Huge thanks to Games Workshop for providing our team with a copy of The Blacktalons for review.
When I was watching Blacktalon on Warhammer+, I kept thinking “this little D&D party would make for a great Warcry warband or something.” Just a few months later, I got my wish. While they don’t (at the moment) have Warcry rules, the Blacktalons have found their way from my TV to my painting table. Included here are the group’s namesake, Neave Blacktalon, with her twin axes and heroic pose. At her flanks are Hendrick, holding a short sword that has some nefarious connotations on the show, Shakana, an aloof huntress with her huge crossbow, and the giant Rostus Oxenhammer. I’ll give you three guesses as to who that is, but the hint’s in the name. Last is the mysterious Soulscryer Lorai, an Idoneth wizard rounding out the party, who generally takes more of a support role on the show. This bunch arrived in a somewhat classy black box with Blacktalon branding instead of your typical AoS squad box, which made this group of adventurers feel that much more special.
In a first for a GW model kit, each character is labeled on the sprue, save for Lorai, who is alone on her own, unlabeled sprue. Each character’s bits are tightly grouped together, which makes locating their pieces a breeze. The only options available are heads – bare or helmeted for Neave, Hendrix, and Rostus, while Shakana can be built with her hood up or down. As these are specific named characters and not generic heroes, I’m absolutely fine with the lack of options. I also wouldn’t want to put the helmets on, because while they look good, they’re pretty much the same as any other Stormcast helmets out there. Instead, I was more than happy to use the helmetless heads, which capture the likenesses of these characters beautifully.
Building these models is largely an exercise in putting together odd-looking Puzz 3D bits in a build process reminiscent of a Warhammer Underworlds warband. Moldlines are infrequent, and generally well hidden or are easy to clean up. What few there are are never on highly detailed areas, and it makes for an easy cleanup process. There are a few visible seams on Shakana’s cape and a weird butt seam on Hendrix, but that’s covered by his own cape. Cutting out and cleaning his broadsword is also a little tricky, as shaving the spurs off the pommel involves applying pressure on a fairly fragile area. Rostus is the easiest of the crew to build, as he’s roughly Annihilator-sized and doesn’t have much in the way of spindly bits. It would have been nice if his tattoos were sculpted on, but his smug expression is fantastic. Lastly, Lorai’s instructions want you to build the model and attendant scenery then stick her onto the base. Instead, I’d recommend going backwards, gluing her tree to the base first then building her there. Having to push down on a thin, spindly model to force it into a base wracked no fewer than one of my nerves.
Also you may have noticed by now, but each of these models has a lavishly detailed base. I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, though I think they’re neat. The crew can largely be built without their bases if you wanted, and with a little knife work you could cut the statue head out from under Neave. Half of one of Shakana’s feet are integrated into her base and you’d be hard pressed to separate Lorai from her Hero Tree, but with some work you could get this crew on more neutral bases if you’d like. I’ll be painting mine to match my existing basing, then add some of my own basing materials.
Despite being a specific group of characters from the Hammers of Sigmar Stormhost, I painted this group in the colors of my own Stormhost, The Undying Phalanx. For the most part, these characters have open poses that are fairly easy to work around, though they almost all have some hidden doodads in their cloaks you’ll have to contend with. Hendrick’s shortsword sheath, Neave’s hand crossbow, and about half of Shakana’s model are all going to require some work to get to. Due to the way these models are built, subassemblies aren’t really an option, so it’ll be up to you how much work you want to put in on those hidden details. The details are crisp as hell though, and the faces in particular are fantastic, wonderfully capturing their likenesses from the show. I also love the intricate little details on Lorai’s armor. She’s my first Idoneth model, and I get the appeal. She gave me the opportunity to come up with a similarly distinctive scheme for an Idoneth model, which was something I never really thought I’d do.
After working through these models for some time, I would recommend finding a way to mount them temporarily on scrap bases so you can get into their cloaks. Shakana is just going to have to deal with some primer black parts on the interior of her cloak, because I ain’t getting a brush in there. Otherwise, working around the trees, fish, and other doodads is going to be more trouble than it could be.
There are a load of textures on these models you’ll need to find solutions for, but I welcomed the challenge. The armor, cloth, leather, steel, and skin were all things I’d worked through previously in my Stormcast army, and are the obvious places to start. However, all the little critters, furs, and sculpted basing meant I had to figure out what kind of bird I wanted to paint, how I’d tackle the vines and stone underneath the crew, and so on. These are great places to just experiment and reinforce the themes of your warband. As mine are representing a somewhat grounded take on Ghyran, the Realm of Life, I opted for mossy tones and naturalistic fur and feather patterns. I also individually highlighted all the strands of fur and feathers, which I can’t in all good conscience recommend. I like how it looks more than drybrushing, but you needn’t share my affliction.
Whilst painting, I ran into a few issues – some fairly minor but annoying, others puzzling. First, Neave’s spiked brooch thing covers up one of her eyes, making that spot nearly impossible to hit with a paintbrush. Second is also on Neave, as the sides of her torso don’t do a great job distinguishing between armor and cloth, and I never quite knew where one ended and the other began. Last is on her big pal Oxenhammer and his messed up Johnny Tremain hand. I can’t quite grok what I’m looking at here. I clearly missed a nub during assembly, but the thumb and heel of the hand are all melty and weird. On the other, less melty hand, I came to greatly appreciate his sleeveless platemail and his head, which really looks like Handsome Squidward to my Internet-poisoned brain.
Final Thoughts, Parting Shots, and What Have You
Of all the Warhammer+ characters to bring to the tabletop, there really was no other option. Any given one-off randos from Hammer and Bolter wouldn’t have the brand recognition, the crew from Angels of Death don’t look all too different from a normal Blood Angels Tactical Squad, and the excellent Pariah Nexus stars some pretty typical looking characters as well. Barring a Heroic Scale Nick Bayton, this was the best option out there, and I’m glad it’s what they went with. The kit itself is largely lovely, and whilst I wish I approached painting it slightly differently, I generally had a good time working with it. Learn from my mistakes, paint the models separately from their bases, and have a grand ol’ time working on this band of heroes.
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