It’s no secret that hyenas don’t have a great public image, they’re often vilified and anthropomorphized with less desirable human traits; cowardice, gluttony, maliciousness, just to name a few. Their portrayal in pop culture, even before The Lion King, has never been a positive one. But like other often vilified animals; snakes, sharks, vultures, bats, spiders, etc. they are much more fascinating than the caricatures we humans present them as. Hyenas are just animals, products of evolutionary pressures outside of their control. Four species of hyena are alive today, much less than existed in prehistory and all quite distinct and fascinating in their own right. Today we’re looking at a figure of the most well known and successful of the extant hyenas, the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), by Schleich. The spotted hyena is also known as the laughing hyena for their bone-chilling calls, a feature that often makes them the comic relief in media in addition to the cowardly villain.
The Schleich spotted hyena was released in 2014 and measure 3.3” (8.4cm) long whereas the actual spotted hyena can grow up to 64” in larger individuals (165.8cm). This puts the figure at about 1/20 in scale. The spotted hyena is the largest extant species of hyena, with females growing about 20 lbs (9kg) larger than males, between 98- 140 lbs (44.4kg- 63.5kg). This puts them in a similar size range to cheetahs and leopards that share their habitat but these solitary cats are seldom a match for the highly complex hyena clans.
Although many people assume that hyenas are dog relatives they’re more closely related to cats, belonging to the Feliformia sub-order. Their closest relatives are actually mongooses and viverrids and keeping that in mind they kind of do look like scaled up, beefed up versions of those animals. This figure is well proportioned and finely detailed, and an excellent representative of C. crocuta that displays all of its key features. The long forelimbs and sloping back, large rounded ears, thick strong neck, blunt snout, and of course the spotted pelt that give this species it’s name. Four digits are present on each limb and this is true to life, the spotted hyena does not have five digits.
This hyena is presented with all four paws touching the ground with the right paw stepping forward. The head is held low and horizontal with the neck. The figure is finely detailed with individual hairs etched across the entire sculpt and flowing with the contours of the body. The hair is thicker around the nape as it should be and the open mouth displays the individually sculpted teeth. The spotted hyena is famed for its dentition and bone crushing bite, one of the strongest of any extant animal. The eyes and nose of the figure are given a shiny varnish that gives them a lifelike, wet appearance.
There is a ton of fascinating information out there about hyenas, much of which I haven’t touched on. Although I could rattle off hyena facts all days this is a toy review, not an article about hyenas. Needless to say, hyenas are worth our interest and any respectable collection of animal figures will require a spotted hyena at the very least, the Schleich spotted hyena is a worthy choice.