The Dodo used to walk around,
And take the sun and air.
The sun yet warms his native ground –
The Dodo is not there!
The voice which used to squawk and squeak
Is now for ever dumb –
Yet may you see his bones and beak
All in the Mu-se-um.
Hillaire Belloc, Bad Child’s Book of Beasts, 1896
The dodo (Raphus cucullatus) is perhaps an odd choice for inclusion in this blog, given that its extinction was very recent (in comparative terms) and entirely human-induced. I plead a precedent having already been set here with the Safari dodo, and the fact that this review has been sanctioned by our blog master himself. So there.
The Papo dodo is not merely rotund, it is so generously proportioned both in girth and depth as to be almost spherical. It’s a figure which recalls the popular perception of this bird so well established by the paintings of Roelant Savery — which are now believed to have been painted from captive, overfed animals or poorly stuffed specimens — but given further stylisation yet in all its features.
The pronounced sickle curve of the beak, large feet, vibrant colouring, and the manner in which the eyes are painted make for a much more cartoon-like dodo than its Safari counterpart, which is not only more naturalistic but perhaps closer to the revised image of a much slimmer, more graceful animal.
And yet… Is there not something highly likeable about the Papo dodo? It is not an accurate reconstruction, nor could it even be said to feel life-like. But there is nevertheless an animated liveliness in the figure, and I can’t quite help admiring its handsome indigo coat, lilac breast, and its confident demeanour. The Safari dodo is an animal all too conscious of its tragedy. The Papo dodo is a bird which struts and oversees Caucus-Races with alacrity.
As a figure more reflective of its life appearance, the Safari has the clear advantage. As a toy, however, the Papo dodo comes highly commended by me. I still long for a dodo figure which looks like the one in this Mughal painting attributed to Ustad Mansur (almost certainly painted from life), but I digress. The Papo dodo is still widely available from various online outlets, but if you’re lucky to spot one in an actual bricks-and-mortar shop, do support them if you can. In either case, get one!
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