The Warhammer World Rhino – History and Archived Information

The Warhammer World Rhino is a welcoming sight that greets anyone making their pilgrimage to Games Workshop’s HQ in Nottingham.

At over a decade old, she has more than a little history.

I re-posted a video of her moving around for a chuckle on my Twitter, which led to a bit of speculation about how she ended up in the carpark of Games Workshop’s HQ.

Through a series of searches and some very helpful information from Ed Fortune (Tweet 1, Tweet 2, Tweet 3), we can now know for certain how she got there:

(Mostly in case WordPress ever unlinks the Twitter embed):

  • The Rhino was commissioned by THQ to promote the launch of Dawn of War II, and painted in the Blood Ravens livery. The first images of progress on the APC are dated May 2008.
  • Created by Tanks-A-Lot in the UK, her chassis was built over a British FV432 APC.
  • After being used by THQ for promotional materials and Games Day in September 2008, she was not sent to Nottingham GW HQ.
  • Some years later, after a chance sighting, she was bought back by Games Workshop, traveled by canal to Lenton, and repainted to live in the carpark of Warhammer World, where she has remained ever since.
  • The new Ultramarine livery and weapons were designed and painted by Forgeworld employees Mark Bedford and Phil Stutcinskas.
  • And lastly, but most importantly, she is still a fully functional vehicle!

Here is the original promotional video of her in Blood Ravens livery: Link

And here is a 2012 Facebook video of her puttering around Warhammer World, at some point after her Ultramarines glow-up: Link

As THQ no longer exists, and their social media is gone, I have rescued the build diary and photos of her fabrication for posterity, and placed them together in context.


Ever wondered what a real-life Rhino would look like?

To celebrate the coming launch of Dawn of War II we’ve teamed up with Games Workshop to recreate a life-sized replica of the Rhino Space Marine transport vehicle from the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

An integral part of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the Space Marine transport unit is renowned on the battlefield. With its signature arches and armoured skirts protecting the tracks it strikes an imposing figure both in Dawn of War and the table top game.

But what would this look like in real life? Let’s find out! Over the next four weeks we’re going to be converting a real tank into the infamous tabletop icon.

This ambitious project will see a British army FV432 tank go under the knife. Used by armed forces around the world since 1960, the FV432 weighs 15.3 tons and is designed to carry twelve equipped troops into battle. We won’t be filling this Dawn Of War II tank conversion with Space Marines, but we will be making use of this generous interior space by installing a bank of high-end gaming rigs.

But, first things first… the basic shape. The first major hurdle encountered was the difference in roof line and rear arches between the Warhammer 40,000 model and the FV432. The FV432 has a square back with a side opening rear door, whereas the Rhino features a top opening drawbridge style rear door and sharp angled rear arches.

To overcome this problem the experts from Tanks-A-Lot cut and extended the FV432’s roofline using steel from other armoured vehicles as well as slicing and re-welding the rear corners to transform the vehicle shape. No easy task!



The custom Blood Raven Rhino starts to take shape…

Following last week’s roof remodeling work the Rhino project has really been taking shape.

Working around the clock, a team of expert metal workers got to work fabricating the distinctive front and rear arches of the Warhammer 40,000 Rhino as well as prepping the sides for the assembly of the skirts which will cover the vehicle’s tracks.

To allow access to the tracks themselves for repairs the team at Tanks-A-Lot fabricated a removable frame for the side plating and doors to be attached to. The idea being that the entire side panel can be removed for maintenance access. The side plates were then welded to this framework and fixed in place using the same bolt points as featured on the Games Workshop tabletop model.

A local engineering firm has been hard at work fabricating the rear ramp and a suitable remote control winch to open and close the back door at events. The idea is this ramp will be controlled using a remote control and will incorporate a CO2 gas release mechanism to give the impression of an air-lock being opened.

The team has also been refitting and testing the engine and gearbox for the tank as well as fabricating a new quad exit exhaust system to make use of the Rhino’s distinctive four chimney design. This custom built system will feature no silencers or baffles giving the vehicle a bone shaking roar when it fires into life.

Finally the expert welders on the project have been working on the vehicle roofline, fabricating gunners turrets as well as cutting double hatches at the rear end of the vehicle like the ones on the model.

Meanwhile the experts at ‘Eavy Metal, Games Workshop’s in house elite painting team have started work on the model Rhino tank on which the Blood Ravens paintjob will be based. If the level of detail they included on the interior of the model is anything to go by, this will be something special!

Make sure to check back here next week when we will be combating the electrical system as well as firing up the tank to make sure everything works perfectly before sending it to the paintshop!


The real-life Space Marine Rhino nears completion…

As Games Workshop UK Games Day 2008 draws ever closer the team have been working seven days a week on the Space Marine Rhino to ensure it is ready for its public debut.

With the engine in and running our team of crack engineers have been busy re-routing the exhaust system to split between the Rhino’s four chimneys. With a custom system in place the vehicle was thoroughly tested to make sure that all the parts worked. Unfortunately at this stage we managed to blow the starter motor, so everything had to be taken out again for repairs to be made.

With the skirts and rear door now securely fitted, work began on the finer details of the vehicle. Realistic looking headlights were sourced and wired in, as well as indicators and stop lights hidden beneath a metal flap on the rear of the vehicle allowing it to be legally driven on European roads with the flap up, while also retaining an accurate look and feel with the flap down.

The side doors were fitted to the vehicle next using bolt fixings in the same places as the tabletop model. On the left hand side the door was fitted with a series of steps allowing access to the vehicle roof, while on the right a flat ramp style door was fitted. These along with the rear ramp have been custom fabricated to replicate the Games Workshop design.

The roof of the vehicle has also undergone heavy modification. The flat panel above the rear compartment was cut open and the large hatches fabricated last week were welded in place as featured on the model.

In the meantime the Games Workshop ‘Eavy Metal team put the finishing touches to their masterful paint scheme for the Rhino, with a unique Dawn of War twist. No detail has been spared on the tabletop model from chips in the paint to mud splashes up the arches. The symbols and colour scheme of this model will be used as the basis for the life-sized Rhino design.

As a truck load of Gore Red and Bleached Bone paint turned up at the workshop the team were busy giving the vehicle a coat of rust-proof paint. Like the tabletop model, the life-sized Rhino was given a base coat of black paint, before breaking out the red of the Blood Ravens!

UK Games Day 2008
The painted Blood Raven Rhino made its first appearance at the Games Workshop UK Games Day 2008. Thousands of fans turned up at the Birmingham NEC to see the real life Rhino up close.

Rhino vs. Car
After it’s first public unveiling, some of you still didn’t quite believe that this was a real, fully-working Rhino. So, we decided to put the tank to the test in the field. The verdict? Modern day family cars were not built to withstand the might of the 41st Millennium


I’m not certain that THQ’s early plan of filling her with high-end gaming rigs was ever made flesh, or in fact why anyone would want to do this in a vibrating rattle cube. But as you can see from the faces and reactions of folk at Games Day she was warmly received.

Long live the second most beloved little blue box in the UK 🙂

Note: I do not claim ownership of any of the images, videos or copyrighted creations in this blog post. 

PDF Essay: My personal ethics as a storyteller

Is the upcoming PDF Comic intentionally “Noblebright”, “Brighthammer”, or softening the 40K setting?

The short answer is: No

The longer answer, is that PDF treats a serious setting with humour, and inherent tragedy with balance.
I believe what makes Warhammer 40k an interesting and effective setting, is how humans are affected – at their very human level.
PDF touches on how humans would seek comfort, in one another, in the land around them, and in trying to make sense of their situation.

There is a difference between needless pain, and pain that gives meaning to their story.

Bodily injury is a very real threat, and not one that I shy away from. Nor are sickness, mental health issues, certain prejudices, and trauma.
What PDF doesn’t feature, are mirrors to real life situations such as racism, LGBT phobias and sexual assault (I will mark this part of the essay so it can be easily skipped).

Life & Death

I wrestled for a long time with who should survive PDF, and whether the series would be taken seriously should certain characters escape death.
And I realised that I was holding myself to the expectation that injury and death is the only way to validate a war story. I no longer believe it is.

I could kill off every single one of the main characters, and it would achieve precious little except demonstrates that people can die.
We know people can die.
What we don’t know, is how individuals act when tested. How flexible or inflexible they are. Who would crack, who would stand in front of the crowd, or who would take a bullet for someone else.

These characters have already been through so much by the time we meet them. None of them walk around unscathed.

Without spoilers:

  • The Commissars have been sent to Golbourne to retire, having already endured something so horrific in the line of duty that the Imperium sees fit to allow them to leave active duty.
  • Kate has watched her city crumble in front of her, and grappled with the distress of being unable to prevent it.
  • Susan has already lost her husband, and for years has witnessed her partner and son risk their lives for a city that will never thank them.
  • Having already served as a commissar, upon attempting to help Golbourne, Drew has lost his rank, his role in the Imperium, and can never regain the time spent away from the woman he loves.
  • Ronnie lost his father, his friends, and is struggling to hold onto his sense of home.
  • On top of the loss that led to being stranded on Golbourne, Smith faces daily judgment for being an outsider, despite having called the planet home for fifteen years now.
  • Finch, Arban and Raymond, who you will meet and get to know eventually, all have pieces of themselves missing in some manner.

I’m not here to tell a story of absolute futility, and grind these characters into the dirt. All that does is punish you as a reader for trusting me to tell a story.

There are sacrifices and struggles, not all of which reach a kind conclusion, much like reality. We only have limited windows into the longer lives of these characters.

Prejudices of Golbourne

Leaving out particular prejudice was a very deliberate choice on my part for a number of reasons. But the main one is that I don’t believe the people of Golbourne have any inclination towards prejudice for reasons other than classism and allegiances.
To them, tens of thousands of years from us, it’s irrelevant that Vincent is dark-skinned, or that Finch flirts universally.

As the story progresses, we do see that folk are willing to weaponise who an individual cares for, but not due to their gender or race. In an age of life or death, priorities have shifted, and those priorities have become much less surface.

That isn’t to say that everyone has an easy ride. Quartermaster Kate has faced a fair amount of exclusion for being seen as a class traitor. She went to college outside of the city, and came back with an education. This echoes a very real sentiment shared by many in parts of the UK. While Kate eventually faces up to her fears and rejoins the community, there’s a wariness on both sides.

There could also be no 40K story without xenophobia, and in Smith’s case, it’s literal.
On the surface, it appears that nobody seems to care about the Eldar walking around, but with a little digging over time, it’s clear this hasn’t always been the case. Even as children, civilians regarded Smith with unease and superstitiously linked the Eldar’s fall to earth with the beginning of the chaos incursion.

Do no harm

If you don’t wish to read about my views on sexual assault in media, please scroll down until you see the next picture of Hux.
I do not go into any specific examples of assault, I talk about the impact that themes and their use can have on survivors, and why I refuse their inclusion in my work.

A ginger cat with a visible sense of wonderment
Hux! Keep scrolling until you see her again if you need to.

It is not the place of every writer to use other people’s very real pain to tell stories, and make their readers unsure whether they can relax enough to take that journey with you.

The main reason that sexual assault doesn’t feature in PDF, even from the chaos cultists, despite it still being a terror tactic, is I don’t want to feature it.
It’s deeply irresponsible, to insert rape or sexual violence into a story just to demonstrate people can be evil. We know full well that it’s possible.

I want to create media that everyone can enjoy, and bringing something that causes real harm to real people alive today, just slams a barrier down on their ability to feel safe and access a story.

Never has a man walked away from a piece of media because it didn’t feature sexual abuse. But I can turn on my phone and inside thirty seconds find at least one person who’s had their immersion and trust shattered by its needless inclusion in a fantasy setting they were passionately engaged with.
I could put up a tweet and find dozens in minutes.
This to me, is breaking the trust of someone you invited to your world.

Do these people not deserve to read my story, feel included in my world, just because I desire to feel clever and include something shocking? Should they have to steel themselves against an actual trauma in their lives for the sake of poor storytelling and sensitivity?

Individuals who would claim otherwise, or posit that folk need to fortify themselves to enjoy media, may blow it out their unaffected, compassion-less asses.

Survivors can tell their own stories.
Until then, I refuse to be part of making their lives harder.

A sleepy cat
Hux is back!

Refusing to feature something doesn’t mean it disappears from the universe. It just means I chose to curate your experience here.

PDF also doesn’t feature:
Leman Russ Battle Tanks, Orks, Baneblades, CRASSUS ARMOURED ASSAULT TRANSPORTS, heat waves, seagulls, blizzards or pine trees.

But we would believe that the various characters understand and have experienced these things. I don’t need to explicitly show or discuss their occurrence to seed them into this universe.