As 40K models get more and more elaborate, they are also getting harder and harder and harder to convert.
Games Workshop puts out some truly amazing models. For years they have had the most advanced and detailed multi-part plastic kits in the industry. It’s in many ways what they have based their success on. However lately, though their kits have only gotten better looking, they’ve become less friendly towards conversions. Let’s talk about how this has happened.
The Golden Age Of the Multi-Part Kit
When I think of some of the best times I’ve ever had on the hobby side of 40K its been working on conversions. Now I love doing conversion work, but I’m not particularity skilled at it, I don’t do a lot of complex green stuff work, I’m not sculpting my own bits, and I’ve never been great at working with metal. However, GW’s amazing multi-part plastic kits have in the past made it very easy even for an entry level converter like me to do easy work.
Kits with a wide verity of parts that allow you to build and pose models however you want are amazing. GW has even built on this by keeping everything in a relatively similar scale, not only can parts from one box often be mixed with parts from another, but parts from different armies and even games could be mixed. For me perhaps the ultimate expression of this would be the Imperial Guard, and in particular the Cadian Infantry boxes. While dated these days these kits are incredibly flexible. Mixed with other GW bits you can build a fantastic verity of diverse models. Just look at some of the conversions we made back for our old Macharian Crusade. Or look at the amazing work of Dave Taylor.
While mono-pose models could be more visually stunning then these kits they lacked the flexibility. Amazingly most of these great conversions require almost no real skill either, allowing anyone to do them. Because of the flexibility of the kits, even minor changes could look good and different. Moreover, the multi-pose aspect means that even in an army of hundreds of models no two need to look the same.
The Mono-Pose Strikes Back
Even during what I call the golden age of the multi-pose kits, GW still had plenty of Mono-pose units and models. Most characters and pretty much all the metal, later Finecast, models are single pose with no real options. Many of these models were amazing, but hard to convert. Even in plastics you always had a few basic mono-pose models. These were often limited to some sort of basic or starter set, such as the early two-part Space Marine Models. Still, these seemed to be an exception rather than a rule, and it always seemed like the goal was to move more and more models over to a multi-pose kit.
At some point however it seems like GW started moving more and more towards mono-pose kits, or limited pose kits. One of the first significant cases I can remember of this was the Dark Vengeance Cultists. These plastics models seemed like they might easily have been a big multi-part kit, akin to the Cadian box. Instead, they were all single pose models with no options. At the time it didn’t seem like a big deal. The models were outstanding, they had a decent amount of variety, they were part of a starter kit, and Chaos Cultists weren’t a major unit. However, since then we’ve seen more and more kits like them coming out.
Death of Characters
One place I’ve really seen this happening is with characters. Remember the old Chaos Lord in Terminator Armor Kit, or the Space Marine Commander kit? These were amazing multi-part kits that gave you a ton of bits and a million options. When was the last time you saw a kit like that? Compare the old Space Marine Commander with the recent Primaris Captain model. It’s not a comparison at all, the old kit was 1000x more flexible and conversion friendly. Part of the issue is also the rise of special characters and a growing lack of options. Many new characters, such as the Primaries Captain have very few options, meaning they don’t need complex models. Special characters also don’t need multi-pose kits at all.
I can’t think of any models that better illustrate my point with the current design trend than Elucidian Starstriders from the new Rogue Trader box. When I first saw these models I was blown away. And for good reason, these are some amazing models. One of the things that most excited me about them at first look was the conversion possibilities. Here was a fresh new look at the Astra Militarium. How flexible where they models? Even though the Necromunda models had limited poses they could still work for conversion. Could I pose the Starstriders enough to build a whole army from them? If not, could I use bits from them and mix them with Cadians to make something new and interesting. I was all set to try and figure out how to get a ton of these new models when I saw the sprues.
These models weren’t multi-pose. They are barely multi-part. Each model is a discrete individual, uniquely and lovingly crafted. They have no options, no posing; they come as is. Not only can I not pose these models to build a whole army, but I also can’t covert them at all. For someone with OK conversion skills, this makes these models pretty useless to me unless I want to build this one specific unit.
Better Models But A Lack of Flexibility
So here we are. GW is making genuinely spectacular models. They have some of the best sculpts in the industry, and have continually blown people away. At the same time, they’ve sacrificed a lot of the lot of the flexibility of the older kits. Even many of their newer multi-part kits, like the Namarti Thralls are far less poseable than older kits. More and more it seems like your models are going to match GW’s vision for what they should be, not yours. While this may be very rewarding for painters, who get amazing models to work with, it is disappointing for people who like to convert or experiment with building. It’s a trade-off for sure, and I would never say GW models are bad, they are in fact stellar, still I can’t help but feel like were losing something key to the hobby.
Let us know how you feel about the newer kits down in the comments!