Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Quo vadis, Centurions? An In-Depth Review

Hey everyone, Krautscientist here. And for the fluently Latinate among you: Yes, I realise it should probably rather say "Centurione" or "Centuriones" in the title ;) Anyway, what is this about?

With the Space Marine release now some time behind us, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what may be one of the more divisive GW kits in recent history: the Centurions.

While everyone seems to have been quick to adopt the more popular kits, like the plastic Sternguard or new tactical squad, into their existing Space Marine armies, there has been a rather strong dislike of the Centurions ever since the first blurry pictures of them surfaced almost two months ago: Many people think they are simply too clunky, too unrealistic, looking like giant toddlers rather than proud Astartes. And I'll happily admit that I have shared this sentiment for a while.

But now, after having worked with the kit quite a bit during the last few weeks, I think it's time to step beyond the initial impressions and take a closer look at the hobby options here: And it is indeed rather strange that very few Centurion conversions have surfaced yet: Do people hate them that much? Or are all the hobbyists who have purchased the kit content to assemble them in the standard way? Even if it's the latter rather than the former, we at DFG certainly won't stand for leaving models unconverted ;) So let's take a look at what can be done with the kit!

The first thing I would like to do is to share some initial observations I made about the kit. So what better way to start than to look at what you'll get out of a box of Centurions -- don't worry, this won't turn into an unboxing video halfway through ;)

Anyway, here's what's inside the box:

Let’s not talk about the decal sheet, obviously, because it’s standard fare. The instruction booklet is a rather hefty tome, on account of the kit being rather complex. Each of the three sprues that come with the kit is packed with bits, containing all the possible equipment options as well as a unique pose and individual (loyalist) decoration for each of the models:

The thing to note here is that assembling a Centurion with any given kind of equipment will invariably give you lots of leftover weapon bitz: You get three sets of long range weapons (lascannons, heavy bolters and a grav cannon setup) and one set of CC weapons (siege drills that come with optional flamers or meltaguns) per model, so there will be a lot of leftovers.

As an interesting aside, I also discovered that the Centurions’ bases (slightly bigger than a Terminator base in diameter) are a perfect fit for those resin parts that come with the 40k basing kit:

So it obviously wasn’t some kind of production slip up after all…

Why GW would make these resin parts fit a type of base that virtually never gets used across the whole catalogue instead of the much more prolific terminator base is clearly beyond me. Still, mystery solved!

For now, let’s focus on some of the bitz that come with the kit, because these could come in handy even if you’re not trying to build Centurions in the first place!

The kit comes with seven heads: four of them with helmets, three bare. The helmet crest that you can see on the sergeant in the official photos is a seperate, optional part (which is pretty cool). I played around with the heads a bit and took some photos to show you how they look on regular Marine models:

First up, the helmeted head variant on a regular (Chaos) Space Marine body: Although it seems a little clunky, it clearly works. With its look halfway between a terminator and regular power armour helmet, this could be an interesting option for Iron Warriors or Iron Hands. Or a suitable headdress for a Techmarine/Warpsmith? Unfortunately, the heads don’t fit into a terminator body’s head cavity, so you won’t be able to use them on your terminators without some serious cutting.

Even more interesting are the bare heads, since those are scaled to perfectly fit the existing Marine models. Take a look:

I chose the one with the open mouth and mohawk, since I thought it was a pretty good fit for a World Eater. These have pretty nice facial expressions, and while I think they do look rather silly when combined with the hulking Centurion bodies, they should be really useful for your other infantry models.

They also look really good on Terminators:

Another thing you can see in the picture above is that the Centurions’ shoulder pads are great if you want to add that special Pre-Heresy/artificer armour look to your Terminators, since they make for rather convincing terminator pauldrons as well:

So there’s really nothing stopping you from replacing those shoulder pads with something different on the Centurions and using the originals on your army commander or something similar.

And finally, the flamers and meltaguns that come with the kit are just about the right size to be used on regular infantry, if you want to be thrifty:

Granted, the meltagun might need some work to fit perfectly. But if you ask me, the slightly shorter muzzle on the flamer makes it look more special ops like, if that makes any sense.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg, really. So whether or not you like the Centurions, the kit will give you lots of extra stuff. Even if you use it to build a squad of three Centurions, there will be quite a few leftovers, which is always a plus in my book.

But in all fairness, no one will buy one of GW's pricier kits just for some minor kitbashing, so what can we do with the actual models?

In my case, I felt that the Centurions could work as the perfect base models for converting some Obliterators for my World Eaters army, Khorne's Eternal Hunt. You see, I don't really like the fleshy, mutated look of the stock models, and they wouldn't really fit the look and feel of my army either. Instead, I am imagining my Obliterators as armour clad giants, ponderous, yet deadly. Their Butcher's Nails implants have been hardwired to the targeting systems of their weapons, and now they derive a grim joy from tearing apart opponents and enemy vehicles with bursts of laser and plasma fire. But how would I convert these models?

Fortunately, a couple of highly talented artists are on the case even now, and I found their work to be highly inspirational! So let's take a look at some of the coolest Centurion conversions currently around!

1. Mechanicum Skittarii Centurion by Dave Taylor

First up, the ever inspirational Dave Taylor has figured out a way of mounting the weapons on the Centurion's shoulder, thereby really changing the model's silhouette:

conversion by Dave Taylor.

Dave has also added some additional detail to bring the model in line visually with the both the look of his fantastic AdMech army. and the new Forgeworld automata:

conversion and paintjob by Dave Taylor.

Check out his blog for learning more about this ingenious way of changing the Centurions' look and for checking out the awesome completed model!

2. Skittarii Battle Suit by migsula

Hobbyist extraordinaire migusla has come up with a similar, maybe even more refined recipe for his "Skitarii battle suit":

conversion by migsula
As you can see, it's possible to mount even more weapons on the Centurion's body without it looking silly -- I particularly like the rocket launcher and chainsaw combo!

This model will certainly make a brilliant addition to migsula's awe-inspiring AL-army, and I am sure we're in for a treat when it comes to this model's eventual paintjob! Check out migsula's blog for his brilliant work -- in fact, bookmark it right away, just for good measure ;)

So if you're an AdMech kind of hobbyist, those guys should have you covered. But what about the Marine players unhappy with the stock Centurions' look?

3. Contemptor Centurion by candleshoes

Enter candleshoes, whose "Contemptor Centurion" may just be the most radical redesign yet:

conversion by candleshoes
Through a number of bold cuts and relatively simple conversion steps, candleshoes has managed to radically alter the Centurions' look, indeed making it seem like a missing link between a Marine and a Contemptor Dreadnought. And while it may not have been what I was looking for for my own project, this may just be my favourite Centurion conversion, because it so completely changes the base model.

Just check out the size of this guy:

conversion by candleshoes
Candleshoes' thread over at The Bolter and Chainsword has more pictures and a detailed writeup of what he did. Very impressive!

"But these are all loyalist variants!", I hear all the chaos players in the audience scream. Fear not! My buddy (and fellow World Eaters player) Biohazard is here to the rescue:

4. World Eaters Obliterators by Biohazard

Taking cues from some of the ideas outlined above, he has started his own Obliterator conversions:

conversions by Biohazard

Biohazard used the shoulder mounted weapons and dedicated quite a bit of work towards making the models look more dynamic. And you can also see where he has already started to add some bitz that will make these look suitably chaotic as well. My favourite detail has to be the set of chest mounted flamers on the left guy. I, for one, am very much looking forward to the finished models! Check out Biohazard's thread on Dakka to keep yourself updated about his progress!

And what about my own converted Centurions, codenamed "Behemoths"? Well, I am happy to say that I have two test models to show you as well:

5. World Eaters Behemoths by KrautScientist 

While "borrowing" some ideas here and there (the chest mounted flamers, for instance), I chose a slightly different approach, embracing the models' massive stature instead of trying to camouflage it: In my imagination, these guys advance across the battlefield slowly but relentlessly, their massive, armoured bodies turning enemy fire into mere pinpricks. As you can see, I did my best to make them look both chaotic and Khornate.

Finding the right bitz to decorate the Centurions (and make them look more ornate and archaic) is quite a challenge, because their size between a Terminator and a Dreadnought puts them out of scale with most (Chaos) Space Marine bitz. The solution I discovered was to use some Ogre Kingdoms bitz, which match their size and have the required, brutal look.

I also discovered that the Centurions' weapons and weapon housings are pretty simple to convert into any weapon you desire. This allowed me to equip my own Behemoths with two main weapons each:

The first model received an autocannon (stock heavy bolter plus Ork barrel) and a multimelta (siege drill housing plus melta barrels).

The second model was outfitted with a (stock) Lascannon and an assault cannon (another heavy bolter, this time with the barrels of a Heldrake's hades autocannon).

The kit will also need some careful planning, as the copious amount of yellow modelling putty might tell you: Glue it all together to soon, and these guys will probably become a nightmare to paint.

But in any case, I hope I've managed to show you that it's quite possible to convert these and to significantly change their look! And for me, owning a custom set of Obliterators is far preferrable to fielding the - rather ugly - stock models.

As always, I would love to hear your opinion: What do you think of the kit? Do you have your own ideas or actual Centurion conversions to share? I'd love to hear from you in the comments section!
And of course, you're always welcome to check out my blog at www.eternalhunt.wordpress.com to check out my progress on these guys ;)

This has been KrautScientist. Thanks for tuning in!


  1. Those look brilliant! Definitely helps make the idea of Centurions a little more appealing from a modeling standpoint.

  2. I think its an awesome kit. I knew when all the internet hate was out there that these kits would actually be better in person than in the pictures. I learned that lesson from the contemptor dread! The kit comes with tons of extra's to bolster your bits box. I really like these guys and as you've highlighted, to the experienced hobbist they are a great canvas to do some conversion work on. Well done on the write up Kraut.

  3. This is pretty much the best review article I have read for any kit, KS. You really took us through the whole kit and showed us example kitbashes, which has led to me deciding to get the kit for my Iron Warriors. Not only will I have centurion cyborgs from the deal but also a ton of bits to add that metal head character to my units. Thanks for putting so much effort into the review.

  4. And to be clear, this is a base size smaller than a monsterous creature base but larger than a terminator base? Are there other models with that base size?

  5. Thanks for the kind words, guys!

    @ TJ: You do me too much honour, sir ;) Although I have to say that these will probably look brilliantly for IW: I can easily see them using a more "technical" approach to the whole Obliterator thing.

    @ Fly Molo: The base is exactly halfway between a Terminator and a monster (Dreadnought) base, and I had honestly never seen this base size before buying the Centurion kit. As a matter of fact, ever since purchasing the 40k basing kit, I had been wondering why the bigger resin tiles were too big for the Termie bases I was sure they had been designed for. Somebody told me that some LoTR models came on this base size, but I cannot say whether that's true or not. The bases would admittedly be great to give a chaos lord (or similar character) some extra oomph on the basing front.