Thursday, 30 June 2016

Eldar Exodite Army WIP - Dire Avengers, Striking Scorpions & Wraithknights and others

It's been a while since we followed up on this project. After there wasn't much response to the initial posts serving as a conversion guide despite reasonable traffic, I opted to just press ahead with the project. Between grabbing the right bits and pieces and experimenting what I had on hand, most of what's intended to be a small to medium scale army is relatively complete. While the Wraithknight was admittedly a last minute addition (mostly thanks to a personal love of the old Exodite Knights) the rest of it is intended to serve as a relatively fluffy reflection of a War Clan associated with Yin-Sarr. As such, the look is distinctly less pagan and far more feudal than many modelers tend to go for, but that at least helps it stand out.

So first up on the short list we have the Dire Avenger stand-ins, the Household Guard. This is probably the simplest conversion of the bunch, but it proved to be remarkably effective for something which is merely swapping over a set of arms and a head. In order to reflect a more ornate and heavily armoured design, the Warhammer Fantasy Phoenix Guard were used as a basis, specifically their torso and legs. From there it was just a case of trimming down the neck until it could be fitted with a Guardian head and then flattening the inner sides of the arms.

The armoured skirts offered the unit a nice ceremonial quality alongside the capes, giving them a somewhat static and purposeful look as most would expect a fire-support unit to be. While obviously still capable of running when needed, combined with the guns it just gave the appearance of a unit readying itself for a firing formation; as if they had recently disembarked from a transport or holding their ground against a foe. A useful element given that's largely what they'll be doing in the game. Even the Exarch himself, the most dynamic of the bunch, looks more as if he's directing their fire or giving the order to loose a blade-storm than charging into battle, and it's a nice change from the norm for this army.

The Exarch himself underwent a few more changes than the standard grunts, albeit not much. Besides keeping the standard Phoenix Guard head, the torso was replaced with that of a standard Guardian, with it and the cape filed down until they would properly link together. The sword itself was then trimmed at the shoulder until it fitted the right angle, and some green stuff was used to create the impression of a thick belt or sash to hide the oddly thin waistline. That last bit is something you'll see a few more times on here. Finally, a minor addition was adding a thin layer of glue to the face, slightly rounding his features. Combined with the paint, i'm hoping this will help give the impression of a mask upon completion.

The Lord is largely uncharged in his current state, and is just a fantasy model. Using the sadly often forgotten Eltharion the Blind (one of the coolest characters ever to be retconned) in place of an Autarch, the robes and more gaudy elements give him something of a connection to the Guard while standing out on his own. The actual blade can also easily be left as it is, serving as a substitute for one of the many weapons on offer for HQ choices. Admittedly, this one will undergo a few big changes, but besides a halfway decent pain job i'm uncertain as of yet just what those will be. 

Next up we have the Guardian Host, stand-ins for the Striking Scorpions. There's going to be some lore written up behind these guys at some point, but they basically serve as a combination of scouts, law enforcers and hunters among the Exodites. As such, they're more lightly plated than the likes of the Household Guard and built with speed in mind, but there's still enough there to give them a formidable armoured look. Built from a mixture of Guardian and Shadow Warrior parts, they are an odd mixture of things to help give them a bit more of a patchwork design. While there's still a uniformed look to them, some arms and sections are more visibly protected or better designed than others, to help reflect a lack of resources or cruder design. Also, given the problem with their female ball joints on either side, green stuff was used to fill the gap.

As before, the Exarch stands out a little more thank to her torso design and weapons. These used a pike from the Dark Eldar Raider set, and also a Guardian torso combined with the cape. As before, this required each side to be filed down and then glued together. Not much else to be said really, as it's a relatively straight forwards conversion.

The heavy support unit here (a Dark Reaper stand-in) is the Stormborn. Despite lacking the same missile launcher designs, the grim Dark Reaper aesthetic was still an influence here. As such, it combined elements of Cold One Knights with Kabalite Warriors to give the impression of spiked plate armour with a feudal element. To prevent things going too far towards a Dark Eldar look, Guardian heads were put in place of Knight or Kabalite versions. As before green stuff was required to join each section together, fixing the torso to the legs, but also to work around some of the weak spots. Admittedly, they're still at something of a basic stage here, as the guns themselves are still being converted into oversized harpoon weapons and the armour on some of the more basic models still require a little more bulking out.

The Exarch here stands out thanks largely to his pose, holding the sword aloft and kneeling. Admittedly this was more an experiment to diversify design choices beyond the usual charging/aiming gun position or looking as if they were directly in battle, but it works out remarkably well all things considered. Admittedly, thanks to that same pose though, it was an absolute nightmare to keep the upper and lower halves together without them shifting out of position.

Another one still being worked on - and is actually yet to be converted - are the Ranger stand-ins here. Yeah, they're nothing more than Heavy Weapons crewmen, but that's actually why they were picked out. Most rangers lean a little too much towards the DĂșnedain in space look, and even those from Craftworlds give the impression of warriors reliant upon personal skill, knowing the lay of the land and a very rustic way of life. Given that this would hardly stand out among an Exodite force, it made sense to for with the other extreme, making them look ultra- high tech, outfitted with all kinds of gizmos to scan the environment. It still gives the impression of a scouting unit, but less one which is a band of hunters than an elite and well equipped force of professionals.

The impending conversions are pretty simple - Capes and better guns. Those shuriken weapons will be elongated and built upon to reflect a much greater range than the usual guns, and capes added to give the impression of a more stealthy unit. Each might need to be fully custom made via green stuff rather than taken from other units, but it's an experimental process.

So, this now brings us onto the thing the Exodites are best known for: The dinosaurs. The few models this army gained beyond their mini-mecha were infamous for riding tyrannosaurs, raptors and the like and it would be criminal to ignore that little detail. Thankfully Cold Ones exist, so there was an obvious choice to reflect the fleeting, fast moving nature. of the Dragon Knights. As you can imagine this one retained a lot of core elements from the Dark Elf Cold One Knights, from the mounts to the legs and weapons. While some players opt to give these guys shuriken weapons and add them as standard jetbike substitutes, it just somehow seemed wrong really, given their knightly nature in the lore. As such, these guys are stand-ins for Shining Spears instead.

They key differences stemmed only from the choice of heads and torsos, which were taken from a variety of different sources. While the torsos were from Guardians once again, the heads originated from all kinds of kits from across both games. This, oddly enough, was actually enough to give an impression of some variety despite their overall uniformed design. Given the variety of helmets, heads and adornments, it suggested some individuality among them, far more than what you usually end up with in helmeted forces. Once again green stuff was used as a sash or belt to hide the mismatched waistlines, and combined with the shield it works surprisingly well.

The Exarchs here were easy enough to present, using more ornate helmet designs but also banners. To give the impression of a little more diversity, these were carried in different manners, with one held by its rider while the other was linked into its back, hidden behind a green stuff'd bag of supplies. 

The other big dinosaur is the grav tank stand in - The Stegadon. Despite initially looking like one of the more complex elements of the armies, it proved to be one of the simplest, mashing together two different kits. Despite its massive size, the Raider served as a remarkably effective howdah for transportation and customisation purposes. With enough greenstuff on the underside it fitted well against the flattened sections of the Segadon's back, which was further supported by joining elements on the sides. Leftover bits from the Lizardmen kit this originated from were added to offer a little more tribalism in its outwards appearance, especially when it came to reinforcing the battering ram. Like everything else, this is going to see a few more changes as it's up-gunned to serve the role of a bigger tank (most likely a Wave Serpent) but that really remains to be seen.

The side sections will be used to carry a few more secondary weapons, and besides further crewmen there might also be a menhir thrown in to help it seem a little more distinctive. Overall though, the core of this minature is complete and it just needs to be seen what else can be thrown on to really make it more of a centerpiece. 

In stark contrast to the Stegadon we have the Wraithlord substitute. As the Exodites actually lack most small scale wraith constructs, this once again meant we needed a giant angry lizard to stand in as an alternate, offering the guns and hitting power it retained. In this case the answer was found in Lord of the Rings, specifically the Fell Beast miniature. Robbed of its wings, the sides of the model served as an effective mount for its main cannons, and green stuff easily fitted them into place. What's more, while the rider is still being made, the standard Guardian legs are big and broad enough to fit around the saddle, so it should be easy enough to find a rider.

The main difficulty with this one as time goes by will be disguising that the guns themselves are directly glued on. To this end it will likely need armour plating around the torso and rear, probably taken from vehicles or turrets, or re-purposed from smaller scale eldar miniatures. Plasticard or other sources are obviously a potential choice, but the real difficulty there would be to give them the rounded or organic look of wraithbone while cutting it into shape.

Finally, we have the one which underwent the least conversions but still stands out as incredibly distinct despite that. After realising that it would be an absolute knightmare to actually build one of the four legged Knights of old, not to mention expensive, a Wraithknight was seen as a middle-ground option. Despite largely sticking to the prior build elements here and there are being tweaked to make it look a little more archaic. Besides that, the battle damage helps to make it stand out and give it more personality. This was actually made by someone else as a part of a bigger diorama originally, but I have been gradually reworking many design elements here and there, notably the sword the pilot now carries.

So, that's what's currently under construction. Most of this will see more than a few changes before we even reach the point of actually painting them, but I hope it gives you a good idea of the general direction we're moving in, and some of the aesthetic choices. Once that is done, and free time is an option once again, you can expect a mini-Index Xenos akin to that of the Tau Empire piece to help outline some of their more unique aspects. Still, that's a long way off yet, and until then we have many games, codices and novels to cover until we reach that point. 


  1. Looks good. Fun to see that sleek Raider being toted around by a big scaly lizard.

    1. Thank you indeed, i'm still amazed at how well that one turned out.