The Greatest Nine Warhammer 40k Models of All Time

by | Nov 21, 2018

I have often struggled with clickbait, it just seems like a necessary evil when it comes to running an blog, because even if you don’t do it you will be accused of it. Besides who doesn’t want to read Top “pick a number” the “insert things with a subjective range I might have an opinion about” and not click on it. Since we are fast approaching the holiday season, clickbait lists will be out in full force, so why not deliver the definitive Warhammer 40k list of all myself.

Without further ado, I present the Top 9 Greatest  Warhammer 40k models the Primaris Lieutenants!

I know, when you think of Warhammer 40k the first thing you think of is a Ultramarine Captain with a Plasma Pistol first, but we all know the core of the Warhammer 40k model range is the Primaris Lieutenant. It has even become a scared tradition for all Games Workshop model designer interns to create one Primaris Lieutenant for production before they can ever be permanently hired. The Primaris Lieutenants is the gold standard by which all models are measured with each new one causing great wonder across the world. It isn’t any surprise then that most Primaris Lieutenants are only used for limited released models and or bundled in boxsets to sell other less desirable models, leaving Primaris Lieutenants highly regulated from mass production.

The evolution of the Primaris Lieutenant design can be traced back as far as 2017, with the release of the Dark Imperium boxset when Warhammer 40k public was given not one, but two Primaris Lieutenants. The biggest question to this day, is did Games Workshop know what they were doing to the minds of hobbyists everywhere or was this a lucky unexpected happenstance, when the Primaris Lieutenants was unleashed to on to us for the first time.

Let us discuss the majesty of these models side by side.

First, you can see the Ultramarine colors are very prominent, but what really makes these models so different even from each other is in the details. Now both have pistols, but do you see one has a sword and the other has a Bolt-rifle? The pistol is so critical for both though, because it says I am not a Space Marine Captain, because if were I would have a Plasma pistol, instead, I am something new, something exciting.

If you look even closer you will notice one Primaris Lieutenant has a helm while the other one doesn’t. As we move closer to today, Primaris Lieutenants will tend to have both a head and helmet option, but for these early masterpieces you only had one option. While you won’t see it in the images above, it should be noted Primaris Lieutenants come on 40mm bases to always differentiate themselves from the 32mm Primaris Marines, not that you would get confused between the different models anyway.

After the hysteria over the first Primaris Lieutenants slowly receded, it was clear to Games Workshop had to do something and quick to feed the Primaris Lieutenants enthusiasts of the world. So, in less six months Games Workshop shook the world again with two more Primaris Lieutenants, this time taking a dramatic turn by focusing on not on Ultramarines, but other Space Marine chapters.

Blood Angel Primaris Lieutenant Tolmeron was revealed on 12-03-18, but before anyone could recover Zakariah of the Dark Angel came the very next day.

Games Workshop really out did itself again, and this time Games Workshop would buck trend. Games Workshop would allow hobbyists a chance to buy these models without “conditions”, a obvious mistake Games Workshop wouldn’t not repeat again. Ascetically, the two models couldn’t be any different, one is red the other is green, and the Dark Angel even having a robe.  Another important design change with these Primaris Lieutenants have inverting the weapon grip motifs of the past, now the pistol is in the left hand over the previous right hand pistol grip!

Games Workshop also took the Primaris Lieutenants up a notch by deciding to use the best ‘Eavy Metal painters to showcase these models. Just look how crisp the face details are on Zakariah and the advance techniques used on all the silver/steel of both Primaris Lieutenants. The most subversive element though comes from Zakariah, by getting a Plasma Pistol ,a weapon only a Captain should wield, but in the hands of a Dark Angel makes sense, besides once again who would confuse a Primaris Lieutenant with a Space Marine Captain model anyway.

After the release of Zakariah and Tolmeron rumors started to build on the distinct possibility of an all Primaris Lieutenant army would come soon; since they were driving the sales of any related product, it seemed like only a matter of time. Why would you release two named Primaris Lieutenants and not give them rules without some grander scheme around the corner?

So while the Primaris Lieutenant army rumor was floating around, we wouldn’t see any hints of a new Primaris Lieutenant until the bombshell announcement came from Adepticon 2018 of an exclusive Primaris Lieutenant.

This model cut through all the other release previews, like Sisters of Battle or the new Imperial Knights. Similar to the Sisters of Battle tease, it looks like we wouldn’t get this new Primaris Lieutenant until 2019 at Adepticon 2019. As we would learn this Primaris Lieutenant introduced new elements to the Primaris Lieutenant design, most importantly the helmet in hand.

Luckily for everyone, we wouldn’t have to wait until 2019 to get a taste of more Primaris Lieutenants, because in August 2018 we got the Space Wolf equivalent of the Primaris Lieutenants in the Tooth and Claw boxset.

Haldor Icepelt would up the ante, by completing the Space Wolf model line with the Primaris Battle Leader (Lieutenant). Games Workshop even devoted a half of a three minute video explaining, why it was so important to have this release; how completing an army or codex can be done perfectly by just adding one upgrade sprue and one Primaris Lieutenant equivalent to any new big release.

It would only be one month later when a true Primaris Lieutenant would return, with the release of another boxset, this time Wake the Dead and the following Ultramarine Primaris Lieutenant…

Games Workshop would play with design conventions again, this time reinventing the now ancient Primaris Lieutenant from the Dark Imperium, to this new one. If you scroll up you will see just how different this new Primaris Lieutenant is to the old ones. True the pistol in left hand has returned, but now the pistol is posed downward, while the Sword is upward. How Games Workshop was able to accomplish this is an obvious look into the future of model making.

At this point Games Workshop couldn’t be stopped, they had hit a nerve with the public and they had to continue delivering. I am afraid to say Games Workshop clearly has figured out how to keep revenue growing with Primaris Lieutenants alone. It isn’t a coincidence that the 1st Primaris Lieutenant coincided with the meteoric revenues the company has seen over the last two years.

Anyway, Games Workshop would again create unheard of demand with the release of the next Primaris Lieutenant, this time honoring the opening of the 500th Games Workshop.

500th anniversary model Primaris Lieutenant is really next level and Games Workshop again devoted half of now a four minute video to its design, using black and white and a thick interns accent to show just how important Primaris Lieutenants are to Games Workshop model range.

Still, October wouldn’t be outdone as lucky UK hobbyists would get a hold of the newest Primaris Lieutenant…

This is Ultramarines Primaris Lieutenant Lucian Calsius, from Warhammer 40,000 Conquest, a excellent subscription scheme designed to bring new players into Warhammer 40k at a gradual pace, with exclusive models and gifts that would never appeal to hardcore hobbyists. Lucian Calsius is quite the departure, gone is the pistol and classic marinepreading pose. We have a forward facing Primaris Lieutenant, who is most likely a harbinger for what we can see next from Primaris Lieutenants releases to come.

With that, it is time to rank all the Primaris Lieutenants.

  1. 500th anniversary Primaris Lieutenant
  2. Haldor Icepelt
  3. Wake the Dead Primaris Lieutenant 
  4. Blood Angel Primaris Lieutenant Tolmeron
  5. Ultramarines Primaris Lieutenant Lucian Calsius
  6. Dark Imperium Primaris Lieutenant with Sword
  7. Dark Imperium Primaris Lieutenant with Bolt-rifle
  8. Adepticon 2019 exclusive Primaris Lieutenant
  9. Dark Angel Primaris Lieutenant Zakariah (Plasma Pistol is the deal breaker here)

Honestly, after writing over 700 words about Primaris Lieutenants, how can you really pick the best or rank them in any meaningful way? These are the most beloved set of models Games Workshop has ever produced, it is amazing how Games Workshop has stayed so dedicated to giving what players really want. Games Workshop could easily devote resources to less in demand pursuits, like new plastic Aspect Warriors or Chaos Space Marines, instead they have kept the eye on the the cash cow ball of pure brilliance, Primaris Lieutenants.

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