Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The First Eldar Miniatures in WH40K Rogue Trader: Part 3

I hope you enjoyed last week's guest post by Geriatricus Maximus. I didn't. What a grouch. 

For the final installment of my tour through the RTO4 range of original Space Elves, I thought I'd start by taking a look at some of the other fabulous painters who have tackled the range before. Honestly, I found it intimidating to try to paint these miniatures precisely because there are so many talented people who have turned their hand to them and produced stellar results:

Illustration of Yriel from
The Book of the Astronomicon (1987)

  • The first stop on our tour must be Dave Perry's Eldar. Steve Casey at Eldritch Epistles did a huge service to the hobby by presenting Dave's work in a series of stunning posts. Dave was a member of Games Workshop's Design Studio and 'Eavy Metal team. His Eldar (to quote Steve Casey) are "an absolute riot of yellow". I could stare at them all day. They are the Van Gogh sunflowers of the Warhammer world.
  • As a lovely contrast, take a look at the "Starry Night" Eldar painted by Frank J. and posted to DakkaDakka.
  • Another treasure captured by Steve at Eldritch Epistles is a handful of Eldar from Bryan Ansell's personal collection. They demonstrate the incredible variety of colour schemes that the Eldar attracted even from their earliest days.
  • I'm quite partial to Subedai's Eldar at The Lost and the Damned. He used a cool palette that catches the eye, and his work on the helmet markings is exquisite.
  • I also enjoyed the Eldar painted by Dutch Law at Berman Blog. Orange and teal is a striking combination of colours. And the strange effect is enhanced by the alien pallour he gives to those without helmets.
When it came to painting my own Space Elves, I decided to go classic: blue bodies and yellow helms with black stripes. I suppose it might be too classic. But I was seduced by the miniatures glimpsed in the pages of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1987), as well as by the profile of Yriel and Yriel's Eldritch Raiders from The Book of the Astronomicon (1988). If I was going to paint the original Eldar, I wanted them to look like the original Eldar.

*   *   *   *   *

First up is "Eoan Fireheart". He differs from all the other miniatures in the range (save for the heavy gunners) insofar that his armour is bulkier, curvier and more bulbous. I like the way he has removed his helmet but the lower breather mask has stayed attached to this face.

Eoan Fireheart RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

Next comes "Capt. Aetolia Lightfoot". This is one of my favourite sculpts in the range: it looks great from every angle. As I've mentioned before, I love the way that it's hard to tell where the armour ends and the weaponry begins.

Captain Aetolia Lightfoot RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

Third is "Ceido Sharpeye". Although this is a simple pose, I find it compelling: the couched shuriken catapult conveys caution and watchfulness.

Ceido Sharpeye RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

And finally, the last in the RTO4 range is "Kern Proudbrow". The languid but aggressive pose is 100% Eldar awesomeness. Thanks Jes Goodwin for giving us such amazing miniatures!

Kern Proudbrow RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

If you know of any other great paintjobs for these miniatures, please share in the comments. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The First Eldar Miniatures: Part 2 - Geriatricus speaks!

Back in my day, we didn't have "Aeldari" or "Asuryani" or even "Eldar". Hear that? Not even Eldar. We had SPACE ELVES. And that was good enough for us. Just plain old Space Elves. We didn't need fancypants names stolen from the glossary in the Silmarillion. That's because we had guts. We got by with nothing but Elves. In space. With shuriken catapults.

Original Jes Goodwin Eldar Space Elves 1987 painted

There were no good elves and bad elves. There were just elves. Sometimes they helped you and sometimes they raided your homeworld and incinerated your family. But we didn't bellyache about it or go around calling them "Drukhari" or nuthin'. What a bunch of lightweights you guys are. When a bee stings you on your knuckle, is it a Dark Bee? Was it seduced by Slannesh? Yeah - that's what I thought. Go make a Tic Tac video about it.

Aspect Warriors? Just keep talking, Einstein. Ask a proper Space Elf about their aspect, and before you can say "Jiminy Cricket", you'll find a pointy chainmail slipper lodged three feet up your intestinal tract.

And for Chrissakes, don't call them "Guardians". Our Space Elves didn't guard shit. They were mercenaries. Or pirates. Or bounty hunters. If you want a guardian, read the newspaper and stop bothering me.

So now you understand. In the good old days, we didn't have rap music. We had precisely one record, and it wasn't even a record. It was a 7" flexi disc of Sabbat playing Blood for the Blood God. We'd play it over and over again while talking about how AWESOME the SPACE ELVES were and how they'd certainly kick the ass of every other army in the 40K universe if only their stats were better.



This is the second installment of my tour through the original RTO4 range of twelve Eldar, er, Space Elves. Our first miniature is "Alesia Wildfire". Like many of these Space Elves, he or she is pleasantly gender non-specific (and armed to the teeth).

Alesia Wildfire RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

Next is "Cmmr. Inghen Keentongue". It's not clear what "Cmmr." is abbreviating. Commander? Commodore? Centimeter Mister?

Cmmr. Inghen Keentongue RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

Third we have "Caetra Darkflight", who demonstrates the correct way to shoot from the hip. Knowledgeable readers informed me in the comments on last week's post that Caetra is carrying a laspistol (at least according to the Citadel Miniatures Blue Catalogue). I don't know about you, but that seems pretty big for a laspistol.

Caetra Darkflight RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

Our last miniature today is "Irbic Trueshot". This is a lovely sculpt that showcases the organic lines of the original Eldar. I mean Space Elves.

Irbic Trueshot RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

Thanks for dropping by - next week, we'll finish off the RTO4 range!

Friday, July 1, 2022

The First Eldar Miniatures in WH40K Rogue Trader

Original Eldar first Space Elf miniatures

The first Eldar miniatures were sculpted by Jes Goodwin and released by Citadel in September 1987. There were twelve models in the range, which was labeled RTO4 Space Elves and later renumbered to RT401.They're an astounding achievement of design: The peaked helms, the organic lines and the heavy armament! In one fell swoop, they made "space elves" an instantly recognizable race while also highlighting the newness and strangeness of their values.

Illustration by Tony Hough (1987)
The genius of WH40K Rogue Trader was that it accomplished two different things at the same time. On the one hand, it shamelessly borrowed concepts, tropes, characters and conflicts from pre-existing settings. All these stolen goods gave Rogue Trader a welcoming familiarity. We recognized parts of Star Wars (armoured space troopers, a frail and psychic emperor, laser swords) or Dune (navigators, personal shields, assassins). We especially recognized the main races, because they were lifted en masse from Tolkien.

But on the other hand, Rogue Trader did a wonderful job of defamiliarizing the borrowed elements by giving them a twist. And nowhere was this twist more potent than with the Space Elves.

The Space Elves of the Rogue Trader universe were not the benevolent nature-lovers of The Lord of the Rings. Rather, they straddle good and evil. Their capacity for malice didn't fracture them into two different races (like the High Elves and the Dark Elves of Warhammer Fantasy). In this sense, the original Eldar resemble humans: both races are capable of moral ambiguity. Unlike humans, they seem to be motivated by boredom more than greed. As the Rogue Trader rulebook tells us, the Eldar trade, adventure, and fight "simply as entertainment":

For many Eldar the peaceful, idyllic monotony of the craft-worlds becomes so dull and uninspiring that they are driven to associate with other, younger and more hot-blooded races. Aside from the traders and merchants, there are some Eldar who throw themselves wholeheartedly into alien society, becoming adventurers or mercenaries... The most famous, or rather infamous, mercenaries are composed of renegades from Eldar society; the psychotic, the malcontent, murderous or evil...

Both the Rogue Trader rulebook and the Book of the Astronomicon (1988) make it clear that most of the Space Elves appearing on the gaming table are either pirates, raiders, or mercenaries. These are not the guardians of craft-worlds, but a wild bunch of killers.

Well, enough talk - let's look at the miniatures! Here are the first four from the RTO4 range of Space Elves...

First is "Aedui Starborn". A simple, classic design. An early sign that Space Elves are badasses is that he (and many of his colleagues) are armed to the teeth with two guns. The crossbow design in the shuriken catapult recalls the Eldar's origins in fantasy settings.

Aedui Starborn RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

Second we have "Belgae Strongwill". Why bring a rifle when you can carry a vehicular laser cannon?

Belgae Strongwill RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

"Gaedhil Quickshadow" is next. If you can tell me what weapon he (or she?) is carrying in the left hand, please leave a comment. I see that weapon all over the place in early Rogue Trader minis, but I've never been sure whether it is a shotgun or a lasgun.

Gaedhil Quickshadow RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

And finally, here is "Sgt. Mael Nightwing". I am particularly fond of this miniature because of the strange way that the casing for the weapon blends into his (or her?) gauntlet. It's a subtle touch that you see in a lot of these early Eldar sculpts: a melding of implements into armour. 

Sgt. Mael Nightwing RTO4 RT401 Citadel 1987 painted miniature

Stay tuned for more of the original Eldar next week!

Happy Canada Day!