Review and photos by Suspsy; edited by bmathison1972
A truly awesome beast, the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is the largest of all extant flesh-eating animals, the second deepest diving mammal, the scourge of squid, and the inspiration behind Moby-Dick. Its unusual name is derived from the fact that its head contains a waxy substance called spermaceti, which was originally mistaken for the whale’s seminal fluid!
CollectA released their first sperm whale back in 2010, then replaced it with an improved version in 2018, which is what we’ll be looking at this time. It is a fairly large figure, measuring a good 23 cm long and 7 cm wide at the tips of the triangular tail flukes. It is sculpted with its tail raised, its flippers swept back, and its mouth wide open. The main colour here is dark grey with tiny black eyes. Splashes of lighter grey are scattered across the head and body. The dull pink mouth is surrounded by white and the teeth are yellowish. All entirely in keeping with the appearance of a real sperm whale.
The whale’s huge head is largely smooth, but its flippers and body are covered in wrinkles that give it a texture very much like that of a raisin or a prune. The blowhole is correctly located at the front of the head on the left side, and has the proper shape. Judging from the large genital slit on the belly as well as the overall girth, this individual represents a mature male. Sexual dimorphism runs high in sperm whales: an average male is around 14 metres in length (which would make this figure approximately 1:60 in scale) and over 40 tons in weight, whereas an average female reaches only 11 metres and 15 tons.
The peg-like teeth lining the whale’s narrow lower jaw may look small, but in reality, each one can weigh up to a kilogram. They fit into sockets in the upper jaw, which are clearly visible on this figure. These teeth aren’t actually necessary for feeding, as sperm whales appear to simply swallow prey whole and then crush them with powerful stomach muscles. Rather, the teeth may be used in intraspecific combat between males.
Sperm whales feed on a variety of deep sea fish and sharks, but their main prey is squid. Most of these squid tend to be species much smaller than a human, but examination of sperm whale stomachs over the centuries have turned up quite a number of very large squid beaks. As well, sperm whales often have round scars on their heads that appear to have been inflicted by sticky, spiky suckers. A number of such scars are clearly visible around the mouth on this figure. This proves that the whales do indeed engage in deep water battles with both giant and colossal squid (although really, it’s not so much an epic clash of leviathans as it is the desperate squid trying vainly to keep from being eaten alive!). No one has ever witnessed or filmed such an encounter (yet), but that hasn’t prevented it from being depicted by countless artists. There’s even a wonderful life-sized diorama at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Be sure to check it out if you’re there!
The 2018 CollectA sperm whale is a superbly crafted toy, one that I would highly recommend for animal enthusiasts of all ages. I would have been thrilled to have something like this to play with in the bathtub or the pool or at the beach back when I was little. As it stands, I get to play with it alongside my young son. All we need is a good colossal squid toy! 🙂