To celebrate Bullyland’s highly anticipated re-release of their prehistoric mammal collection I felt it was a good time to review the only Bullyland mammal figure I actually own, the Chalicotherium. For those of you out of the loop on this a brief overview is in order. Bullyland is a German toy company notable for producing its figures right in Germany. To the best of my knowledge it is actually the only dinosaur toy producer that does not have its products made in China. Bullyland is also well known for their prehistoric mammal collection which in many cases outclasses their dinosaurs. While Bullyland still makes dinosaur toys their other prehistoric animals were all retired some time ago making them highly collectable and in a few cases very expensive. Due to popular demand Bullyland has re-released their line of mammals and other non-dinosaurs for 2012. That basically sums up the story and also explains why I don’t own more of them myself for now at least. This is great news as many of the Bullyland mammals in particular are very well made and represent species not covered by other companies. One of these includes the toy being reviewed here.
Chalicotherium like many other species of prehistoric mammals is not a well known animal. This is a shame because it is one of many bizarre creatures just as deserving of our interest as the dinosaurs. Because of this a brief overview of the animal is also in order. Chalicotherium was a genus belonging to the family Chalicotheriidae within the Perissodactyla order (odd-toed ungulates). It was basically an animal that looked a lot like a ground sloth but was actually related to horses, tapirs and rhinoceroses. Chalicotherium lived in the late Oligocene and early Pliocene in Europe, Asia and Africa. Its name means “pebble beast” in reference to its pebble-like molars. If you are familiar with the animal it is probably because it appeared in the 2001 BBC series “Walking with Beasts.”
Now finally on to the toy itself, though it looks odd it is actually a quite accurate reproduction of Chalicotherium. The head is horse-like and would have appeared this way in life. The lips appear fleshy and bulgy in appearance as they would have been on the actual animal. Fossil evidence shows these animals lost their incisors and upper canines once they hit maturity. The fleshy lips and gums probably were adequate enough to strip soft vegetation without the need for teeth. The forelimbs are long with large claws and supported by the knuckles much like an anteater or ground sloth. The knuckles on fossil animals were thick with bony growths suggesting this animal was indeed a “knuckle-dragger.” The claws themselves show little wear on the fossils showing they kept them clear off the ground. If my sources are correct, it is the only known example of a hoofed mammal reverting back to claws. The back legs are short and reflect this animal’s gorilla-like lifestyle. That is, sitting around on their haunches and reaching out for vegetation with their forelimbs. It would seem that Bullyland really did their homework with this one and I can think of no major flaw where anatomy is concerned. I’m by no means a prehistoric mammal expert so if I missed something feel free to correct me.
Where color is concerned the figure is not too spectacular. The model is mostly an off-white or pale brown color. A dark brown stripe runs down the back of the model and down the short tail. The knuckles and claws are also dark brown, actually the same dark brown and that is kind of a disappointment. The claws really should be a different color from portions of the body. Overall the colors are uninspired but appropriate; it looks like an animal of dry or grassy ecosystems though I honestly don’t know what kind of habitat it lived in. I would have actually preferred it if they colored the animal more like those in “Walking with Beasts” but I digress, it is still a great figure. I can think of no other toy Chalicotherium on the market and with this one available there really is no need for one. The Bullyland figure is a beautiful and accurate reproduction of a strange mammal few people have even heard of. If you have not yet acquainted yourself with the Bullyland mammal collection now is a good time to start and this 1:24 scale model is a great place to begin. It can be found on eBay between $20-30 or over at Dan’s Dinosaurs for $19.99.