Back in the mid-2000’s Safari Ltd. released a series of mammals for what they dubbed the “Prehistoric Life Collection.” The series included popular animals like Smilodon and the wooly mammoth but also included some more obscure creatures like the Andrewsarchus, Arsinoitherium, Ambelodon, Doedicurus, and the giant sloth. Save for the mammoth and Smilodon these mammals would soon be retired and only accessible by paying a hefty fee on eBay. Why these mammals were retired so soon after their release I can only speculate but they were among the best models in the Wild Safari line at the time, representing animals seldom produced in our hobby. Some say that Safari’s involvement with the Carnegie Collection prohibited them from making mammal toys but I don’t have enough information on that to say for sure. Suffice it to say that the Carnegie Collection retired last year, and now those coveted mammals have been re-released. Well, most of them. The Ambelodon, Doedicurus, and the giant sloth are all back on the market. This review will concern the giant sloth but reviews for the other two already exist on the blog and are worth checking out.
The ground sloths belonging to the Megatherium genus were among the largest land mammals that ever lived, the largest of them measuring up to 20’ in length and weighing 4 tons. Although Safari does not specify which species of sloth their model is (and there were many species) chances are that it represents Megatherium americanum, one of the largest and most popular species of giant ground sloths. M. americanum lived in Pleistocene South America and went extinct about 11,000 years ago.
The Safari giant sloth measures about 4” tall and 3.5” long. It’s standing erect on its feet while being supported by its thick, heavy tail. Its beefy forearms are reaching forward for some unseen branches. The mouth is open and reaching towards the left, no doubt about to eat some scrumptious foliage. The pose reflects what these behemoth herbivores probably spent most of their time doing; feeding. And in this posture we see how the giant sloth probably operated while feeding, using its size and strength to reach the highest branches. The hands are sculpted with four fingers, three of which possess large claws. The number of fingers and claws being accurate for the Megatherium genus. Like modern anteaters giant sloths would have walked on the sides of their feet due to the large claws it had and this is reflected in the model as well.
First released in 2004 this sloth along with the other Safari mammals were leagues ahead of the dinosaurs released at the same time and a sign of things to come for the company, at least in terms of quality. The sloth is sculpted with a dense shaggy coat, the hair following the various contours of its body. The model despite its small size looks hefty, and robust. The sloth’s body is painted chocolate brown in color. The claws are a lighter shade of brown. The tiny eyes are brown too with black pupils. The snout and lips are black and the tongue, palate, and nostrils pink. The snout, lips, mouth and eyes are all painted with a glossy coat, giving them a wet, lifelike appearance.
For collectors of prehistoric mammals this sloth as well as the entire “Prehistoric Life Collection” are must have pieces. Their early retirement and subsequent rarity was unfortunate for those of us interested in these bizarre mammals. But now they’re back and hopefully will be for years to come. You can find this sloth as well as others in the collection wherever Safari models are sold online and for reasonable prices as well. Fingers crossed that Safari will bring back their Arsinoitherium next year!