40K Retro: The First Aspect Warriors


Head back 27 years to the advent of the first Eldar Aspect Warriors, and the amazing transformation it had on the race.

The Eldar were a very different race when Rogue Trader first arrived in 1987.  Yes there were Craftworlds, and pirates, but overall the race was somewhat simplified.  They looked like the models below and can read all about it here.

rt-eldar-minis2 rt-eldar-dreadnought

Fast forward a few years and we started to get much more detail on Space Marines, the Imperial Army, and even Squats.  Then one day in 1990, White Dwarf 125 arrived and had an amazing image.  What the heck were these “Eldar Aspect Warriors“? No one had any clue, but they all had funky names and looked SUPER COOL. I mean compare them those minis up there…



Everyone waited with bated breath for two excruciating months until White Dwarf 127 hit like a comet in July 1990.  The Eldar were forever changed – and to this day follow the precepts laid down all those years ago.


In it was an entirely new background for the Eldar race.  We learned of the Eldar Path, Aspect Warriors, the Avatar, Warlocks, Farseers, Exarchs, and even the humble Guardians.  An entire description for Craftworld culture as well as a full Eldar Army List was in this single White Dwarf. It was amazing and we haven’t seen the like in decades.


Here’s an example of two Aspect Warrior units from the army list.  Everyone was just overwhelmed with the art as well at the rules.  Speaking of Jes Goodwin’s seminal works for the Grimdark…


The original Dark Reaper sketches.  Note the other weapon options for the Exarch, rarely seen these days.


Here we see the Striking Scorpions and their Exarch options.

A lot of people would have been completely blown away right then and there.  But then it was time to get a look at the new minis:


And there they were in all their glory.  Jes Goodwin knocked it out of the park. These were phenomenal for their era. That Dark Reaper is made of two pieces buddy – TWO PIECES!

I left the prices on this sheet for your 2017 entertainment!


Here are the original ‘Eavy Metal paintjobs by Mike McVey and Tim Prow which defined the aspect temple schemes for all time, along with the painting guides below:

aspect-scheme-1 aspect-scheme-2

These minis are still readily available on eBay and many old-timers still prefer some of the original Aspects to later versions (that’s a whole different article)…

~So who’s still kicking butt on the tabletop with any of these 1990 originals?  I can’t be the only one…



  • You’re not the only one kicking around with ’em 😉
    Here you can find some of my own 2nd Ed era Aspect Warriors:

    • Hedwerx

      Nice oldschool blending

    • Noah Jerge

      Cool miniatures! How did you paint those jetbikes? They almost look animated.

  • Hedwerx

    Back when Exarchs were mostly just career soldiers. Still lost on the Path of the Warrior, but able to switch Aspect if they wanted to. Usually having been several different Aspects before becoming an Exarch, they’d switch around as the feeling took them. Arming themselves for battle with their chosen weapon. Which is why you could have a Dark Reaper Exarch with a Firepike, or a Dire Avenger with a Lasblaster. (provided you could handle a modelling saw)

  • Lord Elpus

    Still using the scorpions, hawks, and dire avengers.. not to mention the Warlocks… all these sculpts though slightly dated still stand strong today.. Jes certainly created classics with the Eldar.

  • bfmusashi

    I am stealth, I am the shadows, and this… is my CHAINSAW HAND!
    I love you 40k.

    • kingcobra668

      Theirs could and likelyI do runn completely silent

      • John Bower

        According to ‘Path of the Warrior’ you’re right, they do.

    • Guido Hockmann

      Than you for my first laugh of the day

  • petrow84

    90’s xenos will remember…

  • Defenestratus

    I’ve got a good mix of original and updated aspect warrior minis. How they aren’t left behind with ynnead

  • Patriarch

    Yep I love these, the originals hold up so well I’ve never replaced them. Still use the Eldar Dreadnoughts and the little Ghost Warriors for Wraithlords and Wraithguard.

  • euansmith

    £1 for a mini? £1 for a single mini? Are they insane?! No one is going to part with that kind of money!

    • Patriarch

      Those were the days…

      I remember being annoyed that they dropped the number of figures per packet from 5 to 4, so you couldn’t buy a whole squad in one go.

  • Dragons Claw

    Thanks for memberries I remember that white dwarf well a whole codex free in your £2 magazine I seem to remember an ork codex in white dwarf about the same vintage

  • Emperor’s Champion

    ok I know inflation is a thing but wow £2.99!! for 5 minis, that’s my lunch money today!

  • jeff white

    This is quality programming. Thanks for the look back. I have mostly metal some stripped and repainted. Banshees. Spiders. Dragons. Lots of the old storm guards and old dire avenger and avengerish guards and old metal harlies and bikes still in play.. And dred.

  • Defenestratus

    FYI, that Eldar warrior woman at the top looks like my wife.

    Except my wife doesn’t have spock ears.

  • Scott B. Smith

    Nearly all of my Eldar army is made up of miniatures from the Rogue Trader or 2nd edition days. I’m pretty sure I still have a Dark Reaper Exarch with a web of skulls. 🙂

    • Defenestratus

      I’ve got like three of them 😛 Well 2.5.

      I had one where I cut off the skulls to give to one of my necromunda gangers. When I found what was left of the mini I cried a little inside.

  • Iconoc1ast

    the tattoos were ace

  • kobalt60

    Jes Goodwin is best Goodwin

  • luke snell

    such fond, fond memories…Fifteen years old and couldn’t have been more excited about a boost for my hobby that ruled my roost at that time. Dark Reapers…

    • Hedwerx

      Even better, Dark Reapers and a Warlock with Guide.

  • John Bower

    Still got my old Scorpions, Dragons and Howling Banshees. 🙂

  • Mateldar

    I have one unit of each aspect warriors of the 2nd edition.. so you are not the only one!!

  • Gary Patterson

    I remember when that WD came out. I was pretty excited and promptly bought a whole bunch of Aspect Warriors, one squad of each type, and each type of Warlock as well. I don’t think a Farseer model was released in that first run. When the Exarchs and Phoenix Lords came out I snapped them up too.
    I only painted a handful, and some really badly. Okay, most. One of these days I’ll strip them back (yay metal!) and paint them properly.
    Those were the days though. I bought the Harlequin box set, that Harlequin jetbike, all the original Eldar models except the musician and one of the (pre) Guardians.

    One of these days I’ll get back to painting them. It’s only been a quarter of a century. Plenty of time yet..!

  • Mario Caronna

    I LOVE that pencil designed pictures :)))