Primaris: A flawed masterpiece

Primaris-01

Actually another title could be “it’s too bloody hot to hobby!”. Being a Brit I’m unequipped to deal with the three days a year we actually have pleasant weather (circa 32 degrees). Aircon is something that happens at work not home, so suffice to say the man cave keeps being invaded by Hobbits trying to unmake gold rings, or some such nonsense. I’ve tried hobbying but it’s not really working out so I’m resorting to working outside and bringing you, dear reader up to date with what I’ve been up to the past week because it’s been quite the week. Oh I’ll come back to that title and explain in due course.

Last week was noteworthy for two reasons. One you probably know; the release of 40K 8th edition which was definately a global fanfare event and in my humble opinion worth the fanfare (yes, I like it … mostly). The second and considerably smaller in scale but no less seismic to my hobby was the five day MKA Studio hobby camp I attended at Incom Gaming in Cheltenham. I know I go on about Incom a lot these days but that’s only because Chip is doing an epic job transforming the pub/club into a fantastic gaming and event venue that really deserves all the praise it gets. I attended a great little Hobbit Strategy Battle event there the previous weekend. Sadly Balin was very robustly put in his place over five games but the Best Painted award was a nice reward for his efforts and it was a fun day.

The MKA hobby camp was nothing like that however, it was an intense four days of tuition, demos and guidance from three highly accomplished and talented painters; Matt Kane, Andy Wardle and Henry Steele. Multiple award winners and in Matt’s case former Forgeworld painter and designer of many of the palettes we see gracing the Heresy Black Books. During the four days Henry and Matt took us through all of the techniques and methods required to paint a tank and selection of Legion infantry to a high Forgeworld cabinet standard. Anyone who knows me will probably agree I’ve been painting a decent length of time, certainly over a decade with commitment and I see myself as a competent painter. I’m no competition painter but can turn my hand to most styles and generally produce a decent tabletop standard for many games. After five days in total with Matt, Henry and Andy my painting standard and understanding went through a step change. Techniques I thought I knew were refined, I learned a greater appreciation of colour placement, light source, honed my airbrush skills massively (airbrush is a big part of what MKA teach and I can honestly say even if you’ve never used one before you will come out of it with confidence and capability). Probably the biggest take away for me was just thinking about painting in a much more organised way; there was ‘method’ and process.

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Value for money? And then some. The course(s) were designed to equip you with everything you needed to know to be able to produce great looking vehicles and infantry. After each demo you had time to put it into practice on your Legion of choice with the guys always on hand to help, walk you through or advise on the technique or application. I can honestly say even though clearly everyone started with varying experience by the end of day one pretty much everyone had a tank worthy of any tournament best army finalist. That was even before all the weathering was applied which took them all to a whole new level. I saw bleached earthy tones of Death Guard, flat as night but richly modulated Raven Guard, shimmering Alpha Legion, rich military yellow and black Fists and a Blood Angel Rhino that absolutely destroyed any GW Studio tank I’ve seen from the graduation and intensity of its reds and shadows. Everything in my opinion that makes Heresy armies distinctive. It’s also worth noting that the first two days are just to establish the building blocks which once established and honed provide the foundation over which other more advanced techniques such as NMM or TMM can be layered. Matt told me he agonised over what to call the initial two day course; foundation or tank course. Foundation is more appropriate as what MKA teach is not just for vehicles but for everything. Once you appreciate the methods they can be applied effectively on all subjects, even terrain. To think of the foundation course as ‘basic’ would be a mistake. This is next level painting but accessible by all thanks to their effective teaching methods.

Would I recommend anyone reading this attends one of MKA’s hobby camps? Absolutely 100%. I appreciate being a small team these are rare events but I know to date they have run events in Australia, Sweden and have had hobbyists attend from the US and Cayman Islands (remember that sweet Blood Angel Rhino I mentioned earlier). It’s an investment, but a good one in my opinion, especially if you’re serious about gaming in the Horus Heresy. Forgeworld isn’t cheap so being able to get the max out of those models seems like a good shout to me. Although their next events towards end of the year aren’t too far for me I’m secretly hoping Chip manages to get enough interest locally to woo Matt and the guys back to Cheltenham again next year. I would definately be up to push my skills even more.

Check out MKA Studio on Facebook right here for more.

So about those Primaris. Let’s get the good stuff out of the way first of all. Regardless what you think of them aesthetically or backstory wise from a manufacture perspective they are top drawer with really detailed full colour assembly instructions and a clever design that makes them nigh impossible to assemble incorrectly. The detail is punchy, I don’t understand how anyone thinks they are mono-pose as they are a magnitude more dynamic than the standard Marine kit we’ve had the past decade or more. Balance and weight through the hips looks more natural, weapons are cinched in tight at the stock and there is some clever flexibility to allow optional positions for heads an arms whilst still providing foolproof lugs and guides. However…

This extra attention in the design to cater for novice hobbyists (a good thing in my view don’t get me wrong) comes at a cost; flexibility. There is zero modularity in the Primaris plastic kits, each individual Astartes is desiged to go together one way and one way only. No swapping torsos or shoulder pads without significant kit-bashing and filling. Worse still, if you have a Chapter which has alternate colour shoulder pads you can’t leave them off to make painting them easier as they are now a part of the sculpt. Heads are still separate (mostly!) thank goodness but even the guns come with unique arms and both hands already attached annoyingly. Bottom line the Primaris range has utterly cut out the aftermarket opportunities, even for Forgeworld. Deliberate? Probably but my main grevience here is just the tragic loss of flexibility. On the plus side I won’t be wholesale replacing my good old modular Astartes with these new Primaris any time soon and maybe that was the idea, who knows? Oh and despite their clever designs there is also a **** ugly mould line straight across both shoulder pads which almost ruins the trim. Dammit!

I do still like the look of them though, just sad they aren’t more modular other than for heads. One nice touch however is they come with pre-sculpted ammo pouches and pistol holster solving that thorny problem of attaching them afterwards … which most seem to not bother. So that’s a good thing.

Suffice to say I did pick up an 8th Edition starter set at launch, it being the first time pretty much ever that it included both forces I collect; Marines and Death Guard. Naturally I’ll look to find a palette for the Death Guard which helps bridge the gap between my recently started 30K Legion and 40K force from 2003, which I conveniently tracked down after much loft rumaging. So much nostalgia right now.

The current workbench state of play looks thus. I have the Thirteenth Legion Ultramarines still to complete having paused them to complete the MKA event. As a side of the desk I also have the beginnings of a Death Guard Legion which will be tied into both the new plastics from the Dark Imperium box and my original 2003 40K army palette wise. Or at least as much as possible considering they span both ends of a 10,000 year epoch. As if that wasn’t enough I also have the start of a Seventeenth Legion force which I’m treating purtely as a painting indulgence, no firm plans where I will take that I’m just going with it for now. Finally there are those Primaris Marines. Logic dictates I should do them as Ultramarines to tie in the other end of the Legion’s history (like the Death Guard). But no…

40K-BA-Primus-00

Angelus.

That’s all for now. Have a great weekend!

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