My collecting hobby is knowning a new active phase
thanks to holy
because of bloody Coronavirus
If I wanted to start a new brand and publish a detailed topic to review it as I am used to, it was now or never. So I took the plunge.
When I joined this forum I quickly decided to show you my collection (I ended my topic recently). It was back then mostly a Schleich-based collection but I already had the full array of CollectA ungulates and a few Papo to fill the gaps. Since then, no CollectA was added but I started collecting other brands. The forum made me discover them but did not convince me about most of them since I was already convinced before joining.
I have always had a love/hate relationship towards Papo which represents a design philosophy very different from golden age's Schleich I am used to, you know that. Since my arrival here, I have learnt to open my heart to Papo even if I still can't understand why certain models are so appreciated when I find them pretty ugly. However, CollectA and Mojo convinced me as soon as I saw the first figures. Their conscientious finish is close to golden age Schleich's and even surpasses it in the case of CollectA. Southlands was the last I discovered, after joining. I had to be convinced about it but it was not very difficult as the finish is also very good.
However, there remained a brand I did not dare to order. It took me a long time to "open my collector's mind" to it as you say and get used to its design. I'm of course talking about Bullyland ! [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
No, I'm kidding, that forum made me a more open-minded collector but there are limits ! As you already understood, we're going to deal with Safari Ltd here. And, as usual, we'll talk about size. A lot
Safari is indeed, as Roger once pointed out, the most distant brand from Schleich as far as painting is concerned. It's also probably the one which least gives a shit about scale (I mean, even less than the others). However, that's also a brand with a huge diversity of species, maybe more than any other western brand. And although very few of their models fit absolutely perfectly with Schleich/CollectA/Papo figures (there is a slight oversizing tendency in Safari figures) sizewise, a lot of them are very acceptable. And that's what will be at issue here : acceptability. Indeed, since Roger opened my eyes on the illusion of scale within major brands, I have been lost in my life and inner self, feeling a deep loss of my bearings and of my own identity and... well nothing so extreme of course, but I have decided to change my collecting rules and, for each figure and each species, do a cost-benefit analysis in my mind taking into account the quality of the model, my interest in the species and the size discrepancy, in order to decide wether or not it's acceptable from my very personal point of view.
I have to admit it, I am way more picky about Safari, Mojo or CollectA than Schleich and even Papo. Because, as I often explain, ordering online is a step in itself while going to the shop is just my main excuse to have a walk to the towncentre. I was even more picky about Safari as this brand convinced me less than the two others, CollectA and Mojo. I have been thinking about starting Safari since the first confinement I spent 9 hours per day with you so it has been almost one year ago now ! As a consequence, that selection is the result of a long, well thought out consideration. At first, I wanted dozens of figures as Safari is very wealthy of new and unusual species but then, I studied carefully each of them and kept only those which would have fitted best in my collection. I also selected based on species. Unlike other collectors here, I'm a quite "mainstream" guy in my choices as my first priority is to fill the gaps of the "ABC" category, as Isidro calls it. So, the species we are going to talk about here are mostly common, well-known ones but which are little popular as toys.
That introduction already being long enough, let's begin and review these little treasures one by one and of course, compare them to other brands' figures, you are starting to know the formula. We'll begin with the Asian species which are also the only big mammals I selected to be part of that first order.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Rhinos are spectacular and popular animals in toy form, we are spoiled as collectors as far as they are concerned. The Sumatran species however, is a Safari exclusivity as it is, by far, the most "alien-looking" species out there. That's aslo the most fascinating one as it is more or less the last living wooly rhino
Critically endangered, it still may be saved, with a lot of means and luck, at least in captivity (even though the breeding program is mostly a failure), unlike the Javan species which is definitely lost IMO. I have to admit I am rather relieved their places are not inverted : it would be even more dramatic to lose the Sumantran species because of its very unique look, even though it's much likely to happen sooner or later too...
However, one has to get used to that peculiar look. The Sumatran rhino is a species few of us are likely to have seen in real and it may not look very "pretty" at first sight. A secret friend of mine told me he found this figure awful. But then, I managed to convince him that what he did not like was not the figure itself, he was just not used to the unusual look of that rhino.
The model, actually, is a very good portrayal. One may be thrown by that bright reddish colour but some individuals are as red as that so it's in no way exaggerated.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The hairs are subtly and finely placed on the body. The technique of Safari to represent them consists in making the sculpt's texture rougher and the painting just slightly darker where they are supposed to be. The hairs are incorporated to the sculpt and that's a clear success because I'm 100% sure it would have looked absolutely artificial and unnatural if they had been added afterwards. The hairs were the most difficult feature to represent and Safari did it great. So that's an absolute must-have model. As a comparison, the only alternative available on the market is Joan's homemade model. It's handmade, it's 60€ but it's IMO no way better, which shows how successful Safari is with this rendition.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
However Joan's model is a girl. And mine is a boy. And that's a much endangered species... But man, 60€ for a toyish breeding program which is likely to be as successful as the real one, I know how lonely you feel and I like you buddy but not that much !
So you'll have to make do with the company of your giant cousins, I'm sorry. "Giant" because the Sumatran rhino is indeed the smallest rhino species, hardly reaching one ton while the Indian neighbour weigh twice as much minimum and up to three times. So it's perfectly sized to go with the Schleich's masterpiece...[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
... and it does not even clash with the best rhino figure of all time, the CollectA big white, which shows again how decent that Safari model is :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The rhino is great but there is a figure I was even more pleasantly surprised by...
In my goal to fill the gaps, there was two ABC species whose lack was unacceptable
The African wild dog and the clouded leopard. I got the African wild dog from Mojo, maybe I shouldn't have, but now it's done and I am not likely to get the Safari counterpart anytime soon even if it's better (but it's also higher at the shoulder). However, there was no way I was going to choose the horribly painted Mojo clouded leopard. The Safari figure may be larger, fatter, and not catching as well the slender and agile silhouette of that mysterious jungle dweller but it's 50 times better painted and the fur pattern is actually that of a real clouded leopard.
The model, however, is far to be perfect. As I just said, it's chubby and big-headed, two characteristics that would be hardly and mercilessly criticized if it was branded Schleich instead of Safari. Actually, that clouded leopard strongly reminds me of a certain Schleich figure, the leopard mother from 2007 (that I still prefer than the newer rendition) :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Of course the clouded leopard is better but you cannot deny they both share two similarities : proportions are the same BUT... both have very well painted faces and beautiful eyes.
That is even more striking when you compare it with a model from Papo, a brand known to respect proportions religiously. Here it is with Alain's first batch snow leopard wonder :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
I did not talk about that yet but you can tell from both pics that the model is also bit too big for standard-sized panthers since it's exactly the same size as both Schleich and Papo's figures while the real animal is supposed to be smaller. But that's something I can totally accept.
And you know what ? I DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THOSE "SCHLEICHY" (I'm using it but you know how much I HATE that adjective
) BAD PROPORTIONS, THAT BIG KITTY IS BY FAR MY FAVOURITE OF THE LOT OMG IT'S AWESOME !!!
And that for one reason. Something NO OTHER MAJOR BRAND FIGURE EVER MANAGED TO CATCH IMO.
I am a collector much focused on paintjob while others give more importance about the sculpt. And I think, the paintjob quality should absolutely be taken into account when felidae species are concerned. Because those beautiful predators have the most captivating eyes among mammals. And this clouded leopard is the very first figure that satisfies me in this regard.
I'm sorry but the eyes of a cat are definitely part of its visual identity. You can succeed in creating the most amazing mould ever, your cat won't look a real one if you fail the eyes. And between those two for instance, I prefer 100 times the clouded leopard...[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
... even though it's quite obvious the puma has a better sculpt :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
As a conclusion, I am not afraid to say that this clouded leopard is one of the best felids in my collection. Maybe my first favourite, maybe my second one, anyway that's not the STS figure of the year contest here so no need to choose and thus, let's end on my best fitting comparison pic showing the two contenders which are also close neighbours in the jungles of South-East Asia :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Once in a while does not harm, I did not keep the best for last that time. But no worries, there are still nice ones to come. After the mysteries of Asia, let's continue with two lovely Australian critters.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
My friend who did not like the rhino told me the Safari cockatoo's pose was ridiculous in his opinion. But he owns it anyway and I do now too because, I mean, it's a sulphur-crested cockatoo, an absolute ABC species everyone needs and the figure actually looks like a real cockatoo very much, never mind if it's clownish or not. Of course, I could spend hours describing how that gorgeous yellow crest is as bright as the sun at its zenith or how that white plumage is as immaculate as a maiden's virtue or... well, I mean, it's a cockatoo, it's good, you can all see it, I have to admit I am not as inflamed and inspired as I was by the two previous ones, the species is not as exciting neither
So I am just going to say that I actually like it, even if it's way too big for my Schleich macaws but Safari seems to do better parrots than Schleich so I may replace the macaws in the future.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Anyway, it seems that I have long given up any sense of scale as far as parrots are concerned (please Pardo, don't laugh at me)...[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
The next figure is more interesting. That's again, a species I could not miss. Wallabies are so common in zoos and so friendly, they are always the ones you are able to enter the enclosure of when they are not completely free inside the park ! Still, no other major brand has ever done one, always preferring the more famous red kangaroo cousin who is nevertheless not as widespread in captivity. That's a cute and friendly animal and it's hard to understand why it's so rare in toy form.
The Safari model represents a red-necked wallaby whose smaller subspecies, Bennett's wallaby, is the one you find in every zoo. I have also seen Parma wallabies in captivity and I would have been satisfied with both species but I am more happy with the red-necked because it's the one I hand-fed so many times when I was a child (and still do today from time to time !).
The figure is nice, and maybe even more appealing than the real animal since it's more finely-shaded than the indistinctly brownish/greyish critter I am used to. However, when you look carefully at pics and especially close-ups, you can see the details portrayed on the model actually exist on the real animal, even though they are not so obvious. The vertical line on the forehead I had never noticed despite dozens of individuals seen in real and the white strip above the mouth for example :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
However, I still believe it is supposed to represent the regular red-necked wallaby and not the Bennett's subspecies I'm familiar with. Bennett's wallabies are darker and have a more uniform coat in my mind.
Overall, if I had to sum up, I would say that it's not a spectacular figure, but the species it represents is not either, it's a simple but subtle and efficient model, three adjectives I used to describe Southlands' work. Indeed, I would not be surprised to see that wallaby branded Southlands Replicas and coming from me, it's definitely a compliment.
In any case, it fits amazingly well with kangaroos from other brands and other species. I already knew that, I had seen the comparison pics, that's why it was maybe the very first Safari that forum convinced me to get.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
However, it does not fit so well with its giant quokka friend although the two get along well with each other :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
That second comparison is interesting because it shows that unlike the quokka, this wallaby is not particularly cute, it's even slightly less cute than the real animal. I'm ok with that, it's better than the opposite way, but it is still surprising to see such a big opportunity to make a cute lucrative figure not taken
Let's cross the Pacific ocean to get to the Amazonian jungle of South America now ! This is always quite funny to notice that all my first purchases from a new brand lack any African species while those three continents are always overly represented : Asia, Oceania, South America. That's because they are wealthy of as many and often even many more iconic species but which are not as popular as the African fauna and are thus poorly represented within Schleich's and even Papo's ranges. Safari gives me the opportunity to expand my collection of many new South American species and I decided to start with two raptors I greatly wished, especially one of them.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
I never talked about it here but the harpy eagle is a species I almost worship. The bird bears the name of a flying monster of Greek mythology (for any further information, please contact Spacelab) how classy is that ?! And if this were not enough, it's actually a true, real monster ! I have to say I'm am that kind of zoology redneck who gets excited by the gaur because it's the heaviest cattle in the world, the taipan because it's the most venomous snake in the world and I do get excited by the harpy because it is the most powerful eagle and fiercest raptor in the world. Beauval, the largest zoo in France, received a lot of new species I have never seen since my last visit. The thing is... the harpy eagle is capable of making me forget all the others, even including the Tasmanian devil : ALL I WANT TO SEE IS THE HARPY !
So, no need to say my expectations were high for that species... and I knew the Safari model would not meet them exactly. The model is nice, the harpy is clearly recognizable but the paintjob is typical of the general idea I had about Safari (and which was a generalisation but still true in a few cases like this one). That secret friend of mine I already mentioned told me that Safari's painting sometimes made him think about comic books (even though he really likes Safari and helped me get these figures) and that's exactly my opinion about that harpy. It's a bit too bland and not shaded enough especially the talons. I am no painter so I don't know how to explain that but it's like if a layer was missing. The dividing line is also a bit abrupt between the different parts of the body : talons, legs, body, head. But that's no big issue.
The comparison with other raptors is a good surprise. I was pretty sure it would be a bit small compared with them (however, the eagles from the Schleich's birds of prey series are the oversized ones, they are big even for raptors' standards) and it is indeed, but at least, the difference in proportions is respected. Here it is with my eagle reference, the golden eagle from Schleich :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Even if it's roughly the same size while it should be larger, the harpy appears bulkier and stockier, with a bigger head and talons than the frailer golden eagle and it's a good thing since a harpy has to look massive and powerful. So, a worthy addition to my collection, maybe not the masterpiece I was waiting for but still a pretty solid rendition of a species I definitely needed.
The second raptor was not as indispensable to me but ends up being a much much more enjoyable addition. When thinking about vultures, "pretty" may not be the first qualifying coming to your mind. The bearded vulture is an exception, the king is another one. With its very colourful head, it's one of the most charismatic vulture species. That head is tiny and not so easy to paint without making a mess but Safari did it very well. I had seen pictures on my regular British seller's Ebay page and it was not so clean that the sample I received so maybe I have been lucky.
Concerning the sculpt, it was hard to imagine a relaxed pose for the king. However, I am surprised they did not choose the typical full spread-wings pose, that one seems rather taking flight.
My friend warned me about its size, it would have been too big in my collection according to him. Well, it isn't. That's actually one of the best fitting additions of that lot. However, my friend is using the Papo griffon which is indeed slightly thinner than the Safari king while griffons are supposed to be twice heavier in real.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
That's a much better match for the Schleich pair however :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
But the most relevant is to compare it to its closest relative and South American neighbour. In French, the king vulture was known as the "pope condor" in my childhood. Since then, it has been renamed "Sarcoramphe" after its latin name but I will always remember the small colourful condor of my childhood. That's why I could not wait for the following comparison pic : two great species, two glorious models, working perfectly together :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
I wanted my order to be as diversified as possible so I also included three sealife species :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
I enjoy cetacean figures and I was missing a porpoise representative. Despite that, the porpoise was not included in my initial list. Matschie's tree kangaroo was in its place. But I was already doubting about it. Isidro first confirmed those doubdts and my friend's opinion about it was what I was waiting for to finally decide against it. Even though that's not the species I was expecting, Lumholtz's tree kangaroo from Southlands is better and made Matschie's dispensable. So, why not a member of a family not represented yet in my collection to replace it : the porpoises ?
I am not so familiar with those small dolphins so I may not be the most legitimate to judge the quality of this rendition. I was afraid it would be too big since I knew it was supposed to represent the smallest porpoise species, measuring only 150 cm. My friend told me Isidro had it and he was quite a reference about size (except for monkeys of course hehe) but I knew it would still be too small. Never mind, that's the only porpoise available in major brands' catalogues and at least, the size hierarchy is respected. It could even fit if you consider the Papo model as a very small two metres long bottlenose dolphin...[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
... or white-sided Pacific dolphin :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Oversized or not, it does not change anything, that orca does not care about conservation and will make a short work of its small endangered cousin :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
One of my main interests since I have discovered Safari has been their sharks. As some of you know from my collection topic, sharks are something I especially love collecting : the species are various, numerous, very different from each other, and very popular in toy form which gives a lot of choice. I knew sharks were one of Safari's strenght and I could not conceive my first purchase without at least one of them. The choice was obvious to me, I wanted no other than the one I was most familiar with as my first Safari shark. The most common shark in aquariums : the sand tiger shark.
With its ostentations teeth, that big fish looks nasty and dangerous and I think that's why it is so often kept in aquariums : it matches the general idea we have about what a shark is supposed to look like. That's a kind of poor man's great white in a way.
The Safari model is, perhaps, the only slight disappointment of this order. But it often happens when you are too familiar with a species. Sand tiger sharks really have a particular and typical facial expression with their big teeth and tiny eyes and the figure did not really managed to catch that IMO. Maybe the eyes are too big. As far as the sculpt is concerned, the body may be a bit too long and slender, not fat enough nor stocky enough.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
It results in a quite generic shark's body shape.
The paintjob however, shows a higher quality finish than Schleich's and Papo's sharks. As you'll see on the following pictures, a glossy layer was applied with the most beautiful effect. As a result, the figure looks not as "cheap" as other brands' sharks.
Sizewise, there is no real scale as far as sharks are concerned. Major brands tend to make all species roughly the same size. But there are huge size differences within a species, even sometimes more than between species, so that's something which has never bothered me that much.
Compared with the Schleich "true" tiger shark, the sand one appears too large since it is exactly the same size while it is supposed to be smaller (2-3m/160kg max vs 3-4m/600kg max). But I actually suspect the Schleich tiger to be the undersized one.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Same size as the Papo bull shark too and that time, it matches reality perfectly. Fun fact : in French, the sand tiger shark is named "bull shark" while the bull shark is named "bulldog shark" [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
As I pointed out, the higher quality finish of the Safari model is obvious on these pictures. However, I consider that both Schleich's tiger and Papo's bull catch better the typical expression of the species they portray and thus, are better representations than Safari's sand tiger.
I am much less reserved about the nurse shark which is IMO a true masterpiece. It was, however, my last choice as I could still add one figure to my cart before shipping increases. That's a common species in zoos too and thus, one I'm much familiar with too so it felt natural to me to buy it.
The glossy effect is even more pronounced on this one and it feels like we are looking at and touching a real shark's skin, that's awesome. Maybe the eyes are not so accurate neither, they should be smaller and not so open but I don't care since everything else is perfect.
Being a carpet shark, its relatives are the Schleich wobbegong and CollectA's zebra which it fits perfectly with :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.][You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Many sharks will follow these two, actually all of them, except of course, the basking shark I will get from CollectA. My goal is to be the very first one to buy it and present it on forum by the way
Finally, last but not least, let's talk about the most controversial choice of this purchase but also my most unexpected surprise as a collector. Unusually, I did not keep the best for last (rhino and leopard) because I absolutely wanted to conclude with this one : the albatross.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
That's an ok model but it just cannot stand comparison with the wonderful 2016 STS Ocean Figure of the Year. Moreover, the beak's and feet's colour is not right for a wandering albatross. Finally, I already have the CollectA masterpiece. So why buy this one ? The answer is simple and predictable : size.
Indeed, I remember being truly horrified when I opened the package and discovered the CollectA albatross' real size. So disappointed. It was even more horrible that the model was gorgeous but I couldn't include it in my collection. So, I started to think about Safari's alternative as a replacement, asked Paige a comparison pic with a penguin and it seemed all right.[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
As expected than, I was fully satisfied by my new albatross' dimensions when I got it out of the box one week ago, thinking with a lot of relief "Ah ! At last a reasonably sized albatross"
Indeed, the beak's and feet's colour is something that can easily be fixed, even by me, while the size is not. So, I was happy with my new inaccurate hybrid
When I came back to my parents' house on thursday, I got confirmation of my assumption : that albatross was exactly the size I needed. My reference bird for comparison is the white pelican. Both are massive water birds and both are roughly the same size. A white pelican weighs 9 to 15 kg, a wandering albatross 6 to 12. So, with Schleich models, the Safari albatross is a perfect match :[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Now, let's have a good laugh together and use the CollectA albatross instead, in order to see how ridiculous the size discrepancy between these too is [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Wait... what ?! Is it me or there is not such a big difference
I mean, the CollectA model is way more massive and obviously heavier than the pelican but... that's actually less shocking that what I remembered
Then, let's try an albatrosses comparison just to see...[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
What the... ?!!
They are the same size !!!
I mean, Paige told me that but I could not believe her from her penguin/albatross pic
Worse (or better) than that, they both fit pretty well together !
I mean, of course the Safari is not as detailed and their beak and feet are not the same coulour but with a few brushstroke, won't they form the most perfect pair to raise chicks ?
Wait wait wait, I DO have a chick !!!
It means the family is complete, how wonderful is that !!! [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Ok, it does not work but at least I tried
By the way, even if it's another species, that black-browed albatross REALLY does not fit at all. I got it in a hurry because it was retiring so if anyone wants it and has something interesting enough to offer me in exchange, just PM me.
That example shows us how subjective our perception of size in this hobby is. I ordered that Safari albatross as a replacement but it ended up making me fully accept the one it was supposed to accept. All's well that ends well, they lived happily ever after and
had many chicks together
turned out to be infertile and adopted an adult black-browed albatross suffering from primordial dwarfism to save their relationship after numerous failed attempts. Anyway, when you know how faithful those birds are it was way too sad to have only one.
As a conclusion, if I had to sum up, I would say that Safari is probably the major brand I had underestimated the most
. None of the figures of that first order really disappointed me but don't forget that these choices are the result of a long and unforgiving one year long selection. Some models from Safari still don't convince me because of that typical "comic book" paintjob which is visible on the harpy eagle for example. However, I am happy to be able to make this topic at last, I was definitely drawing my feet to start collecting Safari and was missing a lot. Many new additions from that brand are likely to follow. All the sharks to begin with. Then, I am willing to correct some of my figure choices, especially the cassowary (however, there will be no replacement here, the Safari model will join as my CollectA's mate). I also would like to find mates for some of my lonely animals such as the CollectA white rhino. But most of all, even if size compatibility remains important to me, the albatross example opened my mind a bit more about that issue and I am now ready to accept three new slightly oversized models in my collection : the North American porcupine, the black howler monkey and the American badger. Still not the Aardvaark though
And, one day, perhaps will I be ready to welcome the wonderful right whale and its CollectA bowhead cousin. But before that, my gut tells me that a little
is currently crossing the Alps to meet me
Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope next time we'll finally deal with some Japanese stuff !