Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cartoon Bad Guys (and Good Guys)

In this short article, I wanted to briefly talk about a few views that have been developing in the back of my mind with the recent releases that we have seen from Games Workshop -- and specifically the Death Guard chaos space marine faction for 40k.

My long term readers will know that I have owned a Death Guard army of one flavour or another since my youth. In modelling the Death Guard post-Heresy, I have long opted for the green colours of decay mixed in with browns and reds of flowing blood and the occasional purple of diseased flesh. Combined together, they make for a gritty and rather grim interpretation of the downfall of a once great legion and represents the monsters that they have become. Unconcerned with the feelings of the flesh and the dents in their armour, with the odd mutation here and there, they are a particular type of repugnant that only the grim dark can fathom.

In the new releases of the Death Guard, I have become a little concerned that the representation of these notorious bad guys has become a little bit more cartoonish. By this, I mean that the mutations have become almost laughable -- not so much the subtle change here and there, an odd horn growing out of the head or an addition to the armour, but a big gut of teeth and a mouth in the place of a stomach. Not some revealed corrupted flesh where the armour has dropped off, but exposed spines leaking gaseous effluent.

Now before I go further, I will readily concede the point that the ancient Great Unclean One miniature had a belly full of teeth option. So these kinds of changes are not without precedent by any means. The opening of the guts to intestines and the baring of naked spines have long since been with the Death Guard and the daemons of Nurgle in general.

However, the thing that is new for me is the sheer degree and the in-your-face style of these mutations. Many of the newer space marines in the Death Guard seem almost like an exaggerated cartoon of themselves in a number of regards. The over the top tentacles instead of arms. The exposed flesh is on almost every miniature. Combined with the proportions, it all adds up for me as being an army that now looks too cartoonish rather than inherently dark and foreboding. To much Skeletor's assistants, and too little fallen from grace.

Okay. Those are probably controversial views. I suspect that the comments below will soon have people chipping in saying they like the new sculpts. I can see merit in the sculpts, to be clear. But I do wish that not every single Death Guard marine was so over the top with the mutations and naked flesh. Just a little bit more subtle fallen angels please, and less of the cartoon bad guy would make it much better for me.

Let me end by saying something positive. I like the new Mortarion. In fact, I like this interpretation of the primarch even better than the Forge World sculpt. It shows him in his full corruption. Still wearing the battle plate from millennia ago. Still wielding his preferred scythe. Still holding Lantern. Still everything that he was. Yet darker. More grim. A true spectre on the battlefield. With appropriate levels of Nurgle built in along with the wings. His visage is that of a man who has been through a lot and has grudges unfulfilled. I really dig it.

Okay, I'm going to hide from the flak now...


sonsoftaurus said...

I agree. I've looked at the starter set Death Guard, and maybe half of the plague marines are ones I like, maybe more than half if given different heads. Definitely very over the top. Compare these to models like the Nurgle daemon prince, which while definitely Nurgle, it's OTT is more acceptable in a centerpiece like that compared to rank and file, and little bits of detail come out as you get into it.

WestRider said...

Nah, I think you're overestimating the backlash. I've seen a bunch of people mentioning stuff like this about them. And I can't really disagree. I'm OK with it, because I'm going to be mixing them in with my older Squads of more restrained Death Guard, so it won't be as overwhelming, but if I get more of them, I'm probably going to kitbash them together with regular CSM and/or MKIII bits to dilute the impression a bit. Similar to what I did with my Space Wolves, mixing in Tactical bits to bring the wolfy stuff down to an accent rather than a dominant trait.

jabberjabber said...

Thanks for the comments guys!
I really like the idea of diluting the effects of the over the top mutations with more standard parts from elsewhere.

eriochrome said...

GW design has always been over the top for some things. The more stuff they pump out the worse it often gets.

Owen Fenton said...

If you want to see what the new DG can be with a bit if work, Anvils of Konor on Instagram (Captain Jack) is doing some fantastic low key conversions that are brimming with grim and gritty

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