Today we are going back in time with a figure, to one that may predate many of us here on the blog! I am speaking about a Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena (Linnaeus, 1758) by vintage company Starlux. So I can bring out another species of hyena, and bring up a classic series of figures as well.
Many of us collectors on this and the Dino Toy Forum think first of French company Starlux and their diverse range of prehistoric animals. But just as popular with collectors are their Wild animals lines. Like the prehistoric figures, Starlux are made of a brittle plastic which, of course, can contribute to their scarcity–these were meant as toys, but are very breakable and given that most are from several decades ago…they are hard to find with all of their pieces in tact, especially with those thin legs and tiny ears.
One other thing about Starlux figures, they often made interesting species, like this striped hyena, and would use interesting poses and detailed sculpting, although scale could be all over the place. But sometimes the paint jobs were/are…rougher. Enough to give the gist of the animal but not up to the standard that we would expect of modern museum-quality figures. This striped hyena is certainly one of those.
Striped hyenas are much smaller than their spotted cousins, and are known from a far wider range, from northern Africa through the middle east to much of India. Of course, like any carnivore, some of their range sees them persecuted for threats to livestock and even people, and overall they are conisdered Near Threatened due to the hunting as well as potential issues with habitat. Striped hyenas are primarily known to be scavengers, more so than Spotted hyenas, but they will take prey when they can. They are also omnivorous, and will take advantage of fruits when in season. Striped hyenas are also not as social as spotteds, living in pairs or small groups, and do not produce the same range of vocalizations.
The Starlux striped hyena figure is quite small, about 2.2 cm at the shoulder; given the actual size of a striped hyena is about 80 cm tall gives a scale of 1:36. It is posed in what may be taken as a threatened or threatening stance, with the head held low, the ears back, and the mane erect. The legs are spread wide in a stable stance, and the body has a curve to it, with the head appearing to approach from the side. The open mouth has no teeth visible. The mane, jowls, and tail are sculpted to be more furry, while the main body is quite smooth. The colouring is classic Starlux–overall a flat light grey, with 4 black stripes on each side, plus two black bands on each foreleg (looking kind of like athletic socks).The tail, inner ears and most of the mane are also black, but the paint is a bit sloppy and flat–there is no washing or drybrushing or subtle paint touches. Not like a more modern figure (like the excellent CollectA) has.
Finally, the only picked out colour detail is the inside of the mouth and the eyes–in spooky red. This is probably part of that whole ‘hyenas as villains’ attitude that hyenas can’t seem to get past. But it’s so little, it can only be regarded as cute. So how to view this figure? As a classic animal model, it’s pretty good. I think that collectors of wild animals would appreciate a few Starlux figures in their collection. There are some really interesting animals, and this striped hyena is one. Unfortunately, they are long out of production (this one is from 1964) and more common in France…guess where I got most of mine? And, as mentioned, finding ones that aren’t chipped or outright broken is a challenge. Finally, do not give these to kids. Sure, they were toys in the 60s, but they probably cost a whole lot less and were easier to find!