Archive for dark elves

Pointy is the new evil – the Dark Elves’ second wave

Posted in Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , on October 31, 2013 by krautscientist

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

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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:

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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:


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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

Dark Elves release (26)…and, in all honesty, they should have gone the whole hog here and called these guys Doomfire Warlocks of DOOOM! Just kidding 😉

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…

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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:

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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:

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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

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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:

Dark Elves release (33)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:

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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:

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This guy is probably my favourite part about the kit, and I could easily imagine him being used as a special character or even a Dark Eldar Archon with an adventurous streak…

The other option is to use the kit to build a Cold-One Chariot:

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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.

 

Executioners/Black Guard

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Now here’s a high point about this release! Some of the Dark Elves’ most elite units are finally available as a plastic kit. Even better, you can build both unit types using this combi-kit!

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:

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What is it with all of those topknots? Is there something innately evil about that kind of hairstyle?

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:

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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:

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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:

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Definitely one of my favourite kits from the new Dark Elf catalogue!

 

Black Ark Fleetmaster

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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.

 

Conversion options

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!

Spiky pointy people – a look at the new Dark Elves

Posted in Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , on October 2, 2013 by krautscientist

Another month, another new release: This time, it’s the Dark Elves’ turn: The army reveives a complete design overhaul that rivals the redesign of their dark future counterpart, the Dark Eldar. So, once again, let’s take a look at this month’s release in order to figure out the good and the bad and to come up with some conversion ideas.

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You might be surprised to learn that I have always had a huge soft spot for the Dark Elves: Back in my WFB days (during the 90s), a box of metal Cold One Knights may actually have been the first GW models I ever purchased, and  I even bought the 4th edition army book and had some grand notion of building a Dark Elf army. Alas, the price of assembling such a force proved to be far too steep for my pocket money as a lad: Most models were also only available in metal. So, apart from a squad of Cold One Knights that I bought and painted piecemeal, and a small unit of plastic Dark Elf warriors, my plans of an army of Druchii never quite got off the ground: Instead, I turned to chaos, my one true tabletop love (and, coincidentally, the army with the most plastic kits available back then). But I still marveled at the background of the Dark Elves. But what did I find so interesting about them?

The Dark Elves are truly an evil race, no surprises there. But where chaos as a faction is evil in an archetypal, almost incomprehensible way, the Dark Elves have this strong leitmotif of fallen glory. Champions of chaos only follow their own ambition and the twisted reasons of their dark gods, but the Dark Elves believe that it is their birthright to rule, a birthright denied them by their High Elf kin. It’s great fun to imagine the courts of Naggaroth, rife with perverted beauty and intrigue, a society turning on itself in the desperate struggle to maintain their power and majesty. And it’s also very interesting to have a force that looks every bit as elegant and disciplined as a High Elf army, only with a more spiky and sinister design and some seriously disturbing, even monstrous additions.

So, how does this translate to the new release? Those familiar with the 4th edition army book will immediately notice that the new models were very much inspired by the Dark Elf designs of the early to mid 90s: They look less like Dark Eldar with medieval equipment and more like sinister reflections of High Elves. I think the overall visual direction for these models is a fantastic blend of nostalgia and modern design trappings. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a look at the different kits:

 

Cauldron of Blood/Bloodwrack Shrine

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Let’s begin with a huge kit, and arguably the visually most impressive addition to the Dark Eldar catalogue: The Cauldron of Blood shares quite a few design cues with the Vampire Counts Coven Throne, if you ask me, so if you didn’t like that one, it seems you’re pretty much out of luck. If, like me, you found the Coven Throne to be a fantastically over the top, beautifully eclectic piece, chancec are you’ll find a lot to like about this model as well!

Of course, you could always argue that there’s a slightly silly concept at the heart of it all, with the basic frame of the cauldron making it look like the Witch Elves are bringing along their own set of stairs for their special show act. But even a cynic interpretation like that would be strangely fitting for the Dark Elves for whom evil and style always go hand in hand, don’t you think?

My favourite part of the model has got to be the imposing and immensely spiky statue of Khaine towering above the cauldron. This statue turns the model into a great centre piece for any Dark Elf army, plus it should make for a brilliantly sinister (plastic!!!) Avatar of Khaine for all you (Dark) Eldar players out there. Some work on the pose would probably be required, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

Whether you intend to use the statue as a standalone model in your 40k force or in its original function, though, it’s a brilliant element.

I also quite like both the actual cauldron and the statue bearing it on its back:

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The kit comes with several Witch Elves, all of them in suitably theatrical poses:

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The Death Hag would also make a great character model (both for WFB and for 40k…):

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And finally, the model for Crone Hellebron is another high point. This bonny lass really exemplifies what Dark Elves have always been about for me: spiky bitz, theatrical poses and extremely huge hair:

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I do of course realise that this may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I love the design. Again, used on her own, she could make a great character for a Dark Elf army, a great Dracon for Dark Eldar Kabal or even a Slaaneshi cult leader for INQ28.

In addition to all of this, there’s also the option of assembling the kit as a Bloodwrack Shrine, which gets rid of the Khaine statue and replaces it with a mirror, used to keep a particularly pissed off Bloodwrack Medusa in check:

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Some may feel that the inclusion of a Medusa comes a bit out of the left field, but strange, serpent-bodied creatures have been a part of Dark Elf iconograpgy at least since the 4th edition army book, so it all works out.

While the basic construction remains the same between both variants, some of the additional bitz are really cool. Granted, that mirror will be a hell of a chore to paint if you want to pull of a convincing effect and don’t work for the ‘Eavy Metal team 😉

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But from the beautifully decorated back of the mirror to the alternate face masks for the witch elves, there’s a lot of variety if you assemble the kit this way. The ornaments on the back of the mirror are also an excellent example of the Dark Elves sinister but stylish culture.

The star of the show should be the Bloodwrack Medusa, of course, so let’s take a closer look at her:

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I love the pose! And this girl should be a real looker on the table, both if you use it as part of the shrine or as a standalone model. My favourite part has to be the clawed gauntlet:

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The face is a bit of a letdown, though: I would have loved the snake hair to billow around the face more, for one, and that facial expression makes her look like a dumbstruck idiot. I know GW can pull of much better female faces (as is evident with several models in this very release), so this one is a bit of a bummer. On a more positive notice, for all those who have been lamenting the decrease in bare breasts over the last years: Seems like you at least get one uncovered boob out of this kit. Yay! 😉

One last though: Wouldn’t the Bloodwrack Medusa be an interesting option for a plastic Fulgrim conversion? Just sayin’…

 

War Hydra/Kharybdiss

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Okay, I’ll be honest with you: The War Hydra is the absolute low point of this release for me: The pose seems slightly awkward (what on earth is happening with those hind legs?) and the heads are just plain terrible. It boggles the mind how GW’s designers have gone through three different versions of this creature without ever coming up with a cool looking model. And seeing the awesome monsters Trish Camden is designing for Forgeworld, it’s hard to come to grips with the silliness of this model.

In all fairness, one of the different paintjobs showcased in this month’s WD has the model look slightly less horrible, but there’s really no way of seeing beyond those silly snake heads… Anyway, I just want to put you through anymore of my ranting: The Hydra is my least favourite model coming from this month’s release, period.

That being said, the kit has another option, however: It can also be used to build the sea-dwelling Kharybdiss:

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Let’s just ignore the fact that the whole sea-dwelling thing doesn’t seem to make too much sense, given the fact that this monster will only ever be used on land in Dark Elf armies. And, to get this out of the way as well:  I may not be huge on classical education, but that particular spelling of Charybdis made me die a little inside. Plus did you guys do realise that the original Charybdis wasn’t a monster but a whirlpool, right? Scylla’s the one you want for the monster, people.

That aside, the Kharybdiss variant of assembling the kit does, strangely enough, solve much of what seems wrong about the hydra: The different heads make the creature look completely alien. And since you’re hard pressed to tell what this thing is supposed to be in the first place, the pose doesn’t really matter that much. Strange, I know, but for the, those heads make the model much better, precisely because they are so strange. The one thing I’m not keen on is that growth on the tip of the tail, but that should be easy enough to replace.

So, for me at least, the Kharybdiss is the definite way to go with this kit. It’s just strange enough to work, while the hydra is just silly.

Oh, and let’s not forget the beastmasters: On the one hand, both models are sporting what may be my least favourite elven hairstyle. Still, it’s nice that they got their own, distinct look, with clothes made from tanned monster hide and all.

A final thought: Maybe those Hydra heads could at least be used as Alpha Legion ornaments? I don’t know…

 

Dreadspears/Darkshards/Bleakswords

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Phew, they really know how to motivate the Naggaroth citizens to join the Dark Elf armed forces with those unit names alone, don’t they?
Anyway, these will bascially be the main troops for any Dark Elf army, so it’s clear that this is a pretty important kit.

And GW has really managed to deliver with these: From a visual standpoint, the models  are a definite callback to the older metal warriors, and for me at least, they are everything you could ask of Dark Elf soldiers: They are clearly identifiable as evil, pointy gitz, yet they retain the discipline and sinister elegance that defines the elves.

The one problem I have with these is that, from a converter’s point of view, you lose a lot of flexibility with this kit: All the bodies and heads are single piece, with only the hands and some doodads left as separate bitz. That means they don’t exactly lend themselves all that well to expansive conversions.

In all fairness, though, players will probably need a lot of these guys, so flexibility in posing them is really less important than ease of assembly (and the ability to rank them up without a hitch). And it’s great that they have all the equipment options in the box this time around, giving you three possible regiment types:

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And while I certainly don’t hate the older plastic warriors – they were pretty cool for their time – it’s good that the new warriors’ proportions are now finally in tune with the Black Ark Corsairs and Cold One Knights (although those hands still seem to be a bit on the big side, if you ask me…).

One small thing that bugs me, though: Why is it that helmetless Dark Elves always have to default back to one of two pretty horrible hairstyles?

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However, all in all, these are just what you would ask of your most important troop choice. Good job all around, GW!

 

Witch Elves/Sisters of Slaughter

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While the Dreadspears were the obligatory part, these girls are the freestyle performance, so to speak. And they are definitely the stars of the show for me for a number of reasons, but we’ll be getting to that in a minute.

First of all , these are also very much a callback to the 90s’ metal Witch Elves — the colour of the hair in the official ‘Eavy Metal paintjobs couldn’t be any more telling… The fact that these are plastic now means we get some much cooler poses, and these ladies really excel at dynamism!

And to address the elephant in the room: Yes, these models are clearly on the more stripperific side, but GW at least clearly resisted the temptation of making them too busty.  And in contrast with some of the recent High Elves (yes, I am looking at you, Sisters of Avelorn!), at least these gals really look feminine enough to actually pass for females!

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The alternate option for the kit is to assemble some Sisters of Slaughter, and this is where things really gets interesting:

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With their sinister facemasks and whips made from hair, these models are quite different from the Witch Elves while using the same bodies and poses. They would also make for excellent Wyches, Death Cultists or, indeed, Slaaneshi cultists, if you ask me. Or you could even kitbash them with some Daemonettes for very interesting results…

The one little thing I really don’t like about the kit is the awkward pose of the musician:

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Seems like she has to coordinate some rather complex actions there…

Apart from this one small gripe, this is clearly my favourite part of this release, and as soon as I had seen this kit, I was pretty sure that I would pick up one just for the heck of it.

And then I saw the price tag.

Wow. Just wow. 45 Euros for ten of those? No matter how many bitz you get, that is a bit of a ripoff. Sure, I can see how one of the big kits would cost that much. But ten – rather small – infantry models? I don’t want to keep ranting about GW’s prices, believe me, but it’s really a shame they took what is probably the most interesting kit of this whole release and priced it like that. I mean, that’s almost a hundred Euros for a decent sized regiment of these girls. And even for a huge plastic crack enthusiast such as myself, that seems a bit much…

 

Shadowblade

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And finally, the one new character so far — and the model’s plastic — yay! The standout parts of the model are the highly dynamic pose and the impressive cape flowing behind it. This last part is very obviously GD painter bait, if you ask me…
What’s really cool is that the way Shadowblade is posed on his base means that you’ll be able to almost pose him above his designated target — only a fun little detail, of course, but I still like it. My main gripe with the model is that it seems little devoid of personality, although I guess that is pretty much the whole point of the exercise in this case.

Let me also say that Dark Eldar players could be looking at a pretty cool base model for a counts as Kheradruakh here…

 

Conversion potential

Another thing this release excels at is the amount of conversion potential it brings:

First up, most of the new stuff will prove immensely useful to Dark Eldar players, obviously. The Death Hag or Crone Hellebron would make for awesome female Dark Eldar commanders. The Witch Elves are brilliant alternate Wyches. And the Sisters of Slaughter would be a very interesting and equally sinister way of representing Wyches in a Haemonculi Coven themed army. But all of this seems pretty obvious.

An even more interesting option would be to use parts from the Dreadspears and/or Witch Elves to build more sinister Eldar Guardians, either for use in an Ulthwé army, or in a mixed force of allied Eldar an Dark Eldar. And, like I said earlier, that Khaine statue would make for a fantastic, if sinister, Avatar.

All in all, for fans of the pointy eared armies, the options for creative kitbashing are really endless here.

But worshippers of chaos should also find a lot to like about this release: Many of the models would look great in a WFB or 40k army dedicated to Slaanesh: From the serpentine Bloodwrack Medusa to the daemon masked Sisters of Slaughter, there are all kinds of options (with the one for alternate cultists maybe the most interesting, if also most expensive one).

And finally, INQ28 aficionados should also take a close look at this release: They’ll find ample material for several varieties of cultists and some of the best female GW models to date — always a challenge for every fan of Inquisitor played at the 28mm scale!

 

As you will have gleaned from my enthusiasm for the models so far, I think that this is a very strong release with only very minor design slipups. My main point of contention isn’t even the horrible War Hydra model, but rather the pricing on the Witch Elves — it doesn’t even seem to fit the rest of the model range at all. Apart from that, though, it’s plain to see that the GW designers have poured lots of attention into this complete redesign.

So, the final question remains: Is this a redesign on par with the fabled 2010 relaunch of the Dark Eldar? It seems official now that the new Dark Elves will be released in two waves, and with leaked pictures of the next slew of kits already making their rounds all over the internet, I think it’s fair to say that, yes, this is a redesign every bit as involved as that of the Dark Eldar. I, for one, am very much looking forward to next month already! Will I begin a Dark Elf army now? No, I do have that much impulse control at least. But my dark and forbidden love for the Druchii will fester, and who can say what will happen?

 

So much for my take on the new models, but what do you think? Do you like the new designs as much as I do? Are you already contemplating all kinds of crazy conversions? Or do you feel completely differently about this release? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!