This is the first Smilodon review on the DTB, so I think it is only fitting that I start with the original Carnegie Smilodon. When Safari launched the Carnegie line in 1988, Smilodon was in the first group of scientific models released. After a short run, this 1:10 scale figure was retired in 1997, and never re-sculpted or reappeared in the Carnegie line. As this is one of the most recognizable animals, I’ll be brief with its history. Smilodon was a specialized hunter that diverged early from the ancestors of modern cats and is not closely related to any living feline species. It was similar in size to the modern day lion but the body was more robust and powerful, and it had visually exciting, yet fragile, long upper canines.
The toy measures 5in (12.7cm) long and is 2.7in (6.9cm) tall at the shoulder. That puts it around 1:15 scale which would make it a good companion for the Carnegie Australopithecines. This early figure is blocky, simplistic and lacks sophistication. The upper canines and lower jaws are connected. There are no other teeth present in the mouth. There is a flange outgrowth on the lower jaw like a Eusmilus, which Smilodon did not have. The rest of the head is in the correct general shape with the eyes and ears in the right spot. There is some fur sticking out underneath the ear. It might not be accurate, but its face has a strange and intriguing quality to it. I am pretty sure it wasn’t purposely sculpted with a scarred and gnarled visage but that is how it looks to me.
The rest of the body is robust, it is a simple design that fits the mold of the early Carnegie models. The feet and legs are oversized and the rest of the body seems proportional. The short tail is round and upturned with some simple fur lines. There is a lot of muscle rippling underneath the fur witch is quite pleasant to see. The rib cage is subtly present with some fur marks along the flanks. In fact, there are quite a few little fur marks sculpted throughout the body.
The color is glossy golden tan much like a today’s African lion’s, well except for the glossy part. Inside the mouth is painted red but rather crudely. The nose is just a black splotch. The cranial mystacial vibrissae (whiskers) are wispy and black. The eyes are a small black dot with a black line representing eyebrows. The canines, paws and part of the tail are white.
Of course this figure can be played with if one was so inclined. It is solid piece of plastic that can hold up to long hours of play. I do not think many kids would choose this toy over the multitude of other smildons out there. Of course, it is possible to find a beat up one at a garage sale that might be ok for the sand box.
If you have seen the original Carnegie Smilodon in person in recent years, either it was in your own personal collection, or you are one of the lucky to come across this elusive and stealthy piece. I rarely see this toy sold online or in person, and usually its not in very good condition. To be honest, it is not a great figure, in fact I wouldn’t even rate it as good, but a redeaming quality is that it is part of the original Carnegie collection line. The figure also has a certain charm to it. When I look at this figure, as I stated earlier, I think of an aged cat that has scars from rivals or prey. Maybe it once had its jaw broken, but it healed, and the cat is still roaming its territory, master of its domain. Of course that could have less to do with the figure and more from my over-active imagination. I would recommend this figure only to those who collect Carnegie, sabre-tooth-cats, or to anyone who likes the look of it.
Sometimes found on Ebay.com here.