It’s the holiday season and what better way to celebrate on the ATB than by looking at one of the North Pole’s most recognizable animals? The walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) occurs throughout the arctic and sub-arctic seas where they’re divided into two sub-species, the Atlantic walrus (O. r. rosmarus) and the Pacific walrus (O. r. divergens). Walruses are pinnipeds, along with seals and sea lions, but they are the only surviving members of the Odobenidae family that was once much more diverse, with over a dozen fossil species having been described. Nothing alive today compares to these “saber-toothed seals” and they’re instantly recognizable and popular around the world. As such they’re common as toys and collectibles. Today we’re looking at the 2017 Schleich walrus.
The walrus is the third largest pinniped species, outsized only by the two species of elephant seal. Males can grow upwards of 12’ (3.6 meters) and weigh 4,200 lbs (1,900 kg) while females tend to be smaller at 10’ (3 meters) and 2,600 lbs (1,200 kg). Sizes vary tremendously however, with some mature females weighing as little as 880 lbs (400 kg). The Schleich walrus measures 5” (12.7 cm) and appears to be male; as such it is about 1/30 in scale.
The figure is presented in a relaxed pose, curving rightward, just casually resting. I like this posture a lot in contrast to other walrus figures that either present the animal in a dramatic attack pose or static, head facing forward pose. This toy displays well on a shelf, very naturally surveying its surroundings.
The bulk of this animal is well conveyed with a small head, thick blubbery neck, bulky body, and wrinkled hide. Comparing it to other mass produced walruses I feel like this one excels at conveying the animal’s bulk and its proper proportions whereas most others fall short in one way or another.
The tusks on this figure are long and tapering, and not too blunt on the tips. Walrus tusks are elongated canine teeth and used in social displays and interactions, as well as an aid in hauling out on ice flows. Tusks tend to be longer and thicker in males and dominant males often have the largest tusks, so this is an alpha male as well; perhaps that’s why he appears so relaxed.
Mature males also develop prominent nodules around the neck and shoulders but those are absent here. Also absent are ear openings which would be admittedly tiny on this figure so are hardly missed. This figure does posses nails on its fore-flippers though, a nice touch.
Another prominent feature of walruses that’s properly conveyed here is the whiskery mustache growing around the snout. In reality these vibrissae are highly sensitive and used to aid the walrus in finding and identifying its prey; bottom dwelling mollusks, crustaceans, sea cucumbers, etc. On this figure they’re painted gray and are nicely textured. Aside from the whiskers and tusks the figure is painted brown with some darker shading dorsally. The eyes are painted with a black, lifelike sheen.
There are many walrus figures out there to choose from but this recent offering from Schleich is one of the best in terms accuracy, realism, and cost. The lifelike sculpt and proportions coupled with the relaxed posture make this an ideal candidate for display or dioramas. I’ve only recently starting purchasing extant animals and for the walrus this was my top choice, it doesn’t disappoint.