Middlehammer – Skaven Rat Swarms

Since I've ordered and covered the Made-to-Order classic Skaven characters from the Middlehammer era of the 90s, I was able to get my hands on some original rat people from Citadel to build a small skirmish warband around.

Warhammer Fantasy - Classic Skaven Miniatures Warhammer Fantasy - Classic Skaven Warriors

This gives me the choice to have two small packs of vermin warriors, led by a champion each and some characters. But as we are talking Skaven here, we need some rat swarms. In the classic Warhammer Fantasy battles, you had giant rats that you put on 40 x 40mm square bases. The ones shown in the second picture are the later 6th-ish edition rats, a bit more in line with each other compared to the earlier Oldhammer ones, and of course more variety than the swarm pack plastic ones.

Warhammer Fantasy - Skaven Packmaster Warhammer Fantasy - Skaven Giant Rats

As my middlehammer themed warbands are all based on round bases and I want some flexibility, I intend to use different sizes of bases from 25 to 40mm round, for my rat swarms. And most importantly, as the original rat swarms are rather  difficult to get your hands on, I was looking on the market for some 3rd company products, that would fit the purpose. I did similar things for example with the bat swarms for my undead.

Warhammer Fantasy - Skaven Packmaster Warhammer Fantasy - Skaven 3rd Party Rats

I went through a couple of online shops, to see who would cover the most rats for me and ordered a few blister packs. Here's the list of what I got.

Beginning with the Northstar Giant Rats, these are 5 to a blister and they are from their horror range. The offer other rats as welel, like a pre-sculpted rat swarm, but that would limit the mixed look, that I wanted to go for. And with the third giant rat option from the Frostgrave range, I would have to take a boar as well and only get three giant rats. I like these, as they are "regular" giant rats, not mutated, not too feral. Proper mid sized models and fit the purpose well.

Northstar - Giant Rats Northstar - Giant Rats

Next up the rat swarm by Freebooter Miniatures. These are small and you get 21 of them spread across three sprues. Don't mix them up with the rat swarms, those are two fixed sculpted bases and a few individual ones. These are really small and the details are a bit tricky to identify, but I think they will properly fill the spaces between different sized rats and create the proper "swarm" feeling on the bases.

Freebooter's Fate - Rats Freebooter's Fate - Rats

Reaper is one of the largest miniatures companies in the world, and as they provide pen & paper roleplayers with miniatures all over the world, they cover a lot of fitting options as critters and such. So I found a few sets, that would make for a good addition to this project. From the Dark Heaven Legends range, classic metal miniatures, I got the Barrow Rats and Giant Rats. And the Barrow rats are so incredibly huge, you could probably use them with 40 to 54mm, but with the all the genetic experiments by Clan Moulder, they should be a good fit. Especially as they have a proper wild look to them and fit the aesthetics of Middlehammer rats quite fitting as I think. The others are quite generic and would need the base to be converted to fit in. More of a filler than a good fit.

Reaper - Dark Heaven Legends Barrow Rats Dire Rats Reaper - Dark Heaven Legends Barrow Rats Dire Rats

And with Reaper, you always have the option to go for Bones, their plastic range, as well. So here are another set of huge Barrow Rats, who come two a blister as well, and Giant Tomb Rats, who are 6 per blister. I should have gotten a better mix of 3 poses at two each, but wasn't so lucky. Anyhow, these are looking proper aggro and are probably next to the metal barrow rats the best fit. As they are plastic, cutting away the bases is less of a problem.

Reaper Bones - Barrow Rats + Giant Tomb Rats Reaper Bones - Barrow Rats + Giant Tomb Rats

To give you an idea, where I am going, here are some mixed bases using all the miniatures above, with some rats to spare to put them on bases of some of the characters or larger miniatures (like the rat ogre). And as you can see, I have a few models to build more bases than the ones I went for, so I can cramp the bases really full with rats (but that will require me to shape of the bases a bit).

Warhammer Fantasy - Skaven Packmaster with Rat Swarms Warhammer Fantasy - Skaven Packmaster with Rat Swarms

Of course, you always have the option to look for 3d printed miniatures nowadays, but with this being an retro project, I like the feeling of metal, a certain weight to the bases and along with the fact, a certain middlehammer look, that only a few of the sculpted miniatures nowadays have. Anyhow, I'm happy with what I got, I would certainly add some original citadel giant rats to it, but had no decent / reasonable offers so far.

Posted by Dennis B.

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