i also don't like how the book is full of exotic choices. It's a personal thing but I prefer my fantasy a little more cliched and old fashioned...choosing a Half Orc to represent the Paladin? It grates with me.
I don't have anything against the idea of a Half-Orc Paladin, it's pretty interesting, but I think you have a very good point!
Since 5e was supposed to go back a little bit into traditional territory, I was expecting more "iconic" depictions of traditional characters. But I can understand that this is more complicated... at WotC they must strike a balance between tradition and freedom of expression. D&D must make people both feel like there is a traditional starting point
(Wizards in robes and pointy hats, Paladins in shiny shield & armor, gruff dwarves, graceful and mysterious elves...) but also an unbound freedom
to challenge tradition.
There is also some political choices in there... WotC can't put too many weirdos (especially in the Races and Classes chapters which set the starting point of the game) or there's a risk of the game losing ties with original character concepts (even tho D&D is also heavily kitchen-sinked by tradition): both newcomers and old-school players need to feel there is some continuity in the 40-years game, at least some of it to strengthen the identity
of D&D versus other RPGs. But at the same time, many other long-time players would certainly think "oh not another wizard in pointy hat...", so WotC has to throw some bones in both directions.
So I am myself a little bit confused about how to strike such balance. Personally I would have at least depicted the 4 traditional races and classes in more iconic forms. For example probably I would have chosen a picture of male dwarf with huge beard and heavy armor (even tho I like the current dwarf picture a lot) in the race section. I have also heard that Drizzt is chosen as the Elf picture in the Races chapter... I understand challenging tradition, but using a very famous character who has become the "iconic anti-anti-iconic" Elf (i.e. the most famous exception of an exception) does not feel like a good choice to me as a first exposure to Elves in the PHB.
Overall I am fairly positive with the PHB artwork previews so far, but I am much more
impressed by the MM!