Archive for warhammer fantasy battles

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!

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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!

Totally rotten – a hands on with the Putrid Blightkings

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2014 by krautscientist

There I was last week, talking about my ambitious goals for this year’s Call of Chaos — and already, I have been distracted. But worry not: I am still reasonably optimistic about my ability to go through with my vow, and there’s also the fact that the new Putrid Blightkings are the kind of kit you just have to start working on right away — and I would like to show you the results of that work today:

The basic idea with these guys seems to have been to collect all the best elements and details from every cool Nurgle model and piece of artwork so far and mash them into one box of plastic crack, thereby creating a bit of a “Best Of” collection. It works surprisingly well, though, finally giving us a way to emulate the hulking, pustulent characters that have only ever appeared in the artwork so far.

When it comes to actually reviewing the kit itself, Eric Wier of Between the Bolter And Me has put together a very concise and informative piece that I can only recommend. So with the hard work of reviewing the kit already out of the way, I am free to get my hands dirty and dive right in! Before we do that, though, I’d like to add a few observations of my own (in some cases reiterating what I said in my last post):

First up, I already commented on the size of these guys, and if anything, this aspect seems to have become even more relevant since my last post: It looks like many people were planning to use the Blightkings either as Plague Ogres and/or chaos spawn, yet the scale comparison below shows that they are not all that well suited to either function:

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Many people seem to be disappointed about this. And, indeed, if you are looking for a way of converting Plague Ogryns, I’d suggest looking elsewhere: It would be far easier to just get a box of Ogres or Ogryns, the mutants from the WFB Warshrine of Chaos or a couple of Blood Island Rat Ogres and convert them accordingly. Some of the weapons and armour plates from the Blightking kit might come in handy for that kind of conversion, but I don’t really see a readily apparent way of making the heads, bodies and most of the arms fit Ogryn scale — unless you’re going for vestigial and/or atrophied limbs, that is…

But in my opinion, the glass is really half full rather than half empty: We really have enough possible conversion fodder of Ogryn/chaos spawn size readily available, as it stands! The Blightkings, however, are interesting in that they provide models that would work well as alternate Plague Terminators or, and this may just be the most interesting option, true scale Plague Marines — and without much need for making them bigger or bulkier. In fact, that’s the route I’ll be taking for my own Blightkings for now.

As people are beginning to work with the new kits, the first conversions are beginning to roll in: The spectacularly talented Jeff Vader has been working on some truly excellent Blightking conversions of his own that have been a huge inspiration for me. PDH has built some equally awesome Blightkings as an addition to his Realms of Chaos Nurgle warband (which, by the way, gets a feature in this month’s Blanchitsu, if the teaser on the GW website is to be believed) — I hope Peter will be showing his models to the general public soon. And I imagine other talented artists, such as JRN, migsula and the Spiky Rats, won’t be too far behind — I think we can look forward to a world of rot 😉

So, allow me to add my own pound of (maggotty) flesh: Let me walk you through my first couple of (mostly) finished Blightking conversions.

It shouldn’t surprise you that my basic approach was to bring the models into the 40k universe. I am not 100% sure what the function of these will be (or whether or not they’ll ever see the gaming table), but for now, simply exploring the kit and trying to bring it into my favourite grimdark universe is very much its own reward. So, without further ado, some pictures:

Here’s my first Blightking model. You already know an earlier incarnation of this guy:

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This may still be my favourite of the bunch, although that doesn’t have anything to do with my conversion, but rather with the fact that the champion model is pretty much pitch perfect right out of the box. I chose a helmeted head (easily the coolest head in the kit) over the Plaguebearer face, because I liked the ominous look created by the helmet. Apart from that, the model was mostly assembled according to the instructions that came with the kit. To be honest, I did struggle a bit when it came to making this guy look more like a 40k model, but in the end, I think I came up with a pretty good idea: I added a cracked CSM breastplate to the model, making it look like the armour had burst under some hideous internal pressure. I am really happy with the result, because it adds a 40k element, leaves the hideously wonderful belly completely visible and, if anything, makes the model even more gross!

I also gave this guy a slightly modified backpack from the Dark Vengeance Chosen. I think the slightly twisted look is a great match for the overall Blightking aesthetic, plus the champ now has a bolter:

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Several people have suggested using more futuristic weapons — but in the end, I just couldn’t go through with it. There’s just something about the sword and axe combo that I really like, and I just couldn’t bring myself to cut them apart…

The second model started out similar to one of Jeff Vader’s conversions, although I tried to take it into a slightly different direction. Take a look:

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The base for this conversion was one of the (almost) fully armoured Blightkings, which made it much easier to turn this guy into a 40k model: The right arm was replaced with a Chaos Terminator arm (which also provided the gun). The left arm is from the Blightkings kit (although I used a bone from the WFB Crypt Ghouls to add a crossguard to the sword).

After quite a bit of deliberation, I chose a WFB chaos warrior head for the model: Not only is this one of my favourite heads, but it also fits Nurgle rather nicely, I think. Several people pointed out that the head was a bit of a missed opportunity, because a more Marine-like head would have helped making the model more futuristic. While I did want to keep the head, I also agreed with their point to some degree, so I added an array of tubes and pipes to the helmet, with some of them feeding into a custom backpack that I spliced together for the model:

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It goes without saying that the backpack does have an ominous tank on top — par for the course with Death Guard models, really 😉

I also added some more detail to root the model more firmly in the 40k universe: some grenades and gear as well as a washer screw (painstakingly shaved off an Ork boy weapon). All in all, while the model still retains quite a medieval look and feel, I think it’s definitely futuristic enough to work in the context of 40k!

And finally, my third model so far, and possibly the most involved conversion of the three:

Once again, Jeff Vader provided the inspiration here (I shudder at my derivativeness… 😉 ): I wanted to build a Blightking conversion wielding a heavy weapon — but I did want it to look markedly different from Jeff’s approach, rather going for the classic pose of a heavy bolter being held in front of the body. Now let me tell you: The Blightking kit does not exactly lend itself spectacularly well to shenanigans like that, and getting the arms and pose to work out turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. I persevered, however, and after much cutting and gluing, I ended up with this:

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The model ist still missing quite a few details, but I think it already gives you a good idea of what the finished model will look like. The arms holding the heavy bolter were painstakingly spliced together, using bitz from no less than four different sources (a WFB Chaos Knights right arm, Space Marine Sternguard heavy bolter, Space Marine Terminator left upper arm and, finally, the actual Blightking’s shield arm. All in all, I am really extremely happy that I went through with this idea, even though it was a lot of work! And even though I only realised it after the fact, the model could even be seen as a small tribute to this illustration by Adrian Smith.

I also think that the clunky heavy bolter backpack does a nice job of bulking out the model. I have begun converting it into a more Nurglite form, with yet more tanks welded on beneath the main body of the pack:

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This is certainly the most WIP of the three models at this point, so there’ll be more details to come. But, again, I am really happy with this guy.

All in all, I’d like to quote an excellent point made by Eric in his review of the Blightking kit:

Games Workshop’s new approach  with the Blightkings provides some freedom to the consumer, while also letting the sculptors truly explore and convey their own creative vision.  And while some may argue that it makes conversions more difficult because you cannot simply swap an arm or body, I think it just encourages people to step out of their comfort zone and attempt more elaborate conversions, ones that are more than simply kitbashes.

This is so true! It took me quite a while to get started with these models, because the specific way the models were constructed seemed a bit intimidating. I was also forced to come up with at least a rough idea beforehand, instead of just seeing where the conversion took me. But in the end, this more involved and conscious way of working was a lot of fun, and I am really happy with the models I have managed to produce so far:

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You can probably guess my verdict: These guys are excellent, and quite a lot of fun to work with. That said, they demand more work and more planning ahead if you want to make the most of them than, say, a Space Marine kit. They are a very interesting resource for true scale (Chaos) Space Marines. And they’ll give you a huge pile of Nurgle-y bitz (and then some) that you can use on your Death Guard or Chaos Daemons. Oh, and just a word of warning, perhaps: Once you’ve hit your stride, working with them gets quite addictive 😉

As for my own models, so far I’ve managed to come up with three characters that I am thoroughly pleased with. I am not sure whether these will be used as counts as Terminators in a small Death Guard detachment, as villains for INQ28, a Killteam or if I am just going to build an paint them for the heck of it, but when has that ever stopped me from kitbashing and converting, right?

It goes without saying that I would love to hear any feedback you might have in the comments section! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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Striking a rich vein

Posted in 40k, Blood Bowl, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, old stuff, Orcs & Goblins, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by krautscientist

Late last week, the most wonderful thing happened to me: While browsing through the stuff at my FLGS, I found out that the owner was currently selling two huge lots of assorted miniatures and bitz: One of those lots came from a former hobbyist who wanted to get rid of the last part of his collection, while the reason for the other lot being sold was, sadly enough, its owner having passed away. Anyway, the owner of my FLGS found himself in the (temporary) possession of two huge piles of models — and it shouldn’t surprise you that I was very eager to have a look at all of that stuff.

This provided me with one huge moving box and several smaller shoeboxes of stuff to sift through, which was already brilliant fun in itself: With the internet so full of collectors, professional sellers and general information as to the worth and availability of miniatures these days, finding such a hoard of stuff has become increasingly unlikely, and so the simple act of digging through the piles of models alone was an experience to savour! Most of the models came from WFB, but there was such a mass of different models (and factions) present that it took quite a bit of discipline not to just buy the whole thing outright.

Anyway, I tried to reign myself in and only dragged away about a shoebox’s worth of stuff. And whether or not my haul was all that spectacular surely lies in the eye of the beholder. But I went home utterly content, I can tell you that much 😉

Anyway, let’s take a look at the best parts of my haul (and also at the provisional ideas I have for this stuff), alright?

First up, tucked away in a plastic bag labeled “Vikings” was most of the dwarf army from the WFB “Battle for Skull Pass” boxed set from a few years back:

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While some of the regular models are missing, all the special characters, standard bearers, champions and musicians are still accounted for. Plus there are also the little additional bitz and bobs and terrain pieces. I basically picked this up as a bonus, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I might already have a new home for these guys (Michael, if you’re reading this: Make sure to bring a big enough suitcase, when you’re in the area again, okay? 😉 ).

I also picked up two more pieces from the same boxed set:

One, the plastic troll accompanying the Night Goblin army:

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This was actually one of the high points of the purchase for me, because this guy will look perfect as a troll player for my orcish Blood Bowl team, the Orkheim Ultraz  — as a matter of fact, you can already see the first parts of his Blood Bowl gear in the picture above. Nothing’s glued together yet, but I already like where this is going!

Two, this strange shaman’s tent/tree trunk hut:

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This might come in handy for my Blood Bowl team or for the Mordheim Orc warband I’ve been planning for a while. Come to think of it, including terrain pieces like this in the starter boxes was a really neat touch! They should do that again!

Upon closer examination, it becomes obvious that the sculpts and level of detail for starter box minis have increased dramatically since these models were released. But I still like them well enough, and finding them all together like this without a hassle certainly was a nice surprise!

While we are on the subject of greenskins, I also bought this assortment of brilliant goblins and snotlings:

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These are part of the still available Doom Diver Catapult — as a matter of fact, pretty much the whole catapult was included in the deal, although the greenskins themselves are definitely the stars of the show! Again, these will probably be used for Mordheim or Blood Bowl (the winged goblin would be perfect for the latter…).

Like I said, most of the stuff available was from WFB, but I did manage to find a 40k treat or two. First up, a small pile of Tyranid nuts and bolts that, while not all that impressive in and of itself, will come in handy for a future INQ28 project of mine…

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And there’s this lovely OOP Eldar Warlock from the 90s, sculpted by Jes Goodwin. It’s trange: Even though I have always loved Jes’ Eldar models to bits, I have never owned any of them, so picking this guy up was an absolute no-brainer:

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And, last but not least, a lucky find at the bottom of a box of bitz: Exactly half a Delphan Gruss model from Inquisitor:

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This guy may actually become my first (and, quite possibly, only) foray into the world of Inq54 — just watch this space 😉

And as for the WFB universe, there are some final highlights to share:

First up, this guy (from one of the old WFB mercenary regiments, if I recall correctly):

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I keep racking my brain for a way to make this guy into an INQ28 character — maybe a member of a particularly archaic Astra Militarum regiment? I am very open to suggestions 😉

Then there are three of the 6th (?) edition metal chaos knights:

Lucky purchase (7)
Pictured here is their champion, but I also purchased a standard bearer and an additional knight. While I don’t have any actual plans for these, I just had to pick them up due to nostalgia:  I loved them so much back when they were released, but they were completely unaffordable to me. I just bought the riders, btw, because there is no more room for those terrible, generic 90s plastic horses in my life. But as you can see, the new chaos knight horses work like a treat with the older metal models.

And finally, another lucky discovery:

Lucky purchase (8)
The Dark Emissary from the Albion campaign. This guy was re-released in Finecast a while back and is still available. But finding him in a pile of shoddily painted Hormagaunts was still a rather nice surprise!

I’ll spare you the piles of Catachan, Night Goblin and generic Space Marine bitz that were also part of the bundle: Much of this stuff will come in handy sooner or later, but it lacks the appeal of the highlights shown above 😉

In addition to the models, I also picked up some older 40k related books:

Lucky purchase (11)
From left to right: The 40k 3rd and 4th edition big rulebooks (believe it or not, I have never owned those until now), one of the hallowed Chapter Approved compendiums (containing wonderful but somewhat outdated Index Astartes articles on the creation of Space Marines, Dreadnoughts, Librarians and on various chapters and legions: Dark Angels, Emperor’s Children, Iron Warriors, White Scars & Flesh Tearers) and Codex: Witch Hunters (obviously a must for any fan of the Inquisition).

All of these are in excellent condition, and I suspect the old 40k source books will merit a more detailed writeup in the not too distant future…

So yeah, quite a haul! I am immensely pleased, both with the stuff I did and didn’t buy: By sheer force of will, I resisted the urge to just grab the whole, enormous box — although my restraint made me miss a mint 2002 Games Day Chaos Champion which my colleague Annie later picked up (*sigh*). And I did find a 1998 Games Day Female Commissar, but pointed it out to the owner of my FLGS, since I knew that, as an avid IG player, he would probably be extremely interested in the model — I was right 🙂

But even beyond the stuff I purchased (at a very good – albeit not unreasonable – price, by the way), digging through the various strata of the boxes served as a trip down memory lane. Before long, me and the owner of the store were exchanging old hobby tales and thinking back on innocent days long past. Good times 😉

Anyway, so much for a very nice, hobby-related surprise! And wherever the original owners of these models may be now (in this world or in the warp), they may rest assured that their lead and plastic have found a good home with me!

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!

Lost in the woods – a look at the new Wood Elves

Posted in Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2014 by krautscientist

I realise that the next release is already rolling – or rather stomping, as it were – around, but let’s still take a moment for a look back at a release that has been sligthly overshadowed by the advent of the 7th edition: Today I would like to talk about the new Wood Elves.

Almost exactly one year after a sizeable High Elves release and about eight months after a rather spectacular relaunch/redesign of the Dark Elves, the Wood Elves are the final elven faction in WFB to receive an update. And after many fears that the army might be going the way of the dodo (or, indeed, the Squats), I guess seeing an update must have been a pretty huge relief for Wood Elf players! But what about the models themselves? Are they any good? Will they be able to keep up with the revamped Dark Elves? And what about the conversion potential?

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A newcomer to the world of Warhammer might question the need for three distinct elven factions, but in all honesty, I’ve always felt that GW has done a pretty good job of visually distinguishing these armies from one another so far: The High Elves are an orderly, clean and highly stylised army with lots of bright colours and elegant lines. The Dark Elves are no less elegant, but they function as a dark mirror of their High Elf brethren, spiky and sinister, yet with a depraved sense of beauty. So what about the Wood Elves?

As all Warhammer Elves, they do certainly have a healthy dose of Tolkien in them, and at their worst, they are very reminiscent of the archetypal image you’d have of the Elves of Lothlórien — all the more so after seeing the Lord of the Rings films. But there’s also something wild and untamed about them, and that’s where it gets interesting: Their symbiotic relationship with the forest of Athel Loren goes beyond the usual tree-hugging tropes, recalling instead the capricious and often dangerous nature of faeries and spirits in folk tales, with myths like the Wild Hunt thrown in for good measure. In fact, when at their best, GW’s Wood Elves remind me of what might be one of my favourite illustrated books ever, the 1970s classic Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee (on a related note, hobby prodigy Jeff Vader’s beautifully illustrated book Nordiska Väsen seems very reminiscent of the Brian Froud’s work at times — I’ll definitely have to pick up a copy at some point!).

Anyway, while I am not the owner of a Wood Elf army, I was nevertheless happy to see that wild, ultimately slightly alien, element brought to the fore with models like the plastic Dryads and the strange faeries crawling over various Wood Elf models, adorning their bases etc, because this influence from classic mythology is what ultimately transforms the Wood Elves into something more interesting than just “pointy eared guys wearing green”.

So, in order to find out whether the new release actually manages to embrace those rather interesting elements, let’s take a look at the actual models, shall we?

 

Araloth

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What would a new GW release be without at least one new clamshell plastic character? For the Wood Elves, Araloth fulfils this role, and he is another beautiful miniature. What really gets me every time with these mono-pose plastic models is the amount of depth and three-dimensionality GW manages to get out of them (albeit at the cost of customisability).

Araloth is a great example of this, and he also hits all the right cues for a Wood Elf character: Flowing clothes, check. Antlered helmet giving him a slightly mystical appearance, check. He even has a bird. God, how I love birds on Wood Elf models 😉

At the same time, a look at the sprue reveals that Araloth is indeed quite a bit more modular than one would have expected, so a couple of conversions with this model as a base would definitely be an option — but more on that later.

Wood_Elves_release (3)All in all, a competent Wood Elf character with some very nice visual touches. Nothing more, but also nothing less.

 

Eternal Guard/Wildwood Rangers

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The first combi-kit to come out of this release gives us two types of elite infantry.

First up, the Eternal Guard: These look more ostentatious and formal than the Glade Guard, which only seems appropriate. At the same time, they share clear similarities, both with their less armoured and regimented Wood Elf kin as well as with other elven infantry: A couple of visual elements like the basic helmet and shield shapes still hint at a common cultural heritage with the High Elves and Dark Elves.

All in all, these are well made models, similar enough to other elven infantry to read as the same species, but still with enough clearly Wood-Elven flourishes to make them visually distinct. Good job!

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The kit can alternatly be assembled to make a unit of Wildwood Rangers, leading to a slightly different outcome:

Wood_Elves_release (6)While using the same base models, the Wildwood Rangers are distinguished by their cowled heads and their two-handed glaives. The hoods once again recall some of the heads in the Glade Guard kit, which strengthens the visual consistency across the army, while the glaives are a really nice touch. As an aside, while it seems that these are used pretty much exactly like the Dark Eldar Incubi’s Klaives, the Rangers’ weapons somehow seem a tad more plausible to me…

All in all, the cowls and equipment lead to a somewhat more shadowy, mystical look, which I guess was the whole point. If I have one gripe, it’s the fact that the unit champion looks somewhat less impressive than I would have liked:

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All in all, this looks like a pretty versatile kit for two types of elite infantry. Both options seem equally interesting from a visual standpoint, and the kit should provide some rather interesting conversion bitz — but we’ll be getting to that…

 

Wild Riders/Sisters of the Thorn

Wood_Elves_release (8)Another combi-kit, this cavalry clearly embraces the mystical, faerie-like aspect of the Wood Elves. This is evident in the magical deer serving as their mounts (it seems that these can become Steeds of Kurnous or Steeds of Isha, simply by virtue of a different paintjob) as well as in the riders, whose design makes it delightfully ambiguous whether they are/were regular Wood Elves or are rather something more ethereal, like spirits of the forest.

The male Wild Riders carry forward a kind of beautiful, yet subtly sinister helmet design seen before on a certain Glade Lord model, and indeed their helmets might be one of my favourite things about the models. I also really like their capes, covered in ivy and briars, and the deer make for some rather dyamic posing, with the champion’s pose possibly my favourite:

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All in all, these models embody rather nicely what is interesting and original about the Wood Elves — with the Wild Hunt connotations obviously turned up to eleven on these guys.

The bad news is that, precisely as has been the case with the last elven male/female combi-kit, the girls definitely get the short end of the stick once more. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a look at the Sisters of the Thorn first:

Wood_Elves_release (10)The magical deer stay the same, so no objections there. However, I think that from a design standpoint, these models are really far inferior to their male counterparts — which is just a shame! Maybe it’s just me, but the models have that “She-Ra, Princess of Power” look that makes it really hard to take them seriously. And, once again, the faces (the part that will make or break a female model for me) just seem like something from really bad 80s’ fantasy art.

Then there are those spears on the models’ backs: Maybe they were supposed to recall butterfly wings, underlining the faerie motif, and maybe they weren’t –whatever they were supposed to do, it  just doesn’t work, if you ask me.

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You’d think that, after the female portion of the last “equal opportunities” combi-kit turned out pretty lacklustre, GW would have learned their lesson and make it work this time around. But once again, the female models just look slightly goofy. A crying shame and definitely the weakest part of the release for me! Come on, GW! Give us some well-made female faces already. I know your designers are up to it!

 

Treeman / Treeman Ancient / Durthu

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Can I just say, right off the bat, that I really dislike the older Treeman models: The old, early 90s metal models may have a corny charm today, but they were pretty terrible. And the slightly updated Treeman released along the last batch of Wood Elves was just neither here nor there: He didn’t have the goofiness of the older “Look, I am a walking tree” models, but ended up looking like a strange cross between a tree and an alien-dinosaur…thing in return. So a new Treeman kit was overdue, and it makes a lot of sense that GW chose this particular unit type as their “huge” kit for this release.

The kit gives us three alternate builds, which is pretty cool. All three Treeman variants look a lot like bigger Dryads, as can be seen in this comparison:

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Now I really think the Dryads are a brilliant (and hugely underappreciated) plastic kit, so it won’t surprise you to learn that I am a fan of the overall new Treeman design: I think even the (comparatively) lowly standard Treeman looks like a awe-inspiring mythical creature, with its wooden, masklike face a great chance for painters to bring out the eerie quality of the sculpt. I am not perfectly sold on that slightly strange vine whip, to be honest, because it almost looks like something you’d see on a Tyranid model, but at the very least, it’s an interesting idea.

The Treeman Ancient uses the same kit and base model to give us a pretty different looking character:

Wood_Elves_release (16)What I really like about this guy is that he does indeed look like a more senior Treeman and also like an object of worship, with a carefully braided beard and loincloth, huge “antlers” growing from the branches on his head, and a rather different, more proactive pose.

And finally, there’s also the Treeman named character, Durthu:

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This guy’s background is that he has been terribly damaged and deeply scarred, both in body and soul, and has become a pretty angry guy as a consequence. And it definitely shows, from the damaged and partly caved-in face to the lots and lots of skulls woven into the ivy hanging from Durthu’s limbs and into his branches. The branches on the model’s head also nicely add to its dynamism, and there’s also the huge (yet elegant) sword, of course.

All in all, I think the Treeman kit is a rather great success: It will produce a standout piece, no matter which configuration you choose. But the truly stunning fact is the amount of customisability evident in the kit, with the finished models sharing a clear common heritage but still looking fairly distinct. Take a look:

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Seeing these guys in a row like that, it also seems to me like Treemen get progressively more pissed off the more ancient they get — which actually makes a lot of sense, considering they get to see more and more damage done to their forest over the course of their long lives! However, this also makes for a pretty neat bit of visual storytelling over the different configurations of the kit!

An honourable mention must also go to the myriad of forest spirits you get as conversion bitz in the Treeman kit. The three-eyed owl, partcularly, continues the wonderful tradition of awesome birds hidden away in Wood Elf kits:

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If there is one negative aspect about these new Treemen, it’s that, well, to be honest, they don’t look all that much like actual trees. But one need look no further than the old metal Treemen to see that GW made a good call here: I’d rather have a stunning model than a biologically accurate one. And these are not Tolkien’s Ents, but rather more visceral, for lack of a better word, Treemen that seem perfectly at home in the dark world of Warhammer. In any case, the Treeman kit is certainly one of the high points of the release for me!

 

Conversion options

Figuring out a way of using new bits and kits in various conversion and kitbashing projects  is obviously always my favourite part of any new release, so let’s look at the possible conversion options this time around:

First of all, it shouldn’t surprise you that players of elven or Eldar armies should get the most out of this release when it comes to useful bitz. Let me share just a couple of quick ideas with you:

To begin with, a fairly straightforward observation: I suppose the Eternal Guard could be transformed into pretty good High Elf spearmen with a bit of work and a change of shields — Lord knows the High Elves need some better spearmen…

Then there’s the Wildwood Rangers, with their shadowy, cowled look. I think their design would make them perfect as base models for kitbashed plastic Dark Elf Assassins, in case you don’t want to use Shadowblade multiple times. Come to think of it, the same qualities also make sure they are really promising conversion fodder for INQ28 Death Cultists, assassins or the like.

Aralor, as all clamshell plastic characters, will doubtlessly be at the centre of many, many conversions. While I have not yet figured out a cool way of making him into an INQ28 character, I am fairly confident one of my fellow hobbyists will blow me away with their imagination — Jeff Vader, Spiky Rats, PDH, anyone? He could of course be used as a base model for a rather interesting Farseer conversion, that much is certain…

In fact, this leads me to the two most promising conversion projects I can think of regarding this release:

The first one probably isn’t all that original to begin with: If someone were to build a characterful Eldar Exodite army, I believe some of the new models would be perfect conversion fodder for that: Just take some of the new infantry kits, some Eldar Guardians and happily kitbash away! For the more adventurous spirits, wouldn’t Durthu make a promising start for a truly stunning Exodite Avatar? Just sayin’…

The other option is to use parts from this release in a Dark Eldar army project: I can really see the stylised plant motif work enormously well with a Dark Eldar Kabal. Just keep in mind that the Dark Eldar have a depraved kind of elegance that should work exceptionally well with floral motifs 😉 And there’s also the fact that poisons feature prominently in Dark Eldar culture, so a bit of poison ivy here and there would look doubly at home.

 

All in all, this feels like a relatively small, but rather focused release to me. More models would have been nice, but the stuff we get is very well done, both in concept and execution. The only true disappointment is the lack of quality in the Sisters of the Thorn (well, and maybe a lack of plastic Wardancers), but this still seems like a rather strong release to me! It’s just a shame that it seems to have been rather overshadowed by all of the 7th edition shenanigans…

Another thing I realised: One of my main criticisms regarding the new Dwarf models was that, while pretty cool, the new models looked so different from some of the older kits in the catalogue that using armies composed of older and newer models might create a bit of a jarring contrast. No such contrast is evident in the Wood Elf kits — quite the opposite, actually: Not only will Wood Elf players be able to use older and newer models together without creating any visual “continuity errors”, but the new models also seem to have been created with the old models very much in mind, continuing much of the earlier design paradigms or even further developing them. Thumbs up for that!

One final question: Where does that leave this release in comparion with the High Elves and Dark Elves? If cou ask me, smack dab in the middle: The new Wood Elves obviously cannot compare with the Dark Elves release, because for the latter almost the entire line of models was spectacularly redesigned from scratch. However, both the Wood Elves release as well as their overall catalogue of models seem slightly more interesting to me than the High Elf offerings. Sure, there are standout kits in the High Elf catalogue that are some of the best models available for WFB, but their release not only contained some slightly wonky models, but also failed to address the parts that actually needed addressing (the hopelessly overaged core troops, for one). Plus the overall level of quality seems more even for the Wood Elf line of models, whereas the High Elves are held back by some pretty old (and rather clunky) kits.

So yeah, if you ask me, Dark Elves come in first, with Wood Elves on a safe second and High Elves bringing up the rear.

 

So, what do you think of the new models? Were you as pleasantly surprised as me, or are you rather disappointed? Have any cool ideas for possible conversions or kitbashes? Want to vent your anger? I’d love to hear any feedback you might have in the comments section!

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

Shorty got axe – a look at the new Dwarfs

Posted in Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2014 by krautscientist

A word in advance: When GW changed their magazine publications, part of the collateral damage also extended to my regular look at the new releases: Until this month, I always wrote up a comprehensive look at the releases for the new “flavour of the month” army at the beginning of that month. With the releases now arriving in weekly spurts, that approach no longer works, obviously. But instead of doing a partial review each week, thereby cluttering up my posting schedule with additional posts, I have decided to stick with my usual approach, only that the comprehensive review will now be posted towards the end of the month. While also less stressful for me, I hope that this works for those of you actually reading my pointless ramblings on the new plastic crack 😉

So, without further ado, let’s cut to the chase: GW’s mags may have changed, but we still get a huge update for one particular army, and this time it’s the Dwarfs’ turn (actually, I was really hesitant to write dwarfs instead of dwarves, until I learned that even Tolkien himself wasn’t all that pleased with the latter way of spelling the plural, so yeah…):

Dwarf Release (1)
The Dwarfs are one of the archetypal fantasy races, along with Elves and Orcs, so everyone interested in fantasy generally has a picture of them in his mind: heavily armoured, bearded warriors armed with heavy axes or hammers. And, indeed, GW’s own treatment of this particular fantasy race has always been patterned after this archetypal look, broadly speaking. Still, I guess we all know what we expect when we hear the word “Dwarf”. So what do we get? And does it look like we all think dwarfs (or dwarves, or dwarrow) should? Let’s take a closer look:

 

Belegar Ironhammer

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Isn’t this guy actually a bit tall for a dwarf? Anyway, the model has all the hallmarks of both a dwarf and an ostentatious WFB commander model: Beard, check. Hammer, check. Enormous, massively impractical back banner, check. It’s fair to say that Belegar makes for a nice enough centre piece model for any dwarf army!

I do have two minor gripes with the model, though: The first one is the Oathstone, which seems like a slightly dull manner of making the model taller: Personally, I would have preferred a rocky outcrop or something similar. But in all fairness, not only is this purely a matter of personal preference, but the Oathstone is also completely optional, making this a non-issue.

The bigger problem is the model’s face: In my opinion, the face is a point of focus on every model, but especially so for dwarfish characters: Whether you want to go for the “grizzled veteran” look or are trying to take a more humourous approach, the face is a major point in selling a dwarf as a character.
In this case, however, the helmet design actually obsures the face, especially the eyes, leading to a slightly bland look. Now this wouldn’t be all that bad for a rank and file model, but on an army commander, it seems slightly unfortunate. Again, just my personal taste, of course, but I would have liked a more expressive face…

 

Dragon Slayer

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…which really leads us to this guy: You actually couldn’t get much more expressive than the Dragon Slayer model: The pose is amazingly dynamic, and the stylised dragon head seems like a great way to both add to the model’s dynamism and height and make the character interact with his base in a meaningful way: The slayer really looks like he’s in the middle of throwing himself at a huge enemy, which is basically the perfect look for the character!

At first glance, the face seems a little unwholesome…

Dwarf Release (4)
…but then you remember that this guy has quite likely lost most of his marbles by now, so the pinched, not quite sane expression really works, after all. My one nitpick is that the hair seems a little hokey, because those three-piece hairstyles never ever work. That’s only a fairly minor concern, though: The model looks great and is both iconic and fun — certainly one of the high points of the release for me!

 

Grimm Burloksson

Dwarf Release (5)
Ah, yes, now we’re getting to the steampunk part: Master Engineer Grimm Burloksson surely looks tech-savvy enough, with all the crazy steampunk equipment of his! He also seems like a guy who can really hold a grudge, judging by his facial expression — another really characterful sculpt, even though there is so little actual face visible underneath that huge beard.

As for the various equipment options, the Cog Axe is far more interesting from a visual standpoint than the pointy hand:

Dwarf Release (6)
I also really love the rifle, but the great thing is that you really get to choose which option you prefer with this kit, because Grimm seems quite modular, especially for a one-pose plastic model:

Dwarf Release (7)
Of course this means that, regardless of which options you choose, you also get some bitz out of the deal, which is always a plus. And even though I think that the back mounted furnace may be a bit much, once again, there’s no one stopping you from leaving it off or converting it into something more suitable. In fact, this kind of modularity is something that also extends to the third plastic character:

 

Dwarf Runelord

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A generic HQ this time, but once again a pretty modular one: The kit gives you enough parts to build your Runelord with several different equipment options and one of two different heads (with the remaining bitz once again a sweet addition to your bitzbox!)

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The book and hammer combo has a classic quality, for some reason, while the ornate armour really makes it clear that this guy is not you average rank and file dwarf. Personally, speaking, though, I like the tongs gripping a blazing rune even more, both because it’s such a cool and iconic idea, but also because it could be a really cool element to paint!

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It’s a good thing we get two heads to choose from, though, because it seems like the dwarfen [sic!] faces seem to be a bit hit and miss this time around:

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The left one seems slightly…strange for some reason, with a fairly angular beard and piggy little eyes. Luckily, the second one is quite a bit better, and once again, it’s easy enough to choose your favourite combination:

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This versatility and modularity in plastic characters is certainly something I would love to see much more of! All in all, the Runelord is a pretty competently designed model. Good job!

 

Gyrobomber/Gyrocopter

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Ah, now we are getting to the really quirky stuff! Both the Gyrobomber and Gyrocopter are just unabashedly goofy, and really all the better for it. Of course, a flying machine that seems quite early 20th century-ish may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me it’s just a part of what makes the WFB universe so eclectic and recognisable!

The bomber is quite a monster, and I am certainly not going to argue for or against its realism. Could it actually stay in the air? Who cares! The bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly either, after all…

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In all fairness, the rotor design does take a little getting used to:

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The design is quite effective, though, in that it instantly reads as both a bomber and a dwarfish war machine. There are also some really nice touches, such as the pilot looking like a dwarf version of an WWI biplane pilot (only missing the trailing shawl) and the impressive cluster of bombs:

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The kit can also be assembled as a Gyrocopter:

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This flying machine looks like it uses a shortened version of the bomber’s chasssis, making the whole thing look even quirkier, if you ask me: There’s just something about its bublebee-ish proportions that you simply have to love! Using the kit to build a Gyrocopter should also give you lots and lots of leftover bitz, by the look of it.

While I usually like my wargaming serious, these flying machines are just adorable: Yes, they are quirky and goofy and not at all realistic. But they are also totally awesome, and a perfect embodiment of the inherent eclecticism (and even silliness) of the WFB universe, and you’ve got to love them for that!

When it comes to the new infantry kits, the Dwarfs actually yet more combi-kits, making this whole release quite versatile. Let’s take a closer look at the foot sloggers:

 

Hammerers/Longbeards

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The first combi-kit gives us two varieties of heavily armoured dwards with imposing weapons: The Hammerers really look like they mean business, and I like the correspondence between their two-handed war hammers and the anvil-inspired helmet design! Their armour is also fairly ostentatious and ornate, making them look like the elites they probably are!

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The Longbeards manage to look even more blinged-out, probably due to their highly ornate axes and helmets and the odd stylised shield popping up. Again, the detail on these is awesome, and they look like the living legends the fluff makes them out to be.

I will be honest with you, though: While I quite like the design of both kits, I somehow cannot shake off the feeling that they look subtly different from the older dwarf kits. And I don’t just mean different as in newer, more recent: The overall design approach seems to have slightly readjusted, and my first impulse was to think that these, while awesome, don’t look like GW models — is that weird?

Granted, the feeling gradually wore off after some time, and I couldn’t really quite explain to you what gave me the impression. But the new armour design seems quite different in places — which, of course, doesn’t have to be a bad thing!

 

Ironbreakers / Irondrakes

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Another infantry combi-kit, and just like the Hammerers/Longbeards, these guys also seem excellently detailed, with lots and lots of neat little touches. The Ironbreakers also get quite a few equipment options, from hammers and axes to twin pistols:

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Yeah, that’s the ticket! The picture above serves to illustrate two things, though (apart from the blue armour looking beautiful): One, the bare head’s pinched features once again seem a bit off, underlining the impression that the designers either really nailed the faces or ended up with some pretty …original material, for lack of a better word. The other thing is that this model once again illustrates how the armour design seems quite different from the older models: Look at the legs and feet, for example.

The alternate assembly will give you a kit of Squat…erm Dwarf Irondrakes, wielding what is, for all intents and purposes, flamethrowers:

Dwarf Release (22)
These may actually be the most heavily armoured dwarfs so far, with even their beards appearing as stylised, metal parts of their protective helmets. I really like how the dragon motif is repeated across several pieces of their equipment:

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And man, those drake guns are awesome: If you’re going to have a steampunk flamethrower, you might as well go the whole hog and make it look like a stylised dragon. And the Trollhammer Torpedo pictured below doesn’t only look awesome, it also wins the award for the best weapon name ever!

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The different heads used in the combi-kit are once again very interesting, with the Ironbreakers quite heavily armoured, but their natural beards still visible. The Irondrakes, meanwhile, seem to subscribe to the “safety first!” rule, with their protective gear incorporating stylised, metal beards:

Dwarf Release (23)
Another expertly designed kit, and the Irondrakes add yet more steampunk-quirkiness to the army, which is a plus in my book!

My main question for all of the new infantry kits is this, however: How will any of these look next to the older models? Compare the new Longbeards

Dwarf Release (19)
to this…
Dwarf Release (27)
Granted, these are different unit types, and the extra detail in the new kits is certainly a result of better technology being available today. But the difference seems more fundamental, somehow, and it’ll be interesting to see whether these will still read as one army on the tabletop — it seems like I’ll have to wait for Warhammer: Visions 80+ pages of dwarf pictures for my answer, though… 😉

 

Conversion options

When it comes to the question of using the new stuff for non-dwarfish projects, that really seems like a bit of a toughie: The models and bitz are usually very recognisable as dwarfish in origin, from the shape of the blades to the dwarfish runes everywhere. Sure, some of the steampunk-y bitz might be useable in various 40k armies, and the dragon-themed accessories from the Irondrakes kit might be an interesting addition to a Salamanders or Black Dragons Space Marine army. But by and large, all of the new stuff seems very dwarfish and rather difficult to adapt to other armies.

The truly interesting approach, then, might be to use the kits and bitz for dwarf projects with a twist: Could it be possible to use some of the new infantry kits as a base for a Chaos Dwarf army? Sure, none of them look especially chaos-y at first glance, but the Irondrakes could become really sinister with some added spikes and horns. And experimenting with the new plastic kits might be quite a bit cheaper than going for FW Chaos Dwarfs…

The real elephant in the room lies in the options for 40k, though: If you’ve ever wanted to build a Squat army, this release should give you lots of useful toys: The Irondrakes and Ironbreakers would need nothing more than some back packs and slightly modernised weapons to fit the 40k look, and Grimm Burloksson even has what looks like a bionic eye, for crying out loud! I think the new kits would make it really easy to build an all-plastic Squat force used as a counts-as Space Marine army of your choice. Just imagine the Gyrocopter/Gyrobomber kit used in conjunction with Storm Talon parts — wouldn’t that be a kitbashing extravaganza?

Granted, the result would be a blast from the past, but if retro is your thing, and you’ve waited for the Squats to make a reappearance, this might just be your best bet!

All in all, I’m going to call this a pretty strong release for dwarf players! Granted, all the armoured dwarfs can get a bit long in the tooth, and the new design paradigm might need some getting used to, but the versatility and modularity of the new kits is really nice! And the sheer quirkiness of a kit like the Gyrocopter almost tempts me into getting one for fun…

Seriously, though: My WFB days are over, and even if I were to return, I wouldn’t choose dwarfs as my army. But the models are still beautiful and just on the right side of humourous, and the release feels comprehensive and creative enough to be interesting nevertheless. And certainly more inspired than the Tyranids’ bread and butter update last month — but that’s just my opinion.

So, what do you think of the new dwarfs? Were you as charmed by the bumblebee-copter? Did you feel the same about the different design? Do you have any crazy conversion ideas for the new kits? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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