I’m going to start by saying that it’s my own fault that the first hyena post on this blog did not come from me…pretty much, of all my collection, freshwater fish and hyenas are the main focus, yet I didn’t give any attention to the latter. It does, however, save me from having to talk about hyenas as a group…more toy talk then, I guess? So, to make it up, I’m going to discuss what may be one of the least known figure of a spotted hyena, Crocuta crocuta, from an almost unknown maker.
Australia had/has their Yowies. The UK had Yowies of their own (single piece ones–like the current US/Australia ones). Germany (and therefore many other places) have their Kinder Surprise. Japan (at the time) had ChocoEgg Animaltales, PetTales, Dinotales, Aquatales…etc. But Mexico had the Ricolino candy makers from Grupo Bimbo Bakeries creating a set of 8 African animals–including this spotted hyena!
Until I found it in an auction over a decade ago, I also didn’t know they existed. I still don’t know much. I recall a lion and koala figure also on auction (I skipped them)–clearly, the koala indicates another set as well. And there were other toys like a luchadore series and superhero figures also sold with Ricolino candy…the folks at TAI have found occasional other animal figures and references to other animal lines too, but not much. So somewhere out there is a potential of series of figures to get hold of.
So what to say about the figures? They are barely puzzle like–just two pieces, a left and right side. The head is attached to one, the tail the to the other, and the seam goes down the mid-line. The material itself is a thin plastic; I would guess many of these are now broken. It also comes with a green stand, and floats on a peg (most likely these are lost to time as well). From what I can tell, if you have all 8 figures (the base I have is marked 8/8) they fit together to form a map of Africa–each peg has a gear at the base, and I’m guessing that those interlock and make all 8 animals shimmy back and forth a little? I think the bases were different colours too, so that would be a strange looking map.
So what can we say about the figure? To start with, as expected of capsule/blind bag toys, it is small, about 3.5 cm at the shoulder. This gives it an approximate scale of 1:26. At it’s most basic it’s clearly a hyena, although a bit doggish (the face . It has the 4 toes on each foot, the distinctive ears, the slope to the back (but no mane), the yellowish brown with spots. It’s definitely a hyena. It’s in the details where this figure stands out more because it is unusual than because it’s truly a ‘good’ figure.
The base colouration is not too bad. The body is a dark yellow, with the hindquarters and some of the face washed in a brownish grey. There are a few spots–24 to be exact!–scattered randomly on the body. They are quite haphazard and do not look natural, but at least it helps satisfy the ‘spotted hyena’ moniker. Overall the body is sculpted with a fur texture across the whole body. The front left leg is placed in an unusual position, bent at the wrist and then the ‘hand’ placed vertically. I have to give the designer props for this–because I watched a slow-mo video of hyena walking, and all four legs are in the exact position they should be in the moment where the front hand touches down. Which is something to celebrate, since it’s fairly common for even good companies to mess this up (or why they stick to standing poses). And in case it’s important to you…no, the genitals are not sculpted at all. Kind of a big deal for a spotted hyena figure, but one that many companies elide when producing hyenas.
The head leaves…something to be desired. The face is very pointed, with a weak jaw and narrow snout–not the face of a bone crusher. That jowl is so small and thin…this thing could barely crush a chicken wing. It’s hard to see in the photo, but there is a ‘tooth row’ sculpted in a raised line in the top and bottom of the mouth–the only distinct tooth is a slight extension that probably indicates a canine? Not even sure if it’s the upper or lower, since the two parts of the inside of the mouth are not distinct. The eyes are almond shape, painted a shiny black, as is the very tip of the nose. Honestly, if I put that picture of the head up first and said nothing about what it is, this could easily be mistaken for a dog, or (if you’re hopeful) a viverrid (which would at least be close…)
So what to say about this figure? Is it worthy? If you for some reason need to add to a collection of over 50 hyena toys (and any number of artwork, sculptures, plushes, etc) then of course you’d want one. Back in it’s day, whoever had one probably thought of it as a cheap toy (it didn’t cost me much, and it was MIP)–now I can’t find anything about them, and I only saw it the one time. So if you see one available, grab it. Just don’t give it to kids to play with! But if you want a good hyena figure…there are better. Don’t stress trying to get this one! But one other group might…Yowies and small piece-together figure collectors are always looking for the unusual, and this kind of set would fit right in! I actually have this hyena displayed with the rest of my Yowies. Fewer pieces, but in terms of overall style it kind of fits in.