Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Horus Heresy plastics: Cataphractii Terminator Impressions and Resin Comparison

Plastic Cataphractii Terminators!

The Betrayal at Calth was one of Games Workshop's best releases of 2015.  This was largely because it provided plastic versions of many Horus Heresy models that had previously only been available in resin from Forge World.  And while we talked at length about the MKIV tactical kit a few months back, we have seen very little talk about the Cataphractii terminators.  Since we have a bag or two of the resin models kicking around here, we thought it would be worthwhile to compare them with the new plastic models and let you know the strengths of each version!

There are some examples where the resin terminators have extra details not seen in the plastic ones. The leather straps hanging from the shoulder pauldrons on the plastic terminators are missing metal studs on their ends. Additionally, the treading on the feet of the resin terminators is absent on the plastic ones.

In some cases, the plastic terminators actually have better detailing than the resin ones. A good example is the loin cloths. In the resin version the back of the cloth is completely flat. The plastic version shows clear definition between each of the leather straps on the front and the back. 

One of the biggest disadvantage of the plastic castings is that it does not allow for the undercuts that resin does.  As a result, certain elements lack a little of the definition and depth of their resin counterparts. In some instances you should really go in with an x-acto blade and carve out the extra unwanted plastic.

If you are not careful, you can glue the arms on the plastic terminators too high, causing their shoulderpads to run flush with the top of their armor and making them look overly top-heavy. The arms of the resin versions have a peg ensuring that you glue them on correctly, though this is absent on the plastic kit. 

The shoulder pads of the plastic terminators come in two parts that are layered on top of the terminator shoulders.

The biggest advantage of the plastic terminators over the resin ones is the uniformity of the casting seen in the plastic models. The horrendous mold shifts and air bubbles seen on some of the resin casts are completely gone on the plastic version. This means it takes far less time to clean and assemble the plastic versions.

Many of the straight edges seen on the terminator armor are straighter and more consistent on the plastic versions. Frequently, the boxy edges on the resin armor bow in, weirdly resulting in an extremely crisp edge that often gets warped and twisted.

The cabling on the back of the terminator torsos have more definition on the resin versions, making the cables appear to be hanging. On the plastic ones they are recessed a little more and look to be mounted to the back armor. 

Surprisingly the plastic set comes with two unhelmeted heads, both of which are different from the one seen in the resin version. So if you already have some of the resin terminators these will help add some variety to new squads. 

While not coming with all of the available options, the plastic kit comes with an impressive range of weapons including, lighting claws (5 pairs), combi-bolters (5), chainfists (5), powerfists (5), a single power sword, and a heavy flamer (and a grenade harness for the sergeant).

The plastic combi-bolters are much easier to work with than the resin ones and have all of the nice detail seen on the resin ones. Interesting, most of the little rivets seen on the plastic versions are slightly smaller than those seen on the resin ones.

The plastic lightning claws look really nice and do not suffer from warping and miscasting seen on the resin variety. The resin claws are more dynamic poses, while the plastic ones are more uniform and flat.

The heavy flamers look very similar in resin and plastic, the plastic version does add an additional cable supplying the smaller fuel tank.

In the end, I feel most people would be very happy with either the resin or the plastic Cataphractii terminators. But for me, if I was given the choice, I would opt for the plastic ones every time. This is primarily due to the more consistent casting and easier clean-up.  The original Cataphractii terminators do not have enough fine detail to make their casting in resin a necessity. Nearly all of the details seen in the resin models are accurately captured in the plastic counterparts.  At the end of the day, the plastic models will allow me to do whatever I would have done with the resin models, without all the extra struggles that resin entails.

-Adam Wier


  1. That's a great comparison showing just how advanced GW plastic casting is these days. While I've said before I don't like their pricing strategies, I won't talk down their design and production capabilities. This is a great example of a port from resin to plastic working perfectly.

    1. I am glad you liked the comparison! Games Workshop has really come a long way with their plastic kits and casting. It is amazing what they can produce now.

  2. I will go for resin over plastic every time but I am fortunate enough to live only a short walk from Warhammer World in Nottingham so I can exchange any item I am not 100% happy with.

    Also you fail to mention the ease of cutting and re- sculpting and shaping resin allowing better looking customisation with resin and in my opinion if you are prepared to take the time, you can end up with far superior looking models than you will get even from the best of the plastics. I am an old geezer, approaching 50 and have opted for resin from the days when forgeworld first started producing it. If I am honest though the original casts were superior to those of today - the Elysians had virtually any issues what so ever and I have hundreds of them.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Resin models do have a bunch of advantages. It is far easier to cut than metal and even plastic. With a heatgun you can also reshape the materially really easily and effectively. Great to hear you live so close to Warhammer World that you can replace defective models. Here in the USA it takes several weeks to get replacements for any pieces. I have found that often times when I am sent replacement pieces from Forge World they have some new defect on another part of the model... :( Being there in person to get replacements would help tremendously.

      The extra definition and depth afforded by resin models can allow them to look significantly nicer than plastic counterparts. But I feel it largely just comes down to which of the models are sculpted better. I have seen several Forge World kits (some of the space marine armor variants come to mind) that are just not sculpted anywhere near as nicely as similar plastic kits.

      I feel some of the best stuff offered out of Forge World was from years ago. There was a time when Simon Egan sculpted nearly all of the infantry models Forge World released, resulting in some wonderful stuff (Death Korp, Elysians, many now discontinued tyranid creatures, etc). Egan has always been my favorite of Forge World's sculptors. Now nearly all of his efforts over the past few years have been focused on Primarch models (all of which are fantastic). I look forward when he focuses his attention back on the Imperial Guard. :)

  3. Nice comparison. I personally don't have a preference between resin and plastic, other than how easy it is to work with plastic, but owning some FW Cataphractii pieces, and having seen the BaC terminators in-store, the plastic ones did look a little...soft, maybe? It's minor, but the crispness of detail in resin really does come through enough in places to make the plastic versions look a little rounder and mushy. I'm not convinced that the difference is enough to place the value of one over the other any more definitively than what I'm willing to pay for a piece, though.

    1. Thank you for the comments and the thoughts. The plastic Cataphractii terminators certainly do have softer details, lacking some of the depth and definition of their resin counterparts. Interestingly in some cases on these terminators, this lack of definition results in armor sections that are a little broader (possibly most evident on their arms) that I think fits better with the overall look and feel of terminators. So in the end I think both versions have some small details which look better than their counterparts, however most of them are only noticeable if you are really detail oriented.

      I still have several squads worth of the resin ones so I will probably be using them for most of my conversion work. :)

  4. Thanks for the excellent comparison! For me, having these available in plastic is the sole reason for working with Cataphractii in the first place, as I am just not that fond of resin as a material. That said, it's good to know they seem to be holding up in the face of their resin kin. However, there is one shortcoming in the kit that seems really aggravating to me, and that is the lack of an option for just giving the Terminators a CC weapon like a sword or an axe in their off-hand (that one power sword notwithstanding): For my World Eaters, I would love to be able to outfit at least some of the Cataphractii with a weapon that isn't some sort of fist, and the kit really doesn't allow for that without quite a bit of cutting, which I think is a bit of a missed opportunity. And purchasing some resin Justaerin arms off ebay just seems slightly backwards when we already have the base models available in plastic, doesn't it? ;)

    The other thing that I realised yet again while reading your comparison is that I am not 100% happy with the general design of the Cataphractii models: Some of my favourite Cataphractii illustrations from Visions of Heresy, including the very fist sketch by John Blanche, make them look quite a bit more menacing and slightly less bland than the finished models -- and I dearly miss that huge topknot and wish the "official" design would have kept that part ;)

    Anyway, bringing these closer to my vision of the ideal Cataphractii should be a fun endeavour! :)

    1. I am glad you found the comparison helpful! I too am very pleased they made some plastic versions of the terminators; resin can be a pain to work with (I really hate all the mold shifts...).

      It is a shame they did not include other standard close combat weapons with the kit like chain-axes and additional power swords. Those are a mainstay in the armament of terminators in the Horus Heresy Era. I suppose they only wanted to give you the options that are immediately usable in both Horus Heresy and Warhammer 40k. I suppose it opens up conversion opportunities; sort of? Ha ha

      I also agree with you about the general design of the Cataphractii terminators. They are not nearly as menacing and interesting looking as that first sketch by Blanche. They are very uniform and crisp looking, which I suppose sort of fits with the 'Legion' mentality.

      Good luck converting some!