|The new Escher models largely maintain the classic look of the Escher gang from the original Necromunda: sports bras, spiked leggings, and crazy hair.|
It is no secret that Games Workshop does not produce many female miniatures. Recently, that has started to change with the release of the Sisters of Silence and Inquisitor Greyfax. While the inclusion of female models is a good thing, virtually all of these female models ascribe to the same questionable imagery: lithe and voluptuous characters in form-fitting battle armor that always accentuates their breasts. This imagery does not send the message that women are welcome in the Warhammer community. The newest collection of female miniatures to be released by Games Workshop is the the Escher gang from the re-release of the fan-favorite game, Necromunda. I had high hopes for this release, and am disappointed to report that Games Workshop has not used the release as an opportunity to present women in a less objectifying light. Read onward if you want to hear more about my concerns about this release.
|The Sisters of Silence are one of the first plastic, multipart female kits that GW has produced. It is hard to be excited about this milestone when they are wearing impractical, form-fitting armor.|
|Inquisitor Greyfax is arguably worse than the Sisters of Silence, with her painfully thin waist, enormous breasts, and high heels (it is hard to think of anything more practical than high heels on battle armor, he he).|
Necromunda has always been a game that enveloped itself in 80s punk sensibilities, with mohawks and bondage gear, almost as if they took Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and took away the cars and put it on a overpopulated city planet. It abounds in over-the-top portrayals of characters: the Goliath gang featuring absurdly muscled men in the aforementioned bondage gear, and the all-female Escher gang wearing sports bras and spiked leggings (looking like they walked right out of the comic series Tank Girl). With the redesigned models, I did not expect Games Workshop to make any big changes to the imagery (GW is usually very reluctant to make any large changes to any of their established imagery). At the very minimum, I was hoping that Escher gang members would have more sensible anatomy that made them look like athletic warriors, as opposed to slender and well-endowed swimsuit models. The models are much more muscled than they were in the past, which is a good thing. But this improvement is undone by numerous other design choices. Each model has extremely large breasts, each of which are larger than the characters’ heads. The models’ behinds are outrageously pronounced in pants so tight that they look like they are about to burst, a small detail that looks juvenile (like something a hormonal 12 year old boy would draw in his notebook while in class). On top of this, all of the models are wearing high heels, which is not something the old models featured (nor was it in Jes Goodwin's old concept sketches). Ultimately, the only major design changes GW made to the new Escher models was to make their behinds more pronounced and to give them high heels, both unnecessarily sexualized and puerile. Neither of these design choices make the models look like more imposing warriors, which begs the question as to why they made them.
|The major new addition to the Escher design was giving them high heels.|
|Comparing the scale of some of Games Workshop’s more recent plastic models. From left to right: Custode, Primaris Marine, Goliath, Genestealer Cultist, Escher, Space Marine|
|There is much less tact displayed on the new Escher models compared to the Dark Eldar Wych models.|
Other than the aforementioned design choices, Games Workshop also made an interesting shift in scale for certain aspects of the Escher models, notably their heads. Normally, Games Workshop models are sculpted in a heroic scale, meaning that they have exaggerated proportions to make them stand out more easily, generally in the form of over-sized hands, feet, and heads. These anatomical aberrations often serve to pronounce other deficiencies such as short abdomens and necks. This design language has followed GW for years, to the point that it seems natural to anyone engrossed in the hobby (but if you take look at historically scaled models, the differences are stark). Interestingly, when looking at these new Escher models, they reject some of these heroic scale tenets and make their heads smaller. When I first looked at the models, I thought that the heads were too small. But upon further reflection, I think they are a little more realistically sized (your torso should be about 2-2.5 heads tall), but with the huge hands and feet, they look awkward. Normally GW will minimize the visual impact of large hands and feet by enlarging the heads to compensate. To explore the ramifications of head size more, we quantified the size of the new Escher heads and compared them with other common GW heads. The result is quite striking, with the Escher heads being about 26% smaller than the Genestealer cultist heads, which are the gold standard for the modern GW human. Because of this, I do not think the Escher heads will work well with most of GW’s other models. This comes as a major disappointment, as this set is the first major source of numerous plastic female heads, which would have been excellent for building and converting female models to add to your armies. We had originally wanted to use some of these Escher heads for building our Thorn Moons Imperial Guard force, but now think they are too small to look appropriate.
|Comparing the head sizes of Games Workshop models. From Left to right: Space Marine, Genestealer Cultist, Goliath, Escher, Wych, Wych.|
The head sizes of various Games Workshop models were quantified in ImageJ and normalized to the Genestealer Cultist head, since it has become the stand size for human sized models.
|The Escher heads look tiny even on the slighter Elysian models from Forge World.|
I had high hopes for this new Escher gang. It is one of Games Workshop’s first modern attempts at making a collection of all female models in plastic, and I was hoping that they would present them in a more realistic, and less objectified manner. However, GW largely kept the old imagery of well-endowed women in sports bras and tight pants intact, but exaggerated their behinds to an absurd extent while giving them high heels. None of these design choices are going to help bring women into the hobby, particularly if they felt unwelcome before. I am not saying that some of these design elements have no place in the 40k universe, but as it stands, all of the female models GW produces ascribe to the same basic image: thin and shapely women with ample bosoms and form-fitting armor. If there was some variety in the types of female models available (such as female Imperial Guard), the inclusion of these Escher models would not seem as egregious. While I purchased a set of these Escher models to potentially use some of the parts in future conversions, I have come to the conclusion that they are unuseable; Games Workshop still has a lot to learn.
- Greg Wier