Dawn of the Eldar

I have long been harbouring plans to create a small force of Eldar for Warhammer 40k – ever since I started playing actually. My most recent thinking was to have an elite army of all warrior aspects, however inspired by the Oldhammer community and posts by Frank FJA and symphonic poet on the forum I opted for some Rogue Trader era Eldar warriors instead. Designed by Jes Goodwin, these are just beautiful miniatures that have only become better with age. Initially I was tempted to paint them in the colours most commonly seen in the Rogue Trader books, i.e. black or dark blue with yellow helmets, but since I am painting enough of those lately with my Undead and Dark Elves for Warhammer Fantasy, I decided to go the other way. Dark colours are commonly associated with Eldar pirates and mercenaries, so my force is a craftworld strike team, making them no less unpredictable and cold hearted in the eyes of any other race they encounter.

40k Eldar Warriors for Rogue Trader - front

Eldar fighters pursuing a clandestine mission

I purposefully won’t use metals since I am assuming the Eldar will mainly be utilising all sorts of ceramics, plastics and carbon compounds for their equipment. The only metal on these two is the earring on the mohawk sporting warrior.

40k Eldar Warriors for Rogue Trader - back

Equipment used by the Eldar is some of the most advanced in the galaxy

I currently have a unit of eight lined up for painting, including a commander, musician and standard bearer. The plan is to use white armour throughout and different helmet and hair colours to lend each fighter individuality. The helmet design came about more by accident, having started with aquamarine and the typical black tiger stripes seen in many old publications. The result looked somewhat bland and not exotic enough, so I tried applying a red glaze on top, which proved to be much darker than anticipated. Now left with a crimson basecoat, I used aquamarine to paint shapes roughly following the contours of the helmet on top before finishing this off with some hard white edge highlights. I’m happy with the rather exotic and alien looking finish and will try similar techniques with different colours for the remaining troopers’ helmets.

40k Eldar Warrior for Rogue Trader - helmet

The conical helmet shape is an Eldar style icon

In order to establish the skin colour for my Eldar I picked a soldier without helmet next. The figure has sharp facial features with high cheekbones, so I applied sharp contrasts from Agrax Earthshade shading in the recesses to white highlights on the cheekbones and brow.

40k Eldar Warrior for Rogue Trader - face

The mohawk is known as a warrior’s haircut not just in human civilisations

11 thoughts on “Dawn of the Eldar

  1. A warrior’s hairdo indeed.

    I’m very fond of those early Eldar – Jes Goodwin did such a solid job of establishing the iconography for the faction that, bar improvements in casting technology and proportion, I really don’t feel they’ve changed all that much (unlike… well, let’s talk about Space Marines becoming anatomically ludicrous or Orks tripling their body mass index overnight).

    I had eight or so of these lads lying around once upon a time. Sold long ago, a choice I’m still not sure I regret.

    • I think Jes Goodwin kept creative control of all things Eldar and the design principles he established during their very creation have endured.

      Looking at all the original sculpts, they have more character though than nearly everything that came later. It’s like the early artwork – not nearly as technically perfect as in recent years, but with more creativity, experimentation and little idiosyncrasies.

      I’ve picked up a few 1st generation Harlequins for those reasons lately, after seeing the disappointingly bland new plastics. They are going pretty cheap on eBay, if you are tempted to get some Eldar back for nostalgic reasons!

    • I’m always leery of the fetishisation of old sculpts as having ‘more character’ – I’m afraid I tend to see many of them as gormless-looking and blobby (although superior to the flat cavalry of the Kirby era by a long, long way). That said I am very fond of those early Eldar as having a solidity of presence that’s absent from the later spindly bints. I like a model that won’t shatter into a million bits if whacked in passing by a flying die.

    • Part of the character I often see in the old ranges stems from the archetypes being established in them, with some hit and miss design choices. Seeing how they developed gives the originals more artistic merit in my view. Later ranges rarely manage to surprise, as the standard look has been decided and every design element looks like it is expected to across the whole range.

      No doubt the average quality of sculpting has improved, while some of the early figures have the charm of cave paintings – every generation needs to be viewed as of its time.

      The most original new Citadel figures I have seen in the demon ranges recently, while the rest of Chaos is still the most bland of all armies, quite the opposite of how it should be and disappointing when looking back at the Champions of Chaos that Goodwin designed back in the 80s.

      Speaking of durability – I quite like how the plastics are far less prone to chipping, and if broken can be more easily repaired.

    • The argument about artistic merit is a non-starter; I see the validity of your argument in ref. showing your working but I still prize technical skill above ‘surprise’. I want something that’s fit for purpose first, competently executed second, and surprising… as an option. For what it’s worth I find many of the newest kits distinctly unfit for purpose as gaming pieces (although they make very nice display models); too many pieces, too unwieldy in their shape, too fragile in their form.

      I don’t disagree that everything needs to be considered in context and since you acknowledge that technical quality has improved, we can probably call that quits.

      Agreed in ref. the blandness of Chaos. I recall posting a takedown of the various plastic Chaos Warriors, some time ago; the current ones have a certain presence, and they work well as gaming pieces, but they’re very dull.

      On materials – six of one, half a dozen of the other. I like a solid plastic kit better than a brittle metal one, look at it that way.

  2. Its good to see some more sci-fi around here :) You did a great job on those Subedai. The markings on the helmet in particular work very well, far better than the more familiar tiger stripe motif. I like the approach to the undersuit too, its nicer than the chainmail usually seen.

    I try to take each figure on its own merits, regardless of production era. I do try to avoid fetishizing older miniatures just because they were around while I was of a particular age, although I also have the occasional nostalgic weakness for some more questionable figures. Increased technical production and technical skill certainly does not guarantee a better miniature though. Similarly, the older items are not automatically inherently better either.

    Being fit for purpose is a huge factor for me, including factoring in assembly time. I try to avoid multi part metal figures when possible. Metal Eldar jetbikes with the structural integrity of a clown car might look nice on display, but there isnt a hope that I would try to get them ready for gaming if I have a decent alternative.

    The new Harlequin plastics are more than adequate I think, although the technically wonderful but artistically unexciting (to me) paint scheme doesnt do them any favours. Im looking forward to seeing some of the models in hand: I suspect that they will be impressive upon close inspection. That the classic metal Goodwin Harlequins are such nice designs doesnt help the plastics case in certain circles.

    I hope that we will get to see a lot more Eldar around here. There are lots of fun and unique looking armour variations in that range that I would be very interested to see painted like these two. Great work.

  3. Thanks, glad you are enjoying my long overdue foray into 40k territory. I’ve always been more of a Fantasy man, and those massed infantry armies which are my preference take a lot of time to get through (those bloody greenskins barely fit into their allocated shelf space)

    That being said, there are some sci-fi projects in occasional progress, and a bunch of options for when I feel like trying something new on a smaller scale, like those Eldar. There are more of them inbound, though I’ll probably scale down from the initially intended 8 to 5 for now.

    In terms of metal assembly, given enough glue I’ve rarely encountered problems with models falling apart on me, but then I don’t get my armies out to play much. The increasingly 3-dimensional plastic kits of late are often over the top just for the sake of it in my view and are becoming too fragile, I’m struggling with that on my Dark Eldar. Storage is becoming an issue, with models not fitting into normal figure cases anymore. I’ve been buying more and larger separate storage containers, quickly reaching the limit of what a flat in London can accommodate.

    • I brought two DE Raiders and a converted Ravager (there wasnt a kit at the time) in a car from Ireland to a GT in Nottingham in Jan/Feb 1999. The experience was not kind to the models. I understand your concerns intimately.

      As for the kits, I take each one on its own merits. Some are great, some not so much. I actually enjoy cherry picking models from numerous sources and trying to tie them together with a strong colour scheme.

      Im looking forward to seeing the next batch of Eldar :)

    • Your eclectic mix of miniatures is a joy and one of the inspirations for my 40k activities, looking forward to your next cherry picking session as always!

  4. How did I miss this post until last night? These guys look great, and yes – the helmet works extremely well. It just goes to show how well some of these older sculpts hold up today. I do think they have more appeal and art to them to most of the modern eldar infantry, simply by being individually sculpted models with that element of experimentation to them rather than being multipart, multipose plastics. It’s just the nature of the beast (and I like the multiparts as well).
    Looking at your figures here makes me want to paint my own ones of these guys, but I already have too many plates in the air, so not for the time being. Please do keep on showing us these guys, as I find them fantastic.

    • Glad you are enjoying my incursion into Eldar space. I’ve started work on a leader for the squad, hope I’ll find the right combination of colours and patterns for his helmet and crest.

      I’ll try sprinkling some limited side projects in between what is my main goal for the 2015 painting season – get two or three old school Warhammer armies into the field.

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