Once again, we are back at that part of the edition where we start to see model releases for the two main factions taking to the front of the lore push. As ever, we know Marines are on their way, but for now, we have the foes leading the charge as Tyranids get some well-earned model refreshes. Before we get into talking about the models that have made their way onto the desks of our painters we would like to thank Games Workshop for sending us this round of preview models for review.
The Hivemind Overflows
While this particular release only has three brand-new units, including both Norn builds, there is a hefty selection of refreshed units to be found emerging from the spawning pools. Before we get into seeing how well GW has addressed the classic issue of Hormagaunts requiring lead weights to remain upright and Genestealers clustering themselves into knots of plastic let’s take a look at how the more substantial critters crash their way onto the table!
Rockfish: Well hello there big friendo, aren’t you wonderfully brutal and brainy? Every army release can do with a substantial model to give it a nice bit of oomph, and this appears to be the Tyranids answer to that! This is a continuation of the body plan that nid models from the Hive Tyrant down to the humble warrior often share, bipedal with the rest of the limbs devoted to melee murder. It does make its predecessors look rather on the small side as, while not being the largest model of the Tyranid range, its standing at a substantial 14cm (5.5 inches) tall on a 100mm base. In this build of the kit it is armed a rather substantial collection of brains instead of harpoons and giant toxin injectors of the Assimilator, although thanks to part reuse between the two builds the Emissary technically has more substantial primary limbs. (Curiously, if you go off the nid body plan its implied the talons could be a pair of separate critters like the two back brains!)
The kit is about what you would expect out of a nice modern build, everything goes together well and is wonderfully detailed but don’t expect any options for customizations. There is a center torso piece which would have the model stand in a slightly different pose that I believe is intended for the alternative unit build, it might work with the Emissary nevertheless. This is going to make the hero rock repeating across the multiple models particularly egregious as it is very distinctive, but at the same time the feet aren’t a part of the base making it fairly safe to figure out some alternative object for it to stand upon. (A fallen dreadnought or half a marine vehicle is always a classic!)
Calling back to the topic of options, you can of course assemble this kit as the Assimilator which I would expect the experience should be equally pleasant to build, but given I had but the one copy I can’t say anything to the experience. It will be of about the same scale and visual impact on the board of course, the actual part differentiation between the models is remarkably small, merely twelve not particularly large pieces remain after building the Emissary. (A head, back carapace bit, two lower limbs and some smaller detail parts are all that remain on the sprue.)
It’s rather impressive how much model GW was able to get out of three ‘half’ size sprues, particularly once you see that the Genestealers take up a similar footprint!
Pendulin: Simply put, this model rules. Our pictures will do the heavy lifting of telling you how awesome it looks, but what the pictures don’t tell you is how pleasant this model is to assemble. That being said I do have two small complaints from assembling it, which I’ll get to.
All the gates on the sprue are well-placed and out of the way, and the sprue lines are similarly easy to clean up. But what really stood out to me when building it are how well designed the joints are. The big stabby arms are something like 5 or 6 different pieces of plastic. But each of those pieces fit together in a way that requires no work to align, and doesn’t need any cleanup afterward. Drop of glue, push together, and you’re done. The legs also fit together well, and you can tell the whole model was designed with ease-of-assembly in mind. Hats off to Games Workshop for this.
I did mention two complaints and, though they’re minor, I would like to point them out. First being that there’s a joint right in the middle of the tail. I get that you can’t really have a part that long and swoopy as a single piece of plastic, but it did mean I had to spend a chunk of time with razor, sprue goo, and green stuff smoothing that out. It’s relatively easy to clean up, but if you don’t spend the time doing so, be prepared for a big ol’ vertical line halfway down the tail.
The other complaint I had was even more minor, and might even be due to my own dumb self. I subassembled the model and painted it in three parts: the base, the body, and the head (something I’d absolutely recommend to anyone building this model). When everything was done, I was able to stand the body on the base with just a little bit of fiddling, nothing of note. But no matter how I adjusted the head, it never really felt like it was sitting on the body properly. In the end, I think I got it correct, but I’m not entirely sure. However, the connection from neck to head is buried behind the rib cage, so even if I misaligned it, the joint is hidden and more than strong enough to be a permanent.
For me to have only two minor complains about a model this large and stunning is high praise. It simply rules.
Rockfish: GW decided to go hard with this guy, and it sure paid off! Ole Leapy is standing right at the front of the crowd of highly detailed and memorable hero characters that have been at the forefront of every major release in the last few years, with every angle carefully considered to provide robust and plentiful visual interest while staying just this side of the too busy line.
Honestly, it’s a kit that’s rather impressive on the build too, while it’s got a decently high number of pieces for one bug with delusions of grandeur, everything goes together smoothly with a minimum of fuss or cleaning. I did find the model was a little awkward when trying to get it to stay on the scenic base, the contact points are pretty small and lack clean indexing so you might run into troubles if you’re inclined towards subassemblies.
It’s worth mentioning they are far larger then you might expect, with the tip of the top talon reaching all the way up to being the same height as the Norn at around 14cm (5.5 inches). Quite the glow up from a small resin model!
Rockfish: In an odd way this is probably the most disappointing kit of this release for me, but not because of poor design or for looking bad, far from it! It’s a wonderful flavorful model, but it’s also a classic super distinctive monopose character. Given that we can reasonably expect to see trios of this thing turn up in comp, the lack of build options is going to get repetitive, which is a slight letdown.
I do quite like how dense of a combination of aesthetics the model has, it probably has the most different features of anything in the Tyranids range. The talon limbs go very hard on an insectile look with their chitinous tube shapes, as much as people compare Tyranids to bugs, most of them aren’t quite this extreme.
The Neuro also shares Deathleapers new murder ponytail emerging from the back of its head, along with the eyeless brain encrusted of something like a Zoanthrope and the betentacled visage of a Lictor. As with the upper half of the model particularly pushing a certain subset of the ‘Nid range, the lower section in turn reminds me of some of the more martial units as it strides forth with the cloven feet of many a larger bug even as a long Ravener like tail trails behind.
Pendulin: Love me a murder ponytail, and love me a Neurolictor.
I get the complaint about it being an distinctive monopose character. If you have multiple of these in your army, it will absolutely look copy-and-paste’d. But that’s a small price to pay for how extremely cool it is.
When looking at the different Tyranids in this release wave, this is the one that interested me the most. Like all the other Tyranids I’ve painted recently, I gave it the same blended color gradients. And I knew that the long, curled, swooping tail and thin praying mantis-style arms would make those gradients pop.
You’d expect that a model with such a twisted and curvy pose to have a lot of areas that are hard to paint – places where an arm or leg blocks the brush. But there was only one part I found a bit tricky to paint: the left thigh, right below and behind the mouth tentacles. Even then, it really wasn’t too bad, and certainly a lot better than other similarly complicated models I’ve painted in the past.
Rockfish: If anything in the last few years has shown the kind of technical design knowledge GW has been cultivating, its this kit. They have managed to get three entirely distinct poses with their own hero rocks all without an absolute glut of leftover parts like they might have in years gone by. They’ve accomplished this with the use of small connector pieces between the main parts and a rather impressive shoulder joint hidden away within the torso of the model, along with a handful of extra limbs and basing pieces.
While this does mean that the model has rather a high piece count, I think it’s worth it to end up with being able to get your Ro3 maximum models without having a single one identical. Given the collection of joining pieces doing the work and the various legs, there should be a bunch of neat poses that could be assembled beyond the official three!
Visually, this is basically what you would expect from a modernized lictor, with the face tentacles and a pair of big talon arms returning from the classic resin model now in crisp plastic. While the pose most invocative of the older resin is perhaps a bit basic, each of the poses offered in the instructions looks good with the latter two being particularly dynamic.
Lictor. Credit: RockfishIn some ways the quality of the model leaves little to talk, about as there aren’t really any surprises to be found here. You’ll find a satisfying kit that makes you want to pick up extras just to get a little menagerie of unique infiltrators, but also not necessarily something you will get overly stoked about unless you are particularly into the wonders of modern plastic injection.
Pendulin: I’ve been craving a new plastic Lictor for years now. But despite this being an absolute massive improvement over the old version, I think the rest of the models in this release wave overshadow it. This isn’t a complaint about the Lictor, it’s a solid kit. But the rest of the release wave is staggeringly cool, whereas this is only standard levels of cool.
This model does have a standout feature, though, and that’s the different pose variations. The fact you can get such wildly different poses, just by swapping around a handful of connecting pieces, shows that a lot of thought was put into designing this kit. I would note that some of the connectors, specifically the “ball” that goes in the shoulder socket, have some extremely specific positioning. Pay close attention to the instructions if want yours to precisely match whichever variant you pick.
Rockfish: Gone are the days of weird little fat ork-like resin blobs making their way out of the woodwork to cause inevitable competitive meta issues, now we are on the time of big and real spider friends causing meta issues. I think it’s hard to argue that this is by far the most extensive redesign of any of the existing models in this release, while Deathleaper has gotten a huge glow-up, they are still ultimately a model that follows on from the previous iteration. Whereas for the ‘Vores, GW has clearly recognized that they deserved a complete redesign from scratch, shifting to a more arthropod-esque body plan with the weapon mounted above like the insectile version of a howdah. Something I will mention is that this model takes up a lot more space then the previous version, entirely filling a 60mm base which makes it retaining the infantry keyword of the previous iteration quite hilarious.
While you can’t expect to get variety in weapon poising out of the box with this kit, you do get a few different leg options which should prevent the models from looking too monotonous if you are taking multiples. I will warn you that I found the legs to be a little awkward, they didn’t quite index as securely as I would prefer leading to the model attempting to droop a few times. As these things go that is a relatively minor complaint, with the rest of the kit being as good as you might expect from a modern GW model.
I would like to call out that the Biovores gun essentially just being a separate critter hitching a ride on the spider part is adorable.
Rockfish: Probably the perfect example of a modernized kit, the refreshed ‘Gaunts are quick and simple to build with a pretty similar piece-per-model count to the old plastic version while managing to reach new heights of dynamism in the posing. (Without sacrificing stability either! I haven’t had any fall over in my time working with them thus far.) Having done my share of the old kit and other GW model refreshes I wasn’t going to be surprised if they had made each gaunt a veritable puzzle, so this was a breath of fresh air.
The build just works to the point where all you would have to do is make your way through the sprues counting up, and before you know it, you will find yourself with a set of nice-looking bugs. While outside of some head choices being shown in the instructions GW doesn’t mention much in the way of options, but I suspect that the arms and heads are interchangeable as it looks like the sockets and joints are the same across the different bodies. This should let you mix and match to keep your horde looking fresh, but unfortunatly I forgot to test if it actually works. (Oops!)
Rockfish: This kit is genuinely one of the most amusing ways that Games Workshop could have possibly handled refreshing ‘Stealers. They are beautiful dynamic models with a full set of alt heads for Ymgarl fans, with every single stealer having a perfect balance of being unique without being repetitive if you have duplicates. But…
They are still just as much like a barrel of monkeys as ever and the sprue is genuinely insane! These models would probably overhang on a 50mm base let alone the 32s they are shipped with, but honestly, even with the way you are going to lose your mind hunting down bits across all three half sprues there really isn’t enough to actually dislike the kit. It’s probably going to be great to make jokes about how they are going to suffer some of the same issues as a two-decade-old set of model, but the they are good enough that those issues are easy to overlook.
The quality jump is definitely worth the pain of replacing your horde of Genestealers that seemed to have been included in every random value box for years, and with them coming in neat blocks of ten its not even as much as a pain as it would have been before. I will mention as a closing note that like the Hormagaunts, GW was kind enough to keep the parts numbering mostly liner, so you can feasibly build the kit with just the sprues even if it were lacking instructions.
That doesn’t excuse them making the classic move of separating the models across sprues, particularly in the face of the Hormagaunts getting nicely clustered pieces. I suppose it could be worse in that they mostly at least put pairs of limbs together rather just scattering stuff randomly, but that’s kinda damning by faint praise.
Pendulin: Base sizes are merely a suggestion for Genestealers. Gonna plant one solid foot on the 32mm base, and then claw at the air six feet away.
These are the models I was most surprised by. I wasn’t expecting a lot; a Genestealer is a Genestealer. But oh man, these are awesome. Like all the rest of the modern Tyranids, they’re easy to build, easy to paint, blah blah blah. But the sculpts and poses for these models are absolutely fantastic.
Games Workshop could have phoned it in on this kit. The design of Genestealers hasn’t fundamentally changed over the last 30 years, especially compared to a lot of the other Tyranid models from ye olde times (I’m looking at you, the original Tyranid Warrior models). But these Genestealers feel every bit as modern as anything else in the Tyranid range.
And Rockfish isn’t kidding about the sprue being a work of madness. Towards the end of building the kit, I felt like I could start seeing the pattern. This arm from this sprue, that leg from that. These heads from here, and those there. Strange colours danced before my eyes, that alien and undimensioned rainbow of cryptic plastic from the well. I would hate to think of these Genestealers as the grey, twisted, brittle monstrosities which persist more and more in troubling my sleep.
Ten out of ten. Would recommend.
Rockfish: While I would have liked to see a couple more kits refreshed as the Ravener and Carnifex kits are both showing their age, this group really pulls Tyranids to the top of the heap when considering GW factions from the perspective of model quality. With the Red Terror leaving the army last edition, this also kills off the last of the finecast lurking in amongst the Tyranid offerings and gets us past the core infantry being rather poor builds that really suffered from stability issues.
There’s some technical curiosities to be found here in that we can see the full gambit of GW modern design. At one end of the spectrum you can find the Norn and Neurolictor are similar to releases you might have seen in eighth, excellent models but not really that surprising and lacking in pose options. The other is going absolutely buck wild and producing marvels of engineering with more pieces then god, as represented by Deathleaper and the new Lictor kit. Of course its worth considering that this does really show how far GW has come since when I started the hobby when I am saying a kit as good as the Norn Emissary is basically the baseline!
Pendulin: If the Norn Emissary is your baseline, then this latest wave of Tyranids is a massive leap forward in both design and aesthetics. These kits are fast to build, fun to paint, and look downright awesome.
I don’t really need to sell you on these, do I? I absolutely love giant ravenous bugs, and that makes me the target audience for these models. If you’ve made it this deep into our review, then you’re in that audience too. So I’ll leave this review with a simple truth, from one bug appreciator to another:
I like big bugs and I cannot lie.