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Warhammer 40K RETRO: The First Tyranid Minis

4 Minute Read
Nov 25 2019

Blood of Baal is just around the corner. Today we look back almost 30 years to the first Tyranid minis that hit the tabletop in 1993.


The Tyranids were originally mentioned and had a single miniature in the Rogue Trader hardback that kicked off Warhammer 40,000 all the way back in 1987.


The original bug that started it all – circa 1987

But they would burst into their own range 6 years later with their 40K 2nd Edition Codex Tyranids.  It was penned by Andy Chambers and looking back on it from today, the Hive Fleets have evolved a LOT in the intervening decades. With Tyranids starring in next weeks Blood of Baal expansion, it was a perfect time for turning back the clock to see what those first bugs looked like back in the day.



Ahh, the original metal Termagants. These had the most in common with the original Tyranid from Rogue Trader was probably the jumping off point for the entire range. These are old-school one-piece models with a defined left /right side for ease of casting in a two-piece molds.  You can see a lot of unique weapons such as the stranglewebs and spikerifles which have gone in and out of having rules over the game’s various editions.



Here we go with Tyranid Warriors, aka the walking turkey-bugs. These multipiece models are fairly large for their day and packed a variety of potent close combat and ranged weapons.  They are effectively large upright Termagamts, and are fondly remembered by many as iconic if a bit goofy.  You can still see vestiges of their original design in today’s modern Tyranid Warrior models.


Taking a slight aside we see the original Zoanthrope back when they still walked.  They did have the giant psychic head, but hadn’t evolved into the creepy floating versions with the teensy vestigial limbs yet.  The Rippers were a bit more on the land-lamprey side of things in their first incarnation.


The head honcho of the early Hivefleets – the mighty Hive Tyrant.  This kit was a bear to assemble, and keep in one piece (dropping one was always followed by hobby tears). Ugg why did that lashwhip have to be in 2 pieces!  The Tyrant was’t much bigger than a Warrior and would grow ever larger with each new Tyranid range.  Still he was not to be messed with back in the day and possessed the following stats:

M6 WS9 BS7 S6 T6 W7 I8 A5 Ld10


His default weapons were listed as: “Claws, Jaws, and a bad attitude”



At last we reach THE iconic model of the original Tyranid range – the mighty “Screamer-Killer” Carnifex.  The concept of Carnifexes with arm weapons was far in the future and the originals were always scythed assault monsters. This was a big beefy kit for 1993 and they certainly threw their weight around the tabletop. The mighty Carnifex had TEN Wounds (EGADS!), an 8 toughness and caused Terror, which was a big deal back then. The Screamer Killer’s day in the sun is long gone, but at one time everyone from any faction in the grimdark gave the killer clown a wide berth. As an extra bonus, like the ancient metal dreads, you could always throw a Screamer-Killer into a sock and defend yourself against home invaders!



On the tabletop the army was fantastic in that loud primary color style that 40K 2nd edition was known for. 

~Thanks for this trip down memory lane folks. Anyone still rocking old school Tyranids on the tabletop?


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