Did you like this post? Then why not support Tale of Painters by using our links for your next hobby purchases: Wayland Games, Element Games, Firestorm Games, ebay, and Amazon. No extra costs for you and up to 20% discount on Warhammer products! Or become a patron on Patreon for exclusive tutorials, guides, and behind-the-scenes content. We are hobbyists like you and do all of this in our spare time. Your support will help us cover our monthly costs and fund future projects so we can bring you more and better content. Thank you very much!
This website uses affiliate links.
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.
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.
Do you like our tutorials and reviews? Here is what you can do to support us: Check out our sponsors or place your next Wayland Games order by clicking here or on the banner on the right. Thank you very much, we appreciate any help to keep us going!
That brought back some memories, was the first set I got when I was about 10, just started again recently with the assault on black reach
Fantastic review Garfy, I started with 3rd edition however had many white dwarfs from the 2nd edition era and have always loved the imagery, painting and models. I really look forward to seeing you paint these models. Perhaps a test model of each as a teaser would be nice 🙂
I wanna see you paint 'em in a 2nd edition style!
ahh Nostalgia :-). I had just started at Uni in '93 and discovered…other things (!) so just missed 2nd edition. I still have my original Rogue Trader rule-book and RTB 001 box set though. Actually makes Dark Vengeance seem pretty good value when you consider the starter box set was £40 20 years ago!
- Greg Sapara
I didn't get into 40K until at least the 3rd edition (I think – it's been a while!).
I have since backed-out of the 40K hobby, but it really brings back memories to look over your unboxing, even if it wasn't the SAME box! Well done!!
So envious right now. You enjoy the hell out of that one. Do something you wouldn't normally with it!
Always felt the red added a bit of needed colour to Goffs myself, I'm looking forward to what you do with the Orks, and maybe we'll get another awesome tutorial?
Pretty sure I've still got all of the books lying around as well (if a bit the worse for wear 😉 )
You overlook that 2nd edition also included army lists. One thing I don't like about the current 40k is you can't really do anything without a Codex. It also makes it much harder to just try out some new units for a potential new army/ally.
- Honour Guard
If you look at the pics there's the "new" mark vii aquila armour models mixed with the old mark vi corvus armour from the plastic set box!!! those were really epic times. i started playing in 1989 when all we had was the plastic marines box and the rogue trader book, 2nd edition box is modern stuff for me 😛
This post was awesome…. I myself need a bit of distance to the whole hobby to appreciate the old stuff and recently i have come to regret that it was sold/given away when i moved out from my parents ages ago… Thsi stuff is gold!
But I´m dead inspired to scour eBay for a find myself 🙂
Ooooh I remember having to paint so many of those Marines and Orks for the store demo games. It's still my favourite version of the rules too
- Statt Meevens
you sir are truly dedicated to your art! £50 well spent.
favourite line: "no one paints bases green anymore".
Thanks for the review, I look forward to seeing your retro models (with green bases of course)
Brilliant. I'll forever regret selling off my 2nd Edition, for what must have been nothing, all those years ago. Good find.
- Alexander Man
That's a treasure! Can't wait to see the old school paint jobs on them 🙂
This might interest you. When I was at GW, I was told various reasons that they always used Goblin Green bases in the old days. One, it was an easy color straight from the jar, no mixing that anyone could duplicate (and no doubt, helped sell a ton of Goblin Green paint). Two (and came from someone who should have known) was for a reason you brought up earlier in the article….no digital photo abilities. Basically, to insure that the printer always painted the photos of the models correctly, they had to use a base color, and a straight Goblin Green base on every figure helped make sure the photos were all printed with the same saturation and hue. Some early 'eavy metal articles had different brightnesses, etc on photos, and this disappeared when they set the base color with the printer.
That did interest me. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Those grots… err… *gretchen* were murder! I remember playing one of the intro scenarios from the Battle for Armageddon pamphlet and having a squad of ten of those guys murder one of my combat squads. I think one marine lived. So many 1's and 2's…
I have tonnes of the church terrain from the box set which I don't have instructions to build with, could you give us a pic of the instructions that came in the box, please? I would be much obliged.
Sure send me an email. You can find it in my profile.
I paint my bases green.
I paint my bases green too. I want the armies I saw in those books back in the day so I paint what I've got like them.
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Support our work
Tale of Painters is an unofficial Warhammer hobby magazine run by hobbyists like you. Support our work by using the affiliate links from our 🇬🇧 / 🇪🇺 partner stores for your next hobby purchases so we can continue to bring you fantastic FREE content every day:
Or become a patron:
Thanks a lot, we appreciate any help to continue and grow Tale of Painters 🙂
beautiful! I still have all my 2nd edition stuff even though after every subsequent edition update I typically sold off or donated those books, i never got rid of the 2nd stuff… I'm intending on playing again, soonish?