We are going back over 3 decades to the very first plastic Space Marines – the legendary RTB01 kit!
It was September 1987, and White Dwarf 93 was debuting an all new game called Warhammer 40,000 and an all new set of plastic miniatures called Imperial Space Marines. What a time to be alive!
With Space Marines on everyone’s lips, we figured it was a great time to go back to the beginning and see where the plastic Astartes got their start. First stop, the box:
Ahh, the Crimson Fists star in the image that defined the Marines. It was used not only here, but on the cover of Rogue Trader itself. But what exactly is within this mighty box:
In 1988 Jes Goodwin, Aly Morrison and Bob Naismith produced a set of miniatures that catapulted then small Games Workshop into the Grimdark and defined the iconic Space Marines for the world. The box contained 17 sprues:
15: Total of Sprue A & C
2: Sprue B
Note those sprues gave you 2 marines each at the cost of 60p!
Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you – £9.99 got you 30 plastic Space Marines! Now feast your eyes on the sprues. The Missile Launchers, the Mk VI Corvus suits (the “classic marine Mk.VII Marine, came way later, and Primaris… what the heck is that?), the funky flamers, the bayonets everywhere, the riveted shoulder pads, and all the little pouches and bits to glue on. Rogue Trader gamers were in hog heaven!
Onto the Sprues
SPRUE A: The ranged combat sprue. Note the plethora of belt-mounted do-dads like holstered pistols (of whatever type you said they were), knives, bayonets and my favorite – the CHAINSAW BAYONET!
SPRUE B: If you are a grizzled veteran – there is only one REAL Marine missile launcher and it looks like that! This would be reinvented decades later with the plastic Mk.IV Maximus sprues, but this is the original. Note the missile ammo clips to glue to your heavy weapons trooper. The big fashion choice is on the legs or around the belt?
SPRUE C: The close combat sprue. This one gave you bolt pistols and clenched FISTS! Because back in the day you walked right up to Orks and Space Elves and Space Dwarfs and you PUNCHED THEM IN THE FACE! None of this fancy power sword nonsense. You also got loose bolters to accessorize your plastic dudesmen.
Here we see some examples of the RTB01 Marines painted up in that very same White Dwarf 93 by John Blanche himself. These may be the “original” Blood Angel, Dark Angel, and Silver Skulls minis to appear in a White Dwarf ever.
Two Decades Later – an Homage
Fast forward to 2015 and we received sprues of plastic Horus Heresy Mk.IV Space Marines. While there are certainly a bunch of differences, There are enough similarities that the new models feel to me like the, if not literal – spiritual successors to that original RTB01 kit, all gussied up for a new generation of eager Grimdark gamers. From the missile launchers to the Mk IV armor, to the flamers, to the pouches, the bayonets, riveted shoulder pads, the command figures – it’s all there. Plus with modern technology, we get the meltas, the combis, and more close combat options.
You can still see these old RTB01 kits on eBay – but they aren’t cheap. Do any of you have of these still rocking the tabletop?