Archive for mechanicum

Toll the great bell twice – a look at the Cult Mechanicus release

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2015 by krautscientist

The AdMech madness continues, with another sub-faction of creepy machine men and another slew of new plastic kits — after years and years of yearning for AdMech models to make an appearance, with nothing but a lone Enginseer model to tide us over, this is certainly a great time for veteran hobbyists who grew up loving John Blanche’s and Jes Goodwin’s brilliantly creepy AdMech artwork!

Cult Mechanicus Release (1)So while the recent Skitarii release provided us with Mars’ endless legions of machine soldiers, we now get a look at the “men” (for lak of a better word) behind the machines with the Cult Mechanicus — and yet more creepy man/machine fusions make an appearance So let us take a closer look at the new kits and think about all the wonderful conversion projects we could use them for… Follow me to my workshop…;)

 

Tech-Priest Dominus

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I was slightly disappointed when the Skitarii release didn’t feature an actual Tech-Priest, which made seeing this guy all the sweeter. Seriously, what a fantastic interpretation of a venerable Magos (and imposing battle commander of the Adeptus Mechanicus, no less)! I am in love with this guy!

But all in good order: The model certainly ticks all the right boxes for me: It’s hunched-over, clad in the tattered robes of the priesthood of Mars, heavily augmented (to the point where only one mostly organic hand remains) and just brilliantly creepy all around. What irony that my attempt at building the most disturbing and out-there AdMech model I could possibly come up with now basically gets overtaken by the Cult Mechanicus standard HQ — oh well… 😉

My favourite part about the model is probably how it seems almost impossible to guess what the Tech-Priest would actually look like underneath those robes: He seems like a stooped, but ultimately humanoid figure at first glance, yet those insectile legs hint at something very creepy and inhuman. There’s a palpable Warmahordes Cryx influence to the whole design, yet also enough of the established 40k AdMech look to firmly bring it into the 41st millennium.

The model is also quite a bit bigger than I had expected, making it tower over most infantry models –maybe that is the one tiny piece of criticism I have: The Tech-Priest Dominus might just be a tad too imposing 😉 A smaller, more frail figure at the centre of all that cyborg firepower could have been an equally interesting idea.

But the design remains fantastic! I was also pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of a second head and some additional weapons options!

Cult Mechanicus Release (4)While I slightly prefer the traditional AdMech cowl, the alternate head gives the model a much more priestly look, which is especially obvious on this alternate paintjob:

Cult Mechanicus Release (3)All the options are looking great, and it’s certainly nice to have the option of changing things around a bit when building multiple Domini.

Speaking of which, a closer look at the sprue(s) reveals that this is easily one of the most complex clamshell characters so far:

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The good news, however, is that while the model seems pretty complicated, it goes together very well — you can even leave off the arms for easier painting without a hitch and glue them on later. In fact, maybe converting this guy wouldn’t even be quite as complicated as I had initially suspected…

All in all, the Tech-Priest Dominus is an absolutely fantastic model that embodies much of what I have always loved about the Adeptus Mechanicus. It is also a great army commander, easily measuring up to the various, hulking characters and creatures commanding the other armies of the 41st millennium. A definite high point of this release for me, and one of the models I have already purchased myself. Excellent!

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Adeptus Mechanicus Kastelan Robots

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And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the new kit everybody loves to hate 😉 But seriously, we often see kits that are a bit divisive, and the Kastelan Robots certainly fill this role for the Cult Mechanicus release, mostly because they are so different from what we are used to:

The idea behind these robots seems to be that they are relicts from the Dark Age of Technology, merely salvaged and repurposed by the Adeptus Mechanicus. Which is why their look is so very unlike most other 40k warmachines: They have a rounded, slightly minimalist retro 50s SciFi look that seems more at home in Fallout than 40k, at least initially. It is this look, I suppose, that has earned them the scorn of quite a few commenters online.

But allow me to raise several points about this design, possibly in its defense:

One, unconventional as this direction may seem, it is not new — not even for 40k. Just compare this Kastelan:

Cult Mechanicus Release (10)…to the Rogue Trader era incarnation of a robot of the same name that can be seen in the lower right here:

Rogue Trader era Legio Cybernetica robots
As has been the case with several parts of the Mechanicus releases, these models provide yet another callback to established parts of the lore from way back when, which is something I like very much (on a mostly unrelated note, doesn’t the model in the top left slot really remind you of Forgeworld’s Vorax battle automata…?). I think it’s great how GW seems to be carefully redesigning and updating certain concepts and visual elements that have been in existence for a long time for the AdMech factions — it seems very fitting, considering the background of the army.

The other thing I find interesting is how the Kastelan shares quite a few visual cues with both the Contemptor and the Mechanicum Thallax: It’s easy to imagine how both machines may have been attempts by the Mechanicum of old to reverse-engineer or evolve the Kastelan template they had salvaged from the clutches of Old Night — a very nice bit of visual storytelling for those who are into such things!

The third thing is that the design unequivocally marks the Kastelan as a robot, rather than a cyborg: The domed heads with their empty visors – an element disliked by some – clearly evokes an unthinking, unfeeling machine. It also seems like an invitation to painters to get creative (I wonder why nobody has tried a Fallout-style effect in green yet 😉 ).

Whether or not you like the design of these, one thing that certainly seems like a thoroughly underadvertised feature is the models’ sheer poseability. Now let’s take a look at the second robot. Out of the box, the pose may seem a bit underwhelming:

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You know what, though? You can basically pose this guy any way you like! The legs, in particular, are every bit as flexible as those of a Contemptor: You simply cut off the nubs that lock them into place, and different poses (even running or walking) are really easy to achieve.

If there is one real shortcoming to the kit, it’s the lack of options: While the model’s pose may be unbelievably flexible, there are actually only very few ways of equipping these guys: the – delightfully Contemptor-esque – power fists or the slightly goofy gauntlets with integrated guns (reminding me of the equally goofy Batman villain KGBeast, for some reason). And while the shoulder mounted weapons are a pretty clever shout out to the model’s earlier incarnation, they do seem like a bit of an afterthought, from a visual standpoint.

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And there’s a personal gripe of mine: The arms are just too short. It’s easy to see that this was a deliberate choice on the designers’ part, but it just seems slightly strange that the Kastelan would probably have difficulties hitting anything with its power fists.

But wait, it’s not all about the robots! In addition to the two Kastelan models, we also get a Datasmith as part of the deal!

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I really love this guy for a number of reasons: He’s instantly recognisable as a Tech-Priest, for one, but there are also several interesting things about him: He’s more massive and imposing than your average, hunched over Magos. He’s pretty heavily armed. And while he has the robes, his heavily augmented head remains uncovered, giving him a rather distinct look. And you’ve got to respect the amount of thought that must have gone into the array of servo-arms designed to slot his datacards into the Kastelan robots on the fly.

But what is possibly my favourite thing about the Datasmith is how the model seems like a reunion with a long-lost friend. Come on, guys, doesn’t he remind you of someone…?

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That’s right: The model is strikingly similar to the artwork depicting Magos Delphan Gruss from the Inquisitor rulebook:

Delphan Gruss
And there’s just as much of a resemblance to this Magos Explorator from one of Fantasy Flight’s publications (possibly influenced by Gruss in turn, but yeah):

Magos Explorator

Which makes the Datasmith model yet another wonderful callback to several older Mechanicus concepts. Man, I just love that kind of meta stuff 😉

It helps that the model itself is, once more, beautifully detailed, with lots and lots of tech-y gubbinz to feast your eyes on. And we get yet another optional head for the bitzbox:

Cult Mechanicus Release (14)All in all, this is probably the most interesting kit from this release, at least for me. Because, when all is said and done, what you get are two easily Dreadnought-sized, highly customisable models that will be immensely useful for a lot of conversion projects plus a very distinct, Space Marine sized Tech-Priest — and all at a fairly reasonable price point, no less. I think it won’t be a big surprise for you to hear that this was the first kit from this release I actually picked up 😉

 

Adeptus Mechanicus Kataphron Battle Servitors

Cult Mechanicus Release (21)While the Kastelan Robots didn’t meet unanimous enthusiasm within the 40k crowd, I think we can safely say that this is a kit that many hobbyists have been waiting for, seeing how Praetorian servitors with track units for lower bodies have been a long-established part of AdMech lore. Personally speaking, the concept has never resonated all that strongly with me, but that’s probably just a matter of personal taste — so yeah, here we go: tracked servitors. Good job, GW!

Seriously, though: The designers certainly delivered on the concept, providing us with yet another spectactularly detailed multi-kit that allows us to build one of two kinds of Kataphron servitors. Let’s look at each of them in turn:Cult Mechanicus Release (22)First up, the Kataphron Destroyers, which basically work as mobile weapon platforms: While both variants of the kit use the same general template of a humanoid torso grafted to a track unit, the design seems to work slightly less well on the Destroyers, because the models seem less human, due to the spindly arms and crude augmentations. I am pretty sure that this effect is entirely deliberate, although the resulting model just seems a tad ill-proportioned to me.

The constituent parts of the models are great, though, with excellently designed weapons that are both instantly recognisable as well as slightly more sophisticated and “tech-y” than their IG or Marine counterparts:

Cult Mechanicus Release (24)The torso pieces also deserve some credit, because they are beautifully sinister: I just love the combination of organic heads with huge, clunky bionics:

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All in all, however, this particular setup doesn’t really agree with me: It just looks slightly too haphazard and hokey for my taste.

The Kataphron Breachers, on the other hand, are far more to my liking, even though they are basically very similar to the Destroyers:

Cult Mechanicus Release (16)What really improves the models in my book is the addition of extra armour plates, which adds a more centauroid look to the entire model: The human torso seems less incidental and more integrated with the machine, which is definitely a plus! I also love the shoulder pads, high collars and the more imposing left arms: The Breachers are every bit as sinister and creepy as the Destroyers, yet they seem more balanced and have a much better flow:

Cult Mechanicus Release (18)Once again, the detailing on each part of the models is something to behold. And I just love those upper bodies with just the slightest bit of organic face peering out from all that armour. Brilliantly creepy!

Cult Mechanicus Release (20)Like I said, the whole concept of servitors with track units as their undercarriage has never really worked all that well for me, but I can still recognise these models as excellent iterations of that concept. What’s more, these should be really excellent conversion fodder for a variety of projects — but we’ll be getting to that 😉

 

Adeptus Mechanicus Electro-Priests

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When the first, fuzzy pictures of the two kinds of Electro Priests emerged, I wasn’t sold: In these washed out leaked pictures, they looked like crude kitbashes made from Dark Eldar Wracks and the robed legs from the old Dark Angels Veterans. Fortunately enough, the finished models have ended up looking far more convincing, and they also use another vintage character concept that I remember from my happy days of reading the 2nd edition Codex Imperialis. Yay!

It’s great how both variants of the kit work with some of the elements established in the lore so long ago: The burnt-out eyes and electoos, for exaple. The contrast between the bare upper bodies and robed legs also add a monkish look to the models — almost like the 40k, AdMech version of flagellants, which is a great idea and produces a squad with a very distinctive look amongst all the mechanoid monstrosities.

So far so good, but let’s take a closer look at the two kinds of Electro Priests we get:

First up, the Corpuscarii Electro Priests:

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I really love these guys for their decided Steampunk/Diesel Punk vibe. The main reason for this are the massive electric coils around their heads and hands, complete with fairly crude cabling and massive backpacks grafted to their spines:

Cult Mechanicus Release (30)This gives the impression of individuals very crudely reshaped into organic lightning rods: Their equipment is so cumbersome and eclectic that you’ve really got to love it! At the same time, the cluster of coils around their heads also works as a kind of halo, adding a nice twist to their monkish, priestly look and turning them into living angels of electricity, so to speak.

There’s something wonderful about the contrast between the organic, flowing lines of the bodies and the crude, invasive augmetics and cables, making these guys very interesting to look at. Very cool!

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The Fulgurite Electro Priests, on the other hand, seem somewhat less impressive to me. Yes, they retain most of the visual strenghts of the kit, but the two-handed weapons just don’t speak to me the way the Corpuscarii Electro Priests‘ crazy and cobbled-together looking equipment does:

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They are still pretty cool, make no mistake, but the weapons result in a kind of “SciFi-Shaolin” look that seems slightly less interesting than the Steampunk vibe the Corpuscarii have going on.

What I love about these models is how they bring something very new and distinct to the AdMech catalogue: I a collection of models that is mostly characterised by monstrous cyborgs or utterly inhuman machine soldiers, these guys make for a very interesting and grimdark contrast, which is great. I can also imagine they’ll be very popular with the converters. All in all, a very cool kit giving us one outstanding and one slightly less interesting, yet still fairly cool, type of infantry.

 

Conversion ideas:

I think the Cult Mechanicus kits will prove to be a real treasure trove for converters, and we are already seeing the first results online. So allow me to share a couple of ideas with you and point you towards some inspirational best practice examples:

First of all, it should be mentioned that all of these kits would be just as great for a Dark Mechanicus army, obviously. They are already pretty disturbing and sinister as it is, and I think it would be a lot of fun to take them even further via an influx of chaos, Dark Eldar and Skaven bitz. The Cult Mechanicus models are arguably even better suited to this fate than the Skitarii, seeing how many of them are more grimdark and less clean and stylised than the Skitarii kits.

The other big winners of this release are the INQ28 aficionados, once again. While it’s true that an enterprising INQ28 fan can use almost anything for a conversion project, it’s great to finally have so many options for building AdMech characters and their disturbing creations for our own warbands and retinues.

So, after this short prelude, let’s check out what might be in store for all the different kits:

Tech-Priest Dominus:
This model initially seems pretty complicated to convert, yet one need look no further than  Omegon’s excellent conversion of the model to see that it’s fairly easy to make an already rather disturbing stock model about 100% creepier! I think we can look forward to many people tackling conversions of this particular model, especially when it comes to INQ28. Beyond the confines of the Adeptus Mechanicus, I also think the Dominus would work really well as an alternate Chaos Lord or Warpsmith!

Kastelan Robots:
Probably the most interesting kit for converters — I am actually hard at work on these myself (and will share my conversions with you soon). The sheer flexibility of the models turns them into a perfect canvas for converters. Just to outline a few options…

  • as recently suggested by TJ Atwell, they could work really well as counts as Contemptors or as a possible base model for converting your own plastic Contemptor. These comparison shots – kindly provided by Kilofix – shows the models are reasonably close in size, so it would definitely work.
  • If you don’t feel up to the task of making a full-fledged Contemptor out of them, that’s fine too! Why not use them as alternate Dreadnoughts or Helbrutes (Alpha Brute, anyone…?) or something a little more exotic — such as Shibboleth’s fantastic Penitent Engines?
  • But maybe you need not even go that far: For those of you merely slightly unhappy with the design, particularly with the heads, it can be really easy to change the look of the models with a few small tweaks. Just check out Andreas Kentorp’s excellent Kastelan to see what can be achieved with just some small changes (and a gorgeous paintjob, of course).

The Datasmith accompanying the models also warrants a couple of sentences, since he seems like a brilliantly versatile model to me:

  • He can obviously be used as a very cool Tech-Priest character for INQ28. Seeing how similar he is to both Delphan Gruss and that FFG illustration shown further up in this post, I think I’ll make him into a Magos Explorator, for instance.
  • But it doesn’t stop there: The fact that he’s scaled very similarly to a Space Marine, he would make for a fantastic base model when converting a Tech Marine, Master of the Forge, Iron Hands Officer, Warpsmith, Iron Warriors Commander or what have you — some additional bitz and you’re there!
  • and there’s always the option of using him as an alternate Enginseer model in your Astra Militarum army.
  • Maybe he could even be converted into an Inquisitor of the Ordo Machinum…? Just sayin’…

Kataphron Battle Servitors:
Another kit that should lend itself really well to conversions, since each part of the model could be used for something different. Or you could just keep them mostly as they are and use them as alternate (Iron Hands) Centurions — or Obliterators for your CSM army, in case you still haven’t found an option for representing Obliterators that you are happy with.

As for some more involved conversion projects, what about…

  • using a Kataphron as a base model for an Iron Warriors Lord or even Daemon Prince?
  • using the upper bodies on top of Terminator legs? This should work pretty well, and you could end up with pretty brilliant true scale Iron Hands, Iron Warriors, bipedal Skitarii battle servitors, particularly imposing Necromunda Pitslaves or similarly augmented warriors.
  • The track units, on the other hand, could be used to kitbash your own plastic Rapier weapon batteries…
  • …or even Grot Tanks?!

 

Electro Priests
These should really come in handy for all kinds of 40k and INQ28 kitbashes, including but not limited to:

  • the Corpuscarii would work excellently as an alternate highly experimental psyker battle squad for the Astra Militarum: I can just imagine someone in the Imperium crazy enough to use implants and augmentations in order to make psykers easier to control and/or more powerful
  • one of these as a penitent psyker or augmented warrior in a radical Inquisitor’s retinue would probably look pretty cool!
  • the blind heads would be excellent for all kinds of psyker and Astropath conversions
  • the models could be used to convert members of a particular unhinged cult…
  • …and the options for chaos are basically endless: tainted psykers? Dark Mechanicus cultists? Kitbashes involving the gribbly bitz from the Dark Eldar wracks and/or gas mask heads from the snap fit cultists? The world’s your oyster here!

Oh, and one final thing: If you haven’t already done so, you should definitely check out John Blanche’s own, recent AdMech warband. Either via the brilliant photo feature in this month’s issue of Warhammer:Visions or by browsing through this thread over at the Ammobunker. John not only showcases the versatility of the new kits, but also ends up with a truly spectacular and unbelievably grimdark collection of models, as should be expected from one of the fathers of 40k!

 

So what about the release on the whole? While I am prepared to call this a very strong offering, I cannot help feeling the Skitarii may have been the slightly better release of the two. Sure, the Cult Mechanicus is more eclectic and disturbing, yet at the cost of some divisive design decisions. The Skitarii, on the other hand, played it a bit safer, yet ended up the more even, consistently great release. At least in my book.

However, such considerations are ultimately moot, of course, because these two releases should definitely be seen as one, overarching faction: After all, the division between the two sub-factions still seems pretty artificial to me. Maybe this is just the way GW would like us to think about armies from now on: as multiple, smaller sub-factions that can be freely allied to each other, rather than monolithic blocks?

If considered as a bigger whole, the combined Adeptus Mechanicus faction is certainly one of the most spectacular armies available right now, easily on par with the redesigned Dark Eldar. And that’s without talking about the extra options you get by adding the Forgeworld Mechanicum catalogue! Speaking of which, I actually prefer the plastic 40k models over Forgeworld’s offerings in this particular case: The kits are eclectic and versatile, and really cutting edge when it comes to the detail level and sculpt, whereas the Forgeworld Mechanicum models have mostly left me cold so far, with the exception of one or two kits.

Another thing that I really love about the whole Mechanicus faction is how the new models manage to serve as shout outs and callbacks to pieces of art and character concepts we have known for years – or, in some cases, decades – while managing to turn it all into one coherent army (or two coherent armies that can be allied, to be exact). This makes the Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus an enormous bit of fanservice towards long time fans of the grimdark 41st millennium — at least that’s what it feels like to me.

So is there nothing negative about the AdMech models? Well, one thing: Modeler and painter extraordinaire Jeff Vader recently leveled one particular criticism at this release, and it is one I share wholeheartedly: For all the brilliant new kits, GW didn’t nearly do enough with the Tech-Priests themselves: It would have been awesome to be able to build Magi of different shapes and sizes with all kinds of bizarre augmentations. As it stands, enterprising converters will still be able to make it happen via the bitz provided by the release, and it is certainly something I will attempt myself when I inevitable build an AdMech retinue for INQ28, but actually having this reflected in the release would have been the icing on the cake.

In spite of that, we have a spectacular new faction for 40k and some brilliant new kits to play around with, and it feels like it’s been worth the wait.

 

But what do you think? Are you happy with the Cult Mechanicus kits or were you looking for something else? And do you have any conversion ideas you would like to share? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

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

Toll the great bell once — a look at the Skitarii release

Posted in 40k, Conversions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2015 by krautscientist

They have finally given us plastic AdMech!

I repeat: THEY HAVE FINALLY GIVEN US PLASTIC ADMECH!

Seriously, though: I am pretty sure it’s no exaggeration to say that, for many hobbyists, the introduction of the Adeptus Mechanicus Skitarii as a separate faction is wish-fulfillment of the first order. There’s just something about the Adeptus Mechanicus that’s so quintessentially grimdark and 40k that it makes the faction almost irresistible to some of us — myself included.

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If you grew up with 40k at a certain time and share a certain mindset, then you will have looked forward to any AdMech release just as much as me: I remember coming across illustrations like this John Blanche piece…

AdMech by John Blanche

Illustration by John Blanche

or this equally brilliant piece by Jes Goodwin…

Illustration by Jes Goodwin

Illustration by Jes Goodwin

…and starting to wonder what the deal with those Mechanicus guys was. Those ponderings formed the foundation for an ongoing fascination with the Adeptus Mechanicus, and I think the main reason for this fascination is the fact that, not unlike the Adepta Sororitas, the Adeptus Mechanicus is very much at the heart of what makes 40k such a memorable setting: The eclecticism, rampant anachronisms and grimdark feel of these ancient guardians of knowledge (or should that be ignorance?) are what make them so cool. Their heavily augmented, red-robed forms are as iconic of the darker, more Blanchian side of 40k as the colourful, slightly more modern Space Marines are of mainline 40k.

And to be honest, we never really expected there to be an official plastic AdMech release, did we? I think I speak for all of us AdMech aficionados when I say that we would probably have been happy with a clamshell character or two. And many people were overjoyed at Forgeworld making the Mechanicum a faction in the Horus Heresy setting. But plastic AdMech in 40k proper? Unthinkable!

And yet, here it is! So let us take a look at all the new kits and discuss their high and low points. And it goes without saying that we will also be looking at the possible conversion options. All hail the Machine! 😉

 

Skitarii Rangers/Skitarii Vanguard:

AdMech Skitarii Release (2)Okay, this is our very first AdMech plastic infantry kit, and right out of the gate, we can see that GW means business.
The kit gives us the option to assemble two types of infantry: Skitarii Rangers and Skitarii Vanguard. Let’s start with the Rangers, because these guys are so quintessentially AdMech with their red robes, cowled and masked heads and heavy augmentations: And not only do they closely resemble the picture many hobbyists have had of the Skitarii, but I also think it’s really stunning how closely these models…

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..resemble the Skitarii artwork by none other than John Blanche himself. Just check it out:

Skitarius by John Blanche

Skitarius by John Blanche

This is just the first of several instances where the new models tap into the well established look for the faction, but once again, it’s really amazing to finally have the models to fit the artwork!

One thing that stands out about this kit as well as the whole release is the use of anachronism in the design of the models, particularly the weapons. The inclusion of a very WFB Empire-like sniper rifle serves as a sterling example of this:

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Now this certainly goes for all of 40k to some degree, but it’s especially obvious with the Skitarii weapons, both due to their design as well as their idiosyncratic nature: On the surface, these are some really elegant weapons, with beautifully decorated grips and delicate, slender designs, lending a strong 19th century feeling to the models. At the same time, there’s a rather chilling contrast between the very classy, elegant design of the weapons and their terrible function: In a world as grimdark as 40k, the Tech Priests of Mars alone are big enough bastards to let their troops use weapons that not only irradiate the surroundings but also the very soldiers wielding them.

In any case, these guys are very close to the well established Skitarii image and provide us with some wonderful plastic renditions of the art we all love so much — very nice!

The other option is to assemble the kit as ten Skitarii Vanguard, with different weapons and heads:

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And while the very different look of the Vanguard helmets when compared to the usual, cowled AdMech look did take some getting used to, I find myself growing more and more fond of these guys: There is something very neo-Prussian about them, which adds to the 19th century feeling of the models. And at the same time, there’s also a palpable influence of 50s SciFi evident in the models’ design.

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All the parts in the kit are beautifully detailed and present some of GW’s finest work in plastic. The resulting models are wonderfully scaled, slender and detailed, with a brilliant contrast between flowing robes and highly busy technical components. One piece of criticism I have seen leveled at the kit is that the models seem relatively “safe” and “clean”, mostly devoid of the rampant body horror and man/machine fusion we get in some of the more extreme AdMech artwork. But while that may be true, I would argue that it seems sensible to make the main infantry kit for the faction a bit more restrained — there will be ample body horror later, for one, plus it should also be really easy to make these guys as distressed as you want them to be via some kitbashing. But more on that later!

One last thing I love about the kit is how it gives us ten models to play around with — and at a fairly reasonable price, at that. Sure, ten squad members used to be norm rather than the exception, but so many of the more recent kits have used five models as a new standard that it’s really nice to see a bigger squad again!

All in all, this kit is fantastic and feels like an almost compulsory purchase for every 40k aficionado. Excellent job!

 

Sicarian Infiltrators/ Sicarian Ruststalkers

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Another multi-kit, so we are certainly getting our money’s worth out of this new plastic crack! Both variants of the kit make for some very unique models, so let’s take a look at both of them in turn:

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Let’s start with the Infiltrators: Man, I just love these guys: They look every bit the lithe, deadly assassins they are supposed to be. The grafted-on augmetic stilts do a perfect job of making them taller and giving them a more unique silhouette, and their bionic arms with the transonic blades add to that effect. I also really like the gas-masked heads: These guys just have the “Clockwork Ninja” look down pat:

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It also looks like their arm blades can be used to achieve all kinds of bad-ass ninja poses. And I love how they are tall and impressive enough to use Termie bases, yet their slender silhouette still ties them in with the classic AdMech look. It’s also noticeable how the lack of robes actually works in their favour, making them look far more dynamic and deadly — beautiful!

Speaking of robes, there’s also the squad’s Princeps:

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And, if anything, he’s even cooler than his charges! Seriously, I love this guy: The cowled, heavily cabled face, the voluminous robes extra set of servo-arms — he’s just everything I would expect of a highly combative member of the AdMech. If I have one gripe with this guy, it’s that he almost looks a tad too far removed from the rest of the squad — more like a proper Tech Priest and less like a mere unit champ. But the model itself is pretty much perfect, which is why I’ll let it slide. One more thing: You’ve got to love that evil looking claw, don’t you think?

Apart from that, my only point of critique about the Infiltrators is that the various doodads dangling down from the models’ backpack seem to work against the models’ otherwise very clean and uncluttered silhouette. I guess how these are supposed to be recurring elements all across the army, but they are slightly surplus to requirements here, if you ask me. But ultimately, that is a very minor problem — I just love these guys, period.

There’s also the option of assembling the models as Sicarian Ruststalkers, a squad of high-tech soldiers jamming transmissions and frying enemy brains with their constant broadcasting of the AdMech version of deadly white noise:

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These guys have a very obvious 50s SciFi look going on, and their domed helmets really do a good job of communicating their function. I also like the alternative set of weapons — especially the grimdark uzis 😉 One thing that I really want to point out is how similar these guys are to a 1990s concept for Imperial robots, courtesy of Jes Goodwin. Just see for yourselves:

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Imperial Robot by Jes Goodwin
What a wonderful way of giving a shout out to these older, yet still wonderful, concept sketches!

Ultimately, I like these guys slightly less than the Infiltrators, but that may just be me: They are a bit goofier and slightly less sinister and lethal looking. What I really like is how a change of heads and weapons really transforms the models!

One thing, though: Doesn’t it just look like the squad leader has a Santa Claus beard made of cabling:

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I just cannot unsee this now, especially with that red cloak… Erm…that is one bad ass looking servo-skull, though, so I think that makes up for the slightly dubious head 😉

It also bears mentioning that these guys are less clean and more sinister than the Vanguard/Rangers, hewing closer to the more demented side of AdMech lore. So if the other footsloggers feel too safe for you, these guys should be right up your alley! There’s also something chilling about their backstory: Skitarii so damaged by their prior years of service that their only use is to be turned into utterly terrifying killing machines.

Ultimately, I love this kit just as much as the Vanguard/Ranger kit: One of the main pitfalls for this army must have been to maintain the balance between having a strong look of visual coherency (these are machine soldiers, after all) while also having the different units look original enough. These models are a great variation of the look introduced by the Vanguard/Ranger kit, and I will certainly pick up a box of these sooner rather than later! Fantastic!

 

Ironstrider Ballistarius/ Sydonian Dragoon

AdMech Skitarii Release (25)Okay, this third kit certainly ups the ante when it comes to grimdark visuals and puts us slap bang in the middle of Blanchian design sensibilities.

The Ironstrider Ballistarius is the AdMech idea of a mobile weapons platform — and didn’t you just expect these guys to have something pretty interesting going for that? The result is a beautifully eclectic, avian walker with some very noticeable design parallels to the Imperial Knight (the armour plates on the legs make this especially obvious), creating a strong and very fitting visual connection between the two subfactions.

Oh, and this has to be one of my favourite heads designed by GW:

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By changing around the various rider bitz and main weapon, we actually get a sub-variant of this kit with a sniper focus:

AdMech Skitarii Release (29)You may call me crazy, but (mostly due to the 19th century design of the weapons) I am getting a massive “big game hunter” feeling from this version of the kit, which I think is fantastic!

The real star of the show, however, has to be the Sydonian Dragoon:

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In his recent review of the kit, Dave Taylor calls the idea of a retro-futuristic Knight riding a birdlike walker and wielding a massive taser lance a wonderful case of “bringing a knife to a gunfight”, and that is a very apt description. What’s more, in many ways this embodies the very spirit of 40k itself: Fighting the wars of the future with the weapons of the past. All the weapons of the past, to be precise — and at the same time, no less 😉

The Neo-Prussian look is also back in full force here, with the rider actually going to war complete with a trusty Pickelhaube helmet. This leads to a fantastic and ultimately smooth blend of medieval knight, 18th/19th century design sensibilities and all the clockpunk/dieselpunk touches you could ask for in a single model.

The result is a model that is, at the same time, the quintessential retro-fururistic steampunk knight and also basically 40k in a nutshell. A real triumph! And I can easily see this guy making his way into the display cabinets of countless hobbyists, even if they have no intention whatsoever of starting a Skitarii force.

So, is everything perfect about this kit? Well, I do have one small issue, to be honest:

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The servitor controlling the machine’s movement just seems a bit too BDSM for my taste. Now don’t get me wrong: It’s a very grimdark element. It’s just that it’s almost too much (and there’s also the fact that, god help me, it really reminds me of a particular invention by South Park’s Mr. Garrison, called the IT bike — google at your own risk, as it’s definitely NSFW. You have been warned!).

But that’s just my personal taste, of course, and what’s more, it’s just one detail. All in all, this kit is nothing short of spectacular! This release really goes from strength to strength!

 

Onager Dunecrawler

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And finally, ostrich-like walkers are all well and good, but you certainly cannot have a 40k faction without a beefy tank, can you? 😉 So this is it, the Adeptus Mechanicus’ idea of a tank. And it does have insectile legs, of course — no surprise there.

My first thought when seeing this was actually “Oh look, it’s GW doing a Dust:Tactics tank!” And sure enough, there’s more than a little resemblance between this kit and some of the Dust models. But then, spider legged WWII-esque walkers have certainly been done before, so I guess we can let it slide 😉

Obvious inspirations aside, this was possibly my least favourite part of the release, initially. The juxtaposition of the spindly, elegant legs and the bulky main body just seemed a bit off for my taste.

However, the owner of my FLGS – a huge tank aficionado, both when it comes to historical tanks and crazy, half-organic deathmobiles – pointed out to me that some builds of the model look far better than others. The option with the twin-linked autocannon and rocket launcher above is pretty cool, whereas some of the other setups I have seen look overly busy. In fact, the more I think about it the more obvious it becomes to me that the model looks better with a slightly stripped-down silhouette:

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Which it why I would probably leave off those strange manipulators/drills and just use the headlights instead- it seems to me like the less busy builds end up looking far better.

AdMech Skitarii Release (35)So while some of the additional detail, as well as some of the more esoteric weapons, may be beautifully designed, I feel that the model works better with a tidier, more workmanlike look. Interestingly enough, its design makes this tank more futuristic than your regular old IG tank, yet also more retro in a sense, as there is a very palpable WWI /WWII feeling to the whole affair — only with some added spider legs 😉

AdMech Skitarii Release (31)Speaking of which, the spider legs once again form a visual connection with the Imperial Knight kit — and I think the Onager could even be seen as a bit of a missing link between Imperial warmachines and the dreaded Defiler: While the Defiler was designed from the ground up by the Traitor Legions, I like the idea that the Magi of the Dark Mechanicum should have come up with designs not all that different from those of their loyal counterparts 😉

All in all, while the Onager lacks the shock and awe brilliance of the other kits in this release, I have to say that it’s a kit that grows on you over time. And in a game full of boxy, uninspired tanks, something like the Onager is certainly a welcome change of pace!

 

Conversion options:

It shouldn’t surprise you that the first AdMech conversions using the new kits are already cropping up all over the internet — after all, we’ve had to make ends meet for years, with no “official” AdMech plastic parts available. And what a treasure trove of conversion options these new kits provide to the enterprising converter! Let’s take a look:

Vanguard/Rangers:

The INQ28 crowd are already going nuts over this kit, so I think we can look forward to seeing all kinds of Inquisitorial and unsavoury characters seeing the light of day due to this release. I’ve collected a couple of very cool examples for you:

  • Weirdingway is really putting the kit through its paces, creating some wonderful hybrids of Skitarii and other models. His Tech Gang is especially noteworthy, proving that the Skitarii can work wonderfully as Confrontation-style Tech Gangers (seriously, GW, what is it with all the hidden Confrontation conversion bitz lately? Is there some bigger plan at play here?), voidship crews or similar archetypes.
  • EdT, well known for his brilliant warband concepts, is hard at work on another fantastic crew of characters, with some excellent insectile Skitarii on the way that bring the kit more in line with the darker, more inhuman side of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
  • Morbäck of Le blog dé Kouzes has come up with a wonderful way of using Skitarii bitz for converting an excellent Imperial Rogue Trader/Pilot: The way the Vanguard helmets can be made to look like pilot helmets is especially brilliant!
  • And John Blanche himself has been working on some truly excellent and evocative kitbashes using some of the new Skitarii parts — check them out over at the Ammobunker!

All these examples are ample proof that the kit will work great for any kind of AdMech related conversion, even though kitbashing these guys requires a bit of thought, due to the way the body and legs go together. That said, even beyond the Skitarii bodies, the kit also provides some beautiful conversion bitz: Those hooded Ranger heads will make Tech Priest conversion much easier, and the beautiful Vanguard helmets would look great on mechanised IG regiments: Maybe this would be a cool way of giving your Astra Militarum detachment that special AdMech look, supposing you want to use a combination of both factions. Come to think of it, there’s even a noticeable Solar Auxilia resemblance, so these heads may be an interesting way of approximating the Solar Auxilia look without having to purchase the FW models. At the same time, they will also work well for Enforcers or even Arbites for Necromunda or INQ28. It would also be interesting to play up the knightly angle of these guys and go for steampunk cavalry — or whatever else you can think of. And what about combining the Skitarii kit with some Dark Eldar Wrack parts? Wouldn’t that be a perfect start for some really creepy Dark Mechanicum models…? In fact, the whole Dark Mechanicum angle is pretty fascinating, with the Skitarii as a possible jumping-off point for all kinds of demented kitbashes. Even now, I find myself thinking of combining Skitarii with Skaven Stormvermin, Empire Flagellants or what have you. For starters, here are some very cool Dark Mechanicum Skitarii courtesy of InsanePsychopath, who has managed to come up with great models with just a few clever tweaks to the models and their paintjobs

 

Infiltrators/Ruststalkers:

Okay, let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way first: Since these models work so well as lithe, sinister assassin types, they would be great for any Inquisitor’s retinue: It would just take a few tweaks to turn them into Death Cultists with a penchant for body modifications or even a sub-variety of arco-flagellants. They could also be turned into Spyrers with a bit of work, because you can easily see these guys stalking their prey in the underhive, right?

And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg: Consider Drazuul’s “Mecha-Nid”, for instance: Could there be a more chilling example of the (Dark) Mechanicum’s ingenuity than the thought of an enterprising Magos Genetor (or radical Inquisitor) trying to improve upon the biological killing machines constructed by the Hivemind?

In fact, the Infiltrators would also work as basic templates for all kinds of Dark Mechanicum killing machines, such as Bronze Malifects. Likewise, I could easily see those domed helmets from the Sicarian Ruststalkers for all kinds of robot/killdroid/drone conversions! And finally, the unit champ works great as a particularly combative Magos for INQ28, right out of the box.

 

Sydonian Dragoon / Ironstrider Ballistarius:

While it almost seems a bit sacrilegious to use this kit for anything else than its intended use, there are a couple of possible ideas knocking around in the back of my head: My first idea was that this kit would provide a pretty cool base for a – Blood Pact style – stalk tank for Traitor Guard forces. The model’s slightly more organic, creepy vibe when compared with the trusty old Sentinel would certainly make it a viable option for enterprising chaos converters!

Likewise, the legs and main body would probably be great for whenever an even more elaborate, ostentatious walker chassis is needed — for an Ecclesiarchy walker, a walking pulpit or even a kitbashed Penitent Engine.  And the kit provides a great pair of legs for every biomechanic monstrosity you could possibly think of, of course — what about making a Helbrute a bit more impressive by adding those Ironstrider legs, I wonder…?

 

Onager Dunestalker
Once again, the model should make for an excellent basic template when converting traitor (stalk) tanks: At the very least, the spider-legged build provides a visually much more interesting option for chaos players than the same old boxy Imperial tank models. Speaking of which, this kit should also come in handy when planning possible daemon engines. For instance, AMaxmius recently shared idead for a daemon engine with me that I am confident will put these legs to excellent use –check out his first post on the matter here.

Beyond that, suffice it to say that these legs should work wonderfully for your daemon engine needs, if you don’t want to use the Defiler legs, as those haven’t aged all that well by today’s standards…

 

So, when all is said and done, what to make of this release? To be honest, I was blown away by these kits! Just when we thought we’d seen it all, GW gives us the most Blanchian models in over a decade, channeling not only the wealth of AdMech artwork created over the years, but also lots of visual influences, from 50s SciFi to clockpunk, dieselpunk and steampunk. The result is something that seems pretty unique, yet also perfectly at home in the 40k setting. Pieces like the Sydonian Dragoon are just wonderfully evocative, while the Skitarii infantry kits provide us with lots of excellent tech-y conversion fodder. And even the less brilliant parts of the release (yes Onager, I am looking at you) are still fairly strong offerings, if seen on their own.

One thing that is interesting to note is the absence of actual Tech Priests (so far): Does GW intentionally stay out of the actual Cult Mechanicus in order not to step on FW’s toes? Or do the Skitarii serve as a test balloon or a mere prelude, with the Magi of Mars held back for a potential future release? The beauty of it is that it really doesn’t matter that much: Even if we never get a Mechanicus second wave, this release stands on its own as a fantastic design achievement — and it provided converters and kitbashers with all the toys they need for their AdMech needs.

All in all, I will have to call this a stellar release, both for its quality and focus as well as for the very fact that plastic AdMech is really happening at long last! I also have to say that these kits speak to me in a way that the FW Mechanicum designs do not (except for a few noteable exceptions like the Tech Thralls and that one tank looking like an art déco car). So yeah, fantastic work, GW! Respect where respect is due!

 

But what do you think about this release? Are you as happy with the new kits as I am, or do these men of metal leave you completely cold? And would you like to discuss any more conversion ideas? I would be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

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