Welcome to the Underhive: Minis of Necromunda


Today we look back 21 years at the brutal hive warfare that waged across tabletops in 1995. Do you remember the minis of Necromunda?

I can hardly believe that Necromunda is now legally able to drink in Texas – it’s 21! What an amazing game it was.  Necromunda is a fan favorite that took us out of the “big picture – important people fighting important people” games of Warhammer 40,000 and threw gamers into the claustrophobic dark underbelly of Hive Primus of Necromunda.

It was skirmish level action and unlike 40K was unapologetically a continual “serial” of a game. Individual battles were not only fun but a means to a greater end –  to grow your gang from a bunch of hapless kids (juves) all the way to the top spot in your play group. It was a king-of-the-hill, dog-eat-dog game and so many of us have fond memories of the glory and tragedy of guiding our gangs along the path to glory or annihilation. I still remember those tragic games where you won the day – at the cost of a dear model built up over months…

The main boxed set had three major set of plastic mini included, two opposing gangs and some of the most iconic terrain GW ever made.


Here we see the plastic sprues for the House Orlock gangers.  Look as how much empty space used to put on sprues back then!  A lot of these bandana wearing minis ended up being pressed into duty with the Imperial Guard armies around the world.


Opposing the Orlocks were the brutes of House Goliath.  Giant bruisers through and through, you needed to keep your distance from these guys. Is it just me, or do you think the sculptors wore out their VHS copies of Road Warrior while making these dudes?


OK, these are the real deal. Necromunda was played on a modular multi-level underground environment and these bulkheads were the key to the whole system.  They are stackable (note the slots and tabe at the top and bottoms) and connected to each other with the included heavy card floors.  Here’s a pic of a sample layout to give you an idea.


These things gave the game it distinctive vertical 3-d feel and you you better belive all the 40K players back in the day pushed these into double duty on tabletops across the Imperium to mix things up.



Onto the Great Houses of Necromunda

Enough of the basics, you came here to see the minis.  Now this isn’t even close to ALL the minis for Necromunda. The game had numerous expansions with tons of new factions – but these are the “big six”.



House Cawdor Also called the House of Redemption is one of six Hive City Houses in Necromunda‘s Hive Primus, known for its rigid adherence to the Cult of the Redemption, though the connection to the Cult’s outlawed crusades is one their leaders are careful to minimise. This mysterious House is perhaps the second most populous after House Orlock. If you love fire and fanatics – this is your gang.

necromunda-delaque House Delaque benefits from a special understanding with House Helmawr, providing not just materials but also information to the rulers of Necromunda. Delaque spies are said to operate throughout the hive, observing the activities of the other Houses. It is rumoured that some of the ruling family members of the Houses, and even some Noble Houses are in the pay of the Delaque. Like being sneaky and shifty? Look no further than Delaque.


necromunda-escher House Escher The House is populated almost entirely by females, who are said to look down on and pity all males. Almost all Escher are female, making them unique and perhaps the most strikingly different of the Houses of Necromunda. The few Escher males are physical derelicts; shrivelled and imbecilic, perhaps due to a genetic defect in the House bloodline, or the after effects of a plague which many believe was the same as that which decimated the population of House Aranthus several centuries ago and ultimately led to its downfall. Sisters are doing it for themselves!




House Van Saar The house are well-known for the superiority of their arms and equipment.  The House’s manufacturing procedures are clear-cut and its completed products are of the utmost quality. The Noble Houses of the hive are known to pay handsomely for Van Saar-made goods; as a result, the House is undoubtedly the wealthiest in Hive Primus. Like the other gangs of Hive City the Van Saars have a style of clothing which distinguishes them from others. In their case this equates to a close-fitting body suit intended to defend and sustain the wearer in the harsh hive environment. If you like having the best gear Van Saar is for you.


House Orlock is one of the six families who make their home in the “Hive City” part of Hive Primus, the capital of Necromunda. The Orlocks, as house members are commonly known, are responsible for the production of the majority of the iron in Hive Primus, which has led to the house earning the sobriquet of “House of Iron”. The Orlocks have a longstanding rivalry with the mysterious House Delaque, and are on surprisingly good terms with the matriarchal House Escher.

necromunda-goliath House Goliath is one of the six houses whom make their home in the “Hive City” part of Hive Primus, the capital of Necromunda. The Goliath’s domains are situated unfavourably in the Hice City, occupying the lowest and harshest areas, close to the Underhive. As a result, most Goliaths are notoriously tough and robust by necessity, and they view everybody else as soft and weak.

The members of the house are often seen as barbaric by everybody else in the Hive, the members of House Escher being the most vocal in this belief. Do you find yourself watching body-building competitions a bit too much? House Goliath awaits.

The Future of Necromunda

With what we have seen out of GW recently with Blood Bowl, and the loving attention things like Genestealer Cult have received – I’m SUPER EXCITED for a new rebooted Necromunda.  I can’t wait to see what the design studio can do 21 years later with the 6 Great Houses of Hive Primus. Latest rumors say look to 2017 for it’s triumphant return!


Next time we’ll get into Ratskins, Skavvies, Enforcers, Redemptionists and the dreaded Spyrers!


~Thanks for this trip down memory lane folks. What is your favorite House of Necromunda?

  • Josiah

    Oh… the old minis…

  • Forbesguy

    Not sure why you would show the “rebooted” Orlock and Goliath metals from the 2000’s instead of the far superior originals. (Mainly the original Orlocks, as they were some of the best of the Perrys work, Goliaths were always pants)

    • Geil

      And where are the Escher Heavys…

      • The same place they are in real life: hidden safely in someone’s basement except for the rare instances when someone thinks they have something special and posts one on ebay for an extortionate price.

        • memitchell

          More likely, Mom and Dad raise the basement’s rent.

          • Zethnar

            Easy there champ, I got both a heavy stubber and a plasma gunner and I haven’t lived with my parents for at LEAST 6 months.

          • kobalt60

            The Plasma cannon heavy was/is a great model. And an absolute game breaker on the table

          • memitchell

            I tried standing on a busy street median with a sign that said, “Will work for an Escher Heavy with Plasma Gun.” All I got for my efforts was a bunch of crappy Goliaths.

    • Shinnentai

      Yeps – that for me was always the issue with a lot of the stuff released under the Specialist Games banner; the sculpting quality just was not there.

      • Forbesguy


      • memitchell

        What! Oh, maybe you are thinking of the Ash Waste Shaman?http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ad5cd78496f918a22963cdc5d98868de52933a9dbefd68c8ed5fdef564e608df.jpg
        My entry for the ugliest of all GW minis.

        • Shinnentai

          Doesn’t even look like a GW mini.

          Not all of the sculpts were that trash, but I can’t think of many that held up to the quality of the sculpts when the games were still supported normally in-store.

          • memitchell

            I’ve always imagined this was a proto-Albion Druid for WFB. I figure it failed to make the grade, and was pulled from the discard bin by Specialist Games during the pre-revival doldrums. To have something to offer to a long suffering parched Necro fanbase. This came along at the same time as a travelling Eldar Farseer who found himself in the Underhive.

            But, i really like the sculpts from the early days. OK, the plastic Goliaths weren’t great. But, oh, those lovely Eschers. And, the Bodacious Bonnie Anderson…

    • Ben_S

      Were the Goliaths Gary Morley? If so, I guess they were amongst his better work, but that’s not saying a lot.

      • Forbesguy

        They were, I have never been much of a fan of his work

    • benn grimm

      But they do show the originals. They’re in the pic at the end of the article along with all the others.

      • Shinnentai

        Only the starter box sculpts though – there were more of the original range available in blister packs.

        • benn grimm

          I know, I bought most of them, my point still stands; those are the originals.

          • Shinnentai

            Sure, though I’d also say that Forbeguy’s point still stands; the article shows the images of the rebooted minis in place of the (mostly) full original range pics they showed of the other 4 houses.

          • benn grimm

            Except it doesn’t, because he’s moaning that they showed the remakes ‘instead’ of the originals, which they didn’t. They showed them ‘as well as’ the originals. If you really want to be picky (which clearly you do) the real ‘originals’ ie the plastic ones which came in the box are actually the first models shown in the article.

          • Shinnentai

            Wow – I think I’ll let you have the last say on this one o__O

    • memitchell

      Those were the infamous “hands free” minis that made it easy to switch out weapons. But, the dang hands constantly popped of when in play. And, they were butt ugly.

  • Coltcabunny
  • The_Illusionist

    If GW rereleased those plastic bulkheads as their own sprue, they’d sell thousands upon thousands of them. When Specialist Games were ended, I went out of my way to scour eBay for people selling off old boxes of Necromunda stuff, and I’ve never for a moment regretted owning nearly 200 of them for building my battlefields with. Simply, efficient, versatile….. a wonderful product.

    • This may be of interest to you. Stylistically the closest I’ve ever seen:


      • The_Illusionist

        Nice, thank you. I know that Mantic Games also has something similar in their Deadzone game, but bitter experience tells me they’re probably a nightmare to put together and get primed for painting….

        • The Terrain Tutor on Youtube (OUTSTANDING channel if you’ve never heard of him) did some stuff with Mantic’s sets a while ago and they seemed… okay. The little clip things didn’t hold particularly well, as I recall, and needed to be glued down to have any hope of staying together through the kind of abuse terrain tends to take.

          If they had a biggest issue for use with Necromunda, though, it’s actually that the sizes are too regular. All the panels are 3×3 or 3×6 and all the angles are 45 or 90deg., which makes for a much less interesting (and more predictable) battlefield.

    • BigGrim

      Agreed. I have dozens and dozens of these bulkheads. They’re invaluable.

  • Psst. Hey guys… do you think we should tell Larry Necromunda can legally drink in the other 49 states too?

    • memitchell

      He’s from Texas. They don’t care about them other states. “They’s up to 49 now? You don’t say, Padner.”

      • I’ve been to Texas. They do seem to regard themselves as being only loosely associated with the rest of the country.

        • memitchell

          I grew up next to Texas. Half my family lives there. Lived there twice, myself. Wonderful people, God’s own country. But, they regard the rest of us as being only loosely associated with Texas.

          • ” But, they regard the rest of us as being only loosely associated with Texas.”

            That’s a better way to put it!

  • My first wargame, and to this day still my favorite. Probably always will be. Infinity and Malifaux come close-ish, but I’ve never seen another TTG that has that aspect of continuity and the emotional investment that comes along with it baked right into the system, and I think that was Necromunda’s greatest strength, and squandering it was one of GW’s biggest mistakes of the last 20 years.

    I look forward to an eventual re-launch… IF they treat the game well. They’ve got two decades of fanatical fan-driven inertia behind the Community Edition to contend with, and if they’re smart they’ll tap Anthony Case and the Yaktribe regulars for their input much like they looked to the community for the AoS GC. It’s not like they don’t know who Anthony is.

    Best case scenario: they throw a bunch of new art and modern layout into the NCE and print it, and accompany that with multipart plastic kits that visually and stylistically match the classic minis.

    Second-best case: They botch the rules but release excellent minis. We keep playing the NCE, but now with shiny new gangs. Considering this is GW we’re talking about, I consider this the most likely outcome.

    Worst case: They botch the rules AND the minis. We keep playing the NCE with the classic minis.

    • Andrew

      Have you tried This is Not a Test? So far its the only game I’ve played that’s as good a campaign game.

      • No, but I’ve read through TNT’s rules and was only lukewarm about them. They feel to me like the designers spent too much time trying to shoehorn in as many “modern” game design concepts as possible, and not quite enough time actually designing a fun game. It looks like a competent system… but nothing more. Necromunda’s rough edges are a part of its charm, and TNT has filed them all flat at the expense of its character.

        Plus, I’m not a big fan of the aesthetic they chose. I get that the entire concept was “Fallout meets Necromunda”, but for all that, they missed the faintly absurdist, vaguely ridiculous quality that made Fallout and Necromunda’s settings so much fun (this, for the record, is the same reason why I enjoyed Fallouts 3 and 4 significantly less than I did 1, 2, and New Vegas).

        And, of course, there’s the matter of actually finding people to play the game with. My local community is so flighty and ADHD that they can’t stay on a game for more than six months before abandoning it in favor of whatever the next Ohh Shiny is (Malifaux was ZOMGHUEG a year ago, and now its product is gathering dust right next to AoS and Infinity while everyone goobs about Guild Ball instead). Even if I did get people to take an interest in it, I’d be able to wring half a year out of my investment AT BEST and then probably never touch it again.

        • Andrew

          Its pretty damn fun in my opinion, the mechanics are obviously quite different, actually fairly close to Judge Dredd (which had great core rules but the gangs/upgrades had holes so big you could drive a truck through them, and made what could have been a great game lackluster at best, ), but as far as customization and campaign fun its very good. The setting he came up with is OK, but the nice part about the game is that you can really set it anywhere you want. And the rules are more or less a guideline for building whatever kind of gang you can imagine. (And on a side note, I’m 100% with you on the Fallout games, 3 was garbage, and I refuse to play 4. Wasteland 2 was alright, hoping 3 is better). I totally feel you on local groups too, I ended up getting models for 3 gangs and running the game myself with a couple close friends. More fun than trying to convince people at a store playing X-Wing to order models from Brigade Games or Mirliton to play this wacky game off a PDF I printed. If you do get the chance give it a whirl though.

          • euansmith

            I was watching some gameplay on Guerrilla Miniature Games and was amused when some guy got savaged by his own rabid dogs.

          • Andrew

            It does get pretty wacky at times, not as wacky as Rogue Trader. But still. 🙂

      • Ben_S

        TNT looks interesting, but I’m in the UK and prefer hardback books to PDFs.

        I’ve tried a bunch of Osprey titles. I was experimenting with using In Her Majesty’s Name for some near-future, post-apocalyptic setting, but I’m waiting for Rogue Stars.

        • Andrew

          I believe there will be a hardback for TiaT coming soon to general sale. Rogue Stars looks awesome BTW! I’ve been waiting eagerly for that one.

          • Ben_S

            Yeah, I knew that there’s a physical book, in the US at least. Not sure whether it’s readily available in the UK or just expensive. The PDF version costs more than the Osprey titles here, which is the main reason I haven’t tried it.

    • memitchell

      NOOOOOO!!! Community Edition solves a couple of rules issues, nerfs a bunch of stuff that could hurt one’s precious little gang, and really gets into “fixing” the author’s pet peeves. It trades in a sports car for a minivan. I already did that once for reals…don’t do that to my Necromunda, too. Please, I beg you. If Community Edition had been the original Necromunda, we would not be talking about the game 21 years later.

      • I’m guessing you played Escher or Van Saar?

        • memitchell

          It’s been a while, and I can’t bring myself to reread the NCE. So I’m embarrassingly short on specifics. And, I have no favorite gangs in mind. Like I said, a few improvements. But, a fair amount of nerfing. And fixing of things that don’t need fixing. The ORB was imperfect. could have used some tweaking. The LRB was tragically flawed because the guy writing/editing it was killed bicycling to work at Specialist Games in Nottingham. Plus, it imposed the just plain dumb starting weapons list that also amounted to changes for the sake of change. The Community Edition feels like it was written by committee. It’s serviceable, but bland, and wears a bunch of bandaids.

          I believe a new Necromunda should not stick with an ancient gameplay system based on 40K V2, anyway. That’s 16 years out of mainstream play. It would be an easier sell to 40K gamers if it were more similar to current 40K. And, so, faster and smoother. Ironically, I don’t like 40K as a mob/blob based system, but I do like it as a man-to-man system.

          • “It’s been a while, and I can’t bring myself to reread the NCE.”

            I mean no disrespect, but, if you’re even as little as a year out of date on the NCE, you really have no leg to stand on complaining about it. There’s a Trope for that: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ComplainingAboutShowsYouDontWatch

            When was the last time you looked at the NCE? It’s been a continuous evolution, and the current version (October 2016) feels very solid and is better-balanced than ANYTHING GW has ever done.

            The problem with rewriting Necromunda to be compatible with current-era 40K is… then it’s not Necromunda anymore. It’s just Kill Team skirmishes in a fancy wrapper. Plus, let’s face it, current 40K rules are a mess, and trying to stitch a campaign and advancement system into that base isn’t going to result in a fun or interesting game.

          • memitchell

            I guess my first impression of the NCE lasted too long. I’ll concede the point, you’ve a better knowledge base. Perhaps I’ll revisit it. And, still using the ORB may color my opinion on which system would work best.

            My dabbling with Kill Teams was more positive than I expected. Necro with a refinement of those rules would probably be just fine. Really, the strength of Necromunda is the background and campaign system.

  • benn grimm

    Escher without doubt, Delaques are almost equally awesome, both still look as good today as they did twenty years ago and still put most other gw ‘human’ models to shame.

    • Heinz Fiction

      Indeed. I still have a fully painted Esher gang ready for action!

      • benn grimm

        Same here, though I painted mine in ’95/’96, so they could probably do with a refurb tbh…

    • kobalt60

      Todays minis are, for the most part, better than models from 20 years ago. That said, i honestly don’t see how new Escher will be better than the originals. Mine won’t be refurbished either, not because the paint job was perfect, but i don’t think my eyesight is up to task of painting makeup again. Also, laziness

      • benn grimm

        Sure, on the whole, there are quite a few exceptions to the rule though and it is a pretty subjective thing. Haha, well mine are pretty dang awful, no make up, just very a few thick layers, plus they’re metal so its not really a bother. Quite looking forward to it actually.

  • david

    House Delaques featured in a 40k novel about the Imperial Fist chapter.The story was about a group as hive gangers who are recruted into the Fists and basically at the end the only survivor of the group is from House Delaque.

    • Andy Wise

      If you’re talking about the novel ‘Space Marine’ by Ian Watson not sure you’re right there mate. The 3 main characters came from different backgrounds (one was from a semi noble family (Lexandro D’Arquebus if memory serves), one was kind of working class / blue collar and the other was a lower level dude (Biff I think his name was).

      None were from house Delaque.

      If you’re talking about another book my apologies.

      • memitchell

        You are right about ‘Space Marine.’ But, Delaques are featured in at least one of the Necromunda novels. Tricky, sneaky bastards. So sublime!

    • memitchell

      Spoilers much?
      “Hey, you should see that new movie with the surprise ending where the lead character dies.” 😉

  • Krizzab

    “look at me iam a goliath!!, beefed up sunofbeotch 1.8m 90 kilograms pure muscle and roids and same strength atribute than a rookie escher….”

    The game was very good, but the gangs needed diferent stats and no only diferent skillsets.

    • Skeksis

      You’re being too literal. Strength wasn’t supposed to represent brawn alone, and Goliath we heavily slanted towards Strength based skills when they levelled. If you start debating if an Escher heavy is stronger than a Cawdor juve (for example) you’ll throw balance out of the window and limit a gangs opportunities to form its own identity.

  • BigGrim

    Man, I loved Necromunda. Still have my Orlocks, Spyrers, Ratskins and Enforcers.

  • euansmith

    “Please, sir, can I have some plastic Delaque?”

    • Nyyppä

      You mispronounced “crack”.

  • Nyyppä

    These minis have eerily the same vibe as Infinity models. You pretty much want one of each and no duplicates.

  • memitchell

    On the first day the game hit the local game store, before I’d even read the background or perused the rules, I chose House Cawdor because one of my buddies had already chosen Escher. I did not know at the time Cawdor was a hand-to-hand gang. That the Cawdor’s one-piece metal minis were entirely unsuited to a hand-to-hand gang. I did not know shooting was better than h2h in Necromunda. So, I did not dominate the Underhive. It wasn’t until I started substituting in h2h armed Redemptionists figs that my Cawdor took off. Later, with shooty, stealthy Delaque, I became a legend in my own mind.

  • Koszka

    The newer redemptionists kinda freaked me out. They got a little too… …Klanny?

  • Shinnentai

    Don’t forget the hired guns for the 2nd part of the article!

    I still have the Underhive Scum with twin bolt pistols – absolutely badass! Also the kneeling Ratskin Scout with shotgun (before the Ratskins were released as a gang in the supplement).

  • euansmith

    Do female Juves from other gangs join Escher when they grow up, or do they just not survive? There don’t appear to adult females for the other gangs.

  • Loved this game. Was accessible to the cheaper, tight-fisted collectors of non Warhammer/40K games, and was a blast to play.

  • Anthony Duboc

    Need mordheim…. not necromunda. U said necromunda first 2017 but give the surce… i’v seen is epic and mordheim next..