’t invite only — Neil just seems to be taking it offline every once in a while, so it has become a bit of a “blink and you miss it” kind of affair. As I’ve explained to imperialrebelork above, his Dakka and Ammobunker threads are viable alternatives for seeing hiw work, though.

  8. As usual I’m full of agreement on your review of Kharn (hadn’t spotted the change to the axe, but now you’ve mentioned it I’m faintly annoyed by it too!) Still not convinced by the running pose either although now I’ve seen him in the flesh I’m slightly less critical.

    Anyway, most of all, congratulations on the new job! I know what a relief it must be for you so really glad to hear you’re back in business.

  9. […] The excellent Khornate Chaos Lord converted for as a gift from fellow hobbyist BrotherJim: […]

  10. […] my thoughts of the various interpretations of Kharn, both in artwork and in model form (here and here, if you want to go read up on […]

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