|Horus for Hope! A new 20-man tactical squad reports for action in the Horus Heresy. Plastic 28mm models from GW.|
Earlier in the month, I shared some thoughts about the new edition of the Horus Heresy rules. Now, let's turn to the even-more-fun stuff: the new plastic miniatures. The new "Age of Darkness" box set comes with quite the haul of plastic - I've barely made a dent in it! But I have been painting, and no surprise to the first subject - some of the new plastic Marines in Mark VI Armour. Space Marine tactical squads can be as large as 20 models in size, so I thought it would be fun to kick off with a full-sized pack of 20 models, accompanied by one of the new Preator figures. Here are some pictures, along with some thoughts on the new models.
New "Beakies" Return
|New plastic marines, ready for battle.|
The new Mark VI Marines are, overall, very nice IMO, and I have generally really enjoyed working on them. The "beakie" Marine is a classic thing, an iconic image of both 40k and 30k. For an old salt like me, working on these figures in 28mm evokes quite a lot of nostalgia for the original "Space Marine" game, which featured scads of tiny beakie in 6mm size.
While I do love these models, they certainly have their frustrations - let's look at a few of them...
So...How Tall Are They?
An issue that caused a great deal of concern among the 30k community was the idea that the new Marines would be re-sized. GW has form here, and their silence in the face of the concerns only served to inflate them further. Those of us with established collections were concerned, with some justification, at the possibility that GW would see screwing us all as being in their commercial interest.
But in the end, the level of concern did not match the reality. These new Marines are taller...but it is only slight, and IMO well within the margin of scale creep error that already exists within the previously established Horus Heresy figure range. It is most noticeable when compared to the old resin Mark VI Marine models from Forge World, and unfortunately it is also most noticeable when compared with some of the older specialist troop figures from the range - such as the Reavers in the case of the Sons of Horus.\
|Sergeant on the right, vox-casting Marine on the left (although I had neglected to add the little comms accessory to his helmet...oops). |
It is not just that the new plastic Marines are taller...they are also standing up straighter in many cases, at least, that is how I see them - they are less "hunched" than the plastic Mark III and Mark IV marines. I wouldn't mix armour marks between squads, but I am personally not bothered by the inclusion of these guys and, say, a nearby squad of fellows clad in Mark IV plate.
|Vexillary Marine, ready to inspire his brothers in battle against the deluded followers of the so-called "Emperor".|
FWIW, I also don't believe the sizing on these figures was driven by commercial gain. I'm not giving GW any charitbable credit, not at all - they are a profit seeking business, of course. But after seeing an interview with one of the designers, this all strikes me much as a flight of artsy pique...new designers being quietly convinced that their view on the size of the model is correct - and if all of the the other hobbyists out there don't like it, well, it's a shame they are all wrong...
But I also know that wargamers are a particular lot - I respect that. So the size difference may still bother you, even if it doesn't get to me...to each their own, after all. I'll just say that at the end of the day, the size difference did not bother me, and leave it at that.
The Studded Shoulder Pads - Multi Part - WHY?
|WHY??? WHY WAS THIS NEEDED???|
Maybe the relative overall size of these new figures did not matter so much, but the artsy shits got carried away in one particular area. The studded shoulder pad, a common feature of many Space Marine models over the years, is a core part of the new plastic Mark VI models. But, for some incomprehensible reason, the studded shoulder pad is in two parts, meaning you have to glue the f***ing things together! On WHAT PLANET is that an improvement, FFS?
I have seen some "reasoning" online to the effect that a one-piece shoulder pad with the studs would otherwise, due to issues tied to tooling, plastic injection-moulding, have had studs of SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT DEPTHS. In other words, they would have been JUST LIKE ALL THE OTHER ONES. Again, this is just pure artsy nonsense...
So, look...to assemble these figures, you will need to get the hang of putting together the studded shoulder pads, and doing so in a way as to avoid a terrible seam on the model that will be hard to manage because of the studs...but after some practice, like anything else, you get used to it. So not the end of the world - but just a reminder that artsy designer types need to be supervised closely by normals...
Hands Moulded To The Guns
|All hands are now attached to the guns...no more spare hands...|
Another change that bothers me more than the change in size is the decision to mould BOTH hands to the weapons. This means that assembly of the Marine is MUCH fiddlier than otherwise necessary. Like the stupid shoulder pads, you get used to it after some practice, but it is a b*tch keeping track of which arms match which bolt gun, and the small stud on the shoulder is not much of a precise guide, so it is easy to f*ck up. It's not easy to spot (I hope) in the pictures, but you will see a few wrists that don't PRECISELY line up with the hands holding the bolt guns...but as a group, it's good enough.
The other problem this creates is that it severs the interoperability with the previous plastic models. The previous Mark III and Mark IV kits were such that it was relatively easy to swap out different variants of bolt guns, heavy weapons, packs, etc. This can still be done with the new Mark VI, but it would be much, much more of a hobby project.
|The wrists are tricky to match up, but hopefully mistakes are not TOO noticeable...at least not on these two...|
Once more, it is easy to sense GW pursuing its selfish commercial motives - after all, to have support weapons or heavy weapons for your new Mark VI Marines, you are likely to need the specific new weapon kits, which feature weapons with both hands, sculpted to match the specific arms. The previous Forge World kits, or spares from your plastic Mark III or Mark IV kits, will not work without a lot of hobby work (you would need to procure extra hands, for starters - possible, but a real hassle, and then carefully match with the arms etc). Still, this again feels like another artsy commentary by the designer - I know many gamers have different views about weapons with or without moulded hands on them, and there are good arguments on both sides.
What's With The Toes?
|Pointy toes on your Space Marines!|
There is another kind of odd feature on all of the new Mark VI marines. They have toes! This is something once seen on the odd character figures. But here, they are present on all of the Marines. I don't mind these...but it is kind of weird to see the toes on ALL of the models...
|Pointing to hope? Or "for" hope? I guess we'll find out on the gaming table...|
Have you ever wanted bayonets for your Space Marines? Or, even better, CHAIN-AXE-STYLE bayonets? This kit has got you covered! You can kit out your entire box with bayonets, OR chain-axe-style bayonets! These are fiddly, but they do fit, and considering how small the pieces involved are, actually connect pretty well. I went for bayonets with this first squad...will see if I stay with it for others...
|For the Warmaster!|
So, reading this, is may sounds like gripes abound, but they exist in a context of great overall excitement, at least for me. There are some frustrations, some things I wish they had done differently, or that the artsy intents of the designers had been controlled by grown ups, but on balance, I LOVE these kits. I have loved the "beakie" Marine since I first saw the old RTB boxes, and have been waiting for a long time for GW to finally revisit them. Whatever gripes I have, they pale in comparison to the fun of bringing a bunch of beakie Marines into the collection. So many of these elements pay homage to those old original plastic Marine figures - the studded shoulder pads, the bayonets, the look and feel of the helmets and the cabling on the armour.