So, my last post about the Pygmies was intended to be a sort of companion piece to Orlygg or Zhu's older blog posts on the same topic. Their analysis was more positive than mine and recent events prompted me to write what I thought of as a sort of rebuttal.
A quick check online revealed it was a topic the Oldhammerers had talked about before but I thought a piece that mentioned both arguments, had some pictures and tried to present it in a newbie-friendly way might be interesting. If nothing else, my local gaming chums aren't huge Oldhammerers so they might not know the history and might be interested to read about the offending pieces.
|Some of the offending pieces.|
As I often do after I've written a blog post, I posted a link to any appropriate Facebook groups I'm a member of to try and drive some traffic and start some conversation. I posted it to four Facebook groups all in, and the three generic gaming/modern 40K groups were all perfectly pleasant and civilised about it.
For whatever reason, the Oldhammer group went nuclear very quickly.
|Just add ejecting electrons|
You may recall I asked some questions at the end of my post: questions like how would you react if these models appeared on a table in front of you or can you think of any similar models. This is an intentional habit of mien when I post long and/or potentially troublesome posts - it's a sort of "did you read the whole thing" test. When replies come back about those questions I know someone got all the way to the end and the point of my piece, whereas if someone comes with a ready-made argument and rambles on some other topic I am suspicious that they just read the title and went from there.
The Oldhammer post had quite a few of those people, alas, and the two main arguments were that anyone who was for/against the Pygmy models was an idiot who couldn't understand that there obviously is/isn't a problem with them. Within a few hours Orlygg himself, a mod on the Facebook group, sent me a message informing me the post had been reported by a few people and he was deleting it to try and nip it in the bud.
I was a bit bummed that the thread got deleted - I had hoped the Oldhammer board would be a good traffic drive to my blog. I totally understand why it was deleted though. It's interesting that Orlygg and Zhu's blog post did not seem to be as flamebait-y as mine - is that something to do with the membership of the Facebook group, the way my post is worded or even just the current politics of the era? (In the last year or so, race politics in the USA has become a headline news item pretty frequently)
|I don't think this is the same thing as the Pygmies|
A common argument in their defence is that racial stereotyping already exists in the models of the Citadel Miniatures line and elsewhere. When the figure is 28mm but you want to quickly sell the idea of it being a Russian, Scottish, Arab or whatever then you give them national dress. Not every Scot wears a kilt at all times, but a kilt or tartan clothing is the universal way of saying these guys are Scottish.
I don't think that's a fair comparison to the Pygmies, though, and said so last time. To expand on that - I think that models like the Tallarn Desert Raiders may have stereotypical Arabian flowing robes and head coverings but the actual facial features, my main bone of contention with the Pygmies, have not been changed. These figures could be a pasty hued Lawrence of Arabia or a native Middle Eastern Saladin shade and it would work just the same. Similarly, when have any of the Bretonnian range had "French features"? What Japanese figures exist that have the same exaggerated facial features of World War II era propaganda?
|I don't think this is the same thing as the Pygmies, either, but it's a lot closer|
Clothing also bothers me less because soldiers usually do have a uniform which is an unusual item of clothing. Regular Scottish people wear kilts rarely - it's formal wear to some extent, so basicall, the same occasions an American might wear a tuxedo with the exception of national sporting events when it is also traditional. Scottish regiments often wear a kilt as part of their dress uniform, though, and in living memory have gone to battle in them. Russians all wearing russian furry hats in their day to day life is a stereotype, but standard military issue would indeed produce units like the Valhallans. If your whole army is composed of models in furry hats and standing on icy white/blue bases then a message will be sent about what you army is, and I appreciate that.
Now, I asked for information about similar figures and I did get some suggestions. So here are four other manufacturers of Pygmy or Pygmy-a-like figures for your consideration. How many of them will look like they should have been made in the 40s?
|From Italy, which curiously has a few Blood Bowl-a-like figure makers.|
Gaspez Arts make a Blood Bowl team of Pygmies, who seem designed to be played with the Halfling rules. There's a team and coaching staff.
I quite like these figures, which could indeed be seen more as "tribal Halflings" with their facial design. The outfits are loud with giant feathers but I'd expect that for a sports team. The cooks are comedic but then Halfling cooks are played as comedic as well. Overall, I think these figures are quite nice.
|Deep in the bowels of Nottingham, something is stirring||...|
Wargames Foundry, they who hold many old Citadel historical lines, have an entire Darkest Africa line. This includes the Pygmies shown above, though the figues I like the most in this line are the Masai tribesmen below who look pretty badass. (But then my Dad was in the army in his youth and served in Kenya, so I've heard a lot about East Africans growing up!)
|Daddy Quail was there shortly before they got their independence from Britain.|
|I got nothing.|
(I've long had my eye on Sci Fi Conversion Packs 1 and 2 for some lady Imperial Guard goodness.)
But their Pygmies.... The chieftan above is probably the worst, but even the core troops choice have quite heavily distorted mouths. The whole thing feels a bit too much for my tastes. Not sure this gets the Bearded Quail Seal of Approval, chaps.
Excalibur Miniatures are a company I hadn't heard of before but found when doing a net search for this post. They seem to be a Germany company who do a mix of figures including quite a few adults-only ones. Their Female Orcs aren't too bad, I think, and the sci-fi range has some fun aliens.
There's only a few pictures of their Pygmy line but what there is ain't filling me with confidence.