This time, we did it right, and made sure we had time to see everything before rolling out. First off, a tour of the Warhammer World exhibition is well worth the price of admission (£7.50, as it happens). I'd been a few years back (well, perhaps more than a few...), courtesy of a friend then working there, but the scale of the current gallery of models and dioramas past, present and future is a far cry from what I remember.
The 'tour' takes you through several rooms, starting with the 'nostalgia hall', showing off classic models from the early days of Citadel/GW. I seem to recall this being more extensive; as it is, it's a little brief for my liking - I would have loved to see more of the old toys. Still, it did include these two beauties, which are just as good as I remember:
|Warhammer Quest. A lovely, characterful diorama, with some great touches, such as the Wizard's hat getting transfixed by an arrow and a Trollslayer about to fall through a trapdoor.|
|Lustria. A simple scene, lacking the complexity of some, but telling a superb story of a rescue mission and an interrupted sacrifice. I can't remember if this accompanied a specific release or not, but it's stuck with me!|
From Nostalgia, the exhibition leads into Warhammer/Age of Sigmar, showing off Studio paint-jobs for what I believe is every model in the current range. Impressive, to be sure, but it was still the dioramas that caught the eye. The standouts for me were these three:
|The first of two paired dioramas for Age of Sigmar, this one shows Wood Elves (or whatever they're called these days) sweeping from the forest to overrun an Orc warband.|
|From the relatively subtle, the dioramas swing upwards to the colossal, such as this Nurgle army marching out from their fortress.|
There were some that just didn't photograph well, unfortunately, such as a 360-degree Skaven vs Dwarves scene with the combat taking place through a honeycomb of caves and tunnels.
Feeling philosophical, I did comment that the dioramas seem to be a perfect metaphor for the evolution of the GW Hobby - from small and quirky to big, brash and just plain more. The huge dioramas include lots of lovely little touches, but you do have to hunt for them a bit, or just stumble onto them by looking at it just right...
From the Warhammer hall, it's through into the Imperium of Man, a hall given over to Space Marines, Imperial Guard and all those chaps. Perhaps I'm just not a fan of the Marines as much as I used to be, but this hall I went round pretty quickly. The highlight was the awe-inspiring Pilgrym terrain and gangs by such folk as Jeff Vader and the Iron Sleet guys. Having worked with Johan (Jeff Vader) on a couple of projects for Osprey, this was one of the main reasons for my visit, and I'm pleased to say that it's even better in real life than it looks in the photos I've seen online and in White Dwarf (and that's saying something!).
After the Imperium comes the 'Enemies of Mankind' hall, given over to everything that isn't a Marine or a Guardsman. I absolutely believe the anecdotes about GW selling one Marine for every other model if the balance shown in the exhibition is anything to go by!
|A classic Crimson Fists vs. Orks scene? Yes, please.|
The conclusion of the tour is really phenomenal. A colossal scene that fills a stairwell, with Khornate forces assaulting a Marine-held fortification. You enter it at the top, looking down from spires and towers on a battlescene that comes into focus as you circle down around it. It's a mammoth work, and needs to be seen to be believed.
Then, in the grand tradition of all good tours, it's out via the gift shop!
All told, I really enjoyed the trip, and with dozens of games tables and Bugman's Bar on the premises as well, it kinda made me wish I had a Warhammer army to play with. Then again, having seen the new Age of Sigmar Orcs up close, I am tempted...