Archive for the Pointless ramblings Category

The Amsterdam Files

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, Pointless ramblings, Traitor Guard, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2017 by krautscientist

Hey everyone,

it’s my birthday today, and what better way to celebrate than to share with you the tale of what may be my favourite birthday present his year, even though it wasn’t even planned as one. Let me give fair warning in advance, though: This is going to be one hell of a wordy, rambling post, even though there should be lots of shiny things to look at. So anyway, what is this about?

Ever since I got back into this hobby and started blogging about my little plastic men, crazy awesome things have started to happen: People started sending me stuff ranging from bitz to entire models. I’ve been a part of some seriously awesome joint hobby projects with fellow hobbyists. And I’ve had lots and lots of contact with people from many corners of Holy Terra. Even against this background, however, my recent trip to Amsterdam, to meet up with fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass, turned out to be an absolute high point!

Now Augustus and me originally “met” over at The Bolter & Chainsword where we both belong to the regulars. The first longer conversation we actually had occured when Augustus had put a dismembered female corpse on one of hisΒ  Night Lords Contemptors, and I was the person to argue that this was actually pretty poor taste. Doesn’t exactly sound like the most promising setup for an inter-personal relationship, right? And yet, it did kick off a fairly continuous stream of mutual comments, posts and PMs that ended with us both realising that we actually had a lot of things in common, even beyond the shared infatuation with little plastic people. Which is actually kind of a big deal, if you think about is: Hobby forums are excellent places, and I love them dearly for the communication opportunities they provide, but you only really get to see a very thin slice of every fellow hobbyist, as it were: There’s no telling whether the guy you keep sharing conversion advice with is actually someone you’d get along with in everyday life.

And it’s actually great that way, because it allows a shared space where people can just come together and talk about a topic they feel passionate about, without having to defend their cultural or political views or their dubious choices in clothing. Even so, to find somebody who seemed like they would be legitimately interesting beyond the hobby was an excellent turn of events, and so when Augustus was kind enough to purchase a copy of Index Apocrypha: Chaos for me when the book had gone OOP, I joked that I would pay him back by coming to Amsterdam and buying him a couple of beers. So yeah, I did go to Amsterdam, and I did indeed buy him a couple of beers, but that’s not nearly all that happened last weekend. So, allow me to share a recap of an amazing trip:

I. Talking Shop

Now as some of you may already know, Augustus is an incredibly talented painter and converter in his own right, so it was always clear we would be talking about lots of hobby related stuff. We actually spend about two hours alone in front of his shelves and shelves of gorgeous miniatures, with me picking up model after model and feeling like a kid at the candy store. What’s more, I even slept in the same room for the weekend, so whenever I woke up, my gaze would fall on those fantastic models — I actually tried to figure out a way to sneak at least some of those gorgeous World Eaters into my overnight bag…

Models built and painted by Augustus b’Raass

…but that would obviously have been extremely rude. In addition to those models looking absolutely lovely, however, they are also magnetised, pinned, drilled and what have you to the umpteenth degree — and those are all things I never really do with my models, as I am just happy to get them finished and be done with it πŸ˜‰ But seeing the craftsmanship that had gone into assembling the models made me realise that Augustus was the perfect person to talk to about a couple of projects and concerns.

For instance, you probably remember this guy from the previous post, right?


Now Augustus and I talked about him and about how the pose was not yet quite there, and so I made some additional tweaks to the pose based on that conversation. This also provided the perfect opportunity for Augustus to teach me how to use a proper hobby saw instead of just wedging a cheap-o knife in there and wiggling it around. Anyway, here’s what the model looks like now:



I actually think the pose is quite a bit more natural now in how his legs and arms interact — as an added bonus, he even seems to be dragging his right leg, which is definitely fitting for a Plague Marine. The one small setback is that sawing through the torso to get the arms and shoulder pads off damaged some detail, so I might have to do a bit of cleanup there, but oh well.

Secondly, Augustus was kind enough to magnetise my World Eaters Contemptor’s right arm for me, as you can see in the picture below:


So now, in addition to looking like this,…



…he can also rock a sweet multimelta. Like this:



I am not a big fan of the 30k multimelta design, but having the whole thing as a magnetised alternative now really provided me with the incentive of making it look a bit more vicious and spiky, and I think I have suceeded with that.

And finally, while I basically managed to get most of the models I had brought over there without a hitch, my Forgeworld Angron was snapped off his base. Augustus suggested pinning him, and I asked him whether he could slightly tweak the angle of the model on the base, because I felt that Angron was facing downwards a bit too much. So here’s the tweaked angle, and I am much happier with the model now — and he’s far easier to take pictures of now as well:





I’ll have to build up some debris around the right foot, where the pin is visible right now, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

And it goes without saying that we also sat down and traded a lot of bitz: I had brought a bunch of stuff I thought Augustus might like, and in return, I came home with this crazy pile of awesomness:


The star of the show is obviously the Forgeworld World Eaters Dreadnought, as that is one of those models I have always wanted to own, but I didn’t pick him up before he went OOP — and now I have one! Woohoo! πŸ™‚

All it all, it was brilliant to talk shop with someone who not only has such a fantastic collection (in order to erm…borrow ideas by the boatload), but whose techniques and approaches also differ in certain areas: Augustus is super-structured and super-efficient, whereas I can be a huge fan of sloppy, messy Leeroy Jenkins-style tactics when it comes to painting and converting. Seeing someone else’s process was really quite eye-opening in many ways!

II. The Pretty Pictures

It wasn’t all theoretical, though, as I had also brought a pile of my miniatures for a joint photo opportunity, so we took my models, Augustus’ wonderful Imperial Fists and his equally lovely terrain and tried to achieve a look as close as possible to something you might see in an official GW publication, pitching the warriors of the World Eaters’ 4th assault company against the defenders of Terra during the siege of the Throneworld:



Hmm, with the Eighth Captain in the picture like that, I doubt that Librarian has too much of a career ahead of him… πŸ˜‰





One of the coolest setups we did was to pitch Augustus’ Imperial Fists commander, Franz Landa, against one of the 4th assault company’s Praetors: Secutor Hamund, the Mournful, very much a deathseeker, and seen here during what may have been his final battle:





Creating setups like that was really a ton of fun, and I love how the pictures have turned out! My World Eaters, on the other hand, had to take a bit of a rest after the demanding photo shoot (next to one of Augustus’ wonderful Contemptors):


While we still had that sweet setup out, however, I snatched the opportunity to take some pictures that showcased my models, selfish git that I am πŸ˜‰

Here are my 30k World Eaters, led by their Primarch:



Next up, my squad of Traitor Elites from my Traitor Guard force, “Urash’s Marauders”:


And, since I had also brought some models from the wonderful world of INQ28, Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt, of the Ordo Hereticus Velsen and his retinue…


…and the “Road Crew”, my current project of creating a merry band of Pitslaves, mutants and ne’er do-wells from the Hiveworld of St. Sabasto’s Reach:



And here’s one really sweet shot to top off this part of the post: My true scale Astartes, Praetor Janus Auriga of the Golden Legion, going toe to toe with Augustus’ absolutely lovely retro Bloodthirster — seriously, pictures don’t do that guy justice!

III. The All-important Rest

As fun as the whole hobby part of my trip was – and believe me, it was TONS of fun – what really turned the whole event into such a fantastic experience was being fed, pampered and taken around town by Augustus, who was just about the best host you could probably imagine: He had bought a wonderful collection of local and Belgian beers (And we drank. Them. All) and just made sure all around that I was as comfortable as I could be. We also ended up talking about a thousand different subjects – including, but certainly not limited to, the hobby – and I had a blast. Augustus also took me on a trip around town, and we invariably ended up the the local GW store. A huge shout out to the extremely friendly crowd over at GW Amsterdam South, by the way, from Dennis (the store manager who surprised my by being perfectly fluent in German and was an all around nice guy) to Rowdy (who actually came up to me to tell me he was following my work and was a bit of a fan — you made me feel like a freaking rock star, mate!): The hours just seemed to fly, and I loved every second of it.

While at the GW store, I was also able to take a couple of pictures of Augustus‘ spectacular rendition of Aaron Demsbki-Bowden’s First Claw:

First Claw by Augustus b’Raass (1)

Seriously, those guys are something else: It’s perfectly justified that they still draw lots of comments from the crowd at the store: You wouldn’t believe how amazing those guys are when seen firsthand. Let me just throw in additional pictures of my favourite three…

models built and converted by Augustus b’Raass

From left to right, Uzas (easily my favourite character from the Night Lords Trilogy), Talos and Mercutian (the model is just perfect in every way, wouldn’t you agree?).

And their three brethren that are just as awesome — I just happen to be in love with the three up top even more πŸ˜‰

models built and converted by Augustus b’Raass

From left to right, Xarl (I’ve never seen a more intimidating glare in my life!), Variel the Flayer and Cyrion.

While at the GW store, I also met a super-nice fellow named Tom who may just be the best painter I have ever spoken to. While he was all shy about it and kept insisting that he had basically tried to merely follow the work of David Soper, his Orruk Warlord was really a bit of a relevation to me:

Orruk Warlord by Tom

You see, high level painting has never done much for me, because it just seemed so abstract and far removed from where I was standing. Seeing a model painted at that standard from up close, however, made me realise that there were layers and layers of detail there that I couldn’t even take in all at once. Like, I’ve never even liked that Orruk warlord all that much, especially that idiotic skull on his shoulder pad, right? And then Tom goes and does something like this:

Orruk Warlord by Tom

I mean, just look at that bone! JUST LOOK AT IT!

Tom was also nice enough to send me some really good pictures of the model for you to enjoy, so here you go:

Orruk Warlord by Tom

 

Orruk Warlord by Tom

So yeah, lots and lots of super-friendly people — but then, that’s the Netherlands for you. It’s a fascinating country for me, as a German, because in so many ways, it’s like Germany, only not: There are tons of things that are so incredibly familiar, but are just slightly “off” — and I mean off in an entirely good way: You feel at home enough to be at ease, but it’s also different enough to be utterly refreshing. Which is basically the ideal mix for someone who is as much of a scaredy cat as me πŸ˜‰ Almost being able to get what people are saying is also quite a thing, I can tell you πŸ˜‰

So Augustus also took me around town, including the famous Red Light District, so I could take a look at Amsterdam’s seedy underbelly, except it’s really not all that seedy, and it certainly has the added benefit of having a rather lovely canal running through the middle of it:


We ended up at a super cool retro-arcade bar where we kept drinking yet more local beer – Zatte, which actually translates to “drunk” I believe — there’s actually a lot to be said for a country that names its beers for the intended effect – and playing a bazillion games of Jenga, friendly banter with the folks from the adjoining table and crazy, made-up rules included. Let me tell you, it seems like people who know how to convert tiny plastic soldiers can be real Jenga fiends:


And then it was back home, with the crazy guy on the ferry playing songs like “Last Christmas” or “My Heart Will Go On” at full volume on his phone actually being a fellow countryman of mine — leave it to a German to set the mood, eh?

Anyway, if all of this may sound kind of over-enthused, that’s simply because I had such a blast! And I would like to imagine that Augustus felt the same way, in spite of having a compulsively talkative German to take care of. Just look at us eggheads:


I mean he does seem a bit…ambiguous about the whole situation πŸ˜‰

Disclaimer: Which reminds me: Let me just state in no unclear terms that, in contrast to what you may or may not hear from other sources, I was, like, super-handy with the lock on the rented bike, and Augustus didn’t need to help me with it at all. Not even once. And that, as far as I am concerned, is the end of the matter.

Erm, anyways, here’s the big man himself again, albeit in model form: Meet Augustus b’Raass, warlord of Augustus’ World Eaters army:



So, Auggs, buddy: Ja, wie sage ich das jetzt, I really cannot thank you enough! For being an awesome host and a brilliant tour guide! For going through the risk of just having some guy from the internet over for an entire weekend. For the conversations and the laughs and, of course, the beer! And for starting out as a cool hobby buddy that has now become an actual friend! Cheers, mate!

And to all of the beautiful readers of this blog, if you have managed to hang on until now, thanks for reading! And, as always, stay tuned for more!

In hindsight, we should have set them up as though they were shaking hands — that would have been such a sweet capstone for the post…

Five years!

Posted in 30k, 40k, Blood Bowl, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Pointless ramblings, state of the hunt, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2017 by krautscientist

yearfive
Now would you believe it: Another anniversary snuck up on me while I wasn’t looking: As of this week, Eternal Hunt is actually five years old! That means five years of screaming into the void — quite an achievement, wouldn’t you say? πŸ˜‰

But seriously, I am actually really proud of having managed to keep this blog going for so long. Now I realise that some people may consider posts like this to be self-congratulatory. But in a hobby where maintaining focus and motivation is so very important, it feels like a little self-congratulation every once in a while doesn’t hurt, so if you’ll indulge me…?

 

Speaking of the raw numbers, five years of Eternal Hunt means 345 posts, all in all, and around 829,000 views.Β There have been 311,000 visitors to this blog and I have managed to attract 320 followers to date. Given the fact that the blog is a mere hobby project, those are some numbers to be reasonably proud of — I really do want to hit a million views, though! πŸ˜‰

 

Anyway, in previous years, I have always used the blog’s anniversary to showcase some of my earlies hobby efforts, but five years of constant blogging have managed to pretty much bleed me dry on that front: I have shared my somewhat embarrassing first Space Crusade models as well as an incredibly bad paintjob for the classic HeroQuest barbarian, the first model I have ever attempted to paint back in the day. I also showed you my first WFB and 40k armies, respectively, as well as my attempt at creating a Mordheim chaos warband back when Mordheim wasn’t even really officially a thing yet. And I even let you take a look at the highly deriative fantasy artwork I cobbled together during my late teens. So there’s really not much more of my past embarrassments for you to entertain yourselves with πŸ˜‰

So let’s do something different this year: Let’s not focus on my models, for a change, but rather on some of the fantastic pieces I have been given by fellow hobbyists.

You see, this blog has enabled me to not only talk about my personal hobby experiences, but also to get in touch with some extremely talented artists and creators, some of them venerable hobby legends. And while that’s already cool enough in and of itself, I was also lucky enough to have been sent some truly wonderful models over the years: Some of them completely painted, some to be painted by be. Some were already assembled, others came in parts. But they all added something unique and interesting to my collection of models, and some of them even made me approach a particular project or a part of my collection from a new angle.

Plus all of those models also make for a pretty eclectic group when collected. Take a look:

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Now these are the finished models that were given to me by fellow hobbyists in one form or another.

Given the focus of my blog, it shouldn’s surprise you that the XII legion (and their daemonic allies) feature heavily:

eternal-hunt-5th-anniversary-3
The massive Obliterators were built thanks to some wonderful custom parts that I received from fellow hobbyist Thamier. BrotherJim sent me an excellent converted Khornate champion in his trademark style from Australia. Sagal and AMaximus provided me with some vintage Bloodletters. And the centre piece is definitely PDH’s wonderfully painted Lord Zhufor that he sent over as a surprise – and just in time for the blog’s 2016 birthday! And while I bought those Heresy era World Eaters from fellow German hobbyist AgnostosTheos when he sold off his collection, they came about as the result of a little joint hobby project — and ultimately served as a sort of blueprint for my own exploits into the world of 30k.

And there’s the wonderful world of INQ28, of course: This is the category where I have received some particularly grimdark and Blanchian pieces:

eternal-hunt-5th-anniversary-5
Neil101 let me have that wonderfully sinister Khornate Champion (and …erm his bucket), while the legendary Ron Saikowski and Drone21c from Australia, respectively, sent me some stunning models based on classic John Blanche artwork. The little powder monkey was originally part of a bitz drop from PDH — and after being turned into a small augmetic familiar, he was named “PeeDee the Monkey” in Peter’s honour πŸ˜‰ Oh, and let’s not forget that cyber-mastiff, converted from a Malifaux model I won in a raffle over at MiniatureTim’s blog.

And then there are my friend Annie’s wonderful additions to my Blood Bowl team, of course:

eternal-hunt-5th-anniversary-6
And that’s not nearly all, because those are only the models I have managed to paint so far (or the ones that came pre-painted, as it were). As it happens, I still have some wonderful donations from fellow hobbyists to look forward to on my painting desk:

eternal-hunt-5th-anniversary-7

Among those are Malthus Dire, a Khornate Chaos Lord, courtesy of Commissar Molotov. A grimdark belle sculpted by Steifer. A really, really old Imperial Guard Trooper, once again kindly sent over by Drone21c. The Space Wolves model given to me by the owner of my (now sadly defunct) FLGS. And a freaking Forgeworld Primarch, sent my way by Adam Wier of Between The Bolter And Me — the latter in particular forms a stunning addition to my collection, and I’ll make sure to do him justice!

And that’s still not all either, because I haven’t even talked about the various bitz drops and the constant exchange of ideas between me and other hobbyists — the list goes on and on.

In short, both my collection of models as well as my entire hobby have been enriched by generous gifts and creative ideas from fellow hobbyists from all across the world. And getting in touch with them has only been possible via sharing my work as well as my ideas online, and by commenting on their work and learning from them in turn. And this entire process continues to be an extremely rewarding and, occasionally, humbling experience!

So whether you are one of the brilliant people who have sent me models or bitz over the years or you are a follower, reader or even frequent commenter on this blog, thank you! From the bottom of my heart! Because your contributions keep this blog running, and your influences have really broadened my hobby horizon!

In closing, allow me to share just one further example for the amazing way this whole blogging business leads to more and more surprises:

While browsing for inspirational artwork of Angron, the XII Legion Primarch, I recently came upon this illustration of Angron created by artist Dariiy:

Angron illustration by Dariiy

Angron illustration by Dariiy

Now I did notice certain similarities to my own conversion of Daemon-Primarch Angron, so I sent Dariiy a message enquiring about whether or not that was a coincidence — and imagine how happy and surprised I was when she wrote back that the illustration, done by her as a birthday gift for a friend, mostly used design cues from Alex Boyd’s iconic artwork of Angron in his Daemonic form — and, indeed, from my model version of the character. Now that’s the awesome and crazy stuff this hobby of ours can lead to: An illustration resembling a model you’ve built on the wall of somebody in a totally different country and shared with the rest of the world via social media. Incredible stuff, wouldn’t you agree?

Make sure to check out Dariiy’s tumblr, by the way, as there’s some pretty cool work on diplay over there!

 

So anyway, thank you all, once again — here’s to the next five years, eh? πŸ˜‰

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

The 2016 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 2: The Industry

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, Traitor Guard, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2017 by krautscientist

Awards

Okay everyone, forgive me for dropping off the radar for a bit there, but work has been pretty crazy for the last couple of weeks, and my free time has mostly been dedicated to the wonderful world of digital entertainment for quite a while (as an aside, if you like this blog, you should probably check out Dishonored 2 and Last Guardian, if you haven’t already).

Anyway, if you’ll indulge me, I would still like to get the Eternal Hunt Awards gig done and dusted before properly starting into a new hobby year — and it’ not as though I already have a whole lot of new stuff to show, either, so it’s finally time to continue this year’s…erm or rather: last year’s Eternal Hunt Awards.

For today’s installment, let’s take a look at the stuff GW released in 2016: I am going to outline the best and worst parts of the 2016 catalogue of releases. What were the highest and lowest points? And what else was cool …or curiously missing from the releases? Read on to find out!

 

I. Best releases

After a pretty strong 2015, 2016 was yet another spectacular year when it comes to GW’s releases — and if there’s one thing that was extremely surprising to me, it’s how many of GW’s 2017 releases seemed to bring to life stuff many hobbyists, myself included, have been dreaming of for years (often to the amusement of others, who dubbed things like updated Genestealer Cults or models for Daemon-Primarchs completely unlikely). So there πŸ˜‰

This, along with a massive change in GW’s outward communication, might just be a hint at something bigger, a bit of a policy change, if you will. And whether or not you agree with all of the stuff GW has been doing over the last twelve months, I think we can all agree that it’s been a rather fascinating ride πŸ˜‰

But even in a spectacular year, there were some things that stood out, so allow me to share my favourite 2016 kits and models:

 

1. The Burning of Prospero

burning-of-prospero-release-1Betrayal at Calth (the game, not the unfortunate event) was one of the great unexpected surprises of 2015, and another HH era boxed set in 2016 serves as clear proof that plastic Horus Heresy is very much a thing now!

And what a boxed set it is: The Burning of Prospero contains a somewhat more eclectic collection of models than Betrayal at Calth, but it arguably refines some of the latter’s contents: Regarding the vanilla angle, we got pretty excellent plastic Mk. III Tactical Marines, making my favourite Heresy era armour mark available in a material I am much more comfortable with. Excellent!

burning-of-prospero-release-11
The real surprise, however, was the inclusion of a squad of plastic Custodian Guard and plastic Sisters of Silence, respectively — for those models to have been revealed would certainly have made enough of a splash, but for them to be included in a boxed set, and in plastic, no less —Β  frankly, my mind was blown!

burning-of-prospero-release-13
It helps that the models are mostly excellent, of course.

If you want to start a plastic Horus Heresy army, you’ll probably find Betrayal at Calth a bit more flexible and useful than The Burning of Prospero. But Prospero is like a slightly strange distant cousin: A bit less dependable, certainly, yet also rather eclectic and eccentric — and all the more fascinating for it!

See my detailed review of the boxed set here.

 

2. Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower

Silver Tower Release (1)

I have gone on record saying that, while I don’t actively dislike the Age of Sigmar setting, I still have a hard time getting a feeling for the new world and its idiosyncrasies. Much of this might have something to do with trying to see WFB in Age of Sigmar, which is probably the wrong approach altogether, as the new setting strieves to be very much its own thing.

So it was a good thing when yet another excellent boxed set tried to present a different, more intimate, look at the world of Age of Sigmar, and I have to say that Silver Tower pushed all of my HeroQuest nostalgia buttons:

The idea to create this as a self-contained boardgame in the vein of the classic HeroQuest was a brilliant approach, because it makes you care about little snippets of the world before trying to make you care about the entire (still rather vaguely defined) setting. We also get a look at the different “good” factions (The Golden Dudes (TM), Duardim, Aelf and what have you), and presenting them condensed into a single hero character each works great to give us an idea of the respective faction’s identity. To wit, the Stormcast Eternal hero included in the set is probably one of the best Sigmarine models so far:

Silver Tower Release (15)He also defines the look and feel of the faction more concisely than the entire slew of golden dudes we have been getting.

And, once again, I am getting such a HeroQuest vibe from the Sigmarite Priest and Darkoath Chieftain:

Silver Tower Release (22)

Silver Tower Release (25)
The bad guys are no slouches either, with an excellent new version of the Gaunt Summoner and a warlock ogre — or should that be ogre warlock? Anyway, characters like the Ogroid Thaumaturge are the kind of thing that differentiates the new setting from the old, and it’s great to finally get to know them!

Silver Tower Release (3)Possibly the biggest achievement of Silver Tower is how it makes me like the Tzeentchian aesthetic – something that’s usually not exactly my cup of tea – by simply applying it to fantastic models, such as the aforementioned sorcerers, the Kairic Acolytes or the simply stunning Tzaangors — and the latter are even a shout out to the golden Oldhammer days!

Silver Tower Release (10)You know what? In a perfect world GW would have used a self-contained boardgame like Silver Tower to introduce us to the setting in the first place! A tighter, more focused experience might have made us care far more about the new setting. There are many reasons why such an approach would probably have been madness (they needed to replace a wargame, after all). But the fact still stands: I find myself caring more about Silver Tower than about almost the entire Age of Sigmar catalogue so far (Khornate models notwithstanding, for obvious reasons).

Plus you get a model of a fish on legs. That is all.

Silver Tower Release (14)Anyway, the boxed set stands as a rather charming introduction to the setting, and like I said, it manages to pull at my HeroQuest heartstrings, plus the models are pretty amazing as well. Which makes Silver Tower one of my favourite releases of 2016. ‘Nuff said.

 

3. Genestealer Cults

genestealer-cults-release-19

Genestealer Cults are easily one of my favourite parts of the 40k setting — and arguably the one thing that not only makes Tyranids interesting, but also removes them a bit from their very obvious main inspiration. And over the years, I’ve gone back time and time again to that one page from the 2nd edition rulebook showing some genestealer hybrids, wondering why GW had left this fascinating little part of the lore fall by the wayside. At the same time, it seemed very unlikely that we would ever see a new version of the Genestealer Cults.

And yet here we are, with the Genestealer Cults now an official sub-faction of their own — and with some seriously brilliant models, no less! Everything started with yet another fantastic boxed set – Deathwatch: Overkill – and the absolutely brilliant new hybrid models contained within it.

Deathwatch Overkill release (31)

So GW actually revisited one of the favourite retro-factions of my youth, but they also managed to bring it into the modern age with some cutting edge kits: The hybrids stand tall, with both the excellent snap fit models from the boxed set and with a dedicated multipart plastic kit of their own, providing us with a tool to not only build an excellent Genestealer Cult, but to also use the new parts in all kinds of INQ28 and Necromunda-related shenanigans:

genestealer-cults-release-21There’s just so much about those models that hints at the more “civilian”, for lack of a better word, side of 40k, the side we keep seeing in Dan Abnett’s Inquisitor novels: These guys are creepy Xenos soldiers, yes, but they are wearing miner’s garb and wielding repurposed tools and rather pedestrian weapons, making for a wonderfully workmanlike, low-level look that provides something visually new and appealing (and, again, also makes for exquisite INQ28 kitbashing).

genestealer-cults-release-23
There are also some rather beautifully subtle touches about the whole design: Call me crazy, but the ribbed structure of the miner’s armour reminds me not only of the actual Xenomorph in Alien, but also of the industrial design defining the look and feel of Ridley Scott’s classic series.

And we even get a more civilian 40k vehicle in the Goliath Truck/Rock Grinder, a wonderfully utilitarian looking workhorse that should be right up your alley, whether you’re trying to provide a sweet ride for your cult or searching for a vehicle for your pitslave gang:

genestealer-cults-release-28
With the Genestealer Cults, GW has revisited one of the most interesting ideas from the vintage 40k lore and brought it into the 21st century with a bang — what a wonderful surprise!

My first observations about the cool hybrid models that were released as part of the Deathwatch:Overkill set can be found here.

 

4. Thousand Sons

thousand-sons-release-18

The new Thousand Sons, arriving at the tail end of 2016, were great for a number of reasons: For me as a chaos player, seeing these guys being given a proper modern age plastic treatment was really a bit of a dream come true — and it’s all even better if you consider the new Thousand Sons as a possible precedent for what could be a full new set of cult legion models! I am definitely keeping my fingers crossed on this account.

But even beyond the forces dedicated to a single chaos god, the new Thousand Sons also serve as a bit of a template for a new, modernised CSM design, showing us some tweaked proportions and definitely a much improved level of detail — nowhere is that more obvious than when looking at the new Rubric Marines:

thousand-sons-release-19

And frankly, that would already have been enough to turn the Thousand Sons into one of my favourite 2016 released, but there were two more bombshells buried within this particular release.

One, a redesigned Ahriman:

thousand-sons-release-8

Out of all the four or so classic, archetypal characters GW decided to revisit in 2016, Ahriman is arguably the best by far: He keeps pretty much everything that was awesome about the original model and adds an amount of three-dimensionality and dynamism that are hallmarks of GW’s modern plastic design. He’s also actually closer to Jes Goodwin’s original design sketch than the vintage model, and that is certainly saying something! While the original Ahriman is still a classic, the new version is a worthy successor. Well played, GW!

And of course, there’s the pink elephant in the room: Magnus the Red, the first (discounting those rather embarrassing Epic 40k versions) Daemon-Primarch model released by GW:

thousand-sons-release-3

And while the model itself is certainly nice enough, I cannot help actually feeling more excited by what Magnus actually represents: That GW is now willing to explore Daemon-Primarchs in model form. Now this might yet all go horribly wrong, with ulta-cheesy fluff and a WFB End Times-level brouhaha for the entire setting. But right here and now, having a plastic model of a Daemon-Primarch that so excellently draws from all the depictions of the character in the classic artwork certainly feels like a rather exciting moment!

I know that chaos players carry a – not entirely undeserved – reputation for constantly bitching about getting the short end of the stick. But at the same time, it’s also true that GW has fumbled the ball more than once when adding to the Chaos Space Marine faction. But the new Thousand Sons show that GW still knows how do to chaos right, and just imagining that we could be getting more of this at some point in the future gives me goosebumps — just imagine the possibilities…

You can find my thoughts on the entire release here.

 

 

5. Canoness Veryidian

veryidian

This last item on the list is particularly close to my heart, as the Canoness Veryidian model was an even bigger surprise to me than Daemon-Primarch Magnus!

You see, if somebody asked me what 40k was all about, I would point them to two particular pieces of artwork by the venerable John Blance. And one of those two pieces of art would be this, invariably:

Adepta_Sororitas_by_John_Blanche

It’s really all there: 40k’s particular blend of religious iconography, grimdark dystopian sci-fi and medieval madness. The glitzy, 80s fantasy style warrior woman with the crazy hairdo. And the influences from classic painters like Bosch, Breughel, Rembrandt et. al. It’s 40k in a perfectly formed nutshell.

And to get an almost picture perfect model representing that character, courtesy of Martin Footit, was a very particular delight, and one I wouldn’t have expected in a million years.

A sizeable chunk of my Christmas holiday was spent trying to get my hands on one of the elusive Canoness Veryidian models, and when I finally succeeded, it felt like a true triumph indeed! What a wonderful surprise! I hope I’ll be able to do the model justice with my paintjob!

 

6. Honorary mention: Seeing Artemis again…

For the sake of the comparison, both models are displayed at the same size, when they are really anything but...

Featured in a boxed set that was somewhat more pedestrian than some of the more spectacular sets released this year, but even so: Seeing Artemis released in a 28mm version was definitely a nice surprise!

 

II. Worst releases/biggest disappointment

The quality of GW’s 2016 output was pretty astounding, overall, but there were some kits that somehow fell short of the mark. Don’t ge me wrong, none of the following models were completely terrible. But in the light of so many great releases, some designs were a bit of a letdown for me, and they arguably feel all the more disappointing for all the brilliant stuff released by GW last year — so here’s what I didn’t like:

1. Wulfen

plastic-wulfen-1
Out of all the new kits released in 2016, there is really only one kit that came dangerously close to actually qualify as “bad” in my personal opinion — the new plastic Wulfen models.

Now to cut GW’s designers some slack, designing Space Marine werevolves that actually look cool and suitably believable cannot be a simple task. And to be fair, the kit definitely looks like they gave it their all, trying to incorporate as many cool touches as possible.

But in the end, it all just collapses in on itself, because the groundwork was never sound to begin with. Much of this has something to do with the Wulfen anatomy: Now the original Wulfen models certainly had their own share of problems, but one thing the classic models did really well was to convey a sense of chaotic devolution, their armour being cracked and broken away in different places by the terrible changes in their physiology:

classic-wulfen-models

At the same time, they certainly didn’t take any big chances with the overall anatomy, basically keeping a standard human setup.

By comparison, the new Wulfen look far animalistic, but also like a strangely stable – if hairy – genotype, with every model sharing the same general build. But shouldn’t the transformation into a Wulfen be somewhat more haphazard and unstable? In fact, the longer I think about it, the more this drives me up the wall: They are even wearing contoured armour that seems to have been carefully adapted to their new build. Who in the world is making that stuff for the heavily muated Wulfen, along with the backpack-mounted pistols and custom wargear? Another Wulfen? A Wulfen scientist, if you will? Or are they fortunate enough to have kept a few sane fellows around?

Instead of looking like feral, yet tragic, creatures tortured by the changes wrought upon their bodies by unstable genetics, the new Wulfen look more like a World of Warcraft character class. And there’s also the fact that the faces remind me of the Wolf Man, for the most part:

the-wolf-man

And let’s not even get in the squad leader’s awkward, overdesigned jumping pose…

What we end up with is a collection of pretty amazing conversion parts — but the completed models somehow become less than the sum of their parts. And what really amazes me that I have yet to see the new Wulfen assembled or painted in a way that makes them work. So even while the designers probably had their cards stacked against them from the beginning – SciFi werewolves seems like just about the most thankless imaginable archetype – I am sad to say that the Wulfen are my personal GW low point from last year.

2. GW basing sets

40k-basing-set-2

The idea itself was brilliant: GW putting out some bases and bitz-based basing sets on their own is long overdue. So I was really happy when the new bases for 40k were announced.

I picked up the Sector Imperialis Large Base Kit, because it seemed like the most immediately useful addition to my bitzbox, and I was really looking forward to having some dedicated basing bitz at my disposal.

The problem was that the quality of the cast was absolutely abysmal, with very soft detail and a general clunkiness to the cast that would have been slightly embarrassing in the mid-90s, but simply seems baffling from a modern standpoint. Here’s a company that can put out the most delicate plastic models imaginable to man, and the cast of their basing kits seems more appropriate for a cheap aftermarket knock-off?

I’ve heard rumours that the first batch of those basing kits was produced in China — but seriously, that excuse doesn’t cut it for me: They were still on sale at a GW store, for the same premium price as the rest of their kits.

To make a long story short, will I be able to still put those bitz to good use? You bet. But seeing a kit I had really been looking forward to deliver such a poor experience was still one of the low points of my hobby year.

3. Ulrik the Slayer…Unmasked!

ulrik-the-slayer
In his original incarnation, Ulrik was a rather iconic model, sinister and somewhat mysterious with his wolf skull helmet. Now, more than two decades later, he has finally decided to show us his face, and wouldn’t you know it: He looks just like generic bearded Space Wolf guy no. 101′ — what a letdown!

Now I couldn’t even tell you what it was I expected — maybe the helmet should just have stayed on, is all I am saying. It’s even more of a shame when the rest of the model is really pretty awesome!

4. New Eldrad Ulthran

Eldrad comparison

GW released new plastic versions of several of the most iconic 40k characters last year, and in my opinion, Eldrad was the one to get the short end of the stick. Now the new versions definitely isn’t a terrible model — far from it. But where, say, the aforementioned new Ahriman basically takes all that was great about the original model and tweaks the formula to perfection, the new Eldrad loses (or, at the very least, seriously waters down) the iconic composition that made the original such a classic. Face it guys: This isn’t Elrad. It’s just some warlock guy trying his darnedest to seem as cool as the big man πŸ˜‰

III. Still on the fence about…

  • Losing Warhammer: Visions: Now don’t get me wrong: I really rather like the new monthly White Dwarf format. In fact, the weekly White Dwarf was a travesty: far too expensive and far too thin on content. And the new mag, at least judging by the first couple of issues, seems to be a return for form in som many ways. Can I be perfectly honest with you, though: I was one of the few people to actually like Warhammer: Visions. I loved looking at pages after pages of glorious armies and models, especially if those were the creations of fellow hobbyisty and featured many personal touches and conversions. Now the new White Dwarf might be a great overall hobby magazine yet again, but the army features, for instance, just cannot compare to the ones in Warhammer: Visions.
    I realise that most people saw visions as a redundant coffee table book, but I find myself kinda missing the format. Is that weird…?
  • No plastic Sisters yet agai….WAIT! Whoa, does this mean we might be getting new Sisters of Battle? In plastic? Oh, pretty please…? Seriously, though: It’s. About. Damn. Time!

 

IV. Also pretty cool

  • New plastic Blood Bowl: I really love how GW has given the classic game more than just a new coat of paint, and if this is any precedent for the new Specialist Games, I am really optimistic about the future!
  • The new attitude: I also really love GW’s new approach to communicating with their cuctomers and with hobbyist: That they are back to actively using social media. That they are actually acting proactively in the whole rumours business instead of merely reacting to all those leaked materials online. That they are posting supremely helpful (looking at you again Duncan Rhodes) as well as genuinely funny video material. Now all of this seems like common sense, really, but let’s not forget that some of us hobbyists can be a fanbase that not even a mother could love. Anyway, good work, guys and girls! Do carry on! πŸ™‚

 

All in all, it’s been a teriffic year for GW, and I am certainly looking forward to the next batch of releases? So much for 2016, then, at least where the industry is concerned. Next up is the third and final installment of the 2016 Eternal Hunt Awards, taking a look at my favourite models from fellow hobbyists all over the blogosphere — arriving soon, hopefully, here on the blog.

Until then, feel free to let me know your feedback: Do you agree (or disagree) with my assessment of last year’s releases? What were your favourite parts, and which models did you hate? Did I forget anything important? I am looking forward to your comments!

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

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!

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!

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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:

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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.
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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

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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:

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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:

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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!

 

The State of the Hunt — Week 45

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob, Pointless ramblings, state of the hunt, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2016 by krautscientist

So, like I said, I was at a conference last week, visiting the PLAY 16 festival at Hamburg and spending a couple of days in the city. I think I have mentioned previously that, in addition to being addicted to cutting up little plastic men, I am also a huge videogame nerd, and the subject also happens to factor into my professional background of working in the field of media literacy. So allow me to begin this week’s post with some comparatively off-topic rambling:

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PLAY is a festival dedicated to the artistic, creative and educational purposes and potentials of videogames, and this year’s subject was “Let’s get physical!”, so the various events, workshops and presentations dealt with the representation of bodies in games, ranging from the design of characters, archetypes and player avatars to the interactions between the game world and the player’s actual body, be it in the form of motion contol or even virtual and augmented reality. The festival was fascinating and fun, and certainly not short on highlights: For instance, I had the opportunity to try out Triangular Pixels’ VR game “Unseen Diplomacy”, which was a truly stunning experience — I hadn’t expected VR to be so, well, immersive at this comparatively early point!

Another highlight was the fact that the Museum fΓΌr Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) is currently running a huge exhibition on the history of videogames, with many, many playable classics from 30+ years of gaming culture (I was appalled at how badly I was doing when playing OutRun on an actual vintage arcade cabinet). In addition to the actual games, the exhibition also features lots of concept artwork from modern classics like Shadow of the Colossus or Ico:

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I was particularly delighted when I discovered a whole wall of brilliant concept art from DoubleFine’s Psychonauts, a personal favourite of mine:

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So if you live anywhere near Hamburg or should find yourself visiting the city in the near future (or until the end of April 2017), and if you’re even the slightest bit interested in videogame culture, you should definitely check out the Game Masters exhibition! It’s very educational, but also great fun! Plus the museum also has many more exhibitions for you to discover, of course. I was sadly unable to check out the exhibits on Art Nouveau due to time constraints, for instance, so I might have to plan another visit soon…

Let me wind up this part of the post by showing you the room that housed the last workshop I participated in before travelling back home. This room is also located at the MKG and was once the cafeteria of German news magazine Der Spiegel:

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It also provided the perfect photo opportunity for getting material that should make for suitably psychedelic desktop backgrounds:

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Anyway, before we veer completely off course, rest assured that I did of course do something hobby related as well while I was in Hamburg: It goes without saying that I took the opportunity to drop by one of the local GW stores. Now what really impressed me was the level of painting on display at the store, courtesy of the staff and some regulars, so I snapped inspirational pictures left and right:

 

DISCLAIMER: This should be fairly obvious, really, but none of the following stuff is mine, and I don’t claim any kind of credit for it! If you should recognise one of your models and would like to be mentioned, just give me a holler and I’d be glad to edit your name into the post!

Anyway, my first port of call was this very awesome Khornate Daemon army painted by one of the store’s regulars:

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Possibly my favourite conversion was the Bloodslaughterer-based Soulgrinder:

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And while it wasn’t part of the same army, I also really love this slightly converted Maulerfiend:

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My favourite parts are the Bloodletters leading it to battle by a chain and that delicious brass recipe!

The biggest surprise was to discover something that I first considered to be a cool recreation of an iconic – and rather well-known – piece from the internet, but which almost certainly turned out to be the genuine article upon closer inspection:

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And because you can never have enough Inquisitor-scaled Astartes, there was also this beautiful 54mm Librarian (cheers to Inquisitor Mikhailovich for correcting that oversight!), based on the same vintage Captain Artemis:

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So yeah, brilliant stuff all around!

Of course I couldn’t leave the store without making a sizeable purchase. So yeah, this happened:

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The good folks at the store were nice enough to reserve their last copy of The Burning of Prospero for me, so there goes my next hobby year, I suppose πŸ˜‰

Seriously, though, I am pretty sure I’ll be talking about the contents of the box in more detail sooner rather than later. For now, suffice it to say that I am actually awestruck by the quality of the casts: GW’s plastic models have been rather spectacular for quite a while now, but it really seems as though each boxed set sets a new benchmark for crispness of detail. Very nice! You can also find my thoughts on the models contained in the boxed set here, should you have missed them.

 

Speaking of which, I actually kitbashed one particular model as a kind of preparation for the release of The Burning of Prospero, incidentally:

As you may already have noticed, I really enjoy building 30k versions of my 40k World Eaters characters. Now back when it didn’t look like I would ever create any 30k models of my own, fellow German hobbyist AgnostosTheos created a 30k (pre-interment) version of one of my characters, Khoron the Undying:

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In the 41st millennium, Khoron has been a Dreadnought for several millennia, yet he has also been an invaluable adviser to Lord Captain Lorimar since before the Heresy, as he was already a veteran of the 4th company even before Lorimar won his captaincy in the fighting pits.

Khoron actually already has quite a bit of backstory – at least somewhere in the back of my head – so I do have a pretty specific idea of what I want his model to look like. With that said. there’s a lot I still love about AgnostosTheos’ version (especially the lined face he chose, making Khoron look like a grizzled veteran), but it’s obvious the model doesn’t fit my World Eaters colour scheme, so instead of painting over AT’s paintjob, I thought this would be a good occasion to build an updated 30k version of Khoron. Now I see him as a hard-as-nails veteran of the legion, so I chose an archaic suit of armour for him — plus I had already heard rumours of the new boxed set at that time, so it seemed like a cool idea to give Mk. III a try:

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The model was created by combining World Eaters’ and Iron Hands’ parts (I loved the chainmail loincloth on the IH legs, so I just had to use them). The weapons have also swapped hands when compared with AT’s version, in order for the model to mimic Khoron’s eventual Dreadnought ironform. The model has only been tacked together for now, and I think Khoron will be needing some additional gear here and there, but by and large, I am already pretty happy with the new version. So here’s Khoron next to the previous version of the character:

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So yeah, that’s it for this week. It goes without saying that I would love to hear any thoughts you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Get out of my head, dammit! A closer look at The Burning of Prospero

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Custodes, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2016 by krautscientist

First of all, forgive me for being phenomenally lazy over the last two weeks, dear readers — or rather, I wasn’t really being lazy but rather focusing my attention elsewhere (on the job, as it stands — YAY!). But it’s now time to return to the world of blogging, and what better occasion than to address the very obvious elephant in the room: GW’s second Horus Heresy boxed kit, The Burning of Prospero:

burning-of-prospero-release-1Prospero has been dangled in front of Horus Heresy aficionados’ noses for quite a while now, and now GW performs a fearsome one-two-punch, turning the occasion into its own boxed set with dedicated rules — and lots and lots of delicious new little plastic men. Interestingly enough, the box seems to be continuing some of Betrayal at Calth’s most successful parts (i.e. giving us Horus Heresy Astartes in multi-part plastic) while also shaking up the formula in other respects (making the HQ models far less generic and adding shiny stuff like the Custodian Guard and the Sisters of Silence). So anyway, it has been a while since the last review, so let’s relish this occasion and use it as an excuse to take a closer look at the models as well as the possible conversion opportunities!

Before we begin, however, allow me to point you towards Wudugast’s article regarding The Burning of Prospero as a possible companion piece to this post. I’ve only skimmed his post so far, mostly for fear of ending up stealing some of his ideas and observations, but it seems like he raises some excellent points, and I know I am already looking forward to reading the whole thing, once my own post has gone up πŸ˜‰

So let us start with the two HQ models that come in the box: Once again, we get one commander for each side. Now while Betrayal at Calth chose the route of actually naming the characters and giving them background while keeping the models themselves generic to the point of blandness, The Burning of Prospero goes the exact opposite way and opens up with one of the 30k and 40k universes’ big names:

 

Ahzek Ahriman, Chief-Librarian of the Thousand Sons

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Now that was quite a surprise, wasn’t it? Ahriman’s definitely the first major 30k character to be given a plastic incarnation, and I think Maxime Pastourel (aka MorbΓ€ck) has done a wonderful job with the model: The armour and detailing are very close representations of several pieces of Horus Heresy artwork, giving you the idea that, yes, this is definitely Ahriman! The blank faceplate is a bit of an acquired taste, but in all fairness, it has been part of the art for quite a while now, so it’s definitely an accurate representation. The engravings and symbols on Ahriman’s armour speaks of the Thousand Sons’ dabblings in sorcery while not overcluttering the model. And I really love how the flowing robes lend motion and dynamism to what is otherwise a rather static pose.

Of course with an important character like this, it’s also important to compare the 30k and 40k versions — and at first glance, there is very little resemblance between Maxime’s 30k Ahriman and Jes Goodwin’s classic 40k Ahriman:

40k_ahrimanHowever, upon closer examination, it’s interesting to see how several elements of the 30k model do seem like a shout out to Jes Goodwin’s model: Maxime himself explains in the current issue of WD how the curved crest behin Ahriman’s head was included to mirror the horns curving from the 40k version’s helmet — and a similar thing can be said about his Heka staff, as the curve of its blade seems to subtly echo the curvature of the horns atop 40k Ahriman’s staff.Β  The stole around Ahriman’s neck also mirrors a similar item on 40k Ahriman, and it’s fun how the wind seems to be blowing in the opposite direction on both models, respectively πŸ˜‰

Beyond those visual connections, it’s also fun to compare what is different about the models, however, as there seems to be quite a bit of visual storytelling there: 30k Ahriman is all clean lines and lofty ideals, while 40k Ahriman seems like the quintessential, crooked and corrupt Chaos Sorcerer (much as he himself would probably deny any such notions). Looking at both models beautifully illustrates how far the character has fallen! It’ll be interesting to see whether a possible new 40k version of Ahriman manages to keep the same sense of narrative…

So yeah, I think this guy is pretty great! Anything else? I think that fallen Space Wolf on the base is a rather beautiful touch. And that might just be the best casting hand we have seen so far from GW — job’s a good ‘un!

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Geigor Fell-Hand of the Space Wolves

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Ahriman’s direct opponent for the game is Geigor Fell-Hand of the Space Wolves, and while he’s a beautiful model in his own right, I don’t think he can quite keep up with his Thousand Sons counterpart. First of all, it would have seemed more plausible from a story perspective to include Othere Wyrdmake, seeing how he’s both an already established character AND Ahriman’s nemesis of sorts. But I imagine that would have messed with the game’s premise (sorcery vs. good, honest close combat), so we get a CC monster instead πŸ˜‰

Now there are many things I like about the model: The artificer armour is definitely a thing of beauty! The shoulder pads are particularly noteworthy, in my opinion: The left one looks deliciously customised while the right one actually shows a Rogue Trader-era style legion badge — brilliant!

In spite of the model’s strong parts, I do have two gripes about Geigor: One, I think the model is too “Space Viking” by a long shot, especially since the Horus Heresy novels (Prospero Burns, in particular) have been doing such a good job so far of selling the wolves as something more interesting than mere generic viking types. And now here comes Geigor, in full Space-Viking regalia — poor guy must not have gotten the memo…

In fairness, I think this problem could be solved in part by making a few minor tweaks and ommissions: That back banner needs to go, if you ask me, and the claw seems a bit over-designed to me.

In fact, that’s my second gripe: I get how the designers wanted this guy to read as a close combat monster, but the combination of a massive lightning claw and a combat knife just seems off to me, somehow, especially in combination with the slightly wonky poses of the arms. I think a pair of claws or a massive sword and knife would have been excellent options, respectively, but the setup we are getting here just seems like a bit of a compromise. I remember that this guy was rumoured to be Bjorn the Fell-Handed, back when the first rumours of the boxed set surfaced, and his equipment would have made lots of sense in that light. But it seems like GW chickened out and turned him into yet another super-important character that we have never heard about — and in that case, a different combination of weapons would have worked better, if you ask me.

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Don’t get me wrong, though: Geigor’s still a beautiful model that should work well both in 30k and 40k armies. He’s just not as good as Ahriman πŸ˜‰

 

Tartaros Terminators

burning-of-prospero-release-7Getting a full squad of plastic multi-part Cataphractii out of the deal was one of the most pleasant surprises about Betrayal at Calth — and now the new boxed set follows suit and gives us a squad of the other iconic heresy-era pattern of Terminator armour. And it seems like GW’s sculptors have once again done a good job of recreating the design in plastic, at least where the amount of detail is concerned.

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Now I have to admit I am not a big fan of the Tartaros pattern, but that’s just me. Even so, I cannot help wondering whether these are actually a bit clunkier and more angular than their resin cousins. In any case, I do think the models end up looking a bit silly if the shoulder pads are placed too low, however. Just check out this guy:

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Beyond those observations, it looks like the kit comes with just as much customisation as the Cataphractii — and we even get some choom out of the deal! πŸ˜‰ I also like the extra detail on the sergeant’s armour, which is something I would have loved to see on the Cataphractii as well!

All in all, this is another rock solid plastic rendition of heresy armour, and I imagine many people will be really happy with these guys! My lack of appreciation for the general design of the armour means I am not perfectly sold — but I do think the plastic Tartaros Terminators provide some excellent conversion fodder. But we’ll be getting to that in a minute…

 

Tactical Marines in Mk. III “Iron” armour

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Where the regular Astartes are concerned, the inclusion of plastic Mk. III armour is actually the most exciting part of the boxed set for me! Iron armour is possibly my favourite heresy era armour mark — even moreso than Mk. IV. There’s just something about the very archaic look of the armour and the added mass that’s immensely appealing to me for some reason — maybe it’s the fact that the heavyset Mk. III armour captures the massive, archaic feeling of the classic Wayne England Horus Heresy artwork like nothing else?

Anyway, these guys look great as a squad, and it’s cool that they are getting the whole tactical squad treatment (with all the options that entails) once more. Granted, though: If you are not into Space Marines, then this is just the umpteenth tactical squad — but then I guess you wouldn’t exactly be this boxed set’s chief target demographic, either πŸ˜‰

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While the basic options and additional weapons are just like what we got with the Betrayal at Calth Mk. IV Marines, there are some additional tweaks that I appreciate: The models come with yet another bolter design (the Phobos pattern) that’s arguably a great fit for the archaic armour and makes for greater visual variety. And we get some chain swords for the Marines to wear at their hips, whoch is nice — and arguably a bit cooler than the somewhat bland combat knives. Maybe next time, we can get some actual chain sword arms, though? Thank you very much! πŸ˜‰

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The armour design itself seems to have been tweaked ever so slightly during its transition to plastic: The back of the backpack seems to have streamlined a bit, for once. There have been some tweaks to the helmet design. The shape seems ever so slightly different, especially towards the back of the helmet. And the main difference is that the eyes – formerly just eye holes, really – have been turned into actual helmet lenses that can be painted. This definitely makes sense, but the look it creates needs some getting used to.

burning-of-prospero-release-12On the other hands, GW sweetens the deal by giving us several subtly different helmet designs, which is definitely appreciated.

Much as I love the design of the armour, however, my earlier criticism from the Betrayal at Calth release applies once more: Why not include some CC weapon arms (which would have made even more sense given the “physical power vs. sorcery” vibe of the whole game) and leave those to FW upgrade kits? I would have loved to finally see some close combat arms on a wider scale, especially with a kit that is otherwise so big on options and customisability.

Apart from this one piece of criticism, however, the Mk. III Marines are one of my favourite parts of the boxed set, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on them!

 

Custodian Guard & Sisters of Silence

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Right, if you had told me one year ago that we would be seeing plastic Custodes and Sisters of Silence in an upcoming Horus Heresy boxed set, I would probably have laughed long and hard and called you a wishlister of the highest order. And yet, here they are. Of course their inclusion makes sense from a background perspective — seriously, though: I would rather have expected them to be releaed as resin models.

Of course the recently released Deathwatch Watch Captain served as a fair warning, what with wielding a Guardian Spear and all — I was actually going to suggest using him as the base for a Custodes conversion. Clever, GW, very clever πŸ˜‰

The Custodes in particular have long been a bit of a holy grail for many hobbyists (myself included), and the attempt to recreate them in model for has spawned many awesome armies — with Dave Taylor’s seminal Custodes army being first among them, of course. All the more reason, then, to take a close look at the models:

 

Custodian Guard

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“Oh, right, now I understand: That’s what GW kept doing all those golden Age of Sigmar dudes for: They were merely test runs for the inception of plastic Custodes…” πŸ˜‰

And, funnily enough, just when we thought we couldn’t stand any more huge golden dudes, GW gives us plastic Custodians — I wonder whether or not the irony behind it all was intended πŸ˜‰

In spite of never appearing in model form so far, the Custodes have a fairly well-documented history, with quite a few depictions in the Horus Heresy art. Many of the most iconic illustrations featuring the Emperor’s bodyguard were part of the Horus Heresy trading card game and subsequently appeared in the collected Horus Heresy artbooks. Such as this piece:

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I think it’s really astonishing how much of the visual splendour of the Custodian armour appearing in the image above has been faithfully reproduced on the actual models, from the iconic helmet design to the small details of the armour:

burning-of-prospero-release-15I also really like how the armour seems decidedly unlike standard Astartes power armour, thanks to its very different lines, integrated backpack/reactor etc.

What’s more, you may not like those massively clunky bolt-pistol swords, internet, but if nothing else, there’s a precedent for them in the classic HH artwork, and they are just as clunky there:

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The shout outs to the artwork don’t stop there, however: In his aforementioned post, Wudugast points out how much the bare head included with the kit resembles the various depictions of Constantin Valdor, Captain-General of the Legio Custodes:

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All of this makes it seem like GW’s designers have really gone above and beyond in the attempt to do these guys justice and make them resemble the classic artwork as much as possible.

Even so, I will say that – beyond the sheer surprise of these guys being featured as part of a boxed set, and in plastic, no less – I did have to warm to the Custodes models for a number of reasons:

First up, they seemed so big and clunky to me: Sure, so many of the elements from the classic artwork have been expertly reproduced in model form, including the contoured armour that separates them from regular Astartes, but they still felt so massive to me at first glance, when some of the old artwork rather suggested something more lithe and elegant:

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Of course John Blanche’s style is always rather open to interpretation, and the actual models usually end up looking fairly different, but there are also different pieces of art that have the Custodians look powerful, but in a rather elegant way. Just check out the guys on the far right in the picture below:

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The actual models seem incredibly massive, however. Especially so in certain configurations:

burning-of-prospero-release-16At the same time, I have come to like the bigger scale when compared to regular Astartes: Sure, it seems a bit strange at first, but the Custodians really should be between an Astartes and a Primarch in size — just imagine how stupid they would look surrounding the Emperor otherwise πŸ˜‰

Still, the added mass takes some getting used to. But even as I write this, I can feel myself liking the models more and more. So I don’t think it’s much of an issue.

The other gripe I have doesn’t seem quite as substantial, admittedly, but it just keeps bothering me: Why are the Custodes models lacking any kind of robes or capes? This feels like a pretty baffling design choice on GW’s part, because if you look at the various pieces of artwork above, the crimson robes and capes seem as emblematic of the Custodes as their Guardian spears and their iconic helmets. Yet they are completely missing on the models, not even showing up on the Shield-Captain.

Now I do realise that this probably has something to do with technical issues and/or the way the models are assembled — but come on, these models are so spectacularly detailed, and you have gone out of your way to feature elements from the artwork. So how hard could it have been to add some (optional) capes on the sprue?

To add insult to injury, the Custodian appearing on the pictures of FW’s new antigrav tank even sports an added cape:

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Looks like I’ll have to source some plastic capes, then — any suggestions? πŸ˜‰

Of course having Custodes available in plastic also carries a bit of a bittersweet taste for me: After all, I happily kitbashed together a small Custodes army a couple of years ago, and I think I had a pretty good recipe as well:

Custodes (2b)
Custodian Squad (2)

Custodes army Teaser Shot
And these guys have now obviously been rendered rather irrelevant by the new models — bugger! πŸ˜‰ I really only have myself to blame, though, as my last models for the army were painted back in 2013 — I should have been faster!

All in all, these guys have grown on me quite a bit — and to actually see them as what looks like a multi-part plastic kit still seems kind of unreal to me. What’s more, the amount of detail on the various parts of the kit is really rather outstanding, and I imagine playing around with the bitz should be quite a bit of fun. Sure, the swords are too big (even if they are accurate), but at least we get a full set of Guardian Spears, so that’s not much of a problem. It really is a shame about those missing capes, though…

 

Sisters of Silence

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Where the Custodes depart from the artwork in some rather surprising ways, the Sisters of Silence seem like a perfect representation of the various pieces of artwork from the Horus Heresy artbooks: The design of the armour, the iconic weapon and facemasks, and the weapons wielded by the various squads in the artwork: all accounted for.

In addition to this, it’s always a treat to see some additional female models, and the Sisters of Silence are an especially welcome breath of fresh air in between all those bulky killing machines in the boxed set!

Another thing I really like about the models is that they feature all of the weapon loadouts we have seen in the art so far, allowing for swords as well as bolters, which is a very nice option to have (and also adds even more possible conversion parts).

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Oh, and that Sister Superior ist just a stunning model — it’s going to take all of my (almost nonexistent) willpower to resist the temptation to convert her into an Inquisitrix…

Incidentally, a squad of kitbashed Sisters of Silence were part of my Custodes project as well, although I’d argue they are still close enough to the new models to actually still work once painted:

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Do I see any negative points about the Sisters? I think some of the hair looks ever so slightly unnatural — but that’s not a huge problem and should be easy enough to sort out. In closing, let me just state the obvious, though: If GW can do these, they can do plastic Sisters of Battle. Just sayin’…

 

conversion options:

So much for the models, but what about possible conversions? I think the boxed set provides us with lots and lots of promising bitz and opportunities. Let me just outline some initial ideas for you:


Ahriman

I think the model could easily be turned into your own, customised Thousand Sons Librarian or even Praetor, for that matter: Just a head and/or an arm swap, and you are there. By the same token, he would work really well as a Chaos Space Marine Sorcerer in 40k: His armour is just ornate enough to work, and adding some spikes, trophies and chaotic symbols as well as a suitably chaotic staff and head shouldn’t be a huge challenge.

Geigor Fell-Hand
Like Ahriman, it should be easy enough to turn him into a custom Praetor with a new head, new arms or what have you. It’s also important to point out that the thing I consider the model’s biggest weakness (his over-the-top Space Wolfiness) is what makes him a great fit for a 40k Space Wolves army.
Given the amount of detail on his armour, I think it would be pretty difficult to convert him into a member of another legion. However, I might eventually try to turn him into a member of my Traitor Wolves. We’ll see…

Tartaros Terminators

I am pretty sure we can look forward to all kinds of crazy kitbashing involving these guys, especially if it comes to recombining existing parts to create new (or customised) marks of Terminator armour.
Possibly the most interesting thing about the models, however, is how they provide excellent parts for true-scale conversions! My first true-scale Marine, Praetor Janus Auriga, uses Tartaros legs, and they work really well for true-scale Marines because there are few visual cues that actually make them read as Terminator legs, making for very uncomplicated conversions. By the same token, I have seen some very convincing true-scale conversions making use of Tartaros torso pieces, so I definitely think that true-scalers across the blogosphere will appreciate these new toys. For instance, I can hardly wait for Apologist to get his hands on these guys… πŸ˜‰

Mk III Marines

It’s easy to imagine how versatile a tool these will become for Space Marine players — after all, they should work great in both 30k and 40k, and it’s easy enough to mix and match with all of those plastic parts now available. This is great because it allows for extra flavour in your Space Marine army, regardless of which legion you are playing. It also means that you can now create a plastic Horus Heresy Astartes army without having to rely on a single armour mark for most of the models. What’s more, mixing different parts will lead to a more improvised, ragtag appearance that would be a great fit for specific legions (yes, World Eaters, I am looking at you! πŸ˜‰ )

I also love the fact that the Mk. III Marines would arguably work really well for Chaos Space Marines as well: The added detail and mass make them look just archaic and sinister enough, and some legions immediately come to mind —Β  such as the Death Guard, Iron Warriors or World Eaters.

Man, I really want to get started on those guys…

Custodian Guard

Well, these would be great fΓ­f you wanted to build a suitably massive Inquisitor, of course, but I am pretty certain that we are going to start seeing actual Custodians appear in INQ28 and Necromunda games, especially if they happen to be set on Terra πŸ˜‰
Beyond that, I am already considering using leftover Custodian parts to turn some of those Sigmarines into yet more Custodians — this should be interesting! And finally, those very same leftover parts should make for excellent conversion fodder for Space Marines and Inquisitorial retinues alike — those shields alone are almost worth it! Invictarii, Breachers or Honour Guard, anyone…?

Sisters of Silence

I predict a bright future for the Sisters of Silence models, especially among converters and the INQ28 crowd: Additional female models are always a much-appreciated resource, and it looks like the new sisters could be the legitimate heirs to the female Dark Eldar Kabalite Warriors and Wyches when it comes to building female assassins, death cultists and Inquisitorial operatives. Beyond that, like I said, the Sister Superior looks like she would make a teriffic base model for an Inquisitrix. And if you have already given up hope that GW will ever release plastic Sisters of Battle, then these girls might be your final way out πŸ˜‰

 

So what’s the final verdict? Back when Betrayal af Calth was realised, my main criticism was the generic look of the models: I realised that this choice arguably ensured that the box would have a wide appeal to more people, but the lack of character still felt like a problem, especially with regard to the HQ models. The Burning of Prospero addresses this criticism, giving us squads that are once again generic enough so as to be useful to everyone, while imbuing the HQ characters with a lot of character. And then they added some of the most eagerly awaited Horus Heresy troop types on top of it all in a move that seems to have been plucked from the big all time wish-list in the back of my head — well played, GW, well played indeed!

With regard to the Horus Heresy setting at large, I think the writing’s definitely on the wall now: GW seemingly wants to move the Astartes squads to plastic and leave the special upgrade kits and characters to Forgeworld. At the same time, we have now seen the first important character in plastic, and we have proof that the Daemon-Primarchs (or at least one of them) will be produced as plastic kits. So I think we can expect a sizeable part of the future Horus Heresy output to be produced by GW proper (and in plastic) at this point, and I applaud that choice. I realise that not everyone is quite as enthusiastic as me about this change, since many hobbyists seem to fear a sellout of the setting (to that I say: No shit, Sherlock πŸ˜‰ ) or a decline in quality. But if the boxed sets are anything to go by, I do not think there’s that much to fear.

If anything, it’ll be interesting to see what comes next: Additional armour marks in plastic? More named characters as clamshell versions? And let’s not forget the Custodes and Sisters of Silence: I feel myself being drawn back to that one massive piece of classic artwork time and time again:

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This hints at additional troop types, such as Terminators and jetbikes, to name just a few. And with the models we have now so clearly inspired by classic artwork, the obvious question is: What if this is just the beginning…?

Wishlisting aside, though: What we have here is another very tempting Horus Heresy starter box. And how does the new box compare to Betrayal at Calth? I think that, between the two, Betrayal at Calth is still arguably the better “starter kit”: The contents are a bit less exciting, but also slightly more useful. That being said, the new box still seems like a more refined sequel: If Betrayal of Calth was the teriffic proof of concept, The Burning of Prospero is GW’s piΓ¨ce de rΓ©sistance — at least for now…

 

So what’s your take on the new boxed set? What do you like or hate about the new models? And do you have any conversion ideas you would like to share? I would love to hear from you in the comments section!

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