In 2020 it was announced that McFarlane would work with Games Workshop and their Warhammer brand to bring 7 inch scale Warhammer 40k action figures to market. The new line would feature full painted standard figures and also unpainted artists proofs that could be taken home and hand painted by collectors - very much aligned to the hobby and the painting of the original 25mm miniatures. In this review I take a look at the first released figure, the Ultramarines Primaris Assault intercessor Space Marine.
Before we begin can I just position that my personal Warhammer 40k knowledge and experience is now getting on to be 20 years out of date. I dabbled as a child in the gaming, and also painted and collected miniatures up to adulthood particularly Space Marines. Having lost some ability with a paint job due to some hand issues I moved away from the hobby - but now I have McFarlane to drag me back into the world of the Imperium
McFarlane are developing a fairly standard packaging model now, a window box with top hanging tab with franchise specific artwork. For the Warhammer 40k line, that design is a dark expanse of space background and deep yellow backing card to show off the figure. The figure window takes up much of the box front with a small rail at the bottom and a cut in Warhammer 40,000 logo. The McFarlane logo and age guide of 12+ sits on the hanging tab.
I was surprised, even when the parcel arrived, how heavy this figure actually is and I wonder how useful the hanging tab actually is for this release.
Down the right hand side of the box is an atmospheric image of the figure topped with the McFarlane logo and with the figure name at the base of the image. The left hand side features a gothic tech montage piece, as seen in the Warhammer 40k universe. This wraps round to the back of the box where we also have a repeat of the 40k logo. Beneath this in a yellow panel is a further image of the figure and beneath this the "also available" Necron Warrior in a smaller yellow box.
There is no background text or history of the marines - which I think is a miss considering the rich and engaging backstory from Games Workshop that could have been included.
The figure is accessed by opening the top or bottom flap of the box - held closed with a single line of tape. The contents slide out complete with backing card, with the tray and card attached together by ties. Once you have freed the tray the backing card is revealed containing some feint artwork from the 40k source material. Two thirds down we have a standard display base in the usual black circular plastic with a single peg hole and logo. Sadly if you want to keep any of the packing intact, you will need to leave the stand where it is as its glued to the backing card.
The figure sits in a plastic tray and is also strapped in by a number of ties around arms and waist and the accessories.
Paint & Sculpt 4.0
The Assault Marine is a very hefty and impressive figure with plenty of weight and bulk. The sculpt is fantastic and perfectly proportioned vs the design from the miniatures. The head is a deep red with sculpted skull decal on the forehead. This is painted in silver, as are the breathing tubes and the components to each side of the head. The lenses of the helmet are a deep green colour.
The main body of the figure is cast in a deep blue. Over this we have applied gold trim on the shoulder armour and the gold Imperium chest decal. In between the panels are black painted under sections and there a few paint errors here where the black doesn't fully cover the blue - but you have to look closely to find them.
The iconography of the Ultramarines is applied as decals as far as I can tell, with the Chapter badge on the left shoulder and the Assault symbol and squad markings on the right. There is a tilting plate (shield) on the front of the right shoulder pad with further honour markings. The Ultramarines Chapter badge is repeated on the right knee plate. The final marking is on the left forearm, with a bronze skull and cross. Painting here is lapse too with the full relief of the sculpt not fully painted in bronze, so the piece is left with the base blue around the border.
These painted versions are quite flat with limited paint apps and if you are skilled with painting I can see the appeal of the Artist Proof versions - and even this coloured release would look a lot better with some additional washes and paint apps.
The Space Marine is sold as 7 inch scale and he stands 7.5 inches tall. To give you an idea of his scale the following images show him with a 7 inch NECA Dutch, a NECA Robocop and with a 6 inch scale Black Series Stormtrooper.
The first accessory is the Space Marine Backpack. Like the body, this is cast in blue plastic and has zero paint apps - which is a shame as some additional work around the vents and bolts would have looked much better. The only additional colour w get is a further Ultramarines Chapter Badge in the centre of the backpack.
The Backpack is fitted on the back with a large square peg that then inserts into the body of the Space Marine. It sits a bit too far out and is certainly not as was originally shown on the promo images for these figures.
Moving on to the weapons and we start with the Bolt pistol. This is a fairly basic sculpt with limited detail and non of the iconography we might expect. It is cast in a dark grey with no more paint apps. It is designed to fit in the Marines right hand - which is a tough ask as the plastic on the hands is very stiff. Once in place, a trigger finger sits into the trigger on the Bolter.
The Chain Sword fairs a little better in terms of sculpt, with a bit of detailing on the grip including some spike work on the guard. And it has a skull design on the pommell. The blade is painted over the grey base plastic with a slightly darker tone and the skull pommel is painted in gold.
But if you thought getting the Bolt pistol in the hand was tough, the sword is much tougher. It will fit in either hand, but with the gun in the right the logical home is the left hand. The fingers here are even tighter than the right and there is not enough space to get the sword grip in place. The only way I could do it was to gently heating the left hand in hot water to make it soft enough to prise apart. Not the best engineering from McFarlane - and an issue I've had before with them in terms of the lack of thought given between the figure and its accessories.
The provided display base is the standard black circular McFarlane stand that comes with all their current figueres. It carries the Warhammer 40k logo at the front and has a peg to the back and to the right hand side as you look.
To be fair, it is not really any use at all. The figure is so big and heavy, this standard McFarlane base is of no use to helping him pose and is too small to provide an aesthetically pleasing base to the figure, being considerably covered by the feet once slotted into the hole in either foot.
It's a bit of an oversight by McFarlane to include their regular stand with what is a far from average figure. I wonder what an option of an appropriately sized base, even one that replicates the base used on the miniatures, would have cost?
On first glance at the sheer bulk of the Space Marine Armour, you would assume articulation is very limited. Yet, despite McFarlane's track record on articulation, the movement they have built into this figure is impressive with a total articulation count of 18 joints.
Head : ball joint neck
Body : ball joint torso
Arms : ball joint shoulder, ball joint shoulder pad, bicep swivel, double joint elbow, pivot wrist
Legs : ball joint hip, double joint knee, ball joint ankle
The head is arguably the most restrictive and can only rotate within the collar of the neck. The arms are cleverly done as the Shoulder Pads are ball jointed as well as the shoulders so the whole lot moves in sync without throwing the look of the figure. Arms can be rotated and raised over the head and out to the side with ease. The double joint elbows also allow for wider movement lower down - and if the sword fit easier in the hands you may even get a double hand Chainsword pose.
The legs are very extensive in their joints for the knees and the ankles then flex to support. The issue on the legs lies in the lack of a thigh swivel and the ball joint hips held in check by some armour panels at the sides. Dynamic poses are possible, but I am not sure there is a stand on the market as yet to support the weight and girth of the figure to hold them in a running or striking pose.
The figure is hefty and the joints thankfully feel robust enough to hold it in place with satisfying ratchets evident on the knees and elbows. He stands fine with both feet on the floor and if you avoid any poses where you overbalance the torso.
As a launch figure, the Ultramarines Intercessor Assault Primaris Marine is an impressive bulk of plastic and I am surprised the price has not been higher than the £22-£25 he has been listed for. The sculpt is great, and now its established and parts are enhanced and expanded I can see a number of Marines being lined up for McFarlane - which in this case is no bad thing and will lead to a seriously impressive collection.
There are painting issues, and considering the source inspiration some extra detailing and washes would have looked great - albeit probably pushing the price up further. The decals used are neat and well applied and consistent to the best of my knowledge - although that knowledge is coming up to being about 20 years out of date.
The weapons are the other niggle - both in how plain they both are, and in the execution of designing the Marine's hands to hold them. Once in the hand the posing options are quite varied and the supporting articulation is awesome and certainly exceeded my expectations on such a hefty figure. The stand does however need binning, or being expanded to a much bigger piece to be of any use.
The McFarlane Ultramarines Intercessor Assault Primaris Marine is a brilliant launch piece to what we hope is a line that can grow and grow - although there is always the risk with McFarlane of it following suit with the likes of Star Trek, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter. The early indicators are good however, and as I go to print with this review there are more figures announced and on the way. For Warhammer 40k fans like myself (old or new) the line has huge potential and I intend to follow this with interest.
I score the Intercessor Assault Primaris a solid 4.0
action figures, reviews, review, articulation, mcfarlane, warhammer, 40k, 40,000, Space Marine, Ultramarines, Primaris, Assault, Intercessor