The Dark Eldar Black Box is finally in our hands and many nay-sayers have been silenced by the reality of new DE models before their eyes. Many still remain, however, staunchly assured that even this round of previews exists only as a cruel joke by GW. It has been twelve long years, after all…
Despite all that, I managed to get my hands on the contents of that mythic box and set to work cobbling it together. The box included a Raider, a unit of ten Kabalite Warriors, and a unit of three Reavers. And the book, of course, but that (and the first-blush responses to it) are for another article.
The Kabalite Warriors
These models represent one of the two Troops options available to the DE, not including FOC alterations requiring the purchase of special characters, and as such represent the bread and butter of many a DE force. The frame is typical of a GW 10-man box, including everything you need for the unit and its options, along with plenty of detail bits.
|One half of the Kabalite Warrior Frame, with some bits removed.|
Building these models was kind of a hassle. Don’t take me wrong; any criticisms I may have for these kits is heaped with a dumptruck of salt considering how long we’ve waited for them and what we’ve had to live with in the interceding decade. All disclaimers aside, however, these figs reminded me of everything I hated about building Guardians. Each model is a minimum of seven pieces: legs front and rear, torso front and rear, two arms, one head. And naturally, they are fiddly. My primary gripe is that all the guns are numbered and have a corresponding arm to hold them, and they will not fit properly if mis-matched. Likewise the legs are numbered with corresponding butts, and again, only fit their numerical matches. At least it’s clearly labeled, otherwise this build would have been a nightmare (black boxes don’t come with instructions! That made the Tau Pirahna, Ork Battlewagon, and Valkyrie all loads of fun!)
|A Sybarite with Blast Pistol and Agoniser|
They went together easily enough, the above aside, and made for very finely detailed basic troopers. On the one hand, I understand that plain ol’ dudes don’t need captivating and dynamic poses all, and I confess I had pie-in-the-sky expectations after waiting my entire adult life for new minis, but on the other hand I was hoping for more than ten guys in static, “knees slightly bent” standing poses with the odd set of “tentative step forward” legs and two “massive one-legged crouch” sets. Aesthetically, they are spikier Guardians. Only in the helmets do you get any of the subtly Daemonic new designs, with some helmets horned and some reminiscent of Chaos Warrior designs.
|My name? Dude. Plain O. Dude. I have a gun, and a general, effective stance, adaptable to any battle situation but otherwise unremarkable.|
|Wow! That's my name too! But, my gun is bigger. My stance, however, is eerily similar.|
Overall, I’m giving these minis a B-. They are basic troopers for your army, and fit in with the new design style of the race, nothing more. Clearly, GW didn’t stray far from the Eldar formula on these. Full disclosure: I think they’re a C+ at best; it’s only the twelve years screaming at me that got them bumped up.
These models are very neat looking, and, while being locked in Fast Attack on the FOC, will still find their way into lots of lists, because 3 Reavers with a tank-busting blaster are cheap, super-fast, and effective.
|One Reaver frame. A full model utilizes all but five of these pieces.|
Reavers are now seventeen-piece models. Two halves for the hull, the lower rear fairings, the upper rear fairing, the front fairing, the gun pod, the engine exhaust and intake, a little display bit that goes in front of the rider’s face, the handlebars, the rider’s two legs, two arms, torso front and rear, and head. On any given frame you have two rider torso options (dude and chick), two heads, and two different upper rear fairings (one with skulls and tassles, one plain), and three gun pods (blaster, splinter rifle, and what appears to be a mini Dark Lance... Sorry, I was too busy writing Hellion lists to read the Reaver entry in much depthl). Finally, there is a little detail bit that I coulnd’t find a perfect fit for, so it went under the bike in the only spot that seemed to lack detail, right behind the socket for the flying stand. That may have been a mistake, or simply superfluous, but it was there and it fit in that spot, mostly, so that’s where I put it. So, yeah, they’re a lot of work.
|Reaver; top, left, right, and bottom views.|
They assembled easily enough though, and everything was pretty self-explanatory about where it was supposed to go, my only flub was gluing the front fairing into place before realizing the handlebars had to go in place on the hull first. Honestly my favorite part about these models is the new-style flying stand with an integral ball-joint at the top instead of the usual small peg, and a corresponding round socket on the underside of the bike. This allows you to glue the bike onto the stand in any number of dramatic “Top Gun” positions; diving, jinking to one side, climbing, etc. Very neat. The fit is also tight enough that you can conceivably eschew gluing the model completely, leaving the bike and stand separate and able to be posed any which way at will. This may also alleviate some of the transport concerns associated with bikes and their ilk because of the space a full bike and stand take up.
|The new hotness.|
These models get an A. Twelve years, the cool new look, the ease of assembly, and the awesome new flying stand with its inherent poseability, all more than make up for having so many pieces. Space Marine bikes have about the same number of pieces and pale in comparison to these guys.
Hopefully I’ll get to the Raider this evening, so everyone can get a peek at Jabba’s pleasure barge come to the 41st millennium. There's a lot there to deal with sans instructions though. Until then, I hope you've enjoyed this first look at the new Dark Eldar!