Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Dancing With Myself - A Harlequin Revue.

Years ago, more often than not, you had to buy multiple blister packs in order to make up units. If you were looking to buy a Harlequin Troupe, firstly you'd have to track down the blisters with the good miniatures in (any that included a model with the Harlequin's Kiss or a Solitaire) as well as pick out a Death Jester too. However, for a kid like me on about £2-£5 pocket money a week, a bulk purchase was never really an option. I couldn't save money if my life depended on it and mail ordering was out as there was no way I was ever going to get my parents to voluntarily give their card details away on one of the order forms on the back of White Dwarf. Unless a birthday or christmas rolled around I very rarely had money and if I did, any ideas of committing to any sensible plan of investing in a single, coherent unit was well out the window and I'd buy a stupid new tank or something instead.


Harlequins always interested me and I think one of the main reasons for that was my love of combative dance Jes Goodwin's utterly amazing sculpts and John Blanche's artwork in the Eldar Codex. His images of the Troupe Master, Solitaire and Shadow Seer are pyrographed into my mind as iconic, visual ideals. To my pre-pubescent eye, these images and their descriptive counterparts were so fantastically baroque and alien that they literally changed the way I appreciated art. However, I was always aware that as much as I loved Blanche's work, I was never going to be able to, or wanted to ape it. His artwork has always had a cinematic feel, as if the artwork is a split-second snapshot of a movie rather than static piece. I could never paint Harlequin like Blanche drew them and to my knowledge no one, not even Blanche has ever tackled the subject. I think the closest thing to such a thing would be his limited edition Femme Militant range - a Blanche-esque Harlequin could be a great challenge for the future!

Love the way the mask is changing in this. All of the Grotesque faces in the armour are amazing too. I can pretty much feel his disdain for us Mon-Kei from here!

What isn't there to like about this? The massive jewel face and antique pistol are so gnarly.

The fucking anguish in this is so grim. Sad Solitaire looks well like Chris Corner of IAMX too.

Mental illness bone daddy disco fabulous. Such a burly image.

When I decided to revisit my love for RT/Second Edition Eldar, I knew I had to include a proper unit of Harlequins to exorcise the demons of my misspent youth. With the wonder of eBay and trading sites, I've managed to get all the figures that captured my imagination way back without having to trawl through loads of crappy blisters.  In a strange twist of fate, whilst gathering ye olde Troupe, Games Workshop released a new set of plastic Harlequins, based loosely on the metal ones that came out in 2007. The last incarnation of Harlequins were a joy to behold - a great rendition of a classic Eldar staple with all the litheness of the mid 00's Eldar metal releases. They were and still are in my opinion, some of the best modern figures that have been produced, echoing their forebears in spirit and design. This Troupe was painted in 2009ish over a summer of unemployment and they were a huge learning curve in regards to precision painting. - black and white contrast is very unforgiving! They're not perfect by any standard, but at the time I was really proud of them. I think I'll tidy these up a little once I've finished this present Troupe.

Dance magic dance.

These two sculpts in particular really do it for me.

The new releases initially piqued my interest. The new kit came with a massive selection of easily convertible plastic parts, plus dozens of extra bits -  but closer inspection bummed me out. Whilst the recent metal releases had some real strength of line and acrobatic rigidity to them, the new plastics seemed sloppy, almost wet in their poses They also appear too uniform to my tastes when compared to the wildly differing selection of outfits and styles the original set. Even the character figures are re-works of the previous models, with poses and additions which don't really add to the overall look of the figure; showcasing the potential of the materials used (in all fairness, the stuff GW are doing with plastics at the moment is incredible) rather than being an opportunity to expand on the corpus of Harlequin imagery. One figure released did excite me though. The Solitaire, although posed in a somewhat awkward way is an interesting model which I plan to include in my 'new' Eldar army purely for completeness. I like his mask and cowl which in a way, is a gesture towards that famous Blanche portrayal. Plus, if I get him done, I can finally sort out the Shadow Seer that has been on the to-do pile for the last few years!

The undercoated WIP pile. New Solitaire is between the two versions of the Shadow Seer.

Anyway, enough of my bitching. I'm now halfway through working with the Troupe, choosing against the classic 'all colours and patterns at once' look and instead going for a limited palette of blue, pink and grey to create some kind of uniformity whilst breaking that up with sparing use of black and white to give the models a greater sense of difference. Hopefully this will work without the whole crew looking overly garish. They'll be twelve altogether, ten Troupers, one Solitaire and one Death Jester. Painting chequered patterns hasn't been too much of a hassle yet, but I think I've been lucky and unknowingly got the spacing and ratios right. Sure that won't last long!


You could never find this model in a blister pack - ever. Still feels special to own it!

Agh, need to sort that mold-line out!

Unconscious nod to the Hart Foundation.

Such an iconic sculpt. Can't believe Jes Goodwin did all of these.

So glad the rad crystal gun thing has made a return to the modern game, no idea what it does, but it looks cool!

Should hopefully have them finished off in the next month or so. I'm hopefully going to make a start on the meat of the Eldar force then, focusing on ten rangers, ten guardians and two war-walkers before moving onto a character or two. That is if I don't get distracted by a new, super jazzy tank or something. Old habits die hard!