Today I finally get to share the big bad of my Drukhari army and his entourage of what were once known in the Dark Eldar codices of years past as Kabalite Trueborn. Back when the Dark Eldar range was updated in 2010, one of the big draws (besides looking sweet AF) was how easily interchangeable bits were across the army, and it only made sense that individuals who held some sort of standing within Commorrite society tended to be more fashionable as well.
For the Archon, I found the helmets that came with the original, metal iteration, were a bit much. Granted, this is 40k we’re talking about and over the top helmets are very much a thing, but the original Archon’s pose was a lot more subdued and stylish than the over the top, plastic one we have now and I just didn’t feel like those helmets fit the style I was going for. By the way, am I the only one who finds the current Archon’s stock pose kind of ridiculous? Especially when you imagine him charging into battle holding that pose, compared to the fluidity present in say the Succubus’ model.
Speaking of style, the space pirate motif was one of the things that really sold me on the Dark Eldar, and this one particular head, which I believe was in the Wych box, fit that theme. It’s a slight nod to anti-heroes in anime and manga, like Griffith from (early) Berserk, or rogue-ish, swashbuckling types in western fantasy settings.
He was also one of the first models I painted after my first box of Kabalite Warriors. Most of it holds up I think, but as I’ve mentioned before, where my Craftworld Eldar and Orks all but begged for complete overhauls, my Drukhari (mercifully) were okay enough that they benefit more from just having details touched up on by someone with more paints, better brushes and several more years of experience… Seriously, I don’t think I could stomach repainting another entire army.
As mentioned at the top, Kabalite Trueborn are no longer a thing outside of the 8th edition Xenos index, but models built as Trueborn still find use most commonly by tagging along in 5-elf Venom squads for their Blasters, which is what you usually took them for (aka Blasterborn).
Trueborn, being higher class citizens in Commorragh, all but beg to have something that sets their models apart from rank and file Kabalite Warriors. It didn’t take long for people to notice these cool, featureless helmets that came with the Reaver kit, and it was just such an obvious, yet simple conversion to do. The head swap makes them look pretty slick, even if you were just to paint the “glass shell” straight black and apply a gloss varnish over it. If you want to step it up a bit, you could do what I did. Using thinned down paints, apply Incubi Darkness from about halfway down the glass and mix in increasing amounts of Temple Guard Blue the further down you go to create a gradient. Then, if you want, use a very thinned down Baharroth Blue to draw a thin line around the bottom quarter of the glass.
A complaint I’ve heard for at least as long as I’ve been in the hobby, and relevant while we’re on the topic of Trueborn (though less, now that they’re index only), is how stupidly hard it is to assemble a single squad of elite weapons specialists when you only get one per box. Even the fairly recently released Chaos Havocs, which are $55 USD a box, only come with a single Reaper Chaincannon, when some players may want four.
In the past, GW sold some heavy and special weapons bits to make up for this. Some models that carried specific weapons were even available in stand alone blister packs. Now such options are not readily available without resorting to trading with other players, or if you play a less common army like the Dark Eldar, pretty much just eBay as they aren’t prioritized much by most online vendors. Luckily, at least for Blasters, there is a fairly simple conversion involving the rarely used Shredders, and Blast Pistols, which weren’t very useful before 8th edition. I also lucked out and found an auction on eBay way back when for 4 Warriors with Blasters. 2 were legit, 2 were pretty well converted; so while I did find my way around this problem and ended up with as many Blasterborn as I needed, it has always seemed like an unneeded annoyance for a hobby you’re already paying premium for.
Finally, here’s a quick look at some of them before and mid-touch up. I was starting to feel like the bronze Blaster tips stuck out a little too much, and needed to look no further than the 8th edition codex for an example of one I liked. In the model showcase section there’s a Hekatrix with a pretty sleek and simple looking Blast Pistol. The metallics were still slightly visible under a black casing, and it just looked way more interesting to me. After these changes, the models as they are are now just have a much colder and mysterious look to them.
Before I go, I feel really obligated to shout out StrikingScorpion82 on YouTube. It took me way too long to try and figure out how I wanted to paint this army, and the handful of test models that I tried mimicking GW’s heavily highlighted color schemes with just didn’t look great. I might be able to pull it off now halfway decently, but at the time I was really unhappy with what my results, and if you’re not at least moderately confident in what you’re painting, your enthusiasm will run out real fast over the course of an army.
Anyway, StrikingScorpion82 had put out a handful of videos showcasing this very striking (no pun intended) color scheme for his Dark Eldar. It was simple enough, and he goes into detail in this video. The main point of interest for me was getting that ghostly, bluish-green armor that he cited the cover of the 5th edition codex as inspiration for. And to this day, it’s one of the most fitting color schemes for the Drukhari. The amounts of wash and how aggressive I am with highlighting changed over time (and as the paints themselves changed), but the basic idea’s still the same:
- [Base] Boltgun Metal (now Leadbelcher)
- [Wash] Thraka Green (now Biel-tan Green)
- [Wash] Asurmen Blue (now Drakhenhof Nightshade, thinned slightly with Lahmian Medium)
- [Highlight] 2:1 Leadbelcher + Lahmian Medium
- [Fine Edge highlight] Stormhost Silver
A few things to note is that Drakenhof Nightshade is a lot darker than Asurmen Blue, so it’s worth thinning it down, unless you want the armor much darker. Also, adding just a touch of Lahmian Medium to Leadbelcher before you highlight the armor panels helps ease the transition between the washed armor, and highlights.
Until next time…