I picked up the Skaven Gnawhole kit last week. Here's a detailed look at this simple, but very versatile scenery kit:
The set comes with two unique sprues, each of which builds one gnawhole. There are three of each sprue in the box.
The Portal and Rocks
To build the set, you assemble the two halves of the portal base, and then attach six rock pieces around the perimeter. The rocks can be arranged in a number of different configurations, so each gnawhole can look unique. The instructions don't explicitly point this out though, so someone building their kit "by the book" might not notice that they can build them differently.
Three of the rocks have square pegs that fit into the portal base and form a post hole for the scaffolding.
These large rocks are all sculpted with the same attachment points, so they all line up with the post hole and can fit in any of the three positions around the base.
Between the large rocks, are round pegs that the three remaining pieces fit over.
As with the large rocks, these will also fit in any position around the portal. They all have the same attachment points and fittings, so you can mix and match the parts in any combination across your three gnawholes. Pretty cool!
When assembling mine, I took care to only glue the rocks together and avoided getting glue on the portal bases. This allows me to spray prime and paint the rocks and the portal separately, which should help speed up the process.
The Scaffolding and Censors
When it comes to the scaffolding, I looked over the parts and, unfortunately, they only fit together one way. The parts are engineered with very specific attachment points, and would require cutting and a little sculpting to rearrange them. The spacing for the legs is also very particular, in order for the scaffolding to fit properly into the rocks.
Another thing I noticed was that some of the part separations are made in such a way that the join causes a seam to run right across the wood grain, when it could have been moved a few millimeters to the side so it would have aligned with the edge of a metal bracket or tie. Not a huge issue, just a pet peeve of mine considering the level of engineering that goes into most of GW's recent kits. I probably wouldn't have minded this if it was in an effort to allow the scaffolding to have more modularity, but since it can only fit one way, there's no reason for it. A few minor tweaks could have allowed the parts to join seamlessly without affecting the molding process or sprue layout.
Once each piece of scaffolding is assembled, they can be arranged in any position around the rocks, so you can still have a lot of variety between the three gnawholes by using different arrangements or doubling-up the pieces of scaffolding.
The kit also comes with a number of censor accessories. I've left each them on a bit of sprue and attached them to sticks for priming and painting. They will be glued in place at the end.
When I first saw the kit promoted on GW's community site, I suspected that it was the same digital asset used for the screaming bell kit. It is– shrunk down 25-30 percent.
All in all, this is a great kit, and a perfect accessory for Skaven modelers in general. In addition to the gnawholes themselves and how they are used in a Skaventide army, a second kit gives you a ton of parts to use in other Skaven-themed conversions and scenery projects–
Loads of scaffolding and timbers that you can use to "Skaven-up" other scenery kits, or add extra detail to Skaven machines like the Plagueclaw, Warp Lightning Cannon, or Screaming Bell:
Lots of rocks that can be used as basing elements for your monsters, or on other scenery:
And a handful of spare censors and braziers that could be made into objectives, or that could add some flair to other kits. I'll be using my extra parts to make more Plague Censor Bearers:
I've got all the parts for my gnawholes built and primed, ready for painting. I'll need to look over my collection and put together an army list with the new battletome, but it won't be long before my Skaven are ready to spill forth from their filthy lairs and plague the realm of men once again!