Part three in my Chaos Space Marine review is none other than the all new, and most talked about model in the range, Heldrake.
It’s proved a bit of a Marmite model. You either love it or you hate it. I think it’s mixed reception is down to the product photography as on the box it looks rather flat. I also think an unimaginative pose and a fussy paint scheme didn’t help either. It’s also a very brave move by the Games Workshop to so dramatically move away from the more traditional vehicles and a huge jump away from the Hell Talon and Hell Blade from Forge World that I’ve secretly yearned after ever since they came out. If anyone has a spare £100 by the way…
So, what’s in the box? Well two sprues, an instruction booklet, which is actually quite well done, and a shit load of Nottingham’s finest oxygen. Which for £45 retail is a bit of a sting considering a Land Raider is the same money and that’s a small oil field’s worth of plastic and has moving parts up the arse. However, when the sprues are examined you can see just how much they’re able to cram on to a frame. It all adds up to quite a hefty kit. Which is just as well, I suppose.
That said, with the advent of digital design there’s been a definite shift in design ethos and I wonder if the Land Raider would be as sophisticated a kit as it is if it were designed now. The Heldrake is as hollow as an Easter egg and despite the comparative lack of plastic it does give the remarkable impression of space. But as it’s a fucking great daemon bird it’s not hard.
As I started to build the kit I realised that it was far from the flat or fixed model I saw in the pictures, and expected it to be. As I built the body, neck and head I realised that because it uses ball and socket joints it’s surprisingly poseable. The spine spikes along the neck limit those poses and they won’t always look quite right but it’s still poseable all the same and it gives the wargamer that very important opportunity for individuality as no one wants a set piece like that to look the same as everyone else’s. If I’m honest a couple of refinements here and there and it would have been even more so, but you can’t have everything.
The casting quality, largely to do with the digital design, is excellent. Very crisp and pretty much mould line free. The sprues are laid out intelligently and means the bits you need are pretty much in order that you need them. Which is nice. However where it all comes unstuck, literally, is the fecking massive wings.
They are immensely cool and very cleverly designed balancing the crude industrial nature of its construction with its avian origins. However it’s a huge amount of weight on the ball joint that attaches to the main body. It took ages for the arms to set. And that’s assuming the wings don’t drop off the arms during the process because they too are attached via a relatively small ball joint.
Because of the near magical properties of plastic glue, once it’s set it’s set until the end of time but it’s getting to that point that is the issue. I was able to cook and eat a meal in the time it took for the ball joint attaching the wings to the body to set. If you’re building the Heldrake in a rush or you accidentally break it you may just want to kill yourself.
On the upside because the shoulder and claws are all ball joints it allows, again, a degree of posability. Not much mind you, but enough that with the body sat on the flying stand at the correct angle you can get some pretty good effects. But as it’s got such a short body and dumpy rear legs you want to try and pose it to emphasise the wings anyway.
I attempted to model the Heldrake like it was banking round to flame some poor defenceless unit. Hopefully the picture does it justice but just going on looks and feel it’s a very impressive model.
In game terms the Heldrake is just plain nasty. So nasty I almost feel bad that I’ll be fielding one (yes only one) in my Dark Knights. Although only it’s armour is only 12, 12, 10 because it can zoom a Space Marine with a lascannon only has a 1 in 72 chance taking it out in a 6 turn game. So a unit of Devastators with four lascannons get a 1 in 16 chance. And that’s a far bigger outlay in points than their target. Granted rapid firing weapons like autocannons and assault cannons will statistically fare better, but flyers generally are just a nightmare to deal with in 6th Edition.
A Heldrake if you take the Baleflamer, unbelievably for free, has a 2 in 3 chance of killing a Space Marine. Statistically it’ll take out 6 Space Marines every turn whilst your opponent struggles to hit it. That is nasty. For the points the Heldrake is absolutely lethal and a genuine tactical headache as it’ll swoop across the battle field toasting enemies with impunity. And providing it stays away from anything with the Skyfire special rule it will make it’ll more than make its points back. Plus, because it’s such a scary bugger, it will draw a lot of attention. Of course this could mean it’ll get shot down a lot sooner but if your opponent is shooting at that then they’re not shooting at other things.
The Heldrake model, is for all its faff and frustrations is an awesome model. It’s covered in detail and oozes malice. Even the body feels like a separate organism. That said, the body feels a little cheap as the mouth/thruster/thing shows just how hollow the body is which destroys the illusion somewhat. Apart from that the model screams unholy experiments between creature and machine, of speed and unleashed violence. It is a completely brilliant model and I cannot wait to unleash it on the board.
The Heldrake is available from Firestorm Games priced £40.50