The story of Warhammer 40k is, and always has been, the story of the Imperium. Until now, however, we have seen only part of it. The alien races add colour and complexity, harrowing the empire of man from its fringes, and of course there is always the great enemy, Chaos, waiting in the wings for mankind’s own hubris to bring him down. The main player, however, remains the Imperium, a toppling edifice of decaying glory and overweening arrogance in the face of a brutal and rapacious assault from within and without.
Here we see the fall of Rome written across the stars. It is peopled by the strange and the mysterious and governed by the mad. Together they grub through the ruins of their own toppled magnificence and believe themselves still to be supreme. Their wars are fought by medieval peasants, armed with weapons far beyond their understanding, holding back the horrors of the galaxy only through sacrifice and attrition. It’s infamous ‘grim darkness’ has been captured by dozens of authors and codex writers, as well as artists including, amongst others, John Blanche and Jes Goodwin (whose images are used – without permission – to illustrate this blog).
Somehow I’ve never felt that this was quite captured on the tabletop. The warrior-monks of the Space Marines have often looked too clean. The imperial guard have come to focus too heavily on the Cadians (whose aesthetic is closest to modern soldiers and not really to my taste) and the Catachans (who now seem like a contrived pastiche, glaringly out of place beside the gothic strangeness of their peers). The inquisition are spent force. They might once have been at the pinnacle of grim-dark gothic greatness but today they look old, tired and utterly overshadowed by the creative genius displayed within the Inq28 movement, their own feral offspring. The assassins and ecclesiarchy languish in lumpen disregard.
Today however sees the release of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Since the beginning they have been a part of the background but it’s taken until now for them to emerge. Quite why it’s taken so long is open to debate, the Imperium after all is the marriage of Terra and Mars, yet the red planet has seen next to nothing in terms of miniatures releases.
Exactly what will come next with this release we don’t know yet, although it’s hard to imagine that more miniatures are not on their way. Already, however, we’ve seen the kind of grubby madness I’ve been hoping for since I discovered 40k. Not only do we see the Mechanicus army so many of us have been waiting for but the spares should provide more than enough to add a Blanchien vibe to other imperial models. Of course I still have a host of Chaos projects to work on before I rush out to buy the agents of the Fabricator General but, having waited for them for so long, it won’t hurt to be patient. At least they’ve arrived.