With the dawn of any new edition of Warhammer 40000, a new wave of Space Marine releases is sure to follow. Games Workshop have continued the refresh of various classic units and we’re here to share our thoughts on them. Before we get into talking about the models that have made their way onto the desks of our painters we would like to thank Games Workshop for sending us this round of preview models for review.
Rockfish: These are probably my favorite new Marine infantry kit in a while, there are some absolutely fantastic customization options paired with a set of bodies that have enough going on to be interesting without risking repetition setting in on duplicate copies of the kit. They’re also uniquely foolproof on top of that, which seems as good a place as any to start getting into the weeds on.
If you’ve built most of the mid-generation Primaris models you will remember that the models tend to be made up of distinct pieces locked to specific models, with customisation typically limited to a weapon swap or a specific alt build like the specialists for kits that originate with Kill Team. This limits how much you can chop and change them around, and really means you gotta follow the instructions to the letter. Kitbashing has always been an option, but it’s usually a higher-effort affair as even when the weapons fit on other bodies you would often have awkward poses. The whole range isn’t like this – there were a few early kits like Reivers and more recent stuff like Bladeguard that were clearly designed to let you mix and match limbs, but not many.
For the Sternguard we not only see cross-compatible flat surface shoulder joints, arm agnostic combi weapons, and readily identifiable distinct limbs for the regular rifles (look for the shapes where the hands connect to the gun) but everything is also labeled! This means that if you want to build dude A as per instructions, you just need to go and find all the bits labeled A and whatever gun, head, backpack, and detail bits are to your desire. With the lack of gotchas in the building itself you can 100% do these models without opening the instructions at all, and with the limbs working wherever plus with the Sergeant iconography being in the detail pieces you should be able to build a whole bunch of distinct models with little to no fuss.
As for the customization GW didn’t skimp on the extra bits, with one caveat I’ll get to in a bit. You have a mix of distinct shoulder pads, a greave iconography choice, bare and helmeted heads, and all the various marine accessories you would expect like holsters, dangly bits, and iconography. If there is one area I am a little disappointed about, it’s that the heads aren’t that fancy compared to what you might see in a less elite box. You get the two non-primaris helmets I’ve thrown on the models I built but the rest aren’t actually that differentiated, usually just limited to a few smaller details like studs or extra cheek pipes. This is a minor complaint though, particularly if you have a bits box to raid for chapter-specific parts.
(The loadout I did isn’t particularly great, but if you remember back when I reviewed the monobuilds I mentioned wanting to fill out two distinct loadout squads. Which the kit handles well!)
Liam: I really liked the monopose Sternguard in the Leviathan box, and this kit is more of the same but with expanded options. Rockfish has hit the key points above, and I’d echo them – it’s a kit that goes together well and is nice and flexible. It would be nice to have more head options because they’re surprisingly generic, but that’s a small thing in an otherwise great overall kit.
Jump pack captain
Rockfish: OK so now we start the slide with mediocrity, objectively this is a fine kit with a normal build, good bits, and crisp details. That alone is kinda disappointing next to the paragon of the sternguard, but the real letdown is the pose. if you, like everyone else, was disappointed with bumble bees on their horribly delicate little cup-tipped flight stands, well, GW has gotten away from that by having the captain fall off a random bit of debris instead.
That’s probably coming off a bit too harsh, let’s try it again.
They have managed to get a very durable connection to the ground on a dynamic figure with a cape flapping out behind them to help with the implication of movement. The issue is that it’s really really awkward looking from basically every angle, they are leaping off the debris horizontally at best leaving it unclear how they arrived to their perch and what they are aiming towards as a next stop. You can salvage this a bit thanks to the good selection of weapons, flat surface shoulders offering to accept anything else from your collection and a conventional head socket. Unfortunately, you are still limited to making a ‘good-enough’ pose rather then an actively cool pose.
I don’t actively dislike this kit, but I’m unlikely to recommend it as a for-fun project rather than something you want for your army specifically.
SRM: I really dug this guy, his Rocketeer pose with the power fist was too cool to pass up, and you can miss me with all those “no capes” jokes. A nice side effect of his exceptionally tall hero rock is that getting underneath the cape and to the details on his back is actually pretty easy, as there’s no base in the way. The core assembly was easy, and as you can see from my pretty simple conversions, swapping in any Marine bits of your choosing is easy as can be. He’s got the same flat joins as any given multipart Marine, so the opportunities for kitbashes are huge. I used the Black Templar Marshal’s plasma pistol arm on mine. Some of the arm options have a bubble on the inside to better hold the kit’s pauldrons though, so you might need to do some cutting if you want to change things up. I only have two complaints with this model: first, and most obvious, are the little doodlebopper wings on his feet. I think they look quite silly, and the rest of the jump pack models do fine without em. Second, his tilting plate is attached via a long, awkward post, and while you can’t see it head on, it’s ugly to look at from above.
Liam: I probably sit between Rockfish and SRM on this one. I liked the build fine, I think the end result is pretty cool, but it doesn’t spark any particular joy – I’m a much bigger fan of the recent Terminator and Gravis Captains, or indeed the on-foot one in the Company Heroes box. That said, one of my main issues with this guy is that he’s just kind of there, and I built him pretty stock – using him as a canvas for kitbashing like SRM did is probably a better recipe for success.
Rockfish: If the jump captain’s pose is a little awkward, these guys are actively falling over. Almost every GW kit in recent years that people, including me, have complained about looking awkward in previews, turn out to be far better in person than you would think. Desolators are the obvious example with their cartoonishly big missile launchers actually looking fine, they work in the same way models in an RTS do, over extreme so as to be readable at a glance, and with a bit of distance they even look appropriately proportioned. Same thing as they have been doing with large sculptures for centuries!
Unfortunately, these fellas kinda failed to get my attention in a positive way, while the captain was leaping off something tall enough that you could see them slamming into an enemy or going into a rocket-assisted bunny hop. The intercessors mostly look like they are going to have very abrupt meetings with the ground instead. The sergeant and maybe the guy on the left, have enough implication of vertical movement so as to imply a path of travel their jump packs would support. For me when I look at the others it looks like they are going to lawn dart the moment they ignite their jump packs, as without wings or obvious front-facing jets to keep their path flat I get the impression the jump packs are going to overthrust and tilt them down.
While the poses aren’t great I found the build an overall worse problem, starting with some of the most annoying mold lines and panel gaps in years. Seriously, every foot sole or random ridge seems to have a mold line that just sucks to deal with due to running through detail, and there are a lot of pieces in each model. This means that with every stacking precision error from imperfectly cleaned pieces, you are inevitably going to have body lines like a tesla truck. Something people have probably noticed by this point is that I am remarkably basic at model building, I don’t do anything fancy to clean stuff up and I tend to be in a bit of a rush while mostly following the instructions without deviation. This is mostly because I don’t like spending more time building a model than painting it, but in turn that means I am a reasonable example of a generic person grabbing the model off the shelf in their LGS. So if I’m struggling to make these presentable, the average reader probably will be too.
As a bonus, here’s a little detail that’s going to bug me forever. There’s a slight indent on the sides of the legs for these models, which means that the lines aren’t fair and the leg looks a bit damaged. So have fun with that brainworm I can’t unsee!
Ultimately none of the issues this kit has are actually significant enough to make them unbuildable, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an incredible miss from GW. I was very excited for the kit and it is packed with things to love, the jet pack design is incredible and they’ve very elegantly captured the essence of a classic assault marine in the loadout and armor aesthetic. Unfortunately, the faults kinda blind you to the wonders, so look forward to seeing a million of these bumbling about going for objectives.
Oh, and they like to fall over.
Just as a little cherry on top to contrast with the incredible modernization hormagaunts got but a month earlier. Go bugs!
SRM: I’ve flip flopped on how much I like these models at least three times since first seeing them. I felt uninspired while building them, and didn’t enjoy painting them at first. After a certain point I looped back around to liking them again, but their poses certainly make them tough to work on. Getting around their legs is a massive pain, as they’re bent at angles that make some physical sense but are difficult to get a brush around. Honestly, a case could be made for painting in not just the obvious subassemblies of dude and jump pack, but also leaving off their free leg so better paint the base model. They also all have these hip pouches and doodads that attach to the leather bands around their legs. These toe the line between cluttered and tacticool, but if you want a cleaner look, each of your Marines is still going to be wearing a leather garter belt. I feel less charitable about the mould lines on these guys, which are some of the harshest I’ve seen on a modern kit. They all run right down the front of each leg as well, so if you aren’t diligent with your cleanup, those mould lines will be front row center.
One big point in favor of this kit, however, is the internal labelling on each bit. Each body is broken into 4 parts, all of which will be labelled A-E on the inside. Similarly, the arms meant to go with each have the same letters on their inside joins. This means that when I accidentally snipped the wrong leg off for one body, I could easily check which one went where without too much fussing. The arms are by no means prescriptive, but that’s how they’re spelled out in the instructions. Said arms attach by flat joins, so if you have any other bits in your collection you’d like to swap in, that’s an easy kitbash. I used leftover arms from my Crusader squads to really give these guys the Black Templar flair they deserve, and found it to be easy. The jump pack, despite its bulk, isn’t all that intrusive, and can easily be left off for a subassembly. The packs attach via a sort of half-hexagon that keeps them straight; a marked improvement over the round nubbin that lead to a bunch of cattywampus jump packs on the Assault Marines of old. One last detail is one that I find subtle but have to appreciate: the little boosters on their legs actually align with each model’s line of action! It’s a tiny bit of verisimilitude that absolutely could have been ignored, but lends just a smidge more credence to these full-ton jetbois.
Liam: There’s been a bunch of GW kits over the last few years where I’ve seen the photos on Warhammer Community and been pretty cold on them, but warmed up considerably when I got to handle them in person and build and paint them – the Desolation Squad, the Invictor Tactical Warsuit, Inceptors. I expected this to be the case again with the jump Intercessors, but I’m still just not that into them. The jump packs are very cool, and I didn’t hate painting the one I got through, but I’m not mega inspired to press on with the rest of them – which is a shame given the Chapter I’m painting them as.
Soggy: It was only when 8th Edition dropped that I finally picked up 40K properly after several failed attempts, the whole time since I’ve been waiting for the Primaris Assault Squad to drop. So what do I think now they are here? Despite some ugly joins on the jump pack and goofy poses, I’m glad they are finally here.
Trying to capture the motion of assault marines striking from the skies is a tricky one – if you look at these from the wrong angle they definitely look like they are mid-stumble. That said from a low angle they look incredibly sick – sadly this angle isn’t the one you will see them from most of the time. You could potentially put these on flight stands to really sell the sense of motion, however I’m incredibly grateful that this isn’t forced on us – as flight stand models suck to actual use and play with.
The models aren’t as wobbly as the initially appear – at least on a flat surface anyway, on a hill or some rubble all bets are off.
As others have noted, the jump packs themselves have some pretty big mould lines and none of mine are perfectly spherical from me trying to tidy these up – be careful when you are cleaning them!
Soggy: The Company Heroes set is really a squad of different characters/HQs you can use together or individually. The builds are rather straight forward, the only issue I ran into was with the cloak on the ancient – it comes in two halves, I wasn’t paying attention as my plastic glue was drying so I have a massive parting split in it’s side which I didn’t notice until after priming. D’oh.
The squad doesn’t have much in the way of options beyond heads other than on the captain – who can be equipped with a powerfist or powersword and can choose from a plasma, volkite or bolt pistol. Despite already having the older Primaris plasma/fist model, I much prefer this one as the pose isn’t as flat.
When it came to painting, the ancient was a little bit annoying to reach underneath the ribbons if you didn’t go down a sub assembly route. You could in theory do the banner, back cloak and front ribbon/cloak pieces separately but joining the cloak up seamlessly once primed could be a bit dangerous.
All in all, some nice models that painted up easily – just make a plan on how to attack the ancient in advance. The end result is worth it, you’ve gotta have a dude with a flag – especially with the Dawn of War 1 intro in mind.
Jack: Much like the terminators from Leviathan, these are a fantastic kit – and combined with those you have near infinite variety. It comes with enough bits to build any squad with some parts left over, and the arms can all cleanly swap in to the Leviathan bodies. As a bonus, the shoulder pads are separate, so Black Templars or similar schemes can easily paint them separately.
My favorite part is that finally we can have a squad that all have fists (whether normal or the chain variety). It’s never made sense to me that the sergeant had to take a power sword, and I’m going to go back to my leviathan squad and cut that sword right off.
Primaris Kevin: An unfortunate work schedule and the remnants of a hurricane prevented me from painting them, but holy crap are these models well designed and a pleasure to assemble. Mold lines are easily concealed, things come together seamlessly, and there is a lot of flexibility in the designs. My only complaint is that the models are spread across multiple sprues, making it a pain to find all of the bits for each model. I got all five assembled over the course of watching John Wick 1 & 2, so if you are actually paying attention they will come together even faster.
The kit comes with enough options to fit 6 power or chain fists, a power sword, 5 storm bolters, a heavy flamer, assault cannon, and missile launcher. You also get plenty of bare and helmeted heads, purity seals, and other bits to customize your models. You will have lots of bits left over when you’re done, and I was able to use them to add a power fist to the Leviathan Terminator Sergeant and tweak the Terminator Captain. Mixing and matching arms and bits between this box and the Leviathan Terminator models is pretty easy with some basic modeling skills, a sharp knife, and flush cutting snips. Overall this is a fantastic kit.
Liam: The inverse of the commentary on the jump Intercessors above, really. The initial response to this guy from the NOVA Open reveals was pretty negative, with a lot of commentary on how he looked hunched and lacking in dynamism. I liked him a little better than that, but he didn’t wow me like the Chaplain on bike a few years ago. Having gotten a chance to build and paint him, however, I’m much happier – it’s a pretty straightforward model, less detail-heavy than some of the recent Chaplains, but he feels like a big hulking bastard who’s going to grind forwards across the battlefield, bludgeoning anything that gets in his way. His skull helmet is pretty great, too – properly ferocious-looking.
Jack: I wasn’t particularly wowed by this guy when he was previewed, and actually building him didn’t make me like him any more. His default pose felt like he’s giving away his crozius, so I swapped the storm bolter arm for one that looks better raised out of the terminator box, and lowered the crozius. He looks a bit more like he’s striding forward, but I’m still not in love.
He does build quite nicely, with minimal mold lines. The arms are the same kind of flush join as the terminator squad, so he’s very easy to convert, and the shoulder pads are separate and can easily be painted separately.