Category Archives: mammal

Woolly Mammoth (2007)(Cuddlekin by Wild Republic)

Review and photos by Bryan Divers, edited by Suspsy

This is a review of my most prized possession, the original woolly mammoth Cuddlekin by Wild Republic, released back in 2007. It is not the same as the more recent versions that have already been reviewed, which come in 40-inch, 12-inch, and 8-inch sizes. The original version by Wild Republic is made of noticeably different material and is slightly larger at about 14 inches. I can’t believe I haven’t thought to review it for the blog until now.

This good old woolly mammoth is approaching the 10th anniversary of when I first got her. I was twelve at the time, and my mother bought her for me at the Shop 4 Science gift shop at the Science Museum of Virginia. She was the best of the best for her time, and is probably my most prized possession down to today. I even think that if my house was on fire, I would grab her! A close friend also saw the personality in her and would always ask me about Ellie the mammoth, as we called her. Ellie also accompanied me on a number of family vacations: the most memorable one to me was to Smithfield, Virginia.

My friend always commented on how soft Ellie’s fur was to the touch, and indeed the plush was beautiful. It has become a bit matted over the last ten years, and I actually patched a couple of defective spots on her belly with some felt that matched her fur. The rest of her, though, has remained in fair condition. Although, as her owner, I may be a little prejudiced.

Her trunk is made in a tea spout position, as if she is trumpeting. Her tusks are accurately made, even down to the little brown parts that the tusks grow out of. The end of her tail has little black hairs on it, and the toenails are stitched. The insides of the ears, the soles of the feet, and the toenails are made of a reddish-brown fabric that is flatter than the reddish-brown fur fabric on her head and shoulders. Her mouth is open and makes her look like she is smiling–one of the most appealing features of this toy, to me at least. Her shoulders, hump, and the top of her head are made of a dark reddish-brown fur fabric, and the rest of her body is made of a brown taupe fabric that almost looks dark grey. My mother got her for an easy $12.99, which was moderate considering her quality and that she was sold from a museum gift shop. I think the fact that she remains my favourite stuffed animal into my twenties all the way from age 12 proves that she is as wonderful for the young as for the young at heart.

When my friend was forced to return to her native country, Brazil, in December 2009, Ellie became even more precious to me because she reminded me of the many happy memories with my friend and her family. She is the last connection I have to that beautiful time in my past. If you too see the magic of this beautiful toy and want one for your own, eBay is probably your best bet: search for “mammoth cuddlekins” or “wild republic mammoth.” (A hint: if you want the original mammoth like mine, the fur on the face, legs, and rump looks very dark, almost black, as opposed to the more brown look of the newer version.)

Deinotherium (Mojo Fun)

The name Deinotherium means “terrible beast,” and this powerful pachyderm must have seemed like one to our early hominid ancestors who lived alongside it in Africa during the Pleistocene epoch. Standing around 4 metres tall and weighing anywhere from 10 to 13 tons, it was possibly the third largest proboscidean of all time after the 24-ton Asian straight-tusked elephant Palaeoloxodon namadicus (the largest land mammal of all time!) and the 15-ton mastodon Mammut borsoni.

Mojo released this Deinotherium toy in 2013. Appropriately, it’s a massive mound of solid plastic that stands 11 cm tall at the shoulder and measures 18 cm long. This is another figure you certainly wouldn’t want falling off the shelf and hitting you on the head. Such a painful incident is unlikely though, as it stands very firmly on its pillar-like legs. Indeed, the casual walking pose gives this animal a calm, confidant air. It knows full well that it’s the biggest and strongest thing in its environment, and that any would-be predator who tries something is only going to end up either fleeing or flattened.

The Deinotherium‘s colour scheme is based on that of a modern African elephant: taupe grey with faint patches of dusty brown, black eyes, toenails, and tail tuft, and white tusks with airbrushed rust near the roots. The hide is also sculpted like an elephant’s, with thick folds and wrinkles covering huge muscles. It’s not as intricate as the sculpting on the CollectA version, but it works. Oh, and looking at this individual’s underside, it appears to be a female, which is pretty rare among prehistoric mammal toys!

In addition to its sheer bulk, this toy displays the other characteristic features of Deinotherium: curved tusks extending from the lower jaw, small ears, and a large but relatively short trunk. It’s unknown just how precisely this animal employed its tusks; they may have been used to strip bark from trees or pull down branches to reach leaves. They also would have been dangerous weapons in battles between rival males. The length of the trunk is another matter of ongoing speculation. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I do prefer the longer trunk on the CollectA version. I think it would’ve made it easier for an animal as tall as a double-decker bus to take a drink. Or you can pretend that the Mojo version represents D. giganteum while the CollectA represents D. proavum, which may have had a longer trunk, as depicted in the National Geographic link in the intro.

Say what you will about Mojo Fun’s dinosaurs, but their prehistoric mammals have been pretty darned swell. This Deinotherium is well-sculpted, accurate, looks very naturalistic, and is certainly big enough to appear imposing among your other toys. And it bears repeating: it’s great that it’s a female instead of yet another male. Overall, an excellent toy!

Smilodon (2011)(Papo)

One of the more bizarre proposals I’ve heard recently is that Smilodon and other machairodonts may have had large, drooping jowls to protect their famous (and fragile) fangs from the elements. I’m not convinced of this reconstruction myself, but I do find it rather amusing. Speculation will always be a large part of paleontology.

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The Papo Smilodon was released back in 2011, so its fangs are out in the open for all to see. It is posed in an extreme crouching stance with its muscular limbs taut and its mouth open in a roar. No proper predator would ever let out the slightest peep during a hunt, so it’s doubtful that this guy (you can clearly tell this is a male) is stalking game. No, more likely he’s confronting a rival who’s been trespassing on his turf. Or maybe he’s facing down a vicious pack of dire wolves or a hulking short-faced bear bent on stealing his hard-earned kill. Or perhaps he’s been cornered by a band of early human hunters. In any case, this big cat is ready to rumble!

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The Smilodon measures 15.5 cm long. Its colour scheme appears to be based on an African lion: tawny brown and white fur with dark brown on the ears and the tip of the tail, grey claws, black for the pads on the paws and the accents around the eyes, nose, and mouth, light brown eyes, a dark pink nose, pink and dark purple for the inside of the mouth, and creamy white dentition. It’s perfectly possible that Smilodon was coloured like this, but I much prefer my machairodonts with spots or stripes on their pelts.

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The detailing on this toy is very impressive. Finely sculpted fur covers the entire animal and the muscles in the limbs look well-defined and powerful. The ribs can be felt on the flanks and the wrinkles on the muzzle add to the Smilodon‘s enraged appearance. No major anatomical inaccuracies to be found here, although the overall build is probably too sleek and streamlined. And the inside of the mouth is quite a disappointment. Look inside the mouth of just about any Papo theropod and you’ll see plenty of fine sculpting detail. But aside from the simple tongue, the inside of this cat’s mouth is flat and plain.

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In conclusion, while I like the versions from CollectA and Safari better, this is nevertheless one of the better-sculpted, more fun Smilodon toys currently available. Recommended.

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But if the standard appearance isn’t your cup of tea, there’s the upcoming 2017 version with tiger stripes and a lion’s mane. Looks like it’s wearing a babushka to me.