So regular readers will know that I rather took to the Tau Empire Codex. Followers on Twitter will know that I decided to collect a small 1,000 point force to use as allies with my Ultramarines. Quite what 9,000 points of Ultramarines, including the full first company needs from 1,000 points of Tau I don’t know but I wanted some and didn’t want to break my ‘no new Games Workshop’ army rule.
I started the project by quite impulsively buying the Commander Shas’o R’Alai model at Salute. At that point I hadn’t even written a list and wasn’t sure if I wanted crisis suits because I dislike the plastic models so much.
R’Alia however is just too cool not to use as a force Commander. I just love the look of the model. Aside from being a graduation to a more ‘grown up’ style, it just feels like it was intended for war. Granted, the submunitions rifle helps but still.
I also loved the fixed sensor ‘head’. Aside from looking far more menacing than the standard block heads I like the idea that the head is purely a design choice and not actually needed for the pilot to crump skulls and mang faces.
The other thing I love about the model is it kinda reminds me of the robots from Castle in the Sky. I dunno why. Maybe it’s the segmented gangliness. Maybe it’s the glowing read eye.
Although in Castle in the Sky the robot has a laser face. Which is something the Tau should maybe look into.
But anyway, the model is way cool. The design is a little like a Transformer in so much as it looks like it could change into a plane or something at a moment’s notice.
In terms of building the model, however, the coolness ends and is replaced, instead, by misery. The biggest problem with Forge World kits is usually Forge World themselves. They’ re such an excitable bunch of scallywags that they design kits without really thinking about the practicalities of cleaning or building them. Let me explain: to build the model you have to glue the feet, legs, hip joint and body all pretty much at the same time. This is very difficult. It is also made worse by the fact that the feet and the ankle joints don’t fit. At all.
So you’ll have to resort to the time-honoured method of slapping on slightly more glue than is needed and getting everything stuck together before the super glue sets. Needless to say it can result in the pose not being quite what you wanted so if you can, try blu-tacking it all together first, especially as the arms are no better. Although they’re very cleverly designed using a curve and pivot joint which allows quite a degree of poseability but still being straight forward to build.
The story is a similar one with the Shas’o R’myr’s suit which I bought as a unit leader. Although this bad boy is a conversion kit, using the back and feet of the standard crisis suit. The fit between the two torso halves is surprisingly good and does wonders to change the look of the crisis suit that I’m amazed at least a conversion kit wasn’t made available for the re-release of the Tau range.
I also love the head. Again, it’s just a more interesting look and the single aerial on the back makes the whole look sleeker and more menacing. Same for its load out really. Twin-linked plasma rifles and big boss of a shield is nothing to be sniffed at. But, again, the kits is let down by the over ambitiousness of the kit and the often non-existent QA at Forge World.
Aside from the legs coming in two parts hand having to stick to plastic feet, they also had to stick to a body made of two difference materials creating a socket that wasn’t completely flush. Needless to say it collapsed under its own weight more than once in the process of building it. But the icing on that particular turd flavoured cake was that one leg had been soon poorly cast that it was not just warped but transparent. I shit thee not you could see right through the entire joint piece. Granted this isn’t going to be an issue once the model is painted but the brittleness of the joint has got me treating the model with kid gloves. More so than I would normally with the shatter prone resin that Forge World uses.
It occurs to me that you’re almost better off building the models of they’re on flying stands so the pose is much easier to position. Although there’s every chance you’ll have every crisis suit looking like a not-gay Dean Cain taking to the skies on cable from the Adventures of Superman, complete with awkward bent leg.
The bottom line, however, is that the crisis suits from Forge World are immensely cool. So much cooler than the standard GW ones and if I’m honest they’re worth the higher prices and the frustrating amount of cleaning and build time required. They’re even worth the truly reckless amount of wastage Forge World produces. The models just look ace. They look like they’re designed by a species surprisingly bothered about looking good whilst they kick your face in. Which is absolutely the way it should be.