Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Top Ten Models… according to me: #10 The Magus

With this post, I inaugurate a new regular series (for the next several months or so), in which I introduce my favorite “top ten” models from Games Workshop and possibly beyond, and include a hopefully illuminating explanation of how/why I believe these models merit the accolade. I will be posting on this topic at least once each week as we move down from number ten to my absolute favorite model, with the occasional digression for an honorable mention here and perhaps there.

In part, this series was inspired by several bloggers who have undertaken such a highly subjective and, I fear, potentially inflammatory topic in recent months; however, the greater impetus came from GW’s own surprisingly interesting Hall of Fame series (-I admit that I expected it to be more self-congratulatory and less insightful than the series actually is. Well done, boys). 

And so, with all these lists floating about, I thought I might put my foot in the waters.

One catch. As a matter of principle and practicality, I have otherwise excluded models that I have not, in fact, painted. This logic is twofold. One, if I have not painted it yet, this could only be mean that I have not admired the model enough to feel the gut-wrenching compulsion to purchase, prime, and paint it. Two, by definition therefore, the model could not possibly meet my truly extraordinary criteria for what constitutes a “top” model. Naturally, this logic has a circular flaw that we will conveniently ignore for the sakes of both hyperbole and rhetorical convenience.

In addition, I have recently purchased one of those portable photo boxes, and this series will implicitly chart my ability to photograph models with an unprecedented quality and good taste. Already, I have learned a bit - not least of which is the fact that I have much, much more to learn on the matter.

And so my personal Top Ten Models of all time and space and history and all that:

NUMBER 10: THE MAGUS genestealer cult:

Perhaps more than any other similar model, the “one-piece” pose of this character model works for me.  He is both diminutive and stagnant. He is flawed, and he embraces that flaw in order to make it a strength. You might note that this model is not even cast properly; the top of his staff is missing a connection at the gem. I did not discover this until painting (some years ago), but I actually quite like it –the deficiency makes it look old and used rather than incomplete… to me. as ever.

Consider his companions pictured above, whom I also quite like, but who suffer quite dramatically from the walks-like-an-Egyptian problem as most one-piece models. The Magus gets around the smashed flatness of these other models by simply not confronting the potential problem. He just stands there. Diminutively. Flaw becomes strength.

At the end of the day, the concept of this model gets me in the guts. He is brainy and powerful and malicious. His armor appears more formidable, and at least more bulky, than he, but he carries that burden about on his shoulders. All that mass around his head makes the Magus so wonderfully understated. –imagine, this slightly built, dare I say scrawny figure, who probably weighs 50lbs with those robes soaking wet  -this modest, flinching weakling. Imagine. He controls entire brood of Genestealers, those horrific critters that are at least twice his size and one thousand times his mass in pure, raw viciousness.

Yet the Magus controls them with little more than his mind and bad intentions. He just stands there and does that. I do not expect that we will ever see a model as potentially significant to gameplay, or as representatively powerful, get such a humble, unbecoming treatment again.

So many years past his prime and he is still one of my favorites.


Scott said...

That is a great model. I had one back in the day, but don't know what happened to him. I still have a hybrid (the middle one in your picture).

I really wish genestealer cults would make a comeback, but I doubt it.

HOTpanda said...

The emotions of his face tell a tale of shear concentration while remaining stoic. This adds up to a model that conveys raw power. Your choice of colours add immensely to the story the model is conveying.

PS - Did you photoshop the blue back ground in or is that the colour of your photo box?

tzeentchling said...

I don't know if you plan to include it or not, but one of my all-time favorite one-piece models has to be the classic Dark Elf sorceress, sculpted by Chris Fitzpatrick. So much character in such a simple model.

Mr Saturday said...

I do rather love this model myself. I have him packed away with the rest of my stealers, hybrids and brood brothers. If there was a current list for a genestealer coven I'd start it in the morning.

They had limos.

Porky said...

I've liked these models a lot, since I can remember, even the posing for its coherence.

I think the strong feeling also comes from a sense that genestealer cults are a hidden core of the game, a touchstone for a large part of the setting. They bridge life at the underbelly of the Imperium and the alien.

Like Scott, I'd love to see them more, though not necessarily in a codex, and not especially an official one now.

Your painting does them justice as usual, most of all in the metal and skin.

Elbrun said...

I've always loved the genestealer cult models, and this one is by far the best of them all. I've been looking to get my hands on this fig as well as some of the hybrids for years (without being price gouged) but no luck so far.

I agree it is a top 10 fig in the GW line.

Warhammer39999 said...

Oh, I agree whole-heartedly. This model is definitely one of my favorites of all time. I'm also fairly well smitten with the bloated patriarch and the genestealer familiars...

Gotthammer said...

A great model to be sure, and I like your narrowing to models you own and have painted - looking forward to more :)

Brian said...

@ Scott. Agreed. I would love to see these fellows have proper purpose once more.

@ Panda. That blue is the background color that came with the box. I didn't realize how bold it would look here, and intend to re-make quite a few of these in future post (time permitting).

@ tzeentchling. Stay tuned;)

@ Mr. S. Limos? Really? I must hear more about this. Now that is class.

@ Porky. Agreed. An official codex at this point would be too dramatic -and certainly models like this one would be replaced for a much more dramatic counterpart. That would be too much for me. Still, if there is a worthwhile fan-codex out there... uhoh. ha.

@ Elbrun. Though I would sooner sell one of my children (I jest), I'm curious what these guys would go for on the open market these days. It's a shame that they aren't more readily available.

@ Warhammer 39,999. Bloated Patriarch? I must learn more.

@ Goth. Cheers mate.

Mordian7th said...

Excellent start to the list, Brian - that's one of my top ten favorite models of all time as well. Oddly enough, mine is painted almost exactly like yours, the purple and brass just seems like the ideal scheme. The old RT-Era yellow compilation book (as opposed to the red compendium book) had the collected WD articles wherein the cult was ferried around in limos and had several sub-lists for variant covens: The standard coven list, the early infiltrators list (heavy on the purestrains), and the chaos list (where a failing coven turns to Chaos for a little extra oompf). There was a seated Patriarch and alternate Magus that were just brilliant, how I regret selling them all those years ago. Curses!

Looking forward to seeing the rest of the countdown!

Brian said...

@ Mordian. Glorious.

beat ronin said...

Also one of my favourite GW models of all time. And as I've said before, I really like your paint job.

I've toyed with the idea of using codex Orks for a counts-as genestealer cult. Grots as cultists, orks as hybrids, nobs as er . . . bigger hybrids. Plus trukks could be perfect bullet-proof limos with .50 cals (big shootas) mounted on the roof.

Feel free to use the idea if you want, my new Eldar are going to keep me busy enough for a long time to come.

Brian said...

@ James S. Great idea. Unfortunately, I won't be stealing it any time soon. I only own 11 of these models (10 cultist/hybrid dudes you see here and the Magus). I don't have the energy to chase down more across the interwebs. And, like you, I have too many projects on my plate as it stands... still, I will absolutely file this idea away for future reference. Cheers.

Elbrun said...

Easy enough to take that 11 and make an army with them... think IG. You've got your command and platoon/squad leaders right there, just add the IG figs with odd skin coloration as later generation cultists and tada genestealer cult army :)

Brian said...

@ Elbrun. Nice one. If only there were more hours in the day...