Archive for greenskins

#HeroQuest2019: Into the breach…

Posted in Conversions, heroquest, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2019 by krautscientist

Work on my current endeavour to paint a complete HeroQuest set continues, and while today’s update may not be the most exciting one, it was always clear that this project wasn’t going to be all shiny hero models — no, a true dungeon master also needs enough monstrous henchmen, so I continued the project by painting some of the HeroQuest monsters:

During my previous attempt at painting HeroQuest models (back in 2014), I had already finished a couple of test models for some of the monster races included in the game, so I already had a basic idea of what I was going for:


While I knew I would have to slightly tweak some of the recipes, this was still a solid base to start from, if nothing else.

For starters, I chose to work on the Orcs, the most numerous monsters to appear in the HeroQuest box. The base game comes with eight of them, I already had the one test model (that would only need a few minor touch ups), and I decided to throw in an extra Orc to bring the overall number up to ten. Ultimately, my goal is to have the sixteen Orcs that are required to also be able to run the “Kellar’s Keep” expansion, but for now, nine Orcs to paint seemed just tedious enough for me πŸ˜‰


Like I said, my test model seemed like a good place to start, with a tweak or two. I definitely wanted to keep the recipe for the skin — it’s an approach I discovered a couple of years ago over at A Gentleman’s Ones, and it has served me really well over the years, making for a convincing looking green skin that also has a certain warmth and organic look to it. So that was definitely a keeper. I also wanted to keep the overall, slightly grimy and dirty look, mostly because it just seemed like a good match for Orcs.

Now the basic sculpt of the HeroQuest Orc is pretty cool, but the models are also all virtually identical, except for their weapons: There are four different weapons and I had nine models left to paint, so I decided to go with differently coloured smocks for every three models or so, just to add a bit of variety. Apart from this variation, however, I basically stuck to batch painting the models:

While this worked fairly well, I discovered once again that batch painting simply isn’t for me. There’s also the fact that the HeroQuest Orcs are just complex enough to be slightly irritating when you batch paint them, but I gritted my teeth and soldiered on. And here are my finished Orcs:

Now these guys certainly aren’t award winning material, but they work well as a group, and I’d say there’s just enough colour variation to keep things interesting. I also changed my recipe for painting the weapons a bit when compared to my test model, and I think the dark metal look, with added scratches, works better than the initial approach.

Two quests in the standard HeroQuest questbook call for an Orc warlord, who uses the model with the curved, notched Scimitar, so I gave that particular model a red jacket, to set him apart from the rank and file. While I may end up creating a dedicated warlord model at some point, this guy should work well enough whenever I want to stay within the framework provided by the classic models.

So here’s a closer look at the different weapons and fabric colours:

Oh, and I guess it’s pretty obvious how, like my previous HeroQuest models, these ten should also definitely count as contributions towards Azazel’s “Neglected models” community challenge for February πŸ˜‰

 

Anyway, with ten models completed, I felt I had earned a little fun for myself, so I ended up creating a custom model for a HeroQuest NPC: The second quest in the classic quest book is about rescuing an Empire Knight captured by the Orcs, one Sir Ragnar (or Sir Manfred, in the original UK version. He’s Ragnar in the German version, though, probably because Manfred is a pretty common German first name — a name suited to your dad or uncle, however, not to a mighty Knight from a fantastic realm. Just saying…).

Now the actual game doesn’t feature a dedicated model for Sir Ragnar, as he is intended to be represented by the Chaos Warlock model — but, come on, I couldn’t let that stand, right?

While doing a bit of research, I stumbled upon this custom model for Sir Ragnar/Manfred, commissioned by fellow hobbyist Lestodante:

And while this basically seemed like the ideal solution – the model actually looks like an actual, official HeroQuest model, the chances to get my hands on one of those seemed slim to nonexistent, so I had to get creative myself.

Taking quite a bit of inspiration from Lestodante’s model, I kitbashed my own Sir Ragnar. Seeing how the character is an Empire Knight from the (almost-) Warhammer world of HeroQuest, I mostly used plastic Empire bitz, some of them rather vintage, which was key for achieving that slightly clunky, vintage HeroQuest look. So here’s my version of Sir Ragnar:

The conversion is actually really simple, combining a set of legs from the old Empire state troops with a torso and arms from the – still available – flagellants and an old plastic Knights of the White Wolf head. I wanted Sir Ragnar to look like he had spent quite some time in captivity, hence the shaggy beard and tattered shirt. Both his hands and neck are also manacled, which I think is a good way to represent both this captivity and his less than stellar stat-line in the game.

I also did my best to make sure he matched the rest of the HeroQuest models in scale. Oh, and I gave him a proper HeroQuest base, of course, salvaged from a heavily damaged Skeleton model.

All in all, I am pretty happy with the finished model — and building a character to match the classic miniature style was a neat little creative challenge!

So yeah, if nothing else, you can see how I am taking this project rather seriously πŸ˜‰ I would love to hear your thoughts about my progress so far! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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Orkheim Ultraz: New signings

Posted in Blood Bowl, Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2019 by krautscientist

Now I don’t know about you, but getting back into the swing of things in a new year always takes me a while, and this holds doubly true for the activity of painting models. So I spent quite some time in the last weeks hemming and hawing and choosing which model(s) to paint next. I am now in full swing again, I am happy to say, but it’s always a messy start. What helped me, in the end, was to have a bit of fun with the lighter, more comedic side of our hobby, as I added some models to my bumbling team of Blood Bowl players, the Orkheim Ultraz. So let’s take a look at the latest additions to the team:

The first two models have actually already made a small appearance on this blog, as part of my 2018 recap, as they were the very last models I painted last year. But I think they deserve their fifteen minutes of fame, so here they are: Two Goblins with a mean streak and a chip on their shoulder:

Both models were built after I played a round of Blood Bowl 2 on the Playstation 4: I really liked the endearingly mean look of the Goblins in the game, so I decided I needed some more of those evil little guys. The model on the left was very much inspired by the fact that the armour on some of those old WFB Goblins already perfectly looks like some kind of old-timey sports gear — I just had to swap in some Kroot shoulder pads, and the look was all there. His buddy is daring you to kick that ball, and he’s definitely not going to pull it away — grot’s honour πŸ˜‰ Seriously, though, I think I owe the Charles M. Schultz estate some royalty fees for the character concept…

All in all, this brings me up to four Goblin players for my team:

The first two were built as Night Goblins, back in the day, mostly because I still had a lot of bitz for those knocking about. I rather like the added variety, though — and my troll now has more playfellows to chuck at the opposing team. Sounds like WIN-WIN to me πŸ˜‰

Oh, and for the sake of completeness, let’s not forget the Goblin Medic, of course, another 2018 addition:

While the two goblins were the last models of 2018, I’ve also managed to complete some more members for the team in the new year — two Orc players originally converted back in 2017:


These are actually a part of my plan to round out the various player types in order to give me enough flexibility in every given situation. On the left is a thrower, on the right a fourth (and likelyfinal) Orc Lineman.

The thrower was basically a fun attempt at creating a model that suitably resembled my previous thrower to instantly communicate the fact that these two share the same role:

At the same time, I also wanted him to be his own man, err, Orc, so I thought it would be fun if he were in the process of lobbing a squig — either at a waiting teammate or at member of the opposing team…

In any case, the squig seems less than thrilled at the prospect…

I really like painting squigs, by the way, and think they are one of the best parts of GW’s greenskins — I may need some of those brilliant new plastic squigs, come to think of it…

My Orc Linemen all have a very dynamic, if bumbling look — as though they were desperately trying to catch the ball. By comparison, the new guy seems just a tad more focused:

I am rather pleased with the action-filled pose, to be honest.

So with four new models, that leaves me with only two Black Orc Blockers left to paint, and then my Orkheim Ultraz should be completed:


I still have a couple of ideas for accompanying models, hangers-on and small terrain pieces, however — it’s always great fun to explore the somewhat more humorous side of our hobby, and like I said, a Blood Bowl Orc team is the perfect occasion of doing just that!

So three cheers for our latest transfers! I would love to hear what you think about the models, so please leave a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more! πŸ™‚

State of the Hunt, Week 50/2018: Blood Bowl markers

Posted in Blood Bowl, Conversions, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , on December 15, 2018 by krautscientist

Hey everyone,

my original plan was to have a closer look at Blackstone Fortress as my next post, but seeing how I have decided to give myself the box as a Christmas present, I think this will have to wait until I actually have the models in front of me and can mess around with them a bit. For today, allow me to share something I painted earlier this week: When another joint painting session with my good friend Annie came up earlier this week, I knew I really wanted to bring along something for my Blood Bowl team, the Orkheim Ultraz:

As I have mentioned before, Annie is a huge Blood Bowl fiend, so getting her input on something related to the game was really helpful. Plus there’s an inherent goofiness and irreverence to the BB setting that can serve as a rather nice palate cleanser, every now and then. Fortunately enough, I had just the thing for our hobby session: a set of counters, re-roll markers and tokens I had converted earlier this year:


When the new Blood Bowl was released, I really liked how the team sprues include those nifty little counters and tokens. Now my original impulse was to just grab the Orc tokens via ebay, but in the end, I decided it was much cooler to create a couple of custom markers for my own team — I certainly did have enough Orc bitz knocking about, after all (granted, I caved in regarding the balls and just painted the new ones. But I did get them as a present, plus that squig ball is just too good…).

Anyway, the markers were already sitting in a drawer, all prepared and undercoated for an eventual painting session, so I was ready to go:


I was even able to add yet another marker to the collection, finding a bit that I had thought lost for good. Anyway, here’s what I had after our painting session:


A nice little collection, wouldn’t you agree? Let’s take a closer look:

First up, a couple of tokens based on fantasy orc shields. These are fairly close to the coin-like tokens that appear on the new team sprues as well. Nothing too complicated, really, but it was nice to find a use for those old orc shields at long last:


I also made two tokens based on a nifty troll-skull bit that originally came with the “Battle for Skull Pass” WFB starter set, and it looks like it was actually made to be used like this:


These are also a good match for my team because the Troll serving as a Big Guy in my team actually has the same design (as he’s from that same starter box):

You better give it your all, buddy, or your skull could end up right next to the others πŸ˜‰

Now on the last counter, I probably got a bit carried away, but I wanted to build something a bit bigger and more ostentatious, basically somethings the Ultraz use as a totem (to invoke the spirit of Nuffle, perchance?) as well as a trophy collection:


Again, this is really just a small collection of leftover bitz, with a WFB Black Orc standard at its centre — this also provided me with the chance to finally paint the iconic Evil Sun as part of one of my models πŸ˜‰

I also had a bit of fun adding the head of an unlucky human player to the base:


Seems like this guy has had his last Blood Bowl game…

Of course I had to make sure the markers fit the rest of my team, so muddy brown and static grass it was for the basing. I also replicated the colours and markings of the players’ armour on the bigger totem πŸ˜‰

When all was said and done, this was a really refreshing little hobby project, and a lot of fun to work on: Custom markers, objectives and similar objects often fall by the wayside in favour of “actual” models, but it can be supremely rewarding to give a bit more attention to creating them, making something that really rounds out your collection of models.

So that’s it for this week: I’ll be heading back to the painting desk to finish a few models for this year. And, of course, we’ll be starting with this year’s Eternal Hunt Awards next week, so keep watching this space!

Until then, I would love to hear your feedback, so leave me a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more! πŸ™‚

The State of the Hunt, Week 35/2018: Back in the green — at least for a bit…

Posted in 40k, Blood Bowl, Inq28, Inquisitor, paintjob, state of the hunt, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2018 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, my every working hour last week was given to working for an international youth and media participation project with people from all over Europe in my hometown, and while it was all an incredible blast, it left me with very little sleep and, arguably worse – literally no hobby time to speak of. On a more positive note, however, I had squirreled away a bit of new content for a rainy day, so to speak, so I do have something new to share with you all:

Remember the little Goblin Nurse my friend Annie gave me for my birthday?

Well, I actually managed to get some paint on the little guy a while ago. Take a look:



Seeing how there’s a bit of a vintage Kev Adams look to the model, I decided for a couple of slighty retro painting touches, such as the purplish lower lip and the extra gnarled look for the skin. I am actually really happy with the model, and it gave me a bit of an appetite to do a bit more Blood Bowl related stuff.

For instance, while I was at it, I also added a couple of tweaks to the Blood Bowl balls I had finished earlier, adding some patches in a different leather colour as well as an Orkish decal or two, just so the squig ball doesn’t entirely steal the show:

And I also built some markers and reroll tokens for my team. I could probably just have picked up the “modern” versions from ebay, but I wanted to get a bit create with some of my old greenskin bitz. So here’s what I came up with:

Painting these tokens should be quite a bit of fun, so I have already prepared them for for whenever Annie and I have our next shared painting session πŸ˜‰

All of this was great fun to make and paint, as Blood Bowl related things tend to be. I also have one more, mostly unrelated, thing to share with you for today, though:

When Azazel unveilded his idea for a “Technical August” community challenge, that is a challenge focused around techniques that one has not yet mastered, I had such lofty ideals: I wanted to finish the next two members for my true scale Deathwatch Killteam…

…namely these two guys, a Castigator and a Lamenter:

And just to make sure things would be properly “technical”, I decided to go for an effect I really haven’t mastered AT ALL: Freehand painting. I was going to freehand both of their chapter icons — yay, go me! πŸ˜‰

Alas, that was basically as far as it went: I did manage to finish those left shoulder pads, freehands and all…

…but the models still look just like that, and seeing how there’s no way I’ll be finishing them before the end of August, this will have to be my meagre contribution to Azazel’s hobby challenge this month: two shoulder pads 😦

So yeah, that’s it for today! It goes without saying that I would love to hear any feedback you might have.

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

 

2018 Round-Up: The first six months

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob, Pointless ramblings, state of the hunt, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2018 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, a bit of a retrospective for today, as it was my birthday last week, and we also already have the first half of 2018 behind us — what better occasion to take a look the first half of my hobby year, right?

When talking about personal hobby output, I am actually really happy with 2018 so far! Some of you may remember that my entire output for 2017 consisted of these twelve models:

And while I still like each and every one of those models, twelve wasn’t exactly a number to be proud of, so I really wanted to finish more stuff this year. And by the look of it, this at least seems to have worked. Take a look at the models I have managed to finish over the first half of 2018:

That’s over thirty painted models — and quite a bit less unpainted plastic. I have to admit I am a bit proud of myself πŸ˜‰

Special focus was given to making a dent in my – rather substantial – backlog of unpainted INQ28 models: I’ve been converting warband after warband for years now, so it was finally time to actually get some of them painted. So here’s what I have to show for my troubles:

First up, Inquisitor Arslan’s Ordo Hereticus warband:

This retinue took shape over several years, with some classic metal models finding their way into Arslan’s service. I am pretty happy that the team still managed to come together into a coherent – and very quintessentially Ordo Hereticus – collection.

Still motivated from my breakthrough with Arslan’s little band of misfits, I pushed onwards and (mostly) finished yet another Inquisitorial retinue: Redactor Orlant’s Ordo Scriptorum warband:

This project is particularly dear to me, both because it features my spin on fellow hobbyist PDH’s concept of the Ordo Scriptorum and because it features several homages and shout outs: Redactor Orlant himself, his astropath and the Bureacultist accompanying the warband were all directly inspired by pieces of artwork from the late Wayne England. Orlant’s interrogator is actually a shout out to PDH’s own Inquisitor Inson (it’s the same guy during his younger years). And I also snuck in a pretty blatant shout out to a pretty well-known literary character from fairly recent pop culture.

 

After a predominantly red and a predominantly blue warband, I next turned mit attention to a …predominantly yellow gang of models — weird how this strange colour dynamic only became obvious to me in hindsight…

Anyway, I also completed some models for my Road Crew, a relatively long-running project at this point, and basically managed to complete the warband — at least for now:

I’ve been a big fan of Dreadnought-sized models for a good long while now, so it was clear that I would also have to paint some new killer robots πŸ˜‰ One is the scrap-robot Worker #9 you can see in the picture above, the other was a second Contemptor for my 30k World Eaters:


Both happen to use the same head — an OOP World Eaters Dreadnought head given to me by Augustus b’Raass when I visited him in Amsterdam last summer.

And the most recent warband I have been working on: Truescale Deathwatch Killteam based on Primaris Marines:

This is one of those projects that…just happened somehow, when the original plan was simply to build and paint one archetypal, 2nd edition influenced Space Marine. As you can see, four members have been finished so far, the bitz for a fifth member are currently on their way to me (at least that’s what I hope), and there could be two more members after that.

Apart from that, I also had a bit of fun with two slightly more humorous projects that served as shout outs to popular nerd culture — like my repaint of an old 80s Boba Fett action figure:

And my recent Primaris-based conversion of Solid Snake, one of the protagonists of the Metal Gear series:

And I am also really happy to have completed a couple of female characters for my INQ28 collection:

Granted, I’ll admit that these mostly fall into a similar design mold (on account of being mostly based on Dark Eldar Wyches), but at least it’s a start, right? πŸ˜‰

So, as you can see, it has been a pretty successful hobby (half-)year so far. In additon to the finished models, I have also managed to learn a couple of new techniques, such as…

  • using a pigment liner to create some very fine detail (cheers again to Jeff Vader for providing the idea!)
  • painting black armour — well, or at least: cheating my way to something that actually looks like properly painted black armour
  • freehanding a chapter icon
  • creating my own model snow and applying it to a base (for which Ron Saikowski’s post over here was, once again, invaluable)
  • using non-caucasian skin tones

To give credit where credit is due, however, all that productivity didn’t just happen, but there were two circumstances, in particular, that have lit a fire under me, painting-wise: There are Azazazel’s frequent hobby challenges that have been a lot of fun to participate in — plus they also provide a lovely view at an entire community of hobbyists giving the respective challenges a go. The fact that Azazel himself is a highly prolific and very talented hobbyist does help, of course πŸ˜‰

And I also have to give a shout out to my friend Annie: Our shared hobby sessions have become a fixture that keeps me painting and forces me to actually finish some stuff — while Annie herself is beavering away on spectacular, often Blood Bowl-related projects, like her Flying Dwarfsmen here:

Speaking of Blood Bowl, I won’t leave you today without sharing something new, however: Annie recently gave me some of the Ork balls from the new version of Blood Bowl. Now my own Ork team was cobbled together using bitz and bobs from old plastic WFB Orcs, so I didn’t really have any Blood Bowl balls, which is why I was very happy about this small gift. It also features what must be the best ball design of all times, but we’ll be getting to that in a minute. First, let’s take a look at the painted balls:

Now the two leather balls on the left are pretty standard fare, obviously, but that ball-squig just has to be one of my favourite models of all time. I decided to go for an archetypal squig-red instead of the more leathery official paintjob, and I am just in love with this little guy:

Whoever sculpted this delightful little creature, bless their heart, even made sure the squig was…erm…anatomically correct:

But seriously, isn’t that the best facial expression you have ever seen?

So here’s my team, the Orkheim Ultraz, with their brand new sports gear:

I still have a couple of unpainted team members sitting on my desk, so maybe this will be one of my next projects? After red, blue and yellow groups of models, respectively, green seems like the logical choice πŸ˜‰

In fact, there’s more I would still like to paint this year, of course:

My Renegade Knight Armiger, for one:


I am still incredibly pleased with this conversion, and since I have pledged it for the yearly ETL event over at The Bolter & Chainsword, this will become my big hobby project for July — at least that’s what I hope. Keep your fingers crossed for me! πŸ™‚

And while I will definitely need to give more attention to my 30k World Eaters again later this year, the one part of that collection I would really love to see finished this year are my converted versions of Argel Tal, both in human and daemonic form:

And while we are on the matter of wishes, I would really like to see more comments and interaction — here, but also on other blogs. In that respect, it feels like social media platforms have really done quite a number both on hobby forums and on individual blogs, with so many readers these days content to just fly by and leave a Like, if even that. Now don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate each and every reader and each and every Like, but what keeps little places like this going is to actually hear suggestions, questions or words of encouragements from their readers.

So please feel free to let me know what you think about my hobby output for 2018 so far! I would love to read your comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more! πŸ™‚

Orkheim Ultraz: Don’t feed the troll, pt. 2

Posted in Blood Bowl, Conversions, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2016 by krautscientist

It’s been a rather long while since I have last talked about the Orkheim Ultraz, my Orc & Goblin team for Blood Bowl. And as luck would have it, I now have a new model to show, right around the same time that GW is putting their redesigned Blood Bowl starter box up for super-secret sneak-peek pre-order πŸ˜‰

This is no clever strategy on my part, however, but rather a bit of a happy accident, because I have wantedΒ  to get today’s model painted up for ages — ever since I picked it up in a secondhand deal, back when my dear FLGS was still alive and kicking (*sniff*). I am referring to this guy:

Lucky purchase (2)
Most of my Orc Blood Bowl team was assembled using leftover models and bitz from an old WFB greenskin army project that never quite materialised. But while that gave me enough parts for most of the boyz, I needed a suitable model to serve as a big guy in the team. And I was fortunate enough to find the model you see above in the deal bin at my FLGS one day. The model was originally a part of the “Battle for Skull-Pass” starter set for Warhammer Fantasy:

skullpass-boxed-set

Made of only two parts, it’s a pretty cool (if slightly dated) example of the time when GW started to do really clever things with their snap-fit starter box models. At the same time, the troll also struck me as a brilliant base model for a Blood Bowl player: The pose is already perfect, and it only took a few orc armour plates to mock up some reasonably convincing football armour for him.

So anyway, to make a long story short: I’ve had this guy for years now, and when I recently sat down with my good friend Annie for a painting session, it was actually a matter of honour to finally complete the model (keep in mind that Annie was the one who got me involved in Blood Bowl in the first place).

I did some research online to decide on a general approach for painting the troll, but when the time came to actually get started, I surprised myself by going for a pretty spontaneous, fairly loose painting recipe. This made for a very entertaining painting session with lots of impromptu experimentation. At the same time, I also tried my best to both make the troll look suitably toadish and swamp-ish while also trying to maintain some visual coherency, in order to tie the model together with the rest of the team.

So here’s what I came up with:

blood-bowl-troll-2
blood-bowl-troll-1
blood-bowl-troll-3
blood-bowl-troll-4
I am really happy with the finished model, and it’s a great feeling to have finally completed this particular piece. And even though the troll’s a fairly old model at this point, I still think he holds up rather well, to be honest. Here’s a comparison picture showing the troll next to one of my Black Orc Blockers and one of my Orc Blitzers:

orkheim-ultraz-2016-4
The photo shows the progression of skin tones and model sizes between the various team members, from the standard orcs to the bigger (and ever so slightly darker-skinned) Black Orcs. And there’s the troll, of course, serving as the biggest model in the team. Granted, he could be bigger, but I think the model has loads of character and makes for a perfect addition to my Orkheim Ultraz.

While the models are quite different in size and bulk, the dented and scratched red armour still manages to pull them together into a visually coherent theme. In fact, I really like the look of the finished team. So here are the Orkheim Ultraz in their 2016 incarnation:

orkheim-ultraz-2016-6
Back when I first started painting the army, some of the concepts and designs from the Blood Bowl video games really helped in developing the look for my team. And I think there’s a clear resemblance between my models and the look of the greenskins from the current Blood Bowl game — even if GW’s new models are arguably even closer to this particular look:

pc-blood-bowl-orc-team

Oh, and here’s the Orkheim Ultraz with their star-player, based on one of GW’s clamshell characters for WFB/Age of Sigmar:

orkheim-ultraz-2016-5

It is with a certain feeling of bemusement that I realise that this team might actually be the closest thing to an actually finished hobby project I have – at least where the last decade or so is concerned. And even so, I have ideas (and bitz) for at least half a dozen additional models knocking about, from two more Black Orc Blockers to some fans and a “Kit Git”. We’ll see…

Speaking of fans, however, let’s not forget the amazing Fan-Troll Annie created for my birthday two years ago:

Fan Troll (12)

Anyway, while I didn’t really plan to return to this project right in time for the new Blood Bowl, building and painting some models for the Orkheim Ultraz always provides a nice occasion to return to the more humorous side of GW’s intellectual properties. Plus it feels good to channel the spirit of the WFB greenskin army I could never finish every now and then πŸ˜‰

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

orkheim-ultraz-2016-3

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.

Ironjawz Release (1)

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!