Most of the pages of White Dwarf 123, and many of the subsequent issues, focused on the new ork rules for RT. These were complex and rich in background, and can be best described as 'Realm of Chaos' for the Space Orks. Bryan Ansell told me that if he had remained at GW he would have continued this process and produced glorious books about the Eldar, Imperium and so on and so forth. Many of the colour pages ogf the magazine consist of shots from these publications (there were three Ork books in the end), though there are a couple of fantastic pages that deal with space marines in the studio collection.
And they are astonishingly different to what we have come to expect from a space marine. Its worth pointing out here that GW had just produced the Space Marine Paint Set, and with it came the first Space Marine Painting Guide - so interest in painting marines was at its height. Only, though the guide 'suggested ideas' there was still plenty of room for your own interpretation and I doubt very much that a player would have been ridiculed for painting their marines 'incorrectly' back then. Nor was there any effort by GW to make the marines they published generic.
This first page has some fantastic stuff on it. So much fantastic stuff that I don't really need to comment on the models, though I will because so many of you readers tell me that you love to hear what I have to say about these lovely old models. Quite why this is the case still bemuses me, but I am happy to waffle on regardless. The first thing that strikes me here are the abundance of painted banners, and as many of you will know, this kind of thing is right up my street, though they probably took longer to complete than the actual models. Freehand designs abound on these and there are a wealth of ideas here for the old school gamer and painter. Note the Night Lords terminator captain, the first time the renegade chapter was represented by a 28mm model in White Dwarf. There are also so rare images of some of the earlier variant armours put out by Citadel, though I am not really knowledgeable enough about these models to be certain if they were every actually released. Any one know?
This second page also has a number of interesting models worth discussing. The marine on the motorbike jumps out at you straight away and is very, very similar to the same model available today, only the attached flag is a freehand design. The Grey Knights are also worth a mention, these are very ornate and decorated models and ooze power and menace in a way that the modern plastics don't. Its also nice to see some of the Genestealer plastics get some love from the 'Eavy Metal team in the guise of the plastic terminators, which look very strange to our eyes today. Finally, the beautifully painted Salamander force on the bottom of the page is just a work of art is it not? And all presented in a personal style of painting that has all but vanished in a painting culture that, to my eyes anyway, seems far too preoccupied with technical proficiency and too far removed from creative, imaginative passion. But I digress....
To conclude, these are probably the most exciting space marines I have ever seen. If I ever get around to doing Rogue Trader, I shall certainly be starting here for my inspiration. I hope so of you old school fans are also inspired by this excellent work.
As an additional treat, I have included a version of the original Space Marine Painting guide, via my lovely Chico Danks. Its a bit worn out through constant use, and Chico tells me that he often consults this document when he is painting marines dressed in filly ladies' underwear, suspender belt and all! It really is worth scrolling through this document to have a look at the painted examples of each of the chapters, including a great shot of the original Leman Russ model, which I have had the good fortune to see with my own eyes. Thankfully, I have not had the misfortune to see Chico in his 'painting gear'.