Ok, I admit it. I've not painted a single Imperial Space Marine during the last 25 years. My last dalliance with these enhanced warriors was back in days of Rogue Trader, when I was but a boy and the fascist undertones of the Imperium of Man were sown more clearly through the satirical weave of the 40k universe. As a father with increasingly diminishing funds, these days I'm on the look for small, contained and satisfying projects to get my hobby fix*. And so UltraMarch was born.
I picked up Marneus Calgar and his Honour Guard on eBay about six months ago for the princely sum of £15 - yes, well under half-price. I think I reasoned with myself that I would convert them somehow, although that never happened and they sat quietly at the back of a draw until today (I did add an additional metal guard to them via a secondhand store).The Tactical Squad has been muddled together through spares and some basic marines I'd gained over the last year or so.
And now the plan: pretty basic really, I'm simply going to focus on the Ultramarines during March and try to get as far along as possible with the project as I can. Obviously Ultramarines are rather by-the-book - literally codex-as-written. This means very little latitude for conversions etc. However, looking through the fluff I found the details of Tactical Squad Manorian 'The Shield Bearers' in Second Company.
Building on this fluff I'm going to build my Tactical Squad with these colours and with their hands holding bolters and bolt pistols, as if they're just about to engage in close combat. I'm using their informal name to justify giving them small shields (pinched from the Empire Swordsmen) on their bolt pistol hands. It will all make sense once I put them together...
Anyway, this should be really enjoyable. I know plenty of people think Ultramarines are dull and - worse - they they have been fanboyed to death by Matt Ward. Others still call them Space Smurfs. None of this really needs to bother me, of course. I'm sure I can do something interesting with them, make them nice and dirty and arty. It will be fun finding out.
* I'm always really alarmed when I see blog posts or eBay sales that are framed with the whole "I'm a new dad and I have to get rid of my toys" business. Believe me when I say: I have two kids and the hobby fits perfectly into my life. It's the ideal 'me' time that everybody needs in their life when they have a family. I cannot dispense blanket advice for all hobbyists and gamers, but I do not think there is ever a reason when having a regular family to drop your hobby. And age should never be a factor either!