Review and photos by Suspsy; edited by bmathison1972
In 1926, in northeast Queensland, Australia, a group of boys happened upon a large, flightless bird and decided it would be fun to chase it. During the pursuit, one of the boys, a 16-year old by the name of Phillip McClean, tripped and fell to the ground. The frightened bird took advantage of its attacker’s misstep and kicked him in the neck, fatally tearing his jugular vein. Thus it was that poor young McClean became one of the few persons known to have been killed by a bird.
The bird in question was a southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius), the largest of the three species of cassowary and a contender for the title of second largest living bird after the ostrich. It is found in the forests of Indonesia and New Guinea as well as northeastern Australia, where it feeds mainly on fallen fruit. It can be recognized by its tall casque, brightly-coloured head and neck, shaggy plumage, and the long, potentially lethal claws on its inner toes. The cassowary is also notable for the fact that the female departs immediately after laying her green-coloured eggs in a nest built by the smaller male, who guards and incubates them all by himself. And when the eggs hatch, the chicks are cared for by their father until they are old enough to be on their own.
Which brings us to this 2016 toy by Safari Ltd. It measures nearly 9 cm tall and 8 cm long, making it 1:13-1:17 in scale. It stands fairly well on its own two feet without the requirement of a base. Its head is turned to the right, with the wide round eyes giving it a blank, somewhat quizzical appearance. The feathers covering the entire body are painted sparkly black and the legs are dirty grey with dark grey claws. The head and neck are decked out in light blue, bright blue, and red with a dark grey bill, medium brown eyes, a light brown casque, and two pink wattles dangling down from the neck. Southern cassowaries are sexually monomorphic, so it’s uncertain what this individual’s gender is.
The featherless parts on this figure have a scaly texture and even the casque has a worn appearance to it. The feathering is meticulously sculpted, as much as the fur on any of Safari’s finest mammal figures. And in terms of accuracy, I cannot discern a single anatomical error anywhere on this figure. The aforementioned inner claws have been blunted for safety reasons, yet they still give off a menacing appearance.
In conclusion then, this southern cassowary is a superb rendition of one of the neatest (and deadliest!) birds alive today. Definitely worth adding to one’s menagerie.