Thursday, 30 April 2020

My Top 10 Warhammer Artillery Kits

I've been lax on content of late (don't worry, the rest of Great Canon: Teclis is coming, albeit very slowly), so here's a really shameless listicle on a subject close to my heart that was halfway completed anyway.

If you've read at least one post on this blog, you'll probably have taken away that I like artillery a whole bunch. This is owing to two things, a dislike of having to move my models very often, owing to laziness and limited upper body strength; and the unique dioramic feel a well modelled war machine and its attendant crew evoke. Probably on account of having started the hobby with Dwarfs, I've never naturally gravitated towards big monsters (or even cavalry), resulting in a lot of my armies' centre piece models intended to grab attention (and painting nominations) being small groups of blokes in grubby uniforms stuffing elaborate contraptions with inanimate objects that they hope with will be impacting off the enemy and not getting jammed, forcing a roll on the dreaded misfire table.

Games Workshop have put out some incredible artillery models over the years, and without further introduction here are my favourites:

Honourable Mention: Chaos Dwarf Siege Gun (1989)

This model was never going to make it on to any kind of serious list, but I was never going to write an article on my favourite artillery pieces from GW and not include it.

Pictures taken from

The Chaos Dwarf Siege Cannon, or Daemon Ass Cannon as it's more popularly known, was made very briefly available by GW via mail order in spring 1989, before being quickly discontinued before it ever hit stores. I have no idea why.

Resculpt by Clam

The Siege Cannon's enjoyed a wave of post internet popularity in the intervening decades, becoming a sought after collector's piece reaching astronomical prices on eBay, and spawning a string of resculpts and converted reimaginings by hobbyists.

Honourable Mention: Helblaster Volley Gun (1992)

The original Helblaster Volley Gun isn't a lot to write home about, a dinky affair with a weird gargoyle face poking out of the middle, instantly made negligible by its vastly improved, much bigger successors, but oh baby that crew.

Painted by Game of Travel

Sculpted by Alan Perry, they're all brilliant, easily ranking among GW's most definitive Empire models, but the standout has got to be 'Engineer Leonardo', a unique mini of obvious influence, who's inadvertently gone on to become a fixture of Blood Bowl coaching staffs to this day.

10. Orc Rock Lobber (1992)

Don't get me wrong, I like the post Brian Nelson orcs who look like they're strong enough to rip and bash to shape the crude bits of wood and metal their weapons and armour are made out of, but something's got to be said for the prior slouching, Pug-faced generations of Warhammer greenskins, who learnt (a basic level of) metal working and engineering at the feet of the Chaos Dwarfs, and put them to use with intricate, but still suitably childish and crude flare.

Painted by Saulot

The 4th edition Rock Lobber is, for me the pinnacle of GW's previous orcs, maintaining the unique grinning gothic aesthetic established by Kev Adams and the Perry twins across previous kits, cemented by 4th ed miniatures more defined, static style. I love the boss's hat!

9. Bronzino's Galloper Guns (1998)

A regiment of renown introduced with Warhammer Armies: Dogs of War, the Galloper Gun's quintessential of the Nigel Stillman and the Perry twins at the time, being a pretty weird and little known historical concept not looking remotely out of place on a fantasy battlefield. These were great fun to play with, combining the dynamism of the guess range rules for cannonballs at the time with the opportunity to zip around the battlefield, lining up the perfect shot in an enemy flank.

I've always been very taken with Bronzino's peg leg, a nice subtle indicator that supervision of experimental blackpowder weaponry of your own devising's probably not a job anyone has for very long. Despite their charm, the Galloper Guns haven't aged fantastically, the barrels being smaller than those of the handguns wielded by Empire infantry released less than a decade later.

8. Chaos Dwarf Earthshaker Cannon (1993)

Peak 90s Warhammer has never shone through more strongly than on this model, which if you squint wouldn't look out of place in a Mario game. The cannon's a bit diminutive by today's standards, but was huge at the time of release, making the Dwarf artillery of the time look like a collection side arms by comparison - anything Dwarfs do, Chaos Dwarfs do bigger, better and nastier. The ceremony given to the shell by the crew makes the piece, conveying a really cool little narrative. In a familiar pattern for artillery crew, the two guys bearing the shell are also Blood Bowl staples, as stretcher bearing apothecaries.

7. Empire Great Cannon/Mortar (2000)

Don't pretend I don't see you raising an eyebrow and asking how such an unspectacular looking kit made the list - the plastic Empire Great Cannon/Mortar kit, released with the 6th edition of WFB in 2000 is here for two reasons.

Painted by Gwinn

First off, it's GW's first multipart plastic artillery piece (unless you count Battle Masters. Nobody wants to count Battle Masters), and at it's time of release was revolutionary, with a sprue festooned with crew and war machine options, and enough accessories like barrels, crates and cannonballs to make a dioramic scene entirely of your own devising from, paving the way for everything that followed.

Painted by Dave Taylor

Second is that the kit's understated nature disguises an unrivalled versatility for painters and converters alike, with the Great Cannon and Mortar lending themselves to detailed wood grain freehand, and dynamic artillery placement basing dioramas; while the crew (and wheels for that matter) are interchangeable with every other plastic Empire kit every made, allowing for some truly bespoke hobby opportunities.

6. Gnoblar Scraplauncher (2011)

I like my mini dioramas, and this kit is insane. Equal parts Snotling Pump Wagon, Rock Lobber, Galloper Gun and car boot sale, every inch of this mini is perfectly utilised, with each of the attendant gnoblar crew, the firing mechanism, most of the scrap and even the expression on the rhinox's face telling a story. If I had to complain about it, I'd decry the lack of customisation options, ensuring that if anyone were to run more than one Scrap Launcher they'd both look jarringly identical without a lot of conversion work, and uniformity's probably not the intended theme with this kind of contraption.

5. High Elf Repeater Bolt Thrower (2005)

The plastic High Elf Repeater Bolt Thrower's this far up the list because it's a perfect refinement of the three previous High Elf Bolt Throwers released by GW across the decades, building on what had preceded it and perfecting it, in plastic no less. Bolt throwers are an evocative hallmark of Warhammer's elves, and I'm really hoping they figure into the Lumineth in some way.

Painted by Stuart of the Old World Army Challenge

4. Malakai Makaisson's Goblin Hewer (2004)

If you've ever had the misfortune of pinning and gluing one of these together you're probably wondering why it's on the list at all. The Goblin Hewer debuted in 2004 as a regiment of renown during the Storm of Chaos worldwide campaign, and disappeared shortly afterwards. It had such a unique, distinctly Warhammery design, that I'm still gutted to this day that nobody at GW thought to knock up a non slayer crew for it and include it as a rare choice in the Dwarf army book released the following year (ideally with a plastic kit to mitigate the amount thrown across the room mid assembly).

Painted by G

Special shout out to the the axe rack and hewn goblin. Who knows, maybe a version of the Goblin Hewer will figure in to a future duardin release; Malakai Makaisson's apparently still out there in the Mortal Realms and patenting flushing toilets (Realmslayer and Eight Lamentations: Spear of Shadows both from the Black Library, look it up), so anything's possible. Would look equally cool crewed by Fyreslayers or on the prow of  Kharadron skyvessel.

3. MM13 Dwarf Siege Gun (1988)

Commonly known as the Marauder Dwarf Cannon, I'll never not love the siege gun and its distinctly droopy puff 'n slash Imperial Dwarf crew.

Painted by Jeffery Egan
2. Halfling Hot Pot (1992)

If I need to explain what a Halfling Hot Pot is, how it works, or why it's this high on the list, it then it's not for you, please scroll down to the next entry.

1. The Goblobber (1987)

You either started reading this article knowing that the Goblobber was going to be take the top spot, or have never seen a Goblobber before, I'm delighted to introduce you to it. Calling it a coincidence on GW's part, and not the fact I skipped lunch today that the top two entries on this list have a culinary theme...

Painted by Jaeckel Alone (I'm too embarrassed to post
photos of my own Goblobber next to his)
The Goblobber oozes subtle detail, and through the machine and crew, easily communicates the story of a group of dwarfs, who running low on rocks decided to start firing flaming bits of goblin prisoner at the enemy instead (wonderfully told on the back of the box and in White Dwarf ads).

The onager itself is great, especially the yolk with it's weird dwarfy face before conventional dwarf ancestor faces were a thing, and the bits of hacked up goblin decorating the front and tying it to the crew.

Each member of the crew numbers among my favourite dwarf models of all time, immediately apparent exactly what their role is, and how much they enjoy doing it.

And that's it for my top 10 Warhammer artillery pieces! Have a favourite kit you think I skipped? Don't know why the Ass Cannon didn't make the actual top 10? Want to know more about any of the war machines featured? Hit me up in the comments or on social media.

1 comment:

  1. I have one of those orc/goblin rock lobbers! Managed to get it (sans crew sadly) for £5 in an odds-and-ends shop. Currently working on basing it up as a counts-as Squig Gobba for my AOS gobbos. Wonderful sculpt, it has to be said!