Saturday, March 03, 2012

Hive Fleet Moloch: What happened to Moloch?

Alas, poor Moloch, I knew him, Horatio...
/Flame On/
When trying to amass photos for this article, I googled "Hive Fleet Moloch," and I found a thread on Heresy Online or some similar forum, wherein someone said he/she was starting an army using the Hive Fleet Moloch colour scheme, but he/she had no idea what the Hive Fleet Moloch paint scheme was. Then someone else replied to the post, saying that as there was no scheme described in the codex or on lexicanum online, the original poster could paint Hive Fleet Moloch ANY COLOUR HE/SHE WANTED.

The reference to Hive Fleet Moloch wound up in the fifth edition Tyranid codex solely as a nod to the very talented German artist Marco Schulze who originated it back between second and third edition. It was recognition for years of dedication to one of the original extensively converted Hive Fleets.
/Flame Off/

So, in a vain attempt to avoid this happening again, and in the hope of leaving this article as a reference for new Tyranid collectors everywhere, I present to you...

Hive Fleet Moloch

Now, if you've been eating your biomass and keeping in touch with synapse, you, likely, know all about Hive Fleet Moloch, but in case you missed something, or in case the fleet has fallen off the astronomicon, I'll give you a bit of a personalized tour.
UPDATE: Marco Schulze/Hive Fleet Moloch lives again! You can not follow his work on his Hive Fleet Moloch Instagram profile!

I first discovered Hive Fleet Moloch when I ran across the following images on Agis' site (never heard of Agis? Check out his 40K models, particularly his Dark Harlequins):

It was a pose far more dynamic than the standard "put your talons up in the air!" flying tyrants to which we'd become accustomed. It had a vector to it: an unmistakeable direction that it was heading, and it was going to tear apart anything in its path. Oh, and there was that wicked base to boot, making good use of dried-out shellfish to stand in for tyranid structures.

...and that wasn't all:

Which, really, was par for the course when it came to Moloch and his Tyranids. While the rest of us were still getting used to multi-posable warriors, and vaguely posable gaunts, Marco was going above and beyond, using all manner of pins and supports to demand more of his Nids.

I know that this kind of stuff is pretty standard these days, where the explosion of message boards and modeling blogs has pushed us all out over the edge as far as modeling is concerned. In order to understand how mind-bending Moloch's models were, you have to take them in context. Moloch was making these models nearly ten years ago, when we were all still poking around on Yahoo! Groups and trying to get our heads around these new-fangled "digital" cameras. In those days, our greatest source for modeling inspiration was still White Dwarf, and White Dwarf had never shown us Nids like this.

Thus, we members of the [Tyranids] YahooGroup got on the horn and invited this Moloch guy to the board, and the good times flowed:
 Venom Cannon-totting Spiderfex

 Spider Zoanthrope

 Spider Tyrant with Venom Cannon (sorry about the obnoxious crops)

Venom Cannon-totting Snake Tyrant (that's still my favourite Venom Cannon ever)

A Biovore inspired by Warren Beattie's Dominatrix Sketch

Some Hormagaunts, including an artefact of the old Mutable Genus/Mutant rules 

 Some more of that fantastic Moloch posing on a Leaping warrior

 Winged Warriors (once again, the obnoxious crops are due to the fact that I had to mine these photos from the poor Dark Millennium article on Hive Fleet Moloch >:(  )

Raveners! Sorry I don't have the one trying to eat the cat 

 Moloch had plastic Gargoyles before you did...unfortunately their wings were metal

 Genestealers! (the crap crops left out the snake stealer on the right)

 Remember when Spinegaunts were the cannon fodder of choice? These feature another mutant: the Warrior head is meant to represent a Hive Node (LD10 to help with Synapse/Instinctive Behaviour)

Those last lictors are some of my all-time favourite. I even had the dubious honour of watching some random kid smash one of them when Moloch brought them out to Games Day Toronto 2009 :S
They were converted from the original, 2nd Edition Lictor model, and I believe that Moloch once told me that he'd been mostly inspired by this...

...which we've talked about before, and which I still think is the most bad-ass depiction of a Lictor I've ever seen. I'm pretty sure Moloch's got a signed, giant print of this above his modeling workspace. Lucky bugger.

Somewhere along the line, Moloch and I became Brood Brothers. After corresponding via email for a bit, I was eventually asked to write some fluff pieces for, and though the website is currently down and being squatted upon for a ridiculously high ransom, the Way Back Machine allowed me access to the six bits of fluff I wound up writing. Going back to read them, they aren't as cringe-y as I had worried they might be.

That brings up another important thing about Moloch: he was all about the story. He didn't get into Tyranids because they were brilliant at combat in game, or because they were a swarm army. He got into Tyranids and stayed with them throughout the many iterations of this game because, in his eyes, they had the best story. They came for you in the dark recesses of space hulks. They sowed seeds in the air to poison or mutate you. They were biologically insidious, and no matter what you thought, your fate was sealed.

Hive Fleet Moloch's Mindslaves

It is because of this story that Moloch poses his Tyranids so dynamically; it is because of this story that Moloch photographs his models in such cinematic settings.

When Moloch creates Tyranids, he isn't building models for a game, he is recreating the Alien films >:)

And, just like anyone who got into Tyranids for the "Monsters From Spaaaaace!" angle, Moloch was not content to stick to teeny-tiny monsters:

And, sadly, due to Hive Fleet Moloch being down, and the Way Back Machine only having certain images preserved, the following was all I could find of his ridiculous Harridan Vs. Van Zan (based on the mad scene from Reign of Fire where a dude takes on a dragon by jumping into the air with an axe) diorama Moloch made. What's missing is the Deathwatch transport Land Speeder (this was years before the Land Speeder Storm) that he's jumping from, and all of the scenery that Moloch included on the base.

...and that's the sad bit about this post. Though I've managed to mine the web for a bunch of decent pictures of Moloch's Tyranids, there are so many more I wasn't able to the deathgaunts, which made the second edition hormagaunts actually took terrifying/even more xenomorphic by trading their weird faces for ripper swarm heads, or Moloch's zoanthrope-inspired answer to the TERRIBLE Tyrant Guard models in 3rd Edition.

That being said, there are definitely still more to come. I didn't want to flood this post, so there will be at least two, maybe three more Hive-Fleet-Moloch-related posts coming. Here's a hint of the direction the next one will take >:)


  1. Always great to see Moloch in action. My favorite by far is the leaping shrike; very dynamic posing. :)

  2. Ahhh Hive Fleet Moloch. It always gives me a nostalgic feeling since they are the reason I started tyrannies :D

  3. I saw this army in person at a GT in Nottingham (in 2001 Id say, but I am unsure). Easily one of the most impressive looking armies that I have ever seen, if not simply the best.

    Spectacular stuff. The beautifully painted red is striking without being gaudy. The love, care and attention gone into the entire army is apparent at a glance and extra details show up upon every subsequent examination.

    One negative point: while the amount of work put into this project is incredible and the stories told by each mini-diorama are fantastic and evocative, the army is something of a nightmare to play a game of 40k with or against I imagine.

    Delicate, heavy and precious items covered in hooks and barbs and balanced on tall scenic bases dont make for good gaming pieces. Beautiful, lush dioramas definitely, but impractical toy soldiers I think. It is (IMO at least) a form following function thing.

    I feel sorry for that poor kid that smashed the Lictor at Games Day, he must have been mortified.

    I am looking forward to seeing more Moloch photos.

  4. God I love Hive Fleet Moloch. Every time I see these models I think "I wish I had that" because they all look so amazing. The poses set the scene and I can envision the battle in my head.

  5. Yeah, Jack, and he did these YEARS ago...back when we didn't have as much plastic to work with :P

    A number of these models are actually pewter.

  6. Wow. I just now happened upon this series and it’s a real walk down memory lane. Moloch’s Kroot Renegades were the original rebel Kroot that inspire me and so many others to rush out and make Kroot Merc armies. 10+ years later and my Ironbeaks ( are still just an attempt to make something as cool and inspiring as Marco did. If he ever sees this, thank you Marco!

    1. Yes! Amazing! Glad to hear it!

      And we've found each other on Instagram now, right?

      A good many people were inspired by Marco's renegades. Kind of makes me wish he did more of them...and also that he was more active on social media with his hobby stuff these days :P

    2. Indeed we have connected on Instagram! I’m sure if it was a big thing back in 2005, Ar’Rak’s Renegades would be on there.