Power Armour

So today this happened:

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After the year of fireworks that was 2016 from the GW studio, I couldn’t help but feel this was some alternate reality that was taking over. Maybe the veil really is thinning?
Such strong concepts and well conceived models have been pouring out lately that seeing an ill-proportioned plastic primarch covered in seemingly tzeentchian runework almost made me faint. I could go on about what I don’t like, both in the big picture of things and the myriad details, but that’s besides the point of this site.

I took this as a wakeup call.

Two years ago, before joining Iron Sleet, I was toying with an idea about using 3D printing as a way of ‘fixing’ space marines. The plan was to grow the legs and torso, but keep access and relation to all the various heads, arms, backpacks and weaponry that make collecting marines such a fun thing. I also started to collect a library of favorite imagery.
Contrary to the usual ‘mood is king’ approach that almost-but-not-quite-entirely captures Iron Sleet, I started with only looking at proportions and trying to forget everything else for a while. I think, when the size and composition of a figure are correct, coming up with the rest is just pure enjoyment. I believe the proof can be seen the Forgeworld Primarchs, and in the speedy creation and quality of Migs’ wolves.

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Grey Knight by Paul Dainton
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World Eater by Adrian Smith
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Ultramarines by Karl Kopinski

The work of these masters somehow perfectly captures what is the single coolest concept in the world of 40k to me: Power Armour. A formidable tank of a carapace encapsulating the recruited sons of the Imperium’s toiling masses, engineered to serve one purpose and one purpose alone. War.

I made some successive 3D models and prints in a short time, and got together something I thought resembles the target. A quick paintjob to prove the concept, and then it was time for phase 2, modelling a detailed, poseable frame onto which details could start to be added.

 

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model for 3D-printing
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comparison to plastic marine

 

 

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printed frame
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quickly painted proof of concept
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comparison with human

But phase 2 never came.
I moved to London to study and two most intense years of my life followed, along with an unexpected revival of the hobby. There was no time to remember old things. Too much exciting things were happening. The Invitational, Pilgrym!

Today, seeing the plastic Roboute Guilliman kicked me right back into 2014. I have to see this work through. And coming out with in public is an irreversible promise. This year I will revisit the past, and build a truescale space marine force. But this time it will also be a personal consolidation of the Iron Sleet approach, a moody reimagining of a transhuman war-tribe.
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I want to end the post with what is in my opinion the best warhammer 40k miniature of all time. Simon Egan’s stunning Horus Lupercal. I bought it last year from the Forgeworld shop in Nottingham, with the aim to convert and paint him. But with time I grew to admire this display of skill so much that I decided to keep him in the stasis-field infinitely. For me this miniature is (perhaps heretically) the golden standard of what a space marine model can be. And everything the plastic Guilliman is not.

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Toni

42 thoughts on “Power Armour

  1. You’ve summed up a lot of what I’m feeling right now. My heart sank when I saw the plastic Primarch. It’s not simply the low quality of the miniature which bothers me though, I’m equally depressed about the whole idea of bringing primarchs into 40k.

    I’m also a big fan of Forge World’s Primarch range. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen one I don’t like yet. However, the scale of space marines is just as much a problem in the Horus Heresy range. The solution does seem to be yo find a way to make bigger marines without each miniature being several months work. So, I love what you’ve managed to do with your 3D prints.

    Personally speaking, I feel like my hobby is undergoing an existential crisis at the moment. I’m rapidly becoming disillusioned with the direction GW are taking 40k in. My reaction to seeing the plastic Primarch was honestly one of, “that’s it, I’m done” 😦

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    1. Just a minor correction is needed. “That’s it, I’m done” -> “That’s it, I’ll show how it’s done!” 😛
      Honestly with all the cool work you’ve been producing last year, it just shows there’s so much to explore in the 40k universe. So maybe GW decides to explore the space soap opera style for a moment, doesn’t mean we should take our eyes off the real prize. Grim, dirty turmoil in the dystopian future, where even the good guys are bad.

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  2. Interesting… The future direction of 40k isn’t too important to me personally, I still play 2nd edition with the old metal miniatures after all, but I do enjoy seeing the direction you at Iron Sleet take things. I would be interested to see more of the 3D printing project as though I am not really interested in true scale space marines I do wish they were better proportioned and posed.

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  3. Your mock space marine here is absolutely amazing, and perfectly captures them.
    I’m in two minds about Guilliman though. On one hand, awsome sculpting and detail, on the other, not as ‘space marine’ as I would have liked. His proportions are also a bit weird, but he’s a Primarch so I’ll forgive him for that. I think it is the power armour that sets him off. It’s very close fitting and slim. His already odd proportions are massively accentuated by it. It’s the legs in my opinion. They aren’t built or bulky enough. Although this isn’t actually his proper armour, this stuff was designed by Cawl on the fly while the Ynnari were doing their whole necromancy thing on him, so I can understand the swirly armour to an extent, but it does just look like GW went “it needs to be fancy. Fancy = swirls.”
    Anywho, I can’t wait to see some of these altered marines.
    Maybe you could fix Guillimans chicken-legs if you ever get your hands on him?

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    1. …I actually agree entirely with this. There’s something I love about Guilliman, especially the helmeted version. But he’s too slim in places. I think it’s the waist more than the legs – I wonder if maybe they wanted echoes of the Mechanicum as Cawl designed it? Swing and a miss though.

      But there’s a lot to love there.

      More than that, this is End Times for 40k. I know that means issues, but it also means 40k feeling like it has a narrative again, and I’m kinda stoked for it all.

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  4. I’m gutted about this “mistake” in storyline and miniature design. Games Workshop in on a tear. Ready for a new frontier. That takes focus, discipline and taste. Not going Hasbro on the product and storyline.

    “Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines is reborn! For close to nine millennia, his body was held in stasis, caught in the heartbeat before death. Now, through the artifice of the Martian Tech-priest Belisarius Cawl and the alien sorcery of the Eldar Yvraine, he returns to the Imperium in its darkest hour.”

    No Eldar would be allowed step on Magragge, let alone work sorceries on the Primarch of the Ultramarines…

    Equally off is the armor detail, pose…

    There. Moving on.

    Cypher is masterful. Fits the character story line well, seems to be of good heroic, astartes scale and proportions but done with taste and restraint.

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    1. Gutted would be understating how I feel right now. I’m all for moving the plot forward, but not like this. I’m not in favour of turning 40k into Horus Heresy lite, with more xenos and crappy, action figure primarchs. There are so many other things which they could have done instead, things which could have emphasised everything that was great about 40k. Things that would have darkened the contrast between the 30k and 40k settings. I honestly think this is totally the wrong direction to have gone.

      On one level, I kind of feel that this shouldn’t matter to me. I could continue making my humble inq28 efforts and ignore these developments, but it does matter. I’d like to be able to buy the books and read about the wider setting and be inspired by the art. I’d like to feel like my own little creations are part of something bigger, something amazing that I’m striving to capture the essence of. I just don’t feel that anymore.

      On the other hand, this may be a massive overreaction, a fit of the nerd rages on my part 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I totally get what you are saying. I trust things will course correct. The level of releases overall and the momentum is incredible. And Forge World is on an absolute tear. 🙂

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  5. Yeah, these models are quite a disappointment, and exactly what I was so skeptical of GW making Primarch models. Simon Egan is a master, and I really do not think GW has anyone who could do a better job. This plastic Guilliman model has pretty bad proportions, particularly with his thin legs and weird looking torso.

    Your quest to build a better space marine is a noble one, and I feel you are certainly on the right track with your digital/3d printing efforts. The legs you made are much better then the standard plastic marines, particularly with how they attach at the pelvis. Having said this, I think more work still needs to be done on the body. Your render, like all the plastic space marines, does not really have an abdomen. It looks almost like the rib cage is set directly on top of the pelvis. Egan’s primarch models are some of the only marines that do not have this glaring issue, and I feel it is a major reason why they look so good. Thankfully, since you did this digitally, you could probably go back and correct this?

    Regardless, your efforts are much appreciated, and a great start towards improving space marine anatomy.

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    1. Cheers! I will have a look at what adding a more defined abdomen will do. The whole point is to do that stuff now with successive prototypes, so that later the building can be more straightforward.

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  6. Yeah… The optimus prime smurf pop and the backround they went for him made me cringe.

    As for the astartes of yours im pretty excited! It’s starting of handsomely. As for the chest I’d like you to consider adding some curvature as you can see in the glorious horus model and David Waeselynck’s superb grey knight.

    Anyways have fun time creating the god-warriors! I’ve been trying to sculpt one too using milliput, but it’s taking ages, especially the legs.

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    1. Yeah, the chest curvature is a tricky one and what it looks like varies quite a lot with different types of armor. But it is certainly one of those things that deserve attention to get just right. Even if my opinion of ‘just right’ might be different than most peoples. Good luck to your milliput endeavours too!

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  7. I disagree completely.

    I think whoever sculpted this new 40k Guilliman (my guess is either Nelson or Buddle) has a superb understanding of what makes the Space Marine form so compelling. Yes, the abdomen is too small, and the pelvis doesn’t make sense, but neither does the oversized shoulderpads or the shin armour. Start “fixing” these things and the essence of the design disappears.

    Also, I love the introduction of concavity on the armour, a clear nod to Goodwyn’s MK.8 sketches. I don’t think it’s something we’ve seen on a Space Marine model before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I too like that they are starting to explore adding concavity on space marine armour. The first major introduction of this on marine models (from what I remember) were the new plastic Death Watch space marines. This is particularly evident on their redesigned leg armor.

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    2. I have been toying with concave shin guards too, and there is something quite nice about them! But it looks like that might be all we agree on 😀 Anyway, I look forward to hearing your comments too when I get further along. I’m sure from here onwards it will get more towards making choices based on personal preference rather than any logical inference or anatomy..

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  8. I just view the new models as bits just like every other GW kit. I lost interest in 40k gaming a long time ago and now believe the Inq28 way is the best way. As for your 3D printing project to improve proportions I say well done mate! I could even help you out. I have a 3D design and print company and I make bits all the time for my models. We use SLA technology so the details are amazing. Look me up through my blog, I’d love to print your vision.:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But aren’t some bits just much more fitting into the universe than others? The triumvirate of Cawl and the sisters was a gold mine for inq28 hobbyists, as I think is the eldar one too. But Roboute just seems like he isn’t occupying the same universe. Cypher on the other hand would certainly be a pivotal character in any inquisitor setting!
      But thank you, I have an SLA at the office too, and a blimmin’ great making network available, so it’s not about tools on this one..

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      1. I was thinking just this actually. I can think of a host of Imperial things that are useful from the Imperial Triumvirate. As an avid Eldar converter I can think of a host of things to do with the Eldar Triumvirate.

        However, when it comes to Guilliman, the useful bits I can see are pretty thin on the ground. The mask of the CSM on the floor, the braziers, the kicakss eagle head statue he’s standing on, maybe his head if its in scale, that halo thing and pipes are always useful bits and pieces.

        I’m sure people will find all sorts of creative things to do with other gubbins, but it’s not exactly a gold-mine…

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      2. Oh most definitley. I just look at Guilliman and think of a Primarch I’d rather have, using him as a base to convert. The new Eldar are lovely models and as for Cypher, well I think he will be one of the few models I have ever left alone. As a kit I am looking forward to getting it but as part of the lore I would have to agree with you, Roboute seems out of place.
        No worries! Gotta love the SLA! Happy modeling dude.

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  9. So excited for this. Can’t wait to see the results.

    The new “Daemon Primarch Roboute” doesn’t do it for me. Hulking and powerful should be the goal.

    I like the new Grey Knight though. Right mix of grizzled warrior and bulked artefact armour, as they draw so much from their armour, what separates them from ‘regular’ astartes. But perhaps he is not much different to existing models. Cypher however is great. Be interesting to see his rules and his allegiance.

    Great concept example pic choices. That World Eater is one of my favourite pics of all time. Just captures an attitude of confidence and menace. Randomly, it reminds of the scene early in the first Iron Man movie when IM dodges a tank shell, fires back a small missile, and walks away. Swagger. Confidence. Power.

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  10. The new Roboute Guilliman looks like a marine from Star Craft who got his armour pimped out. I love Wizards aesthetics for Warcraft and Starcraft but I hate seeing it in my Citadel miniatures.

    Starcraft’s sleek and mass produced sci-fi gear doesn’t go well with the Imperiums ancient and baroque designs just like Warcrafts ultra fantastical high-fantasy aesthetics don’t mix well with grim 15th century German folklore. Really hate the way GW is heading with it’s mini line, especially after such great releases like the Mechanicus and GSC’s.

    Anyway, those marines of yours look great and I can’t wait to see where you’ll take them

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  11. What a time to fumble GW! A great part of what makes 40k compelling is the essence of “we are but men” that surrounds the Imperium, the way even Space Marines are humbled by the vastness of the horror that now engulfs them. GW have failed to recognise that the fiction is the foundation upon which all else rests, not a sales tool to be twisted into whatever shape takes their fancy (and really I can’t agree more with Migs – eldar allowed to perform their witchery on the holy tomb of the Primarch himself? I cannot think of a reason that would occur that does not break my sense of belief. Story writing is an art – as any author could tell them – and much as I hate the term this is the very definition of “fluff”, scraps of text cobbled together with the intention of boosting sales or justifying rules). Daemon Primarchs I’m all in favour of and the Imperium deserves weapons with which to fight them but heroes of a human scale were needed – Celestine, Cawl, Yarrick, poor old Creed, even Calgar – who’s now left very much playing second fiddle). A loyalist Primarch was always going to be a gamble and attempting it with a disappointing miniature and clumsy fiction smacks of foolishness to me.

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  12. For me, the space marines have always been the weakest part of 40k. I realise that there is a ton of rich background detail if you want to go there, but on the table many marine armies look far removed from the weirder, ornate end of the Imperium where my preferences lie. This is probably heresy, but they just seem like big space soldiers with skulls on – somewhere between concept and sculpt, a lot of the subtlety and gothic feel is lost.

    I’m not keen on the plastic primarch at all, either in concept or model. It’s as if the only real criteria for the model is bigness. Both Cypher and the Grey Knight guy are much better, but then they’re working on “normal” marine style.

    That said I like the work you’re doing in making the marines larger but in a logical way, so that they look massive but not absurd. The artwork you’ve picked is spot on, I think, especially the World Eater. Keep up the good work!

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    1. I guess this project exists partly also to bridge the gap between space marines and the sublety and gothic feel of the more depressing human scale universe!

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  13. I was slightly obsessed with Soace Marines a few years back but I’ve massively gone off them. I now envision them just like you, but so far not been able to create anything as I see them. Your 3D printed model looks good, the propitious are what I’d imagine.

    I’m not a fan of the plastic Primarch for the same reason that have been covered by yourself and these comments. I agree on the Horus model though, I unfortunately don’t own one but I’d love to. I have a half backed idea of converting him into a 40k Abbadon but I’d probably just get the model and be to scared to touch him.

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  14. Absolutely and utterly agree. My first thoughts upon hearing a primarch was coming was ‘Oh god what have they done? Hold on, there’s the potential to do this right, with the right application of grimdark’.

    Then I saw the ‘MORE BLING’ model.

    Then I read the fluff, replete with fantastical ‘heroes’, unabashed interspecies co-operation and various other bits and pieces that have no place in 40k at all.

    Now I’m thinking that I really really hope they remember that the Imperium aren’t the good guys. Nor are the Eldar. No-one is in 40k. That’s part of what makes it beautiful and unique.

    Also, as an avid Eldar converter, I’ll say that it’s equally barmy from an Eldar perspective to walk into the stronghold of what basically amounts to mildy intelligent cattle, and resurrect one of their greatest heroes, after they’ve spent the better part of 10,000 years (or more) actively exterminating your kind.

    Here’s hoping that these big named characters (which I’ve never cared for anyway) are sort of a blind-spot for GW’s miniature designers, and they get back to making all the weird and twisted little gubbins that allows people like yourself (and me!) to make real the potential that the 40k universe holds 🙂

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  15. I love your idea and first printing of the scaled up marine. Designing the armor with 3D software and being able to print out prototypes “on demand” is a brilliant idea. Your initial attempt looks so much better than the plastic GW marines already. I’m very excited to see this project progress. I would suggest making rubber molds of your final armor parts. I think it would be easier and more efficient to be able to cast copies of the finished pieces instead of printing each individual marine and sculpting extra stuff on each one.

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  16. Hi there, long-time lurker here.

    The returned Guilliman is a good model. He’s the loud central character from a classic Geoff Taylor cover. A total beast. Instead of the stately and upright (and excellent) Heresy model from Forgeworld, this new Guilliman is the centre of the army, the battle, the table, everything. This level of bombast has always been there.

    The ‘Eavy Metal paint job is characteristically bright and bold for practical visual punch; replacing that with another method is easily done and, with the requisite creativity, will make a dramatic difference.

    I also noticed the Tzeentchy look to some of the filigree. I’m really interested in discovering more about that whole approach. It’d certainly be interesting if that was intentional(!), but for now I’d put it down to the designers deciding on when and how such secondary shapes terminate; when does filigree melt and contribute to visual mess, and when does it remain clear? I wonder how it would have looked if they included some nods to Rococo elements, like the classic “C” motif and acanthus leaves? It may have been difficult to fit in, I don’t know.

    Considering the standard of GWs Design Studio and it’s killer design philosophy, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. Also, I don’t like to judge a miniature until I’m holding the tiny thing in front of my own eyes. Stereoscopic vision is a boon.

    As for the armour prototype, a solid start, but it still needs a lot of work. You’ve really got to be generous with the waist girth to communicate a ridiculously strong core of both muscle and machine and to lose the wide hips/thighs, and somewhat de-emphasise the hands and (especially) the feet so the armour looks large. The belt rests mostly above the pelvis and its broad width accounts for some abdominal space. Getting that sense of weight, but equally of mobility, is a real balancing act. The width of the flared greaves needs to be controlled or it will look impossible to walk in.

    Anyway, I feel somewhat qualified to say these things as last year I spent a fair bit of time reverse engineering Paul Dainton’s Space Marine proportions and stylings, the final result being this >> https://www.artstation.com/artwork/QLnW4 I drew a LOT of marines and figured out a lot about possibly how and why Dainton does things. Should you need any assistance, I think my email is in my WordPress profile thing. Either way, no two “art scale” marines are the same, so I’m very interested to see how yours turns out, and how it approaches some those design problems 🙂

    Phil

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  17. Firstly, I am really looking forward to your 3D-solution of the rather strenuous shortandthinleg-problem. I have tried to create a 3D-printable file for myself as well some time ago (after seeing these before they where lawsuited: http://www.paulvonbargen.de/daten/maxresdefault.jpg) but didn´t continue after my friend sold his printer.
    Your first draft is a great start, especially as your plan is to use it as a base for converting, not a new armour design.

    Concerning Lord Guilliman, i am not that critical.
    The model does fit in the pathos-posed, maxi-weaponsized and generally overdesigned direction gw is going modelwise. That Direction is accepted and loved by a majority of customers and works well for GW. I quite believe, they would see as many people complaining about a “thick-hipped, ugly fatleg” like they might call a True-Scale Version, as they see now. For those like most of “us”, who do not need that extra magical fog/ghosts/flames dancing around miniatures it is a cool base model.
    Of course you will have to trim those strange twirly decoration and put some proper roman stuff on him, thicken the legs, fix the hip and get rid of that enormous sword (do not forget to put his helmet on!) but still. He is, in my opinion, a fine army centerpiece.

    Keep up the good work and do not forget to share the stl. files. 🙂

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  18. I have issues both with the concept of a Primarch returning to 40k, and with the execution of this particular miniature. 40k special characters have always been problematic the more they verge towards the heroic, and a Primarch is by definition the apex of heroic, so for me they have no place in the actual “present” universe. The miniature itself seems too gangly, too smooth, and yet too ornate in a non-imperial way (compare to the fallen chaos space marine at his feet). The paint job, while far better than anything I can do myself, is not up to the standard needed to present such a figure. (my eye is particularly drawn to the right thigh, which has a very rough shadow)

    Your true scale 3d prints are a huge improvement over the standard Space marine anatomy, and I look froward to seeing how they develop with new iterations.

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  19. Another long time lurker here, one with similar opinion when it comes to Space Marines and starting an honest attempt to do something about it. I used to have a sizable army of ancient Second Edition Dark Angels, and when the Third Edition hit, I was determined to expand, but fates intervened, necessary hiatuses piled up, and then, years later and with a stash of purchases done in hopes that one day I would finally find the time to do actually pursue my hobby, I noticed that Space Marines don’t look anywhere near inspiring or powerful on the tabletop, and ended up being jumped up armored mooks. You might find it funny, but my biggest wake up call happened when Age of Sigmar hit, and the Stormcast ended up as everything the Astartes should be, only with high fantasy aesthetic. That, coupled with my past scale modeling experience – and a five second calculation of a Space Marine height in 1:56 scale – pretty much killed the stock models for me, with the final nail in the coffin being the fact that Sisters of Silence from Battle of Prospero turned out to be as tall as power armored superhumans. I had to do something about it, otherwise I would never have an army I’d be actually happy with.

    Now, I’m not modeling expert. I don’t have the experience of any of you Iron Sleet folks, but I got annoyed with the subject, and so here I am, carving and polishing plastic into blank shapes for further duplication and development, calipers and obsession with minuscule imperfections being my only true friends. Thus, I believe I can throw some opinions your way. First, I think that the biggest flaw of standard Space Marine models – and one your model does not address enough – is the entire area between the diaphragm and the knees. It’s not only too short, making the chest piece look awkward and the abdomen nonexistent, but it’s downright waspishly thin, with portions of armor covering the thighs so slender they’d look good on a stick figure, not a genetically engineered and surgically altered superhuman who probably would require massive quadriceps muscles to keep equally massive upper body upright and mobile. Second, at the same time I think that further increasing upper body size by means of using Terminator arms and shoulder pads either unbalances the end result further in terms of relative body part size, or necessitates increasing dimensions of other parts beyond rational size for a Space Marine, who, despite being augmented, should be able to enter dwellings built for unmodified humans without demolishing them – and that, your design addresses quite well. Third, I think that the devil is also in the details GW tends to do in a bit of a half-assed manner – sure, there’s enough bodies in a Tactical Squad box to make ten Brothers, but they all look unequipped with the scraps of accessories available. Where are the ammunition pouches, sidearm holsters, recovery bags, everything that’s needed to sustain a combatant subject to conditions that make expending ungodly amount of materiel to keep the darkness at bay a matter of life and death? The closest GW came to addressing the issue ended up comically with the Deathwatch and these tiny, fiddly chest pouches – you’re at the beginning of the road, but you might want to think about the issue.

    As for Guilliman, I’m absolutely convinced that his biggest problems are the face, which looks like a reused digital asset from Magnus – which would be ingenious since Primarchs are brothers, but ends up badly because it fails to convey the unique character of Roboute as a Roman patrician and general IN SPACE, and does not resemble his official Forge World portrait – the armor, which sorely lacks Roman aesthetic, instead being a little lazy with cut and paste detail – such as both greaves sporting eagle motifs – and the pose, which completely fails to convey his character. A purposeful stride with the gauntlet raised to fire and an expression of cold disdain or even indifference – imagine Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen obliterating North Vietnamese – would serve him better, without falling into the “elder statesman” trap his Forge World model fell into completely. Still, I’m pretty sure a talented painter will make Roboute actually look good.

    Eh, sorry for ranting, and keep up the good work.

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    1. Welcome to than ranks of truescalers and active commenters!
      Accessorizing the soldiers is one where you can explain yourself out of trouble: just equip the marines for a single short mission. Their combat doctrines might be so exotic that sometimes the battle might be over in an hour. Certainly many 40k games only seem to represent only about 10 minutes of action, a bit like super bowl..
      But yeah, it is actually an asset for building convincing characters, and deserves some thought!

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  20. To be honest I’m kinda glad to see 40k “move on.” The stagnation of the universe and the terrible (in my opinion) direction GW went in the circa 2005 onwards drove me away from the hobby. FW, 30k and all that universe brought me back. I can’t go back to 40k but AoS and the specialist games that GW are putting out like blood bowl and the upcoming adeptus titanicus I really quite like (heresy to some I know to hear AoS lauded but beautiful minis and the rules to me are simple which makes diving in a lot easier).

    I do agree that Guilliman looks terrible. Can’t wait to see more of your true scale marines though. It’s beyond my skills but love seeing what all you guys here create.

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