From the rolling savanna, we now head eastwards and deep into the jungles of central Africa to meet one of its most elusive, beautiful, and mysterious animals, the okapi (Okapia johnstoni).
As you may have noticed that both of my forum and blog name is OkapiBoy, any guesses? When I first saw an okapi in person, it was more than a decade ago when I was in the Midwest visiting family. They took me to a zoo, and there, for the very first time I came face to face with a living okapi. The encounter left an impression on me and since then, the okapi has become one of my favorite animals, so I wanted to make my 10th review to be of this species.
Okapi, also known as the forest giraffe or zebra giraffe, is native to Central Africa and nowhere else. They are famous for being one of the truly large mammals that escaped western discovery until the 20th century. They are odd looking animal that looks like a cross between a zebra and giraffe. This medium size animal is actually a member of the Giraffidae family, so it is related to giraffe, in fact they are the only two surviving members of this once diverse and impressive family that goes way back to the Miocene. The okapi, physically looks more similar to prehistoric Giraffidae than the modern giraffe.
This shy and mysterious animal have gained some popularity in zoos and animal parks. As a result, they are also a fairly regular species that is seen in the toy figure market with the majority of today’s major brands having produced one at some point. Today, we are going to look at both the CollectA and Bullyland adult and calf versions.
When I looked at my collection of okapi figures, and I have a few of them, from different brands, it was difficult to choose. But I settled on these adult and calf pairings. I decided to review these figures not only for their uniqueness, but also for one big difference between the adults that I wanted to illustrate and I will cover later, but also a nice contrast between the two brands.
CollectA adult and calf: CollectA’s figure is beautifully done, like all of their ungulates. They fit well with your standard sized figures. A few years after this figure was first released, a calf was produced to accompany the figure (more on that later). Okapis are secretive animal sthat are mostly active during the daylight hours but may stay active in the early evenings. Unlike its savanna cousin the giraffe, okapi do not have the long neck typically associated with giraffes. Instead, the neck is short and muscular, more like that of a horse.
The colors are one of the most striking one seen in a large mammal. The dominant body coat color is a rich dark chocolate brown to a more reddish brown on some individuals. This dark coloration is broken by distinctive white horizontal stripes on the rump and rings on the legs and ankles. These may seem flamboyant, but in the dappled light of the jungle, it provides an effective camouflage that helps the animal blend in with the thick vegetation. It also breaks the animal silhouette. So effective are these colors that other large forest-dwelling animals share similarities like the bongo antelope and saola.
CollectA’s adult figure is a more reddish brown in overall coat color with some darker tones on the back and neck area with some ocher on the belly area. The transition and blending of these various shades are nicely done and the white stripes are painted cleanly. The white ” stocking” on the legs are also nicely painted and blended. The calf is slightly darker in color overall than the adult, but also beautifully painted.
Bullyland adult and calf:
This version is slightly larger than the adult from CollectA. Both the adult and calf are lighter reddish brown in color than the CollectA figures and have some nice darker shading all across the body. The transition and blending of these various shades are nicely done and the white stripes are painted cleanly. The white “stockings” on the legs are also nicely painted and blended. The calf is slightly more orange in color tone than the adult, but also beautifully painted.
Okapis , like their giraffe cousin, also have ossicones, horn-like protuberances on their head that are similar in structure and function. But only the males have them; the females possess hair whorls or very short knobs instead of ossicones. Now looking at the adult figures, and you can see a very big difference between the two. The CollectA adult figure is clearly a male due to the presence of ossicones on its head, but if you must, just look underneath for further confirmation. I find it odd that CollectA would release a calf to accompany a male adult; they did this with the giant eland as well. Who knows, maybe they have plans of releasing a female version in the future.
Next, look at the head of the Bullyland figure. It does not have any signs of ossicones! Yes, this is indeed a female version of the species! And one final check underneath confirms it. In fact, almost all of the okapi figures are males due to the majority of them possessing ossicones.
The Bullyland is a special one as there are hardly any female okapi figures, in fact this may be the only larger female figures as far as I know. Female okapi are also slightly taller than males, so it is appropriate for this figure to be slightly larger than CollectA’s (male). This imbalance may be due to the fact that only the males have the distinctive ossicones so companies tend to prefer making them for visual reasons.
Both CollectA and Bullyland really captured the distinctive head of the animal in their figures in both the adults and calves. Beautiful details on the head on all of these figures, even down to that distinctive shirked-wrapped like bony structure on the face. The ossicones on the CollectA figure are well done and has nice details, and the Bullyland’s smooth head also have a nice hint of the small knobs seen on females.
Okapis have white coloring on their face and black snout and all of these figures have them as well. The large ears are beautifully sculpted in all of the figures with lots of delicate details in the form of hair, folds, and if you look closely, veins. Both calves and the CollectA adult have their ears all perked up, while the Bullyland adult has hers slightly pulled down. The eyes on all figures are painted black which is effective and look good. The nostrils are all very well defined on each one.
The adult CollectA figure is posed in a more conservative neutral pose with the head just very slightly turned to the side. The Bullyland has her entire head tilted downwards to the side as if looking over towards her little one. I love the pose of the Bullyland figure as it captures a tender moment between mother and calf as well as being the most unique out of all the okapi figures out there.
Both calves are posed in a more relaxed way with CollectA’s head turned sideways and the Bullyland’s slightly turned upwards as if in the act of reaching out towards its mama. The littles ones look good together as well. I should also mention that both calves have that cute look to them without being cartoony (something baby animal figures often suffer from). Both companies really managed to capture the essence of young animals in these figures. The CollectA calf is much darker in color as it should be, as calves are often dark when very young, while the Bullyland one is much lighter, almost orange. CollectA’s also has that distinctive short mane that runs the length of the back, something the Bullyland figure does not have, which is a shame. This mane slowly disappears as the animal gets older, eventually losing it completely as adults. The Bullyland figure is also slightly smaller than the CollectA one.
For the body sculpt, both adult figures have the right proportions, but the Bullyland figure is a little more robust than the CollectA. The necks are appropriately short and muscular and you can see some skin fold.Both have nice details like veins, tendons, skin folds, and of course hair, all over the body in areas where you would expect to see them.
Oddly, the Bullyland figure has these prominent veins or ribs-looking detailing on the back and sides. They are too extreme and really distracting, which is a shame since the sculpting of the overall body is beautiful. Why they added these details I don’t know, since I have never seen an okapi with these prominent details in any photos. Both the adult and calf have them, but they are really visible on the adult.
In their deep jungle habitat, very few large predator hunts in this dense vegetation. No lions, hyenas, or wild dogs. Only the adaptable leopard can be found here and they are the main natural enemies of okapis. Some of the smaller cats can sometimes take down very young calves if given the opportunity. Shy by nature, okapis are seldom seen. Males set up territories and will defend it against other males.
There are several okapi figures out there, but these four are my personal favorites. They each captures an essence of the animal; the gentle nature of the adults and the innocent and playfulness of the young ones. They are all beautifully sculpted and rich in detail. Of the two pairs, the CollectA one is the most readily available, and it could be hard to track down the Bullyland figures sometimes (I am not sure if it is retired). These figures are definitely must-haves for anyone who is a fan of the okapi like me.
Due to their limited geographical range, okapi are very vulnerable to extinction. They face habitat loss due to logging. They are also illegally hunted for their skin and the bushmeat trade, as well as falling victims to snare traps set for other animals. As a result, they are considered and endangered species. Conservation efforts are being made to protect them in situ, but social and civil unrest in the countries where they occur threaten these efforts.
Okapi’s have been around for a very long time, evolving over millions of years. It would be a shame if we lost them now. Worldwide, there are stable and healthy captive population in zoos and animal parks, but continued protection of the species in the wild must be the top priority.
Well, that is it for today. I hope you enjoyed the review of these beautiful figures. Thanks for reading, until the next one, stay safe and healthy. Cheers!