Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Sexism in miniature 2 - It's not all bad

In a previous post, I went over the worst offenders in the Infinity line, and generally groused about how sculptors seem to design female figures as sex objects first and everything else second.

Today I thought I'd point out the figures that show that it's entirely possible to sculpt kickass women without inexplicably removing half their uniform and/or posing them in some weird knock-kneed stance.  This isn't a "well done, Corvus Belli!" post, it's more a "you've proven you can do it before, why can't you do it again?"


"The Naffatûn go into battle alone which is understandable given that that they are loaded with flammable equipment."

Fire in the disco!
Hot damn I love the Naffatun.  Badass combi-flamethrowers/rifles, cool helmets and a complete disregard for property values.  And look!  Everyone is wearing matching, sensible clothing, and no-one is knock-kneed, ass out!  This should be the norm, and not something I am surprised and happy about.  One of them does suffer from boob-armor, but more on that at the end of this post.

Keisotsu Butai

"...the StateEmpire Army uses the Keisotsu Butai in the front line, where the action is always dangerous and the mortality rate very high."

And yet their pleats are so crisp!
These are first generation sculpts, which means they're technically not as good as later waves.  It's mostly noticeable in the facial details, which can be a bit "lumpy".  But that's not the point here.  The point is that the male and female sculpts are dressed and equipped the same, both have similar, neutral poses, but you can tell their gender from a glance.

Hassassin Lasiqs

"Patience, acute eyesight, a firm pulse and an unbreakable faith in the objectives of the organization, are the qualities required to become a Lasiq."

Being a total badass doesn't hurt either.

Here's an interesting one, how do you suggest gender in a miniature that's not only wearing armour, but wearing a long hooded cloak over the top?  In this case, the sculptors have chosen to emphasise things like shoulder and leg proportions.  It's a little exaggerated but it's not exploitative and it works really well, with no need for bare asses or cleavage shots.

EDIT: Someone in comments pointed out that the female Lasiq is wearing heels.  I can't tell from the pictures (I thought she was wearing quite thick soles) and I don't have one in hand to check, but if she is wearing combat heels then.. well, that sucks.  Ridiculous footwear is another pet peeve of mine!    Never mind, yes she is. Ugh.  My thoughts on that are here.


"Violent and implacable, their missions of punishment are true cold-blooded murders."

Ki ken tai ichi

If it seems like I'm deliberately choosing miniatures that are covered in head to toe in long coats, I'm not.  It's just that most of the more "normal" figures are.. well, they're the ones I wrote about in my last rant.  In any case, this is another great example of sculptors working with proportions and facial sculpts to represent male and female members of the same unit in an equal and awesome fashion.


"The Alguaciles are good soldiers, skilful and stubborn, always swearing, but who’ll force themselves beyond what seems possible."

I like how "always swearing" is a selling point.
Another terrible 1st-gen sculpt (combat crouches and weird heads for everyone!), another example of gender equality.  Is this a rule somehow?  The better the sculpt, the more "fanservice"?

Borderline cases

While researching this article there was a couple of  units that I saved as good examples, but had second thoughts about when giving them another look. I think they're okay, but they display minor examples of stuff I complained about in the past.  I still rate them as good, but you might disagree.


"Once they get off the vehicle, they will have to take a strategic position on the battlefield, which will see enemy fire concentrate on them." 

A to the K
I was in the middle of this writeup when I noticed that the female Halqa sculpt might actually be suffering from crop-top armour.  It's a bit hard to tell, and if she is they've painted it as if she's wearing a tight shirt underneath (it's the same colour as her arms).  It's up to you whether this is a problem, but it's a minor blemish on an otherwise great model and pose.  I would put it in with the others, but for fairness I've bumped it down to borderline.

Haramaki Zensenbutai

"Their loyalty, bravery and courage in battle are undeniable, they never turn down a challenge and they disdain automatic weapons"

You can disdain them all you like, automatic weapons will mess you up.
You knew it was coming. That's right.  Boob Armour.  Sculpted breasts on armour are inherently stupid for a number of reasons, the main one being that it actually guides projectiles towards the center of mass, rather than away from it.  Not to mention that most of the time it's just stupid cheesecake.

In this case, I think boob armour is being used as a simple shorthand for gender and nothing else.  I've already talked about the difficulties involved with portraying powered-armour male/female body shapes at 28mm scale, and how sculptors will exaggerate things like shoulder and leg proportions as a way of dealing with this. 

If this is the only technique used, however, we get some weird distortions where all women in power armour are weird stick-insect thin (and Infinity does have this problem).  So in this case I think the sculptor decided to add boob-armour as an easy signifier of gender.  While it's still silly, it's not exploitative, and I think that's the important part.  However, I totally understand if this kind of thing is a instant dealbreaker for you.

"Boob armour? No! Nooooooooooo!"
So there we have it.  Corvus Belli are perfectly capable of releasing miniatures of badass women soldiers without resorting to giving them distinct uniforms designed more like nightclub or fetish gear, and without giving them ridiculous poses.  But for whatever reason, they don't.  And that's a bit depressing when you think about it.


  1. I bet fixing "boob armor" would be a really simple thing to do with green stuff. At least with respect to the Trauma-Doc and the Haramakis. The Pan-O HI are NOTORIOUS for boob armor, and it's one of the things that really turned me off to some of the models.

    Great article BTW. I just found this blog via SA and I'm looking forward to following it!

  2. Pretty surprised you're defending the Lasiq considering those heels.

    1. I couldn't tell from the pictures, I thought they were quite thick soles (I don't have one in hand to check). If they're Combat Heels then.. Well, that sucks. Combat Heels are another pet peeve of mine!

    2. Combat heels actually bug me more than boob armour does. :) You can almost justify boob armour -- almost -- for comfort's sake (see that Savvy body armour stuff). Combat heels are always silly though.

      BTW, have you seen the Women Fighters In Reasonable Armour blog? It's a good counterpoint to this stuff:

    3. Yes, I love that blog! And yeah, combat heels, the worst of things. Trying to run across a battlefield in those?

    4. The one range I don't mind combat heels on are Aleph. Getting an artificial body to walk is quite a task in robotics; I figure if Aleph's PR people (whoever decided that the public face of the AI was going to be somewhere between Uncanny Valley and Sexy Robot, presumably after extensive testing to see what combination of attributes provoked the right reaction in members of the public) wanted combat heels, Aleph's engineers just adapted to that when creating the run and walk mechanisms.

    5. It's still kinda stupid. Why go to the extra effort of making walk cycles for impractical feet designs. Why not just, you know, design better feet?

    6. You know how governments and big corporations work today... how often does the engineering team get to make decisions? I find it far more likely that the PR team makes the decision, and the engineers figure out a way to make that decision work.

  3. What's your take on Aleph? The Myrmidon Officer mini seems to be the closest thing they have to a sensibly dressed female warrior (she's even wearing a helmet), but of course none of the Aleph bodies are actually human at all... is it still objectification, if the piece of art is a miniature that depicts a humanoid robot, rather than a human?

    1. My take is that they're very deliberately sculpted to be sexy robot ladies. There's no particular reason for all the post humans to be shaped like women, but they are.

    2. Though honestly that's a related but more complex issue, which is why I stuck to the obvious examples of disparity.

    3. The Posthumans are an interesting case. Bear in mind that it's one person with several bodies, so my guess is that they chose to have that person be female. I think it might have been more interesting to take more of a John Varley approach to the whole thing, and to assume that, given the technology for fluid, painless, easily reversible gender changes, many humans would jump at the idea. But that's a fairly radical approach, and one that might not have sat well with their fans, even if they'd thought of it.

    4. Yeah, it seems weird that "posthuman" means "robot girl in metal bikini". I would have expected something more androgynous and interesting, or like you say, a mix of body shapes/types.

  4. Necroing this, because it is an old pet peeve of mine as well. "Fanservice" is idot service.

    So which of the major companies do this well, then? GW only has one line with lots of female models, and it is a high-heel wearing dominatrix line, and all their other females tend to wear skimpy outfit and fit with the same stereotype, be they Dork Eldar or elven sorceresses. There are a few expeptions (Howling Banshees aren't too bad)

    PP has a few skimpily-clad "evil sorceress" models, but in general their female models (especially the Cygnar and Khador lines, to a lesser extent the Protectorate) have lots of "sensible armour". They also have what I think is an in-joke on the very subject:
    ...two of these models are female (its a replicated sculpt, 2x same model). Can you find them? I could barely see it until I held the model.

    Wyrd is all about fanservice. It might even be worse than Infinity, even if the Caledonian Volunteer tops anything they do.

    Rackham were french...although they did seem to seem repress their frenchiness in a lot of the AT-43 material. Hell Dorado also had/has a hit n'miss attitude to fanservice models.

    Are there any games out there that try to avoid this silly trend? At all?

  5. Oh look! 52 pages of argument relevant to this topic:

    1. I've been avoiding the Infinity forums mainly because I assumed the worst. Is that thread any good?

  6. Hey, this is an old blog post but since this topic is something that is clearly important to you, I wanted to let you know that it's not all bad. Like Red Box. Look at this stuff , , , ...

    It's like took their cue from .

    It's not all roses and sunshine but the worst offenders ( , ) are quite tame compared to what some other companies are putting out there.

    1. Those are some nice minis, thanks for sharing the links.