So, at last I have finished my first four Lucid Eye Neanderthals, which are destined more for Lost World pulp gaming rather than anything prehistoric. Steve Saleh indicated that he was working on a set of rules, Savage Core, to cover the different Lost World type figures in this range but I haven't heard anything about it lately. These are very good figures and are easily the nicest 28mm Neanderthals I have seen. They are also some of the heaviest 28 mm figures. I have three more underway, who are wearing even more fur and are almost Neanderthals in cold weather gear.
Neanderthal illustrated in 1909
Over the last century the representation of Neanderthals has changed from the early more ape-like reconstructions to ones which look much more human as scientists discover that they are more like us than previously thought.
As illustrated in 1915 by Charles Knight
Likewise, from being shown as naked figures wielding sticks at the beginning of the twentieth century there is an acknowledgement today that they were much more sophisticated tool users than originally thought, even building boats and dwellings.
"I say, young lady, do you fancy a bit of inter-species miscegenation?"
"It'll cost you a bear's tooth necklace and a pair of boots!"
Now, Neanderthals were bigger and had larger brains than our immediate ancestors, leading novelists like Jean Auel to posit that they had certain mental abilities, like primitive telepathy, that we have lost. There are people, therefore who argue that Neanderthals were actually superior to Cro Magnon man and that them becoming extinct rather than us was rather like the victory of VHS over Betamax. The idea that Neanderthal is a synonym for primitive brutishness is now well out of favour. I like the idea of the superior Neanderthals interacting snootily with our more basic but also more numerous ancestors. The biggest change in our views of Neanderthals over the last five years or so has been the discovery that they interbred with humans. As recently as 2006 scientists said this was very unlikely.
Or perhaps it was this way around
Now, however, it has been shown that Europeans and Asians have significant amounts of Neanderthal DNA. In the past, some scientists said that this came from, perhaps, just one incident of Neanderthal/human interbreeding. That there was one Neanderthal man, perhaps, who had an inexplicable fancy for protruding-chinned, flat forehead females; like a man today who fancies Reese Witherspoon. Only last week, however, a new study indicates that interbreeding was more extensive than previously thought. So, perhaps Neanderthals didn't so much die out as were assimilated into the people that would become modern humans.