I got started on my first bike squad, Squad Ariete (“battering ram” in Italian), and despite having the limited options and mold lines of an older kit these guys are fun to build — in part because I enjoy finding ways to give them more personality than they come with.
The actual sprues are super boring: three identical sprues, no wargear options (despite having them in the rules), no arm options — just a dude, both hands on the handlebars, on a bike. What makes this kit work is 1) the bikes are a great design, and 2) they’re dead simple to modify using other Space Marine bits.
As always, I started with the sergeant. He got a Blood Angels pauldron and helmet and a Chain Sword from somewhere. He strikes me as a hard-charging bull of a man, one who uses his bike to blow straight through obstacles (hence “battering ram”) before sawing your head off.
I knew I wanted one guy to be popped up on a hill, something I’ve seen in photos of other folks’ bikes. I’d originally planned to have him holding the handlebars with one hand and aiming a Bolt Pistol with the other, but I didn’t have any arms that worked for that pose. So I switched him up to having his bike at rest, one hand pointing at something, and an upraised pistol (plus knives from Primaris Incursors strapped to his rear fender).
I was going for a pose that could be “You’re next, peasant!” or “I see the objective, sir!” Hopefully it comes through!
This feels like a sergeant-y pose, but I was listening to Dan Abnett’s Brothers of the Snake (narrated by the peerless Toby Longworth, of course) while I built him and the first story is all about the awesome power of…a single Space Marine. Because even a single battle-brother is, canonically, an awesome, terrifying warrior capable of superhuman feats of martial prowess. Plus I like having at least one standout non-sergeant in every squad.
For the third biker, I went vanilla. Gotta have one vanilla guy to make the others stand out, right? Plus it’s a solid basic pose, just straight-on, gripping the bars, unloading twin Boltguns into whatever’s directly ahead of him. (I did add a pauldron, pistol, and grenades from a Tactical Squad box, though.)
I’m not positive I want to do a full, Codex-complaint 10-man squad of these guys — 8x Assault Bikes and 1x Attack Bike, the latter with its 2-man crew — which requires buying another two bike kits but only using 5/6 of the bikes. Nor do I want to worry about whether it’s not a full-size squad when I try to finish the 2nd Company — so I made Squad Ariete the start of my 3rd Company, leaving my other close support slot in the 2nd open (probably for more Jump Pack dudes).
To bring them up to 5-man strength, though, I’m going to add an Attack Bike. This kit is thoughtfully designed to include a hidden join between the bike and the sidecar, tucked away on the undercarriage, that should make it trivial to paint it in two halves and then join them together right at the end. It’s in the mail, though, so it’ll have to be a project for a bit further down the road.
Basing steps for Assault Bikes
I didn’t see a way to follow my usual approach to basing with these guys. There just isn’t enough clearance under the bikes to properly finish the texture paint or the undercarriage, so I’m doing them separately.
- Blue Tack the tires in place
- Prime the base and the bike’s tires
- Remove the bike
- Prime the bike’s undercarriage (basically everything that will be inaccessible when it’s glued onto the base)
- After the undercarriage cures, prime the rest of the bike
- Finish the base normally, but leave bare plastic where the tires go — and apply the texture paint such that it looks like the bike has carved a track through it, extending from the front wheel to the rear edge of the base
- Finish the underside of the bike completely, including shading
- Glue the bike to the base
- Pack in texture paint around the tires, if needed, and paint it up normally (shade and drybrush)
- Paint the rest of the bike
For the battle-brother on the hill, the only difference is that for the tire-to-rock join I’ll use super glue — and smother the crap out of the rear tire-to-base join, because I much prefer plastic glue to be my anchor for every mini. (Plastic glue melts the pieces together, making an incredibly secure join; super glue does not.)
When my second-wave Indomitus box shows up I’ll be able to do up a squad of Primaris Outriders to keep these classic bikes company!