Monday 18 April 2016

Spaceman Lust

I'm pretty sure that everyone involved in the Games Workshop hobby has a space marine story to tell and it seems fitting with the 30th anniversary of their creation just passed, that I should ramble on about my experience with the 41st Millennium's answer to Chuck Norris made out of guns and skulls. My first exposure to space marines that made a real impact was via a piece of Jim Burns artwork that was used for the original box for the Epic gaming system.

No words.
I spent so much time looking at this particular image that it pretty much shaped the entire palette of miniature painting for my formative years. Everything was undercoated black. Even when it shouldn't have been. Despite, it's proto-goffick influences, this image beyond all captures (for me) the essence of what a space marine looks and acts like. They're direct, thick-necked unrepentant super soldiers with 10000 years of psycho-religous programming that eat testosterone for brunch. They are unapologetic sic-fi versions of that nob-head in Predator that are humanity's only chance of existence in a universe that is bleak even by Hobbesian standards. To a pre-pubescent spaghetti-limbed kid, these were the coolest thing ever (until the Eldar came along with their much sassier hair).  On a more chapter specific note, this artwork by John Blanche will forever be the defining imagery of the Dark Angels.

Did I mention how much I adore John Blanche? 

Ignoring the terrible photo as well as noticeable scale and perspective issues, this is another piece of art that I've lost hours peering into. Even now I find new details or ways of looking at it and it's been a constant point of reference for my painting. I love the early 90's period of Blanche's pencil work (his forays into portraits of various Inquisitors at this point are of particular note, with bizarre references ranging from Sean Connery to obscure renaissance firebrand priests such as Bernardo Gui) and I would love to see this piece in real life one day.

So these influences begat my love affair with the Unforgiven and later, with the Blood Angels. At that point in time they shared a Codex and whenever I regularly played it was against my friend's Blood Angel / Imperial Guard allied force. That love affair continues to this day with my not insubstantial collection of both chapters. However, my favourites will always be the former because they're well miserable and goff, hate pretty much everyone and really easy to paint. Here's how the army looks these days,.

Obligatory Deathwing.

First tactical squad. 
Second tactical squad (with devastators and support Dreadnought hiding entrenched behind.
Ezekiel and chums. 
Command squad.

Sgt Ted Crilly Naaman and scouts.

I imagine I'll always be chipping away at this army. At present it features nearly a third of the entire 3rd company and I've a substantial Ravenwing biker contingent and additional Deathwing squad that is ready to be worked on too. Recently I've taken a break from painting up AOS stuff to paint up a model I've sat on for a few years and have been too scared to take on, namely Sammael, Master of the Ravenwing.

Inexplicable zooming noises.

Sammael has such a good face.

Apart from being an outstanding sculpt, this has got to be one of the easiest multi-part metal models I've ever worked with. There was very little flash or mold-line removal needed and the new thick super-glue that GW does is fantastic at keeping the whole thing together. My only real issue has been holding it without touching it too much as blu-tac on a cork really won't do in this situation! Thankfully I've been able to just rest the piece on foam when needed so it's not been as much as a chore as first thought. My only real problem was with the cape as I have a real problem with sculpted detail on material or banners - I have no idea why GW insist on doing this as it'd be so much easier to attempt to free-hand the design rather than compensate with chunky, blocky embroidery. I hindsight, I would have filed the whole thing off as I'm not 100% happy with the end result. However, I'm pretty stoked on how this project turned out considering how intimidated I was to begin with, very much looking forward to building up some bikes and land speeders for him to hang out with in the future.


  1. Saw your Sammy in the Workshop a few weeks back and it's really crisp and lovely! As for sculpted banners, the rest of us mortals need them because freehand is a certified way for me to ruin the rest of my paintjob! I've even done stick-men on regiment banners in the past... :-P

    1. Stoked you're into it! It was a real treat in the end, despite gibing me some really fearful moments! I think you'd be surprised just how well you could do with a freehand paint job, once you've got a basic shape, it's just (a lot of) patience. Re-reading that last bit I come over a bit too pissy - apologies!

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