Bigger And Better Than Ever Before

For quite a while now rumours have been circulating of a new breed of Space Marine on the way; bigger, tougher and generally meaner than their brothers. Today, after remaining fairly tight-lipped on the subject, Games Workshop have finally made the big reveal; the Primaris Space Marines are just around the corner, ready to dispense justice to filthy heretics like me. What’s more as I’m laid up on the sofa feeling sorry for myself after a trip to the dentist, and lacking the energy to paint anything (that Chaos Marine you saw earlier was finished yesterday, before the old toothwright got his drills out) I find myself with the time to actually write a few words on the subject whilst it’s all still fresh in my mind.

Primaris Space Marine (3)

First off I’d better issue an apology, or at least a retraction, for having insisted for so long that the rumours of these new “big marines” was unmitigated rubbish. In my defence however, 99% of the ‘rumours’ spread around online turn out to be nonsense of the highest order so who can blame me for thinking this one was also?

Part of the reason behind my scepticism is a general aversion to too much hyperbole. These marines are bigger and better and even more awesome than ever before, ten thousand years in the making and the most heroic yet! Even Grey Knights are envious! Rush out and buy them now! Perhaps I should have seen it coming just based on that, after all in spite of what we fans of the grim darkness like to tell ourselves GW has never been as subtle as we want to believe and whilst we bury our heads in the clever complexities of the Inq28/Blanchitsu side of the universe, front of house remains bright and brash and over-the-top.

Then there’s the questionable fiction that frames these new marines – that Guilliman has swept aside ten millennia of religious fanaticism, technological stagnation and apocalyptic thinking and succeeded where Corax and Fabius Bile alike have failed; in improving on the Emperor’s vision for the ultimate warriors. Perhaps he’ll make some new Primarchs are well (you read it here first folks!)

Primaris Space Marine (2)

More and more the size of the Space Marines has started to look like an albatross around Games Workshop’s neck. On the one hand they are their most popular range, the iconic poster boys for the setting with a number of spin offs – each an army in its own right (Space Wolves, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Grey Knights and Deathwatch alongside the standard codex marines, and the various Chaos-worshipping variants). On the other hand they’re a long way from the power-armoured giants they’re supposed to be, with the result that a whole scene has developed around the art of true-scaling (that is to say, converting Space Marines to be as big as the fiction describes them). This is a problem for Games Workshop; not only are their poster-boys conspicuously flawed but third-party companies are already circling, looking for ways to give the customers what they want without infringing GW’s IP and finding themselves in court. The first company to break into that market stands to make a tidy profit off the back of Games Workshop’s promotional effort. However simply replacing all the existing kits would cost them a fortune, take a very long time to roll out (all the while hurting sales of those Chapters not yet updated) and hacking off lots of fans who’d already poured time, effort and money into collections of the old, smaller marines. Quite the conundrum.

For Games Workshop the solution comes in the form of Roboute Guilliman’s plus-sized marines. By making them bigger than standard marines they neatly fulfil the function of true-scale marines, without all the expensive hassle that comes from invalidating the existing range. Better yet their helmets and shoulderpads are cross compatible with the existing Space Marine ranges so, even if various alternative versions aren’t immediately available, you can easily convert them into Space Wolves, Blood Angels and so on. Even Chaos versions shouldn’t be too much work, so that ghastly, ancient legionary you’ve always wanted stalking the ruins of the your Inq28 game can now be a reality.

Of course in some ways GW have failed to recognise the first axiom of being in a hole; stop digging. The new Primaris Space Marines are just as out of scale as the old Space Marines were, they’re just bigger. The Primaris are roughly the right size for Space Marines but still considerably smaller than the Primaris themselves are said to be meaning that true aficionados will soon be buying up Primaris models to use as Space Marines and more Primaris models to true scale into Primarises*. Even more confusing; some people will be using Primaris models as Primaris Space Marines and some will be using them as true-scale Space Marines. It’s enough to make your head spin.

*what is the plural of Primaris anyway? Somebody get Roboute on the phone, he knows these things!

Primaris Space Marine (4)

Overall though, in spite of the liberties that have been taken with the background (a subject on which I’m somewhat mollified by reports that Aaron Dembski-Bowden is working on a novel about them), I’m rather exited about these new Marines. I’ve always fancied an Imperial army to stand against my Chaos forces; a rag tag combination of the Cult Mechanicus and the Imperial Guard bolstered by a core of Custodes, Sisters of Silence, Assassins and other elite units. Of course such a collection would never be complete without a few true-scale Space Marines but the work involved in converting them kept putting me off. For this job the Primaris models could be perfect, especially as I very much doubt I’d want any actual Primarises in the collection (unless ADB manages something positively superhuman to convince me of their place in the background).

Especially exciting is the announcement that, as well as new vehicles, a Primaris Redemptor Dreadnought will be on its way. It’s enough to get me wondering if they’ll get their own Terminator armour as well – after all, true-scaling Terminators is hard work but life without Terminators is hardly life at all.

Plus, there’s no denying this is good news for fans of Inq28 who’ll have a ready source of appropriately sized Marines, it’s almost a shame they’ll never need more than one or two. What is a little sad however is that this may represent the death knell of the art of true-scaling. Having produced some real craftsmanship down the years it may now be a redundant art.

Primaris Space Marine (5)

So, will you be using these as true-scale marines or will you be adding them to a Space Marine army in the function for which they were originally intended? Is this an exciting new development in the story of the Dark Millennium or one abuse of the fiction too many? If you have a feeling this is a safe space, get it off your chest in the comments’ box below.

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10 responses to “Bigger And Better Than Ever Before

  • Alex

    Well, not having a Space Marine army to give a f*** about makes this pretty much a no brainer for me pal – the odd one or two for truescale Marine goodness it is 🙂

    • Wudugast

      Aye, likewise – my small collection of standard sized Space Marines has never really managed to keep my interest so I’ll not lose any sleep over them. The chance to add some true-scale models to an Imperial collection on the other hand, now that’s appealing!

  • Dexter

    I echo your sentiments. I think this is a “soft reboot” of the Space Marine scale, and definitely an exercise in digging the hole deeper. Soon after seeing these guys I too was wondering if the art of true-scaling is dead. I do think that it is definitely going to be narrowed down in focus, probably using these guys as a base almost exclusively (with a few mavericks here and there insisting on doing things their way, probably spending a lot more money time and effort in the process, but hey that’s pride for you), and now the focus on true-scaling won’t be getting the size and proportions right, but making them look like true heroes of the Imperium. To me, when a Space Marine pops up in a skirmish setting like Inq28, he should be not only appropriately sized, but also blinged out. In army settings, sure, you keep the ostentatious decoration to a minimum because you have to paint dozens of these little bastards. But if you have a small handful of them? Their armor should be shrines, covered in the symbols of their Chapter, personal heraldry, and individual touches that mark each one out as an individual. I am looking forward to getting my hands on maybe five of these guys, and turning each one into a member of a different Chapter, exploring the tropes associated with them to the fullest extent this scale allows me.

    • Wudugast

      Totally agree and, although I understand what you mean about GW wanting to keep the models relatively straightforward and lacking fiddly detail when painted a whole army, my biggest frustration with the Space Marine models is that they don’t really capture the vibe shown in the artwork. Again I’m not bashing GW for this, Space Marines are very much their gateway faction to sell their games to newcomers and why not; they’re excitingly heroic and easy to paint. However when it comes to what I want in a Space Marine I really can’t put it better than you have here; “Their armor should be shrines, covered in the symbols of their Chapter, personal heraldry, and individual touches that mark each one out as an individual. ” A few of those towering over their dishevelled rank and file serfs will look simply glorious!

      I reckon I too will be getting a handful of them to really explore – both in terms of making characters that act as exemplars of their chapter but also to delve into some of the specialist ranks within a Space Marines force (Chaplain, Apothecary, Tech-Marine, Librarian, etc).

      • Dexter

        What I think is ideal about this scale is that there is so much potential to create a narrative with just a single model. The way I look at it, if a Marine at this scale is done right, and a person who is unfamiliar with the Chapter the Marine represents looks at the model, that person should be able to get a pretty solid sense of what the Chapter is about from that one model. No more of just “oh these guys are blue, these guys are yellow, these guys are red…” Rank-and-file Marines should convey the essence of the Chapter.
        Furthermore, if the Marines are REALLY done right, someone who IS familiar with the Chapter should be able to look at the Marine and get a sense for that Marine as an individual. Not just rank and designation, but who that Marine is, what his personality is like, some sense of his accomplishments.
        Maybe I’ve got stars in my eyes…

      • Wudugast

        Again, I’m with you there, and again I think it’s one of the great benefits of having fewer marines in a collection. I’ve tried to make every one of my Chaos Marines unique but I know that no-one, not even me, is going to pick them all up and look at them. Whereas if there’s only a handful of them there’s much more of a focus on the individual models, both for the person doing the modelling and a friend/acquaintance/stranger/burglar stopping to take a look.

        Plus, as you say, there’s only so much space to work with on a normal marine. To me, every Space Marine should be a hero in his own right and with these there should be the space to show it. I’m actually quite glad that the Primaris models we’ve seen so far have been generally lacking in ‘bling’, there should be plenty of room to personalise each one without having to lose too much sleep clearing away pre-sculpted detail.

  • Thomas

    I have no problem with Games Workshop making Mega Marines. If they are about the same size as Stormcast Eternals they’ll look amazing on the table top. Sure your other normal Marines will look a bit small but come on, they’ll still be bigger than the normal CSM models. The Dark Vengeance Chaos Marines are pretty huge, especially the Aspiring Champion but they still fit nicely. I’m sure you’ll be able to mix them up good.

    Their in game abilities doesn’t make them an auto-include. Great!Normal stat line with two wounds and an extra attack. I was expecting/dreading more. Like better stats all over. And their Legion type rules (only bolters, no special or heavy weapons) make them less all round than your normal Marines. Sure the super bolter is far superior but it is still just a bolter.

    Now what I do not like about them is what they represent. They are hope, a burning candle in the grim darkness of the far future. I’m sorry but that’s not my cup of tea at all. The entire rebirth of the Imperium and the new Crusade with Guilliman is pretty much the antithesis of 40k. At least to me. But north of the Warp Rift, now that’s proper Grim Dark. That setting will be awesome.

    • Wudugast

      At a guess I reckon they’re about Stormcast size, looking at the picture of them alongside normal Marines they look to be about a head taller which is roughly right I reckon. I really wish they’d show us some terminators at this scale – then I’d be sold for sure!

      Absolutely agree that I liked my 40k universe hopeless and despairing. Hope has no place here, in fact it diminishes the setting (in my opinion). People often came up with fan-fiction speculation about 41k but to me that went against the grain of the setting – there is no 41k because by then everyone is either dead or a twisted spawn. That was what made the setting alive for me – it was the closing hours of an empire being swallowed by its own hubris, paranoia and bigotry and it wasn’t coming back.

      I also feel somewhat there’s a real world ethical issue with the message being conveyed. Before Gathering Storm life in 40k was a straight choice between a life of gruelling oppression and getting eaten by something. With the introduction of a ray of hope that oppressive, brutal regime starts to look like a legitimate path to something better and I’m not sure that’s the kind of message GW should be promoting.
      You never know though, once half those new Primaris chapters have turned to Chaos and started a second Heresy I might start to find them more appealing!

  • FirBholg

    I’m cautiously optimistic so far – I suspect (as you and others have already supposed) that this is the best balance for GW between providing true-scale(esque) Marines for the masses, and not invalidating all the existing armies.

    In terms of the background for the Primaris marines, I don’t actually have too much of a problem with what I’ve seen thus far – sounds like Cawl has been working on this for 10 millennia (which is likely longer than the a Emperor did), so in that regard it’s not too surprising he’s managed to come up with something that works!

    The real questions are, of course, what we don’t know yet – how the Primaris marines work with different geneseed, will they be falling to chaos, and of course, has Cawl finally managed to fix the flaw in the process that means the marine process is only available to just under half of the human population…(part of me suspects that GW will just never mention anything either way about that last part…)

    Part of me suspects/hopes that everything in the Imperium’s not quite as rosy as it at first appears – while I suspect that few would move directly against a primarch, the alien witchery involved with bringing him back, and tech heresy tinkering with the Emperor’s works must be making quite a few high-ups in the Imperium quite worrried (not to mention the threat of Guilliman to the existing power blocs) – sod Armageddon, this sounds like a real shadow war…

    I also think you need not worry that the art of true-scaling will be lost with the introduction of the Primaris marine kits – while I do suspect you’ll see more true-scaling projects based on the new kits, this will include folks who wouldn’t have even considered the prospect before. I suspect that the majority of folks who are true-scaling already will just view this as an optional source of new parts (basically, you’ll always get folks who are curious or bonkers enough – like the Iron Sleet crew, for example) to push the envelope even further!

    I do feel a little bad for my old RTB01 marines – the size difference is going to make the Primaris marines look more like Primarchs standing alongside them!

    Thanks for your thoughts, and hope you’re feeling better!

    • Wudugast

      Cheers mate – yes, I’m feeling much improved (although the sooner our species evolves away from having wisdom teeth the better!)

      Regarding the background of the Primaris marines I know what you mean, everything we’ve heard so far indicates that they’ve been brought into the background fairly neatly (slightly more so than Guilliman I feel) but I’m still not entirely convinced. It’s hard to define exactly what the issue is but I do feel somewhat that just because they can pull something off without overturning the established canon doesn’t necessarily mean they should. By way of an extreme example they could, with a bit of clever warp-related jiggery pokery and mechanicum shenanigans, bring back Ferrus Manus or Sanguinius. They could do it in a way that was consistent with the background, and that built on established story elements, but it would still be jarring and it would still sit badly with me. As I say though, those are extreme examples, I’m not saying that what’s been done so far is just like that, nor would I be rage quitting and burning my models in hysterics even if they did, it just doesn’t quite fit with me yet. Maybe I just need to get used to it though. Certainly the fact that Cawl is behind these new marines makes it easier to swallow, I’ll admit I’m a bit of a Cawl fanboy!

      I think you’re right about the infighting behind the scenes in the Imperium, I can’t imagine anyone is pleased to Guilliman up and about and that’s only going to get worse if any more primarchs appear. Indeed it wouldn’t surprise me if some parts of the Imperium were soon in open civil war. The Ecclesiarchy especially will be feeling their power slipping away. I expect them to come back swinging shortly, probably at the head of an army of plastic sisters of battle…

Speak, damn you!

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