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Warhammer 40k Tyranids invade Pokémon’s Palette Town

Aussie Warhammer 40k fan Matt Brown stunned fans at the Arc40k tournament this weekend with a horde of Tyranids painted as unique Pokémon.

Warhammer 40k Tyranid Norn Emissary in front of an image of the Pokemon Mewtwo

This weekend, players at the Arc40k tournament in Melbourne, Australia faced off against a unique Warhammer 40k Tyranids army. Hobbyist and Twitch Streamer Matt Brown has painted each of the ravenous xenomorphs in his force so it matches a distinct, adorable Pokémon – we asked him how and why he did it.

Brown says that when Games Workshop announced the Leviathan launch box set for Warhammer 40k 10th edition in spring 2023, he “saw the neurotyrant and immediately thought that’s a Tentacruel, the silhouette is perfect!”

Large Warhammer 40k Tyranids painted like big Pokemon, a Sceramer Killer in Machamp's colors, and a Neurotyant in Tentacruel icolors

With help from his audience on Twitch, Brown began to pair up Pokémon color schemes against monsters from the Warhammer 40k Tyranids range.

“The hive Tyrant immediately became Charizard and the Screamer Killer was an easy Machamp with its four arms”, Brown says. “All the smaller ‘gaunts were either starters, or iconic Pokémon from the early game routes, and the bigger creatures became final evolutions and legendaries”, he adds.

Warhammer 40k Tyranids beside Pokemon masterballs, with a winged Hive Tyrant painted orange like Charizard

Brown says almost every one of the Tyranids is a unique Pokémon, “minus a couple duplicates for a sneaky hidden Ditto and then a gender swap form for another pair”. You can try and spot them all over on his Instagram.

When it came to painting miniatures for the army, Brown says “all except the Norn Emissary Mewtwo were done using the slapchop method and then Contrast Paint to stain over the top”. He says that “I wanted the process of painting a horde army in time to be as easy as possible to avoid burnout because my ADHD brain would definitely have stalled the project otherwise”.

Matt Brown paints a Warhammer 40k Tyranid Norn Emissary in Mewtwo's color scheme

He plans to go back and “layer, shade, and detail” the Norn Emissary now he’s under a bit less time pressure.

The display board for the army was created “by blowing up some very high resolution pixel art I found online of the Kanto map from Fire Red / Leaf Green”, resized for a 25×30 inch board, and printed at a local large format printer.

An army of Warhammer 40k Tyranids in a printout of Pokemon palette town

The printout is backed on rigid corflute board, with hidden vertical stands to keep the backboard upright. The little standee houses, fences, and other details are printed on poster paper and affixed to index cards. He even made Pokéballs to act as his objective markers for games, with items and game messages hidden inside!

Brown says the reception at Arc40k was very warm. Other attendees loved “trying to guess as many [Pokémon] as they could”, and he even offered some Pokémon model kits as a prize for the person who guessed the most by Sunday. The judges at the competition liked the army too, awarding it the “Funkiest Theme” award.

A Warhammer 40k Tyranid Neurotyrant and an Eldar gravtank contest a Pokemon Pokeball objective

This army marks a return to Warhammer 40k for Brown. While he discovered miniature wargames via the Lord of the Rings magazines and then the Warhammer 40k game Fire Warrior on the PS2 in the early ’00s, he drifted away from the game when he went to university.

“I played a total of about three games of 10th edition prior to this weekend so understandably I was very nervous to get all the rules right after a 10+ year gap in playing”, Brown says.

“I went in thinking I might win a game or two with my funny little collection of critters, but I was VERY surprised to see that I went 5-1 in my games!” Brown says. He rates Arcfest very highly: “The whole atmosphere of Arc was ‘fun first’ and it very much showed and accommodated for everyone attending with their armies”.

Warhammer 40k Tyranids hold a Pokemon Masterball objective marker

It’s a testament to what a little creativity and a lot of nostalgic passion can do to transform a Warhammer 40k faction into something really unique. “I have been a lifelong Pokémon player since I got the Crystal version for Xmas and a Gameboy colour with the power light in Pikachu‘s cheek”, Brown recalls. “The whole project was a nostalgic joy to create”.

We here at Wargamer love a unique conversion or army painting project. We’ve previously covered Scooby Doo Inquisitors, Formula One Space MarinesMagnus the Red as Hellboy, Papercraft Titans, and a remote controlled flamethrowing Land Raider… among many others!

If you’re a Pokémon fan and want to learn more about the game these mysterious and gnarly monsters come from, we have a guide dedicated to explaining “What is Warhammer 40k?” and the different Warhammer 40k starter sets that are available. If you’re a 40k fan who’s just remembered how much you loved Pokémon as a kid, we have a whole Pokémon TCG section, including a guide on how to play Pokémon cards.