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Space Marine Assault Squad and Chapter Upgrade Kits

I think it’s fair to say most Space Marine collectors have been excited by this week’s releases. They mark a couple of important changes for Games Workshop. Before looking at the changes let’s look at the new kits.

Assault Squad

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The old Assault Squad kit was showing it’s age when the last Devastator set was released in 2007. The legs on the old kit where very poor sculpts compared to GW modern Space Marines. This new set appears to really up the standard of GW’s Space Marine kits. It uses 2 parts for each set of legs. This results in far more detail on each leg. The other new components are vey similar to the Tactical Squad. However there appears to be far more options for each Space Marine. The new options include Grav Pistol, Lightning Claw, Double Handed Chain Sword and Thunder Hammer along with a great deal more heads to pick from. This set also includes some rubble to help mount the Assault Marines on their 32mm bases. So what has been lost. The old pointed finger power fist is gone. I don’t think that is a great lost. Also the option to make your Assault Marines left handed, again not a great loss. So it there really any significant draw back to this new kit. Well a the price of a Ten Man Assault Squad has gone from £41 to £50. That’s almost a 20% increase. Do the extra options in this kit justify the increase? Well that is for you to decide. At this new price I won’t be rushing out to replace the 20 models in my plastic Battle Company, nor will I be building an Assault Company using this new kit.
Is there any alternative to this kit. Well only one that will save money. Is saving up all your mk5 and perhaps mk6 tactical and Devistator torsos and buying jump packs at £5 a pop direct from GW. That way you can still make an 10 man Assault Squad for £36. The other alternatives that spring to my mind, although not cheaper, is the Vanguard Veteran set. You might want to swap some of the heads for less ornate versions from the Tactical set. Perhaps if you have older Vanguard Veterans you might want to swap the jump packs around as well.

I do intend to pick one of these new sets up, and if the other tens of thousands of  Space Marines collectors do the same, I’m sure the new CEO won’t be too worried. I personally think if this set had been priced at £22.50 I would have already ordered one and would be thinking about a second.

Overall 8/10 great but not great value.

Ultramarine Upgrades

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It’s almost unbelievable that GW have never done an upgrade set for their most popular chapter. This kit which is replaes the Finecast, formally metal Ultramarine Shoulder Pads, looks fantastic. I have the miss pleasure of owning one of the old should pad sets. The shoulder pads where tiny compared to the modem plastic shoulder pads, which forced you to buy a set of the equally poor shoulder pads with squad markings. The symbols where also poor and difficult to paint well. So you ended up spending £10 and getting smaller space marines! This new kit is long over due and most welcome. The fact it comes with other components it fantastic. The one downside of the kit is that some of the shoulder pads are a bit too ornate for a Tactical Squads. Forcing you to buy 2 kits if you want to kit out a full squad. I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing though. The extra components in this set are going to come in very handy. As well as Ultrafiltration of Captains and Sargent models. Combined with Mk4 or Mk6 legs they will serve as excellent plastic honour guard. Finally providing a way to add more Honour Guard without buying a £50 set for the sake of 3 models. I just hope the rumoured removal of honour guard form the new codex turns out to be the lump of stinking scat it sounds like. On price I would say this set makes huge sense. Could it be better? Well yes I think another 5 or 10 shoulder pads, a proper ultramarine honour guard helmet and a coupe more standard Ultramarine helmets with a £10-15 price tag would have been better. Once you have a few of these kits buying more is going to feel like a bit of a waste of all the other components you have to throw in the bits box.

Overall 10/10 and long overdue

Space Wolves Upgrades

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Next is the elephant in the room. What we have here is a drastic downsize of the previous upgrade sprue for Space Wolves. Gone it the still much needed Melta Gun, never mind a Flamer for you Grey Hunters. Gone are the torsos and host of wolf pelts and knives. The total bit count is down by over 50%. 

  
The old Space Wolves Upgrade Kit

 
New Space Wolves upgrad kit (image from Dakka Dakka )

In place of all these goodies there are the Ragnar Shoulder pads. Again the new shoulder pads are a big improvement. Although once you have a couple of these sets the appeal of addition sets is reduced, unlike the old kit. It’s a real shame GW didn’t make a set of 20 shoulder pads and separate upgrade frame. However Space Wolf players already have so many options from other kits. This frame is really just about the shoulder pads. I feel this perhaps wasn’t the best time for GW to put out this kit, but I’m sure there are plenty of collectors who will snap up a few anyway. Price wise I think it’s very reasonable for GW, but not as good value as the Ultramarine set.

Overall 7/10 Good, but not a great replacement.

Blood Angel Upgrades

  

This kit has a better bit count than the Space Wolves set. But just like Space Wolves kit it wasn’t desperately needed. There is plenty of other similar parts in other Blood Angel sets. If anything it’s adding less value than the Space Wolf set as there are already a lot of Blood Angel icon shoulder pads in the other Blood Angel set, unlike Ragnar’s Great Company. This set has very few bits that are really “new”. We have to assume this has just been released to go with the other new Space Marine kits.

Overall 8/10 great, but too close to other kits.

Dark Angel Upgrade Kit

  
This kit is as much of a down size as the Space Wolves kit. The shoulder pads are needed, the other bits are great and I’m looking forward to seeing every other Dark Angel Sergeant sporting a feather head piece. But other armies needed one of these set far more.

Overall 8/10 Good, but not a great replacement.

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I think this looks to be a very exciting Space Marine release. This change in direction for Games Workshop, from just rehashing old kits is both refreshing and welcome, but replacing more extensive kits with smaller ones is not. I just hope some of the other chapters, Chaos Marines included, get the same amount of attention in the future. If GW want to sell more armies they need to support them.