Thursday, December 18, 2014

Konrad Curze, the Night Haunter: Impressions

"It is better by far to be an object of fear than of respect, for one is a truth of the soul and the other an illusion of the mind."

In terms of model releases, in the last two years, I have come to look forward to and anticipate one thing above all others, and that is the release of new Primarchs from Forge World.  These models are the distilled vision of each of their respective legions, and some of the most iconic characters in the 41st millenium.  If asked three years ago if I thought these characters, legends in 40k history, could be effectively produced as models, I would have said "no" without question.  How could anyone encapsulate all of the lore and myth that has been cultivated over 20 years since their creation?  Thankfully, I was proven wrong by the work of the incredibly talented Simon Egan (as well as Edgar Skomorowski), who not only harnessed all the creative energy surrounding these characters, but also added some of his own personal vision to the characters.  This year has been a good year for Primarch releases, seeing the release of Horus, Mortarian, and Vulkan.  After Vulkan was unveiled at the Horus Heresy Weekender in May of this year, however, word about the next Primarch was scarce.  It was a painful five months of nothing until Warhammer Fest (Oct 11-12th), where another of the Emperor’s sons was revealed, the King of Terrors, Konrad Curze of the Night Lords.  But even this was only a single cropped image, so the wait continued.  Finally, in the first week of December, the Night Haunter was released and shown to the world in his terrible splendor.

Unlike most of the other Primarchs, Curze was not raised by the human populace of the world that he descended upon.  Instead, he was raised by the seedy, corrupt city of Nostramo Quintus, and his own will and determination.  Despite living in perpetual darkness (from rampant pollution and an endless solar eclipse), and being raised in a crucible of murder, cruelty, and greed, Curze did not become like those around him, and instead chose to bring those criminals to justice.  This pushed him towards progressively more violent vigilante acts, purging the criminal elements from the city.  He quickly became a figure of abject terror, stalking the city, slaughtering anyone who committed any perceived transgressions.  From these grim acts, he became know as the city’s creeping death, a reaper of damned souls, the Night Haunter.  Curze was constantly plagued by portentous dreams and visions, always depicting death, ruin, and fire.  He foresaw the coming of the Emperor, and his eventual death.  These bloody prophecies haunted him, bringing him to the verge of madness, a madness which engrained itself into his Legion, the Night Lords.

The 8th Primarch to come out of Forge World (and the 6th from the hands of Simon Egan), Konrad Curze is every bit as impressive as his brothers, and substantially more terrifying.

Due to his clandestine nature, and focus and stealthy murder, I thought Curze might have armour reminiscent of Fulgrim’s, the lithe and form-fitting armour of an assassin.  However, like Ferrus and Vulkan before him (And Mortarion I guess?), Curze is suited in armour closely resembling what we know as modern power armour, complete with a back-mounted powerpack.  Known as the Nightmare Mantle, this customized suit of artificer armour is covered in thin overlapping segments of ceramite.  These segments are numerous and are overlaid in hard angles, giving the armour a knife-edged look, resembling a skeleton at first glance.  This is accented by the brass ribcage below his breast plate, guarding the more vulnerable cables underneath.  Many of the edges of the armour are rimmed in jagged brass.  A skull decorates his breastplate with a set of outstretched batwings, their fleshy wings an unsettling foil to the feathers that adorn the armour of modern Astartes.  His ankles are massive, housing little shrines to death itself, reapers and skeletal harbingers of doom.  An imposing collar and equally grand hood of ceramite  surround his grim visage, with brazen wings streaking down his back like spines.  His shoulderpads are huge domed pieces of armour, with broad contoured rims.  All of these features make for a chilling figure, but they all pale in comparison to the grizzly trophies he has tacked to his armour.  The lifeless head of one of his victims, with half of its vertebral column and peeling skin, is unceremoniously fastened to his shoulder, next to another severed head.  Additionally, a loincloth of flayed skin hangs from his waist.  None of this prepares one for his revolting mantle of tattered human skin hanging from his back, a patchwork of agonized faces, fastened with fresh skulls.  Egan really outdid himself creating a suit of armour that truly fits the death- and judgement-obsessed figure that is the Night Haunter.

Curze's pose is particularly striking, far more dynamic then the majority of Games Workshop models, rivaling even most of the other Primarchs.

For such a cold, methodical killer, who relishes in the pain he inflicts, it only makes sense that he eschews any firearms, preferring to kill with his hands.  In light of this, his very armour is fashioned into a weapon, with his fingers sharpened into razer talons, ones that could easily shred even the surest armour.  Not willing to settle here, his greaves are set with a pair of vicious lightning claws.  Befitting of the Night Lord’s dark humor, the blades have been given the names Mercy and Forgiveness, two things their Primarch does not condone.  Although not necessarily visible on the model (perhaps strung with his loincloth?), Curze also carries a host of micro-serrated throwing knives.  Known as Widowmakers, these delicate blades were the favored weapons of the assassin-cults of Nostramo.

When removed from his display base, Curze drops much closer to ground level and is more apt for use in game.

No matter how well conceived the rest of a model is, if the face falls short, the entire piece is compromised.  Egan clearly recognizes this and crafted an astoundingly vivid physiognomy for Konrad Curze.  He holds a haunted, vindictive look in his sunken eyes, framed by skin pulled taut against his grim skull.  High cheekbones make his face look elongated and thin, which is then accented by his long and fine hair, matted with sweat.  Together, each facet creates the visage of a desperate, yet principled (albeit incomprehensible principles) killer, one step away from madness.

Simon Egan did a marvelous job capturing the mantic energy in Curze's face, taking extra effort to make his hair look matted and unkempt.

Curze is the first Primarch model depicted on a battlefield that is not littered with Space Marine bodies.  Unlike Angron, Fulgrim, Ferrus, and Vulkan, whom all are surrounded by fallen Astartes from the killing fields of Isstvan III and V, Konrad is stalking through a derelict city having butchered two Solar Auxilia warriors.  Hands down, it is the most gruesome depiction of battle seen with any of the Primarchs, with half of one of the victim's skin peeled off, and the face of the other mutilated beyond recognition.  His pose, cat-like as he quickly stalks up a piece of fallen masonry for another target, only adds to the sinister vignette, giving the model an impressive height that stands far above most models.  Like the other Primarchs, part of the base detaches, so that he is easier to use in games of 30k, leaving the corpses behind in favor of just the fallen stone arch.

At Curze's feet lay the butchered corpses of two Solar Auxilia soldiers, flayed and blooded.

Curze is truly a sight to behold, towering over normal marines. The quality of his sculpt is also in stark contrast to that of the other Night Lord offerings by Forge World.

It is a testament to Simon Egan’s skill as a sculptor, that as each new Primarch figure is released, that I think it is my favorite.  He is able to impart so much energy and character into each, maintaining many hallmarks of Space Marines and Warhammer 40,000, but not limiting himself to them.  Each brings something new to the table, looking visually distinct and evocative, defining their respective Legions.  As 2014 draws to a close, I am considering all the models released over the past 12 months, trying to determine my favorite.  Between the Bolter and Me selected Ferrus Manus as the best model of last year, and again Egan’s Primarchs are strong contenders for 2014.  He released an impressive three this year, Horus, Vulkan, and now Konrad Curze!  One can only imagine he is hard at work on another. Let the speculation and eager anticipation begin!

-Eric Wier


  1. Splendid review of the Night Haunter, Eric. Night Lords come a close second among my favorite traitor legions, right after Black Legion.

    Have you acquired one of the kits? Will we see an unboxing review by you in the future?

  2. Glad you liked the review! The Night Lords are a neat legion. I like that they did not embrace any of the Chaos gods, and dislike mutations.

    I have not acquired Curze yet, but I hope to soon. And when I do, I will be sure to show pictures!