Archive for AoS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Godrakk, the Fist of Gork

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Orruk Megaboss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Orruk Weirdnob Shaman

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

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

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

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

 

Orruk Warchanter

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

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

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

 

Orruk Brutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Orruk Goregruntaz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Orruk ‘Ardboyz

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

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Conversion ideas:

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

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

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

Gordrakk on Maw-Krusha

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

Orruk Megaboss

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

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

Orruk Weirdnob Shaman

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

Orruk Warchanter

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

Orruk Brutes

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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The more things change… — a look at the Khorne Bloodbound release

Posted in Chaos, Conversions, Uncategorized, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by krautscientist

It has been a while since I last posted a review focusing on a new GW release, and I intend to change that today. Considering current RL circumstances, I hope you’ll bear with me when I choose something fairly close to my heart to get back into the swing of things. So let’s talk about the new Khorne Bloodbound kits today:

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Followers of the blood god really can’t complain: With every WFB or AoS chaos release, we have received a substantial addition to our toy box. I am quite aware that many non-Khornate chaos fans are rolling their eyes by now, seeing how Khorne seems to be getting all the love. And indeed, Khorne seems to be GW’s preferred fallback position whenever a new chaos release rolls around. For Age of Sigmar, this means that the Bloodbound have not only been elevated to a proper sub-faction, but they have also been the focus of the first wave of new chaos kits released for the revamped system. And while the Stormcast Eternals seem like GW’s attempt at radically re-envisioning the Empire by way of the Space Marines, the new Khorne kits hew far closer to the “traditional” chaos look. So, what do we get? Let’s take a look at each of the new kits in turn and also consider some of the possible conversion options. So sharpen your axe and step this way, please πŸ˜‰

 

Skarbrand

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Well, this was certainly a pleasant surprise, seeing how Skarbrand has been on hobbyists’ short list to finally receive a proper model for quite a while now. So here he is — can the model live up to all the expectations?

It’s quite obvious that the Skarbrand kit allows GW to get some more mileage out of those Bloodthirster designs they must have done prior to the release of the new plastic kit, as there is an overall similarity in design between Skarbrand and the stock Bloodthirsters (both share the spiky butt cheeks, for one πŸ˜‰ ). On the other hand, the new model deviates from the prior kit in several ways: There’s the very different pose, of course, making Skarbrand look like he’s taking a moment to bellow in rage at the enemy. In fact, the pose is really rather excellent and one of my favourite parts about the model: While it does maintain some forward momentum, it really adds some presence to the character. And it also works rather beautifully with the twin axes wielded by Skarbrand.

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The other very noticeable thing about the model, and one of the aspects that define the character, is the pair of tattered, torn wings. And I think GW’s designers have done a rather nice job on this particular part of the model:

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Keeping most of the bones intact and limiting the damage to the wing membranes was a pretty good move, if you ask me: The design avoids the lopsided look you see on many Skarbrand conversions. Andwhile the wings still have a vestigial, damaged look to them, they do add some presence to the model. I also like the idea of having spiked chains between the bones: Is that some kind of additional torture, one has to wonder, or Skarbrand’s own attempt at making his damaged wings more presentable…?

The model also has some rather heavy scarring on the right side of the face. Let’s not get into the metaphysics of this too much (do daemons have bones in the first place? Aren’t they just warp energies given form…?), and rather focus on the actual design: While I like the broken horns, the flayed face may just be a bit much. Then again, I love how the ‘Eavy Metal team chose to paint the right eye as white and – possibly – blind:

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And there’s the beard, of course. I’ll be honest with you: I am not a fan. But it should be easy enough to just leave it off or use it as a braid of hair on virtually any big model, so I’ll let it slide.

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The twin axes are very nice and daemonic in design — the organic aspect really fits for a Greater Daemon, and I also like how they are far shorter and more hatchet-like than the axes the stock Bloodthirster gets. And while they are pretty ornate, they still seem workmanlike enough to work, from a visual standpoint. They also rather beautifully complement Skarbrand’s pose, as mentioned above.

And one more thing that differentiates Skarbrand from the stock Bloodthirster: a (mostly) custom set of armour plates, giving us yet another set of options for our Bloodthirsters’ wardrobes πŸ˜‰

Khorne Bloodbound release (10)The armour looks great, too — I’ll even forgive that one skull playfully wedged into the eye socket of a skull ornament, there πŸ˜‰ Anyway, the slightly more ornate look seems fitting for a daemon that used to be one of Khorne’s most exalted champions.

Seen on its own, the model is really cool and makes for a fitting centre piece for every Khornate army — the fact that it doubles as both an AoS and a 40k release is a nice bonus, of course.

Things really get interesting, however, when taking a closer look at the Skarbrand sprue: In additon to the actual parts needed to build Skarbrand, you also get a fair bit of stock Bloodthirster parts in the box:

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For the record, you get the alternate pair of legs, two alternate heads and most of the weapons of the stock ‘Thirster. The undamaged wings, alternate armour pieces, third head and two-handed axe seem to be unaccounted for, though.

In any case, this should allow you to build either Skarbrand or your own, custom Bloodthirster, with additional parts from the stock kit multiplying the options even further, right? Well, yes and no: While you can make some changes to Skarbrand and use some of Skarbrand’s parts on your stock Bloodthirster, the kits are unfortunately not 100% compatible. Fellow hobbyist Khorga informs me that the running legs, for instance, are not really compatible with Skarbrand’s custom armour, while the amour plates from the stock kit, in turn, don’t fit together too well with Skarbrand’s standing legs. At the same time, depending on which pair of arms you use, the shape of the wing sockets on the model’s back will change accordingly, so not every set of arms will work with both sets of wings. While this shouldn’t present accomplished converters with any unsolvable problems, it would still have been nice to have all the parts compatible with one another — or even to have a kit that will make Skarbrand and all of the three stock ‘Thirster variants? Granted, that may have been to much wishlisting. But with today’s kits being so meticulously planned, it seems like having all the parts fit together wouldn’t have been that much more complicated for the designers.

Another piece of criticism frequently leveled at Skarbrand (as well as the stock Bloodthirsters, for that matter) is the models’ size: Quite a few hobbyists feel that these beasts should be quite a bit bigger. I am honestly not as bothered by the size issue, though: I think GW’s designers have managed to imbue both Skarbrand and his brethren with a sense of presence and brutality that makes them look as though they could go toe to toe with an Imperial Knight and still come out on top. If there is one size issue that bothers me, it’s that Skarbrand used to be the most powerful of Khorne’s Bloodthirsters, yet he’s about half the size of this guy…? Talk about a pint-sized powerhouse, right there! πŸ˜‰

Khorne Bloodbound release (12)But that’s not really a major concern, and in spite of such minor quibbles, what we have here is a rather stunning model, and possibly the star of this release. Would I have enjoyed a huge multi-optional kit for Skarbrand and each of the ‘Thirster variants? You bet! But this is what we get, and it’s still pretty great, if you ask me.

 

Exalted Deathbringer

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Whoa, that’s a pretty big guy, isn’t he? One of the new Khornate characters is quite interesting in how the model seems to blur the line between mortal and immortal servant of Khorne: He’s not quite a daemon yet, but also no longer purely mortal either. At the same time, the overall look of the model did remind me of a souped-up version of the priest from the warshrine kit.

Anyway, I like the model well enough, mostly for the excellent detail work adorning both the armour and the bare skin of the piece. I also really like that bestial face!

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If I have one gripe, the weapons seem a tad too gimmicky for my taste: That axe is just a bit too cumbersome, maybe, and definitely an acquired taste, for one. And it really wouldn’t make any sense to have skull trophies dangling from there, would it…?

Beyond that, the only thing that really doesn’t sit well with me is that topknot — in fact, the quickest way to make the model look much cooler would be to either significantly shorten the topknot…

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…or lose it altogether:

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In fact, without a topknot, the model looks like an even more grimdark version of Darkness from the seminal fantasy flick Legend. I wonder if that was intentional…?

A look at the sprue reveals that the model is versatile enough to allow for at least some customisation:

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Want to make your Deathbringer look less daemonic and more human? Just drop the stock head and swap in something more marauder-y. Need the claw or the axe for a different model? The world’s your oyster! And by the same token, it should also be possible to swap in an alternate set of weapons for use on the Deathbringer. The fairly open pose of the model should make converting it very easy.

All in all, I rather like this guy. He may not be super-original, but he does explore GW’s usual chaos look from a slightly new angle by blending mortal and daemonic characteristics. Plus the model’s versatility is really nice. Probably my favourite of the new Khornate plastic characters!

 

Slaughterpriest

Khorne Bloodbound release (23)Hmm, now this is an interesting case… Let’s not get into the fact that this guy doesn’t really all that much like a priest to begin with —
because you might argue that Khorne is not a deity to be worshipped at a temple or church, but rather through the act of war itself. What instantly struck me about the model is that it does look fairly different from what we are used to — in fact, it doesn’t even really look like a GW model, does it? My immediate reaction was that it seemed like a piece from a different manufacturer (Rackham comes to mind, or the designs you would see in Dark Age.

Sure, it does have enough Khorne symbols and skulls on it to convince us that it does indeed belong. But there are parts of it that really recall several other manufacturers: a certain lankiness when it comes to the model’s proportions, the design of the face…

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In fact, I really rather like the face, to be honest. And the fact that the model doesn’t immediately read as standard GW fare doesn’t have to be a problem in and of itself, of course! I just cannot shake the feeling that this guy doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the family…

Beyond that, it’s certainly a cool looking model! Once again, the detailing is amazing all around:

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There’s a dubious design decision or two, though: Why have those horns emerge from the model’s spine? Why have them at all, if you don’t want them on the head? Wouldn’t that be really impractical (and rather uncomfortable as well)?

Anyway, a closer look at the sprue shows that the model might be slightly less flexible when it comes to conversions, but much of that has to do with the specific pose and the two-handed weapon, of course:

Khorne Bloodbound release (26)All in all, I have to admit that I haven’t yet made up my mind regarding this guy: He does stick out a bit, yet there’s also something interesting about the model’s different style that I find rather intriguing. Hmm…

 

 

Skullgrinder

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Ah, here we are, back in far safer territory. As a matter of fact, it’s actually rather surprising that it took GW as long as this to make the connection between Khorne and some blacksmith, forge god archetypes. But here we are at last: The Blood God’s very own sinister blacksmith. Huzzah! πŸ™‚

Where the Slaughterpriest almost seemed like a non-GW model, the Skullgrinder looks oddly familiar. But then, it has so many hallmarks of GW’s Khornate design: the bunny eared helmet (with a lovely, somewhat perplexed, expression, if you asked me). The heavy armour. The dangling skulls and icons.

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And of course, the weapon on a chain, something that seems to be becoming a defining characteristic of many Khornate models for AoS:

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I certainly hope he’s not using that thing for any actual smithing, though — not only should it make for a rather uneven performance, but it also seems like it would wreak havoc on any matters of occupational safety… πŸ˜‰

Yet once again, there’s something bothering me, although I cannot quite put my finger on it. Maybe the model just seems like a slightly formulaic treatment of the subject matter — like they mostly wanted to tick off a box here. “Murderous Blacksmith archetype? Yep, got that one. Moving on.”

Once again, the rather complicated pose means that you’ll have to plan ahead a bit when converting the Skullgrinder. At the same time, some of the bitz (the weapon and head, in particular) are interesting enough, so I think we should expect to see them on other models before long.

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This guy is a Khornate model alright, but he also seems like the least interesting out of the three. Is it just me? Or would it indeed have been possible to do more with the blacksmith archetype — speaking of which: While not call this guy Warsmith or Wrathsmith or something that doesn’t involve the word “skull” for once? Oh well… πŸ˜‰

 

 

Bloodreavers

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Now these are the Marauders we have wanted for at least a couple of years, wouldn’t you agree? I think it’s consensus that the vintage plastic Marauder kit has adged pretty badly by now (although some of the bitz are still rather useful, make no mistake!), while the more recent kits like the Marauder Horsemen hinted at much more pleasing chaotic barbarians. And now we get the Bloodreavers, and I really have to say I like them a lot!

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These guys are bullish and warlike and just seem very fittingly brutal and tribal for the job! They also look dangerous enough to hld their own against the more heavily armoured followers of chaos, visually.

Bloodreavers were one of the unit types that came in the Age of Sigmar boxed set, so it’s interesting to see inhowfar these multipart models move beyond the snapfit pieces from that box. And I think the Bloodreavers do a rather good job in this respect, staying true to the overall design while adding some interesting new touches, such as the two-handed weapons and the bigger amount of bare heads:

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In fact, some of those heads are especially nice and flavourful (and would work brilliantly on World Eaters, if you ask me). At the same time, I also like the very stripped-down, brutal looking helmets.

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At their best, these guys are just as menacing as you would want your mad, bloodthirsty barbarians to be. And without any of the Barbie doll anatomy (especially where the shoulders are concerned) that plagued the old Marauder kit. Some of the models are just brilliant:

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The kit is not without its awkward parts, though. Some of the poses do seem a bit static and unnatural. Like the guy in the bottom left here:

Khorne Bloodbound release (35)Or that strange, double-sided dagger wielded by the champion. Whoever thought that looked cool?

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All in all, however, I really like these guys! They manage to move beyond the starter box Bloodreavers, presenting some interesting new options and some pretty wicked sculpts. And you get twenty of them in the kit, so what’s not to like?

 

Blood Warriors

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Here’s the other unit type featured in the AoS starter box, also rendered as a multipart plastic kit. And while I don’t want to get ahead of myself, I would argue that these models don’t fare quite as well as the Bloodreavers. Let’s take a closer look:

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Okay, first things first: Like the models that came with the AoS starter books, the multipart Blood Warriors make for some heavily armoured, quite sinister and very Khornate infantry — so far so good! The detail work is, once again, excellent, with every armour beautifully detailed and adorned with suitably Khornate elements. The amount of different heads is truly staggering, with a pretty big collection of Khornate helmets, as well as some bare variants:

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I especially like the bitz used to make up both the unit champion and standard bearer: The champ is such a characterful model, don’t you think?

Khorne Bloodbound release (50)I would never have expected to ever get fed up with axes — but I would have appreciated a sword or two in the kit, if only for some visual variety. Sure, all of the models have the option of equipping the new gorefists or a pair of axes, but a sword or two would have been nice. Speaking of which, the special weapons option here seems to be the, strangely Klingon-like, “Goreglaive” — which tries a bit too hard to be awesome for my taste…

Khorne Bloodbound release (51)That is a particularly lovely helmet, though!

The models generally try to approximate the design outline set down by the snapfit models from the starter kit, with the different helmet designs and optional bare arms the only visual elements to distinguish them. They do seem slightly less …sophisticated, for lack of a better word, than the starter box models, though. Granted, a pre-posed model will have a pretty good chance of looking more dramatic and impressive than a model built from a multipart kit, but it’s fairly noticeable here. There are also some strangely awkward elements about the kit: The aforementioned “Klingon axe”, some of the bare arms or the strange way the chains on the icon bearer’s standard interact with gravity…

In spite of these concerns, the kit remains very versatile and interesting — especially from a kitbasher’s perspective. This seems like the new, comprehensive toolkit for building heavily armoured Khorne dudes, and it should also provide you with many, many bitz to accessorise your World Eaters, Khorne berzerkers, Khornate Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Knights, regular WoC or what have you.

And still, while the kit is pretty cool, it somehow seems less interesting to me than the Bloodreavers — and it certainly brings fewer new elements to the table when compared with the Blood Warriors contained in the starter box. Still, I suppose this will turn into a more or less compulsory purchase for each Khorne player at some point.

 

Conversion ideas

So much for the different kits — but what about the conversion potential? I think it’s pretty obvious that these new kits will mostly come in handy for chaos players, particularly for those running any kind of Khornate army and/or warband. So what are my first ideas after taking a closer look at the new kits?

Skarbrand

  • The most othe obvious conversion use for the kit would be to make a more interesting, customised Bloodthirster — while keeping in mind the aforementioned difficulties when combining Skarbrand and stock Bloodthirster bitz. Even so, with a sharp knife, some GS and a slightly adventurous spirit, the two available Bloodthirster kits should provide converters with quite a few options to make a really unique greater daemon of Khorne.
  • Speaking of which: I think Skarbrand would also make a very nice base model for a conversion of Angron in his incarnation as a Daemon Primarch: The pose is really fitting for the character, and I think the more ornate armour should also work like a charm. In fact, I really don’t understand why we haven’t yet seen any Angron conversions based on the new Bloodthirster kits — maybe it’s time to change that…?!
  • Whichever option you choose, the kit will also provide some nice additional bitz for your Daemon Prince or Chaos Lord. Since you get quite a few of the stock Bloodthirster bitz as part of the deal, there’s nothing stopping you from, say, making your Daemon Prince look more Khornate. And some of the weapons might look good on a daemon engine or even on a Chaos Knight — in fact, most of the ideas I’ve outlined in my review of the stock Bloodthirster kit also apply to Skarbrand!

Exalted Deathbringer

  • I think the model would make for a rather nice alternate Herald of Khorne — especially in a 40k daemon army, where the danger of confusing the model for something else wouldn’t be as big. But the rather daemonic look of this guy, in addition to his bulk, would really make him look the part!
  • Or he could become a mutant overlord — either for your LatD force with a Khornate twist or for an INQ28 chaos warband. Speaking of the latter options, he would also make for a great chaotic high priest with a few touchups.
  • Or, basically the most straightforward option: Make the model a bit less daemonic and use it as a World Eaters arena champion — not unlike my own conversion for Vorl Dustwalker.

Slaughterpriest

  • I somehow get the feeling that this guy might end up as one of the chief suspects when it comes to converting a kit from the new release. I don’t even have all that many ideas about him yet, seeing how I yet need to make up my mind about him, but I think there will be quite a few conversions of the Slaughterpriest in the future, mark my words. Here, let me share my very first idea from just a second ago: What about thinking of that hideous spine painted in metal? That would give him a distinct “Mean Machine” vibe. Now just slap on a monstrous power claw, and you are already half way towards a very sinister looking pitslave champion. Just a though…

Bloodreavers

These guys should be very versatile conversion fodder. Just off the top of my head…

  • …they could be used as some very beefy and intimidating chaos cultists, obviously. Just slap on some autopistols, and you’re golden πŸ˜‰
  • these would be brilliant as pitslaves! Just shave off the Khorne icons and add some heavy duty power tools and augmetics to them — done. They have the bulk. They have the scars. The rest shouldn’t be much work.
  • And while we are leaning towards the more loyalist (or at least, slightly less chaotic) side of things: Don’t you think these guys would make for some pretty convincing gland war veterans? I mean they certainly look like they have been beefed up via unsavory means. I mean, they could possibly be used to build any kind of barbarian IG troopers hailing from a feudal world, but I think they would be excellent as gland war veterans Γ  la Inquisitor’s Sergeant Stone.
  • With a bit of conversion work, especially where the legs are concerned, these could be used to build some excellent, bare-chested, gladiatorial World Eaters — in fact, had these guys been available at the time, they would probably have been the perfect base models for my own Gladiatorii.
  • And finally, the bitz from the kit would work wonderfully on both Pre and post-Heresy World Eaters: I think the faces really have the kind of personality you want on your blood-crazed madmen. Some of the brutal looking helmets might also be pretty cool on World Eaters officers. And a bare arm here and there would also make for a cool eyecatcher. If I ever get a box of these (and I will, eventually), expect to see the leftover bitz used in this way πŸ˜‰

Blood Warriors

As I’ve said before, I think these guys will become one of the new go-to kits when it comes to building Khornate models.

  • They could be used as Khornate Chaos Space Marines and/or World Eaters with a bit of work (or barely any conversion work, depending on how adventurous you’re feeling). Face it, slaughter-brothers and -sisters: This is the closest we will ever come to a new plastic Khorne berzerker kit πŸ˜‰
  • And basically all of the bitz will certainly be in high demand for (Khornate) chaos armies all over the place: Expect to see all the extra heads and weapons on AoS Chaos Warriors and Chaos Knights, 40k Chaos Space Marines, Chaos Lords or Khorne Berzerkers.

 

So, what about this release on the whole? I have to say that I basically have two reactions to this release:

As a World Eaters fan (and a hobbyist still hopelessly in love with the Khornate design, even after all these years), I consider this a rock-solid release that provides lots and lots of new toys and several very interesting new toolkits. I now have more options than ever, and it won’t surprise you to hear that my hands are already itching when I look at some of those delicious bitz.

As a hobbyist in general, I cannot help but be a bit less impressed. Sure, all of this is high-quality work, but it also hardly treads any new ground. Which is why I can perfectly understand why some people are growing fed up with the seeming deluge of Khornate kits.

So, what to make of it all?

It seems very obvious that the Bloodbound are GW’s attempt at creating a faction that “plays it safe”, relatively speaking: These models could be used just as well in vintage WFB, and the design of the new kits is close enough to the older Khornate kits released over the last couple of years — and maye this was really a conscious decision, taken not so much from laziness, but rather from the attempt at providing something people are familiar with? Think about it: Yes the Stormcast Eternals are very similar to Space Marines in some respect, but they are also a fairly radical change of direction for GW’s fantasy setting. Maybe they did want to be the other faction included in the starter (and expanded upon in the following release) to be closer to something fans of vintage WFB could relate to?

In any case, if you are a fan of Khorne, you’re in luck: You have so many new toys now, and most of them are pretty cool. Some are even rather awesome! If, however, you find Khorne uninteresting and boring, these kits will do little to change your mind.

 

What’s your take on the Khorne Bloodbound? Do you love ’em or hate ’em? Is there anything you would like to share, or a conversion idea I didn’t think of? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

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