Chaos Ratmen, or the Origins of Skaven

Everyone has them: miniatures that for whatever reason, you associate strongly with your hobby origin story.

For me, these old-school Chaos Ratmen are some of those miniatures. Produced in 1986, these guys were a decade old when I arrived in wargaming in 1996. And although I never played Warhammer Fantasy, seeing these awesome figures in the pages of White Dwarf magazine really helped kindle my imagination in those early years. After an adolescence surrounded by the elves and dwarves of Tolkien lore, seeing a completely reimagined fantasy race -- imbued as they were with magic, mystery and lore -- was absolutely exhilarating.

Fast forward 15 years, and I managed to get my hands on a bag of loose, poorly painted Skaven models at the Games Plus gaming auction. At about $1 per figure, I knew it was a good price, but it wasn't until I pawed through the bag that I knew I'd found a real treasure trove.

The bag contained five "Chaos Ratmen" sculpted by Jes Goodwin, from the "C47" release back in 1986. This was before the Skaven were a proper army ... these guys were just another type of Chaos mutant in the Warhammer World. These figures are just completely unique in a way that only old-school Citadel minis can capture. Here's the original sell-sheet.

Anyway, the bag included plenty of mid-1990s Skaven figures too, which are plenty awesome, as well as some Marauder and Harlequin rat-guys...maybe 12 figures in all. Everything went into paint stripper and I forgot about them until last weekend when, in a burst of inspiration, I dredged the Chaos Ratmen out of the depths of my lead mountain and gave them the brushwork they do dearly deserved.

I'm not sure if it's visible in these pics, but I deliberately tried to stick to a simple paint scheme in keeping with the old-school nature of these figures.

Doubtless they'll take to the battlefield soon enough, either in Song of Blades & Heroes or Open Combat!

-- Patrick, Chicago Skirmish Wargames club member

3 responses to “Chaos Ratmen, or the Origins of Skaven

  1. I saw your post on TMP this morning.

    Really like these rats. I've always been drawn to large rats, and dwarves. Please post again.

  2. These guys are really cool. I like the sculpts and the paintjob. They look plenty menacing even without the abundance of skulls, runes and filigree that modern skaven seem to prefer.

  3. Nice story and great paint jobs! Was a good read, thanks for sharing. 🙂

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