Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fulgrim the Illuminator, Forge World's latest Primarch

Who better to define a Primarch's image then John Blanche? 

The Primarchs have always held a sort of mythic status in my mind, steeped in mystery and conjecture.  An unknowable quantity that was only spoke of in whispers, like all the best elements of Warhammer 40,000.  So when I heard models were being made, I was pretty skeptical, because unless the result was utterly spectacular, it was likely to add a level of finality to these figures that I would rather leave to my own imagination.  But as luck would have it, Forge World gave this herculean task to arguably their best sculptor, Simon Egan.  And the moment Forge World revealed their first Primarch, Angron the Red Angel, I (and I imagine most of you) craved to see the other’s rendered with the same magnificence.  

For as spectacular as Angron is, I was and still am nervous about the models for the remaining Primarchs.  Although the sculptors at Forge World are excellent (baring one notable exception...), I feel that the only sculptor they have that has the ability to do them justice is Egan.  And when Angron took Egan months to sculpt, putting the remaining 18 (if we count both Alpharius and Omegon) in his hands seems like an impossible task.  Obviously, I was excited to hear that Egan was working on their next Primarch model, and that it was none other than the Primarch of the Emperor’s Children, Fulgrim the Illuminator (the Phoenician, the Prefector of Chemos).

For such an important model, I think Forge World took a misstep last week by revealing images of him piecemeal.  The first, revealed in a Black Library advertisement of the Horus Heresy Weekender event, showed only a portion of his torso and his face.  It gives one very little impression of what the overall model will actually look like.  This was made worse by the odd angle that the picture was shot; it makes his head look a bit off-centered from his body, due largely to how bulky his breastplate is and how long his parchment streamers are.  Without his arms and legs, one gets no sense of his actual pose.  This is a shame, since one of the best aspects of the Angron model was the charge he was locked into.

The first image revealed leaves more questions than answers.
As with most Forge World models, his paint job is not particularly good. Virtually all the armour detail is a flat gold above a uniform purple.  The face is the only part that looks painted nicely, with some varied tones.  Interestingly, he was painted to have bags under his eyes.  This gives him a drained look, one that might be a bit at odds with what many think of his character, but I quite like it, as it emphasizes weakness in the midst of a being so focused on perfection.

Shortly after the first picture was released, Forge World revealed another image of Fulgrim (in one of their weekly Newsletters), with the angle slightly changed, giving a better view of his face.  This face was quickly a source of contention amongst many due to how wide his mouth is open (it was suggested that it looks as though it appears that someone is blowing compressed air into his mouth).  I agree that his mouth does look to be open perhaps a bit too wide, I do not think it is as bad as some suggest, and would argue that is one of the best looking faces I have ever seen, from the furrow of his brow to the creases in his cheeks.  Although he could have been depicted with perfect smooth skin and regal beauty, I really like the worn look that Egan achieved and feel it helps capture his wrath while enveloped in combat.  It would be interesting to see Egan sculpt some models that were not yelling (admittedly, his yelling models are probably the best I have seen, and the Warhammer 40,000 universe has no shortage of these, ha ha).  His flowing hair adds a dynamic element to the model that is rarely seen in 40k models (a bald head almost always accompanies the yelling!). I look forward to seeing more pictures to get a better sense of how long and voluminous it is.

At least we can see his face better in this one...
Even though only a small portion of the model was revealed, it is evident that many elements from the model are inspired by previous artwork, particularly a piece done by John Blanche.  Large eagle-wing cresting his right shoulder? Check.  Uncompromisingly long streaming parchments? Check.  Impressive Imperial Aquila adorning his breastplate? Check.  Most of these elements were also captured (in a much inferior state, I think) in Kabuki Miniature’s Phoenix Knight, as part of their Knights of Legend line (a loosely veiled excuse to sculpt all of the Primarchs by a company other than Games Workshop).  For how quickly Games Workshop’s legal team jumps on anything that might infringe on their copyrights, it is amazing how closely Kabuki stuck to Blanche’s concept image, everything from the curved sword to him resting his foot on a derelict female statue.  For a more impressive rendition of Blanche’s work, I suggest you look towards Full Borer’s version, however.

Is it just me, or do these look similar?
Still the best Fulgrim conversion after all these years.
I suppose there is not much to do now but anxiously wait for the rest of the model to be revealed.  I look forward to seeing what is done with his sword, the Blade of Laer, and whether they will include his Volkite Charger, Firebrand, with the model.  With a little luck, more of him will be released this week in Forge World’s newsletter.  If not, the Horus Heresy Weekender is May 18-19, where they claim to be revealing and selling the first batch of him.  If only I lived in the UK...  Regardless, I am counting down the days!  What do you all think of the model thus far?

-Godwyn Fischig

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