Sunday, September 27, 2015

Clowning around (part 1)

Recently for my birthday I got the Harlequin Codex. Not a big army for me by any stretch, but I have always loved their background. They were absolute bad-asses on the battlefield back in '88 -'89, but more on that in a bit.

Back when GW were the kings of flashy cool logos. 
As challenging as they were to play against, they were always the models I found to be the most challenging to paint, I have painted harlequin models in the past, but these were always for a friend and always experimental, and I was never really satisfied with them. The clash of colors on top of the detailed Jes Goodwin models were just so difficult to balance. I have seen lots of people try to paint them and just fail. Often times it was due to palette selection; everything from the hottest neon pinks to something that looked like a crayola box melted on top of them, that contributed to the finished models not looking very good.

Flash forward 25 years now and now we finally have them in plastic and in even more dynamic pose options. It took a long time for them to get to this point. As noted above, they arrived on the scene in '88 with their very own boxed set (RTB06), In fact, they had not been out for long when I was introduced to the hobby at the Doctor's birthday party back in '88 and they were the rage of the moment as far as 40K releases were going. The Dr had one painted at this time, and I was enthralled by it. But, for whatever reason, I chose to play orks instead. I'm straying a bit here, but the point is that they were just vicious foes to have to face on the table top back then, and awesome to behold in action, and stirred up quite a lot of excitement, especially in regard to what their weapons could do. It was the first appearance of monofilament weapons in 40K, and it was nasty. However it had a counterbalance; the user could get stuck to their victim!

Rogue Trader took the concept of 'Instant Death' a lot more seriously back then!
So when I hear about how broken, nasty, auto-win, etc, that the Eldar can be with their latest broken codex (and I will admit, I'm usually hearing myself say those things LOL) I am sobered by looking at what they were like in the game's 1st edition! Scary!

They were of course, seriously toned down by the time Warhammer 40,000 2nd edition came along, and now decades later, we started this year off with them being little more than a pretty unit selection that no one took because, well, Guardians were better! So I was surprised to see them getting their own codex and now that I have it I have been pouring through the thing.

Over the years, I have accumulated a small collection of Harlies. There was a guy around 10 years ago that was selling them in bulk on ebay and I got a freezer bag full of about 40 of them. Far more than it made sense to own at the time. Looking at the codex, and comparing what I have, it's interesting to note the changes to the Harlequin Organization. Below is an image from WD 105 (vol 1):

From WD 105
Gone are the Avatar classes. At one point he was simply renamed The Great Harlequin, but now he's just gone. The Mime class never made it out of this issue and no models were ever released for them. The Harlequin Organisation as a whole is now referred to as a 'Troupe' and the individual fighters are no longer called Troupers but are now called Players (I giggle at this too). The High Warlock has been called a Shadow Seer for sometime now, and the lesser Warlocks have disappeared. Leaving only the the Solitaire and the Death Jester, arguably the two most iconic classes from the Harlequin army, to keep their original names. Also gone from the original list is the option to scavenge vehicles from any list, but let's face it, that rule was probably made out of desperate necessity. Although they did get a specific Elder Jetbike model back then and the faceplate from that was used to convert them into Harlequin Dreadnoughts for the 2nd edition era Citadel Journal list (issue 17?).

Glad I never spent the money to convert up one of those dreads as they are now gone from the list. However, I once painted one for a friend of mine, but I can't find a photo of it.  Also gone are the Venoms (from the their last list, the CJ 3rd edition one), which are now the property of the Dark Eldar. The new Starweavers and Skyweavers are acceptable replacements however, so no real loss.

Somewhat keen on this new Codex-Harlequins, I thought it might be fun to see if I have enough models to actually field them as a small ally force, and sure enough I do. But what color to paint them? I decided to go with this faction from the codex called the The Reaper's Mirth, which is appropriate because I have a lot of Death Jesters (more than I can use in a 'Bound' Force Selection actually) and also because the red in their attire would go with the colors I have selected for my Dark Eldar and Eldar forces (see here).

The Reaper's Mirth

 So here is my first attempt at painting a Harlequin from the Reaper's Mirth:

Note that I am going to count the Web Pistol, which doesn't currently exist in the game, as a Fusion Pistol.

On the model's left leg I decided to make a trio of diamond patterns to give a fading down sort of appearance. The triangle on the knee is from the Codex, and it represents the 'light'. The icon on the other leg is the symbol of the Reaper's Mirth and it was a pain in the ass to get it to look even sort of right.

So far, I'm pleased with it, but when I looked at the original paint schemes from WD105-106 I am just stunned with the caliber of detail that they painted on to those models back then. In contrast, mine look like highschool sports team uniforms, however I am telling myself that the image from the Codex (the book had no painted examples, just what I snapped above) are there  to be just a guide, and not a rule. Which means I need to paint a few more before I know for sure!

Oh, and one more time, for the love of GW's old unique logo designs:

NOTE: many images above were taken from GW product, these are intended for review purposes and not as a challenge to the copyright or Intellectual Property of Games Workshop, 


Greg Hess said...

That dudes face is wicked awesome!

Kushial said...

The most interesting Harlequin army I ever saw was also the least colorful. It was all done Sin City style, gray scale with just small touches of color like eyes or a pistol or some such.

neverness said...

Kushial, I would definitely like to see that! Sounds very interesting...