Rogue Trader Crimson Fists Squad Onan

Time to collect a new Space Marine force!  Crimson Fists – the Rogue Trader poster boys.  These Fists are hand-picked from the 1987–1989 Imperial Space Marine ranges sculpted by Bob Naismith, Aly Morrison and Mark Copplestone.  I have a real soft spot for this era of Mk6 design.  There’s a certain je ne sais quoi to the early Warhammer 40,000 aesthetic that was lost when the Mk7 Jes Goodwin designs were introduced in 1990.  There’s a joyful bulbousness to them that reflects the early days of Rogue Trader, before it settled down into the tightly-codified juggernaut that endures to this day.

Rogue Trader Crimson Fists Squad OnanFist in, last out – Squad Onan.

Veteran Sergeant Onan’s casting had a damaged head, and has had a new one grafted on from a Golden Heroes Supervillain.  I added the bionic eye during painting to hide the incredibly long eyeball that continued round the side of his head.  The banner is tomato puree foil mounted on a brass rod pole.  The bladed bionic arm with its super-awkward pose is entirely original – if anyone know what he’s actually meant to be doing please leave a comment.

Rogue Trader Crimson Fists Squad Onan

The backpacks and other elements were sculpted with a beautifully ham-fisted assymetry.

I’ve settled on the rule of left-hands-crimson on Battle Brothers, and both-hands-crimson on Veterans.  The Heavy Bolter Marine has Veteran status to justify him wearing a Power Glove.  I particularly love this model as his nonsensical wargear (that’s illegal in all future editions of Warhammer 40,000) places him firmly in Rogue Trader territory.

Freehand Fist Icons

My rendition of the Crimson Fist icon is based on the banner from the Rogue Trader cover, but I’ve experimented with simplifying the thumb/forefinger area between Marines.  Since their armour designs differ so much I’m not going to revisit and amend any designs once I’ve settled on the final iteration.

Rogue Trader Crimson Fists Squad Onan

This hobby is called: The Freehand Fists Hobby.

I couldn’t resist adding the correct weaponry icons and armour graffiti too.  I’ve got to add a Medic to the force simply so I can scrawl “FIST AID” on his armour.  I also fancy a Marine with “FIST BUMP”.  In fact I’ve got a whole list of quickfire “FIST” and “HAND” phrases ready to deploy.

Crimson Fists Grand Plan

I’ve planned 1,000 points using the Whitescars army list from the Book of the Astronomican.  This era of army list is the sweet spot for me.  Space Marines have been rounded out from the single squad type presented in the Rogue Trader rulebook, but it’s before a lot of their iconic troop types have been dreamed up – no Terminators, no Scouts, no Rhinos, no Techmarines.  On one hand they’re recognisable enough to a modern Warhammer 40,000 player, but on the other hand there’s a smattering of ideas like “Cobra squad” and “Reconnaissance squad” that have since disappeared from the background.  I love this particular early incarnation of the Warhammer 40,000 universe where the concepts are still crystallising.


1 Marine Champion [9], Bionic Arm [30], Bionic Eye [30]

3 Marines  [3*8], 3 Bolt Guns [3*2] and 3 Frag Grenades [3*1]

1 Marine [8], Heavy Bolter [15], Power Glove [15], Targeter [5], 2 Suspensors [2*2]

Basic Equipment (all models): Bolt Pistol [1.5], Knife [0], Powered Armour [6] (with Communicator [0.5], Respirator [0.5], Auto-senses[0.5])


The full force (17 Marines on foot and a Dreadnought) is partially based on the seminal Rogue Trader Battle at the Farm scenario (which was Pedro Cantor plus fifteen Tactical Marines), but I’ve spiced up the weapon choices for the sake of variety and model availability.  Here’s the first squad defending make-shift farm barricades!

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Rogue Trader Crimson Fists Squad Onan

Bonus Ninjabread points if you can spot where Tech-priest Theodolitus is hiding.

Sho3box has very generously lent me Skabsquig’s Skallywags for these Battle at the Farm photos.  You can see more of them here and here.

Rogue Trader Crimson Fists Squad Onan

Crimson Fists parading their farm candy.

This terrain I’m using as the iconic Rogue Trader farm is going to launch on Kickstarter imminently from the excellent Fogou Models.  Mr. Fogou sent me an advance casting in return for me taking photographs like this.

Crimson Fists Painting Tutorial

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how I paint Crimson Fists, so I photographed a Marine inbetween each step of the blue power armour process.

Rogue Trader Crimson Fists Squad Patreon

If you want to see these steps broken down, wth the techniques and theory behind them spelt out the tutorial is available on Patreon. The skills you’ll learn are transferable to all colours of power armour.

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Coming soon – another Rogue Trader Crimson Fists squad and maybe a character!

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32 thoughts on “Rogue Trader Crimson Fists Squad Onan

      1. That’s why they are Crimson fists….LMAO Absolutely brilliant squad Curis. The free hands, and graffiti everything just ties together perfectly. You are doing the hobby a service with this army.

        1. Cheers Grove! It feels great to finally get to these Marines after years of them lurking in the lead mountain.

  1. I remember publishing a blog post on RT era marines back in a previous incarnation, based on my own love for their irregularities and quirks, and being amazed by the sheer number of modern gamers who took the time to stop by and leave a comment about how ugly and deformed they thought the original minis were in comparison to the towering giants of today.

    These are really nice, capturing the essence of just why this era of marines has never been equaled in terms of sheer character.

    I’ve recently culled and sold off a lot of space marines that I’d accumulated over the years, but the exception has been the original RT marines, as they’re just too unique and interesting to part with, fitting in so well with the old-school aesthetic I’m aiming for in my games.

    Also, I see Theodolitus, who should be helping to kill the xenos, rather than taking pictures of them!

    1. Bah! Marines are easy to sell off as they fetch pretty good prices. I traded away a batch of Rogue Trader Space Marines a few years back for some Lord of the Rings Orcs which have never been touched since. Ho hum.

      They are really fun models. I remember spending hours going through the various White Dwarf advertisements trying to pull together a squad that would hand together with its armour style. Heavy Weapons were in one advert, special weapons scattered around, and a lot of figures that could be suitable for Sergeanting duties.

      You’ve spotted the guy with the camera – Brother Groma. Theodolitus was the one with the ranging stick.

  2. Beautiful work. I love what you’ve done here and seriously look forward to seeing the rest of your old-school army come to light. Old-school yellow-red chapter icon, graffiti. Kil Kil Kil.

    I’ve got something incredibly similar on my painting table. The difference is that mine were first painted way back then and are being touched up and being changed over from old-school Moody Blue Ultras, inspired by WD98 (and then messed up slightly later, in various ways). So part original paint, part new paint, part touched up and repaired, partly old-school and partly modernised (like your 32mm bases!)

    When can we expect to see the next batch? :D

    1. When can you see the next ones – well, wish I cold get something posted most days like you! Squad 2 are undercoated and I’ve taken them with me to paint for the bank holiday, but there’s some Warhammer Fantasy bits and more Blandford Warriors to blog about first!

      I like your plan to rejuvenate your classic already-painted models. I’ve got a handful of Reckoners I painted as a teenager (you can see them in ) that might need similar treatment.

      1. Yeah – I’ve got quite a few unpainted, and a few that I foolishly stripped the original paint off (had just got an ultrasonic cleaner and went mad with …not power …maybe excitement? Old-school Fists have been one of my “one day” projects for probably 10 years now and I still haven’t painted model one.
        I’ll look forward to seeing what you do with the Reckoners as well, now!

  3. The BotA marine list, you loveable lunatic :)

    That era of Space Marine is fantastic due to the variation if nothing else. There must be at least sixty sculpts from that era, probably more.

    Your painting is as crisp and vibrant as always, making your take on a familiar look, standout.

    Christ, how your commitment to quality sickens me ;)

    1. Thanks!

      Yeah BotA! It’s so familiar yet so alien. Like a Warhammer 40,000 from an different timeline. Or an episode of Sliders.

  4. Once again, superb painting. I could not spot Theo, but the surveyor is easy to see. Looking forward to your recreation of Battle at the Farm.

    1. Thanks Sean! There’s been a lot of people trying to replay the seminal scenario, I hope to follow in their footsteps.

    1. Thnks Jason! I cheat and superglue the shaft to the back of the banner itself, rather than joining the T bar itself together.

  5. Hi Curie! Marvellous models and top painting style!!
    This really fun because I started this week a new project named “Battle at the Farm”… 16 Rogue Trader Space marines Crimson fist with a yellow/red fist icon on the shoulder pad (sculpted, no free hand), Fogou ruins, 21 RT Orks, … Challenge? Battle for Battle at the Farm :)

    1. Thanks Nico! I’m guessing you’ll storm to the finish before before I get my Crimson Fists squad done. Though I’ve got the headstart on you cos I’ve had the advanced casting of the farm.

  6. Absolutely brilliant–very well executed job on a great idea, everything about this works and I find myself wanting to go on eBay to get some Rogue Trader marines and copy this!

  7. I knew I recognised those orks :D
    I love this squad, it is the distilled essence of RT, but painted better than possibly any goofy beaky that has come before. I’d take my hat off but it’s hiding the bald spot. Well done :)

    1. Nyah, I can push this further into Rogue Trader territory by naming Marines after leading 1980s trade unionists.

  8. Wow Curry! That is some of the best painting I’ve ever seen on those marines. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, adding little details like slogans and unit markings really brings the old sculpts to life. I can’t wait to see the other slogans appearing on the next lot you paint up.

    Your freehand is terrible though, coz it doesn’t look like you’ve painted it, more like a transfer……coz your so fucking good at freehand ya bastard! Give me your POWERRRRRR!!!!!!!!!

    And to your question, what is Veteran Sergeant Onan doing with his bladed hand? He’s shielding his gorgeous pelvis from the world, that’s what.

  9. “Sgt. Onan”? What do you THINK he’s doing with that hand? Lol… Yep, they had a different sense of humour at GW/Citadel back then, which is to say, a sense of humour at all…

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