|In space no one can hear you scream.
Sadly, the Zoanthrope was never graced with a plastic model in the Rogue Trader days like the tyranid warrior. It did not take long for the psychic menace to be introduced, however. The first Zoanthrope model that I distinctly remember was the one released back in the second edition of the Warhammer 40k. Unlike what we see today, the Zoanthrope was an extension of the mighty tyranid warrior, meaning they were were bipedal horrors (instead of the floating terrors that we now all love). In fact, the model utilized all of the same components as the warriors aside from the head. That meant they all sported comically large clawed hands and wasp-like abdomens, complete with stingers. Similar to the more modern Zoanthropes, however, the 2nd edition ones did have enlarged craniums with exposed folds of the horror’s brain. The model has a sinister visage with razor teeth and mandibles resembling that of an insect. I have fond memories of this version of the Zoanthrope, as it was one of the first tyranid models that I ever purchased and assembled (they did not have the larger circular bases back then, just the square Warhammer Fantasy bases).
|The second edition Zoanthrope model was one of the first Tyranid models that I assembled and painted. One of these days I should revisit the model and rebase and repaint him.
With the coming of the 3rd edition of Warhammer 40k, the Zoanthrope underwent his first major design overhaul. Here, the xenomorph’s limbs greatly atrophied, becoming tiny vestigial talons and the creature took to the sky. And while his head stayed suitably massive, this time it was stretched and elongated and covered with an armoured shell of interlocking carapace. The Zoanthrope’s stinger abdomen was replaced by a long whip-like tail upon which the model balanced on to look like it was floating. This redesign was a marvelous change, giving the model a memorable and immediately recognizable silhouette on the battlefield. A true triumph of design.
|The redesign of the Zoanthrope for the 3rd edition of 40k gave the creature a unique and memorable look, one that is maintained today.
|Since its introduction in the 2nd edition of 40k, the Zoanthrope has changed pretty dramatically in style. From left to right: 2nd edition; 3rd edition; 5th edition; 7th edition
Now with the new release, we finally have a plastic rendition of the Zoanthrope and it is truly something special. The kit does an excellent job of retaining the most visually defining aspects of the Zoanthropes of old, namely the large bulbous head and vestigial limbs. Importantly, it also takes these elements and refines them both visually and functionally. Never has the Zoanthrope looked more a part of the Tyranid range; elements such as its boxy ribcage and forked head crest mirror that seen in the tyranid warriors. While the sculptors decided to retain the chimney’s along its spine, they are a little more modest and thankfully they did away with the bottom-most one. The Zoanthrope’s characteristically enlarged head is now supported by a much more substantial neck that splits into three columns spread along the bottom of the creature’s head. Additionally, the its head is centered better than the previous versions, placing the Zoanthrope’s center of mass neatly in the middle of the base. This, coupled with it being cast in plastic, means that they will remain stoic and standing on the battlefield.
|Now in plastic, the new Zoanthrope takes all of the great visual aspects of previous releases and combines them into one fantastic set. They even included components to make a relative of the Doom of Malan'tai!
|The new Zoanthrope has a much more substantial three pronged neck to support its enormous head.
This Zoanthrope is going to find its way into my fledgling Tyranid force and will likely play an important role in my Tyranid Kill Team. At this point, I am still not sure if I want to assemble another Zoanthrope or try my hand at a Venomthrope or two. The poisonous miasma encircling them could provide the perfect smoke-screen for my advancing Kill Team! Hopefully you enjoyed my jaunt down memory lane looking at the humble Tyranid Zoanthrope's frightening evolution.