I’m pretty sure the main reason that the Deathclaw lost its hair from concept to production was a technical limitation of the rendering software at the time. I can’t remember if it was the amount of additional rendering time required, an animation issue getting all the hair to move properly, or something else, but it was something along those lines. The hairy Deathclaw in FOT was inspired by the original concept, plus we thought it was nifty to show that there variations and different mutations of the same stock “beast”. We probably should have had both versions, but that’s a decision based on hindsight.
The actual Deathclaw model was done in clay and then scanned by a laser (like the head models) to generate the rough 3D model. It was very Tarrasque-esque but I don’t think that was done intentionally. For the longest time, the statue of the Deathclaw was displayed at Interplay (behind these little glass windows, along with props from other Interplay IPs). I’m not sure what happened to it, but I hope that it ended it up in someone’s house and wasn’t thrown away or broken.
And, yes, all references to Raccoons are part of the deleted Burrows area. Either the reference wasn’t cleaned up properly (which happened to another quest or two) or it was decided that there was no harm in having some additional background information.
As for these screenshots, I’ve worked on projects in the past that have had screenshots prematurely released, or released without the right context (“These are ALPHA screens!”) or even screens where the brightness/contrast got screwed up between our PR department and the magazine. I don’t know if these screens were released in a similar manner, but it wouldn’t shock me. There seems to be an awful lot of compression in these pics/scans as well.
Picture from NMA.