1990s Ultramarines Tactical Squad Rhenus

This March I am proud to present an Ultramarines combat squad deliberately contrived to conjure up a very particular point in time – November 1990. It’s March for Macragge.

Space Marines Ultramarines Squad Rhenus 1990s 40k

Tactical Squad Rhenus. Their presence remakes the past.

In November 1990 Space Marine design saw a step change with the release of the RTB15 Strike Force boxed set. The new age of Warhammer 40,000 was ushered in with these brand new metal-plastic hybrid Marines.

Space Marines Ultramarines Squad Rhenus 1990s 40k
Sergeant Rhenus’s left shoulder pad omits the red skull marking of the Sergeant, as it wasn’t established until circa 1994.

It was the transition point from mk6 power armour to mk7 power armour. It was the transition from one-piece metal castings to metal torsos with plastic arms and accessories. It was the transition from Bob Naismith, Aly Morrison and Mark Copplestone designing Space Marines to Jes Goodwin.

Space Marines Ultramarines Squad Rhenus 1990s 40k
A lot of people assume the bare-headed Sergeant is a conversion. But he’s actually an obscure variant of the Strike Force torso that didn’t appear in the original boxed set or any of the catalogues at time of release, though he was available in some blisters.

There are two versions of each of the Strike Force torsos – the earlier verion had rounded shoulders which made them backwards compatible with the RTB01 plastic arms, and the later version had the shoulders flattened off to fit with the 1991 redesigned arm sprue. The 1990 arm sprue from the Strike Force box was curiously discontinued – if you know why, please enlighten me in the comments.

Original torso designs with the RTB01 arms on the left, and the later redesign with the 1991 redesigned arms on the right.

The 1990s would go on to see the mk7 range fully rounded out with more torso designs, special and heavy weapons, jump packs, and all new accessory sprues. But in November 1990 if you wanted any of that for your mk7 marines you had to use the old mk6 pieces – which is what I’ve done on this squad. The Sergeant’s powerfist and weeny bolt pistol, the rocket launcher, various ammo packs and binox are all pilfered from the RTB01 kit.

Space Marines Ultramarines Squad Rhenus 1990s 40k
Okay, I admit the back banner is an anachronism, coming from the 1999 Veterans blister, topped off with an icon from a spare Marneus Calgar. But I like sculpted banners more than paper affairs.

The RTB01 rocket launcher (below left) requires a bit of fiddly modelling to get it to work on a Strike Force torso – the arm toting it is a combination of the original RTB01 arm with a Strike Force shoulder pad, and some putty for the wrist armour.

Space Marines Ultramarines Squad Rhenus 1990s Missile Launcher Comparison
“Ahhhh, so that’s why I’ve been stuck with the snidey Space Crusade affair.”

The Ultramarines project means I’m painting three blue Space Marine armies concurrently. I’d be nice to have the three projects more visually distinct, but I’ve got strong emotional reasons for each scheme individually so I will just have to live with a big jumble of blue in the display cabinet. It’s like that Eiffel 65 song. Da Ba Dee. Da Ba Daa.

Space Marines Ultramarines Squad Rhenus 1990s 40k
Left to right: Crimson Fist, Ultramarine, Nemesis Chapter

I’m bursting with ideas for other Ultramarines squads, and while I’m not going to collect the entire Chapter there are 99 other squads to explore with 1990s-themed collecting and modelling ideas.

Space Marines Ultramarines Squad Rhenus 1990s 40k
Squad Rhenus looking as cowabungily rad as my collection of POGS.

This squad makes me feel as nostalgically 1990s my other hobby – standing outside derelict Global Video stores.

I beat on the windows and tearily demand “True Lies” on VHS.

I’m putting together a full tutorial for Ultramarines power armour which will publish soon. If you head over to the Patreon, there’s already a wealth of tutorials for how to paint Blood Angels, Crimson Fists, Nemesis Chapter, an Apothecary, Deathwatch, gold power armour and battered yellow armour, as well as lots of skin recipes and special freehand walkthroughs.

Coming soon, more blue Space Marines. Ninjabread out!

Curis

Curis has painted for Games Workshop, Forge World, Warlord Games, Mantic Games, Avatars of War, Wargames Foundry, Studio McVey and many others. He's won at Golden Demon and Salute. He publishes monthly painting tutorials on Patreon.

13 thoughts on “1990s Ultramarines Tactical Squad Rhenus

  • March 30, 2020 at 4:52 pm
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    I really like the RTB01 legacy accoutrements you’ve added to this squad – it really does add to that transitional vibe. I recall these being a bit of a pain to pose properly (certainly my teenage self struggled with those arms). I also never liked the walking legs. How come you didn’t give one of these lads a combat knife? Every squad needs a bladesman!

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  • March 30, 2020 at 5:02 pm
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    Thanks! I really dig the transitionary vibe – I think in 30 years we’ll look back at the current era of Primaris and mk7 Marines appearing together with an equal fondness.

    I’ve got to paint the other half of the squad still – it’s only a matter of time before I get frustrated getting the both arms to line up to the Bolter and resort to the LOOK AT MY KNIFE pose.

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  • March 31, 2020 at 6:45 am
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    These are magnificent. Will you do a tutorial on achieving that solid blue? Painting blue vexes me and so love the Ultramarines. I just can’t paint them well.

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    • April 1, 2020 at 10:36 am
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      Thanks William! I’ll definitely doing the tutorial on how to do Ultramarines like that, watch this space!

      What element do you struggle with on yours?

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  • March 31, 2020 at 10:50 am
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    I love the aesthetic of this era, my absolute favourite is the early 1990s Jes stuff, and you have done a fantastic job–absolutely gorgeous. I find it a bit bittersweet though because the plastic arms were not great and really signalled the beginning of the end. I can’t help but wish these had all been one piece metal castings with plastic only for the backpacks.

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    • April 1, 2020 at 10:40 am
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      I think of the era of figures this one started with a huge degree of nostalgia, but also relief it’s over as plastic arms on metal figures was a complete pain on gaming miniatures. And worse, metal arms and weapons on plastic figures! So many memories of miniatures with layers and layers of glue on their fists from running repairs.

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  • April 2, 2020 at 12:35 am
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    The biggest problem I have is painting blue. Nothing I use has that rich hue, and I must have 20 bottles of blue from across the different manufacturers. I know I’m over thinking it, but I just want that solid, regal looking blue like achieved. That’d be a good starting point.

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    • April 2, 2020 at 1:47 pm
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      Well, until the tutorial’s out, I can heartily recommend Games Workshop’s Macragge Blue over a black undercoat. Great coverage.

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  • April 2, 2020 at 10:51 pm
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    That’s simply beautiful. Brings me so many memories! These are among my first Space Marines, so I have some emotional strings attached. It’s wonderful to see them back to life in such a great way!!

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    • April 3, 2020 at 12:28 pm
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      Thanks Suber! My first boxed set from Games Workshop my Dad bought me was the Warriors of Imperium, which are the plastic reimaginings of these. There’s a magical aura to them as a result.

      Reply
  • April 6, 2020 at 9:15 pm
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    Awesome painting, but the lack of a Goblin Green base is a big minus :P

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    • April 7, 2020 at 9:31 am
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      Hahah! You’re not the first person to say that. I did consider Goblin Green bases, but when the army’s based on 32mm and 40mm instead of 25mm throughout, it has a very weird look. (Though, of course, the counter-argument is use 25mm bases…)

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  • May 28, 2020 at 9:10 pm
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    Hey…. you’re not even an old grognard! You have no business being this good. The blends in the blue are over the top. Not sure I could muster the patience to paint 5 old marines that well, all at the same time. Amazing!

    Reply

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