40K RETRO: Short, Stubborn & NOT Dead – Squats
With GW tricking Squat models and lore back into Warhammer 40,000, it’s a great time to look at the Stunties and where they came from.
The last time the Squats got a full army release was circa 1993. Well over two decades later years later Games Workshop has finally tossed the Squat Clock in the dumpster and brought them back from the dead…sort of.
These Squat Mercs was revealed for Necromunda over the last year or so. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more to show up in a Blackstone Fortress expansion! Here at the BoLS office, we’re absolutely thrilled to see this blast from the past. 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:
Meet the Stunties
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.
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 their 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 six years after it launched.
Who still has some of these kits on the tabletop?
Onto the Squats
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 analog to Terminator armor). Down below we see the hybrid kits that came with the main metal 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”!
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.
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.
Some close-ups of the plastic arm and weapon sprues. The weapon sprue was shared with the early Imperial Army range. Take a close look hobbyists and modern Cadian lovers – that is what the early gamers of the Grimdark think a lasgun/laspistol should look like.
The Fall of the Squats
Squat Rogue Trader Armylist sample
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 as much a part of the universe as say Tau or Necrons are today. They had some of the most evocative artwork in the game:
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. GW designers would say that EPIC offered the scale and “breathing room” that let the Squats shine. Their army was slow, but emphasized extreme toughness, high firepower and had battlefield morale that would make a Space Marine blush. You had to kill almost every single Squat in a formation before they would even consider running.
Then, of course, you have to factor the incredible “Rule of Cool” power of things like the Land Train, Overlord Airship and the giant Goliath Mega-Cannons. There were simply amazing in EPIC!
Squat army in EPIC circa 1992
3rd Edition – 1998
The Squats made no appearance in the core rulebook and were never seen again, apocryphally eaten by the Tyranids – until their shocking 2018 Necromunda return.
~What games do you think Squats should appear in next?