Review and photos by Suspsy, edited by bmathison1972
Ichthyologists the world over were flabbergasted back in 1976 when a US warship hauled in its anchor only to discover a large and previously unknown species of shark entangled in the chain. Its enormous gaping mouth, lined only with tiny teeth, led it to be called the megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios). Like the whale shark and the basking shark, it is a filter feeder that poses absolutely no harm to humans, or anything other than plankton, jellyfish, and possibly very small fish.
Released in 2016, the Wild Safari megamouth is one of the very few toys of this unique species currently in existence. It is sculpted in a casual swimming pose with the tail beginning to undulate toward the left and its telltale mouth mostly closed, but still open wide enough to showcase the many teeth lining the jaws. This gives it a length of about 17.5 cm and a flipperspan of 8 cm, making the figure roughly 1:35 in scale. The absence of claspers between the pelvic fins identifies this individual as a female.
The megamouth’s main colour is brownish-grey with a slightly darker shade of grey applied over it in a speckled pattern. The underbelly is white with grey spots around the lower jaw. Finally, the eyes, nostrils, and mouth are black, with dark grey applied to the teeth. There is also white on the tips of the pectoral fins. This colour scheme is largely in keeping with the 99 or so megamouth specimens that have either been sighted, caught, or washed up since 1976.
In terms of accuracy, this toy features all the major defining characteristics of a megamouth. The upper lobe of the caudal fin is far larger than the lower one, the dorsal fins are very short and small, and the gills number five on each side. And then there’s the telltale head, wide and rounded, like a huge tadpole. It would have been cool if the mouth had been sculpted wide open, both to better show off the dentition and have the figure truly live up to the name “megamouth,” but that’s a personal preference. Some of the fins are warped, but given that real megamouths have soft and flabby bodies, it actually makes this figure look more realistic. Due to their lack of strong muscles, megamouths are very poor swimmers compared to other large sharks. Their maximum speed is only 2.1 km/h, which is less than half the speed of an average human walking along a street. They also appear to be vertical migrators, remaining in deep water during the day and ascending closer to the surface at night.
Overall, I find this to be a very good toy indeed—although it really doesn’t have any competition to go up against at present. It would be great to see CollectA, Schleich, and other such companies produce their own take on this bizarre shark. In the mean time, the Wild Safari megamouth is a worthy and unique addition to one’s undersea collection.