Goonhammer Miniature Review: Lion El’Jonson

The eternal rumor that has been thrown around for years finally came true, the Lion has decided to remerge after ten thousand years of reading in bed! With that GW has given us the second loyalist primarch as a send-off to 9th, a full six years after Guilliman was roused for a similar end-of-edition event.

As always, we would like to thank Games Workshop for sending copies of the model out to us for review purposes.



Look at all that free real-estate!

One of the first things I noticed about the Lion is that the sprues are surprisingly sparsely populated for a modern 40k model, there’s a good amount of airspace there! This does mean that you shouldn’t encounter too many difficult to cut out pieces, sometimes they really pack them in and make it difficult to get clippers into the model.

The number of bits that go into a small guy is kinda impressive

The next thing that registered with me is that this fellow is rather a lot of parts!  This isn’t too surprising since they broke the model down quite well so as to maximize the level of detail, everything has a pretty good level of greebling so as to make him feel suitably important.

Now, I am a complete freak, so I fully built the model but I am sure for 90% of people subassemblies would be way preferable. This dude has a million layers of things going on, which will probably make it a bit tricky to get to everything perfectly, so if that’s a priority you should probably accept doing the model in a lot of chunks. I ended up just doing him fully assembled, and I found it a really quick and easy build, but your experiences may vary.


Unlike Rockfish I did paint in subassemblies because of all the layers of capes. I found the build mostly straightforward, though the seams in the capes are not great and a bit of a pain. I also ended up leaving the watchers off entirely, as they made the model a little too busy.

I think leaving him off his base is pretty key, getting into the right leg and underside of the lowest levels of robes would be nearly impossible otherwise.



There are a bunch of different directions you could take this model, 30k colours, the green black of the official scheme, and probably a bunch of other directions with the modern schemes for DA. In my case I kinda just winged it while stealing from my current salamanders scheme as much as possible to avoid recreating the wheel.

I started by blinging the crap out of him with the basecoats, there is a lot of retributer on this model in my scheme. Beyond that I left the armor in black primer and glazed on thunderhawk to get the initial colors for it done, then it was steel legion and rakarth on the remaining detail robes and caliban for the cloak. For smaller details the lion pelt got a basecoat of zandri dust, the small steel bits are iron hands, scrolls are morghast bone and the red is mephiston.

Washes help fill things out a bit, the gold gets hit with snakebite leather, the cloak coelia, and the rest of the robes thinned agrax. As for details, the red is druchii, scrolls sepia and then the steel is washed down with turbo strength nuln aka basilicanum. A detail spotter might notice the wax of the seals is shyish purple over the scroll base coat.

The the non metallic highlights fly by pretty quick, I defined the black armor a bit more by picking out edges in russ grey and fenrisian then I went ham on the cloak it was like thirty minutes of sorta slapping on quick glazes of waaagh flesh followed with loren forest as a brightest highlight. The darker robes were glazed by up with steel legion then baneblade brown, the light inner robes where rakarth and pallid wych, and the scrolls followed similarly with the base coat of morghast being brought back in then screaming skull which was also used on the lion pelt.

Funnily enough the red is highlighted mephistion with slowly mixed in amounts of kislev rather then anything more traditional like orange or yellow, I didn’t really have a specific reason for that so if you want something more traditional use flash gitz or something similar instead. The wax on the seals were highlighted with dechala lilac that got a bit of kislev mixed in for a sequence of brighter highlights.

The sword was a bit quick and dirty, its just pro acryl white with ultramarines blue glazed onto it until I got a rough transition, then perimetered with white again.

Lion El’Jonson. Credit: Rockfish
Lion El’Jonson. Credit: Rockfish

Things get a little paint the rest of the owl after that as I did the remainder in one sitting and forgot to take progress shots. The gold is layer highlighted in liberator then stormhost, which is also used on the metal, then I did the lenses in our normal technique using khorne, wazdakka, wild rider, fire dragon, flash gitz and white. I will warn you that theres no way around this head being a little awkward to get to the lenses just because of the molded on hood.

Then it was just basing! I have been using zandri dust as the main colour washed sepia, then there is some rusty bits that are just a couple of coats of typhus drybrushed skrag, and the statue which is mechanicus grey washed basilicanum and drybrushed the base coat and dawnstone.

After that its a varnish of vallejo premium air matte, followed by tying all the basing bits and the feet together with a soft application of model air yellow brown with the airbrush and throwing on an assortment of gamers grass tufts and you are done!


The Lion. Credit: Jack Hunter

I wanted to get the armor to something like the official greenish black used by ‘Eavy Metal for the box art, and decided to go for some desaturated green highlights on the black armor. Over the Pro Acryl Coal Black basecoat, I first applied a broad highlight of Black Green, followed by Camo Green and Faded Green highlights. The green of the cape was a Black Green basecoat, heavily highlighted with Green through the airbrush, and a bit of Bright Pale Green on the edges. The rest of the capes were done in Golden Brown with highlights in Ivory and Bright Ivory. As I see that material being fairly rough, the highlights were done by flicking my brush back and forth across where I want the highlight to get some randomness.

Colin Ward

Seeing as I play a chapter whose Primarch has been dead for 10,000 years, I really had no use for The Lion from an army building or gameplay perspective. When I first looked over the pictures of the model, the elements that really stood out to me were the layered flowing robes. I had been kicking around the idea for a Horus Heresy Thousand Sons project, so I decided to make a Praetor out of the Lion to start the project strong. I was pleasantly surprised by how the model broke down into its constituent parts and lent itself to kitbashing. There were a couple tricky parts, but overall I couldn’t be happier with how the model turned out.

I left the main body of the model and the cloaks largely unchanged. I removed the sculpted Dark Angels iconography from the armor and set about replacing the arms, shoulder pads, backpack, and head. The Thousand Sons Exalted Sorcerers box is an incredible source of bits for 40k and Horus Heresy Thousand Sons. The backpack, headdress, left hand/weapon and the bottom of the staff are all from the Exalted Sorcerers kit. The right hand and staff are a trimmed down Black Staff from 40k Ahriman, and the head is from Primaris Aggressors/Eradicators. The shoulder pads are from Lorgar’s Primarch model, and I thought they looked perfectly studious/occultish for this application. They also were large enough to cover the most problematic area to deal with, his right shoulder/cape.

To paint the model I left off the backpack, the shoulder pads and the large main cloak. I airbrushed the armor first and using both Tamiya tape and liquid mask I protected the armor while airbrushing the white on the capes.

Our Thoughts


Lion El’Jonson. Credit: Rockfish
Lion El’Jonson. Credit: Rockfish

So, I’ll go right out of the gate by saying that I am not like a big DA head or anything, so I am not really attached to the guy from a army point of view but the model is pretty sweet. He is one of those models that you will be continuously be second guessing camera angles when trying to get a shot as he has a lot going on from everywhere you look, which should mean he looks awesome on the table top as no matter what he is doing, he will be looking incredible when doing so.

There is some argument to be made that this means that he is a hell of a commitment to paint, but he is a primarch so unless you are a commission painter or someone with particular tastes it should be a one off marathon.


Despite being a Dark Angels model, I love this guy. He’s got an imposing pose without it being anything too crazy, is fairly straightforward to paint (even if all the details take quite a while), and the mixture of flat areas and details means there are a ton of options for painting him.

I’m also a huge fan of including four different head options. All of them are great.

The Lion. Credit: Jack Hunter

Colin Ward

While I didn’t adhere too closely to the build instructions on the model, I do think it’s a well thought out sculpt. That being said, there were some frustrations. The multi-part capes were difficult to get to line up seamlessly and I ended up needing some putty and sanding to get the capes to where I wanted them. I also found it difficult to get the main cape to line up with the collar/shoulders after painting. I do think the model provides a pretty good base for conversion, though he is enormous compared to other marine models.

Overall I really enjoyed the challenge of the project, but if I had to pick another 40k Primarch model to build and paint, this would be the last model on that list. Abaddon would be on that list before The Lion, honestly. Glad I did it, but I doubt I’ll work with this model again.

Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

While the Lion looks great, I found him to be a frustrating model to work with. There are a lot of cloaks here, and they all have some kind of join that’s going to leave a massive seam if you don’t cover it with greenstuff and sand it down.

Painting under the cape would have been a nightmare so I chose to keep the back cape separate during my priming process, which also made it easy to prime Wraithbone.

In retrospect I wish I’d set the hero rock more toward the flat side; there was barely enough room for the attendant with the scabbard with the positioning I chose and I didn’t realize until it was already way too late in the process to correct it.

The only spot in the process that really caused me trouble was joining the cape up to the body later. This has to be done after you put in the collar and despite taping off the contact points I found there were slight gaps when I put the model together. This was correctable but it did make getting the shoulder pads on a pain in the ass. Not a lot of tolerances on this model.

Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

Overall I’m happy with the result. The Lion was pretty fun to paint, and had a mix of great details and flat surfaces – he’s not overly busy like Guilliman – but I’ve had my fill now of painting bone-colored robes.

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