I believe they mean Lidda the halfling, from (correct me if I'm wrong...) 3rd edition; she was one of the "Iconic Characters", which they used as poster characters for their official artwork at the time.
If I may, though, a chunk of this thread has gotten a bit bloated up with people seemingly posting images of 'bad' halfling artwork, specifically because it's bad? I'm not sure I understand the reasoning...
Part of what I was attempting to point out was that even looking solely at 5e official artwork, there are more examples of healthy proportions and believable builds, than the cartoonishly bad or dramatically stylised ones - even though both styles of depiction do undeniably exist.
I feel as though the more people just shrug and say "5e made them that way and it's bad", without considering the other examples, the harder the battle will be to get models in this game that don't have the visual problems that the current ones do.
It may be a losing battle already, but the new patch shows us that they are actually trying to listen and make changes based on feedback, and that they were even willing to re-record new voice lines... so possibly getting the subtle but noticeable changes to the existing models to make them better isn't off the table. This seems especially hopeful when it's so very clear that they need to do small-race animations still, when having them use the animation anchors that medium creatures use is so completely terrible.
I wanted to talk more about animations, actually, but there wasn't a good place to start - the problem is absolute and pervasive, because they're using the animations and anchors that larger models use, and it invariably makes them look ridiculous for almost everything... Just watch a halfling climb a ladder, if you want a good example, or try to pet the dog - the model insists on trying to place its feet in the same anchor positions as the larger model, even though its limbs can't reach properly, and the result is very.... "my-first-3d-animating-tutorial" in calibre.
There's no feasible way the game can launch without them giving small races a completely independent animation set for everything... so hopefully by the time that comes around, we might have convinced them to look seriously at tweaking the actual models as well, while they're doing so.
To refresh (for people just catching up with the thread or seeing it for the first time), the changes to improve the models are simple and quite subtle - they don't need to be massive changes to have a pronounced positive effect and remove the impression of dwarfism/neoteny etc.,
- The head: Needs to not be the same size as the human heads - not necessarily a huge change, or a complete reduction to half the size in all dimension, but a more subtle reduction - maybe to about two thirds its current size, would be enough to prevent the neoteny impression. (this applies to both male and female models)
- The torso: Should be scaled to have a smaller relation to the arms and legs; this again would be subtle, but even a 10% reduction in scaling here would help reduce the impression of dwarfism or of being juvenile, depending on how the eye focuses and relates. (This applies predominately to male models, but female models would also benefit from it; female models are fantastically busty as a result of this scaling, to the extent of it being almost ridiculous)
- The hips: The biggest source of problems, visually - by having the model share the same hip width as a creature twice their size, this reinforces and hammers in the impression of a creature with dwarfism, rather than a naturally well-proportioned creature. the width and depth of the hips and the hip region in general (bum and thighs included), needs to be reduced to scale more fittingly with a creature of this size and frame - again, it only needs to be a subtle reduction to create a valuable positive effect on the visual.
- The legs: The tapering of the legs exacerbates the visual issues caused by the hip region; normalising their legs from the knee down with the rest of their body frame would be another subtle change, but would help.
Sorry for effectively bumping again, but this is one matter that I feel is important - even as much as my other in-depth mechanical threads, and to a certain extent perhaps more. I've played far too many games where smaller race characters are just treated as jokes, or denied the right to be seen as adults entirely... and many more still where they can't even sit in chairs properly because no-one bothered to check their animations compared to larger characters, or knew, and just didn't think it important enough to bother with... and I really, really, don't want this game to end up being just another example of that, when it doesn't need to be.