Archive for WIP

The State of the Hunt, Week 25/2017: The Grandfather’s Embrace

Posted in 40k, Chaos, Conversions, state of the hunt, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2017 by krautscientist

Guys, guys, have you heard? There’s a new edition of Warhammer 40k, apparently 😉

Seriously, though: A detailed look at the new starter box, Dark Imperium, will be forthcoming shortly (at least that’s what I hope). It has been a while since my last detailed writeup about a new release, but I suppose the gravity of the situation definitely warrants a sizeable post. For now, let me just share one small teaser with you, namely a project that was inspired by the new release. So, what is this about?

While I may have some conflicted thoughts about some parts of Dark Imperium (*cough* Primaris fluff *cough*), one definite high-point for me are the new Plague Marines, sculpted by none other than Maxime Pastourel – aka Morbäck, of Le Blog dé Kouzes fame:


Possibly my favourite part about the models is how they manage to combine elements from the very first classic Death Guard concepts (courtesy of Jes Goodwin) with recognisable, albeit corrupted, Mk. III plate as well as some wonderfully sublime touches from Morbäck’s own Plaguebones — quite possibly the greatest Nurglite army currently in existence.

To make a long story short, after seeing the models, I wanted to get my hands on them ASAP — but then that tiny bit of rationality left in my head kicked in, and a small voice reminded me that, with several boxed sets still languishing unpainted in my cupboard of shame, I really could not quite justify getting yet another boxed set right now. And yet, I knew I had to do something to scratch that Nurgle itch, so to speak.

By lucky chance, I happened upon and TURBULENCE’s really excellent Nurgle kitbashes, using older parts to almost perfectly match the new look. So I had a look through the old bitzbox in order to find a remedy to cure me of the Nurgle bug.

When I found some leftover bitz from the Putrid Blightkings kit and a small pile of horribly battered Dark Vengeance Chosen bits and pieces (left from when I converted a couple of Iron Warriors), a plan started to form in the back of my head. And a short while later, I had this guy:




To be perfectly honest, this is, at its core, actually one messy and loose conversion, if ever there was one: I shaved down the upper part of a Dark Vengeance Chosen torso to make room for the belly, then shaved down the torso front from a Putrid Blightking to create said belly, then mashed it all together with a huge blob of GS and attached it to a set of plastic Mk. III legs. Then a modeling tool was used to loosely define rolls of fat and flabby flesh. In the end, it’s really a happy accident that the model itself calls for the kind of gooey mutations that the GS seemed to provide automatically 😉

At the same, the added height and bulk should also make the model look suitably tall and bloated when placed to one of Morbäck’s “official” Plague Marines. Speaking of which, a pair of Mk. III legs was used to make the model resemble Morbäck’s Plague Marines even more. In order to make the leg armour look suitably distressed and rotten, I carefully cut in some wedge shaped holes and scratches with a hobby knife here and there to make some of the armour plates look slightly dented and uneven. And I used the bog standard GW hand drill (the one I usually use for drilling out bolter barrels) to create small clusters of holes on the armour plates.

With this successful first proof of concept out of the way, I felt a little more adventurous when building a second model:





The basic recipe is the same: A beat-up Chosen torso (and shoulder pads) combined with a set of Mk. III legs, a couple of Blightking bitz and a copious amount of greenstuff. That being said, I really think the various components have come together rather beautifully on this model, lending it quite a bit of presence. Of particular note are the warped Gal Vorbak claw and the helmet (repurposed from an Age of Sigmar Bloodstoker model, with a Skitarii rebreather conveniently spliced in), especially the fact that the jaw motif gets repeated on both parts (this was actually more of a happy accident, though 😉 ).

With the second model completed, I had just enough battered DV Chosen and Blightking parts left to make one last model. This time, I decided to go for a very classic 2nd edition inspired look:




The model is arguably slightly more awkward than its predecessors, but then you should have seen the shape some of those leftover parts were in — the torso seemed just about useless, so I am pretty happy I managed to make a model out of it all in the end. The guy could still use some last tweaks and touch ups, but he’s definitely getting there! What’s more, this is the one model in my collection where that icky, tentacled Chosen backpack really works perfectly, wouldn’t you agree?

So here are my three “Morbäck-pattern” Plague Marines:


Coming up with these guys has really been a blast — and except for the legs, they were all made from nothing but leftovers, so they didn’t cost a penny to make. I am actually pretty pleased with myself for resisting the urge to buy new shiny stuff — for once 😉

There’s also one last model that fits in really well with the new guys: This Nurglite Sorcerer that I converted a while ago. He happens to follow a fairly similar recipe, however, so he should work well enough with the rest of the group:


As for painting these new models, it’ll be interesting to figure out a slightly tweaked recipe for them! I definitely want them to look slightly different from my squad of (mostly) retro Plague Marines here:


Pleased as I still am with those guys, however, they didn’t end up in quite the paint scheme I had in mind. With the new models, So I think I’ll be going with something closer to GW’s “official” paint scheme that was used for the Dark Millennium Plague Marines. Maybe a mix of that colour scheme with the one used by Morbäck for one of the models he sculpted.

On second thought, I am almost happy now to have left the Blightking-based Plague Marines I converted quite a while ago unpainted for all this time, as I’ll now be getting another chance (and an added incentive) to complete them as a Killteam, and with a new paintjob, no less!


Any thoughts of painting will have to wait, however: For one, the sweltering heat has returned this week and keeps holding the blasted plains of Jhermani in an iron grip. I’ll also be travelling to Amsterdam this weekend to visit fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass for a weekend of hobby goodness and sightseeing, which should be awesome!

So that’s it for this week. I would love to hear any thoughts and feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The State of the Hunt, Week 22/2017: Too hot for painting…

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, state of the hunt, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2017 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, as the title should already have told you, the last few days have been crazy hot over here, on the blasted plains of northwestern Jhermani, so getting anything painted was completely out of the question. Actually, so was just about anything else, really. But I did at least make some time for a spot of kitbashing, and have some results to share with you:

 

I. In the Shadow of Great Wings, pt. 1.5

You’ll probably still remember my recent conversion of Argel Tal’s daemonic form, a model I am still fairly pleased with, if I do say so myself:


But even while I was putting the finishing touches of Argel Tal’s daemonic version, it was already clear to me that I would eventually have to build another version of the character in his “normal” transhuman form, for whenever the daemonic essence of Raum hasn’t come out to play. It just wouldn’t have seemed like a complete project otherwise 😉

But my original plan was to actually put the alternate Argel Tal version off until some point in the indeterminate future (that’s where hobby projects go to die, in case you were wondering). Alas, it was not to be: I just had an innocent look at the descriptions of Argel Tal in The First Heretic and Betrayer, just for research purposes, you know — and before I knew it, I was halfway through the building process…

So here’s what I have so far:



Once again, a couple of conversion notes:

  • the armour was basically a no-brainer, as Argel Tal is described as wearing a suit of Mk. IV plate, so I mainly used plastic Mk. IV parts, with the notable exception of the breastplate (which is the same Raptor torso I also used for daemonic Argel Tal) and the arms (Mk. III arms, actually, chosen for looking a bit more ornate — only befitting an Astartes captain).
  • the Guardian Spear makes a return here, for obvious reasons. Once again, I chose to change the weapon’s haft, making it look more like a spear — actually, I basically had to go back and recreate the version daemonic Argel Tal is wielding, just for the sake of continuity 😉
  • the cape seemed like a nice way of giving the model some extra bulk and presence and make it read as an officer. It originally came from a half-complete Ivanus Enkomi model fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass sent me a while ago.
  • And finally, the head. Now I realise that this could be a divisive choice for some people, but I decided to go with the bare head from the Space Wolves character conversion sprue. Call me crazy, but I’ve somehow always imagined Argel Tal as having long-ish hair. And that particular head really came closest to the mental image of the character I’ve had in the back of my head ever since reading Betrayer. But if you find yourself hating this particular head, don’t fret: Like Kharn, Argel Tal will have an optional helmeted head as well:


Incidentally, there are actually very few conversions of non-daemonic Argel Tal conversions to be found, so I didn’t have much to work from. The one pretty cool depiction I found, however, was this piece of artwork courtesy of Noldonfinve:

artwork by Noldofinve

The piece even received ADB’s official blessing, so I thought it would be cool to take some visual cues from it when building my own version, and I think that worked out pretty well, wouldn’t you agree?

In closing, here’s how the more human Arge l Tal looks next to his buddy in crime:

 


And here’s a comparison showing both versions of the character:

Now all that remains is to actually get these two painted — this whole project has already spun off into enough of a distraction as it is… 😉

 

2. On The Road Again…

In other news, remember the Road Crew?

I realised when taking a look at a couple of my recent posts that it has been a rather long time since I’ve done anything INQ28 related, but that fantastic Sector Mechanicus terrain released recently, alongside Shadow War Armageddon has given me a taste to delve back into the depths of the underhives, and what better way to do that than to keep adding to my fun little band of misfits pictured above?

Now to remind you, the basic idea behind these guys is that they are a colourful collection of former gladiators, former pit slaves, mutants and other undesirables establishing their own little domain in the depths of the world of St. Sabasto’s Reach, a pretty sinister planet, even for 40k standards:

 

St. Sabasto’s Reach

An extremely rich hive world grown fat and depraved through slave trade and the exploitation of its mutant lower class.

The world originally earned its name when the Imperial Saint Sabasto rested here after his great victory on the fields of Belzifer, before engaging in the last stage of his holy crusade for the defense of Velsen against the forces of the Arch-enemy. While Sabasto’s crusade army was still magnificent at this point, it had also suffered heavy losses (a fact, it is argued by some contemporary Velsian historians, that contributed to Sabasto’s eventual defeat within the Veil of Impurity).

When the Saint contemplated the price in blood paid for the reclamation of Velsen, he decreed that the entire world of St. Sabasto’s Reach would be given to the orphans of the slain and that the Imperium would see to it that the children of martyrs would never need to go hungry. This spurred the planetary populace into religious fervor, and countless orphanages and scholae were opened in the saint’s name, earning the world bynames like “The Planet of Orphans” or “The Orphans’ Cradle”.

However, with a slow decline in piety and a general economic recession, many of the world’s orphanages have had to close over the centuries, while others have turned to a far darker trade, giving the world’s epithet a new, sinister meaning. It is true that Imperial organisations like the Schola Progenium, the Ecclesiarchy and even the Inquisition still maintain a presence on St. Sabasto’s Reach and recruit from the ranks of the homeless orphans, choosing the most talented or devout to serve in their respective organisations. And in the deeper levels of the world’s hives, missions and orphanages still offer a real, if meagre, chance for survival to this day. Yet that is only one face of St. Sabasto’s Reach. For at the same time, the world has also become the biggest fleshmarket in the entire Velsen Sector, providing human resources in a very literal sense, from mutant workers to household servants. Moreover, it is rumoured that there exists a slave for every kind of service in the almshouses and slave pits of St. Sabasto’s Reach, and the masters of the world have long prided themselves on being able to cater to every taste and desire, no matter how “eccentric” it may be.

Another mainstay of the world’s culture, the countless circuses and fighting arenas, are also fueled by a constant influx of “material” from the slave pits. At one point, the world’s renowned Circus Imperialis served as a front for a cult of chaos worshippers and was purged by the hand of Inquisitor Antrecht. But even after this upheaval, the remaining slavelords and ringmasters of St. Sabasto’s Reach quickly regained their step, slightly realigning themselves in the resulting power struggle and carving out a new pecking order among themselves. Because the Inquisition’s issue was never with the slave trade itself, but with the presence of heretics, and so the House of Blossoms, the Angelflesh Lodge and countless other establishments like them continue to ply their dark trade to this day…

 

One thing I have wanted to do with this project is to combine a number of established Necromunda archetypes (the Pit slaves and Scavvies in particular) and add a twist of my own. There’s also a fair bit of Mad Max-vibe going on with the project, but I could not quite work out how to emphasise that particular angle when these guys are actually based in the dark, dirty and cramped underhive.

I’ve watched quite a few Let’s Play videos of Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light, by way of YouTuber ChristopherOdd, lately. Both games are set in a postapocalyptic near future where a (nuclear) Third World War has likely wiped out most of the human population on earth. Underneath the ruins of Moscow, the survivors of the apocalypse have turned the Metro tunnels into their new habitat, creating a makeshift civilisation in the cramped confines of what used to be the metropolis’ transportation system. Now I have a bit of a thing for postapocalyptic scenarios anyway, but after immersing myself in the scenario, it hit me: The whole concept of subway tunnels becoming living spaces and an entire ecosystem, if you will, seemed like the missing puzzle piece that would allow me to push the Mad Max angle on my Road Crew project a bit more: What if the lower reaches of the Hiveworld are crisscrossed by a network of transportation tunnels originally created – and mostly still used – to move the vast amounts of goods necessary to keep the world’s overly bloated population alive? St. Sabasto’s Reach has a huge population, even for a Hiveworld, because its most important goods are people, but all of these have to be fed, even if they are only in transit. So I imagine a network of massive, highway-like tunnels far beneath the ground, with smaller maintenance tunnels, substations and similar spaces in between the cracks spiderwebbing off from the main branches of the network. And maybe the Road Crew has taken to raiding some of the transports travelling along those massive subterranean highways: That would allow me to incorporate elements that are typically Mad Max, even vehicles. So with my creativity thus reinvigorated, I assembled some new recruits for the gang:

Now I am actually cheating a bit here, because both the guy with the chainsaw on the left and the guy with the gun on the right were originally built before I had even started thinking about the Road Crew. And yet, without a few minor tweaks, they became pretty cool new parts of the project — I actually love it when a project finally provides a new home to some stray conversions from years ago 😉

The guy in the middle is new, however, and I am pretty proud of him. Meet Cirque:

I don’t think I will ever tire of the particular look that a combination of Ork parts (with their somewhat grotesque, overmuscled appearance and clunky technology) and human sized components will give you — almost the perfect recipe for mutants, if you ask me.

And there’s the Road Crew’s ride, of course, a slightly touched up Gorkamorka Trukk that has become far too small for modern Orks, yet should work really well for my merry band of postapocalyptic ne’er do wells:

Now if only the heat would let up for a couple of days, I could maybe get some of the above painted — keep your fingers crossed for me 😉

Anyway, so much for today’s update. It goes without saying that I would love to hear any thoughts you might have!

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

In the Shadow of Great Wings, pt. 1

Posted in 30k, Chaos, Conversions, Custodes, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2017 by krautscientist

Hey everyone, sorry for the lack of updates, but I’ve been crazy busy these last couple of weeks! That being said, I do have something new to share with you today, a new conversion of an established character that I hope you will appreciate — some of you may already be suspecting who it is we are talking about, based on the title of this post, but anyway: Here goes:

When I shared my 30k Khârn conversion with you recently, several fellow hobbyists here and on the forums suggested I should actually also create a model for Argel Tal of the Word Bearers, Crimson Lord of the Gal Vorbak and ostensibly Khârn’s BFF during the events of Aaron Demsbki-Bowden’s “Betrayer”.

Now for those of you not following the Horus Heresy novels, Argel Tal and his brethren are arguably the first-ever Chaos Space Marines: Sent by Lorgar into the Eye of Terror itself, they become possessed by Daemons of the warp and, from that point onwards, are able to transform into hideous yet powerful semi-daemonic creatures during combat — pretty much proto-Possessed Chaos Space Marines, if you will. Their story is told in ADB’s novel “The First Heretic”, and the Gal Vorbak have also been immortalised by receiving their own dedicated Forgeworld models that match the descriptions appearing in the novel rather closely:

Argel Tal makes a return in “Betrayer”, serving as one of the novel’s main characters. And, like I said, he bonds rather closely with the World Eaters’ 8th Captain, creating what may be the Horus Heresy’s grimdark version of a buddy-cop scenario 😉

So creating an Argel Tal model to accompany my version of Khârn seems like a pretty cool idea, right? Even so, I was pretty reluctant.

Argel Tal just seemed very hard to get right, especially given his part-daemonic nature: When I did some research on Argel Tal conversions, most models I discovered were either based on Forgeworld’s Gal Vorbak models shown above (the guy in the front row seems like a dead-ringer for Argel Tal as he is described in “The First Heretic”) or on a mixture of plastic Possessed and Raptor bits. But neither approach really quite clicked for me: On the one hand, I didn’t really want to have to buy a set of Gal Vorbak models, cheap bastard that I am 😉 And the Gal Vorbak models are also a fair bit taller than standard Astartes, while I wanted the two models to work together, which would be easier with models of a similar size.

The combination of Possessed and Raptor parts, on the other hand, seemed promising, but the main pitfall I saw was to end up with a model that just looked like any old CSM Raptor, when Argel Tal is such a cool character and deserves a conversion with a certain originality and presence.

So I was just about content with leaving the character well alone, but then my buddy DexterKong joined the chorus of those clamouring for an Argel Tal conversion — and I could never really turn down a conversion challenge from Dexter, so over the course of an afternoon, a couple of ideas actually coagulated into a model (which we’ll be taking a look at in a minute).

For inspiration, I mostly worked from the description of Argel Tal given in “Betrayer”: With his daemonic possession having been underway for quite a while by the events of the novel, Argel Tal’s “combat form” seems to have developed into a slightly more stable version. He has also gained a pair of wings, which feature rather prominently in the scenes he appears in. And he is wielding a pair of Custodian weapons: a sword and a freaking Guardian Spear. I was pretty sure this last part would pose quite a challenge, especially given the plastic Custodes’ increased size and bulk.

I also used two pieces of artwork that came really close to how I imagined Argel Tal. One is this fantastic piece of art courtesy of slaine69:

Argel Tal by slaine69

This illustration does a rather fantastic job of showing Argel Tal in all his daemonic glory, while also including enough visual cues that point towards his Astartes roots, such as the corrupted Mk. IV armour and helmet.

The other piece of art I felt drawn to was the possessed Chaos Space Marine from the cover of GW’s Black Legion supplement:

Granted, the armour is definitely the wrong colour. But this guy is really close to how I imagine Argel Tal, plus this general look also seemed to be attainable by using the right set of bitz.

So with these pointers in mind, I created the following:




So, a couple of conversion notes on the model:

  • I tried to choose armour parts for Argel Tal that seemed suitably chaotic and warped while also recalling the Mk. IV armour the character wears during the events of Betrayer. The Chaos Raptor kit came in handy here, allowing for armour that really matched both criteria.
  • When it came to creating the wings, the obvious solution would have been to make use of the winged backpack from the Possessed kit:


But to be perfectly honest, I really don’t like that bit: It seems so very symmetrical and cartoony. And the wings are also a fair bit too small to lift a creature of Astartes size. Fortunately enough, I found a set of leftover Vargheist wings in my bitzbox, and they were carefully grafted to the organic looking backpack of Dark Vengeance’s Kranon model. I am really rather happy with the result!

  • The head was probably the one instance where I actually consciously deviated from canon: In the books, Argel Tal’s daemonic form is described as wearing a warped version of an Mk. IV helmet, with the faceplate actually cracked into a daemonic maw. And right enough, the Raptor/Warp Talon kit actually features several helmets that clearly look like corrupted Mk. IV helmets. But whenever I tried adding one of them to the model, it ended up looking like just another standard Raptor. I then wanted to add Kranon’s horns to the helmet to make it look less vanilla. And gut instinct made me carefully dig out Kranon’s entire head from its original torso and add it to the conversion. And I really think it works rather nicely: It’s not an Mk. IV helmet, certainly, but it does have the daemonic maw. It’s also not a head you see all that often, so it does make the character look more original and “special”, in a way.
  • And finally, the weapons: Having the character wield both a sword and a Guardian Spear would have looked ridiculous enough before the new plastic Custodes were released, but given the size and bulk of the new models (and their weapons), it basically seemed unfeasible. So I decided to arm Argel Tal with a Guardian Spear, as it seemed like the more iconic weapon of the two. I did replace the original haft with a Chaos Knight’s spear, however, to bring out the spear-like qualities of the weapon a bit more.

However, I also wanted to feature the sword in some shape or form, seeing how the way Argel Tal came by it seemed so significant to me. So I decided on a slightly more subtle way of including the sword — by actually making it a part of Argel Tal’s base:






That sword sticking out from the fallen Astartes at Argel Tal’s feet? That may or may not be his sword: I imagine Argel Tal as a highly dynamic fighter, zipping across the battlefield like a whirlwind of destruction, so maybe this is him coming back to pick up his sword after fighting elsewhere? Moreover, if both Khârn and Argel Tal are placed next to each other, they seem to be interacting rather nicely as a mini-diorama of sorts:


And a small narrative suggests itself: Maybe Argel Tal was occupied elsewhere on the battlefield, saw an Ultramarine sneaking up on Khârn, threw his sword and is now swooping down to take it back — and assist his BFF while he’s at it?

Anyway, all things considered, and given my earlier reservations about tackling this particular character in the first place, I am pretty happy with the finished conversion — of course now I’ll have to do a “human” version as well, to show Argel Tal when he’s off the battlefield (or when the gloves have not yet come off…).

Bonus model:

All the time spent messing around with Guardian Spears really gave me a desire for building my first new plastic Custodian. And after going through “The First Heretic” again for conversion cues, memories of Aquillon were still pretty fresh on my mind, so…




Anyway, so much for today’s update. I would love to hear any feedback you might have! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The State of the Hunt, Week 14/2017: Kill! Maim! Convert!

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, state of the hunt, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2017 by krautscientist

An entire week has gone by in a blur, thanks to the two conferences I visisted last week, and so I find myself without any significant new hobby content to share with you — bugger! 😉

That’s really not so bad, however, as it provides me with the perfect excuse to highlight a conversion I’ve created fairly recently and talk about it in more detail. Some of you may remember this guy who made an appearance in one of my previous posts:


I asked you whether anyone had a suggestion who this was supposed to be — and, indeed, there was no fooling you guys: The model was my early mockup of Khârn, the World Eaters’ Eight Captain and everybody’s favourite raving lunatic, during his younger years — but why not just use the official 30k Forgeworld model and be done with it?

Well, because converting is more fun, of course. But that’s not the only reason: I have written rather extensively about my thoughts of the various interpretations of Kharn, both in artwork and in model form (here and here, if you want to go read up on it).

The short version would be that, in spite of some seriously cool little touches, like the more gladiatorial armour, I do have my gripes with the Forgeworld rendition of Khârn:

Khârn the Bloody, by Edgar Skomorowski

I think the pose looks less like running and more like falling forward. Switching the axe and pistol arms around compared to the 40k model seems like a slightly strange decision (sure, Astartes are probably ambidextrous, but it still flies in the face of visual continuity, especially now that the new plastic 40k version has the same setuo as the classic metal model). Probably the part I was the least happy with, however, was Khârn’s face:

Getting a look of the various Horus Heresy characters’ faces through Forgeworld’s models is a pretty cool feature, if you ask me, but I do think they messed up in this case: Khârn’s face is expressly stated to be strangely unscarred in several parts of the lore, so the twisted, mangled face on the model, while expertly sculpted, doesn’t really read as Khârn to me. Moreover, the interesting thing about Khârn, at least in the novels, is how he is a complete and utter monster when gripped by the influence of the Butcher’s Nails, but retains a lot of nobility and clarity when off the battlefield, and the grimace shown above really doesn’t transport that duality for me.

So there was really not other way: I needed to come up with my own version of the Eight Captain. And while Khârn isn’t a regular member of the World Eaters 4th assault company, my personal army, I liked the idea of having him available as a “special guest star”, so to speak — and in any case, this seemed like a cool little hobby project.

So my mission statement at the outset was as follows:

  • Create a model that looks like a suitably impressive rendition of the Eight Captain and is also true to my personal thoughts on what Khârn should look like.
  • Incorporate several shout outs to the different, “official” versions of the character, because continuity is fun! 😉

And that’s what I tried when creating the early mockup you saw above. But while the basic premise seemed sound, I realised that the model definitely needed more work. So here’s what Khârn looks like right now, after cleaning up the conversion and making quite a few tweaks. I think he is just about finished right now, and ready for paint:




A couple of conversion notes, if I may:

  • the AoS Blood Warrior breastplate was chosen in order to convey a bigger sense of bulk and to add a bit of gladiatorial flair to the armour, similar to the look of the Forgeworld model
  • As you can see, I actually switched his weapons around, which arguably brings him much closer to both the classic and new 40k incarnations of the character.
  • This also gave me the opportunity to swap in a wonderfully clunky CSM plasma pistol — I realise that 30k plasma pistols have this “Martian Deathray” look, but I prefer a weapon that looks like it could actually be used to clobber an opponent over the head — plus it’s, once again, closer to classic 40k Khârn’s pistol.
  • the face was a bit of a lucky discovery: It’s from the new plastic vanguard kit, and while it’s still angry enough, it’s also unscarred and less deformed than that of the Forgeworld version. Plus I think the mohawk really suits Khârn 😉
  • The press-molded detail on his backpack was actually added to evoke the legion symbol and is a direct shout out to a similar element that appears on the Forgeworld version. The specific mark of backpack was chosen for the same reason (it’s actually a vintage 2nd edition backpack, though, so you basically cannot go any more archaic than that 😉 ).
  • The skull-face belt buckle (from an AoS Exalted Deathbringer) was originally chosen because it resembled the belt buckle on the classic 40k Khârn, but I ended up keeping the actual loincloth as well, because it nicely complemented the somewhat static pose: I liked the idea of capturing the Eight Captain during one of his – increasingly rare – lucid moments. There’s also the fact that his pose is ever so slightly reminiscent of the classic 40k model, and I really like that touch.

 

In fact, when it comes to the pose and overall look of the model, fellow hobbyist k0hnahrik put it far more succinctly than I could have:

As for the tabard, I actually think it fits perfect. I think it adds to the ‘angry yet in control’ look. As if he’s a worshipper of khorne but hasn’t completely lost his mind yet, like he can still assess a battlefield strategically and still wear cosmetic items(the tabard) that set him apart from the rest of the infantry – he’s still above them, he’s not another screaming angry face in the crowd yet. Not to mention – the motion on the tabard adds perfectly to the motion of the model – he’s just finished off an enemy, now he’s swirling around and quickly assessing the battlefield for a moment, identifying his next target, thinking like a commander – then he’s off and charging again.

 

All in all, I have taken some liberties with the model, of course: The breastplate lacks the “air intake” that is a recurring element of all three “official” Khârn models. When all was said and one, I didn’t want to mess up the smooth lines of the breastplate, though. There’s also the fact that my version’s armour has been cobbled together from several marks, whereas the Forgeworld Khârn is clearly armoured in a customised Mk. IV suit. I really wanted to push the idea of a suit of “mongrel plate”, though, as I think the World Eaters are probably scavenging whatever they can and repairing and creating their armour with all the parts they can get their hands one, given their massive casualities due to their specific way of waging war.

And when all is said and done, the main objective here was to come up with a model that reads as Khârn to me, and that mission, at least, has been accomplished 😉

So how does my version of Khârn check out next to some other models? Here’s a comparison picture showing my 30k Khârn next to a standard 30k World Eater and to the – rather massive – new plastic 40k version of the character:


As you can see, he’s about as tall as a standard Marine (the guy on the left appears taller because there’s quite a bit of basing material underneath his feet), yet at the same time, the combination of the Mk. III legs and the beefed out torso give him a slightly more massive look, which I think really fits the character and serves as a hint at the even more massive, imposing figure Khârn will have grown into, probably thanks to the war god’s influence, by the 41st millennium.

As a fun detail, the press-molded symbol on his backpack actually prompted me to add the same detail to 40k Khârn, both as a piece of continuity, but also because that empty armour plate on the back of the backpack really bothered me, and this seemed like the perfect solution:


I already said that I really wanted my own 30k Khârn to be like a bit of a missing link between the other versions, and I think this part of the project has been a success: If you look closely, you’ll see several elements on the model that point to the different incarnations of the character, both in 40k and in 30k:


Oh, and while we are at it, here’s a picture showing every version of Khârn currently in my possession, including the true scale-ish custom Khârn I created back in 2014:


Come to think of it, this seems like the perfect opportunity to give that particular model a bit of extra airtime, because I am still pretty pleased with it, and I think it managed to hold up, even when compared to the new “official” 40k Khârn:




A closer look at the model can be found here, in case you are interested.

So, all in all, I am pretty happy with how this project has been going so far, and I am looking forward to slapping some paint on Khârn — but what about you? Do you think this is a successful interpretation of the character? And do you have any last minute suggestions? I would love to hear any thoughts you might have!

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

The State of the Hunt, Week 12/2017

Posted in 30k, 40k, Chaos, Conversions, paintjob, state of the hunt, WIP, World Eaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2017 by krautscientist

I was simply swamped in work last week, so I had to miss an update — sorry for that! However, I’ve been far from idle on the hobby front, and possibly the most crucial hobby-related thing to happen last week were a couple of job-related trips to Hanover which provided me with the perfect opportunity for making some much needed purchases at a local FLGS:


With my supplies thus replenished, I think I’ll soon be able to start painting my recent Angron kitbash (hence all of the metallic colours). I also finally picked up a box of the Aos Blood Warriors, mainly for conversion fodder, really. And indeed, one of the fantastic helmets from the kit finally served as the perfect choice for Lorimar’s second in command, First Hunter Alrik Skarn:




This guy was originally my first really involved conversion after getting back into the hobby after a long hiatus (more than a year before I even started this blog, actually): I converted him during the first days of 2011, and have kept tinkering on him time and time again in the years since. But at long last, he now has just about the perfect helmet, so I think I can finally consider this conversion finished — phew! 😉

And while the Blood Warriors are basically the perfect conversion resource for creating elaborate Khornate conversions for 40k, my next attempt at putting the various bits to good use actually involved creating a very early mockup for a 30k World Eater — go figure! 😉


Does anyone have an idea who this might be. I’ll give you a hint: He’s not really a member of Lorimar’s 4th assault company, but rather a bit of a “guest star”, so to speak…

Speaking of which, work on my 30k World Eaters continues apace. For instance, I have finally built the vexillarius for my first squad of tactical veterans.  I’ve wanted to build this model for a while now, but the backpack-mounted vexilla design didn’t do much for me. Then I happened upon Augustus b’Raass’ excellent assault squad Vexillarius here, and fell in love: I really like the way the standard recalls influences from ancient Roman Legions, which certainly seems fitting for the Legiones Astartes. At the same time, there is also something slightly totemic about the design, which fits the increasingly brutal nature of the World Eaters. So I took influences from this piece to build my vexillarius, trying to put my own spin on things. Take a look:




Unlike Augustus, I was actually too cheap to use the Custodian banner pole, so I improvised my own version with the bits I had. The shield itself will end up bearing a heraldic device (a legion badge, for instance). That way I’ll be able to use the same basic design for each vexilla, should I end up building multiple squads, while also having a chance of customising each one into an individual totem, if you will. This is a great fit for the kind of look I am after for my World Eaters: One that is not nearly as uniform as your standard Heresy era legion army, with warplate cobbled together from different marks and trophies that show the World Eaters’ beginning descent. At the same time, however, the more regimented, uniform roots are still visible.

Another thing I really wanted to incorporate was a head with a skull cap, something I’ve seen on Duncan Rhodes’ Sons of Horus in White Dwarf a couple of years ago, as well as in Apologist’s Iron Warriors: I think it works really well with Mk. 3 armour, making it look like the armour is so ancient that you actually have to wear the cap as some kind of additional conduit and protection layer underneath the atual helmet. Please ignore the Inquisitorial =][= on the model’s forehead, btw — it still needs to be filled in with GS.

I have also managed to finally put some paint on the next member of the squad, the Astartes bearing a massive and brutal looking autogun:



Now the first draft version of the model still had a standard Mk. 3 helmet, but then I saw Nemac Vradon’s fantastic conversion of Uzas (of First Claw fame) using one of the FW World Eaters helmet to great effect, and so I allowed myself a small indulgence and ordered a single head from a bitz-seller to give my model that little bit of extra oomph.

The model also features a shout out to one of my favourite 30k World Eaters armies: Mr. Poom’s World Eaters occasionally feature weapon casings in the Iron Warriors-styled hazard stripe design, and I included a variant of the design on the backup chainsword mag-locked to the legionary’s armour:




So yeah, it might be slow work – in keeping with my general laziness – but my small collection of 30k World Eaters keeps expanding one model at a time — not too long now, and I might actually end up with a full squad! Shocking, I know… 😉


So here’s one small news item before I am off. I particularly like this one, however, because it was such a happy coincidence: During a recent visit to an artistic school, I was able to rescue a little something from the trash bin: the remains of an art project:


Call me crazy, but I think the broken parts of this face could make for some rather cool 40k terrain pieces with a bit of work. Monuments of that size are definitely a thing in the Imperium, and if I paint it in colours matching my 30k World Eaters, I’ll end up with terrain pieces that should work in 40k but would also make for pretty cool looking terrain for an Armatura-themed display board…just sayin’ 😉

Until then, however, it goes without saying that I would love to hear any feedback you might have. And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

The State of the Hunt, Week 7/2017

Posted in 40k, Blood Bowl, Chaos, Conversions, Fluff, Inq28, Inquisitor, state of the hunt, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2017 by krautscientist

As it turns out, last week’s decision to force myself to actually sit down and paint something was really for the best: Not only did it result in a model I am really, really happy with — I’ve also managed to keep the creative spark alive until now. So even though I am currently suffering from a rather nasty case of the flu, I have still finished some more hobby related stuff. So let’s take about some of the recent developments today:

 

I. A Chaotic Tome

One of the more frustrating parts of the 2016 Christmas season was my attempt to get hold of a) the Traitor Legions Codex Supplement, b) Canoness Veridyan and c) the Index Chaotica book. The Canoness, in particular, sold out about three or four times, and once the model was finally back in stock, the Index Chaotica was gone for good — or at least that’s what it looked like then.

index-chaotica-1
Enter fellow hobbyist Augustus b’Raass (whose fantastic work you might want to check out here, by the way): Auggs was nice enough to swing by the Amsterdam GW store, pick up a spare copy of the book and send it my way — that was really awesome and yet another proof that this hobby of ours is full of wonderfully generous and thoughtful people!

As for the book itself, while I am writing this, it seems to be back in stock, so is it worth it? I’d say so, yes. The cynic in me wants to poke fun at the fact that it’s basically a – ever so slightly haphazard – collection of pre-published content, but then the stuff from Realm of Chaos, for instance, is only really available in the original books, and you’ll be paying through the nose if you want to obtain one of those. Plus the vintage chaos content is simply that good: sinister, evil, spiky and occasionally darkly humorous. And some of the classic artwork is still spectacular.

For instance, I was elated to find within the book a wonderfully vibrant reproduction of Geoff Taylor’s iconic World Eaters illustration. In spite of being decidedly old skool, it has also managed to age incredibly well, if you ask me:

index-chaotica-2
There’s also this WFB-chaos centric piece from the same artist that actually almost seems like a companion piece of the World Eaters picture:

index-chaotica-3
I still remember when this image appeared on the box of the Chaotic paints set (Tentacle Pink FTW!), and I was spellbound and tried to figure out what I was actually seeing — the lumbering war machine in the back was especially fascinating, as it subtly hinted at a WFB/40k connection. From a modern standpoint, I’d say it’s actually a depiction of a Lord of War, a Khornate daemon engine from Epic 40k that eventually grew into the modern Lord of Skulls. It also serves as living proof of how much more awesome GW artwork was when it didn’t limit itself to picturing available models — but that’s a subject for another time.

Speaking of Khorne, the Khornate content alone is basically worth the price of admission and should provide me with lots and lots of new ideas. And while the internet will provide you with lots and lots of fuzzy scans of vintage GW artwork, there are still some surprises to be had here, among them an elusive Jes Goodwin sketch for a dedicated heavy support World Eater:

index-chaotica-4
Actually, Jes Goodwin’s design sketches are yet another reason to pick up the book: I cannot help marveling at the quality of his concepts for the four cult legions and the original 2nd edition CSM special characters –incredible stuff!
Oh, and let me just state for the record that the book obviously wouldn’t have been complete without the wonderful berzerker on the right courtesy of Mark Gibbons! 🙂

So anyway, I’ve spent some very enjoyable weeks going back and forth through the book and immersing myself in the rich background for the chaos powers. I am ever so thankful to Augustus b’Raass for getting me a copy, and I suppose I’ll have to come up with something special in order to make it up to him — cheers, buddy! 🙂

 

II. A Merry Band of Misfits

I didn’t merely spend my time browsing through iconic chaos content from the yesteryear, though: Some of you might remember this little project here from last year: The Road Crew:

the-road-crew-2016
Now this little warband project was basically started as a fun diversion (and as a way to channel some of the influences from the Mad Max universe), but before I realised it, it had already started to take on a life of its own, coagulating into a little retinue.

The basic idea here was to start with some of the pit slave tropes introduced by Necromunda, but move beyond those character archetypes to include mutants, gunmen or even former Imperial adepts and shape them into a gang of malcontents that have disappeared between the cracks of the 41st millennium.

Now if you take a look at the image above, you’ll realise that there are already quite a few beefy warrior types — but this outfit still needed some brains. That’s why I built this guy last year:

Doc WIP (5)
Where the more gladiatorial types are muscular and crudely augmented, I wanted a gaunt and more delicate look for the brainy guy, and a combination of AdMech parts led to an outcome that was pretty close to my vision. The interesting task was to make a model that is so different from a structural standpoint look like it still belonged with the group. I tried to achieve that via a suitably strong paintjob, and here’s the result of that little endeavour:

solon-antonov-1
solon-antonov-2
solon-antonov-3
solon-antonov-6
solon-antonov-4
This is Solon Antonov, nicknamed “The Doktor”, formerly a low to mid-tier member of the Adeptus Mechanicus who stationed on St. Sabasto’s Reach to select suitable slaves to undergo augmetic modification and be transported off-world, to spend the rest of their sad lives toiling away in one of the mines or forges of the Velsian Adeptus Mechanicus. But, surprising enough for a man mostly made from metal by this point, Antonov discovered he still had a heart after all, and absconded with a group of slaves. Ever since, he has been the brains behind the “Road Crew”, tasked both with planning their activities and with the “maintenance” of its various members.

As you can see, I used the exact same colours on Antonov and the gladiators, with the scratched and damaged yellow armour serving as the element that really pulls the models together. I was actually happy enough with the outcome that I started to work on the next model right away. This little guy here:

Twist Witch Doctor (1)
I thought a mutant witch doctor type would nicely expand the character of the warband beyond a mere gang of pitslaves, even if this guy may initally seem a bit far out. Anyway, he’s still a little rough around the edges and needs some finishing touches, but here are some photos of the nearly finished model:

twist-witch-doctor-1
twist-witch-doctor-2
twist-witch-doctor-3
twist-witch-doctor-4
All in all, this project is a lot of fun, because it allows for some very organic kitbashing and painting. It’s also a nice vehicle for telling a somewhat more intimate story: These guys aren’t part of the fight for the Emperor’s soul, they just want to get by. That being said, it’s kinda interesting to explore the contrast between their humanity and their somewhat distressed, grotesque outer appearances.

So here’s the entire gang so far. Meet the Road Crew:

the-road-crew-early-2017-2
From left to right: Crusher Vexx, Tiny (the Road Crew’s battle captain), Doktor Antonov, Grimspyke, Chopper and the PIP twist witch doctor (if anyone has a cool idea for a name, I’d love to hear it).

So what’s in store for the Road Crew? I think there’ll be one or two additional members, and a suitable ramshackle ride for them — I already have a plan on that account. Keep your eyes peeled! 😉

 

III. A Squig-shaped Surprise

And last but definitely not least, imagine my surprise when I visited my friend Annie last week for one of our semi-regular painting sessions, only to present me with two wonderfully characterful squig-shaped dice for my Blood Bowl team, the Orkheim Ultraz:

squig-shaped-counters
These lovely little models can be picked up at Comixininos, and they should make for excellent turn/reroll counters for my team! And I really love how Annie painted them to perfectly match the colours of the Orkheim Ultraz:

orkheim-ultraz-early-2017
Thanks so much for the amazing gift, Annie! 🙂

By the way, we’ll be taking a closer look at one of Annie’s Blood Bowl teams in the near future, if only to show you her fairly different approach as well as her balls-to-the-wall crazy and creative ideas for the team. You should definitely look forward to that!
So yeah, as you can see, I am finally back into the swing of things! And I would love to hear any feedback you might have — just drop me a comment or two! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

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

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

Awards

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

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

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

 

I. Best releases

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

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

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

 

1. The Burning of Prospero

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

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

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

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

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

See my detailed review of the boxed set here.

 

2. Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower

Silver Tower Release (1)

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

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

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

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

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

Silver Tower Release (22)

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

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

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

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

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

 

3. Genestealer Cults

genestealer-cults-release-19

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

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

Deathwatch Overkill release (31)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

4. Thousand Sons

thousand-sons-release-18

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

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

thousand-sons-release-19

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

One, a redesigned Ahriman:

thousand-sons-release-8

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

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

thousand-sons-release-3

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

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

You can find my thoughts on the entire release here.

 

 

5. Canoness Veryidian

veryidian

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

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

Adepta_Sororitas_by_John_Blanche

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

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

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

 

6. Honorary mention: Seeing Artemis again…

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

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

 

II. Worst releases/biggest disappointment

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

1. Wulfen

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

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

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

classic-wulfen-models

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

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

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

the-wolf-man

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

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

2. GW basing sets

40k-basing-set-2

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

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

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

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

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

3. Ulrik the Slayer…Unmasked!

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

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

4. New Eldrad Ulthran

Eldrad comparison

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

III. Still on the fence about…

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

 

IV. Also pretty cool

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

 

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

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

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