Well, after over 10 years, I am revisiting my Dark Elves! I have a battered collection from some time ago (the late 90s, in fact!) consisting of mostly GW models, though there are a few from another range at the time. Though some of the bigger war machines and creatures are destroyed, there’s still the nice core of an army, and reinforcements from @thee_other_matt of era appropriate elves takes it up to a really nice little force. I’ll see if I can snap some pics soon.
Given my typical over the top enthusiasm, I am looking at expanding the force, but its difficult to get enthusiastic with some of the current GW prices, and the fact it looks like they are killing WFB – it means the need to have a “pure GW” force for tournaments and stuff is a lot less important! £35 for 10 Witch Elves is a bit on the high side, though they are gorgeous minis, and their heroes are at the same level and better quality than most alternatives. I have some early doors alternatives already, too, so having some models to complement them isn’t bad either. Mind you, some of the GW boxes are great value! £15.50 for 10 corsairs is great, as is £20 for 10 dark elves you can assemble as swordsmen, crossbowmen, or spearmen.
So with that in mind, I set out to find what is actually available!
Avatars of War have been my star discovery, especially as I love Witch Elves, and generally powerful female hero types, which tend to be lacking in GW’s range a bit (with the exception of sorceresses!).
Although now out of stock, they do some lovely looking Witch Elves (or Vestals), for around £30 for 20, or £1.50 each. Compared to £3.50 each for basic troops at GW, that’s quite a saving for some loving looking models! If you are lucky enough to find the preorder boxes, you get another 10 elves in there for free, and many places also do a 10% online discount, making it simply superb value!
You can only get male assassins from GW – there are 2 female options from Avatars.
There are no female heroes in the GW Dark elves line outside of Sorceresses either, with 2 strong contenders as Dark Elf Princesses in the Avatars of War line.
The GW Sorceresses are all pretty great models anyway, but there are 2 more options here. Ones a bit too scantily clad for me, but the other one is a really great model.
Finally, there is a male hero in the line (again, with so many great ones in the GW line its a bit redundant though). He’d make a cracking dreadlord or fleetmaster.
Raging Heroes are amazing for strong female miniatures. They have several lines of futuristic female troops coming out at the moment, and several more (and fantasy ones under development following a kickstarter. At the moment, they have a small but solid range of Dark Elf types available.
In terms of troops, there are some cracking Blood Vestals or Witch Elves. At about £15 for 5 basic troops and £16 for the command squad, they aren’t cheap, though they still clock in £4-5 cheaper than the GW equivalent.
As a Dreadlord or Sorceress alternative, Asharah is a brilliant option, with arms to allow physical or magical gear.
As a Dreadhag or maybe Hellebron alternate, Skaryaa the Blood Mistress looks awesome.
In the future, this range is going to expand massively! Its going to be an amazing line of mostly female Dark Elves, so well worth checking back on.
Mantic games is surprisingly disappointing when it comes to Dark Elves (or Twilight Kin)! Their line is basically the Elf range with metal conversion parts, which means they are much more expensive than most of the Mantic models (generally £18 for 10, so for most troop types you may as well go GW at £20 for 10 anyway – the normal mantic cost for elves is £15 for 20), and the plastic/metal combination is hard to work with. No witch elf equivalents either! They have a gorgeous sorceress model, but apart from that, they aren’t worth looking at until the line is refreshed!
Gamezone has been my surprise win for Dark Elves, particular spearmen! At around 25 euros for a unit of 30, and good looking infantry at that, its by far the best value core troops available for Dark Elves. In contrast, GW’s dark spears are £20 for 10.
They do a reasonable unit of cavalry for a similar price, but with GW’s dark one riders at 5 for £20, its not really cost effective!
They also do “Predators” or Cold Ones. Far more expensive than GW’s, they also look much better, in my opinion. Real brutes of dinosaurs! These could be worth it for heroes!
Finally, they do a small but solid range of individual characters and metal crossbowmen and harpies. The gem is probably the equivalent of Morathi on Pegasus.
Mirliton do an old school range of Dark Elves, but I think they’ll look a bit dated and small, even against late 90s GW metals.
Reaper Miniatures do a wide range of models, but its more aimed at the skirmish scale or D&D collections, with some cool individual models, but not really army forces. Definitely worth exploring for some cheaper models to bulk out armies, or for variety in your heroes though.