Sunday, April 9, 2023

Topsy-turvy rabbits

Mikhail Bakhtin used the term "carnivalesque" to describe a literary style in which expectations and heirarchy are turned topsy-turvy. He linked the term to celebrations in medieval Europe, such as the Feast of Fools, the Feast of the Ass, and Carnival when chaos ruled, and the established order was turned on its head.

This type of inversion is also found in the marginalia of medieval manuscripts, the most famous examples are the so-called "killer rabbits".

Rabbits were viewed as innocent and vulnerable in medieval symbolism, with tapestries and illustrations often showing them being hunted as food by humans.

The marginalia subverted these concepts, and switched the roles of the rabbits and humans.

Skull & Crown Miniatures did a Kickstarter campaign a few of years back to turn these rabbits into miniatures. I was intrigued by the project, but didn't end up backing it.

Anyway, a couple of months ago, curiosity finally got the better of me, and I ordered a bunch of the rabbits. They're definitely big, but they're still shorter than the average 1/72 scale human, and don't seem too far off with respect to the apparent size of the typical killer rabbit shown in marginalia.

The first group of rabbits are from the Kickstarter Set (KR01). The set includes a separate heater style shield for one of the rabbits.

The next group is from the Hunting Party Set (KR02). The spear and crossbow poses are identical to ones from the previous set.

Whimsically, a snail rests on the gauntlet of the noble rabbit.

The next set includes another creature that is commonly encountered in marginalia, and is the Rabbit Mounted on Snail (KR06). The set includes an extra snail that I think was part of the 250 backer stretch goal of the Kickstarter campaign.

The miniature is based on a composite of two different illustrations.

The Rabbit Command Set (KR14) includes the same bagpipe pose from the Kickstarter Set, and the same mounted noble pose from the Hunting Party Set.

I also was able to get some figures from the Rabbit Trebuchet Set (KR17), Castle Siege Set, and Rabbit Ecclesiastical Set. Normally, the sets come with MDF architectural pieces, but Crown & Skull was kind enough to find some loose miniatures for me.

There is also a crossbow rabbit with the Trebuchet Set, but I didn't bother including one in the photo, since it is identical to the ones from the other sets.

It would have been nice if the Ecclesiastical Set contained all of the poses in the illustration on which it was based.

The final image is of the Wing’d Dog and Pilgrim Set (KR11). I ordered it because I liked the winged dog, and was curious about how tall the hounds were.

To conclude, I have to say that I really like these miniatures, and they are quite faithful to the illustrations found in medieval manuscripts (although the awkward 2D style rendition of the crossbow and crucifix are not ideal).

One thing I do want to mention is that the miniatures are cast in a very soft metal, making me wonder about the lead content in them. During flash removal they left a dark residue on my fingertips, which I washed off with soap and water afterwards.

This is something that I often observed in the past after handling old lead minis. If you are concerned about this, you might want to consider wearing gloves to handle the miniatures until after they are painted.