Sunday 28 January 2024

Flying Horror: A Tale of 4 Armies

The commitment to delve to the bottom of the bits box throws up some fairly problematic situations along the lines of: how the hell am I going to use those?

When the problem facing me was a veritable bucketload of monopose plastic bats, I feel I may have come up with a pretty good answer.

The old plastic swarm kit, which I believe was initially made for Warhammer Quest, was simultaneously great and terrible.

Whilst it successfully provided an affordable way to add swarms of Bats, Rats, Spiders and Snotlings to your armies, it was a very rare individual who wanted all of them. On top of that, the uniform monopose nature of the sculpts somewhat undermined the concept of a swarm.

Alternatively the models could easily be scattered around an army as base decoration quite easily. Well, apart from the bats, which sat upon chunky flight stands that looked like they'd been impaled.

Therefore, when it cam to making use of my truckload of them, the first thing to go was the stands.

I had a good look at different manufacturers' bat swarms and opted for simply gluing them together in clumps to give the impression of a confusing swarm.

I used plastic glue for this to form a longer, stronger bond, but the time it took to dry did present some issues with things falling off during construction (largely because I was a bit impatient). The trickiest element was getting a strong enough bond on the base bat to build from.

When it came to painting I opted for keeping it really simple. Going for a Grey Seer undercoat, Black Templar contrast drybrushed with Eshin Grey and Administratum Grey.

Although I'm fully aware that bats aren't black and this makes them a bit cartoony, I'm completely happy with this as the Vampire Counts army, not to mention the whole Warhammer world, have always been more than a bit cartoony.

The teeth and tongue were picked out in white and pink respectively and given a coat of Skeleton Horde contrast paint, whilst the eyes were dotted white and washed in Hexwraith Flame for added spookiness.

I've made sure the unit ranks up because I didn't check the army list before making them; in Warhammer: The Old World Bat Swarms are skirmishers, but this hasn't always been the case. However, my careful construction will at least help with storage.

I've always liked Bat Swarms in my Vampire Counts army as they make for a good blocking unit, protecting the flanks of my cavalry, as they can keep up with them.

All in all, I'm really pleased in how these have turned out. Very few things in my hobby please me more than making a 200 point unit for this army game out of things I had no intention of ever using.

Call me petty, but I consider these things as a degree of compensation for what Games Workshop  did to my Undead in 1999. It's what Cheaphammer is actually all about.


I still have a load of the metal Bat Swarms knocking about, but they ended up being based separately for more generic fantasy skirmish games, and I'm not sure I'm going to bother to bring them back over to this army. Much as I like swarms, I'm not sure I need even this many.

Beyond that, I genuinely only have a couple of character models to go and my Vampire Counts will be done to the point of no backlog.

To top things off, I think Bat Swarms were the only models I hadn't done for the Vlad's Army feature pack for 7TV, so you can expect an imminent start on that.

The terrain piece I've done was actually bought last week to be carved up and used as a base to pin the bats too until I decided to just stick them together.

It's a Renedra kit and I took the opportunity to play with how I do stone using something I saw on a video. After a base of Grey Seer and Black Templar (I don't have any black spray) I sponged on some Administratum Grey followed by Grey Seer on the edges and corners.

I them proceeded to wash it with three colours at once: Nuln Oil, Agrax Earthshade and Seraphim Sepia. I did different colours in different bits and merged then whilst they were wet, which has ended up giving a much more mottled and natural look than a flat colour with a single wash.

I'm really pleased with this and will probably pick up the other kits in this set of ruins to do the same with.

A really successful 24 hours. 21 models off the Lead Mountain, but I'm only counting them as 7 models painted given that it was all so simple.

Acquired: -12 
Painted: 144
Lead Mountain: 831


  1. Very cool use of the bats. Good job.

  2. That has worked so well! Great job.

  3. Very cool use of the bats, I did something similar years ago with those very same bats, but I mixed in the metal bat swarms as well to add variation, it was part of a diorama. There is actually a bat that has black wings and black fur, so I think your bats look good for a tabletop, it's just when the sun shines through them you can see an element of skintone in there.

    1. That's good to know about the colour. I actually have the metal bats, but I think if I use them I'll do them as a separate swarm and try the flying over terrain idea. The thinner stands on them work better as pins.

  4. Great work, the result looks very dynamic!
    I'm quite fond of the swarm kit, recently used a bat's wings for a conversion and I'm currently painting one of the rats.

    1. Thanks. They're actually really good models individually. I've got a bunch of the rats that will be featuring in an upcoming Skaven force.