In return for a donation to support Ukraine against Russian attacks, you can get a cracking third-party Warhammer 40k mini to complement your Astra Militarum army. Wargame Exclusive, a Ukrainian manufacturer of resin sci-fi and fantasy miniatures, launched a fundraising campaign soon after Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February, 2022.
For a donation of $15 or more, the company promised to send donors an exclusive, mystery miniature in return for their support as soon as they were able to design it and safely post it abroad. All the funds go to Ukraine’s war effort and donors are able to choose whether their gift goes towards SaveLife.in.ua, a charity providing training and equipment to the Ukrainian military, or directly to the Ukrainian armed forces.
I made a donation to the fundraiser shortly after it launched at the end of February 2022 and, in May 2023, they emailed me to offer free shipping on any additional items I wanted sent with it. My copy of the commemorative model was posted soon after.
Wargame Exclusive had not revealed what the resin model would look like or even offered any hints, and the photo of the mini on their website is still a blurry silhouette – so I was excited to find out what they had designed.
The mini turned out to be a man standing upon a high rocky outcrop, wearing combat armour, a backpack, and with several pouches, grenades, and a scabbard at his waist. In his right arm is a long power sword and on his left rests a power fist.
Clearly Ukrainian, the figure has a tryzub, the stylized trident that is on Ukraine’s coat of arms, on his chest and left shoulder pad. With his long moustache and a shaved head except for a single long lock of hair, he also sports an oseledets, the traditional haircut of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, a nomadic people that are an important part of Ukraine’s history and national identity.
At the model’s feet is the severed head of a large goblin or grot with a combover and a tongue sticking out to the side. The grot may look a little like a certain Russian dictator, but any resemblance is surely coincidental.
Alongside the model came a postcard showing a painting based off the model with the soldier standing before a Ukrainian flag. On the back is a message from Wargame Exclusive thanking donors and explaining what their money has helped buy.
As per my previous experience with miniatures from Wargame Exclusive, the figure was well cast, with only a few minor mold lines and small struts that were quick to remove with a craft knife. Assembly was also straightforward, with the model coming in just five pieces plus its base (the body, the arms, the backpack, and the rocky outcrop), as was painting. The model has just the right amount of detail to make it fun to paint and look great, without it becoming too busy or cluttered. The painting on the postcard that came with the model provides some inspiration for a possible colour scheme too.
With the model’s imposing height and dramatic pose, it makes a great display piece for your display cabinet or desk, no matter what Warhammer 40k factions you may collect. But if you have an Astra Militarum army, or are thinking of starting one, this Cossack warrior would be an excellent alternative Imperial Guard character model.
The miniature could be used as a Cadian Castellan, a Cadian Commander or Platoon Commander for a Command Squad, or – with its melee focus – could easily represent a Catachan named character like ‘Iron Hand’ Straken or Sly Marbo. Considering its height, the model isn’t too far off the size of an Ogryn Bodyguard armed with a Bullgryn Maul and a Huge Knife.
The model’s equipment of both a power sword and a power fist don’t quite fit the profile of most of these units, which, aside from the Ogryn, can have no more than one melee weapon each, but it would be a simple kitbash to attach a pistol to the mini’s belt or, in a casual game, you could ask your opponent if you can have its weapons ‘counts as’ the official loadout of whatever character you choose to have it represent.
Remember, of course, that using non-Games Workshop models is almost always disallowed at GW events and stores, and, whenever using unofficial stand-in or ‘proxy’ models, you should agree it with the other players first.
Wargame Exclusive’s fundraising campaign is still running and you can get your own commemorative model by making a donation of $15 or more. It isn’t the only miniature Wargame Exclusive has made that’s inspired by the invasion of Ukraine, either. You can also buy STLs – files from which to 3D print miniatures – of a series of cats and dogs representing different Ukrainians in the country’s armed forces, emergency services, and others helping defend against Russia, including a tank commander and the Ghost of Kyiv fighter pilot.
If this noble Ukrainian warrior inspires you to get back to the hobby table, you can always get some pointers from our guides on painting miniatures, the best types of paints for miniatures, and the pros and cons of using Contrast paints. Alternatively, if it’s got you thinking about building an Astra Militarum army for Warhammer 40k, you can do some background reading with our guides to the Imperium of Man and the Emperor of Mankind.