Converting GW plastic zombies

February 23, 2010

A lot of people bash GW’s cheapish (£18 for 20 minis) plastic zombies for their crazy anatomy and medieval looks. While I agree with this, they’ve got one excellent thing going for them: plastic offers great conversion possibilities. Let’s take a look at what you can do with some cutting, green stuff and very little work.

The Doctor has had clothing crudely sculpted on. Since he is supposed to look rough, don’t worry too much about the quality of your sculpting. I didn’t.

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The Priest has simply had his shirt lengthened into a cassock (very crudely, I was very lazy with the GS) and a small cross added. He has also some added hair, unfortunately not visible in the picture. The model’s also a good example of the way posing brings character to your plastics.

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The Sports Fan is my answer to the question “who in their right mind would wear a cape these days?”, that springs from one of the plastic zombies having a torn cape on. I selected a suitable head and sculpted a cap on, and cut away weapons from a couple of hands to make it look like he’s still cheering for his favourite team even in undeath.

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The Axed Zombie is one of my favourites. I love it when miniatures tell a little story. In here the story’s pretty simple, with someone having chopped the arm off a zombie, only to have the fire axe catch in the zombie’s side. The axe is simply a leftover from some fantasy mini in my bits box, that I painted red to create the impression of a fire axe. The unceremoniusly cut off the zombie’s arm and carved the axe blade to fit nicely into the zombie’s side. You don’t have to be too careful, since the polystyrene cement will melt the plastic a bit. Since that’s how it works.

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The Lady is another fast conversion. Take a zombie, roughly sculpt on some hair, add breasts and use the entrails from the plastics set. Cover all rough sculpting with gratuitous gore, and voilà!

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The Goth aka Mr. Angsty is a regular zombie with a mop of hair sculpted on. The paint job makes him one of those The Crow -fanboys that suddenly realizes that not everyone thet comes back from the dead becomes a rock star.

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The fact that the zombies are plastic of course means that they can be easily mixed and matched with GW’s and other manufacturers’ plastic sets. Two examples follow.

The Soldier is a combination of a GW Catachan jungle fighter torso and legs with emaciated zombie arms. Some gore and a reaching, open hand as well as the right head from the set leave no doubts about his health. For added effect I drilled a few bullet holes in his chest.

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The Roast Zombie tops off this gallery. A skeletal torso  from the zombie set combined with jungle fighter legs with a suitable paintjob give the appearance of a horribly burnt zombie that just keeps on coming. True, the waistline is a bit wonky, but you could easily fix it with a bit of GS. It didn’t bug me. And yes, the eye would have burnt away too, but it’s much more effective like this, no?

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And that’s it! Time to get a set and go wild. As wild as miniature gamers do, anyway.


  1. A cool and unique bunch of zombies!


  2. Mikko, I really like what you’ve done with these conversions. I agree that the beauty of plastics is that it is far easier to work with and convert than metal. However, nothing will convince me to add the GW plastic zombies to my horde. I absolutely hate them! You described the anatomy of them as being wonky. That’s being kind! The anatomy of these is an absolute travesty. It’s such a shame that GW allowed these to pass quality control as the vast majority of their plastic sculpts are first rate. Still, I take nothing away from your work and it’s great to see you posting some painted figures. More please!


    • Thanks for the comments, guys!

      I really understand how the cartoony anatomy – especially the massive hands – irks people. To me however the characterful faces and the customization potential offered by plastic override the anatomy flaws. Also, I’ve noticed that I’m much more lenient towards such little flaws when dealing with zombies, as I’m pretty much willing to throw anything into the horde, be they WF with their soft detail, GW with cartoon paws or HorrorClix that stand head and shoulders taller than the others.

      More pictures of painted stuff coming up, as my next post will probably deal with the rest of my painted horde – that is shamefully small I must admit!


      • A tip. after your “rework” has dried-spray it with clear coat or schlack the colors will lose the cheap washed look.


        • Thanks for the tip, although I don’t quite get what you mean by “cheap washed look”. Care to elaborate? The models have been matt varnished.


      • poor choice of words? refering to where you can see the original color of the plastic and the stroke marks, especially when white is use.


        • Ah, I see! It’s not the original plastic colour, but the black basecoat. It’s intentional on these models to make them look dirty and unkempt.


  3. I love the GW plastic zombies. Mikko, what you have done with them is a lot more effort than I put into mine, and it shows: yours are really sweet 🙂

    Apart from the aforementioned potential for the burned guys trousers falling down, he is my favourite, although that really is a nice spread of figures, showing exactly what is good about the kit.

    When I got my GW plastic zeds together it was in a big rush for a deadline. It shows to be honest, and so I wont use any of my examples to illustrate my thoughts regarding the set: yours more than do the set justice anyway 🙂

    When I first bought the GW plastic zombies it was purely to use the heads with my space marines. They fit very well with those figures and gave me a zombie-ish Nurgle Chaos Space Marine army (self promotion alert here…) which got in the top 5 painted army in a UK 40k Grand Tournament and subsequently got published in UK White Dwarf. Which was nice.

    My point being that the components of the GW kit, while a little cartoony, are well within parameters set by other figures available. The detail on the zombie kit is very good too, particularly considering that it is a decade old now.

    To be honest, I never understood what people were getting worked up about with that set: its awesome IMO. I love their big flapping hands.

    Finally, I am glad to see more of your painted stuff too. Personally, I like the zombie pop culture stuff but its painted and converted miniatures that I am interested in seeing (although thats just my preference obviously 🙂 )


    • Thanks Paul!

      God, is the set really that old already…incredible. I think it’s held its own and still does. Wouldn’t mind it if GW made another zombie set. I’ve been fooling around with the Wargames Factory ones, and they lack the character and detail that GW’s set offers. They have their uses as bigger mobs, but they don’t really hold their own as individual models.

      It’s a nice change for me as well to be blogging about my minis. I was slipping a bit into only blogging about zombie pop culture, but am now steadily making my way back to the fold so to speak. I’m liking it 😀


  4. Im glad to hear that you are enjoying moving your emphasis back towards figures and the like.

    I would be first in line for a new set of GW plastic zombies, although I could see myself picking up just one more box of the old guys if that happened, just in case I needed them at a later date… I would hate to run out 😀

    I dont have any WF zombies, I must pick up a sprue some time. They do look a bit “off” to me, but I am sure that they have their uses.

    I dont know if you have heard of Mantic Games but they are in the process of releasing their plastic Undead army at the moment. They dont have plastic fantasy zombies (yet at least…) but they do have some rather nice looking ghouls.


    Additionally, they have a “free worldwide shipping” offer at the moment (put “FREEDELWW” in the discount code section). Beware, it seems to just cover shipping, not packing which is a bit disingenuous but it does mean that a set of 10 ghouls is about €16 delivered to your door. Not bad.

    I bought a set to see if I can get them beaten into shape as “fast” modern zombies. They were designed by Bob Naismith (I think…) and they look quite cool. Mantic sent out some free sample Elves last year that I thought were great, if a little slight (not a problem for elf miniatures as far as I am concerned) so I am hopeful that the ghouls will be equally good.

    Of course, being plastic they are potentially very versatile (even if they do look like they might be wearing modern bathrobes. Now theres an idea…).


    • Ooh, those do look nice! I think they’d be good as fast zombies, as well as feral vampires (such as those in Blade 2). Do let me know how they’re in the flesh – or plastic I guess – as I might easily be persuaded to buy some.


  5. The Mantic Ghouls arrived this morning and they look great. Proportions are much more in line than the GW guys and the detail is really great.

    Even better is that the figures are unarmed but supplied with seperate Freddy Kruger style claw, cleaver and sharpened leg bone 🙂 I prefer unarmed zeds when possible and I was afraid that I would have to cut off a lot of hands holding weapons, so thats great as far as I am concerned.

    You read my mind re the heads 🙂 I am using metal zombie heads to convert my GW ghouls into Chargers at the moment and I plan to use the unused GW Ghoul heads to “turn” some modern civilians into Buffy style vamps. The Mantic Ghouls will add some more variety to that too.

    I am very pleased with the Mantic ghouls. I would be surprised if anyone reading would be disapointed with them 🙂


  6. Me again. Sorry about the consecutive posting but I need to correct an earlier comment that I made:

    There was an error with my Mantic order when I was charged postage. There should have been no additional charge over the cost of the box as orinted on the site (€11.50).

    Mantic have sorted out the issue with my order in a very professional manner so dont let what I mentioned in an earier post put you off buying anything from them. For €11.50 those Ghouls are an absolute bargain 🙂


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