Original sci-fi short ‘Project Morningstar: The Hunt – Part One’ was uploaded to YouTube on November 20, and in just one week it has already racked up almost 700,000 views. With its grimdark aesthetic and power-armored marines fighting in space, it’s a must-watch for fans of Warhammer 40k animation.
While Morningstar is totally independent from the Warhammer 40k universe, one look at the mercenary Barakan soldiers will make Space Marine fans feel right at home. Their powered, void-capable combat wargear is immediately reminiscent of Space Marine armor.
Project Morningstar is the product of three creators: Canadian writer, director, and producer MrGreebles; Croatian animator, cinematographer, and technical artist Kharos; and Finnish 3d and 2D asset creator Joazzz. The trio have worked on four Warhammer 40k fan projects together, but “have no intention of doing that again”.
Kharos explains: “This project came out of a desire to make our own IP rather than build someone else’s pyramid”. He adds that “While we have loved the projects we have worked on, we all thought it was time to take inspiration from the works and authors we love and create something new”.
Games Workshop effectively froze all Warhammer 40k fan animation when it announced it would not allow unlicensed use of its IP for animations in 2021, just prior to the launch of Warhammer Plus. The Morningstar team began work on their new setting not long after, and development on The Hunt started work in early 2022. The team work dayjobs, so five to six months of development time was scattered over an eighteen-month production window.
According to information from the Morningstar Community Discord, “Morningstar is the product of a desire to create an entirely new “grimdark” genre universe”. The creators cite sci-fi settings Aliens, Bioshock, and Blade Runner as inspirations, as well as Warhammer 40k book authors Graham McNeill and Dan Abnett.
The creators promise “episodic audible content, art sessions and language classes”, plus work-in-progress previews for Patreon backers.
The influence of Blade Runner and Alien is apparent in the wider setting. Rather than the religious bureaucracy of the Imperium of Man, the “thousand Empires” of the Morningstar galaxy are controlled by the Hegemony, a political body compromised by profit-hungry mega-corporations. Humankind has begun to confront the alien Shigue Diaspora, a race fleeing from some as-yet unknown threat.
While Warhammer 40k fans might mourn the fact we won’t see a new 40k fan animation as good as Astartes until GW changes its policy, it seems that GW’s decision has catalysed creators to create their own, original science-fiction universes.
We’re eager to see part two of this promising animation, which Khaross estimates will arrive in Spring 2024 “based on our current situation”. We also hope that these vehicles and infantry are released as 3D printer friendly STLs – another arena where creators are putting their own spin on grimdark sci-fi. Check out our guide on how to 3D print miniatures if you’ve seen some excellent 3D sculpts but aren’t sure if you’re ready to take the plunge and get a machine.