Archive for the Orcs & Goblins Category

An Orc is an Ork is an…Orruk?! A look at the Ironjawz release

Posted in Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2016 by krautscientist

Oh my, it seems like I am really lagging behind with those reviews and in-depth explorations of GW’s recent releases. Sorry for that! In my defense, however, it just takes a certain dedication (not to mention motivation) to sit down and do detailed writeups about new models, particularly when it would probably more instantly-gratifying to build new stuff! 😉

Then again, there are just some thoughts about GW’s recent offerings that I would like to share, so I hope you’ll indulge me, even when the models I’ll be talking about have been with us for a while.

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So for today, let us talk about the Ironjawz, GW’s first Age of Sigmar foray into the greenskin faction: In the interest of full disclosure, let me just preface this post by saying that I have loved GW’s greenskins ever since I got into this hobby: I loved the greenskin models in HeroQuest, even though there were basically only two designs. I loved the greenskin armies back when fantasy armies were still predominantly made from pewter models (so I bought the pretty expensive army book as a lad, only to realise that an army really wasn’t an option, given the limits of my monthly allowance). I loved the fact that GW included an Orc starter army in the 6th edition box and wanted to start an army — it didn’t really happen. But I still like GW’s greenskin designs to this day, whether they appear in 40k or AoS — I even created a kitbashed Blood Bowl team from plastic GW greenskins. So yeah, I am a fan, and have been for quite a while.

For me, GW’s greenskins have always managed to straddle the line between legitimately scary and darkly humorous. I am aware of the fact that some hobbyists, particularly in the Oldhammer scene, prefer the slightly more lighthearted take of the yesteryear to the heavily muscled and more intimidating modern Orcs (or “Orruks”, for that matter), but I like the modern look well enough, and I think having the greenskins be both funny and scary at the same time actually adds to their character.

So this release was interesting for me, both due to my general affection for the greenskins, but also because I was curious about how GW would bring the greenskins over into the Age of Sigmar setting: So far, AoS has mostly seemed like an escalation of vintage Warhammer designs to me: Like a redesigned Warhammer by way of videogame tropes, Masters of the Universe and particularly cheesy heavy metal album cover art — and this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, mind you!

The problem is that Age of Sigmar doesn’t really seem to have found its own voice yet, mostly due to the seeming lack of depth to its lore and setting: So far, it has mostly seemed like “Warhammer turned up to eleven”. This is a problem that should arguably diminish with each army and faction getting more fleshed out, so looking at the way GW has chosen to revisit one of its most iconic factions should be interesting. And, to address the elephant in the room, how much will the new greenkins resemble something out of World of Warcraft?

This is a really obvious question, of course: A wealth of anecdotal evidence suggests that Warcraft was basically born out of heaps of inspiration taken from GW’s greenskin designs. Some rumours even say that the whole Warcraft franchise might been intended as a GW-licensed Warhammer game at some point. Whether or not that’s true, there’s more than a little overlap between both universes, and now GW redesigns its own Orcs, with a feature length Warcraft film just around the corner — interesting times, indeed!

With those thoughts firmly wedged into the back of our collective head, let’s take a look at each of the new kits in turn:

 

Godrakk, the Fist of Gork

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Every new release needs that huge centrepiece model, and the Ironjawz are no exception. They do get quite a beast of a model, though, and one that is, at once, pretty different from the Orc warlords on huge beasts we have seen so far and also fits right in. Allow me to explain:

For the last couple of releases (and, for that matter, editions), Orc warlords would invariably be riding on some kind of ambiguously serpentine reptilian — mostly a Wyvern. During the early 90s, those creatures shared the same precarious posing and general “S-shape” as all of GW’s dragons, and I imagine the similar design outline was mostly due to the problems of producing a huge metal model that wasn’t just a solid lump of pewter while still looking like some kind of dragon.

And somehow it never quite worked out: There was just some kind of visual disconnect between the burly, heavyset Orcs and those serpentine mounts. Which makes me like the new orcish — pardon, “Orruk-ish” riding beast, called the “Maw-Krusha” looks far more massive and imposing, as this just seems a far better match for the rest of the catalogue!

At the same time, it’s great how the Maw-Krusha manages to incorporate elements of various creatures that have been part of Greenskin armies for a long time: It even resembles the old wyvern to some degree, yet manages to replace the slightly awkward, serpentine look with something more fitting. The overall body shape and scaled hide also manages to recall the plastic River Trolls, which makes for an extra bit of visual consistency.

The kit provides two different heads for the Maw-Krusha: The one intended for “Bigteef” is masked and muzzled and features some slightly strange cloth drapings — I originally thought this was supposed to be some kind of enemy banner being devoured by the creature, which would have been pretty cool, but it really seems to be a decorative element. Oh well…
The alternative, unhelmenetd head, on the other side, may just be one of my favourite monster heads ever produced by GW:

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It’s suitably monstrous, sure. Yet it also has that “crocodilian inquisitiveness”, for lack of a better word: You can definitely imagine the creature staring curiously at something before some neural switch at the centre of its tiny, tiny brain goes from “0” to “1” and it just goes crazy — just watch any documentary about crocodiles or alligators, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Anyway, the head just captures that expression perfectly, while also adding some subtle humour to the whole deal — which is, once again, a great fit for the greenskin faction!

In addition to the huge creatire, we also get an equally impressive Orruk warlord on top, of course. One option would be to use the kit to build Gordrakk himself:

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And he really looks the part: From the massive armour to the impressive twin axes, this guy really looks like he means business! I also really like his screaming, one-eyed face:

Ironjawz Release (20)Greenskin models are often sold by the quality of their faces, really, and this one has a lot of character. Jolly good show! The necklace with the dwarven beard and the back banner may be a tad much, but that’s not really a big problem, seeing how it should be easy enough to just leave those parts off, or replace them with some alternate bitz.

Speaking of which, the kit also provides alternate parts to build a generic Ironjawz warlord, and it’s certainly nice to have the extra options!

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However, the idea of pairing a massive spear/halberd/thing with a monstrous knife/sword/thing (held in a reverse grip, no less), seems kind of nonsensical to me, even for an Orruk warlord (and believe me, as a World Eaters player, I am no stranger to modeling audacious weapon combinations). The alternate face is also slightly less interesting than Gordrakk’s ugly mug, unfortunately:

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Then again, the iconic iron jaw bit and different back banner are interesting enough alternatives. All in all, though, it’s clear that Gordrakk was the focus of this model. And, in any case, there’s only so much leeway and customisation that the kit will allow, due to the specific poses of both the Maw-Krusha and its rider, so building three of these that look totally different would be quite a task indeed!

But all in all, the kit certainly provides a massive and impressive and thoroughly orky – or should that be “orruk-y” – centrepiece model for any greenskin force, and I really like the audacity of this guy. Very cool!

 

Orruk Megaboss

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In addition to the massive warlord on Maw-Krusha, we also get a generic warlord on foot, and the easy way of looking at it would be to say that this is basically the Maw-Krusha rider without a Maw-Krusha 😉

But seriously, what’s great about this model, right out of the gate, is that it marks the concept of huge Orcs (or, again, “Orruks”) finally arriving in the GW’s fantasy setting: In 40k, the idea of Ork warlords being far bigger and more massive than their followers has long been a staple of both the lore and the actual models, yet in the world of WFB, orcish generals weren’t that much more imposing than their soldiers — and it’s great to finally see that remedied with this model.

I really like the look of the massive, crude armour. It seems a bit more extreme than the greenskin armour we have seen in WFB, but it’s still well within the parameters of GW’s established design without seeming as stylised as something you’d see in, say, WoW. Even so, a certain “escalation” is clearly obvious in the design. But it makes for a nice enough looking model.

My one substantial complaint about this model is that it would arguably have needed alternative weapons more urgently than the Maw-Krusha rider, seeing how this guy is meant to represent your generic Orruk warlord. Granted, it should be easy enough to swap in some weapons from some of the other kits, but it still seems like a bit of an oversight.

On a slightly less serious note, don’t get me started on those skulls,…

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Aw, screw it, I just can’t help myself, so here goes: The obvious thing first: The model’s whole silhouette and look is really dominated by that huge saurian skull strapped to its right shoulder, and it’s an element that not everybody will be keen on. I have to admit that I would probably carefully cut it off myself, and replace it with something slightly less ostentatious.

The real headache begins once you start thinking about where that skull came from, however: It looks like the remains of some kind of Lizardma…ehhh Seraphon creature, doesn’t it? But aren’t the Seraphon ghostly creatures now? So how do they leave any skulls in the first place?

Sure, this could be the remains of any huge predator from any of the new realms, and not really a Seraphon skull. But what’s that on the Megaboss’s other shoulder? A Bloodletter skull? But aren’t Bloodletters daemons? Then how do they leave skulls in the first place…? Like I said, it’s best not to even start thinking about it — how can an Orruk Megaboss make creatures without bones leave bones? Because he’s just that awesome! ‘Nuff said! 😉

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Semantics aside, however, it’s a nice enough model and certainly one of the release’s most interesting pieces of conversion fodder. One or two parts of the model may be a bit too cartoony for my taste, but those should be easy enough to get rid of, so this guy gets a pass.

On a semi-related note, wouldn’t you agree with me that the model just looks so much better with red armour…?

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Orruk Weirdnob Shaman

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Shamans and magicians have always been a thoroughly weird part of greenskin society — it’s even part of their name there, see? – and so this guy’s slightly spastic look and pose are a great fit! He really looks as though he were being controlled by powers beyond his control (or by far too much fungus beer, but yeah…), and the model does a great job of communicating that feeling. Maybe the best part of the shaman is the priceless look on his face:

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On the other hand, there are two parts of the model I really don’t like. One is the pair of horns or tusks awkwardly bound to the shaman’s head. A quick look at the sprue reveals that this part should, once again, be easy enough to get rid of, though.

My least favourite part is that smoke effect emerging from the top of the staff: It just seems silly – as sculpted smoke and magical effects are wont to do – and I’d get rid of it in a heartbeat. Kudos to the ‘Eavy Metal Team, though, for managing to paint it exactly like something from the cover of a 70s prog-rock album! 😉

Anyway, all in all, it’s a nice enough model, and having a plastic Shaman/Weirdboy available should be very useful for both AoS and 40k players alike.

 

Orruk Warchanter

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This is probably my least favourite part of this release: The concept of a drummer/chanter/shaman type character seems pretty tired and unoriginal at the best of times. What makes matters even worse, however, is that, while the other models from the release manage to carefully flirt with the cartoony, videogamey Warcraft look, this guy just embraces it as hard as he can and ends up looking like some kind of WoW reject: The armour, those clunky bones — my immediate feeling was that this wasn’t a GW model at all, but a model produced by some other, smaller company during the late 90s. He just seems overly cartoony and bland to me.

The model’s only saving grace is, once again, the face: It’s really rather lovely:

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But all things considered, it’s not enough to excuse the clunky, unoriginal rest of the miniatured. The Warchanter is easily the weakest part of this release, in my opinion, as the model seems more like an afterthought.

 

Orruk Brutes

Ironjawz Release (24)At first galnce, this basically seems like the fantasy version of 40k’s Ork Nobz kit. And just like that kit, this box allows us to build five rather massive …Orruks that are armoed to the teeth — so far, so good!

The bulky models in their massive, crude armour should be quite a sight on the tabletop, and I really like the juxtaposition of the heavily muscled bodies and the jagged, primitive armour plates:

Ironjawz Release (27)These guys really seem tough as nails, and they manage to fit the new Age of Sigmar aesthetic while also fitting in with older greenskin models, which is certainly not mean feat! I also like the wealth of options provided in the kit, at least according to a closer look at the various sprues!

If I have one gripe with the Brutes, it’s that some of the weapon designs just seem a bit too much: That massive, two-handed cleaver? The strange crab-claw? Those look more like toys than weapons, really — like the designers were trying just a bit too hard to make those weapons “uber-awesome”:

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Maybe the problem is that these guys are just a bit too serious: They seem to be trying just as hard as GW’s sculptors 😉

All in all, however, the kit itself seems to provide a lot of options and a wealth of extra bitz, so it still stands as one of the best parts of the release, in my opinion.

 

Orruk Goregruntaz

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This kit seems like an interesting addition, mostly because the plastic Orc Boarboyz are one of the more recent greenskin kits — and arguably one of the coolest. And now we are already seeing yet another escalation of the concept in the shape of even bigger and more heavily armoured Ironjawz Boarboyz — or rather, “Goregruntaz” (*sigh*).

The overall concept of a more heavily armoured greenskin cavalry is pretty cool in and of itself, though, and so are the riders: In fact, they are possibly my favourite part of the kit for a somewhat strange reason: Call me crazy, but their armour seems strangely reminiscent of the vintage Horus Heresy Cataphractii design , complete with the topknot sadly missing from FW’s Cataphractii. The jagged spears are, once again, ever so slightly over the top, but it’s less obvious here than with some of the more outlandish brute weapons. What’s more, the kit also seems to be packed to the brim with excellent bitz and faces. I mean, just check out that guy with the eyepatch. That has to be one of the coolest greenskin faces around:

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The kit’s bigges weakness, on the other hand, are the boars, unfortunately: GW already had the perfect boars with their plastic Boarboy models, but it seems like they needed to turn this design up to eleven for the Goregruntaz, and they weren’t entirely successful with that. Some parts of the boars are quite cool (the armour matching the riders, for instance), but then you get to those enormous, far too large heads with those teribbly clunky beards and OTT dagger teeth, and you just cannot unsee that part.

Granted, the problem is less prominent on some heads. The armoured one is looking quite okay:

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But the one with the wide open maw is easily the worst offender: It just seems clunky and, once again, overly cartoony to me:

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Which brings me back to one of my main points of cricticsm about quite a few AoS kits, really: In order to make them ever more extreme and ultra-awesome, some of the restrain that makes a truly outstanding model is lost. If anything, those models need to be somewhat less extreme and over the top! I would argue that the Goregruntaz would have profited from a slightly more restrained design — or maybe even from reusing the existing boars with some additional armour plates?

As it stands, the kit is hurt by the somewhat silly design of the mounts and doesn’t provide the more awesome version of the Boarboyz it was probably iintended as.

 

Orruk ‘Ardboyz

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Right, these obviously aren’t new, they are merely the “old” Black Orcs with a new name. I’d still like to discuss them in this review for two reasons: One, it’s interesting to see how these originally formed the most heavily armoured, badass Orcs and are now relegated to the position of fairly standard footsoldiers — this nicely shows the kind of escalation we are dealing with, in a way. The other aspect that stands out to me is that, surprisingly enough, they still manage to hold up fairly well, all things considered! I think they would need some leftover trophies and extra skulls to bring them in line visually with the newer kits, but that shouldn’t really require that much work, so the kit still seems to work fairly well!

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Conversion ideas:

Let’s get the obvious things out of the way first: One, even if you have little love for Age of Sigmar and stick to the older rules, many of these models should still work in your army from a visual standpoint, as they are still recognisably GW greenskins. So there’s nothing stopping you from using those Ironjawz models to build, say, a particularly vicious looking Black Orc army — in fact, I like that idea a lot, come to think of it…

The other overarching idea for these kits is that it has never been so easy to create a really awesome Feral Ork army for 40k: Seriously, many of the new kits should be really easy o 40k-i-fy with a chainblade here and an exhaust pipe there, and I can easily imagine a fantastic looking Feral Ork force based on these new kits!

Beyond these broad approaches, let me also share a couple of more specific – if rather rough – ideas:

Gordrakk on Maw-Krusha

I think that Maw-Krusha would also work as a huge Squig (or even a small Squiggoth, maybe?) Anyway, wouldn’t it be fun to use this monster as some kind of Feral Ork attack beast? Or an alternate trukk? Or just mount some crazy contraption on its back and use it as artillery or a war machine or what have you? The possibilities are really endless here! 🙂

Orruk Megaboss

Now this guy is possibly the most versatile and useful kmodel for converters. Possile uses for the model include…

  • using him as an Ork Warboss in mega armour: Seriously, he’s huge and intimidating, and tech-ing up that armour should be lots  of fun! Just add a mean-looking circular saw or a claw and a huge shoota and you’re golden!
  • while we’re at it, why not go the extra mile and turn him into a plastic Ghazghkull? In fact, just check out this incredible WIP conversion by JeffyP to see how well this works!
  • on a similar note, I imagine the model would also work well as a basis for a huge and hideous mutant warlord for all our LNTD players and/or INQ28 aficionados! Sure, you would need to get rid of some of the more obviously orky elements, but the armour definitely looks crude and nondescript enough to work for some kind of big mutant!
  • speaking of INQ28, why not use this model as a “true scale” Ork as a worthy opponent for all those true scale Marines floating around? Or as a suitable end-boss for your Ordo Xenos Inquisitors to fight against?

Orruk Weirdnob Shaman

This one’s obvious: the model provides an excellent plastic Weirdboy for 40k, with as much or as little conversion work as you like involved 😉

Orruk Warchanter

Maybe, just maybe, if one were to get rid of those stupid bones and some of those surplus horns, I think he could make for an intersting gladiatorial type — he does have a suitable “Are you not entertained?” pose, after all. Yeah, on second thought, maybe that would be the best possible use for this model: Use him to convert a particularly huge and ugly pitfighter for INQ28 or Necromunda (Bull Gorg anyone?).

Orruk Brutes

These would be great as Ork Nobz — or even Meganobz, for that matter. I think they more original looking armour could make them look cooler than the stock Meganobz, especially if you take the time to add some suitably brutal weapons and augmetics to them. Once again, by the same token, the model could also become mutant overlords, provided you swap in some less orky weapons and heads.

Orruk Goregruntaz
You know what? I just cannot get that Cataphractii resemblance I mentioned out of my head. Therefore, what I would really love to see is a kitbash using those Goregrunta riders to make a squad of Ork Cataphractii, complete with orkish versions of classic Cataphractii weapons and corrupted Astartes iconography. I think that woul be an amazing project — and arguably a fun way of bringing Orks into the 30k timeframe?! If anyone does this (or discovers somebody else doing this), please feel free to send me a link! 😉

 

All in all, I am fairly happy with the release: There are a few missteps here and there, but what we have here, at the end of the day, are greenskin models that are still recognisably GW greenskins. Now this may not seem like a huge achievement, but I beg to differ: I think there was actually a pretty big danger of these guys basically ending up as Warcraft models. There’s a clear tendency visible in the models created for Age of Sigmar so far to feature designs that are slightly more videogame-y in nature than GW’s classic fantasy models. I am not saying that GW’s sculptors are consciously aiming for WoW as a design template (which would be fairly ironic, giving the somewhat intertwined past of Warhammer and Warcraft), but there is a certain visual “escalation”, for lack of a better word. And maybe the greenskins were in danger more than some of the other factions because Warcraft provides this large cultural influence — or maybe I am just imagining it All, who knows?

What I am getting at, however, is this: The new Ironjawz models still clearly read as greenskin models in the Brian Nelson school of design. They are still their own thing. And I am beginning to see what GW may be going for with the look they are trying to establish for Age of Sigmar, a design eking out a niche for itself between the established visuals of vintage Warhammer on the one hand and the more cartoony visuals you might expect of a videogame like Warcraft. It’s a delicate balance to maintain, certainly, and they may not be getting it right all of the time, but I can repect it for what it is now, instead of just considering it a mere Warhammer-knock-off. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, whether or not you appreciate Age of Sigmar as a setting or a game: If, like me, you enjoy GW’s greenskin designs, then you should find something to like about this release. And you can always get rid of the parts you don’t like with a trusty hobby knife 😉

 

So what is your take on the Ironjawz? Do you love them or hate them? Or something in-between? And is there a cool conversion idea that I missed? Feel free to let me hear your opinion in the comments section?

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

Grimdark in technicolor

Posted in 40k, Blood Bowl, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Orcs & Goblins, Traitor Guard, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2014 by krautscientist

One very important part of sharing your hobby projects online is learning how to take good pictures of them — and indeed, many, many articles have been published on the subject. As for my own pictures, I am usually reasonably pleased with them — they may not be perfect, but they usually show a pretty “truthful” version of my models 😉

However, there are more ways of showcasing models than just posting “regular” photos: We have all seen excellent pictures where hobbyists have tried to use various filters and effects in order to add another dimension to their work — granted, there are also those cases where Photoshop becomes a quick fix to camouflaging shoddy paintjobs. But those are usually in the minority. I, for one, am often awestruck by the quality of retouched photos online, and I think they are an interesting additional option to breathe life into your creations — unfortunately, my own attempts in this respect haven’t been all that successful so far: While I am reasonably handy with Photoshop, I have somehow never managed to end up with the kind of retouched image that actually looks awesome and brings my models to life.

This changed however, when, at the recommendation of my fellow hobbyist Talarion, I checked out Autodesk’s Pixlr last weekend: Pixlr is a very streamlined and easy to use piece of software that helps you add effects, borders and various filters to your photos. And while the amount of functions is pretty limited, the software is great fun to mess around with and, what’s even more important, it’s exceptionally great at what it does!

So, being a pretty huge Web 2.0 villain myself, I couldn’t help experimenting with some of my hobby photos. It has been great fun so far, and today I’d like to share some of the results with you:

Kill!Maim!Burn!

Kill!Maim!Burn!

Well, this one was to be expected, wasn’t it? It won’t surprise you that messing around with some army photos of my World Eaters was one of the first things I did, and I used some flames and a couple of additional effects to create a pretty archetypal, Khornate image.

And once I had started on the World Eaters, it goes without saying that I also had to give one of my favourite models another spin as well:

Engine of Destruction

Engine of Destruction

And why limit myself to Khorne? Giving some of my Nurglite models another layer of grime and neglect turned out to be great fun as well:

Nurgle's Children

Nurgle’s Children

The next stage of my experiments was to actually try and bring out a new quality in certain models and images. One of the first pictures I chose for this was a standoff between one of my Helbrutes/Dreadnoughts, Marax the Fallen, and a downed Space Marine (built as a special objective marker to accompany Marax).

Heroic Last Stand

Heroic Last Stand

The original photo of the scene was nothing to write home about, but it certainly seems rather dramatic now, don’t you think?…

The same goes for this scene of a charging Huntmaster Isgarad:

Isgarad attacks

Isgarad attacks

The original photo was pretty terrible, but with the help of some filters, it became a rather more interesting battlefield impression.

Next up, another Helbrute: Khorlen the Lost:

Lost Soul

Lost Soul

I liked the result so much that I had another go at this model, focusing on its wonderfully creepy face and thereby creating a  more portrait-like image:

And I must scream

And I must scream

This is maybe one of my favourite pictures, because it really embodies the horror about being interred into a corrupted sarcophagus. This picture also led to further explore the portrait approach, trying to explore the essence of specific characters (or creatures):

Instrument of Wrath

Instrument of Wrath

 

Scarred Hunter

Scarred Hunter

And of course, I did not only deal with my World Eaters, but also tried to create some images showing my various INQ28 characters plying their shadowy trade. First among them, of course, was Inquisitor Antrecht:

Inquisitor Anrecht in the field

Inquisitor Anrecht in the field

The picture showing him and his retinue against the background of a homemade terrain piece was nice enough before, but now it really clicks with me, for some reason.

Some of you may remember the model for Inquisitor Zuul I converted and painted for the 2013 Inqvitational. The old boy remains one of my favourite pieces of work, and so he warranted his own, touched up picture:

Servant of the Emperor

Servant of the Emperor

And while I did not participate in the Inqvitational myself, I really love the picture of Zuul being apprehended by some of his more puritan colleagues that Marco Skoll took on the day of the game, so I messed around with that as well:

Game's up

Game’s up

Like I said, the original photo was kindly provided by Marco Skoll.

And I’ll never tire of showing off my model for Legion, of course:

We are many, we are one

We are many, we are one

The original photo, taken by Fulgrim, was already a favourite of mine, but I think this touched up version really does an even better job of capturing this unspeakable horror stalking the depths of the Arrke.
In stark contrast to Legion’s creepiness, I also made a more lighthearted piece: It was really fun to make a photo of my Blood Bowl Team, the Orkheim Ultraz, look like the boyz were actually part of a vintage TV broadcast:

Orkheim Ultraz on TV

Orkheim Ultraz on TV

And, last but definitely not least, this rather moody shot of an Imperial monument:

Know fear

Know fear

In this case, the original picture was actually pretty terrible, but I simply love the touched up version!

All in all, this was really a great way to discover new aspects about some of my models and bring out a new visual narrative in some pieces. Call me crazy, but working on these pictures and coming up with titles for them really made me think about several of my projects in slightly different ways. And, if nothing else, messing around with the software was just a lot of fun 😉

So, in case you want to try something similar, I would recommend you check out Pixlr yourself. And, of course, I would like to hear any feedback you might have!

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

Striking a rich vein

Posted in 40k, Blood Bowl, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, old stuff, Orcs & Goblins, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by krautscientist

Late last week, the most wonderful thing happened to me: While browsing through the stuff at my FLGS, I found out that the owner was currently selling two huge lots of assorted miniatures and bitz: One of those lots came from a former hobbyist who wanted to get rid of the last part of his collection, while the reason for the other lot being sold was, sadly enough, its owner having passed away. Anyway, the owner of my FLGS found himself in the (temporary) possession of two huge piles of models — and it shouldn’t surprise you that I was very eager to have a look at all of that stuff.

This provided me with one huge moving box and several smaller shoeboxes of stuff to sift through, which was already brilliant fun in itself: With the internet so full of collectors, professional sellers and general information as to the worth and availability of miniatures these days, finding such a hoard of stuff has become increasingly unlikely, and so the simple act of digging through the piles of models alone was an experience to savour! Most of the models came from WFB, but there was such a mass of different models (and factions) present that it took quite a bit of discipline not to just buy the whole thing outright.

Anyway, I tried to reign myself in and only dragged away about a shoebox’s worth of stuff. And whether or not my haul was all that spectacular surely lies in the eye of the beholder. But I went home utterly content, I can tell you that much 😉

Anyway, let’s take a look at the best parts of my haul (and also at the provisional ideas I have for this stuff), alright?

First up, tucked away in a plastic bag labeled “Vikings” was most of the dwarf army from the WFB “Battle for Skull Pass” boxed set from a few years back:

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While some of the regular models are missing, all the special characters, standard bearers, champions and musicians are still accounted for. Plus there are also the little additional bitz and bobs and terrain pieces. I basically picked this up as a bonus, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I might already have a new home for these guys (Michael, if you’re reading this: Make sure to bring a big enough suitcase, when you’re in the area again, okay? 😉 ).

I also picked up two more pieces from the same boxed set:

One, the plastic troll accompanying the Night Goblin army:

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This was actually one of the high points of the purchase for me, because this guy will look perfect as a troll player for my orcish Blood Bowl team, the Orkheim Ultraz  — as a matter of fact, you can already see the first parts of his Blood Bowl gear in the picture above. Nothing’s glued together yet, but I already like where this is going!

Two, this strange shaman’s tent/tree trunk hut:

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This might come in handy for my Blood Bowl team or for the Mordheim Orc warband I’ve been planning for a while. Come to think of it, including terrain pieces like this in the starter boxes was a really neat touch! They should do that again!

Upon closer examination, it becomes obvious that the sculpts and level of detail for starter box minis have increased dramatically since these models were released. But I still like them well enough, and finding them all together like this without a hassle certainly was a nice surprise!

While we are on the subject of greenskins, I also bought this assortment of brilliant goblins and snotlings:

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These are part of the still available Doom Diver Catapult — as a matter of fact, pretty much the whole catapult was included in the deal, although the greenskins themselves are definitely the stars of the show! Again, these will probably be used for Mordheim or Blood Bowl (the winged goblin would be perfect for the latter…).

Like I said, most of the stuff available was from WFB, but I did manage to find a 40k treat or two. First up, a small pile of Tyranid nuts and bolts that, while not all that impressive in and of itself, will come in handy for a future INQ28 project of mine…

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And there’s this lovely OOP Eldar Warlock from the 90s, sculpted by Jes Goodwin. It’s trange: Even though I have always loved Jes’ Eldar models to bits, I have never owned any of them, so picking this guy up was an absolute no-brainer:

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And, last but not least, a lucky find at the bottom of a box of bitz: Exactly half a Delphan Gruss model from Inquisitor:

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This guy may actually become my first (and, quite possibly, only) foray into the world of Inq54 — just watch this space 😉

And as for the WFB universe, there are some final highlights to share:

First up, this guy (from one of the old WFB mercenary regiments, if I recall correctly):

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I keep racking my brain for a way to make this guy into an INQ28 character — maybe a member of a particularly archaic Astra Militarum regiment? I am very open to suggestions 😉

Then there are three of the 6th (?) edition metal chaos knights:

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Pictured here is their champion, but I also purchased a standard bearer and an additional knight. While I don’t have any actual plans for these, I just had to pick them up due to nostalgia:  I loved them so much back when they were released, but they were completely unaffordable to me. I just bought the riders, btw, because there is no more room for those terrible, generic 90s plastic horses in my life. But as you can see, the new chaos knight horses work like a treat with the older metal models.

And finally, another lucky discovery:

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The Dark Emissary from the Albion campaign. This guy was re-released in Finecast a while back and is still available. But finding him in a pile of shoddily painted Hormagaunts was still a rather nice surprise!

I’ll spare you the piles of Catachan, Night Goblin and generic Space Marine bitz that were also part of the bundle: Much of this stuff will come in handy sooner or later, but it lacks the appeal of the highlights shown above 😉

In addition to the models, I also picked up some older 40k related books:

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From left to right: The 40k 3rd and 4th edition big rulebooks (believe it or not, I have never owned those until now), one of the hallowed Chapter Approved compendiums (containing wonderful but somewhat outdated Index Astartes articles on the creation of Space Marines, Dreadnoughts, Librarians and on various chapters and legions: Dark Angels, Emperor’s Children, Iron Warriors, White Scars & Flesh Tearers) and Codex: Witch Hunters (obviously a must for any fan of the Inquisition).

All of these are in excellent condition, and I suspect the old 40k source books will merit a more detailed writeup in the not too distant future…

So yeah, quite a haul! I am immensely pleased, both with the stuff I did and didn’t buy: By sheer force of will, I resisted the urge to just grab the whole, enormous box — although my restraint made me miss a mint 2002 Games Day Chaos Champion which my colleague Annie later picked up (*sigh*). And I did find a 1998 Games Day Female Commissar, but pointed it out to the owner of my FLGS, since I knew that, as an avid IG player, he would probably be extremely interested in the model — I was right 🙂

But even beyond the stuff I purchased (at a very good – albeit not unreasonable – price, by the way), digging through the various strata of the boxes served as a trip down memory lane. Before long, me and the owner of the store were exchanging old hobby tales and thinking back on innocent days long past. Good times 😉

Anyway, so much for a very nice, hobby-related surprise! And wherever the original owners of these models may be now (in this world or in the warp), they may rest assured that their lead and plastic have found a good home with me!

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

‘Ere we go! A look at the new Ork release

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Orcs & Goblins with tags , , , , , , , on July 10, 2014 by krautscientist

One thing I believe most 40k/WFB hobbyists can happily agree on is that Orks are fun! There’s an anarchic feel to them as a faction that you’ve got to love. Coupled with their penchant for bashing in heads and engineering enormous, barely working death machines, this makes them one of the most entertaining and beloved factions in GW’s various universes. And there is always enough whackiness involved to make for a humorous undercurrent, allowing Ork players to field some pretty funny and strangely endearing models. Sure, there are those who miss the even more openly funny and absurd Orks of the yesteryear, but if you look closely, there’s still enough humour and whackiness to go around.

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The same goes for this new Ork release that has now kept us entertained for the last month or so. Some are already venting their frustration with how drawn out this release has been, claiming they’re already well fed up with Orks. This can certainly serve as proof that GW just cannot seem to escape the ire of its fans and/or mortal enemies (sometimes I wonder whether both words can be used synonymously, not unlike Orks’ own use of the same word for friend and favourite enemy)…

Anyway, I, for one, belong to those hobbyists who have a huge soft spot for everything green-skinned, so I am more than happy with a meaty release like this. So let’s put on our shiniest Mek goggles and appraise this new release. It goes without saying that we will also be looking at some of the possible Konvershun Optionz in the process — after all, most Ork players are also avid converters and kitbashers, not unlike their green-skinned protegés, one might say…
Gorkanaut/Morkanaut

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No 40k release without a new superheavy these days, it seems, and the Orks get the Gorkanaut/Morkanaut kit to play around with. Regardless of which model variant you prefer, I think we can all agree that the kit gives us a suitably orky looking machine: It’s huge, it’s clunky to the point of absurdity and it’s got lots and lots of Dakka. What’s not to love, right?

I never really liked the Stompa kit, because its main body just seems too primitive for my taste. While the design may be totally appropriate from a fluff perspective, it always seemed like a bit of a waste to shell out such a huge amount of money for something that could be built just as effectively with a bit of creativity and panache. The Gorkanaut/Morkanaut kit is better in that regard because it’s just primitive enough to be believable in the background, but also just sophisticated enough to seem like an interesting enough model. I also like the fact that you get quite a few customisation options, such as a couple of freely placeable horns and spiky bitz, several pretty cool heads and just the kind of extra stuff that any Ork player worth his salt will be happy to have in the old bitzbox.

Among the possibilities for customisation presented by the kit is also the option of assembling the kit as a Morkanaut:

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For all intents and purposes, this seems to be the Mekboy version of the machine, draped in all kinds of arcane (and/or outrageous) “kustom teknology”:

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All in all, I have two substantial gripes with the Gorkanaut/Morkanaut kit: One, the transport bay seems slightly problematic, because it doesn’t really seem all that plausible. Take a look:

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There’s the lack of space, of course: Even if can only transport five models with the vehicle, it’s hard to see how even those would fit into that glove compartment. However, this is a problem shared by most, if not all, GW vehicles to some degree: If a Land Raider really needed to be big enough to fit in a squad of Terminator models, it would have to be huge (and probably cost a small fortune), so there is a certain need for abstraction at work here.
Here’s the thing, though: The Land Raider’s just big enough to be plausible, plus you can actually imagine how the Termies are transported using the vehicle. The Gorkanaut’s bowels, however, don’t look like they could actually transport much of anything, at least judging by the picture above. Not a huge problem, but a bit of a design oversight.

I also cannot help wondering how this guy actually manages to walk in the first place: Does it have treads on the soles of its “feet”? Do those legs extend as it moves, lifting the bulky main body clear of the floor? It’s very possible that GW’s designers actually found a perfect solution for this, but it isn’t visible from the pictures, and it makes the model ever so slightly less plausible than it should be.

Such nitpicks notwithstanding, I am still inclined to look on the Gorkanaut/Morkanaut kit favourably: It’s certainly a cool, orky vehicle that looks great in a line of advancing greenskins. And that’s good enough for me 😉

 

Flash Gitz

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Now in terms of bitz and customisation opportunities, these guys are definitely the best part of this release! In fact, GW’s approach seems to have been to take the kitbashing already inherent in most Ork armies and turn it up to eleven, providing hobbyists with the building blocks to create the most outrageous weapons known to Orkkind.

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Having the guns as mix and match constructions that allow for free customisation is a genius idea, again very much in keeping with both the Ork background as well as the average Ork player’s proclivities. Judging by some of the bizarre weapons created by the ‘Eavy Metal team, experimenting with all these bitz should be quite a lot of fun:

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If I do have one gripe with these weapons, it’s that they seem a bit too huge for their own good. Now I do of course realise that this was basically the whole point of the exercise, but some of the weapons are so big that they cover up most of the awesome Orks carrying them. Because the increased bulk of the weapons has also lead to more bulky Orks, very much on par with Ork nobz. What’s more, the Flash Gitz‘ bodies and heads are really cool. The heads alone may be some of the coolest Ork heads currently around:

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Fortunately enough, Jeff Vader’s amazing conversions here show that the weapons look even better if they are slightly shortened, cut back to a more plausible size. Plus you get a better look at the rest of the model as well, which is a real treat in this case!

In fact, what I possibly love the most about the guys are their somewhat pirate-y trappings, nicely fitting both their flamboyance as very rich greenskins and the overall Freebooterz element in the Ork background:

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These bitz mean that a whole, Freebooterz-themed force is now actually possible and fairly easy to kitbash!

All in all, a very cool kit! It may be a bit pricey, but considering the amount of bitz you get out of the deal, this seems like a pretty essential purchase for every self-respecting Waaaghboss: Even if you have not intention of running Flash Gitz in your army, this kit should provide you with some absolutely awesome bitz for your conversion and kitbashing needs.

 

Mek Gunz

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Now here’s one of the slightly divisive parts of the release! The new Mek Gunz kit provides enough part to construct either one of three weapons.  Pictured above is the Kustom Mega Kannon, but you can also elect to build a Traktor Kannon

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…a Smasha Gun

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…or, of course, the fabbled Bubblechukka (whatever that one does…):

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As you can see, all of the weapons are based on the same chassis, and all are suitably detailed and orky — so all’s well with the world, right?
Well, not quite: There seems to be quite a bit of criticism concerning the fact that these new cannons are not only quite a bit bigger than their older counterparts, but also quite a bit more expensive. Both is true, of course. But then, if you really don’t want to purchase this new kit, the good news is that it should really be easy enough for any enterprising kitbasher to come up with their own orky contraptions.

In any case, the kit itself seems well designed and versatile. I’ll also happily admit that the Grot krew is really the star of the show for me, even though some of the models seem to be slightly touched up pieces from the regular grot mob:

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I really love the guy with the cordless screwdriver! And the little chap with the mechanic’s case on the right would make for a pretty sweet Blood Bowl paramedic, come to think of it…

There’s also this very cool grot with a cable drum…

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…although the little spotter has to be my favourite, hands down. I can see so many possible uses for this little guy:

Ork release (13)Taking all of the different facts into consideration makes this kit a bit of a mixed bag: Seen on its own, it’s a nice, versatile kit that will give you one huge, orky gun of your choosing as well as a pile of bitz for later projects. If you already own a full set of the old weapons, however, it’s understandable why you would consider this a bit of a ripoff. So depending both on whether or not you’re already an Ork player as well as the size of your Ork collection, you might want to pass on this one — and, like I said, there’s always the option of kitbashing your own weapons at zero extra cost 😉

 

Meganobz

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Now there’s a kit that has been eagerly awaited for a while, seeing how Brian Nelson’s metal/FC Meganobz have been the official Meganob incarnation for more than a decade. And while the models, like all of Brian Nelson’s Orks, were lovely, both the price and restrictive material had hobbyists eagerly awaiting a modern incarnation of this unit type.

Now plastic Meganobz are here, and above all else, they are basically a slightly modernised plastic version of Brian Nelson’s original design, with the armour basically retaining most of its existing features:

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I have always loved the fact that, ever since some of its earliest incarnations, the mega armour has always seemed like the Orks’ crude attempts at reverse-engineering Tactical Dreadnought Armour (sticking on some additional dakka while they were at it). This holds true for the new incarnation if the armour as well, and the welded-together look of the armour makes it seem equal parts massive and improvised.

The kit comes with a nice selection of different weapons, heads and spiky bitz, giving you enough options to build a fairly individual set of Meganobz for your army:

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Oh, and let me just take this opportunity to confess that I simply love it when Ork kits contain some kind of circular saw weapons: I just love those!

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If you liked the earlier Meganobz, chances are you’ll like these as well, because the basic design is so similar. It’s also nice to finally have these available in multipart plastic, of course! I do have a couple of nitpicks with these models, that may be purely based on personal taste:

First up, it maby GW should have made them slightly bigger and put them on the Centurion bases. There’s no other reason for this wish than Rule of Cool, but come on: Wouldn’t that have been awesome? Then again, maybe the designers just didn’t want these guys to seem too overwhelming when compared to every other army’s heavy footsloggers?

There’s also the fact that the models are so very static. Again, this is just my personal taste speaking, but it would have been cool to have some slightly more dynamic parts, if only in order to be able to build your own, suitably impressive Waaaghboss from this kit. As it stands, you’ll be able to build three hulking, tough-as-nails Orks in massive armour. But neither of them will look particularly outstanding next to his buddies, unless you put in some serious conversion work or scratchbuilding in order to create something like Larkin’s fantastic Waaaghboss here.

Sure, there’s always Ghazghkull to lead your army, but it would have been nice to be able to build an equally impressive model in plastic!

Lastly, the biggest problem I see with this kit is that the Meganobz’ shoulders seem a bit wonky. In all fairness, it takes a while to realise this, but if you take a closer look, it seems like the arms are attached to the armour itself rather than to the Ork wearing it. The good news is that this should be really easy to adjust by adding some shoulder pads (or slightly realigning the existing ones), but it remains a bit of a headscratcher…

All in all, this will probably become one of the more popular kits simply due to the fact that it’s a less complicated and more versatile way of finally fielding Meganobz in bigger numbers. And it’s certainly a nice enough, if slightly conventional, kit with some minor quirks.

Oh, but we haven’t even discussed all the contents of the kit! For instance, there’s also a wonderful little Grot Oiler:

Ork release (27)That idea  with the squig just never gets old, don’t you think? This little guy serves as an assistant to a Mek, of course, since  the kit also comes with the parts necessary to build a Big Mek in mega armour…

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I really love that “tellyporta blasta”, because it’s the epitome of the totally outrageous technology used by the Orks (yet strangely enough, it also seems to echo some of the retro-futuristic touches you see in science fiction from the 50s and 60s). Anyway, it’s clunky and over the top and wonderful!
I am a bit torn about the “welding mask”, however: One the one hand, it’s such a nice touch. On the other hand, though, I prefer something with a little more identity for my important characters, so I would probably go for the second head option:

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Judging by the pictures in the latest issue of Warhammer:Visions, this last one also looks crazy awesome when combined with one of the Meganobz’ metal jaws!

Now, speaking of the Big Mek does of course make a nice segue to the characters and HQs that are part of this release. So what about them? Well, the release certainly caters to fans of Meks, for one. Let’s take a closer look:
Mek

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First up, there’s your bog standard Ork Mek, coming as a new clamshell character. Now the model certainly reads as a Mek at first glance and ticks all the boxes. It does seem a little uninspired to me, although that may just be a personal thing. The alternate weapon…erm tool is a nice touch, though:

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I am not really fond of the head, however, and would swap it out for this head, for instance, easily my favourite mek head ever:

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Apart from those concerns, what you see is what you get with this guy. A look at the sprue reveals the fact that this guy is modular enough and close enough to the rest of the ork kits in construction that it should be easy enough to further customise him:

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All in all, it’s certainly handy to have this model available in plastic, but you should also be able to kitbash a serviceable Mek for your army, if you are that way inclined. Nice but definitely non-essential.

 

Big Mek with Shokk Attack Gun

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Yet another Mek character, yet this guy is interesting because he is a mostly accurate recreation of the model’s last incarnation. Take a look:

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And it really makes sense too: Quite a bit of thought must have gone into the design of a large model like this, so it seems sensible to “recycle” the weapon design in this case. It’s also interesting to note how the recreation of the original model seems almost perfect, with even an added touch here and there (the generator at the front of the weapon trailing warp fire is a nice touch, as is the foot of the unlucky grot already visibly turning into the same kind of ethereal energy:

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The one part of the model that, in my opinion, has taken a serious hit are the faces: They just seem more angular and comic book-like than those of the older model, especially the face of the Big Mek:

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Again, there’s an easy enough solution for this: Just swap in a different head (again, the plastic mek head I posted above seems an ideal choice, but then I really love that head, so yeah…).

Having a big and unwieldy piece like this available in – more forgiving – plastic form is certainly a nice bit of service for Ork players, whereas those who are still in the possession of the older model can just keep it without feeling they got the short end of the stick.

In any case, it’s interesting to see GW almost perfectly recreating an existing metal/FC model part for part. Both because it shows how plastic models are growing more and more detailed and sharp, and because it seems like the final piece of proof that GW will eventually endeavour to produce everything in plastic — and I am really all for that!

 

Pain Boy

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There’s one more plastic character, and one that isn’t a Mek! The Pain Boy is an interesting piece that most people will probably either love or hate.  The ‘urty Syringe is very much the elephant squig in the room here, instantly drawing the viewer’s attention and making for a rather striking silhouette. It’s a cool idea, admittedly, but it just seems a bit over the top to me. While the design of the gauntlet is pretty neat, I think it should have been just a bit smaller in order to make it look slightly less improbable.

The other defining trait of the model for me are the Pain Boy’s features, drawn into a particularly evil grin — certainly an expression you don’t see that often on Ork models! And while it did take me some time to get used  it, the design is surprisingly effective, the longer I look at it.

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One more thing that really became obvious to me while browsing through Warhammer: Visions, seeing the Pain Boy model in several situations, is that this guy’s obsession with his own gauntlet seems almost comical, especially when you see him in several pictures: Whatever’s going on around him, he just keeps glaring lovingly at that ‘urty syringe of his — now that is true dedication…

Again, the sprue reveals that the model can be customised to the heart’s content. So if you want to swap in a different head or a less ridiculous claw, you are free to do so:

Ork release (41)By the way, that Grot helper does seem a bit …unwholesome, doesn’t it?

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And are those his teeth, or is his mouth stapled shut? Jeez…

Anyway, whether or not you buy this guy will possibly depend on whether or not you can get behind that syringe hand. Once again, kitbashing a serviceable Pain Boy should be an easy enough task for those who don’t like this model.

 

Conversion,…uh, sorry: Kunvershon optionz

It often seems like Ork players are the most adventurous converters and kitbashers in our hobby,so I have very little doubt that parts of this release will start cropping up in new configurations and unexpected places sooner rather than later. I also won’t delude myself into thinking that I can come up with better conversion ideas for this stuff than dyed-in-the-wool Ork players. That said, I’ll still share some of my ideas and observations with you — feel free to add your own or call me out for a lack of fantasy 😉

Firstly, it’s quite obvious that conversions for Ork armies around the globe will be thoroughly energised by this released, because Ork  players obviously get a plethora of new toys. There’s really no telling in what extraordinary ways Ork players will use these bitz, also one interesting idea that occured to me is this: If someone were of a mind to, say, build a looted Imperial Knight, the bitz from both the Gorkanaut/Morkanaut and Mek Gunz might come in handy for some rather inspiring kitbashes!

Then there’s the fact that, beyond being used for their original function, the various bodies, heads and arms from the Flash Gitz kit should make for excellent conversion fodder when converting Ork Nobz and Waaaghbosses or trying to assemble a themed force of Freebooterz. Jeff Vader has already begun to assemble a gang of particularly ‘ard Orks (linked further up in this thread), and projects like these seem to be the ideal way of making the most of those beautiful Flash Gitz parts.

New conversion projects need not even remain limited to 40k Orks: I think some of the bitz and pieces would be wonderful additions to my orcish Blood Bowl team — especially some of the Grot assistants!

But what about non-orky armies? If used sparingly enough, Ork bitz can also be really helpful for Chaos Space Marine conversions, so I can easily see some of those Flasg Gitz weapon bitz becoming rather useful for hobbyists kitbashing weapons for Chaos Havocs, custom Obliterators or chaotic vehicles.

Some of the parts would also be perfect for converting mutants like the ones in this classic Adrian Smith illustration. Such mutants would make for great NPCs or opponents in games of INQ28, for one. Or they could also be used as Scavvies in games of Necromunda or Inquisimunda!

But there’s an even bigger opportunity here: As of the last redesign of the allies matrix, Chaos and Orks are battle brothers, so if somebody wanted to run an Ork detachment with a bit of a twist (if you’ll excuse the pun), converting them into mutants in order to represent a mutant uprising on an Imperial world or the denizens of some backwater daemon world in the Eye of Terror, that would be an extremely fluffy way of using the Ork rules for a chaos army. This goes for the whole Ork catalogue, of course, but I can instantly see those Flash Git bodies as perfect parts to build mutant overlords. Just remove the ork glyphs and too blatantly orky elements, add those brilliantly disturbing crypt ghoul heads, and you’re there (here’s a look at one of my mutant conversions for reference).

Whatever happens, I think we can rest easy in the knowledge that lots and lots of crazy kunvershonz using these new bitz will be coming our way sooner rather than later — Ork players, you’ve gotta love’em 😉

 

So, what about the release in general? It probably won’t surprise you that I am inclined to call this a rather strong release. All of the kits do have their advantages, with only a couple of minor problems. Ork players have received a big box of new toys and should be happy — and if they’re not, they should start kitbashing better alternatives! Personally, the one thing I would have loved to see that didn’t make it was a plastic clamshell or multipart Waaaghboss — but alas, all we get is a touched-up Black Reach Waaaghboss released as a limited edition model. But you cannot win them all, of course, and this release certainly does a lot right.

So what’s your opinion? Do you like the new kits? Already fed up with all the Orks? Any kunvershon ideaz you’d like to share? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments!

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

Orkheim Ultraz: Growing painz…

Posted in Blood Bowl, Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2013 by krautscientist

I recently played my second game of Blood Bowl, giving both the Orkheim Ultraz and myself some much needed practice. My opponent was my colleague Annie with her brilliant Lustria team (more on that in a minute), and in contrast to her husband Mike, she certainly didn’t pull her punches this time around.

Which was really all for the best, since I really need to learn this game the hard way. That said, she was still nice enough to point out some of my more imbecilic tactical decisions before it was too late, talking me through the different game moves and explaining what did and didn’t make sense.

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One of my Blitzers swinging a right hook at a Saurian — doubtlessly in frustration…

All of this didn’t stop me from getting thoroughly annihilated on the pitch, however: The Orkheim Ultraz spent most of the game knocked onto their asses. Not all of this was due to my dubious tactics, however, I just seemed to have a knack for rolling ones for the entire duration of the game: often several of them in a row, in fact…

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A rare moment of triumph: One of my field players has managed to catch the ball. His buddies are preparing to shield him from the oncoming lizards. Shortly after this picture was taken, things got rather ugly…

The game ended with my team failing to score a single touchdown, while Annie’s lizards had managed to score two. If I hadn’t been so slow during the game, I might have lost even harder.

My utter annihilation aside, it feels like I am – slowly – coming to grips with the game. While there’s quite a lot that does not yet come naturally to me, I believe I am beginning to understand some of the underlying mechanics and getting an idea of what to do and when to do it. If this all sounds extremely cautiously optimistic to you, bear with me: I am not a rules guy, and it takes ages for me to learn the intricacies of basically every tabletop game (except maybe for HeroQuest — I think I have that down by now 😉 ).

Anyway, I’ll need more practice, of course, but I may be starting to understand what I am actually doing during the game, which is a pretty good development, all things considered.

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A typical scene from the game: Almost my entire team lying around on the pitch, groaning in pain…

So, instead of putting you through more of my lamentations and tactical ineptitude, I thought it would be nice to spend the second half of this post to show you more of Annie’s Lustria models, originally conceived as the Raakmoor Venom Vipers. The team is full of great little ideas and beautifully painted, so you’re in for a treat.

And since you already got a look at the regular players in my last post, I’ll be focusing on the supporting characters this time around, since they are really something to behold. Because Annie has this habbit of spending at least as much money and work on her support staff as on the team proper. It’s madness, to be sure, but it’s a good kind of madness, if you ask me 😉

Disclaimer: Just to be perfectly clear on this: None of the following models were built or painted by me, and huge thanks must go to Annie for allowing me to post them here!

So, with that out of the way, let’s take a closer look:

First up, the trainer of the team:

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I already showed you this guy previously, without his floating chair. But now, finally in his true seat of power, the model is even cooler. For some reason, the bloated, froglike Slann immediately seems like a great trainer or manager.

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And you can almost imagine the skink at his side whispering recommendations in his ear, evaluating certain players and the like. The model has lots of detail and different textures, and I think Annie has really managed to do it justice with her paintjob:

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And that dapper little cap, done in GS and painted in the team’s colours as well as featuring its initials, still has to be my favourite part! A great addition that instantly transforms an otherwise unconverted model into a suitable piece for Blood Bowl:

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Then there are the cheerleaders:

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A very clever little conversion, involving some stock chamaeleon skinks and a bunch of pipe cleaners. I also love how Annie managed to paint the beady little eyes, complete with pupils, no less!

Now, what happens when the Raakmoor fans have to accompany the Vipers on an away match? Not to worry, because they have their very own fan bus to take them wherever they need to go:

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Using that huge metal model just for the heck of it is totally nuts, of course. But you just cannot ignore the brilliance of the idea: The fans commandeering a huge dinosaur to take them to each game of their team. Plus the model is, once again, very nicely painted! Check out the flags with the team logo! Brilliant!

And finally, possibly my favourite of the bunch:

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Whenever one of the Lizards get beaten to a cold-blooded pulp, no need to fear, because the team has a flying medic on standby at all times.
Now the idea in itself is already fantastic: Just imagine that terradon swooping in every time one of the players gets hurt. But the little details are what really takes the cake here: The terradon has a flashing blue light modeled on its head, and the skink has a flag and a bag of medical supplies. Brilliant!

All of these were made from stock Lizardmen models and a whole lot of creativity! And all of this showcases both Annie’s creativity and prowess at painting stuff, but also something I think is great about Blood Bowl in general: You only strictly need a dozen models to play the game, but there are all kinds of occasions for additional models to accompany your team. And there’s so much potential for adding humourous little tidbits to your collection of models: Have an idea for a funny mini-diorama? Heck, you may as well throw it in: Chances are, you’ll actually be able to use the model in some capacity, if only as some kind of cool turn marker.

So with that, my exploits in the wonderful world of fantasy football continue. Thanks again to Annie for letting me show these models! And, as always, thanks to you for reading and stay tuned for more!

Orkheim Ultraz: Da Star Playa

Posted in Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2013 by krautscientist

After my first game of Blood Bowl, I felt the need to reward myself with a new model for my team. And since I had wanted to do something with GW’s plastic Savage Orc Waaaghboss anyway, this was a very nice excuse to add another player to the Orkheim Ultraz.

I’ve worked with quite a few of the WFB plastic characters by now, and they are usually really excellent, easy to put together and highly detailed and dynamic. Using them for conversions takes a little thinking, however, since the parts fit together in a very specific way. Still, it’s usually possible to bend them to your will, if you’re a little careful with the cutting.

In this case, The objective was to build an orcish star player for the Orkheim Ultraz. It really was a modelling and painting project, first and foremost, with very little rules consideration in place, yet I suppose the model could be used as Varag Ghoulchewa.

Anyway, I assembled the model, basically only changing the arms: the huge axe normally wielded by the model went into my bitzbox, while the forearms were replaced with Black Orc gauntlets. This was done both to give the model a suitable pose for a Blood Bowl player and to make this guy look like he could pull some really nasty punches with those armoured fists of his. And while I wanted to keep the “almost naked” savage orc look, I also added some 40k Ork armour plates here and there to give the model at least a suggestion of armour (and better tie it in with the rest of the team).

This is what the model looked like before painting:

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After taking these photos, I realised that I would have to shorten the model’s left arm by a notch, so that’s what I did: This guy may be an Orc, but that arm did look too long even for a race of malproportioned green monsters.

In hindsight, I might have done something more involved with the model’s arms, of course, changing the pose into something different, but to be honest, I didn’t want to have to do lots and lots of sculpting, so I went for a rather simple solution.

Actually, the most involved part of the conversion was to cut the rock the model is jumping off of from the surrounding WFB base to be able to use it on a round base. I added the usual mix of glue, modelling sand and cork around it to blend it in and create some texture on the base.

Anyway, when it came to painting this guy, I stuck to my tried and true Orkheim Ultraz formula. Of course, the fact that the model has so much skin on display meant that Brian’s fantastic recipe for orc skin could truly shine once again. And I also added some yellow Gorkamorka decals on the armour plates.

Painting this guy was a blast, and so, a relatively short while later, the model was completed:

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As you can see, I also added a generous helping of static grass again, to emulate the football pitch look.

All in all, I think the Waaaghboss makes a nice star player for the Orkheim Ultraz. And with his distinct look and imposing frame, he makes for a stunning centrepiece:

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As always, let me know what you think! And, of course, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Orkheim Ultraz: Da first game…

Posted in Battle report, Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by krautscientist

Orkheim Ultraz Teaser_lores

So with the initial team members for the Orkheim Ultraz converted and painted, it was time to face my first opponent on the lawn. Unfortunately, I had virtually zero knowledge of the actual rules — certainlynot a perfect state of affairs!

Fortunately enough, my colleague Annie and her husband Mike kindly agreed to show me the ropes, so the Orkheim Ultraz were ready for their first actual game. Here they are, already on the pitch (with a cheeky Saurian having managed to sneak into the background…):

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And here are their opponents: The Moorfleet Eerdlöpers un Krüpers, Annie’s and Mike’s beautifully painted Lustria team:

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The first step was for Annie and Mike to slowly talk me through the basic rules. I am particularly slow on the uptake when it comes to learning tabletop rules, yet I found the Blood Bowl rules to be pleasantly compact. That didn’t mean that I understood everything from the get go, but they did everything they could to make things easier for me: Mike would play against me, while Annie served as an aide-de-camp of sorts to myself (which was really a good thing for the moments when it all became a bit much…).

Anyway, here’s what things looked like at the start of the game:

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Lustria had the kickoff, so some of my more nimble players hung around my backfield, ready to take possession of the ball, should it come flying their way, while my Black Orcs and Blitzers were entrenched at the line of scrimmage, awaiting the saurian assault.

The ball landed far in my backfield, right next to my thrower — what a lucky coincidence, right? Unfortunately, the one guy in my team actually handy with a ball failed to pick it up right at the start. And I quickly found out that those small Skinks are really fast. Ouch!

Nevertheless, I managed to take possession of the ball on my second turn, even passing it to one of my linemen who then started to advance down the field, his Saurian pursuers hot on his heels. Meanwhile, all my Black Orcs were doing was to be knocked on their asses again and again by Mike’s Kroxigor — hence “Blockers”, I suppose.

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After some back and forth (and quite a few Orks keeling over due to a pummeling in true Lustrian fashion), one of my Blitzers was in possession of the ball, and thinks were looking pretty good:

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But, once again, a gang of saurians surrounded him and beat him to a pulp. One of the lizards was then attacked by one of my players in turn, sending the ball spinning into Mike’s backfield. And, right enough, one of his speedy little Skinks broke off from the hubbub at the line of scrimmage to take possession of the ball. Mike gave it his all to move the Skink as far as he could, and things were looking pretty bad for me, but then the Skink failed a sprinting roll and tripped over his own feet:

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That left Mike with only a Saurus in his backfield to try and take back the ball. Yet one of my Linemen – actually the unassuming last model I painted – danced around the Saurus (insofar as the verb “dance” can be applied to an Orc) courtesy of a number of lucky dice rolls, picked up the ball and advanced towards the touchdown zone:

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I had to pass one last sprinting throw to make a touchdown. I rolled the die — and passed. Touchdown!

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In my joy, I didn’t even realise that we should normally have played at least another half, so Mike would probably have handed my ass to me after all. But I think this first little game worked as a rather nice introduction to Blood Bowl for me.

Regarding the game itself, I found it pretty fast and pleasantly tactical. And it was certainly a relief to encounter a tabletop game where setting up didn’t become a game of its own (as can happen in larger games of 40k). One thing that took some getting used to was the frequency at which models kept getting knocked down and getting back up: In my native 40k, once a model is down, it’s down for good. Blood Bowl seems to be much more about models bouncing back. It’s certainly fun, though! I can easily see myself taking the game for another spin!

Oh, and the fact that both “armies” were fully painted was a huge boon as well. With only about a dozen models per side, getting it all painted is of course a much less daunting prospect. Still, playing with a fully painted set of models is always the best possible option, and it’s great that we were able to do that!

We also found out that, by sheer coincidence, I had managed to build some of my Orc models to be perfectly compatible with the ball:

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So, in closing, it has been a fun first outing for the Orkheim Ultraz. More to follow, I hope! Let me wind up this post by showing you Mike’s and Annie’s Slann trainer: He may not be 100% finished, but never has a cap looked so good on a reptile, I’ll wager 😉

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So, many thanks to Mike and Annie for taking the time to show me the ropes and being such gracious hosts! And, as always, thanks to you for looking and stay tuned for more!