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Monday, May 20, 2013

Eldar Rumor Analysis: The Wraithknight and Anime Influence

I think there is a real problem with the recent supersized monstrous creature menu at McGW. There are some broadly expressed complaints that I think warrant merit, such as the necessity for them to be made at all. If there are only one or two it makes that unit stand out and adds some character to the respective army. It may not be recent, but that's how I felt about the Trygon when it was released. I didn't much like that they nerfed the existing badass MCs to sell the new kit, but it was an appropriately frightening sculpt and did suit the aesthetic of Tyranids.

The problem I see lies with the design philosophy behind the supersized MCs. The three most recent ones, the Dreadknight, the Riptide and the Wraithknight are all way too heavily influenced by anime giant robots. When the Dreadknight was released it was a little less noticable because there was just a shift from boxy Space Marine armor and less humanoid forms to a sleeker, curved aestheic with appendages made to look more articulated and human. You can find those details in the fingers, arms and legs. With the Riptide it was to be expected. Tau is already known for having heavy anime influence. I still find that unfortunate because I consider that whole army a marketing strategy devised around targeting teenage demographics. The Riptide and new Broadsides continued that trend to no surprise. Not that any was needed. The whole army looks that way. I'd prefer GW had done something more original with the very first Tau launch, but with them already established the way they are I don't think the Riptide is out of place.

The Wraithknight, on the other hand, has a lot of features that look like nothing else I've ever seen in the Eldar range. Take a look at the picture below of a VF from anime classic, Macross. Note the similarities in the lower legs. Now check out the picture from Gundam. Look again at the Wraithknight's chest. I heard there is a pilot in the chest there, but is that necessary? Why can't it just be a wraith construct? The tragic sadness that surrounds a eldar spirit being placed into one of those walking sarcophoguses is one of the most interesting elements of the fluff. They served in life and performed great deeds, but for all their trouble they still cannot rest. That's so compelling, interesting and above all, it's genuinely original. The same goes for Dreadnaughts and that was why I didn't like the Dreadknight having a pilot. The terrible ordeals that either the Eldar or the Imperium will put their people through in order to fight for their survival contributes a great deal to the grimdark atmosphere of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. By moving away from these tragic horrors they harm the IP that they seem to hold so dear to their walle--*ahem* hearts.

Smooth the chest out and you're not far off. This is also just one example picture.  Google image searching brings up tons of similar designs.

I think the Revenant titan would have made for a much better basis for the design. It contains elements already established in Eldar sculpts. The legs and feet closely resemble a mix of the War Walker and Wraithlord. The chest is smooth and not overly accentuated. The arms are huge cannons, because why not? I don't have a problem with giving the Wraithknight hands, but I don't think they executed it terribly well. The arms are much too small and the same goes for the head. I think the proportion issues ought to be clear to any professional artist, so I'm really at a loss as to why they would go that route.

I don't have any plans to expand my Eldar to be wraith-heavy at all, but if I did I would be looking to scratch build or kitbash a Wraithknight together. I just don't think they suit the Eldar aesthetic. I like the Eldar getting more wraith constructs, but I think more care should have been taken to keep the established design philosophy intact.