Archive for retrospective

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

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

Awards

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

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

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

 

I. Best releases

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

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

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

 

1. The Burning of Prospero

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

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

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

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

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

See my detailed review of the boxed set here.

 

2. Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower

Silver Tower Release (1)

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

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

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

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

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

Silver Tower Release (22)

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

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

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

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

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

 

3. Genestealer Cults

genestealer-cults-release-19

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

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

Deathwatch Overkill release (31)

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

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

genestealer-cults-release-23
There are also some rather beautifully subtle touches about the whole design: Call me crazy, but the ribbed structure of the miner’s armour reminds me not only of the actual Xenomorph in Alien, but also of the industrial design defining the look and feel of Ridley Scott’s classic series.

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

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

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

 

4. Thousand Sons

thousand-sons-release-18

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

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

thousand-sons-release-19

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

One, a redesigned Ahriman:

thousand-sons-release-8

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

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

thousand-sons-release-3

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

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

You can find my thoughts on the entire release here.

 

 

5. Canoness Veryidian

veryidian

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

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

Adepta_Sororitas_by_John_Blanche

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

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

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

 

6. Honorary mention: Seeing Artemis again…

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

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

 

II. Worst releases/biggest disappointment

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

1. Wulfen

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

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

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

classic-wulfen-models

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

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

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

the-wolf-man

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

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

2. GW basing sets

40k-basing-set-2

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

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

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

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

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

3. Ulrik the Slayer…Unmasked!

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

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

4. New Eldrad Ulthran

Eldrad comparison

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

III. Still on the fence about…

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

 

IV. Also pretty cool

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

 

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

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

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

The 2016 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 1: A look back at my hobby year

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, Traitor Guard, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2016 by krautscientist

Awards

Yes, it’s that time of year again: Welcome everyone to the 2016 Eternal Hunts Awards, where I take a look at this past hobby year and talk about the best releases, the most inspiring work from fellow hobbyists and about my own hobby year — in fact, just to shake things up a bit – and also because this will be the least complicated part of this year’s series – let’s start with a little retrospective of my hobby work. So here are my favourite personal achievements and hobby moments from the last twelve months:

 

I. My hobby projects

I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a spectacularly awful year in many, many ways. At the same time, it has also been a really successful year for me in hobby terms — go figure! Maybe one reason for this is that focusing on hobby related activities was one of the things that helped me stay sane during a time of great personal upheaval and insecurity: Escapism isn’t always a good thing, but being able to focus on something different for a couple of hours every now and then will do wonders for your peace of mind! And I find that, due to the handicraft angle of the hobby, converting and painting little plastic men feels decidedly less frivolous than, say, playing videogames for hours on end 😉

So anyway, in spite of everything, I managed to come up with some new models that I am really rather happy with. And with some thirty completed models compared to 2015’s 25, I even managed to outdo myself!

class-of-2016-2

So, in keeping with well-established tradition, allow me to walk you through my 2016 completions and highlight some of the models and projects I am especially happy with:

 

1. Khorne’s Eternal Hunt

2016 was another strong year for my longest-running army project, so let’s focus on my World Eaters for a moment. Here’s what Khorne’s Eternal Hunt looked like in late 2015:

army shot 01 big colour

And here’s an updated army picture from the summer of 2016:

Khorne's Eternal Hunt 2016 (2) big
And while this may not look like a huge evolution – with the notable exception of the towering Chaos Knight loitering around in the back row – I wasn’t nearly done with painting Khornate models at that point.

But even back then, the army already looked rathe impressive, if I do say so myself, and there are many parts of this project I am still rather happy with. Especially the various characters I have completed for my World Eaters:

Masters of the Hunt 2016 (2)
Even so, the latter half of the year saw some sizeable additions to the army, though, and the main reason for this was the existence of the superbly-run and highly motivational community events over at The Bolter & Chainsword: Both the E Tenebrae Lux V and the Call of Chaos IX really managed to light a fire under me, prompting me to complete two hefty vows.

Here are the models I pledged during this year’s ETL:

ETL V All Vows (2)

And here’s the – slightly less impressive – vow I completed earlier this month during the Call of Chaos:

finished-call-2016-11
It helps that the community over at the B&C is wonderfully lively and constructive, and without the support and feedback from fellow hobbyists over there, I doubt I would have completed as many models.

Just to single out some of my favourite parts from those events, I did manage to finish the last missing model for my squad of traitorous Tempestus Scions which is now one of my favourite squads from my collection:

Traitor Elite full squad (4)
I also included an Iron Warriors Apothecary I had converted last year in one of my vows:

apothecary-phastos-of-the-iron-warriors-5
And this guy then provided the perfect occasion to get back to my small Iron Warriors killteam, a side project that I am hopefully going to devote even more time to in the new year:

iron-warriors-killteam-wip-5
Since this year’s Call of Chaos event was Tzeentch-themed, I also created a model to represent Iskandar Khayon from Aaaron Dembski-Bowden’s wonderful novel “The Talon of Horus”:

iskandar-khayon-3
So I now have two of the novel’s main characters in model form:

iskandar-khayon-and-lheorvine-ukris
And next year’s Call is going to be Slaanesh-themed — sounds like a perfect excuse to build Telemachon Lyras and complete the set 😉

And finally, despite having been a faithful follower of chaos for almost almost two decades at this point, this year saw me complete my very first daemon models — in a series of escalating steps that would lead to completing one of the new plastic Bloodthirsters…

Bloodthirster Ghor'Lash'Kharganath (4)
…and then moving on to what is possibly my finest work to date:

 

2. The Lord of the XII Legion

It was clear to me that 2015’s Gilgamesh would be a tough act to follow. But when I found myself in possession of an extra Bloodthirster kit earlier this year,  an idea began to form in the back of my head. An idea that would eventually lead to the creation of my very own version of Angron in his form as a Daemon-Primarch:

Daemon-Primarch Angron (16)
Daemon-Primarch Angron (31)
Daemon-Primarch Angron (21)
Daemon-Primarch Angron (15)
And I am just incredibly proud of this model: From a technical standpoint, it’s very probably my best paintjob to date, and it’s also very close to how I imagine the XII Primarch in his daemonic form. Now that Daemon-Primarchs are actually a thing in 40k, I have no doubt that an eventual “official” version of Angron will surpass and invalidate my interpretation — but I cannot help it, I am still incredibly pleased with the big guy!

Read more about the model’s inception here.

Daemon-Primarch Angron (23)
The Red Angel
Speaking of Angron, I built another version of him, to represent him during his days as a gladiator on Nuceria, and it’s another model I am really happy with:

angron-thalkr-lord-of-the-red-sands-11

Let me also mention that I couldn’t really have created either version of Angron without drawing some massive inspiration from the work of fellow hobbyists, chief among them Reg with his dozen or so of incredible Angron conversions 😉

So all in all, those models make for quite a nice collection of vicious, daemonic killers. Here’s the Khornate part of my 2016 output:

class-of-2016-world-eaters
A fair few of these models are daemons, so the pieces you see below may or may not become the start of a dedicated daemonic detachment:

class-of-2016-daemons
In fact, I realise in hindsight that monstrous daemons make up a sizeable part of my 2016 output –but come, on: Given the current state of the world, I might be forgiven for the subconscious need to keep painting red-skinned devils, wouldn’t you agree? 😉

In closing, here are all of the chaotic footsloggers (minus the two big guys) again:

class-of-2016-chaos-2

 

 

3. The world of INQ28

While my INQ28-related work this year didn’t quite match my 2015 output, I am nevertheless fairly happy with the new additions to my collection. Strangely enough, everything started with…a dog:

Cyber-Mastiff (3)

A Cyber-Mastiff conversion based on a Malifaux model. I am still rather happy with the mutt 😉

But anyway, here’s the entire “INQ28 Class of 2016”:

class-of-2016-inq28
The achievement I am probably the most happy with was to finally paint some models that had been knocking about in my cupboard of shame for ages, and this lead to a nearly 100% finished retinue for Inquisitor Erasmus Gotthardt of the Ord Hereticus Velsen:

inquisitor-gotthardt-and-retinue-early-2016-8
Now I have a huge soft spot for this warband, mostly because it’s made up of my attempt at putting a spin one most of the classic character archetypes from the Inquisitor rulebook (the Rogue Trader, the Security Agent, the Drill Abbot,…). As a consequence, the retinue has a very colourful, swashbuckling look that I like. Most of Gotthardt’s operatives were built years ago – and with a much smaller bitzbox, at that – but I do think they still hold up for the most part. So just one last member for the warband – a female psyker – and then the project will finally be completed at long last!

That’s not the only warband I have managed to complete, though: I also finished two retainers for my true scale Astartes, Praetor Janus Auriga, creating a “mini-warband”, if you will:

Praetor Janus Auriga and retainers (3)
This project was simply an excellent way of exploring the more ostentatious, medieval side of the Adeptus Astartes. Plus the retainers make Auriga look even more massive and monstrous, providing a great visual framing device for the character. Coming up with a concept for a chapter serf was also great fun!

And finally, I came up with the beginnings for a slightly Mad Max-inspired group of misfits dubbed “The Road Crew”:

the-road-crew-2016
These guys have been brilliant fun to work on so far, and I hope I’ll be able to tound out the group in 2017!

 

4. Blood Bowl

A completion that is very close to my hear, this one: After quite a bit of procrastrination, I finally completed the first big guy for my kitbashed Blood Bowl team, the Orkheim Ultraz:

blood-bowl-troll-1
It was simply great fun to make sure the troll fits the overall look of the team while also adding his own visual touches to the larger project:

orkheim-ultraz-2016-4
And the model really manages to make the team look and feel complete — even if there’s a really good chance we’ll be seeing more models for it in the future!

orkheim-ultraz-2016-2

So yeah, all things considered, thats quite an eclectic collection of new models, and one that I am really rather proud of:

class-of-2016-1

 

II. My favourite hobby moments

There were also some really awesome  hobby moments that didn’t involve building and painting new models, so let’s take a look at those as well:

For instance, I was really happy when Gilgamesh, my Chaos-Knight, made GW’s Webstore blog as an example of a converted Renegade Knight back in April:

Gilgamesh on GW blog 01
Alas, thanks to GW’s recent decision to fold their daily blog into a new (and admittedly rather cool) community site, my moment of triumph was short-lived. But at least I have the screenshots for proof 😉

Being approached by Adam Jones to contribute to his excellent hobby mag, The Golden D6, was also fantastic! Thanks to Adam, some of my work appeared in three issues of the mag:

An army feature focusing on Khorne’s Eternal Hunt in issue #5…

D6 Screenshot
…and a two-part series on how to glitz up your miniature photography, published in issues #6 and #7:

d6-deimos
This particular feature even earned me a rather glowing endorsement from Natfka over at Faeit212, as an added bonus:

faeit-212
And finally, my dear Lord Captain Lorimar even made the cover for The Golden D6′s issue #7:

d6-issue-7-cover
Anyway, if Adam’ll have me, I’d love to do some more contributions for the mag in 2017!

And last, but definitely not least, I would be remiss not to mention the fact that some of the best new additions to my collection happened courtesy of  enormously generous people who sent me conversions, bitz or even entire painted models:

class-of-2016-gifts-donations
Just to name some particularly wonderful examples off the top of my head…

  • a wonderfully painted Lord Zhufor sent to me by PDH,
  • an excellent converted Khornate Chaos Lord provided by BrotherJim
  • vintage Bloodletters kindly sent to me by Sagal and AMaximus
  • the base model for the Cyber-Mastiff conversion, courtesy of a Malifaux box that Miniature Tim sent me
  • a brilliantly moody Khornate cultist (and his bucket) gifted to me by Neil101:
Models built and painted by Neil101

Models built and painted by Neil101

And those are just the painted models! Let’s not forget Helega sending me one amazing bitz drop after the other, or the incredibly generous Adam Wier (of Between the Bolter And Me fame), who actually let me have a nearly complete Forgeworld Angron:

Forgeworld Angron WIP (1)
Thank you all so much, guys! You’re really turning this hobby into something even cooler for me, and I am really, really happy about that! 🙂

III. Bad news

In spite of feeling fairly happy with my hobby output this year and having my share of awesome hobby moments, I also have to say that it wasn’t all peaches and cream: For one, there were some rather sad developments: 2016 saw my beloved FLGS, Frabusel, closing its doors for good, which still sucks (and which has also rendered the procurement of hobby supplies somewhat more complicated). And I was really sad to learn of the passing of hobby and fantasy legends such as Joe Dever or the late, great Wayne England.

There’s also one instance where I really regret failing a hobby goal I had set for myself: Earlier this year, fellow hobbyists extraordinaire Jeff Vader, Nordic and Alexander were awesome enough to invite me to participate in a Path of Glory event. I felt really honoured and started to build a Khornate warband for the project, but in the end a combination of being too preoccupied with my RL situation and simply not devoting nearly enough time to the project resulted in my failing to participate, which I really regret. It would have been great fun to hang out with those gentlemen, surely, and failing to live up to their expectations (and my own) felt like a huge missed opportunity — I hope I’ll be getting another chance to complete my small warband of Khornate misfits – or an altogether different warband for another event.

khornate-warband-ks-7

*Sigh*, it just wasn’t meant to be…

IV. Plans

So what’s in the card for 2017? Now I usually try not to make any grand promises, because I know how much my output will be tied to inspiration — or to my considerable laziness 😉

That being said, there’s a couple of things that I would like to focus on next year. Two projects stand out above all others:

First up, and somewhat to my chagrin, my collection of 30k World Eaters is looking more and more like an actual army:

30k World Eaters 4th assault company WIP (2)
And while I won’t make any promises as to the eventual scope of this project, I will be focusing on finishing some of those guys in 2017 — if only to finally paint that sweet Angron model Adam Wier sent me 😉

If nothing else, gladiatorial Angron already seems right at home next to his Heresy era sons:

angron-thalkr-lord-of-the-red-sands-13

When it comes to INQ28, I would really love to start painting my Ordo Scriptorum warband representing Redactor Orlanth and his operatives:

Inquisitor Orlanth and Parchment Scrotener WIP
Even in its WIP stage, the warband already features some of my best INQ28 conversions, and I also do have some rather interesting ideas about what I want the retinue to look like when painted, so giving this project my best try should be fun!

I am not deluding myself, however: It’s just as likely that the next crazy GW release throws me way of course and gets me totally sidetracked — speaking of which, we’ll be taking a closer look at all the pretty things GW provided for us this year. And, of course, the Eternal Hunt Awards wouldn’t be complete without a showcase of the most inspiring work created by my fellow hobbyists.

 

But all of this will have to wait until after Christmas. Until then, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas and say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who sent me models, bitz or other hobby materials or commented on this blog! I really appreciate it!

And of course I would love to hear any comments or feedback you might have about my 2016 output, so let me hear those comments!

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

The 2015 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 3: A look back at my hobby year

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2016 by krautscientist

Awards

Welcome everyone to this third and final installment of the 2015 Eternal Hunt Awards. After the last post’s lofty heights, we are back to my own measly models — I hope the contrast won’t be too jarring! 😉

But then, it wouldn’t be the Eternal Hunt Awards without a good look at my own hobby year — and besides, I am far too vain to omit this part. So allow me to share some of the models that I am particularly proud of as well as some of my favourite hobby moments from the last year.

I. My hobby projects

Some of you may already know that, from a personal perspective, 2015 turned into a pretty awful year for me just around the halfway mark. In spite of this, strangely enough, it was also a pretty successful hobby year. Go figure!

You wouldn’t know it from the sheer numbers, though, as I only managed to complete about 25 models, all in all. That’s quite a bit less than my 2014 turnout, at first glance, and really doesn’t sound like a whole lot of new stuff, right?

Well, the good news is that among those 25 models are some pieces that I am especially proud of — indeed, some of them are models that I have wanted to paint for years. And I also tackled at least one hobby project in 2015 that really moved beyond anything I had tried up to that point. But all in good order:

 

1. Khorne’s Eternal Hunt

2015 was very much a World Eaters year for me, with Khorne’s Eternal Hunt once again being one of the most important projects over the last twelve months and seeing quite a few additions.

You may remember this picture from about the same time last year, showing a pretty big part of my army:

Khorne's Eternal Hunt 2014 02
But since 2015 saw me adding quite a few models to the force, a proper new army picture was in order. So I trooped out the entire army for a photo shoot back in spring. Here’s Khorne’s Eternal Hunt in its current incarnation:

army shot 01 big colour

The army currently stands at about 4,000 points, give or take. Not a massive Apocalypse force, by any means, but still the culmination of several years of work — and still my favourite hobby project!

So let’s take a closer look at some of the new conscripts, shall we?

The year started strong, due to my participation in the 2014 Call of Chaos over at The Bolter & Chainsword. I really gave it my all and managed to paint four pretty cool models for the event:

Call of Chaos vow 2014 (2)

The truescaled version of Kharn had already been completed in late 2014. The Maulerfiend kept fighting me every step of the way, true to form, earning the name Gorespite in the process. Converting yet another Dreadnought/Helbrute was, once again, quite a bit of fun. And then there’s this gentleman, my last model of 2014 and my first model of 2015 (completed between the years, so to speak): The Doomwall, a converted Chaos Lord wearing a suit of Mk I-ish Terminator armour:

The Doomwall (6)

I am still immensely pleased with this guy, mostly because I think I’ve really managed to bring the Mk I armour into the 21st century, visually, while also making it look suitably chaotic.  There’s also a sense of bulk and menace to the model that I really like.

Read more about the Doomwall here.

 

The true star of the show when it comes to Chaos Lords was this guy, however: Lord Captain Baltus Lorimar, supreme commander of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt:

Master of the Hunt 02
Since Lorimar is such an important character in my army’s narrative, it has literally taken me ages to finish him: The model was converted all the way back in 2012 (and after much deliberation and several attempts, no less), but it was only this last year that I finally worked up the courage to paint it — something for which I have to thank my buddy Biohazard, as we engaged in a mutual challenge to finally finish our respective army generals.

Anyway, having worked on the model over such a long time, it was really liberating to finally complete it. And I also think Lorimar makes for a worthy Master of the Hunt. Here’s the Lord Captain among his personal retinue of Chaos Terminators, Lorimar’s Fist:

Lord Captain Lorimar and retinue (2)

What’s more, since Lorimar is such an important character for the 4th assault company, I even made sure to have both a 40k and a Horus Heresy era version of him in my collection:

Lorimar then and now

The 30k version was mostly built and painted by AgnostosTheos — I did add the hands and weapons, though, transforming the model into a fairly plausible representation of a younger Captain Lorimar.

And finally, to top things off, two different hobbyists provided me with some excellent artwork of Lorimar. I love both pieces to bits, be it Greyall’s brilliant illustration of the Lord Captain tearing a Daemon Prince(ss?) of Slaanesh to pieces…

Lord Captain Lorimar by Greyall

Lord Captain Lorimar by Greyall

…or Bloodygoodtime’s wonderfully charming sketch of a slightly more cartoony, yet suitably brooding, Lorimar:

illustration by Bloodygoodtime

illustration by Bloodygoodtime

I realise, of course, that Lorimar is essentially just one slightly bigger Chaos Terminator — but he was one of the most important projects of 2015 for me, and finally having finished the model and being able to place him amidst his followers feels great!

Read more about my work on the model here and here.

 

And while we are on the matter of World Eaters characters, here’s another little guy in red I added to my army as a special guest star, if you will: My own version of Aaron Dembski Bowden’s excellent Lheorvine Ukris, easily my favourite character from The Talon of Horus:

Lheorvine Ukris (9)

Coming up with a model to fit both the description in the book and a certain piece of artwork was quite a bit of fun — and let’s face it, Lheor’s just so awesome that I needed him in my World Eaters army, if only as a cameo 😉

Read more about the model here.

 

2. The Warrior King

While this project was also completed as part of my World Eaters army, strictly speaking, it was still monumental enough for me to deserve its own sub-section:

One of my hobby resolutions for 2015 was to paint the Chaos Knight I converted last year. And it is with quite a bit of pride that I can call this particular mission accomplished. Meet Gilgamesh, the Warrior King:

Chaos Knight Gilgamesh, the Warrior King (12)
In all fairness, if you are a regular reader of this blog, there’s no way you haven’t seen this model before. But I hope you’ll forgive the repetition, because Gilgamesh is really far beyond anything I’ve ever done before, so I am really immensely pleased with having finished him.

Chaos Knight Gilgamesh, the Warrior King (13)
Chaos Knight Gilgamesh, the Warrior King (4)

There are many parts of the model I am really proud of, but possibly the biggest achievement was the inclusion of an entirely kitbashed cockpit in order to house the Knight’s pilot, Baron Augustus Melchiah Harrowthorne:

Chaos Knight Gilgamesh, the Warrior King (22)
I think it’s an addition that really sells the model for me, because it just adds so much character. In fact, inspired by JeffTibbetts’ groundbreaking work on his Queen Bee, I also tried to hint at a deeper narrative behind this ancient warmachine wherever I could, adding things like battle honours, campaign badges or the bloody handprints adorning the Knight’s shin armour — a detail based on a very nifty idea originally supplied by fellow hobbyist dantay_xv.

Possibly my favourite part about this project has to be how it all worked out in spite of a near-catastrophic undercoating mishap right at the beginning — and there I was fearing I had managed to ruin an extensively converted model worth more than 100 Euros for a moment…

Oh, and let’s not forget that the project also increased my, already considerable, admiration for GW’s Imperial Knight kit: It’s so beautifully engineered and well-explained and goes together so woderfully that I shouldn’t really have been so afraid of the task beforehand!

In fact, this whole project was such a blast that I returned to the Warrior King later in the year and created an Epic-scaled version of the Knight, just for the heck of it:

Chibi-Knight Gilgamesh (1)

Now I can hardly wait for a re-released version of Adeptus Titanicus, so my “Chibi-Knight” can reap skulls for the skull throne 😉

Anyway, in case you’re interested, feel free to read up about the Warrior King and his smaller brother.

 

3. “Iron Within, Iron Without!”

This small project gets a special mention because it transformed from a mere test into something legitimately fun and engaging.

Everything started when I decided to use an Iron Warriors Warsmith I had converted ages ago as a test piece for trying out the Leadbelcher spraypaint I wanted to use on my Chaos Knight (short version: The spraypaint is pretty awesome, unless you use it in too hot weater and from too far away). Here’s the model that came out of that test, Warsmith Greimolt Sturm:

Warsmith Greimolt Sturm 01
While the model was merely intended as a test piece, I liked the result enough to start converting some more Iron Warriors to accompany their Warsmith. Thanks to some Dark Vengeance Chosen models kindly provided by Commissar Molotov, I came up with a small gang of Iron Warriors that explore the various archetypes present in the legion, from an Apothecary harvesting geneseed from fallen loyalists to a Breacher batting aside all opposition with his massive shield. So far, only three models have been completed, but this killteam is a fun project that I definitely want to return to at some point in 2016!

Iron Within

Check out my work on the Killteam here and here.

 

4. On the road to Heresy…?

I was never all that interested in starting my own Horus Heresy themed project, both because the thought of having to work with that much resin seemed very unappealing to me and because I found the prospect of having to paint the World Eaters’ Heresy era colour scheme fairly daunting.

However, with the release of Betrayal at Calth, the first point became moot, and I wanted to at least see for myself whether or not that blue and white heraldry would be as hard to paint as I had feared. So I did paint my first Heresy era World Eaters, after all. And I must say that I am really pleased with the result so far:

30k World Eaters test models (3)

In fact, the painting turned out to be a ton of fun, especially when it came to sponge-weathering and using a glaze to create the dirty, off-white armour — the experience was almost liberating, to tell you the truth!

So there will be more Heresy era World Eaters, that much is already decided. Don’t expect a full-blown army anytime soon – or at all – though: While this should be a great way to explore an earlier iteration of my favourite 40k army, it will be a rather deliberate process, favouring characters over massed ranks. A killteam seems like a sensible place to start, there will obviously be some of the characters I have already built. And that tweaked Contemptor I have already shared here on the blog. Beyond that, it’s all up in the air. If it all spins off into an army project at some point, that’s great. I wouldn’tcount on it, though, so please don’t hold your breath! 😉

For now, I am pleasantly surprised that painting the WE Heresy scheme has turned out to be such a cakewalk: I knew that if I were to do any Heresy models, it would have to be World Eaters after all, but the fear of pulling off that white scheme really scared me off. And now I have stumbled upon a recipe that makes it all so easy and pleasant — and I’ll be sharing it with you shortly. Scout’s honour! 😉

Oh, and as if I needed any more justification to further pursue this particular project, the post showcasing my first test model actually attracted exactly 888 views:

BftBG

It seems that Khorne approves…

 

So yeah, so much for the Traitor Legions. Expect to see more of these guys in 2016 🙂

Traitor Legions Class of 2015 (3)

 

 

5. The world of INQ28

Another of my resolutions for 2015 was to complete more models for INQ28, having finished a measly four characters in 2014:

INQ28 class of 2014
And while I still didn’t complete a deluge of characters by any stretch of the imagination, I think we can still call this endeavour a success as well. Take a look at the “Class of 2015”, so to speak:

Inquisitor Class of 2015 (3)

12 new models for my INQ28 collection, all in all. Although I have to admit that I didn’t build and paint all of the models in the picture: The Astropath model was kindly donated to me by the legendary Ron Saikowski — and subsequently named “Skorin Saikov” in his honour:

Model converted and painted by Ron Saikowski

Model converted and painted by Ron Saikowski

What I especially love about the model is how it’s a rather cunning recreation of one of John Blanche’s illustrations:

Insignium p1-10:-

Interestingly enough, there was actually another model similarly based on a piece of JB art and very kindly given to me by Drone21c. Meet the Arch-Deaconne:

The Arch Deaconne
This time around, at least the paintjob is mine 😉 In any case, I think it’s utterly stunning that people not only create those wonderfully Blanchian models, but also send them to me. Nuts!

Anyway, so I did manage to put out more models. But I’ll also consider the project a success because I actually completed some of my best INQ28 work so far, if I do say so myself, such as my very first true scale Astartes, Praetor Janus Auriga of the Golden Legion:

Praetor Janus Auriga (13)

Or Sister Euphrati Eisen of the Order of the Martyred Sword:

Sister Euphrati Eisen (10)
There’s Interrogator Brynn Yulner, who started out as an okay conversion, but only really came into his own once I swapped his legs for a set of Tempestus Scion legs at the eleventh hour:

Interrogator Brynn Yulner (2)
I am also rather happy with the paintjob, to be honest.

I also began building and painting an AdMech-centred warband that has been a lot of fun to work on so far:

Adeptus Mechanicus Magi and Chimeric Servitor (2).

I painted one of Jes Goodwin’s classic Eldar Warlocks which was quite a bit of fun and a very nice change of pace:

Eldar Warlock (1)
Eldar Warlock (4)
Seeing how the model features some lovely retro touches (such as the fur collar), I also endeavoured to paint it in a slightly Oldhammer-ly way (I am especially pleased with the leopard/ermine pattern on the fur, if I do say so myself).

And finally, one model I am particularly fond of is my tough-as-nails Hive Cop Remus Ingram, finally finished this last year:

Remus Ingram (1)
This is actually one of my oldest INQ28 conversions, which makes me even happier that I have finally managed to paint him — I still like that base model enormously, by the way, and I also think the conversion is pretty clever, albeit not all that complex 😉

Tell you what, here’s actually a bit of a call-forward to 2016: I’ve wanted to give Remus a Cyber-Mastiff for quite a while now, although I never had a suitable model. Yet when I won the Malifaux Relic Hunters box in Miniature Tim’s raffle last year, the dog included in that kit provided an excellent base model for that plan. And so my first INQ28 model this year – and indeed my first model for 2016 – turns out to be…a dog. Huh.

Cyber-Mastiff (1)
Cyber-Mastiff (2)
I didn’t convert the model too heavily, both because I rather like the stoic nature of the base model and because I wanted it to still be relatable to as a dog, and not as a vat-grown, ‘roided-out monster: I merely added some cabling running along the back, a small electrical coil and some AdMech gauges on the collar and a bionic eye to show that some augmetics had been put in place. All in all, I am really rather happy with the outcome. As several people have remarked, the bionic eye makes the pup look rather sophisticated 😉

Cyber-Mastiff (3)
I also think the two work together rather nicely, even if the dog is quite a beast:

Remus Ingram and Cyber-Mastiff (2)

Anyway, INQ28 is really my other big passion in this hobby, and I am really happy to have been more productive at it in 2015. I think I’ll try to keep it up in 2016 as well! 😉

Inquisitor Class of 2015 (2)

 

 

II. My favourite hobby moments

Once again, in addition to finishing some models I am really immensely proud of, the interactions with other hobbyists, bloggers and forumites were probably the best part of my 2015 hobby life: From people like Ron Saikowski and Drone21c sending me their Blanche-inspired models to Miniature Tim being awesome enough to not only give away a huge box of stuff as part of a raffle, but to also send it halfway across the world to my doorstep, it has been – once again – a year of humbling generosity and general awesomness.

In a time where everyday politics seem to be defined once again by petty nationalism and disconcerting “The boat is full!” propaganda, it’s a nice counterpoint to be in contact with people all around the globe who are being so supportive and generous. Just take my growing list of “bitz-buddies”: bitzbuddies2015

Or Augustus b’Raass sending my Khornate merch — where does he get that stuff?

Merch for the Merch God
Or the story of the Vaettir:

The Vaettir in his new home
Or any number of additional smaller and bigger moments of cameraderie that have become so central to this hobby for me. Granted, we live in complicated times, and one cannot simply equate sending little pieces of plastic around the world to very pressing political issues. But I do know that this kind of international comradeship has really made me appreciate the avenues of communication open to us today as well as the value of peace between nations — gah, I’m being all sappy and overly-grandiose. Sorry for that! 😉

Oh, you know what was also awesome? That one time Aaron Dembski-Bowden called my work “breathtaking” on his blog. Seriously, that really happened. Look:

YES!
Yeah, that was pretty amazing…

III. Blogging

Blogging on a regular basis is hard work, as any blogger will tell you. And yet, I persevered, in spite of everything: I published 51 posts in 2015 and attracted 224,401 views from over 90,000 visitors. What’s more, I also managed to reach the mark of 500,000 views overall, which I think is pretty cool!

Oh, and I learned what happens when one of my posts – the one about the fun one can have with the freebie Liberator included with a copy of WD back in July, in this particular case – gets shared in the right Reddit-thread:

Reddit

 

So a very heartfelt thank you must also go to all you beautiful readers and commenters! Thanks for reading all of this pointless rambling! And thanks for getting in touch and participating in the discussion! I always love to hear any feedback you might have, so keep the comments coming, alright?

 

So yeah, so much for 2015. And what’s in the cards for 2016? I don’t know. A new job, hopefully! Some new blog posts, certainly. And one thing that I am pretty sure about is that there will be more little plastic men — the majority of them unpainted, I fear. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it 😉

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

The 2015 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 2: The Hobbyists

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , on January 12, 2016 by krautscientist

Awards

2015 has been a frantic and pretty spectacular year for GW, but what about the hobbyists? In this second part of the 2015 Eternal Hunt Awards, allow me to share the best work I’ve seen from fellow hobbyists all around the world this last year. This will be quite a post, I am afraid, but you’ll walk away with quite a bit of inspiration and a new link or two for your blogroll — I guarantee it! 🙂

 

Hobby blog of the year

Before we get to the most impressive blogs and logs of the year, it goes without saying once again that many of the past entries from this category have managed to remain just as fantastic and inspiring as ever! However, in the interest of variety, I have once again decided to only feature blogs that haven’t appeared on the Eternal Hunt Awards yet. So with that out of the way, here are that blogs that blew me away in 2015:

 

Ed’s Heresy Kill-Teams

Custodes exiting the Webway by EdT

Not actually a blog in the classical sense, but rather an ongoing WIP thread over at The Bolter & Chainsword, EdT’s log is nevertheless my favourite 2015 hobby blog, as the amount of sheer inspiration contained in it stands a head above the rest of the competition: Ed originally started out building and painting small Heresy-themed warbands for various Astartes legions and Imperial factions that were perfect little slices of the background, exploring the Heresy in a way that was at once interesting and highly original. He ultimately graduated to creating even more involved projects like the absolutely stunning Custodes-themed diorama shown above and below, possibly my favourite piece of his work:

models built and painted by EdT

models built and painted by EdT

There are many more fantastic dioramas where that one came from, however, and most of them are even accompanied by some truly fantastic writing, such as the brilliant “Barque of Neter-Khertet” here:

models built and painted by EdT

models built and painted by EdT

You will really have to explore the thread yourself in order to see how cool it is, although let me point out two of my favourite parts about Ed’s work: One, his boundless creativity when it comes to creating perfect little slices of the 32nd millennium. Two, his growing ambition, as you can really see him growing as a hobbyist over the course of the thread. To wit, his latest project, featured in a thread of his own, is a Cerastus Knight Lancer designed through the lense of East-African cultural influences. Pretty ambitious, wouldn’t you agree?

For these reasons, EdT’s thread is easily my favourite hobby blog of 2015. Yet it is with a certain bitter-sweetness that I tell you this, for Ed has recently decided to quit the hobby after finishing his latest project. While I respect his decision, I still think that’s rather terrible news! On the other hand, I have no doubt that his creativity will lead him to success in whatever field he decides to apply himself to next. And in any case, his thread’s still there, though, so make sure to check it out and be blown away!

 

Ex Profundis

Ex Profundis Logo

There are few blogs with a style as utterly distinctive as Ex Profundis — which is even more stunning when you realise that the blog showcases the work of several people and a couple of recurring guest artists. Even so, there’s nary a blog to be found that presents an equally dark and compelling look at our favourite hobby. While also featuring some of the most kick-ass modeling and painting work in existence, no less.

Dark Mechanicus House Sinekai by Bruticus

Dark Mechanicus House Sinekai by Bruticus

From Bruticus’ wonderfully gritty and sinister INQ28 warbands to Meade’s brilliantly creepy Dark Mechanicus and mutant hordes, Ex Profundis shows us a very particular and dark side of our favourite setting that we don’t really get to see anywhere else — and that is definitely saying something!

Mutant by meade

Mutant by meade

 

Mutant by meade

Mutant by meade

 

Mutant by meade

Mutant by meade

 

Mutant by meade

Mutant by meade

The pervading style and unique voice of the various projects really make this blog into something special. And even better, in addition to the fantastic modeling and painting projects, those guys even have something worthwile to say about various artistic subjects ranging from the artwork of the standout Manga-series Berserk to a rather insightful post on the importance of skulls in WFB and 40k...

Oh, and GW should probably let Bruticus do some of the world building for Age of Sigmar — I think the setting would really profit from that… 😉

Anyway, a standout blog that you should definitely check out at your earliest convenience!

 

Death of a Rubricist

DOAR Banner
I have to confess that I am pretty late to this particular party, as many of you will probably already know Apologist’s excellent blog. After all, he owns what is probably the most impressive Ultramarines army around — and those guys are all true-scaled, natch!

Ultramarines by Apologist

Ultramarines by Apologist

Indeed, the army has seriously made me reconsider my stance on the XIII legion, as both the models as well as the amount of care Apologist puts into their construction and the narrative behind them really turns them into the awe-inspiring force we have always read about in GW’s materials. I would never have expected to be interested in the XIII legions armour markings, but Apologist’s posts on the matter unfailingly have me spellbound — NUTS!

True scale Ultramarine by Apologist

True scale Ultramarine by Apologist

To wit, Apologist has even managed to come up with a model of Roboute Guilliman that I think is actually cooler than Forgeworld’s official model — at least it’s closer to how I imagine the Lord of the XIIIth:

Rouboute Guilliman by Apologist

Rouboute Guilliman by Apologist

But it doesn’t stop there, as this amazing level of quality and dedication is typical of all of Apologist’s work, regardless of whether he creates more Ultramarines or some equally excellent true-scaled Iron Warriors,…

Iron Warriors by Apologist

Iron Warriors by Apologist

…or a growing collection of wonderfully dark and medieval INQ28 models centered around the eponymous Rubricist…

Rubricist by Apologist

Rubricist by Apologist

…or even the odd Xenos model:

Eldar Prince by Apologist

Eldar Prince by Apologist

Whatever part of the grimdark future Apologist puts his mind to, he produces outstanding work! And his accompanying story vignettes unfailingly cut to the heart of everything that is awesome about the Horus Heresy or 40k. A wonderful blog and an excellent discovery, even if I was kind of slow on the uptake on this particular occasion 😉

Anyway, go explore Death of a Rubricist by following this “inload” (see what I did there…?)!

 

Nicolas Grillet’s blog

Nico Grillet banner
A fairly recent addition to my blog roll, this one, yet Nico Grillet’s blog has still managed to shoot straight into the list of my favourites. He has managed to produce an utterly fantastic warband of AdMech Explorators, for one:

AdMech Explorator warband by Nicolas Grillet

AdMech Explorator warband by Nicolas Grillet

But that’s not nearly all, because Nicolas has also come up with a breathtaking, entirely scratchbuilt Underhive board for his Explorators to inhabit and …well, explore, I suppose 😉 The terrain is unbelievable in scope and quality, and on par with perennial favourites like Neil’s Yggdrassillium board or ThenickeNinja’s underhive terrain. Just take a look:

Underhive terrain by Nicolas Grillet

Underhive terrain by Nicolas Grillet

 

Underhive terrain by Nicolas Grillet

Underhive terrain by Nicolas Grillet

 

Underhive terrain by Nicolas Grillet

Underhive terrain by Nicolas Grillet

 

Underhive terrain by Nicolas Grillet

Underhive terrain by Nicolas Grillet

To top it all off, all of this modeling and painting goodness is merely one slice of Nicolas’ blog, because the guy is also a kick-ass illustrator. So make sure to head over there and take it all in in big, greedy gulps. Brilliant stuff!

Best models of the year

The quality of a lot of the stuff I am seeing online regularly manages to blow me away. Yet there are some models each year that manage to stand a head above the rest — not necessarily because they are flawlessly painted (although that certainly factors into the equation), but because they manage to perfectly embody a particular aspect of the background, and each and every detail is masterfully applied to support that effect. The level of quality when it comes to hobbyists’ creations is really quite off the charts by now — it’s almost unbelievable how many quality projects, logs, blogs and galleries can be found online! But even in this Golden Age of creativity, there are some that rise above the crowd. So let me present you some of the best pieces of 2014:

 

Queen Bee by Jeff Tibbetts

Queen Bee by Jeff Tibbetts

Queen Bee by Jeff Tibbetts

Well, there really cannot be any other model to open this section but the Queen Bee: I’ve heaped gushing praise on the model before, mostly because it was one of my most valuable inspirations when building and painting my own Knight, but it has to be said again: The Queen Bee may just be the best Imperial Knight model currently in existence, period.

The reason for this is that JeffTibbetts didn’t cut any corners when creating the model, but did rather do everything in his power to imbue the piece with a sense of underlying narrative: There’s a real history in the peeling layers of paint, the battle damage and the countless little details adorning various parts of the model — there’s even a little bird’s nest precariously balanced on one of the Queen Bee’s arms, for crying out loud!

This tendency continues with the actual paintjob, as Jeff has spent an unbelievable amount of work and care on replicating certain effects you would expect of an ancient and hallowed machine like this: The rust, the grit, the flaking paint — all of those brilliant little touches make the Queen Bee into a character rather than just a playing piece, and that is the biggest compliment I can probably think of.

Queen Bee by JeffTibbetts

Queen Bee by JeffTibbetts

In fact, let me single out just one particular detail, because it’s probably my favourite part of the model and because I had the honour of playing a small part in its inception: JeffTibbetts wanted to feature a sort of pinup on the Knight’s heraldic shield, as a shout out to the machine’s humble origins as little more than a glorified wood-clearing machine or construction engine during the Dark Age of Technology. Over an extended discussion over at The Bolter & Chainsword, we thought about how more than ten millennia of cultural and technological regression might influence such a pinup picture, turning it into something much more medieval and quasi-religious. And Jeff really knocked it out of the park with the finished design:

Queen Bee by JeffTibbetts

Queen Bee by JeffTibbetts

Possibly the best part is that the classic pinup pose is still there. But the design is steeped in the hallmarks of gothic madness and religious fervor we have come to expect of the 40k universe — utterly brilliant stuff!

In a moment of sheer brilliance, the Queen Bee’s excellence even managed to make it into an unlockable skin for the player’s Knight in Pixel Toys’ recent Knight-themed IOS game Freeblade, with a surprisingly faithful recreation of the model appearing in the game, as can be seen in this comparison shot made by Jeff and nicked from his own blog:

Queen Bee by JeffTibbetts (1)

And what do you know, they even featured my favourite part of the model in the game as well:

Queen Bee by JeffTibbetts (7)

JeffTibbetts’ Queen Bee stands as a towering triumph, as a proof what dedication to a model can produce — and how it can ultimately be rewarded in the coolest possible way. It’s a stunning piece, a fantastic inspiration to anyone building and painting an Imperial Knight of their own, and easily my favourite model of 2015.

Jeff’s work on the Queen Bee be has been extensively – and invaluably – chronicled over at his blog, so may sure to read up on it!

 

Lukas Kupferberg and Scarabée Intrépide by morbäck

models built and painted by morbäck

models built and painted by morbäck

Morbäck is easily one of my favourite hobbyists, both for his unbelievable conversions and his very distinctive style of painting. So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that his models make an appearance in this post, right? Well, even so, this year’s offering ist really something else. But all in good order:

First Morbäck managed to create a single miniature that was simply gorgeous and just about perfect. I am talking about Lukas Kupferberg here:

Lukas Kupferberg by morbäck

Lukas Kupferberg by morbäck

Everything about this model is spectacular: The fantastic paintjob, the wonderfully inspired conversion — what really gets me going, however, is how Morbäck has skillfully used some Skitarii parts to make this guy look like a pilot: The Vanguard helmet just works perfectly, as do the backpack parts on the shoulders. All in all, the model looks so delicious that I’d like to eat it!

Amazing as Lukas Kupferberg may bee when seen on his own, however, the model was merely a prelude to an even bigger project: He was created to serve as a character in a scenario called “Burning Skies” that, as far as I’ve managed to understand it with my lousy French, basically consists of playing something akin to Aeronautica Imperialis at the 28mm scale — and with a much reduced cast of very characterful aircraft and pilots!

Towards this end, Morbäck also built an aircraft for Lukas to pilot. The Scarabée Intrépide. Just take a look. Words don’t do it justice:

Scarabée Intrépide by morbäck

Scarabée Intrépide by morbäck

After you’ve picked your jaw back off the floor and stopped asking yourself “How did he do it?”, you start noticing some of the brilliant detail:  Not only does the vehicle feature an excellent seated and helmeted version of Lukas Kupferberg in its cockpit…

Scarabée Intrépide by morbäck

Scarabée Intrépide by morbäck

…but it EVEN TRANSFORMS SLAVE ONE-STYLE, for crying out loud:

Scarabée Intrépide by morbäck

Scarabée Intrépide by morbäck

Again, I really don’t have any words for this…

None of Morbäck’s creations are never less than spectacular, but he has managed to outdo himself this time. Unbelievable stuff! I can’t even. 😉

Make sure to check out Morbäck’s excellent, more detailed posts on Lukas Kupferberg and the Scarabée Intrépide, respectively. And take a look at the other Kouzes’ fantastic work as well, while you’re over there! 😉

 

Empyrium Emulation Chamber by Cerebralerebus

Empyrium Emulation Chamber by Cerebralerebus

Empyrium Emulation Chamber by Cerebralerebus

2015 definitely was the Adeptus Mechanicus year. But even with AdMech now a playable faction and one of the most gorgeous 40k armies, let us not forget those hobbyists who blazed the trail with their own, scratchbuilt AdMech armies, long before it was cool.

Cerebralerebus is one of those hobbyists, and his deliciously yellow/orange AdMech army is truly spectacular. What’s even better, though, is that he returned to his army in 2015 and proved that his conversions easily hold up when compared with the “official” models. In fact, his brilliantly creepy “Empyrium Emulation Chamber” is precisely the kind of insane gadget that is yet missing from the official releases, if you ask me:

Empyrium Emulation Chamber by Cerebralerebus

Empyrium Emulation Chamber by Cerebralerebus

There are tons of clever little touches on the model: The way it seems to be floating. The way the tortured psyker souls in its main compartment seem to be floating. The Admech personnel guarding and controlling the machine. You can spend an hour just looking at all the intricate little touches and try to think about the function of this machine in the back of your head — whatever the chamber is supposed to do, it surely doesn’t look pleasant:

Empyrium Emulation Chamber by Cerebralerebus

Empyrium Emulation Chamber by Cerebralerebus

I won’t mince any words: Can we please get a kit for this thing as part of the next rumoured Adeptus Mechanicus update, GW? Thank you! 🙂

More on the Empyrium Emulation Chamber can be found here, along with the rest of Cerebralerebus’ absolutely stunning (and entirely converted and kitbashed) Admech army.

 

Einherjar the Eternal, Daemon Engine of Khorne, by Augustus b’Raass

model built and painted by Augustus b'Raass

model built and painted by Augustus b’Raass

It shouldn’t surprise you that this list always has to feature at least one massive, spiky Khornate model, and this year’s slot deservedly goes to Augustus b’Raass’ absolutely amazing Daemon Engine: I suppose the Lord of Skulls would have been far more popular with the crowd if it had looked a bit more like this 😉 Anyway, the model is massive and menacing, and the perfect centre piece for Augustus’ small (but hopefully still growing) detachment of World Eaters. Khorne is pleased, Brother-Slaughterer! 🙂

Check out Einherjar in more detail in Augustus’ showcase thread over at The Bolter & Chainsword.

 

Necrotic Rotstalker by Jeff Vader

Rotstalker by Jeff Vader

Rotstalker by Jeff Vader


Leave it to hobby prodigy, illustrator extraordinaire and all around great guy Johan Egerkrans to blow us away at the eleventh hour: In spite of taking a longer hiatus from building and painting little plastic men in 2015, Jeff exploded back onto the scene late in the year and effortlessly created one of the standout pieces of 2015: The Necrotic Rotstalker. The model is a perfect combination of the trailblazing work performed by Kari Hernesniemi on his “Stryderre” model in 2014, the creepiness of the Sicarian Ruststalkers and a healthy dose of Nurgle’s Rot (the visual approach, not the eponymous technical paint). I hate you so much, Jeff Vader, because you make it all look so very easy! 😉

Take a closer look at the Necrotic Rotstalker and his upcoming buddies here.

 

Inquisitor Lucanus Molnár by Adam Wier

Inquisitor Lucanus Molnar by Adam Wier

Inquisitor Lucanus Molnar by Adam Wier

Conversions of non-GW models for use in GW settings often don’t end too well — there’s just something about the look and feel of GW’s own products that can be a little tricky to approximate when working with base models from other manufacturers. In this regard, Adam Wier’s conversion for Inquisitor Molnár is an especially huge triumph, as the model looks right at home in the 41st millennium while seamless combining one of Dreamforge Games’ (excellent) Valkir Stormtroopers with a clever selection of actual GW bitz.

Beyond the elegance of the conversion, Inquisitor Molnár is a fantastic character in his own right: A hulking representative of the Ordo Machinum (the Ordo overseeing the Adeptus Mechanicus), and each and every part of the model comes together to create a stunning piece — even more stunning, actually, for the fact that it’s one of the first models Adam has painted in years. Quite a return to form, I must say!

Read up on the model and its creation here.

 

Inquisitor Eisenhorn by Nordic

Inquisitor Eisenhorn by Nordic

Inquisitor Eisenhorn by Nordic


Well, what is there to say? Everyone loves Gregor Eisenhorn, and Nordic has just managed to come up with just about the perfect 28mm respresentation of everybody’s favourite 54mm miniature. Incidentally, as we will be seeing in a minute, Nordic’s prowess at creating stunning INQ28 models based on character concepts from the Inquisitor rulebook and original set of 54mm releases has to be seen to be believed, but even amongst a brilliant collection, the Eisenhorn model stands out!

 

Army/warband of the year

And finally, to top off our annual collection of eye candy, let’s escalate things a bit and look at 2015’s best armies and warbands. This will be quite a treat. Trust me! 😉

 

First Claw by Augustus b’Raass

First Claw by Augustus b'Raass

First Claw by Augustus b’Raass

I have yet to meet a hobbyist that wasn’t instantly turned into Night Lords fanboy after reading Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s Night Lords trilogy. ADB’s novels always feature an impressive cast of rounded and compelling characters, but the “Certainly not friends/possibly actual enemies/still brothers in spite of everything” dynamic of First Claw has to be one of the high-points of his literary work. It’s no surprise that many people love Talos and his crew, and quite a few have come up with their own attempt at capturing First Claw in model form.

And to make a long story short, nobody has managed to nail it quite like Augustus b’Raass with his version of First Claw. Each of the squad members has been painstakingly and beautifully recreated, and each is a pretty much perfect representation of the character. Personally, I think I favour Uzas — but then he was my favourite in the novels as well 😉

Even Aaron Dembski-Bowden himself was blown away by Augustus’ models — and rightly so! Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I have to thumb through my copy of the Night Lords Omnibus again…

A closer look at First Claw and its various members can be found here, once again as part of Augustus’ showcase thread.

 

Inquisitor Machaius’ retinue by Nordic

Inquisitor Machaius' retinue by Nordic

Inquisitor Machaius’ retinue by Nordic

I already mentioned Nordic’s knack for building stunning INQ28 models based on sketches from the Inquisitor rulebook above, and Inquisitor Machaius and retinue are just the perfect example: Almost all of the models in the retinue are excellent representations of a piece of artwork from the book and/or a sketch from John Blanche’s Inquisitor sketchbook. And the resulting warband is simply amazing! In fact, Nordic’s entire INQ28 related output for 2015 has to be seen to be believed!

INQ28 year one collection by Nordic

INQ28 year one collection by Nordic

Likewise, Nordic’s thread over at the Ammobunker is full of massively inspiring work — which is why you’ll have to read through it all, I’m afraid. Trust me, though: It’s well worth it! 🙂

 

Nurglite warbands by Jeff Vader

Nurgle Warband by Jeff Vader

Nurgle Warband by Jeff Vader

In a way, these form the perfect bookends for 2015, do they not? One warband each to explore what the concept of Nurgle can be, both in the dark past and in the grimdark future. And without over-relying on any overly tired Nurgle tropes, natch! There’s also the fact that Jeff Vader is always at the top of his game when creating excellent and evocative plastic conversions. And I don’t even need to talk about those paintjobs — I’d probably sacrifice a small kitten to be able to paint like that (on second thought, no, I probably couldn’t do it, but I hope Jeff Vader will appreciate the sentiment 😉 ).

It’s a testament to the quality of hiw work that he can take a few months off from building little plastic men and still create some of the truly defining work of 2015. Amazing stuff, all around!

You’ll find more information on those stunning Nurglite models over at The Convertorum — but you already knew that, I wager. And if you weren’t, well, then what in the seven hells are you still doing here? 😉

Nurgle Warband by Jeff Vader

Nurgle Warband by Jeff Vader

 

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

I already mentioned Ex Profundis’ distinctive style further up in this post, and Bruticus’ wonderful Pitslave Gang can serve as a wonderful example of it: He has created a wonderfully gritty, very visceral and utterly believable gang of models that is equal parts Mad Max and Necromunda, and all the better for it:

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

The variety of different kits that has gone into making this warband is truly staggering, but Bruticus pulls it all together into a cohesive whole, giving us both gangers that are very heavily inspired by classic post-apocalyptic tropes,…

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

 

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

…while also incorporating more heavily augmented cyborgs and brutes that look very different but seem perfectly at home in the collection:

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

 

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

All of this is achieved via one of Bruticus’ trademark fantastic paintjobs, combining a deceptively bright main colour with lots of dirt, grime, blood and oil and that delicious blue as a spot colour. Spectacular stuff!

And to add insult to injury, he has even built a wonderful vehicle to accompany his pit slaves:

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

Pitslave Gang by Bruticus

Bruticus’ style is immediately recognisable, and there’s nobody who paints in quite the same way. And nowhere does his trademark style work better than on his gorgeous Pitslaves!

Check out Bruticus’ Pitslave warband in more detail here.

 

Heresy-era Emperor’s Children / Heresy-era Astartes by kizzdougs

The Sekhmet -Emperor's Children army by kizzdougs

The Sekhmet -Emperor’s Children army by kizzdougs

Kizzdougs has been an absolutely stunning painter for quite a long time, but he really blew me away time and time again in 2015 with his ongoing WIP thread over at The Bolter & Chainsword. For starters, it features his army of Heresy era Emperor’s Children – the Sekhmet – a gorgeous collection of models, and arguably the best III legion army around, including, for instance, what may just be the perfect Horus Heresy model:

model built and painted by kizzdougs

model built and painted by kizzdougs

Stunning as the army may be, however, that’s only the half of it:

In recent months, Kizzdougs has also begun building several test models to represent each of the (traitor) Astartes legions, relying more and more on the new Mk IV plastics from the Betrayal at Calth box. And not only are the results perfect little slices of the 32nd millennium come to life, as you can plainly see yourself,…

Heresy era Legionaries by kizzdougs

Heresy era Legionaries by kizzdougs

…but they also show how far some careful kitbashing and a brilliant paintjob will get quite some variation out of those – very vanilla – stock models and create wonderfully evocative pieces — it really shouldn’t surprise you that Kizzdougs’ World Eaters model shown below was one of my main design templates when starting to paint my own first 30k World Eaters. His example even made me try my hand at sponge-weathering, and I am really happy I did!

Heresy era legionaries by kizzdougs

Heresy era legionaries by kizzdougs

So, to make a long story short: If you are even the slightest bit interested in Astartes, make sure to visit Kizzdougs’ brilliant ongoing WIP thread over at The Bolter & Chainsword.

 

Honorary mention: Navigator House Merz-Itano by weirdingway

Navigator House Merz-Itano by weirdingway

Navigator House Merz-Itano by weirdingway

Now I’ve actually made it a part of the – pretty rickety rules – of this contest that no army will receive an award more than one time in a row. And yet, this section simply wouldn’t be complete without mentioning weirdingway’s wonderful Navigatorial house yet again: He may have won last year’s award which should exclude him from the competition, but his growing collection of wonderfully original and unconventional models is, simply put, the most exciting and inspiring 40k project in existence right now.

Weirdingway has an absolutely amazing ongoing thread over at The Ammobunker, and it’s even more brilliant now than it was last year, obviously. Check it out at your earliest convenience — you can thank me later! 😉

 

So yeah, this is it. Quite a ride, wouldn’t you agree? Anyway, congratulations to all the “winners”, and I believe all you beautiful readers will have a list of blogs to check out now that will see you through until the third and final part of the 2015 Eternal Hunt Awards, in which I will be taking a look at my personal hobby year.

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

The 2015 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 1: The Industry

Posted in 40k, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , on January 5, 2016 by krautscientist

Awards

And here we are after all, with 2015’s Eternal Hunt Awards. Kept you waiting, huh? 😉

It has been …quite a year for hobbyists, no question about that. For today’s first parts of my annual recap, let’s take a look at GW’s releases this last year, as they have been even more crazy than the 2014 lineup. To wit: 2015, the year when we finally got AdMech as a playable army. When GW blew up Warhammer Fantasy Battles and reshaped its broken bones into a new setting. When the first plastic Horus Heresy models were released. When the return of the Specialist Games was announced.

Quite a year, indeed. But what were the great and not so great releases of 2015? Step this way to hear my opinion of the matter:

 

I. Best releases of 2015:

Surprisingly enough, GW has not merely kept up the relentless barrage of releases we saw 2014, but has even managed to up the ante when it comes to some rather huge releases, with some of them really rather surprising. So what are my favourite releases of 2015? It’s a tough call to make, but in the end, here’s my selection:

The Adeptus Mechanicus release(s)

AdMech Skitarii Release (1)

The importance of finally delivering the Adeptus Mechanicus as a playable 40k faction – and all on glorious plastic, no less – simply cannot be overstated. The Adeptus Mechanicus has always been one of the most quintessential and original parts of the whole 40k background. So hobbyists have wanted more AdMech for years — and now we finally get our wish, and it’s glorious!

It helps that the models are utterly stunning, though, turning the two AdMech factions into one of the most visually arresting armies in GW’s catalogue right now. They probably knew they had to pull this off in style, and they did, a few very minor hiccups notwithstanding. From the lithe creepiness of the Sicarian Ruststalkers to the excellent versatility of the Skitarii Rangers/Vanguard, it’s really hard to choose favourites. Some kits that formed a part of the release, however, deserve special mention:

The Sydonian Dragoon for arguably being the most ouright-Blanchian and quintessentially 40k model released for the mainline game so far:

AdMech Skitarii Release (23)

The Tech-Priest-Dominus for its brilliant creepiness, flawless design and disturbing inhumanity:

Cult Mechanicus Release (8)

Seriously, speculating what the guy may actually look like beneath his robes provides endless fun as well as goosebumps…

There also the fact that the Datasmith accompanying the Kastelan robots seems like an 28mm version of the original artwork for Magos Delphan Gruss from the Inquisitor rulebook — that’s the kind of meta continuity porn that just gets me every time 😉

Cult Mechanicus Release (12)

And the list really goes on and on: We got actual models based on the electro priest background that hadn’t been seen since the 2nd edition Codex Imperialis. And some robots whose retro-futuristic design à la Fallout is something really new for 40k (which is why they weren’t universally liked, I imagine). And the kits I have worked with so far are beautifully engineered and look stunning when painted up, regardless of whether or not you are an ‘Eavy Metal painter!

The result is a brilliant collection of models that is, arguably, even better than Forgeworld’s Mechanicus models: In short, when it comes to both fanservice and visual design, there is nothing that can quite compare to the Adeptus Mechanicus models. Sure, splitting the release into two sub-factions seems like a slightly dubious move in hindsight, but I’ll let it slide. A triumph, all in all!

In case you’re interested, feel free to take a closer look at my original reviews for the Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus releases.

 

Betrayal at Calth
Betrayal at Calth release (5)

Oh boy, where to start. Giving us plastic AdMech was already a pretty big act of fanservice, but finally releasing plastic Horus Heresy models? Who would have expected something like that only twelve months ago?

I suppose it only made sense, though: The Horus Heresy has become a rather massive commercial juggernaut for GW, it seems, so it was only a question of time before some “gateway drug” for people interested in getting started with gaming in the Heresy era became inevitable. But what a gateway drug it is: With three complete and newly designed MK IV tactical squads, a squad of multipart Cataphractii, a freaking plastic Contemptor and two special characters, the box delivers a lot of bang for the buck — and it even includes an actual game to be played with the models, let’s not forget that!

It’s also pretty brilliant how the models included in the box will flawlessly work for both 30k and 40k: Whether you want to dip your feet into the Horus Heresy or are merely looking to spice up your 40k Space Marine army, you’ll walk away happy.

Betrayal at Calth release (7)
Are the models a little too generic, maybe? Does the Contemptor suffer from a rather pidgeon-toed pose? The answer is yes on both counts. And yet, Betrayal at Calth remains a fantastic package — fantastic enough to even get me to paint some Heresy era models, and in white to boot.

Beyond the quality of the actual box contents, it’ll also interesting to see how this all plays out: Will there me more Horus Heresy stuff in plastic? Will the setting thus become more approachable for people like me who are not that fond of resin as a material (or have no more kidneys left to sell in order to pay for their Forgeworld spending). Whatever happens, this was one heck of a surprise!

Take a look at my original review for the Betrayal at Calth models here.

 

The Age of Sigmar starter box

Age of Sigmar starter box (3)

If you can say one thing about GW, is that they really know how to put together rather fantastic starter boxes. Which is why the Age of Sigmar boxed set has made it onto this list alongside Betrayal of Calth. In fact, the AoS starter almost seems like the ying to BoC’s yang: While the latter seems to have been engineered for maximum versatility, allowing you to customise the models any way you see fit, the Age of Sigmar boxed set gives you two small armies composed of highly individual mono-pose snapfit models that should make for fairly spectacular forces on the tabletop And GW really seems to excel at either way of putting together a starter box, which is certainly no mean feat.

The first faction included in the box, the Stormcast Eternals, provided us with a first glimpse of Age of Sigmar’s new posterboy faction, and if nothing else, the models make for a pretty stunning showcase:

Age of Sigmar starter box (4)
Granted, the models may be more videogamey and World of Warcraft-like than many diehard WFB fans may be comfortable with, but you cannot fault the quality of the sculpts or the visual presence of the models. What’s more, the humble snapfit Liberators in the box turn out to be surprisingly versatile, with a bit of experimentation…

The other faction included in the box is a far more traditional WFB army, nevertheless giving us some of the best Khornate models available so far:

Age of Sigmar starter box (13)

Again, there’s slightly zany stuff like the too-large standard on the Bloodsecrator or the crazily mutated Khorgorath, but the models are still excellent. In fact, the small army almost seems like a medieval version of Dark Vengeance’s (equally great) Chaos force.

While hobbyists in general still seem divided over the overall merits of Age of Sigmar versus the dearly departed WFB, there’s no question as to the quality of the starter box: The models are fantastic and make a compelling case for the game. I was quick to pick up the box, and I am not even really planning to play Age of Sigmar. Another fantastic starter box, even if the models are not as versatile as the ones included with Betrayal of Calth. To see two boxes of this caliber released in one year is really rather stunning!

Read my original thoughts on the box here.

 

Third time’s the charm: The new Tau Mechs

The Tau have been one of 40k’s more interesting faction for quite a while now, precisely because they seem so different from the setting’s usual, grimdark stylings and so freely borrow inspiration from Japanese Animé and giant Mecha. And yet, the one thing the faction should have gotten right from the get go – the actual giant Mecha – has always seemed a bit lacklustre. Sure, the battlesuits were a fun idea, but they never looked quite as cool as they could have. Should have. Last year’s Tau release started to rectify that with the Riptide, among other things, but it’s this year’s update that provides some additional huge battlesuit models — arguably some of the best models of the catalogue:

2015 Tau release (3)
One of the most interesting parts about Mech design is when it breaks up the vaguely humanoid shape of the machine in interesting ways, and the Stormsurge manages just that, replacing regular arms with massive rocket launchers, adding support struts to the legs and incorporating a massive railgun that every Metal Gear Solid veteran will fall in love with. The resulting model instantly reads as the massive heavy fire support unit it is supposed to be in-game.

Possibly my favourite part of the model is the open cockpit, though: Cockpit design is so very important when designing cool Mecha, and after dropping the ball on the – otherwise fantastic – Imperial Knight kit, it’s great to see GW make the most of this particular element this time around.

2015 Tau release (8)

The other massive model to come out of this release is possibly even cooler, though: If you ask me, the Ghostkeel may just be the definitive Tau Mecha-suit right now: The model incorporates many, many established Tau design elementes, while combining them into a model that seems massive as well as elegant and flexible. It also has a rather interesting head, for once, something that most of the Tau robotic suits so far have sadly lacked.

2015 Tau release (12)
Even better is the fact that it features what might be my favourite cockpit right now, giving you a closer look at the way the pilot is positioned inside the machine. Much was made of the female Tau head provided for the pilot, and it’s certainly a nice additional bit, but the real star of the show here is the clever engineering that has gone into the entire chest/cockpit area:

2015 Tau release (15)
After fumbling the challenge a bit for so long, it seems like the new Tau battlesuits now finally channel everything that’s great about Animé Mecha design, resulting in two models that actually make it hard to resist starting a Tau army — easily some of the best models of 2015, if you ask me!

 

The new Bloodthirster

Khorne End Times release (9)

The old metal Bloodthirster is one of the outstanding models of my youth: I remember marveling at the model in my very first copy of WD. But in all honesty, the model really hasn’t aged all that gracefully, and a replacement was long overdue. The new Bloodthirster solves this task wonderfully, and I really hadn’t expected that: After waiting so long for new Greater Daemon models, I was convinced any new version of the classic daempns could only end up as a bit of a disappointment — especially given the competition in the form of models like Creature Caster’s spectacular Warrior Demon, for instance.

In spite of it all, however, the new Bloodthirster really makes for a stunning reinterpretation of the classic concept, even resembling one of the coolest pieces of Mark Gibbons artwork from the yesteryear, while also featuring the dynamism and level of detail we have come to expect from modern plastic kits. Some fairly awkward parts remain – especially the meteor hammer weapons option and the flaming pillar designed to optionally boost the model’s height – but the bog standard whip and axe Bloodthirster pictured above is brilliant enough to make me overlook those smaller slipups. Just look at that cute little face:

Khorne End Times release (10)
Awww! Brilliant stuff! In fact, I already have one of these guys completely built and will hopefully paint the model sooner rather than later.

 

II. Worst release/biggest disappointment

Once again, it’s a pleasant surprise to see that none of 2015’s releases were actually really bad or downright horrible. However, some models were less cool than they should have been, while other releases seemed slightly underwhelming. So let’s take a look at the stuff that didn’t blow me away and also at some general tendencies and occurences I found disappointing:

 

The Deluge of Golden Dudes AKA the Stormcast Eternals release

Stormcast Eternals release (1)
Wait, didn’t I just choose the Age of Sigmar starter box as one of my favourite releases of 2015? And now this? What gives?

I stand by my earlier assessment that the Stormcast Eternal models from the starter box are very cool and make for a pretty good showcase for the faction. At the same time, I would have expected something a bit more interesting from the subsequent full release of the faction. It’s very obvious that the Stormcast Eternals are an attempt at creating an iconic army on par with the Space Marines of 40k, as there are just so many parallels between the two factions. Incidentally, the Stormcast Eternals are actually very close in size to the “true-scale” Marines so many hobbyists have been clamouring for. So what’s the problem?

Maybe it’s the fact that the new models lack the Space Marines 30 years’ worth of background: We are told they are amazing warriors capable of unbelievable feats, but we haven’t really seen all that much of them yet, and the AoS lore so far doesn’t really get the job done. In a way, the Stormcast Eternals make me understand for the first time what a Space Marine release must look like for someone not actually interested in Space Marines: Just the same bunch of dudes in heavy armour. Over and over and over.

At the same time, while the models are meticulously designed and crafted, the army does seem a bit samey. Maybe a more human element would have provided a bit of contrast? Or maybe the Stormcast Eternals will finally grow into their own, once the game and its world get developed a bit more? Maybe I’m just disgruntled because there are no more quasi-renaissance soldiers wearing floppy hats and pantaloons?

For now, I’ll say this much: The Stormcast Eternals from the starter box seemed like an interesting first taste. The rest of the release so far has not yet managed to live up to the hype generated by GW’s marketing for these guys. We will see what the future holds. Until then, I have to say that I found the Stormcast Eternals release slightly underwhelming, especially for something that is supposed to be the iconic new fantasy army.

 

Also pretty disappointing: The 2015 Space Marines release

2015 Space Marine Release (1)While we are on the subject of big armoured dudes, the 2015 Space Marines release didn’t exactly blow me away either — not a bad release per se, certainly, but still a bit lacklustre, wouldn’t you agree? Giving their posterboys an update has always been a rather big occasion for GW, yet almost every part of the release had already been done better by another, earlier kit: The Vanguard kit lets you create more interesting assault Marines than the actual new assault Marine kit, the BA Terminator Chaplain is quite a bit cooler than the awkward looking vanilla one, and the updated Devastators, while definitely a highly useful kit, nevertheless suffer from a couple of strange design decisions (those really awkward helmets, for instance, and the ugly grav weaponry). Of course we didn’t know back then that the “real” 2015 Space Marine release would arrive later in the year — in the form of Betrayal at Calth 😉 So maybe that explains why these guys ended up less than spectacular…?

 

Those axe-flail-things on Skarr Bloodwrath

Khorne End Times release (18)

Look, I am seriously willing to excuse a lot of crap and suspend my disbelief as far as it will possibly stretch, but who in the seven hells thought this was a good idea? Did someone actually imagine how this guy’s fighting style would look in motion? I’m just glad those chains are easy enough to snip off…

 

The “Denglish” is getting unbearable

I already described this very problem last year, so let me just quote myself here for a bit:

As of the spring of 2014, all of GW’s publications use the English names – and only the English names – for any given unit type or character in all of their game systems. (…) Unfortunately, this creates Codices and publications with lots and lots of gibberish, where plain text is suddenly and rather violently broken apart by seemingly wanton insertion of English terms, even when a perfectly serviceable and well established translation for these terms exists in-universe.

Suffice to say that this already deplorable condition has really been turned up to eleven this last year, which makes the German translations of GW publications almost unbearable to read at this point. The fact that so many of the Age of Sigmar names are pretty overwrought doesn’t help, but it also extends to stuff that has been well established before (and appeared in BL novels, for crying out loud), with words suddenly getting English plurals in the German text. Once again, I realise that it probably all makes sense from a business perspective, but the effect is so jarring and ruins the quality of the writing so thoroughly that it’s almost offensive, especially when GW’s German translations used to make for pretty decent reading.

 

Plastic Sisters of Battle…pretty please?!

For the fourth year in a row, I’ve been pining for some redesigned plastic Sisters of Battle. Sure, one learns to make do, but it’s not the same as finally having access to some sweet new kits. Still, there may be hope: I mean, if we can finally get plastic AdMech with its slender, delicate and highly detailed Skitarii models, certainly new plastic Sisters must now be feasible, right? RIGHT???

 

One last thing…

The new plastic Blood Angels Chaplain with jump pack seems like such an amazing piece, right? I was seriously excited about the model when I saw the first fuzzy pictures. And then the hires photos appeared, and while I still think the model makes for a rather striking figure…

Blood Angels Chaplain (1)
…just take a moment to take a closer look at that face:

Blood Angels Chaplain (2)

Does that…does that skull mask have a little mustache? Awww…
Seriously, it’s just one of those things you can never unsee…

III. Still on the fence about…

  • Age of Sigmar lore and world building: If you blow up a franchise with about three decades of world building behind it, you better make sure you have a terrific plan B in place beforehand, right? However, not unlike the Stormcast Eternals, the Age of Sigmar background has failed to live up to the promise of a compelling new world so far. This certainly has something to do with the lack of hard information: The well-established places of the “world that was”, like the Empire or Naggaroth, have been replaced with rather vague and generic-sounding realms, and those realms have so far been painted in rather broad strokes only. Meanwhile, armies assembled from the same WFB units and characters we’ve been using so far (or the aforemtioned Golden Dudes) are duking it out over a world that feels pretty hard to care about at this point — but then, we hardly know the new world. This seems like a clear case where “show, don’t tell” would be the right approach: Give us more of the new factions, show us more of this new world, so we can grow attached to it! So far, it all seems a bit arbitrary and generic. And the silly names certainly aren’t helping. But maybe it’s all a question of time? We’ll be talking about this same time next year, scout’s honour 😉

IV. Also pretty cool

  • Plastic Horus Heresy: It remains to be seen how much of an impact the release of Betrayal at Calth will ultimately have, but even if nothing new ever comes of it, we now have access to two multipart plastic Heresy kits that were only available in resin up until now. That is pretty amazing, and everything from here on out is just bonus, really 😉
  • Specialist Games making a return! I mean, seriously, what’s not to love. Bring. It. On.
  • the GW painting videos on YouTube: GW’s traditional painting articles never did all that much for me, because they always seemed strangely vague or even arguably dishonest when it counted: Up to step number three, everything was peaches and cream, but step number four would invariably feature pictures of a model almost at full ‘Eavy Metal standard while the accompanying text would always assure us that only something very minor had been done between steps three and four. Well, no more, because GW now has a pretty excellent series of YouTube videos to help painters get started on particular models and effects, and while I was initially skeptical, the videos are really great! It helps of course that Duncan Rhodes just seems like the nicest guy in the world, which makes it a joy to follow his tutorials, but seriously: This is quality content, and it comes for free, and especially since GW so often gets portrayed as this ultra-evil and greedy company, they do deserve to be commended for providing a very nice bit of service like that!

 

Another very exciting year for hobbyists, and a relentless barrage of – mostly very good – releases from GW. Once again, it’ll be interesting to see where we go from here, although two things have become clear in 2015: GW is willing to both make a bold move (like the destruction of the Old World and the introduction of Age of Sigmar) and give hobbyists stuff they’ve been wanting for a long time (AdMech and plastic Horus Heresy) — and if nothing else, that certainly seems like a promising starting point for 2016, right?

So much for the industry, but what about the hobbyists? Join me next time for the second part of the 2015 Eternal Hunt Awards and a closer look at my favourite blogs, conversions and hobbyists of the year.

Until then, I would love to hear your feedback: Any thoughts about my favourite releases that you would like to share? Any observations of your own? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section! And, of course, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The 2014 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 4: A look back at my hobby year

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2015 by krautscientist

Awards

One last look backwards, at 2014, and then we’re off to a productive new year — at least that’s what I hope! But as our last installment in 2014’s Eternal Hunt Awards, allow me to walk you through my personal hobby year and present both the models as well as the events that were especially noteworthy for me:

 

I. My hobby projects

2014 was a pretty busy year, but I still tried to stay as productive as I could. I managed to paint about 40 models (which is only very slightly less than my 2013 result). Not a breathtaking amount of work, certainly, but then I am still happy enough with the stuff I actually did manage to paint. What gives me pause, however, is the fact that I doubtlessly kitbashed and converted many, many more models than I actually painted — I’ll have to keep working on that ratio, I guess…

But what do those 40 models mean if seen in the context of my various bigger and smaller projects? Allow me to elaborate:

1. Khorne’s Eternal Hunt

My World Eaters army certainly remains my most important project, and 2014 was very much a World Eaters year for me! The absolute majority of my newly completed models ended up in the 4th assault company.

All these new additions certainly call for some new army pictures in the near future! However, I suppose it’ll be quite some time before the weather allows me to set it all up outside and take some dapper new photos. Until then, I have this picture (taken this last December for the “We Are Legion!” contest over at Le blog dé Kouzes) showing a pretty big part of the army to tide you over:

Khorne's Eternal Hunt 2014 02
It’s not the entire army (it’s missing the twenty odd “old” berzerkers from before my hobby hiatus during the 2000s, for instance, and a couple of other models), but it’s a fairly accurate depiction of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt in its current incarnation.

And here are some 2014 additions to my World Eaters that I am especially happy with:

 

World Eaters Gladiators (67)
World Eaters Gladiatorii squad

This project started as a spontaneous kitbash and then grew into something bigger when I decided to convert a gladiatorial Khornate champion along with his coterie of grimdark gladiators. Though these would probably be counted as bog standard Khorne Berzerkers when used in a game, building a squad of distinctly gladiatorial World Eaters has been a great way to explore that particular part of the legion’s background — plus it was lots of fun to come up with different types of gladiators that call back to actual historical sources while also seeming believable in the 41st millennium.

If you’re interested, check out the full story of the gladiatorii here, here and here.

 

Valkar the Scarred (1)
Lord Valkar, the Scarred One

This was a model that I had wanted to complete for a long time, and as has been the case so often, the ongoing Painting and Converting Contest over at Throne of Skulls provided the perfect excuse to finally get my act together! I am really happy with both the resulting model and the fact that I now own one of the truly effective Khornate unit choices: A Chaos Lord on juggernaut — what could be more Khornate than that, right?

Check out Lord Valkar in more detail here.

 

Hadrak Firebringer (8)
Thamier-pattern Obliterator

This is a model I am especially happy with for several reasons: It marks the first Obliterator in my army, for one, because it took me so freaking long to finally settle on an interpretation of this unit type I was happy with. I was insanely fortunate enough to procure some wonderful, custom sculpted parts from fellow hobbyist thamier (whose “Balefire Legion” you should definitely check out ASAP) for this project, and the result is a model I am really proud of. And maybe the best thing is that I still have enough parts for a second Obliterator. Yay!

Find out what went into building this guy here.

 

Helbrute (2)
Brother Khorlen the Lost

Finishing this model was one of the rare instances where I actually managed to surprise myself: I had just seen the newly released multipart Helbrute (which I really liked a lot), but instead of buying it right away (my usual reflex), I rather painted the Dark Vengeance Helbrute I still had lying around ever since the boxed set was released. And boy am I happy about that decision in hindsight! The model was pretty challenging to paint, make no mistake, but finally managing to finish what may be my favourite Dark Vengeance model really felt good — and I am actually rather happy with the result, too!

Find out more about this one instance where I actually showed some discipline here.

Kharn the Betrayer redux (12)
And, of course, my re-imagined Kharn the Betrayer: This model was, once again, built for a contest over at Throne of Skulls, but at the same time, it also kicked off a sizeable painting project of mine that saw me paint more than 500 points for my World Eaters over the Christmas holiday — we’ll be talking about those models in more detail really soon, I promise you.

Learn more about Kharn the Betrayer and my interpretation of him here.

 

Chaos Knight WIP (79)
Chaos Knight Titan

Last and very definitely not least: My Chaos Knight conversion. Though this model yet remains unpainted, it is probably the one 2014 hobby project I am most happy with: Working at such a scale was a first for me, and I was really intimidated by the project, to be honest — so much so, in fact, that it took me several months to actually get started on the model.

In the end, however, I am more than happy with the result so far: The Imperial Knight is a wonderful kit in its own right, and I think that I have managed to make sure this conversion will be a suitable centre point for Khorne’s Eternal Hunt! I even built a full interior for the model — something I wouldn’t really have considered beforehand.

Chaos Knight WIP (80)

I hope that finally getting this big guy painted will turn into a successful hobby project of mine in 2015 — I am still working up the courage for it, to be honest…

Until then, why not check out my posts on the creation of my Chaos Knight Titan here and here?

 

2. The world of INQ28

The wonderful world of Inquisitor and the battle for the Emperor’s soul continues to be a fascinating subject and an endless source of inspiration to me. Even so, I am painfully aware that I have only managed to paint a measly four models for INQ28 in 2014:

INQ28 class of 2014
And while I am really rather happy with each of them – and do in fact think that they make for a wonderfully eclectic little group in the above picture – I really want to make sure to produce more finished pieces for INQ28 this year!

In fact, I have kitbashed lots and lots of characters I am really happy with so far, such as my first real true scale Marine, Brother Janus Auriga…

Brother Sergeant Auriga (1)

…among many others, so it looks like I have my work cut out for me — let’s see if I can manage to get this show on the road again!

 

3. Legio Custodes

Alas, my beloved Custodians received even less attention from me than my INQ28 models. However, I did at least manage to build some models that I am really happy with for this project: A rather convincing (if I do say so myself) version of Chief Custodian Constantin Valdor and a really badass looking Custodian in Pre-Heresy style Astartes battle plate:

Valdor and Custodian WIP
As with my INQ28 collection, I will endeavour to get more of these guys finished in 2015. After all, it’s only a matter of time until Forgeworld’s own Custodes are released, making my kitbashes entirely obsolete — at least in the eye of the public 😉

Find out more about my kitbashed Custodes here.

 

4. Urash’s Marauders

Traitor Elite (16)
And finally, my Traitor Guard. To be honest, it took me a while to get back to this project, but I did so with an addition that has thoroughly revitalised my interest in this army: After long deliberation and multiple test builds, I have finally come up with the beginnings of a squad of elite traitors, shown above, mostly based on GW’s excellent Tempestus Scions. And though it has taken me quite a while to get these guys finished, I am now really happy with them, especially with the unit champion:

Traitor Elite (03)
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it really does bear repeating: This guy takes much inspiration from PDH’s excellent renegade troopers, and is also the first time that I have come (reasonably) close to reproducing the excellence of those models. In fact, the guy above may just be the Traitor Guard model I am most happy with to date, so expect to see more additions to Urash’s Marauders sooner rather than later.

Until then, read more about the squad here.

II. My favourite hobby moments

So much for my own hobby projects, but what else was cool? Once again, there were several moments in 2014 that really served as “milestones of awesome”, so to speak,  making my hobby year truly special:

First among those moments – and by a long shot – was being featured in Warhammer:Visions — in Blanchitsu, no less!

Blanchitsu
Seriously, this really took the cake! It also had me running around with a huge grin for at least a couple of days. And it is an achievement that I am pretty sure I won’t be able to reproduce anytime soon, which really makes it even more awesome. Being featured in this column along with extremely talented guys like PDH and Mikko Luoma was the icing on the cake, of course.

I have talked at length about Legion, the model that finally made the pages of Warhammer:Visions, and I promise I won’t put you through it all again — unless you want to, of course, in which case you can find the whole story here.

The various interactions with other hobbyists online were almost as good as my stint in Visions: The friendly and constructive way people in our hobby can interact via the power of the interwebz is one thing that never ceases to astound me, the other is the unending generosity of so many of my fellow hobbyists. Therefore, it’s really hard to pick that one favourite moment from among all the pleasant interactions I have had in 2014. Rather, it’s a collection of warm and fuzzy memories: being sent amazing bitz drops and unique models by PDH, Drone21c and Steifer, sharing friendly banter and thoughts about the hobby with Flint13, Augustus b’Raass and others over at The Bolter & Chainsword, trying my best to produce cool models for the contests at Throne of Skulls and getting my ass kicked time and time again by DexterKong, hammering out the backstory for a whole Imperial sector in cooperation with that same DexterKong, having hobbyists build models that share my name as a shout out (and trying to repay that particular kindness),…the list goes on and on.

Let me maybe show you one small thing to illustrate my point: Here’s a map showing you all the people I’ve done bitz swaps with so far. Without any money involved, I might add — just for the sake of helping each other out:

bitzbuddies

I think this is ample proof of the amount of generosity present in our hobby! Thank you all, guys and girls! You rock!

 

I was also really blown away when I received a very special gift for my birthday last year:

Fan Troll (13)
my colleague Annie converted and painted a wonderful fan troll for my Blood Bowl team, the “Orkheim Ultraz”, which really left me speechless. I know you are not supposed to feed the troll, but I really want to 😉 Thanks again, Annie — you’re awesome! 🙂

Read the whole story here.

And one last thing that I am really happy with: As I’ve mentioned above, I really managed to get my act together over the holidays, painting a pretty chunk of new World Eaters models for Khorne’s Eternal Hunt. This all happened as part of The Bolter & Chainsword’s 2014 Call of Chaos event, which not only gave me a deadline to meet, but also provided lots and lots of motivation via the friendly competition among board members. I’ll be showing off the completed models in more detail very soon — I hope you like red and bronze! 😉

 

III. Blogging

Providing a constant stream of content for this blog remained a fun – albeit challenging – endeavour during 2014: I managed 63 posts and attracted 170,000 views from 138 countries — numbers that may not be all that spectacular in the larger order of things but still feel pretty unreal to me, seeing how this is just my small, uninteresting corner of the internet 😉 I also managed to reach the mark of 300,000 views overall, which I think is pretty cool!

For those of you interested in this kind of stuff, here’s a link to the annual report WordPress has kindly provided.

 

All in all, it has been a busy year. A productive year. A fun year. Yet also a year full of unpainted plastic — but what else is new? Thank you all for joining me on this ride. This concludes our little retrospective, and we’ll be strictly focusing on new stuff from now on: Here’s to 2015!

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

The 2014 Eternal Hunt Awards, pt. 3: The Industry

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , on January 14, 2015 by krautscientist

Awards

Sorry for taking a while with the next update — completing my painting vow for The Bolter & Chainsword has left me pretty drained — if happy, because I managed to finish all of the models I had pledged (more on them soon). That said, I have certainly kept you waiting long enough, as evidenced by the dip in daily visits over the last few days 😉 So here goes:

As we’ve seen, the hobbyists definitely put out some amazing stuff, but what about GW? How doe the 2014 releases stack up? Was it a good year? What were the highlights and the disappointments? Let’s find out!

 

I. Best release of 2014:

I think we can all agree that GW has managed to maintain quite the relentless barrage of new releases all through 2014, and most of it was of astonishing quality as well. But to me, there were some kits that stood out, models that really wowed me and turned me into a small boy again, as I wondered at them. And there were models that turned out to be absolutely invaluable for conversions and kitbashes. So, what are my favourites of 2014?

 

1st place: Imperial Knight

Knight Release (3)
Last year, GW brought over the design of the good old Epic 40,000 warmachines into 40k proper, introducing the Lord of Skulls — and people were divided, to say the least: Maybe the original design of the Khornate daemon engines in Epic was too goofy to begin with, maybe there were too many skulls — whatever the reason, many thought the Lord of Skulls was a ridiculous kit. I have gone on record as being a fan of the model, but overall reception of the “Skulldozer” was mixed, at best.

But one year later, it seems like the Lord of Skulls was merely GW’s tracer bullet, and the Imperial Knight was the heartshot to follow, if you’ll excuse the somewhat militaristic, albeit very fitting, simile:

Where the Lord of Skulls was maybe too reliant on personal taste, the Imperial Knight has managed to win fans all across the board: Even people without a 40k army or without any lover for games at the Apocalypse scale felt they had to get one of these bad boys — and many hobbyists actually completed several of them. Unbelievable, right?

In this case, the model really justifies the hype, though: It’s a wonderfully designed piece, giving us a giant Mecha with all the right touches to tie it into the 40k universe. It also actually manages to look like a knight, although you could never mistake it for anything other than a machine of (pre) Imperial manufacture. And it is a terrifically well planned kit that is a joy to assemble and convert! I was really scared of the model, when I started work on my own Knight, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well it all went together.

All of those qualities certainly speak in the Knight’s favour, but its biggest achievement may be the way it manages to straddle the fine line between modern design sensibilities and nostalgia for the Rogue Trader and Adeptus Titanicus days: Where the Lord of Skulls may have tried the same thing with mixed success, the Imperial Knight really nails it: It recreates the look of Knight Titans, not as they actually looked twenty years ago, but as you wish they would have looked. It’s basically your idealised memories of 80s GW artwork given form, and that is a towering achievemt indeed!

I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the original plastic Imperial Knight kit still surpasses the later Forgeworld variants. I know I may be in the absolute minority with this opinion, but there you have it. In closing, I think the Imperial Knight is a perfectly balanced, excellently designed piece, and it is easily my favourite release to come out of 2014.

Read my original review of the Imperial Knight here.

 

2nd place: Almost the entire End Times release for Warhammer Fantasy Battles

end times

Well, this may seem like a gigantic cop-out on my part, but the longer I thought about it, the more obvious it became that the entire release was worthy of this award (and the Imperial Knight only came out on top due to personal sympathy and the fact that I think the scale of the model really did pave the way for some of the End Times kits in the first place).

So yeah, I think I don’t need to explain to you how the various End Times kits have generated all kinds of excitement and buzz — and rightly so! Some of the finest plastic kits released by GW so far have appeared under this label, and it’s a testament to the quality of their design that 40k players feel just as drawn towards these kits as the WFB folks.

Even in a release as consistently great as this one, however, there have to be some favourites:

Undead End Times Release (3)
Nagash, obviously, for not only kicking off the slew of awesome kits, but for also thoroughly revitalising one of the most evil characters in the entire WFB lore with a spectacular new model that still calls back to its earlier incarnation in many ways! Read my original thoughts here.

End Times Nurgle Release (26)The Glottkin, for truly being a model for the ages: An excellent, almost painterly and utterly apocalyptic work of art that is truly Mark Harrison’s masterpiece! Read my original review here.

And of course, last but definitely not least…

End Times Nurgle Release (6)The Putrid Blightkings, for being just about the best “Nurgle all stars” showcase imaginable: So many people have already had so much fun with this kit (including yours truly), and the importance of this kit for all things Nurgle really cannot be overstated!

What’s even better, the first pictures of the coming Skaven release show that the quality just keeps coming with the End Times stuff — marvelous work, GW!

 

3rd place: Tempestus Scions

Astra Militarum Release (22)

It certainly says something about the quality of the 2014 releases that my third place almost looks a bit pedestrian next to the End Times kits listed above. Even so, the Tempestus Scions provided 40k players and INQ28 aficionados with a fantastic toolbox that can fulfill all kinds of functions beyond merely working as the Astra Militarum elite: The amount of options and versatility in this kit is truly staggering, and the models themselve strike a perfect balance between armed to the teeth spec-ops soldiers and baroque and grimdark individuals. The Tempestus Scions may lack the flashiness of some of the other kits on this list, but their sheer usefulness and versatility could mean that they have the potential to outshine far more spectacular kits in the long run. I, for one, have already had tons of fun with the kit and would basically consider it a compulsory pickup for almost every 40k and INQ28 player — it really is that simple.

Read my original thoughts about the kit here and take a look at my experiments here.

II. Worst release/biggest disappointment

When it comes to release, it’s a testament to the quality of 2014’s releases that there were almost no bad or truly horrible models: Event the kits I don’t feel particularly fond of either come with a second assembly variant to soften the blow, or they are well designed models in their own right that just don’t tickle my particular fancy. In fact, in can only remember a single instance last year where I was truly disappointed in a release: GW’s Realm of Battles: Sector Imperialis game board:

99220199053_SectorImperialis01I was really excited when I heard GW were going to release a cityfight themed Realm of Battles board, but the eventual result left me entirely cold: It just seems like an overdesigned, overpriced piece of terrain that is not nearly versatile or flexible enough. I appreciate the fact that it has been designed to fit together seamlessly with all those very beautiful cityfight ruins. But seriously, hobbyists have had a long time to come up with their own cityfight and underhive tables, and with people like thenickeninja in this world, this stuff just doesn’t cut it. Sorry, GW, but you either have to step up your game with this terrain stuff or stick to what you know…

So almost all of the kits were great. But does this mean everything was peaches and cream? Unfortunately, no: I do have some gripes with GW’s releases over the last year, and here are the things that I found most disappointing:

  • new naming conventions: This probably flew below the radar for all native English speakers in our hobby, but maybe some of those whose native language isn’t English can sympathise with me here: As of the spring of 2014, all of GW’s publications use the English names – and only the English names – for any given unit type or character in all of their game systems. “So what?”, you might say, “most of those names are in English anyway.” Well, yes and no. Unfortunately, this creates Codices and publications with lots and lots of gibberish, where plain text is suddenly and rather violently broken apart by seemingly wanton insertion of English terms, even when a perfectly serviceable and well established translation for these terms exists in-universe. What’s more, those armies that have yet to receive their updated books retain their translated names, so a text about, say, the different factions of the elves in WFB happily mixes English and translated names. For the record: I love English. I am also, I believe, reasonably fluent in it. But GW had a pretty solid track record when it came to translating their books into other languages, and I think it’s really sad that a decision like this basically destroys all the good work they have done so far in this respect. Sure, using universal naming conventions may be an excellent idea from a marketing and retail standpoint. But it renders all the non-English versions much less enjoyable to read (if not downright unreadable), and that’s the reason why I am now buying all my rulebooks in English. Which is a pretty good solution, but I’ll still always be playing the game in German, so it does create a rather iffy situation.
  • Where are my Sisters, dammit? I feel like a broken record here, because I believe I’ve said the same thing in 2012 and 2013 as well — but please, please, can we get some decent, upated Sisters of Battle, GW? That would be sweet! Thank you very much!

 

III. Still on the fence about…

  • all those rules in 40k: I get it, I get it: You want to give hobbyists more options, which is great. You also want to make more money, which may not be great but is quite alright with me. But seriously, folks, this is getting out of hand: The constant barrage of dataslates, formations and DLC has created an environment where it’s almost impossible to understand all that is going on. To wit, they even had to patch their own game (because that’s what 7th edition is: a patch) in order for it to accept all the new supplementary content. I have heard people say that all of this is not a big problem, because hobbyists get to choose the way they want to play, and that is certainly an excellent point. But here’s the catch: I have this problem where an overabundance of options will paralyse me rather than empower my decision making. So in the end, I end up taking no choice at all. In terms of 40k, this means that the sheer difficulty of keeping up with the rules and current state of play has basically led to me abandoning the gaming angle altogether — at least for now.
  • Instant awesome? Just add Forgeworld! Now this may sound a bit cantankerous, but hear me out: With the Horus Heresy releases having become such a smash hit, Forgeworld stuff has become far more widespread, where it used to be a rare but exquisite seasoning on top of an army, so to speak. And that’s okay, of course: More power to them, because they are performing some outstanding work. But it sometimes seems to me like the growing prevalence of Forgeworld materials can hurt both hobbyists’ creativity as well as the FW design team itself: All of their stuff used to be pretty much perfect all the time, but now that they need to crank out huge amounts of stuff at a higher rate, the amount of lacklustre kits has definitely grown. And on the hobbyist side, for every 1000heathens, Mr. Poom or, Flint13, there seems to be at least one guy (or girl) who’s content enough to just throw together a cookie cutter army made from expensive Forgeworld crack. So my issue doesn’t lie with Forgeworld, but rather with those hobbyists who think the way to make your army awesome is to just throw resin at it — really, people, show a bit more dedication 😉

IV. Also pretty cool

  • Warhammer: Visions: I do realise of course that I may be fairly alone with this assessment, but bear with me: Visions gets so much flak for basically being a coffee table book of miniatures to browse through. But therein lies its strength! There are lots and lots of ideas hidden in those pages! There’s a – usually excellent – army of the month feature. There’s Blanchitsu, for crying out loud! Some of my earlier gripes with Visions remain, and I realise that it may have an uncertain future. But when all is said and done, I might pick up the odd WD Weekly every now and then, mainly out of habit –but Warhammer:Visions is the GW puclication I am actually looking forward to each month!

 

All in all, 2014 has been a terrific year when it comes to model releases, and at the very least a very busy one for GW’s game systems. It’ll be interesting to see where we go from here, and not all seems like it will make us happy (seriously, have you seen those 9th edition WFB rumours — what the heck?). For me, however, it has always been about the models and the lore, first and foremost, and if the first pictures of 2015s releases are any indication, we need not worry on that account.

So what were your highlights and low points when it comes to 2014s releases? And do you agree or disagree with my own assessment? I would love to hear from you in the comments section!

 

In any case, I will see you soon with the fourth and last installment of the 2014 Eternal Hunt Awards: a look back at my personal hobby year. Until then, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!