Warhammer 40,000 Build + Paint Series 1
Publisher: Games Workshop
Release Date (US): December 2016
MSRP: $39.99 for Space Marine Heavy Assault, other kits vary from $14.99 to $39.99.
Ages: 8 and up
Product #: 99172001001 (Space Marine Heavy Assault)
ICv2 Rating:  3.5 Stars out of 5

I was lucky: my introduction to miniatures painting was by a talented and very patient friend of the family (thanks, Duck!) who generously showed me the basics.  Though it would be some years before I embraced the joys of tabletop miniature gaming, those basics stuck with me and gave me a huge leg up when it was time to start painting my own armies.  But what about those who aren't so fortunate?  How does one leap into the often-overwhelming world of minis?  Well, one could do far worse than Games Workshop’s new line of Build + Paint mini kits, but sadly they aren't perfect for the task.

Summary:  The Warhammer 40,000 Build + Paint Series 1 includes six different kits that feature the iconic foes of the Warhammer 40,000 world: the Space Marines and the Space Orks.  Each kit includes a small number of plastic miniatures on sprues, an all-around utility brush, and a small assortment of tiny little jars of paint, along with a picture-based instruction booklet that shows how to assemble the models.  Collect and build all six sets, and you end up with a nice little diorama display, using the full-color paper mat and plastic scenery pieces included in the various kits.

The stated purpose of these kits is to introduce new miniatures enthusiasts to the world of Warhammer 40,000.  Each kit has a pamphlet inviting them to explore "a whole galaxy of miniatures," with the ultimate goal of joining the game’s global fan community.

Originality:  Introducing new players to miniatures gaming always leads to the challenge of teaching them how to assemble and paint their own models so they can fully enjoy the experience.  Over the years, there have been a number of attempts to create a product that would serve this purpose, and my hope was that Games Workshop would be able to use its resources, both physical and digital, to achieve this goal better than had been done before.  Sadly, the final result did not live up to my hopes: instead it's a fairly typical set of minis with tiny paint pots, which is something we’ve seen many times before.

Presentation:  Like always, Games Workshop does a fine job with the artistic presentation of their product: bright bold colors, dynamic action-filled artwork, easy-to-read titles and text.  The box nicely presents the kit and explains what it is, along with a little blurb of "fluff" that is the hallmark of Warhammer.  Sadly, they chose a flimsy paper tuckbox for the packaging, but considering that you’re not likely to use the box once you take the minis out and assemble them, that's forgivable.

Quality:  Many of the models in Series 1 are actually the same models as the regular line of Warhammer 40,000.  Others, like the Space Marine Dreadnought, are streamlined and simplified for a novice assembler.  This was a great idea, and I wish that all of the models in the line had been given the same treatment, as some of the more complex models could overwhelm a new modeler (I'm looking at you, Land Speeder!).  The models themselves are, naturally, well-detailed, top quality plastic minis, thoughtfully molded in colored plastic that matches the typical base coat color for the models--ultramarine blue for the Space Marines, green for the Orks--which will save new and excited painters a lot of time and effort (and paint).

The variety of paint colors included is very limited, with only three to six colors to choose from in each kit.  Notably absent was a base coat color to match the color of the plastic that could be used to clean up the sloppy errors that a new painter will inevitably make.  In some cases, the choice of plastic color actually undermines this goal, however, such as the Space Ork Trukkboyz truck, which comes in solid green but must be painted almost completely red.

But the real oversight is in the instructions, or lack thereof.  I really wanted to see an in-depth explanation of how to prepare and assemble the models, along with step-by-step instructions on the basics of painting.  If I were new to the hobby, and I picked up a Build + Paint, I would still be left off with no idea of where to begin, where I was going, or how to get there.

Marketability: Build + Paint kits are not going to appeal to existing players.  In order to succeed, then, they must appeal to inexperienced modelers and compel them to embrace the hobby.  Much of this appeal is going to be the price: The Space Marine Heavy Assault kit includes five Terminator Marines plus a Dreadnought.  The Terminators alone normally retail for $50 (albeit in a more customizable form), which makes this kit a real bargain.  The other kits offer similar deals.

Overall:  Build + Paint Series 1 is not the model kit line I wanted it to be.  It would have been far more effective as an introduction to the hobby if it had more models that were easier to assemble (snap fit, perhaps?), a more generous paint assortment, and a quality set of introductory-level instructions (or even better, links to on-line videos showing, step-by-step, the entire process from beginning to end).

But setting aside that disappointment, these are good, basic level model kits with a good all-around brush and enough paint to have a lot of fun painting and experimenting with some basic effects.  This is not a terrible place for new miniatures gamers to start, particularly if they are excited by the Warhammer 40,000 setting.  And that's why I give these kits 3.5 out of 5.

--William Niebling

[Click on the Gallery below to see product images.]