Quality High Elf Miniatures – An Impossible Dream?

Greetings from Oxford!

First up: My thanks to my good friend and pal Alex Smith (the Parisian based one of us) for writing the first post of this new Blog and for setting out our ‘mission statement’.  It’s probably also worth my adding a sentence or two to explain why I thought it wise to setup a shared blog…  Simply put: it’s a self-motivating outlet for each of us to continue to share our hobby with one another (we first met when Alex was also in Oxford) as well as reach out to the wider retro-warhammer and wargaming community (see the linked blogs at the bottom of the page).  In addition, with two people posting on this blog, there will be a wider range of content and, fingers-crossed, more regular postings for the wider-reading audience.

Just a word to the wise to begin however, this is not a blog that restricts itself to the 1980s Citadel and Marauder lines (or even to 1980s minis per se, eg. Ral Partha).  Rather, this is a blog following the adventures of two geeks who share a passion for awesome miniatures and narrative-driven wargaming.  To this end, Alex and I have made plans for sporadic cross-channel meetings where we hope to get our painted miniatures (that you will soon be seeing here) together and some battle reports written up narrative-style.

Before we get to such lofty-heights however, I’d like to take this first-post opportunity to note what future content can be expected from me here in Oxford (at least in the short to medium term).  I’ve currently got three fantasy armies in desperate need of finishing and future posts will flit between these:

  1. A 1980s citadel-miniature skaven army.  My first love ever since I cracking-open Advanced Heroquest box as a 9-year-old, this army is inspired by the army of Andy Chambers as shown in White Dwarf 137.  Interestingly, it seems I’m not alone in being inspired here, as a similar project can be found here (including pictures from White Dwarf 137): http://nico-realmsofchaos.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Skaven.

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White Dwarf 137 – Pure awesomeness of a skaven-variety lies hidden within…

2. A Slaanesh army.  I’m lucky enough to own a whole bunch of the last Slaanesh deamonettes ever to be made in metal by GW (both mounted and unmounted) and these have to be some of my favourite miniatures ever.  The plan here is to paint these up and supplement them with some classic Slaanesh citadel miniatures of this past.

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Best ever models of Slaaneshi deamonettes?

 (note, neither of these photos are of my own currently unpainted minis!)

 3.  A (second, yes that’s right…) High Elf Army.  The focus of this opening blog…

 

One man’s quest for High Elf miniatures that just feel right.

Now, it’s probably worth pointing out right at the start here that I do actually already own a fully painted HE army made up of the stock GW HE miniatures (painted many years ago and not for posting here!).   However, for over 15 years I’ve been continually disappointed by the disparity between the GW imagery of High Elves and the reality of the available miniatures – not just the miniatures produced by GW themselves, but also the miniatures available elsewhere (there used to be a good post listing many of the suitable non-GW alternative miniatures on Ulthuan.net: http://www.ulthuan.net/forum/index.php).  Further, this disparity between imagery and miniature is even more irritating because it is less apparent for Wood Elves and Dark Elves…

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Awesomeness imagery…

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… yet rubbish execution (GW’s own, these are at least 12-year-old sculpts too)…

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…and it’s not just GW’s High Elf minis (here: Mantic)…

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…compare and contrast to some epic Dark Elf minis (here: Gamezone) for added bitter disappointment…

From my trawling of the Internet, my own personal preference for alternate non-GW High Elf miniatures comes down to four options:

  1. Rackham Miniatures (now mostly Out Of Production) – specifically the Cynwall range.  In the not too distant past, this French company made some of the nicest miniatures out there and it’s a real shame that the company ended up going under…  Consequently many of these miniatures are hard to find, expensive, and in limited quantity.  Plus there is the issue of suitability as proxies for High Elves.  As with so many sculptors, it seems a real challenge to convey the high-fantasy imagery of High Elves in 28mm pewter, especially when compared to Wood Elves and Dark Elves.

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 …Rackham’s Cynwall Range for Confrontation – many an acrylic tear was shed by many a geek when Rackham folded…

2. Tom Meier Elves.  For those of you who don’t know, Tom Meier was the founding sculptor of Ral Partha Miniatures over in the USA back in the 1980s.  Starting out at around the same time as Citadel Miniatures, the two (then small(!)) firms briefly worked together to import and sell each others miniatures in the UK/USA.  Now the history of Ral Partha is slightly besides the point here, but Tom Meier is still sculpting miniatures today (http://www.thunderboltmountain.com/), including some beautiful elves.  In terms of alternatives for GW fantasy High Elves however,  they don’t seem particularly suitable (having more of a Wood Elf vibe about them)

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Tom Meier Elf Spearman – High Quality Elf Minis, but more Wood-Elf than high-Elf?…

3. Gamezone Elves.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the Gamezone Dark Elves are the crème de la crème of Dark Elf miniatures.  From the Dark Riders, to the Cold One Riders, to the Sorceress, to the harpies, these models are just fantastic…  Compare and contrast to their High Elf range though and you’d be forgiven for face-palming (as in the pictures above, exceptions may be made for their High Elf cavalry).

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…Cool Gamezone High Elf Cavalry (here a musician)…

 

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…yet what the hell with the Gamezone High Elf infantry?

4. The Perry brothers Lord of the Ring Elves.  Admittedly GW, these models are based on the film imagery from the turn-of-the-century movies.  As such, it’s my opinion that the difficulty in representing the somewhat-generic fantasy imagery of High Elves down into 28mm pewter (see above) was given a helping hand by the various people who managed an intermittent step: conveying the illustrative imagery within a series of live-action films.  Thus, its this geek’s humble opinion that the GW Lord of the Ring range make for the best available 25/28mm models for representing GW fantasy High Elves.  Perhaps most importantly however, these models are  not presented in “heroic scale” – that is to say, with enlarged hands, heads and weapons (check out the ludicrous helms on GW’s WFB high-elf range).  As a result, these minis should fit in nicely when presented alongside old-school miniatures (including 1980s Citadel, especially the cavalry as modern GW steeds are much larger than those from the 80s) as well as the historic miniatures that Alex mentions below (https://twotalestwocities.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/5/).

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Oscar winning film imagery: A transitional phase helping sculptors represent High Elf fantasy imagery with 28mm pewter?

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…sweeeet spearman models (GW, LOTR)…

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…backed up by nice character minis (here: Arwen, GW, LOTR)…

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…and appropriately-scaled (a bigger issue than you might think.. *ha-ha-sigh*) cavalry

(here: a GW Swan Knight of Dol Amroth)…

As a final note, I suppose it’s worth mentioning that both Alex and I have ended our first posts with shout-outs to the Perry brothers and their awesome sculpting skills.  They also run their own company (which, as an aside, makes perhaps the best samurai mini’s in 28mm as well – useful for those of you considering Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Edition) which it’s well worth your time checking out:  http://www.perry-miniatures.com/

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