Archive for retro

Seven years of blogging — and a return to the very beginning

Posted in heroquest, old stuff, paintjob, Pointless ramblings, Totally worth it, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 19, 2019 by krautscientist

Eternal Hunt is officially seven years old as of today — little would I have expected the blog to last so long when I started it back in 2012, as a way to chronicle my way back into the tabletop wargaming hobby. Since then, I have beeen fairly productive, if I do say so myself, and explored parts of the hobby I would never have considered beforehand. I’ve gotten in touch with lots of hobbyists all over the world and received lots of bitz drops and awesome models — let’s not forget that! In fact, a particularly awesome gift arrived just the other week, as you may remember, a bit early for the anniversary. Anyway, it has been quite a ride!

The blog currently stands at 414 posts, some 1.200,000 views, 450,000 visitors and 410 followers — all pretty cool numbers, considering the fact that this is merely little old me screaming into the void here 😉 In fact, after a somewhat slower year in 2017 (with just 25 posts), I would say 2018 saw a bit of a rebound, with 40 published posts, and arguably some of my finest hobby work (especially in the field of INQ28) to date. Joining different, forum-related painting events as well as Azazel’s community challenges on a fairly regular basis, as well as getting together with my friend Annie for joint painting sessions fairly often, has given me a fairly steady stream of new content to share with you all, and I fully intend to keep up the pace!

At the same time, as I’ve said before, it has become more and more difficult to keep people interested in this place, given the encroaching age of Instagram. I’ve already beaten that particular drum quite enough, however, and remain committed to keeping this blog alive, in spite of everything. At the same time, I have also discovered (or, in some cases, been pointed towards) some truly cool blogs in the very recent pasts, such as Larsonic Miniatures, J’ai un planning chargé, or Eastern Empire,  to name just a few. And some of the new blogs I have been following were even started fairly recently — so maybe blogging is not quite dead after all?

In any case, let’s make a deal: I’ll keep posting here if you keep reading, liking and – most importantly – commenting. Sound fair? I think we should give it a go!

Now then, since absolutely nobody is interested in boring numbers, it has become a bit of a tradition here at Eternal Hunt to illustrate each year’s anniversary post with a look at something that is truly retro — and boy do I have some old skool goodness for you this year!

In order to discover just what the heck I am talking about, let us return to the beginning of the year for a bit and, ultimately, all the way back to my very first steps in this hobby: Back In January, I had a hard time getting my arse in gear once again and deciding on which model to paint next, when my gaze fell on this unlucky fellow:

The Dwarf from Advanced HeroQuest, horribly mangled from my earlier paintjob — this must have happened sometime during the early-to-mid 90s, but that’s still no excuse: That poor model was a stain upon my honour, so I decided to try and salvage him, just on a whim, and it spite of it not having anything to do with any of my current hobby projects.

Here’s what I ended up with:


Ahh, much better, wouldn’t you agree? In fact, the heroes from Advanced HeroQuest have aged pretty poorly, but I am still reasonably happy with the outcome. So happy, in fact, that I next eyed up this guy, the warrior, from the same game:

Seriously, what was I thinking? The tip of his sword had snapped off years ago, so I quickly replaced it with a newer Empire sword and decided to finally paint him up properly. And at the same time, there was this model:

The Wizard, this time from HeroQuest proper. As you can see, I really did a number on these poor models back in the day. And that’s not even mentioning the HeroQuest Barbarian, one of the first models I have ever attempted to paint. He was already repainted during a previous attempt at salvaging ancient models.

So after a bit more painting, I had managed to go from this…

…to this:

And by that point, a plan was already gestating in the back of my head: So I dug out my old copy of HeroQuest (only a few odds and ends remain from my original first edition box, received as a Christmas present, back when the game was originally released in 1989, but I was lucky enough to snap up an Advanced Quest – or “Master Edition”, in German – set when they were sold off cheaply at a local supermarket back in the mid-90s), and to my delight, most of it was still there, except for a couple of cardboard parts . So I set it all out and started to think about whether I could actually achieve one of my all-time hobby goals: to finally own a fully painted set of HeroQuest, the very game that got me into the hobby:

Illustration by Les Edwards

Because, like so many others, I was actually introduced to the entire wargaming/tabletop/roleplaying conglomerate of hobbies by way of HeroQuest. I remember playing the first games on the evening of December 24th, 1989 with my parents, and following that, many hours spent coming up with my own games, playing with or against friends and trawling fleamarkets and garage sales for all kinds of retro-GW games and miniatures back in the day — as long as it had HeroQuest-esque models, I bought it and entered it into my growing collection: HeroQuest, Advanced HeroQuest, Battle Masters and two of the “Dark World” board games (that were, weirdly enough, marketed as boardgame versions of longrunning German RPG series “Das Schwarze Auge” here in Germany) — it all grew into one huge pantheon of heroes and monsters for me, and I still have fond memories of that time. I also made my first attempts at painting models back then. And they were absolutely horrible, of course — you saw some of those abominations further up in the post 😉

Anyway, here I was, returning to the game at long last. And looking at the models I would need to paint, it did seem achievable:

Of course there would also be the furniture to take care of — and maybe the odd extra model here and there…

So I decided upon a plan: For this project, I would mostly stick to the models that were part of the original HeroQuest set, with a couple of additional monsters thrown in here and there for good measure. Once that was completed, I would add the Men-at-arms at a later date. This left me with a sizeable, but still manageable, amount of models to paint, which was crucial because I am a bit of a hobby butterfly and occasionally have the attention span of a chimpanzee that’s been set on fire — as evidenced by a prior, ultimately abandoned, previous attempt at painting a HeroQuest set.

As an added incentive, however, HeroQuest actually turns 30 this year, so that should give me an extra push to go through with it. And I have also discovered all kinds of places online that are dedicated to HeroQuest, Ye Olde Inn chief among them, and I was surprised how much HeroQuest seems like an entire sub-hobby unto itself. Anyway, down the rabbit hole we go…

My first port of call was to finish the four hero models, and those will be the main course for today. So take a look at them:

 

The Barbarian:


You are the Barbarian, the greatest warrior of them all. But beware of magic, for your sword is no defense against it!

The Wizard:



You are the Wizard. You have many spells that can aid you. However, in combat you are weak. So use your spells well, and avoid combat.

The Elf:



You are the Elf. A master of both magic and the sword. You must use both well if you are to triumph.

The Dwarf:


You are the Dwarf. You are a good warrior and can always disarm traps that you find. You may remove any visible trap in the same room or passage.

 

I already had fond feelings for those HeroQuest models before, but painting the four heroes has given me a whole new appreciation for them: I think they have really managed to age terrifically gracefully, given the fact that they are, when all is said and done, one-piece board game models from 30 years ago. Granted, they are nowhere near as detailed as modern GW miniatures. But their striking design and instantly recognisable silhouettes still work really well, and seem to draw out my will to really paint them well.

As for the actual paintjobs, I had a blast going for that classic, bright high-fantasy look. The paintjobs were mostly inspired by Les Edward’s art from the game’s cover artwork (and the character artwork from the different role cards).

Is this my Oldhammer moment, then? Possibly so. At the same time, and unlike a sizeable amount of the Oldhammer community, however, I fully retain my appreciation of modern day GW models (in fact, I should think the work on these bright, characterful HeroQuest hero models should probably be a rather helpful inspiration for my eventual – inevitable – treatment of the characters from Blackstone Fortress.

It’s just that this return to the distant past happens to feel like such a nice palate cleanser right now — and like a veritable breath of fresh air, if cou can believe it.

Oh, and lest I forget: All of those models should be a rather fitting contribution to Azazel’s “Neglected models challenge” for February — after all, most of them had been neglected for more than two decades…

So wish me luck in my endeavour — and here’s a little something, just to get you in the right mood for this project as well:

I would love to hear what you think about the finished models so far, so please leave a comment! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more! 🙂

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INQ28: I see fire

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2018 by krautscientist

So, with the festivities out of the way, I find myself quite motivated to keep painting stuff, which, given my usual laziness, is a bit of a surprise. It looks like the hobby challenges issued by Azazel and others are having quite a beneficial effect on my completion schedule, though. So after the “Neglected Model/Fembruary” challenge finally prompted me to paint a model I had wanted to finish for years at long last, I thought I might just take a peek at the next challenge. And Azazel didn’t disappoint: His current Squad:March! challenge once again provides the perfect incentive to keep working on my Ordo Hereticus warband and actually finish it until the end of the month — after leaving the models unpainted for years, this basically amounts to a record attempt for me 😉

Anyway, what do I have?

First up, two callbacks to my previous post: Inquisitorial Operative Tybalt Renner now finally has his base:



I made things than they needed to be by not building, undercoating and then painting the base along with the rest of the model: Like most old metal models, Tybalt still has the metal tag that connects both feet and slots into the base. Now I could have carefully sawed it off, of course, but I was actually glad for the added stability. So I carefully textured and painted the base around the already painted model, which is hardly an ideal approach…

Oh well, at least I think he really ties into the rest of the warband rather beautifully now.

I have also added the last finishing touches to the Imperial Missionary (actually a Brian Nelson sculpt, by the way: Eric Wier very helpfully cleared that up for me — cheers, mate!):


That’s not all, however, as I also have some new models to show you, though: One of the parts that are really iconic of the Inquisition (and, by extension, of the entire setting) for me are the many servo-skulls, cherubim and familiars appearing in the artwork. They really embody the quirkiness and gothic horror of the 40k universe, and at the same time, they recall painters like Hieronymus Bosch, among others. This is especially true of most pieces of art depicting the Ordo Hereticus, with many familiars and creepy little creatures flitting hither and yon in the background.

Unfortunately, we don’t get nearly enough cherubs and familiars in actual model form, and the ones that are (or were) available can be a bit of a mixed bag. I knew I wanted Inquisitor Arslan’s retinue to have some grimdark familiars in it, though, so I had to get creative.

Hence these guys:

The servo-skull was actually inspired by a small illustration from the old Codex Witch Hunters:

This little guy actually appears in many pieces of Ordo Hereticus related artwork, so I felt I needed him – or at least a similar model – for my own collection.

It was an easy enough conversion to get right — which is probably why I had already built the servo-skull quite a while ago:


A resin skull (sent to me by fellow hobbyist Biohazard) was combined with one of the firy headdresses from the Empire Flagellants kit. The dangling scroll came from a vehicle kit, I believe. Or maybe the old Ravenwing sprue?! Anyway, because the model was so light, creating the illusion of it floating was easily accomplished by gluing it to a plastic beam from an old Tamiya kit.

As for the paintjob, there were two main things to get right: The flames, for which I used the same approach that had already worked like a charm on my Redeptionist. Many thanks must go, once again, to Tales of Painters’ amazing tutorial for painting flames). The other effect I really wanted to nail was the scripture on the dangling parchment. So I used the – still pretty amazing – Ordo Hereticus/Sisters of Battle decal sheet to puzzle together something suitably convincing.

So here’s the finished model again:



Of course the servo-skull comes with its own dedicated promethium supply to keep that fire going 😉


The little Angel of Death familiar, on the other hand, came about as the consequence of wanting to do something with some bitz from the Coven Throne I got via ebay (in an attempt to get my hands on the female vampires that come with the kit). Anyway, I thought a floating skeleton with a scythe seemed suitably menacing for a Hereticus warband 😉


Once again, the conversion itself was fairly straightforward: The upper body was combined with the cabling from a Tempestus Scion servo-skull, and some wings from the Blood Angels’ Sanguinary Guard were added to the model’s back. I even wedged in a small exhaust port between the wings, to hint at some kind of propulsion system. Oh, and I exchanged the standard skull head for an actual servo-skull, to make the model look slightly more tech-y.

I went for a fairly no-frills paintjob, adding some gold to the wings for a slightly more luxurious, sculptural look:


So with these models painted, I already have a rather nifty looking group of Ordo Hereticus operatives, if I do say so myself:

There are only two members of the retinue left to finish at this point:

A female Death Cult Assassin:

And the big man himself, Inquisitor Nabreus Arslan:


I already have a big painting session scheduled for tomorrow, and I think I am going to have a go at Arslan — if only to prevent myself from making yet another dozen tweaks to the model. Wish me luck! 🙂

On a partially related note, even before painting the most recent models, I realised that I have accumulated over 50 INQ28 models at this point — another small anniversary of sorts:


Anyway, I would, of course, love to hear your feedback! And, as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Six Years!

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Inq28, Inquisitor, Pointless ramblings, WIP with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2018 by krautscientist


As of last week, Eternal Hunt is actually six years old. Huzzah! 🙂

Six years of blogging — that’s actually a fairly long period of time, isn’t it? It’s longer, for instance, than I have ever managed to hold down a single job (Pro career tip: Remember kids, never go for the nonprofit sector). Anyway, it does feel like an achievement, and I am really happy to have kept at it for so long!

On the one hand, there are the numbers: The blog hit the mark of one million views back in December, and I’ve had 391,000 visitors and accumulated 371 followers (cheers, people! You rock!). But that’s only half of the story, really, as beyond the numbers, this blog has really been an instrumental part of my hobby for a long time now: Looking back on the last couple of years’ worth of content on this blog, as well as the models produced alongside it, I realise there are many hobby related things I would never have achieved, had I not started this blog. And it goes without saying that your feedback has been an invaluable part of that as well, so thank you very much, dear readers!

It is true, blogging has become harder over the years: It’s no longer quite as easy for me to churn out post after post, and I am sometimes forced to take breaks in my posting schedule, for one reason or another. There’s also the fact that social media and platforms like Facebook and Instagram seem to be far more en vogue at the moment than classic blogs or forums — as I may have mentioned before, I am not really a fan of this particular development, but that doesn’t change anything about the fact that social media are having a very obvious (and rarely positive) impact on the amount of interest single blogs can generate.

Even so, I’ll keep doing my best to keep this place in business! And you can all help me by reading my ramblings, looking at the (hopefully) pretty pictures and letting me know what you think every now and then, alright? Do we have a deal? I surely hope so, because it’s also very obvious to me your feedback is a very important fuel to keep my hobby motivation going.

 

Anyway, what kind of anniversary would this be without any new content to celebrate the occasion, right? When I realised this date was coming up, I knew I needed something to immortalise the moment. Now under normal circumstances, I would have shown you some of my oldest (and ugliest) models from all the way in the back of the cupboard of shame, and we would all have a laugh at my expense, but you already know all of my early failures, so what was I to do? I did want to share something to us all a warm and fuzzy retro feeling, though — and then I realised I had just the thing:

Back in 2014, fellow hobbyist Drone21c was awesome enough to send me an ancient plastic Imperial Guardsman from the Rogue Trader era.


Now those were wild and adventurous days, back when the Imperial Guard was far different from its modern incarnation. Illustrations and models from the time show an army precariously balanced halfway between Spanish Conquistadors IN SPACE! and a classic, clean SciFi-look:


And what better way to do that old chestnut above justice than to tap into that crazy Oldhammer era, right? So that’s what I set out to do.

Anyway, a retro project like this deserved the right approach as well as the right reference material, so I chose to work from vintage publications, taking this depiction of a soldier in the 5th Arcadian regiment as my main inspiration:


For the most part, I tried to faithfully reproduce the paintjob seen in the illustration — with two small caveats: One, I didn’t have access to any old skool decals, so I had to make to do with a mix of modern symbols and – very basic – freehanding, going for a reasonable approximation of the vintage look. Two, some of the elements from the illustration actually worked less well on an actual model — such as more symbols on the helmet actually throwing off the colour balance. So I made some adjustments based on what did and didn’t work. That being said, and with no further ado, I give you (in honour of Drone21c) and to celebrate Eternal Hunt’s sixth birthday:

 

Trooper Gibbson Rikkert of the 5th Arcadian Rifles



I truly had a blast painting this guy! Trying to reproduce the elements of the drawing was a fun challenge, and I tried the best I could to make something that could have appeared in an old issue of WD from back in the day. The biggest amount of time was given over to trying to reproduce the various unit markings and symbols.

For instance, I spent quite a bit of time getting the platoon marking on the left side of his chest just so — only to realise that it would be mostly covered up by the lasgun. It’s still visible from an angled view, though:


In hindsight, given the subject of today’s post, I realise it would have made far more sense to have him belong to the Sixth Arcadian Rifles. Oh well…

Of course the model also needed a base, and I did my best to make it resemble the designs we would see in old issues of WD (with a few modern touches here and there, though). Fun fact: It was completely clear to me that a suitably retro-looking base would definitely need some bright green static grass, and I actually still have most of the bag of GW static grass I bought at the Cologne GW store while on a trip about twenty years ago — so the grass is actually genuinely retro 😉

When it came to painting base rim, I went back and forth over which colour to go with a couple of times, only to realise that there was really only one possible answer to that particular question…

Matching the hue of the old Goblin Green took some doing, though 😉

 

In spite of the anniversary, its not merely fun and games over here at Eternal Hunt, however, and work on my recently begun Ordo Hereticus retinue continues apace. As I’ve already stated in my previous post, next in line to be painted was the OOP Van Saar turned Inquisitorial Operative:


While the Interrogator and Redemptionist are very obviously and loudly Ordo Hereticus, I chose a slightly more subdued approach this time around: My reasoning was that even a proud and righteous Witch Hunter might have a use for a slightly more covert operative every now and then, and by its very look and feel, the model struck me as a likely candidate for all kinds of black ops and sneaking missions — I am not going to lie, I was also thinking of a grimdark version of Venom Snake/Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid V a fair bit, so there’s that, too.

So, meet Inquisitorial operative Tybalt Renner, formerly of the Saarthen Draugr:



The key visual element here is the matte grey stillsuit juxtaposed with glossy black armour plates. I did add the suggestion of woodgrain to the casing of Renner’s longlas, both to hint at the fact that it’s a keepsake weapon and to recall the medieval look that is so common for the Ordo Hereticus.

I also wanted to feature the red that is so prominent elsewhere in the warband, so I added the red lenses, the red field on his left shoulder (with the “S” as a callback to Renner’s former regiment, the Saarthen Draugr) and half an Inquisitorial symbol in red on his facemask:



At first I wasn’t sure whether I liked the outcome, but I have grown rather fond of the model: I think the slightly more lowkey appearance really works for the model. He still needs a proper base, though.

Oh, and since the Saarthen Draugr are a regiment DexterKong came up with for our shared Velsen sector, here’s one of Dexter’s actual Draugr soldiers (still in PIP form) for comparison:

Saarthen Draugr WIP by DexterKong

I like how the models look different enough to show that Renner’s position is now different from his former life as a soldier in the Draugr, yet they also share enough similar visual cues to hint at a common origin.

While I was still suitably inspired, I decided to keep chipping away at the retinue. So I am already hard at work on the next model for the warband, an itinerant Missionary based on one of the old GW metal missionaries:


The model came into my possession years ago, as part of a job lot. I made some slight tweaks — the chainsword was missing, and I replaced it with a trusty autopistol. And the book standard was great, but didn’t tell the story I wanted, so I replaced it with a slightly more angular Inquisition symbol/reliquary.

Here’s the painted model so far:


It’s a fantastic sculpt, full of character and still very much at home next to current models. Does anyone have an idea who sculpted this guy? I am tempted to say Jes Goodwin — there’s an amount of detail and care in the sculpt that just screams Goodwin to me. The backpack, with all the stowed equipment, for one, is a tiny piece of art in itself:


Most of the paintjob is already in place, and the missionary just needs some finishing touches before he can join the ranks of Inquisitor Arslan’s retinue for good — speaking of which, here’s a look at the current state of the warband:


So, as you can see, Eternal Hunt is well on its way into a busy seventh year. Let’s make it a successful one — I cannot do it without your help, tough, so please let me know what you think! And as always, thanks for looking and stay tuned for more!

Post birthday ponderings & a blast from the past

Posted in 40k, Conversions, Pointless ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2014 by krautscientist

Happy Birthday
Last Saturday marked my 33rd birthday, and among other fleeting moments of introspection befitting such an occasion, the date made me realise that I’ve been in the business of messing around with little plastic men for about 20 years now — which seems pretty unreal, to tell you the truth. But instead of getting all sentimental and contemplative on you, let me take this opportunity to present you with a “blast from the past”, as it were, granting you a look at my very first army for Warhammer 40k — an army that, in many ways, started it all.

Before we do that, though, take a moment to marvel at the birthday image shown above which Annie sent me, totally making my day in the process: Not only did she put most of her Blood Bowl models to work on wishing me a happy birthday, but the picture also hints at some finished (or near finished) models for her new Piratz team — very awesome, and definitely something to look forward to! So, once again, thanks so much for the amazing surprise! 🙂

 

So yeah, back to the past. Before we take a look at this venerable project of mine, let me give you a little background, okay?

It was October 1998, and a new edition of Warhammer 40k had just been released. 2nd edition had been straining to accomodate hobbyists growing armies for a while, but in the end the rather cumbersome ruleset that had originally been designed for skirmishes, above all else, finally gave out. 3rd edition, then, brought some thorough streamlining to the system, and even then, this turned to be a bit of a divisive direction.

Back then, though, I didn’t know anything about this: I had gotten into WFB a while earlier, raising my first tabletop army ever. But even then, I realised that 40k called out to me, maybe even more than WFB did: I had been in love with what little of the setting I had been able to grasp from the butchered German version of Space Crusade, and a weekend spent blazing through the wonderful books from the 2nd edition starter box sold me on the setting.

So the new edition arrived at a time where I was contemplating a closer look at the 40k universe anyway. I eagerly gobbled up all the information about this new version of 40k, discussed in detail on the pages of (German) WD 34. Possibly even more important than any rules changes was the giveaway miniature the issue came with: A brand new plastic Dark Eldar warrior, the first representative of a completely new faction for 40k, and also the model that would launch my very first 40k army, pictured below: The Kabal of the Black Sun.

Old Dark Eldar (1)
In all fairness, it’s a rather boring army in many ways, because, like so many other first armies, it was build on what I could afford to buy from my weekly allowance at the time. So the army was assembled piecemeal, whenever I could afford to drop a bit of pocket money into my growing collection of spiky, pointy eared Space pirates.

This clearly reflects in the somewhat lopsided army composition: Lots and lots of plastic warriors (because these were the easiest to get hold of and delivered quite a bit of modeling bang for the buck), a couple of metal models (bought one at a time, except for the squad of Wyches), a squad of jetbikes (a rather expensive combi-kit back then, so I had to save up in order to be able to buy it) and, lastly, a Raider (the biggest purchase in pure monetary terms, and also possibly the most disappointing: I really only bought this model because it seemed to be absolutely compulsory for running a Dark Eldar army, but I was never all that fond of it, and it shows in the shoddy paintjob).

Anyway, even then, this army wasn’t really collected as a fighting force supposed to win any games (which, fittingly, it didn’t), but rather as an ongoing attempt at creating something cool. And while pretty much all of the models are horribly outdated – especially when compared to their modern counterparts – and while I am fully conscious of the technical shortcomings of my painting (which was even worse back then, if you can believe it…), I still think there are quite a few things to be proud of in this army, so let us take a closer look at some of the squads and individual models:

First up, one of my warrior squads. This one was supposed to serve as some kind of honour squad for my Archon, if the situation demanded it:

Old Dark Eldar (15)
In hindsight, I do of course realise that the true Stars of the show in the 3rd edition release were the multipart plastic Space Marines — as evidenced by the fact that it took a whopping 15 years for the kit to be substantially redesigned, and even then, today’s Space Marines still follow the basic recipe laid down by the 1998 release. The Dark Eldar Kabalite warriors were merely the byproduct of this process, and while they did help to pave the way towards a future of wonderful plastic kits to come, their first incarnation was probably a bit lacklustre even back then: The sprue only held the bare minimun of parts, with only a single special weapon and not much extra bitz to speak of: If you wanted different special weapons or more interesting squad leaders, you had to buy additional (metal) models — or you had to get creative!

And that’s exactly why I’ll always be indebted to those venerable plastic Xenos: It was both because they looked so samey and because they were so easy to convert, that I discovered how immensely fun it was to kitbash and convert plastic miniatures — still my favourite hobby activity today!

I can say without any hyperbole that I really went to town on the unassuming Kabalite Warriors sprue, creating an endless stream of conversions from it: running Kabalite warriors, more impressive Sybarites — I even used it to build a squad of Mandraks, because there weren’t any official models available for them back then. I also discovered the joys of kitbashing! For instance, this guy is a conversion I was enormously proud of for a very long time:

Old Dark Eldar (16)
Not even brain surgery, really: I just cut off the blades from a couple of Dark Eldar weapons and glued them to an old Craftworld Eldar power fist (that old CC weapons sprue was the best!), creating a very sinister and Dark Eldar-ish bladed gauntlet:

Old Dark Eldar (18)
This seemed like such an enormously fiddly conversion back then, but it filled me with a nearly unprecedented sense of achievement. And it also taught me something else: That converting each and every model in a given army in order to make each model special was a very worthy endeavour indeed! So where I had mostly been content to assemble the models by the book for my Warriors of Chaos army, the Dark Eldar taught me to be more adventurous, to try and push the envelope on my hobby projects!

But even I arrived at a point where I had burned myself out on the plastic Dark Eldar warriors and started to look for other resources. My eyes fell on the – then brand new – Eldar Guardians, and so I built a huge squad of kitbashed, bigger and meaner Kabalite warriors:

Old Dark Eldar (12)
Old Dark Eldar (11)

Old Dark Eldar (10)

Old Dark Eldar (9)
Again, none of these conversions are all that spectacular. But they surely felt that way back then — with detailed multipart plastic kits available for the first time!

Here’s the Sybarite for the squad of “Not Guardians”:

Old Dark Eldar (8)
Old Dark Eldar (7)
To tell you the truth, even in spite of all its obvious failings, I am still rather happy with the model’s slightly sinister elegance, even now.

Let me take this chance to address the paintjobs for a minute here: As you can see, I chose a very simple approach for my Dark Eldar: They were undercoated in black, then the armour plates were simply coated in gloss varnish, giving the models a slightly insectile look. The details were painted in gold and silver. Turquoise served as a spot colour (a habit I still keep up today ;-)) And while such a bare bones approach to painting might no longer fly today, I still think that this army made me realise that simple, striking colour schemes are the way to go. Sure, none of the models are anything to write home about from a painting perspective, but they still manage to look rather coherent and striking as a collection. At least until you get closer to them… Also take note of the classic 90s basing recipe: Goblin Green and green flock FTW! 😉

But back to the models themselves: My experience with these plactic kits even made me slightly more adventurous when it came to filling up the lack of official Dark Eldar models with my own creations. For instance, I added a Dark Eldar bit to an old Dark Elf plastic Sorceress in order to create a subcommander for my Dark Eldar:

Old Dark Eldar (14)

And while we’re on the subject of army commanders: The – rather limited – collection of (metal) characters and specialists was, of course, the other thing that defined the Dark Eldar back then. These models created some much needed variety and also seemed so cool in those days. Not all of them have managed to age all that gracefully, but I suppose that’s a given. Anyway, let us take a closer look at that side of my army:

Old Dark Eldar (5)
Old Dark Eldar (6)
First up, my Archon. I used GW’s stock Archon model which is very much a product of its time, of course, with huge shoulder pads and an almost ridiculous headdress (and I am still not sure whether I like the flayed face…), but I think it’s also a pretty apt representation of the Dark Eldar’s essence: The model is spiky and undeniably evil, but it also has this sinister, slightly depraved elegance. It’s also important to remember that this particular niche didn’t exist in 40k back then (because the Slaaneshi Chaos Space Marine models were far too bulky and out there to truly register as elegant). Plus I do have a soft spot for this guy!

The lances glued to the model’s back were originally intended as a trophy rack. I would have added a new trophy for each defeated enemy. A neat concept, but, alas, it never came to that: I never defeated a single enemy, for one. And looking back now, it was probably for the best, because the quality of the bitz back then would probably have made the trophy rack look absolutely hideous!

There’s also this model, a Sybarite for the Kabalite warriors:

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And, to be honest with you, this may be one of my favourite tabletop models ever, and one that I still love. Sure, it looks to big and bulky when stood next to the regular Kabalite Warriors. Sure, the thickness of the various blades and the model’s claws harken back to a different period of casting. And yes, the pose is a bit clichéd. But it’s still an all-time favourite of mine, because it perfectly embodies what the Dark Eldar are about. It’s really a shame that this guy looks even bulkier when placed to the new (2010) Dark Eldar, because he would be an essential addition to any pointy eared army, otherwise. Oh yes, for the record: I am none to happy with the crappy blending on the claw 😉

Of all the models in the old Dark Eldar catalogue, I think it’s the Haemonculi that have best managed to hold up by modern standards. In fact, if I were to start a Dark Eldar army today, I would seriously consider using them as “regular” Haemonculi, with the floating, multi-limbed new Haemonculi only used as elders or army commanders. Anyway, take a look:

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First up, the older version of Urien Rakarth. I am still reasonably happy with my paintjob — especially so since the model was actually repainted at one point to bring it more in line with my Kabal’s colour scheme.

And here’s his colleague, a regular Haemonculus (insofar as the term “regular” can be applied to these guys):

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This model was also pretty much the first instance of really stepping outside my comfort zone during painting. It may not look like much now, but painting the face by highlighting the prominent areas in ever more delicate layers of paint really showed me that there might be more to painting than just doing the bare minimum. Sure, I could probably do much better today, but it still started here.

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I actually own the third unique Haemonculus sculpt as well, although I haven’t painted the model yet. Perhaps I should, though, because these guys would probably work equally well in a radical INQ28 retinue…

All in all, the Haemonculi were one of the most original and new concepts about the Dark Eldar back when they were released, and it’s cool to see that these models still hold up — at least in my opinion.

Another model that I am still rather fond of is the older incarnation of Lelith Hesperax:

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Sure, there is much to be said for the much more restrained, modern version of the model, but I cannot help feeling fond of the sci-fi dominatrix look of the old model. Plus this model holds a special place in my heart for the challenge it presented painting-wise: Getting the contrast between the spiky armour and the softer, organic shapes of the unarmoured parts just so was quite a challenge for someone only used to painting bulky Chaos Warriors — and probably especially difficult for any lad still mired in the late afterpains of puberty 😉

Alas, her accompanying retinue of Wyches has not fared quite as well:

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Again, the are just a little too 90s, with their unbelievably big hair and clunky, retro-futuristic musical performer design — especially when compared to their gorgeous modern incarnation. They are still good fun, of course, but in a slightly corny way. Still, these guys and girls make me scratch my head in wonder at how I managed to paint all those tiny pupils back then — this seems to be one of the things I have actually managed to unlearn since those simpler days…maybe it’s the onset of middle age?

 

We all know the rest of the original story, of course: The Dark Eldar went through a pretty rough patch, being kept at arms length by GW for a very long amount of time. It took until an – admittedly spectacular – relaunch in 2010 to finally update the army, and even though that relaunch was one of the factors getting me back into the hobby after a longer hiatus, it didn’t see me return to the army: Although I did try to continue where I had left off, I realised that my heart was no longer in it, despite the amazing new models. So I turned to the forces of chaos instead, my other great hobby love. And you know the rest (or can at least read up on it on this blog in case you don’t).

In the larger scheme of things, however, this army is still immensely important for my personal hobby life, not only because it was my first 40k army, but mostly because it managed to teach me so many important lessons that are still helpful today. Granted, many of my growing pains of my hobbyist are clearly evident in the models themselves. But the army was instrumental as a means of departing from the slavish adherence to the pretty pictures on the boxes in many ways, and for that alone, it marks an important step in my personal hobby history.

 

So yeah, the things you think about in the aftermath of your birthday, right? 😉
Anyway, I hope this little blast from the past has been as enjoyable for you as collecting my thoughts on the matter has been for me! It goes without saying that I would love to hear any feedback you might have!

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