Leader of the Rats

Hard though it is for me to believe, today this blog is one year old. To celebrate I thought I’d upload a picture of this truly ancient ‘ratman’ which was given to me as a present by a friend of mine when I was aged about twelve (at a guess) and which started my love of miniatures. In spite of a few lengthy hiatuses down the years I’m still messing around with tiny warriors nearly two decades on so, although I may have long ago lost touch long ago with the original owner and painter of this model, it only seems fair to say “Cheers David, wherever you are now”.


Skaven 1

I didn’t know it at the time but this ‘ratman’ (with his rather natty shield design, classic nineties goblin-green base and ‘warhammer’) was, or would become, part of a race of skittish, conniving, self-interested cowards known as the Skaven. These treacherous vermin would come back to me years later when their most recent army book was released (ancient history for a lot of you as well I’m sure – let me get my pipe and slippers). Straight away I was grabbed by them, with their endless ranks of scruffy, bloodthirsty infantry with rusty weapons and weird, ramshackle war-machines (actually does this not sound rather similar to my Ork and Chaos armies…). I bought the army book the week it was released (pretty rare for me now and even more so back then) and launched myself into the start of a Skaven army. Seasoned readers may have guessed by the lack of any ratmen in previous posts that this never really took off as I abandoned the Horned Rat (and the Old World altogether) to instead launch a Black Crusade in the far future. However I’ve not been immune to all the End Times’ related excitement that’s drawing some much needed attention to Warhammer at the moment and thought this would be a good time to dust off my old Skaven and give them a moment in the limelight.

Skaven 2

Here’s the Clawleader, complete with a scavenged Dwarf shield as a trophy. It’s not easy to make out but there’s also some broken dwarf symbols decorating his base. I like the idea of Skaven and Dwarves as natural enemies (far more so than uppity High Elves) and using a few Dwarf bits to spice up some of the rats seemed an obvious way to show this and add a little narrative to the units.

And here’s the rest of the scabrous clan so far.

I made this Skaven Slave as an experiment before attempting to build a full squad. As a model I’m rather pleased with it but ultimately it was a lot of work to convert and as the rules called for at least another 19 I was understandably put off. Nice though a proper swarm of them would look it won’t be happening any time soon but I’m sure he can skulk along at the back of the clanrat pack.

As I mentioned one of my favourite elements of the Skaven army are the ramshackle war-machines and crazy inventions, especially the weapon’s teams that accompany the swarms of clanrats. Reading the description of the Doomflayer in the army book I knew I wanted one – as I said I think of the Skaven as being petty much constantly at war with the Dwarves (when not cooking up some other nefarious scheme that calls for them to make one of their periodic invasions of the surface world). A Doomflayer, I reckoned, would be the perfect thing for driving the beard-things out of their halls. Back then however there wasn’t an official model available so, like any twitchy warlock engineer being prodded towards the battlelines by a few angry stormvermin I had to come up with something inventive.
Doomflayer (1)Doomflayer (2)Doomflayer (3)
This shot shows a little detail I’m still rather proud of, a little vat of warpstone which – presumably – does something to fire the murderous engines turning below.
The failing of the Skaven, for me, is the difficulty in converting the models. Although the clanrats are great, and fit together very nicely to make of make large swarms of individually unique vermin, they don’t convert easily into other units – nor do they cross pollinate well with many of the other ranges and armies available. Thus as I became increasingly interested in converting miniatures as well as painting them my interest in the Skaven waned. One final project however, and probably the one I enjoyed the most, was this Warlock Engineer.

Tempting though it is (and for a ‘hobby butterfly’ like myself it is very tempting) I’m not planning to restart my Skaven at the moment, as there are far too many other projects on the go (more on those soon I hope). However I hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen and maybe (don’t hold your breath) once I’ve cleared my feet a little I’ll find the time to paint up a few more treacherous little rats (there’s still the contents of Island of Blood gathering dust under my bed for one thing). In the meantime comments, criticisms, cunning schemes or a little recreational backstabbing are always welcome in the comments box below.

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