The Big One: A look at the new Space Marines

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last fee weeks, the relentless barrage of Space Marine related rumourmongering cannot have escaped your notice. And now, the cat is finally out of the bag: The new Space Marines are here in the kind of ‘no holds barred’ release that I would have loved to see for chaos as well. But let’s not get bitter here: The Space Marines are undoubtedly GW’s most recognisable property as well as a cornerstone of both the 40k universe and, one would imagine, GW’s business. So it’s no surprise that they should give it their all this time around.

With the new models now upon us, it is once again time here at Eternal Hunt to take a closer look at the release, point out the good and the bad and, of course, think about all the delicious conversion opportunities that arise from this release. Let’s go:

Space Marine release (1)
The book itself once again features the kind of cover artwork introduced by the last releases. Unfortunately, the art itself isn’t quite as awesome this time around, if you ask me. But that’s not really a problem, because if you’re fast enough, you can order yourself a special edition in almost any colour of the rainbow:

Space Marine release (1b)
Seriously, though, offering separate covers for some of the more influential first and second founding chapters is certainly a nice touch and a bit of fanservice! Plus it may actually make the Black Templars players around the world a little less grumpy. I mean, yeah, they folded your army back into the Marine Codex, sure, but at least they’re throwing you a bone. I, for one, am still holding out for those rumoured supplements detailing the mono-god traitor legions.
Funnily enough, of all the different variants, the Ultramarines art appeals most to me for some reason, and I am certainly not a huge Ultramarines aficionado. In any case, the price for these editions is just silly, so I think I’ll pass…

It goes without saying that the contents of the book will be passionately discussed for the weeks and months to come: Already, cries of outrage can be heard all over the hobby scene, since it seems like Marines do it all — and better. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how all of this plays out eventually. In any case, we’re not here to talk about the rules, so let’s take a look at the models already:

 

Space Marine Centurions

Space Marine release (2)
Ah, yes: The elephant in the room. The kit everyone already loves to hate. Let me start by saying that having to wedge completely new Space Marine units into an already meticulously defined lore and game system cannot be an enviable task for a designer. Last time around, they took the safe route with the Sternguard and Protector Guard  – basically regular (Assault) Marines in blinged out armour – then they got a little more gutsy with the Stormtalon, and we all know how that went. So this time, the Space Marines get what basically amounts to loyalist Obliterators.

I’ll be honest with you: At first, I was less than impressed with the models. In fact, I was prepared to cry blue murder, along with the best of them. But then something funny happened: The more I saw of these guys, the better I liked them. Oh, make no mistake, the sculpts are not without their problems (the legs still look too clunky for me and will probably take a lot of getting used to, for instance). But for some reason, I find these guys rather fascinating.

Now I don’t have any idea yet how these were retconned into the existing fluff: I guess they’ll either pretend that these existed all along, or have them be based on a rediscovered STC design. But for one crazy moment there, I thought to myself: I get it. The Astartes have seen what the Tau can do with their crazy combat suits and are now saying: We want a part of that.

I have no idea whether that’s actually where the design came from (probably not), but if seen from that perspective, the models suddenly make a lot of sense: They really look like Tau suits reverse engineered by way of the clunky Imperial technology.

I also like them not so much for what they are but for the conversion potential: As somehow who has always disliked the rather unwholesome looking Obliterator models, I cannot help feeling that the Centurions could finally be a perfect way of converting some truly awesome Obliterators for my army. But more on that later…

The one thing I really dislike about the models is the look of the CC option that comes with the kit:

Space Marine release (3)
Those siege drills really don’t work for me. Maybe it’s because they look too much like something you would find at the dentist’s. Maybe it’s the fact that these guys seem to fill a slot that didn’t need any filling in the first place. In any case, the artillery option makes more sense and looks better, in my opinion.

Let me just point out a couple of small details that occured to me:

Space Marine release (5)
One, Dave Thomas, the designer of the kit, pointed out in WD that the Marine piloting the suit has his arms crossed over his chest. While that sounds like an enormously uncomfortable position to hold for an entire battle, I really like how the Centurions’ dedicated unit badge reflects that small bit of lore.

I am also fascinated with the helmets, halfway between a regular power armoured helm and that of a Terminator. Oh, and it seems like that helmet crest (seen on the right) is an optional bit. Very nice! I also think the bare heads that come with the kit (and that do look slightly silly on the heavily armoured models) could work great for World Eaters with their extremely angry expressions, shouting mouths and head implants that would make for fairly convincing Butcher’s Nails.

I also like the fact that the back of the leg is really similar to the legs of a Dreadknight:

Space Marine release (4)
A very nice bit of visual consistency there!

So, all in all, I started out hating these, but now I am beginning to grow rather fond of them. A sign of my rampant fanboyism, perhaps? Maybe. But even though these guys may not be for everyone, at least the designer wasn’t afraid to try something new, and I can always appreciate that!

In closing, let me get one small nerd gripe off my chest: Centurion was an actual commander rank during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy, right? Now why would they call a completely unrelated combat suit by the same name 10,000 years later? Couldn’t they have come up with a different name? Couldn’t they have been called Colossus, for crying out loud? Yeah, I know, I need to get a life…

 

Space Marine Tactical Squad

Space Marine release (6)
Well, this one was possibly overdue: Even though the old tactical sprue had been slightly touched up for one of the last Codex releases, the tactical Marines were pretty much the oldest kit still in existence, having originally been introduced at the start of 3rd edition. So now they finally get a true update. And, well, what did you expect? These guys still look like Space Marines, that much is for sure.

Seriously though, instead of just adding some inconsequential decoration, the designers seem to have gone for some serious re-engineering this time around, making sure the tactical sprue – certainly the bread and butter of every Marine army – now boasts lots and lots of options.

For Marine players, the most important ones will possibly be the weapons options, complete with new grav weapons, although the improvements don’t stop there: For one, it seems like some of the models now boast a somewhat more upright pose due to their legs. This is a very welcome change, since the notoriously crouched legs really get old once you have built about a hundred Astartes models.

We also get a bigger variety of parts from armour marks, among them some Mk IV legs and a full suit of Mk VI Corvus armour:

Space Marine release (7)
For someone like me, who has been experimenting with kitbashing older armour strictly from GW plastic parts for my Legio Custodes project, this is  a very welcome addition indeed! And call me a little weird, but my favourite parts in any Marine kits are usually the bare heads:

Space Marine release (8)
I love building my (traitor) Marines bareheaded, because (while it makes no sense from a combat perspective) it’s a great way of adding individuality and character to the models. And the new heads certainly don’t disappoint: The one on the left with the slightly gladiatorial mohawk would be great for eather a World Eater or a Custodes model, while the rebreather mask is awesome (and would work like a charm on a champion of Nurgle, if you ask me…).

Space Marine release (9)

With the old tactical Marines slowly beginning to show their age, It’s also interesting to note how the new kit seems to be all sharp lines and crisp detail:

Space Marine release (10)
This is especially evident on the new Corvus helmet that now seems to have some murch sharper lines as well (almost making it look a little duck-like…):

Space Marine release (11)
Anyway, having a new version of this kit probably was a sheer necessity, and GW did a nice job of  making it as comprehensive as possible. At 35 Euros for ten Marines, this is also possibly the best bang for the buck out of all the new kits, although the new Marines are still more expensive than their older incarnation. On the other hand, they do come with lots and lots of options. With the new design, these can finally hold their ground against kits like the Space Wolves or Blood Angles Death Company again. Nice job, GW!

 

Space Marine Sternguard:

Space Marine release (12)
Wow, this kit is certainly one of the stars of the show for me! While nice, the old Sternguard models always seemed a little conventional to me. But the new kit not only provides a way of building plastic Sternguard, but should also be a great kit for simply adding a little oomph to your commanders and squad leaders and basically for building badass-looking models.

Once again, the kits comes with lots and lots of options. And once again, it’s the heads that I am drawn to first:

Space Marine release (13)
The head on the left has to be one of my favourite Astartes heads ever: It looks just as grizzled and noble as befits an honoured warrior of the Legiones Astartes. That makes it a perfect fit for chaptermaster, a Legio Custodes character or even an Inquisitor. The head on the right is not quite as awesome, but it also gets the grizzled veteran look right, at least.

It seems that providing lots and lots of modelling and equipment options was once again the order of the day. And while Space Marine players will be happy with the many equipment options (especially the combi-weapons, I imagine), it’s bitz like this that make me stupidly happy:

Space Marine release (14)
When it comes to the models themselves, the greatest things about them are the highly ostentatious pieces of armour as well as the added bulk when compared to normal Marines:

Space Marine release (15)

You instantly know that these guys are bad news. Also, that power fist is looking fantastic…

All in all, I expect this kit to sell like hotcakes: Not only does it offer the option to build plastic Sternguard, but it looks like the new go to kit when it comes to making awesome character kitbashes. Definitely one of the high points of the release for me, and possibly one of the kits I might purchase myself.

 

Space Marine Protector Guard

Space Marine release (16)
You can’t have one without the other, so we get a Protector Guard kit along with the Sternguard. And while it’s great to get yet another unit type in glorious plastic, I somehow think these are less impressive than the Sternguard. Maybe it’s the fact that they look like a similarly impressive unit could be built by simply using some additional bitz on a regular squad of assault marines? Maybe it’s a problem with the picture, though, because the alternate squad of Raven Guard built and painted by the GW studio looks awesome:

Space Marine release (17)I especially love the sergeant’s helmet!

Still, while the last incarnation of both unit types had the Protector Guard looking much cooler, the roles are reversed this time: The Protector Guard looks nice enough, but I feel the Sternguard takes the cake. However, I suppose this kit will be similarly succesful, since the amount of bitz makes it a useful purchase.

 

Hunter/Stalker

Space Marine release (18)
There’s also a new vehicle combi-kit, albeit one based on the trusty old Rhino. The kit may be assembled as one of two tank variants, the Hunter or the Stalker. The design is nice enough and some of the visual touches (like the stabilisers) are nice, but you’ll probably forgive me for being unable to get excited over yet another Rhino variant.

Space Marine release (19)
In all fairness, though, the Space Marines have received a couple of rather more interesting vehicle kits out of turn in the past, so it’s really not that much of a problem that this release doesn’t bring us a spectacular new vehcile kit. Moving on.

 

Characters

The Space Marines also get some new characters, and the most interesting thing to note is that they’re all plastic models. Are we seeing a change of strategy regarding Finecast? In any case, let’s take a closer look at the new models:

 

Space Marine Commander

Space Marine release (25)
This guy certainly looks the part! But is it just me, or does he look like a slightly rejigged version of the Commander from the Assault on Black Reach boxed set? Here’s a comparison photo for you:

Space Marine release (26)
Nope, definitely not my imagination: They seem to have used the same base model and then slightly redesigned it. Which, in all fairness, doesn’t have to be a bad thing: I have always liked the Black Reach Commander, and some of the added detail is really cool.  The fact that you get a crested helmet with the kit also means that you can build a plastic version of Captain Sicarius on par with (if not better than) the slightly malproportioned FC version.

The kit also gives you a different head option…

Space Marine release (27)
…which is standard, slightly constipated looking Marine fare. Still, it’s good to have the option!

A look at the sprue reveals that not only should the model be easy enough to customise even further, but some of the bitz (like the heads and backpack) can easily be used on different models as well. I like that!

Space Marine release (28)
The model is nice enough on its own, and I think it can be made to really shine with a bit of work. Here’s the catch, though: Seeing how this is basically a Black Reach Captain 2.0, the price point of 25 Euros seems particularly egregious in this case. If I wanted to build a new Marine commander similar to this one, I’d simply get a cheap Black Reach mini online and kitbash it into something on par with the new model. And there’s always the multipart Space Marine Commander as a cheaper option (although that one is slightly hampered by the fact that it is based on pretty standard Marine physiology and posing). Anyway, considering the price, there are lots of alternative options that will give you an equally impressive model.

 

Space Marine Chaplain

Space Marine release (30)
Seeing how this is the first vanilla Marine chaplain available in plastic (the Dark Vengeance S.E. chaplain obviously doesn’t count), this is a nice addition to the Space Marine catalogue. However, the chaplain is only available as part of the Reclusiam Command Squad:

Space Marine release (29)
While this makes lots of sense from a business perspective, using the new model to give the older kits in the set a bit of a leg up, it also seems like a bit of a dick move on GW’s part.

However, their website has this to say on the matter:

This includes a new plastic Chaplain, armed with a crozius arcanum and bolt pistol, which is currently only available with this box set.

That sounds like a separate release somewhere along the line isn’t totally out of the question, at least. So in case you don’t need that additional command squad and Razorback, I’d probably hold my breath for now, if I were you.

The model itself is pretty nice, but not really all that spectacular. The skull mask even looks silly in a slightly Skeletor-esque way, if you ask me. Fortunately, the kit also comes with an alternate head option that is much cooler (and seems like a shout out to a great 2nd edition metal chaplain):

Space Marine release (31)
But a chaplain always looks more like a chaplain with a deathmask. Just sayin’…

A look at the sprue shows that it should once again be easy enough to use the different parts of the model for different projects as well.

Space Marine release (32)Again, considering the price, this is another model where it’s quite possible to kitbash something similarly impressive with existing bitz. But I appreciate the option of fielding yet another HQ option in plastic, even if it’s far too expensive 😉

 

Space Marine Librarian:

Space Marine release (21b)
Now we’re talking! This guy is certainly the best of the new characters, and maybe even my favourite part of the entire release. It’s great that Space Marine players now basically have plastic versions for all of their generic HQs, but even beyond that, this guy really shines. I especially love the fact that they have moved beyond the smooth shaven look for the Librarian’s face:

Space Marine release (23)
His bearded face has an almost Merlinesque quality to it, and is a great fit for an experienced psyker. The head would also look great on a GK character or an Inquisitor! And in any case, the model is basically worth it for the creepy little cherub alone! One of the best bitz in GW’s entire catalogue!

The sprue picture also reveals that the Librarian should lend himself rather nicely to conversions:

Space Marine release (24)
As you can see, it should be easy enough to swap in different legs or arms, which is brilliant. And both the head and cherub are separate pieces! Awesome!

From among the three plastic characters, this is the one I am almost guaranteed to purchase at some point. Sure, the price is just as high as that of the Commander, but the model is by far the most exciting and unique sculpt out of the three plastic characters. Defintely one of my favourite Space Marine models, hands down.

 

Conversion potential:

Right off the bat, I’ll happily admit that I may be slightly biased this month: With two of my hobby projects (my World Eaters and my Legio Custodes army) partly or mostly based on Marine parts, it goes without saying that the new stuff from this release would be easier to put to good use than, say, a Lizarman or Tau model.

That said, flexibility is one of the greatest strength of GW’s marine based kits: The fact that most bitz can be merrily mixed and matched makes kitbashing (traitor) Astartes models both one of the easiest as well as one of the most satisfying hobby activities for me. It goes without saying that the new kits bring lots and lots of interesting bitz to use for all kinds of conversion projects. Indeed, Marine players will probably have a field day with these, kitbashing and splicing bitz into their existing forces with gusto.

For me personally, I am really interested in some of the bare heads. This seems a silly detail, to be sure, but those faces should be great for adding some character to my armies, and some of the heads would work perfectly for both my World Eaters and Custodes.

The most interesting infantry kit would be the Sternguard, since the partly robed bodies seem perfect to build Custodes Praetorians or veterans of the Legio in older marks of power armour. For the other kits, I will probably try to stick to ebay, bitz sites and bitz swaps for getting my hands on some of the interesting parts.

Regarding the characters, I think I’ll pass on the commander and chaplain: The former is so similar to my already painted Black Reach Captain that I don’t see any room for yet another version of the model. And the latter, apart from being part of a pretty expensive boxed set for now, isn’t all that fantastic — I’d rather kitbash my own model if I ever had to. The Librarian, however, is truly awesome, and I will certainly get one at some point. I expect he will end up as some kind of Inquisitor, though, since neither my World Eaters nor my Custodes seem like ideal employers for a psyker.

And then there’s the one kit that really has me thrilled. The one kit everybody seems to hate: the Centurions. I know they are goofy. I know it will be a lot of work. But I have half a mind to use these as a base for converting some Obliterators for my World Eaters. Already, ideas are beginning to form in the back of my head. And what is there to lose: They probably won’t end up looking as horrible as the existing models, right? 😉

 

Anything else?

Actually, yes. It may feel like beating a dead horse, but I can’t wind up this review without talking about the price of some of these kits. I realise that GW’s pricing is a highly controversial subject, and I certainly won’t go into economics here. That said, a certain divide is evident with this release’s pricing:

The tactical Marines come at 35 Euros a pop. While that’s more expensive than the older tactical squad, the new kit looks sharper and features lots and lots of bitz. So in the context of GW’s overall catalogue, paying 35 Euros for a highly customisable infantry squad of ten doesn’t really seem so bad.

The Sternguard and Protector Guard are quite a bit more expensive, coming at 40 and 35 Euros for five models, respectively. Once again, I am inclined to let it slide, because the amount of (really useful) leftover bitz you’ll end up with even after completing the squad manages to sugarcoat that particular bitter pill for me.

The Centurions are a problem, though: 62 Euros for a squad of three? Whoa, that is a pretty penny! Sure, these guys may be big, but given the fact that the sculpt doesn’t seem to be all that popular, GW had better hope this works out for them (it probably will, though: I bet these will be super effective on the table, making them an auto-include). Still, even though I am interested in using these for a conversion project, the price tag is giving me pause.

The biggest problem for me, though, are the characters: For WFB, the plastic characters are usually a great – and fairly affordable – purchase. For some reason, however, 40k plastic characters are much more expensive than their WFB counterparts right off the bat. And 25 Euros for a standard size, single pose plastic model does seem pretty egregious — all the more so if it’s simply a touched up starter box model (the original of which can be had for a song on ebay). It’s true, in my opinion, that GW still produce the best 28mm plastic models available, but they also charge us rather outrageous prices for the benefit of using these delicious pieces of plastic, and it’ll be interesting to see how long this will realistically continue. Regarding the Space Marine characters, I’d advise you to check if kitbashing isn’t the more sensible option – apart from that Librarian, of course: That guy is wicked.

 

In closing…

All in all, this is certainly a rather strong release, but what did you expect? Space Marines continue to be GW’s most successful product, as evidenced by their site crashing under the onslaught auf pre-orders. The release provides Marine players all over the world with some fantastic new toys, and seeing all that beautiful plastic crack turn up in all kinds of different army and conversion projects will be a lot of fun. You’ll have to pay rather handsomely for the benefit of getting to play with the new stuff, though, so even the most diehard Space Marine fans should carefully consider which of the new kits are essential purchases. So, long story short: some fantastic models. Some not so fantastic prices. Business as usual in the 41st millennium.

 

So, what do you think of the new release? Are you itching for some Astartes goodness? Or are you foaming at the mouth when looking at  the price tags? Or both? And do you love or hate the Centurions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section!

And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

10 Responses to “The Big One: A look at the new Space Marines”

  1. Hi mate!!
    I would certainly pass on this release without much than a sight and some “poping-never-to-happened-conversion’s ideas” as most of the kit are beyond my reach in term of price!! But I stick with you in term of design: the new plastic psyker and sternguard are fantastic models and the tactical squad is packed with nice options. Concerning the centurions I’m a little dazed, I hate the model and despite intensive and repetetive look at them I would certainly never field something so awful, on the other part I’m waiting to see some kitbashing by other player as I think this bulky-clunky guys have nevertheless some potential, if ever someone could get rid of this legs…
    It reminds me the big deal I got with the WFB nurgle lord: I swear I never bought this model as I don’t like him at all, but I’ve seen some crazy good conversion (PDH’s,Vader’s,Lamby’s, JB’s ones, … you know what I’m talking about ^^) and I’m starting to think about doing mine one day…
    Maybe it would be the same with centurions!!

    So one more GW’s good but overpriced release, I’ll pass on! Thanks still for your review and your thoughts about the new SM!!

    See ya!! Keb.

  2. Just thought I’d point out something that seems to have been omitted: the Tactical Squad is only very slightly more expensive and yet has so many more bits, options and unique bits. I’m not one who supports GW’s ridiculous price hikes, but I was genuinely surprised to see a more “reasonably-priced” kit among the new releases.

    Anyway, thanks for writing up a review, it was interesting to read and helped me somewhat to decide which kit I would buy first (limited budgets don’t allow me to buy more than one kit at a time).

    Cheers,

    Farradan

    • Thanks, Farradan!

      You’re quite right about the tac marines’ price — I thought I did point that out, though. Hmmm…

      As for the question which kit to get first: My head says get the tactical squad, seeing how it seems to be the best bang for the buck. My heart says: get those Sternguard, though, because those will allow you to build some awesome marines (and use the leftover bitz on many more).

  3. Why is it that they are Protector Marines instead of Vanguard Veterans?

  4. […] then, the new Space Marines were released, and as I mentioned in my recent review, the longer I looked at the new Centurions, the more I felt that these could be my ticket to […]

  5. […] thing is: 2013’s Space Marine release was a pretty big release all around, thoroughly revamping the standard Tactical Squad, giving us […]

  6. […] It takes no rocket scientist to figure out that the Deathwatch are the more appealing faction in this particular set, mostly because there’s more original content for them. But even so, the Deathwatch side of things also makes heavy use of pre-existing kits: It looks like you basically get one apiece of the Sternguard, Vanguard and Venerable Dreadnought kits and then the new Deathwatch conversion sprue to spice them up to your heart’s content. Regarding the base kits, all of them are excellent kits, whether you’re starting a new Astartes force or adding to an existing one. Some detailed thoughts of on the Vanguard and Sternguard kits can be found here. […]

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