As we sit on the cusp of Samhain, the knocking on the door of All Hallows’ Eve as the veil between this world and the umbral realm of spirit thins allowing ghosts to pass through and damage our crops, rearrange our furniture and otherwise cause inconvenience for the living and generally disseminate spookiness, ones thoughts turn to those creatures that thumb their nose at mortality, or at least live up to the posthumous moniker “unquiet”.
Today I thought we’d take a look at some of our favourite undead models, from some of our favourite game lines. Some folks like a crisp, clean skeleton with a rusty helmet and broadsword, others prefer rotting flesh sloughing off a brain-hungry zombie, and then there’s some of the more esoteric undead from different cultures. Miniature gaming companies often try to hit multiple genres to generate wider appeal, but we’ve all got our faves for whatever reason. Here’s some favourites around the Gdaycave.
While Bloat Thrall Overseer Mobius might hit the mark in terms of necromechanikal nightmares, there’s something about a skeleton with a waterlogged pistol in a diving helmet. While the Scharde Isles may have scarier undead, the Revenant Crew of the Atramentous blend the the unliving with the piratical with a touch of infamy. Not only are they skeletons, but they’re pirates. Not only are they skeleton pirates, but the Atramentous is one of the most recognized and feared ships to threaten the shores of Western shores of Cygnar, Ord and Khador. This model has long been one of my personal favourites from the entire Cryxian line.
Sure, it’s not human, but the Husk takes the concept of the Cryxian Bile Thralls and kicks it up a notch. Not only is this lumbering undead essentially a giant bladder waiting to be burst all over the living, it’s filled not with acidic bile, but rather a swarm of deadly insects. If it creeps, crawls, has too many legs, and likes to sink tiny venomous fangs into flesh, there’s a chance you’ll find it inside the husk’s bloated, rotting form. The Husk earns its place by striking fear across multiple channels, combining the standard fear of the unliving (oh, how humdrum!) with nightmare fuel for those scared of reptiles and insects.
A dual faction model, Yin can be a part of a Ten Thunders crew or a Resurrectionists crew. Yin earns her place in the list not because she’s an amazing sculpt or has great rules (which is not to say neither is the case), but rather because she’s something you really don’t see a lot of models for. The Penanggalan a vampiric monster from South-East Asian myth, with sources in Malaysia and the Philippines. This particularly gnarly creature manifests as a floating head, trailing below it all the usual viscera and entrails the polite folk tend to keep inside their bodies. According to some legends, the Penanggalan will behead a victim and remove the internals organs, so that it might insert its own viscera into the cavity and make use of the body during the day. There are countless miniatures out there for skeletons, zombies, etc, but precious few of this particularly horrific gribbly.
Blending into the whimsical – you know I had to bring up the chibis – Super Dungeon Explore’s 1st edition had two separate expansions dedicated to the undead, as well as a handful of minibosses and a hero or two. Von Drakk’s Manor introduced skeletons, liches and necromancers, while Stilt Town Zombies warband added zombies (well, yeah…) and a touch of the evil voodoo trope. Glauerdoom Moor has a solid variety of the fantastic dead, but I’d have to say my favourite is Hecate Vilehorn. Breaching stereotypes, Hecate is a Centaur who doesn’t give a rat’s patootie about forests or druids or any of that, instead embracing death magic and even making herself a fancy hat. A close second favourite would be the skullbats, because they’re delightful in their comical malevolence.
This is a tough one. I play the Flesh-Eater Courts, but technically the vast majority of them aren’t undead – just delusional cannibals. The armies of death are currently receiving a massive injection of new models with the Ossiarch Bonereapers, and the Nighthaunt army is filled with models that are outstanding examples of what can be achieved with creative model engineering. In the end I’m going to give it to the Thorns of the Briar Queen. Some amazing examples of models that actively look like they’re floating, the Thorns not only have a stunning model in the Briar Queen herself, but even a wraith carrying its own decapitated head. The vast majority of the time skeletal sculpts have a whole skeleton, every bone complete and in its right place, as if every body raised to join the ranks had died of poison or natural causes. It’s refreshing (as disturbing as the concept is) to have models that acknowledge that the restless dead may have been victims of horrific violence themselves before rising to seek revenge on the living.
Blood Bowl played a huge part in my university miniature gaming days, and while it may be collecting dust in my basement, it still holds a special place in my nostalgic nerd heart. Games Workshop’s release of the current edition had me very happy, though waiting –multiple years- for several of the teams to be released has been painful. Thankfully, there are some excellent third party options for minis, should you only be looking to play casually. Greebo put out a kickstarter a few years back for an undead team, but rather than just your standard fantasy undead, Greebo themed all the designs after the aesthetic of the Italian Renaissance. Skeletons with floppy hats, Mummies styled with papal garb, the assembled models were unlike anything I’d seen before. Of all the models I received when the kickstarter fulfilled, Niccolo is a definite favourite, and one of the most dynamically posed skeletons you’ll find.
Halloween’s tomorrow. Break out the spooky boi’s.