I've been a player of 40k since Rogue Trader days (although I was much younger then, and truth be told barely understood the rules...!) and one of my favourite units was the Imperial Guard Beastman Squads. These guys were fiercely loyal, fairly mediocre assault troops - but they were allowed to take some crazy upgrades! And I mean crazy: hand flamers, frenzon dispensers, all sorts of assault weapons. Ah, the good old days!
The idea of Beastmen in loyalist and traitor armies in 40k has been revisited lots of times since then:
- Under the original Imperial Guard army list, they were assault troops (discussed above);
- In the early Chaos Genestealer Cult list, Beastmen were available as large expendible squads;
- In the old Lost & Damned renegade list, they were available as mutants (I miss that army list; it literally made all manner of counts-as armies possible);
- As featured in White Dwarf UK 110, "Homo Sapiens Variatus" was introduced as a doctrine upgrade for conscript squads (although it was noted that "Beasts", as they were called in the article, of the cloven-footed variety were generally frowned upon and regarded as true mutants rather than abhumans);
- In the Imperial Armour: Siege of Vraks books from Forgeworld, Beastman Attack Squads were reintroduced as traitor units - lacking in the exotic upgrades of the original RT version, these guys otherwise had a fairly similar stat line;
- Most recently, the Homo Sapiens Variatus has been explicitly mentioned as a stable abhuman strain in the Appendeix of the 6th edition rulebook. That short reference was also noted in White Dwarf 391, which featured a single conversion.
I've revisted the idea of Beastmen troops many times. Many years ago, I made some rather shoddy conversions using WFB plastic bodies and adding Cadian arms. Here are the results...
I thought the idea needed more work, and so a couple of years later I came back to it. At around this time, I was working on an abhuman Cadian army, and decided on building a whole platoon of Beastmen. This time, I focused on rank-and-file and used a similar method to create the troopers:
... this was closer to my vision of the Imperial Beastman. However, the idea kept niggling me and when I started work on my Savlar Chem-Dogs, I returned to it. This time, under the 5th edition Guard codex, I decided to use the Beastmen as Penal Legion troopers. It's a bit hit and miss, but a good roll on the abilities table can reflect the nature of more feral Beastmen quite well...
Here is my most recent and probably best attempt:
These models also showcase well my preference for conversions and using lots of bits across a varied squad, whilst hopefully making the squad (or army) cohesive as well.
Comments appreciated as always!