Archive for December, 2016

The 2016 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 1: A look back at my hobby year

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, Traitor Guard, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2016 by krautscientist

Awards

Yes, it’s that time of year again: Welcome everyone to the 2016 Eternal Hunts Awards, where I take a look at this past hobby year and talk about the best releases, the most inspiring work from fellow hobbyists and about my own hobby year — in fact, just to shake things up a bit – and also because this will be the least complicated part of this year’s series – let’s start with a little retrospective of my hobby work. So here are my favourite personal achievements and hobby moments from the last twelve months:

 

I. My hobby projects

I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a spectacularly awful year in many, many ways. At the same time, it has also been a really successful year for me in hobby terms — go figure! Maybe one reason for this is that focusing on hobby related activities was one of the things that helped me stay sane during a time of great personal upheaval and insecurity: Escapism isn’t always a good thing, but being able to focus on something different for a couple of hours every now and then will do wonders for your peace of mind! And I find that, due to the handicraft angle of the hobby, converting and painting little plastic men feels decidedly less frivolous than, say, playing videogames for hours on end πŸ˜‰

So anyway, in spite of everything, I managed to come up with some new models that I am really rather happy with. And with some thirty completed models compared to 2015’s 25, I even managed to outdo myself!

class-of-2016-2

So, in keeping with well-established tradition, allow me to walk you through my 2016 completions and highlight some of the models and projects I am especially happy with:

 

1. Khorne’s Eternal Hunt

2016 was another strong year for my longest-running army project, so let’s focus on my World Eaters for a moment. Here’s what Khorne’s Eternal Hunt looked like in late 2015:

army shot 01 big colour

And here’s an updated army picture from the summer of 2016:

Khorne's Eternal Hunt 2016 (2) big
And while this may not look like a huge evolution – with the notable exception of the towering Chaos Knight loitering around in the back row – I wasn’t nearly done with painting Khornate models at that point.

But even back then, the army already looked rathe impressive, if I do say so myself, and there are many parts of this project I am still rather happy with. Especially the various characters I have completed for my World Eaters:

Masters of the Hunt 2016 (2)
Even so, the latter half of the year saw some sizeable additions to the army, though, and the main reason for this was the existence of the superbly-run and highly motivational community events over at The Bolter & Chainsword: Both the E Tenebrae Lux V and the Call of Chaos IX really managed to light a fire under me, prompting me to complete two hefty vows.

Here are the models I pledged during this year’s ETL:

ETL V All Vows (2)

And here’s the – slightly less impressive – vow I completed earlier this month during the Call of Chaos:

finished-call-2016-11
It helps that the community over at the B&C is wonderfully lively and constructive, and without the support and feedback from fellow hobbyists over there, I doubt I would have completed as many models.

Just to single out some of my favourite parts from those events, I did manage to finish the last missing model for my squad of traitorous Tempestus Scions which is now one of my favourite squads from my collection:

Traitor Elite full squad (4)
I also included an Iron Warriors Apothecary I had converted last year in one of my vows:

apothecary-phastos-of-the-iron-warriors-5
And this guy then provided the perfect occasion to get back to my small Iron Warriors killteam, a side project that I am hopefully going to devote even more time to in the new year:

iron-warriors-killteam-wip-5
Since this year’s Call of Chaos event was Tzeentch-themed, I also created a model to represent Iskandar Khayon from Aaaron Dembski-Bowden’s wonderful novel “The Talon of Horus”:

iskandar-khayon-3
So I now have two of the novel’s main characters in model form:

iskandar-khayon-and-lheorvine-ukris
And next year’s Call is going to be Slaanesh-themed — sounds like a perfect excuse to build Telemachon Lyras and complete the set πŸ˜‰

And finally, despite having been a faithful follower of chaos for almost almost two decades at this point, this year saw me complete my very first daemon models — in a series of escalating steps that would lead to completing one of the new plastic Bloodthirsters…

Bloodthirster Ghor'Lash'Kharganath (4)
…and then moving on to what is possibly my finest work to date:

 

2. The Lord of the XII Legion

It was clear to me that 2015’s Gilgamesh would be a tough act to follow. But when I found myself in possession of an extra Bloodthirster kit earlier this year,Β  an idea began to form in the back of my head. An idea that would eventually lead to the creation of my very own version of Angron in his form as a Daemon-Primarch:

Daemon-Primarch Angron (16)
Daemon-Primarch Angron (31)
Daemon-Primarch Angron (21)
Daemon-Primarch Angron (15)
And I am just incredibly proud of this model: From a technical standpoint, it’s very probably my best paintjob to date, and it’s also very close to how I imagine the XII Primarch in his daemonic form. Now that Daemon-Primarchs are actually a thing in 40k, I have no doubt that an eventual “official” version of Angron will surpass and invalidate my interpretation — but I cannot help it, I am still incredibly pleased with the big guy!

Read more about the model’s inception here.

Daemon-Primarch Angron (23)
The Red Angel
Speaking of Angron, I built another version of him, to represent him during his days as a gladiator on Nuceria, and it’s another model I am really happy with:

angron-thalkr-lord-of-the-red-sands-11

Let me also mention that I couldn’t really have created either version of Angron without drawing some massive inspiration from the work of fellow hobbyists, chief among them Reg with his dozen or so of incredible Angron conversions πŸ˜‰

So all in all, those models make for quite a nice collection of vicious, daemonic killers. Here’s the Khornate part of my 2016 output:

class-of-2016-world-eaters
A fair few of these models are daemons, so the pieces you see below may or may not become the start of a dedicated daemonic detachment:

class-of-2016-daemons
In fact, I realise in hindsight that monstrous daemons make up a sizeable part of my 2016 output –but come, on: Given the current state of the world, I might be forgiven for the subconscious need to keep painting red-skinned devils, wouldn’t you agree? πŸ˜‰

In closing, here are all of the chaotic footsloggers (minus the two big guys) again:

class-of-2016-chaos-2

 

 

3. The world of INQ28

While my INQ28-related work this year didn’t quite match my 2015 output, I am nevertheless fairly happy with the new additions to my collection. Strangely enough, everything started with…a dog:

Cyber-Mastiff (3)

A Cyber-Mastiff conversion based on a Malifaux model. I am still rather happy with the mutt πŸ˜‰

But anyway, here’s the entire “INQ28 Class of 2016”:

class-of-2016-inq28
The achievement I am probably the most happy with was to finally paint some models that had been knocking about in my cupboard of shame for ages, and this lead to a nearly 100% finished retinue for Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt of the Ord Hereticus Velsen:

inquisitor-gotthardt-and-retinue-early-2016-8
Now I have a huge soft spot for this warband, mostly because it’s made up of my attempt at putting a spin one most of the classic character archetypes from the Inquisitor rulebook (the Rogue Trader, the Security Agent, the Drill Abbot,…). As a consequence, the retinue has a very colourful, swashbuckling look that I like. Most of Gotthardt’s operatives were built years ago – and with a much smaller bitzbox, at that – but I do think they still hold up for the most part. So just one last member for the warband – a female psyker – and then the project will finally be completed at long last!

That’s not the only warband I have managed to complete, though: I also finished two retainers for my true scale Astartes, Praetor Janus Auriga, creating a “mini-warband”, if you will:

Praetor Janus Auriga and retainers (3)
This project was simply an excellent way of exploring the more ostentatious, medieval side of the Adeptus Astartes. Plus the retainers make Auriga look even more massive and monstrous, providing a great visual framing device for the character. Coming up with a concept for a chapter serf was also great fun!

And finally, I came up with the beginnings for a slightly Mad Max-inspired group of misfits dubbed “The Road Crew”:

the-road-crew-2016
These guys have been brilliant fun to work on so far, and I hope I’ll be able to tound out the group in 2017!

 

4. Blood Bowl

A completion that is very close to my hear, this one: After quite a bit of procrastrination, I finally completed the first big guy for my kitbashed Blood Bowl team, the Orkheim Ultraz:

blood-bowl-troll-1
It was simply great fun to make sure the troll fits the overall look of the team while also adding his own visual touches to the larger project:

orkheim-ultraz-2016-4
And the model really manages to make the team look and feel complete — even if there’s a really good chance we’ll be seeing more models for it in the future!

orkheim-ultraz-2016-2

So yeah, all things considered, thats quite an eclectic collection of new models, and one that I am really rather proud of:

class-of-2016-1

 

II. My favourite hobby moments

There were also some really awesomeΒ  hobby moments that didn’t involve building and painting new models, so let’s take a look at those as well:

For instance, I was really happy when Gilgamesh, my Chaos-Knight, made GW’s Webstore blog as an example of a converted Renegade Knight back in April:

Gilgamesh on GW blog 01
Alas, thanks to GW’s recent decision to fold their daily blog into a new (and admittedly rather cool) community site, my moment of triumph was short-lived. But at least I have the screenshots for proof πŸ˜‰

Being approached by Adam Jones to contribute to his excellent hobby mag, The Golden D6, was also fantastic! Thanks to Adam, some of my work appeared in three issues of the mag:

An army feature focusing on Khorne’s Eternal Hunt in issue #5…

D6 Screenshot
…and a two-part series on how to glitz up your miniature photography, published in issues #6 and #7:

d6-deimos
This particular feature even earned me a rather glowing endorsement from Natfka over at Faeit212, as an added bonus:

faeit-212
And finally, my dear Lord Captain Lorimar even made the cover for The Golden D6′s issue #7:

d6-issue-7-cover
Anyway, if Adam’ll have me, I’d love to do some more contributions for the mag in 2017!

And last, but definitely not least, I would be remiss not to mention the fact that some of the best new additions to my collection happened courtesy ofΒ  enormously generous people who sent me conversions, bitz or even entire painted models:

class-of-2016-gifts-donations
Just to name some particularly wonderful examples off the top of my head…

  • a wonderfully painted Lord Zhufor sent to me by PDH,
  • an excellent converted Khornate Chaos Lord provided by BrotherJim
  • vintage Bloodletters kindly sent to me by Sagal and AMaximus
  • the base model for the Cyber-Mastiff conversion, courtesy of a Malifaux box that Miniature Tim sent me
  • a brilliantly moody Khornate cultist (and his bucket) gifted to me by Neil101:
Models built and painted by Neil101

Models built and painted by Neil101

And those are just the painted models! Let’s not forget Helega sending me one amazing bitz drop after the other, or the incredibly generous Adam Wier (of Between the Bolter And Me fame), who actually let me have a nearly complete Forgeworld Angron:

Forgeworld Angron WIP (1)
Thank you all so much, guys! You’re really turning this hobby into something even cooler for me, and I am really, really happy about that! πŸ™‚

III. Bad news

In spite of feeling fairly happy with my hobby output this year and having my share of awesome hobby moments, I also have to say that it wasn’t all peaches and cream: For one, there were some rather sad developments: 2016 saw my beloved FLGS, Frabusel, closing its doors for good, which still sucks (and which has also rendered the procurement of hobby supplies somewhat more complicated). And I was really sad to learn of the passing of hobby and fantasy legends such as Joe Dever or the late, great Wayne England.

There’s also one instance where I really regret failing a hobby goal I had set for myself: Earlier this year, fellow hobbyists extraordinaire Jeff Vader, Nordic and Alexander were awesome enough to invite me to participate in a Path of Glory event. I felt really honoured and started to build a Khornate warband for the project, but in the end a combination of being too preoccupied with my RL situation and simply not devoting nearly enough time to the project resulted in my failing to participate, which I really regret. It would have been great fun to hang out with those gentlemen, surely, and failing to live up to their expectations (and my own) felt like a huge missed opportunity — I hope I’ll be getting another chance to complete my small warband of Khornate misfits – or an altogether different warband for another event.

khornate-warband-ks-7

*Sigh*, it just wasn’t meant to be…

IV. Plans

So what’s in the card for 2017? Now I usually try not to make any grand promises, because I know how much my output will be tied to inspiration — or to my considerable laziness πŸ˜‰

That being said, there’s a couple of things that I would like to focus on next year. Two projects stand out above all others:

First up, and somewhat to my chagrin, my collection of 30k World Eaters is looking more and more like an actual army:

30k World Eaters 4th assault company WIP (2)
And while I won’t make any promises as to the eventual scope of this project, I will be focusing on finishing some of those guys in 2017 — if only to finally paint that sweet Angron model Adam Wier sent me πŸ˜‰

If nothing else, gladiatorial Angron already seems right at home next to his Heresy era sons:

angron-thalkr-lord-of-the-red-sands-13

When it comes to INQ28, I would really love to start painting my Ordo Scriptorum warband representing Redactor Orlanth and his operatives:

Inquisitor Orlanth and Parchment Scrotener WIP
Even in its WIP stage, the warband already features some of my best INQ28 conversions, and I also do have some rather interesting ideas about what I want the retinue to look like when painted, so giving this project my best try should be fun!

I am not deluding myself, however: It’s just as likely that the next crazy GW release throws me way of course and gets me totally sidetracked — speaking of which, we’ll be taking a closer look at all the pretty things GW provided for us this year. And, of course, the Eternal Hunt Awards wouldn’t be complete without a showcase of the most inspiring work created by my fellow hobbyists.

 

But all of this will have to wait until after Christmas. Until then, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas and say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who sent me models, bitz or other hobby materials or commented on this blog! I really appreciate it!

And of course I would love to hear any comments or feedback you might have about my 2016 output, so let me hear those comments!

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

The State of the Hunt — Week 50

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob, state of the hunt, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2016 by krautscientist

Only a short update today, mostly because it has been one hell of a week, due to a ridiculously important deadline at work. Still, there are two news items I would like to share with you, so let’s take a look at the current State of the Hunt:

 

I. Return of the Chibi-Knight!

Some of you might remember that, back when I built and painted my Renegade Knight, Gilgamesh, I also included a roughly Epic 40k-scaled version of the same warmachine in the project as an added bit of fun. I dubbed it the “Chibi-Knight” back then:

Chibi-Knight Gilgamesh (1)

Now cobbling together a – pretty faithful – smaller version of the Knight was a very entertaining, if fairly involved, endeavour. But I didn’t really consider doing it again.

Enter fellow German hobbyist Helega, who helped me out with several really spectacular bitz drops this year. For instance, he provided the chain cape I used to replace the missing cape on my Forgeworld Angron. Anyway, Helega asked me whether I could build another Chibi-Knight for him, and while I knew this would mean some fiddly work, there was really no way I could turn down the request. So I tried to reverse-engineer my original kitbashing process and make another copy.

As an added twist, Helega wanted his Knight to be the loyalist version, so I had to account for that during the building process. There was also no way I would be able to cover up dodgy areas with spikes and baroque decorations this time around πŸ˜‰

I started by putting together the same basic assembly I had used last time: CSM Raptor legs (chosen due to the separate feet, and because the lightning bolt decoration works both for chaos and for Great Crusade era Imperial machines, a Space Marine Terminator torso and a Dreadnought shin guard:

chibi-knight-mk-ii-1
chibi-knight-mk-ii-3
Instead of last time’s Raptor pauldrons, I ended up using some Chaos Marauder shoulder guards, and they arguably worked even better, making the torso look really familiar to that of GW’s stock Imperial Knight. I also found out that one of the ancient plastic chaos warriors’ helmets looks almost exactly like one of the face masks that come with the Knight kit.

So I knew I was on the right track, but this is where the fiddly work began: I painstakingly spliced together the Chibi-Knight’s feet using the hook bit from the CSMvehicle accessory sprue, and I once again tried to create weapon arms that were as close as possible to those of the 28mm version.

Helega told me he wanted the Knight to be armed with a gatling cannon and power fist, so I took a long hard look at the Imperial Knight Warden and worked from there:

28mm-imperial-knight-warden-1
And after a lot of messing around with various bitz, this is what I came up with:

chibi-knight-mk-ii-8
chibi-knight-mk-ii-10
chibi-knight-mk-ii-13
chibi-knight-mk-ii-14
chibi-knight-mk-ii-17
Here’s a side by side comparison showing the weapon arms of the big version and my “chibi-versions” of the same weapons:

Power Fist:

28mm-imperial-knight-warden-1
chibi-knight-mk-ii-9
Gatling Cannon:

28mm-imperial-knight-warden-2
chibi-knight-mk-ii-11
Not a 100% perfect match, maybe, but certainly reasonable enough, given the difference in scale! πŸ˜‰

So here’s what I packed up and sent to Helega:

chibi-knight-mk-ii-7
As you can see, I have left the part in several sub-assemblies. This should make for easier painting, plus it’ll also allow Helega to tweak the pose according to his wishes. I have also included an alternate head and a bit that could serve as the carapace-mounted missile launcher.

So yeah, another Chibi-Knight finished! Here he is, next to Chibi-Gilgamesh:

chibi-knight-mk-ii-18
The new version is arguably even slightly more elegant a conversion than my first attempt in several respects πŸ˜‰

Anyway, I am really happy with the finished conversion, if I do say so myself, and I hope Helega will be happy as well! As far as I know, the Knight will be painted in either Death Guard or Dusk Raiders colours, and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished model!

chibi-knight-mk-ii-15

Β II. Getting to the finish line — but only just barely…

In other news, I am happy to report that I did manage to finish my vow for the Call of Chaos event over at The Bolter & Chainsword — even if it didn’t look like I would be successful for the longest time.

Earlier this week, I found myself with two models yet to finish for the vow and virtually no painting time to dedicate to the task. So I was basically prepared to call the endeavour a lost cause when a last minute pep-talk from fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass brought me back on track.

So I basically put in every waking hour of leisure time I had this Tuesday and completed the last models for my vow — at 2.30 in the morning πŸ˜‰

Anyway, here’s a look at all the completed models:

finished-call-2016-10
Rest assured that we’ll be taking a closer look at these guys pretty soon. And starting next week, it’s also time for the annual Eternal Hunt Awards, I believe… πŸ˜‰

But that’ll have to wait for a couple of days. For now, let me know what you think! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Change we can believe in — a closer look at the Thousand Sons release

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2016 by krautscientist

Oh my, it has really happened… The rumours seemed far too crazy at first, but now here we are with the first actual Daemon-Primarch and what could be the beginning of a complete (and much needed) design update for the entire CSM faction, especially when it comes to models for the cult legions (I am crossing my fingers so hard it hurts, as you can probably imagine).

That remains to be seen, though. For now let us focus on the new Thousand Sons, as that means we have enough on our plate as it is.

thousand-sons-release-1
I may have mentioned before that I usually find Tzeentch the hardest chaos god to like, mostly due to the whole wanton mutation angle: The daemonic servants of Tzeentch are often too abstract for my taste, and the often heavily mutated mortal servants also tend to leave me cold — what can I say, I am a Khorne “heavy armour and no nonsense” kind of guy through and through πŸ˜‰

That being said, I have always liked the concept of the Thousand Sons very much, precisely because they put such a nice spin on the usual Tzeentchian approach: Ahriman’s Rubric was an attempt to stop the very mutating powers that usually plague servants of the Architect of Fate, and it ended up creating an army of unfeeling, disembodied combat automata — the exact opposite of what you would expect of a Tzeentchian host (and then again, the subversion is delicious, of course, this being Tzeentch we are talking about). Anyway, there’s something clever and interesting about the legion, and the Thousand Sons are also, arguably, one of the most tragic traitor legions, so there’s much to like there in concept. And now we finally see them as a fully fleshed out model release — I never thought I’d see the day!

I also think it’s a rather clever approach to release 30k and 40k Thousand Sons back to back like that, and once again, there’s delicious irony in the fact that both are released at the same time while 10 millennia have passed in the background between both incarnations of the legion. A clever bit of planning there — if it was planned in the first place, of course. But, again, it’s Tzeentch we are talking about here, so yeah…

 

Before this all gets a little bit too meta, however, let’s just focus on the models, take a look at all the different parts of the release and consider some of the possible conversion opportunities.

Before we begin, allow me to point out that, once again, there is something I would like to think of as an unofficial companion piece to this review over at Wudugast’s blog, and I recommend you check it out as well.

So here we go:

 

Magnus the Red, Daemon-Primarch of the Thousand Sons

thousand-sons-release-3So yeah, it seems like Daemon-Primarchs are now officially a thing in 40k. Good thing I already made one earlier this year πŸ˜‰

But anyway, it’s obvious that this is a pretty exciting development, especially given the fact that our only look at the Daemon-Primarchs in model for so far were the respective Epic 40k versions — and the less said about them, the better…

If we look at the model at hand, I have to say that Magnus looks pretty much exactly the way I always envisioned him — well, except for the chicken feet, maybe πŸ˜‰
But even an element as unexpected as the avian feet works pretty well for giving the model a Tzeentchian look without sacrificing any of Magnus’s impressive physicality.

It pleases me immensely that there is quite a lot of Wayne England’s interpretation of Daemon-Primarch Magnus in the model, because you just cannot go wrong with taking cues from Wayne England, if you ask me:

illustration by Wayne England

illustration by Wayne England

What’s more, all the changes made to Wayne England’s design certainly make sense: I already mentioned the avian feet above, and the inclusion of feathers on strategic points of the model (and the choice of replacing the classic daemon wings in the art with feathered wings) all enforce Magnus’ connection with classic Tzeentch imagery. These elements also make him look like a scintillating hellish bird of prey — rather fitting for Tzeentch’s favoured daemonic servant. One could argue that the finished model is almost too fabulous — but come on, which other Primarch would warrant a look as exalted as this, if not the lord of sorcerers? Well, Fulgrim perhaps, but we’ll be getting there, I suppose… πŸ˜‰

The model is also pretty enormous, easily towering over even greater daemons (which probably doesn’t bode well for my Angron conversion. Bugger!):

thousand-sons-release-4
As is always the case, however, it’s the small things that make or break even a huge model like this, and GW has certainly put in the required work:

I really love the inclusion of three different heads, for one: The actual cyclopean face – for all its dorkiness – echoes the classic Epic model and the vintage depiction of Magus in the fluff. What’s more, the three different faces also mirror a particular scene in Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Betrayer where Magus’ face seems to be jumping between different versions while you look at him — and I really, really love that little bit of lore represented in model form!

thousand-sons-release-5
Personally, I prefer the masked face, both for its mysterious and regal qualities and because it’s not quite as gnarled as the other two.

I also like the fact that we get the choice of arming him with either a glaive or a Kopesh. If you ask me, the sword seems like the more elegant solution, mostly because that huge ball of energy forming above the glaive’s blade doesn’t quite come together visually:

thousand-sons-release-6

I wonder if this “multiple choice” version of characters will happen more often in the future, as the classic approach is to have one version for a special character and no options whatsoever. Such are the liberties of plastic models, I suppose…

There’s also an incredible amount of detail on Magnus’s armour, and all of those embellishments don’t merely serve as decoration: It seems like there’s a real depth of symbolism here, with layers and layers of callbacks to the lore – or, indeed, to real world culture – for us to figure out. Wudugast has done a fantastic job of pointing out many of these elements in his aforementioned post, and it would be remiss of me to steal his work here, so make sure to give it a look.
thousand-sons-release-7
I wonder why his right hand is so freakishly big, though. Is there some explanation for this in the lore? Or is that just his literal Red Right Hand? (Badum-Tish! πŸ™‚ )

Speaking of red, though, I have to say that the ‘Eavy Metal paintjob of the new model – while technically impeccable, of course – makes Magnus look a tad too pink for my taste. Fellow hobbyist Tzen is currently doing a paintjob in a darker red, and with feathers that almost look crystalline — I am really looking forward to the results! Check out his progress here.

All in all, I think Magnus is a really worthy first Daemon-Primarch, and I am really looking forward to seeing his brothers rendered in equally monstrous forms! At the same time, I cannot stop wondering whether was it really clever to release the Daemon-Primarch version before the regular FW Primarch version. I think there’s a very real danger of the “mortal” version ending up feeling slightly underwhelming now — oh well, I guess FW’s sculptors will just have to give it their best shot πŸ˜‰

 

Ahriman

thousand-sons-release-8
After Eldrad Ulthran and KhΓ’rn the Betrayer, Ahriman is the third classic 2nd edition Jes Goodwin model to be given a redesign, and it should be obvious that these models are the ones to be nervous about, given the originals’ iconic quality.

The first thing to note, then, is that the model definitely reads as Ahriman, and in a bit of a surprise, the new version might actually be closer to Jes Goodwin’s original sketch than the classic version:

thousand-sons-release-16

Nearly all the iconic elements of Ahriman’s previous incarnation are accounted for: the horned helmet, the sorcerer’s staff topped with the same gazelle horns, the robes and high collar — even the pose is very close to the original! This is obviously the same guy, only in a slightly more modern version.

thousand-sons-release-11There are a couple of devations (or rather, evolutions) of the classic design, however: For one, the new model has much more depth and dynamism, whereas classic Ahriman is very much a product of his time: I remember a WD article where Jes Goodwin said that Ahriman was one of the first 40k models to get actual additional pieces for added depth instead of being single-piece. Now the new model continues this approach and adds lots of depth to the character, making him look dynamic and like he has some agency while basically standing still:

thousand-sons-release-15

At the same time, the model neatly keeps the original’s arrogant pose — the addition of a disc of Tzeentch arguably even enforces Ahriman’s haughtly look: He’s just too important and powerful to merely walk.

Now I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole disc idea, which is why I appreciate the fact that a) the disc is an optional part of the model and it’s just as feasible to just have Ahriman on a base like the original version and b) the designer went for a less creepy crawly approach, making the disc look more like an arcane machine, which is a great fit for Ahriman’s character! And there’s even a scarab symbol on top of the disc — a very nice touch!

In fact, it’s subtle touches like these that really sell the model as an evolution instead of a mere retread of the older model: For instance, the buffalo skulls dangling from the stole around Ahriman’s neck on the original model, have been exchanged for more delicate occult doodads, which seems like a much better fit for the character.

However, I do have some very minor quibbles with the model, even if all of these are plainly based on personal preference: That sorcerous flame in Ahriman’s left hand is a bit of an acquired taste for me — but can arguably look amazing when painted well. While I love the rest of the official paintjob, though, the flame just doesn’t work all that well in green and blue. Or maybe I just miss the hand holding the bolt pistol? For some strange reason. It’s a surprisingly iconic part of the original model for me.

On a related note, I find myself going back and forth over whether I like the original helmet better (I think I do — it has something to do with the precise proportions and angles of the faceplate).

But when all is said and done, Ahriman stands as possibly the best re-envisioning of a classic Jes Goodwin model to date. Much better than Eldrad and even with a bit of an edge over the new KhΓ’rn. And what’s simply beautiful is that – due to the new model being so similar to the classic version – the excellent mix of similarity and contrast between the 30k and 40k versions I described in my last review remains firmly in place:

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Thousand Sons Exalted Sorcerers

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I love building characters, so this is really the perfect kit for me, allowing for three highly individualised sorcerers with lots and lots of options. One thing that strikes me about the kit is how many mutated bits are featured, as this seems like a slight readjustment in the fluff to me — didn’t the Rubric of Ahriman stop the flesh change outright in those with enough sorcerous power? Then again, maybe the millennia in service to the god of change were just too much. Anyway, expect lots of mutations of the avian variety.

In all fairness, however, those bitz are fairly excellent, especially the plethora of staffs and heads we get out of this kit!

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There are also many charming little touches on those parts: The sorcerous hand using an ectoplasmic flame to reload a bolt pistol might be a bit much, but I do love the avian skulls on this guy’s stole seemingly snapping at the enemy:

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Also, can we just spend a moment in quiet contemplation at the beautiful way the cloth has been attached to the same sorcerer’s backpack:

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In fact, the backpacks are probably one of the best parts of the kit, making the best possible use of Egyptian and Tzeentchian elements to create a unique silhouette for each of the sorcerers — this is an excellent touch that we need to see more of, especially because, for the most part, CSM backpacks only used to be a bit of an afterthought so far.

I also rather love the avian feet on this guy:

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Upon closer inspection…what exactly is keeping him aloft, though? Is it sorcerous power or…erm, something altogether more nefarious?
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Nice as the three models featured on the product page are, however, I almost prefer the alternate builds that were showcased earlier, on GW’s new community site:

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Even when the sorcerers are more mutated than their ghostly brethren, they are arguably more disturbing when fitted with concealing helmets, leaving their exact nature ambiguous (I also really love the raptor-like look of the top left guy with that sweet Mk. VI variant helmet).

Maybe the biggest strength of this kit lies in how it gives you the freedom to build your sorcerers exactly how you like them best: As overly mutated, massively corrupted creatures of chaos. As masked and mostly unchanged, yet also subtly touched, master planners. Or as something in between.

Whatever you do, the models you end up with will look powerful and arcane, and there’ll be a really nice contrast between their warped, dynamic forms and their more regimented Rubricae brethren. This is easily one of the most tempting parts of the release for me, in spite of the odd moment of silliness πŸ˜‰

 

Thousand Sons Rubric Marines

thousand-sons-release-19In a way, this was the one kit they just had to get right, even moreso than Magnus and Ahriman: The Rubricae are what defines the look of the Thousand Sons more than anything else, so they had to make this count. And if you ask me, boy did hit it out of the park with the new Rubric Marines!

I remember the first Thousand Son I ever saw, one of Jes Goodwin’s iconic set of models for the cult legions, appearing in the colour section from the 2nd edition rulebook:

jes-goodwin-cult-legionariesIt’s utterly astounding how – even decades later – those four guys still stand among the best models ever designed for the cult legions. And the Rubric Marine was just lovely, hinting at an arcane and mysterious legion through visual cues: You got an excellent idea of what the legion was about simply by looking at this model, without ever needing to read a single line of background.

During the 2000s, we saw a dedicated Thousand Sons conversion set, based on some of the design cues from that first proof-of-concept model. And while the conversion set was nice enough for its time, it never really lived up to the quality of Jes Goodwin’s original Thousand Son. Then several Space Wolves models tantalisingly featured the iconic helmet as a trophy – trampled underfoot, no less – and ever since I have been hoping for a true successor to that first Rubric Marines.

And the new guys really fit the bill:

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Seriously, I just love them! The strongest part of the cult legions’ design was always in strong silhouettes and clear visual cues. And the new Rubric Marines absolutely deliver on that, clearly reading as Chaos Space Marines, followers of Tzeentch and Thousand Sons at the same time. The helmet designs are just beautiful, and the flowing lines of the armour trim really takes the classic CSM design to the next level. The added tassets are an excellent little touch. I also love how the new Rubric Marines have their own dedicated backpack designs!

As aΒ  bonus for fans of the Horus Heresy, there’s a marked resemblance between the Rubricaes armour and Mk. IV power armour, which begs the question: Will we go back to certain armour types being associated with certain cult legions? I would really love to see bulky Mk. II Plague Marines and massive Mk. V World Eaters whose armour is covered in studs and bolts!

In addition to the beautifully redesigned bolter-wielding Rubricae, we also get some new weapon options, which certainly makes sense:thousand-sons-release-23
Well, those flamers certainly look Tzeentchian to me! πŸ˜‰

Plus we also get the most arcane looking rotary cannon ever witnessed by Man:

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If I have one minor gripe about the kit, it’s merely the fact that the new sorcerer cannot quite match the excellent old one, a model only available as part the classic upgrade set:

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What can I say: I just love that guy πŸ˜‰

But all things considered, this is a stellar new kit for the Rubric Marines, and arguably a cornerstone of this release. Excellent work!

 

Thousand Sons Scarab Occult Terminators

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Oh wow, dedicated traitor legion Terminators — yet another pleasant surprise! Even better, though, is that the Scarab Occult Terminators look completely unlike vanilla CSM Terminators and yet perfectly read as Thousand Sons. Make no mistake, I am really fond of the classic CSM Terminator look, spikes and tusks and all. But for the Thousand Sons, something more elegant and less barbaric seems far more appropriate.

By the same token, all the strengths of the new Rubric Marines are present on the Terminators as well, — in fact, there’s a palpable sense of visual coherency between the two kits, with many of the design elements (the Keltaran helmet crests, the flowing lines of the armour trim, the avian skulls and weapon designs) appearing across both kits, allowing you to field very different troop types that still look like they belong to the same traitor legion.

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thousand-sons-release-29And in another parallel to the Rubric Marines, the Scarab Occults’ Terminator armour also clearly resembles an established Heresy era armour mark, namely the Tartaros pattern. Again, this seems like a very interesting (and possibly promising) design decision that I hope will be used again on possible future traitor legion releases — it also really enforces the notion that the armour dates back to the actual Heresy era, which certainly makes sense, given the fact that the victims of Ahriman’s Rubric have been bodyless automata for millennia, with no needΒ (or even ability) for changing their armour.

Let me also mention that the squad champion/sorcerer just exudes a sense of elegance and terrible dignity

thousand-sons-release-27Also, chain kopesh swords FTW! πŸ˜‰

Between the Rubric Marines and Scarab Occult Terminators, it’s possible now to build a Thousand Sons army that is visually distinctive, with a strong identity for the legion. And that’s really a brilliant development for CSM players, even moreso considering the quality of the new sculpts!

 

Tzaangors

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The inclusion of these guys is certainly a bit of a surprise — although I guess all the signs were there to see back when plastic Tzaangors first appeared as part of the Silver Tower boxed set. Even so, it’s certainly nice to have dedicated Tzeentchian beastmen available now, mostly because the classic goatman look doesn’t really fit the Changer of the Ways all that well…

While its’s fairly obvious that the multipart Tzaangors share many common design traits with the Tzaangor models from Silver Tower, I would argue that the multipart models are not quite as good as the Silver Tower guys: The latter just seem to have the more iconic poses — which is easier to achieve with a monopose model, of course, but what can I say: Just look at those fantastic poses:

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On the other hand, there’s a real benefit to the multipart nature of the new kit that goes beyond the usual flexibility offered by plastic kits: It looks like kits that cross over between 40k and Age of Sigmar are now officially a thing again (even beyond the Chaos Daemon line of models, that is), as a closer inspection of the sprues reveals an extra sprue that can only be considered a dedicated 40k weapons sprue, when the other sprue seemingly has the more medieval looking weapons intended for AoS.

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All things considered, these guys are maybe the weakest parts of the release for me. But I think we can let it slide, both because we didn’t even expect 40k Tzaangors in the first place, and because the proper Thousand Sons models make for a pretty robust competition. When all is said and done, it’s still a nice kit that provides Tzeentch players with some interesting new option!

 

Conversion options

Oh man, the chaos community is going to have a field day with these new kits! And I, for one, can hardly wait for talented folks like Aasfresser, for instance, to put the new bitz through their paces! For now, let me just jot down some quick ideas for possible conversion projects involving the new models:

First up, the obvious idea: I think that many parts of this release would work brilliantly for 30k Thousand Sons as well!
To wit:

  • the Scarab Occult Terminators could be used as, well, 30k Scarab Occult Terminators with next to no need for further conversion. In fact, the kit almost seems like the first dedicated unit for a specific legion to appear in plastic and not as a FW upgrade set. I would like to see more of this, please! πŸ˜‰
  • by the same token, it’s also possible to use parts from the Scarab Occult for 30k Thousand Sons Praetors and officers.
  • there’s also nothing stopping you from you from sprinkling some of those new Thousand Sons bitz on top of your 30k Thousand Sons, seeing how the legion grew more and more towards the arcane by its latter days as a loyalist legion, and how things like the iconic Keltaran crests had obviously taken root within the legion far before the present day of 40k (at least judging by their mention in “The Talon of Horus”, which is set not too long after the Heresy). The brilliant thing is that you bascially get to decide “how far gone” you want your Thousand Sons to be: Have they only started their descent? In that case, just add a staff or helmet from the new kits here and there. Do they already embrace the sorcerous powers more actively? Then you can use more and more 40k Thousand Sons bitz to create Marines that look more and more like sorcerers –and have begun to display physical changes.
  • expanding on that last part, mutation bitz from the Exalted Sorcerers could be used to depict 30k Thousand Sons in the throes of the flesh change.

I also think that all of those gorgeous helmets, mutation bitz and arcane doodads also allow for quite a bit of crossover between 40k and WFB/Age of Sigmar: So why not use some of those helmets and bitz to create a warriors of chaos warband that really looks Tzeentchian?

Back to 40k – and, arguably, INQ28: The Tzaangor weapons could be used to turn Khairic Cultists from Silver Tower into Tzeentchian cultists for the 40k setting. Or you could use the same weapons to give chaos cultists from Dark Vengeance that extra bit of Tzeentchian oomph.

And finally, why not use those Tzaangor bodies and heads to create your own, strangely avian xenos species for INQ28 — or your Tau army? Speaking of Tau, maybe those Tzaangor parts would also be promising if spliced together with Kroot bitz?!

 

All in all, this is a truly stellar release for CSM players, arguably made even better by the fact that it wasn’t really expected in the first place. Even if we don’t get any more modernised CSM models, it’s already a great addition to the armouries of chaos. Certainly more than I expected in every conceivable way!

I also love the fact that a chaos god other than Khorne or Nurgle is finally getting some love. I’ll never tire of Khornate and Nurglite kits, of course, but let’s just face it: It was really somebody else’s turn this time around πŸ˜‰

At the same time, it won’t surprise you to learn that I really wish for more plastic cult troops (we *need* new Khorne Berzerkers! And Plague Marines!) and updated vanilla CSM. Let’s just dream for a moment: How awesome would it be if we could only get this amount of quality for the rest of the traitor legions — maybe only one kit each? We can always hope! And if nothing else, if the sheer quality of the new Thousand Sons is anything to go by, we may be in for quite a ride indeed!

 

So what’s your take on the new models? Are you as pleased as me or did you expect more? And are there any conversion ideas you would like to share? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments!

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