40K RETRO: Meet the Eldar of 1987


Today we look back 30 years at the first “Space Elves” who rocked across tabletops in 1987. Take a look at the original Rogue Trader Eldar.


The Eldar were originally mentioned at length with multiple pieces of artwork in the Rogue Trader hardback that kicked off Warhammer 40,000 all the way back in 1987.

They made an early splash and had a small range of miniatures in those early days of the Grimdark. Here is a color plate of sample Eldar Pirate from Book of the Astronomican in 1988.


Many people back in the day painted up Eldar in the “default” Yriel’s Eldritch Raiders scheme which was later ret-conned into Alaitoc Craftworld’s colors. You can see the origins of what would evolve into the various Craftworlds around the figure. Let’s take a look at the Eldar miniatures range in those very very early days, years before the Avatar, Aspect Warriors and all of that came into existence.  It was a very different world with GW rapidly expanding their early 40K plastic kits and ranges.

Onto the “Space Elves” – Eldar Infantry



Early days but all the hallmarks are there. Pointy helmets, crazy hair, proto-guardian armor. Note the ancient crossbow style shuriken catapults.



I’ll just let you take in those awesome 1980s names…and musicians! Kelos Longfinger – LOL! I still have a bunch of these and use each as an unofficial sergeant for each Guardian squad on the tabletop. They die last and after almost 30 years of tabletop duty – they’ve earned it!


The original Eldar heavy weapons which were also usable as arm weapons the the Dreadnoughts and Warwalkers below. My favorite two minis from this set are “the lunchbox brothers” 2nd and 4th from the left up there who never forgot to pack a solid lunch before heading off to battle.


Now we get into the first of the Eldar “bigger kits’. Big was relative back in those days.  Here’s the original D-Cannon.  All those D-weapons everyone bitches about these days are the descendants of this bad boy right here.

Eldar Vehicles


Just as the Marines got their original Eddie, Chuck and, Fury dreads, the Eldar had the Banshee, WarCry and WarDamon.  Note the re-use of the heavy weapons above.  The original Eldar Dreadnoughts were manned (there is supposed to be a dude in the big shell). The Spirit Warrior and Ghost Warriors below would eventually evolve into the later wraith-constructs in the fluff. You can still find those little Ghost Warriors running around ebay if you are lucky and use them to add a nice little old-school flavor to an Eldar army.  rt-eldar-spiritwarrior


Hello original War-Walker! Take a look at the fairly cunning construction of the model and how it heavily re-uses parts from the Dreadnought and support weapons in new arrangements. The only new parts are the pilot and the legs.


+1000 Internets to the first person who paints up a modern Eldar army in Alai Mercenary Corps colors!




Eldar Rearguard – Rogue Trader 1987 by Tony Hough


It’s been 30 years and many of those models are still fighting for survival on BoLS Tabletops!

~Thanks for this trip down memory lane folks. What are your favorite memories of the Original Eldar?

  • I still use the old War Walkers, Wraithlords, Heavy Weapon platforms and a few of the old guardians 🙂

    • Defenestratus

      Me too. It’s always funny to bring these old minis into the Gdub store and play against a kid whose only been in the game since for a few years ask me why I’m proxying a Wraithlord.

      “Actually its an Eldar Dreadnought kid. Get it right.”

      • NikosanPrime

        Agreed, I have most of those minis still and intend to play with again at some point

        • Richard Mitchell

          Ya something about the 80s vibe of Eldar (and heck even Tyranids) that will never rub me wrong.

  • Will kenedy

    Nice mix of 1st (tripod), 2nd (most of the squad support hover bases) and 3rd ed (D-cannon bases and guns) heavy weapons in that group photo. Still have a few of them in the shed of shame (I stopped playing 40k a few years back, and downsized my stuff to a new gamer who was wanting to start eldar).

  • euansmith

    The heavy support gunners are such nice minis; ideal for use a Eldar merchants and travellers.

  • ILikeToColourRed

    didnt bols post this article a month or so ago?

    • They did. And they will re-post it pretty soon again. It earns clicks.

  • Rainthezangoose

    Is this a repost?!

  • I_am_Alpharius

    Agggh! Nightmare Flashback…..Metal Warwalker such a b***** to glue together and stay together.

    • Spacefrisian

      Those are easy, now PP Cryx Harrower is a b**** to assemble.

  • Watcherzero

    As a big fan of Rites of War I remember these Eldar walkers fondly.

    • memitchell

      I just played RoW’s campaign twice recently (it’s been at least 8 years since I last did, I bought a W10 compatible update for $1.49). Fun. The ONLY game that makes me actually like Eldar.

  • mhtsaropinigitakis

    i can see they were super ugly …like they are today lol (the ugliest army on 40k for me)

    • dave long island

      Anti-Conehead-ite!… lol

  • Arthfael

    It’s not a “sample eldar pirate”, it’s Yriel’s first look!

    I always try to draw some inspiration from these. The slight clunkiness of good old RT era models makes them superb options for modern corsairs, which would be expected to have a more archaic/diverse/baroque looking armour than standard craftworlders.

  • D. B.

    There’s no sugarcoating this… Many Eldar minis looked as if Darth Vader had got his helmet stuck in a pencil sharpener.

    But daaaayum, iconic!

  • BigGrim

    I still have 2 of those ancient War Walkers and the Dreadnought. Got the Musicians too. I use them as Spirit Seers.

  • memitchell

    The reason you can use these models in a “modern” Eldar army is they wee decent for their day. And, the updated Guardians are rather pedestrian.

  • Hagwert

    Really love the tiger stripe patterns on these Eldar, but I bet it was a swine to paint !!!!!

    • Not really. There was not much shading going on back then. So prime it, make it yellow, apply black stripes. Really not that hard. But I still like that look.

  • SilentPony

    Ah the ‘classic’ days before anyone knew how to sculpt. Hands bigger then heads, pistols the size of torsos, and faces so angular and sharp its a wonder they need swords at all.

    Good times.

  • Azatoth

    2 interesting facts:
    Dreadnoughts could jump.
    Warwalkers has 3 T10 powershields.

  • 2.50 GBP for 5??????

  • Aah, musicians on 40k. Good times…

  • lorieth

    I still prefer the look and lore of those warwalkers, though the models could be tricky to put together (and keep together). Powerfields seem more in keeping with the Eldar than actual physical windows.