Horus Heresy – Contemptor Dreadnought

We move the size class a bit, covered the infantry already, now it is time for the walking tombs, the Contemptor Dreadnought from the Horus Heresy Age of Darkness boxed set.

Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought

The classic dreadnought we know from the 90s is classified as Castraferrum Pattern Mark V Dreadnought, with the variants that were released by Forge World as Mark IV with slightly slender / less bulky proportions. But the Contemptor Dreadnought is actually something picked up from the era of Rogue Trader and reconnected with the lore for the Horus Heresy.

The basic function of a Dreadnought within a Space Marine legion or chapter is the same. The remains of a wounded soldier are embedded into these weaponized tombs and he can once again serve alongside his brothers. The Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought precedes the Horus Heresy and is much taller and more flexible than the Castraferrum Pattern, that has become the most common during the 41st millennium. Based upon the Contemptor were further "sub-classes" or variants, if you want to call them that, for heavier or special uses. Like the heavy support Deredeo Pattern Dreadnought (once again picked up from the times of Rogue Trader as you can see from the picture from the old Citadel Annual) or the up-armoured Leviathan Pattern Siege Dreadnought.

Citadel Annual - Space Marine Contemptor Dreadnought Warhammer 40,000 - Space Marine Dreadnought 2nd Edition

The regular weapon load-out for a Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought is a twin-linked Heavy Bolter / Gravis Bolt Cannon and a Dreadnought Close Combat Weapon usually with an inbuilt Storm Bolter. Depending on his mission, the weaponry can be exchanged for a variety of options, like a Gravis Melta Cannon, Gravis-Autocannon, Gravis Lascannon, and the inbuilt Storm Bolter replaced with Heavy Flamer, Melta Gun, Graviton Gun or Plasma Blaster. As well as a carapace mounted Havoc Launcher. Note that some of the weapon descriptions are different from Warhammer 40,000, it is not a Multi-Melta but a Melta Cannon, a Bolt Cannon instead of a heavy bolter.

All of the mentioned weapon options above are part of the new multi-part plastic kit. Inside the Loyal / Traitor books you'll find further options, not included in this kit, like the Gravis Plasma cannon, Volkite weapon systems or the Kheres assault cannon. Yet, this is not the first incarnation of the Contemptor in plastic, it was initially released alongside already available resin variant by Forge World (and the many legion specific variants) as an "easy-to-build" or at least limited options single sprue for Betrayal at Calth. Only covering the Kheres assault cannon and a Gravis melta cannon alongside a close combat weapon arm.

The more advanced and more articulated design was picked up again during the Primaris releases. The successor of the Castraferrum Pattern Dreadnoughts, even though they received multiple plastic kits and upgrades like the Ironclad or Venerable, is the Redemptor Pattern Dreadnought, once again having "knees and elbows". As we do not have an official RRP yet, I assume that the Contemptor will be around the 55 EUR price tag the similar sized Redemptor currently holds.

As for the sprues, the kit is spread across two medium sized very filled frames. Covering the weapon options mentioned above, but beyond that kept in a generic way to fit with all the legions, without any allegiance iconography or similar. That is something Forge World will fill in and maybe some kind of accessory sprue with the remaining weapon options and some relic / venerable upgrades. Casting is properly done, minor mould lines but beyond that crisp details.

Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought
Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought

The upper body is well designed and cut into various pieces to create a clean surface. Unfortunately, some of the studs were pressed flat during the tight packing of the sprues, but I guess I can handle that during painting. There are no options here, beside that you can have the head turn left or right. I assume the front plate is something that will be replaced with some of the upgrade sprues / parts, as this will be an easy way for individualisation.

Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought

The exhaust / engine on the back is well made, as it is really plastic and doesn't suffer from any undercuts or flat surfaces. Well split again and easy fit.

Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought

A step the most people looking into the Contemptor will really be happy about are the articulated legs. You could do these with the resin kit, but the Betrayal at Calth plastic was just standing upright and rather difficult to modify. Here you have all the freedom the joints give you. It might not be up to the game they managed with some of the Adeptus Titanicus kits, but is far more dynamic than the Castraferrum pattern and obviously than the easy-to-build one. You can give your Contemptor quite the different poses, from stomping on a fallen Marine, walking, kicking or even storming towards something.  Just keep an eye on the knee pads as they limit the angles a bit. The feet even have different toes, in case you want a pose that is leaning forward / standing on its toes.

Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought

Once you have chosen a pose for your pair of legs, thanks to the ball joint, you can rather freely align the upper body. Not just towards the sides but front and back, really giving it the dynamic pose that you are looking for.

Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought

Now were building the weapon arms. Again, something the old plastic kit did not give you as much variation or freedom about, besides choosing between melta and assault cannon. Here you have beside a ball joint for the shoulders, further articulation points for the upper arm and elbow. Please note that the connection on the elbow is a different one for close combat and ranged weapon systems. So decide which you want left or right.

Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought

A lot of parts and options for the Dreadnought Close Combat arm. The fist can either have regular fingers or pointy claw tips (with exclusion of the thumb) and you can replace the inbuilt combi-bolter with four different other weapon systems. I went with a plasma blaster and the claw, in a pointing pose.

Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought

On the left side I have four different options for the ranged weapon system, choosing the Gravis Lascannon (a twin linked las cannon). Note that the Gravis Bolt Cannon is now side by side and not like the older design by Forge World with two heavy bolters on top of each other. Keep in mind that if you use a ranged weapon and it has longer barrels, that the pose you choose does not collide with the remaining body before gluing it in place. The mount actually gives you the option for magnetising the weapons, if you find small / thin magnets. The ones I had (5x2mm) there too thick. A nice option here, as other kits had you choose your weapon system and were sharing pieces so you couldn't swap them. Thumbs up here!

Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought

For the carapace there is the optional havoc launcher. Straight forward build and something you could probably magnetise as well, if you wanted to.

Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought

Now for the scale comparison. This is a dreadnought. It is about twice as tall as the new Legion Marines in Mark VI corvus armour and very dominant over its successor, the Castraferrum pattern dreadnought (shown here with a Dark Angel variant, without its banner pole to not misdirect the eye).

Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought Horus Heresy - Contemptor Dreadnought


A very well-made update of the kit. You have weapon options, you have poseable pieces and a design that gives you lot of room for legion specific upgrades, battle damage or decals. As it is included in the Age of Darkness starter kit, it will be accessible on the second-hand market bellow RRP (especially as it is not released as a single kit yet). And as many people went for multiple starter kits for their own Horus Heresy, you can use up to three of these for a unit. One less reason to worry about on buying multiple Age of Darkness boxed sets.

I used to have a resin Contemptor Dreadnought and from the way these are designed, they are compatible with the resin parts by Forge World. Yet at the moment of this article, none of the Contemptor bits are listed, beyond the legion specific bodies. So maybe, we will actually see an additional plastic sprue with the remaining options along with individual / veteran upgrades (different heads, crests, chest plates, knee pads ... things like that).

As for the price. If it is released at 55 EUR, which seems an educated guess due to the Redemptor price tag, the full Contemptor is about the price of just the body at Forge World, where you would have had to buy the weapon options for 16 EUR each (when they were listed / available) giving you a comparison price of around 87 EUR per Dreadnought. Not the worst saving.

Warhammer 40,000 and The Horus Heresy are brands by Games Workshop.

The reviewed product item was provided by the manufacturer.

Posted by Dennis B.

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  1. What is the scaling looking like for the contemptor?

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