The griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) is one of the most widely distributed of the old world vultures, ranging throughout Asia, Europe, and small portions of Africa. As such they also represent the archetypal vulture; the kind you might see perched on a tombstone in an old western movie, despite being visually dissimilar to the new world vultures of the American west. But despite their range many of their populations are quite small and fragmented and the griffon vulture has been extirpated in much of its range, such as in the UK and Germany. Although the griffon vulture is classified as least concern populations are on the decline in much of their range due to the consumption of poisoned meat left out to kill other species.
Today we’re looking at the splendid little griffon vulture produced by Schleich for their 2012 line. Although I really only collect prehistoric animals I liked this figure enough to find it a spot on my theropod dinosaur shelf, which I felt needed a few extant dinosaurs just for fun.
The toy measures 2.4” (6.0cm) tall, base included, the wings are stretched out to 3.8” (9.6cm), and the body measures 3.4” (8.6cm) in length. Griffon vultures are large birds capable of reaching 4’ (122cm) in length, with a 9’ (2.7cm) wingspan, and weighing up to 20 lbs (9kg). Estimating the scale of this toy is somewhat difficult due to its posture but I put this toy at about 1/10.
The figure is posed in a classic vulture posture. The wings are open but not completely spread out, the back is arched, and the head and neck are curved in an S shape. This gives the appearance that the vulture is standing over a carcass or perhaps just warming up in the morning sun. The figure stands on a small, brown base.
The detail work is phenomenal on this figure. The feathers are meticulously sculpted and detailed, the vanes and rachis are visible on each one of the primary, secondary, and tail feathers. The contour feathers along the back are raised, giving the bird a menacing appearance and interesting texture.
My only complaint about the figure is with regards to the paint job. It’s mostly accurate, with a brown body, black primary and tail feathers, and white around the neck and underside of the wings. However, the white coloration around the neck appears hastily applied. The head, neck, and beak are all the same shade of gray, and the eyes, nostrils, and beak tip are just painted with careless globs of black. Ideally the beak would at least be painted in its own shade of color.
Despite some issues with the paint application on the head this really is a well sculpted and fantastic figure. If this one isn’t to your liking there are other griffon vulture figures by Mojo, and Papo.