40K RETRO: 30 Year Old Blood Angels Army

Take a look at BoLS’ oldest army – still duking it out for the Emperor after 30 years.

Today we want to take a step back and talk about the long-term value you can get out of this hobby of ours.  8th Edition is here and we want to see how an army begun 30 years ago can still hold up and kick butt on the tabletop today.

Behold my first 40K army – the Blood Angels. Back in Rogue Trader i picked this army out because they were the “red marines” and I really liked red.  The Flesh Tearers and the Blood Drinkers had kind of tricky logos to paint. It was as easy as that.

The core of the army started back in 1987 was based around a set of the original RTB-1 marines and a big chunk of super heavy chunky metal assault marines with jump packs.  These guys have METAL packs and are dangerous thrown weapons in a pinch!

Slowly over the editions, the later (metal) Mk VII marines were added and the vehicle came in piecemeal.  You can see some Space Crusade scouts, plastic Space Hulk 1st Edition terminators and a ton of the ancient Rogue Trader officers in there.

It’s held up remarkably well.

Some later additions like a “new fangled” Land Raider and the pair of Baal Predators beefed up the motorpool. But the core of the earmy has always been it’s full 3rd Battle Company of infantry.

3rd Battle company: 6 Tacticals, 2 Assaults, 2 Devastators

Let’s start the Tour

Left side of the army…


Right side of army.

Tactical Squads 1,2,3. These are the mainly the original RTB1s

Tactical Squads 4,5,6. These are mainly the 2nd Edition metal Mk. VIIs

Assault Squads 7,8. Mostly Rogue Trader metal marines with metal packs.

Devastator Squads 9,10. A mix of ancient Heresy metal Mk.V and Mk VII. Note the Speared Eye of Horus banner on Squad 10, noting that those suits actually fought during the Horus Heresy.

Left motorpool. That’s an old metal Furioso that weights a TON.

Right motorpool. Land Raider, two Baals, an ancient Whirlwind and all the Tactical squad’s Rhinos (correctly numbered you will note)

Old metal terminators, and Space Crusade scouts. There are some plastic Space Hulk 1st Ed. Termys mixed in.

The Command Staff. Dante, Mephiston & Corbulo leading their command, Librarians and Sanguinary Priest delegations. Counts-as Sanguinor center top. Lots of old minis mixed in there.

2 Original metal Rogue Trader Chaplains leading 16 Death Company with packs.

One of these days I may break down and add some modern items like Primaris marines, or Sanguinary Guard, but I kind of enjoy keeping the army’s old-school charm intact.

Dante and Command staff thinking about inducting some Primaris marines… Seems unconvinced.


These guys will be fighting for Emperor all next week on our Twitch Channel. Don’t miss it!

~What’s the oldest army you still field?

  • Mike X (Official)

    Great army. It’s a shame GW expects you to eventually re-buy it via their new Primaris Marines, though.

    • Marquo

      Not sure if this is controversial, but I actually hope that he move all marines over to being primaris, in the long run, at which point people can forget about the whole thing and use their old marines with the improved stat line

      • euansmith

        They should have the same stats as Primaris, but anyone attempting to shoot or charge them should deduct 6″ from their ranges to reflect that these marines are further away. 😉

        • Fergie0044
          • euansmith

            Careful now.

          • Hagwert

            Down with this sort of thing !

          • Iconoc1ast

            Beat me to it… arrrggh

        • Iconoc1ast

          Arm them with the Holy Stone of Clonrichert

          • euansmith

            It has been upgrade to a Class 2 Relic.

      • vlad78

        My thought actually.

    • kloosterboer

      I felt the same way about my iPhone 3.

    • Richard Mitchell

      It is a gorgeous force.

    • John Barber

      No they don’t.

  • Seienchin

    AWESOME. Well painted models of this era are worth their weight in gold to me. I was a kid in the 1990s (Born in the 80s so around the time some of these old miniatures were made XD) and I loved the design on the pre 2000s models but unfortunately I couldnt paint them well but still tried. On ebay the same – finding well painted old models is nearly impossible. At least sometimes you find unpainted ones but not living in the UK that also mostly depends on the kindness of ebay uk sellers to sell internationally…

    • rtheom

      Agreed. It’s kind of impressive how many unique tools including brushes, special paint types and methods have been developed just within the last decade to paint these models. If nothing else, the sheer number of colors we have now has really improved how our models are painted in general. We are truly living in a golden age of hobbying.

      • ZeeLobby

        Was just thinking that yesterday as I used my airbrush to lay down a ghost tint over zenithal highlighting to basically finish the base color on my DG. Totally remember having to hand paint all of that. At the same time I kind of miss the simplicity back then. Everything didn’t need to be based, washed, highlighted, highlighted again, etc. To be considered done.

  • Shinnentai

    Great stuff – loving the banners! Sad not to see the older Land Speeders – I still prefer either of the older designs to that plastic abomination! I also see some Ork Heavy Plasmas have been put to Imperial use ^^.

    • euansmith

      Those plasma cannons are boss. I’d forgotten they were off the Ork sprue.

      • Damistar

        They may not be the Ork ones. Space marines had all their heavy weapons over the shoulder back then.

        • SWISSchris

          They are the ork ones. I had the original Space Ork plastic box set. The metal Imperial ones looked very different : )

        • euansmith

          It is off the old Rogue Trader era Ork Heav y Weapon sprue, which also feature an early version of the Power Klaw.


          • Shinnentai

            I had that plastic Ork boxed set as a kid – I didn’t know what the stick grenades were XD (handles?!)

            Also fondly remember creating a four-armed, two-headed dual heavy plasma wielding ork: actually a possibility in the rogue trader orks list though only if you rolled very fortuitously on the Painboy operation chart!

    • kloosterboer

      I love the plastic updates…but still have the older ” 2 seats + 2 engines” models, as well.

    • Thank you. Back in Rogue Trader, there would often only be one plastic version of a particular type of heavy weapon on some kit’s sprue and you would trade with your friends if you wanted them. Squats got the plastic heavy bolters, IG has the las-cannon, Orks had the plasma cannons, etc…

      • Carey_Mahoney

        Shoulder-mounted heavy weapons were so awesome. They really should have retained those, at least on Space Marines and Dark Eldar Warriors. Not on IG heavy teams, off course.

  • Marquo

    Love it. Kudos for keeping this going all these years!

  • euansmith

    That is a thing of beauty and a wonder. And look how huge that Land Raider looks next to Beaky Marines.

  • Wampasaurus

    Since this is a Blood Angels themed article could anyone locate any information on why Death Company Chaplains were left out of the Blood Angels section of Index: Imperium 1 (aka The Space Marines one)? Theyre not there and I would like their rules. Maybe someone could mention this to GW? I don’t have Facebook Just to preempt any calls directing me to their page

    • Other than Lamartes, I think they expect you to use a standard SM chaplain for the time being. You’ll probably get a death company specific one when the new codex drops

      • Wampasaurus

        Oh I agree we will get one when we get a codex, it’s just it makes no sense given that Dark Angels get their Interrogator Chaplains and Space Wolves get their Wolf Priests. To me it feels like an omission by accident. Maybe their proof reader/editor was absent that day?

        • It’s possible. Too bad though

    • AX_472

      sorry mate its just a chaplain with jump pack now. It was only a unique unit for about a year anyway.

  • spla5hmummy

    So much awesome

  • SWISSchris

    This would be even more awesome if the Predators, Land Raider and speeders were replaced with RT/2nd era versions. The couple of original plastic Space Hulk Terminators also detract from the cool metal ones. Still a great collection!

    • There used to be a plastic Rogue Trader Land Raider but it was lost in the mists of time during some move in college.

  • ZeeLobby

    Ah. Back when terminators looked like turtlenators.

    That said I love the colors and banners. I do miss banners a lot in 40K. Dunno why. Nothing very sci-fi about them. Just looked cool.

    • Shinnentai

      Banners on minis definately presses all the nostalgia buttons.

      • I am a firm believer in back banners for your Sergeants. Fly your chapter colors proudly!

    • Commissar Molotov

      One nice thing about seeing old collections like this is realizing I’m not the only one who had every single banner “antennae” on my old Space Hulk plastic terminators snap off…

      • ZeeLobby

        Haha, true. But still 🙁

      • Boondox

        I replaced mine with metal rods for the Sergeants. For a while I painted the banner antenna stub as a hazard light which I thought fit in well with exploring a space hulk.

  • Iconoc1ast

    That is just awesome!!! So many classic minis. Very well done too.

  • Iconoc1ast

    Loving all the classic officer and squad markings

  • James Arnoldi

    I’ve been collecting an Oldhammer Crimson Fists army lately. This is inspiring!

  • Commissar Molotov

    It’s beautiful! Thanks for showing us all those lovely old models!

  • 301stFeinminsterArmoured


  • Deacon Ix

    This is a thing of beauty, pity about the Predators, Landspeeders and Landraider 🙁 I still have 2 of the round turret predators, one with all the hand rails intact!

  • polyquaternium7

    nothing beats a classic!

  • Boondox

    Very impressive and inspiring army!! I have most of my original RT stuff unpainted and unassembled. Seeing your BA army is making me pull out ancient White Dwarfs and books to recreate the old markings and insignia for my Crimson Fists. I can only hope they’ll turn out half as well as yours did.

  • Carey_Mahoney


  • Thomas

    Aaaand, suddenly I’m a kid again, pestering his brother to teach him how to play 40k with his Blood Angels.

  • Kayreios

    Those tanks and landspeeders aren’t more than 20 years old…

    • Shinnentai

      You might want to try reading the article before commenting.

  • Bigalmoney666

    Weren’t Terminators on 25mm bases?

    • Shinnentai

      Yes – you can tell they’ve been re-based since the lips aren’t in classic goblin green! 😉

      • Bigalmoney666

        …that flock though

  • Kiskatona

    I started my Blood Angels back in 2nd ed. But instead of keeping the classic look when the new 3rd ed. plastics came out I went and upgraded all the backpacks and guns (and arms of course) the new versions. Looking back that was a lot of time and money wasted. Would have saved a hell of a lot of money years later when I decided I want some of the 2nd Ed looking stuff back (which still hasn’t been painted yet).

    Now I wish i had kept them in their original form and either used them as is (was) or just retired them to the shelf and replaced them with the new ones. That’s what I did when I came back after a bit of a break and the new BA stuff had came out, retired the old army and started anew. Though the old can still be called upon for reinforcements if need be.

  • Boondox

    Do you have any more pictures of this awesome army? I’m particularly interested in seeing your conversion work on the RT and 2nd Ed. figures.