Archive for orcs & goblins

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

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

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

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

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

skullpass-boxed-set

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

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

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

So here’s what I came up with:

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

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

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

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

pc-blood-bowl-orc-team

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

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

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

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

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

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An Orc is an Ork is an…Orruk?! A look at the Ironjawz release

Posted in Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2016 by krautscientist

Oh my, it seems like I am really lagging behind with those reviews and in-depth explorations of GW’s recent releases. Sorry for that! In my defense, however, it just takes a certain dedication (not to mention motivation) to sit down and do detailed writeups about new models, particularly when it would probably more instantly-gratifying to build new stuff! 😉

Then again, there are just some thoughts about GW’s recent offerings that I would like to share, so I hope you’ll indulge me, even when the models I’ll be talking about have been with us for a while.

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So for today, let us talk about the Ironjawz, GW’s first Age of Sigmar foray into the greenskin faction: In the interest of full disclosure, let me just preface this post by saying that I have loved GW’s greenskins ever since I got into this hobby: I loved the greenskin models in HeroQuest, even though there were basically only two designs. I loved the greenskin armies back when fantasy armies were still predominantly made from pewter models (so I bought the pretty expensive army book as a lad, only to realise that an army really wasn’t an option, given the limits of my monthly allowance). I loved the fact that GW included an Orc starter army in the 6th edition box and wanted to start an army — it didn’t really happen. But I still like GW’s greenskin designs to this day, whether they appear in 40k or AoS — I even created a kitbashed Blood Bowl team from plastic GW greenskins. So yeah, I am a fan, and have been for quite a while.

For me, GW’s greenskins have always managed to straddle the line between legitimately scary and darkly humorous. I am aware of the fact that some hobbyists, particularly in the Oldhammer scene, prefer the slightly more lighthearted take of the yesteryear to the heavily muscled and more intimidating modern Orcs (or “Orruks”, for that matter), but I like the modern look well enough, and I think having the greenskins be both funny and scary at the same time actually adds to their character.

So this release was interesting for me, both due to my general affection for the greenskins, but also because I was curious about how GW would bring the greenskins over into the Age of Sigmar setting: So far, AoS has mostly seemed like an escalation of vintage Warhammer designs to me: Like a redesigned Warhammer by way of videogame tropes, Masters of the Universe and particularly cheesy heavy metal album cover art — and this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, mind you!

The problem is that Age of Sigmar doesn’t really seem to have found its own voice yet, mostly due to the seeming lack of depth to its lore and setting: So far, it has mostly seemed like “Warhammer turned up to eleven”. This is a problem that should arguably diminish with each army and faction getting more fleshed out, so looking at the way GW has chosen to revisit one of its most iconic factions should be interesting. And, to address the elephant in the room, how much will the new greenkins resemble something out of World of Warcraft?

This is a really obvious question, of course: A wealth of anecdotal evidence suggests that Warcraft was basically born out of heaps of inspiration taken from GW’s greenskin designs. Some rumours even say that the whole Warcraft franchise might been intended as a GW-licensed Warhammer game at some point. Whether or not that’s true, there’s more than a little overlap between both universes, and now GW redesigns its own Orcs, with a feature length Warcraft film just around the corner — interesting times, indeed!

With those thoughts firmly wedged into the back of our collective head, let’s take a look at each of the new kits in turn:

 

Godrakk, the Fist of Gork

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Every new release needs that huge centrepiece model, and the Ironjawz are no exception. They do get quite a beast of a model, though, and one that is, at once, pretty different from the Orc warlords on huge beasts we have seen so far and also fits right in. Allow me to explain:

For the last couple of releases (and, for that matter, editions), Orc warlords would invariably be riding on some kind of ambiguously serpentine reptilian — mostly a Wyvern. During the early 90s, those creatures shared the same precarious posing and general “S-shape” as all of GW’s dragons, and I imagine the similar design outline was mostly due to the problems of producing a huge metal model that wasn’t just a solid lump of pewter while still looking like some kind of dragon.

And somehow it never quite worked out: There was just some kind of visual disconnect between the burly, heavyset Orcs and those serpentine mounts. Which makes me like the new orcish — pardon, “Orruk-ish” riding beast, called the “Maw-Krusha” looks far more massive and imposing, as this just seems a far better match for the rest of the catalogue!

At the same time, it’s great how the Maw-Krusha manages to incorporate elements of various creatures that have been part of Greenskin armies for a long time: It even resembles the old wyvern to some degree, yet manages to replace the slightly awkward, serpentine look with something more fitting. The overall body shape and scaled hide also manages to recall the plastic River Trolls, which makes for an extra bit of visual consistency.

The kit provides two different heads for the Maw-Krusha: The one intended for “Bigteef” is masked and muzzled and features some slightly strange cloth drapings — I originally thought this was supposed to be some kind of enemy banner being devoured by the creature, which would have been pretty cool, but it really seems to be a decorative element. Oh well…
The alternative, unhelmenetd head, on the other side, may just be one of my favourite monster heads ever produced by GW:

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It’s suitably monstrous, sure. Yet it also has that “crocodilian inquisitiveness”, for lack of a better word: You can definitely imagine the creature staring curiously at something before some neural switch at the centre of its tiny, tiny brain goes from “0” to “1” and it just goes crazy — just watch any documentary about crocodiles or alligators, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. Anyway, the head just captures that expression perfectly, while also adding some subtle humour to the whole deal — which is, once again, a great fit for the greenskin faction!

In addition to the huge creatire, we also get an equally impressive Orruk warlord on top, of course. One option would be to use the kit to build Gordrakk himself:

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And he really looks the part: From the massive armour to the impressive twin axes, this guy really looks like he means business! I also really like his screaming, one-eyed face:

Ironjawz Release (20)Greenskin models are often sold by the quality of their faces, really, and this one has a lot of character. Jolly good show! The necklace with the dwarven beard and the back banner may be a tad much, but that’s not really a big problem, seeing how it should be easy enough to just leave those parts off, or replace them with some alternate bitz.

Speaking of which, the kit also provides alternate parts to build a generic Ironjawz warlord, and it’s certainly nice to have the extra options!

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However, the idea of pairing a massive spear/halberd/thing with a monstrous knife/sword/thing (held in a reverse grip, no less), seems kind of nonsensical to me, even for an Orruk warlord (and believe me, as a World Eaters player, I am no stranger to modeling audacious weapon combinations). The alternate face is also slightly less interesting than Gordrakk’s ugly mug, unfortunately:

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Then again, the iconic iron jaw bit and different back banner are interesting enough alternatives. All in all, though, it’s clear that Gordrakk was the focus of this model. And, in any case, there’s only so much leeway and customisation that the kit will allow, due to the specific poses of both the Maw-Krusha and its rider, so building three of these that look totally different would be quite a task indeed!

But all in all, the kit certainly provides a massive and impressive and thoroughly orky – or should that be “orruk-y” – centrepiece model for any greenskin force, and I really like the audacity of this guy. Very cool!

 

Orruk Megaboss

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In addition to the massive warlord on Maw-Krusha, we also get a generic warlord on foot, and the easy way of looking at it would be to say that this is basically the Maw-Krusha rider without a Maw-Krusha 😉

But seriously, what’s great about this model, right out of the gate, is that it marks the concept of huge Orcs (or, again, “Orruks”) finally arriving in the GW’s fantasy setting: In 40k, the idea of Ork warlords being far bigger and more massive than their followers has long been a staple of both the lore and the actual models, yet in the world of WFB, orcish generals weren’t that much more imposing than their soldiers — and it’s great to finally see that remedied with this model.

I really like the look of the massive, crude armour. It seems a bit more extreme than the greenskin armour we have seen in WFB, but it’s still well within the parameters of GW’s established design without seeming as stylised as something you’d see in, say, WoW. Even so, a certain “escalation” is clearly obvious in the design. But it makes for a nice enough looking model.

My one substantial complaint about this model is that it would arguably have needed alternative weapons more urgently than the Maw-Krusha rider, seeing how this guy is meant to represent your generic Orruk warlord. Granted, it should be easy enough to swap in some weapons from some of the other kits, but it still seems like a bit of an oversight.

On a slightly less serious note, don’t get me started on those skulls,…

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Aw, screw it, I just can’t help myself, so here goes: The obvious thing first: The model’s whole silhouette and look is really dominated by that huge saurian skull strapped to its right shoulder, and it’s an element that not everybody will be keen on. I have to admit that I would probably carefully cut it off myself, and replace it with something slightly less ostentatious.

The real headache begins once you start thinking about where that skull came from, however: It looks like the remains of some kind of Lizardma…ehhh Seraphon creature, doesn’t it? But aren’t the Seraphon ghostly creatures now? So how do they leave any skulls in the first place?

Sure, this could be the remains of any huge predator from any of the new realms, and not really a Seraphon skull. But what’s that on the Megaboss’s other shoulder? A Bloodletter skull? But aren’t Bloodletters daemons? Then how do they leave skulls in the first place…? Like I said, it’s best not to even start thinking about it — how can an Orruk Megaboss make creatures without bones leave bones? Because he’s just that awesome! ‘Nuff said! 😉

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Semantics aside, however, it’s a nice enough model and certainly one of the release’s most interesting pieces of conversion fodder. One or two parts of the model may be a bit too cartoony for my taste, but those should be easy enough to get rid of, so this guy gets a pass.

On a semi-related note, wouldn’t you agree with me that the model just looks so much better with red armour…?

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Orruk Weirdnob Shaman

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Shamans and magicians have always been a thoroughly weird part of greenskin society — it’s even part of their name there, see? – and so this guy’s slightly spastic look and pose are a great fit! He really looks as though he were being controlled by powers beyond his control (or by far too much fungus beer, but yeah…), and the model does a great job of communicating that feeling. Maybe the best part of the shaman is the priceless look on his face:

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On the other hand, there are two parts of the model I really don’t like. One is the pair of horns or tusks awkwardly bound to the shaman’s head. A quick look at the sprue reveals that this part should, once again, be easy enough to get rid of, though.

My least favourite part is that smoke effect emerging from the top of the staff: It just seems silly – as sculpted smoke and magical effects are wont to do – and I’d get rid of it in a heartbeat. Kudos to the ‘Eavy Metal Team, though, for managing to paint it exactly like something from the cover of a 70s prog-rock album! 😉

Anyway, all in all, it’s a nice enough model, and having a plastic Shaman/Weirdboy available should be very useful for both AoS and 40k players alike.

 

Orruk Warchanter

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This is probably my least favourite part of this release: The concept of a drummer/chanter/shaman type character seems pretty tired and unoriginal at the best of times. What makes matters even worse, however, is that, while the other models from the release manage to carefully flirt with the cartoony, videogamey Warcraft look, this guy just embraces it as hard as he can and ends up looking like some kind of WoW reject: The armour, those clunky bones — my immediate feeling was that this wasn’t a GW model at all, but a model produced by some other, smaller company during the late 90s. He just seems overly cartoony and bland to me.

The model’s only saving grace is, once again, the face: It’s really rather lovely:

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But all things considered, it’s not enough to excuse the clunky, unoriginal rest of the miniatured. The Warchanter is easily the weakest part of this release, in my opinion, as the model seems more like an afterthought.

 

Orruk Brutes

Ironjawz Release (24)At first galnce, this basically seems like the fantasy version of 40k’s Ork Nobz kit. And just like that kit, this box allows us to build five rather massive …Orruks that are armoed to the teeth — so far, so good!

The bulky models in their massive, crude armour should be quite a sight on the tabletop, and I really like the juxtaposition of the heavily muscled bodies and the jagged, primitive armour plates:

Ironjawz Release (27)These guys really seem tough as nails, and they manage to fit the new Age of Sigmar aesthetic while also fitting in with older greenskin models, which is certainly not mean feat! I also like the wealth of options provided in the kit, at least according to a closer look at the various sprues!

If I have one gripe with the Brutes, it’s that some of the weapon designs just seem a bit too much: That massive, two-handed cleaver? The strange crab-claw? Those look more like toys than weapons, really — like the designers were trying just a bit too hard to make those weapons “uber-awesome”:

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Maybe the problem is that these guys are just a bit too serious: They seem to be trying just as hard as GW’s sculptors 😉

All in all, however, the kit itself seems to provide a lot of options and a wealth of extra bitz, so it still stands as one of the best parts of the release, in my opinion.

 

Orruk Goregruntaz

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This kit seems like an interesting addition, mostly because the plastic Orc Boarboyz are one of the more recent greenskin kits — and arguably one of the coolest. And now we are already seeing yet another escalation of the concept in the shape of even bigger and more heavily armoured Ironjawz Boarboyz — or rather, “Goregruntaz” (*sigh*).

The overall concept of a more heavily armoured greenskin cavalry is pretty cool in and of itself, though, and so are the riders: In fact, they are possibly my favourite part of the kit for a somewhat strange reason: Call me crazy, but their armour seems strangely reminiscent of the vintage Horus Heresy Cataphractii design , complete with the topknot sadly missing from FW’s Cataphractii. The jagged spears are, once again, ever so slightly over the top, but it’s less obvious here than with some of the more outlandish brute weapons. What’s more, the kit also seems to be packed to the brim with excellent bitz and faces. I mean, just check out that guy with the eyepatch. That has to be one of the coolest greenskin faces around:

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The kit’s bigges weakness, on the other hand, are the boars, unfortunately: GW already had the perfect boars with their plastic Boarboy models, but it seems like they needed to turn this design up to eleven for the Goregruntaz, and they weren’t entirely successful with that. Some parts of the boars are quite cool (the armour matching the riders, for instance), but then you get to those enormous, far too large heads with those teribbly clunky beards and OTT dagger teeth, and you just cannot unsee that part.

Granted, the problem is less prominent on some heads. The armoured one is looking quite okay:

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But the one with the wide open maw is easily the worst offender: It just seems clunky and, once again, overly cartoony to me:

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Which brings me back to one of my main points of cricticsm about quite a few AoS kits, really: In order to make them ever more extreme and ultra-awesome, some of the restrain that makes a truly outstanding model is lost. If anything, those models need to be somewhat less extreme and over the top! I would argue that the Goregruntaz would have profited from a slightly more restrained design — or maybe even from reusing the existing boars with some additional armour plates?

As it stands, the kit is hurt by the somewhat silly design of the mounts and doesn’t provide the more awesome version of the Boarboyz it was probably iintended as.

 

Orruk ‘Ardboyz

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Right, these obviously aren’t new, they are merely the “old” Black Orcs with a new name. I’d still like to discuss them in this review for two reasons: One, it’s interesting to see how these originally formed the most heavily armoured, badass Orcs and are now relegated to the position of fairly standard footsoldiers — this nicely shows the kind of escalation we are dealing with, in a way. The other aspect that stands out to me is that, surprisingly enough, they still manage to hold up fairly well, all things considered! I think they would need some leftover trophies and extra skulls to bring them in line visually with the newer kits, but that shouldn’t really require that much work, so the kit still seems to work fairly well!

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Conversion ideas:

Let’s get the obvious things out of the way first: One, even if you have little love for Age of Sigmar and stick to the older rules, many of these models should still work in your army from a visual standpoint, as they are still recognisably GW greenskins. So there’s nothing stopping you from using those Ironjawz models to build, say, a particularly vicious looking Black Orc army — in fact, I like that idea a lot, come to think of it…

The other overarching idea for these kits is that it has never been so easy to create a really awesome Feral Ork army for 40k: Seriously, many of the new kits should be really easy o 40k-i-fy with a chainblade here and an exhaust pipe there, and I can easily imagine a fantastic looking Feral Ork force based on these new kits!

Beyond these broad approaches, let me also share a couple of more specific – if rather rough – ideas:

Gordrakk on Maw-Krusha

I think that Maw-Krusha would also work as a huge Squig (or even a small Squiggoth, maybe?) Anyway, wouldn’t it be fun to use this monster as some kind of Feral Ork attack beast? Or an alternate trukk? Or just mount some crazy contraption on its back and use it as artillery or a war machine or what have you? The possibilities are really endless here! 🙂

Orruk Megaboss

Now this guy is possibly the most versatile and useful kmodel for converters. Possile uses for the model include…

  • using him as an Ork Warboss in mega armour: Seriously, he’s huge and intimidating, and tech-ing up that armour should be lots  of fun! Just add a mean-looking circular saw or a claw and a huge shoota and you’re golden!
  • while we’re at it, why not go the extra mile and turn him into a plastic Ghazghkull? In fact, just check out this incredible WIP conversion by JeffyP to see how well this works!
  • on a similar note, I imagine the model would also work well as a basis for a huge and hideous mutant warlord for all our LNTD players and/or INQ28 aficionados! Sure, you would need to get rid of some of the more obviously orky elements, but the armour definitely looks crude and nondescript enough to work for some kind of big mutant!
  • speaking of INQ28, why not use this model as a “true scale” Ork as a worthy opponent for all those true scale Marines floating around? Or as a suitable end-boss for your Ordo Xenos Inquisitors to fight against?

Orruk Weirdnob Shaman

This one’s obvious: the model provides an excellent plastic Weirdboy for 40k, with as much or as little conversion work as you like involved 😉

Orruk Warchanter

Maybe, just maybe, if one were to get rid of those stupid bones and some of those surplus horns, I think he could make for an intersting gladiatorial type — he does have a suitable “Are you not entertained?” pose, after all. Yeah, on second thought, maybe that would be the best possible use for this model: Use him to convert a particularly huge and ugly pitfighter for INQ28 or Necromunda (Bull Gorg anyone?).

Orruk Brutes

These would be great as Ork Nobz — or even Meganobz, for that matter. I think they more original looking armour could make them look cooler than the stock Meganobz, especially if you take the time to add some suitably brutal weapons and augmetics to them. Once again, by the same token, the model could also become mutant overlords, provided you swap in some less orky weapons and heads.

Orruk Goregruntaz
You know what? I just cannot get that Cataphractii resemblance I mentioned out of my head. Therefore, what I would really love to see is a kitbash using those Goregrunta riders to make a squad of Ork Cataphractii, complete with orkish versions of classic Cataphractii weapons and corrupted Astartes iconography. I think that woul be an amazing project — and arguably a fun way of bringing Orks into the 30k timeframe?! If anyone does this (or discovers somebody else doing this), please feel free to send me a link! 😉

 

All in all, I am fairly happy with the release: There are a few missteps here and there, but what we have here, at the end of the day, are greenskin models that are still recognisably GW greenskins. Now this may not seem like a huge achievement, but I beg to differ: I think there was actually a pretty big danger of these guys basically ending up as Warcraft models. There’s a clear tendency visible in the models created for Age of Sigmar so far to feature designs that are slightly more videogame-y in nature than GW’s classic fantasy models. I am not saying that GW’s sculptors are consciously aiming for WoW as a design template (which would be fairly ironic, giving the somewhat intertwined past of Warhammer and Warcraft), but there is a certain visual “escalation”, for lack of a better word. And maybe the greenskins were in danger more than some of the other factions because Warcraft provides this large cultural influence — or maybe I am just imagining it All, who knows?

What I am getting at, however, is this: The new Ironjawz models still clearly read as greenskin models in the Brian Nelson school of design. They are still their own thing. And I am beginning to see what GW may be going for with the look they are trying to establish for Age of Sigmar, a design eking out a niche for itself between the established visuals of vintage Warhammer on the one hand and the more cartoony visuals you might expect of a videogame like Warcraft. It’s a delicate balance to maintain, certainly, and they may not be getting it right all of the time, but I can repect it for what it is now, instead of just considering it a mere Warhammer-knock-off. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, whether or not you appreciate Age of Sigmar as a setting or a game: If, like me, you enjoy GW’s greenskin designs, then you should find something to like about this release. And you can always get rid of the parts you don’t like with a trusty hobby knife 😉

 

So what is your take on the Ironjawz? Do you love them or hate them? Or something in-between? And is there a cool conversion idea that I missed? Feel free to let me hear your opinion in the comments section?

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

Orkheim Ultraz: Growing painz…

Posted in Blood Bowl, Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2013 by krautscientist

I recently played my second game of Blood Bowl, giving both the Orkheim Ultraz and myself some much needed practice. My opponent was my colleague Annie with her brilliant Lustria team (more on that in a minute), and in contrast to her husband Mike, she certainly didn’t pull her punches this time around.

Which was really all for the best, since I really need to learn this game the hard way. That said, she was still nice enough to point out some of my more imbecilic tactical decisions before it was too late, talking me through the different game moves and explaining what did and didn’t make sense.

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One of my Blitzers swinging a right hook at a Saurian — doubtlessly in frustration…

All of this didn’t stop me from getting thoroughly annihilated on the pitch, however: The Orkheim Ultraz spent most of the game knocked onto their asses. Not all of this was due to my dubious tactics, however, I just seemed to have a knack for rolling ones for the entire duration of the game: often several of them in a row, in fact…

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A rare moment of triumph: One of my field players has managed to catch the ball. His buddies are preparing to shield him from the oncoming lizards. Shortly after this picture was taken, things got rather ugly…

The game ended with my team failing to score a single touchdown, while Annie’s lizards had managed to score two. If I hadn’t been so slow during the game, I might have lost even harder.

My utter annihilation aside, it feels like I am – slowly – coming to grips with the game. While there’s quite a lot that does not yet come naturally to me, I believe I am beginning to understand some of the underlying mechanics and getting an idea of what to do and when to do it. If this all sounds extremely cautiously optimistic to you, bear with me: I am not a rules guy, and it takes ages for me to learn the intricacies of basically every tabletop game (except maybe for HeroQuest — I think I have that down by now 😉 ).

Anyway, I’ll need more practice, of course, but I may be starting to understand what I am actually doing during the game, which is a pretty good development, all things considered.

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A typical scene from the game: Almost my entire team lying around on the pitch, groaning in pain…

So, instead of putting you through more of my lamentations and tactical ineptitude, I thought it would be nice to spend the second half of this post to show you more of Annie’s Lustria models, originally conceived as the Raakmoor Venom Vipers. The team is full of great little ideas and beautifully painted, so you’re in for a treat.

And since you already got a look at the regular players in my last post, I’ll be focusing on the supporting characters this time around, since they are really something to behold. Because Annie has this habbit of spending at least as much money and work on her support staff as on the team proper. It’s madness, to be sure, but it’s a good kind of madness, if you ask me 😉

Disclaimer: Just to be perfectly clear on this: None of the following models were built or painted by me, and huge thanks must go to Annie for allowing me to post them here!

So, with that out of the way, let’s take a closer look:

First up, the trainer of the team:

BB_second game (5)
I already showed you this guy previously, without his floating chair. But now, finally in his true seat of power, the model is even cooler. For some reason, the bloated, froglike Slann immediately seems like a great trainer or manager.

BB_second game (12)
And you can almost imagine the skink at his side whispering recommendations in his ear, evaluating certain players and the like. The model has lots of detail and different textures, and I think Annie has really managed to do it justice with her paintjob:

BB_second game (9)

And that dapper little cap, done in GS and painted in the team’s colours as well as featuring its initials, still has to be my favourite part! A great addition that instantly transforms an otherwise unconverted model into a suitable piece for Blood Bowl:

BB_second game (8)
Then there are the cheerleaders:

BB_second game (2)
A very clever little conversion, involving some stock chamaeleon skinks and a bunch of pipe cleaners. I also love how Annie managed to paint the beady little eyes, complete with pupils, no less!

Now, what happens when the Raakmoor fans have to accompany the Vipers on an away match? Not to worry, because they have their very own fan bus to take them wherever they need to go:

BB_second game (4)
BB_second game (3)
Using that huge metal model just for the heck of it is totally nuts, of course. But you just cannot ignore the brilliance of the idea: The fans commandeering a huge dinosaur to take them to each game of their team. Plus the model is, once again, very nicely painted! Check out the flags with the team logo! Brilliant!

And finally, possibly my favourite of the bunch:

BB_second game (11)
BB_second game (10)
Whenever one of the Lizards get beaten to a cold-blooded pulp, no need to fear, because the team has a flying medic on standby at all times.
Now the idea in itself is already fantastic: Just imagine that terradon swooping in every time one of the players gets hurt. But the little details are what really takes the cake here: The terradon has a flashing blue light modeled on its head, and the skink has a flag and a bag of medical supplies. Brilliant!

All of these were made from stock Lizardmen models and a whole lot of creativity! And all of this showcases both Annie’s creativity and prowess at painting stuff, but also something I think is great about Blood Bowl in general: You only strictly need a dozen models to play the game, but there are all kinds of occasions for additional models to accompany your team. And there’s so much potential for adding humourous little tidbits to your collection of models: Have an idea for a funny mini-diorama? Heck, you may as well throw it in: Chances are, you’ll actually be able to use the model in some capacity, if only as some kind of cool turn marker.

So with that, my exploits in the wonderful world of fantasy football continue. Thanks again to Annie for letting me show these models! And, as always, thanks to you for reading and stay tuned for more!

Orkheim Ultraz: Da Star Playa

Posted in Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2013 by krautscientist

After my first game of Blood Bowl, I felt the need to reward myself with a new model for my team. And since I had wanted to do something with GW’s plastic Savage Orc Waaaghboss anyway, this was a very nice excuse to add another player to the Orkheim Ultraz.

I’ve worked with quite a few of the WFB plastic characters by now, and they are usually really excellent, easy to put together and highly detailed and dynamic. Using them for conversions takes a little thinking, however, since the parts fit together in a very specific way. Still, it’s usually possible to bend them to your will, if you’re a little careful with the cutting.

In this case, The objective was to build an orcish star player for the Orkheim Ultraz. It really was a modelling and painting project, first and foremost, with very little rules consideration in place, yet I suppose the model could be used as Varag Ghoulchewa.

Anyway, I assembled the model, basically only changing the arms: the huge axe normally wielded by the model went into my bitzbox, while the forearms were replaced with Black Orc gauntlets. This was done both to give the model a suitable pose for a Blood Bowl player and to make this guy look like he could pull some really nasty punches with those armoured fists of his. And while I wanted to keep the “almost naked” savage orc look, I also added some 40k Ork armour plates here and there to give the model at least a suggestion of armour (and better tie it in with the rest of the team).

This is what the model looked like before painting:

Star Player (2)
Star Player (4)
Star Player (1)
Star Player (3)
After taking these photos, I realised that I would have to shorten the model’s left arm by a notch, so that’s what I did: This guy may be an Orc, but that arm did look too long even for a race of malproportioned green monsters.

In hindsight, I might have done something more involved with the model’s arms, of course, changing the pose into something different, but to be honest, I didn’t want to have to do lots and lots of sculpting, so I went for a rather simple solution.

Actually, the most involved part of the conversion was to cut the rock the model is jumping off of from the surrounding WFB base to be able to use it on a round base. I added the usual mix of glue, modelling sand and cork around it to blend it in and create some texture on the base.

Anyway, when it came to painting this guy, I stuck to my tried and true Orkheim Ultraz formula. Of course, the fact that the model has so much skin on display meant that Brian’s fantastic recipe for orc skin could truly shine once again. And I also added some yellow Gorkamorka decals on the armour plates.

Painting this guy was a blast, and so, a relatively short while later, the model was completed:

Star Player (2)
Star Player (3)

Star Player (6)
Star Player (8)
As you can see, I also added a generous helping of static grass again, to emulate the football pitch look.

All in all, I think the Waaaghboss makes a nice star player for the Orkheim Ultraz. And with his distinct look and imposing frame, he makes for a stunning centrepiece:

BB Team with Star (2)
As always, let me know what you think! And, of course, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Orkheim Ultraz: Da first game…

Posted in Battle report, Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by krautscientist

Orkheim Ultraz Teaser_lores

So with the initial team members for the Orkheim Ultraz converted and painted, it was time to face my first opponent on the lawn. Unfortunately, I had virtually zero knowledge of the actual rules — certainlynot a perfect state of affairs!

Fortunately enough, my colleague Annie and her husband Mike kindly agreed to show me the ropes, so the Orkheim Ultraz were ready for their first actual game. Here they are, already on the pitch (with a cheeky Saurian having managed to sneak into the background…):

BB_first_game (10)
And here are their opponents: The Moorfleet Eerdlöpers un Krüpers, Annie’s and Mike’s beautifully painted Lustria team:

BB_first_game (11)
The first step was for Annie and Mike to slowly talk me through the basic rules. I am particularly slow on the uptake when it comes to learning tabletop rules, yet I found the Blood Bowl rules to be pleasantly compact. That didn’t mean that I understood everything from the get go, but they did everything they could to make things easier for me: Mike would play against me, while Annie served as an aide-de-camp of sorts to myself (which was really a good thing for the moments when it all became a bit much…).

Anyway, here’s what things looked like at the start of the game:

BB_first_game (2)
Lustria had the kickoff, so some of my more nimble players hung around my backfield, ready to take possession of the ball, should it come flying their way, while my Black Orcs and Blitzers were entrenched at the line of scrimmage, awaiting the saurian assault.

The ball landed far in my backfield, right next to my thrower — what a lucky coincidence, right? Unfortunately, the one guy in my team actually handy with a ball failed to pick it up right at the start. And I quickly found out that those small Skinks are really fast. Ouch!

Nevertheless, I managed to take possession of the ball on my second turn, even passing it to one of my linemen who then started to advance down the field, his Saurian pursuers hot on his heels. Meanwhile, all my Black Orcs were doing was to be knocked on their asses again and again by Mike’s Kroxigor — hence “Blockers”, I suppose.

BB_first_game (3)
After some back and forth (and quite a few Orks keeling over due to a pummeling in true Lustrian fashion), one of my Blitzers was in possession of the ball, and thinks were looking pretty good:

BB_first_game (5)

But, once again, a gang of saurians surrounded him and beat him to a pulp. One of the lizards was then attacked by one of my players in turn, sending the ball spinning into Mike’s backfield. And, right enough, one of his speedy little Skinks broke off from the hubbub at the line of scrimmage to take possession of the ball. Mike gave it his all to move the Skink as far as he could, and things were looking pretty bad for me, but then the Skink failed a sprinting roll and tripped over his own feet:

BB_first_game (6)
That left Mike with only a Saurus in his backfield to try and take back the ball. Yet one of my Linemen – actually the unassuming last model I painted – danced around the Saurus (insofar as the verb “dance” can be applied to an Orc) courtesy of a number of lucky dice rolls, picked up the ball and advanced towards the touchdown zone:

BB_first_game (7)
I had to pass one last sprinting throw to make a touchdown. I rolled the die — and passed. Touchdown!

BB_first_game (13)
In my joy, I didn’t even realise that we should normally have played at least another half, so Mike would probably have handed my ass to me after all. But I think this first little game worked as a rather nice introduction to Blood Bowl for me.

Regarding the game itself, I found it pretty fast and pleasantly tactical. And it was certainly a relief to encounter a tabletop game where setting up didn’t become a game of its own (as can happen in larger games of 40k). One thing that took some getting used to was the frequency at which models kept getting knocked down and getting back up: In my native 40k, once a model is down, it’s down for good. Blood Bowl seems to be much more about models bouncing back. It’s certainly fun, though! I can easily see myself taking the game for another spin!

Oh, and the fact that both “armies” were fully painted was a huge boon as well. With only about a dozen models per side, getting it all painted is of course a much less daunting prospect. Still, playing with a fully painted set of models is always the best possible option, and it’s great that we were able to do that!

We also found out that, by sheer coincidence, I had managed to build some of my Orc models to be perfectly compatible with the ball:

BB_first_game (14)
So, in closing, it has been a fun first outing for the Orkheim Ultraz. More to follow, I hope! Let me wind up this post by showing you Mike’s and Annie’s Slann trainer: He may not be 100% finished, but never has a cap looked so good on a reptile, I’ll wager 😉

BB_first_game (1)
So, many thanks to Mike and Annie for taking the time to show me the ropes and being such gracious hosts! And, as always, thanks to you for looking and stay tuned for more!

Orkheim Ultraz: Meet da Team!

Posted in Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2013 by krautscientist

So while we were dealing with the Arrke and Khorne’s Eternal Hunt, what have those Greenskins been up to, I wonder?

Good news regarding the Orkheim Ultraz: This rather unassuming Lineman was the last model to be painted for the initial team roster to be completed:

BB last Lineman (1)
BB last Lineman (3)
BB last Lineman (2)
BB last Lineman (4)
Not a particularly impressive member of the team, to be sure. Just another Orc trying his best to catch a ball that is too damn clever 😉

The model was still significant, though, since putting the last brush strokes on this guy meant I finally head a playable team! Yay! Let’s take a closer at the finished models:

Thrower:

BB Thrower (2)

Linemen:

BB Linemen (2)

Blitzers:

BB Blitzers (2)

Black Orc Blockers:

BB Blockers (1)

And, of course, Les Gobboz:

BB Gobboz (2)
I was really pretty fast this time, mostly painting these guys in pairs. So now the Orkheim Ultraz are ready to face their first game. Here’s the whole team for you:

BB Team (3)
BB Team (2)

So does this mark the end of this particular hobby endeavour? No way! For starters, I have to tell you that I cannot recall when I last had so much fun painting models, so I will eagerly jump at the opportunity to get some more Ultraz finished. But what’s in the cards for the team?

Well, first we will have to see how these guys are doing in an actual game. More on that soon! Then there is couple of models yet to be added: First of all, the fan/cheerleader models I have already built as well as the team’s “Kit Git”. Several people have also advised me to add two more Black Orcs to the team, and from what little I understand of the rules, I am tempted to agree (it helps that the models are so cool, of course…). Then I’ll probably build and paint one additional thrower and lineman, respectively, just to be on the safe side. I also recently purchased a WFB plastic feral Orc Waaghboss to convert a suitably brutal looking star player. And I love the new plastic trolls, so adding one of those (and another one to my soon to be Mordheim warband) certainly isn’t out of the question. And there’s always the fact that rumours of a new edition of Blood Bowl hitting the shelves later this year have begun to surface, so there’s that to consider as well…

Anyway, all of that is still in the future. For now, let’s get these guys broken in and bloodied for the first time on an actual Blood Bowl pitch. I’ll get back to you shortly to tell you how that went…

Until then, let me hear all the C&C you can think of! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Orkheim Ultraz Teaser_lores

Orkheim Ultraz: The big bruisers…

Posted in Conversions, Orcs & Goblins, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2013 by krautscientist

While most of my Blood Bowl players are indeed “refurbished” 40k and WFB Orcs, I actually went and picked up a new box of Black Orcs in order to build some Blockers for the Orkheim Ultraz. Not only will the contents of that box come in handy for my Orcish warband for Mordheim as well, but I also wanted my Black Orcs to look suitably impressive and heavily armoured.

Fortunately enough, the plastic Black Orcs are perfect recreations of those cool late 90s metal models I loved so much when I was still playing WFB, and they also work really well as Blood Bowl models with only some minor adjustments: When building them, I cut off their weapons to just leave the armoured gauntlets. Apart from that, it was all smooth sailing. So here are my first two completed Black Orc Blockers:

Blockers

As you can see, the heavy armour instantly differentiates them from both the Linemen and the Blitzers. I used pretty much the same paint recipe for their armour, though, to make sure they fit the overall look of the team. Let’s check out the models in more detail:

Blocker 02 (1)
Blocker 02 (3)
Blocker 02 (5)
Blocker 02 (7)
The first guy uses a helmeted head. And I only cut off his weapons’ blades, leaving the hilts looking like crude knuckledusters. As you can see, some of the armour plates were picked out in black for some added variety. Apart from that, though, I stuck to my usual recipe. I also added some Gorkamorka decals in yellow, once again.

And here’s the second model:

Blocker 01 (1)
Blocker 01 (2)
Blocker 01 (3)
Blocker 01 (4)
Easily one of my favourite models in the team so far: The pose and screaming face really tell you that it is ON now 😉 Plus the bare face really adds some personality to the model. I painted the mouth and tongue in a mix of red and purple and washed the mouth cavity with GW Leviathan Purple for some added depth.

 

For many people, the most important thing about Black Orcs is their skin colour. And while I wanted my own Blockers to look slightly different from my players, I didn’t want to use a completely different recipe for their skin. For one, my approach so far had produced a skin colour I really liked. And I also don’t like Black Orcs that have a completely different skin colour from the regular Orcs surrounding them.

So my solution to this particular problem was to repeat my usual recipe step for step, but mix in a drop of black for each step. That way, the skin of the Black Orcs ended up looking slightly darker and more desaturated. Take a look at this comparison image:

Orc skin comparison
As you can see, the regular Orc has a bit of a yellowish tinge to his skin, while the Black Orc’s skin is slightly darker and less vibrant. While some people may think it’s still too light, I am rather pleased with the outcome.

 

So with that, my first two Black Orc Blockers were finished. And there’s eight more where those two came from. While some of those models will be used for my Mordheim Orcs, I guess I’ll eventually paint two more Blockers for the Orkheim Ultraz.

But first things first: Only one more Lineman to go, and then my initial team roster will be finished. And then, my first ever Blood Bowl game! So expect an update on these guys pretty soon!

Until then, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

P.S. Oh, before I forget: This Friday’s update will be slightly delayed. I promise you it’ll be worth it, though…