Archive for deathwatch

INQ28: Hear Me Roar!

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2018 by krautscientist

More Deathwatch for today, as I have been plugging away at my Primaris based true scale killteam for another week. Allow me to share the results with you:

First up, there’s the Celestial Lions Astartes I have already shared with you in WIP form. Like I said, my main influence for choosing the chapter was the African influence (although the fact that the Lions are a chapter from a later founding also helped a bit). However, I also discovered that the chapter and the Inquisition have a bit of a troubled history, as outlined in my previous post — to the point where Inquisitorial operatives seem to be actively hunting for the chapter. Ouch! So would a Celestial Lion actually be part of an – Inquisition-sponsored – Deathwatch killteam?

Fortunately enough, I realised that I am in the clear on that front: The chapter’s trouble with the Inquisition only really starts in 948 M41, whereas my INQ28 narratives are set some 200 years before that, so everyone can still be BFFs in my headcanon ๐Ÿ˜‰ That being said, I did decide to include a shout out to the chapter’s eventual fate, as per Aramis K’s excellent suggestion of featuring the notorious “Ork Snipers” that wipe out a part of the Celestial Lions during the 3rd War for Armageddon, in some way.

But back to the actual model: This was the Celestial Lion in his first draft version:

As you can see, it’s a very straightforward conversion, mostly based on a Primaris Reiver. I liked the idea of including a stealthier Astartes wearing sleeker armour, and the “Easy To Build” Reiver bodies were really perfect for that. The most involved parts were to add a lion bit (from an old WFB Empire cannon) as a belt buckle and to kitbash another Deathwatch sensor array for the backpack (using a shoulder-mounted lamp from a Genestealer Hybrid and – once again – some auspex aerials).

Then fellow hobbyist euansmith helpfully suggested to maybe turn the model’s head a bit, in order to make it look more sneaky and agile. I complied with his idea, and – sure enough – it made a world of difference!

When it came to painting the model, I actually broke with my usual routine and decided to start with the one part I thought would make or break the model — the right shoulder pad. Because I realised with some nervousness that I would actually have to freehand the Celestial Lions chapter badge, as there are no readily available decals for it (and my idea of maybe using a similar decal as a base went nowhere either). Azrael’s quite excellent Primaris Celestial Lions here (that were also completed for a very personal reason, it must be said) use some very cool shapeways chapter badges, but I didn’t really go through the hassle of ordering bitz like that — so I decided this was the time to buckle up and force myself to do something I had shied away from in the past. Freehand designs.

So here’s the design I chose as my main reference material (inverted, of course, because it would go on the right pauldron):

And here’s what I came up with, using my smallest brush, a drop of Vallejo Airbrush Flow Improver, and reserves of patience I really didn’t know I had:

Of course I didn’t see the huge splodge of wash towards the lower rim of the pauldron until I was looking at it blown up by several hundred percent on a screen — the area has been cleaned up since. Oh, and ‘Aren’ is the name of the battle-brother in question, by the way.

Anyway, I was incredibly happy with the finished freehand — and I can safely say that this has to be one of the most extravagant pieces of detail work I have painted in the last couple of years. I realise that this must be fairly basic bread and butter stuff for talented painters, but to me, it certainly felt like a rather big adventure ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, after getting the freehand right, the rest of the paintjob almost seemed trivial. That being said, I also discovered a fairly nice and simple recipe for black skin: GW Doombull Brown makes for a very good base colour, and already looks very natural after a wash of Ogryn Flesh (or Reikland Fleshshade). I only followed it up with some very subtle highlights, and ended up with a skin tone I really liked, as you can see yourself on the finished model:

 

=][=

Rudisha Aren
Brother of the Deathwatch
Celestial Lions Astartes Chapter





Here’s a closer look at the left shoulder pad, now finally in its intended place:


Seriously, though, did I mention how happy I am with that freehand…? ๐Ÿ˜‰


As for the base, if you look closely, you can make out the barrel of a – suspiciously Imperial – sniper rifle, but there’s also part of an Ork jaw — Ork snipers, anyone? ๐Ÿ˜‰


Granted, this is a bit of a tongue in cheek joke about the chapter’s eventual fate, but it still matches the overall basing theme without lookig too out of place. So that’s the next finished member of Killteam Ulrach for you:

 

Speaking of Ulrach, while I was working on Brother Aren, I decided to give the Iron Hand that last round of tweaks as well — and the full photo treatment, of course, playing cards, keys and all ๐Ÿ˜‰

=][=

Vorlik Ulrach
Brother of the Deathwatch
Iron Hands Astartes Chapter








You already know this guy from last week, of course, and most of the finishing touches are pretty subtle. But it’s nice to have all the models finished and photographed in the same style like that ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oh, and since someone over at the Ammobunker asked how I had achieved the glowing blue effect on some of the members of the killteam, I thought it would make sense to feature my recipe over here as well — if, indeed, you can even call it a recipe, as it’s almost trivially easy. The one thing I would really recommend, however, is to get some Vallejo Magic Blue: While there may be a similar GW colour, I have yet to see another blue that pops quite as nicely as Magic Blue. So for this recipe, you’ll need the blue and any kind of white. And some water. Here’s what you do:

  1. Paint the center of the area you want to glow (the lens, the gem, the button — whatever it is) with pure Magic Blue
  2. Thin down your Magic Blue with water so it becomes semi-translucent. Then glaze the area around the part you have just painted with it, building up the actual glow — you can do this in several steps to get it right. With larger areas, the effect should grow more solid towards the center, obviously.
  3. Go back to the (undiluted) Magic Blue and keep adding more white to it, and create smaller and smaller highlights at the center of the effect. The last stage should basically be almost pure white. DONE!

The blue higlight on the axe head (as well as the soft glow around it) are a perfect example of the effect in question.

 

So here’s an updated look at Killteam Ulrach:

I think these guys really work rather well as a group — and you can almost guess at the different characters and combat roles just by looking at the models, wouldn’t you agree? In hindsight, maybe the models are almost a little too vibrant, in a style slightly reminiscent of 2nd edition 40k, but then it’s an almost perverse pleasure to find out how visually striking I can make a squad wearing predominantly black armour ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now any future additions to the team will have to wait for a bit, as I have depleted my supplies of Deathwatch parts and Primaris Marines, respectively. That being said, fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass is awesome enough to send me another Primaris, and I have just picked up the Rodricus Grytt model on ebay. Combining both will allow me to build a stoic, fatalist brother of the Lamenters wielding a massive frag cannon — it’ll take a while before I can start the conversion, so take a look at aย  – really primitive – mockup of my planned conversion:

Beyond what you see in the mockup, I will be going for a heavset look with some slightly archaic, Mk. III-ish touches here and there. It’ll be an interesting balance to maintain, as I don’t want the model to clash with the Deathwatch’s sleek Black Ops look, but I’, confident l’ll be able come up with something.

And as it happens, I also have a pretty cool idea for the Castigator — although I’ll need to get my hands on this particular Primaris Sergeant from Dark Imperium first, in order to make it work…

Until then, however, I am pretty happy with Killteam Ulrach as is — and as these guys are very much ready to rock, I hope Azrael will count them as another entry for this month’sย “June-Unit” community challenge!

So that’s it for today’s update. I would love to hear any feedback you might have, so please leave a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Advertisements

There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Killteam’ — oh wait, there is!

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2018 by krautscientist

For this week’s update, let’s return to the wonderful world of true scale Astartes for a bit: While I am not exactly a fan of how their lore seems to have been wedged sideways into the 40k background, there’s little doubt that the release of the Primaris Space Marines has provided us with an excellent way of building decently proportioned true scale models for INQ28 without having to spend ages on getting the basic build right. For instance, I had lots of fun building and painting the most archetypal, 2nd edition-style Space Marine I could come up with a while ago, Brother Arcturus Diomedes of the Ultramarines:

Back when the Primaris Marines were released, I picked up the box with three “Easy To Build” Primaris with the plan of eventually turning them into more Deatwatch Marines and end up with small a true scale killteam for my INQ28 collection — even if an entire squad of Astartes would be complete overkill in an actual game. The project just seemed too interesting to get hung up on the practicalities — well, that and true scale Deathwatch Marines have been a bit of a hobby horse for Commissar Molotov, one of the godfathers of INQ28, so working on my own killteam would also be a nice tribute to his own work.

However, progress with the actual assembly of the killteam’s members turned out to be slower than expected for two particular reasons: One, it did take quite some time for me to choose which chapters to go with for the members of the squad. In theory, their chapter identity is only really shown on their left shoulder pad, admittedly, but I really wanted to include various callbacks to their chapter of origin on the rest of the models as well. And while it felt tempting to just go with all the classic First Founding chapters, it would also have been a bit lazy — there are 1,000 chapters in the galaxy, after all. How likely would it be, then, that any given killteam should only feature members from the original Space Marine legions/chapters?

The other difficulty came in the form of the seriously weird poses on some of the snapfit Primaris — I only have myself to blame for that, however, as I could simply have purchased the “proper” multi-part kit.

Anyway, the first additional member for the killteam was converted fairly quickly last year: A Watch-Brother hailing the Iron Hands (and possibly the Killteam’s squad leader):


We’ll be seeing this guy again in a little bit…

And then the rest of the team just somehow refused to come together for the aforementioned reasons — until I had an idea recently: How about going with a Crimson Fist as one of the next members? And how about building him as an homage to this particular piece of artwork by Karl Kopinski:

Artwork by Karl Kopinski

Building models to resemble artwork has become a bit of a sub-hobby of mine lately, and so the task quickly drew me in. And I made this guy:




Granted, I had to simplify some parts of the illustration – mostly due to the fact that, funnily enough, even the Primaris’ bigger scale does not allow for all the detail present in the art – and I also made some minor adaptations, allowing for the fact that my version is intended as a member of the Deatwatch, but I am pretty happy with the kitbash — if nothing else, it definitely does mitigate the stock model’s super weird pose.

The conversion is also a bit of a lesson in thriftiness, as the model uses leftover parts from a plastic chaplain Cassius I picked up a while ago to build a (30k) Word Bearers chaplain. That project left me with Cassius’ left arm and right (Deathwatch) shoulder pad, and ultimately both the shoulder pad and his left hand (complete with snazzy Deathwatch bolt pistol) were grafted onto my Crimson Fist.

I also didn’t have any proper Deathwatch backpacks left, so I had to kitbash one using a regular Space Marine backpack, a sensor array from a Terminator torso front and some small aerials painstakingly shaved off a Space Marines auspex.

So that left me with three members for the killteam, at least:

And I was also really in love with the Crimson Fist conversion, so I decided to paint him right away.

One thing that I decided fairly early during the painting process was that I wanted to use a different skin tone this time around, due to the fact that the Crimson Fists seem to have a distinct Latin American/Hispanic element in their background. So I decided to forego my usual recipe for baseline (caucasian) Astartes skin and go for something slightly different. And in a flight of fancy, I decided to use some very old GW Bronzed Flesh paint that must be more than 20 years old at this point:

And it still worked just fine, too! Most importantly, though, it made for a slightly different skin tone, which seemed like a good way to introduce some much needed ethnic diversity and also underline the fact that all members of the killteam hail from different chapters and, by extension, different planets as well.


As you can see, my Staedtler pigment liner really came in handy once again, and I really went to town on all the little pieces of parchment ๐Ÿ˜‰ The bottles of Microsol and Microset I picked up in Amsterdam last year, also ended up being supremely helpful when it came to making that Crimson Fists decal conform to the shoulder pad’s curved surface.

As for the armour, I followed the same approach I had developed for Brother Diomedes: Cover up any sub-par edge highlighting with sponged-on scratches and damage — fortunately enough, the resulting look really fits the Deathwatch rather nicely, if I do say so myself ๐Ÿ˜‰

So after another round of fine tuning, and after completing the base, the killteam’s next member was finished:

 

=][=

Vargo Diaz
Brother of the Deathwatch
Crimson Fists Astartes Chapter






As you can see, he does have one …erm crimson fist, at least.ย  I did consider painting the power fist red as well, but then the arm would have ended up being predominantly not-silver, when a silver arm is such an integral part of the Deathwatch livery, so limited the use of red to the right hand.

There’s also another little element I wanted to include: In the original Inquisitor rulebook, the 54mm model for Brother Artemis (basically the forefather to all Deathwatch Marines) had those little rectangles on his bolter designed as displays/buttons for the different kinds of ammunition stored in the weapon:

so I thought it might be fun to include this in a bit of a shout out to the classic model and its paintjob. So I put some Roman numerals on the panels: The right side side has ‘I’ and ‘II’, as shown above, the other one has ‘III’ and ‘IV’:



When it came to basing Brother Diaz, I went for the same basic look I had already used on my first Deathwatch Marine. I included an ork skull this time around, however — I think it’s an entertaining little meta touch to feature an alien skull from the respective chapter’s nemesis Xenos race, so Tyranids for Ultramarines, Orks for Crimson Fists and a Necron head for the Iron Hand. Speaking of which…

There was still this guy:



And, still feeling motivated after my quick completion of Brother Diaz, I decided to paint him as well. After all, I am still very happy with the conversion, based on combining a snapfit Primaris with quite a few parts from Ennox Sorrlock, from Deathwatch:Overkill…

…as well as a new breastplate and left arm courtesy of the Kataphron Destroyers.

Anyway, I quickly got to work and dressed the Iron Hand in the same kind of scuffed black armour as his peers:



In this case, the paintjob also had the added benefit of tying together the various parts of the slightly more eclectic conversion.

According to the underlying basing theme, I also constructed a base, featuring a half-buried Necron skull and spine this time around:

Remembering the (brilliant) alternate history Dornian Heresy and the various more or less obvious parallels and connections between the Necrons and Iron Hands, I decided to mirror the blue glow I used on the Iron Hand in the eye of the Necron skull — it seemed like a nice tongue in cheek meta joke ๐Ÿ˜‰

The model’s arms and backpack were painted separately, for the most part — although I couldn’t really help myself, as usual, and had to glue everything together, even while the last few painting steps were still happening:



Putting the finishing touches on the model turned out to be quite a bit of fun, however, so I already have the (mostly) finished model to share with you:

=][=

Vorlik Ulrach
Brother of the Deathwatch
Iron Hands Astartes Chapter






I really like the model, and I think his armoured bulk works really well now that he’s been painted — both for an Iron Hand and for the leader of a Deathwatch killteam!

And there’s more, as I have already started assembling yet another possible member for the team, provisionally from the Celestial Lions, wearing a suit of Recon armour:


Yeah, I know: Technically speaking, the model is basically a Primaris Reiver. But after seeing a particularly nice Reiver-based Deathwatch Marine converted and painted by Jeff Vader, I realised that the stripped-down, sleeker armour matches the “Special Ops” look of the Deathwatch rather nicely — I also think it makes sense for the killteam to have a recon expert.

As for his chapter, I chose the Celestial Lions mostly because they have a bit of an African influence, and I had originally picked up that particular head for its decidedly non-caucasian feature — once again, in an attempt to make my collection of models a bit more ethnically diverse than your usual gang of bald, white Astartes. That being said, I realised too late that the Lions have a bit of a history with the Inquisition — oh well, I’ll find some kind of explanation for it, I am sure — in fact, fellow hobbyist Aramis K brilliantly suggested over at The Bolter & Chainsword that this member of the Celestial Lions might be a specialist for hunting down “Ork Snipers”… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Going forward, there are a few chapters I would definitely like to feature: Right now, I have plans for three more members for the killteam: A Carcharodon, a Lamenter and one of Commissar Molotov’s own Castigators, as an additional shout out ๐Ÿ˜‰

But that’s a story for a future post. For now, here’s what Killteam Ulrach looks like right now:

And seeing how I am actually working towards the completion of a squad here, I think these guys make for a fairly cool contribution to Azazel’s current “June-Unit” community challenge as well! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Once again, I would love to hear any thoughts you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

INQ28: Suffer Not The Alien to Live

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2018 by krautscientist

Back when the Primaris Marines were first released, I got myself a single snapfit model from the Dark Imperium boxed set to take a firsthand look at the scale and experiment a bit. Those early experiments were both interesting and educational — but of course I at least wanted to get a finished model out of it all. So after a bit of thought, I came to the conclusion that it might be fun to make my first modern Primaris Marine into the most archetypal Space Marine I could possibly come up with.

It was also clear to me that the model would become a part of my INQ28 collection, so I thought about what kind of Astartes would make sense. I already had two members of the Golden Legion, my DIY chapter (the finished model for Praetor Janus Auriga and a converted Chapter Master), so I wanted to try something different. And then it hit me — why not turn this guy into a Deathwatch Marine?

Now the 2016 Deathwatch craze left me mostly cold back when it happened, but there were still several reasons for going with a Watch-Brother: Tying Space Marines into Inquisitor can be a slightly delicate proposition, but the Deathwatch, with its direct Ordo Xenos affiliation, would at least provide a decent excuse. I also fondly reflected on Commissar Molotov’s work, that is his original Deathwatch Marine (created many years ago) as well as the kick-ass Deathwatch killteam he has been working on for years.

And finally, let’s not forget that one of the most iconic models of the 54mm Inquisitor range was a Deathwatch Marine as well:


That’s right, dear old Artemis! In fact, the model actually checked several boxes: He’s an Inquisitor character, he’s a member of the Deathwatch, and he also has that clean, 2nd edition inspired look that seems so archetypal of the Space Marines to me. His hairstyle alone instantly recalls this old chestnut here:

There’s a certain nostalgia about the Space Marines from those years, especially about the plastic models from the 2nd edition starter box, with each of the officers impeccably groomed like a news anchor. Unfortunately, the 2nd edition plastic Marine models haven’t really aged all that well, and the only time I’ve ever used one of those was for a rather depressing piece of terrain:

But I thought that it might be fun to channel this older look for a change, while also creating something that drew from the classic Artemis model at the same time. So I picked up some Deathwatch bitz and also had a scrounge through the old bitzbox. And after a while, I finally came up with a version I liked:


Everything I wanted to do was basically already there: the boltgun as the iconic weapon for a Space Marine. The 80s news anchor haircut. And a bit of bling that sells the model as a brother of the Deathwatch.

I still made some final tweaks before I was completely happy with the model, though: The original Primaris backpack was replaced with an actual Deathwatch backpack, I added a helmet clipped to the model’s belt and tweaked the arrangement of the various gear until I was happy — I actually love how the extra space that comes with the bigger Primaris scale allows for adding a more realistic amount of gear to the models without the Marines looking overcluttered!

Anyway, here’s the completed build I went with in the end:




I went with an Mk. IV helmet, both because I love the design and because I wanted to make it clear that, “in universe”, the model isn’t actually a Primaris Marine, but rather a regularly sized – if true scaled – Space Marine. As for the gun, after a bit of hemming and hawing, I ended up not replacing the bolt rifle with an actual Deathwatch bolter, mostly because I really liked the way it looked on the model. It’s also arguably hi-tech enough to serve as a suitable standin for the kind of weapons used by the Deathwatch, even if it’s not quite the genuine article. Apart from that, I tried to incorporate all the gear that would make sense: The Marine has a boltgun, a helmet, a combat knife, several grenades, and even some alternate ammunition (for those especially pesky aliens, you know? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

And while it would only affect his right shoulder pad, I also needed to decide which chapter of origin to go with. I thought back to my original mission statement: the most archetypal classic Astartes imaginable — and what could be more archetypal than the Ultramarines?

To be perfectly honest with you, I also felt like I needed to cut the XIII Legion some slack after draping so many dead or dying Ultramarines across the bases of my 30k World Eaters ๐Ÿ˜‰

When it came to the actual paintjob, the black armour was a concern, obviously: Use dark grey as a base colour, and the armour wouldn’t end up looking black. Use pure black and it would look as though I’d forgotten to paint that area. In the end, I mostly played it by ear and combined edge highlighting with a bit of sponge weathering — carefully and selectively sponging on some Leadbelcher added visual texture to the armour and also had the added benefit of drawing the eye away from my sloppy line work ๐Ÿ˜‰

During the painting process, Jeff Vader’s Deathwatch Marines were an invaluable source: There’s one older pre-primaris model and one guy converted from one of the new models. and I kept looking at these for reference while painting. Now I’ll never be ableย to paint like Jeff Vader – not by a long shot – but having the inspiration there was a huge help, indeed!

Speaking of Jeff Vader, I also nicked another idea from him: A while ago, he mentioned that he was using an ultra thin pigment liner for some of the symbols and freehands on his models, and after unsuccessfully experimenting with several pens, I ended up getting the one he had recommended, a Staedtler 0,05 mm pigment liner:

The tip is so thin that it’s really easy to add rather elaborate designs to your models. The ink is also waterproof — although I found that it’s really easy to rub off with your fingers, so I added a layer of thinned sepia glaze on top to seal the ink.

As my first proper experiment with this new tool, I carefully drew an Inquisition symbol onto the model’s right kneepad and also added the tri-barred ][ around the skull on the tilt plate. The pigment liner is also an awesome tool for adding fine script to purity seals!

Anyway, here’s what the mostly finished model looked like at this point:



When it came to basing the model, I decided to go with something pretty simple that would fit the lion’s share of my INQ28 collection (i.e. brownish and slightly underhive-y). I also wanted to include some Xenos related touches. Now for an Ultramarine, what would be more appropriate than some Tyranid remains, right? Good thing the new Citadel Skulls kit features lots and lots of beautiful gaunt skulls, among others — I may not be all that interested in Tyranids as a faction (the creepy awesomeness of Genestealer Cults notwithstanding), but I do love those gaunt skulls! The tip of a Termagaunt weapon was also added to the base to represent something glistening and Gigeresque.

So, without further ado, here’s the finished Watch-Brother:

 

=][=

Arcturus Diomedes

Brother of the Deathwatch
originally of the Ultramarines







This was my first experience with painting a Primaris, and I have to agree with the prevailing opinion I’ve seen online: These guys are pretty fun to paint! I am also really chuffed with how the model has turned out!

Here he is next to my first truescale Marine, Praetor Janus Auriga of the Golden Legion:


As you can see, Janus is a fair bit bulkier and also slightly taller — in all fairness, I had little to work from in pre-Primaris times, so the model was really a bit of a proof of concept. He still holds up rather well, though, if I do say so myself — I’ll just need to go with the old “tall, even for an Astartes” clichรฉ. Plus, in any case, Brother Diomedes certainly reads as a true scale Astartes when placed next to a model of “regular” human size:

As for how Diomedes ties into the Velsen Sector’s background and my overarching INQ28 narrative(s), that remains to be seen: I’ll happily admit that this was a case where I simply wanted to build and paint a character for the pure joy of it, then ask questions later. I am fairly certain he’ll end up as a member of a small Killteam, however — in fact, a second member from the Iron Hands, possibly even the killteam’s leader, has already been built a while ago:


There are also ideas regarding a Xenos-cultย (“The Children of Imago”) knocking around in the back of my head, so it stands to reason that Arcturus and his buddies may have to defend Velsen against the abomination of the alien at some point. And since fellow hobbyist PDH is currently working on some rather beautiful Deathwatch Marines as well, it looks as though I’ll have enough ideas to “borrow” for the foreseeable future ๐Ÿ˜‰

For now, however, I am really happy with the finished model. I rarely ever paint loyalist Space Marines, but when I do, I want to make each and every one of them count! ๐Ÿ™‚

As usual, I would love to hear any feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Bringing a boltgun to a masked-ball — a closer look at Death Masque

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2016 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, it has been quite some time since the last review here on the blog, because for what is probably the first time in my hobby life, I am productive enough to keep showing you finished models instead of talking about releases. Go me! ๐Ÿ˜‰

At the same time, however, the backlog of released stuff I want to talk about keeps building up, so the recent release of Death Masque seemed like a good excuse to dip my toes into this particular pool again (I also want to discuss Silver Tower in more detail one of these days, probably as the last hobbyist in the world, but that will have to wait until I finally get my act together and write the rather comprehensive post I know the game deserves).

Death Masque release (1)
Anyway, here we are with a new boxed game, and it’s centered around the Deathwatch once more. Which is pretty cool, because the Deathwatch has always been a bit of a red-haired stepchild, at least when it comes to the Inquisitorial Ordos’ Chambers Militant: The Ordo Malleus’ Grey Knights have now enjoyed full faction status for years, and the Sisters of Battle, allied by ancient decree to the Ordo Hereticus…well, let’s not get into the whole drama and tragic release history surrounding them right now — suffice to say that they at least did form a complete army at one point.

The Deathwatch, on the other hand, was always restricted to a couple of conversion bitz, so if you wanted to run a Deathwatch killteam or, god forbid, an entire army, some OOP metal conversion bitz and a couple of plastic shoulder pads were all the material at your disposal.

All of this has changed with Deathwatch:Overkill, which provided us with some pretty excellent characters that already defined a general outline of what the modern Deathwatch could look like. And now we get another boxed game — this time chock-full of actual multi part kits and delicious conversion fodder! We also get a Deathwatch Codex to boot, but as my perspective is chiefly that of a converter, let’s focus on the models and discuss their strenghts and flaws as well as possible conversion ideas:

 

Team Xenos

The Xenos are definitely getting the short end of the stick in this box — at least in terms of new sculpts: All of the models (except one, but we’ll be getting to that in a minute) are the plastic Harlequin kits that were released a while back. They are still pretty cool, of course, but there’s really no need to talk about those models again — all my thoughts on the plastic Harlequin models can be found here, in case you’re interested.

But like I said, there’s one notable exception. This guy:

 

Eldrad Ulthran, Farseer of Ulthwรฉ

Death Masque release (2)
Well, quite a surprise, this one! I don’t think many people were expecting a plastic version of this classic 2nd edition character, seeing how Eldrad seemed to have died a typical Disney villain death at the tail end of the Eye of Terror campaign all those years ago, but mostly because the original Jes Goodwin sculpt is certainly one of the most iconic 40k models:

Death Masque release (3)
Confession time: I consider this one of the best 40k models ever, period. Easily one of my top five if one considers the whole 40k catalogue, and certainly one of the models you should show somebody if you were trying to explain to them what 40k is. Sure, the model is slightly two-dimensional, being very much a product of its time, but the amount of detailing, strong triangular composition and perfect pose make this model one for the ages, in my opinion. And now they have chosen to update this piece. Ho hum…

GW’s respect for the original Eldrad model shows in that they basically chose to keep almost every part of the original model: The staff and sword are virtually identical, as are most of the clothes and various doodads dangling from Eldrad’s belt and arms. The helm is also really similar, although I really hate the fact that Eldrad now sports one of those silly “pharao beards” that have been the bane of every Farseer design for quite a while now.

The pose is also very similar to the original, but while adding a bit of depth to the original sculpt, it also ends up looking ever so slightly less iconic. Now maybe this is just nostalgia getting the better of me, but for some reason the new Eldrad, for all his excellent detail, doesn’t seem to be quite as tightly composed as the original piece:

Eldrad comparison
While some will certainly welcome the slightly airier pose and sense of depth and motion to the model, but I just cannot get over how brilliant the original is. Nothing is better proof of this than the fact that the new Eldrad instantly becomes far inferior if you drop the sword arm and use the alternate, “casting” hand for him:

Death Masque release (4)
Of course it’s a huge boon that the new model is plastic, so it lends itself to converting much better than the old metal model, allowing for using it as the base as a customised Farseer conversion (or for smaller tweaks like, for instance, getting rid of that beard…):

Death Masque release (5)
When all is said and done, it’s a very nice and fitting model when taken on its own merits. When compared to its legendary predecessor, however, I have to admit that it doesn’t quite hold up: If I were to build the new plastic Eldrad, I would do my darnedest to make him look as much as the original metal model as possible by tweaking the pose (and by GETTING RID OF THAT BEARD!), and I think that says al lot about which version is the superior one…

I wonder what this means for the (rumoured) plastic update of Khรขrn the Betrayer…?

 

Team Deathwatch

It takes no rocket scientist to figure out that the Deathwatch are the more appealing faction in this particular set, mostly because there’s more original content for them. But even so, the Deathwatch side of things also makes heavy use of pre-existing kits: It looks like you basically get one Vanguard and Venerable Dreadnought kit and then the new Deathwatch Veteran sprue to build five Veterans and use the remaining bitz to spice up the other models to your heart’s content. Regarding the base kits, all of them are excellent kits, whether you’re starting a new Astartes force or adding to an existing one. Some detailed thoughts of on the Vanguard kit can be found here.

But yeah, beyond those kits, there’s the new Deathwatch Veteran sprue — and quite a sprue it is:

Death Masque release (9)
Looks like we are getting lots of weapons and decoration, but also a dedicated set of bodies and legs, which is very nice! And here’s what the bitz from the sprue will look like when used to create a squad of Deathwatch Veterans:

Death Masque release (10)
The inclusion of already establised visual elements,ย such as the Inquisition symbols, shoulder pads covered in scripture and special bolters, was a given, of course. What I really like, however, is how the main point of this new sprue seems to be to give the Deathwatch its own visual identity: Deathwatch Marines basically used to be standard Marines with a special bolter and one slightly more interesting shoulder pad. The new parts, however, really create a new look for them:

Death Masque release (12)
Their armour has a more streamlined and modern look to it (is that an Mk8 breastplate, I wonder?), which befits an Inquisitorial special force. If anything they have a sleek “Spec Ops” looks that is rendered even stronger by their armour being black.

It’s very interesting to see how they differ from their obvious counterparts, the Grey Knights: The Grey Knights look like, well, Knights: very ornamental and medieval. The Deathwatch, on the other hand, look like a particularly bad-ass black ops team from your favourite 90s military shooter, thrown into a blender and turned up to eleven — which also happens to make them look far more believably like an Inquisitorial sub-organisation now!

In addition to the sleek new armour designs, the sprue also seems to be featuring some of the Ordo Xenos’ more…esoteric gear, such as the sword on the squad leader:

Death Masque release (11)
Seems like we’ve been stealing some tech from the Necrons, eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now while this particular weapon seems a bit hit or miss to me, I still think it’s neat that some of the equipment seems to be both more esoteric and seemingly inspired by Xenos tech.

For those of you who want boisterous and ostentatious instead of sneaky and subdued, however, the good news is that the new Deathwatch bitz seem to allow for that option as well:

Death Masque release (13)
Ah, what would we be without huge hammers and crazily ornate boarding shields, eh? They are looking awesome, though!

But whatever happened to the handle on this poor fellow’s hammer…?

Death Masque release (14)There’s also a collection of shoulder pads bearing quite a plethora of different chapter symbols on the sprue, which should really help to make any given Deathwatch force look like it has actually been assembled from Astartes hailing from many different chapters. And the fact that we don’t just get yet more heraldic elements of the “big” chapters like the Ultramarines, Dark Angels or Blood Angels, but rather a collection of more obscure iconography, is both a great shout out to the wider 40k lore and a great modeling opportunity!

And finally, the bitz on the sprue can also be used to convert Dreadnoughts into a Deathwatch variant:

Death Masque release (15)All in all, the new sprue seems like a deliciously versatile new toy, and I can see it becoming really popular, both with 40k players and the INQ28 crowd alike! For instance, Commissar Molotov, being both the Godfather of INQ28 and quite the Deathwatch fiend, will probably find much to like about the new sprue ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Watch-Captain Artemis

Death Masque release (6)
Well, this was another really excellent surprise: Whom do we get as the Deathwatch commander but a veteran of 54mm Inquisitor? For those of you who haven’t been into this hobby for years and years, Artemis will merely seem like a cool enough Deathwatch model. But if you remember the old 54mm Inquisitor line of models, you will also remember Artemis, arguably one of the most spectacular models at the bigger scale. And just check out this comparison to see how closely the new model matches the earlier incarnation:

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

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

It’s really crazy how GW’s sculptors have managed to incorporate almost all of the visual elements from the 54mm Artemis! Especially if you consider that one of the huge draws of the original Inquisitor models was how 28mm plastic couldn’t hope to capture the same amount of detail — I think it’s a testament to the quality of GW’s modern plastics that almost all of the detail has been retained at about half the size!

There are some smaller differences: Artemis seems to have done rather well for himself since we last saw him , earning the right to wear a snazzy cape. His Deathwatch boltgun has also been exchanged with an actual combi-weapon, and both his sword and his backpack have received some additional bling. I kinda miss the Crux Terminatus necklace, though, as it provided a nice extra bit of dynamism to the model. And I think I’d add a purity seal to the front of his left shoulder pad, just for old times’ sake ๐Ÿ˜‰

The main difference is in the face, if you ask me: Where 54mm Artemis’ face is classically handsome (in the way many retro Space Marines used to be), the 28mm models have noticeably broader features — whether this is merely due to technical factors or an actual attempt at giving him the broader, heavier features that seem to be a trademark of Space Marines in some of the literature, I cannot say. Personally, I prefer the 54mm face, not because of the additional detail, but because the callback to the older, more handsome Marines appeals to me in an entirely nostalgic way. Curiously enough, the bare head that came with the old Dark Angels veteran sprue really resembles 54mm Artemis, though, so if you want to change that part, that’s the face I’d recommend — in fact, there’s a fantastic older 28mm Artemis conversion by Siamtiger that happens to be using the head in question.

Death Masque release (7)
But that’s obviously nitpicking: Artemis’ new incarnation is a brilliant call-back to a classic miniature and also a fantastic looking centrepiece for a Deathwatch army in its own right — very nice!

 

Conversion options:

It goes without saying that I won’t be discussing the general conversion options for the older kits contained in the boxed kit, for obvious reasons, although my thoughts on possible conversions may be found in the aforementioned reviews of the respective kits linked above.

So this leaves us with the two special characters and the new Deathwatch sprue to discuss:

Eldrad could obviously become a building template for your own custom Farseer with just a few cuts and a bit of kitbashing. The prospect isn’t hugely exciting, certainly, mostly because we already have a generic clamshell Farseer who can fill that role, although it’s nice to have the option. Seeing how his breastplate (with most of the Eldaresque decoration) seems to be a separate piece, it should be possible to use the model as the base for a non-Eldar robed character, such as an Inquisitor, Imperial Psyker, Chaos demagogue or what have you. And of course it goes without saying that his sword and staff would also be cool conversion bitz for any Eldar players.

But really, when all is said and done, there’s no doubt that this model should probably be used to build Eldrad, above all else. So the most appealing conversion options here would be to make minor tweaks to make him resemble his classic incarnation even more closely (rotating the head counter-clockwise by a few degrees, and OFF WITH THAT BEARD!).

Artemis should be easy enough to tweak as well with some careful cutting — but once again, I find myself strangely reluctant to even think about using the model for a conversion. It’s such a cool shout out to the 54mm model, and using it for anything else would just lose that — and there’s really no shortage of Space Marine bitz to use, so we might as well leave this guy in one piece, eh? Just this once ๐Ÿ˜‰

Come to think of it, the one tweak I think would improve the model would be to slightly rotate its head so as to mirror the 54mm version’s pose even more closely.

So with the two special characters best left untouched, for the most part, the Deathwatch sprue is obviously the true star of the show here, and rumours have it that GW really intends to package it with a huge number of Space Marine kits to give the Deathwatch a real push. And why shouldn’t they? The designers have been building up the compatibility of the various Space Marine kits literally for decades now, and towards this end, releasing a sprue that will allow you to turn virtually every Space Marine kit into a Deathwatch kit is a pretty shrewd move!

There’s also the fact that the sprue seems far more comprehensive than the Dark Angels and Black Templars sprues that were its distant predecessors (and those weren’t half bad either): If you carefully divide the contents of the sprue between your squads, you’ll get quite a bit of mileage out of those bitz!

Possibly the best part of the sprue, however, is that it really plays to the appeal of the Deathwatch: The great thing about them is that they allow you to build a Killteam or force that is very much centered around the individual models, as they all hail from different chapters. So if you want to test some ideas for a DIY chapter or build a model belonging to one of the more obscure chapters, building a model for your Deathwatch project will allow you to do just that without having to commit to an entire squad or army.

And we finally get a distinctive look for the Deathwatch — one that goes beyond the concept of standard tac Marines with black armour and a silver left arm. True enough, these are still Space Marines, but even if they lack the plethora of kits the Grey Knights have nowadays, at least they now have their own visual identity!

The flexibility of the sprue means that it should also become quite popular with converters: Whether you are looking to add a killteam (or a single Deathwatch veteran) to your army or want some suitably original and esoteric equipment for your chapter masters or Inquisitors, there should be something for you on this sprue. Even if you are going for true scale Deathwatch (because true INQ28 aficionados will only ever settle for true scale Astartes), you’ll be thankful for the Terminator-sized Deathwatch shoulder pads.

 

All in all, Death Masque seems like a cool boxed set that basically combines several of GW’s most successful recent ideas: If you look at the kits in the box, that’s some pretty major bang for the buck. The game functions as a standalone entity, drawing in new people and working as yet another gateway drug, so to speak. The redesigned Deathwatch will pluck at the heartstrings of veteran players and hobbyists. And the special characters provide that extra bit of sugar sprinkled on top — well played, GW!

So what’s your take on the new models and conversion bitz? I would love to hear your opinion, so feel free to drop me a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Corruption has never felt so good – a look at Deathwatch: Overkill

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2016 by krautscientist

Deathwatch Overkill release (1)
So here we are, at long last, with my look at Deathwatch: Overkill. Sorry for being so awfully late to this particular party, but I really had to force myself to sit down and create a suitably long writeup, especially given the huge amount of conversion potential inherent in these new kits. But I persevered, and here I am, probably the last person in the world to discuss this new board game release on their blog. I hope you’ll be taking a look, nevertheless ๐Ÿ˜‰

Say what you want about the constantly escalating scale and rules complexity of 40k or about GW’s somewhat aimless treatment of Age of Sigmar, but I cannot deny that GW has been steadily ticking boxes off my personal Most Wanted list for quite a while now: An 28mm Imperial Knight, check. More and better Khornate models, check. A fully fledged plastic AdMech release, check. Plastic Sisters,…no, wait, we haven’t seen those yet.

But possibly the only thing quite as interesting as a proper Sisters release is a new version of Genestealer Cults, and lo and behold: That’s exactly what we are getting with Deathwatch: Overkill, the latest boxed game by GW. Oh yeah, some Space Marines are also included, of course, but I suppose that’s a given ๐Ÿ˜‰

Deathwatch Overkill release (2)
So join me as I ponder the new models and their possible use in all kinds of conversion projects — in fact, several highly talented hobbyists are already hard at work, putting the new sprues through their paces, and it goes without saying that I’ll be pointing you towards their work as well. Also make sure to check out Heresy & Heroes` and Wudugast’s posts on the matter, as I enjoyed reading them and they should make excellent companion pieces for my take on the matter.

So here goes:

 

Team Deathwatch:

Deathwatch Overkill release (3)
You simply cannot have a Deathwatch centered game without a Deathwatch Killteam, obviously, and here we are. Now it’s of course perfectly obvious that this collection of models is a pretty shrewd move by GW, because what we are getting here, beyond the scope of the game at hand, is basically a collection of eleven custom Space Marine clamshell characters that would look great in any Astartes army. What’s more, there’s also a model for nearly every popular chapter, probably making this box an auto-purchase for Space Marine players while also giving rise to a healthy shadow economy of selling the different models on ebay.

But what of the models themselves? Let’s take a look at each member of Killteam Cassius in turn:

 

Ortan Cassius:

Deathwatch Overkill release (5)
Well, what do you know: It’s a great little surprise to encounter a younger version of one of the Ultramarines’ special characters, dating back to before he fell, head-first, into the meatgrinder known as Hivefleet Behemoth — or it was a surprise for me, at least, because I didn’t follow BL’s string of Deathwatch related short stories. But let’s talk about the model:

The obvious thing is to check for parallels to the older version of the character, and it’s nice to see how quite a few parts of the model create a nice sense of continuity: The general design of the armour, the crocius, the book at the hip. What I really like is how some of Cassius’ equipment yet seems free of the Tyrannic influence: the book of prayers will end up bound in Tyranid hide, and his crocius will one day be crowned with a winged Tyranid skull. But his is a younger version of him, so his equipment is still more generically imperial — a good thing for once ๐Ÿ˜‰

I also like the model’s powerful pose, and even though it’s fairly static, the flowing seals and dangling chain create a nice, subtle sense of dynamism.

All in all, Cassius is a worthy leader of the Killteam and also, arguably, a much better chaplain model than the one included in the Reclusiam Command Squad.

 

Drenn Redblade:

Deathwatch Overkill release

Drenn seems like the archetypal Space Wolves Blood Claw: Running forward? Check. Bareheaded? Check. Mohawk? Check. But there’s an elegance to the model that I really appreciate: The running pose is well done, but I especially like the way the sculptors have treated Drenn’s gear: The underslung bolter with the strap running across the model’s chest, the empty scabbard for the combat knife — stuff like that. I realise that many people are unhappy with the unsubtle “Vikings in Space” look of the 40k Space Wolves, but while Drenn shows all the hallmarks of modern SW design (the pelt, the runes, the totemic doodads), there’s also an air of restraint and focus about the model that has been pulled off rather beautifully — easily one of my favourite Astartes from this box!

 

Jensus Natorian:

Deathwatch Overkill release (6)
Jenus is the first plastic Blood Ravens model we get, so hooray for that! Beyond that, he’s a fairly standard Librarian model. I like the implementation of his heraldry, but his face seems a bit too “generic angry dude 101” for my taste. A solid model, certainly, but no match for the awesome, bearded clamshell Libarian, if you ask me.

 

Garran Branatar:

Deathwatch Overkill release (8)
Am I the only one reminded of Pat Benatar by that name? Anyway, the model: The inclusion of a Terminator certainly makes for a nice change of pace — unfortunately, the model itself is a bit underwhelming, though, especially the somewhat generic pose. Space Hulk really showed us how to make loyalist Terminators look great and imbue them with lots of character, even with their helmets on, but Brother Branatar seemingly never got the memo. I also think the heavy flamer/melta combo seems a bit iffy, although I realise that it’s probably a Salamanders thing. Speaking of which: FW’s Firedrakes are some of the cooler legion-specific Terminators, and I guess I would have liked GW to have taken a few more design cues from them instead of going for an – ultimately fairly generic – set of Indomitus Pattern Terminator armour.

 

Jetek Suberei:

Deathwatch Overkill release (7)
Another standout model in that the character comes with a bike, being a White Scar and all. But while the idea is cool enough, it’s all a bit much really: The bike, the gear, the topknot and the cyber eagle. It feels like the model is just trying to do too much at once, where a bit more restraint would have been the better way to go, in my opinion — in fact, this is an ongoing tendency for some of the Deathwatch models from the box (and also one or two of the Genestealer pieces).

It’s not all bad, however: I really like the sabre with its scabbard and the hybrid head trophy! And I am pretty sure that Brother Suberei would make for an excellent Khan. He just seems a bit OTT for a Deathwatch Killteam.

 

Edryc Setorax:

Deathwatch Overkill release (10)
Raven Guard models often oscillate between badass and silly, and it’s good to see Brother Edryc fall into the former camp. While the pose seems, once again, slightly awkwardly balanced between landing and jumping (it seems like GW’s sculptors have some issues with jumping/flying models…), there are some touches that are really well executed: The more beaklike design of the Mk VI helmet, complete with nostrils, really works for once.ย  The lightning claws have just the right curvature to make them suitably sinister and menacing. And the spiked toecaps are a very nice touch. All in all, certainly one of the stronger models from Team Deathwatch!

 

Vael Donatus:

Deathwatch Overkill release (13)
A very iconic Ultramarine, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, especially if it’s as well executed as here: strong pose, very good detail, looking suitably different from the other Ultramarine in the box. Vael Donatus seems like the quintessential Space Marine, really, and I rather like that quality. I also think he would look absolutely terrific in Ultramarines coloursยฐ

 

Zameon Gydrael:

Deathwatch Overkill release (14)
A nice enough model, but not that different from what is already available (or convertable) from existing Dark Angels bitz, which makes this character a bit of a letdown. The way the belt is picking up the model’s motion is a nice touch, and he instantly reads as a Dark Angel, but he really doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Solid enough, but not really all that special.

 

Antor Delassio:

Deathwatch Overkill release (9)
Also pretty similar to models you can already create from existing Blood Angels bitz, but the face really saves the day here, as it’s more delicate than your usual, broad-featured Astartes mug — something that not even the other available BA heads have managed to pull off so far.

That bit of plumbing serving as the attachment point betweeen the model and the base does seem a bit silly, though. Why not use a nice, chunky rock? And I am also wondering whether the left arm would work far better rotated outward by a few degrees. All in all, however, Brother Delassio boasts enough cool touches to make him one of the better models from the box.

 

Rodicus Grytt:

Deathwatch Overkill release (11)
The gun is fairly close to looking helplesly OTT. That helmet is excellent, though, providing exactly the right sense of knightly armour. I expect this guy to look great if painted in Imperial Fist colours. the head arguably works even better on true scale models, as the slightly bigger scale gives it a bit more room to breathe. I also like the subtle Devastator touches on the armour and the inclusion of a targeting servo-skull.

 

Ennox Sorrlock:

Deathwatch Overkill release (12)
Easily one of my favourite Space Marines from the kit, mostly because he adds some really nice elements to the – very small – pool of possible Iron Hands bitz: The face and backpack, in particular, are excellent, and we also finally get a plastic bionic leg — yay! All of that makes for a model that looks at once heavily augmented and suitably implacable. Very nice!

 

All in all, the aim with these models seem to have been to create models that were archetypal avatars of their respective chapters — and by and large, this objective has been accomplished rather successfully. At the same time, however, this seems to make the group somewhat less coherent, beyond the common colour of their armour. Compare Space Hulk to see how a squad (of Terminators, no less!) can be made to look coherent and effective as a collection, while also having each of its members read as an individual in their own right. Granted, all of those Terminators belong to the same chapter, which must have made things a bit easier. But the fact remains that the Deathwatch Marines do seem a bit too much like solo artists where a band would be required.

Oh, and before we move on, let’s not forget the inclusion of a servo-skull and teleport marker! Even though both of these elements seem to be slightly touched-up versions of earlier bitz, it’s still a nice bonus and something I would love to see more often!

 

 

Team Broodkin:

 

Deathwatch Overkill release (15)

Now these guys are the real starts of the show, and have certainly been highly anticipated by many hobbyists, myself included: The concept of Genestealer Cults has always been one of the more interesting parts of 40k lore for me, especially since it moves the Genestealers a bit beyond their, very obvious, Xenomorph inspirations by creating something that is arguably even more disturbing: The idea of aliens not only invading human society, but of also interbreeding with our species with horrific results. This part of the background had seemingly been dropped by GW, so it’s a fantastic surprise to see it return with aplomb! So let’s take a closer look at the members of Team Broodkin:

 

Genestealer Patriarch:

Deathwatch Overkill release (17)

First of all, I am actually glad to see that GW has moved away from the old concept of a Patriarch that’s bloated to the point of immobility. Sure, the old models had a grotesque charm, but the Patriarch should work more as an “end boss”, if anything, and the new model is much better suited to that function. There are also some parts of the model that I really love, such as the mean and grotesque face and head and the way some nameless alien …residue has been used to coat those skulls on the base in a coat of vile mucus:

Deathwatch Overkill release (18)
I do think, however, that the Patriarch falls victim to the aforementioned problem of trying to do too much at once: Trying to have him mimick the design of the cult’s wyrm seal in silhouette is a very clever idea, but it also means that quite a few elements have to be crammed together in very little space: That stinger (or ovipositor, possibly?), for instance, is a cool idea in and of itself, but it does look pretty awkward, wedged in there between the model’s legs and the ventilation shaft the Patriarch is standing on. And those dorsal spines are just a bit much, aren’t they?

What’s more, if you ask me, GW already had a pretty much perfect template for an eventual Genestealer Patriarch on their hands. This guy:

Space Hulk Broodlord

The Space Hulk Broodlord gets it all right, in my opinion: The pose is fantastic, creating a sense of menace and malice, but also one of alien elegance and lethal mobility. This guy already looked like a perfect Patriarch for me even before Genestealer Cults were, once again, a thing.

And GW must have agreed with me, because they used the basic design template to come up with this guy, the Spawn of Cryptus:

Tyranid Release 2014 (27)But you know what? The added tweaks and details actually watered down the excellence of the initial model instead of adding to it. So the Spawn of Cryptus ended up being a pretty cool model, but arguably inferior to its predecessor.

And, unfortunately enough, the designers seem to have used the Spawn of Cryptus, in turn, as a template for the Patriarch, adding yet more stuff on top. And I just wish they had gone back to the original Space Hulk Broodlord for inspiration, cutting out the middle man, so to speak.

Deathwatch Overkill release (19)

As it stands, the Patriarch is still a suitably massive and monstrous model, but it lacks some of the finess of the Broodlord and could have profited from just a tad more restraint.

 

Genestealer Magus:

Deathwatch Overkill release (20)

Confession time: For me, the classic Genestealer Magus from the early 90s is easily one of GW’s all time greats. Just take a look at this picture, taken from the 2nd edition rulebook’s colour section:

Classic Genestealer Magus

Now, slightly tacky retro paintjob notwithstanding, this model just does so much right: It’s diminutive in stature and has a fairly static pose, yet it excudes a palpable sense of menace and alien power. I love the quasi-organic shapes of its armour, especially the high collar. And the face is just something to behold: Those slightly alien features that could never quite pass for human upon closer inspection. That subtle scowl. He knows things, this guy.

Now GW’s sculptors must have known they already had solid gold on their hands with this design, because they simply emulated most of it for the modern incarnation:

Deathwatch Overkill release (22)

The armour shape, flowing robes, staff and alien head — all of that is still there, nicely updated to the current design standard. Along the way, the Magus became quite a bit taller, but I don’t really mind — I like my centre piece models with a bit of stature. I also really like the way the stole adds another layer to the Magus’ clothing, while managing to incorporate some more cult imageryย ย  — very nice!

If I do have one minor quibble about the model, it’s the head: It just doesn’t match the older version’s quiet malevolence. The main reason for this is that they slipped up and made it look too angry and shouty (why does he need to shout in the first place? Doesn’t he communicate with the brood through some kind of psychic link?) I think much of the original Magus’ impact came from that inscrutable facial expression, and the new version unfortunately falters in this small – but crucial – way. I also feel the head could have been recessed into the collar a bit more, although the converter in me thinks that it’s good that we won’t have to painstakingly dig it out. Anyway, it’s a problem that should be easy enough to rectify by replacing the head with a less shouty one from one of the 3rd/4th generation hybrids, I suppose?

The model is still excellent, though, all the more so because its one disadvantage should be easy enough to get rid of.

 

Familiars:

Deathwatch Overkill release (21)

The Broodkin get some bonus models as well, and they are even brand new sculpts. Now granted, those familiars do seem ever so slightly awkward and silly (especially the one on the left), but they are also a delicious reminder of the yesteryear, when there were lots of strange little models and familiars like that. An awesome little bonus! And if all else fails, they could make for excellent, subtly disturbing statues when painted in suitable colours, especially the crouching guy on the right.

 

Genestealer Primus:

Deathwatch Overkill release (23)I really like the idea of expanding the various types of hybrids beyond the already established phenotypes, so the Genestealer Primus is a very interesting addition! Although I do have to say that, in the context of the game, this guy seems a bit undecided as to what he wants to be: He’s not quite human enough to blend in with the populace, but also not quite alien enough to work as a killing machine like the Patriarch or the purestrains. And the face is, once again, arguably the model’s weakest point, failing to capture that (admittedly very tiny) sweet spot between believably human and subtly alien (I do like the tube feeding into the model’s nostril, though).

That’s not really that much of a problem, though, as there are so many cool parts about the model: I love the clawed (and augmented) left hand! We finally get a plastic needle pistol! And I think it’s easy to see why the body will become *very* popular with converters — in fact, half a dozen of my fellow Ammobunker forumites are busy cutting up this guy as I write this. And to wit, I already have one of these coming in the post ๐Ÿ˜‰

So while I don’t see this guy as a hugely relevant addition to the Genestealer lore, the model is a godsend for converters! One last thing, though: Let me take a moment to share my thoughts about those alien daggers we see on the hybrids: They…do not make a whole lot of sense, do they? At least not when you think about them: Are they manufactured? That seems like a bit too much work for a mere CC weapon, especially when you’ve got a set of scything claws hidden under your mackintosh, right? Are they organic? Do the hybrids grow these as separate weapons? But that would run counter to the whole Tyranid concept? Or do they, I don’t know, break them off bigger organisms that we have yet to see? The mind boggles…

Probably best not to think about this stuff too closely, however. They do look awesome, and that’s good enough for me ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Purestrain Genestealers:

Now these guys don’t really get much coverage, to the point that the GW homepage doesn’t even feature any pictures of them, but we do get two purestrain Genestealers with the kit. But that’s possibly due to the fact that they are mostly the standard Genestealers we already know. A small voice in the back of my head says they should have taken the effort to give us bigger, “true scale” Genestealers for this game, to really make them look like the Apex Predators they are presented as, easily able to take out a Space Marine, even if the latter is wearing Terminator armour. But that’s well beyond the scope of this game, especially since we already get so many original sculpts in the box. So let me mention one small detail I like: Both models have been outfitted with hideous, Xenomorph-like ovipositors — a very nice and fitting touch, given the setting of the game!

 

Genestealer Aberrants:

Deathwatch Overkill release (26)
I was really excited about the inclusion of these guys, because, like I said, it always felt like it would be interesting to explore more possible variations of the hybrid concept, beyond the tried and true generations we already saw in the old fluff. GW seems to have decided to do just that, giving us hulking, malformed brutes that seem quite a bit less genetically stable than their smaller brethren, just like theย  kind of unforeseeable half-breed you would probably end up with, were you to wildly tamper with human and Xenos genetics.

And in spite of their rather mono-pose nature, i really like these guys: They are hulking and overmuscled and lopsided and make for a stunning visual contrast among the smaller, more human cultists. Plus they bring back the concept of working with rather striking silhouettes:

Deathwatch Overkill release (28)

All in all, these are a fun little addition, and I would love GW to experiment with further Genestealer hybrid types (what about lithe, almost daeonette-like female hybrids? Just saying…)

 

Acolyte Hybrids:

Deathwatch Overkill release (30)
Now here’s where the real fun begins, as the various hybrids are easily the most exciting part of the release for me.
All of the hybrids so a perfect job of recreating the strangely organic shape of the classic models’ armour while also giving it a somewhat believable context: It’s miners’ equipment, complete with lamps and rebreathers, and while it will make the hybrids useful far beyond their original function, it also really beautifully approximated the older design.

The Acolyte Hybrids are the more bestial members of the Brood, looking like a missing link between humans and purestrains. I like the subtle progression between the 1st and 2nd generations: They look very similar when seen from afar, but upon closer inspection, subtle differences become visible. It’s a tough and delicate look to get right, but these really succeed at capturing the look of breeding out certain alien characteristics over the generations.

I only have two, very minor, quibbles with these: One thing I really loved about the classic metal hybrids was how puny some of them looked, with seemingly atrophied claws hidden under their tattered robes. By comparison, the new models seem almost too formidable and monstrous — but then, they arguably make a better fit as dangerous, lethal combattants, so it’s all okay (I can always build my own, pathetic hybrids using Crypt Ghouls, Flagellants, Plague Monks or what have you).

Deathwatch Overkill release (29)The second problem is that they are slightly too uniform for my taste, with the same number of limbs appearing in the same configuration on too many models — this should be really easy to remedy, however, by cutting off and reattaching some limbs for greater variety.

All in all, the hybrids are excellent redesigns of the older versions, taking all the right ideas from the classic models and bringing them into the 21st century.

 

Neophyte Hybrids:

Deathwatch Overkill release (31)
And finally, arguably the best models to come out of this boxed game: The 3rd/4th generation hybrids brilliantly continue the trend of becoming gradually more human, and its their humanity that makes them into such fantastic and versatile models — but all in good order.

First of all, this is one of the few cases where the classic models were really rather terrible: The almost human hybrids of the yesteryear ended up looking pretty silly and hideous, and in all the wrong ways. The modern versions are far more subtle: These guys could really pass for humans…almost.

I also really like the way their miner’s gear and ribbed armour plates hint at their darker nature, in spite of having a perfectly plausible in-universe explanation.

Possibly the best single model is the guy with the glasses:

Deathwatch Overkill release (32)Now for all intents and purposes, he looks perfectly human and could be used as such. But that’s the beauty of the piece: Place him among his more openly alien brethren, and he becomes one of them, by virtue of a common visual heritage. But remove him from that context, and he could become a voidfarer, a miner, or any other human archetype. I also think that head is one of the best faces produced by GW — Eat your heart out, clunky metal Delaques! ๐Ÿ˜‰

At the other end of the spectrum comes this, rather heavily mutated, heavy weapons guy: Good thing he has that third arm, eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Deathwatch Overkill release (33)
To have a collection of models with so much variety yet also such an unified look is nothing short of a brilliant accomplishment. The restraint and subtly evident in these models is something so very rare in recent GW releases that it really needs to be pointed out: This is brilliant stuff!

And possibly the best thing is how freaking many of these guys we get in the box — trust me, converters all around the world are going to have a field day with these. But we’ll be getting to that in a minute!

 

In closing, let me talk about the paintjob GW chose for the official models: In my opinion, ‘Eavy Metal knocked it out of the park with regards to the hybrids’ clothing: The colour of the armour and fatigues are just perfect, evoking the design and colour of the spaceships and props from the Alien series — which seems extremely apt, for obvious reasons. It’s a brilliant little shout out, and one that is far more subtle and delicious than the very overt Giger-influences exhibited by the Genestealers.

There’s also a part of the paintjobs, however, that I am not all that happy with, and that’s the way the actual Genestealers (and Genestealer body parts) have been painted: Now I am pretty sure that we all have a certain fondness for the classic blue and purple Genestealer paint scheme — but it’s really rather a nostalgia thing, and I think those colours just seem a bit too outlandish for alien creatures nestled at the heart of human society. Since the Tyranids so obviously take design cues from Giger, I think they would work far better when painted in a more restrained, organic and ultimately disturbing palette, in order to reproduce some of the Xenomorph’s creepiness. Take, for instance, Stephen Flack’s Genestealer scheme here. I think that’s what modern Genestealers should look like! It’s funny that the ‘Eavy Metal painter seem to have adapted the Alien look so readily when painting the models’ clothes, but have shied away from it on, you know, the actual aliens.

I like this approach much better, and if (when) I am starting my own Hybrid warband, I think I’ll be trying something more along those lines. And even before that, I would really love to see someone take the new models along a more realistic route, such as this.

On a semi-related note, painting the Magus’ robe red seems like such a strange idea — Thraxas of Turai’s approach here shows how the Magus will arguably look quite a bit cooler when painted closer to the “classic” colour scheme for once.

 

All in all, the box certainly provides us with a huge pile of brilliant models! The Broodkin are a fantastic reimagining of the earlier sculpts, a few very minor slipups notwithstanding, and easily one of the best surprises in a long time. If anything, the Space Marines seem a bit lacking by comparison, mostly because GW seems to be going through the motions a bit when designing Astartes these days. Make no mistake, some of those models are very nice, and even the worse ones are still more than solid. But compared to the sheer brilliance of those Genestealer sculpts, they just seem a bit uninspired.

 

Conversion options

 

Okay, so much for the models, but what about the possible conversions? Allow me to share some ideas and to point you towards some particularly interesting examples:

Deathwatch:

Now this is the easy part, as the various models will certainly be useable for all kinds of Space Marine projects, especially with a bit of deft cutting: It seems to be easy enough to remove most Deathwatch trappings, turning these into characters for their respective chapters (or, at the very least, Deathwatch veterans). By the same token, it should also be easy enough to turn most of the models to members of different chapters, successor chapters or what have you. And of course some of those helmets, weapons etc. will certainly become sought after conversion bitz: The IF helmet, the IH augmented head — the list goes on.

On the other hand, some of those Deathwatch bitz would of course be perfect for any kind of Deathwatch project moving beyond the chapters included in the game — or even beyond the scale of the models. For instance, Commissar Molotov is making excellent use of the various Deathwatch bitz for his true scale Deathwatch, and some of those bitz really shine when used at the slightly bigger scale.

One of the Space Marines’ biggest strength is the compatibility of their various kits — and even their clamshell characters. So as long as you’re careful and use a sharp knife, those new models should provide you with lots of options, if you’re a Space Marines player.

 

Broodkin:

Here’s where theย  conversion fun really begins, as most of the Broodkin models could be used for several different projects, armies and warbands. Just off the top of my head…

Genestealer Patriarch:

Well, who am I kidding: He’ll always look like a massive Tyrandi/Genesealer monster. That said, he’d obviously make for a pretty cool Broodlord in a Tyranid army — or for a great “boss monster” in games of INQ28 and Necromunda. Moving on…

Genestealer Magus:

This guy is quite a bit more versatile. Personally, I’d try to give him a less shouty head and he would be perfect. But even beyond Genestealer cults, he could be turned into all kinds of characters with a bit of work: A Navigator or Astropath? A radical Inquisitor? A renegade psyker or Chaos Sorcerer? It all seems quite feasible to me!

Genestealer Primus:

Like I said, the INQ28 scene is already in love with this guy. And rightly so, for he’s a great base model for all kinds of possible characters, among them…

  • Inquisitors, especially for the Ordo Xenos
  • Chaos Demagogues or cultist leaders
  • a Magos Explorator of the Adeptus Mechanicus
  • a slightly more militaristic Navigator

Aberrants:

I think it should really be easy enough to get rid of their obvious Genestealer characteristics and turn them into big Mutants, Scalies or Traitor Ogryns.

1st & 2nd Generation Hybrids:

It would take a bit of work, but I think these would make for excellent mutants, Scavvies or particularly downtrodden Traitor Guard soldiers.

3rd & 4th generation Hybrids:

And finally, these may just be some of the most versatile human-sized models ever released by GW, easily on par with the Dark Vengeance cultists! Depending on which bitz you use, these could become…

  • Imperial working crews or miners
  • voidfarers, naval crews or crewmen of a Rogue Trader’s vessel
  • all kinds of cultists or Traitor Guard
  • Tech Gangers (or alternate Delaque Gangers for Necromunda — just use Skitarii trenchcoats and you’re set ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
  • Members of an explorator team, hive delvers, maintenance workers or all kinds of underhive adventurers
  • members of a Navigator’s retinue — their somewhat astronaut-like clothing would work really well for that!
  • members of an Astra Militarum regiment or a planetary defense force

And all of those ideas have only taken me five minutes to come up with. In fact, I would argue that, between the Skitarii, Genestealer Hybrids, Dark Vengeance Cultists and Tempestus Scions, we now basically have the perfect toolkit for making every kind of grimdark soldier/explorer/footman at our fingertips. For starters, check out the following projects:

And it goes without saying that I cannot wait for weirdingway to start using the new models for his Navigator House Merz-Itano. That’s going to be brilliant, trust me! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

So yeah, this is really a rather brilliant kit and a fantastic way of revitalising a part of the lore that we had thought permanently eliminated. As far as I am concerned, they could even have dropped the Space Mariens from the deal — but that just shows my excitement for the new Broodkin models. It seems like GW’s designers are always at their very best when coming completely out of the left field. And the subtlty of the hybrids is certainly something that some of the future kits (especially for Age of Sigmar) would do well to emulate!

So what are your thoughts on the new models? And do you have any crazy conversion ideas to share? I would love to hear your feedback in the comments!

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