A desirable vintage piece of Rogue Trader lead joins my Deathworld Flora and Fauna project today: the Ambull.


As per Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, p.207

“Ambulls originate from the dangerously hot polar rock-deserts of Luther McIntyre IX.  They can survive extremely hot temperatures for long periods, a factor which has led to attempts at domestication on several desert planets.  As a consequence, Ambulls can be found on many planets throughout human space.”


“Ambulls have huge barrel-chested bodies and an ape-like stance.  Two arms reach almost to the ground whilst two legs are crooked and short.  Both arms and legs end in iron hard claws used for tunneling through the soft stone that covers their native land.  Ambulls will excavate tunnels in which to live, spending much of their time underground, sheltering from the direct heat of the sun.  This subterranean lifestyle is shared with many of Luther McIntyre’s inhabitants, including the Ambulls’s favourite food, the Crawler.”


“Ambulls will pursue Crawlers and other prey through the soft rock by tunneling at considerable speed.  The Ambull’s huge expandable jaws are then used to grab and yank the food from the loose rubble.  These jaws make the creature look extremely ferocious and are it s most characteristic feature. The Ambull’s eyes are adapted to sense heat, giving infra-vision at all ranges.  The creatures live in family groups, often occupying the same tunnel system for years on end, slowly excavating a vast underground network many miles long.  While specially evolved to live below the surface, they adapt well to most environments and will eat all manner of living creatures.”


The Ambull is one of the very few wandering monster type models that Citadel ever manufactured for 40k back when the rulebook was full of those sorts of things.  From horses, to harridans to hamadrya plenty of miniature creatures have been made for the game, but by and large they have consisted of part of the military forces lined up on the table, rather than wild animals with their own agendas.  This makes the Ambull something of a Rogue Trader poster boy and definitely one of the highlights of this project for me.


The model is covered in a number of interesting, different textures which correspond pretty directly with the illustration from the book.  There is a peculiar, vaguely Giger bio-tech look to some of the tubing and other parts of the model which is simultaneously part of its charm and slightly off-putting to me.

While I wanted the Ambull to look unfamiliar and unlike real life Earth creatures, I didnt want to miniature to look like it was artificially created in any way.  I wanted it to look like the man-in-a-suit monster that might have attacked William Shatner or Gil Gerard in an old sci-fi tv show, not like a post-modern fusion of technology and the artificial.  That shtick is reserved for other toy soldier projects.


After a lot of hemming and hawing about what colour to paint the model where many different exotic schemes were proposed, I went for a greyish brown and purple with fairly traditional bone claws and mandibles.

I wanted my Ambull to look unique, but also to look vaguely credible as an animal that crawls its way around underground most of the time, with a scuffed, worn look to its armoured areas.  Painting the fleshier parts purple worked as a decent enough contrast. Miniature sci-fi wouldnt be sci-fi without peculiar looking eyes either of course, but I think that the big fella still looks plausible within the constraints of the imaginary universe that it inhabits.


While I have many more models planned for this project the Ambull completes the holy trinity of Rogue Trader bestiary predators as I see them, the Robin, Maurice and Gary Gibb of the project.



26 Responses

  1. So the Ambull is the drummer?


  2. Nice work. I never got an Ambull back in the RT days, and have wanted to get hold of one ever since. Yours certainly looks the part for the big scary monster of the RT days!


    • The Ambull never drew my attention that much back then either: there were always Eldar and Space Marines to draw my limited funds.

      As my Deathworld project has progressed an Ambull became more of a requirement. It’s the definitive Deathworld monster of the era really. It’s fun to have ticked it off the bucket list.

      Thanks for the feedback.


  3. Only in the 40K universe would people look at something like this and say “yeah, we should try to farm those”.


    • Heh.

      When you look at it like that then even the approach taken by the Soylent Corporation seems like less of a headache 😉


  4. Beautiful. I am quite jealous. I wonder if that’s the ambull I saw on e-bay and lost. 😉 Congrats. Well done.


    • Thanks David, I’m glad that you like it.

      Despite temptation over the years, I have never bid on an Ambull on Ebay, so it wasn’t me. I picked this one up via a trading group on Facebook.

      If it makes you feel any better there are numerous models that I see in your games that I desire with a Gollum like passion…


  5. Nice and simple. Good jorp, Paul! There’s not much to say about my most favourite space-Gumby except “the aaarchitect sketch!”.

    Will be interesting to see what’s coming next as the list of interesting critters grows ever shorter.


    • The scheme is simple for sure, but it pops pretty well I think. It will be quite a while before I get around to covering everything on the Flora and Fauna list, even if I am making some headway with it currently. I do find these things to be good palette cleansers between larger projects.

      The Ambull is a particularly iconic one to tick off the list though 🙂


      • I really like the bone-white trim on the carapace. It does indeed pop. =) I think the last year or so, your painting have improved greatly from an already high level. Standing the catachan devil next to the ambull and it’s almost as if they were painted by different painters. I know you still would, even if I said nothing – but keep at it! =D


        • Thanks very much Mattias.
          In fairness, the Devil was deliberately painted extremely quickly: I didnt want to get too involved with a big rubbery old Bones piece and I knew that I could get it to an acceptable state in an hour or two.
          I do think that I have improved my painting a bit this year all the same. I will keep at it though 🙂


  6. I love him & the other two as well, GW has move away from these kind of models but for me in away they really are what 40K is, a weird & wonderful place to get lost in.

    A great project & I can’t wait to see what comes next.


  7. Hey, that’s a nice addition. I’ll be waiting for the Diego version, but yours will be a reference for sure!


    • I will definitely be adding the Diego model to my Deathworld as soon as he releases it. I am looking forward to tying the two together with the colour scheme shown.


  8. Joyous, a real signature model to have in the collection. The colour scheme worked a treat, and wonderfully highlighted. I look forward to having him charge out of a bush at my hapless minions.


    • Thanks Mr S, it is a bit of a “grail” model and a correspondingly satisfying miniature to get finished. I will repeat the scheme on a second not-ambull model in the not too distant future I think: I am pleased with how the colours on this one worked out.

      As for leaping put of bushes, as per our discussion at Brocon, I think that this guy (who needs a name) will be the go-to representative of that Pulp Alley Fortune card that causes a damaging area to appear. A classic model like this deserves some regular screen time 🙂


  9. A classic model, one that I never added to my collection when I could. Outstanding paint work.


  10. Beautiful paint job as always. Reminds me a lot of a hook horror. The other miniatures and alien world vegetation are also very nice. Is the worm a Reaper Bones?


    • Thanks daggerandbrush.

      The Ambull does look a bit like a Hook Horror. My knowledge of D&D is very limited, but I think that the Ambull is based on a fusion of the Hook Horror and the Umber Hulk.

      The post on the vegetation is HERE if you want to take a look.

      The “Catachan Devil” is a very quickly painted Reaper Ice Wyrm. The post on that is HERE.

      Thanks for the feedback 🙂


  11. Very nice painting! I’m looking forward to seeing more Rogue Trader monsters on your blog.


    • Thanks Marcus.

      There were very few official models made for the monsters in the RT bestiary, but its fun to locate suitable substitutes from different ranges here and there and add them to the project. The continually updated list is HERE.


  12. […] care.  To this day the ambull is one of my favourite minis, and I’m glad to see it gets a lot of love today, and has inspired a few imitators (like this excellent crawling insectoid).  Not bad for something […]

    Liked by 1 person

  13. […] Ambull did eventually get its own model, here’s sho3box’s rendition and here’s Jason […]

    Liked by 1 person

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