Start Collecting! Skeleton Horde Review

This week we are taking a look at another Start collecting set with our Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review

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Start Collecting: Skeleton Horde Review – Summary

The Skeleton Horde is a fantastic, great value boxed set packed with choice, variety, and some really lovely models – but is not for the inexperienced or the faint-hearted.

Start Collecting: Skeleton Horde Review – Introduction

“Start Collecting”. What does that say to you?

When I first went into Games Workshop at the start of this year with enquiries about where best to start with the hobby, the member of staff who greeted me at the door gave me the hard sell on the Start Collecting! sets. They were, as he far more eloquently and charismatically put it, the perfect place for someone like me, coming back to the hobby after a long break, to dive right back in.

The Start Collecting! sets, I was told, had everything I needed: a range of units with different abilities and gameplay mechanics, enough models to form a reasonable force with a fighting chance on the tabletop, and all the warscrolls for the units included in their construction guides. It was, as he pointed out whilst eyeing the till, also extremely good value for newcomers to the hobby.

I bought a Start Collecting! box a few weeks later, a review of which can be found here. It felt like the right thing to do, as a new starter to the hobby. “The range is called the Start Collecting range, after all,” I thought to myself. You find it under the “Start Here” heading on Games Workshop’s website. Whilst they are nonetheless simultaneously intended for experienced players looking to take up a new army, the Start Collecting! range is indisputably marketed towards new players. They are, in essence, springboards to get new starters, you know, started.

So, I ask you again: “Start Collecting”. What does that say to you?

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Boxed Game

The Skeleton Horde box is, like all the Start Collecting! sets, marketed for novices and newbies. It’s a jump-start into Grand Alliance Death, and a quick-fire way of getting a cohort of models for a faction and a fast-track to the tabletop. Whilst veterans and more experienced hobbyists will buy this to expand or start new armies, the market is undeniably aimed at the new player: a super-value box of ultra-cool models (I mean, look at Arkhan, astride his Dread Abyssal, Razarak, looming over his minions; who wouldn’t want this?), these sets are designed to sucker in the unexpecting and get them hooked on plastic amphetamines.

But this set is not for beginners.

Start Collecting: Skeleton Horde Review – Contents and Points

  • 1 x Mortarch
    • Neferata and Mannfred are both 380 points;
    • Arkhan is 340
  • 10 x Skeleton Warriors
    • 80 Points
  • 5 x Black Knights/Hexwraiths
    • Black Knights are 120,
    • Hexwraiths are 140

Start Collecting: Skeleton Horde Review – Models

There are some really fabulous models in this box.

The Mortarchs, Mannfred, Mortarch of Night, Nefarata, Mortarch of Blood, and Arkhan the Black, Mortarch of Sacrament, all look absolutely great. Their mounts capitalise on the eerie sculpt of the Ossiarch Bonereapers – behemoths of bone fuelled by the screaming souls of the dead. They also each have their own unique look, and whilst their mounts must be assembled in the same pose, there are options for small build differences between them to ensure each is unique in its own right.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Mortarch Comparison
Mannfred, Mortarch of Night, Nefarata, Mortarch of Blood, and Arkhan the Black, Mortarch of Sacrament

The Hexwraiths, bathed in flickering arcane fire, look wonderfully unique, whilst the Black Knights perfectly encapsulate that creepy, fresh-from-the-grave look in their battered armour, astride their undead horses.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Reviwe  Black Knights and Hexwraiths Comparison
Black Knights and Hexwraiths

But for me, the ten Skeleton Warriors themselves are the real heroes of this box. Each has been rendered in unique detail, with enough variant weapons, shields, heads, and torsos to give your horde of shambling corpses the exact look you desire. From cracked wooden shields to engraved metal bucklers, and rust-gnawed swords to pennant-adorned spears, there are enough options in this box for you to really make your skeletal warriors your own.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Skeleton Warriors
Spooky scary Skeleton (Warriors) send shivers down your spine.

There’s a lot of diversity in the set, as well as a lot of variation between the available models. Whilst your Skeleton Warriors can be mixed and matched with their parts to your heart’s content, and you might struggle to choose between the forbidding Black Knights and ghastly Hexwraiths, the real dilemma awaits in choosing which the three three gorgeous Mortarchs it is you want to be leading your undead army.

Start Collecting: Skeleton Horde Review – Building

My experience building the Skeleton Horde box is undoubtedly coloured by the high expectations set by the Start Collecting! Stormcast Eternals Thunderstrike Brotherhood box (which, in a previous article, I argued might possibly be one of the best things to buy as a new hobbyist). I envisaged a single, glossy booklet with clearly numbered and labelled diagrams, walking me step-by step from the most basic unit up to the most advanced.

There is no such luxury with the Skeleton Horde.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Box Contents
Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Box Contents 2

The box comes with a separate instruction booklet for each unit, which in itself isn’t a problem. The issue is that they all come in different levels of detail. Arkhan, as the most complex mini included in the box by a long way, has, as you might suspect, an assembly guide about as long as a comic book, whilst the assembly guide provided for the Skeleton Warriors is rudimentary at best, and that for the Black Knights/Hexwraiths isn’t much better. They’re not as clear as they could be, and there are even some mistakes in them.

Building: Skeleton Warriors

For the Skeleton Warriors, the assembly guide does not provide numerical references to match any of the building components to. The pictures in the booklet are quite small, the print quality is fairly poor, and everything is black and white – some people might find it difficult to pick out the individual components and match them up with those on the sprue. I certainly did. Though this is done with the best intentions in mind, as there are plenty of heads, shields, swords, and bodies to mix-and-match for your models, it not necessarily off to as good a start as it could be, especially considering that there is at least one error printed in the assembly guide: one reasonably fundamentalcomponent on the Skeleton Warrior Standard Bearer – that being his titular standard – is pictured the wrong way round in the assembly guide. The whole thing reeks of a last-minute inclusion.

You won’t be able to get the standard on the way round the guide is telling you to…

And then it comes to putting the little sods together.

First off, these little fellows are little. Before this, my experience of minis this size had come from the Chainrasp Horde from issue one of Mortal Realms, who were each made from two or three reasonably well-sized parts that could be push-fitted and went onto their bases without so much as a creak of protest. The Skeleton Warriors, though, are a far-cry from this. Each figure is broken into at least seven parts: the base, legs and pelvis, the torso, the right arm with a weapon, the left arm, a shield, and finally the head. Given the size of each component, this is challenging.

But issues really come to a head with sprue design and layout. One recurrant issue I had with the Skeleton Warriors was that many components were attached to the sprue by the area intended to be glued to another part. For example, many of the skulls were attached to the sprue in the same place they were intended to be affixed to the skeletons’ necks. In removing these from the sprue, this left a very small, rough area that no-longer married up with the top of the skeleton’s neck. Now, this in itself is easy enough to fix with a fine file or mould-line remover, but this was further complicated by the torsos being attached to the sprue by the necks and the base of the spine, which in turn makes marrying the lower spine up with the pelvis tricky, and the top of the neck, which you will have to file, with the base of the skull, which you will also have to file, downright difficult.

I could not get these little bastards to go together. Was it the warm day that slowed the glue drying? Was it my six-foot-four-with-big-hands-and-sausage-fingers build that held me back (I must’ve looked like Gulliver trying to put a desiccated Lilliputian back together)? Or was it the fact these skeletons are just tiny and fiddly? Probably a bit of all three, but by the time the last bony boy had his spear in his hand, I was glad to have them done.

The fact they are so small and fiddly will make the Skeleton Warriors a serious challenge for the recently initiated. That these chaps require some really careful cutting and filing work that most newcomers to the hobby simply aren’t going to have either the skill or tools to face makes them even more difficult to handle – I, with modest experience, a Citadel cutter and mould-line remover to my name – found the Skeleton Horde difficult to piece together.

Not, perhaps, the smashing start I was hoping for.

Building: Black Knights

Being able to choose between Black Knights or Hexwraiths is a nice touch with this set, and there are a few customisation options available for the Black Knights that drew me to them over the Hexwraiths – but that’s really just a personal preference.

From the get-go, the Black Knights are easier to put together than the Skeleton Warriors – though their assembly guide isn’t much better. Sure, the components are numbered, but the guide only shows you how to assemble one of the skeletal warhorses and then leaves you to figure out the rest yourself. Again, if you’re new to the hobby or you’re determined you can try and match up the images as you go from model to model, the guide will not be much help – its details are sparse and I ended up giving up. Luckily, it doesn’t matter which knight you put on which steed.

Again, much like the Skeleton Warriors, the Black Knights are fiddly – but, thankfully, in far fewer places. Sticking to the assembly guide as best as I could for the sake of this review, one particular issue I had was with helmets and shoulderplates. The larger-edged helmets, such as the one suggested for the standard bearer, doesn’t fit easily between the spike-edged shoulderplates. This is worth considering when building, as you may want to make sure you put the head on first to get a good idea of where the arms need to go.

I had two component casualties of this set at this point: a particularly thin bit of rein on one of the skeletal horses’ heads couldn’t take the pressure and snapped off (foreshadowing a theme with my assembly of Arkhan the Black), and whilst reaching over my table to grab the glue, I clipped the tip of an upward-pointing spear with my wrist and snapped it clean in two. Frustrating, but the breaks were reasonably clean and could be fixed with a dot of glue.

And then we move on to the Mortarch.

Building: Arkhan the Black

This is one of my favourite features of this box, and one I wasn’t aware of when I purchased it: you are not limited to building Arkhan the Black as the images and contents on the box itself suggest. You can, in fact, build either Mannfred, Mortarch of Night, Nefarata, Mortarch of Blood, or Arkhan the Black, Mortarch of Sacrament. Once again, for the sake of the review – and because he looks super cool and I’d heard he was one of the best spellcasters in the current edition – I went with what the box suggested: Arkhan the Black.

Here, the guides step up at long last. Every part is labelled, every snip from the sprue and recommended dry-fit mapped out before you in detail. Every effort has been taken to ensure you put this model together properly – and it’s no wonder, this is quite a complicated build. For a novice, this could be seriously tough, but with patience, the guide, all the paints you need at the ready (bits of Arkhan and his mount need to be painted before assembly given his sculpt), and some patience, this could be a seriously rewarding build.

Could be, but Arkhan is holding a set of reins.

Those god-damn reins.

I encountered my first issue with the reins Arkhan holds in his right hand whilst they were still on the sprue. As I was holding the sprue up to the light to figure out where best to cut the part from the plastic to ensure no damage would be done to this extremely fragile part, half of the left-hand part of the rein, in spite of not been touched by myself or anyone else since the box had been opened, simply fell off.

It was almost comical: me sitting at my desk, my cat Mabel lounging by my feet, tiny piece of plastic plummeting onto the tiles between us, the pair of us watching on helplessly. When it hit the floor, Mabel’s long-blink and tail-swish she did seemed to say “You’re going to have fun reattaching that, you sucker.”

Whilst this piece was easy enough to repair in the short-term, this caused me some big problems further down the line. Once Arkhan and his mount were assembled – I kept them separate to paint, though am unsure if I would recommend doing this to anyone else given what followed – I was faced with the task of getting Arkhan into his saddle and getting the reins to line up with either side of the beast’s head once they were all painted. This was, by far, the worst modelling experience I’ve ever had.

First off, it is unclear how Arkhan is expected to sit in his saddle. There’s a slight cutaway in his inner-left thigh which would suggest this area is supposed to be in contact with the saddle, but the saddle is fully sculpted so there is no obvious telling what this is supposed to line up with, and no matter where I put Arkhan on the saddle, he rocked back and forward like a partygoer on a mechanical bull. Arkhan also has a belt buckle that prevents his, for want of a better word, groin being flush with the saddle. Because it was unclear where he was supposed to sit, I tried to let the reins guide me – surely, he would have to be positioned in such a way that meant each end of the reins could connect with the bit sculpted to his mount’s head, but this was also no help. Because the reins are so flimsy, it’s very difficult to line them up without them bending, either to the touch or on the model itself. In my case, the reins, which had broken earlier, broke again (luckily, the cat wasn’t here to judge me this time), so had to be repaired once more, and I ended up having to use far more glue than I would have liked to get all the components attached. Having fully painted both Arkhan and Dread Abyssal, some of my painting fell victim to excess glue, and had to be touched up again – hence, unless you’re a confident part-painter, I might suggest fully assembling Arkhan and Dread Abyssal before painting. That way, if you do have any glue-related problems, at least your paint job won’t suffer for it.

It was a real shame, because I had a fantastic time painting Arkhan. To have the experience soured at the very last hurdle was sorely disappointing.

One thing to note: the guide suggests you paint two small parts separately: the spirit-skulls on the front of the creature Arkhan is riding’s chest and the rear of its ribcage. I would recommend assembling the entire torso and tail – bar arms and legs – and painting to completion before continuing. From there, I would assemble the head, arms, and as many of the spirits as you can and paint them all up before attaching them to any part of the model.

Start Collecting: Skeleton Horde Review – Painting

Painting: Skeleton Warriors

I decided I loved painting skeletons when I painted the banner of my Stormcast Eternal Lord-Relictor. This fellow is using one as a banner and is waving him around above his head as if he’s no heavier than a scrap of cloth.

Skeletons are also a great way for beginners to practice some highlighting techniques. When I painted my first batch of Stormcast Eternals and started edge-highlighting in light gold, I found the process to be really unrewarding and dull, as gold on gold still looks like gold, so the effect isn’t obvious to a more unskilled painter. I only started noticing a real difference when it came to spot highlighting. But with skeletons, I find the difference is clear from the get-go.

Skeletons are smashing, and can be a great way of emphasising the importance of highlighting and washing for new painters: with all their lumps and bumps, basically everything on a skeleton is an edge of some kind – ribs, femurs, cheekbones, you name it. Skeletons are, as a result, super susceptible to a good wash with Seraphim Sepia or Agrax Earthshade, and once done all their bits that need highlighting stand out all the more. There’s an immediate difference, and so it’s a great way for a new painter to practice getting their eye in for that sort of thing.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Skeleton Warriors Few 1
Darker shade-paints means dirtier skellingtons.

Skeletons are super fun, super easy, and can actually look really good with surprisingly little effort. The nice thing about the Skeleton Horde box is that all the skeletons in it have the option to be unique: different helmets, different weapons, different shields and scraps of cloth on banners and pennants. There’s a lot of fun to be had here with rust and weathering as well.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Skeleton Warriors Group
Marching ahead.

Having spent a little time on archaeological dig sites during my degree, I couldn’t get behind the bleached white look of the skeletons on the box. Bone is not white if it’s been rolling around in filth for a few centuries or ditched at the bottom of some miserable, spider-filled crypt.

For their bones, my little fellows were based with Zandri Dust, washed with Seraphim Sepia (though part of me wishes I’d gone with Agrax Earthshade for a really filthy, fresh-from-the-grave look) and highlighted with Ushabti Bone and Screaming Skull. That was it.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Skeleton Warriors Few 2
Ten points for diversity.

The variation between the models means there is plenty of opportunity for trying out different things. On the shields alone in image above, I used Dryad Bark and Mournfang Brown on the wood, then a Leadbelcher base and Ironbreaker highlight on the metal rims. I also got to break out the Nihlakh Oxide on some of the super-weathered shields, which I had painted with Warplock Bronze and Hashut Copper.

Because there is so much potential variation from model to model, these little fellows are a charm to paint. There’s a lot of fun to be had adding personal flourishes from model to model, and by the time you’re finished no two will look the same.

Painting: Black Knights

The Black Knights were a little more difficult, but nothing impossible. As before, after spray-priming my riders with Chaos Black and basing their bones with Zandri Dust, I decided to give them a Seraphim Sepia wash.

Once again, I’m not as sold on the subsequent colour as I am with an Agrax Earthshade wash. There’s a certain yellow-ness to the bones I’d rather see darkened with brown. Agrax Earthshade is definitely the way forwards for me.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Black Knights Group 1

Still trying to follow the box as best as I could, I based all the metal areas on my Black Knights with Warplock Bronze before slathering it all in Agrax Earthshade to give it a really worn-out, dull look, before highlighting and carefully drybrushing the edges of the lobstered plate panels and mail with Ironbreaker.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Black Knights Group 2

I’m not sold on the effect, but I also don’t completely hate it – it’d be a good one to keep in mind for anyone wanting to give the roofs of the Sigmarite Mausoleum a weathered metallic look, but perhaps not armour.

It’s an easy way to make metal look old and nasty, but I think there are better ways to make metal look grim and grimy, such as the effect on the lead Knight’s sword (Leadbelcher base, a stippled layer of Dryad Bark, some more stippling with Skrag Brown, a Ryza Rust drybrush and a final tickling with Ironbreaker and some careful dots of Nihlakh Oxide). The effect is much more tonal and convincing.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Black Knights Group 1

The black areas were achieved with a simple Eshin Grey/Dawnstone edge-highlight, whilst the red cloth on some of the reins and the standard were based with Khorne Red, washed with Agrax Earthshade, and then highlighted with Evil Sunz Scarlet. This was actually a happy mistake: I had aimed to base the cloth areas with Mephiston Red but grabbed the wrong pot. Instead, the harsher scarlet of the outline really offsets the darker base and creates quite a striking contrast from a distance – perfect for tabletop-bound minis that are going to be viewed at arms length on the battlefield.

Much like the Skeleton Warriors, the Black Knights look great, are fun to paint, and still look pretty good if you aren’t one-hundred percent happy with your colour choices, like me.

Painting: Arkhan the Black

I thought Arkhan and his beast would be really difficult to paint. In an earlier draft of this review, I even wrote a couple of preliminary paragraphs about how tough he was going to be.

I was wrong.

In fact, of all the models I painted for this review, Arkhan finished paint job is the only one I have no reservations about. Whilst the fact that he has to be part-painted during his build is a faff and will be a source of some bother for more inexperienced painters, as any slips with a brush or drips of shader will be severely punished and untidy gluing will wreck your part-painted bits, he’s really not as bad as he could be.

Arkhan was the first model I’ve ever part-painted, as per the instructions. Once Razarak’s body and tail are assembled, the guide recommends beginning to paint them then as there are a few areas at the fore and aft of his torso that will be very difficult to reach once he’s fully assembled. I also assembled the Dread Abyssal’s head and arms separately, and fully painted both of these and his blue chest armour before attaching them to the rest of his body.

As I said above, once Razarak was in one piece and Arkhan was fully assembled, I kept the two of them separate to paint, though hindsight has left me wondering if this was the correct choice to make. Given the difficulty I had mounting a painted Arkhan to a painted mount, and the damage I did to some of my finished painted areas as a result, I can’t help but wonder if I might have been better off assembling him entirely first. It’s a decision one should make based on their confidence and painting ability.

Arkhan and Razarak took me (that is, a reasonably competent, middle-of-the-road painter with not a huge amount of experience) around five days to get him looking like this.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Arkhan the Black 1

In spite of the pre- and post-painting assembly hiccups, Arkhan and his Dread Abyssal were an absolute joy to paint – and surprisingly straightforward. His mount was a satisfying and easy to do. The bone areas were primed with Zandri Dust, washed with Agrax Earthshade, and then drybrushed heavily with Ushabti Bone. A couple of highlights were picked out in Tyrant Skull, but not too many. The claws and horns on the beast were based with Abaddon Black, then edge highlighted with Eshin Grey and Dawnstone – just as the gem and trailing magic on Arkhan’s staff were.

The spirits – both those on the base and those inside the mount – were based with Celestra Grey, washed with Biel-Tan Green, and very lightly highlighted with Ulthan Grey to achieve the below effect. Given how straightforward this was, I was amazed by how convincing and multi-toned the end result was

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Arkhan the Black Spirits

Because Razarak the Dread Abyssal is so large, you can get away with big, bold moves like heavy drybrushing and slap-it-on shading, and even his details – such as his claws, teeth, and eyes – aren’t so minutely small as to be impossible for the novice painter. If anything, the beast might be a good place for a beginner to get some practice in with their techniques on a relatively forgiving model.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Arkhan the Black 2

Arkhan, on the other hand, is a little more difficult to paint than his mount, simply because he’s smaller – but he’s not too hard. Arkhan was primed with Chaos Black, his armour slathered liberally in Kantor Blue, washed with Nuln Oil, and then edge-highlighted with Russ Grey, just as Razarak’s chest armour was.

His bones – that is, his face and hands, for example – were painted the same way as the bones on Razarak, whilst the patterns on his clothes and armour, which were based once more with Zandri Dust, were heavily washed with Seraphim Sepia instead of Agrax Earthshade and highlighted with Ushabti Bone and Tyrant Skull once again. The lighter, warmer colour left by the Seraphim Sepia wash meant the patterns on Arkhan’s armour look clean and deliberate; Agrax Earthshade or Nuln Oil would be too harsh and dark.

Arkhan and his armour are covered in details to really bring him to life. His dangly mitre-tassels were based with Naggaroth Night, then edge-highlighted with Xereus Purple and Dechala Lilac, just to give him an additional pop of colour. His eyes are Celestra Grey and Hexwraith Flame, whilst the morbid, fleshy areas, such as the sheathe on the sword on his back and his exposed, stitched midriff, were based with Rakarth Flesh and washed with Reikland Fleshshade to give it an unhealthy, almost leathery look, whilst the stitches on both were based with Celestra Grey and highlighted with Pallid Wych Flesh to make them stand out.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Arkhan the Black 3

I was really taken with the deep-sea, almost luminous look of the cape on the box, so I decided t go with the recommended mix of an Incubi Darkness base, a Coelia Greenshade wash, and then a Kabalite Green drybrush and Sybarite Green highlight. i think the effect is spectacular.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Arkhan the Black Top-Down

Nothing on Arkhan is so minutely small and detailed as to be overly difficult for the inexperienced painter to get a brush around, and as a whole, Arkhan and his beastie are a satisfying pair to paint. There are a lot of details to get to grips with, but with a handful of reasonable brushes and a good eye for details, even a complete beginner stands a good chance of getting a decent look out of Arkhan. No matter what, he’s going to look pretty impressive when he’s done.

Start Collecting: Skeleton Horde Review – Price and Availability

As with all the Start Collecting! boxes, this is an easy product to get hold of. It’s stocked on Games Workshop’s website and the likelihood is that your favourite local hobby store will probably have a copy – mine did.

In terms of cost, this is a great value box. Usually, and using Games Workshop prices, five Black Knights/Hexwraiths will cost you £25, a unit of Skeleton Warriors will set you back £20, and Mannfred, Nefarata or Arkhan would cost you £48 – a total of £93. At £55, this box is a steal. Plus, if you’re building the ultimate Grand Alliance Death army, there are some financial benefits to buying this box. Let’s say you want Mannfred, Nefarata, and Arkhan as part of your army, your collection as a whole, or perhaps just to paint; they’re awesome-looking models after all. Each of the three mortarchs above costs £48 straight from Games Workshop, but the Skeleton Horde box comes with all the bits you need to build one of the three.

So, maths. If you were to buy, 30 Skeleton Warriors and 15 Black Knights/Hexwraiths and and all three Mortachs, you’d be spending £279. Three Skeleton Horde boxes will set you back. If you wanted all three Mortachs, that’s £146. Three Skeleon Horde boxes will cost you £165.

Considering the entire Start Collecting! Skeleton Horde box – that’s a Mortarch of your choice, ten Skeleton Warriors, and either five Hexwraiths or five Black Knights – is roughly only £7 more than Mannfred, Nefarata, or Arkhan by themselves, you might as well buy the box three times over and get yourself 30 Skeleton Warriors and 15 Black Knights/Hexwraiths for an additional £21.

Seriously, this box is good value. Stupid good value.

Start Collecting: Skeleton Horde Review – Where to Next?

Once you’ve got the hang of the models in this box, the whole of Grand Alliance Death awaits you. If you particularly enjoyed painting Arkhan’s spirits, or, like me, are just a huge fan of Biel-Tan Green, you might want to take that washing technique to the extreme with the Start Collecting! Malignants box, where you can drench every model in as many pots of the stuff as you life. It’s also a great way to get your hands on a few more mounted units if you liked the Black Knight/Hexwraiths in the Skeleton Horde set.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Start Collecting Malignants Box
…I’d perhaps but two pots of Biel-Tan Green for this lot.

It’s worth mentioning that if you’re subscribed to the Mortal Realms magazine, and if their preview poster is anything to go by, you’re due to get everything in this box across the magazine’s various issues. That was what ultimately pushed me towards the Skeleton Horde set over the Malignants.

If skeletons are your thing, the Deathrattle Sepulchral Guard might be a good place for you to head next. A relatively inexpensive push-fit set, whilst these guys don’t have the personalisation options of the Skeleton Warriors, they’re nonetheless a nice handful of varied and interesting miniatures that would look great at the head of your skeleton army.

Start Collecting Skeleton Horde Review Deathrattle Sepulchral Guard
A little more dynamic than their Skeleton Warrior cousins, the Sepulchral Guard would make a nice addition to any skeleton army.

Or, you could do what I did, and move into Ossiarch Bonereapers. Inspired by how much I enjoyed painting Arkhan and his mount so much, I nabbed myself a pair of Morghasts, a trio of Necropolis Stalkers, a unit of Kavalos Deathriders, and a small army of Mortek Guard. Perhaps, if you’re feeling confident, or just want an utterly unstoppable unit for your army, you can get Bone Daddy himself.

Nagash, the Big Bad Bone Daddy of Death.

As far as painting concerns, one of the clever things about the contents of this box is you will practice most of the techniques you need to tackle just about any other wing of Grand Alliance Death. Washes on spirits set you in good stead for nailing those ghostly technical paint-reliant Nighthaunt looks; the colours and armour design on Arkhan lets the painter begin to familiarise themselves with the look and feel of the Ossiarch Bonereapers, and any practice painting skeletons and bones is transferrable to just about every corner of all the Warhammer ranges.

Start Collecting: Skeleton Horde Review – Final Thoughts

Great value. Seriously, great value.
Nice variation of models
Good customisation options
Overflowing with extras
Super fiddly
Awful construction guides
Everything is so fragile

Well, this was a journey.

This box has some absolutely smashing parts. The models look great and are super satisfying to paint. The option to build one of three Mortarchs from the components included is a huge point-scorer, the Black Knight/Hexwraiths choice is a nice touch, and that being able to mix and match weapons, shields, and heads for the Skeleton Warriors gives you the chance to bring your units to life. You’ll also be flush with leftovers by the time you’ve finished: if you didn’t have a bits box before purchasing the Skeleton Horde, you’ll need one by the time you’re done. You’ll have enough skulls left over at the end to start your own temple to Khorne – or, at the very least, give your bases a little extra pow.

But this stuff is not easy to put together. Time and again I found myself falling foul of fiddly little thin bits of plastic that broke with barely a touch, and the assembly guides included in the box leave a lot to be desired. As eluded to earlier during the end of build section, my experience with the box was spoiled at the very last hurdle. My Skeleton Warriors looked great, my Black Knights were finished, and all I had to do was put a painted Arkhan in the saddle of his painted mount and the whole lot was done. This was a singularly frustrating experience, and when I finally got the bone-arsed bastard to sit in his damn saddle and his ultra-fragile reins to connect to his beast’s head, instead of looking at my finished model with pride and awe, I immediately set it aside and heaved a sigh of relief.

In spite of the build issues I had with the Start Collecting! Skeleton Horde box, I ultimately came to the conclusion that this is still a smashing buy for anyone looking to get into Grand Alliance Death, or just bag themselves some spooky models – though this is not a set for the faint hearted, and definitely not one for total beginners.

But the real hero of this box is its value. Seriously, that a Mortach costs £48 and this box costs £55 makes the Skeleton Horde an absolute steal. If I decide I want another Mortarch in the future, I won’t bother one individually – I’ll just be getting another one of these and netting myself some bargain skellingtons in the process.

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Review Date
Reviewed Item
Start Collecting! Skeleton Horde
Author Rating
Product Name
Start Collecting! Skeleton Horde
GBP 55
Product Availability
Available in Stock


Rob has spent most of the last 20 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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