+ inload: Tinfoil hat time+

+ Futureman predicts +

+ I don't often do editorials or opinion pieces here on Death of a Rubricist. However, I wanted to gather my cloudthoughtdata on where I think Games Workshop is heading. Take it cum grano salum; I have no special insight into the company. It almost goes without saying that anything here is purely the opinion of a individual hobbyist, but it's worth reiterating that before we launch into the mysterious realm of ... +

[+Execute tinfoil hat protocol+]



+ The TL;DR datablurt here:

  • I think we've got a new boxed game in the Age of Darkness Horus-Heresy setting coming; supported by a range of rescaled plastic space marines.
  • The Forgeworld, Black Library etc. online stores are going to be integrated behind the scenes with the main GW shop.
  • The 'Boxed Games' group (Specialist Games) is going to have more plastic support as resin returns to being a more niche product.

+ The future's plastic + 

+ Games Workshop have recently announced a couple of plastic upgrade kits for Necromunda – one for Goliath [REF:Pictacpture/indictator:below], one for Escher. Looking over them, I was struck by how similar the plastics were to the resin packs currently available from Forge World. +

+ The in-house podcast (Voxcast) has made it clear that Games Workshop are mostly 3D-sculpting these days. That allows for reuse of resources – as looks to have happened with the upgrade packs above: while elements (arms, weapons) are the same, they've been moved around, or swapped; ensuring that the plastics aren't a direct copy of the resin packs. What's interesting to me here is the blurring of Forge World, Specialist Games, and the main Games Workshop studio. This is a trend that's been going on for a while, and looks to be continuing with releases like this. +

+ Plastics +

+ Resin +

+ Resin +

+ GW have announced via Warhammer Community and the recent annual reports/half-year results [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] that they've been having production problems – partially caused by a lack of available power at their production facility, which must have been compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, GW have apparently had a few delays caused by leasing space with Amazon and Brexit shipping. Quite a catalogue of problems! +

Games Workshop are (perhaps understandably) pretty closed when it comes to the specifics of their plans. However, the past few annual reports have mentioned that (amongst other growth) they're opening a new second production facility in Lenton. Bear that in mind for a moment, along with the recent large recruitment drive for staff across manufacturing, studio and specialist games. The half-year results for 2020/21 states:
Our ‘old’ finished goods warehouse in Nottingham is planned to be reconfigured as an on-site component warehouse and offer us some space to support production of paint and resin miniatures.
+ I've no insight on the relative size of the old resin manufacturing space to the new, but the fact that resin production is sharing space with components (that's things like paint bottles, I believe) implies that at the very least it's not an expansion of the resin side. +

+ ...and to throw a further spanner in the holy rites of tech-maintenance, the ERP switch-over is causing some grief [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+]; which  by the looks of things is causing substantial knock-on effects with GW's ability to maintain a steady release schedule; leading to the bumps and move to a fortnightly rather than weekly launch. +


+ Futureman predicts +

+ What conclusions do I draw from this? I don't want to speculate completely wildly – at least, not 'til the section below – but I think that 2021 was intended to see the second facility open up with a bang (a metaphorical one, I hasten to add!), and there being a proper public re-launch of the relationship and organisation of Games Workshop's retail; removing oddments like Black Library being available via Forge World rather than the main GW online shop. +

+ Secondly, there's been a paucity of releases from Forge World. I believe most of this can be attributed directly to COVID-19, but part of me wonders whether a number of pieces that have been released in resin have been done so as a tide-over – that they are intended to keep sales ticking over until they can be remastered and released in plastic, with tweaks to avoid them being direct copies (as with the different weapons on the Necromunda sprues). The Necromunda upgrades, and – most recently – the odd  half-release of the Nemesis Warbringer Belicosa Volcano Cannon [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], lacking the 'turntable' that would allow you to swap it in and out, seem odd in light of the greater amount of resources given to Specialist Games. Is it simply a casualty of the timings? +

+ To me, that suggests to me that the two main facilities will concentrate almost purely on plastics, and that resin will be reserved for exceptional pieces like the traditionally-sculpted Forge World Primarchs, or parts that for one reason or another cannot practically or economically be sold as plastic. It's marked to me that Forge World – initially a side project to allow the release of Guard tank variants for 40k – hasn't released anything from beyond the 'Boxed Games' group – Titanicus, Aeronautica Imperialis, Lord of the Rings etc. in resin for a good long while. +


+ Futureman makes wild guesses: new Horus Heresy boxed set and plastic range+

+ ... Nothing, that is, with one major exception: character packs for the Age of Darkness (AoD) game. The paucity of news and releases on this part of the Horus Heresy (HH) setting is marked, particularly when contrasted with the recent openness of GW's marketing team in general, and the statement in the 2019–20 Annual Report [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] that reads:
We design, make and sell products under a number of brands and sub brands, which denote setting, tone and product type, the key ones being:
- Warhammer: Age of Sigmar - our unique fantasy setting.
- Warhammer 40,000 - our most popular and recognisable brand is a space fantasy setting.
- Horus Heresy - an offshoot of Warhammer 40,000, the Horus Heresy brand is presented as ‘fictional history’ of that universe.
+ Bearing the prominence that the HH setting has, I don't think AoD is going away. If that is the case, then why haven't there been any substantial releases – and of those that have appeared, why are they elites and characters, not the core infantry and tanks? +

+ Aesthetics +

+ Leaving that to one side for a moment, it's worth comparing the older AoD releases with those of the past year. To my eye, there's a definite aesthetic shift. I'm not going to say that it's better or worse – that's down to personal taste – but there's a definite change in the prominence of details and general 'chunkiness' of the more recent releases when compared with the older material. Compare the Legion Praetors (amongst the oldest extant kits from the AoD range) with the recently released Word Bearer ones:

+ In terms of aesthetics, the new Space Marines for the HH are far more like the main studio plastics – both in terms of aesthetic and proportions – than the older, now out-of-production, Forge World infantry released for Badab and AoD. +

+ My conclusion here is that a big re-release is on the cards – akin to last year's new 40k edition and the recently announced Age of Sigmar new edition. At some point in the next year I believe we're going to see a big update of AoD, accompanied by a new boxed set – with marines scaled to match the most recent Chaos Space Marine range from 40k; better proportioned than the older plastics, but not quite Primaris size. That's based on Jes Goodwin's comments on Voxcast  about a deliberate policy to have set scales for various species/factions; and the proportions that have been present in the HH Character Series for some time. + 

+ It's worth noting that the remaining Forgeworld infantry upgrades for the HH setting are the heads and shoulder pads, which remain compatible with the more recent larger plastics. The torsos, which aren't, have been discontinued. If rescaled older armour marks are produced in plastic, the existing resin upgrades will thus remain compatible. +

+ Some of the FW resin infantry packs have been out of production for a good few years now; with those remaining being specialist squads like Breachers and Despoilers. As these disappear, they tend to become 'No Longer Available' (e.g. Mark IV Assault Squad) rather than 'Temporarily Out of Stock'. I think that's a sign of stock depletion and a fallow period being left to avoid the worst of the inevitable backlash when things are rescaled and re-released. +

+ It's a good policy, I think; and one that walks the line between the desire for news and constant releases from the existing market, and for models that match up better with the mainline GW to carve out a new market. GW works on long timescales, and five years sounds like a decent amount of time to leave. While it's quite understandable that Mark III and Mark IV have disappeared following the release of plastic kits, it's notable that Mark II is now completely unavailable, and has been for some time. +

+ My prediction, therefore, is that Games Workshop online will consolidate the various offshoots – BL, FW and Specialist Games/Boxed Games into the main shop. If pressed for specifics, Futureman ventures that this hypothetical box set  will be released within the year, be themed around the Siege itself – likely Imperial Fists versus Emperor's Children or Sons of Horus – and include plastic Mark II as the key selling point. +

+ If this is the case, I'll be pleased to see it. While I'm not a fan of the Age of Darkness ruleset itself, I love the background of the era, and would love to see more plastic releases. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts – but do bear in mind that this doubtless includes some wishful thinking! +



Greg B said...

Some fascinating speculation. I would be thrilled and enraged all at once - thrilled to see a new Age of Darkness release (long, long, long overdue) and furious if a significant re-scaling happens...but we shall see! Certainly, as things stand, it is so odd to have the Seige of Terra novels rolling out with nothing at all (or, almost nothing at all) on the miniatures side of things.

slovak said...

I, for one, would love to see you model up an Imperial Psyker wearing a tinfoil hat and suffering some sort of brain-ache.

apologist said...

Futureman could do with a model, couldn't he..?

apologist said...

I suspect that would be a common reaction! Since our group no longer plays Age of Darkness, and our armies were mostly out of scale anyway, neither really affect us. From my point of view, I think it would be great to have a refined and streamlined rules set – perhaps akin to Epic Armageddon, with more emphasis on the basic space marine (rather than big tanks and elites), but that's very much a personal wishlist.

RSF_Angel said...


Power problems at the facility they covered in solar panels? In BFG (1999), Eldar ships had variable movement depending on how their solar sails were oriented towards the systems sun. Seasonal variability and freak weather have been a known issue as long as humans have relied on the sun for agriculture. So much knowledge lost.

I'm not excited for more rescaling, but Futureman is almost certainly right. Has he given any thought as to how the loss of the late Alan Bligh tore the solar wind out of FW's sails? Could the reshuffle be a consequnce of Forgeworls listing aimlessly in the void?

Logren said...

Well, the last rumors gives credits to your ruminations...