Sunday 11 May 2014

Return to Ulthuan

I am suddenly feeling a bit elvish. The wood elves have been in the news recently of course, but it's the High Elves of Ulthuan that are on my mind. A recent trip to the coast had me thinking about the beautiful colours of a coastal palette and I wondered if I should perhaps revisit the oldest of my armies.

High elves were probably the thing that drew me into the Warhammer world, back in the mid 1990's. The fourth edition boxset containing elves and goblins was my first experience of the battle game and I think the High Elf army book was the first I ever bought (though it might have been the Undead, it's a long time ago). I wanted to collect an elf army more than any other, but they were difficult to paint for a beginner and I put them aside for a couple of years until I had gained more experience. Then I slowly painted up my plastics from that first boxset, plus a good number of metals. I still have that army in my glass cabinet, it's the oldest surviving part of my collection, it feels like a significant part of my wargaming history (if playing toy soliders can ever be considered as significant). I played them for many years, I still have the first four versions of the High Elf army books. The models have always struck me as among the best in the fantasy range and I love the background too. I dabbled with a new elf army a few years ago, but it was more a diversion than a real project. I am increasingly feeling the need to bring my collection up to date.

I still have a large number of Silver Helms from the 1990's, but I am pondering the possibility of using alternative steeds. In the meanwhile, I have been prepping and basing these lovely old metal figures. I am not usually a member of the metal-is-better fan club, but I do love these old sculpts and feel they have the edge over the plastics. I was lucky enough to spot these for sale on a forum and snapped them up, though I would be quite happy to use the plastic archers too, with head swaps. The bases are mdf squares, there's something about butting them up to each other with no gaps that appeals to the OCD in me. They should be easy to magnetise too, so I will be building magnetic movement trays of some form.

One of the things I am most looking forward to is putting my own stamp on the army. As a beginner I was very happy to copy the official colours back in the 1990's, but these days I am far more confident in devising my own palette. Shield and banner designs are always a stumbling block for me, so I have started to collect inspirational ideas like this one. There's no way I could paint these, but I might have a bash at customising my own shield transfers. They won't be needed until I paint the Lothern Sea Guard and the Silver Helms, the archers as a first regiment will help me to nail down the colours of the robes, metals and the flesh.

The theme I have in mind was inspired by a trip to the coast. At first I was thinking about an army based on the kingdom of Yvresse, but expanded it to include the eastern section of the whole continent, to allow me to include more troop types. I will be able to finally paint up the oldest figures in my collection, repaint some I have used myriad times, and add some of the newer plastics too. Like all my armies, it won't be completed quickly, it will take years. I have always found that I make better progress when I follow the muse, she currently calls me to the coastline of Ulthuan, and answer her I will.

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