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This has got to be the eBay win of the century. Shrink wrapped, never been opened 40K 2nd edition boxed game for £50. That’s only £10 more then it’s original price 20 years ago! Join me in this Tale of Painters exclusive where I share with you the unboxing of a classic. 

I was lucky enough to receive one of these on my 13th Birthday back in 1993. Previous to this I’d only owned a couple of spare Space Marines, 4 paints and a brush, so getting 80 models in a box blew my mind. Now Before I tear the shrink wrap off, lets take a look at the back of the box. Theres some weird post-it note under the the shrink wrap. Could this be from the Nottingham factory 20 years ago?

This box feels hefty so I weighed it. 4.8kg of pure retro hobby goodness. Most of the weight will be the card components and the publications. 

Breath it in! Ah new box smell. This box is full to the brim with sprues, books and cards. The memories of 13 year old Garfy on his Birthday are flooding back thick and fast. I remember instantly deciding to paint the marines as Blood Angels. I think back then I managed to paint all the marines but only a handful of Orks and Gretchen (Grots) were painted.

It’s a serious amount of plastic and you can’t help but compare it to Dark Vengeance. Dark Vengeance seems to optimise space on sprue a lot better. Not to mention you get multiple poses.

In the box you get 20 Marines. That’s two full tactical squads with sergeants, flamers and missile launchers. The poses are all identical and made up out of three pieces (not including the base).

Above you can see one of the 14 identical posed marines. I’m going to attempt to add variety with some clever paint schemes. I’m going retro on the paint job for these. Expect to see yellow shoulder pads, red bolter casings, checks and flame free hands. It’s going to be epic!

For the Orks I will paint them as Goffs, but I’m going to make the 20 identical poses a bit more grimy by painting brown and black leathers instead of bright reds. I will use gore and rust effects as well

40 Gretchen with the same single piece pose is going to be a challenge. These will be similar to the Orks with rusty metals. The skin will be painted a much lighter green. It’s really interesting to see all the bases on the sprue, this is something Citadel has returned to with their plastic character models. 


The front of the box has the immortal words “In the grim darkness of the far future their is only war”… You wouldn’t think it was ‘grim dark’ looking at the cover artwork. It’s really bright and colourful. In the box you get a Hobby leaflet explaining the hobby to beginners, interestingly at the back of the leaflet is a “how to make your own gaming table article”. Naturally the box includes a rulebook. It also has the Codex Imperialis. It’s basically a bestiary for all the units and background available at the time. The army lists and points costs are included in a separate book. The Wargear book has the rules for all the main weapons in the game. 

Dark Vengeance came in for some stick for not including any advice on painting. The second edition painting guide is utter rubbish. Look at the jump in quality from step 3 to step 4. I think I’d rather they left the painting guides out rather then this unrealistic approach. 


Garfy's Get a Grip banner 760x100 px

The art on the covers is bright and colourful but the illustrations scattered throughout are truly grim dark. The black and white illustrations are oozing atmosphere. The Squats versus the Khorne Berzerkers above is just pure awesome. 13 year old Garfy would stare at this pictures for ages, taking it all in. I got a real buzz looking at these pictures again. 

The photography is impressive when you think it’s pre-digital. All the terrain was scratch built and placed on flocked green tables. All the bases are painted green. No one paints bases green anymore. 

The Codex Imperialis has some great fluff in it. This is something else that is missing from the recent Dark Vengeance. Codex Imperialis even feels in the blanks in the modern 40k fluff. A whole section on Adeptus Mechanicus, Squats and Genestealer cults for instance. I’m really looking forward to reading this book again.

You get a lot of card sheets with rules, missions, counters and wargear. You get cardboard terrain as well. That takes me back, playing small games against my brother using card terrain and polysterene hills. You also get a poxy Ork Dreadnought… sorry I mean proxy Ork Dreadnought. The fans would not let Games Workshop get away with cardboard models nowadays.  


The modern 40k game is highly polished and refined. You get models and rules. The old 40k boxed game you also get models and rules, but they’ve squeezed so much more in. Cards, counters, background books, painting guides, scenarios, card terrain etc etc. Now all these additions are cute, but pointless. The painting guide is basic and unrealistic. The cards and playsheets are annoying and make for a messy battlefield. The cardboard terrain and dreadnought is awful. But do you know what… my rose tinted glasses and I love this game more than you can imagine. 

Hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

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Garfy's Get a Grip - now available on ebay