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Warhammer 40K: 1993’s First Tyranid Minis – Still Affecting 10th Edition

4 Minute Read
Feb 6 2024
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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 faring pretty well in the Forge World Imperial Armour book, it’s a good time for turning back the clock to see what those first bugs looked like back in the day.


The Little Bugs

Ahh, the original metal Termagants. These had the most in common with the original Tyranid from Rogue Trader and 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 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.



The Medium Bugs

Here we go with Tyranid Warriors, aka the walking turkey-bugs. These multipiece models were 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.

They were accompanied by the plastic Warrior sprues with cool hollow ribcages and your choice of Deathspitters or Boneswords that showed up in the 1990 Advanced Space Crusade box.


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.


Fast forward to 2023, and we saw a major glow up of the original Zoanthrope design – with it’s “crown of horns” serving as inspiration for the new Tyranid Neurotyrant. It’s very nice to see GW reaching all the way back over 30 years for design heritage.


The “Big” Bugs

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 wasn’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 quad-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 hefty Screamer-Killer into a sock and defend yourself against home invaders!

As with the Zoanthrope above, GW reached all the way back over 30 years and used the OG Carnifex in the design of the 10th Edition Leviathan Screamer-Killer that debuted in 2023. Nicely done!



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

Let’s enjoy some 1993 Space Hulk to take us back to those glorious early bug days.


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

Author: Larry Vela
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