Today I am reviewing a figure that I think needs some special attention, the North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), that was released by Safari Ltd in 2018 for their North American Wildlife line. When promo pics first came out for this figure, it got a lot of negative feedback, much of which I think is undeserving given the complex morphology of the actual animal (more on that below). It is not perfect, and I am sure there is more that could have been done to make it a little more realistic, but I think Safari did a good job considering, and it was a bold move to attempt this species (which, I believe, was a first).
As its name suggests, the North American porcupine is endemic to North America. Its range covers nearly all of Canada, and much of the US except the Southeast and Midwest. I have never seen a live one, but (unfortunately) I saw them as roadkill in the White Mountains of Arizona. The North American porcupine is the northernmost member of the New World Porcupines (Erethizontidae) which are not as closely related to their Old World Counterparts (Hystricidae) as they are to South American cavimorphs, such as the capybara.
The figure measures 8.5 cm, making it about 1:11 on average (average length of an adult, including tail, is approximately 97.25 cm). The figure is depicted in an active walking pose and it appears to have the tip of its tongue exposed.
At face value, the North American porcupine seems to have a simple morphology, but it makes for a challenge for sculptors. Probably the simplest way to have made one would be to make it more solid/smooth, and then simply etch in the impression of quills. Instead, Safari Ltd. tried to be bolder and make the quills stand out more. In doing so, to account for the fine structure of the quills, they were sculpted as if matted in clumps (something CollectA did for their 2019 Indian crested porcupine, I might add). This is probably what led to so much negative feedback. The only other thing that stands out that could have been better is that the tail is a bit short. Otherwise the head/face and underside of the feet are well sculpted. The paint application is also very nice.
So, no, the figure is not perfect. Maybe not even close. But it is not a bad representation for such a tricky animal to make. I think it was bold of Safari to do so, and I commend them for it. This figure makes both a nice collectible and toy, as it made of a very sturdy, strong, solid plastic. It comes recommended by me (and a few others) but I know there are several out there that really don’t like it. So maybe this post will make you like it more, maybe like it less. Either way, I hope you enjoyed it :-).