Pangolins are a peculiar group of mammals of the Pholidota order. Superficially they resemble anteaters and are often called “scaly anteaters” but they’re not at all closely related to them. Their closest living relatives are actually carnivorans (cats, dogs, bears, seals, weasels, hyenas, etc.) and together they belong to the Ferae clade.
Pangolins have been popular in the media lately because they are suffering heavily due to habitat loss, poaching, and trafficking. There are eight species of pangolins occurring in Africa and Asia, the giant pangolin (Smutsia gigantea) is the largest species and also the subject of today’s review.
Large specimens of the giant pangolin can weigh over 70 lbs (31 kg) and measure 4.6’ (1.4 meters). The Schleich giant pangolin measures 3.5” (8.8 cm) which puts it at about 1/15 in scale. The toy is sculpted in mid-stride with the tips of its claws on its right forelimb just barely touching the ground, and the left forelimb resting on its claws. Some pangolins will occasionally walk bipedally, which along with their “scaly” armor gives them a dinosaurian appearance. Pangolin armor is made of keratin and quite different from reptilian scales.
This figure was released in 2016 and is an exquisitely detailed little toy. The overlapping plates of armor are individually sculpted and nicely textured, with small striations etched onto each individual plate. The head of this figure isn’t much larger than the tip of a pen but all the facial features are sculpted and displayed with clean and precise craftsmanship. No armor is present along the belly region but nor should it be. Pangolins protect their soft belly by rolling themselves up into a ball.
Other pangolins by other companies exist but as far as I’m aware this is the only S. gigantean. Either way, it’s a beautiful little piece essential to any collection that wishes to highlight mammalian diversity.