In the Dark of the Soul

When first introduced, the Abyssal Dwarfs were a hybrid army - they used metal bits on existing dwarf models.  Metal on plastic isn't the best solution, and the blacksouls have been  unavailable for quite some time.

However with the new Vanguard release for the Abyssal Dwarfs, a new hard plastic sprue is FINALLY available for one of Mantic's original armies!

The sprue not only has 20 Abyssal Dwarfs on it but it also has two mutated mastiffs as well (which can be used either to indicate the option on a unit, or to make the new chaff unit).

There are 5 body sculpts (2 of each), 13 different heads, 10 pairs of decimator arms (2 of each sculpt), 10 shields (in five sculpts), 11 hand weapons (5 sculpts that match the shoulders on the various shields, and one for a 'champion'), and one pointing arm.  Plus two mastiffs.  Unfortunately it does not have options for 2-handed weapons, though those look to be coming as a web exclusive metal upgrade from mantic (I was very disappointed when I saw these were listed as metal (same as the new Northern Alliance clansmen upgrades) as the old blackouls / decimators were prime examples of how metal and hard plastic don't work well together (they would be so much better if they were resin instead (c'mon - Kirsten doesn't actually need to sleep or eat or have a life - bring in the slave drivers and chain her to resin forges!  :-) ))

It does seem a little strange that the army known for it's big hats actually has two heads without helmets!  It is really nice however to see the end of the helmet toppers!

Being hard plastic, they go together easily and there are little to no mold lines to deal with.  Also, it is much easier to assemble two handed weapons (i.e. 4 of the 5 decimator sculpts) which require three pieces to be glued simultaneously when you can use plastic cement instead of super glue.

These are the ones I got in my Vanguard warband, so I made up five of each, to show off all the options.

Start with the mastiffs.  There are two sculpts for these

Nice models - though the heads are specifically keyed to the bodies - I would have preferred if these just had a flat join instead to both give some modelling options (though a head tilt on a war dog might be a bit more confusing that cute) as well as more easily be able to swap them between bodies.  Cutting the tab off the head should enable you to swap them if you want.

These are significantly larger than the old hybrid mutated throwing mastiff.  One they are now way too large for a dwarf to throw them, nor do they have handles strapped to their backs.  The old ones had metal heads (to make them different than the Dwarf mastiffs), and because of this I had to actually (finally) glue one to a base in order to show it with the new ones, as the weight of the head caused it to pitch forward onto it's face.

These will look great as a unit (though it seems a bit weird to me that the Mastiff Pack has the option to take a throwing mastiff (though I guess one is just charging ahead, not really being thrown by the others :-) )).

Next the Decimators.  I don't know how to properly describe what an improvement these are over the old hybrid kits (and I still have a bunch unassembled).  Simply being all hard plastic - they go together beautifully.  No more helmet toppers either!

The hats aren't quite as big, but are more than the normal dwarfs, as is the armor.  The only thing I don't care for is the solid ends of the blunderbusses - I plan to drill these out a bit (yes, half the old metal ones were also flat, so this is nothing new).

stupid stuntie moved in the second picture (that is my story and I'm sticking to it!)
For those who aren't as familiar with the old decimators, I did a couple of comparison shots from my Vanguard warband.

For all of my dwarfs, I've actually painted them with black skin and flaming orange hair/beards.

Then the blacksouls.  These were even simpler kits than the decimators, as they just added metal heads/hemet toppers (the same ones as the decimators) and shield bosses (so the shields weren't just flat blank like the dwarfs).

Again, the kits it great.  I did notice that the arms tend to pair up based on the armor on the shoulders, but if you don't care if the armor matches or not then you have a HUGE variety here.  Disappointing about not having 2-handed weapons, especially since these are going to be metal.  I made all my old ones with 2-handed weapons to help differentiate them from the Immortal Guard (which originally was also a hybrid kit, though later was redone in 'restic').  It is also nice to have the variety of shields.

(and yes, I was 2 bases short again, so had to dig out old ones that I had previously used and replaced (never throw any modeling components away!)).

I am wondering (now that I've assembled all I have) how the bodies might work (or not) with the traditional dwarf heads / arms - to make better dwarfs (the dwarf plastics are good, but they don't hold a candle to the new Vanguard resin and metal sculpts!).

Some comparison shots of my old blacksouls and the new plastics.  (I had to prop up the bases of the new models to make up for the cork on the bases of all the old ones).

The only one I could find with a shield was a model I had converted to be a slave driver (this the whip instead of a 'normal' weapon).
Overall some fantastic new plastics.  My issue is how many I am going to get even though I have 60 of the old blacksouls and 50+ of the old decimators painted already!

Because it is all fun and games . . .