Let's face it, we all know that the joy of Rogue Trader is that it's just Warhammer fanstasy in space and part of the hook dragged us all joyously into the (randomly numbered) far future was that we recognised all the races from our existing armies but they looked so much cooler with guns! And come on, doesn't a dwarf look far cooler chomping on a cigar and bracing himself against the recoil of an oversized bolter than stoically hefting a hammer?
So why are they contenders for the ultimate Rogue Trader race? Well first of all they were there from the start.
Front and centre! Mr first and only Space Dwarf, for a mere 60p (what can you get for 60p nowadays?) along with all his other first release mates. Even the dark elf guy had to wait till the next edition for friends but not Mr. Space Dwarf. No sooner could you say 'Cool! A Dwarf with a gun!' before he had a whole gaggle of diminutive mates to back him up in any intergalactic bar brawl.
Heavy weapon dudes
A thudd gun
A mole mortar!
And dwarfs on bikes!!
All of these gorgeous stunties were lovingly crafted by the Perry twins and it is to my eternal shame that I own so few of them.
But just cos they had the basic army figures isn't enough for them to secure their place as Rogue Trader paragons.
Two squats appeared in the infamous Adventurers range (I've got both of these!)
And another couple were released as part of the small 'Medics range'
In fact I'm not even sure how many Squats Bob did while he was working for GW (quick check - according to the Olley's Armies page it's 60! plus the hover car!)
So we have loads of gnarly little badasses ready to shoot any greenskins or pointy-eared fairies, all this with only an army list in The book of the astronomican.
We have a very well represented race, plenty of models, support weapons, unique tactics and style. What's not to like?
Secondly, more than any of the other races that were ported over to the 40th millennium, Squats just scream Rogue Trader. It's probably down to the fact that they never lasted very long beyond that edition (there was the ability to play them in 2nd). The imagery in the rulebook actually made them look like the hard fighting take-no-shit cool guys that everybody wanted to play, even more than the humans. Who better to take on the rowdy space drunks, the Orks. Squats looked like they could go toe-to-toe with the green skins and enjoy in a very grumpy kind of way. They wore a kind of uniform but only in a 'I'll wear it my way!' style that allowed a whole load of individualism. The squats lived in massive underground 'Strongholds' and they lent their fighting troops out as mercenaries to other 'Strongholds' or even other leagues. All mercenaries are cool!
Thirdly - Squats were pretty much just Rogue Trader. Although you could play them in 2nd edition there were no new models. All the squat models were released during the life time of Rogue Trader. All of the above ranges were around the first 12 months or so of RT's existance. Then in February 89, White Dwarf 111 published a fully detailed background article for the squats along with a full army list.
And along with it came a box set of plastic figures, something the pointy eared its didn't get for ages! Along with a big influx of new metal figures, Engineers, Warlord, Hearthguard, Ancestors, Exo armour, Ad-mech, new bikers, Heavy weapon trikes, eco-trikes and Chaos Squats! (although they were cursed by Citadels obsession with giving all their new models plastic arms!)
Plus adventurers and Pirates!
And by 1990 that's your lot. There were no new models for 2nd Edition (although squat models still kept appearing for Epic till 94) so the army you were playing with was an RT army. By 3rd edition squats had disappeared. So nothing says Rogue Trader more than Squats. It's just the way it is!
Obviously now we have to touch on the controversy of what actually happened to the squats. Fluff wise the standard response is that they were eaten by Tyranids. I always believed this was a grumpy response from Jervis Johnson to a question in a seminar. It's funny. But it also one of the main fault lines between Rogue Trader and it's decedents. It illustrates that the RT universe and what came after aren't really connected, they are alternate realities in which to game. If modern 40K existed in a universe where Tyrannids had wiped out several thousand homeworlds of a human (descended) race destroying millions of lives, wiping out one of the Empires most important allies, cutting off one of the key suppliers of technological know how and lost STC as well as access to unique food growing technologies, you'd think someone would have mentioned it. You'd think someone would mourning their loss. You'd think someone would be sneaking back to the homeworlds to see if anything was left. In the 40K reality of today, squats never existed. There were no homeworlds. There were no heroic stunty allies. RT universe does not equal 40k 8th edition universe. They are two different realities. And that's the way I like it.
(Thanks to Orclord whose fantastic website Stuff of legends is where most of the images appear)
In reality (our reality) Squats died out cos nobody had any ideas. They could come up with mega-sized land train epic scale machines for them but just kept falling back on tired Dwarves-with-guns tropes as can be seen from the Unreleased figures that were designed as an attempt to revive them.
The near official response (again form Jervis on a now defunct forum) was that
- The designers felt that they "had failed to do the Dwarf 'archetype' justice in its 40K incarnation", and that the Squats were more of a joke race.
- There existed a design disparity with the Warhammer 40,000 and the Epic-scale renditions of the race, which prevented there being a cohesive vision of the race.
- Despite the efforts of the design team, they were unable to think up ways to revitalize the concept
Nobody wanted the job. So they were just ignored and died of abject neglect. Written out of history while other abhumans (ratlings, ogryns) shambled on into the future. Ho hum.
Nevermind, we still love 'em.