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Hive Fleet Kielbasa

Full Army Photo

Hive Fleet Kielbasa on the 20th February 2011.


I am into 40K more for the modelling than for the playing, but of course I want to play. My main failing as a modeller is that I start lots of projects and don't finish them.

When the Platinum Devil tournament was proposed early in 2010, I thought I would challenge myself to build a finished army to take to Canterbury and get a weekend's gaming.

The Tyranid 5th edition codex was new at the time, and had been widely discussed, especially the new models such as the Trygon, Raveners and Venomthropes. I liked these snakey models and I thought it would be quite cool to do a Hive Fleet entirely made of snake-like creatures. So that is what I did.

Unit Photos

Head Quarters

This is my Tyranid Warrior Prime.

The original army concept was a core of Warriors plus supports, so a Warrior Prime was the obvious choice for the HQ.

The body is from the Warrior kit, stuck on the spare Ravener tail (you get three bodies and four tails in the Ravener box) and bulked up a bit with extra armour plates on the shoulders. The twin Boneswords are made from plasticard and putty. I'm not sure this is the best setup for a Warrior Prime HQ but I wanted a model with two enormous pink choppers.

In his first incarnation, the Warrior Prime was on the proper 40mm base, but he kept tipping over forwards thanks to the weight of his huge weapons, so I converted him to go on a 60mm base.


Zoanthrope Brood

I took two Zoanthropes to the first Platinum Devil. They performed so well that I bought four more (three are still unbuilt) and took a brood of three to Platinum Snow Devil in December 2010. It is a bit of a bastard model to assemble, with a number of tiny metal parts that need pinning and filling with putty. It's also very top heavy with the huge brain. Battlefield performance depends on whether the enemy has enough firepower to blow away the whole unit on the first turn. The anti-tank firepower of these monsters means they can't be ignored.


My first Venomthrope was built for Platinum Devil April 2010, but I could not fit it into the points limit which was a mere 1,000. I added a second Venomthrope for the December event, which the intention of making a mobile cover save Death Star. Results were somewhat mixed. A 5+ cover save is nice, but the sheer amount of ID firepower that an IG army can put out at 1,250 points will defeat it by luck.

Hive Guard

Everybody's must have Tyranid anti-armour unit. If you are not familiar with it, it has an Assault 2 anti-tank weapon which can fire at targets outside LoS. Its high T makes it immune to ID weapons, so if you stick it in cover you can create a bubble of "Don't go here" for enemy armour.

The official GW model was no good for my purpose, being metal, heavy, difficult to convert, and expensive. Also I disliked the design.

Instead I took two Raveners bought cheaply from eBay, and made my own guns using the crab claws from the Carnifex kit (I bought several of these from eBay) and Venom Cannons from the Warriors kit (I bought several of these from eBay). I'm pleased with the final result, though I had to mount the models on 60mm bases to prevent them tipping over.

The trouble is I now have to make four more Hive Guard, so I need to get a bunch of crab claws and venom cannons from somewhere.


Tyranid Warriors

The original idea for the Hive Fleet was to use high point models so I would have less assembly and painting to do in preparation for the tournament. The Warriors are equipped with a Deathspitter, and several of them have heavy weapons (venom cannon or barbed strangler) making the average point cost over 35 per figures. This meant I only needed to make 11 models to go with my Warrior Prime and that was the core of the army.

Of course since I wanted everything to be a snake, I had to convert the standard Warrior kit. I chopped off the tail and put in a twisted bit of wire from a coat hanger. This was bulked out to a snake tail with putty. The armour and spikes were cut off from some other bit of a Tyranid kit (Warrior thigh armour). The legs were replaced with Hormagaunt scything talons. A bit more putty was used to cover up the rough spots.

If you look closely, the models would benefit from more detail being added to the tail, but I didn't have time to do that. I decided it was "good enough for jazz" and got on with painting.


When Platinum Devil 2 was announced, the format was an acceleration tournament with games at 500, 1,000 and 1,250 points. This made me plan new units for the Fleet.

I didn't use many Termagants in the first event, so I decided to build a bunch of those and a Tervigon to support them. I figured, rightly as it turned out, that a unit capable of spawning new troops, would be an excellent asset in a low point game.

There is no GW Tervigon model, so I started with a secondhand Carnifex bought cheaply from eBay.

The tail and legs were sawed off, and I built a new lower body using an armature of coathanger wire, several applications of putty (Milliput for bulk, and Green / Brown stuff for detail). Some extra detail was added with bits from other kits. The armour plating on the tail is the carapace of a Hormagaunt. The spawning sacs on the abdomen are part of Carnifex venom cannons. And so on.

Finally the whole monstrosity was mounted on the large oval base from the Trygon kit.

The great thing about modelling Tyranids is that you can get away with fairly sloppy puttying because organic forms do not have the precision of manufactured items.


Obviously the point of using a Tervigon is to spawn and support Termagant units. The first bunch of Termagants I had made for Platinum Devil April 2010 were done using Gargoyle bodies and Hormagaunt talons. I wasn't happy with the result, and I decided the only thing to do was to make a mould to cast my own snake tails onto which I would be able to put the normal Termagant upper bodies.

This was a great learning experience in the use of resin casting, and I am very happy with the results. I was able to cast 40 tail bases in a few days. The upper bodies were easily made by chopping normal Termagant bodies at the base of the carapace plate. Half of them came from eBay (thanks to eBay I got half my army about 50% off from retail price). The other half came from kits bought from Maelstrom during their sale.

I only made one pattern of snake body, because I didn't have time to do a second version. There is enough variation in the angle of the heads and guns to stop the models looking identical. However I did put more detail into the tail than I had into my Warrior tails.

As I want to cast another 40 Termagants, I am planning a variant tail for the next tournament.

Fast Attack


For some reason I haven't taken a picture of my three Raveners. Will add later...

I like the model, but they are very expensive at £27 for three.

Heavy Support


This was really the model that got me into Tyranids and created the Kielbasa snake concept.

This is a standard GW kit. All I have done is assemble it with the parts I wanted, rather than the official variations for Prime, Mawloc or basic Trygon. When you've only got one in your army, it's hardly confusing for your opponent if it doesn't have a particular end of its tail or something. I wanted a really streamlined look, so I got rid of the sideways auxiliary jaws.

The Paint Scheme

I had two objectives in mind when I planned the paint scheme.

I wanted a natural, organic "desert" look.

I wanted it to be easy and quick to do.

So I used spray paints in the following pattern:

  1. Medium grey primer spray.
  2. The ventral (belly) surface is sprayed "Rattan Satin", a colour the same as GW's Bleached Bone.
  3. The sides are sprayed with Montana Gold Sahara Yellow.
  4. The tops are sprayed with Montana Gold Sand.
  5. The mouths and membranes are brush painted Red Oxide.
  6. The teeth, claws and horns are brush painted with a pink mixed from red oxide and white.
  7. The whole is finished with Army Painter Quickshade Softone, which shades and varnishes at the same time. The pinky brown of the shade in this dip brings together all the other colours.
  8. The final coat is spray matt varnish.
  9. The bases are decorated with beach sand and Army Painter "Highland Tuft".

The disadvantage of sprays is the difficulty of controlling where the paint goes. It takes a bit of practice using masks made from Blu-tac and silver foil, and you tend to get your fingers all over with paint. The speed of coverage, and drying (of the Montana colours) makes up for the difficulty. Any areas of overlap are forgiven by the organic look of Tyranids.

Using these methods I was able to paint and finish 40 Termagants, the Tervigon, and four medium sized models in one weekend.

Sample Army Lists

Platinum Devil April 2010 -- 1,000 points

HQ Tyranid Warrior Prime, Twin boneswords, Deathspitter (95)

Elites Two Zoanthropes (120)

Troops 16 Termagants (80)

Warrior Brood: Two Warriors with Deathspitter, One Warrior with Venom Cannon (115) Warrior Brood: Two Warriors, Deathspitter, One Warrior with Venom Cannon (115) Warrior Brood: Two Warriors with Deathspitter, One Warrior with Venom Cannon (110)

Fast Attack Ravener Brood: Three Raveners with Scything Talons and Rending Claws, one with Deathspitter (115) (I had not realised but this is an illegal unit as you have to equip all the Raveners with the same shooting weapon.)

Heavy Support Trygon Prime, Adrenals (250)

Total 1,000


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