The Arks of Omen saga concludes with the fifth book The Lion. That can only mean that the long lost Primarch of the Dark Angels is back, so Guilliman doesn’t feel so alone anymore. Revealed at Adepticon 2023 for the first time, the Lion is now released in a brand new box set. Here comes our unboxing and review of The Lion & Retinue.

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The Lion & Retinue box will be available for preorder starting Saturday, April 15, 2023, and go on sale one week after. The – quite small – box contains the following:

  • Primarch Lion El’Jonson
  • 3 Primairs Bladeguard Veterans
  • 1 Dark Angels transfer sheet
  • 2 A5 art prints

Lion El’Jonson review

After decades of little hints and teases in the lore, Lion El’Jonson, Primarch of the Dark Angels, is finally awake. His eternal slumber in the deepest confines of the Dark Angels fortress monastery, The Rock, has ended. All it took to awake the Lion was an edition concluding series of campaign books – who would have thought that.

Like Guilliman, this is not the Lion El’Jonson we know from the times of Heresy. While Guilliman has been kept in stasis, Lion El’Johnson did age, which you can read in the furrows on his face (and thus many Tywin Lannister memes have been made). He wears a bespoke suit of power armour, clad in robes and a lion pelt. In his left hand, he holds the Emperor’s Shield, a relic from the Emperor himself. In his right hand, he clenches his new sword Fealty, for the Lion’s Sword is still in Cypher’s possession. Two Watchers in the Dark prepare the way for him.

The Lion's Guard - Lion El'Jonson Unboxing Sprues 1 and 2
Lion El’Jonson Sprues 1 and 2

The model is built from 3 sprues and comes on a 60mm base. As expected with special characters, there are no posing options for Lion El’Jonson. The assembly is quite jigsaw-like, the most prominent seems well hidden. The model is monopose, but you can choose between four different heads / helmets: a bare head (hard to see in the promo pictures, but the Lion is still wearing a tightly tied pigtail), a hooded bare head, a winged helmet, and a hooded helmet (apparently the wings are removable lol). The two Watchers in the Dark are completely optional and can theoretically be placed freely on the base.

The Lion's Guard - Lion El'Jonson Unboxing Sprue 3
Lion El’Jonson Sprue 3

All in all, a brilliant centrepiece model. Very three-dimensional, very finely worked details, and beautiful composition.

Bladeguard Veterans & the other stuff

Apparently, it was not possible for Games Workshop to release the Lion alone, so they had to add a unit of Bladeguard to increase revenue. Well. The Primaris Blade Guard Veterans are quite recent models with a few optional assembly possibilities and weapon options. If you don’t have them yet, having both in this box will come certainly cheaper than waiting for Lion El’Johnson to be released on its own.

Lion El'Jonson review - The Lion's Guard models and contents
© Copyright Games Workshop Limited, used without permission

However, it must also be said that the models do not have any Dark Angels typical details, and the Dark Angels upgrade sprue is also missing. The opportunity to add a new Primaris unit to the Dark Angels range was unfortunately not taken. Only a Dark Angels transfer sheet is included, as well as two quite nice art prints in A5.

Value

Comparing the price of £65 with Guilliman, which costs £37.50 on its own and is a similar size, I estimate you save about 25% in this combo set compared to buying the models individually. That’s not bad for centrepiece models, which can rarely be found in discount sets. But of course, it’s super annoying for all those who only want El’Jonson or already have enough Bladeguard in their collection.

You can save some extra at our partner stores Wayland GamesElement Games, Firestorm Games, and Taschengelddieb, which have the Lion’s Guard at a welcome discount of up to 20% over RRP. At the moment there are again supply problems at many retailers, so it is possible that this box will also be sold out quickly.

I hope you found this review helpful, feel free to leave a reaction or comment below, or post your questions here or discuss on our Discord channel.

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Pros

  • Lion El'Jonson is an amazing centrepiece model
  • Four head options
  • (Likely) cheaper than buying the models individually

Cons

  • Bladeguard don't have any Dark Angels specific details
  • Dark Angels upgrade sprue not included

Final Verdict

The Lion is back with a fantastic centrepiece model full of characterful details. To the dismay of many, for now you can only get him in this Lion & Retinue box set. Bladeguard Veterans are really nice models, but they are generic and don't add much except inflating the price of the set.