+ inload: Ironstaff Throng +

+ Adding to the Ironstaff Throng +

+ A review of the Necromunda Ironhead Squat Prospectors +

+ Squats! New squats. From Games Workshop. Intriguing stuff, and being a bit of a fan of this long-lost faction, I pre-ordered the Necromunda Ironhead Squat Prospectors as soon as they came on site. +

+ The pinks are for an Emperor's Children project, you might (or might not!) be relieved to hear+

+ The box contains two identical sprues, each allowing you to build four Squats. The models go together quickly and smoothly, and result in a burly and broad finished figure. They are on 28.5mm bases: slightly smaller than those of Primaris Space Marines, but larger than that of Guard infantry and the like, which are on 25mm. This gives a deceptive appearance. They are slightly larger than I'd anticipated, but not as large as I was fearing. +

+ Pictured here, in what might be the least useful scale comparison picture ever, is one built virtually stock, besides a Rogue Trader classic (the Piscean/fishman/saharduin) and another modern remake of a classic, the Ambull from Blackstone Fortress. The Piscean is on a 30mm base, same as a Space Marine; the Ambull on a 50mm base. +


+ Gut reaction +

+ My overall reaction to having one built is fairly positive. I love the core silhouette. Once the two halves of the torso are connected, and the legs added, you have a great core figure. I'm less immediately sold on the the heads and arms, however, as they add a huge amount of bulk that cover up a lot of what I like about the figure. +

+ As you can see from the more useful scale reference picture below, they're not, as some were fearing, as tall as modern Imperial Guardsmen, even taking pose into account. It is, however, notable that they are bigger than the fantasy dwarfs – the converted figure on the left is based on an Kharadon Arkanaut (the steampunk sky dwarfs), for example, and they themselves are larger than the older Ironbreaker etc. models (Dispossessed). +

+ From left to right: converted Squat, new Ironhead, Death Korps plastic, Forgeworld Cadian + 

+ A few years back, I posted a tutorial on how to convert Squats from the then-new Warhammer sky dwarfs (you can check it out here, if you wish [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+]), so my view of how reimagined squats could look is probably coloured a bit by that. +

+ Nevertheless, I like the result. For a start, it's considerably more creative than my attempt, which mined the 2nd ed. plastics and contemporary dwarfs very closely. The new Necromunda squats take their inspiration from elsewhere. Indeed, I think they take a lot of their design cues from 'Iron Bonce the Squat' [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] (not least their name), the first space dwarf released for the then-new Rogue Trader – no bad thing; it's nice to change things up a bit. +

+ Let's take a look at some of the other bits and bobs of the new models. +


+ Beardie-weirdies +

+ I read some pre-release fears that the heads weren't 'squatty' enough, and didn't have enough facial hair. For anyone on the fence owing to this particular concern, rest assured that all five of the head options include facial hair, ranging from a full set to some powerful mutton chops. +

+ Let me be clear that it's not the aesthetic of the heads that I dislike, but the decision to use a ball-and-socket approach. In all honesty, lack of beards is not something that would have put me off anyway, but I like the decision to include them nevertheless. Beards and dwarfs seem to go together in sci-fi and fantasy, and part of me prefers the more subtle facial hair here than the flanderised alternative. Giant beards are a key part of the Warhammer dwarf archetype, but I don't think they're quite so key to squats. Even the original squat plastics had relatively short or restrained beards in comparison with their Fantasy battle compatriots. +


+ Having said that, I do think it's a valid point that they don't look like they have beards from the studio's stock shots. This is partly because of the angle of the shots (the lower part of the face is often hidden behind the high collar of the suit), and partly because of the separate visors, which further cover them up. +


+ Any bad bits? +

+ Few reviews of Squats are going to be entirely free of 'grumbling into beer', so I did want to flag up a couple of bits that I was disappointed by. Firstly,  let's address those visors. While a nice nod to Ironbonce, and eminently practical from real-world safety principles, it's a shame to cover so much of the face. On my build below, I trimmed away a little at the back to allow it to sit a little higher, revealing more of the face. +

+ I also left off the backpack and cut away the second barrel on the gun; mainly to clean things up a bit. +

+ Secondly, the sprue has a surprisingly small number of options. You don't get enough weapons to give everyone two-handed rifles without doubling up the heavy, and the few options there are are limited to grenades and the like. I would have vastly preferred some extra heads or characterful bits like the Goliath cigar to multiple visor options. This is something that I hope is addressed in an upgrade sprue or alternative expansion sprue (as the other Necromunda gangs have received) so consider this judgement in light of the likely appearance of that. Perhaps further releases will make this early one sing. +

+ Thirdly, and my biggest grumble, is the head recess. It's huge, and makes using parts from other ranges much harder. Perhaps it's a design feature that will be shared by the upcoming Leagues of Votann (the other new squats) models, but at the moment it's just annoying that the Ironhead prospectors aren't compatible with any of the existing dwarf ranges from fantasy – or indeed anything else. If you don't like the super-wide helmet aesthetic, you're a bit stuck – and that ties back in to the lack of options. Even one or two unhelmed heads would have been nice. +

+ One stock and three lightly converted figures +

+ Fortunately, it's not an insurmountable problem. As you can see above, a lump of plastic offcut can raise a Fyreslayer, Arkanaut or Dispossessed head to an appropriate height, though you'll also need to carefully trim the beard of the donor model. The results above will be improved by some greenstuff around the recesses to tidy things up, but you get the basic idea. +


+ Conclusion +

+ How do the new squats measure up? Despite my critique above, I think these are lovely little models. I always try to avoid expectations on redesigns of older models, as I always value someone trying something new and creative over being slavish to the past. While these don't quite scratch the itch for me as stock, I am very pleased with them once converted, and I'm excited to see what everyone else does with them. +

+ Most of all, however, I'm most pleased that the new squats are good solid models in their own right. I don't think that you need be nostalgic for the old models to find these appealing, and the designers should be congratulated for that. The Squats have lurked for so long that almost anything would have been borne some serious weight of expectation – and I'm pleased to say that, overall, I think they stand up to it, straight out of the box. +

+ Overall, bar a couple of grumbles, these get two mechandendrites up. +


+ Ironstaff Throng +

+ The Ironstaff League is the little space I carved out for Squats in the PCRC's shared sector, Antona Australis. The background can be seen on the blog here [+noosphericinloadlink embedded+], and was my attempt to integrate Squats into the 40k universe, and includes a bit more Warhammer dwarfiness than what we've seen so far. Fortunately, I think such differences add to the richness – you might think of the Ironstaff League as a slight cultural outlier, rather than completely incompatible. + 

+ It's largely because I already have some converted figures that I decided to convert my Ironhead Prospectors. In other words, had I not already converted some squats, I'd probably have left the models unconverted – because for all the minor grumbles above, I do think the new models are very characteful and appealing. +

+ What I have done is to include some more of the Celtic/Brythonic design language – knotwork, filgree etc. – common to Warhammer Dwarfs, and largely absent from the new models. I have done this sparingly, as I think there's a fine line to tread between homage and caricature. Indeed, part of me admires the GW designers' decision to avoid such design language completely, as it makes a definite statement of intent that they're not beholden to the past in the relaunch of the Squats. +

+ Despite this, there's no question that the new models do stand out from the rest of the force. I don't think that's necessarily a problem – indeed, if anything, it gives me a bit of space to have these as some sort of specialists – perhaps I'll use them as heavy-weapon wielders or something, given the unusual way their weapons are held compared with my existing models. + 


+ The chap with the banner is a loose nod towards the old hearthguard models, and that's something that I think I'll experiment with for the other sprue. Having a squad of clearly bigger and brawnier figures, with bulkier armour and equipment, makes should work well to mark out the Warlord.


+ The new figures are pictured here alongside my conversions. Further releases  and a coherent paint scheme will hopefully further blend away the differences; but I already think they'll look nice on the table together – what do you reckon? +



Jarvalex said...

They look lovely and an excellent set of conversions and world-building.

Anonymous said...

I‘m quite jealous! I‘ll try and build some Kharadron Squats as my juves and see how they fit in.