Archive for the burning of prospero

Studies in Mk. III — my first experiments with the models from “The Burning of Prospero”

Posted in Chaos, Conversions, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2016 by krautscientist

Before we begin, let me give you fair warning — there are lots of unpainted plastic ahead!
But with the contents of The Burning of Prospero box now at my disposal, I liked the idea of sharing my initial experiments on the new kits with you — and it somehow turned into a sprawling kitbashing post somewhere along the way. What’s more, it occurs to me that I haven’t actually shown you some of my recent 30k World Eaters conversions yet, so let’s start with those (don’t worry, we’ll be getting to the new Mk. III models before long 😉 ).

First up is a conversion I am actually really happy with, and it began as another attempt of building a Heresy era version of one of my 40k Chaos Lords. This time, it was Huntmaster Bardolf’s turn:

Huntmaster Bardolf new
He was one of the first more involved conversions I did after getting back into the hobby a couple of years back, and while the conversion does show its age a bit, I am still enormously fond of this guy, mostly because he was my go-to Chaos Lord in all those smallish 500 and 750 points games when I re-learned 40k. As a consequence, his various victories and losses really turned him into a character rather than a mere playing piece, and helped me to figure out what I wanted Khorne’s Eternal Hunt to feel like. So I thought it would be fun to build a younger, uncorrupted version of Bardolf, from his time as a fresh-faced veteran sergeant during the Heresy.

The idea here was to take several elements from the 40k model (the pose, the weapons, and a couple of bitz) and incorporate them into the 30k version as well, while still making him seem like a more restrained 30k character (and also a sergeant and not yet a powerful commander type). So here’s what I came up with:

Sergeant Bardolf WIP (1)

Sergeant Bardolf WIP (2)
And since even the World Eaters still occasionally used slightly more conservative Astartes warfare tactics back then, I also made sure to add a standard bolter in addition to the axes

Sergeant Bardolf WIP (3)
There’s also a peculiar pleasure in adding enough gear to the individual Astartes to make them look believable — something that doesn’t seem to be as much of a concern in 40k (at least not for Khorne Berzerkers), but lends itself really well to the more regimented feel of the Heresy era legions.

Anyway, I am pretty happy with the finished model, and here’s a comparison shot showing Bardolf now and then:

Bardolf then and now WIP

I think this pair really gives a rather nice idea of what ten millennia of service to the Ruinous Powers will do to you 😉 At the same time, it’s recongnisably the same guy, wouldn’t you agree?

While I really like the conversion, however, it also left me with the upper half of the BaC Kurtha Sedd model — and to be honest, the stock model didn’t do much for me. I did want to build a chaplain for my 30k World Eaters, however, mostly because I remembered  Poom’s amazing chaplain model and wanted to steal some cues from it.  My first attempt involved using the Kurtha Sedd torso swapping in a pair of plastic Mk. IV legs and using the same helmet (from the limited edition Interrogator Chaplain from Dark Vengeance) and Rampager weapon (as an alternate crozius) as Poom. So here’s my first take on the chaplain:

30k World Eaters Chaplain WIP (3)
I also tried to add a few touches of my own here and there. For instance, I really liked Fabricator General’s take on the World Eaters’ chaplains serving as “Chain Dogs”, the grim overseers of the fighting pits, and I tried to make my chaplain reflect that concept.

So I was already really happy with my Chaplain conversion, but I still had to make two small tweaks: Something about his very clean left wrist and forearm kept bothering me, so I ever-so-carefully cut off the hand, shaved off a slice of the forearm and spliced in one of the shackles from the AoS Bloodreavers that I have been using as decoration on many of my 30k World Eaters.

I also exchanged the legs for a pair of legs from the new plastic Mk. III Marines, and while I liked the previous setup well enough, I’d argue the new legs give him even more of a grim presence.

Meet Chaplain Karrim Krieger, Chain Dog of the 4th assault company, overseeing the fighting pits and ensuring the bonds of brotherhood between the brethren of the legion remain strong:

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So this is where we finally get to the actual Mk. III related shenanigans: I had already used one pair of legs so far, but I wanted to build my first proper Mk. III Marine. Iron armour has always been one of my favourite armour marks, if not the favourite, both for its bulk and medieval look and for how decidedly different it looks from standard 40k power armour.

So I started messing around with the new bitz and thought they might be appropiate for building a guy wielding a big gun:

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At this point, the model was still almost completely stock Mk. III. My one tweak was to add an Ork shoota’s barrel to the heavy bolter, making the weapon look far more brutal and massive.

The next step was to try and give the Marine that certain World Eater-ly je ne sais quoi. Now the temptation is rather big with these models to just go completely chaotic on them, adding spikes and trophies to every surface, but I am trying to deliberately keep them away from full-on 40k baroqueness, in order to show that the worship of chaos is only just beginning to creep in here and there, but the 30k World Eaters are still pretty different from their 40k incarnation at this point. With that in mind, I just made some small tweaks to the model:

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I think the Anvilus backpack has a nice way of making the model look even more archaic, plus it also provides an element of improvisation to the armour, which I think is a great fit for World Eaters: Given their style of warfare, I think the legion should really be full of mix’n’match armour that has been patched together from everything that could be scavenged off the battlefield.

The next model I built further explored this angle, mainly staying with Mk. III parts, but swapping in a CSM torso piece:

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The one serious shortcoming of the new models is that, once again, we have to make do without dedicated CC weapon arms (the few that come with the squad’s sergeant notwithstanding), so I texperimented with getting around that limitation. My impression is that the Mk. III Marines are both harder and easier to turn into models armed with CC weapons than their Mk. IV brethren. Harder because it’s not as easy to just swap in alternate plastic arms — due to the bulk of the armour, you’ll lose the iconic Mk. III look. On the other hand, the segmented armour plates make it quite a bit easier to carefully cut the arms apart and repose them (like I did with a pair of bolter arms on the guy above).

And finally, I went a little more adventurous and built this guy:

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As you can see, he is wearing far more hybridised armour than his predecessors, which once again ties back to the kind of mongrel armour I’d imagine most of the World Eaters to be wearing partway through the heresy. Now I realise that many World Eaters players feel that those old berzerker arms are the bane of our existence, but the clunky look just really suits the whole Heresy-era World Eaters look and feel for me. It’s not an effect I’ll be using on every other model, but I do think this guy really reads as a World Eater.

All in all, I am pretty happy with my Mk. III experiments so far, yet I also think that there is still much fun to be had with the new parts!

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As a nice added bonus, these new models round out what will be my first tactical veteran squad, squad Bardolf. Here’s a look at the squad so far:

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So that means one model left to go for the squad, and the vexillarius, no less — I am still debating with myself over whether to go with the fairly low key, backpack-mounted vexilla that comes with the kit or go for a slightly more involved banner. The latter seems like a better fit for the World Eaters, but I am also planning a dedicated company standard bearer for the future, and I don’t want the squad vexillarii to overshadow that guy. Then again, I grew up with 2nd edition 40k where the guy with the banner mounted on his backpack was always the sergeant. Argh, choices… 😉

 

 

And as a lucky coincidence, I also managed to finish yet another model that had been in construction for quite a while: The leftover Mk. III backpack from the heavy weapons guy was used on this World Eaters Praetor:

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The model is based on an Ivanus Enkomi body Augustus b’Raass sent me a while ago. I realise I must have shown the model to you before, but now I am finally happy with the setup: The new backpack provides precisely the dash of Heresy-era tech the model was still missing.

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This guy will be one of Lorimar’s Secutorii, a cadre of officers serving as a link between the Captain and the individual squad leaders:

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To make a long story short, I imagine those 30k World Eaters will be one of my big hobby projects in 2017. However, I still refuse to refer to the project as an actual army — yet…

And finally, before I wind up this post, something that doesn’t have anything to do with my World Eaters but very much factors into my experiments with the new Prospero plastics: Some of you may remember that I kitbashed a whole squad of those girls, back when there were no models available. And I wanted to experiment a bit with the new, “official” models vis-à-vis my own attempts from a couple of years ago. Here’s an initial comparison picture:

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The model on the left is the squadleader from my kitbashed Sisters of Silence. I am still pretty happy with the model, to be honest, even in the face of the new kit. On the right is one of the new, official models — and I think they share enough visual cues to keep the older model viable.

Even so, I wanted to experiment with this a bit more, so in an attempt to blur the edges between the two approaches, I used some leftover bits from the new Sisters (a head and a shoulder pad, to be precise) on another one of my kitbashed models to create something like a “missing link”:

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I rather like the result and think this avenue of kitbashing definitely warrants some further experimentation — here’s a comparison picture showing all three models so far:

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So yeah, the TL;DR version of this would be: It’s quite a lot of fun to mess around with those kits from The Burning of Prospero right now, even if I am taking it slow for now. Feel free to let me hear any feedback you might have!

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

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The State of the Hunt — Week 45

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob, Pointless ramblings, state of the hunt, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2016 by krautscientist

So, like I said, I was at a conference last week, visiting the PLAY 16 festival at Hamburg and spending a couple of days in the city. I think I have mentioned previously that, in addition to being addicted to cutting up little plastic men, I am also a huge videogame nerd, and the subject also happens to factor into my professional background of working in the field of media literacy. So allow me to begin this week’s post with some comparatively off-topic rambling:

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PLAY is a festival dedicated to the artistic, creative and educational purposes and potentials of videogames, and this year’s subject was “Let’s get physical!”, so the various events, workshops and presentations dealt with the representation of bodies in games, ranging from the design of characters, archetypes and player avatars to the interactions between the game world and the player’s actual body, be it in the form of motion contol or even virtual and augmented reality. The festival was fascinating and fun, and certainly not short on highlights: For instance, I had the opportunity to try out Triangular Pixels’ VR game “Unseen Diplomacy”, which was a truly stunning experience — I hadn’t expected VR to be so, well, immersive at this comparatively early point!

Another highlight was the fact that the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg (MKG) is currently running a huge exhibition on the history of videogames, with many, many playable classics from 30+ years of gaming culture (I was appalled at how badly I was doing when playing OutRun on an actual vintage arcade cabinet). In addition to the actual games, the exhibition also features lots of concept artwork from modern classics like Shadow of the Colossus or Ico:

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I was particularly delighted when I discovered a whole wall of brilliant concept art from DoubleFine’s Psychonauts, a personal favourite of mine:

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So if you live anywhere near Hamburg or should find yourself visiting the city in the near future (or until the end of April 2017), and if you’re even the slightest bit interested in videogame culture, you should definitely check out the Game Masters exhibition! It’s very educational, but also great fun! Plus the museum also has many more exhibitions for you to discover, of course. I was sadly unable to check out the exhibits on Art Nouveau due to time constraints, for instance, so I might have to plan another visit soon…

Let me wind up this part of the post by showing you the room that housed the last workshop I participated in before travelling back home. This room is also located at the MKG and was once the cafeteria of German news magazine Der Spiegel:

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It also provided the perfect photo opportunity for getting material that should make for suitably psychedelic desktop backgrounds:

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Anyway, before we veer completely off course, rest assured that I did of course do something hobby related as well while I was in Hamburg: It goes without saying that I took the opportunity to drop by one of the local GW stores. Now what really impressed me was the level of painting on display at the store, courtesy of the staff and some regulars, so I snapped inspirational pictures left and right:

 

DISCLAIMER: This should be fairly obvious, really, but none of the following stuff is mine, and I don’t claim any kind of credit for it! If you should recognise one of your models and would like to be mentioned, just give me a holler and I’d be glad to edit your name into the post!

Anyway, my first port of call was this very awesome Khornate Daemon army painted by one of the store’s regulars:

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Possibly my favourite conversion was the Bloodslaughterer-based Soulgrinder:

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And while it wasn’t part of the same army, I also really love this slightly converted Maulerfiend:

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My favourite parts are the Bloodletters leading it to battle by a chain and that delicious brass recipe!

The biggest surprise was to discover something that I first considered to be a cool recreation of an iconic – and rather well-known – piece from the internet, but which almost certainly turned out to be the genuine article upon closer inspection:

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And because you can never have enough Inquisitor-scaled Astartes, there was also this beautiful 54mm Librarian (cheers to Inquisitor Mikhailovich for correcting that oversight!), based on the same vintage Captain Artemis:

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So yeah, brilliant stuff all around!

Of course I couldn’t leave the store without making a sizeable purchase. So yeah, this happened:

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The good folks at the store were nice enough to reserve their last copy of The Burning of Prospero for me, so there goes my next hobby year, I suppose 😉

Seriously, though, I am pretty sure I’ll be talking about the contents of the box in more detail sooner rather than later. For now, suffice it to say that I am actually awestruck by the quality of the casts: GW’s plastic models have been rather spectacular for quite a while now, but it really seems as though each boxed set sets a new benchmark for crispness of detail. Very nice! You can also find my thoughts on the models contained in the boxed set here, should you have missed them.

 

Speaking of which, I actually kitbashed one particular model as a kind of preparation for the release of The Burning of Prospero, incidentally:

As you may already have noticed, I really enjoy building 30k versions of my 40k World Eaters characters. Now back when it didn’t look like I would ever create any 30k models of my own, fellow German hobbyist AgnostosTheos created a 30k (pre-interment) version of one of my characters, Khoron the Undying:

Pre Heresy (8)

In the 41st millennium, Khoron has been a Dreadnought for several millennia, yet he has also been an invaluable adviser to Lord Captain Lorimar since before the Heresy, as he was already a veteran of the 4th company even before Lorimar won his captaincy in the fighting pits.

Khoron actually already has quite a bit of backstory – at least somewhere in the back of my head – so I do have a pretty specific idea of what I want his model to look like. With that said. there’s a lot I still love about AgnostosTheos’ version (especially the lined face he chose, making Khoron look like a grizzled veteran), but it’s obvious the model doesn’t fit my World Eaters colour scheme, so instead of painting over AT’s paintjob, I thought this would be a good occasion to build an updated 30k version of Khoron. Now I see him as a hard-as-nails veteran of the legion, so I chose an archaic suit of armour for him — plus I had already heard rumours of the new boxed set at that time, so it seemed like a cool idea to give Mk. III a try:

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The model was created by combining World Eaters’ and Iron Hands’ parts (I loved the chainmail loincloth on the IH legs, so I just had to use them). The weapons have also swapped hands when compared with AT’s version, in order for the model to mimic Khoron’s eventual Dreadnought ironform. The model has only been tacked together for now, and I think Khoron will be needing some additional gear here and there, but by and large, I am already pretty happy with the new version. So here’s Khoron next to the previous version of the character:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ahzek Ahriman, Chief-Librarian of the Thousand Sons

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

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

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

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

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

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Geigor Fell-Hand of the Space Wolves

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tartaros Terminators

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

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

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

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

 

Tactical Marines in Mk. III “Iron” armour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Custodian Guard & Sisters of Silence

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

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

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

 

Custodian Guard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The actual models seem incredibly massive, however. Especially so in certain configurations:

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

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

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

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

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

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Looks like I’ll have to source some plastic capes, then — any suggestions? 😉

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

Custodes (2b)
Custodian Squad (2)

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

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

 

Sisters of Silence

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

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

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

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

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

SoS (15)

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

 

conversion options:

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


Ahriman

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

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

Tartaros Terminators

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

Mk III Marines

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

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

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

Custodian Guard

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

Sisters of Silence

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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