Hive Tyrant Reboot

Work has sucked up a lot of my time lately, and so The Grim Cheapness of the Future has suffered (as has most of my 40K construction in general).  I haven’t given up on the Silver Towers—they will get finished--but I wanted to put up something to keep the dust off the blog.

One thing that’s bugged me a lot in recent Codexes is the lack of support given to older models.  I know, from a business point of view, that Games Workshop wants people to buy all new stuff with every codex release.  Back in the olden times, though, they’d still acknowledge that people might have older models they don’t want to get rid of, and a given Codex would point out it’s still fine to use to use your old Tomb Spiders, Dark Eldar warriors, or whatever happens to be in your army already.

As I’ve mentioned once or twice before, Tyranids were my first army. I’ve only played them five times in the fourteen or so years I’ve been playing Warhammer 40,000—and that’s using three different codexes.  Most of that’s been recent use in the non-power armor league my friend Marcus has been running.

I’ve got one of the old metal Hive Tyrant models—the one that has a very Aliens feel to it.  I like the new one a lot, but it was tough justifying fifty-odd bucks for a Headquarters unit I essentially already had.  So I dug through my bitz bins and tried to come up with a way to update my old Tyrant a bit for the league.

Also, for the record, most of the monstrous creatures in my Tyranid army are nicknamed after Japanese movie monsters.  My super-expensive Carnifex is Megalon, and my Hive Tyrant is known as Gigan.

I broke the model apart and started going over the individual elements.  The first thing, and one of the biggest, was the legs.  The old Tyrant has small, skinny legs that aren’t much bigger than the ones on a Tyranid Warrior.  He needed to be taller and he needed some bulk.

Taller was easy.  I just glued some plasticard on to the bottom of his feet, then clipped and filed it until it matched his toe-hooves.  This makes the feet look bigger and more solid.  It’s only a hair over 1/16” taller, but on this scale that’s sizeable, and it’s a subtle increase people will register but have trouble picking out.

Then I looked at making the legs a bit bulkier.  Like most Tyranid players, I had tons of large and small armor plates.  I took six of them and filed them down a bit on the inside so they’d overlap well.  Then I put a thread of green stuff over Gigan’s lower legs and put three plates on each one.  I layered them to match the thighs up above, and I think the results were pretty nice.  For the record, I had to do the right leg twice to make the plates look right.

Looking at the new Tyrant, and the excellent picture/ diagram from the last codex, I noticed that the new model has a set of small talons flanking each foot.  They’re like toes or something.  I had a bunch of tiny claws left from the Trygon model Marc and Gillian got me for my birthday last year, so I glued two on each leg (superglue on the ankle, plastic glue on the base).  The ones on the new plastic model go up and forward, but I angled mine back so they added to the sense of a broader foot that covered more area.  For the record, I needed tweezers to get the inside ones in place.

Once I had this (and it was all drying) I looked at the torso.  The big thing for all the monstrous Tyranids these days is the back chimneys/ vents.  Lucky for me, a few years back (in the glory days when GW let you buy individual metal bits from mail order)  I’d bought a few sets of the vents that normally go on the Zoanthrope model.  A little bit of filing, some more green stuff to smooth the edges, and these blended pretty darn well into the back of the old Tyrant.

I also wanted him to look a little more armored in the front.  I ended up doing the same green stuff and plates trick right down the sternum (if that’s the right term for a huge alien dino-insect).  It looks, if I may be so bold, fantastic.

Helpful Hint--If you’ve got one of the old big bugs, I highly recommend playing around with these small armor plates.  The results are amazing and they add a nice amount of life and detail to these older models without being too distracting.  I also ended up doing this same chest-line on a pair of second-generation Carnifexes I’d set up as basic hunter-screamers and it looks great.

Alas, it was about this point that our league began.  I didn’t want to be the guy putting a headless, armless, unpainted model on the board (we’ve all seen it happen), so I rewrote my army list around a Tyranid Prime, which worked better for the endless swarm theme I was doing.  Anyway, Gigan was still sitting on the project board, so I kept working on him when I had a few free moments.  Everything else here took about a month as I got to step away from work now and then.

I put the torso on the legs and used a little roll of green stuff to straighten it out and fill in some gaps.  This also added another few milimeters to Gigan’s height.  As I mentioned before, on this scale every little bit helps.

I had leftover arms from my Carnifex, and this let me add some new elements to the old model.  I decided to go with a pair of scything talons and the twin-linked deathspitters.  If anyone’s interested why I can give you my reasoning, but for now just accept that’s how Gigan is armed.  I also added a few of the large armor plates here to make him a look a little heavier (if I decide to go for the armored shell biomorph).

Then came the head.  I had one of those nose-blades leftover from the Carnifex.  A tiny bit of superglue and a hair of green stuff for blending made it look great.  This was probably the most “take your time” part of the whole project because it’s such a thin piece and it needs to sit perfectly.  It’s Gigan’s face, which means a mistake here will be very, very visible and will gnaw at me every time I look at the model.

I attached the head with a line of green stuff that I flattened out to cover the neck.  It gave me a much more solid join than superglue (more contact area), and it also added another fraction of an inch to the height.  For the record, all these fractions have really started to add up at this point.  Gigan’s almost a quarter-inch taller than the original, unmodified model and a bit heftier, too.

I built this on one of the big 60mm bases, so there’s a lot of space to fill up.  If I don’t, his feet are just going to look tiny on this big, open area.  As a final bit of detail, I added a Hive node.   Between the old Battle for Macragge set and a few from the bitz bins, I’ve got a bunch of these. 

I also made a few extra-long tentacles from green stuff to spread across the base.  I just took little balls of green stuff smaller than a Space Marine’s helmet and rolled them between my fingers.  Once I had them, I gave them little curves and twists and let them dry.  I figured out which way they'd sit best and then cut the tips off one end so they'd be flush against the node.  A drop of superglue held each one in place
And there you have it.  A revamped Hive Tyrant using the existing model and some leftover bitz.  Definitely cheaper than dropping fifty bucks for a brand new one.

Although the winged version does look reaaaallly cool...

Speaking of which, if you want to see a really cool retrospective on the Hive Tyrant through Warhammer 40K history, go check out the post Marcus just put up over at Atomic Warlords.