Space Marines are the Rob Liefeld art of Games Workshop.

My growth as a hobbyist has evolved rather quickly over the last couple of years since I joined the ranks of table top wargamers. When I first got into Warhammer 40000 I was excited in the social aspects of gaming, namely hanging out with good friends and playing a quick round of a seemingly interesting game. However, after I got into the story of the universe, the game itself fell flat and I find it mostly boring and irrelevant. The rules are a lumbering relic of an uninterested miniatures company. I was drawn towards representing the universe as best as I could through my hobby skills.

I delved headfirst into all the lore: codices, black library, and imperial armour. I used my art background and desire as a storyteller to represent the world that Games Workshop had created. The social aspect of the game, for me, became growing as an artist with my friends and watching the fruits of my labor play on the table to my friend’s enjoyment.

As my knowledge of Warhammer grew, the more errors I noticed between all facets of Games Workshops creative outlets. Games Workshop, Black Library, and Forgeworld are all the same company but there seems to be no one single person in charge of the creative direction of the brand, image, and lore. Each department is running amuck and largely doing whatever they please.

When you go through all the lore created by GW, the power and badassery of the Adeptus Astartes Space Marines stands above everything else. Space Marines are the redoubt of mankind’s struggle to survive. They are legends among mortal men. The entirety of the Horus Heresy centers around their struggles. Brother against brother, dividing the golden age of mankind. The heroism of the Space Marines is recorded in virtually every single book written by anyone who even dabbles in Warhammer 40000.

But, then you get to the game they are space vaginas.

My mission was clear: I want to properly represent them on the tabletop. If not by rules (which can be changed with a White Dwarf issue 300 or Inquisitor ruleset), then by models. They were going to look the part at the very least.


As I pointed out in my last article Heroic Scale is Dead, Games Workshop! I want accurately scaled figures and I don’t want any lazy corporate bullshit. Unfortunately, Games Workshop, like it’s gaming ruleset, is a lumbering beast that is apathetic to positive change in the face of increasing fan disdain and more capable competition. That leaves the task up to us, the basement dwelling noble gaming community, to fend for ourselves in the search for an accurately scaled Space Marine!

Space Marines clock in at 7-8ft tall. They are huge sons of bitches the Emprah! Check the scale:

The first image is some true scale cosplay guys on what i can only assume are painter’s stilts.  The middle image shows a young Jes Goodwin sitting proudly in front of his poor counting ability, displaying a life size 7ft tall space marine (I know it says 8 on the scale, but check out his starting number… WTH?). The last image (courtesy of Angels of Death) shows a human amidst the massive men and machines of the Adeptus Astartes. We will work that under the assumption, since Space Marines are not clones that they can average anywhere between 7 and 8ft tall for the purposes of our mission. With very FEW being on the 8ft. side. Terminators should be the only thing setting these guys above the 8ft. mark.

To summarize: Marines are meant to be big and the existing range doesn’t do them any justice.

The Case for Change

To solidify my point we will look at the existing miniatures range. Why is the scale for space marines critical and why do people generally true scale them instead of other figures?

The first thing Jes Goodwin throws out about “true scaling” marines is that it is actually the human guard who are out of scale. Ok. That might be true.

Let’s take a look. The image above shows a Games Workshop space marine and imperial guard pieces to the left and center of the image, respectively. The right figure in the image is an accurately scaled human in miniature. This figure on the right is how the guard should look if they used proper human proportions in the 28mm scale. So, yes the guard is out of scale, but the marine still looks miserable next to our sexy human being figure. These wonky proportions, as a pointed out in the last article, are hold overs from the 80s/90s heroic scale. The designs are piss poor laziness on the part of Games Workshop for keeping it the same today. Grim dark my ass. This is just cartoon crap.

Re-crafting a Games Workshop guardsman to look like that human is not just impossible, it means playing another range of miniatures to accurately represent human beings. We would STILL need to scale up the marines to boot. Not only are we out of scale, we are out of the universe and we destroy the level of immersion in the setting during play, nor can scale enthusiasts participate in sanctioned Games Workshop events or tournaments.

Death Korps vs. Cadian
Forge World Resin Death Korps of Krieg vs. Games Workshop Plastic Cadian Guardsman

Rather than change the guardsman, the guardsman must become the baseline for our true scale efforts, unfortunately. My recommendation to fight this gigantism is to look at Forge World Imperial Guard armies. If you can spring for them, not only are they more in scale with human proportions, they are a more flavorful match to the Warhammer setting than the standard plastic Cadians.

Poor anatomy of a Space Marine

Now that the guard argument is out of the way we can look critically at the Space Marine itself and determine why scaling is so important for this particular miniature. In short, the anatomy of this situation is a mess. More so than almost any other miniature in the range. We are not just correcting a scale issue, we are correcting an anatomy issue; an issue more noticeable on Space Marines than the rest of the figures anyway.

The illustration shows how a human being would fit into a suit of power armor using the scale of the game pieces. There is no space for a torso. Most people need one of those. But, even in this picture the legs are more or less proper, but the actual miniatures are not this fortunate.

6th Edition Space Marine Tactical Squad
Games Workshop Plastic 6th Edition Space Marines Tactical Squad Kit

To the right is the most recent squandered opportunity to correct this mistake: the 6th edition release of the basic space marine tactical squad. The best selling Games Workshop model kit. This set has improved upon a lot of issues from the previous, decade old marine kit.  As you can see the legs are just awful. Many of the marines are still stuck in squatting positions like they need a toilet. There are still huge chests with no torsos, and the stubby legs are not fixed(the marine on the end left, bottom row makes the leg problem stand out). The issues are still present despite one or two more upright figures. The anatomy of this is still a mess, but now it’s a finely detailed mess!

Games Workshop screwed the pooch to fix the scale with one fell swoop when they released the new tactical box. They could have laid the foundation to take the entire range into the 21st century with their best selling kit. They’ve guaranteed at least another ten years of off scaled madness, solidifying their position in the land of disregarded human anatomy.

Now that we’ve established why we need to true scale the space marines, we will look at charting our course to develop this idea in Part 2.


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