Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Roboute Guilliman: the Avenging Son Impressions

‘A capacity for the theoretical is admirable, but a stomach for the practical is priceless.’

As the dust settles from the grand reopening of Warhammer World last weekend, there is a lot to be excited about. The excitement primarily stems from the models that Forge World unveiled, including the long awaited, and utterly cyclopean, Warlord Titan!  But this post is focusing on another God of War that was revealed to the world this weekend. Although only a fraction of the size of the Warlord, this next model is no less mighty, perfectly defining the Emperor’s noble ambitions at the onset of the Great Crusade. I am speaking of course of the next primarch from Forge World, Roboute Guilliman the Avenging Son of the XIII Legion (thanks Recalcitrant Daze for the excellent pictures from the event!).

Sculpting the Primarchs was probably the most ambitious decision that Forge World has ever undertaken.  Each represents the collective spirit of one of the founding Space Marine Legions, Games Workshop’s most prolific and substantial creations.  Trying to distill each Legion into its base, most critical components is a massive undertaking, building on concepts and ideas that have occupied peoples’ imaginations since Warhammer 40k was created. I believe the only reason that FW attempted to create these living icons was because of the incredible sculpting talent of their own Simon Egan, one of the best sculptors and visionaries of model soldiers in the world. At the moment, Egan has sculpted an amazing 7 Primarchs, each one seemingly more impressive than the last. Like any master artist, although Egan takes elements from everywhere, heavily incorporating iconography and imagery from other 40k models and artwork, he infuses his own unique vision into the models he creates.  Rather than taking a preexisting model to modify for his works, he creates each from the ground up (no stock plasma pistols or powerfist here).  Because of this, everything he creates is unique, yet familiar at the same time. One of the coolest aspects of the Primarchs he has created is how each represents a different temperament towards warfare, from the bloodthirsty fanaticism of Angron, to the stoic fury of Ferrus Manus. With Guilliman, Egan effectively makes a departure from the more bellicose Primarchs he created earlier, and makes the first true warrior-king, a conqueror certainly, but first and foremost a Statesman, and a paragon of justice. Every subtle detail on the model emphasizes Guilliman’s conviction that Space Marines would eventually have to transition into planetary leaders and rulers once war was over, and as such he had them train in all manner of exercises.  All aspects of the model point towards this notion, from his regal pose, to his base not being comprised of a warzone, but a marble dais from which he can address an army or a courtroom.

Guilliman has some of the most formidable and impressive power armour in all the Imperium.

It is hard to talk about Guilliman without marveling over his fantastically ornate armor (detailed without looking gaudy and tacked on). Like Vulkan and Ferrus, his armor resembles the classic space marine battle-plate, complete with a traditional powerpack and domed shoulderpads (although the pads are double layered, speaking to the incredible craftsmen and protection seen in the armour). The entire suit of armour has a real Roman flair, from the leather pteruges hanging at his waist and shoulders, to the subtle styling of the plates to look like muscles (but nowhere near as in your face as that seen on the Blood Angels).  You can still see the traditional cabling present beneath stylized ab muscles. Present on the center of his breastplate is a majestic single-headed eagle, perched atop some scrollwork with the Ultramarine U.  All of this incredibly wrought armour would be undermined if Guilliman’s pose was lacking, however. Thankfully, Simon Egan has done a fantastic job of posing Guilliman.  Although the pose looks mundane at first glance, there is actually a lot of subtle motion in the model. Tall and proud, he shifts his weight slightly forward with the sword he has just drawn, as he gazes purposefully over those he is addressing.

Guilliman's pose is surprisingly dynamic, despite not being in the heat of battle.

Another area Egan excelled with when creating Guilliman was in the creation of his weapons. All are well sized. His powerfist is not massive, with his fingers articulately wrapped around the scabbard of his sword.  Although subtle, this act of holding his scabbard in the iron grip of his fist, speaks to Guilliman’s incredible dexterity and precision. He can manage his extreme strength flawlessly, just  as he strives to be in control of all things. His sword, like his armour, maintains the Roman theme, a short double edged blade, reminiscent to that of a gladius. The smaller, reserved nature of the blade really keeps the focus of the model on the character himself and the scene that is unfolding.  It also emphasizes Guilliman’s view that he is not above those he rules.  He is brandishing a blade that could conceivably be used by those in the Imperial army, rather than some massive relic of untold, frightening power.

Few models in 40k wielding a sword actually have the scabbard to go with it, bravo!

Just like all of the other Primarch models, Guilliman comes complete with an impressive scenic base.  Interestingly (and fittingly), Guilliman joins Lorgar as the only other Primarch model that is not depicted on the battlefield.  Unlike the religious/ritualistic temple setting of Lorgar, Guilliman stands proudly on a marble dais on one of the planets under his watchful rule. It is a nice change of pace, and one that seems perfect for a Primarch so fixated on a future without war. Etched into the marble are his legacy, the notable planets from his kingdom of Ultramar.

No Primarch would be complete without an impressive cape!

Ultimately, the soul of every model is solidified in the face of the miniature. It makes or breaks a figure, because it is our window into the character’s hopes, dreams, temptations, fears, and apprehensions. And Egan again shows how well he understands this, creating an expressive face and physiognomy for Guilliman. His features are noble and broad, with a chin that seems to have been chiseled from the marble he is standing upon.  This skin looks paper-thin, holding the weight of Ultramar and ultimately the entire Imperium, in the furrows in this brow.  His lips pursed, internalizing the grief of Calth and failure of the Great Crusade, ready to address those before him. Rather than the barely contained rage seen with his brothers, he seems cool and collected, convinced of the nobility of his path. His close cropped hair looks practical, and is a really nice touch, different from the ubiquitous shaven heads of the Astartes.

Once again Simon Egan shows that he is truly at the top of his craft.  Guilliman is arguably his best yet (he is apparently Egan’s favorite thus far), a remarkable thing to say when he has created such fantastics models with Ferrus Manus, Vulkan, and Horus. With 7 primarchs in, he shows no sign of stopping, with rumors that he is working on Alpharius and Dorn. More then anything else in this hobby, I look forward to seeing Egan’s new creations. In a time where GW values their artists less and less, populating their codices with photoshopped versions of past work and removing the artist’s names from the credits, Egan seems unique not relying on computers or creating models that are copies of those that came before. Instead, he taps into his own creativity, not limiting himself to the common tropes of Warhammer 40k, and creates models as he sees fit.  To me he is the Karl Kopinski of sculptors, and I really cannot think of higher praise.  Glory to Ultramar!

-Eric Wier


  1. I love these reviews - you see so much more deeply into a mini than I would otherwise without having read these posts.

    I am still not onboard with this mini as much as I was with Angron, Fulgrim and Ferrus who look the part of warring super-generals. The others, as stand alone models are themselves beautiful, but are lacking to me by not being in a 'war movie' scene tied to their legions efforts in either the original Istvaan fight (where relevant) or subsequent Primarch smash - ie Guilliman and Lorgar, or Mortarian and Khan, Lion and Kurze etc.

    Horus, Lorgar and now Guilliman are the most stand alone given their posing on non-fighty scenic bases. Guilliman in particular I have described to my group as just a big Marine, which in a way is fitting being the author of what is to come, and as you say, not setting himself too far above or away from his sons - for whom he wants to be an example and model in a post-war phase.

    The model whilst undoubtedly beautiful, does not capture the Primarch essence like some of the earlier pieces did, or like Horus has who is in a similarly regal pose, but exudes more dynamism due to his obvious size etc - maybe its just the scale shots of Guilliman haven't really sold to me how large a model he is.

    1. I am glad you enjoy the reviews! They are some of my favorite posts to write; it is fun getting so wrapped up in a model, and few excite me as much as these Primarch figures.

      It would have been pretty neat if each was depicted in a relevant dual with another Primarch (Ferrus and Fulgrim). I do see what you mean by him being dull in comparison to those in battle, but I sort of like the change of pace. I also feel the pose is better then the classic GW "i'm standing here" pose, although they are similar.

      It would be helpful to see him in comparison to some other models, the other Primarchs and other space marines, just to see the size difference. Ultimately, I am impressed at how awesome Egan was able to make a "standard" suit of power armor.

    2. Will this ever be released on the Forgeworld website? Or do i have to buy him on Ebay?

    3. I imagine he will go up on the webstore in a week or two. They finally put Sigismund up last week, so I think he will be soon. I cannot wait for he to go on sale too!