Realm of Chaos – Nurgle’s Children 2018 #6: 3rd Wave Plaguebearers (2001) 3rd Wave Plaguebearer Command (2007). #Squaduary Painting Challenge Success. #Fembruary Painting Challenge Success.

Here’s the next batch of 12 completed Plaguebearers, fresh(!) from the paint queue. This bunch has been painted with a washed-out, pale fleshy base with ruddy-flesh accents and the odd bit of purplish tentacle-worminess.

3.5 Wave Warhammer Plaguebearers of Nurgle Command 2007

First up for “showcasing” are the command group. While they do look okay once fully painted, the actual figures are (forgive the pun) disgustingly bad, lazy, pathetic sculpts. I did a musician before I found the bunch of 27 figures that this dozen came from, and was dubious about the way the details like the bell are joined to the body, but having now painted the trio of them, I can honestly say that they’re really shit figures that were clearly rushed into production and rushed out the door to release alongside the 40k 4th Edition Chaos Daemons Codex and WHFB 5th Edition Warhammer Armies Daemons of Chaos.

3.5 Wave Warhammer Plaguebearers of Nurgle Command 2007

I’m not sure who sculpted these, I’m not even sure if it was the same sculptor that did the others from the 2001 release, if a trainee just went over the top of some masters, but they should definitely feel bad about such shoddy work. EDIT – Turns out it was Aly Morrison all along. For both the originals and the Command Group. Credit to Krautscientist and his old collection of German WDs for checking it.

Pretty much just smushing greenstuff between bits of sculpted detail to join things together “because Nurgle” is lazy and pathetic. Sure, much of that is hidden between and under other details, but having large areas of basically no detail bit lines poked into the sculpt is not up to scratch, especially for the prices that GW was charging even in 2009. Seriously, look at the “drips” of muck. That’s childish toy cartoon levels of detail, not expertly crafted miniature detail.

3rd Wave Warhammer Plaguebearers of Nurgle 2001

Here’s two pairs of duplicate figures. While the aesthetic could easily be questioned on these, the sculpting in the finer details is miles ahead of that found on the command models. I’ve used Citadel’s Blood for the Blood God (a dark, glossy clear red) in their open wounds, though you can’t really tell in the photos. As with the Spartan Shield on the Minotaur Captain, it ends up looking quite flat when photographed.

3rd Wave Warhammer Plaguebearers of Nurgle 2001

When I was painting these, and drawing closer to getting them finished, I was also thinking about Alex’s theme for February: Fembruary. Which is to paint some female miniatures during the month. I got to thinking – and I’m entirely serious here – this 3rd wave of Plaguebearer sculpts – this particular lot – could just as easily be “female” as “male” in pretty much any breakdown of figures.

3rd Wave Warhammer Plaguebearers of Nurgle 2001

Let’s look at the facts. Plaguebearers are created from the victims of Nurgle’s Rot in the lore. Nurgle’s Rot effects civilians and whole populations just as much as it does military, so there’s no real weighting there, even if you go with the idea that military forces in the Imperium are overwhelmingly male (until they update things like the Imperial Guard figure ranges, hopefully!). To quote GW: “These loathsome Lesser Daemons are crafted from the blighted soul-stuff of mortals who have been slain by Nurgle’s Rot.” So there’s that.

3rd Wave Warhammer Plaguebearers of Nurgle 2001

Beyond that, we’ve got physical appearance. Let’s go with sexual organs first. They clearly all have uncovered secondary sexual organs (bare breasts/pectorals). They’re not sculpted in any kind of way to engage the prurient interest, but that’s not what we’re looking at. Scroll up and look at those chests. Do they look more male or more female? Some each way? All a bit asexual? Primary sexual organs? Well, these aren’t sculpts by Mierce or Brother Vinni, so there’s no Tab A or Slot B on any model in the range. But then, what did you expect?

2nd Wave Plaguebearer of Nurgle 1995/6, 3rd Wave Warhammer Plaguebearers of Nurgle 2001

There’s a 2nd Wave Plaguebearer in the middle here. I’ll write about them in the next Plaguebearer update.

Of course, they’re all ugly as fuck. And we’re conditioned at this point to expect our female figures – by and large – to be beautiful, with maybe a Troll Hag or Female Ogre or a haggard witch being the exceptions. Check any Imperial Sister, or Eldar model, or any sorceress or female Warrior or Bard or almost anything from Reaper or Avatars of War or Privateer Press or… We’re talking overwhelmingly beautiful and/or explicitly “sexy”. Male figures, on the other hand can be as ugly as you like, and I think that’s a big part of why we (myself included until a couple of days ago) consider models like this to all be male, when they’re actually not really defined one way or another.

2nd Wave Plaguebearer of Nurgle 1995/6, 3rd Wave Warhammer Plaguebearers of Nurgle 2001

I’m sure that Ann’s Becky the Bloat Drone and our conversation around that in the comments of my declaration post for Fembruary were what laid the seeds for this epiphany. And so, with that:

With 100% seriousness, I’m calling several members (at least) of this daemon pack a successful submission for Alex’ Fembruary Painting Challenge 2018. I still intend to complete some more “traditional” female models as well.

I’m also calling this dozen models, all started this month a successful submission for the Squaduary Painting Challenge, for all the reasons stated above. It’ll probably continue to go under Stepping Between Games‘ radar, because I ain’t signing up for either Disqus or Twitter for a single paint challenge, unless Ann or Westrider wants to give them the heads-up.

I’m entirely sure I’ll get the other 15 Plaguebearers done this month as well, though maybe not this weekend, because Pandemic Legacy and NJPW. I’m also sure that IRO will appreciate the ridiculously long post title that including it in all of these categories has entailed. Funnily enough, these haven’t been neglected (started but unfinished) miniatures, so they don’t count for my own challenge… 😉

Oldhammer Metal Plaguebearers of Nurgle

I thought this picture might be a nice way to wrap up this post. All of my painted Plaguebearers. If I need to, I can segregate them by skin tone, but I prefer to have them all mixed together in a messy horde of Nurgle’s children, even if they’re in packs of 10. Roll on completion of the next dozen in the next skin tone!

30 thoughts on “Realm of Chaos – Nurgle’s Children 2018 #6: 3rd Wave Plaguebearers (2001) 3rd Wave Plaguebearer Command (2007). #Squaduary Painting Challenge Success. #Fembruary Painting Challenge Success.

  1. I think those Plague Bearers, including the command group, were sculpted by Aly Morrison…? I remember the command group being released quite a bit later than the standard Plaguebearers, though, so your theory about a rushed release probably has some merit. The command group models are indeed pretty terrible, while some of the regular Plaguebearers are pretty cool, if rather uneven. I think both Khorne and Nurgle really got the short end of the stick when the 2nd edition lesser daemons were upgraded: Juan Diaz’ Daemonettes, on the other hand, were brilliant, and the super-weird horrors from the same wave of releases were a bit of an acquired taste, but rather interesting from a conceptual standpoint.

    Anyway, I think you’ve done the best you could with the materials you were given. I call BS on your calling these a proper Fembruary submission, though 😉 Your reasoning may be sound (I can actually see some female characteristics in one particular Plaguebearer model), this still seems like sidestepping the task of finishing a “proper” female model 😉

    Seriously, though: Good work! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aly Morrison sounds possibly wrong to me, actually. I’ve seen both him and Dixon credited with the 2nd wave, and these are dramatically different in style even beyond the obvious. It’s much harder with these ranges that leaked into the “no credit for scuptors” GW days, but the command models could easily have been done by a trainee using the original 3rd wave models as base models (musician is a mod of “sword overhead” guy), so I’d be hesitant to even give the 3rd wave sculptor the full blame there.
      Diaz’ Daemonettes and the restyling of the Horrors were the only true high points of the Lesser Daemon redesigns, in my opinion. There were okay elements of some of the others (such as some of these Plaguebearers like “skullface” and “spineback”, but by and large, they were disappointing compared to their forebears. I’;ve got a couple of the Horrors, and I’ve definitely got some Diaz Seekers and maybe some Daemonettes? I’ll check once I get up to Slaanesh.

      As for gender issues? Nah, not BS at all. If it were “Bro-bruary” and the brief was to “paint some dudes” then who would argue if I submitted these Plaguebearers or even the entirely asexual Horrors? Besides, I still plan to finish the Sorceress and the Escher, so think of these as additive rather than replacements or task-avoidance. (Oh, that “sack-like” object viewed from their rear is swollen potbelly overhang, not male undercarriage!) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was almost prepared to agree with you regarding the sculptor of those Plaguebearers, but I dug into my collection of old WD issues, and both the Plaguebearers AND the command group are attributed to Aly Morrison, at least to my (German) copies of WD. However, not only were they released a whopping six years apart, but the command group was already released alongside the – then brand new – plastic Bloodthirsters and Daemonettes. Which I think might explain the shodiness of the sculpt: With a new iteration of plastic lesser daemons, the writing was already on the wall, so Aly might be forgiven for maybe not giving his all when designing these? 😉 That being said, I find that there’s very little middle ground on Aly Morrison’s sculpts — they are either brilliant or, erm, an acquired taste — this from someone who couldn’t sculpt his way out of a wet cardboard box, though, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

        I am happy to yield the floor to you regarding the Plaguebearer sex debate, however, if only because I’d rather not keep discussing Nurgle naughty bitz 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Cool – thank you for checking up on the Aly-ness of the sculpts. I’ve updated the post with the new info and credited yourself.
        As for Aly in general, I just had a think about it and couldn’t really think of any distinct models sculpted by him, aside from the Marauder range. Having done a little bit of looking around, I found this:
        Which really just shows that he’s a “workmanlike” sculptor for the most part. Not great but not awful, lots of figures that were just …there. I think Trish and her monsters with silly looking oversized cornflake scales has been more divisive over the years, though…


  2. I’ve been saying for a while now that it seems odd that the chaos gods, and all their daemons, are almost universally referred to as male. I mean, these are beings that don’t even respect the laws of physics, or maintain a consistent physical form. Why would they be bound to something as trivial as one species’s gender conventions?

    And even more so since they don’t actually reproduce sexually, so the presence or absence of what we think of as gender-signifying physical characteristics is entirely irrelevant.

    Seanan McGuire has some interesting relevant bits regarding “mermaids” turning out to be the males of their species in Into the Drowning Deep. That was part of what got me thinking about stuff like this recently.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think it’s mostly leftover terms from 20-30 years ago when this stuff was first envisioned (stolen from other sources). That and “Star Trek” syndrome where every alien race looks like a human in a rubber mask.
      I’m fine with male and female representations of Daemons – I just don’t think that they need to be exclusively one way or another.

      Daemonettes and the other daemons of Slaanesh are hermaphrodites, and have always been depicted that way (single beast, ahoy!) Though as a result they have also always gotten the “female daemon” thing a lot. Their lazy name probably has a bit to do with that. And of course, all female champions of chaos have to be worshippers of Slaanesh (until recently, at least!)

      But I’m fine with Bloodletters and Bloodthirsters being predominantly (or even exclusively) depicted as male, since Khorne is all about the overindulgence of testosterone in a sense. Doesn’t mean that the mortal followers or Daemon Princes (Princesses?) can’t be female or of female origin, though.

      Nurgle stuff is clearly “human” based, though it’s asexual wheras Slaanesh is hermaphroditic. Because while Slaanesh and Daemnettes are about sensuality and sensation and seduction, Plaguebearers are about simple addition and numeracy. Bumping uglies to them is simply Plaguebearers stumbling into one another while counting poxes, and they’ve always been depicted as the fate of mortals, so of course they’re of both male AND female origins. Great Unclean Ones are sort-of male, but mostly because of the “Papa Nurgle” thing, but then again the models could easily be either.

      Tzeentch horror stuff is pretty much genderless as opposed to asexual. Maybe the big birdies can have male or female characteristics – mostly male, because of the same “default” setting that the GUOs have. I haven;t looked closely at the chests of any of the Lords of Change past the original model, that incidentally needs to be a Completed Neglected Model sometime this year…

      The Seanan McGuire seems interesting. Do you have a link?


  3. Whatever the case concerning their gender or lack thereof, etc . etc. I do have to say those are some nice plaguebearers, Azazel. I do think it is fun to call something like a bloat drone or a bunch of sexless daemons “she” rather than as the (unconsciously) default “he” which many people kind of just assume.

    As I work my way through my own plaguebearers I find that some of them strike me as male, others as females, and yet others as hermaphroditic or entirely sexless. Quite the gender potpourri those wacky plaguebearers exhibit for a bunch of, as WestRider says, “beings that don’t even respect the laws of physics.” Kind of makes them even more fun for me, I have to admit.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Ann. It can be fun to subvert the status quo just for shits and giggles, but then again, there’s no reason that a sexless and ugly model needs to automatically default to being a “he” either. Especially with some of the physical characteristics that they sport, as you say about the new plastic plaguebearers.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s true. My plague bearer champion, who I’m working on now, is definitely a She. Mouthy strikes me as one of the sexless daemons for some reason.

        The threads of this discussion remind me of stuff that got talked about in various courses I took in college back in the ’80’s in terms of writing papers. It was kind of fun to write my latest blog post self-consciously not referring to Mouthy as he or she (or zim or zem if we want to start to go beyond the Binary as well!) because I wanted to present the daemon as sexless without making a thing of it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I think some of them are definitely sexless/genderless, though to me those would be more the models like Tzeentchian Horrors, though I’ll have to check their anatomy when I get to painting them to be sure. 😉

        Beasts and Plague Flies and Blight/Bloat Drones would also fit in here, if we’re keeping it Nurgle, and after looking at the models a bit more, the GUOs could be a mix just as much as the Plaguebearers.

        The lore behind the PBs is something that I felt backed up my perception of the models rather than the other way around, since the thoughts literally came to me while painting them – they were all “male” to me, pretty much just by default before that moment.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The horrors I have do strike me as being somewhat sexless. Yeah, I agree with your there about the plaguebearers; pretty much anyone and everyone is fair game so far as being turned into one goes, that’s for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Daemonettes would be an interesting one. Despite the name they’re supposed to be hermaphroditic and of course, very sexual. I imagine they’d have a mixture of “feminine” and “masculine” personalities and traits, regardless of what equipment they’re carrying, and a propensity to “flip” when it strikes their fancy. Interesting to see how the Keepers of Secrets have slowly morphed from androgynous cattle-heads to much more the feminine “succubi” trope over the years as well.

        …I really gotta paint my other three old-school Greater Daemons this year. Even if I do no other non-Nurgle daemons.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Cracking job mate, and good shout on calling out our assumptions on Daemon gender – great talking point! Fluff-wise, you are spot on… all victims of Nurgle’s Rot turn into Plague Bearers, male or female. Works for me dude 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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