Here we are, one month later, with something we haven’t seen in a while: a second release wave for an army! Seems like GW weren’t messing around when they announced they wanted to reinvent the entire Dark Elves’ line of models.
This month’s release brings another slew of combi-kits and a new plastic character. So let’s take it all in stride and, most of all, let’s take a closer look! Here goes:
Dark Riders/Doomfire Warlocks
This – quite moderately priced – kit is truly brimming with options, starting with the fact that you get two unit types out of it. The first of these are the Dark Riders, outriders quickly zooming ahead of the army and causing all kinds of mischief for the enemy. GW’s designers actually underlined their function as a fast and highly mobile selection by having them posed astride their mounts like jockeys at a horse race, which is a pretty nice touch if you ask me.
Overall, I really like the design of these riders as cloaked, shadowy soldiers. And the different bitz you get with the kit let you build fairly different versions of the same models:
My favourite detail has to be that you get three different sets of heads and are free to either have each of your riders follow the same style or happily mix and match. While the helmetless heads suffer from some rather eclectic hairstyles, I really like the heads with helmets and cowls:
The helmets are, once again, a callback to classic Dark Elf design sensibilities, while the cowls may be my favourite option. Great job!
All in all, this is a rock solid representation of the Dark Riders, and it’s quite nice to finally have them available in plastic. I do have one small gripe about the kit, but we’ll be getting to that in a minute.
The other option is to assemble the kit as Doomfire Warlocks…
These guys are male sorcerers damned to a horrible fate by the Witch King: Their souls are forfeit to Slaanesh, should they not find suitable sacrifices to keep the Dark Prince at bay. And once again, the very different nature of the models compared to the Dark Riders clearly comes across, even though they are using the same base models.
Where the latter are shadowy, cowled and cloaked figures, the Doomfire Warlocks very much look like the damned souls that they are: With bare upper bodies and their hair streaming behind them, these have an eerie, spectral quality.
For some reason, the faces on these models are highly reminiscent of Chris Fitzpatrick’s work on the older Dark Elf models, which seems like a bit of an odd choice when most of the release is obviously hell-bent on doing away with this look altogether…
I do like the slightly twisted faces, though, since they make the models look unlike everything else in the army. My one problem with these is that the hair does look a little hokey — and really not all that much like hair to begin with. But this may have been intentional in the first place.
The horses are now far more twisted and demonic looking than before, ostensibly to make them look like the sinister influence of both the Dark Elves’ black magic and Naggaroth itself have influenced their bloodline:
The twisted, lipless heads are quite scary! And while the new look might fit the darker nature of the Dark Elves when compared to their goodie two shoes brethren, herein lies my main gripe with the kit:
Take a look at the horse in the picture above. Now I might be wrong about this, but doesn’t it seem like those legs are far too spindly and sticklike to actually look realistic? And slightly too long as well? Now it is important to notice that we here at Eternal Hunt are certainly not sticklers when it comes to realism, but in this case, the model seems to lack anatomical plausibility, which is a very different problem.
This actually goes for both variants of the kit, since they are using the same horses. Granted, this will probably not be too much of an issue when the regiment is properly lined up, but it is my main point of contention with the kit.
Scourgerunner Chariot / Cold-One Chariot
In an interesting subversion of expectations, the Dark Elf chariot design is quite different from that of the High Elves: With a mono-wheel and the general design supposed to resemble nothing so much as the prow of a ship, the chariot carves out a very distinct design for itself.
My one problem with this decision is that, even though I acknowledge the intended effect, the chariot doesn’t look like it could actually go all that fast:
The chariot itself comes in two possible flavours: The Scourgerunner Chariot is being piloted by a Beastmaster crew, and the design of the models really makes them look the part, with the Beastmasters wearing the hides of wild beasts and resembling the handlers that come with the Hydra kit:
The High Beastmaster is easily identifiable by his ostentatious cloak and and the facial scars that probably come with the territory in his line of work:
The other option is to use the kit to build a Cold-One Chariot:
Now Cold Ones win absolute best everything all the time in my book, simply by virtue of being a more badass version of the already awesome, real-life Velociraptor or Deinonychus. I have always loved the Cold Ones, and their latest incarnation is simply brilliant, so it stands to reason that this chariot would be pretty cool as well, right? Unfortunately, though, beyond the awesome reptilian members of the crew, the warriors steering the chariot are pretty standard fare. And even more of those topknots. Yeesh…
All in all, it’s really a nice enough kit though. I have to admit that I am not perfectly sold on the mono-wheel look, but that’s just me. As with any chariot (combi-)kit, the fact that it comes with many cool bitz should make it useful even beyond its original function.
Looking at the Black Guard first, it’s plain to see that these are, once again, a very nice callback to the 4th edition models, although some design cues of the last edition clearly remain. The design actually takes cues from the best elements of both versions, with the Black Guard looking heavily armoured and suitably pointy and spiky. Like more badass versions of last month’s Dark Elf warriors, these have all the discipline and elegance that you would expect from an elven regiment, yet also clearly come agross as evil and sinister — mission accomplished, I guess!
I really love the sinister look created by the helmets, although the champion head is certainly a matter of personal preference:
Anyway, the Black Guard are looking excellent, period!
Since this is also a combi-kit, it’s possible to build a regiment of Black Guard or Executioners:
While using the same bodies, the Executioners get different weapons, different heads and, in a nice touch of variety, are holding their swords in both hands. The skull masks show a nice, elven take on the recurring WFB motif of skulls (and also double as a stylised symbol of Khaine).
It goes without saying that the kit also comes with some brilliantly morbid details, such as a severed High-Elf head:
My favourite part about the kit has got to be how nothing more than a change of heads and weapons is needed to thoroughly change the silhouette of the same base model:
Black Ark Fleetmaster
And here’s my other favourite: Yet another plastic character (which is always great), and one that truly embodies some archetypal qualities of the Dark Elves: The Fleetmaster looks vicious and arrogant. The trophies of bone and skin and his spiky leg prosthesis give him a slightly feral quality, yet there’s also a sinister kind of elegance. Granted, the hair may be a bit over the top, but there’s nothing stopping you from changing it according to your preferences.
I also love the fact that the naval commanders of the Dark Elves haven’t been explored too thoroughly so far – one special character notwithstanding – so the Fleetmaster gives us an interesting glimpse at this side of Dark Elf culture.
Converting the model will need some thought, as with all the single pose plastic characters, yet I am confident that this model would make a great base for all kinds of Dark Elf, Dark Eldar or even Eldar commanders.
Possibly the most interesting part for me about this whole release: What can the enterprising hobbyist use all these new toys for? And what could be done to transform them into something else?
As with last month’s release, these kits will probably be most useful from a conversion perspective to Eldar and Dark Eldar players: The Black Guard and Executioners could be transformed into very menacing looking Trueborn for a Dark Eldar force (or pretty sinister Guardians for an allied Eldar detachment). The Executioners‘ skull masks would doubtlessly look great on Harlequins and/or Wyches. And if you can find a way of kitbashing Reaper Launchers, those Executioners themselve could become brilliant Dark Reapers, in my opinion.
The Dark Rider/Doomfire Warlock kit could also be used in interesting ways: What about transforming those Dark Riders into slightly sinister Exodites? Their cowled heads could also be really useful for basically any pointy-eared army in both 40k and WFB. And those Doomfire Warlock bodies would be pretty cool as daemonhosts. Or they could be used as a way of kitbashing plastic Mandraks — just sayin’…
The chariot mostly seems interesting for its crew members: Those beastmasters would make great beastmasters (DUH!) in a Dark Eldar army, while the High Beastmaster would be an excellent base for an Archon or special character conversion. Some of the chariot bitz could also be used to decorate Dark Eldar vehicles (or to make Eldar tanks and jetbikes look suitably sinister in an allied detachment…).
And then, there’s the Fleetmaster: With the Dark Eldar styling themselves pirate kinds and sinister freebooters, he would make for a fantastic Archon to lead a pirate force. Or a corsair-styled Eldar army. Or you could use him as a counts as Duke Sliscus — he exudes just the right blend of menace and decadence for that role…
While this month’s part of the Dark Elf release seems slightly less exciting to me than last month’s kits, it’s still an impressive release. Last month, I asked myself whether this redesign was on par with the reinvention of the Dark Eldar in 2010. With two months’ worth of beautiful models now in our hands, I have to say that the completely revamped he Dark Elves are now one of the most stunning armies in WFB from a visual standpoint. If I were to return to WFB (not likely…), they would probably be one of my preferred army choices.
But even beyond the confines of WFB, the new kits should provide converters and kitbashers with some very interesting material. And I, for one, am very much looking forward to seeing all the brilliant Dark Eldar conversions that will come out of this release! Why is it that GW always seem to reserve their best work for evil, pointy elves, I wonder?
On a mostly unrelated note, isn’t it weird how much we’ve grown accustomed to a new army coming out every month? This release gives us a bunch of awesome new toys to play with, yet I cannot help feeling an – admittedly very faint – feeling of disappointment that this is “merely” a second wave of an army that was already released. So while so many hobbyists like to criticise GW for just about everything, the breakneck speed of quality releases is really astounding, and it’s almost shocking to see how quickly we have adapted to it…
But what do you think? Are you happy with the new Dark Elves? Have you already started an army of them, just to get your hands on these beautiful kits? Or do you think that they could have been even better? I’d be happy to hear your thoughts in the comments section!
As always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!