The year is 1988, 40k has been out for nearly a year, and I still haven't bought any miniatures of my own.
Growing up was a difficult thing for me; my Father raised me and my brother (who had special educational needs) on his own following the break up of his marriage when I was six months old. This situation during the 1980's wasn't as commonplace as it is now, made even more odd by the fact it was my Father, not my Mother, who had sole custody (I hadn't seen my mother for more than an hour in my entire life at this point). The situation meant that we had little money (he didn't work so he could look after us), so buying toys and luxuries was a rare occasion - birthdays and Christmas at the most.
So as I turn 13, I took a paper round as well as cleaning, peeling and cutting potatoes at a local takeaway shop to make a little money I could spend on myself.
This work gave me the opportunity to indulge in my hobbies, and is something I still feel strongly about now - I work, save and then spend on what I want - this isn't the cheapest of hobbies and never has been!
But enough of the scene setting - you're here to read about 40k!
White Dwarf 105, October 1988 (TM Games Workshop)
Up to this point (October 1988) I'd been using Des' minis - mainly Marines, Imperial Army and Squats (yes, Space Dwarves..). However, with the publication of White Dwarf 105, and its amazingly colourful Dave Gallagher cover, this all changed.
The Eldar had been part of the background in the RT rule book - a race of long lived aliens who acted like pirates, raiding settlements and enslaving the residents to do their bidding. With WD105, this was deepened into a tragic tale, with the Harlequins forefront in its telling.
A Troupe of warrior artistes, the Harlequins cemented what it was to be Eldar in my head - beautiful, graceful, terrifying and deadly. Performing feats of acrobatics whilst shooting their enemies, their suits shimmering as they flipped and kicked, the Harlequins were also fighting doom in their lives - the Fall of the Eldar (which we would learn more of in later years, and will be covered in this blog in subsequent chapters), striving to keep She Who Thirsts at bay (the Chaos God Slaanesh had been created by the Fall of the Eldar) and the rest of the Eldar race safe..
But that's only half the story for me, for a great story in a war-game is almost pointless. Without great rules, and great, attractive miniatures it can be missed (and there have been many such examples).
Luckily, Games Workshop had Jes Goodwin - designer of not only the Space Marine, but also the Eldar. I don't think it's putting it lightly that to say without his designs and sculpts, the Eldar wouldn't have the mystique, the attraction that they do.
White Dwarf 105 gave me background, it gave me visuals and importantly, gave me rules for a new range of miniatures that were being released.
The box art matched that of WD105 - but in widescreen, giving room to Dave Gallagher's amazing art (which depressingly, I knew I'd never be able to replicate on the miniatures). The box contained 18 Harlequins, sculpted by Jes Goodwin and cast in white metal.
RTB6 Eldar Harlequins Box Set (Artwork by Dave Gallagher, Minis sculpted by Jes Goodwin, TM Games Workshop)
With a little practice, I managed to get a nice quarter - pattern I was happy with (maybe..)
Eldar Harlequin High Warlock - the sole survivor of that first army (Authors own, sculpted by Jes Goodwin, TM Games Workshop)
Playing the game with the Harlequins was a lot more difficult than painting them however! It took me months to work out how to use them after playing with Space Marines, who could stand and shoot and take hits, the Harlequins were fast but fragile - to make the most of their abilities, I learned that you needed to keep moving and hitting to stay alive!
But, I persevered, and slowly and surely began to win as many games as I lost.
I kept on with the Harlequins for a few years, flirting with Marines along the way (as well as Imperial Guard, but that's a story for a different time), but I wanted more from them - more depth, more miniatures! I'd added Eldar Guardians to the Harlequins with a few squads already, but with White Dward 127, and the introduction of the Aspect Warriors, my fate was sealed...
White Dwarf #127 (Authors Own, TM Games Workshop)
Next: White Dwarf 127, Aspect Warriors arrive!