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The VC direwolves really don't look dead either, except for the doomwolf. :yes:
There is no converting needed. Dire wolves are the same as the wolves for wolf riders. You can just get a different metal head with them.
I once saw a goblin army with lots and lots of wolves, where the wolves were assembled in different positions, so they didn't seem quite so static. It looked very cool, and I wish I had done that with my wolves. I'm afraid i don't know excactly how to do it, but it should be doable with a little creative 'cut- and gluework'.
The army of goblins was in a battlereport in White Dwarf, regrettably I can't remember which issue, but it was the one with the Tomb Kings cover, from the newest armybook. I'll try to find it again.
Yes, you can do nicer things with them. Even more so with dire wolves. But it's not nesecary. One thing I saw that was pretty cool was to have them crawling up from out of the ground.
Also saves some models. The metal head can be used for a full wolf and the plastic head can be used for one starting to come out of the ground.
Hey, instead of converting them, if you wanted to make them look different, try painting some white or brown patches in their fur. eg white 'collars' or 'socks'.