So, I’ve had a bit of radio silence on this blog, and aside from some personal and family issues, people who know me well enough have some good idea of what I was up to and why my social life and wallet have both taken a hit over the past month or two.
That’s right; after a long wait, the new Man-O-War models for Khador released a month or two ago, and being a good son of the motherland, I had to pick up the full FA right away and start getting them painted. There’s been a lot of discussion online about the competitive viability of the Armoured Corps releases and what casters to pair them with. But, since I’m not actually good at this game, I’m going to talk about the most important part: the models themselves.
The tankers are pretty cool and look powerful on the tabletop. The sculpts are sort of a cross between a Man-O-War and a warjack. They are mostly resin with a few metal bits, and they are not multi-kits, which is kind of a disappointment as I think these guys would have been prime candidates for a hard plastic multikit. However, the resin is pretty good. On both of these models, the head, body and legs are the same one piece, aside from a couple metal bits on the knees. They are distinguished by the weapons on the arms, as well as the big shoulder-mounted gun on the suppression tanker. They’re nice sculpts; I would say they are what you would expect for something halfway between a Man-O-War and a Juggernaut-chassis warjack.
The shields pose the modeller with a couple questions. First, you’re definitely going to want to paint in sub-assemblies, and it can be a touch tricky to get the arms installed in a manner such that the shields line up correctly if they are being held together in front. Second, the shields cover up a lot of the model, so there are a lot of details that you won’t see as they’re being blocked from view by these big shields. On the other hand, they do provide the modeller with a decent-sized flat area which can be a nice canvas for some freehand. Personally, I used some 2mm Tamiya tape to mask off a hazard stripe pattern, then added some fun little subliminal messages in Khadoran runes to the effect of “Play it painted” or “3 Colours Min” before weathering. Additionally, I converted the arms on a couple of mine to repose the shields so that I at least have one or two where the detail underneath is a little more visible.
Aside from that, there were two minor issues I had with the sculpt. First, for some reason, my Siege Tankers weren’t quite up to the same level of quality as the Suppression Tankers, with more mold lines to clean up in some tricky spots on the legs and a couple air bubbles to fill. Since the issue is mostly confined to the legs, you can conceal any mistakes in the mold line removal process with mud and weathering, so it’s not that bad. Also, they’re far better than cleaning mold lines on the old restic MoW. The second issue with the models is that the shields themselves are paper-thin and you have to be careful not to damage them when you’re cleaning up the mold lines. However, there is a simple solution to that issue if you have share that concern or if you accidentally stabbed the tip of your hobby knife through the thing while trying to clean mold lines (not that I would do that) – take some plastic from a PP blister pack, cut it to an appropriate size and shape, and super glue it onto the back of the shield to reinforce it.
Solos, Units & Attachments
The Man-O-War Bombardier is okay. I mean, it’s a fine model and I didn’t have any quality issues, and the combination chainsaw grenade launcher is one of the coolest infantry weapons in the Iron Kingdoms, but it also doesn’t hugely stand out like the character models released – which is totally fair, because it’s a non-character model. Yeah, it’s a little plain compared to the other awesome releases in that it isn’t much of an improvement in the looks department from your average MoW mook, but it’s not terrible, aside from one little problem. It’s missing the small bandolier of rockets on the right shoulder that all the other Bombardiers have. This is a bit of a problem because it hurts the cohesiveness of the unit, and it just doesn’t feel right to see the officer without them. Typically, the unit leaders and officers are supposed to be a little more ornate on the details than the grunts, and without the bandolier of rockets, it’s actually kind of opposite as well.
Though, while I’m at it, I will touch on the conversion rules, as a lot of people are looking at the Bombardier Bombshell as a substitute and “is this tournament legal” keeps coming up. This is a cool model, and it’s one that I’ve used as the basis for a conversion a while ago, so it’s no surprise that with this awesome model in existence, people are going to want to use it to represent the most important model in the unit. However, since the Steamroller document specifies that the Bombardier Bombshell has to be used as a grunt, not the officer, and you can’t proxy in a tournament, doing so is technically not tournament legal. On the other hand, technically, anyone who makes a big issue about that is an ass, especially if it’s well-painted, because it’s such a cool model. Finally, if you really want to use her, I think there is a loophole. All you have to do is do a little conversion on her shoulder pads, making them a touch more ornate and looking more like the officer’s, and it’s now a conversion and not a proxy and therefore legal. Just don’t quote me on that if you get into an argument with a tournament organizer or one of the Wills at PP.
On the other hand, Dragos, Atanas, and the standard bearer are straight up awesome. Until now, the Greylord Forge Seer has stood out as clearly the most amazing looking model in Khador, but now he has some serious competition. Dragos has the heft commensurate with his character background as a big badass who dual-wields giant hammers, and has plenty of characterful details in the form of pelts, skulls, and battle damage. The ornate detail on Atanas and the Standard Bearers is just a wonderful touch, and I feel like it’s going to look really well when I finish it.
Kommandant Sorscha, aka Sorscha3 is great as well; they’ve captured the Man-O-War feel, but made some changes in proportion and design to make her distinct. With how the gun and the armour look, there have been a number of jokes at her resemblance to Samus Aran from the Metroid games, and I’ve jokingly inquired if I can use a tennis ball as a proxy. One thing I’ve noted as I paint her is that if you tilt her forward a little, you can really change the pose from one that gives the impression of Sorscha at the ready or slowly advancing to one that gives the impression of movement, as though she is running. I haven’t mounted her to the base yet, partly because for this model I’m preferring to paint her separately so I can get at all the tricky little places on the leg, and partly because I haven’t figured out my basing strategy yet.
Finally, we get to the chariots. I was a little worried on this front for a couple reasons. First, they are sold by Black Anchor Heavy Industries, which is Privateer Press’ direct-order subsidiary for huge-based models. I was initially a little concerned on this front for two reasons. First, there are the well-documented concerns that the international WMH community has with BAHI and getting dinged with customs, currency conversion, etc. that raises the price of BAHI models. Second, I have seen some of PP’s large resin models suffer from quality issues as of late. That is not to say that PP’s resin models are bad; far from it. When the quality is there, they are great. But if you get unlucky and get a bad model, you can end up with a dumpster fire of mold lines, misalignments, and resin bubbles. Fortunately their customer service is great, but having to wait for the company to ship replacement parts internationally isn’t good for anyone.
However, in this case, my concerns turned out to be not well founded. At about $85 USD, the models aren’t that expensive as far as BAHI goes. Further, they are multi-kits and you are provided with both gun and shield assemblies which appear to be relatively easy to swap out, so you only have to buy one kit to get both. Second, the quality was spot on. A couple of the horses had some small mold lines, but the rest of the twenty or so resin parts that make up two of these kits were great. And the horses don’t really matter to me because I have some stupid conversion ideas rolling round in my head.
I’ve been known to do a lot of gender-swapping conversions on my army, in part to balance out the gender imbalance, in part to represent the contribution of the daughters of the motherland, and in part because it’s a creative exercise in making the model very different while keeping the spirit and distinctive elements of the model intact. Man-O-Wars tend to be common targets for these sort of conversions, because due to their bulky armour, conversions are as simple as swapping out the heads.
But further to that note, I’m glad to see that we have a couple female Man-O-War models in this release in the form of Sorscha3 and the Bombardier Officer. I’m a big advocate of gender diversity in miniature gaming for a lot of reasons, ranging from grand political concerns about representation to the simple fact that the more diversity you have in a miniatures line, the more cool miniatures you have to paint and the more likely you will have at least something that everyone will like.
Thing is, gender diversity means more than just the male/female ratio of your models. If you have a lot of female models in your line, but they’re all skinny white girls who are either lightly armoured ninja types or backline spellcasters, then that can be a bit of a problem. First, it undermines the goal of increasing diversity in a miniatures line. Second, there is a harmful stereotype in a lot of fantasy settings that women can’t be the tanky front-line paladins in full plate and are relegated to either sneaky roguish or backline support duties. A good example to counter this is Zarya from overwatch — she is a popular character is because she’s a big, physically imposing female character who plays a tanky role in the game.
I think Privateer Press has been doing a lot better on this front in recent years. I was a little critical of them in the past because while they had a reasonable number of female models in their line, a lot of them were kind of samey. They had plenty of high-DEF low-ARM models that fulfilled the wizard or rogue archetype, but not a lot of heavily armoured or really physically imposing female models (outside of the trolls, pigs and gators, who are all trolls, pigs and gators). Aside from the aforementioned questions of representation, from a practical matter, it made my still as yet unpainted Butcher2 conversion kind of tricky because it was hard to find a female model with the requisite body type from PP’s line to use as a basis for the conversion. However, there have been a number of releases over the past couple years that have filled in that hole quite nicely. Sorscha3, the Bombardier Officer, and Sofiya Skirova for Khador are all badass, and other factions have been feeling the love as well with models such as Gwen Keller and Beth Maddox in Cygnar, Cyrenia in Protectorate, and even Iona, the upcoming Circle warlock.
As a result, I think putting Sorscha3 in the Man-O-War suit was a stroke of genius. Not only does it expand the diversity of the line by adding physically powerful female models in Khador, but she’s one of my favourite characters and taking the lightly armoured, high def, extremely mobile Sorscha character and sticking her in this armoured suit really turns her on her head. Before she was teased, I was hoping that we would eventually get a Sorscha3 on a horse (Horscha?), but this is even better. Not to mention that it’s a welcome departure from the “this caster gets two friends” concept when some casters have gone epic as of late. Some people said it should have been someone like Harkevich instead who got put in the suit, but as much as I am a Harkevich fan, that doesn’t really make sense in the context of his fiction.
So, big ups to Privateer Press for this move to increase the diversity in their line through recent releases, and keep ‘em coming. Just don’t steal my thunder by releasing a Butcheress Mini-Crate before I finish painting mine.
Aside from the chariots, which are a little on the expensive side for those of us who don’t live in ‘Murica, these models should be considered a buy by just about every Khador player out there. I know a lot of column-inches in this article have been devoted to my tiny, niggling issues with them, but those are just that – small technical issues on otherwise awesome models that can generally be resolved with a moderate amount of modelling skill. Dragos, Atanas and the Standard Bearer are particularly wonderful models that rival the Forge Seer for the title of best model in faction, and the others are must-haves for anyone who likes steam powered badasses. And if you don’t, then shouldn’t you be playing Cygnar?