Games Workshop—the company gamers love to hate. Is it the worldwide success, the relentless corporate mindset, the short-sighted business practices or the eye-watering prices? It’s everything; and yet Games Workshop still sells plastic and (self-proclaimed) ‘finecast’ figures and over-priced books hand over fist all over the world.
But maybe, finally, Games Workshop has jumped the proverbial shark. Because no matter how ridiculous the prices get, no matter how many times their lawyers strong-arm their fans and distributors, and no matter how many times they re-release the same old rules in shiny new clothes, the figures have usually been pretty damn good. The Games Workshop Warhammer (fantasy) and Warhammer 40,000 (sci-fi) universes have decades of development behind them, and are distinctive and imaginative. So when I got the latest issue of White Dwarf, I was pretty shocked by the new Chaos figures they’ve just released.
But hold on—why do I get White Dwarf magazine, when it’s just a glossy advertisement for GW products that I don’t even buy? Well, it’s kind of a habit that won’t go away, and my girlfriend is kind enough to tack a subscription for me on the end of every Christmas present pile. And it’s an enjoyable bit of eye candy, despite the endless gushing self-congratulatory hyperbole about their own products that quickly becomes tiresome. With a few gaps here and there in the late 200s-early 300s, I’ve got almost every issue since #1 back in 1977 (for some bizarre reason they’re no longer numbered, but the last one is getting up to #400).
Anyway, back to the shark-jumping. The latest fanfare is for a bunch of Chaos Warriors for the Warhammer Fantasy Battle game. And these are by far the worst figures I have seen Games Workshop produce for quite some time. I don’t know who is approving these things, but they are nowhere near the standard that such a market-leading miniatures company should be churning out. Let’s have a look shall we? (Click all of the following images to see larger versions.)
What? What’s happened to the dynamic poses, the realistic detail, the gritty fantasy? What we have now is something a lot closer to the following—the image on the left recently posted by someone on a Warhammer forum that I think perfectly captures the feel of the new Chaos chariot, and the image on the right, the figures that GW was making for the Heroquest game twenty-four years ago in 1989:
The same thick, chunky shapes, the same static, lifeless poses, the same cartoony, kiddy feel. Now, to further elucidate my point, here’s a quick look at what some other miniatures companies are producing these days. These from the Dark Age game:
And these from Privateer Press:
Compared to these characterful, inspiring miniatures, the GW efforts are looking more and more like something you’d buy in K-Mart, or bundled with a Happy Meal. Then again, maybe that’s the direction the company suits are targeting.
Let’s hope this is just a minor aberration and GW stop making such clunky-looking figures. While I no longer buy their product, it’s a shame to see the quality level deteriorate to this degree—especially when the prices are so outrageous. Because despite everything that’s made them a target of mockery, I still have a small soft spot for the company that loomed so large in my early years as a gamer.