Thursday, June 15, 2017

Primaris Space Marines: First Impressions

Hope is a mistake.

Over the years, we have become increasingly critical of the miniature design of Space Marines, and the discrepancies between them and much of the artwork. Many of the awkward elements of their anatomy, and diminutive size compared to other human models in the game, pushed us to begin converting some “true-scaleSpace Marines. To our surprise, shortly after creating some of these larger marines, it was revealed that Games Workshop was releasing a line of new larger Space Marines, called Primaris Space Marines. Many were quick to claim that GW had finally made their own true-scale Space Marines with the models, and we were eager to get our hands on some to make our own judgement, and to see if they corrected some of our issues with Space Marines. Mr_Pink (from the excellent Modern Synthesist blog) generously provided us one of the new marines, and wanted to tell you some of our thoughts on the quality of them, and their place next to their “normal” brethren.

At first glance, the Primaris Space Marines look a lot like normal Space Marines; they have the same general bulky armor, characteristic backpacks and domed shoulderpads. Upon a more careful look, it becomes clear that many subtle things were modified to improve virtually every aspect of the Space Marine aesthetic. The most evident difference between the Primaris and normal marines is their difference in height, with the Primaris marine standing a head or two taller than the marines we have had for years (they are very similar in size to the newer plastic Custodes, in fact). This would lead you to believe that, as a whole, the Primaris Marines are a lot larger than their predecessors. Surprisingly, this is not really the case, with most elements of the models being virtually the same size, including their helmets, backpacks, and shoulder pads. Even their breastplates and legs are only slightly bulkier and up-armored. Instead, the real difference, and what provides most of the size difference, is actually GW correcting a lot of the questionable anatomy of the previous Space Marines. Finally, after many years, Space Marines have suitable abdomens, instead of having their ribcages fused almost directly to their pelvises. More than any other change, I think this has had the most profound effect on creating a visually reasonable, yet compelling vision of a Space Marine. Additionally, height is added due to how the Primaris Marine’s legs are attached. Now they attach to the pelvis in a more logical and anatomical way, removing the massive “thigh-gap” seen on most Space Marines over the years.

The Primaris Marines are similar in size to the new Adeptus Custodes, while being taller than traditional marines (which are roughly the size of Imperial citizens, considering the size of the Genestealer Cult neophytes).
Both the Primaris Marines and the Custodes have more extensive rubberized sections around the joints and buttocks. 

In addition to these major anatomical improvements, the Primaris Space Marines have a lot of other nice details that suggest a lot of care and thought on GW’s part. Perhaps my favorite part about the new models is their thoughtful approach to the articulation points on their armor, particularly on the legs and around their buttocks. To make actual movement possible with the bulky armor, they dramatically increased the amount of rubberized material between the joints. Notably, the entire buttocks is covered in this flexible material, before a ceramite plate was added over-top. All of this makes it conceivable that the marine could move around rapidly without the armored sections of his limbs grinding against one another. Impressively, even though the Primaris Marines’ chest armor was made incredibly thick in the front, they made sure to leave their heads in-line with their shoulder/arms, rather than simply “centering” them out of convenience. Furthermore, many of the Primaris Marines have relevant and functional equipment on their belts, from pouches, to pistol holsters that finally are large enough to fit a bolt pistol. Amazingly, even those that are not wearing helmets have them hung at their hips.

Both the helmets and backpacks are similar in size between the Primaris and traditional Space Marines.

The new Primaris helmets are very similar to the older MKIV ones, but both work quite well on the models. 

While being very fond of the new Primaris Marines, there is one glaring issue that needs to be brought up: the new Boltgun variant, the Bolt rifle. As a whole, the Boltgun has always been an awkward weapon, huge and clunky, less of a rifle than it is a big block of metal. In the hands of the old Space Marine models, they still looked large and cumbersome. With the Primaris Marines being bigger than their predecessors, however, GW felt they needed to make their rifles bigger as well. Interestingly, the magazine and general firing mechanism of the new Bolt rifle is pretty much the same size as the old plastic Bolters, and to make the rifle bigger, they just extended the blocky front portion out even further than it had been before, resulting in a very unbalanced looking weapon. I can understand why they did not want to just extend an exposed barrel out further (like a traditional rifle), as it would change the iconic profile of the Boltgun, however it seems underdeveloped. Despite claiming the weapon to be a rifle, GW again failed to add a stock to the firearm, something that would make the weapon incredibly difficult to fire at range. On the plus side, they did add a picatinny rail along the top of the rifle, for optics and other accessories. Curiously, when a scope is added, it is not attached to said rail, and instead it is added further back, defeating the purpose of the rail. The front sight is also so massive that it would completely occlude using the scope in the first place. Interestingly, the magazine release was also shifted so that it is closer to the foregrip of the weapon, preventing it from being released with the trigger finger, and necessitating a second hand. One could argue that all of these things are minor, and not in league with GW’s design philosophies, but I think that is short-sighted. Small thoughtful changes, such as those to the Marines’ anatomy and armor design, are what makes the Primaris Space Marines so impressive and visually striking.

The unmodified Primaris Bolt rifle is huge (in the center), so large that it would look awkward even on our "true-scale" Space Marine, which is the size of a Forge World Primarch. It is also much larger than the Umbra pattern Bolter on the MkIII Iron armor Marine (on the right).

When building my first Primaris Space Marine, the only thing that I felt that I needed to convert was his Bolt rifle. I ended up cutting off the majority of the front of the rifle and much of the top part off, as well. I saved the rail portion and reattached it along the top, and even used a portion of the included scope to create the barrel for the rifle, attaching it in such a way to simulate a slanted muzzle break. I used small pieces of plastic card to build a rear sight as well. The final thing I needed to add was a stock. How the model was sculpted holding the firearm prevented me from being able to add a traditional one, so I decided to create a folding stock instead. I am pretty happy with the result, however the weapon is still quite large, similar in size to “normal” plastic Bolters.  


A comparison of some of the other plastic Bolters, starting with a Deathwatch one on top, followed by a Tigrus pattern one, followed by the most common Godwyn patterns, followed by a modified Primaris Bolt rifle.
  
Other than modifying his Bolter, no other conversion work was necessary for getting this Primaris Space Marine ready for painting!

I used small pieces of plastic card to create the rear sight for his Bolter.

A folding stock was created using part of a Skitarii rifle and a piece of a bionic limb from a Destroyer (and I still need to drill our the barrel...).

Having built my first Primaris Space Marine, I am suitably impressed. The changes made to their anatomy have made them, in my opinion, the definitive Space Marine models. Considering that they are not significantly larger than the older plastic Space Marines, when accounting for the addition of an abdomen and better leg attachment, I think they would be an excellent starting point to build an force of normal, non-Primaris Space Marines, provided the Bolters are modified. For those not wishing to shelve their old Space Marine models, however, these new Primaris Marines will look good alongside them too, such is their quality. But as a blog that primarily concerns itself with creating small groups of models focused on injecting as much realism as possible into Warhammer 40k, we have little reason to go back to those old plastic Space Marines (but value their contribution to the evolution of Space Marines), and welcome Games Workshop’s newest creation!

Adam Wier

10 comments:

  1. Excellent article Adam. You guys are often right on point with your stuff. I am currently awaiting the release of Dark Imperium (and therefore my first Primaris marines), and this article has pretty much answered every question I have. It sounds like with the addition of a few plasticard spacers in the greaves and abdomen, old style marines could be brought up to nearly the same height and build. I can't wait to try it out... Though maybe not on all 100 or so of my old marines...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad you found the post informative! I think you will be really excited with the Primaris marines when you get your hands on them. :)

      As for the standard plastic marines, I think you could improve their scaling and proportions quite a lot with a little plasticard. I think the most important modification would be to give them a more substantial abdomen. Once that is done you could judge whether to add some spacers to the legs. I am currently working on doing just that with the Chaplain model in the Horus Heresy: Betrayal at Calth boxed game. Whenever the conversion is finished I will show it on the blog!

      Delete
  2. Excellent article and summary of the new marines. Cant wait to see your future attempts on the Boltgun. Really looking forward to getting my hands on some Primaris Marines tomorrow....not looking forward to the dramatic increase in models waiting to be built on my desk haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am looking forward to converting a few more patterns of Bolters. I think for the next one I will try and make an even smaller. For the one hear, despite cutting it down substantially it is still pretty large...

      There are a lot of models in the new 40k boxed game... It will be a true test of endurance!

      Delete
  3. Great post, and thanks for making the comparison. Seems like the size is more like what most people imagine a marine to be like, at least in comparison with the Neophyte.

    It also appears that with a new backpack and a little bit of judicious shaving, you could get the armor to look like a standard Mk VII suit, which is nice for those of us who want to ignore the whole "Primaris" thing entirely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I think the new Primaris marines are about the right size for a marine when you compare them to the standard human models GW now releases (IG Scions, Chaos Cultists, Genestealer Neophytes, etc.).

      Yeah, there are a bunch of small modifications that could be done to make them look very similar to some of the standard power armor variants. Even without any modifications they still very much read as a traditional Space Marine.

      Delete
  4. Excellent article. Bolters need stocks! I like the mods you have made but I am not sure the baroque style of the AdMech rifles matches the tech-y style of the new bolters. I think a stock like the old 2nd ed era skeleton stocks would look best. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with for the next one.... looking forward to getting my hands on some of the Primaris Marines myself... ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment! I spent a while considering what stock the bolter should be equipped with. Eventually I decided a more traditional, full-bodied, synthetic stock would make the most sense for such a large weapon. In the future when I make other small bolter variants I will likely use a skeleton stock on at least one of them. :)

      Delete
  5. Nice article. I look forward to getting my hands on the astartes, they will of course join the Night Lords.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they will look great as Night Lords!

      Delete