Next to the iconic space marine in power armour, perhaps the most recognizable, representatively '40K' image of the hobby is that of the dreadnought, the lumbering, towering, two-legged engine of mechanized, armoured fury that has been a constant in Imperial armies since the days of Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader V1. There have been good dreadnought kits (virtually all of the pewter versions of the present, familiar 'square sarcophagus' design, which pushed metal-model construction about as far as it could go), bad dreadnought kits (virtually all of the 'rounded' designs which preceded the above, and which looked clumsier and more primitive than ork versions of the same era) and ugly dreadnought kits (the inexplicably insectoid, four-armed 'Space Crusade' designs, though 'strange' is probably a fairer description than overtly ugly). As Citadel have increasingly converted to plastics, dreadnought kits have gone from strength to strength, from the standard multipart/multiarm dread to the 'Assault on Black Reach' snapfit dread to the awesome Ironclad dread.
But the brand-new, all-plastic Venerable Dreadnought kit represents a new standard, for this line of iconic models.
Molded in the familiar Citadel high-quality hard styrene, the new kit packs some 75 pieces onto the sprue, all of them rife with detail and cast virtually flash free. The details catch the eye initially--there are rivets, aquila, skulls, terminator- and battle-honours and scrollwork all over the parts--but what quickly becomes more impressive is the amount of customization sculptors Colin Grayson and Tom Walton have incorporated into their design: this Venerable Dreadnought has not only the expected multiple plastic weapon arms (including, for the first time, an all-plastic plasma cannon and an anthropomorphic power fist like those seen in 'Hours Heresy' artwork) and a wealth of accessory options--it has *seven* different sarcophagus shapes and four additional front armour plate designs.
The sarcophagus varieties particularly impressed me: the gothic breastplate/helmet/arch look familiar from various Forge World resin dreadnought options and the previous metal VenDread is there in two versions (and three helmets!), and these will no doubt prove popular design choices--but there are also two 'flat front' looks which echo the traditional dreadnought faces in more ornate style, both of which can be built with or without visors depending on whether the constructor wishes the entombed space marine to be visible...and the model can even be built *without* a front plate at all, with the dreadnought's operator exposed head-and-torso (an especially appealing option for those whose chapters dictate different colours for personal armour and vehicles, such as my Void Phantoms, though it has an undeniably disturbing, 'chaotic' look which will form the basis for many a Renegade conversion, I suspect).
The multiple weapon arms can be built modularly two ways: if a hobbyist finds one of the three shoulder guard designs especially preferable he can affix those permanently then 'slot in' the chosen gun from game-to-game, or if he wants certain arm accessories (ammo hopper, power pack, etc) to match the chosen gun arm, there are sufficient housings to allow whole arm switches on an as-needed basis.
And the Venerable Dreadnought kit is compatible with the other three current Citadel plastic dreadnoughts, for even more modularization.
Games Workshop has treated the 'dreadnought among dreadnoughts' with deserving respect through the release of this new plastic kit. Virtually every space marine commander, when going to war on the tabletop, takes a dreadnought along; now none of them need look quite the same.