Archive for the end times

Plastic for the plastic god! A look at the new Khorne release

Posted in Chaos, Conversions, Pointless ramblings, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2015 by krautscientist

Those of us familiar with the Realms of Chaos know that all blood serves Khorne in the end, so it is only fitting that, at the end of the huge maelstrom of bloodshed that is the WFB End Times, there should be the servants of the Blood God. So we get a release in red and brass, adding some substantial new material to the legions of Khorne in WFB and, with a little cutting and gluing, 40k. It should not surprise you that I consider this a pretty good month, and will only be too happy to walk you through this release. Yay!
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This is only one way of looking at it, of course: Fans of Tzeentch and Slaanesh are rightly annoyed that Nurgle and Khorne seem to be getting all the love, once again. But with a plastic Greater Daemon forming a substantial part of this release, I think it is safe to say that followers of the other chaos gods are probably not all that far behind. Take heart in that conviction, brothers and sisters in chaos! 😉

Until then, however, let us focus on the hordes of He who hunts at the head of the pack: The release brings us one huge kit, one clamshell character and one multi-kit for rather monstrous infantry. So let’s take a look at each of the kits in turn and talk about their strengths, their shortcomings and, of course, their glorious conversion potential. Grab your axes and step this way, please!

 

Bloodthirster

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To say that this has been a hotly anticipated model would probably be quite an understatement: People have been beggingfor plastic Greater Daemons for a very long time now — so long in fact that it seemed almost guaranteed that GW could never possibly do all the expectations enough justice. And some people even stepped up to fill the void, among them Creature Caster, offering some very impressive alternate Greater Daemons as part of their Kickstarter campaign.

I’ll be honest with you: I was very impressed with CC’s Warrior Demon when I first saw it, and I actually asked myself whether GW would be able to produce a new Bloodthirster to match. Sure, there was the amazing Forgeworld Bloodthirster, but the presence of that model only made the designers’ task yet more difficult. And when I saw the first few fuzzy photos of the new Bloodthirster appearing on the internet, my biggest fears seemed to become reality.

I was wrong, fortunately: Once the official pictures appeared, along with the release of the kit, I really fell in love with the new Bloodthirster. After taking forever to redesign the model – and I don’t even hate the old Bloodthirster, mind you. It’s just that it’s very much a product of its time – GW’s designers have really managed to deliver an amazing new version. And we get three different variants out of the kit, no less! Let’s take a look at each of them in turn:

The Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster, pictured above, does not merely have the most idiotic name of the bunch (seriously, guys: Whatever happened to adjectives?), it’s also my least favourite version by a few degrees. It’s still a pretty stunning model, make no mistake, but it has a couple of elements that don’t sit well with me:

The meteor hammer, for one, seems like a somewhat counter-intuitive weapon choice for a horned, winged daemon, because wielding it effectively might be quite a bit of a task with all those extra appendages in the way, but that in itself would’nt be too much of a problem. What I really don’t like though, is how the head of the hammer seems just about to smash down onto the daemon’s own head:

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Sure, the model just serves as a kind of “freeze frame”, but that detail really stuck out to me. There’s also the fact that I think the pillar of flames that comes as an optional part is a pretty tacky and goofy way of elevating the model’s height:

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While the bit itself has been beautifully sculpted, there’s something ever so slightly off with the whole concept. And it doesn’t really work all that well on the Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster specifically, because it makes the already slightly awkward pose created by the weapons even stranger, making the whole model seem as though it doesn’t know whether it’s landing or taking flight.

There are really cool things about this specific variant, though: The axe head is a work of art, even though it looks slightly wrong held at that particular angle — more as if the daemon were presenting it to its opponent instead of preparing for some actual chopping action. The HeroQuest and Oldhammer inspired head with its stylised headdress is a wonderful idea, though — what a fantastic shout out to the vintage models! And the armour worn by the Bloodthirster is also wonderfully detailed and very cool. All in all, even the weakest variant of the kit is a massive, threatening and highly dynamic daemon, and certainly a centre piece for any chaos army.

So let’s move on to the next model in line, the Bloodthirster of Insensate Rage:

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This guy supposedly works as some kind of hero and character killer, and what better way to go about that task than to be wielding an enormous axe, right? The axe is very much the focal point of the model, and it is a truly awesome piece:

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The design of the weapon manages to balance daemonic/organic and metallic elements perfectly, for once, giving us something that looks like an organic chain axe, without being too creepy crawly. I also love how the arms and axe give the model a very striking pose and silhouette — I still don’t like the flame pillar on this model, but it works much, much better with this weapon setup!

The partly bestial face may be my least favourite part about the model:

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It’s not even bad, mind you: It just seems like the designers could not decide whether they wanted this guy to look like a daemon, a dog or a troll. Even so, the detailing is top notch, and the icon of Khorne dangling from the head’s chin as some kind of piercing is a very cool touch.

And finally, the third variant of the kit: The Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury:

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This guy is described as the weakest kind of Bloodthirster in the background, but you know what: He is by far my favourite of the bunch! Maybe it’s the fact that he hews so closely to the original, iconic Bloodthirster design? He also happens to be a pretty good representation (at long last) of one of my favourite pieces of artwork by Mark Gibbons:

Artwork by Mark Gibbons

Artwork by Mark Gibbons

For me, the Bloodthirster of Unfettered Fury is just a perfect representation of what I want a Bloodthirster to look like: I love the iconic combo of axe and whip, for one. And this particular axe head works better than the more ornate one used on the Wrath of Khorne Bloodthirster, if you ask me: Due to its asymmetrical, more workmanlike design, it actually looks as though the Bloodthirster is preparing for an attack with it.

But the face really has to be my favourite part of the model: It’s just perfect, a brilliant mix of bestial, skeletal and human. The quintessential demonic face, if you ask me:

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The fact that the ‘Eavy Metal paintjob on this guy is pretty much perfect helps, of course. This version of the Bloodthirster is really close to Tolkien’s seminal Balrog as well — and I’ve always imagined Bloodthirsters as the Warhammer version of Balrogs, anyway 😉

I also like the highly detailed whip, both for its iconic quality and for the depth it adds to the model (even if sorting out the whip arm is a bit of a pain, as I can say from painful experience). Maybe my one small gripe with the model is the chaos star used as a tip for the whip, though:

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It looks really awesome, but it may just be a tad much. Plus it actually changes the whip into more of a flail, doesn’t it? Anyway, adding that chaos star may have been overdoing it a bit 😉

Oh, and the model also serves as proof that the Bloodthirster’s running legs work really well without that stupid flame pillar: In fact, the model seems to be more aggressive and have a greater sense of agency without it, if you ask me.

When all is said and done, I think you should just choose your favourite visual elements from across all three variants of the kit and then happily mix and match. If anything, I actually dislike the fact that GW chose to create different rules for the different Bloodthirsters: In my opinion, the different weapons, heads and pieces of armour should have been a visual choice, above all else. But that’s just me.

In any case, there are some strengths and weaknesses shared by all three versions of the Bloodthirster:

First up, the amount of detail on this guy has to be seen to be believed. Every part of the model is beautifully and lavishly detailed: Seriously, just take a look at that armour:

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You even get several optional parts and variants to mix and match, which is amazing (on a related note, those breastplates would look great on a Chaos Knight, and they are just about the right size to replace a standard Imperial Knight breastplate too — just sayin’…).

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What may be even cooler, though, is that the skin beneath the armour is fully detailed as well, allowing you to build your own Bloodthirster as armoured or naked as you like!

Another thing I have ended up liking quite a bit is the model’s size: Sure, the avatar of bloodshed and war could always have been bigger, but at least it seems like the designers put quite a bit of thought into this particular choice. As a consequence, the model works really well from a scale perspective when compared with some other models: The Nemesis Dreadknight, for instance, was created to go toe to toe with Greater Daemons. The new Bloodthirster finally looks like it would make a worthy opponent for the machine! The Bloodthirster also looks perfect when placed next to a bog standard plastic Daemon Prince (or the more impressive FW Daemon Prince of Khorne). And while the model is noticeably smaller than an Imperial Knight, it still looks like it could give one of these quite a headache, thanks to the bulk added by the wings.

As for things that I didn’t like, I have already touched upon that (optional, thankfully) flame pillar, but there’s more: The wings take some getting used to. For quite a while there, I just kept referring to them as “mac & cheese wings” when talking about the model, due to the somewhat gooey looking texture. That was something that I grew used to over time, but one problem remains: Who ever thought the addition of chaos stars and icons of Khorne to the model’s wings would be a good idea?

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Seriously, this is just overdoing it a bit for the sake of coolness, isn’t it? The best way to deal with this particular detail would be to just paint it to look as inconspicuously as possible, if you ask me, in order to make it look like these were brands of some kind.

All in all, however, I’ll have to call this model a triumph! I wasn’t sure whether GW would be able to produce a Bloodthirster that could live up to the fans’ expectations, but this kit just delivers. Small gripes aside, I would call this a landmark release, and if this model is serves as the standard for the new plastic Greater Daemons, then chaos players will have a lot to look forward to!

Oh, by the way, allow me to share one small anecdote: When talking to Jeff Vader about the model, Jeff complained that the Bloodthirster even had horns and spikes on his arse — and he was right, too:

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Jeff pointed out that no Bloodthirster would ever be able to sit down because of this — and I was just about to agree with him that this seemed pretty stupid. But then the fridge brilliance kicked in: If there is one daemon in the warp whom his patron would never ever want to merely be sitting around, it would be this guy, right? So maybe those spikes are not such a bad design idea, after all…

 

Skarr Bloodwrath

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We have grown accustomed to each (End Times) release providing us with at least one new clamshell character, and this time is no exception. Giving us something more interesting than just another towering, fully armoured chaos warrior, though, was a very good call! In fact, Skarr Bloodwrath reminds me of Haargroth the Blooded One, a converted champion of Khorne from the 6th edition WFB WoC army book (and subsequent Storm of Chaos campaign).

The model itself is looking excellent, with its twisted and mutated body perfectly straddling the line between a mighty warlord of chaos and a daemon of Khorne. Let’s just address the elephant in the room, though: Removing those stupid chain flails should be the first order of the day! Seriously, they just don’t work. Even the description of how Skarr uses them in GW’s own materials doesn’t work. Imagining these weapons in motion actually makes my head hurt. They also completely ruin the model’s silhouette and composition. It’s really hard to understand why someone would have considered this element a good idea. Off with them, I say!

Beyond this very obvious gripe, the weapons themselves are rather stunning:

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The model’s armour is also very cool, with lots and lots of detail, and a pretty cool and rather original horned helmet to match. What’s more, we even get a bare headed option for Skarr:

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Granted, the bare head does seem a bit …challenged, for lack of a better word, but maybe that’s just the unhealthy red skin tone? In any case, it’s great to have the additional option — maybe this would make a pretty sweet plastic Abaddon head, come to think of it?

There’s one more thing beyond the chain flails that I don’t like: If you take a closer look at the way Skarr’s legs interact with the base, you will see that his reverse-jointed daemon legs are posed on a bit of rock:

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So far, so good, right? They even added some skulls to the base of the rock. Good job! My only problem with the whole arrangement stems from the fact that this seems to be the only rock of that size in the immediate vincinity. So Skarr seems to have carefully picked a suitable rock in order to perform his little charging forward pose, doesn’t he?

Seriously, though: This would be easy enough to solve with some additional rocks on the base, but it does look a bit strange on the stock model, if seen from the right angle.

A glance at the sprue reveals that…we actually get two sprues this time around. This might actually be a first!

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Beyond that particular novelty, the model should be easy enough to convert. You can even leave the chains off from the start — what a relief! And it looks like you could possibly replace the legs with something less mutated (or more 40k).

All in all, a very cool and original Khornate warlord with some pretty minor shortcomings.

 

Skullreapers/Wrathmongers

Khorne End Times release (24)Okay, these guys are an interesting case. And also a fairly divisive kit, as evidenced by the rather mixed reactions all over the blogosphere. Let’s take a look, shall we?

In many ways, these can be seen as a Khornate version of the brilliant Putrid Blightkings — and those guys are certainly a tough act to follow. What both kits have in common is that they provide us with massive warriors of chaos pledged to a particular god. The Blightkings’ approach seems to have been to work as a “best of collection” of everything that has ever been cool about a Nurglite model. And on the face of it, the Skullreapers/Wrathmongers seem to be going for a similar attempt.

So we get huge weapons, lots and lots of skulls, horned heads, helmets with bunny ears and yet more skulls, an unbelievable amount of Khorne runes and some mutations resembling Khornate daemons and/or daemonic hounds. And two ways of assembling the kit, no less. Sounds great, right?

Yes, well… Let’s just say that not everything works out quite that well. But all in good order. First up, let’s take a look at the Skullreaper variant of the kit:

Khorne End Times release (25)Let’s point out the good things first: These guys are pretty massive, very threatening and do look pretty Khornate, too! So far so good! The bare arms are a nice shout out to the look of Kharn the Betrayer, and combined with their size, this should make them stand out from regular warriors of chaos. The amount of detail on the models is also rather stunning.

But it seems if the designers weren’t quite content with that alone and just kept adding stuff until they finally snapped and lost their minds. And that’s when those mutated weapons happened. I mean, just look at them:

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The weapons are certainly one of the divisive elements of the kit: In addition to the extremely organic and mutated swords and axes shown in most of the offical photos, there’s also a slightly less OTT set of weapons included in the kit — but even those are extremely ostentatious and decorated to the point of ridiculousness. They are almost too ornate to be considered Khornate, but they might still work if used sparingly. But using two of these on each character in a unit? Definitely overkill!

There’s also the fact that the organic weapons remind me of nothing so much as the demon blade SoulEdge, from the Soul Calibur series of video games:

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And that’s not where the parallels end, either. I mean, just take a look at the Skullreaper with the pincer claw in the picture below:

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That guy is about one helmet and a bucket of blue paint away of looking exactly like Nightmare, from the same series:

SoulEdge (2)Sorry, but this cannot have been a coincidence. Recent WFB model releases have occasionally been slightly videogamey in their aesthetics, but this is certainly a new milestone when it comes to that particular development!

All in all, it just seems…a bit much. As if some of those ideas should better have been left on the cutting room floor. Each of the visual elements could probably have worked on its own. But the bare arms, hooligan heads, mutations, organic or highly ostentatious weapons and super-spiky armour just seem like overkill if appearing on each of the five models. Where the Putrid Blightkings work as a collection of awesome, Nurglite elements while also looking fairly cohesive as a unit, the Skullreapers just seem a bit over the top. Like the designers were possessed by their 12-year-old younger selves. Which leaves us with a kit that provides some absolutely amazing conversion fodder, but will also produce some fairly …eclectic models if assembled as intended.

But wait, there’s also a second variant to build the kit: The Wrathmongers.

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If you can get behind the idea of followers of Khorne swinging around huge hammers, these guys are actually slightly less silly than the Skullreapers. At the very least, they do seem a little more balanced and less cluttered.

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There are some pretty brilliant touches, too: Those helmets may just be some of the very best Khornate helmets currently available! And I just love the idea of the champion’s torso being studded and quasi-metallic, like the body of a juggernaut!

Yet there’s also a bit off silliness here and there: Some of the hammer poses do seem a little too stylised for their own good (the unit champion is a prime example). And let’s not get into that three-armed Wrathmonger: He’s just silly, really. Although maybe I just dislike guys with three arms?

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All in all, this kit is extremely interesting, because it combines some of the best Khornate bitz released in the last decade or so with some of the worst clichés I’ve ever seen on a wargaming model. The resulting models seem a tad…uneven, to say the least: They make you want to facepalm and pump your fist in excitement at the same time — which is a pretty rare feeling…

On its own, this kit is a bit of a mixed bag: Almost great, but with some dubios design decisions and questionable visual influences. If seen as a conversion kit, however, this becomes and almost compulsory purchase. Seriously, use this as a conversion kit and a toolbox to customise your warriors of chaos, chaos lords or 40k berzerkers, and this should become one of the best purchases you’ve ever made. Use the kit as intended, and you may just end up with a unit that you hate. I’ve never seen anything quite like it (with the possible exception of the warhsrine of chaos kit): The mind boggles…

 

Conversion ideas:

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I have been thinking about possible conversions involving these new kits for quite a while now. In fact, I think that converters with a Khornate army of any kind will probably be the most happy with this release — and with good reason! So allow me to share a couple of ideas with you:

Bloodthirster:

This guy might be quite a bit more interesting for converters than seems obvious at first glance. The first thing that really warrants some exploration is the amount of customisation options, giving you the chance to build your very own, personalised Bloodthirster:

First up, you can happily mix and match between the three different kinds of Bloodthirster, combining different configurations of heads, armour plates, horns and weapons. And while the kit is constructed in a fairly straightforward way, there may be yet more options for possible customisation: What about using the lower part of the two-handed axe’s handle (or the hand holding the whip) as a base to convert a second hand axe, building a ‘Thirster equipped with twin axes (Skarbrand, anyone?). And while we are at it, it should definitely possible to use the Bloodthirster as a base for a Daemon Primarch Angron conversion. In any case, when it comes to customising the Bloodthirster, you should really head over to Noctus Cornix’ thread over at The Bolter & Chainsword: He is currently working on an amazing Bloodthirster conversion and is really putting the kit through its paces. Highly recommended!

But there’s more: Whatever configuration you choose, there will be a pretty tidy pile of leftover bitz to use on different conversions: What about using the two-handed axe on a World Eaters Contemptor (as Augustus b’Raass is currently planning to do)? Or using the head of the big axe as an alternate weapon for a Chaos Knight conversion? And speaking of Chaos Knights: Those Bloodthirster brestplates and the skull pauldron would definitely work as armour plates (and, in the latter case, an additional facemask) on an Imperial Knight!

It would also be really easy to cut apart that meteor hammer and use its head as a weapon on a Khornate Dreadnought/Helbrute, while the chain would look great on pretty  much any chaos vehicle (or bigger model).

Wrathmongers/Skullreapers:

While these may be a bit of an acquired taste if seen on their own, I will go out on a limb here and claim that these guys will become a highly popular conversion kit when it comes to spicing up Warriors of Chaos, Chaos Space Marines and Chaos lords of every stripe. Just off the top of my head, you could use the kit in order to…

  • convert champions for your warriors of chaos or Chaos Space Marines — it goes without saying that the Skullreaper bitz will look excellent on World Eaters champions, Lords and Chosen.
  • they are also big and intimidating enough to work perfectly as stand alone Chaos Lords in both WFB and 40k
  • some of them would make a great base for custom Kharn the Betrayer conversions…
  • …or for actual true scale World Eaters: They may seem slightly too small for that at first, but these guys are easily as tall as Terminators! And they will look great when combined with parts from the Dark Vengeance Chosen — trust me on this 😉
  • the running, mutated legs could form the base for a very interesting plastic Skulltaker conversion for those of you who would like a slightly more massive, muscular Herald of Khorne. Skarr Bloodwrath would also work wonderfully for this!
  • If I didn’t already have a squad of gladiatorial World Eaters, I’be be building one now — based on these guys!
  • And finally, the models could be combined with the Skullcrusher kit to either make more ostentatious Skullcrushers or slightly less OTT Skullreapers: The two kits should work really well together, giving you the option to make massive, Khornate warriors that are as detailed or as simple in their design, armour and weapons as you want. And it goes without saying that just a few additional touches will transform the models in question into suitable 40k characters as well.

There’s nothing stopping you from using these for other chaos gods, either: While they may seem utterly Khornate at first, just leave off some of the icons and more Khornate bitz, and they could just as well work as huge, hulking champions of Slaanesh of Chaos Undivided. Oh, and even the INQ28 crowd may find something to like here: All those fleshy, organic weapons would work really well as daemon weapons for particularly radical Inquisitors (or downright heretics). The head that has been partly flayed would be great for a death cultist, a chrono-gladiator or a similarly unsavoury type. And the mutated, dog-like head might make a cool xenos mercenary.

All of this is really just the tip of the iceberg, and I should add, in the interest of full disclosure, that I already own two kits from this release (the Bloodthirster and Skullreapers/Wrathmongers), so you may look forward to reading some in-depth observations about both kits and my first conversion projects involving them on this blog in the very near future!

 

When all is said and done, how could I not call this a strong release? I am heavily biased, after all. Even so, I think the Bloodthirster alone is very exciting, while the other two kits may indeed be a bit of an acquired taste. For converters and kitbashers and for owners of chaos armies, however, this release contains an enormous pile of new toys and conversion options — it’s just a shame that some of the models, especially the Skullreapers, are a bit problematic in their standard configuration. I am also not actually sure whether the general development towards a more videogamey look for certain characters will really pay off in the long run: Will the World of Warcraft crowd really start liking Warhammer if the designs are just zany enough? Those seem like long odds. We shall see.

I, however, am pretty happy with this release and shall keep tormenting you with projects and conversions stemming from it for quite a while to come. But what’s your take on the new kits? Are you happy? Are you disgusted? Or would you like to share some additional conversion ideas that I might have missed? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments!

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

The Rat Pack – a look at the Skaven End Times release

Posted in Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , on January 28, 2015 by krautscientist

While everyone was busy settling into the beginning of the new year and getting back into the swing of things, GW has been hard at work bringing us the next End Times release: This time, it’s the Skaven’s turn, and although I have never owned a Skaven army (or even a haphazard collection of Skaven models, for that matter), I find myself strangely fond of these filthy, backstabby guys for some reason. But how does this release compare to the rest of the – amazing – End Times output? And do converters get their money’s worth out of this latest batch of plastic crack? Let’s find out!

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I first encountered the Skaven when I bought a used copy of Advanced HeroQuest at a jumble sale many years ago: A pile of plastic Skaven formed the entire villain faction of the set, which seemed slightly disappointing at first, given the fact that the original HeroQuest had contained so many different types of monsters and villainous creatures. Then again, I didn’t even make the HeroQuest connection back then, at least not at first, because Advanced HeroQuest was marketed as “Herr des Schwertes” in Germany, with no HeroQuest connection whatsoever on the box (apart from a strangely similar piece of cover artwork).

Anyway, my disappointment quickly turned into interest as I delved into the sourcebook, because the somewhat samey plastic Skaven models were imbued with a very interesting background, offering glimpses at the various Skaven clans, their devotion to the Horned Rat and also at some of the (pretty excellent) early late 80s/early 90s Skaven metal models — so while it would yet take a couple of years for me to discover the role of the Skaven in the bigger Warhammer universe, my fondness for the race started back then.

Ever since, the Skaven have been a pretty fascinating faction to follow, with their culture based on entropy, backstabbing, plague and body horror, and their steampunk-ish technology that wouldn’t look out of place in the 40k setting. Meanwhile, some of the more recent Skaven releases are some of the coolest and most characterful WFB plastic models, in my opinion (there’s a reason why so many people use those Blood Island Rat Ogres as conversion fodder, for instance) — and now everybody’s favourite entropic Ratmen get the End Times treatment — what’s not to love? So let us take a closer look at the new kits and at all the fun we could have with them. Quick-quick! This way!


Skaven Verminlords

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Every End Times model release so far has featured some kind of huge model, and the Skaven don’t disappoint in this respect, providing us with a kit that can be used to assemble one of four different, towering avatars of the Horned Rat, including the special character Skreech Verminking (as seen above). Let’s look at these one by one:

Skreech Verminking actually seems like a modernised version of the original metal Verminlord. Just check out this picture:

Vintage Skaven Verminlord

It’s all there: the glaive, the patches of mangy fur, the half-skeletal face — even the pose, albeit mirrored:

Skaven End Times release (3)I like that kind of shout out, and it’s certainly performed admirably here. A nice bit of continuity between the old model and the new interpretation!

The other variants of the kit, interestingly enough, each seem to embody one of the leitmotifs of the Skaven, with some of them also closely fitting the design paradigm of a specific the Skaven clan. It’s interesting to see how subtle changes to the same body create a set where each model has a rather different feel:

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The Verminlord Warpseer is closest in design to Skreech Verminking, sharing the same set of horns, the same glaive and the same pose. This seems to be the Verminlord most attuned to magic, and it shows in the magic orb he holds aloft.

What I love about both Skreech Verminking and the Warpseer is the extremely complex set of horns, because it’s a nice callback to the appearance of horns on the Grey Seers, for one, but also because the design seems quite unlike most of the horns we’ve seen so far in WFB (and we’ve seen quite a few), lending the model a fairly unique and recognisable silhouette.

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The Verminlord Warbringer embodies the warlike quality of the Skaven, which is immediately obvious due to the heavily armoured head and the sinister looking punching dagger. There’s quite a resemblance with the various Skaven warlord models and the Stormvermin, and the less ornate looking horns also underline the blunt, more openly aggressive feeling of the model.

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The Verminlord Corruptor is slightly more interesting in that he deviates from the Skreech Verminking model a bit more, with a different set of weapons and different resting place for his right foot, making for a pretty different look overall. I also like the signs of rot and decay, such as the broken horns and the diseased face. And the sickle weapon almost gives him a bit of a druid feel, if you ask me…

Skaven End Times release (6)And finally, the Verminlord Deceiver, who is basically….an enormous ninja rat (probably in keeping with the Skaven’s predilection for subterfuge in general and Clan Eshin’s antics in particular). This version of the model comes with all the hallmarks of a Skaven assassin: a vicious looking dagger, an equally sinister throwing star and, of course, a bad ass ninja cowl. So far so good, right?

It’s a cool model, make no mistake, but there’s actually something undeniably ridiculous about the thought of a rat ninja the size of a house…

All in all, it’s a cool and fairly flexible kit that should provide a great centrepiece for your Skaven army. There are, however, some issues with the kit that extend to all the various Verminlord characters: The pose of the right leg seems very precariously balanced — especially on those versions of the model where the Verminlord actually has one of his feet on his own glaive (which, let’s face it, seems like a pretty dumb thing to do). The version with the rock is better, but still looks a bit hokey — it would probably have looked better if the rock had been more massive, with the foot firmly placed on its surface. As it is, the Verminlord looks as though a strong gust of wind might knock him over.
The multi-pronged tail may just be a tad too much for my taste. Granted, he adds a pretty flashy element to the model, but I am wondering whether it was really needed.

What really stands out to me is that the new Verminlord kit seems very different in design to Forgeworld’s Exalted Verminlord: The new plastic model is very slender, very flashy and quite busy, while FWs treatment of the character looks more pudgy and closer in proportion to an actual rat. While the somewhat “videogamey” look of the plastic model appeals to me (being a videogame nerd, and all), it’s quite interesting to see GW’s and FW’s approaches differ so significantly.

Ultimately, it’s an interesting kit that very much goes for visual shock and awe tactics. It’s not without its issues, though…

 

Thanquol and Boneripper

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Another shout out to a classic Skaven character, this modernised version of Thanquol and his personal killing machine has probably been long awaited! It is also where the release really hits its stride, if you ask me!

The huge, malformed monstrosity that is Boneripper really steals the show here, especially given the fact that you actually get different weapon options and heads out of the deal, potentially leading to two fairly different models:

Skaven End Times release (9)At first, I was slightly unhappy with how Boneripper’s upper set of arms have been implemented, because they look like they really shouldn’t be there… this became a bit of fridge brilliance, however, when I realised that this may have been the entire point: The ill-fitting and ill-muscled way his extra pair of arms has been grafted on underlines what a strange and malformed creation he is — pretty cool!

The model is also exquisitely detailed, with lots and lots of fine detail to be discovered (such as the stitching on Boneripper’s torso or the very cool bionic leg). Where the older incarnations of Boneripper always felt a bit ridiculous to me, I really love this guy! Excellent job!

Thanquol himself ends up playing second fiddle to Boneripper, but ist still a cool model in his own right: What seems interesting is that this version of Thanquol lacks the terrible dignity of his earlier, cleaner and more collected 90s’ style incarnation, looking rather frantic and unhinged instead:

Skaven End Times release (10)But then, this is probably a good fit for a fanatic, slightly mad Grey Seer. The one thing that I am not sure about are the warpstone horns: Once again, they are just a bit much, overcluttering the model’s head portion — maybe it’s the colour, but it’s warpstone after all, it has to be glowy, right?

All in all, I really love this model! There’s something excellent about the concept of a spindly, highly dynamic model riding on the back of a huge, hulking brute “Master-Blaster-style”, and the concept is really pulled off wonderfully here — probably my hight point in this release!

 

Stormfiends

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What do you do when you have a perfect idea, like the design for Boneripper above, on your hands — easy, you make more of them! The Stormfiends very obviously share many of Boneripper’s visual traits, making for a unit of hulking, partly bionic monster rats — which ends up every bit as awesome as it sounds!

The old Rat Ogres were some of the first GW models to have been designed digitally, if I remember correctly, and they are some of the most terrible sculpts still around today, making them stick out like a sore thumb when placed to their more recent kin. These new Stormfiends, by comparison, take lots of visual cues from the more recent Rat Ogres designed for the Blood Island boxed set and the adding more than a pinch of Dark Eldar Talos on top for seasoning.

The resulting models are huge, heavily armoured, hideous, and covered in totally over the top and fully insane Skaven gadgetry. Just take a look at this guy:

Skaven End Times release (12)This leads to a pack of very impressive and highly detailed models with almost too many tech-y gubbinz: They look every bit like the mad, crudely stitched together Skaven experiments that they are supposed to be:

Skaven End Times release (13)I think the fun the designers had while creating these guys is clearly evident in the over the top nature of the weapons. Almost too much so, in some cases:

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The chest mounted gatling is just too much, as is the warpstone-based alternative:

Skaven End Times release (17)That said, the amount of weapon options you get with the kit seems to be pretty staggering, so there’s nothing to stop you from coming up with a combination that suits your preferences. And these guys just look totally badass, don’t they?

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One beautiful little detail that I only discovered due to the comment of a fellow hobbyist over at Faeit212 pointed out: Each of the Stormfiends seem tso have a tiny, atrophied Skaven embryo plugged into sockets on their backs: Ewww!

Skaven End Times release (18)When all is said and done, what we end up with is a teriffic kit full of options and details that will allow us to build three huge, monstrous and completely whacky brutes. Maybe you’ll have to get used to these as a Skaven player, but I think it’s safe to say that this is the one kit to come out of this release that has converters and kitbashers foaming at the mouth in anticipation — but we’ll be getting to that! I really like these guys. I can easily see myself picking them up. The only really bad thing about them is how the old Rat Ogres will now look even more terrible…

 

Skaven Grey Seer

Skaven End Times release (19)As one of two clamshell characters and as one of the Skaven’s well established HQ models, this guy really forms the bread and butter part of the release — and it shows, to be honest. After the zaniness of the Thanquol/Boneripper combo and the Stormfiends, the Grey Seer seems almost pedestrian by comparison.
It is a nice enough model, though, nicely detailed and with the depth and threedimensionality we have come to expect from the plastic clamshell characters. The standout element about this guy is the little rat perched atop his staff, reminding me of Terry Pratchett’s Death of Rats, for some reason…

A look at the sprue reveals that it should be easy enough to swap in a new head, leave off the tail or make some other adjustment to the model, also making it interesting for conversion purposes.

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All in all, this is a nice model. Not particularly spectacular, but we have learned that the clamshell characters’ strength is in their versatility and staying power!


Skaven Warlord

Skaven End Times release (21)Another clamshell character, and the one I personally prefer: The Skaven Warlord really looks the part, managing to seem suitably imposing for a warlord and suitably cowardly for a Skaven at the same time — no mean feat! I also like how the pose and base make him look like he’s surveying and commanding his army — because that’s the right place for any ambitious Skaven warlord, right? Not at the front lines, but safely behind them, sending his skittering underlings to their doom!

There’s also something about the combination of Skaven armour and tattered robes that really works for me, for some reason.
Once again, a look at the sprue reveals the model’s usefulness: It should be really easy to freely customise this guy:

Skaven End Times release (22)This is a very nice addition to the clamshell range, and I can easily see myself picking this guy up for a conversion sooner rather than later — good job!

 

Conversion options:

This release provides Skaven players with quite a few new and amazing new toys. But the true value of the release, at least for me, lies in the conversion options, because some of these new kits could really be a converter’s dream come true: My cup runneth over with conversion options! Let’s take a look:

Verminlords:
The first idea that came to me when looking at the blurry, leaked pictures of the Verminlords was: This kit would make for an amazing Greater Daemon of Slaanesh: And it’s really not hard to imagine, isn’t it? The pose is there, as is the lithe build. The ostentatious pair of horns would be perfect! Add a second pair of arms (complete with Tyranid pincers), a different face (something bull-like from the Beastman range? Or a golden mask made from the human head of the Necrosphinx?), lose the silly tail, and you’re almost there! Sure, you’ll have to get rid of the Skaven runes and maybe the fur, but I think this might be a very promising conversion endeavour. It’s also one of the ideas I’ve seen crop up online fairly often, so I imagine it won’t be long before we’ll be seeing results.

So the Verminlords would make for excellent Greater Daemons (or Daemon Princes, for that matter) of Slaanesh. But what about the other chaos gods? Nurgle’s association with filth, decay and plague is no secret, so a giant rat could have its uses in his legions — maybe the Verminlord Corruptor could have a place in a Nurglite army as a very different Daemon Prince? Once again, with even more work, I think one could make a very cool Daemon Prince out of this kit — or maybe even a base for a Mortarion Daemon Primarch conversion?

The  build of the kit would even make a Lord of Change conversion imaginable: Maybe the Verminlord body could be coupled with the head and wings from the High Elf Flamespyre Phoenix kit? Just sayin’…

All in all, the only chaos god I cannot see profiting from this is Khorne: The Verminlord body looks far too gangly for the Blood God — we prefer our warriors heavily muscled, thank you very much! 😉

 

Boneripper and Stormfiends:
Now this is where it gets interesting, because both kits offer some crazy conversion potential. To wit:

  • both Boneripper and the Stormfiends would make perfect base models for Dark Eldar Grotesques! Just add some Talos facemasks, and you’re golden! They’ll even look great next to those Blood Island Rat Ogre-based grotesques you converted last year! 😉
  • If you’ve been looking for an interesting alternative to the existing Chaos Space Marine Obliterators and Mutilators, look no further! The Stormfiends could work as either, right out of the box! And if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, it should be easy enough to swap in suitably chaotic heads, add more armour, replace the Stormfiend weapons with actual CSM weapons or what have you.
  • If the teeming hordes of the Lost and the Damned are more to your liking, well, you’re in luch too, because Boneripper and the Stormfiends would work brilliantly as Renegade Ogryns, Ogryn Berserkers, big mutants or simply alternate Ogryns or Bullgryns, if you’re still using the Astra Militarum Codex: The crudely stitched-together and mutated look would be a perfect fit! You could even replace the head of that atrophied rat fetus on the model’s back with a crypt ghoul head (or the gas mask of a DV cultist) for a super creepy surprise, once your opponent sees the back of your model 😉
  • This should be obvious, but the models would also work beautifully as Chaos Spawn — although they are almost too awesome for that.
  • And, of course, (Dark) Mechanicus Flesh constructs, weapon servitors or what have you: The crude augmetic implants, stitches and highly experimental looking weapons make this one of the best possible conversion uses. Just writing about it almost makes me want to build a warband consisting of a rogue Magos Genetor and his warped creations — MUST.RESIST…
  • It goes without saying that almost all of the above options would also work for the wonderful world of INQ28, where crude, monstrous brutes are the rule rather than the exception.

Grey Seer, Warlord and Thanquol himself:
These would basically be perfect for any kind of unhinged, frayed-around-the-edges character you can think of: rogue psykers, heretics, (Nurglite) cultists or Scavvies — basically anything that might crawl from the underhive at some point. The Skaven Warlord is pretty much the perfect Scavvy king (even the similar names are a dead-giveaway 😉 ).

 

So, all in all, I really like the Skaven End Times release — but I believe that I am clearly biased here, due to all the lovely conversion potential. Taking back a step and taking a more even-handed approach, I have to point out that, while I personally love the design of the new models, I do realise that they are fairly flashy and stylised, almost cartoony or, as I’ve said above, videogamey. If that is your cup of tea, you will love these guys, just like me. But I can easily imagine that many people will not appreciate the look quite as much, and in all fairness: This kind of design can be a bit of an acquired taste. One need not look any farther than the difference between the GW and FW Verminlords I outlined above to see what I mean, and not everyone will be happy with this visual direction.

From a purely technical standpoint, these new kits certainly continue the trend of astonishing kits we have seen so far under the End Times label — and I can only repeat myself here: I am really excited at all the conversion potential in these new kits!

 

So, how do you feel about this release? Any thoughts you’d like to share or conversion options I have overlooked? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

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

Breaking the mould – a look at the Nurgle End Times release

Posted in Chaos, Conversions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2014 by krautscientist

Whew, I definitely wanted to put this review up much sooner, but there was just so much to do! And there was also the fact that I really wanted to do the second End Times release justice — because GW really seems to be on a roll with the latest WFB releases. But all in good order:

It seems pretty obvious that the first End Times release has thoroughly renewed interest in the WFB setting — and rightly so: Not only does the End Times scenario present a pretty substantial step forward when it comes to the backstory, but the release was also accompanied by a slew of rather excellent new kits, first and foremost among them the much-lauded new model for Nagash.

It’s a small surprise that GW would try their best to keep people interested in the End Times setting, so the next wave of releases deals with chaos — they had my interest before, but now they have my attention 😉

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The End Times: Glottkin and its accompanying models focus on the god Nurgle, which initially seems to have provoked a bit of skepticism among some hobbyists: I’ve been hearing complaints online that, whenever GW puts out a new chaos release, Khorne and Nurgle really get all the love. But I would beg to differ:

When looking at the servants of chaos, especially in WFB, Nurgle has really been the least represented chaos god — at least when it comes to modern plastic kits: Sure, there’s that Nurglite Chaos Lord everyone (myself included) loves to convert. And a couple of heads and mutations hidden away in several kits. But there’s never been a dedicated kit for Nurglite chaos warriors or something similar. What’s more, followers of Nurgle would really profit from their own kits, since Nurgle may be easy to do, but is really rather hard to do well: Sure, you can slap some GS on your models and call them finished, but producing Nurglite models that really do justice to the bloated, festering and rotting image that appears in the backstory has really been quite a bit of work so far.

Enter the End Times: Glottkin release, which gives us three rather substantial new kits as well as an additional clamshell plastic character. Allow me to walk you through the kits and discuss them one by one — and, of course, we’ll also be focusing on some of the possible conversion ideas involving these new kits. Step this way please, and remember to disinfect your hands at regular intervals 😉

 

Putrid Blightkings

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The release managed a very strong start with the Putrid Blightkings box: Fellow hobbyist PDH has called these guys the “definitve chaos warriors”, and I am tempted to agree with him. But I am getting ahead of myself!

Let’s start at the beginning, or rather: At something that really seems like the beginning for this particular kit: The enormous popularity of the plastic Nurgle Chaos Lord cannot have escaped the folks over at GW –maybe this is an explanation for the fact that the Blightking kit gives us five rather massive models that look like they are taking quite a few design cues from the aforementioned model, allowing us to field a unit that effectively consists of five plastic Nurgle Lords.

What’s more, GW’s designers seem to have gone through the last twenty-odd years of artwork and model releases depicting servants of Nurgle in order to include some of the most iconic and popular visual elements in the new kit, creating what amounts to a “Best of” collection of Nurglite design (as Eric Weir posits in his own, highly recommended review of the kit).

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In addition to featuring some of the most beloved design cues from two decades of Nurglite models (the antlered, cowled head, the mono-horned facemasks and helmets, the bells and rusted blades,…), the Blightkings are also rather impressive, massive models (although not quite as massive as some people would have liked…). And one thing I particularly like about them is how most of their mutations eschew the often rather cartoony look in favour of something more realistic: The distended, swollen limbs look like something that might really be physiologically possible. Sure, there’s the odd insect leg or tentacle, but they don’t look nearly as hokey as some of the mutation bitz GW has produced in the past.

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Each of these guys really looks like a champion, a warlord in their own right. And each model also fits the massive, swollen and distended glory that has been a part of Nurglite artwork for years, but has only rarely been represented in model form. So the Blightking kit will give you a great new unit for your army, but it also seems like the perfect box of conversion fodder when it comes to converting your own Nurglite warlords, champions and characters — both for WFB and 40k.

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The best part of the kit, however, has to be the amount of variety: The box comes so chock-full of bitz that it really allows for lots of variations, meaning you’ll be able to get a whole lot of very different looking models out of this kit without even having to resort to more involved conversions — just check out this picture:
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Granted, they snuck in Gutrot Spume there, but the picture demonstrates how you can easily construct ten completely different looking Blightkings without even resorting to kitbashing or cutting up the models. And as soon as you take those additional approaches into consideration, your options multiply exponentially.

If all of this sounds like gushing praise to you, that’s because it is: In my opinion, the Putrid Blightkings are an almost compulsory purchase for both WFB and 40k Nurgle players, and a perfect resource for conversion bitz. At the same time, they are also a stellar kit on their own, and easily one of my favourite GW releases this year, as well as one of the strongest parts of this release!

Gutrot Spume

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Along with the Putrid Blightkings, GW also released a new clamshell plastic character to lead the hordes of Putrid Blightkings on the field: In some ways, Gutrot Spume almost seems like an “upgrade” to the Blightking models. And sure enough, this guy is certainly massive and imposing enough to look the part. He is also rather hideously mutated, and that element actually makes for my main gripe with the model:

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I have mentioned above how I especially like the fact that the Blightkings – mostly – manage to eschew the classic (and really rather tacky) “animal limbs a mutations” shtick. Not so here: The hideous, tentacled mess that makes up Gutrot’s entire left side may be an important part of the model’s backstory, and the tentacles themselves also look suitably disgusting. But one problem is that they don’t strike me as particularly nurgly. I also remember that one line in WD where one of GW’s designers said that tentacles are pretty hard to do, both because you have to avoid going for an obvious octopus look, and because it’s easy to make them seem so debilitating that the model ends up looking weak because of it, and I cannot help feeling like that’s exactly what happened here: This guy would have seemed more impressive with a less “creepy-crawly” look, if you ask me…

Granted, such things always come down to personal preference. And seeing how the model is made from plastic, it should be easy enough to tone down this element (or remove it outright), if one so chooses:

End Times Nurgle Release (5)But that’s really where the other problem sets in: The Putrid Blightkings are such an excellent and versatile kit that it seems quite possible to come up with a conversion that looks equally impressive and fitting as a warlord, raising the question why one would even need to purchase the Gutrot Spume model in the first place: In a way, the availablity of the Blightkings turns into Gotrut’s biggest competition here, because he mostly looks like a unit champion when compared to the Blightkings:

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When all is said and done, what we have here is a massive and imposing Nurglite warlord with a enormously noticeably mutation that you may or may not like. On his own, he’s a well-designed and impressive centre-piece for your chaos army. When compared to the Blightkings, he seems a bit lacklustre. A nice enough model, but certainly not one of the defining parts of the release.

On a related note, if you want to see some absolutely gorgeous painted Blightkings accompanied by Gutrot Spume, definitely check out ThirdEyeNuke’s models over at the Tale of Painters — spectacular stuff!

 

Magghot Lords

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The End Times: Nagash had the Mortarchs as the Great Necromancer’s very own “quirky miniboss squad”, and the new release follows that formula, giving us a multi-kit that will produce one of the three Lords of Icehorn Peak. So let’s take a look at each of them in turn:

 

Orghotts Daemonspew

The Nurgle release seems to have a bit of a triptych leitmotif going, with the archetypes of “warrior”, “sorcerer” and “beast” appearing in several of the kits. Orghotts Daemonspew clearly fits the “warrior” archetype, as the model represents a massive, Nurglite chaos warrior mounted on one of the new “pox maggoths”. Looking at his body, Orghotts’ look fits the design introduced by the Blightkings, and he seems believable enough as a champion of Nurgle. His main defining feature is the hideous mutation warping his head and face, however:

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It’s a bit of an acquired taste, but in the end, I like it well enough: It’s suitably gross and he’s looking rather tortured. Servants of Nurgle are usually described as being a rather jolly bunch, and I think it’s a nice bit of variety to encounter a model where the blessings of the Grandfather seem to have produced a result that is, at the very least, ambiguous!

The one thing I find legitimately terrible, however, are the model’s twin axes: They just don’t work for me — and on several levels, at that: Reversing the heads just seems gimmicky and impractical. The length of the hafts also seems ill-considered, given the fact that the character is supposed to wield both weapons silmutaneously: If it had to be twin axes, I guess I would have preferred a more vicious, hatchet-like setup. The weapons are really my main complaint here, come to think of it: They just stick out like a sore thumb, in my opinion.

As for Orghotts’ mount, the Pox Maggoth Whippermaw, let us also take a closer look at it:

Generally speaking, I think GW’s designers have done a fine job with the general design of the pox maggoths: Sure, they may seem slightly more conventional than the Mortarchs’ Dread Abyssals, but I like the way the magghots seem to occupy a strange and slightly disturbing niche between a lamprey and a …dinosaur, I guess?! Anyway, their alien look really works rather well. The fact that they are essentially faceless, except for their hideous maws, also helps, of course…

As for Whippermaw itself, the advancing pose nicely complements Orghotts’ warlike look. The tongue almost seems a bit much, but I still like it.

End Times Nurgle Release (15)Oh, and the…ahem…Vagina Dentata provides a beautifully Freudian touch, of course. Extra kudos to GW’s designers for getting crap past the radar in this case 😉

Once again, ThirdEyeNuke has produced an excellent paintjob for the model, really bringing it to disgusting life!

 

Bloab Rotspawned

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The second Maggoth Lord cleanly falls into the “sorcerer” category — but with a suitably icky touch: According to the character’s background, Bloab Rotspawned essentially serves as a mostly hollowed-out vessel for all kind of maggots that eventually turn into Nurglite blowflies — ewwww….

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Great concept, but it falls a little flat in execution, I think: The idea of a guy basically serving as a vessel for maggots and insects is very icky and disturbing, but Bloab’s actual face really makes him look more like a fat guy who has just puked all over himself — maybe it would have been cooler to have his face less visible: Just a deep and empyt looking cowl with a stream of maggots emerging from it — nothing is scarier, sometimes.

The face is really my main complaint about the model — the rest of it seems rather well realised. The huge warscythe is a classic touch, of course (and will probably become a highly coveted conversion piece), and the idea of some grownup Nurglite flies making up a portion of Bloab’s back banner is really a wonderfully creepy little touch.

End Times Nurgle Release (18)Bloab’s mount, the pox magghot Bilespurter, may just be my favourite of the bunch: The rows of tiny eyes are very disturbing, for one, adding to the eerie deep sea creature feel, and there’s also that extremely disgusting stream of puke:

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What really sells the creature, though, is the pose: The magghot looks like its body is actually absorbing the recoil from puking…

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The fact that the paintjob is rather brilliant helps, of course: The model really looks like it’s fit to burst with vile fluids and bilious acid. The sickly colour of the upper body beautifully complements the effect — thumbs up, ‘Eavy Metal Team!

 

Morbidex Twiceborn

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And finally, the bestial archetype: Morbidex Twiceborn serves as friend and foreman to all Nurglings — which is probably the reason why, depending on your perspective, he looks like a huge Nurgling or a tiny Great Unclean one himself:

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From the above picture, it’s also obvious that Morbidex seems to be one of Nurgle’s jollier servants: I can always appreciate a fellow who finds joy in his work!

But regarding the model itself, I guess I’ll call Morbidex the weakest of the three: Sure, the GUO look is a nice idea (and one that harks back to the good old days, no less), but I have to say I prefer a bloated, heavily armoured Nurgle champion over a half-naked Nurgle-expy any day of the weak. The design of his left arm also seems like a bit of a mess and lacks direction — in fact, that’s the feeling I get from the entire model: Morbidex looks like the sculptors had just finished Orghotts and Bloab and were rapidly loosing steam when they got around to him.

Certainly a question of personal preference, but to me, Morbidex seems like a bit of a letdown…

The same also goes for his mount, the pox maggoth Tripletongue, unfortunately: The model looks like GW’s designers wanted to explore the body horror angle some more, but all the good ideas had already been taken: The tongue seems too stylised and strange for its own good, and the gaping stomach wound seems almost crude in its execution:

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Looking at the entire kit, there’s light and shadow: I love the fact that, like the Mortarch kit, the Magghot Lord kit gives us the opportunity to build one of three different characters from the same kit — and that’s not even taking into consideration the opportunity of mixing and matching. However, where each character in the Mortarch kit seemed like a very different archetype, bringing something entirely new to the table, the Magghot Lords seem to be loosing steam somewhere along the way. For me, the main attraction in the kit is the option to build a huge and rather disturbing monster from it — there’ll be quite a few uses for the pox maggoths, and I’ll be outlining some of them when we are talking about conversion ideas. The riders, on the other hand, especially Bloab and Morbidex, seem far less impressive to me.

There’s also the fact that the kit seems to be suffering from a similar problem as Gutrot Spume: On their own, the Magghot Lords are a nice enough addition to the catalogue of Nurglite models. However, boxed-in as they are between the excellent Blightkings and the really rather spectacular Glottkin (which we’ll be getting to in a second), they somehow seem like slightly deluted versions of either concept. And as a final factor, let’s not forget that fellow hobbyist and all around great guy PDH already created a pitch perfect mounted Champion of Nurgle quite a while ago, before the new kit was even released.

So, all in all, the Magghot Lord kit seems like a solid part of the release, but unfortunately it gets overshadowed by the release’s more spectacular kits. Oh, and one last thing: Those character names are really ATROCIOUS!

 

The Glottkin

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Let’s not mince words: This kit is certainly the star of the show! GW really managed to knock it out of the park with the new Nagash model, and I am sure everybody was looking forward to finding out whether they would manage to come up with something equally impressive for the Nurglite part of the release — hence the Glottkin.

Well, if you ask me, we can call this particular mission accomplished: The Glottkin are one of those kits that left my mouth hanging open when I first saw them.

Granted, the model is not as elegant and strangely beautiful as Nagash — quite the opposite in fact: The Glottkin embrace everything Nurglite to create what may just be the ultimate centre piece for every Nurgle army. What’s more, the kit actually consists of three characters, the fabled Brothers Glott, who once again fit the three archetypes of warrior, sorcerer and beast, so let us look at each of them in turn:

First up, Otto Glott, the warrior:

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The model shares several design cues with both Gutrot Spume and Orghotts Daemonspew: What we have here is a massive, bloated warlord of Nurgle. Actually, Otto looks pretty much exactly like you would imagine a “leveled up” version of the popular clamshell plastic Nurgle Lord!

The distended belly may be a bit much, and I am not a huge fan of the hand clutching the entrails, but I’ll let it slide because the kit provides a separate hand holding a severed head that mostly gets rid of that particular gripe. And while I love the bare head that comes with the kit, there’s something really striking about Otto’s helmet, because it almost looks like a Nurglite crown. The huge warscythe is also an excellent touch — all in all, Otto really looks like the quintessential Nurglite warlord!

Then there’s Ethrac Glott, the sorcerer:

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I have often stated my relative dislike for models that are too heavily mutated, but Ethrac is really a perfect example of how to make it work: Sure, there’s the hideous lump of twisted flesh erupting from his back, a mutation so spacious that it gets to house its own brazier. But the shoulder area is at least partially covered by Ethrac’s tattered cowl, which renders the precise form of the mutation ambiguous enough to make it even more disturbing. We also get to see a bit of Ethrac’s face, but again, it’s obscured enough to actually improve the ominous effect. Bloab Rotspawned’s face was too extreme – and to visible – in a way, and that made it look cartoony. With Ethrac, we only get glimpses at his countenance, and what we see is hideous. However, what we don’t see could be even more disturbing — the perfect way of pulling off this effect, really!

I also really like his staff — the severed hand of a follower of Tzeentch is a wonderful little touch! And while the skulls and smoke wafting up from Ethrac’s left hand may seem a bit tacky, the skulls forming Nurgle’s own symbol is a cute little idea!

And, last but definitely not least, there’s Ghurk Glott, who serves as the beast archetype and who is really the main attraction of this package:

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What a soulful look for such a hulking monstrosity, don’t you think?

Both Otto and Ethrac are wonderful sculpts, but Ghurk really seals the deal: He’s a hulking, massive monstrosity, covered in boils and signs of decay. The sheer texture of the skin is astounding, with so many little details that are equal parts impressive and disturbing — I imagine this model should be a joy to paint!

A couple of elements still manage to stand out, however:

First up, there’s the tiny Nurgling on the base, mimicking the pose and design of Ghurk Glott himself — I just love stuff like that! Then there’s the hideous, maw like right arm: Once again, the design picks up cues from lampreys and similar, hideous creatures, making for one scary looking orifice…

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I also really love the tentacle-like left arm, both for its texture and amount of detail and for its artwork-like, almost surreal quality.

In fact, the whole Glottkin model has something painterly about it: There’s an almost artwork like quality to the model’s composition and silhouette, and the Glottkin really recall some apocalyptic paintings and pieces of art. Several elements (like Otto’s pointed crown and Gurkh’s tentacle arm) underline this effect even further. And there’s something subtly but palpably Blanchian about the whole model, if I am not mistaken: The Glottkin look like a creature from the old Realms of Chaos books, translated into 21st century plastic model form by way of Hieronymus Bosch. In a way, the art and design underlying the whole WFB universe have really come full circle with this piece!

Recalling what I said further up in this review of the Magghot Lords, it’s also interesting to note how each of the brothers seem to present a more realised, better executed version of each of the archetypes also embodied by Orghotts, Bloab and Morbidex: In a way, the Lords of Icehorn Peak almost seem like early demo versions of the characters that would eventually become the Glottkin.

All in all, the model is a triumph, both for GW as a company and manufacturer of plastic tabletop models as well as for Mark Harrison, the designer! He has been working on chaos kits for quite a while now, but this latest creation of his is one for the ages. Congratulations!

One closing word that should illustrate how blown-away I was by this model: I don’t want to pre-empt my own review of the new Tyranid models, and there’s certainly quite a lot to like about them. But when I recently picked up two issues of WD Weekly at my FLGS and saw the Glottkin and new Tyranid Maleceptor/Toxicrene back to back, as it were, they almost seemed like models from different decades at first — that is how good the Glottkin kit is, if you ask me.

Oh, and ThirdEyeNuke has managed to produce a particularly fitting paintjob for this model as well! Check it out here!

 

Conversion options

What would Nurgle be without conversions? So it shouldn’t surprise you that some parts of this release lend themselves rather beautifully to serious converting and kitbashing. So allow me to share a few conversion ideas of my own — and the one good part about this review going up so late is that I can also incorporate some of the excellent work by fellow hobbyists that has begun to show up online. Let’s take a look:

 

The Glottkin:

First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room: If you were waiting for a new plastic Great Unclean One, Gurkh Glott is definitely your best bet — at least for now! A very helpful size comparison by the good folks over at the Tales of Painters blog shows that Gurkh’s size rivals that of the FW Great Unclean One, so he should make an excellent replacement for your Apocalypse gaming needs or your Armies on Parade display board.

Granted, the back would probably look very empty without the two other brothers placed there. But who is to stop you from putting some Plague Marines there? Or a couple of Plaguebearers and Nurglings happily cavorting around? In fact, wouldn’t such an addition make the model even more awesome and fitting? as it happens, Lucky No5 has made a Glottkin model that allows for Ghurk to be used as a Greater Daemon on his own, with the other two brothers magnetised for optional use.

Then there’s skrundle87, who has already expressed interest in building a Glottkin/Imperial Knight kitbash — I am really looking forward to seeing the results! And you want to hear something really crazy? Seeing how big this guy is, he could even be used as a Daemon Prince or Greater Daemon at the INQ 54mm scale!

As for the other Brothers Glott: Otto would certainly make a convincing Nurglite warlord on his own! And with a bit of work (and a few additional pieces of armour), he could be made into an excellent Death Guard lord for 40k!

And Ethrac could become a great Nurglite sorcerer in WFB — or a suitably impressive Demagogue in a Nurglite Traitor Guard army!

Whatever happens, I am really looking forward to all the crazy projects involving the Glottkin we will definitely be seeing online. Let me just point you towards TJ over at DFG, who points out some pretty interesting uses for the kit in 40k, along with a rather convincing calculation about all the money you actually save 😉

Magghot Lords

It goes without saying that each of the three Magghot Lords can provide a tidy pile of bitz to provide conversion parts for your own Nurglite characters. However, the truly interesting resource here are the pox magghots: These ugly monsters could be used to convert convincing Greater Daemons or Daemon Princes of Nurgle, of course. They could also be used as Maulerfiends, could be combined with Defiler parts to make alternative Plague Hulks or even be used as giant Chaos Spawn. Just check out TheNickeninja’s particularly disturbing, Magghot-based spawn creature for reference. As it happens, TheNickeninja has also come up with a very interesting alternative use for these guy in WFB: Just put them on a big base, add some Chaos Dwarves (or similar attendants), and you have yourself an excellent (and rather disgusting) Hell Cannon (look here for an excellent example).

And maybe these guys could even be interesting beyond chaos armies? They would make for perfect monsters from the Underhive in Games of Necromunda or INQ28, for one. And maybe they could even be converted into huge mutants or be used as the base for Squiggoth-like beasts of Burden for an Ork army?

Putrid Blightkings

These guys are certainly the most versatile and interesting conversion resource to come out of this release — at least in my book! They share all that was cool about the Plastic Chaos Lord, so they should become similarly popular with converters! But what can we use these guys for?

The obvious answer is to turn them into Plague Marines and Plague Terminators, because they are simply fantastic for such conversions! I myself have tried that approach, and with some success, if I do say so myself. There are also the wonderful conversions by Jeff Vader (the first one’s already painted, too! Check it out here!)

While both of us have gone for true scale Plague Marines, you can take the Blightkings even further, as evidenced by Adam Weir who is currently working on some very promising Blightking conversions, splicing in parts from FW Cataphractii Terminators in a very seamless and ingenious way, in order to actually make Death Guard Terminators — excellent job!

There’s also the option of turning the Blightkings into big mutants for your Necromunda/INQ28 needs: Jeff Vader’s latest Blightking conversion would work really well as an addition to a rough band of twists or a Scavvie gang. And the rather realistic looking mutations on some of the Blightking bitz make them ideal for all kinds of twists and mutants, both of the chaotic and non-chaotic variety.

And the list goes on: Just imagine the nearly naked Blightking with a piece of cloth barely covering his naughty bitz: Wouldn’t he make an excellent eunuch-like Harem Guard character, with a bit of work? Just get rid of some of the open sores with GS, add a curved sword and a Blood Angels Deathmask, and you’re almost there — come to think of it, you could even turn the model into a follower of Slaanesh!

Moving away from the evil and the hideous,consider EdT’s very promising attempt at turning the Blightkings into Thunder Warriors. And WFB/Mordheim fans might find the option of building huge, imposing and slightly sinister Knights/Pitslaves out of these guys interesting — Bruticus is blazing a trail for you here.

And finally, we shouldn’t forget all the leftover bitz that come with the kit: Even after building five fully kitted-out true scale Plague Marines, I still have a pretty huge pile of bitz left: Some of these will be used as decorative parts on different models, some may be used on vehicles. So far so good.

But you can even use the leftover bitz to build more followers of Nurgle! Here’s my attempt at using Blightking bitz to convert a humble AOBR snap fit Terminator into a Death Guard Terminator. Take a look:

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As you can see, I haven’t decided on a head yet — but the above pictures should still show you how well the Blightking bitz work with a plastic Terminator: All it took was some cutting and a bit of GS work!

And it goes without saying that most of the ideas outlined above would probably work on Gutrot Spume as well, at least to some degree. Although I’ll say it again: In many ways, the Blightkings just seem like the more versatile version of Gutrot Spume.

While the Glottkin may be the star of the show in this release, the size and scope of the model do somewhat limit its usefulness. The Blightkings, however, will probably become the kit everybody will love to convert — and the one I can easily see hobbyists buying multiples of! I predict a huge wave of Blightking conversions in the near future — just you wait! 😉

 

So, what’s the verdict? I’ll call this an excellent release, albeit with some small caveats:

Both the Glottkin and the Putrid Blightkings are absolutely fantastic kits, and easily some of GW’s best releases this year! They alone make sure that this release is excellent — and a worthy continuation of the End Times releases so far!

The Magghot Lords are slightly less impressive, but still a fairly strong part of the release. It’s their bad fortune to be released alongside a kit that one-ups just about everything they bring to the table.

This goes double for Gutrot Spume: On his own, he would be an excellent plastic character. Compared to the fantastic Putrid Blightkings, he seems a bit lacklustre.

But it is a spectacular release indeed where even the weakest link in the chain manages to stand strong on its own! I for one cannot wait for the next End Times release — and I am not even a WFB player! This release has been excellent, and it provides us with lots of new toys and almost endless conversion possibilities — what’s not to like?

But what’s your take? Do you love or hate the new models? Or something in between? Have any conversion ideas to share? Did I miss something? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments!

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

The End is Nigh – a look at the Undead release

Posted in Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2014 by krautscientist

Right, I do of course realise that I am a bit behind on my stuff — even as I write this, we are already seeing the next release rolling around. But man, this breakneck pace is just too fast for me to keep up 😉 Seriously, though: The latest release for what is referred to as “The End Times” in WFB surely warrants a closer look, even if I have taken my own sweet time to finally get around to it…

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By the look of it, The End Times will be receiving a chain of books that are less centered around single armies and more around greater factions and the accompanying campaign — not unlike the various Forgeworld publications, come to think of it… It’s also very interesting to see that GW seems to be using the End Times scenario as an opportunity to introduce several things into the WFB world that a number of very vocal 40k fans have been clamoring for for years, such as…

  • significantly advancing the timeline and general background of WFB…
  • …while introducing a big narrative event that seems like it will shape the future of the setting
  • murdering quite a few darlings along the way

Whether GW are using WFB as a testbed for these changes due to its lower popularity compared to 40k or even because, as some suspect, the setting is in a terminal state anyway, seems hard to ascertain at this point. I am reasonably sure that WFB isn’treally going anywhere, even if it sells less stuff than 40k, but given GW’s track record and reluctance to advance their settings’ narrative beyond a certain point, this new development does seem pretty astonishing. In any case, it’ll be interesting to see where we go from here, what the WFB setting will look like afterwards, and what implications these new developments will have for 40k…

For now, let’s focus on the first slew of modeld accompanying the release, because these are quite something. And what better way to start than with the return of one of GW’s most notorious characters…

 

Nagash, Supreme Lord of the Undead

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Boy, did this model come out of the left field when it was released! Plus I can’t help feeling the release of a new Nagash model (and a gigantic one, at that) as a bit of an “Up yours” towards all of the endless bickering about the old Nagash:

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Alright, confession time: I know that the old Nagash is a staple of countless “most horrible models ever released” lists on the Internet, but here’s the thing: Once upon the time, I really loved this guy to bits! He was actually one of the first (non-HeroQuest) GW models I owned, and the very first big model I ever tried my hand at! Unfortunately, the model was taken apart (and partially stripped) a long time ago, or this would have been the perfect time to show him to you. A shame, really 😉

In any case, the vintage Nagash may not seem like much if judged by the standards of 2014 (or 2000, for that matter), but I think it’s important to remember that this used to be the basic design approach for many of GW’s bigger models at that time, and there was a time when this model seemed like such a cool thing — at least to me.

Anyway, GW chose the model that probably gets ridiculed the most in online discussions and re-imagined it as this:

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It’s such an enormous piece that I’m really not sure where to start. Maybe with Nagash’s size, because this guy is huge — as evidenced by the diminutive skeleton warrior in the lower left corner… I understand Nagash gets prime billing as the Warhammer world’s biggest villain in the new book, and the model’s size and stature definitely match that importance.

What I like most about the model, after giving it a bit of thought, is how it basically keeps all the different elements of the classic miniature: The hat, sword, staff and various details from the old model are still there:

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All of these have been thorougly redesigned, but they still hark back to their earlier incarnations, which I like very much! Instead of pretending the earlier Nagash model simply didn’t happen, GW’s designers have re-imagined it in a stunning way while remaining true to the original source, and I love that approach! The other great thing about the model – and an element that carries over to most of the models in this release – is how Nagash is hovering in mid-air, borne aloft by a host of tortured spirits:

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There are things about the model I am not entirely sold on, however:

The first of those is the strange collection if twisted spines emerging from Nagash’s back: I see what they were trying to do here, adding the spines in order to give him a more imposing silhouette, presumably. Still, that element just seems slightly iffy to me — maybe some skeletal wings would have been a better idea?

The second thing that seems a bit much for me is the enormous hat:

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Seriously, this guy looks like Movie Skeletor on speed! In conjunction with the rest of the armour, the hat just seems a bit too video gamey for my taste (I’ll be coming back to this concern later).

As a matter of fact, make no mistake: While the new Nagash has been heavily redesigned and modernised, his look remains fairly eclectic. I am happy enough with it, but the question remains whether future generations will look upon him as kindly — just remember what happened to the model’s earlier incarnation…

That said, this is a stunning model and a fitting centrepiece, both for any undead army and for this release. Nagash really looks like the immense villain the background paints him as, and the model itself is certainly at the cutting edge of plastic miniature design. Will everybody like his look? No, probably not. But personal preferences notwithstanding, the model itself stands as an achievement (and I applaud GW for engineering a comeback like this for one of their most-maligned models!).

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Mortarchs of Death

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If the enormous model for Nagash wasn’t an indication that GW meant business, this combi-kit at least will clue you in to the situation: The Mortarch kit gives you the opportunity to build one of Nagash’s closest lieutenants, each of them based on established characters from the Undead background (in fact, one of my favourite parts of this release is how GW brought back these classic characters, turning them into a Quirky Miniboss Squad for Nagash).
And while their mount will always use the same base components, the kit offers a whopping three completely different riders, along with some serious customisation options for the mount itself. Wow! Let’s take a closer look:

Mannfred von Carstein, Mortarch of Night

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This is probably my favourite of the bunch for a couple of reasons: First of all, I have always loved the last incarnation of Mannfred, and this new version is closely based upon that appearance, spiky armour, batlike visage and all:

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Mannfred’s weapons are also pretty awesome, even if wielding a scythe and longsword at the same time seems to be a bit much. But the design of the weapons is very cool, giving them an ethereal, very sinister aspect (and making them into very interesting conversion bitz…):

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Mannfred’s mount, the dread abyssal Ashigaroth, is an enormous beast with a batlike countenance that seems like an escalated version of it’s master’s face. Strangely enough, it also reminds me a lot of the last couple of incarnations of Final Fantasy’s poster dragon god, Bahamuth. Anyway, the beast looks great (as an aside, I also really like the combination of blackened bones and red hot skulls used for the paintjob!).

Oh, and extra kudos to Mannfred for being pretty much the only guy in Nagash’s inner circle without one of those enormous hats 😉


Arkhan the Black, Mortarch of Sacrament

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Aw, man, this guy adds quite a bit of nostalgia to the whole release: Arkhan already had a – somewhat clunky but still pretty awesome – model in the olden days, complete with ostentatious chariot and all. This new incarnation turns the bling up to eleven, though. And seeing a classic character brought back and upgraded like that does bring a tear of nostalgia to my eye!

The model itself is also really nice: Arkhan looks like the quintessential undead sorcerer lord, and the Khemri style even makes him look like a slightly smaller (somewhat less improbable) version of Nagash himself:

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His hat, while still pretty big, seems to be somewhat more realistically scaled than that of his boss. I also really like the ostentatious (and very clearly Khemrian) armour that is also repeated on his mount! The one thing that I don’t like about Arkhan is his tattered cloak, precisely because it seems so tattered that it’s utterly improbable. I mean, it seems as if the designer really, really, wanted to make this cape as tattered as it could be, and he ended up overdoing it a little.

Undead End Times Release (15)Arkhan’s dread abyssal, Azarak, has a slightly more skeletal, less batlike head than Mannfred’s Ashigaroth. The Bahamut look is still there to an extent, but I think this would also make a fantastic head for a Greater Daemon, Daemon Prince, Heldrake,…erm, sorry, moving on!

Neferata, Mortarch of Blood

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Being  the equal-opportunities employer he is, Nagash brings back another classic character: Neferata the Vampire Queen. Those of you who still remember the old model might agree with me that it was terrible: Neferata looked like she had slinked away from a the set of a 50s Hollywood movie about with lots of mummies in ancient Egypt. But what about the new incarnation?

Well, there’s good stuff and there’s bad stuff: On the positive side, I love how Neferata is riding side saddle: Such a wonderfully elegant little touch! Just because you’re riding a hulking undead monstrosity doesn’t mean you get to imperil your modesty, right?

I also love how that sense of elegance seems to pervade the entire model, also covering the armour design and the abyssal’s bearding. Good job, GW!

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I have two main problems with the model, though: The smaller of the two is the look of Neferata’s weapon: It seems like it cannot quite decide whether it wants to be a staff or a glaive of some sort, settling into a strange limbo between the two that ultimately makes it look somewhat goofy and ineffectual (although, in all fairness, it would probably easy enough to remedy this by swapping in a new blade).

My main gripe with the model is the head, or rather, the hat: Out of all the models (and out of all the really impressive hats) in this release, Neferata’s headwear somehow seems the most ridiculous to me, may due to the slightly awkward looking, dangling spines, maybe because it actually draws away attention from her face:

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As a matter of fact, designing her head like that almost seems like a bit of a cop out on GW’s part: I, for one, would much have preferred a beautiful female face with flowing hair, something closer to the vampires from the Coven Throne. That said, maybe a different paintjob would go a long way here? Anyway, the head seems like a bit of a missed chance, if you ask me.

Neferata’s mount, the dread abyssal Nagadron, again picks up some of the visual cues of its rider. It also gets yet another unique head, this time with an armour plate covering its eyes — a very nice and sinister touch, if you ask me.

Speaking of which, let’s take a closer look at the abyssal and its various variants:

Generally speaking, I really like how the abyssal seems like a suitably apocalyptic mount for an important and utterly evil character! Being a devout follower of Khorne, I also buy into the idea of having a beast whose skeletal form is filled to the brim with skulls — I mean, come on, this is Warhammer, after all 😉

I love all three heads that come with the kit and think that they are doing a great job of tying together the abyssals and respective Mortarchs:

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And finally, I like the rather elegant way the abyssal is attached to its base via a combination of its tail and the ubiquitous skeletal spirits — that is really clever design right there!

A small gripe is the abyssal’s slightly awkward leg pose — although it seems like that is to be expected with a four-legged, wingless (!) creature designed to be floating in mid-air. But maybe it’s precisely the lack of wings that proves to be a bit of a visual deficiency here, making it hard to imagine how this beast would actually look in motion.

But by and large, the Mortarch kit is very impressive indeed — maybe even more impressive than Nagash, as a matter of fact! While the latter has the shock and awe tactics on his side, the Mortarch kit seems like a brilliant and expansive toolbox, both for creating an imposing centrepiece for an undead army and as a great source of conversion fodder — maybe my favourite part of this release!

 

Morghast Archai/ Morghast Harbingers

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These guys definitely add something new to the undead armies: A daemonic, skeletal footsoldier for the Nagash’s armies. Both variants of the kit are reasonably similar, and both share many design elements with the abyssals, like the skeletal body structure and the heaps of skulls inside the skeletal bodies.

So let’s take a closer look at the kit’s two variants:

Morghast Archai

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The Morghast Archai are Nagash’s elite guard, and – fittingly enough – their helmeted heads and glaive weapons give them a somewhat more official, regimented look

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One of the best parts of the models are their two-handed glaives…

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These are just wonderfully creepy and threatening, with their look halfway between ethereal and organic.

My gut feeling is that their armour and helmets somehow give these a slightly egyptian/Khemrian look: They would look right at home in a Tomb Kings army (and are a slightly more awkward fit for the Vampire Counts).

Morghast Harbingers

Undead End Times Release (28)I actually like these better than the Archai, because it somehow feels like the lack of ornamental helmets makes them look less like some kind of temple guard, and more like actual individuals — does that make any sense? I also like the sense of dynamism created by the twin swords setup:

Undead End Times Release (30)There’s also something wonderfully creepy and evil about the rather unnatural looking heads.

And again, I expect the weapons to become really popular with converters, because they would just make for very nice Daemon weapons. We’ll see…

The tattered wings are a bit of an acquired taste…once again, the objective seems to have been to make them as tattered as humanly possible. And while  I do like the way the Morghast are attached to their bases by way of ghostly apparitions…

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…the leg poses of the models just seem a bit awkward to me. This is less of a problem for the Harbingers, in my opinion, since their slightly more dynamic poses make the legs seem more believable, but the Archai just seem ever so slightly awkward, hovering in mid-air like that…

Such minor gripes notwithstanding, I can see this kit become rather popular, simply by the amount of conversion fodder it offers for various armies — but we’ll be getting to that in a minute!

 

Spirit Host

Undead End Times Release (33)Now these guys may be the least obviously spectacular part of the release, but they are certainly no slouch! The Spirit Host is cleverly engineered to seem ethereal, but also give the model’s a fair bit of presence. And similar spirits do appear in everykit of this release, making for a nice bit of visual consistency.
Actually, you’ve got to wonder whether, having used these ghosts in pretty much all of the other kits, GW designers finally decided that it was only fair to give these guys their own little spot in the limelight…

Anyway, these make for very effective and evil looking ghosts! And my absolute favourite part has to be how the ghosts of the spirit host emerge from tortured skeletons:

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That’s just an excellent little touch right there!

Conversion options:

So, time to deal with my favourite subject: How useful will these new kits be for converters and kitbashers? Allow me to share some early ideas with you:

Interestingly enough, my conversion ideas mostly deal with Nagash’s followers and not so much with the big man…skeleton…thing. Maybe the model is still too huge and intimidating in my mind for it to actually register as conversion fodder? The two spontaneous ideas I came up with were to either use Nagash as the base for a conversion of Mortarion, Primarch of the Death Guard, in his ascended form. Or he could be turned into a new and terrible C’Tan by a crafty Necron player? In any case, seeing what converters come up with for this model will surely be interesting!

Anyway, looking at the entire release, the big winner when it comes to conversion options seems to be …40k chaos, surprisingly enough. Now maybe I am not exactly neutral in this regard, seeing how chaos armies seem to be one of my main areas of interest, but the options just seem too good to ignore. Let me just list a few off the top of my head:

The Mortarch kit seems to be a treasure chest of conversion bitz: the abyssal could be converted into a Greater Daemon, a Maulerfiend or even into a mount for a chaos lord, a Heldrake — you name it! Likewise, part of it could be mixed with existing daemon engine and/or daemon kits in order to create new and terrible monstrosities. Even the leftover heads from the Mortarch kit alone would be great little bitz to play around with…

Oh, and wouldn’t you agree that Mannfred’s head would look great on a Chaos Lord — especially on a Night Lord?

The Morghast seem to provide an almost ridiculously versatile resource for chaos armies, the possible uses of the kit including but not limited to…

  • Daemon Princes: Even on their own, the Morghast could make for fairly convincing Daemon Princes: the slightly Khemrian/Egyptian look of the Archai would make them ideal for Tzeentchian Daemon Princes, while the amount of skulls stored in their bodies would also make them a nice fit for Khorne. They could even conceivably be used to represent Nurglite daemons, if one were to focus less on a visceral, slimy and mouldering approach and more on a skeletal, reaper-like aspect. Only Slaanesh seems to be left out in the cold a bit (don’t fret, though: The new Dark Eldar release will provide you with all the toys you need).
  • Obliterators/Mutilators: For those (like me) who don’t like the stock Obliterator/Mutilator models one bit, the Morghast might be a very interesting alternative: Just check out VonKessler’s gorgeous Thousand Sons Oblitz, based on Morghast models: I think those are really just the tip of the iceberg!
  • Parts of the Morghast models should also be supremely useful for chaos players: I expect to see those evil looking swords and glaives all over chaos armies before long, and both the skeletal body pieces as well as the mounds of skulls forming the Morghast’s inner workings should become really popular with chaos players!

This may be a somewhat far fetched idea, but what about using the Spirit Host as chaos spawn in a Thousand Sons army? Just imagine the swirling souls of destroyed Rubric Marines (or, alternately, their victims) filling the same role as the usual, boring mutated creepy crawlys. Or maybe those spirits are the Thousand Sons’ familiars? Anyway, it would be a nice change to see these new models used instead of the same old spawn models…
Another faction that I can see profiting from the new kits are the Necrons: The Khemrian look of many of the new models might make it possible to use their wargear and decoration on Necron models (who are, after all, often referred to as “Tomb Kings IN SPACE!”)  to great effect. Arkhan might make a stunning Phaeron with a bit of work (and an influx of mechanical skeleton bitz. And, like I said, Nagash could be an interesting base model for a new and terrible C’Tan…

And finally, there’s the wonderful world of INQ28, of course: It shouldn’t surprise you that I think some parts of the release would be really useful for INQ28 as well, both because of my love of the setting as well as the wide scope of the game:

  • again, the Morghast variants would make for interesting daemons or daemon princes — even moreso in the INQ28 setting, where undivided daemons are still an actual thing…
  • the Spirit Host could be used as unbound daemonhosts, or they could be turned into familiars for chaos magi — the possibilities are probably endless.
  • I think Neferata might make a cool Matriarch for a Death Cult, enormous hat and all.
  • And maybe, just maybe, Mannfred could be turned into a (ultra-)radical Inquisitor with a bit of work?

 

All in all, this release was certainly designed to blow WFB players away, and it seems like it mostly suceeded. One thing I think we can all agree upon is that the sheer size and complexity of GW’s recent plastic kits gets ever more baffling.

What I love about all of the new models is how certain elements are used to tie the various kits together from a visual standpoint: The ghostly apparitions resembling the models from the Spirit Host appear on all of the models in some shape or form. The armour based on fused bone. The skulls making up the interior of many of the undead creatures. And yes, even the huge hats 😉 Additionally, it’s fascinating how GW’s designers have managed to make these new undead models fit both the Vampire Counts’ and Tomb Kings’ look and feel, while also imbuing them with an identity of their own. These factors are quite impressive and a big design achievement, in my opinion.

However, at the same time, I do have one overarching gripe with the new models, and that is what I would like to call their “WOW-ness” . What I mean by that is that parts of the new models seem so over the top that they wouldn’t look out of place in a PC game such as World of Warcraft or Diablo — and seeing how Blizzard’s own Warcraft universe owes GW more than a bit of inspiration, it seems pretty ironic that GW’s designers would now, in turn, produce something that seems at least partially inspired by designs from World of Warcraft

Nevertheless, it still seems like a rather strong release, both for the actual kits and for the new conversion options they bring to the table. It just seems like a hearty portion of videogame design sensibilities have been added to the WFB universe — at least to the undead factions.

I hope the next books/releases for the End Times will keep up the effort to revitalise existing armies while adding something new and special to them. For instance, there are rumours floating around about a coming End Times book focusing on chaos and giving various classic characters – Archaon, Arbaal, Valnir,… the Mortarch treatment — and even though I don’t play WFB anymore, the sheer prospect at seeing some of the iconic chaos characters revisited that way has me very excited indeed!

 

So, what do you think about this release? Did you love it or hate it? Did you feel a resemblance to WoW designs as well, and were you happy with that? And would you like to share your own conversion ideas for the new kits? I’d be happy to hear from you in the comments section!

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