Tag Archives: Smilodon

Prehistoric Mammal Skulls (Toob by Safari Ltd.)

Prehistoric skulls, be they those of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, sea monsters, mammals, amphibians, or any other beasts, are always things of beauty and intrigue. Let us take a look at this interesting variety of mammal skulls from Safari Ltd. There are eight in total, all coloured medium brown with a pale brown wash, and all with their names printed on the undersides.

We begin with the huge and horned Arsinoitherium. This skull measures just over 5 cm long from the tips of its huge front horns to the back of its mandible. While the horns could afford to be even longer and angled farther back, this is still quite unmistakeable as the famous embrithopod.



Next up is one of our distant relatives: Australopithecus. There are several described species, but I’m going to assume that this is meant to represent the most famous, A. afarensis, of which the famous “Lucy” specimen belongs to. It measures about 4.5 cm long from the mouth to the parietal. While the cranium looks pretty good, the chin could afford to be more defined and the teeth are too numerous, too small, and too generic in shape.



Our third skull is that of the frightfully fanged Daeodon. This one measures nearly 5.5 cm long. With all those pointed teeth and knobby projections, a lay person might easily mistake it for some kind of theropod dinosaur! But in order for it to be a proper representation of the largest entelodont, the maxillary canines should be larger and more visible, and the skull should be taller.



Fourth up is the skull of Embolotherium, a mighty brontothere from Asia, very similar to the North American Megacerops. This one measures 4.5 cm long and is immediately recognizable due to the slightly heart-shaped protuberance on the nose. The exact purpose of this horn is uncertain, as it was hollow and therefore too fragile for use in combat. Some experts have proposed that it may have been a specialized resonator for producing sounds, similar to the crest on Parasaurolophus. In any case, this is a reasonably good representation of Embolotherium save for the fact that, as with the Australopithecus, the teeth are too many and too generic.



Here is a first for the DTB: the skull of a Mammut americanum, better known as the American mastodon. Yes, despite being fairly popular and known from multiple complete skeletons, the poor mastodon has been overlooked by toy companies in favour of its more famous relative, the woolly mammoth. Indeed, I suspect that that only reason Safari went with a mastodon instead of a mammoth skull was because the latter’s huge tusks would have been impossible to squeeze into the package. Not surprisingly, this is the longest skull in the set, measuring 9 cm long from the tips of the tusks to the back of the cranium. Unfortunately, the tusks need to be more curved and spread farther apart in order to be a proper American mastodon. This looks more like a Stegodon skull. But on a much more positive note, Safari will be releasing a fantastic-looking mastodon figure in 2018!



Can’t have a set of prehistoric mammals without good ol’ Smilodon. This bad boy’s noggin measures 5.5 cm long with 3 cm long canines. No mistaking this one. But while it has the basic profile of a machairodont, the muzzle is a bit too long and the skull is not deep enough. The mouth is open slightly, but it would have been cooler had it been open to a full 120 degrees.



This is the knobby skull of the massive Uintatherium. Measuring slightly over 5 cm long, this individual may be a female due to the relative shortness of its tusks. While it could certainly afford to have even more pronounced knobs, overall, this is a pretty decent replica.



Last up is a woolly rhino skull. Now, anyone who knows anything about rhinos knows full well that their horns are made of keratin, not bone. But a hornless rhino just wouldn’t look as impressive, now would it? Anyway, the front horn gives the skull a height of 4.5 cm, matching its length. The skull itself looks fairly accurate, but the front horn is very warped. A result of too much time spent crammed into the tube, I suppose. On a sad note, as I gaze upon this tiny plastic skull, I can’t help but think of the strong, grim possibility that modern rhinos will soon be joining their woolly brethren in extinction. ūüôĀ



These prehistoric mammal skulls aren’t quite museum-quality accurate, but they’re rather good overall. A very unique and educational set, appropriate for all ages. Recommended.

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.

Smilodon (Prehistoric Mammals by Schleich)

Schleich Smilodon 2

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.

Schleich Smilodon 1

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Appraisal:

        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.