Saturday, 15 November 2014

Born To Be Wild Riders

I started working on this in 1996. So when you consider Kraken's painting rate of a new unit per week, I think I've earned the tortoise badge of this blog.

This cavalry was one of the things that sold me on Wood Elves in the first place: the horses were a terrific sculpt, leaping forth with an energy that we wouldn't see again until the Glade Rider plastics, many years later.

I miss the Red Catalogue so much.

When the time came to start the army, I bought as many as I could afford (which was five), had a hell of a time converting a massive standard out of a coat hanger (which now adorns my Savage Orc BSB) and painted them red, bronze and white (you know - traditional forest colours).

Similar to these, just painted by an idiot.

They served me well for many years (actually, they usually got punked, but they looked good doing it), but in the end, they were so off-theme, I could take it no longer. At first I tried painting over the bright red elements, but they soon found themselves soaking in Dettol.

It was until 2008, just prior to the first WoffBoot, that I turned my attention to them. Or rather, General Leofa did, emptying his bitz box and lending his expertise with a pair of clippers. The models were clipped, prepped and only waiting for me to get around to assembling them.

I got around to it last month.

Wood Elf Wild Riders, converted from old metal Elf Cavalry.
A mere six-and-a-half years. My 40k Orks are jealous.

I'd avoided working on them (apart from the general upheaval of the last few years) partly because I knew they would require more work than just sticking down to the slottabase; and also because I was really looking forward to getting them painted, and wanted to enjoy it properly.

Wood Elf Wild Riders, converted from old metal Elf Cavalry.
That special hell that is elven eyes and enclosed helmets.

They clearly started life as 'Elf Knights', and bit more conventional than the Wild Riders. Apart from the paint scheme itself, I've attempted to wild them up in the following ways:

  • Removed the shield nubs (and thereby the shields)
  • Exchanged the lances for 'wood & twine' spears (high elf banners maybe?)
  • Added fur cloaks (goblin wolf cloaks and possibly a high elf cloak)
  • And, of course, add the rockin' horns to their helmets/heads.

Wood Elf Wild Riders, converted from old metal Elf Cavalry.
This took a few tries to photograph in focus - that spear tip is such a camera hog.

This particular model's horns came, not from the dryad kit (as the others did), but metal war machine scythes. I love 'em, and it took a great strength of will not to paint them golden on a bright green helmet, Loki-style.

Wood Elf Wild Riders, converted from old metal Elf Cavalry.
The horse was originally 'Greycloud' from the Elven Attack Chariot

Despite the absence of a nose (nothing to do with me: he was cast that way), this may be my favourite model. Which is why he gets the big horns, fancy spear (doubling as a standard if need be) and swankiest horse.

The backstory for this unit (I think they deserve one) is that they were a troop of Silver Helms, sent to Athel Loren as a goodwill gesture, then went feral, pledged themselves to Kurnous and grew horns as a mark of their place in the Wild Hunt. These boys are never going home.

Which is why this one has horns sprouting right out of his head. I had a spare high elf helmet that I slung onto his saddle, should he ever fit it back on.

Wood Elf Wild Riders, converted from old metal Elf Cavalry.
His head also serves as a makeshift rugby goal.

I treat my favourites well: whereas the others had to make do with goblin cloaks, he gets the only proper elf cloak (I assume it's elven - it's another of Leofa's bounty), which shows off his nifty back-mounted sword to best effect. I wanted cloaks, but I'm glad I didn't hide the swords either, which are a nice detail in models that are full of such things.

Wood Elf Wild Riders, converted from old metal Elf Cavalry.
Using greenstuff to cover up the join on the horns resulted in giving him Glam Rock hair ... as if I couldn't love these models more.

What was once the standard bearer is now the musician. Back when I was planning this renewed troop, musicians used to be free and cause fear on the charge. Which just shows you: I'm so slow that whole army editions pass by me before I get units into the field.

This model had the most drastic cutting: losing his entire right arm so the plastic Glade Guard trumpet could fit there. A hand swap for his left, replacing a raised hand for a sword (and how fortunate to find a left-handed sword?)

Wood Elf Wild Riders, converted from old metal Elf Cavalry.
No blessing of Kurnos for you. Not while you're packing an axe.

Captain Wingtips here used to be the unit leader, due to his fancy helmet. But he's pushed out to the sides for that very reason: I can't fit anything else on there, and I'm reluctant to cut such a fine model, so ironically, he now has the least-ostentatious headgear in the troop.

That said, he managed to hold onto his axe - I was close to cutting it away, as the Wood Elves were all fluffy last edition. But now they're allowed to hate crazy trees as much as anyone, he gets to keep his chopper.

Wood Elf Wild Riders, converted from old metal Elf Cavalry.
If you get stuck in traffic, use your horn.

I wondered about the armour on the riders, but I've tried painting chainmail in non-metallic colours and it just looks like a thick-knit jumper. I used blue-black ink as a wash, and that has given it a suitable silvery look. Painting recipe as follows:

  • Armour - Ironbreaker base, Blue/Black ink wash, Mithril Silver highlights
  • Helmets - Castellan Green
  • Gloves, Boots - Elysian Green base, Agrax Earthshade wash
  • Cloaks, Spear Shafts - Steel Legion Drab base, Agrax Earthshade wash
  • Gems - Swooping Hawk Turquoise
  • Horses - Black primer, Brown Ink wash, Mournfang Brown highlights
  • Manes - Black primer, Dawnstone highlights. 

Wood Elf Wild Riders, converted from old metal Elf Cavalry.
Ride, ride like the wind, Greycloud!
And you too, Horse 4.

I was going to paint the horses black, but decided that was the province of Dark Elves and instead went for a very dark brown. Putting a heavy layer of Brown Ink over the black primer seemed to do the trick quite nicely.

They may not be stags, but I wanted to imply something supernatural about the geegees, so I attempted to give them all glowing eyes. Wild Riders also have talismanic tattoos, but there's not much flesh on show, so I opted for a different elven symbol on each horse's rump.

Wood Elf Wild Riders, converted from old metal Elf Cavalry.
Giddy up.

No more proxies for the Wild Riders! Which is handy, as they seem to be auto-include for pretty much any elf list I can imagine. I'd like to get some more, but maybe straight out of the box this time...


  1. They look proper woodsy, they do. That leaf litter you're using is great stuff, by the way, where did you get it?

    1. Thanks. I'm very happy with the flock - I was walking around a wood this morning and realised that this cluttered mulch is exactly what a forest floor should look like.

      The flock comes from our hobby brethren, the model train nerds. I looked at a lot of options and settled on 'Dead Fall Forest Debris' by Scenic Express. I had to import it from the US, given that this particular flavour wasn't available from any UK outlet I could find.

      An unexpected customs charge made it flocking expensive - but it's a big pot, so I'll get the whole army and my woodland scenery out of it.