Archive for HH

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ahzek Ahriman, Chief-Librarian of the Thousand Sons

burning-of-prospero-release-4
Now that was quite a surprise, wasn’t it? Ahriman’s definitely the first major 30k character to be given a plastic incarnation, and I think Maxime Pastourel (aka Morbäck) has done a wonderful job with the model: The armour and detailing are very close representations of several pieces of Horus Heresy artwork, giving you the idea that, yes, this is definitely Ahriman! The blank faceplate is a bit of an acquired taste, but in all fairness, it has been part of the art for quite a while now, so it’s definitely an accurate representation. The engravings and symbols on Ahriman’s armour speaks of the Thousand Sons’ dabblings in sorcery while not overcluttering the model. And I really love how the flowing robes lend motion and dynamism to what is otherwise a rather static pose.

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

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

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

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

burning-of-prospero-release-3

 

Geigor Fell-Hand of the Space Wolves

burning-of-prospero-release-5
Ahriman’s direct opponent for the game is Geigor Fell-Hand of the Space Wolves, and while he’s a beautiful model in his own right, I don’t think he can quite keep up with his Thousand Sons counterpart. First of all, it would have seemed more plausible from a story perspective to include Othere Wyrdmake, seeing how he’s both an already established character AND Ahriman’s nemesis of sorts. But I imagine that would have messed with the game’s premise (sorcery vs. good, honest close combat), so we get a CC monster instead 😉

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

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

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

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

burning-of-prospero-release-6
Don’t get me wrong, though: Geigor’s still a beautiful model that should work well both in 30k and 40k armies. He’s just not as good as Ahriman 😉

 

Tartaros Terminators

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

burning-of-prospero-release-9
Now I have to admit I am not a big fan of the Tartaros pattern, but that’s just me. Even so, I cannot help wondering whether these are actually a bit clunkier and more angular than their resin cousins. In any case, I do think the models end up looking a bit silly if the shoulder pads are placed too low, however. Just check out this guy:

burning-of-prospero-release-8
Beyond those observations, it looks like the kit comes with just as much customisation as the Cataphractii — and we even get some choom out of the deal! 😉 I also like the extra detail on the sergeant’s armour, which is something I would have loved to see on the Cataphractii as well!

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

 

Tactical Marines in Mk. III “Iron” armour

burning-of-prospero-release-10

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

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

burning-of-prospero-release-11
While the basic options and additional weapons are just like what we got with the Betrayal at Calth Mk. IV Marines, there are some additional tweaks that I appreciate: The models come with yet another bolter design (the Phobos pattern) that’s arguably a great fit for the archaic armour and makes for greater visual variety. And we get some chain swords for the Marines to wear at their hips, whoch is nice — and arguably a bit cooler than the somewhat bland combat knives. Maybe next time, we can get some actual chain sword arms, though? Thank you very much! 😉

burning-of-prospero-release-2

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

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

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

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

 

Custodian Guard & Sisters of Silence

burning-of-prospero-release-13
Right, if you had told me one year ago that we would be seeing plastic Custodes and Sisters of Silence in an upcoming Horus Heresy boxed set, I would probably have laughed long and hard and called you a wishlister of the highest order. And yet, here they are. Of course their inclusion makes sense from a background perspective — seriously, though: I would rather have expected them to be releaed as resin models.

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

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

 

Custodian Guard

burning-of-prospero-release-14
“Oh, right, now I understand: That’s what GW kept doing all those golden Age of Sigmar dudes for: They were merely test runs for the inception of plastic Custodes…” 😉

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

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

legio-custodes-artwork-1
I think it’s really astonishing how much of the visual splendour of the Custodian armour appearing in the image above has been faithfully reproduced on the actual models, from the iconic helmet design to the small details of the armour:

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

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

legio-custodes-artwork-2
The shout outs to the artwork don’t stop there, however: In his aforementioned post, Wudugast points out how much the bare head included with the kit resembles the various depictions of Constantin Valdor, Captain-General of the Legio Custodes:

legio-custodes-artwork-3

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

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

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

legio-custodes-artwork-4
Of course John Blanche’s style is always rather open to interpretation, and the actual models usually end up looking fairly different, but there are also different pieces of art that have the Custodians look powerful, but in a rather elegant way. Just check out the guys on the far right in the picture below:

legio-custodes-artwork-5
The actual models seem incredibly massive, however. Especially so in certain configurations:

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

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

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

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

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

burning-of-prospero-release-17
Looks like I’ll have to source some plastic capes, then — any suggestions? 😉

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

Custodes (2b)
Custodian Squad (2)

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

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

 

Sisters of Silence

burning-of-prospero-release-18
Where the Custodes depart from the artwork in some rather surprising ways, the Sisters of Silence seem like a perfect representation of the various pieces of artwork from the Horus Heresy artbooks: The design of the armour, the iconic weapon and facemasks, and the weapons wielded by the various squads in the artwork: all accounted for.

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

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

burning-of-prospero-release-19
Oh, and that Sister Superior ist just a stunning model — it’s going to take all of my (almost nonexistent) willpower to resist the temptation to convert her into an Inquisitrix…

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

SoS (15)

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

 

conversion options:

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


Ahriman

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

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

Tartaros Terminators

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

Mk III Marines

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

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

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

Custodian Guard

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

Sisters of Silence

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

 

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

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

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

legio-custodes-artwork-6

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

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

 

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

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

Advertisements

Cutting up some Cataphractii

Posted in Conversions, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2016 by krautscientist

This week, let’s head back to the Heresy for a bit, as I show you my latest conversions based on models from the Betrayal at Calth box. So you’ll be seeing a lot of unpainted plastic, unfortunately, but also – hopefully – a conversion idea or two that might inspire you 😉

One thing that I have always loved about the Horus Heresy in the pre-Forgeworld days is how sketchy and adventurous it all seemed: Back when the original Visions of Heresy artbooks were released, you could get the feeling that the artists really had a lot of leeway when it came to interpreting the various armour marks and war machines of the Heresy era Astartes legions. So you would see all kinds of crazy armour designs (Wayne England’s Heresy artwork is a prime example of this), and then people would go and convert models based on that, and it was all pretty great.

Forgeworld created a more streamlined and and standardised look for the Legiones Astartes, and there’s a lot to be said for that: The various armour marks, for instance, are excellent and suitably different now, and they really allow for lots of customisation to achieve the exact look you want for your army. However, at the same time, I cannot help feeling every once in a while that some of the craziness of the pre-FW Heresy days has been lost along the way, with the new models sometimes seeming a bit less interesting than the old artwork.

Nowhere is this more obvious than with the Cataphractii design. To wit, here’s an early Cataphractii illustration (probably the first one, at that) courtesy of John Blanche:

Cataphractii illustration by John Blanche

Cataphractii illustration by John Blanche

 

Even beyond the hallmarks of John’s personal style, there’s something cool and barbaric about this individual: He looks far more than a tank than the 40k Terminators, yes, but there are also elements like the pteryges and the massive topknot that give the Cataphractii the look of a Roman legionary turned up to eleven — and that’s really just what Space Marines are, in a nutshell, right?

Forgeworld’s Cataphractii design ditches some of the zanier parts of the old art, particularly the topknots, which I think is a shame. And the plastic Cataphractii included with the Betrayal of Calth box are probably, at the same time, the best and the worst part of the entire release. The best part because a fully customisable multi part squad was definitely more than we could have expected. And the worst because the models are painfully generic and vailla, even moreso than the rest of the models from the set!

But vanilla wasn’t what I wanted for my own Cataphractii: I wanted to turn them into World Eaters, so they needed to become slightly more interesting, slightly more gladiatorial and slightly more feral, while their possible allegiance to Khorne during the latter stages of the Heresy needed to be kept at least somewhat abiguous without straying too far into 40k levels of Khornate decoration: To go all spiky and baroque on them would ultimately have lead to a 40k chaos look, and I still wanted these guys to be recognisable as 30k models. So a bit of character was needed, but not too much of it. Oh, and I also wanted to incorporate some of the small touches from the older artwork that have since fallen by the wayside. That’s quite a lot on one plate, right? 😉

I started by experimenting with a couple of bitz, and while this lies beyond the scope of this post, one thing that I have found out is that it’s relatively easy to make Cataphractii that resemble various legions’ dedicated Terminators simply by virtue of using different heads: Just discard the stock “half heads” you get with the kit (or better yet, keep them in the bitzbox for the future), and shave away that one small piece of plastic from the inside of the torso’s cowling to allow the torso to accept different heads. You will also need to shave down the heads and helmets you use a bit, so they fit snugly into the recess, but it’s really not that complicated. Just check out my quick study for Sons of Horus Justaerin and Deathshroud-like Deathguard helmets here:

Justaerin WIP
Deathshroud WIP
It took me only a couple of minutes and some different helmets to make these, and I wasn’t really serious about the endeavour, either. On a related note, check out thamier’s excellent Justaerin based on the plastic Cataphractii to see where you can take these humble base models with a bit of work.

 

Regarding my own Cataphractii, however, it took another puzzle piece for things to finally fall into place: Fellow hobbyist weirdingway (yes, the guy with the amazing Navigators) sent me some leftovers from the AoS starter box Bloodreavers. And while I own a full set of – mostly – mint Bloodreavers myself, it was while playing around with those leftover heads, daggers and doodads that I realised that the Bloodreaver parts where perfect for adding some oomph to my Cataphractii!

And once I had that idea, I just started building. So let me show you the different models in the squad, one by one:

WE Cataphractii WIP (14)
WE Cataphractii WIP (13)
WE Cataphractii WIP (12)
This is actually the second Cataphractii Terminator I built, but the first model I want to show you, because the plan here was to incorporate several elements of that JB drawing shown above: The horsehair topknot was an auto-include, since it’s such an iconic piece of the Cataphractii design for me. After experimenting with various topknots and hair pieces, I ultimately decided to use the old horse tails from the WFB Empire Knights, both because I still had some of those lying around, but also because I rather like the volume and slightly stylised look of the hair. I realise that this part may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really think the topknots do a pretty good job of recreating that vintage look.

I also wanted the pointy fingers on the power fist, at least on this one model, so I carefully spliced together the original Cataphractii arm with a CSM power first for that slightly more vicious look. As for the head, I experimented with a shaved down Grey Knights head for a while, and it ended up resembling the illustration rather closely. But then I found the option pictured above, which I liked even better, even though it doesn’t resemble the artwork: There’s just something brutal and menacing about that Bloodreaver head that really sells the character, if you ask me.

Speaking of Bloodreavers, another part of those models was added to the model, and it’s a part that would turn into a recurring element with the squad: A Bloodreaver dagger was added to the every model in the squad, and I think it really creates a nice bit of continuity. My idea for the 4th assault company’s background is that, even during the latter days of the Crusade, their identity as hunters had already begun to assert itself, so it only seems right that each of their Cataphractii veterans should bear an ornate flensing knife, right? At the same time, the daggers also subtly hint at the World Eaters growing allegiance to a new master, as their decorations feature touches of Khornate inconography here and there.

I am really happy with this guy, as he just has the lumbering, menacing look that I think is  just right for a World Eater in Cataphractii armour.

Now you already know this guy, as he was my first Cataphractii test model from a while ago. However, I have changed the pose back to its earlier version, as the “screaming at the heavens in rage” just never gets old, especially for a World Eater 😉

WE Cataphractii WIP (10)
WE Cataphractii WIP (9)
WE Cataphractii WIP (11)
Since we last saw him, though, I’ve added a Bloodreaver dagger and a stylised daemon face belt buckle to him, and I think those elements provide just the right amount of flavour to seel him as a World Eater — the heavily scarred Bloodsecrator head helps as well, of course.

Knowing myself as well as I do, I was aware of the danger of just giving each of the Cataphractii some crazy combination of viciously barbed CC weapons (as I’ve done on my 40k Terminators). I forced myself not to indulge that urge, however, as I wanted to keep at least a bit of that more regimented, orderly 30k look. So I needed to stick to a more subdued weapons loadouts while also finding a way to make them look slightly more interesting. This next guy was an attempt at getting this right:

WE Cataphractii WIP (16)
WE Cataphractii WIP (15)
While he does use a fairly pedestrian bolter/chainfist combo, I made the chainfist look quite a bit more vicious by splicing in the blade of a CSM chainsword:

WE Cataphractii WIP (17)
Moreover, the scarred head, while originally just a placeholder, has really grown on me, as it adds another subtly feral element to the model.

Next in line was the Sergeant. I thought it would be cool if one model of the squad were to sport the classic “bunny ears” as a sign of a growing devotion to the war god. What’s more, the classic Khornate helmet crests have received some official 40k background: They are called the “Caedere Remissum” now and form a gladiatorial tradition from Angron’s “homeworld” Nuceria.

The sergeant was the obvious candidate for this element. I also gave him a slightly daemonic looking (Blood Warrior) pauldron as a test, although I think it works fairly well. Oh, and I recycled the leftover combi-bolter/melta from the Praetor for this model (we’ll be getting to the Praetor in another post, although let’s just say that he won’t be needing that combi-weapon anymore…):

WE Cataphractii WIP (19)

WE Cataphractii WIP (20)
My original plan was to exchange the sword for a chainaxe, but I really rather liked the elegant look of the weapon, mostly because it seems so very at odds with the lumbering brute wielding it. 😉

Here’s a closer look at the headcrest and the right pauldron:

WE Cataphractii WIP (21)
The one thing I am not quite happy with yet is the position of the head: I realise that it should be turned towards the combi-weapon even more, but I have already shaved quite a bit of plastic from that Bloodreaver helmet in order to make it fit, and I am actually slightly afraid of ruining it for good…

All in all, I am pretty pleased with the sergeant, though.

And finally, the heavy weapons guy. This was arguably the hardest model to get right, mostly on account of the somewhat dopey looking leg pose. I also considered arming this guy with a Reaper autocannon for a while, but eventually went for the heavy flamer included with the kit due to, you know, that whole “Kill! Maim! Burn!” thing…

So here’s the model:

WE Cataphractii WIP (24)
WE Cataphractii WIP (23)
WE Cataphractii WIP (25)
The legs remain slightly awkward, but I tweaked the pose until I could live with it. Beyond that, it was mainly a question of adding some gladiatorial touches, such as the marauder shield on the flamer. I also chose a – pretty old – rebreather head, both because a flamer guy needs a rebreather and because I really like the head’s scarred look — it doesn’t photograph to well, unfortunately, due to the older plastic.

When I posted my first Cataphractii conversions on Dakka, fellow hobbyist Anvildude suggested – only half-jokingly, I suspect – adding an “axefist” to one of the models. Much fun was had by everyone involved, trying to figure out how such a weapon would even work, but in the end, I am always up for a little fun, and I also didn’t want to repeat myself too much with this squad. So here it is, an axefist:

WE Cataphractii WIP (26)

 

My overarching impression of the plastic Cataphractii kit is that it has a lot of potential, but it also needs quite a bit of work to produce models that are a bit more characterful than the stock versions. The kit also has some slightly strange idiosyncracies — some of the arms just seem decidedly too short for me. And some of the power fists are pretty terrible, to be honest. And there’s always the fact that we don’t get any arms that allow for easy modification into CC arms, that one measly power sword arm notwithstanding. In my opinion, they should have made the chainfist an optional power first upgrade and rather included some CC arms.

At the same time, there are things that the kit does incredibly well. Chief of all among these is the fact that the finished Cataphractii really end up looking like walking tanks to a much greater degree than any 40k Terminator: They seem like massive, lumbering brutes, which I think is a great match with their depiction in the background.

Ultimately, putting in some serious work to transform the squad into something a bit more original was really worth it. I am very happy with these guys, if I do say so myself:

World Eaters Cataphractii squad WIP
They are still recognisable as Cataphractii and Legiones Astartes warriors. They are brutal and vicious enough to read as World Eaters. Some subtle, Khornate influences are already in evidence, although they do not overpower the models. These guys are hopefully going to look great in white and blue! And they have the classic topknots — what’s not to like? 😉

So yeah, so much for converting the Cataphractii from Betrayal at Calth into proper World Eaters. 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!

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, Uncategorized, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2013 by krautscientist

There I was, thinking that my holiday vacation would give me more time for hobby-related stuff, but so far all the Christmas preparations have rendered this hope null and void — out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak.

Fear not, though, because I am in the priviledged position of letting other hobbyists do my work for me. For today’s update, I’d like to show you glimpses at two highly inpirational hobby projects that double as crowning hobby moments of awesome for me – but we’ll get to that in a minute…

 

1. “Mini Me”

You may already have heard of Brother Heinrich’s amazing Night Lords thread over at The Bolter and Chainsword, and I already mentioned that Heinrich was awesome enough to immortalise various hobbyists as models in his army (I chose to repay the favour by turning him into one of my Brazen Hunters). Anyway, Brother Heinrich has been hard at work for the last few weeks, and so I can now proudly present a miniature version of me serving in the Night Lords’ 15th company under the nom de guerre of Brother Berias. Check this out:

Night Lord weapon teams by Brother Heinrich (1)

Models built and painted by Brother Heinrich

I am the guy on the right, rocking that awesome custom Reaper Autocannon. On the left you can see the Night Lords avatar of fellow hobbyist Dragonkin Arenis, now my partner in bloodshed for the millennia to come.

models built and painted by Brother Heinrich

models built and painted by Brother Heinrich

Not only do I love the weapon and choice of helmet, but my favourite part may be the half-deathmask Brother Heinrich painted onto the model’s helmet. Take a look:

models built and painted by Brother Heinrich

models built and painted by Brother Heinrich

Together with three other weapon teams, these guys will be used as counts-as Obliterators in Heinrich’s army — a perfect way of representing that particular choice, if you ask me! Here’s the merry little band of rascals:

Night Lord weapon teams by Brother Heinrich (4)
And while the models are amazing enough on their own, 1000Heathens also did a killer job on the accompanying piece of background he wrote. So be sure to check it out, along with the rest of this stunning force, over at Heinrich’s B&C thread. And, of course, a huge thank you for Brother Heinrich for this fantastic opportunity!

 

2. Images from a past life

Now this second thing is just as awesome, and for slightly similar reasons. Fellow German hobbyist AgnostosTheos has been building and painting one of the most impressive Pre-Heresy World Eaters armies on the net. And while I myself have no ambition to start a pre-heresy Astartes army (or rather, yet another one next to my kitbashed Custodes), I couldn’t help but wonder what “30k” versions of the characters making up Khorne’s Eternal Hunt would look like. So I approached AgnostosTheos and asked him whether he was game for a small experiment: Would he be interested in building some 30k versions of my characters for his army? Being an all around nice guy, he agreed.

And now imagine my happiness when he just posted the first two characters just the other day. So let me show you both of these characters, with their background as well as their 30k and 40k versions, respectively. Here we go:

Brother Marax by AgnostosTheos (1)

model built and painted by AgnostosTheos

Brother Marax the Fallen

When Lorimar ascended to the rank of captain of the 4th assault company, brother Marax stood at his side. Likewise, during the years of the Great Crusade, he proved to be a loyal retainer, time and time again.

But after Marax had undergone the psychosurgical treatments introduced to the legion by its primarch Angron, he began to change. The occasions when Marax would succumb to frenzy and insatiable bloodlust on the field of battle grew ever more frequent. But the negative effects of this development were ignored, for Marax had become an insurmountable warrior. While the World Eaters grew more and more fervent in their worship of Khorne, Marax was one of those who welcomed the bloody rituals. During all this time, Lorimar kept his brother under close scrutiny, for he feared what Marax might become. Though he was a force of nature on the battlefield, his frenzy made him more and more difficult to control.

The Skalathrax campaign, during which the legion tore itself apart in a single night, marked the decisive point in the tale of Marax.  After Kharn the Betrayer had begun the senseless slaughter, Lorimar had to use all of his authority to keep at least his company together as an organised force. But amidst the chaos of blood and flame, he was opposed by Marax. The once loyal battle brother considered Lorimar’s refusal of bloody slaughter to be treason and threw himself at his captain, filled with daemonic rage.

While the World Eaters were tearing each other apart, Lorimar and Marax were locked in a fight for life and death of their own.
Marax was an unfathomably powerful warrior, and his anger transformed him into a whirlwind of destruction, but in the end, it was his rage that spelt his doom: He fell for a feint and was almost cut in two by Lorimar’s axe. The battle was decided.

Even with death drawing near, Marax still tried to reach his foe. When he breathed his last, Lorimar, towering over his shattered body, promised him this: He would receive a grave that was worthy of a true warrior. And he would be feared for eternity.

Apothecary Dumah had to employ every mystery of his art to trap the last spark of life within the shattered form of Marax. But he was successful: Marax was interred into the sarcophagus of a dreadnought and thus sentenced to an eternity of war – truly a worthy grave for a warrior.

Being trapped inside the dreadnought for millennia has irrevocably shattered Marax’s mind, and all that might have been left of the once proud warrior has been drowned in a sea of bloodlust and insanity. When the 4th assault company is not at war, his eternal grave is secured within a stasis field, which is only deactivated once the battle begins. On the battlefield, he rushes forward like a wild beast, tearing apart enemies and war machines alike with crackling lightning claws, howling with rage and hatred. And it is not easy to decide who fears Marax more: Those who have to face him in battle or the warriors of the 4th assault company themselves, to whom he has become an undying reminder of what will befall them, should they give in to the curse of blood frenzy.
Marax the Fallen

So, meet the 30k version of Brother Marax: By the look of the model, Marax is already well on his way to becoming and unstoppable madman by this point. And isn’t it heartening to see how he has stuck with his trademark weapons for over 10,000 years? Awww….

Brother Marax by AgnostosTheos (2)

model built and painted by AgnostosTheos

And here’s the second character in his “youth”. Take a look:

Brother Khoron by Agnostos Theos (1)

model built and painted by AgnostosTheos

Brother Khoron the Undying, Keeper of Trophies

In a way, Khoron the Undying was old already when the World Eaters legion was still young. Having been a warrior from a very early age, he was already a battle-hardened veteran, forged in the fires of the Unification Wars, when Lorimar ascended to command of the 4th assault company. Brother Khoron had seen battle and he had the scars to prove it. He served unter Lorimar’s command, but he was a trusted friend of the young Captain, full of experience and wisdom and gifted with a deep understanding of what it was that bound the legionaries together as brothers. He stood with Lorimar during his search for an identity for the legion. And he stood with him when the Captain decided to follow his Primarch to Terra to depose the false Emperor. For many years, he was a tower of strength for the company and came to be respectfully called “older brother” by the legionaries.

Shortly after the Skalathrax campaign had sundered the legion, Khoron was mortally wounded during a hunt. The man who had survived a thousand battles was powerless in the end, as the alien powers of a Xenos weapon tore his body apart. With his dying breath, he implored Lorimar to let him continue fighting, accepting the dangers of being entombed within the sarcophagus of a Dreadnought. Lorimar was hesitant, for he had witnessed the effects of such incarceration on the Fallen, but in the end he granted his old friend’s wish.

And thus the “older brother” became the being known as the Undying. For the last millennia, his colossal frame has continued to be a sight of inspiration to his brothers. Where Marax the Fallen is a warning of the damnation awaiting the company, the Undying symbolises a way of keeping this grisly fate at bay. It is only at the most chaotic moments of battle that he will succumb to rage and frenzy, and each time this happens, his brothers hope that he will come to eventually. And they fear the day when their older brother’s mind will finally cave in on itself.

When not in battle, Khoron the Undying serves as a master of rites to the company, residing in the Hall of Hunters aboard the company’s capital ship, Aeternus Venator. There he guards the trophies and weapons assembled by the Warriors of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt and presides over the ceremonies held by the legionaries since the times of the Great Crusade.

Khoron Chainsaw (6)
I love how the face used by AgnostosTheos captures Khoron as an older, more grizzled veteran, even during the days of the Heresy. And the skull on his chestplate could even be seen as a shoutout to his later countenance…

model built and painted by AgnostosTheos

model built and painted by AgnostosTheos

Anyway, this is clearly a fantastic chance of getting a glimpse at the past lives of the legionaries in the 4th assault company. And AgnostosTheos‘ paintjobs and conversions are more than worthy representations for the characters — in fact, his versions are more than giving me a run for my money 😉

Will we see more glimpses at this unremembered empire, I wonder? What would Lord Captain Lorimar have looked like at that time? Hmm…

In any case, many thanks to AgnostosTheos for this lovely and unexpected Christmas present! Be sure to check out his WIP thread as well as his awesome Flickr gallery!
So yeah, two awesome examples of me somehow managing to wiggle my way into other people’s hobby endeavours 😉
So, in closing, I wish you all a very happy Christmas, and be sure to check back in the coming days, when we’ll be taking a look at this year’s installment of the annual Eternal Hunt Awards!

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