Saichania, meaning “the beautiful one” in Mongolian, derives its name from the magnificent state of preservation the type specimen was found in. Like Ankylosaurus and Euoplocephalus, it was covered in heavy armour and bore a large club at the end of its tail. But whereas its North American relatives inhabited lush forests and floodplains, Saichania was adapted for the harsh life of the desert. Special air passages in its head cooled the air it breathed in and helped restrict water loss, while a reinforced hard palate enabled it to grind up tough plants.
Schleich has been very fond of Saichania, having released several different versions over the years. This is their newest one, released in 2017. From snout to club tip, it measures a respectable 13 cm long. The main colours are pine green and beige washed over with black and complimented by rust red streaks. The eyes and nostrils are black and the tongue is bright red. I think it looks pretty good. Like most dinosaur toys, this one appears to have been caught in the midst of confronting an enemy. Its head is raised, its mouth is open, and its mighty tail is raised and swinging to the right.
The Saichania‘s back and flanks are covered in small, rounded scales while the underbelly features larger, square-shaped scales. The top of the skull has a knobby texture and the beak, osteoderms, and club are covered in grooves, giving them a rough, worm appearance. Thick wrinkles add realism to the throat and the limb joints. While not in the same league as the sculpting jobs by CollectA, Papo, and Safari, it’s still nothing to sneeze at.
Accuracy is a mixed bag here. The skull is broad with an almost pig-like snout and the correct arrangement of horns jutting from the mandible and behind the orbits. The forelimbs are covered in heavy armour, a distinguishing characteristic that was absent on all of Schleich’s previous attempts. The plates covering the back run in parallel rows with the largest ones at the rear, which is also in keeping with skeletal reconstructions. But there are still a number of major inaccuracies. The head is too big for the body, the armour on the forelimbs should extend further down, the body should be wider, the tail is too short, and the club is too large and too deep. As well, the limbs are too thick and stumpy, and the hind feet should have three toes, not four.
I’m generally not fond of Schleich products, but I’ll give credit where I believe it’s due. This toy has its issues, but it’s a pretty swell rendition of the real deal nevertheless. If all of Schleich’s prehistoric figures were like this, we’d be a lot happier. The Saichania is sold in a two-pack with a repaint of the small 2015 Giganotosaurus, but some online stores like DeJankins sell them separately.