Review: Mk III Marines (Legiones Astartes Battle Group)

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After getting back from a long weekend away playing Necromunda and Underworlds a short while ago, I came home to my copy of the new Legiones Astartes Battle Group box!  In this article I give you my review of the new Mk III ‘Iron’ armoured marines and my views on them.

I’m a notoriously slow hobbyist and sadly as the years go on, I end up with more and more real life commitments that steal hobby time.  This means that I try to be exceptionally cautious when it comes to picking up big boxes of models as they often end up half finished or sitting on a shelf.  The latest Horus Heresy box though was honestly too good a deal to pass up.  I had already planned to add a lot of its contents to my Death Guard force and adding the value of those up pretty much came to in at the same price as the box.  The bits I wasn’t planning on using could be incorporated into the force or sold on.

The Mk III marines in the box are the new style marines that I’ve an entire post talking about the Mk III armour controversy – so I won’t go too far down that path here.  As ever with one of Games Workshops large sets, you get a box stuffed full of sprues to the point where some of the finer detail will likely be scuffed where there isn’t enough space and sprues have rubbed against each other.  At one helm had the trim damaged and this likely wasn’t helped by somebody dropping the box prior to shipping and squashing one corner (I got this from a third party for the cheeky price reduction).

Sprue Layout of the MkIII Tactical MarinesThat aside, the box contains six sprues that are almost identical in layout to the Mk VI armoured marines – just wearing Mk III armour.  Additionally you get three command sprues and one special weapon sprue, plus the land raider and new Deredeo Dreadnought.

The marines sprues do have some distinct improvements over past iterations.  Firstly the backpack is one piece – unlike the original plastic Mk III, which had the backpack vents as two pieces.  There’s a very slight angle to the vents to allow an indented vent grill.  The shoulder pads are also a single piece and not the two part creation you had with the Mk VI (which in fairness were done to ensure the bonding studs were consistently round).  The torso’s and arms now have location nubs like the Mk VI, which makes them even more “paint by number” – this is not a bad thing by the way, it ensures you get the arms at the right height and angle, which makes life a little easier when assembling lots.  Let’s be honest, it’s zero hardship to slice them off if you don’t want them.

The worst piece to tidy up as ever is the backpack, where you’ve got five separate sprue connection points, including one smack bang in the middle of the top curve which is a complete pain to remove and file flat.  The rest tidy up fairly well if I’m honest.

The last interesting item is that the sprue contains a load of vambraces that you can glue onto special and heavy weapon arms to make them match the armour mark – a very clever little trick that means we should get even more millage out those weapon boxes.

As you would expect from a brand new cast, the amount of tidy up required is pretty minimal.  Even with my fastidious tidy and assembly process, a sprue of five marines got put together with no filling required in less than an evening.  I will also note that I felt the join of the torso was more pronounced than other marines – however there should be a gap, as the front and back sections are separate (it’s not a power armoured jumper after all).

I will add a mention towards the legs, as they’re largely done as two pieces so they can be positioned on the sprue to eliminate overhang issues and prevent flash lines.  This is great as it means you don’t end up with non-descript blobs of plastic where there should be a gap.  The legs all have sculpted connections too, so they automatically go where they’re meant to go – very clever and a testament to the sculptors skills in considering assembly in addition to visuals.

It has always been my intention to equip these marines with heavy weapons, so I picked up a box of the plastic ones whilst I was away (Lascannon and Auto-cannon seems to be out of stock everywhere online) and will say overall they fit together fairly well.  In simple terms each body has a “Pose” number and the heavy weapons have arms and guns that match that pose.  The autocannon on pose 5 did need some of the back of the gun cut out for it to sit properly and a couple of the wrists ended up with small gaps.  The lascannons were a much easier affair, I’d suggest gluing the arm holding the gun on first, blue tacking a shoulder pad on and then carefully slotting the gun in place before gluing the supporting arm in place.  This will allow you to position the arms and gun, whilst keeping the lascannon and shoulderpad separate – I wasn’t able to do this with the autocannons and instead had to glue those guns in place.

The additional vambraces are a little fiddly and there’s part of me that feels they look like they’re just “popped on top” rather than fully integrated with the arm – however they absolutely do the job they’re supposed to.

Top Tip: Vambraces.  Use a piece of bluetac to as a handle to put the vambraces in place.  Apply a small amount of quick drying plastic glue and line the “point” up with where the back of the hand will be fitted.

Comparison between the new plastic MkIII marines and the older and smaller plastic MkIII marinesNow the elephant in the room is that they do look different to the original plastic Mk III.  They’re slightly taller, a little bulkier and the banding on the back of the leg does mean they’ll look different from the back when leaning over a board.  This is compounded by the heads largely being of a different design, though you could solve that by mixing older and newer heads within your army.  As a collective on the table top or for something like Armies on Parade, I think this difference actually adds more than it detracts.  The variations make it feels like it’s a Legion that’s been supplied by Forge Worlds over a period of time rather than something freshly out of the factory, which works perfectly for what is one of the earlier marks of armour in an age when modification and improvement was accepted or encouraged.  One thing that often gets forgotten is marines aren’t clones, there is a variation in sizes and being able to have that represented on the tabletop can be really good.

I’m less convinced the variation works under scrutiny though.  If you were doing a unit for entry into a painting competition, the different iterations would look a little off, with the newest one arguably looking better as it’s a newer sculpt.

Overall, I think the new Mk III Iron Armour is the amongst the best plastic marines we’ve got.  I’m very curious about what Mk II will look like, but if they go together as well as these ones have, I’ll certainly be happy on that front.

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