A thylacine review may be an odd choice for this blog; although extinct, it died out far more recently than the prehistoric animals we’re used to reviewing on here. Still, I think it qualifies and I imagine a lot of our readers that collect extinct mammals will probably take interest in this little thylacine released last year by Mojö Fun. Mojö is a company renowned for their abysmal dinosaur toys but fairly proficient when it comes to sculpting mammals both extinct and extant. They’re also the only company I’m aware of to tackle this important and fascinating animal although CollectA will have their version out later this year.
For those unfamiliar with Thylacinus cynocephalus it was a large marsupial predator that died out on mainland Australia 2,000 years ago but continued to survive in Tasmania until the 1930’s. Also known as the Tasmanian tiger or Tasmanian wolf this unique animal was not related to either felines or canines. Being a marsupial means that the thylacine was more closely related to kangaroos and koalas. Humans are more closely related to wolves than the thylacine was. This is an astonishing revelation when you see how similar the thylacine is to canines but any similarity between them was a result of convergent evolution. The thylacine was an apex predator on Australia, having lived a lifestyle similar to canines it evolved similar adaptations. And it was the thylacine’s role as apex predator that was its ultimate undoing. Like other predators the world over it was relentlessly persecuted and pursued by humans due to fear and ignorance until it was completely killed off. Like any recently extinct animal, sightings persist on both Tasmania and mainland Australia but the evidence of its continued existence is poor and it’s unlikely that there are any left.
Unlike most of the models we review this is a model where we don’t need to speculate on what the animal looked like. We have preserved specimens, skins, taxidermy mounts and even photographs and video footage of the animal. So assessing the accuracy of this model shouldn’t be difficult. The model was sculpted by artist Anna Dobrowolska-Oczko who is an expert sculptor of horses and other living animals. She is also an active member of the “Dinosaur Toy Forum” sister web-site, the “Animal Toy Forum”. Those already familiar with her work will trust that this is a well-researched model and it is indeed a spot on representation of the thylacine.
The resemblance to a dog is uncanny, standing on digitigrade feet with a long narrow muzzle and long stiff tail. The body is yellowish-brown with 14 black stripes running from the torso down to the base of the tail, the number of stripes varied in number on the actual animal. The model is very slender, lean and toned in appearance, much like the actual animal.
Measuring about 4.5” in length and standing 2” tall at its highest point this is quite a small model but still packed with a lot of admirable detail work. In particular, I like the addition of small toe and foot pads on the underside of the feet as well as the sculpted Achilles tendons above the ankles. The skin stretching between the torso and the knees as well as the shoulders protruding from under the skin are also worthy of note. The pose is kind of static I will admit with all four feet planted firmly on the ground and the head looking off to the left but in a market lacking thylacine models it’s actually nice to have something simple like this as a neutral visual reference. The face on this model has a sad appearance which I suppose is kind of appropriate.
This is a model that should appeal to virtually every subset of our hobby that appreciates mammals. Collectors of extant animals, or extinct, as well as Cryptozoology buffs and those just intrigued by these unique animals and their tragic backstory. I wish there was no place for this animal on this blog about extinct animals, but due to the ignorant and thoughtless actions of people less than 90 years ago the closest many of us will ever probably get to a thylacine is by holding this beautiful little replica. Let it serve as a warning and a reminder of what we’re capable of as a species.
You can find your very own thylacine over at DeJankins for $2.50. At that price, why wouldn’t you?