By John Lester - images & text © 2008
The Baneblade super-heavy tank is part of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 gaming universe.
^ Parts are well molded
^ Main hull and road wheels
^ More hull and track parts
^ Weapons and accessories
I've never played the tabletop wargame version, but I thoroughly enjoy the Dawn of War computer game and its sequels. One of my absolute favorite things to do is unleash one of these bad boys on the battlefield because there is just no stopping them. Not easily, anyway. (And in the Lights of the Warp mod, where you can have more than one? Oh, rapture!)
This is the first injection-molded Baneblade (Forgeworld made a resin one some years back, if I remember correctly) and apparently the largest plastic model kit Games Workshop has ever made.
What You Get
Inside the hefty box are seven sprues of parts (Games Workshop calls them 'frames'), an instruction booklet and decals. There are over 250 parts, including two figures (a standing guy waving a sword and a tank commander). Optional parts are provided to make either the Baneblade or the closely-related Hellhammer infantry support tank.
If you've ever built a Games Workshop kit this one will look familiar. It has the same square runners, relatively large sprue attachments (though nowhere near as the ones AMT/ERTL liked to use) and same basic parts break down (hull hop, hull bottom, inner and outer sponsons, connected road wheels, link-and-length track, etc). Molding is very good: there was no flash, no short shots and no sink marks on my kit and very, very faint mold seam lines. Detail, a mix of raised and engraved, is crisply executed - it's also typical of Games Workshop. More on that in a moment.
Instructions are clearly presented in 17 assembly steps, illustrated by exploded diagrams showing where to place all the parts. As is the trend these days, the illustrations are photo-realistic computer renderings (vice actual drawings). There is no text, aside from the obligatory warnings about sniffing glue in six languages, and no paint guide. Options are mentioned on the back of the box and called out in the instructions with a couple of inset diagrams. Apparently these options consist solely of the different turret-mounted weapons for the Hellhammer - though if you didn't know that it was an option, you would be confused. You may also place the side-mounted turrets in different positions, but that's not mentioned in the instructions.
Pluses and Minuses
This is a big model - larger than almost any 1/35 scale tank I've built or seen built. There are a lot of parts, but they're not overly "fiddly". If this is like the other Games Workshop kits I've built - and I see no reason to doubt it is - then assembly should be straightforward, as much of a "slammer" as any kit I build. Putty will be needed, but not a lot.
That said, there several things I dislike (But to be fair, these are things that go with the whole Warhammer design ethos - your milage may certainly vary). First, what is with all the gigantic rivets? 40,000 years in the future and they've forgotten how to weld? Or cast? And feel the spall problem isn't bad enough so they have to use rivets as big as a softball (in scale)? Every surface is encrusted with raised rivets and bolt heads - where there isn't a large, stylized Imperial eagle. Or a skull - because Space Marines and Imperial Guard apparently have this fetish about skulls. There are even little, sharply-molded skulls on the extra fuel tanks. The track, which looks like no armored vehicle track I've ever seen, has eagles embossed on it as well. And those figures with their tiny bodies and giant heads .... On the plus side, they are molded better than quite a few mainstream military figure kits.
OK, so this model wasn't made with me in mind - it's for tabletop gaming, not static scale modeling. I'll deal with that as I do with any Games Workshop vehicle kit: shave off the rivets with my trusty micro-chisel and cover up or replace the panels with the embossed eagles. The track is going to be a challenge, however. The links/lengths fit in a very specific order, and I can't just flip them over (so that that wacky tread detail is on the inside). Nor can I replace it with track from a "real" tank model - it's too wide for 1/35 scale and too narrow for 1/16. I could cover up/build up the detail with styrene strips and sheet, or I could make a new track and replicate it many times in resin. Either way will be tedious. The vignette I have planned for this has me leaning towards making my own track - and replacing all the bolters and heavy guns with more 'realistic' counterparts.
The other thing I dislike? The kit is priced pretty high when compared with contemporary military armor kits. The latest from Dragon, AFV Club or Trumpeter will set you back $55-$65 USD, depending where you get them, and will have turned aluminum or brass parts, photoetch and dozens of options. You'll be hard-pressed to find any Games Workshop kits for even a little less than the MSRP. If I hadn't seen this on sale for a significant discount I would have passed, no matter how much I like the subject.
Games Workshop's Baneblade looks to be a decent model. My criticisms have nothing to do with the parts as they're intended to be built up. If you want this thing to sow fear amongst your Necron, Ork or Tau (Space Marines know not the meaning of the word) enemies, then you'll be happy with what's in the box. If you want something to drive the IPMS contest judges nuts when you plonk it down in the "Armor" category, you'll have some work to do.
Many thanks to my wallet for providing the review sample. Manufacturers and retailers, interested in getting your wares reviewed and publicized on a site averaging 3500+ readers a day? Contact us!
This page copyright © 2008 Starship Modeler. First posted on 20 March 2008.