Astra Militarum – Gathering the troops

What am I going to do with my Imperial Army for Warhammer 40,000?

Astra Militarum standard bearer

This is not a return to Warhammer 40,000, but somehow it is. The Imperial Army or rather the “Astra Militarum” have never quite let go of me. Unlike other WHFB and WH40K minis, I have kept most of my Imps collection. When the new Cadians were released a few weeks ago, it grabbed me again. Since I’ve been shamelessly indulging in nostalgia for the past few months anyway, it’s now also time to rally the troops again and paint soldiers for the Emperor. Completely without playability and army list, just free snout. Let’s see what this will be!

The Imperial Army has held a great fascination for me from the beginning. At that time (1997) we were still in 2nd edition and the Guard consisted essentially of individual regiments with a very unique look. You could play a hybrid or just buy miniatures of a particular regiment. GW has unfortunately largely moved away from this with 3rd edition and essentially only continued Cadians and Catachans. The old Tallarner, Mordian, Praetorian and Valhallan regiments were never reissued. However, they always had fans, so it is not surprising that there are now enough alternative manufacturers – especially in the digital field. Over time, new regiments like the Steel Legionnaires, the Vostroyans or the Death Corps of War have been added. At least the Death Corps achieved enormous popularity and influenced the emergence of entirely new, creative hobby branches (keyword #turnip).

Imperial Guard Catachans

My troops – Cadian and Catachan

As a child of the ’80s and as a big fan of the muscular action stars of that era, I was taken with the jungle fighters of Catachan early on. Initially available only as metal miniatures, they were largely unaffordable for me. That changed with the Catachan plastic boxes – the first ever complete plastic box set for the Imperial Army. I was blown away and drove to GW Essen right after school on release day to pick up my box. Perfect!
I don’t have the models assembled at that time anymore, but I still have a recent cast frame flying around, so I could set up a squad once again. Admittedly, the plastic Catachners were not the most beautiful models back then. From today’s point of view they are completely out of time. The well-trained Rambos are completely overdrawn anyway, but beyond that the parts only allow funny poses and they are relatively crudely designed. It’s not really nice, but that’s the way it was. That this cast frame is still sold today, however, I also find rather sad. There is much better to get from the (digital) alternative manufacturers.

But I also liked the Cadians with their classic soldier look. In their mass they looked a bit like the mobile infantry from Starship Troopers. When they got new plastic boxes and more, revised models with 4th Edition, it was finally the first time a complete range was revised. I was once again blown away and found the prospect of heavy weapons in plastic to be nothing short of amazing.
Unfortunately, I devoted myself with the painting almost only Warhammer Fantasy and Lord of the Rings, so that my WH40k soldiers remained mostly colorless. Even if I don’t return to the game I now feel like finally painting the old figures. And yes…of course…. there are also a few new ones coming….

The old Guard

First, I got an overview of what I have, what I can and want to do with it, and what I’m still looking for.

I had sold relatively much of my old Cadian army after Hobby-Exit. Especially the tanks and heavy weapons squads went well, a few more troops remained. I had painted the infantry models relatively quickly at that time, finishing was the premise. Accordingly, I find them unsightly today, 20 years later.

Astra Militarum Cadia Troops

However, there are only a few of them left and among them are some metal miniatures, which I can easily decolorize. There is also a complete casting frame for a Leman Russ (for whatever reason I didn’t sell it), one for a Catachan Sentinel and heaps of complete plastic casting frames for Cadian soldiers and weapon squads. I still have the fancy 3rd edition guardsmen unpainted and in a fit of morbid nostalgia I once bought a complete 2nd edition guardsman squad (yes, the plastic monoposes). Various special weapons, officers and character models are still there and, what I am very happy about, a squad of 5 of the old Ogyrns – which I find much nicer than all the more modern variants.

Imperial Guard Ogyrns

The bottom line is that I still have a relatively large amount at the start, from which I could quickly build up a complete Astra Militarum army with a few additional purchases (especially tanks!). But I don’t want to.

Reinforcements for the Astra Militarum

Why do I still buy something? Because there are simply a few things I want to have. I still want the Catachan snipers. A Baneblade – admittedly, not a small thing. At that time the Baneblade was the greatest thing you could imagine as a player of the Imperial Army and it was only available as an expensive resin model at Forgeworld. I didn’t even notice the release of the plastic model and nowadays it’s no longer a speciality. But for me it still is. The imprinting by the 2nd edition has also led to the fact that I always wanted to have a cavalry unit. But even then I didn’t really like the old Attilans and had difficult plans to rebuild them. Now new Attilans are released, which I again find rather dull. I have high hopes for the announced Kickstarter of Victoria Lamb. The previews of their riders look very strong and breathe the spirit of the Tallarnian cavalry. I’m probably going to go for it here.

As you can see: It’s cabbage and turnips. I don’t want to create an army and I don’t want to collect just like that – the complete new range of Astra Militarum doesn’t interest me, even if I have to admit that GW has created a great new edition (except for the superfluous Rogal Dorn maybe). It’s much more about my own image of this army. Optimally, I will eventually have a display case that highlights units and models of the Astra Militarum and gives an overview of what I think this army should look like.

What’s next?

It is somehow liberating that the new Codex and the new miniatures have reawakened my passion for the Astra Militarum, but at the same time have not stimulated any buying impulse for the new stuff (sorry GW!). I am actually quite satisfied with what I have stored somewhere packed, would otherwise rather buy small things new and have to resort to Ebay & Co. for some things anyway. Especially with tanks I want to see what can be found in the bay. That makes the whole thing strangely cozy. I’ll just get started now and not get stressed out by ever new Astra Militarum army lists. At the same time there are of course many, many other projects and the still valid statement: Damn, I have no time for it at all.

In the meantime, however, a relaxation occurs with me regarding all the ideas. Every two weeks a new project is added and the old ones are far from finished, many not even started. It doesn’t matter, it’s fun, the thought process alone is pure creativity and everything is merely stuck in development hell until it is actually executed at some point.

Astra Militarum plastic sprues

In peace and quiet, I now snap and glue my way bit by bit through Astra Militarum cast frames (that alone will take time!) and let the project grow. Meanwhile, I have acquired a new acquisition: Shortly before the release of the new Astra Militarum codex, the old commando was on sale. I bought it because I wanted to have all the bit options and you never know.

Astra Militarum Cadian Command Squad

By the way, I thought of a new color scheme for my future Astra Militarum collection. The old Cadians were too gloomy for me. With them, it was a matter of implementing a city battle scheme as quickly as possible at that time. In the future, it will look different, but it will also be more elaborate again. Well, we will see. In the meantime, I’ve glued and primed the first standard squad. Theoretically, only the painting is missing now and the emperor has reason to smile again…

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