Friday, July 3, 2020

Primaris Experimentus Circumspectus

Squad of Primaris Intercessors for the Crimson Fists Chapter of Space Marines - figures from GW.
The summer has finally - finally - arrived to my corner of the world - yay! With the arrival of scorching temps and sunshine, along with what would appear to be something of a lull in the pandemic (at least around here - I know it is getting worse elsewhere), the amount of hobby time has declined somewhat. But the brushes are still going, and here is something a little different to share - a squad of new "Primaris Intercessors", plastic figures from GW, painted in the colours of the Crimson Fists Space Marine chapter.

Intercessors carrying "auto bolt rifles" - I love the drum-style magazines on the weapons.

Emobssed shoulder pads are from older kits - and they still work fine on the new "Primaris" models.
The "Primaris" models are hardly news anymore, having arrived back with the release of the 8th edition of GW's Warhammer 40k rules. For an old Rogue Trader grognard such as myself, the Primaris versions of the Space Marine did not hold a lot of immediate appeal. The narrative setting and story around the appearance of "Primaris" marines in the 40k setting was lame (subjective, of course, YMMV). The Imperium of Warhammer 40k is grounded in a certain blend of high technology and feudal superstitions..."innovation" is, at best, suspicious. A newer, tougher Space Marine with improved armour and cooler guns would properly be considered some kind of abomination. Those advocating for the adoption of such technology and "improvements" would be sent to the recycler! After all, The Emperor himself came up with the Space Marines. Anyone saying "hey, I improved the Space Marines" is claiming, somehow, to be better than The Emperor...seems like a career-limiting move to me!

If you are going to check your email, always draw your pistol first...

Just one example of many different options for poses/looks in the Intercessors box.
But of course Warhammer 40k is not just a story, but a business, and from a business perspective, an entirely new Space Marine is a big gamble for GW. But, in many ways, and I can see how it might be a sensible approach for GW to take. Space Marines are THE big product that underpins the whole 40k product line, and if you can take a central product line into new and better places, well, it's great for business, right?

Sergeant - a fun pose, again, another example of the neat poses from the kit.

No harm in sneaking a VII Legion decal on this group, is there?
So, leaving aside the turd-like narrative aspects, and just looking at the new models,  I thought I would give them a try. I purchased a pack of "Intercessors" last summer. I thought I would paint them for the most recent edition of Curt's "Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge" - and indeed I did start them in late December of 2019 - but assorted distractions and other projects left them unfinished. They never made it to the Challenge. They were about 60% done, sitting on my painting desk, until this week.

But this delay is not due to disliking the figures - it is due to a desire to focus on non-40k projects. In fact, I quite enjoyed these figures...GW is at its best when doing these multi-part plastic kits, and the Intercessors have all sorts of nice options - for weapons, for poses, for accessories. I like the notion of the "bolt rifle" and the three different types you can choose to equip the figures with. I opted for the "auto bolt rifle" for most of these Marines in this unit as I like the look of the drum-style magazine. There are a couple with "stalker bolt rifles", and two of the Marines also have auxiliary grenade launchers.

A (fuzzy) example of a "stalker bolt rifle".
There are lots of options for arms with knives, arms swapping out magazines, arms point, checking scanners etc as well as tons of little add-ons like relics or parchment seals etc. These things are familiar from previous Space Marine figure kits, but they are taken to a new level here - it is well done. I only used those sparingly here, as I wanted to get a sense for what a "basic" Primaris marine would be like. But there are tons of options for anyone who would like to try them out.

Auxiliary grenade launchers mounted on bolt rifles - with grenade rounds loaded into the slings...neat details.

A small amount of extra fire support for the squad.
The other benefit that I did not expect was the extent to which you can still use components from earlier ranges of "classic" plastic Space Marines - or even the Horus Heresy stuff if you want. I mean, obviously the Primaris' legs are huge, so limited options there...but shoulder plates in particular, as well as many arms, the backpacks and the helmets can swap back and forth between "classic" Marine models and the new Primaris figures. That means, for example, that you can put the riveted shoulder pauldrons of a Mark III armour suit, or the cool "beakie" style helmet on the model and it will still work. You can even go the other way - using "bolt rifles" on classic plastic marines - I experimented a bit with some 30k Space Wolves (not perfect, but I still liked the results). If you want to see much, much, better examples, of how bits from the more classic kits can look great on the Primaris marines, check out the cool "Gatebreakers" over at the amazing "Death of a Rubricist" blog

View showing the rear packs and leg armour.
Are there downsides? Well, one familiar frustration is decals...the decals that came with the box were perfect if you were painting Ultramarines, but otherwise you were SOL. I think GW is improving on that now, and you can get kits to further customize your Marines to a number of specific, well-known chapters. In the case of these figures, I just used some spare Imperial Fist/Crimson Fist embossed shoulder pads and then used the Ultramarine decals for tactical symbols, painting over the bright white of the Ultramarine's symbols with a red that I feel is more appropriate for the Crimson First Chapter.

Another thing to be mindful of with these figures is the posing of the arms...I wouldn't call this a "flaw", per-se...or if it is a flaw, it's me, not the models. You can get some super-cool poses with the plastic Primaris Marines, but also some awkward-looking ones. The issue can stem from a very small thing, a not-quite-right pose of the arms or the head...look closely at a couple of photos here and some of Marines look a little awkward with their weapons. Just take your time, and you'll be fine.

One final negative for me is the lack of heavy weapons. Don't get me wrong - there are new-generation Space Marines with heavy-style weapons, such as the "Hellblasters", but I miss the single heavy-weapon Marine with a missile launcher or lascannon. The designers seem to be taking the Marines away from the vision of the "tactical squads" that could do a little bit of everything. Instead, there are more specialized squads, with specialized armour/weapons etc. Oh well. 

Auxiliary grenade launchers on the end of the battle line.
But overall, these were fun to experiment with. It is clear GW is intending to replace the entire Space Marine line with new "Primaris" figures. GW denies this, of course - that is one way you know it is true! But you can also see the writing on the wall in that every new Space Marine model released by GW since the arrival of the 8th edition has been a "Primaris" variant of some sort. While the grognard in me grumbles, at the end of the day, most of the new figures look neat - different, yes, in many ways, but still clearly Space Marines, neat to assemble and paint, and surely fun to put on the table where they can get run over by Orks and other xenos threats of the grim and dark future of 40k...

Thanks for reading, hope you are able to be safe and enjoy some summer and some hobby time of your own. Cheers!


Dallas said...

Great painting as always dude and a thought-provoking post... I certainly won't be buying any Primaris Marines but as you say, I can see the appeal. And if someone is starting a brand-new Space Marine army, why wouldn't you go Primaris? (Well, I suppose that's really the only option now anyway) The models look cool and the detailing is great.

MFraser said...

They do look great. I just fear that one day there will be the big retcon and primaris will be what the marines have always been.

Curt said...

Great post dude. Your marines look terrific and I very much enjoyed your opinion piece on them. Why they cooked up the whole naff Primaris thing is baffling to me. I'm with Mike in thinking that GW may just ease the 'old' marines out of circulation and claim that this is/was the new normal.