Start Collecting! Tyranids Secret Swarmlord


A guest hobby article by Chris Holdridge on making a “free” Swarmlord from the Tyranid Start Collecting box!

I love the new Start Collecting! boxes from GW. They are filled with great deals for just about each army that has one. Today, I’m going to talk about the Tyranids box. The box itself comes with 1 Hive Tyrant, 3 Warriors, and 10 Gargoyles. What’s awesome about the Start Collecting! product line is that they include the full sprue of each unit or creature. In this case, the sprue for the Hive Tyrant allows you to build either the Hive Tyrant or Swarmlord. The Tyranid Warriors sprues give you the option of creating Warriors or a Tyranid Prime.

I had already made up my mind before buying the box as to what I wanted. I wanted a Flyrant, 3 warriors, 10 gargoyles. After assembling and painting, I did what many of us in the hobby do. I started looking at what I was adding to my bitz box. That’s when it struck me. “Holy Emperor!” I shouted to myself. Using the bitz, I can kit-bash a Swarmlord from what I already have. That’s a $50 dollar saving, plus I get a cool custom mini out of it.


Here’s my process, which you can use to create your own, free Swarmlord. Because I built the flying version of the Hive Tyrant, I still had both the Tyrant legs and non-flying lower body/tail available. Using these as a base, I looked at my Tyranid Warriors sprue. Lo and behold, there is an extra torso included in on the sprue. So, now I have all four Swarmlord bone sabres (because I didn’t use them on my Flyrant), the Swarmlord head, a torso, and a lower body. Next up: the green stuff.

Here’s where things got a little bit tricky. Tyranids are not easy to sculpt using green stuff. They are bony and covered in chitin. Fortunately for me, all I had to do was create enough of a mid-section to allow the warrior torso to mesh with the tyrant legs. This was accomplished using small, coiled layers of green stuff, stacked one atop the other until I felt I had a workable torso that did not look pregnant or too thin. Then, all I had to do was insert the warrior torso on top. It looked okay, but there was still something missing.

Next, I attached the Swarmlord head, which is a really cool looking bit. I love the double goatee of bone it has under its chin. The head actually fits better in the warrior torso than the tyrant torso, in my opinion. When attached to the warrior torso, all of the Swarmlord’s head is exposed, allowing a clear view of its terrifying visage. After gluing the arms in place, I was pretty happy with my Swarmlord, though standing next to my Tyrant, he didn’t look imposing. Something was still missing. The spore chimneys! I used another set of green stuff to craft four spore towers on his back, making him look more like the carapace of the Hive Tyrant, but still unique. So there you have it, a quick and easy conversion from bitz to a free, custom Swarmlord.

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About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

4 Responses to “Start Collecting! Tyranids Secret Swarmlord”

  1. Connie Holland June 25, 2016 12:28 pm #

    Wonderful details. And great pics. I liked the creative way of making the swarmlord more menacing by adding the spore chimneys.

  2. westrider June 25, 2016 5:13 pm #

    I thought Secret Swarmlord was sort of like Secret Santa, except you have to kill and eat a randomly selected co-worker instead of giving them a present 😉

    Joking aside, this is awesome. I’ve got all the relevant bits lying around, might have to put together another Tyrant at some point like this.

  3. Genestealingmomma June 25, 2016 7:17 pm #

    Noice! I’m getting into the hobby and always looking for deals. GW makes great stuff and the Start Collecting boxes are already such a steal. Thanks for this!

  4. Karaghul June 27, 2016 12:15 am #

    Brilliant Article!

    It was well explained step-by-step, and it is always great when someone shares a “hack” like this. 😀

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