Thursday, October 29, 2015

Army Showcase: Avatar inspired Wood Elves

The year was 2010. Warhammer: 8th Edition had just come out. Avatar was wrecking the box office. I decided to combine the two. It's a Throwback Thursday edition of the Beer Waaaagh! #TBT
I went into 2010 knowing that a new edition of Warhammer was about to come out, and that while I'd identified Wood Elves as my next army as a justification to use the Ultraforge treewoman, I had no theme at all for them. I played with a seasonal idea, but there was no easy way to express such a theme easily without basing that was beyond my skill. With no real basis for what I was doing, I painted up some dryads over the Christmas break, unsure what I would be doing for the rest of the army, which was mostly assembled but hadn't had paint put on at all.
Foliage on the dryads
During the holiday, I went with my wife and in-laws to see Avatar. I love flashy movies, and it didn't disappoint. We walked out of the theater chatting about 3D, animation, bioluminescence, and inspiration. I looked at my wife and told her, "That's going to be the elves." Once the decision was made, it went pretty easily. I painted up a unit of Glade Guard just to do have something else painted, then broke out the greenstuff and started converting.
Glade Guard Better view of the Glade Guard
I started with the Wardancers, because they seemed the simplest to convert - a simple thin wire covered in greenstuff. While now I find it really blocky, at the time I was proud of the work, and resolved to do more.
Wardancers, with horribly fat greenstuff tails More of the wardancers
Wardancers done, I figured out the rest of the army. I thought about using Wind Riders, but dismissed the eagles as too "birdy". However, Lizardmen Terradons had a lot of the facial structure I already needed, so I bought a box. Taking a razor saw, I sawed their wings apart, then ran pins into what was left and sculpted the segmented wings of the Avatar bird-things.
One of the Wind Riders
A diving Wind Rider Better angle of the diving Wind Rider
Another of the Wind Riders The third Wind Rider

When I was bored with sculpting, I worked on the Eternal Guard deathstar that was to be the heart of the army. For fun, I painted the banner with the same design that was on the movie trailer - the eye of one of the Nav'i.
The Eternal Guard, with the Nav'i eye as a banner
I also knew I was going to need a lot of Wild Riders, so I began the frustrating process of converting those. Extra horse legs were procured and glued/sculpted on. I didn't use the Wild Rider horse heads, instead choosing to file down the heads of the Glade Rider horses so they would match the elongated ones of the movies. Greenstuff was added for the crests on their heads, and Wild Riders were put back on, with some thin armature wire representing the neural connection.
6-man Wild Riders unit The other unit of Wild Riders

Side view of the Wild Riders, showing off the six legs Closer shot of a line of all 12 Wild Riders
As my first tournament grew closer, I wired a display board with blue LEDs, which I could power with removable AA batteries. This touch cemented the army as being one people remembered, as it was right after Jody Tucker's amazing Cult of Fire army had made the tournament circuit, and glowing stuff fascinated gamers at the time. Once those were in, even the unrelated Dryads suddenly tied right into the theme.
Closer shot of the Dryads, this time with the LEDs in the board on Wind Riders backlit from the board
I then added a few simple characters: a Spellweaver (level 2s were pointless with the old book), a branchwraith, and a Lord with the Bow of Loren.
Lord with the Bow of Loren Spellsinger and Branchwraith
Giant monsters being a huge part of my trademark look, I also finished up the Ultraforge Treewoman. I would later ruin this model, but I'll get into that later.
The ultraforge Treewoman, pre-ruining
Dramatically posed treewoman, with the board in the background

Finally, I ripped apart a High Elf dragon and poured time into making it a Great Leonopteryx. Ironically, in every tournament but one, I fielded this as a Giant Eagle.
Great Leonopteryx Head of the Leonopteryx
I also added a Rhymer's Harp lord to make the Death Star more Starry, a Deepwood Sniper because Killing Blow on shooting attacks was fun, and a Battle Standard Bearer (because they're kind of important). These had nothing to do with the theme, but were important to the army working right.
Lord with a Rhymer's Harp, with nothing to do with the movie BSB. The banner design is from the 5th Ed Wood Elf army book, and is meant to be Hometree.

Better shot of the Branchwraith A deepwood sniper

Painting the army got very monotonous very quickly, and I really feel like I rushed the paint job on a lot of models, knowing that I could rely on the conversion to do well in appearance points. I also felt very constrained by the need to tie everything in with the movie, when a lot of the pieces were stretches.
To try to reinvigorate my spirit, I custom-sculpted a unit of "treekin" using the animals of Pandora. I'd never completely scratch-built models before, so I was very proud of them when they were done. Now, the only one I'm proud of is the Hammerhead; the others have my now-typical problem with proportion.

Treekin - a Thanator, hammerhead, and four nightgaunts The Thanator trying to leap onto the Hammerhead

Desperate to meet some vision in my head, I then ruined the best model in the army by attaching a fiber-optic contraption to the back of the Treewoman. The white fibers never carried light the way they were supposed to, and the hangy-down "stringy things" distracted the eye away from the rest of the army. I felt it was a really gimmicky stretch, and as a result this is probably my least favorite of my armies - though ironically it's probably the most iconic.
The fiber-optics actually do light up, you just can't see them.

The army, this time with fiber-optic treeman

The army was featured on Bell of Lost Souls, and was the first time I'd finished in the top 10 at any GT, confirming my theory that if I painted well and was fun to play, I could do great despite being a mediocre general. Looking back now, I wish I hadn't "jumped the shark" with the treewoman - the paint on her was by far the best thing I had ever painted to that point, and I ruined it with a shiny distraction that didn't quite work. The fiber-optics were greenstuffed to her back to look like a stump, and I fear removing them will take all the paint off her back. Perhaps some night I'll rip it off and see just how bad the damage is, then paint up Oacyning to be her tree-husband. The Erainn always need trees...

1 comment:

  1. Dude, I came across your Beer Phase podcast for KoW and stumbled on your blog, this army is amazing.