Following on the back of last year’s release for younger gamers, Battle for Vedros (reviewed here), Games Workshop has just released several sets in a new “Build + Paint” series. Sticking with Space Marines and Orks, there are six new boxes to play with, three for each race. Each box contains some models, paints, and a brush. The sets are currently only available in the US.
What is this not?
This is not a game. The kits are more akin to Airfix and Revell, models purchased simply for the joy of building and painting. There are no rules for the figures in these sets, either for use in Battle for Vedros or Warhammer 40,000. This, on the face of it, seems an odd omission, but when you consider the Games Workshop has a huge following who only paint and model, perhaps not. Younger gamers may not have the patience to play through a full tabletop game, but they might have the enthusiasm to see a painting project through. These sets are the gene-seed for Games Workshop’s next army of painters.
What’s in the boxes?
If you buy all three kits for a given race, you’re going to end up with a nice collection of figures, which breaks down like this.
- Space Marine:
- 5 Terminators.
- 1 Dreadnaught.
- 1 Land Speeder.
- 1 Bike.
- 1 Terminator Hero.
- 2 Ammo Dumps.
- 1 Warbike.
- 1 Warboss.
- 2 Ork Nobs.
- 1 Ork Boy with Big Shoota.
- 1 WarTruk.
- 4 Ork Boyz.
- 1 Deffkopta.
- 1 Ammo Dump.
The stock is from older GW lines. The sprues have copyright from the mid to late ’90s on them, so the company has really dug into the archives to pull these out. Despite being old, the sculpts are still crazy good and may prove tricky for younger painters to paint the detail accurately. In my experience, this doesn’t matter too much. My seven (now eight) year old is more than happy with his efforts.
One thing that I did notice straight away, is that the color of the plastic is unusual for Citadel figures, and different from that used in Battle for Vedros, despite some of the models being the same. The Space Marines are bright blue, and the Orks a muted green color. I didn’t realize the significance of this immediately, but it is very important for reasons I’ll come onto in a moment.
To assemble the models there is some glue and some paper instructions on which order to stick things together. The way the models go together is fairly self-explanatory and most can be pushed together without the glue, so you can check you have it right. Some sections require that you don’t use glue. The instructions are keyed accurately, but possibly not obviously for newcomers or younger builders.
Not unreasonably, there is nothing included to cut away the models from the sprue. This can be done with a standard craft knife, but it’s much easier and safer to use a pair of clippers. These can be obtained fairly cheaply, and mean that younger children can cut their own models without being watched like a hawk.
Each box has between three and six paints, depending on the set. These are in small flip-lid pots, more like the type you get in a host of children’s craft sets than the conventional Citadel paint pot.
There isn’t much of a guide on how to paint the models. Just a diagram on the box, with the colors on. As there aren’t many colors, this is sufficient. One thing that immediately struck me is that there’s no green in the Orks. No green in the Orks? How are you going to paint them? When I looked at the Space Marine box and discovered that there was no blue paint, despite the color guide I began to really worry. It was only when I opened the box that I understood what was going on.
The Space Marine plastic is bright blue. This made me realize that the figures do not require undercoating before painting. An interesting decision I think. One that makes sense but has its drawbacks.
Using primer on models is so ingrained, it didn’t occur to me that these build and paint models wouldn’t need it too, but there’s a huge problem with undercoating, with respect to younger children. You would either need to buy a spray can, with its inherent extra cost, and difficulty of finding a suitable area to spray, or Games Workshop would have had to provide a small pot of brush-applied primer.
Priming miniatures by hand is boring. You’re not going to lure any eight year old to the hobby if they have to paint everything a single dull color first. Generally, children at that age want results fast. So, whilst every atom of my body screams out at the horror of it all, not supplying primer or suggesting you use it makes a lot of sense.
The paints themselves feel like standard Citadel base paints, which is to say they are quite runny. The pots lids are stiff. Supervision is definitely required if you don’t want paint splashing all over the place when the pots are opened. Even then, I managed to coat my fingers and leave paint all over the table, without noticing.
I think the paints could definitely have stood to be a little thicker, especially as the models are being used without undercoat. The dark green base of the orcs works pretty well with the other paints put over it, but the Marine’s bright blue pokes through the paint layers, especially the white. To my eye, it looks horrible but when I painted my tester Marine, my sons loved it, and to be honest, it’s their opinion of these sets that matter. There are a few simple steps you can take to get an improved look to the miniatures, and I hope to make a short video of how you can do that soon. One thing I will say is that, particularly for the metallic paints, make sure you give the pots a really good shake before opening them. Definitely, don’t shake after opening.
Each of the boxes has the same transfer sheet in it, some for the Orks and some for the Marines. These include the classic Ultramarine sigil of an inverted omega. I haven’t exhaustively tested these, but my assessment is that they’re not very good, particularly when compared to the standard GW decals. It’s not clear whether you’re meant to soak them in water. They will peel off dry. Whichever way you use them, wet or dry, they don’t bend over the miniature very well and so don’t stick properly.
The Glue and the Brush:
The sets each come with a brush and some glue. There is plenty enough glue to stick the kits together and it is a good quality polystyrene cement. Supervision is required for younger children, but you’re not going to have fingers attached to the models, never to be torn asunder.
The brush is a “Starter Brush” and is of less good quality than a typical Games Workshop brush. It doesn’t have a very good point on it, but is more than adequate for the target audience and the expected level of detail.
This seems a little superfluous, but it is a little A4 paper plan of base, where you can stand your figures as you collect, build, and paint them. The playmat is only available in the large $40 boxes.
If you buy all the kits that belong to one faction, it will set you back $80. This is a little more than I expected. A “start collecting” box of current Warhammer 40,ooo figures will cost you $85 from the Games Workshop website. The newer figures are a lot more detailed, though you wouldn’t get as much variety for your money nor any paints.
Still paint free, the Battle for Vedros starter is $45 on Amazon (at the time of writing) and I think possibly confers a better deal, as you get both sides (Orks and Marines) and the rules of a game. You don’t, of course, get any paints. The corresponding paint set will cost you another $25.
On the flip side, if your children are desperate to paint some of your figures, or you want to lead them gently into the hobby, or just try to pique their curiosity towards something arty (my boys rarely draw on paper, but love to paint their models), then for $15 you can get a high-quality introduction to the hobby, that has everything you need to test the waters.
I wouldn’t describe these Build + Paint sets as a cheap way into the hobby, but they are definitely a cheaper way in. The models are good quality and don’t have too many sticky out bits that will get knocked off when your children inevitably use them as action figures. My son has had hours of fun mixing his figures in with Star Wars and LEGO Minifigures. In the absence of these sets, I had to look through eBay for him. If these Build + Paint sets had been available at the time, buying them would have been a no-brainer.
Whilst the models are good, I’m not quite so sure about the accessories that come with them. For the Space Marines, the paint doesn’t quite seem to be up to the job, though as I said my children see no issues with it, so maybe that’s just the snobby painter in me coming out. It’s worth bearing in mind, that if anything close to the results seen on the box, or in Games Workshop stores, is to be obtained, better painting materials will be essential.
The lack of game rules is an interesting departure. I’m definitely wondering if anything will be made available online, that will allow you to play simple games. Also intriguing is that these boxes are “Series 1.” Games Workshop obviously hopes for a Series 2, but will it be more Orks and Space Marines, or introduce more of the Warhammer 40,000 races? If they added some Eldar, Tau, or Gensetealers, I’d definitely be interested in expanding my… er… I mean my children’s figure range.
Disclosure: I received a box of each of the available kits in the Build + Paint range in order to write this review.