Archive for gw

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

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

Awards

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

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

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

 

I. Best releases

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

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

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

 

1. The Burning of Prospero

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

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

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

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

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

See my detailed review of the boxed set here.

 

2. Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower

Silver Tower Release (1)

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

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

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

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

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

Silver Tower Release (22)

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

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

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

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

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

 

3. Genestealer Cults

genestealer-cults-release-19

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

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

Deathwatch Overkill release (31)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

4. Thousand Sons

thousand-sons-release-18

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

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

thousand-sons-release-19

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

One, a redesigned Ahriman:

thousand-sons-release-8

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

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

thousand-sons-release-3

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

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

You can find my thoughts on the entire release here.

 

 

5. Canoness Veryidian

veryidian

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

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

Adepta_Sororitas_by_John_Blanche

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

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

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

 

6. Honorary mention: Seeing Artemis again…

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

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

 

II. Worst releases/biggest disappointment

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

1. Wulfen

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

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

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

classic-wulfen-models

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

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

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

the-wolf-man

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

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

2. GW basing sets

40k-basing-set-2

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

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

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

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

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

3. Ulrik the Slayer…Unmasked!

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

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

4. New Eldrad Ulthran

Eldrad comparison

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

III. Still on the fence about…

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

 

IV. Also pretty cool

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

 

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

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

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

Look, Ma! Dinosaurs! The new Lizardmen

Posted in Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2013 by krautscientist

This month brings a new release for the World of Warhammer Fantasy Battles in the form of new Lizardmen models. And even though my WFB days are well behind me, I’ll still happily take a look at the new models, talk about what I like and don’t like and scrutinise any conversion potential this release might have – maybe even for the world of 40k. So, once, let us take a closer look at the new release.

Before we do that, though, it’s time for me to come clean. So let me start with two confessions:

One, I used to be a huge Dinosaur nut for most of my childhood and even quite a ways into my teens. I was very proud of being able to identify and name a huge number of prehistoric lizards big and small in what was an endless stream of garbled (and probably mostly incorrectly pronounced) Greek and Latin. So Lizardmen should be right up my alley, right?

Yes, well. That’s actually confession number two: I’ve always felt the denizens of Lustria to be a rather awkward fit for the world of Warhammer Fantasy Battles. Allow me to elaborate:

Regarding most of the WFB armies, their basic design ideas can be summed up in a single sentence for me: The Empire is “Hieronymus Bosch meets Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail. Bretonnia is “Medieval France plus Arthurian Legend plus the ugliest sides of feudalism, all rolled into one and turned up to eleven”. Warriors of Chaos are “spiky vikings who worship evil gods (and sometimes have tentacles)”, and so on. I think you get the idea…

Lizardmen, then, would be “Fantasy dinosaurs who are also aztec wizards”. And I think we can all agree that this already sounds fairly funky and not all that easy to pull off. The other problem for me is that these guys…well, they’re lizards. And it’s really not that easy to imbue lizards with lots of character. I can imagine most of WFB’s factions off the battlefields: I can imagine the bustling, clockpunk hellholes that are the cities of the Empire. I can imagine the fierce tribal culture of the northern chaos wastes. It’s easy to get an idea of the grim, and probably darkly humurous, interactions of the greenskins.

All of this is much harder for the Lizardmen. They are the servants of the Ancients, yes. But that’s the problem right there: They are tools. They were bred for their tasks. The different breeds are well designed and thought out, make no mistake. But they don’t really offer much by way of character — at least that’s my take. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Oh, and don’t get me started on all those punny names…

At the very least, though, a well-painted Lizardmen army will make quite an impression on the table: Its vibrant colours and mix of lizards and dinosaurs big and small does have a certain je ne sais quoi. So what about the new models then?

 

Carnosaur / Troglodon / Kroq-Gar on Grymloq

Lizardman release (2)

The biggest new kit gives us a huge, reptilian predator that can be assembled in several ways. The first option is to build a Saurus Oldblood riding a Carnosaur, as pictured above. While the Carnosaur’s last incarnation looked a bit too much like an 80s/90s action figure, if you ask me, the new design is really great: Instead of looking like a slightly hokey Tyrannosaur with longer arms, the creature now takes design cues from more evolved, sleek and deadly carnivores like the Allosaur. The sickle claws even make it seem like there’s more than a little Deinonychus in there somewhere…
Meanwhile, the shortened jaws seem almost mammalian, making the Carnosaur look even more dangerous.

Lizardman release (3)
The fact that the pose is very dynamic and that the model looks like its anatomy would actually work in real life, helps of course. I also really love that black/white/orange paintjob, by the way!

So the mount is a succes. But what about the rider? In fact, the standard Oldblood head included in the kit is a real favourite of mine: That guy looks like he really means business!

Lizardman release (4)
The second possible way of assembling this kit is to build the special character Kroq-Gar (…) on his ride Grymloq (oh boy!). All the necessary parts are included, which is really a brilliant idea that I would like to see far more often (and in 40k as well as WFB)! The resulting model looks like this:

Lizardman release (1)
While the Carnosaur remains mostly unchanged, the rider gets a spiffy artifact gauntlet. While this weapon was already present in the charcter’s last incarnation, I really like the rather more statuesque redesign of the weapon: It looks like it really wasn’t necessarily designed to be worn by a Saurus in the first place, which I think is a nice touch, especially with regard to the Lizardmen’s backstory.

The other huge option is to build a Troglodon, an eerie, troglodytic lizard ridden by a skink:

Lizardman release (6)
This version of the model throws even more real-life influences into the mix, with the head recalling that of a Baryonyx or a crocodile, if I am not mistaken, and some Spinosaur thrown in as well for good measure. While the change mainly amounts to a headswap (and a tail swap, to boot), the result is quite stunning: The model looks quite distinctive, even more so if painted in the pale, slightly translucent skin tones befitting a cave dweller.

The skink rider, meanwhile, is nothing to write home about — but that’s probably a matter of personal taste: I always tend to think skinks are a little bland, and they don’t really register as characters for me (even though they seem to be far stronger individuals than the rather dense Sauri, in the background at least).

Lastly, this kit offers you an additional Saurus Oldblood on foot under certain conditions,…

Lizardman release (5)
…but for some reason, this guy feels like a bit of an afterhought — nothing that canot be fixed with a couple of bitz, though.

All in all, I think this kit is great! Sure, at 65 Euros, it isn’t exactly a steal, but seeing all the extra bitz and options you get out of it, I still consider it a good amount of bang for the buck!

 

Bastiladon

Lizardman release (8)
This big boy is a dead ringer for the good old Styracosaur. A very nice design, if you ask me, and a great and distinctive addition to the Lizardmen’s huge warbeasts.

The kit comes with two different weapons arrays for the Bastiladon’s back: The first one, called the Solar Engine, is pretty much what you would expect from an Aztec inspired precursor culture like the lizardmen. The fact that the crystals are solid plastic is slightly disappointing, but there would really have been no easy way around it, so I’ll let it slide. As it stands, this will be an interesting task for accomplished painters (not unlike the whole Lizardmen catalogue, as  a matter of fact).

The fact that the activation panel on the back of the engine has room for five fingers, but the skink only has four, is a nice touch. It may not really be a poignant embodiment of the Lizardmen’s tragic history, as suggested by the PR-speak in WD, but it’s a neat idea!

Lizardman release (9)

There’s also the option of building a Troglodon that carries the Arc of Sotek

Lizardman release (10)
…and it’s a little silly, really. Whoever would think of a warmachine like this? The Ancients? Some skink shamans high on Mezkal? However, it’s so silly that it almost works in a zany, Indiana Jones-esque way. Moving on…

 

Terradon / Ripperdactyl Riders

Lizardman release (11)

The old Terradon models were pretty awkward in many ways, so it’s great to see GW chose to address this. And with a multi-kit, no less! For the Terradons, I love the choice of making them look similar to a Pteranodon, not only differentiating them from the other option in the kit, but channelling what has to be one of my favourite dinosaurs ever. My one gripe with the terradons themselves is that their toes, holding the Drop Rocks are so short as to look almost nonexistent, making it look as though the rocks were bolted directly to the creature’s legs. Apart from that, though, I love the design, and even the skink riders with their dynamic poses and more athletic builds are really nice!  Oh, and in case you were wondering, those little guys attack by hurling “fireleeches” at the enemy:

Lizardman release (12)
Because why the hell not? I believe this might actually be due to a translation error in the Ancient’s great plan: The passage in question said something about “hurling balls of flame”, but there was a crack in the tablet or a translation error by some inexperienced skink scribe or something to that effect, and now the poor guys are stuck with hurling burning leeches. Or GW’s design studio just wanted to test the boundaries of what they could get away with. Your choice!

The other kind of unit to be built from the kit is a flock of Ripperdactyl riders:

Lizardman release (13)
The piranha-styled underbite on the Ripperdactyls makes them look like really angry, evil birds. I am not 100% sold on this design element, to tell you the truth, but seeing how the kit is all plastic, it should be reasonably easy to get rid of if you wanted to:

Lizardman release (14)
And finally, the kit lets you build the special character Tiktaq’to (I swear I am not making this up!), which is a nice additional option, once again!

Lizardman release (16)

While I can sympathise with the notion of giving special skink characters huge and ostentatious looking golden ceremonial masks, this has the slightly problematic effect of making them look even more devoid of personality, in my opinion. That sickle blade is looking wicked, though!

And let me just point out that the paintjob on the model is really stellar:

Lizardman release (17)

Just check out those wings! Marvelous work!

 

Tetto’eko

Lizardman release (20)
While it’s a refreshing idea to give us a skink priest on a throne instead of yet another Slann, I am not sold on this design. It may have something to do with my general apathy when it comes to skinks, but I suspect the actual problem lies somewhere between the slightly awkward pose (the cross-legged pose really isn’t working out — just check out that right foot), the staff looking completely unlike anything in the Lizardmen army (or, indeed, GW’s entire catalogue) or the slightly hokey feathers adorning the throne. It’s certainly easy enough what they were trying to do here, though, with Tetto’eko supposed to look like an ancient, wizened member of his race, but I actually think that an enterprising Lizarmen player could kitbash/scratchbuild a  suitable model without having to spend 40 Euros on the Finecast version…

This may be purely a matter of personal taste, but Tetto’eko is probably the weakest part of the release for me.

 

Gor-Rok

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I love the idea of fielding what basically amounts to a giant, scarred albino crocodile that JUST WILL NOT DIE. Gor-Rok seems far more imposing than his regular Saurus kin, both due to his huge frame and to the heavy scarring all over his body. I am not perfectly sure about the position of the left arm, and the teeth/horns on that shield do look a little silly, but both elements should be easy enough to change. The question remains, as usual, why this had to be a Finecast model in the first place. In my opinion, Finecast should really be reserved for the remastered older models and for new releases that are really only possible in that particular material. Apart from that, though, I like this big guy!

 

Skink Priest

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As per the usual routine, one of the new characters also gets a  plastic release. Again, this guy is a skink, so don’t expect any hymns of praise from me 😉 My problem with the model is that it’s facing some stiff competition from several of the brilliant WFB plastic characters, and this little guy really doesn’t hold up all that well, in my opinion. The model’s position on the remains of a ruin are a nice touch, but there are quite a few much more impressive models in the catalogue. Still, having access to a plastic skink priest is certainly a nice asset for Lizardmen players, so I won’t let my mixed feelings about skinks as characters stand in the way of that.

 

Conversion potential

Now, all these reptilian additions to the Lizardmen catalogue are certainly great news for the army. But what about the new kits’ conversion potential for other hobby projects? Continuing a trend started by the High Elves and continued by the Tau and Eldar, the Lizardmen are yet another faction with a very unique, somewhat eclectic look. That makes it slightly challenging to just use them in other armies. That said, using elements from the army (and the new kits) to individualise an Empire, Bretonnia, Dwarf or Greenskin army to show how it is currently on a tour exploring (and likely plundering) Lustria could be a pretty cool idea.

When it comes to the world of 40k, the new Lizardmen kits could be used to great effect on highly cutomised Eldar Exodite armies or even particularly colourful regiments of the Imperial Guard. For instance, fellow hobbyist wonkobaggins recently posted a really cool counts as Catachan Sentinel built by using a Tyrannosaur model — something similar could be done using the new Carnosaur! And since quite a few people are already using Cold Ones for their Rough Riders, why not go the whole way and add some Terradons/Ripperdactyls as well?

The Bastiladon could make a nice, smaller Squiggoth-variant for an Orc army, or a similar beast of burden in a Kroot-themed army, with a little conversion work, And the Troglodon head looks sufficiently eerie and otherwordly to be an interesting head choice for a (Tzeentchian) Daemon Prince, Greater Daemon or daemon engine. Several of the new beasts could also be used as enslaved creatures in a heavily converted, beastmaster-themed Dark Eldar army to represent the beasts captured and used in gladiatorial spectacles by the lanistas of Commoragh…

Finally, I could also see some of the kits used involved  in some serious kitbashing with a pile of Tyranid parts, but to be perfectly honest, that could almost be seen as doing a disservice to the beautiful new kits.

When it comes to the wonderful world of INQ28, some parts from the new kits could be used to build members of minor xenos races. like bounty hunters and mercenaries travelling the galaxy in search of employers. Jeff Vader’s excellent Glarrg the Brontoglorrg (well done indeed on the name, mate!) would be a sterling example of this.

 

So, what to make of it all? Will this release bring me back to WFB or my erstwhile passion for Dinosaurs? No, probably neither. In fact, I may probably completely pass on the new kits. That said, I am prepared to call this a really strong offering! Most of the designs are great, especially the bigger kits. I also love the amount of options present in some of the models, and the opportunities to build special characters from plastic kits, and this is clearly something I would love to see more of. Just imagine a Chaos Lord plastic kit containing the parts to build Abaddon (or a custom general for one of the four chaos gods). Or a Dark Eldar vehicle kit containg the parts to build Asdrubael Vect (like the old model, just all in plastic). Or a Greater Daemon kit allowing us to build characters like Skarbrand or M’Kachen. The options are endless, and one can always dream…

In any case, Lizardmen players receive some standout pieces for their army, and the designs are top notch! And while the prices are, once again, nothing to scoff at, I am tempted to forgive that when looking at the amount of options and customisability in most of these kits.

It also becomes clear, browsing through the new issue of WD, that these kits deserve to be painted with the utmost care: Some of the ‘Eavy Metal paintjobs on these are truly outstanding, and making your own Lizardmen army look as vibrant and characterful is certainly quite a challenge, even for accomplished painters.

 

So what do you think? Do you like the new models, or do they leave you cold(-blodded, hur hur)? And do they remind you of a childhood spent gazing at extinct lizards as well? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Oh, and just for the records: I still think dinosaurs are pretty cool!

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

Mine is bigger! A look at the new Eldar models

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , on May 29, 2013 by krautscientist

Another month, another GW release, and this one has been eagerly anticipated, to say the least:

The Eldar are, without a doubt, one of Warhammer 40k’s most iconic factions. And while “Elves IN SPACE!” may sound like a horrible concept in theory, Jes Goodwin’s incredible designs – conceived as early as during the late 80s and early 90s – are so utterly fantastic that not only did they help to sell what might otherwise been a very bad idea, but they also still haven’t lost any of their coolness, even more than two decades later — whatever they are paying the man at GW, it cannot ever possibly be enough!

So it’s no wonder that the Eldar are both an integral part of 40k lore and a faction beloved by many. And an update for them has been a long time coming.

Eldar release (1)

Let me start by saying that the Eldar Codex continues the latest trend of fantastic cover artwork (pretty closely mirroring the design of the new plastic Farseer, by the way). And the special edition cover sleeve, once again, seems very elegant and well designed — and, strangely enough, just as faux-japanese as the S.E. Tau Codex.

When it comes to the models, in my review of last month’s High Elves release, I talked about GW’s more and more formulaic approach to recent army updates. To quote myself on the matter:

One combi-kit for a huge creature, check. One slightly hokey vehicle kit, check. One combi-kit that’ll give you two kinds of infantry, check. One plastic character and two Finecast characters, check.

Now, here we are, one month later, with a new release, and look what we’ve got: one huge creature, one vehicle kit, one combi-kit for two kinds of infantry, one plastic character and two Finecast characters. At first glance, this doesn’t bode too well for the originality of the release. But is it that simple? In order to find out, let’s take a closer look at the new models and the conversion potential.

 

Wraithknight

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Well, this tall boy is certainly this month’s wraithbone elephant in the room. And let’s not beat around the bush here: That thing is a titan, period. A small titan, perhaps, but a titan nonetheless. With the Wraithknight standing noticeably taller than even the recently released Tau Riptide – a fact that’s even played up in GW’s marketing speak – we are looking at a very classic case of “mine is bigger!” here, and I am not sure I really like that prospect…

Before I elaborate, let’s focus on the model, though:

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The Wraithknight seems rather easy to customise, regarding both the weapons loadout and its pose. Personally speaking, and without any knowledge of the rules, I think the sword and shield combo looks much cooler. Plus, as with the Riptide, it will be very interesting to see the poses some of the more adventurous hobbyists will get out of this kit. The lower legs seem quite a bit too long at first glance – maybe the designers were just trying buff the model’s heigth that way – but the overall slightly alien look makes sure the proportions still work rather well.

The one part of the model I was initially not sold on was the helmet, since I would have preferred a design closer to that of the FW Eldar titans, i.e. a stylised guardian head, but seeing how the Wraithknight is really more of a wraithbone construct than a regular walker, I guess it makes sense that it would look like a taller version of the other constructs:

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And the pictures in WD show that the head can look very interesting when the faceplate isn’t painted like some kind of viewing window, but rather in the same colour as the rest of the head — that’s just a matter of personal taste, though…

I also noticed that GW seems to have settled on yet another iteration of their box designs. I’ve lost count of the different variants over time (photos, then artwork, then different artwork, then photos again, then photos painstakingly photoshopped to look like impressions from real, grimdark battlefields,…), but the new one seems much more elegant and minimalistic:

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Is this a way of positioning GW models even more as luxury goods? Regarding the Wraithknight which comes at 90,00 Euros a pop, that certainly seems like a possibility…

My main gripe with the model actually has nothing to do with the design, but rather with its size: Are we witnessing a whole different sort of scale creep here? Will players be “required” to add one or several titan-sized models to even their regular 40k armies in the future? Now I do of course realise that huge kits like this may be just what many hobbyists were waiting for, but since I’ve always been drawn to models at infantry-size first and foremost, the prospect of bigger and bigger models – in regular 40k – seems a little disconcerting to me.

Price and size notwithstanding, I like the design. The model will certainly be a centre piece for any Eldar army — so much so, in fact, that the rest of the force will probably have to struggle to keep up…

 

Hemlock Wraithfighter / Crimson Hunter

Well, this kit is a bit of a conundrum for me, because I feel entirely differently about it when I see model from different perspectives. Allow me to explain:
The first look I got at this particular kit was this picture:

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And to be honest, I instantly hated it! It looks like one of those G.I.Joe fighter jets I loved so much in my childhood, yet managed to outgrow (fortunately, I might add). The colour doesn’t really help either. And those additional wing/fin things just seem goofy.

But then, there’s also this:

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The Hemlock Wraithfighter, the other fighter variant that can be assembled from the same kit. And I have to say quite like it! I was initially put off by the slightly “drooping” lines of the model, but seeing how the Eldar do not assemble their vehicles so much as “grow” them from semi-organic wraithbone, it seems plausible that the flyer’s lines would be more organic than those of the Dark Eldar Razorwing (which is conventionally built from anorganic materials).

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And while some of the design reminds me of a present day fighter jet, there’s still enough to make it look like an Eldar vehicle – all those small visual cues that manage to tie it in with the rest of the army.

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The fact that the paintjob on this is truly gorgeous also helps, of course. I’ve always felt that everything lo0ks better in Saim-Hann colours, but in this case, the patterns and lines on the model do a great job of breaking up the huge empty space, making it look less like a toy and more like an elegant warmachine.

I also really love the fact that they managed to get one of the guys from Daft Punk to pilot the thing:

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Seriously, though: That head is great! Note to myself: Based on this head, check options for two Daft Punk-based character conversions for use in INQ28 😉

So let’s take another look at the other variant, the Crimson Hunter:

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At second glance, and without that dopey star background, it’s really not so bad. But it’s not as good as the Hemlock either. Much of what I don’t like about the model may be based on the paintjob, to be honest, so I may just have to reserve final judgment until I’ve seen a slightly different colour scheme on this. But I am not keen on those fins behind the cockpit and would likely leave them off if I ever were to build the model.

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And one thing I find really disappointing, especially since the Hemlock got its own (brilliant) pilot head option, is the fact that the Crimson Hunter’s helmet looks just like that of a regular Guardian. Granted, the actual aspect armour in this case is probably the fighter jet itself, but it would have been cool to get a more stylised mask, adding some visual distinction to the aspect. After all, the helmets have been the element that viusally defines the aspect warriors for a long time.

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As it stand, this guy just looks like an Eldar Guardian in purple armour, doesn’t he?

 

Wraithguard / Wraithblades

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An already existing unit choice, these are now finally available in plastic. The new version doesn’t fundamentally change the design, which is quite alright – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and all that. It’s also cool to have these as a plastic kit now, especially since a special HQ selection seems to transform them into troops.

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To be honest though, I find it rather hard to get too excited about the models, apart from a general appreciation of the fact that they are now available in plastic. Sure, there are lots of well-considered details to individualise the five models, but it’s really a design we are already very familiar with.

The other option for the kit is a bit more interesting at least, allowing us to assemble the models as the more CC focused Wraithblades:

Eldar release (18)According to GW’s description in WD, these ghostly warriors are so furious that their very wraithbone frame vibrates with their anger — only there’s very little anger evident in their poses. That probably cannot be helped, seeing how the same bodies and legs have to be used both for the shooty and the killy variants of the unit, but to make these guys look truly like the (angry) CC specialists they are supposed to be, one would have to do quite a bit of work regarding their poses — which, in all fairness, should be easy enough, seeing how they are plastic models.

While I like shape of the axes, I think I prefer the option of arming them with twin swords, if only because it’s possible to achieve great – if static – poses like this:

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This guy really seems like an ancient, dignified ghost swordsman, doesn’t he? In my opinion, it’s swords all the way for these guys!

 

In addition to the squad and vehicle kits, there are also three new characters for Eldar players. Let’s take a closer look:

 

Plastic Farseer

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This model was already leaked a couple of weeks ago, stirring up quite a buzz on the net. It seemed reasonably certain in advance that the Eldar would receive their own plastic clamshell character as well, and it was certainly a good decision to use the ever versatile Farseer for this. The model was designed by none other than Jes Goodwin himself, which is a bit of a no brainer really, because it was possibly the only way of having this new Farseer hold up to Jes’ older models — it’s truly baffling how those old Seer models of his are still just as great as they were ten or, in some cases, almost twenty years ago.

This new model is really dynamic and three dimensional, with a great pose and lots of nifty details. Just check out the hand:

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Some people online voiced an immense dislike for the farseer’s neck — go figure! But since this is a plastic release, there’s nothing stopping you from changing that! I would have liked a helmet without that strange pharao beard that has been creeping into Farseer designs for a couple of years, for instance, but again, it should really be easy enough to get rid of that element. All in all, this a really good entry into the 40k plastic character library, and I can easily see myself picking up one of these — if only for the conversion possibilities (more on that later!).

 

Spiritseer

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This guy is obviously the choice for people who want to use lots and lots of wraithbone constructs in their army, and the model’s designer Martin Fores did a really nice job of including a number of shout outs to those ghostly warriors, especially the featureless faceplate (which I love!). The satanic horns pose for psykers is getting a little long in the tooth, if you ask me, but I’ll let it slide this time, because it’s a lovely model all in all. My only gripe is, once again, that this had to be a Finecast release in the first place: It should have been very easy to release this guy as a plastic character as well (or, indeed, make one clamshell with different head and staff options for either a Farseer or Spiritseer — wouldn’t that have been neat?). It seems like they’re doing some of these models in Finecast just because it’s in the business rules somewhere, and that seems slightly dopey — just sayin’…

 

Illic Nightspear

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Ah, well, here’s the best part of this particular release for me: Illic is a beautiful model with a brilliant pose, and I can easily see people picking him up just to paint him for their display cases — he makes for a stunning display piece, on par with the brilliant model for Lelith Hesperax. In this case, I can even forgive the model being Finecast, since the character’s elegance and the stunning amount of detail probably make good use of the medium. I also really like how the piece of ancient ruin is incorporated into his pose. A true winner, this one. My one gripe is that I am not really all that fond of the hair, but since that’s strictly a matter of personal taste, I won’t hold it against the model. The fact that the designer, Edgar Ramos, was also responsible for last months rather unimpressive plastic Loremaster of Hoeth is a bit of a conundrum, however. Why release something like that when Illic shows Mr. Ramos is capable of infinitely better work?

 

Jetbike Autarch upgrade kit

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Having this available as an upgrade pack is a nice bit of service. Let’s just hope that the parts will still be useable once the new jetbikes are released *wink*wink*, *nudge*)…

 

Dire Avengers

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Oh, and GW also repackaged the (old) Dire Avenger models into a smaller squad of five — seems like a bit of a dick move, to be honest. Or is there any non-economic reason for this?

 

What’s missing?

With a release as strongly anticipated as the Eldar, it goes without saying that wishlisting abounded prior to the release: The fans would have loved twenty new kits at the very least, and, in all fairness, anticipation like that cannot possibly be fully satisfied by any release. Still, some things seem to be conspicuously absent from the release: What about the rumoured new jetbikes? WIP sculpts of these have been floating around on the net for years, and the new release would have been a good chance for updating them and bringing them more in line with the look of the DE jetbikes. Plus a jetbike / Shining Spears combi-kit would also have made a great itam for the combi-kit slot. Even more painful is the absence of any plastic aspect warriors, since at least some of these should lend themselves to a combi-kit rather beautifully. I don’t doubt that both of these units will be released in time, and GW’s strategy is to make sure all units in the codex are available in model form before doing any huge redesigns. But still, jetbikes and new aspects were the things fans were probably most eager to see, so it’s still a bit of a shame…

Conversion potential

Like the Tau, the Eldar have a very distinct and iconic look, which makes them instantly recognisable but also renders their different kits rather hard to use as “conversion fodder” in the classical sense. So most parts of this release will be useful for Eldar, Dark Eldar or Eldar Corsair armies, above all else. The models themselves should allow for quite a bit of customisation and reposing, so it will be interesting to witness what hobbyists all over the world come up with.

Illic Nightspear not only makes for a stunning display piece, but could also realistically be used as a lone Eldar operative during games of INQ28 — he looks the part.

The most interesting conversion options stem from the plastic Farseer, if you ask me. Let’s take a look at the sprue to illustrate what I mean:

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Seeing how the model’s head, forearms and chest are all separate pieces, the Farseer should not only be really easy to customise for your Eldar army, he should also make for a pretty useful base model for all kinds of INQ28-related conversions. I could easily see him transformed into an Ordo Xenos Inquisitor, with a bit of work! And the fact that the model is plastic makes it even more useful. Looks like I’ll be getting one of these sooner rather than later…

 

All in all, the Eldar release was so highly anticipated, and people were hoping for so many different things to come out of this release that GW’s designers were facing a bit of an insolvable problem. That said, the lack of new jetbikes and plastic aspect warriors does seem a little disappointing. However the actual new models are very well designed and make great visual additions to the Eldar catalogue.

Like almost no other 40k army, the Eldar are fantastic proof of how far a brilliant initial design will carry an army, informing each and every model and unit. The new additions play to the strengths of the Eldars’ overall design, and, small gripes notwithstanding, will fit right in on the table. My only bigger concern is the new kind of scale creep I already mentioned: Will we see an even bigger Tyranid bio construct or Imperial walker, once Apocalypse hits? Will these huge models make up more and more of the game? And will those who, like me, are rather drawn to normal, infantry-sized models, have an option to resist playing with what are basically action figures, at least from a scale perspective? Let’s wait and see…

In any case, Eldar players have received some beautiful new toys. And while last month’s High Elves seemed a little half-baked to me, the new Eldar models are quite a bit nicer. And even though I don’t plan on starting an Eldar army any time soon, I simply love looking at well painted Eldar armies and appreciating their models for what they are: Some of the best designed and most gorgeous pieces in GW’s entire catalogue.

So how did you like this new release? Any favourites? Any gripes? Any conversion ideas? Share your opinion in the comments section!
And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Gazing into the Warp – some thoughts on the new Daemon models

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2013 by krautscientist

With GW releasing the Daemons (see what I did there?), it is once more time to take a look at all the new stuff. As was to be expected, the first people are already screaming blue murder at the new Daemon Codex, claiming Phil Kelly has nerfed the army beyond any chance of repair. Yes, well… Let’s just say that we are not too concerned with rules around these parts. But even though the prospect of a new codex doesn’t make want to rush out immediately to get the book, having the option to field Daemons as allies might still interesting in the future. Best to wait until things have calmed down a bit, though. For now, let’s just focus on the models and ponder the conversion possibilities — to tell you the truth, I have grown rather fond of this little series 😉

Let me start by pointing out two things: First, the Daemon release may feel a little lacking at first glance due to the lack of  any “huge” model like the ones the last several armies had. It seems like the new (plastic) Greater Daemons would have been an easy (and hopefully spectacular) remedy to that, yet GW chose to save them for a tentative second wave. A shame, that. But we can always hope.

On a more positive note, all of the final models look far better than could be expected by looking at the first, grainy pictures that appeared on the net. This seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but I have to admit I feel a little relieved: After seeing the first pictures over at Faeit 212, I had feared for the worst…

Anyway, let’s have a closer look:

 

Plague Drones:

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Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Well, I’ll admit I have never liked the Plague Drone released by FW all that much, so I think it’s refreshing that GW proper now takes a rather more “organic” approach to their smaller Nurglite flyers. The huge flies look great, with lots and lots of disgusting little touches (like the severed heads of their victims pushing outwards through holes in their bellies…), and while the Plaguebearer riders seem a little precariously balanced atop their mounts, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from simply leaving them off (or indeed replacing them with Death Guard Marines — just an idea…).

Also, those wings will probably be in extremely high demand for converting all kinds of Nurglite Daemon Princes, champions and other beasts.

Oh, and the set also comes with an alternate set of heads, with huge, almost elephantine snouts.

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Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Let’s just say that they certainly aren’t doing the kit any favours and leave it at that.

 

Skull Cannon/Blood Throne of Khorne

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Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Well, if there’s a disappointment for me about the whole release, then it has to be this kit. When I read about a “Blood Throne”, I imagined a towering edifice, almost on par with the WFB warshrine of chaos. And the “Skull Cannon” made me think of the old Epic 40,000 and Armourcast warmachines of the same name. So I was looking forward to a kit that would not only provide me with lots of Khornate bitz, but also give me a Daemon Engine of Khorne that would feel right at home with my World Eaters, maybe even be able to stand in as a Vindicator or some other chaos tank.

Instead, the model in question turns out to be a fairly strange, techno-organic hybrid, and if WD claims that the likes of this particular kit have not yet been glimpsed on the battlefields of the grimdark future, I can hardly disagree with that. I am not sure whether that is really a good thing, though…

In my opinion, it’s a kit where all (or at least most) of the individual components seem rather great, yet as a whole it just doesn’t really quite click with me. It must have something to do with the strangely organic motorcycle body…

The skull cannon looks a little lost atop the main body, although the design of the cannon itself is rather nice. Once again, the parts are great, yet somehow they fail to come together.

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Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

But still, there is light at the end of the tunnel: I can easily see lots and lots of uses for different parts of the model: The cannon would probably look really cool atop a Chaos Predator. The armour plating covered in Khornate runes should prove interesting for all kinds of conversions. And even the chassis itself could reasonably  be used as the base for an ostentatious looking bike for a chaos lord or Daemon Prince, or maybe a special attack bike used by the World Eaters?

Anyway, this could be worth the purchase for the bitz alone, even though I am not sold on the model itself.

 

Burning Chariot of Tzeentch

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Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Well, it’s Tzeentch, people, what did you expect? To tell you the truth, I am not a big fan of the over the top mutations of Tzeentchian daemons, so I may be a bit biased here. Nevertheless, the chariot is a competent sculpt fitting the overall Tzeentch aesthetic, and the flamer chariot does a nice job of incorporating all the different lesser daemons of Tzeentch in a single model. The kit also gives you quite a bit of bang for the buck, with several horrors, two screamers, a herald, a flying disc and that huge flamer. Still, not my cup of tea, really.

The other variant of the kit is far more interesting:

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Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

First, the flying disc that is part of the model means Tzeentch players finally have a plastic flying disc of Tzeentch at their disposal to use on their warlords and characters. Just as the whole model could very well serve as a plastic replacement for the Finecast Herald.

Indeed, the herald himself is the true star of the show for me. He comes with a variety of heads, among which the standard horror head is certainly the least interesting:

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Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

The half moon face may seem goofy, yet it’s a fantastic nostalgic callback to ye olden days of WFB and Rogue Trader! And the avian head gives you the chance to make your herald look like a smaller Lord of Change — easily my favourite of the bunch! Oh, and these could also be used to spice up your Tzeentchian Chaos champions and sorcerors — just sayin’…

And while we are on the subject of heralds: It seems pretty obvious that this is GW testing the waters for the future of Finecast versus plastic. They are releasing two of the heralds in plastic (one as part of a larger kit and one in a clamshell) and two in Finecast, when, from a design standpoint, all three could probably easily have been plastic. Plus the price of all the three sold in clamshells is the same. “Honi soit, qui mal y pense”, if you ask me…

Anyway, on to the other herald models:

 

Herald of Khorne

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Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Well, this guy is pretty cool to be sure! I like the pose and the ferocity, and I like the fact that he has Khorne runes in all the right places. However, I’ll come right out and state that I think GW’s designers are really passing up an awesome opportunity by having the heralds merely look like larger versions of the lesser daemons. I would prefer the heralds to have more personality, almost like a missing link between a lesser daemon and a daemon prince. For instance, if I wanted a truly imposing herald of Khorne for my army, I would probably get something like Avatar of War’s Herald of War: It looks pretty Khornate as well, but you wouldn’t confuse it with a measly Bloodletter. So while I like the Khornate herald well enough, I would like to see a little more originality for the herald sculpts in general.

On a side note, since this guy seems to be a fair bit bigger than your average Bloodletter, does this mean he is also bigger than Skulltaker, Khorne’s preferred herald? That would indeed be a little silly…

 

Herald of Slaanesh

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Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

This model exemplifies what I tried to get at above even better: Now this girl (?) is just a little lazy, don’t you think? I guess it would be possible to kitbash something really similar (or even cooler), using nothing but plastic parts. I would have loved to see something a little more daring — and I don’t mean the “show your boobs”-variety of daring! What about a herald with a sinuous, serpentine body? Like a miniature Fulgrim, if you will, or a cool version of the old WFB character De’chala? Or a herald with a truly spectacular dancing pose, not unlike the Eldar Harlequins? Instead we get a somewhat tired rehash of the Masque of Slaanesh (which, come to think of it, wasn’t all that great to begin with). Definitely the weakest of the bunch!

 

Herald of Nurgle

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Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Well, this guy has to be the winner by default simply by virtue of being a plastic model 😉 But seriously: GW seem to have the knack of doing Nurgle at the moment, so this model is another solid addition to that particular end of the spectrum. The dangling entrails are a tad too much, if you ask me. Then again, you have got to love GW’s treatment of the Nurglings:

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Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

This little fellow is definitely enjoying his workday!

All in all, the Tzeentchian herald has to be the best of the bunch. The Khorne herald is also pretty cool, followed by the Nurglite model. The Slaaneshi herald is by far the worst, due to the rather slapdash design. And from a converter’s perspective, only the Tzeentchian one offers something truly beyond what could be achieved by clever kitbashing and converting.

 

So that’s the entire release. All in all, I would call this a solid, middle-of-the-road effort that is slightly hampered by the lack of Greater Daemons. The new releases stay true to the established look of the Chaos Daemon line, although the models are maybe not as useful as conversion for the other chaos armies as they could have been.

What about you? Do you have any thoughts or ideas concerning the Daemon release? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

In any case, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 2 – The Industry

Posted in 40k, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , on December 29, 2012 by krautscientist

Awards
Here we are back, with the second installment of the Eternal Hunt Awards. Last time, we took a look at the greatest hobbyists of 2012 and at their proud achievements. But what about those who provide us with our regular fix of plastic crack? Let’s take a look at the industry!

But first, a disclaimer of sorts: All of this is strictly my own opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary on any of this. Oh, and if my perspective seems slightly GW-centric, let me assure you that this is not due to some philosophical bias on my part, but more to the fact that I am mainly interested in 40k and a couple of GW specialist systems. I am quite aware that many other companies produced equally awesome stuff in 2012. Anyway, moving on:

 

I. Best release of 2012

 

1st place: Dark Vengeance starter box

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

 

From the stellar quality of the models to the choice of armies, Dark Vengeance was my favourite tabletop release of 2012, period. While far from cheap, the box gives you quite a bit of bang for the buck, and it even introduced highly anticipated models like the Chaos Cultists and the Helbrute. Personally speaking, I am still happily cutting and gluing my way through the contents of the box, and I am having quite a swell time so far. You can check out my progress so far here, here and here, in case you’re interested.

Anyway, Dark Vengeance is not only the best 40k starter box to date, but also an example of what GW can achieve if they manage to get their act together. Definitely my favourite release of the year!

 

2nd place: Warhammer 40k 6th edition rulebook

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

 

Take note that the award doesn’t go to 6th edition itself: I have far too little experience with the system yet to make that call. But the big rulebook is certainly a thing of beauty: full-coloured, lavishly illustrated and brimming with great production values. I also like the fact that GW chose to stress the narrative side of 40k as a game! And last but not least, there are lots and lots of tasty background bits and callbacks to the RT and 2nd edition eras, respectively (Squats, anyone?). So while I am usually not especially fond of rulebooks, this one is a tome I simply enjoy looking at.

 

3rd place: WFB plastic characters

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

I have been an outspoken supporter of plastic kits for a long time, and the single sprue characters released by GW for WFB (and 40k, of late) are an example of many things that are great about plastic kits: The staggering amount of detail achievable with a bit of planning. The ease of converting the material. And the rather stable quality when compared to Finecast. Granted, these models may sometimes seem a little limited in their poses. But they are easily transformed into something completely different. I have bought and converted several of these, and perhaps the best thing about them is the fact that, in a way, they are the best Inquisitor models GW has released in years (just take a look at all the INQ28 forums, and you’ll see what I mean). Anyway, I hope many more of these will be released for both WFB and 40k!

 

II. Worst release/biggest disappointment of 2012

 

1st place: Chaos Mutilators/Obliterators

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

 

Boy did those Obliterators need a facelift! And boy did GW drop the ball with them: Instead of a nice and flexible plastic kit, we get a FC rehash of the existing models. And to add insult to injury, they even threw in a new Obliterator variant that is based on the exact same sculpt. This could have been a combi-kit, you know? Anyway, those guys are really, really ugly, and even I have not yet come up with a way of converting those to look cool. Granted, GuitaRasmus came up with some pretty sweet Obliterators, but that is beside the point. Anyway, definitely the most disappointing (re-)release for me.

 

2nd place: The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

 

I have to be honest with you: I felt a little underwhelmed by the new Hobbit starter kit even before I watched the film. Now, having watched it just yesterday, I feel even more apathetic: The models may be nicee nough, but why cough up more money for this than you would have to pay for the (far superior) Dark Vengeance? Granted, in the end it comes down to personal preference, but it seems absurd that the Hobbit license alone should warrant such a price hike. And while the good guys look great (and bear a striking resemblance to the respective actors in most cases), I feel the evil guys are a bit of a letdown: Neither the goblins, nor the trolls and orks are as cool-looking as they are in the film. And why release a model for Bolg – who has a screen time of about 30 seconds, don’t blink or you could miss him altogether – and not one for the uber-cool Azog? The film may have had some padding, but it was still a fun ride. I’ll happily pass on the game, though…

UPDATE: I have found out that Bolg doesn’t actually appear in the film at all! He is the son of Azog and will probably feature in one of the sequels. This makes this particular choice even more baffling. Then again, it seems like the studio pulled all kinds of shenanigans to keep Azog’s actual appearance a secret prior to the release of the film, so maybe it wasn’t even GW’s decision to begin with. I guess we have the Internet with its packs of rumour hounds to thank for this… 😉

 

3rd place: random charge distances in sixth edition

Again, my experiences with 6th edition aren’t that extensive. That being said, it’s really hard for someone playing an army focused on CC to feel excited about the prospect of random charge distances. Some say that this promotes tactical thinking. But I think there would have been a couple of more interesting options for achieving that. If anything, this game needs less, not more, randomness. Oh well, let’s see how this works out…

 

Oh, and a special mention must go to the WFB Chaos Warshrine kit:

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

Image appears courtesy of Games Workshop

All the parts are excellent: The big mutants, the priest, the god specific icons and doodads. But somehow the resulting model looks rather unwholesome — and not in a good way! How can a collection of such fantastic elements end up as something so much less than the sum of its part? The mind boggles…

 

III. Still on the fence about…

  • …GW’s Chaos Space Marines release: I like the book, some of the models are great, and I suppose that I am actually quite pleased with the release after all. But somehow I cannot help but feel it could have been even better: a release on par with the redesign of the Dark Eldar in 2010: new sculpts for the cult troops, new special characters, a new basic CSM kit, better Obliterators. And a *much* better flyer model. But then, I wonder if I am actually part of the unpleasable fanbase here? Oh well…
  • The FW Horus Heresy releases: Don’t get me wrong, that stuff is rather cool! But some of it is a) prohibitively expensive (par for the course with FW, really) and b) takes all the challenge out of kitbashing your own Pre-Heresy stuff. I’ll have you know I’ll carry on with my kitbashed Custodes army regardless, thank you very much!

 

IV. Also pretty cool:

  • Kickstarter! I love what Kickstarter as a platform has done for the tabletop and videogame communities respectively: Granted, these days it sometimes seems like everybody and their cousin is firing up a Kickstarter, but some of those projects are just so good that I simply cannot worry too much about the chaff. For instance, I chipped in on Mark Mondragon’s fantastic Kickstarter and can hardly wait for my brand new Eisenkern Stormtroopers to arrive…
  • Bold decisions: It seems like GW is finally prepared to make a couple of rather bold decisions: A thorougly revamped 6th edition of 40k, a redesigned WD and a couple of rather interesting design choices seem to be proof of that. Did I like all of it? Heck, no. But there’s a lot to like about taking more creative risks, so I applaud GW for the will to change things up a bit.
  • Plastic rules! I might have mentioned that I love plastic kits. So maybe the most momentuous development this year was the increase of fantastic and flexible plastic kits across the board (GW, Wyrd, Mantic, and various Kickstarter projects). I also love the fact that some of the competitors’ plastic models are starting to give GW a run for their money. If this continues, I imagine there might be a bright plastic future ahead of us 😉

 

All in all, I feel it has been a rather good year for us hobbyists! There were many different releases and developments to enjoy, and I spent more money than I should have, but then, what else is new? But what where my own favourite hobby achievements? What did I do with my hobby time? And which models am I most proud of? That’s what I’ll be looking at in the third installment of the Eternal Hunts Awards. We’ll be right back…

In any case, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!