Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ride or die. Or both.

It's that time again, the time it'd be proper to update. And there is stuff to see and comment upon!

I'm finally done with the Blood Knights, or, as I like to call them, the Knights of the Blood Keep. While I semi-like the design and the whole idea behind these models, the casts themselves are an awful pain to work with. The amount of flash, miscast and downright error in the manufacturing process is simply ridiculous. At times I wondered how in the hell these models made it into retail sale - I'm talking faces cast so badly not to have any facial details to speak of! I don't have any photos as proof, but please take my word for it - seek alternative models if you include the Blood Knights in your armies (and why wouldn't you?).

When you look at the Blood Knights, it seems that someone had a solid idea on how he or she wanted them to look, but somewhere along the way that idea got warped into what was actually released. I mean, just look at them - they are so much more like Chaos followers than Blood Dragon vampires. Yes, the armor is there, the omnipresent bat wing motifs as well, but still... terribly Chaosy. Not that Chaos is wrong (it is, but only in 40k ) , but this is not a Chaos army to begin with.

Besides, what really ground my gears was that the respective bodies are only supposed to fit on their respective horse models. What you get as a result is every unit looking roughly the same, as the bodies themselves have only minor variation to them. This is fine as long as you only plan on havin a single, five- or six-model-strong unit. But when you want more than one, or are planning something as simple as adding a second rank I have bad news for you.

The thing I did was to order a rank-and-file knight and swap its horse with the trumpeter's one. That way, while still stuck with a duplicate horse in a five-man unit, I preserve some degree of variety. The leftover horse will be used as a mount for my vampire lord.

Whose bright idea was to have the knights wearing arrows on their pauldrons is beyond me...

The models are full-metal, something I used to adore up to a point. When I set the finished five on a metal movement tray I realised just how heavy the unit is. If you ever field the Blood Knights in a unit of more than five or six, I think it'd be wise to make a separate carrying equipment just for them.

Getting back to variety, I'm stumped as to why they would not include more horse models. Just one would do - instead of the prancing pony you see on the left. I guess the idea was to make the model more dynamic... well, it made it more comical, that's for sure.

In fact the only model I'm somewhat satisfied with is the champion. The cloak and the varghulf fur on the shoulder are a very nice touch and they add a bucketful of character. And I'm a sucker for the new VC sword designs - straight, clean, long lines with the occasional decorative pieces just shout "nobility". The Kastellan is no exception.

The only thing tha bothers me about are the weird, cog-shaped pieces around the horse's eyes. They almost look like glasses. Other than that, the champion is a very decent piece. You can full well have him as the general model in smaller games.

Also, if you paint the knights in uniform, drab colors as I did, the champion model bits and pieces you can use to break this uniformity a bit and make the unit that little dot more aesthetic.

On the standard bearer I did some tweaking. First of all, I didn't like the banner (also, it's metal too, so it adds weight to an already weighty model) so I swapped it for the Chaos warriors' one. That required changing the mast as well, but here I was much less sophisticated - it's just a piece of brass rod; interestingly enough, brass rod seems to be a rare commodity in Poland, so rare it took me over two months to find a store that actually sells it in gauges needed for scale modeling... make you own comments on this.

I did a little freehand work on the banner, nothing fancy. I went for simplicity, as I've always envisioned the Blood Dragons to be very down-to-earth, no-nonsense warriors, not at all interested in showoff. Hence the very modest banner, naturally in my army's established color - dark green.

The bases are done according to the theme I preserve in the army. Again, the Walls And Fences plastic kit proves its greatness. I sincerely recommend it, just remove some nonsense bits here and there and you have a very nice base customization resource.

To wrap things up, some shots of the entire unit. See you next time!

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