40k Flashback – SRM’s Retro Ultramarines

By |2015-04-21T15:00:51+00:00April 21st, 2015|Categories: 40k Flashback, Armies on Parade, Space Marines, Warhammer 40k|Tags: |


“I just want that.” Campbell McLaughlin, or SRM as many online have come to know him, has been playing tabletop war games since he was only five.

With a wargamer father, he was introduced to the hobby early on. Historicals and tabletop games have been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. Every summer his father would take him to Lancaster, Pennslyvania for Historicon, the “mother of all wargaming conventions.”


It was here, sometime in his formative years, that Campbell acquired a 3rd edition Warhammer 40k Starter set. He was enamored with the models and artwork. He instantly felt drawn to the forces of Ultramar and the Valhallan Guardsman.

“I just want that.”


It would be almost a decade before he was afforded an opportunity to collect those armies, but he’s nothing but jubilant about the hobby.

“When I was 12 or 13 and got my first few Space Marine models from my Uncle, I Googled ‘Space Marine Force Commander’ – or whatever was on the blister, and tried to paint that as closely as possible.”

Campbell started playing 40k in earnest at the age of 16, and found that over the years of conventions and flea markets he had already acquired bits and pieces of armies of all sorts. Between then and now, he would collect over 3000 points of Valhallans, 3500 points of Iron Warriors, the complete First and Second Company of the Crimson Firsts and a few other armies. Needless to say, Campbell is invested in the hobby.


“I think 6th was my favorite edition, since it streamlined a lot about the game and added some cool new elements. I play 7th now, since it’s what everyone else plays, but I liked 4th a lot, too.”

He laments that in Boston, his home, there aren’t many options for game stores- and sadly, many of his hobby buddies have moved on to other games since 7th edition arrived in 40k.

What most people recognize first about SRM is his Ultramarines. If you’ve been fortunate enough to see them grow over the years, as I have, you know that they have been a labor of love for Campbell. He recalls pouring over the old 3rd Edition 40k books with excitement, the art style and aesthetics of those marines really called to him.


He refers to style in which he has painted them as “retro” or “90’s ‘Eavy Metal.” He’s hesitant to use the term “Oldhammer,” as he says “some more grognardy types get cranky if you use that to refer to anything after 1989.”


In a cramped 18″x24″ section at the end of his desk, Campbell has painted around 3000 points of Ultramarines in his “retro” style. They’re simply amazing. Outside of old issues of White Dwarf or glass cabinets at old neighborhood game stores, you’d be hard pressed to find such a bright and colorful Marines. These days, with the growth of 30k and the general grim-darkness of the setting, such bright and colorful armies aren’t common, outside of the trollbait Pony Proxies or Hello Kitty Wave Serpents or Skittle-Nids. These Marines look like they belong.

To Campbell, these Marines seem to be somewhat representative of his childhood – finding that 3rd Edition book in a bin at Historicon with his Dad, peeling through the pages of brightly colored miniatures (well before the the grim darkness of the future set in), these are happy memories that he gets to bring to the tabletop every week.


I asked Campbell to share his first painted miniature – he certainly found an old one!


Jack: How often do you acquire new models for this army?

Campbell: I still occasionally pick up something for these guys, but I want to paint a bit more of what I have before expanding them more. That being said, I just picked up a squad of the old beret-wearing stormtroopers and an old Skullz Technpriest, so what do I know.

Do you have to scratch build some models, or do you acquire them all traditionally?

I thought of scratchbuilding the turret for the Whirlwind you might see in the back of the field, but the thought of cutting up old, out of production bits to make it kind of gave me cold feet so I hunted down an Epicast turret instead. I’ve had plans to scratchbuild a Thunderbolt for them, but I’m not super confident in my scratchbuilding skills.

Approximately how many points can you field?

I think it’s about 3000 of just Ultramarines at this point, with maybe 700 points of Guard in there.

Do you field more modern Space Marine units along side your classic Ultramarines? 

If I can find an appropriate model from the era, I do. I actually use the aforementioned Whirlwind as a Hunter/Stalker sometimes, since looks like a SAM battery. I also use a Thudd Gun as a Thunderfire Cannon, and while I was thinking of picking up some old Admech robots to use as Centurions, they’re a bit rich for my blood.

What’s your favorite unit?

Sternguard, without a doubt! I made sure there weren’t any repeat models in the squad, and I tried to include every mark of armor I could in there. The blue and white looks really sharp, and I even got to do a little freehanding here and there. I also got to do the kind of goofy old lightning claw conversion for the sergeant, which I’m super happy about.

Do you get into the fluff of your chapter?

I haven’t much, but I started doing the squad and company markings about halfway through working on the army. I’ve spent probably too much time looking that stuff up, trying to get as close to the ‘Eavy Metal models as possible.

Who are some of your favorite hobbyists in 40k? 

Irondog at Irondog Studios is one of my favorite hobbyists out there. He actually started a retro Ultramarines army at the same time as I did for the Independent Characters Hobby Progress Challenge, but he focused on newer models with an old-school paintjob. His armies have tons of character, his colors are awesome and his conversions are excellent. Look him up! Garfy from Tale of Painters is another favorite of mine, and seeing him start painting the 2nd ed 40k starter set is what really got me excited to do this project instead of just thinking about it.

Do you have a favorite faction besides Space Marines?

While Space Marines will always be my favorite, the Imperial Guard are a very close second. There’s something about “human” and “good guy” factions in fantasy and sci-fi settings that I really love since it gives you context for all the weirdness about. I can also relate more with a dude in hockey armor with a flashlight than I can with some monstrous dinosaur bug or Egyptian Terminator.



– Prime with Army Painter Crystal Blue

– Drakenhof Nightshade wash over entire model
– Army Painter Crystal Blue layer, leaving the wash in the recesses
– Highlight with Lothern Blue
– Extreme edge highlight with watered down Etherium Blue

– Yriel Yellow
– Highlight with Flash Gitz Yellow

– Yriel Yellow
– Fuegan Orange wash
– Yriel Yellow again, leaving the wash in the recesses
– Edge highlight with Flash Gitz Yellow if I’m feeling randy

– Mephiston Red
– Evil Sunz Scarlet
– Highlight with Wild Rider Red
– Extreme edge highlight with Fire Dragon Bright

– Mephiston Red
– Inner dot Wild Rider Red
– Outer dot with Skull White

– Mephiston Red
– Evil Sunz Scarlet bottom half
– Skull White dot on top
– Highlight bottom with Wild Rider Red
– Highlight bottom with Fire Dragon Bright

– Warboss Green
– Drybrush Skarsnik Green
– Drybrush Rotting Flesh lightly

– Paint wax Mephiston Red
– Highlight Wax Wild Rider Red
– Extreme edge highlight wax Wild Rider Red
– Paint paper Steel Legion Drab
– Layer paper Screaming Skull

– Paint Steel Legion Drab
– Layer Screaming Skull

– Dark Flesh
– Dwarf Flesh over everything
– Reikland Fleshshade
– Dwarf Flesh layer
– Reikland Fleshshade
– Dwarf Flesh layer
– Elf Flesh highlights

Campbell also created the Dawn of Awesome videos, which you may be familiar with. His other video projects can be found HERE.

Chapter Profile: SRM’s Retro Ultramarines originally appeared on The Flying Monkeys on March 13th, 2015.

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