Around 2003, Schleich released six prehistoric mammals, two Woolly Mammoths (adult and calf), Megatherium, Machruchania, Cave Bear, Glyptodon, and Smilodon. Some of these figures appear to be modeled after the BBC show, Walking with Prehistoric Beasts. Most of the figures in the line are rather nicely done, but a couple of them are really interesting. The Megatherium has an interesting pose that is unique. The Macrauchenia is an absolutely stunning figure and arguably one of the best made toys for that species.
The Smilodon is also a very interesting toy, but whereas the rest of the line could be considered average to great in its execution and style, this model falls well short. What sets this figure apart when compared to all the other Smilodons out there is the different and unique stance. Regrettably I wouldn’t call that a good thing. There is good reason why this figure looks so bad and dare I say, unattractive.
Lets start with the paint job. The pattern and color on its coat matches and mimics the Walking With Prehistoric Beasts Smilodon. With irregular circular spots and the occasional dot in the middle, it has a good savanna cat pattern. The overall effect is OK; unfortunately it’s just not as crisp as it looked on the show. The coat color is a base tan with a grayish white underbelly. There is black shading on the head and mane. The spots and toes are black as well. The long upper canines are off white that has black shading towards the roof of the mouth and a nicely sculpted pink tongue inside.
Sadly there are some anatomy problems. When we think of Smilodon, or as many people call it, the Sabre tooth tiger, the first thing you look at is the saber canines. On this figure the canines are incredibly over sized in length and width. It would not have been able to close its mouth if the teeth were really like that. But I understand it’s a toy and who wants teeth that can break.
The average Smilodon was close to the size of a modern lion, but much bigger, huskier, and robust. Smilodon’s were not built for speed, but for power. This figure looks underfed, as it is too slender and lithe. This was a powerful animal, there should be more heft to the body and legs.
The problems with this figure continues as you look at the strange pose. It makes you wonder what is it doing? Is it stretching out after a nap and yawning? Maybe with the ears pointing back, we could assume it is a threatening pose, as it sees a rival coming in and is defending his territory? Of course with the front legs splayed out to the side, and the rear legs stretched out and spread out wide, maybe it is about to take a ride on another animals back. The front legs remind me of a bulldog or the badger from the Fox and the Hound. When you look at from the rear, the tail is too long as it should be more of a bobtail, and don’t get me started on this guys plumbing.
There are good things about this figure, such as the high scapula is present. The skin has a realistic look to it along the legs and flank. You can see some loose skin folds and along with tight, taunt skin. Even though it is a rather smooth figure, there are some faint textures of fur along with a sculpted mane.
Even with all those issues and problems that have been highlighted, the figure probably would have been ok; unfortunately you just can’t get around its face. The issue is with the eyes. There is something odd about the cat’s eyes. The eyes are round, bulging, and look like they are about to pop out of this poor toys skull. Maybe it was originally designed as a squeezable toy, that if you squeeze the sides, the eyes would pop out. Also the pupils face different directions. The eyes are so goofy; it makes it hard to look at this toy.
Play Ability: Kids will play with it, as it does have a threatening pose. Add in an open mouth that is showing off the impressive set of huge sabers and you have a happy child. If a kid likes predators, they will find a use for it. It will also get the honor of taking many trips on the backs of other animal toys, as it fits rather well on top of them. It is also a very durable toy that can handle rough play. The teeth are blunted so no sharp edges on the toy. The bad news is, it does not have an eye catching paint job, and even five year old’s notice something is off with the eyes.
Schleich Prehistoric Mammal Smilodon
Introduced:2003 Retired: 2012
May you enjoy retirement!
I commend Schleich efforts in trying to copy the style and look of the Walking With Prehistoric Beasts Smilodons but it was time to for our misery to end and put this figure out to pasture.
Seriously, the goofy eyes make it hard to like this figure. Once you add in the interesting/strange pose, and inaccuracies, it is easy for collectors to pass on this toy. It does have some play ability but there are much better options out there. If you like the strangeness of this figure, you can easily find the toy on e-bay by itself or in a gift pack.