40K: A Squat Retrospective

We’re getting the first actual Squat model in YEARS from GW. But who are these lost stunties and where did they come from?

The last time the Squats got a real release was circa 1993. 25 years later Games Workshop has finally broken the Squat Clock and brought them back from the dead…sort of.

This Squat Merc was revealed in full in at the Horus Heresy & Necromunda Weekender. Here at BoLS, we’re absolutely thrilled to see this blast from the past. While he may be the lone survivor of a missing/dead race, we’re truly hoping that this is just the first miniature (in a LONG TIME) for that faction. We’re so excited, we dug through our archives and pulled up this blast from the past talking about the history of the Squat releases:


The Squats were originally mentioned at length with multiple pieces of artwork in the Rogue Trader hardback that kicked off Warhammer 40,000 all the way back in 1987.

They made an early splash and had a decent range of miniatures in those early days of the Grimdark. Here is a color plate of sample Squat Brotherhoods from Book of the Astronomican in 1988.

squat-brotherhoods-astronomicon

Let’s fast forward to 1993 and take a look at the Squat range at that time, once it had some time to grow. It was a very different world with GW rapidly expanding thier early 40K plastic kits and ranges. Take a look at this early spread to get an idea of the game’s factions and major kits 6 years after it launched.

 

40k-retro-1993-plastickits-horz

Who still has some of these kits on the tabletop?

Onto the Squats

 

squat-infantry

Here we see two major ranges of the early figures. Up top are the older minis that are fully metal, including the multi-part exo-armor ones (a Squat analogue to Terminator armor). Down below we see the hybrid kits that came with a metal main body and included a sprue of squat arms and plastic weapons in each blister. More on those sprues below. You can say one thing about Squats – they certainly had distinctive headgear. Check out “Pirate”!

squat-bikes-hvyweapons

Now we move onto the bikes and heavy weapons. Note the bike with multi-melta which was the Squat’s version of the early Ork buggy and the Marine attack bike. There are also exo-armor bikes for some heavy armor and speed. Below are the heavy weapons that would fall into disuse once the plastic heavy bolters and las-cannons from the Imperial Army sprues became widespread.

space-dwarfs-pic squat-space-dwarfs

Next we hit the bit central kit needed to build your squat army, the Space Dwarfs plastic box. This box gave you 36 bodies and a ton of the arm and weapon sprues. This was the bread and butter of putting together your Brotherhood and then round it out with the metal models for the specialists.

squat-armsprue squat-weaponsprue

 

Some closeups of the plastic arm and weapon sprues. The weapon sprue was shared with the early Imperial Army range. Take a close look hobbyists – that is what the early gamers of the Grimdark think a lasgun/laspistol should look like.

The Fall of the Squats

squat-armylist-01

Squat Rogue Trader Armylist sample

Rogue Trader

The most shocking part of the demise of the squats was that they were a full fledged faction in Rogue Trader. They received many miniatures, background, full army lists, and plenty of attention. They were just at much a part of the universe as say Tau or Necrons are today.

squat army list

Squat 2nd Edition Armylist sample

2nd Edition – 1993

The Squats made a short appearance in the racial background section of the core 40K rulebook. They would appear referenced in other faction’s codices yet never received one of their own. The writing was on the wall. Strangely while the Squats were waning in 28mm 40K, they were growing and thriving in EPIC where they finally grew into a distinctive force at 6mm.

squat_army_epic

Squat army in EPIC circa 1992

3rd Edition – 1998

The Squats made no appearance in the core rulebook and were never seen again.


The clock is broken! #NoMoreSquatClock

Article originally ran 10/27/2016 – it has been edited and updated.
  • ZeeLobby

    Man. Any shot of epic makes me wish it still existed…

    • Kabal1te

      I will admit that 6mm scale is a better scale for mass warfare and just looks good. To be honest that was always my biggest issue with WFB. For the way armies played and rank and file worked the 28mm scale felt inappropriate. I would love to see old world fantasy back at 6mm scale. I like AoS better at 28mm scale.

      • Luca Lacchini

        Agree 110%.

      • ZeeLobby

        Yeah, dunno if you were around for Warmaster, but it’s exactly what you just described, and it was pretty awesome.

        • Kabal1te

          Some quick googling tells me I was not a part of the hobby for its initial release, and somehow I missed hearing anything about it when they added more armies to it and when they apparently published a 2nd edition. There appears to be a fan made updated rulebook out there. Don’t know if it is worth looking at, fan made things tend to show extreme bias and lack of balance not that GW made things are always better….

      • af

        Yes, 28mm is not appropriate for mass warfare in any period, and should be limited to skirmish. AoS, SAGA, etc, all work fine in 28mm.

        For mass warfare, I see others have mentioned Epic and Warmaster — both pretty cool games and possibly the best wargames GW ever produced.

    • af

      I understand the appeal of the larger 28mm minis, but I can’t understand why 40K fans still don’t play Epic. That’s where 40K shines. It’s closer to the massive battles the fluff describes. And it does look pretty on the tabletop, even though the individual miniatures are less impressive.

      • ZeeLobby

        Yeah. I should really try to get people back into epic.

        • Kabal1te

          There is very strong support for epic scale models in 3d printer communities from what I have seen. They aren’t hard to find files at all.

          • ZeeLobby

            Haha. Yeah. I’ve actually printed some vehicles for fun. In the end it’s just the age old issue of playing something unsupported with no new releases to get people excited. Just tough to do. My whole group loved older editions of rank and file fantasy, but they’d probably never go back and play it consistently.

  • Whiskey Priest

    There are three ranges of single piece squats, 1 Perry and 2 Olley, plus heavy weapons and command ranges. Add to that two dedicated squat heavy weapons and the squat hovercar, not to mention the very first squat that was part of the RT original release. That was followed by the hybrid ranges (of which the exo-armour was part of) that also included Pirates, Adventurers and Chaos-Squats. There are also some unreleased re-designs that were done around about 2nd/3rd.

  • memitchell

    One odd one-off model for Necromunda does not a revival make. And, there is really a lot of misplaced nostalgia for Squats. They weren’t that popular back in the day. Maybe because they were one of the first races to get a full range of models makes it seem like they were widely loved. GW simply missed the mark with them. While GW’s WFB Dwarfs had great character and theme, Squats lacked both. I don’t know why. The new Kharadron Overlords do, with wonderful models. Heck, they can count as Squats with no need for conversions. Now, the new Squat Bounty Hunter is well executed. But, even he doesn’t hint at who “new” Squats are, or might be.

    • emperorslion

      The nostalgia is real for those of us who had the army and have been waiting and hoping.

    • Boondox

      I remember reading an interview a long time ago with a GW game designer (might have been Rick Priestly, but I can’t remember) where he said that the Squats were evolving into a biker gang themed army and that wasn’t the way GW wanted to go with it for the next edition. They couldn’t think of any other way to make them fit into 40K and that was supposedly the reason they dropped them.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        I heard it was more because they were looking for ways to differentiate 40k from WHFB and the Squats just felt too WHFB for them. Tau and Necrons were brought in for the same reason.

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      well I feel plenty of nostalgia. Squats were my third army to be ‘squatted’ by GW. It was the last straw. Didn’t touch another GW product for 10 years.

  • GiftoftheMagi

    I see this as GW testing the waters.

    • Chris

      Not sure how that’s going to work. A lot of people are probably going to buy this because they like the idea of something different, or want to collect all the novelty one-off minis, or maybe out of sheer nostalgia, but that doesn’t mean those same people would be interested in owning an entire army of these guys.

      Not that I’m saying they shouldn’t bring Squats back, just that this probably wouldn’t give a sufficient reading of their popularity.

      • frank

        Ill agree that the appeal of this mini is more than Just Squat players, but for Squat players this is the first mini that has Gw even flirting with the idea of Squats as a thing that weave seen in years. Cant blame people for having High hopes lol.

      • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

        Mantic has been making a living from all those people who want Space Dwarfs so much they are prepared to buy crappy Mantic sculpts.

        • Chris

          Ha. You got that right. I went through their entire range a while back to see if they had anything that would make handy conversion parts for any of my armies, and I couldn’t find a single model that I liked.

  • thegreatmoronos

    Doesn’t look squaty enough

  • Herwig Riedl

    They were in the “Dark millenium expansion”. even some minitures that weren`t never released

  • Herwig Riedl

    man, i miss epic…….

  • Jonathon Runge

    In a 40k rpg game I ran I added an alien race to replace the role of space dwarves. An Old One servant race that invented ruins and methods to utilize the immaterium without psychic powers. The warp has corrupted the world’s they are born from. They also interfere with conventional technology. If an inquisitor starts giving you sass just disable their power armor and weapons, push them over, and watch them flail like a turtle.

  • Damistar

    I have always had a soft spot for those egg shaped exoarmours. What I recall liking the most about the Squats was that they had held on to a lot of the Age of Technology knowledge and openly mocked the martian tech priests and their superstitions. They were not part of the Imperium either but would ally against a common enemy (the Orks mostly). Bringing them back as a non Imperial force could be fun…

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      their rules in 30K reflect those themes very well.

  • Iggynous

    Mantic Games does a really good ‘Space Dwarves’ range (I think they are called ‘Forge Fathers’).

    That’ll give you the models, then you just need to pick an army ruleset to proxy; Space Marines? Exosuits = Terminators?

  • David Brechin

    back in the rogue trader days (yes i’m that old) everyone who didn’t have Harlequins (which was almost everyone) or Chaos had Squats. Never understood why they got ditched for the SW to steal their schtick, good to see them back in some form, at least the Jaq Draco books make sense again

  • Majere613

    I do miss the Stunties, especially the Epic versions. Perhaps the time is right for a comeback, but they’d have to rebuild from the ground up. The Overlords have certainly shown the way, but a big challenge (ironically) would be avoiding looking like a rip-off of Mantic’s Forgefathers.

    On a related note, I still get nostalgic for the old long-barrel lasguns. It was nice to see them make a return of sorts on the new Eschers.

  • HeadHunter

    So if I felt like spending a TON of money, I could buy dozens of copies of this guy and have an army? 😀

  • AmorousBadger

    Well, this article petered out rather abruptly – no room for discussion of the Squat culture in lore or GW’s reasons for pulling them as a active faction?

    • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

      I thought that too…