Review and photographs by Quentin Brendel (aka Pachyrhinosaurus), edited by Suspsy
Smilodon, the notorious sabre-toothed cat, has been included in dinosaur toy sets for decades. It’s often depicted in the likeness of a modern tiger, probably in part due to its common name being “sabre-toothed tiger.” On the contrary, this cat wasn’t closely related to tigers, belonging to a now-extinct subfamily of felidae: Machairodontinae.
The Wild Safari Smilodon‘s pose is good for playability and dioramas alike. It’s lunging forwards with its mouth open, brandishing the namesake sabres. It looks as though it would be pursuing prey or facing an enemy. The ears are pointed backwards and there are subtle wrinkles in what looks to be an open mouth snarl, creating a very realistic expression. There’s great attention to detail in the musculature around the rest of the body as well. The tricep is bulging and better defined in the weight-bearing front left leg than on the right leg. The fur is very well-defined, being a bit longer on the back of the neck and flowing in the proper directions. From nose to tail, it’s four and a quarter inches long.
The colours are similar to those of a bobcat, but with more solid and prominent stripes, like the stripes of a true tiger. On the ventral surface of the neck, they’re especially similar to tiger stripes. As with most cats, the WS Smilodon is countershaded with a white underside. In addition, it has white markings around the eyes and white patches on the ears, also like a tiger. The nose is an oddly vibrant color of pink, being the same colour as the mouth. A duller pink would have looked better, but it would probably have increased production costs.
In the newer figures, there is a dark wash inside the mouth. Overall, the older one is paler with more natural-looking transitions between the brown and white fur. The stripes are more neatly-applied on the older version, making it preferable to the newer version in my opinion. It’s also worth noting that the newer one has a glossy finish while the older does not.
The proportions seem to be right. If there are errors, they certainly aren’t obvious. As noted earlier, the body is well-muscled as it should be, including the famously robust forelimbs of a sabre-tooth. Unlike dinosaurs, the understanding of the basic anatomy of recently-extinct mammals has not changed very much, so figures much older than this one could still hold up to modern knowledge.
Given that it’s a popular genus, there are relatively few good Smilodon figures on the modern market, but this is one of them. The attractive pose and accurate anatomy make this one formidible figure. In fact, I would consider this to be the best mass-produced sabre-tooth cat figure so far. It is still in production as of 2016 and can be purchased on Amazon and eBay. Safari also produced a Smilodon cub, though it has eluded my collection so far. From the pictures, it looks like an excellent match for this figure.