Gyrinx – L to R: Mr D’Arcy, Paul

I got a little distracted from my ongoing and quite substantial DreadBall project over the last few days and painted these two guys.  I did base one of the figures for use as a DreadBall coach though, so I didnt get completely sidetracked.

These furry little predators are domestic cat models bought from the sadly very soon to be no more Mega Miniatures, painted to represent a bit of old school 40k nonsense called “Gyrinx”.

Gyrinx as illustrated in Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader, 1987

Gyrinx as illustrated in Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader, 1987

According to the first Warhammer 40,000 rulebook (AKA Rogue Trader):

A Gyrinx resembles a large cat, with very thick and fluffy ginger or orange fur and bright blue eyes.  They can grow to as much as a metre in length.  Gyrinx are not intelligent as such, but they have an astounding ability to empathise with other creatures, forming a mental bond with their owner which is comparable to true friendship.  This mental empathy is of great benefit to the creatures owner, whose own speed of thought and action are actually improved whilst the Gyrinx is in close proximity.  What benefit the Gyrinx obtains from the relationship is unclear, but there is plainly some deep-seated need being fulfilled, because an ownerless Gyrinx will actively seek out and adopt some other creature.  Oddly enough, Gyrinx show a slow metabolic change so that they come to resemble their owner physically, tempermentally and in habit.

Obviously, these are creatures of great value, and unlikely to be owned by ordinary people.  Typically they would be owned by Inquisitors, Rogue Traders, high-level members of the priesthood and the like.  Even evil aliens might own a Gyrinx – the creatures inherit their morality from their owner so they can be pretty mean!”


An eldar warlock hanging out with his gyrinx master from Warhammer 40,000 rulebook 4th edition, 2004

The original 40k book was full of daft little entries like that, more like something from a RPG bestiary than from the modern Codices.  The aim of the game at the time was to have as many ways as possible for players to use various miniatures that they already had in their collections, rather than prescriptive lists from which deviation is not allowed.  There are pros and cons to both approaches of course, but 40K was a very different beast in those days.

A few of the entries were defined by the various other miniature ranges that GW produced at the time, with the model of Dave the orangutan mayor of Mega City One from the GW Judge Dredd range being the inspiration for the Jokaero for example.

Although I am bit out of touch with the 40k background these days, I am pretty sure that there hasnt been any proper reference to gyrinx since the eighties (although you can see in the picture above that there was a sly reference to gyrinx in the 2004 rulebook).

Work Night Out, 41st Millennium style

Work Night Out, 41st Millennium style

I bought a few cat models for use in the long stalled, but definitely still going to happen Personal Vanity Project, (I like cats). I had planned to paint up a few as gyrinx for ages, so painting these two was a satisfying little diversion.  The description above states specific colours for the fur and eyes of a gyrinx, but I went ahead and painted mine in exotic space-alien colours.

GW did make a limited edition gyrinx model back in the eighties but it goes for daft money on Ebay these days.  It isnt a particularly knock out model (it has a bit of a Looney Toons, Sylvester the cat, cartoony vibe).  All of that said of course if anyone reading this has one that they are willing to part with then let me know and we might be able to make a deal.  Death Ferrets also glady accepted  🙂

Failing the procurement of vintage, oddball space cat miniatures these domestic cat models are perfectly suitable for that role.  The blue model above will take part in my WH40k Skirmish project whenever I get that off the ground.

Sideline Staff

Sideline Staff

For the laugh I based the purple cat up for use in DreadBall as a coach.  If you read the background text above you will see that the notion of a mildly psychic cat granting enhanced reflexes and cognitive agility to players from the sidelines isnt that much of a stretch.  It makes as much sense as anything involving psychic space cats does really.


13 Responses

  1. Very nice painting, as always. I like the way you’ve varied the colours across the faces in particular.

    Interestingly, these cats work better as metre-long aliens than as real pussy-cats, as they’d be colossal. For some reason (presumably due to ease of sculpting) most small animal miniatures are really large. One of the worst offenders is Wyrd’s Canine Remains which are about the comparative size of a shetland pony despite being various small dog breeds.


    • Thanks Argentbadger, the cats were a fun and fast paint job. I took a close look at the markings on my four pet cats before I painted the figures and tried to simplify it a bit, almost as if I were trying to make an easily repeated design for a cat character in a cel animated movie, if you know what I mean. A visual shorthand.

      The end result is nothing like as complicated as the markings on a real cat of course, but the pale areas around the mouth and chest plus the darker patterning from the forehead down the spine (not really very visible in the photos) gives a pleasing somehow “familiar” effect. The simplified look somehow resonates some sort of authenticity at least. As far as giant blue psychic space cats should resonate authenticity that is 😉

      I agree wholeheartedly about 28mm animal sizing. Miniature dogs are often large enough to be mounted on cavalry bases, which says it all really. And dont even get me started on how small old metal horse miniatures used to be.

      I have a few zombie dogs from the “Zombies” game painted up for use in 28mm.. They are roughly the size of a collie or sheepdog in comparison with most 28mm figures which should be just about perfect, if maybe even slightly larger than the average domestic dog. But gamers regularly mention how small those guys are. If I saw a real life dog the same size as most miniature dogs I would assume that an avatar of Gozer wasnt far behind.

      The cats here are fine as some sort of lynx-like alien cat, something a little like Bubastis from Watchmen. I have one model lined up to paint as a ginger cat like Jones for my Aliens project. It will be a bit on the large size for that, but I will get over it.

      The Malifaux canine remains, while nice figures are absolutely huge. And one of them is a chihuahua…

      Thanks for the feedback.


  2. my favourite blog post of the week, well done cracking stuff, also being a cat lover I am looking for cat miniatures now


  3. They look sweet dude. Now we need a scenario involving a subgame where the Melmacian has to abscond with the navigators grynx…

    If you have a spare one of those cats left I would gladly home of of them, a grynx is deffo one for the RT enthusiast. I am toying with the idea of sculpting a death ferret in the future as it should be relatively easy to do with my amount of ability with the green stuff. 😉

    It would be funny to cast some of them up into an army of cats!


    • Thanks otto. We need to work a ratling chef into that scenario too.

      As you know, I am ready and waiting to play some 41st Millenium themed 7TV games. Scenery, models, rules and everything else are all ready. Its up to you to put your arse on a train and pay a visit and we can just get it done. Get your astropath to talk to my astropath, stat! We’re not getting any younger…

      I have put a gyrinx in hypersleep and it will be on the next freighter out of here (tomorrow).


  4. […] the palette.  That makes four of the little space scamps that I have painted to date (including Mister Darcy, my DreadBall Offensive Coach who I forgot to picture here for some […]


  5. […] one is not so random. It is not a cat, but a Gyrinx (see here). It will accompany a psyker, probably Imperial or Eldar. It is an excellent model, and I wish I […]


  6. […] Gyrinx: psychic space cat and psyker’s familiar. He will be named Trim, after the cat belonging to Matthew Flinders, which seemed appropriate for a space-faring psychic cat and also a nice nod to a piece of Australian history. […]


  7. […] have spent time in my real life prepping miniature space cats for my imaginary life, as can be seen here, here, here, here, here, here and here.  A photo of the first one that I worked on, the […]


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