Monday, October 14, 2013

Dark Elves: New possibilities for Dark Eldar and others!

The new Dark Elf models are just begging to be converted!
This past weekend marked the first wave of releases for the new Dark Elves army book. With a release schedule somewhat reminiscent of the Dark Eldar in 2011, the army is slated to have a second wave of releases in the near future. Taken together, these two waves largely see a complete resculpting of the army’s range of miniatures. This is an exciting time for the Dark generals of Naggaroth and the Warhammer 40k generals alike. This new set of releases offers a large collection of new pieces suitable for all sorts of conversions, be it individualizing some Dark Eldar warriors, or converting an INQ28 death cult assassin. With this post I wanted to talk a little about some of the new releases and my thoughts about them and how I envision them being used in conversions as well (this is greatly facilitated by all of the releases being in plastic!).

Perhaps the element of the Dark Elves redesign that I was most looking forward to, and felt has been woefully lacking for as long as I have been playing Games Workshop games, was the addition of plastic witch elves.  After having their look defined in my mind’s eye by the venerable 4th edition army book, I always hoped for nice plastic witch elves that captured the 80s metal feel defined back in the early 90s.  But with each successive Dark Elf release, they failed to sculpt nice witch elf models (or any at all and just ignored the issue entirely…).  With this release, I was cautiously optimistic that this would finally become a reality.

Although a bit over-the-top, the Witch Elf design from 4th edition has come to be one of the most defining elements of Warhammer to me.
The Witch Elves have come a long way over the years, but have always maintained that 80's vibe.
I am glad to say that the new plastic witch elves largely live up to my hopes.  Perhaps the standout aspect of the new models are their dynamic poses.  They are leaping, stabbing, pirouetting, and lunging, looking remarkably natural while doing it.  I suspect this is largely due to master model maker Brian Nelson having designed the masters (the original green stuff musculature and posed mockups which were displayed at the UK Gamesday 2013).  Refreshingly, even though they kept the skimpy outfits intact from previous designs (and their crazy hair!), they did not resort to over-sexulizing them by giving them ridiculous cleavage or bare breasts.  All told they are some of the nicest female models Games Workshop has ever produced.  Their poses, while excellent, are limited to only 5, so large blocks of them might start to look a bit uniform.  This fact also somewhat restricts conversion opportunities, but that does little to dull my excitement for them!  There really has never been a model so craving to be made into a Death Cult assassin (Jeff Vader has an excellent example over at his blog Officio Convertorum)!  In a similar vein, they could also serve nicely as the foundation for some Adepta Sororitas Repentia squad members, as the current models are pretty atrocious. 
The witch elves have nice and clean sculpts, without a lot of jagged edges. This makes removing their mold lines about as easy as you could hope for a model. Each is also given a letter to ensure the proper pieces go with the proper elf!
The Sisters of Slaughter heads seem a pretty good fit for Death Cult Assassins straight out of the box.
While unexpected, the introduction of the Bloodwrack Medusa is a welcome addition. The Bloodwrack Medusa offers the most tractable serpentine body seen from Games Workshop, which is sure to find its way into many Slaanesh cult conversions, and other Chaos Champions.  Furthermore, the claw arm of the Bloodwrack Medusa will doubtlessly be used in numerous conversions as well; in some ways it reminds me of some of the talons and claws seen on the Dark Eldar talos. I feel it would work perfectly for a haemonculus’s Scissorhand, or even an Archon’s agonizer (and play a nice homage to the Dark Eldar of old…).  
The Bloodwrack Medusa is destined to find its way into a huge range of different conversions, whether taking advantage its lithe serpentine body or its razor taloned claw. 
In addition to the medusa, the Cauldron of Blood kit comes complete with a very nicely realized statue of Khaine, the bloody-handed God. With very little effort, the statue could be repurposed into a plastic Eldar Avatar. I would be tempted to modify or replace his sword and alter the bladed crests on his head (and add a whole myriad of little gems and soulstone, ha ha). 
Blood Runs, Anger Rises, Death Wakes, War Calls!
The Dark Elf assassin Shadowblade also has a lot of possibilities for conversion (always great to see another Brian Nelson plastic!). I am currently thinking of using him as a foundation to convert the Dark Eldar special character, Duke Traevelliath Sliscus. Fortunately his chest armor comes as a separate piece, easily allowing for different armor variants, potentially from the Dark Eldar warriors or Scourges. The model is also really streamlined and does not have a lot of extraneous detailing and clutter, making it easy to attach some equipment to his waist like toxin vials and a pistol holster (maybe a scabbard as well, if room allows). I am really impressed with the model’s face; his shrouds can’t mask his hatred and anger (Look at that creased brow and those angled eyelashes!). While the rage captured in Shadowblade’s face is neat, I may need to replace it with something else to distance Duke Sliscus from the master assassin. 
Shadowblade’s face gives off an menacing vibe, perfect for a Dark Eldar archon…

In addition to the Dark Elf releases this month, the Dark Elf army book has pictures of upcoming releases (hopefully for next month!), including new Executioners, Black Guard, chariots, and Dark Riders. The Dark Riders are of particular interest to me because they look to have some awesome new heads and cloaked bodies that could be utilized to make some new Dark Eldar Trueborn to bolster the ranks of my work-in-progress squad. In addition to their heads, they each have nice scabbarded sabres at their sides that would be right at home with the Dark Eldar range. For a while now I have been looking around for scabbarded swords to use for my Dark Eldar, but was never satisfied with anything that I found. Some of the swords in the High Elf range fit ok, but ultimately came across as a little too noble. These look like they could bridge the gap quite nicely.

The coming release of the Dark Riders promises to bring with it  an exciting new set of heads and weapons for all sorts of conversions.
Hopefully this post gave you something to think about and get excited about with the Dark Elf release, even if you are not invested in Dark Elves or Warhammer. If you are interested, KrautScientist over at Eternal Hunt has a great article going over the new Dark Elf releases and commenting on conversion opportunities too. Keep enjoying the hobby!

- Harlon Nayl 


  1. Hehe. I'm actually working on a repentia sister as well...

  2. Great to hear you are working on a Repentia sister! I can't wait to see what you come up with. I need to try my hand at converting some models from the witch elves in the future (I have too many projects... ha ha).