Saturday, December 30, 2017

A look back: The miniatures of 2017

With 2017 coming to a close, we thought we would write our annual post looking back at the best Games Workshop models of the year. It has been an interesting year, filled with a lot of high profile releases, ones that many people people have eagerly anticipating for quite some time, such as reviving Necromunda and expanding the range of Death Guard models. Unfortunately nearly all of these releases were fraught with significant problems, which put a damper on our excitement for them. Longtime readers of the blog will know we can be very critical of the miniatures that Games Workshop releases, wishing to provide constructive criticism that will continue to push the company to being the best miniature company in the world. Towards this end, more than any of the blog’s previous years, we spent our efforts putting our critiques to action, converting and modifying many of the models that we had issues with. With this post we wanted to review the highlights of the models that Games Workshop released this year, and choose what we think is the best release of the year!

Primaris Space Marines:
Primaris Intercessors

When considering 2017, one cannot really separate it from Space Marines, the Primaris Space Marines, in particular. After years upon years of making anatomically flawed Space Marines, ones without abdomens and the broadest of thigh gaps, Games Workshop surprised the world with the Primaris Space Marines, a new breed of larger and more powerful Astartes, that do not suffer from most of the anatomical woes of their lesser brothers. Not knowing that the Primaris were going to be released, we started the year building our own true-scale Space Marines, trying to correct the flaws we had with the aging desig n of the classic multipart models. We were quite pleased with the result of our efforts, even if they may have ended up a little too large (approaching the size of a Forge World Primarch). The release of the Primaris Space Marine range this year has been a tremendous boon for hobbyists everywhere, allowing people to easily convert better looking and more reasonably scaled Space Marines for their armies and warbands, without needed to resort to more extreme measures like we did for our True-scale creations. These new Space Marines are not without their own issues, particularly with their oversized bolt rifles, but that does little to dull the excitement of their released. Impressively, they did not stop with creating the basic Primaris Intercessors, but also released a host of other excellent models, including a dreadnought that actually looks like it could walk (Redemptor Dreadnought), a tank that is actually prepared for a warzone (Repulsor), and even some mobile fire platforms that look like what the Centurions should have years ago (Aggressors).

Redemptor Dreadnought


Death Guard:
Daemon Primarch Mortarion

The Primaris Space Marines were not the only new releases when Warhammer 40,000 was updated to 8th edition. Finally, after many years of neglect, Nurgle’s favored sons, the Death Guard were treated to a vast array of new models, including newly designed Plague Marines, two units of terminators, a tank, and even their loathsome daemon Primarch Mortarion. While it was great to see one of the factions of Chaos get the support it deserves, the release was plagued with a number of design issues that prevented us from being excited by the majority of the new models. Despite being released alongside the Primaris Space Marines, and being largely the same size of the new defenders of the Imperium, they all still suffer from the terrible anatomy of earlier Space Marine models. Many lack abdomens, though that problem is often obscured by bulbous belly plates. With so much effort going into re-envisioning the Space Marines with an eye towards sensible anatomy, it is hard to look at the new Death Guard without being disappointed. Not wanting to simply complain about these issues, we created a challenge (at the suggestion on Bigbossredskullz) to encourage others (and ourselves) to try their hand at correcting some of the most obvious issues with the new Death Guard models. The result was a series of fantastic models (by equally fantastic hobbyists), and hopefully just the beginning of more thoughtful Death Guard models to come in the future. This is not to say all of the models in the release were a disappoint, with the daemon Primarch Mortarion and the Myphitic Blight-hauler being excellent examples of the the potential of the Death Guard.

Death Guard Myphitic Blight-hauler

Kharadron Overlords:
Arkanaut Company

One of the great things about Age of Sigmar is that the setting that can support virtually anything you can dream up. Things are not bound to a single conventional fantasy world, but rather a series of connected realms. Despite this new freedom, a large majority of model releases for Age of Sigmar have been confined to the Stormcast (the Space Marines of Age of Sigmar) and the Khorne Bloodbound. Some excellent orc (Orruk) models were released, but they did not greatly expand on the imagery of the orc or redefine what they could be. The release of the Kharadron Overlords this year was one of the first to really push a fairly well-established fantasy race (the dwarves) into new and unexplored territory. No longer do dwarves have to be confined to mountain holds, hoarding gold, keeping grudges, and battling goblins. While some of these elements have been maintained, the release of the Kharadron Overlords have taken the dwarves to the sky in steampunk-inspired blimps and airships. While the design of the Overlord is good on the whole, with some delightful airships and neat nautical looking dive (air) suits, their anatomy is quite jarring. The stock models hardly have abdomens, as though their scapulas attach to their pelvises. This makes them look more like eggs with muscular legs attached to the sides of them, rather than dwarves. Like with the Death Guard Challenge, we set about converting one of the dwarves to better fit our own sensibilities (and to look more like cover illustration on the Overlord’s battletome). The result, an entry in Ex Profundis’ Eclipse Contest, looks a lot more natural and believable in our eyes.

Grundstok Gunhauler

Escher Gang

Goliath ganger

The last major release of the year was possibly the most anticipated. After many years of neglect by Games Workshop, Necromunda, the skirmish game of gang warfare, was finally given a proper reboot. Like Blood Bowl the year before, it came complete with modernized rules and new plastic models. Instead of including a vast array of tiered terrain like in the past, it comes with a nice set cardboard tiles representing the underhive. The most exciting aspect of the release, however, was the newly created multipart plastic kits for two of the classic gangs, the steroid-fueled Goliaths, and lithe Eschers. For better or worse, Games Workshop maintained the old gang aesthetic, with bulging muscles and mohawks for the Goliaths and ostentatious swimwear for the Escher gang. Regardless of your feelings for the designs, the models are, on the whole, well sculpted with a lot of options. Unsurprisingly, virtually all of their weapons are comically large, taking away from the overall impact of the characters. Most disappointing, however, is that they did not maintain a consistent scale with these kits and other new GW kits (something which GW has been getting better about, with most human-sized models being scaled to the genestealer cultist models). The Goliaths are larger than Primaris Space Marines, and even more disappointing, the Esher heads are roughly 25% smaller than other similar-sized models. The heads are so small that they even look diminutive on the stock Escher models (although their flamboyant hair tries to hide this). This questionable anatomical choice makes the heads ill-suited for most conversions, which is a major shame, as they are one of the few sources of plastic female heads. Ultimately, we are happy that Necromunda is back and that there are new plastic models, but Games Workshop’s design choices really prevented the release from being something truly special, which is a major blow after waiting so many years for the game’s return.

Blood Bowl:
Blood Bowl Goblins

Although not as high profile as some of the other releases, Blood Bowl had a fantastic year, with some of the only releases that we feel can be assembled without the need of extensive modifications. In 2017, two teams were released, each quite distinct from the other, the diminutive Goblins and the graceful Elven Union team. Unlike the previously released plastic teams, these two are partially multi-part, allowing you to create a team with 12 unique players, without necessitating conversion. The goblin team is delightful, tiny compared to the larger orc team, but still covered in rough armor plates and holding small brass knuckles and punch spikes. They also have incredibly characterful crescent moon helmets that complement their comical goblin physiognomy. Possibly our favorite element of the goblin design is that it combines elements of Brian Nelson’s classic goblins with that of the Ogre Kingdom gnoblars. The Elven Union is the polar opposite, tall and graceful, with dynamic poses that reflect their ability in the game. More androgynous than some of other teams, the Elven Union team is the first to include both male and female players. And although the females breastplates have separately molded cups, that are not pronounced in too hateful of a way. Furthermore, it would not be too difficult to shave them down to create a more androgynous breastplate. The release of these two strong teams this year gives us hope for 2018 and Blood Bowl as a whole!

Blood Bowl Elven Union

Model(s) of the Year:

Primaris Intercessors

We have long been critical of the anatomical concerns of many of Games Workshop’s models, and in 2017, they finally attempted to fix the design flaws of their iconic Space Marines, and in doing so created the Primaris Space Marines. After so many years of ignoring the issues, we figured GW would never change the design, and we would be forced to do it ourselves. We are quite thrilled to have been wrong about this (admittedly the models are not replacing regular Space Marines and are a new creation, the Primaris Space Marines) and, as a result, feel compelled to name the regular “tactical” Primaris marines, the Intercessors, as our models of the year! For the first time ever, hobbyists can easily convert their own “true-scale” Space Marines for small warbands or even larger 40k armies. While the models are not perfect, as we talked about above, they are still excellent and they point towards a bright future of GW updating some of their aging designs (Terminators…).

- Adam, Eric, and Greg Wier


  1. Hard not to choose the primaris intercessors, really! Happy New Year!

    1. Yeah, they are really great models, and ones that work so well for conversions if one is so inclined. Also, Happy New Year to you too!

  2. Considering that you don't seem overly jammed about some of your best of the year entries, I would LOVE to see you do a wall of shame for 2017. Just imagine how lively the discussion in the comments would be! :D

    1. Yeah, that could be fun. We have been considering such a thing but were uncertain about it due to how negative it would be, he he.

  3. Fascinating year with many strong releases. For me it would be hard to overlook the Mechanicum terrain as an absolute favourite. Damn, so many options 😮

    1. That is a good point! That terrain is really nice, and something that has been really helpful towards building landscapes for our models to battle over!