The Late Cretaceous ankylosaurid Saichania (which means “beautiful” in Mongolian) was a moderately sized but heavily armored dinosaur whose fossils were first discovered in southern Mongolia in 1977. Saichania was a squat animal which reached a maximum length of slightly over 20 feet, making it smaller than its more famous American cousin Ankylosaurus. A characteristic of Saichania was the heavy armor present on its limbs. The environment Saichania inhabited was desert, much like Mongolia today, and the animal had several adaptations to living in arid conditions including air passages in the skull which may have cooled its breath and glands next to its nostrils for excreting excess salt. Just know one thing: this is NOT a model of Saichania.
This figure was released in 1998 and enjoyed a good long run, being retired recently in 2009. The tag says “Saichania” and the figure is also stamped with this name, but it’s clearly been based off of the North American ankylosaur Euoplocephalus rather than Saichania, which I will get into in a bit. The figure is about 7 in. (17 cm.) long and 3 in. (7 cm.) tall, fitting into 1:40 scale. The colors, while a bit bland, are more interesting than usual for Schleich, I think. The unarmored parts of the animal are colored dark blue-gray, while the armor, spikes, and tail club are colored tan, with dark tan around the edges of the armor plates. Its eyes are small and black, as are the nostrils, and the inside of the mouth is pink.
While this model may not be accurate as a Saichania, for a Euoplocephalus it could certainly be a lot worse. The arrangement of the armor and spikes is accurate to fossil reconstructions of Euoplocephalus, including the line of dermal scutes on its upper forelimbs. Saichania was a much squatter looking animal than this, with almost every inch of its body including the limbs protected by bony armor, unlike this figure. The skull with its two pairs of spikes is also accurate to Euoplocephalus, although the rest of its head is decidedly fleshy when the animal’s name translates to “well-armored head”.
The figure’s skin is meant to have a scaly dinosaurian look which works well but I think it’s a bit much, since all the armor and the tail club are also covered in scaly skin when in life these parts of the anatomy would have been more bony and smooth. Being a Schleich model this guy certainly has his quirks. The neck is a little too long and the body is much too short, causing the fore and hindlimbs to be squashed too close together. In addition the limbs seem a bit too long. There are also too many digits on every limb; they all have five when the forelimbs should both have four and the hindlimbs three. He’s got some mighty big feet as a result! All in all I like this figure, and the dynamic pose with that swinging tail is far better than Schleich’s new Saichania, which also doesn’t resemble the real animal and looks like a piece of wood.
In short, this is not a Saichania; it’s a Euoplocephalus. I think it’s a great model of Euoplocephalus too, and had Schleich actually labeled it as such instead of trying to sound exotic with Saichania, I’d have much more respect for this figure. Still it’s a very good thyreophoran and I recommend it over the 2009 Schleich Saichania. Since it’s only recently been retired it’s still available from certain stores on the web and on eBay here