Actually most T2 Ai were closer to 1,000 polys. T1 Ai were probably between 650-800.
You could always delete all the faces on the back sides of AI and cut their polys in half. Of course you'd have to limit the player to a front only view.
Then joint 3-4 in a group to save object count (only 125 objects on screen at once)
Animating would be a pain. You could do 1 way mainly. save the models in keyframes. Hand low, hand a little higher...until their hand reaches top, then reverse the frames. You can use as many frames as you want by making the object die at the end of every 6 frames and being replaced with an object that contains the next 6 frames...
I released a 'broken lights demo' available at The Circle. The shutters object works that way with 4 objects. Closed, Opening, Open and Closing. It needs to be frobbed to start it's cycle to open and frobbed again to close but you could just set the Tweq to On and it will start animated.
This is basically how torches and rats are animated, they only use 4-5 models (keyframes each) though so they don't have to 'die' to go on to the next 5-6 keyframes.
I'd probably make one model with 4-5 AI. 3 males 2 females kindof thing. Animate and save the key frames (I've learned that you can give them a skin modifier in Max, not sure about anim8or, pose all the frames. Then delete the 'skin' modifier at each frame and export the model in that pose).
Then you can change each AI skin to a different one in Dromed. That way you have one set of AI objects and you can swap skins on each AI seperately and make a wide range of AI in the stands without having a million models.
The grandfather clock has joints, their rotation is set in Tweq. But you can only have 5-6 joints per object and if you jointed arms or heads this way it might be very noticeable. But it would take one object file, the keyframes mentioned above take a seperate object file for each keyframe.
Using models would be better than actual AI because they don't think, so they wouldn't slow down performance as much.