Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Space Marines advance into 6th edition

It looks like the Space Marines are getting a host of single-pose plastic characters.  The Librarian looks particularly impressive with a face that looks quite unique compared to the standard yelling ones.  And is that a reasonably sized combibolter? 
Space Marines are Warhammer 40,000.  They have defined all of the editions of the game, forming the basic statline that every unit is measured from.  Their bulky power armour and cumbersome boltguns form the keystone that holds the universe together.  They have the most models and most different armies (based on different chapters), and they sell more than any of Games Workshop’s other products.  Due to this, it is surprising that they waited over a year to release an updated codex to bring the Space Marines into the 6th edition of 40k.  But the wait is finally almost over, as they are the newest army to get an update.  It goes without saying that the models accompanying these new rules have been eagerly anticipated.  Pictures of many of these model have just leaked; let’s take a look at them and compare them to other models in the range.

While I admit I was not particularly hopeful for the new models, due to the slow depreciation in quality of newly released Space Marine models over the years, I was at least cautiously optimistic about them, because, at the end of the day, I love Space Marines.  But I was not prepared for the abysmal lack of quality  on display with virtually all of the newly revealed models.  Interestingly, not all of the models are necessarily bad sculpts (although some certainly are), but rather they suffer primarily from awful designs.  And nowhere is GW’s complete loss for new ideas and effective designs more evident than with the Centurions.
Inspiration doesn't come too easy.
When first hearing about the Centurions, I thought they might provide parts to construct true-scale marines, by providing broader and bulkier armour components.  Unfortunately, the design studio decided to not stick with the tried and true Marine aesthetic, and opted for a more recent development... The Centurions look like Grey Knight Dreadknights.  Yes, you heard right, they are smaller versions of the hated dreadknight.  These ones are so short, however, that a dynamic pose would be virtually impossible, while the dreadknight was simply sculpted in a way that restricted easy posing.  Although all of the individual parts of the Centurion look to be very well sculpted with very fine details that are not gaudy, all of the elements lack synergy with one another, resulting in the models looking awkward.
The lineage is clear.
Like many Space Marine models, the Centurions suffer from dramatic proportion problems.  Although information gleaned from the next White Dwarf implies that some of this was intentional, suggesting that the the marine steps up into the suit and that his arms never interact with the Centurion's limbs, it does little to remedy the ridiculously broad shoulders from which  powerfists dangle.  Far more unsightly still are the weapons hanging from these fists.  Instead of recessing the weapons into the powerfists such that both weapons could be used in combat, the guns are simply tacked to the bottom, huge and ungainly.  Unfathomably, the rock drills that are attached to the the close combat variant make even this look tame.  Each drill is about half the size of the entire Centurion, and that is not including the powerfist to which it is attached.  And then a flamethrower is even bolted to the side of that (no it could not be fitted inside the drill like the FW counterpart)!  Subtlety is something Games Workshop seems to have no conception of.
It seems that more thought went into these models then it would initially appear.
The internet can be a harsh place; the instant I saw images of the Centurions, I saw that many others were also not thrilled with them.
Aside from the Centurions, they are also releasing a plastic unit of Vanguard veteran assault marines. After looking over the leaked images, I am none too impressed. I feel the most defining aspect of the new models are their new weapons, and boy did they make something special with many of the options. As with the Centurion's, subtlety is lost on these models with as both the power sword and the thunder hammer are laughably large. Each weapon is covered in gaudy detail and is roughly the size of an entire marine (it is to the point that I question if a Space Marine could even swing such a massive weapon...).
We can count our blessings, at least they are not finecast.
Although the kit appears to come with a large assortment of close combat weapons, none really look to add anything new to the Space Marine line, more stubby thunder hammers the size of orks and powerfist-lightning claws.
Aside from the comically large weapons, I can’t help but notice that the thigh armor on some of the legs look remarkably thin, giving some of the marines a frail and spindly aura.  Many of the previous veteran models GW has produced have suffered from the same problem.  Rather than having bulky impressive armour, it is thinner than even the standard tactical marine, making them lose a lot of what makes a Space Marine imposing.  Thankfully these issues do not seem to have arisen with either the new Sternguard or Tactical marines.  Their armour is suitably impressive, maintaining the thickness and scale of the venerable plastic tactical marine.  Excitingly, they have added  MkIV legs (which look superior to FW’s initial attempt at them) to the new version of the box, a welcome addition over their penchant of simply adding skulls and parchments to reinvigorate old models.
Although it appears to be largely the same, there do seem to be some interesting new additions to the tactical kit, including a Travis Bickle mohawk, grav weaponry, and a set of arms that is attempting to aim along their bolter’s sights.
The new rendition of Sternguard is the best realization of the unit when compared to the numerous attempts over the years; although awash in detail, their armour looks bulky enough to accommodate it.  There even appears to be a plasma pistol that is not simply the standard one recycled! 
Unfortunately, my initial assessment of the new Space Marine models is quite negative. I feel some of this is due to the length of time I have been in the hobby. I have now developed my own thoughts of what the Warhammer 40,000 universe is to me and what fits within it. I suppose this is as good an excuse as any to simply convert the models that I want, and with all the new plastics being released, I will surely be able to find use for some of the new pieces.  Perhaps when Games Workshop releases their official pictures, I will lighten up to some of these models.  Time will tell.

-Godwyn Fischig


  1. good preview! The librarians little familiar has a lot of Inq28 potential.

    Less said about the centurions the better.

    While the new marines are good it still feels like a missed opportunity to bring the miniatures in line with the art. They are just too plain, but hopefully there will be included lots of bits for customisations.

    1. The little familiar does look quite nice, and I feel he will end up in a lot of conversions in one fashion or another.

      I know what you mean about the tactical marines being a lost opportunity. I think for them to capture a lot of the great artwork, they would need to put one of their best sculptors to work on them, Goodwin or Nelson, otherwise some would just layer on all manner of needless skulls and other detail. It sure would be awesome if they tried to scale the marines better though.

      Perhaps they will make a marine or two for this rumored inq28 game, ones that are actually to scale with the rest of the models. Since it will be such a low model count they could do it and not worry about it disrupting the entire SM line for 40k games. We can only hope!