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Going through the motions – a look at the 2015 Space Marines release

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2015 by krautscientist

Wait, wasn’t there a Space Marine release fairly recently? In fact, it’s already been almost two years, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Granted, the Space Marines are 40k’s most popular faction and main cash cow, but even so, it feels like we only received a new Codex a very short while ago. But here it is, nevertheless, a new book, complete with a bunch of new kits to accompany it, so who am I to argue, eh?

2015 Space Marine Release (1)
The thing is: 2013’s Space Marine release was a pretty big release all around, thoroughly revamping the standard Tactical Squad, giving us plastic Sternguard and Vanguard, introducing Centurions, grav weapons and two new, Rhino-based tank variants. Plus we got new models for a couple of generic Space Marine HQ choices. So it feels like this new release does have quite a bit to measure up to. Let’s take a look at whether or not the new kits manage to hold up — and it goes without saying that we’ll also be taking a look at the various conversion options along the way!


Space Marines Terminator Librarian

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The clamshell characters are often a very interesting part of each release — one need look no further than the Tech-Priest Dominus as proof. And the Space Marines receive another HQ option via this Librarian in Terminator armour.

Tell you what: I think there’s something off about the model. Something I cannot quite put my finger on. Sure enough, all the required boxes have been ticked: The model clearly reads as a Librarian, psi-staff, psychic hoods, lots of scrolls parchments and doodads — all accounted for. And the various details on the armour certainly look cool enough!

2015 Space Marine Release (4)But there’s something about the model’s design that makes it seem like the upper and lower halves don’t mesh: Maybe it’s the fact that the torso and head have a slightly squashed look about them? Maybe it’s the slightly iffy pose? Or maybe it’s just the angle of the picture? Whatever the reason may be, the model seems subtly wrong to me, almost as if the upper and lower parts of the body belong to different models and have been grafted together semi-successfully…

The good news is that I think the effect is slightly less of a problem when using the model’s alternate arm with its cool wizard pose:

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And since this arm is far more interesting visually than the tired old Stormbolter anyway, all is well with the world, right?

Well, I’m not sold on the model, to be honest: There’s the slightly strange overall feeling described above, for starters. There’s also the fact that a look at the sprue reveals that most of the model, bar the arms, is made up of two massive slabs of plastic, with very little leeway for modifications, rendering conversions beyond arm or weapon swaps pretty complicated:

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But all of this would probably be excusable, if not for the fact that the new plastic model is an inferior replacement to its predecessor and a better alternative is readily available. But all in good order!

Let’s look at the Terminator Librarian’s previous incarnation:

OOP Librarian Terminator
Now you all know that I am a huge fan of plastic models, but even I have to admit that the older Librarian model had a lot more character and dynamism going for it. It also seems less dubious anatomically. It does have the beefy look you would expect of a Terminator, but it still seems fairly plausible and natural — well, as plausible and natural as can be expected, that is…

There’s also a much better flow about the model — something that can arguably be hard to capture in multipart plastic models. But then, the new Librarian isn’t even that multipart to begin with (compare the sprue above).

What’s even worse, though, is that the Blood Angels Librarian in Terminator armour, released fairly recently, also seems like a more balanced model:

Blood Angels release 2014 (2)Granted, the BA Librarian is costs one Euro more and might require some minor conversion work to get rid of the BA iconography. That seems like a good investment, however, seeing how much better the model looks overall, and is quite a bit more flexible when it comes to conversion options (as it’s closer in construction to a standard, multipart Terminator). Back when this model was released, I was wondering whether it shouldn’t have been a generic Termie Librarian to begin with — and seeing the actual generic Termie Librarian now only enforces this notion: The BA Libby seems like the superior design, essentially rendering the new model obsolete, as long as you don’t mind some minor conversion work…

All in all, the new Terminator Librarian certainly isn’t terrible. But the model is a bit of a letdown, especially seeing how a superior plastic model is already available. I think I’ll pass on this one…


Space Marines Assault Squad

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The Assault Marines were possibly one of the oldest plastic Space Marine kits still in service, so it certainly makes sense to give them a facelift. The new kit carefully updates the models and adds in some new options, yet at the end of the day, it still provides us with all the neccessary parts to build five Assault Marines, either with or without jump packs.

2015 Space Marine Release (7)This means the models have to work in both running and jumping poses, which seems to be the case. What’s more, we get some nifty pieces of crumbled masonry for our jump infantry, which is pretty nice. These small basing parts seem pretty interesting and are a nice bit of service — it’s especially cool that they come as separate parts, unlike the rubble in the Raptor/Warp Talon kit that is attached to the legs. And if you don’t like them or want to build your Marines without jump packs, just leave them off and the models will look like they are running:

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Some of the poses do seem a little awkward, though (like the guy on the left in the above picture) — although, in all fairness, assembling running Marines that seem natural always takes a bit of doing and fine-tuning.

One thing I really love about the new kit is that it includes a plastic Eviscerator:

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While we are looking at that Sergeant model, however, what is the matter with that face? The brow seems a bit huge, doesn’t it? Maybe this is a conscious effort to create Space Marine faces showing the kind of gigantism alluded to in the background — but it does seem a little weird, since it has never been done before…

I really love the other bare head included with the kit, however: I could easily imagine this guy as a gladiatorial World Eater:

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All in all, the kit seems like a sensible and careful redesign, and if you should find yourself in need of some additional Assault Marines (or simpply some running legs), it seems like a sound option: You get five Assault Marines without any massive bells and whistles to speak of.

However, while having an updated kit is nice, it’s also pretty hard to get too excited about these models, because they are treading ground that has been thoroughly explored by several other kits. In fact, I would argue that almost everything this kit does, the Vanguard kit does better. And at merely two Euros more a pop, I know which kit I prefer.
Solid work, certainly, but nothing to write home about.


Space Marines Devastator Squad:

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While the Devastator kit has seen more updates than some of the other Space Marine infantry, the addition of a couple of new weapons (with grav weapons being the prime example) obviously neccessitated yet another update. So here we are with a new Devastator kit that gives us lots and lots of weapons options…

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Chief among these are the grav weapons, of course, but I’ll be honest: I am still not a fan of them from a visual standpoint. They seem clunky and ill-conceived, and not nearly as iconic as the other heavy weapons in the Space Marine catalogue — but maybe that’s just me being a grumpy old man there for a minute 😉

Beyond such concerns, it’s great to see that the new Devastator kit contains lots and lots of weapons (basically two each of every heavy weapon plus a bunch of combi-weapons, pistols and a full complement of CC weapons for the Sergeant). This makes the new kit very comprehensive when it comes to weapon options — and thus possibly an essential purchase.

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However, GW’s designers weren’t simply content with adding more weapons, they also added some visual touches to distinguish the Devastators from your standard Tactical Marines — basically the kind of attention sorely lacking in the new Assault Marines, if you ask me. Each of the Devastators comes with reinforced leg armour and an additional sensor array integrated into the model’s helmet:

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Both ideas are pretty cool, because they visually support the Devastators’ battlefield rule and add some identity to the models beyond the heavy weapons they are lugging around. Even so, some of these new elements seem slightly uneven in execution: The extra sensors work far better on some helmets than on others (the one on the Marine with the grav gun in the above picture looks legitimately terrible, for instance).

As for the reinforced armour, it’s a pretty nifty idea! While I would have preferred some plastic versions of older armour marks (Mk. 2 or 3 would have been ideal for Devastators, if you ask me), I can still appreciate the extra effort. And the options for customising the squad leader are actually pretty awesome:

2015 Space Marine Release (19)In fact, we get quite a few bitz and bobs for the squad that are pretty interesting: the rockets streaming smoke may be a bit hit-or-miss, but I like the inclusion of a cherub, even if the sculpt does seem a bit clunky — I wonder whether the paintjob is partly to blame for this…?

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All in all, this kit seems far more substantial than the Assault Marines, and it should be legitimately useful for Marine players both old and new. A very solid, if not exactly exciting, offering!


Space Marine Chapter-specific conversion kits

Now this is possibly the most interesting part of the release, at least for me: We get one conversion sprue each for the Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Ultramarines and Space Wolves — quite an interesting tool for customising champions and army commanders, and a possible return to offering conversion sets and bitz? We will see.

I do realise that many people seem fairly critical of these, seeing how they sell for 10.50 Euros a pop for a pretty small sprue of bitz. So let’s take a look at each of them in turn in order to figure out whether they are worth it:

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The Blood Angels sprue is possibly the least interesting of the bunch, seeing how most of the bitz seem to appear in one of the existing BA kits in similar shape or form. The Mephiston-style torso piece is a notable exception, but most of the other contents of the sprue are very close to the stuff we get with the Sanguinary Guard, Death Company and BA Tac Squad. So while the bitz themselves are fairly cool, there’s nothing super-exciting here. Next.

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The Dark Angels sprue suffers from a similar problem, but that’s mostly due to the fact that there are already several kits with lots and lots of DA conversion bitz in existence. The standout parts here are the mastercrafted breastplate, highly ostentatious sword and plasma pistol. The feathered helmet is a staple of DA lore but looks very clunky — I’d pick the Chapter Master helmet from the Dark Vengeance boxed set over this helmet any day of the week. Again, pretty nice, but ultimately nonessential.

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The Space Wolves have just as many dedicated plastic kits as the Blood Angels and Dark Angels, yet their conversion sprue still turns out more interesting: The sword and axe are very sweet (and seem to be channeling the look of Krom Dragongaze’s weapons). The backpack also seems similar to his and is very cool — I love the vicious look of those wolf heads. Speaking of which, I thik the wolf head helmet is probably my favourite part of the sprue: Some may think it’s too cartoony, but I love how feral it looks. It’s far less stylised than the helmet we get as part of the existing SW sprue, and I think it would work just as well for a champion of chaos. This is a pretty cool conversion kit, mostly because it manages to move beyond the bitz that are already available as part of the regular kits.

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And finally, the sprue for everybody’s favourite Do-Gooders, the Ultramarines. And you know what? This is definitely the best of the bunch! Because, for all their appearances in the background and posterboy status, the Ultramarines have never received any dedicated plastic kits, so this is our chance to finally make our Ultramarines characters look like true Ultramarines: The shoulder pads are obviously useful for that, but my favourite parts have to be the breastplate, sword and gladius combo and the knightly veteran helmet. I have never been a huge Ultramarines fan, but I really like this conversion kit because it provides something new in plastic — very cool!

All in all, the pricetag on these sprues may indeed be a bit steep, but I am prepared to call them a fairly promising experiment: If you want to use these for your whole army, you’ll be spending quite a lot of money — but that’s not the point: Each of the sprues would work perfectly for customising one or two models per army and really make them stand out — all you need are some Marine legs and bodies, and you’re golden. Which puts them at an ultimately reasonable price point below the – fairly expensive – new clamshell characters. What’s more, they certainly don’t force you to pick these up: You’ll still be getting lots and lots of leftover bitz that can work just as well from your regular kits. But as it stands, these new kits seem like a promising prospect, and it’ll be interesting to see what GW does with this approach. And I wonder whether these have anything to do with Forgeworld’s own, legion-specific upgrade packs…?


Bonus Content: HQ Command Tanks

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I do of course realise that this kit is a Warhammer World exclusive, but seeing how it’s certainly vanilla-Marine themed, we might as well throw it in with the rest, don’t you think? 😉

I think the boxy Space Marine tanks can use all the help they can get in order to look more interesting, and offering conversion kits to turn them into suitably ostentatious command vehicles seems like an interesting option. From my impressions, some things about the kit are pretty awesome, and some are pretty awful. Let’s start with the bad stuff: Those aquila-shaped radar dishes and the sensor array on top of the Rhino are pretty terrible. Seriously, there is such a thing as too clunky.

What I really like, however, are the alternate side panels, because they really make the vehicles look like relicts of a bygone age — ancient artifacts of the chapter that also happen to be warmachines. And I do have a bit of a thing for the Chapter Master atop the Land Raider — pretty cool!

So does this kit alone warrant a trip to Warhammer World or is it worth the hilarious prices some folks are asking on ebay? The answer to either would be no, if you ask me — although there are probably enough reasons for wanting to check out the new Warhammer World.

When all is said and done, this kit made me want to think about how to kitbash command tanks that are just as cool, but much less expensive — and I think it really wouldn’t be all that hard, given a reasonably well-stacked bitzbox. Still, it’s a cool idea, and I think one that many converters should be able to have a field day with 😉


Conversion options:

One of the biggest strengths of the entire Space Marine catalogue is how it provides an interlocking system of fully (or mostly) compatible kits, and the same goes for the new kits, of course: Whichever of these you pick up, you’ll always end up with more stuff for the huge Space Marine toolbox. And there’s no question that, for instance, all the extra stuff within the Devastator kit will prove hugely useful. So the release certainly provides new tools for all the (Chaos) Space Marine players out there.

I’ll be honest with you, though: No part of the release strikes me as particularly exciting or fantastic from a converter’s perspective. The things that interest me are mostly different bits and bobs: The pieces of rubble, Eviscerator and mostly bald head from the Assault Squad (because the latter would be great for a World Eaters officer). The servo-skull and cherub from the Devastators (because one can never have enough servo-skulls and cherubs in INQ28). The sword from the DA conversion set (because one can never have enough blinged out swords). And possibly the entire SW and Ultramarines conversion sprues (the SW sprue is, once again, full of cool options for World Eaters, and I just like the design of the Ultramarine bitz and the novelty of having Ultramarine parts available in plastic).

Many releases can become exciting even for those hobbyists who don’t play the army at hand. But this certainly isn’t one of those releases: It’s rather a workhorse of a release, replacing some outdated kits and tentatively offering some customisation and conversion options that might become more interesting in the future. I have always loved Space Marines, but even I cannot really get excited about the new kits — the most interesting part for me are the conversion kits, and even those are mostly interesting for what they could become for other armies or factions somewhere along the line.


Comparing this release to the recent AdMech extravaganza, one cannot help to see the new Space Marine kits as a disappointment, because they are ultimately just more of the same. The 2013 Space Marine release was more interesting, because we actually got something new (the Centurions, whether you like them or not), and the redesigned kits (Vanguard and Sternguard) were pretty exciting.

This time around, we mostly get small updates, which is nice. And taking an even-handed approach, we can probably call this a solid, if a little bland, bread and butter release. But in a world where the Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus have just turned the entire GW catalogue on its head, maybe solid just doesn’t cut it any longer? But then we knew AdMech would be a tough act to follow 😉


So what do you think? Do you feel differently about the new Space Marine kits or would you like to discuss some crazy conversion ideas of yours that I didn’t think of? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

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

Cry Wolf! A look at the latest Space Wolves release

Posted in 40k, Conversions with tags , , , , , , on August 20, 2014 by krautscientist

With GW’s release schedule growing ever more crazy of late, it has become quite a task to hang on and try to chronicle all the new toys! That said, with the Grey Knights already having received their new Codex and the first pictures of a massive WFB Undead release already making the rounds, I think it’s safe to consider the small pocket of new Space Wolves kits completed, so let’s just discuss these for today, right?

Space Wolves Release 2014 (1)
When I first got into the hobby, my attitude towards the Space Wolves was a rather apathetic one: They basically looked like Space Marine Vikings to me, which I didn’t find all that appealing back then. The fact that the – rather small – models in those days seemed more or less buried in viking-esque decoration didn’t help either.

Since then, I have grown more and more fond of the Space Wolves over the years. Maybe my personal tastes have evolved, maybe it’s the fact that GW’s designers have done a rather good job of making the faction more interesting (both by including some additional visual influences beyond the viking look and by coming up with some wonderfully versatile and beautifully detailed plastic kits). In any case, the picture of hulking, fur clad warriors with elongated canines seems more attractive to me nowadaways than it did back then. So what about this new Space Wolves release, then? Let’s take a closer look at the new kits and, as always, discuss their conversion and kitbashing potential as well.

At first glance, this release seems far less substantial than the last ones — at least looking at the numbers. Upon closer inspection, however, it becomes obvious that this is a release with all the fat trimmed off – but quite a bit of substance underneath. Let’s take a closer look:


Stormwolf Assault Vehicle / Stormfang Gunship:

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Well, here it is at last: A dedicated flyer for the Space Wolves. GW could have made it easy for themselves on this one, just slightly revamping one of the vanilla flyers like the Storm Talon or Storm Raven, and no one would have been the wiser. But in a fairly surprising move, we get a model that is equal parts reminiscent of the longships of Fenris (yeah right!) and of Forgeworld’s Cestus Assault Ram. Say what you want, but that seems like going above and beyond the requirements to me 😉

While the resemblance to the Cestus is indeed uncanny, the model also features some visual callbacks to the last few Space Marine flyers (just check out the cockpit section).

All in all, making this model resemble both a Forgeworld flyer as well as the rest of the “Vanilla Marine” flyers is a pretty sound strategy, and I have to say I really like the overall look of the model. In fact, after the Dark Talon, this is the second time that the non-Codex Astartes chapters actually get a cooler flyer model than vanilla Marines, in my opinion.

Oh, and a flyer transporting an angry pack of Space Wolves into battle by way of a storm ramp also seems like a rather good fit for the chapter from a background perspective!

The other option for the kit is to be assembled as the Stormfang Gunship, with an enormous Helfrost Destructor cannon replacing the transport compartment:

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There’s really not much to say about this variant from a visual standpoint, seeing how it’s pretty much exactly the same model, except for the gun. The extra versatility is nice, of course. However, let me also take this opportunity to say that I’ll just be ignoring some of the new fluff shenanigans concerning “Glimmerfrost Crytals”, “alien ice that never melts” and the whole deal with Space Wolves now obviously being themed around ice magic: The wolves riding on wolves I could get behind, but this just seems like GW borrowed some World of Warcraft lore right there. Luckily, we’ll only discuss the models here, so that stuff can go happily ignored.

So yeah, back on topic:  I really like this model! It’s an interesting and fairly creative addition to the growing catalogue of Space Marine flyers. Good job, GW!


Space Wolves Venerable Dread / Bjorn the Fell-Handed / Murderfang

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Alright, this is it: The Dreadnought combi-kit to end all Dreadnought combi-kits! While the Blood Angels Dreadnought can also be assembled as three different variants, this big guy comes with pretty much all the weapon options available to a Dreadnought (plus another, stupidly winter-themed, Space Wolves-exclusive gun) and even provides us with the bitz to build one of the oldest characters in 40k (both in the game and in-universe): Bjorn the Fell-Handed.

Let’s take a look at the proverbial Wolf in the Room first:

Space Wolves Release 2014 (10)The original model for Bjorn comes from a time when all Dreadnoughts were basically looking like ambulatory refridgerators. The new version keeps that design and features all the telltale clues of the original model: the weapons (ridiculously large power claw included), the various wolf pelts and a sarcophagus very similar to that of the original metal version. All of this makes it easy to build a perfect representation of Bjorn in glorious plastic. Huzzah!

My favourite part about the model has to be the wonderul idea to turn the images from Bjorn’s original back banner into engravings for his actual Dreadnought body — a brilliant touch that makes the model instantly recognisable! The fact that those small bitz are a near perfect representation of the older artwork is a testament to the improvements in plastic model design. Just take a closer look:

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That said, I would have hoped for a body design closer to the plastic Venerable Dread or the various Forgeworld Dreads, complete with a separate head — it would just have seemed more fitting for an ancient hero like Bjorn. But maybe changing the classic design just seemed like too big a sacrilege to GW’s designers? In any case, the kit comes with enough additional bitz to build just such a sarcophagus, if you are that way inclined, so all’s well with the world!

If I have one gripe with the model, it’s the claw:

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Bjorn’s original claw was curved, vicious looking and pretty much perfectly proportioned. The new version just seems too long and overly ornamental: It looks like the designer was trying to hard. Again, this is just a minor problem, though, and easy enough to change with one of the different bitz from the kit. Apart from that, the model is a great modern representation of an ancient hero!

But that’s not nearly all there is: The kit can also be assembled to represent a Space Wolves Venerable Dreadnought:

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This version of the kit seems to get the least coverage so far — and entirely undeservedly so, at least from a modeling standpoint: A look at the sprue reveals a veritable cornucopia of weapon options for this guy, and all of them seem to be just as easy to exchange as the weapons from the regular Venerable Dreadnought. You may just as well discard all of those weapon options, though, because you also get what may just be the most awesome set of Dreadnought weapons ever: the huge axe and shield.

Those are really the icing on the cake, allowing hobbyists to build a Dread that really looks like an ancient Fenrisian warrior! In fact, my initial reaction to this version of the model, rules notwithstanding, was: Why would you want to build your Ven Dread any other way?

[I also have it on good authority that these perfectly fit the 54mm scale, so if anyone were to, say, convert a 54mm Space Wolf based on the old model for Brother Artemis, this is definitely the way to go.]

The kit also provides lots and lots of decorative trinkets (among them a very nice, wolf-shaped grenade launcher) to make your Dread as impressive as it needs to be. Again, I do have one minor gripe: The wolf skull head, while awesome in concept, looks like the Dread is wondering whether or not he left the stove on at home. But since an alternate head is provided (and basically any Space Marine head can be swapped in), this is not a major problem.

The third and final option would be to use this kit to build Murderfang:

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This guy represents a Dreadnought forever enslaved to the curse of the Wulfen, which makes him one angry guy (this is basically a differently-coloured World Eaters Dread, you know 😉 ). The slightly tweaked pose and clawed hands definitely give off a feeling of aggression and brutality, which is a perfect fit.

The claws are also quite awesome in and of themselves:

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Again, let’s just ignore the nonsense of them being made from the aforementioned alien ice that never melts — let’s rather imagine how cool they would look painted like volcanic glass (not on a SW Dread of course, but still…).

One thing that should be awesome but doesn’t quite work for me is the head:

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It’s easy enough to see what the designer was going to do here: Show us the face of a veteran savaged by the Space Wolves’ blood curse. And while it’s definitely nice to get a bit of a shout out to the Wulfen – in plastic, no less – it doesn’t quite work, if you ask me: Not only does the face look like an angry hair metal bandleader, but bare heads on Dreads should really be limited to Helbrutes in my opinion: They are so mutated that the pilot’s corpse has basically bonded with the Dread. On a loyalist Dreadnought, even on an angry one, having an uncovered head peeking from out of the amniotic tank somehow seems pretty implausible…

I also feel that a stylised, snarling wolf’s head would have been a cooler option, but that’s just me. In any case, the flexibility of the kit really lets you add in whatever head you want here.

All in all, this may just be the most flexible Dreadnought kit released to date. The only thing holding it back is the fact that the amount of Space Wolf decoration makes it mostly unusable for any other loyalist chapter. It would make a brilliant alternate Chaos Dreadnought kit, though, for those of use who prefer a less mutated look — and, indeed, if I ever get another Dreadnought kit, it will certainly be one of these! This guy is definitely the high point of the release for me!


Logan Grimnar on Stormrider

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Oh boy, leave it to GW to produce at least one highly divisive kit per release: The Space Wolves’ chapter master riding an antigrav sled has definitely set the hobby scene ablaze: Comments about “Santa Grimnar” abound, people are once again convinced that GW’s designers have finally lost it, yadda yadda yadda… you know the drill 😉

In all seriousness, it may be a bit much: The idea of an antigrav sled pulled by giant wolves does need some getting used to. Then again, this is certainly not a departure from the latest visual development: We knew what we were in for once the Thunder Wolves hit. And the Space Wolves are now so imbued with viking and celtic warrior culture tropes that this thing doesn’t even seem all that shocking, if you think about it…

In any case, let’s ignore Stormrider for a second and focus on Logan himself:

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I think we can all agree that he is looking absolutely excellent: Admittedly, he’s quite a bit less dynamic than Jes Goodwin’s prior version of the model, but that probably could not be helped, with the model needing to look good both with or without his sled. Beyond that, he is everything a Space Wolves warrior king should be: towering, bearded and snarling, bedecked in countless trinkets.

Probably my favourite part about this model is that it also serves as an excellent proof of concept: It’s clear now that special characters in plastic can look absolutely gorgeous and pretty much exactly as detailed and impressive as Finecast models, and I love that!

As for the sled,…you know what? I kind of like it. Granted, it may be over the top, anachronistic, slightly cheesy. But if you imagine this guy as this huge, legendary warrior king from a culture of seafaring viking-celts, it may just work. It also adds one more chariot to the world of 40k, which is, at the very least, interesting. And there are several touches about the model itself that I like: The engravings showing Logan’s acquisition of the axe Morkai as well as his fight against a – strangely tyranid-looking – Kraken, for example. And to be perfectly honest, I would just love to cut off that huge wolf head and use it on a Dreadnought, a converted juggernaut (used as a mount for a traitorous Space Wolf) or something similar…

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No, my main problem with the sled isn’t that it’s over the top or unrealistic or cheesy (because neither of those should really be categories in a game where people fight using chainsaw swords and miniature rocket-launchers). I am not that fond of the wolves, though: They look a tad cartoony to me (it’s been the same with the Thunder Wolves) and the way they are attached to the sled by way of bionic implants just seems a bit iffy. There was an explanation in WD about how these wolves could not be harnessed and collared and that the augmetics were basically the only way to make them pull a sled like that — but come on. Personally speaking, I would have preferred several of the – much better designed – Fenrisian Wolves to be pulling Stormrider.

But you know what: If you really hate the sled, if you just cannot bear to look at it, if you cannot see a way to make it work for you…

…you can just use Grimnar without it, as in the old days. Jeez.

All in all, sled or no sled, this model is interesting in that it sets a very high standard for future plastic chapter masters in particular and special characters in general. I am really looking forward to seeing where we go from here!


Conversion options:

Where bitz from Blood Angels or Dark Angels kits are fairly easy to use for all kinds of Space Marine armies, the amount of trinkets and trophies on Space Wolves gear makes the use for these kits rather limited. Ultramarines players won’t have too much fun with this release, along with a couple of similarly “simple and clean” chapters. That said, some of this stuff will be extremely useful for chaos players, because the heavily decorated, sometimes quite feral Space Wolves parts can be a rather nice fit for the traitor legions — especially if someone were, you know, building a World Eaters army based on the concept of a hunting party, for instance. *Wink wink* 😉

In fact, I’ll admit that this release makes me consider playing my World Eaters as Space Wolves for the first time in earnest. I mean, can you imagine a chaotic version of Stormrider, pulled by juggernauts and serving as a chariot to Lord Captain Lorimar…? That would be awesome, wouldn’t it? Could those wolf heads on the Stormwolf’s hull not represent the ancient legion badge of the War Hounds, and wouldn’t a vehicle like that be perfect to transport a squad o frothing madmen clad in red and brass into battle? Wouldn’t the rules for Murderfang be the perfect representation of Brother Marax the Fallen? Ah, one can always dream…

The good thing is that I can really have my cake and eat it too in this case: Some of this stuff could really come in handy for the small detachment of traitorous Space Wolves accompanying Khorne’s Eternal Hunt. Take the Dreadnought multikit, for instance: Like I said earlier, it would make a brilliant, less mutated Chaos Dreadnought/Helbrute. Just check out my buddy Biohazard’s amazing Dreadnought kitbashes that were made using the new kit!

So, to make a long story short, I think I might yet have some fun with stuff from this release at some point… 😉


All in all, I’ll call this a limited but extremely focused release, adding some really awesome stuff to what is already one of the best Space Marine model lines. If I have one regret, it’s that the release didn’t give us some plastic Wulfen, because I would really have loved to see those guys again! As it stands, though, each part of the release adds something meaningful to the Space Wolves catalogue — which cannot be said for some of the new supplements and dataslates, one of which mostlyseems like a way of selling off the remaining, twenty year old SW special characters. But that’s a story for another time (or another blog, really).  From a modeling perspective, I am really rather happy with this release, even though it may not be monumental.

So what about you: Do you like the new kits? Do you feel hatred for “Santa Grimnar”? Would you like to share your own opinion or conversion ideas? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

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

The Hour of the Wolf

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2013 by krautscientist

In order tp produce something every once in a while that I can use in my “regular” 40k army, I got some more work in on my squad of traitorous Space Wolves: My first test model came out well enough, but I realised that I would maybe have to pay more attention to make these models look suitably chaotic and not just like members of the 13th company who had been forced to use pieces of CSM armour to repair their gear. So my next batch of Blood Wolves maintained a better balance between SW and CSM parts, and I even reworked some of my first test models. Now it was time to actually paint them!

I decided to finish the initial three test models I had built first, which will give you a nice “before/after” comparison later in this post 😉

So here are the new painted models:

Khorne Wolves Test Models (1)
Khorne Wolves Test Models (3)
Khorne Wolves Test Models (9)
This guy is actually my favourite so far, since that Raptor helmet just looks quite menacing for some reason, but not so overtly chaotic that you can put your finger on what it is right away. The model was painted in the same colours as the first test model, and the fur areas gave me a nice chance to introduce an additional colour to the model. I also added one of my simple OSL effects to the model’s plasma pistol.

And the last remaining test model:

Khorne Wolves Test Models (4)
Khorne Wolves Test Models (6)
Khorne Wolves Test Models (7)
Khorne Wolves Test Models (8)
This guy actually shows some skin, so I used the same recipe for pale skin that had already worked rather nicely on both my Traitor Guard and the Joras Turnpelt model. This model was in a pretty rough condition due to the bitz I used in its construction being in a verry sorry state to begin with, so I had to be careful during painting, paying attention not to slather yet another thick coat of paint on top. That said, I think I managed to salvage the model well enough!

So here’s a comparison shot for you:

This is what the models looked like before painting:

Khorne Wolves Test Models (6)
Still not easy to look at, am I right?

And here they are as they are looking now:

Khorne Wolves Test Models (10)
Quite a transformation, don’t you think? Especially if you consider the rather sorry state some of those bitz were in! As you can see, I did some slight changes to the models, adding a trophy here or swapping a head or shoulder pad there, but all in all, they still look reasonably similar to the initial builds. The new colours are much nicer, though…

So, just for fun, I also took another picture of the models alongside some chaos hounds I painted quite a while ago:

Khorne Wolves Test Models (14)
These are a great fit for both my World Eaters and their Blood Wolves allies, and if I ever add daemonic allies to the force, I believe these hounds will be used as “counts as” Bloodletters. The image of a huge pack of hounds being used by Khorne’s Eternal Hunt to run down their prey really appeals to me!

And, of course, a picture of all the Blood Wolves I have managed to paint so far:

Khorne Wolves Test Models (12)
Both the models and paint recipe took some time to come together, but I am reasonably pleased now. While these are looking quite distinct from my World Eaters, that had been the plan all along. And I think they are doing a good job of channelling the sinister, feral side of the Space Wolves.

So, what do you think? Am I onto something here? Let me know in the comments! And, ss always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Khorne Wolves Test Models (11)

Beasts of the Northern Wild

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2013 by krautscientist

So how do you follow up a post like the one about Legion? Easy: You don’t, at least not right away 😉

While quite a few pictures of the game set aboard the Arrke (some of them slightly fuzzy, but all of them fantastic!) can already be found online, I’ll give it a few more days until all the other people involved have had a chance to post their own fantastic models and their different takes on the game. After all, when I next talk about Legion and his/its/their friends, I would love to be able to point you towards all kinds of interesting blog posts, so let’s just be patient for a while. It’ll be worth it!

The downside, obviously, is that some of you might find today’s post somewhat pedestrian. But, heck, regular 40k business has to continue as well: I can’t just be building snazzy high concept stuff for games involving John Blanche himself every day, you know?

So, cut to Khorne’s Eternal Hunt: You may remember that I was working on a squad of traitorous Space Wolves to serve as regular Chaos Space Marines in my force of World Eaters. Just to refresh your memory, these were the first test models I cobbled together from some – very rough – bitz:

Khorne Wolves Test Models (6)
And this is the first of those I painted as a tester:

Khorne Wolves test model X (2)
As some people have pointed out here and on the forums, the problem is that the model looks a little too much like a member of the 13th company just having a slightly bad day. So while I liked the overall look and paint recipe well enough, it was clear to me that the main challenge would be to achieve a look that, while still obviously showing the wolves’ loyalist heritage, also made it perfectly clear that they had turned and now served another master.

The most effective way to achieve this was by carefully considering which bitz to use. So I dove headfirst into my bitzbox — and also received quite a nice bitz drop courtesy of fellow hobbyist Gerner (cheers, mate!). Both factors allowed me to work on some more models for my Blood Wolves, and I believe you’ll find these to be somewhat less conventional than the initial test models. Let’s take a look:

Blood Wolves WIP (2)
Blood Wolves WIP (1)
This first model is actually one of the test models shown above, only slightly reworked: I wasn’t perfectly happy with the model, so I added a different head and right arm. The whole model was also undercoated with Army Painter’s Uniform Grey, in order to better blend together the different (partly painted) bits I used.

And here’s the third test model from the picture posted above:

Blood Wolves WIP (9)
Blood Wolves WIP (8)
While I was already happy enough with the menacing look and overall pose, I still made some small changes: The shoulder pads were exchanged for SW pads to make the loyalist origins of the model more obvious. The head was replaced with a similar but slightly more chaotic looking head from the Raptor kit (to which I added a wolf totem from one of the SW helmets). Again, the model was undercoated grey. I must say I am really pleased with this guy! He has a menacing, predatory look about him that rather fits a fallen Space Wolf…

There were also two models I had originally built as World Eaters. Yet due to the fact that I had used some SW parts in their construction, they had just the right look for my squad of Khornate wolves, so I just chose to repurpose them:

Blood Wolves WIP (4)
Blood Wolves WIP (3)
In my opnion, this first model is a pretty good blend of SW design and a clearly Khornate touch. As you can see, I used the huge axe from the SW terminator kit: A memento of the Marine’s original chapter as well as a fitting weapon for a servant of Khorne! An energy generator (without the power coils) from the Battle for Maccrage boxed set was used as some kind of toppled Imperial icon for the model to stand on. I really like the badass look of this guy!

The other model was designed to be channelling a very classic 90s pose:

Blood Wolves WIP (7)
I just couldn’t help myself… 😉

And finally, I built some new models from the bitz I had assembled. First of all, an icon bearer for the squad:

Blood Wolves WIP (5)

Blood Wolves WIP (6)
The model uses one of my favourite heads from the WFB Marauder Horsemen. While this guy could still be mistaken for a loyalist, I imagine the icon itself will change that, once it is finished. I’ll be using a huge, trophy-like banner from the WFB Minotaur kit. I love the static but powerful stance oj this guy!

And finally, I needed a worthy squad leader, of course! Another great head from the Marauder Horsemen and some bitz from the Skullcrusher kit did the trick. Take a look:

Blood Wolves WIP (10)
Blood Wolves WIP (11)
Easily my favourite model in the squad so far, this guy really maintains a delicate balance between a SW/barbarian look and a couple of clearly chaotic attributes.

So far, the squad seems very focused on combat at close quarters. However, I still have enough bitz for another six models, and most of those will be wielding a trusty Boltgun. But I think the new models are already far more recognisable as chaos followers. I really like their massive and grizzled look. Take a look at the squad so far:

Blood Wolves WIP (12)
What I like about these models is that including a squad of fallen Space Wolves with some actual background seems far preferable to just building World Eaters wielding Bolters, just for the sake of WYSIWYG.

So what do you think? Are those new models a step in the right direction? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

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

Blood Wolves WIP (14)

Top Dog

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, paintjob with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2013 by krautscientist

With my first traitorous Space Wold painted, I was itching to begin working on Joras Turnpelt, the leader of my Khornate Wolves. Here’s the unpainted model:

Joras Turnpelt WIP (2)
I started by basically repeating the steps I had used to paint my first test model: Since Joras’s armour consists of quite a few more chaos bitz, I was reasonably sure that he would read as a follower of the dark gods well enough, even if painted in a colour scheme similar to regular Space Wolves. So I got to work and finished most of the model in a pretty reasonable amount of time. Take a look:

Joras Turnpelt WIP (3)

Joras Turnpelt WIP (6)Joras Turnpelt WIP (7)
As you can see, the overall recipe is indeed identical to that used on my test model. For the face, I used my tried and tested recipe for pale skin. And I added a small OSL effect to the eyes on the breastplate. The Lightning Claws on Joras’ right hand were painted blue as well, and I had something similar planned for the huge axe at first. However, it ended up looking too much like some kind of toy, so I went back to a fairly straightforward silver colour.

Before the model could be called finished, I had to add the cape and base. Regarding the cape, I wanted to make it look as dusty and grimy as I could. And the base would follow the same approach as the bases of my World Eaters.

After a short while, this is what I had come up with:

Joras Turnpelt (2)
Joras Turnpelt (3)
Joras Turnpelt (5)
Joras Turnpelt (6)
As you can see, some skull trophies were added to the cape, to make Joras’ new allegiance even more obvious (I also wanted to obscure the small “smoke stacks” on the cloak, since they seemed slightly silly to me). Note the dirty and tattered cape:

Joras Turnpelt (7)
The effect was created by drybrushing multiple times with GW Graveyard Earth, which led to a very dusty, dirtied look. Unfortunately, the photo eats up some of the subtle shades, so you’ll have to take my word for it: It does look really dusty when seen up close! 😉

It’s also a nice coincidence that the cape nicely complements the model’s overall pose, adding to the sense of movement.

Joras Turnpelt (8)

When it came to Joras’ face, I wanted him to be pale and slightly haunted-looking, and I guess I succeeded reasonably well:

Joras Turnpelt (10)
Maybe he’ll need one more pass of GW Leviathan Purple in the deepest recesses to make him look even more drawn. 😉

And finally, the base: It goes without saying that I couldn’t resist adding a small loyalist touch…

Joras Turnpelt (11)
And here’s a comparison shot with Joras and one of my World Eaters Terminator Lords:

Joras Turnpelt (12)
I like the fact that Joras has a pretty distinct silhouette, seeming quite bulky (mostly because of the cape).

All in all, I am pretty pleased with the model: I think the paintjob nicely captures the fact that Joras is a warrior in transition: While there are still some strong clues as to his loyalist origins, several other visual elements make it perfectly clear that he now follows a very different master.

And finally, as is my usual routine, let me also give you some background for the model (a slightly revised version of the first sketch, in this case):

Joras Turnpelt (4)
Joras Turnpelt

Joras Turnpelt was once a member of Einar Longbeard’s Great Company, and served as the Wolf Lord’s second-in-command as well as his trusted friend. When the company found itself facing the warriors of Khorne’s Eternal Hunt in battle, the fighting turned out to be extremely bloody and unforgiving, due to both sides’ ferocity in combat. With the battle dragging on, the Space Wolves found themselves slowly bleeding out from the costly engagements. And to make matters even worse, Longbeard and Joras did not see eye to eye regarding how to proceed: The Wolf Lord knew that the Space Wolves were in acute danger of losing the battle and wanted to consolidate their forces, maybe even order a tactical retreat, while Joras would hear none of it. Seething with adrenaline and beginning frenzy, he wanted to press on and obliterate the enemy, and ordered an attack in direct defiance of his superior’s orders. During the ensuing fight, Joras eventually flew into a berserker rage, slaying his own Wolf Lord, who was trying to intervene. This act of betrayal shattered the great company, with the brethren falling on each other as well as the World Eaters. In the end, only a small band of warriors remained, defeated and encircled by the warriors of the 4th, shaken by their own actions and ready to be killed. But Lorimar let them live, feeling that Joras, in the depths of his rage, had found something dark and powerful. The Master of the Hunt was intrigued.

Ever since, Joras and his remaining warriors have been fighting alongside Khorne’s Eternal Hunt, adopting some of the 4th’s traditions while also keeping themselves apart in other respects. And Joras has become known as the “Turnpelt”, considered a despised traitor of his own chapter and hated enemy by the sons of Russ…


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