Review and photos by PhilSauria, edited by Suspsy
Back in the day, most producers of prehistoric fauna in plastic would have included a couple of mammals among their dinosaurs, the usual suspects being the mammoth and the sabretooth. Good to see that has changed over the years, with all manner of ancient mammals getting a look in, but there’s still not a lot of attention given to the cave bear. A quick Google reveals attempts by Bullyland, Schleich, and Starlux, and I say ‘attempts’ because I for one wouldn’t be clicking on any ‘Order Now’ button to add those to my collection. Releases from Playmobil and Geoworld are the only two reviewed on this blog that I can see so far. More knowledgeable collectors may be able to expand that list even further, but I’m not sure how easy any of these would be to find now.
For those collectors not averse to having a few furry ancients sharing the shelves with their dinosaurs, this one would be a worthy addition. Not just in terms of its quality, but it also won’t take up too much space, measuring as it does a compact 9 cm (3.5 inches) at the shoulder and 14 cm (5.5 inches) from the tip of its nose to the heel of the outstretched hind leg. The very naturalistic sculpt depicts it striding menacingly toward you, with one paw raised in mid-step with its mouth open in a silent roar (let your imagination fill in the audio!) and the head turned slightly to one side. I for one prefer my animal figures to be doing something other than just standing there and this one certainly has a good level of activity going on.
The amount of detail is up to the standard that we have come to expect from Papo, and normally see delivered with only a few exceptions (let’s not mention that Amargasaurus. Sorry, I just did!). Not only is the paint application to those big canines impressive, but the teeth inside the mouth are spot on as well. Turning the bear over, we see that the pads on the soles of its feet are also fully sculpted. While its shaggy coat is not exactly rendered in the high definition manner of some recent mammals from CollectA or Safari, it still conveys a suitably bear-like pelt for this animal. Bears are not the most colourful of creatures, but the pale muzzle and darker areas down the back and on the feet do stave off the monochromatic look.
Not being overly familiar with this species, I can’t speak to any scientific inaccuracies that may be present in the figure. But from what little that I do know, this one certainly looks the part. The silhouette with those longer arms and high shoulders is quite unlike any bears roaming the planet with us today.
I wasn’t all that taken with this figure initially, rather foolishly seeing it as just another bear, but a fellow Dinotoyforum member’s comments had me paying it more attention and placing an order as a result. Having had this cave bear for some time now, I am pleased that my reevaluation resulted in its addition to my prehistoric mammal side of the collection. It’s a pretty decent piece of paleo-plastic.