No other extant animal captures the essence of the wild like the lion. It is without a doubt the most famous of the big cats and often referred to as “King of the Beasts”, “Lord of the Jungle” and so on.
The lion’s great strength and the male’s impressive appearance have made them popular and a staple of pop culture and the toy figure industry. No line of extant animal toys is complete without the king. Its popularity has spawned countless book, documentary, blockbuster films, plays and of course toys.
Unfortunately, despite their popularity, the majority of lions are often depicted as ruthless killers. Lions, like all animals, also have a much more complex side that just being vicious. When it comes to toy figures, my personal favorite lion figure is from Papo, and to be exact, it’s a lioness.
Both males and female lions are very well represented in toy form, but it’s the male that get the “lion’s share” of the attention. Often, the majority of these toy figures show them as roaring, snarling, chasing prey, or simply just standing in a neutral pose. So, it is rare to see them in another pose, let along one that shows the tender side.
A few years ago, Papo released a series that focused on big cats with cubs! In addition to the lion, the tiger was also done in a similar pose as well as a reclining one (maybe for a later review!). So, it was refreshing to get a figure that show a different, a much more tender side of the beast. This figure is different in that the female is carrying her very young cub in her mouth. This is something I have never seen in toy form before. Cubs are often made but comes as a separate figure, this one on the other hand comes as one piece.
Note: this sculpt was released a few years ago, and the first few runs were true to the promo photos. I got a first run back then, but I had to give it away to a nephew. It was only recently that I replaced it, and after many production runs, you can see that the details are no longer as crisp or sharp as the first few ones. The paint job has suffered and also lost plenty of the subtleness of the original ones. So, as I describe the figures, keep in mind that I am also going by the original quality as well as the current one, so some discrptions will not match the photos accurately.
The lioness is exquisitely sculpted and captures the sleek yet powerful built of the animal. This figure is perhaps the most realistic toy figure from any brand, the amount of details is just amazing. The musculature is spot on and you can feel movement throughout the body. There are also nice vain and tendon showing on the legs that are sculpted delicately. The fur has a nice texture to them and some variation in length depending on which part of the body.
The head is delicately sculpted and shows plenty of little details such as whiskers and small lines on the eyes and forehead. The eyes are beautifully painted and manages to capture a lot of expression despite. The nose is cleanly painted and show a little bit of brown color on the top.
It is sculpted in mid-stride. On its mouth, she is carrying her cub, perhaps to bring back to her hideout (lionesses separate themselves from the rest of the pride when they give birth) or perhaps bringing the cub to the rest of the pride to be introduced. This tender moment is captured perfectly in this figure. The cub hangs motionless but relaxed, its tiny little paws dangling on its side. Many animals carry their young in their mouth when the need to move them arise.
The cub is very well sculpted and has a surprising amount of details for such a small figure. You can see little fur detail and the paws are visible and detailed. Its eyes are closed, so it’s clearly still very young (cubs open their eyes after they are a few days old). Lion cubs have spots when born, and on the figure, you can see the little spots on the cub’s face as well as the rest of its body. Its little ears have the black coloring.
Lions are mostly savannah and woodland animals that maintain huge territories which the males defend and patrol. They are also unique among big cats in that they are social and form large group known as prides. Their tan color is perfect for these types of habitats and helps them blend in with the grass. Lions are huge and powerful animal that hunt in groups. They are capable of tackling some of the largest prey around from zebras and wildebeest, to true giants such as cape buffaloes, giraffes, and even hippos and elephants!
The later production is a little more orange in color than the first ones, which is unfortunate since the first runs really captured the simple tan lion color. The later runs also don’t have the same multi-layered paint application seen in the original ones that gives the figure a lot of depths. There are some white highlights seen on the face and underside as well as black on the ear tips and tail.
Another area that has some paint inconsistencies, at least on my figure, are the nails and paws. There are a few nails that are not even painted differently than the fur, and there are two that were painted black. Quality control really suffered in these later productions.
Papo produced various lion and lioness figures, most are still in production. There is another lioness that doesn’t have a cub that match up pretty well with this sculpt and makes a nice companion. Then there is a hunting one that is slightly different in sculpting style (not as good).
In addition, there are older cubs produced that can be purchased to go with these lionesses. They did the same thing for the tiger. I love what Papo has done, producing various sculpts in different poses and genders to create a whole pride. There are several male lions to choose from (I don’t have any from Papo) to complete the family.
Lions are the most famous of the big cats. This fame, especially in popular culture, has given the sense that lions are doing well in the wild. But lions are in big trouble. Unlike the well-publicized plight of other big cat such as tigers, cheetahs, and snow leopard, the precarious existence of lions is not well known. The sad reality is lions are perilously close to being an endangered species. Their numbers have plummeted all across their range, victim of human encroachment, persecution, competition for prey, and introduced disease.
This lioness with cub from Papo is definitely worth adding to any collection. Unique and beautifully sculpted, this is by far my favorite lion figure. Just like the prehistoric line, Papo’s extant animal figures show the high level of production that easily sets them apart from other brands.
Not so long ago, lions roamed a much wider historical range; from the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Today, they are confined mainly to small clusters in Africa; outside of Africa only a small surviving population in India remains and clings precariously close to extinction. So, despite their popularity and ubiquitous in zoo’s and game parks, all is not well for the lions in the wild. If things don’t change, lions will inevitably find themselves in the unenviable position of being an endangered species within our lifetime.
That concludes our review of this beautiful lioness and her cub figure from Papo. Thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoyed it. Until our next review, stay safe and healthy. Cheers!