Friday, October 24, 2008

Bloodletters of Khorne in the 1980's

Way back in the Rogue Trader & Slaves to Darkness days, bloodletters of Khorne were a little bit different.

The depicted bloodletters are all metal models that came in two parts: the body and the head (with arms attached to the head part) with the requisite lolling, poisonous tongue. Since purchasing them, some of the arms have become bent out of place (they have been repeatedly re-assembled, stripped, re-based in both fantasy and W40k bases and re-painted over the years), but the squad is still identifiably a squad of bloodletters. The painted colours of red, black and brass certainly invoke the atmosphere of Khorne's foot soldiers.

Assembly of these pieces was tricky. In the end, I pinned the head sections to the body sections as inevitably they tended to come off during transport or gaming. They remain rather delicate pieces of my collection today. Their last outing was at Grand Tournament 2007, but I don't intend to take them to any further tournaments or local games at this stage (despite the hugely positive response that I know they are liable to invoke, from experience). Apart from their now delicate nature, I believe that the 2008 plastic range of bloodletters is an excellent throw-back to the spirit of these models and their depiction in Slaves to Darkness.

What are the differences between the old and the new? The first thing that I noticed was their relative sizes: the old bloodletters are significantly smaller than their 2008 plastic counterparts. This, however, is very much inline with many other comparisons of older Games Workshop miniatures to newer ones. The newer ones tend to be more "heroically proportioned" whereas the older ones were more realistically proportioned.

The older models exhibit a metal band around their head which is not seen in the newer models -- at first glance a missed opportunity to re-connect with Slaves to Darkness perhaps. Then again, if interpreted as collars of Khorne, then these circlets are out of place on the bloodletters and their omission from the modern model is a good thing. The hellblades are also much smaller and less serrated on the older models. I prefer the new model's hellblades in all honesty. What has been retained is the lean and spindly quintessential nature of the bloodletters.

I've over-looked the 1990's / 2001-ish(?) version of bloodletters in this brief discourse -- the ones that have a passing resemblance to beastmen. My like for that range is much lower than my like for the Rogue Trader era and the modern era bloodletters. I do strongly think that the 1990's miniature still has its place as a herald, or champion within a squad of bloodletters; much in the same way that my earlier post on a Nurgle herald used an older, slightly different model.

Given their differences, I don't believe the old and new bloodletters mix very well. I would be willing to make a concession and mix a single 1990's version in together with the newer models. But the Rogue Trader 1980's models simply look too out-of-date and ill placed next to the plastic 2008 range. They'd be better off fielded on their own, in their own unit (if at all), to fit in with a whole army.

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