Walrus (Wild Safari Sealife by Safari Ltd.)

Review and images by Suspsy; edited by bmathison1972

Thanks to its wonderful whiskers and tusks, the walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) is the most unique and recognizable out of all the 33 extant pinnipeds. Many toys of this massive beast have been made over the decades; here we shall be examining the Wild Safari Sealife version from 2005.

This blubbery beast is sculpted in a standing pose with its head raised and its broad limps firmly planted. Its main colour is an off shade of orange with dark brown wash to highlight the many wrinkles and splashes of grey-blue. The tusks and claws are beige, the mouth is pink, the nostrils and the pores on the muzzle are medium brown, and the eyes are yellow. All in all, it’s exactly what you’d expect to see on an adult walrus.

And what a walrus at that! It measures a hefty 12 cm long, 6 cm tall, and 9 cm wide at its front flippers. This is clearly a mature adult, and a male judging from the round bosses on the thick folds of skin on its shoulders and neck. And given the impressive length of its tusks, this toy is probably meant to represent the Pacific subspecies (O. r. rosmarus) as opposed to the smaller Atlantic one (O. r. divergens). Most Pacific walruses weigh around 800-1700 kg (1800-3700 lbs.), but some males have been known to exceed over 1800 kg (4000 lbs.). The only two bigger pinnipeds are the southern and the northern elephant seals.

The sculpting here is second to none. The aforementioned skin folds, combined with the toy’s sheer bulk, give it a grizzled and very powerful feel. The eyes are wide and alert and the long, pointed tusks look like they could inflict some serious damage in a fight. They’re made of soft, bendable plastic, however, so no need for parents to be overly concerned. The walrus’ wide muzzle is covered in tiny pits, which on a real walrus would be sprouting stiff whiskers or vibrissae. Whiskers, it seems, are simply too fine a feature for any animal toy company to successfully render in miniature plastic form. Anyway, these super sensitive appendages are an essential adaptation that allow the walrus to detect and identify food items on the sea bottom. Its favourite dish is clams, but it will also consume any number of mollusks, corals, crustaceans, and occasionally other pinnipeds. Young walruses are vulnerable to predation by polar bears, but adults, with their superior size, thick skin, and sharp tusks, are generally too dangerous for even the biggest male bear to tackle. Killer whales, on the other hand, appear capable of preying on walruses without fear of serious injury.

The Wild Safari walrus is now retired and does not appear for sale on the Safari Ltd. website. And that strikes me as a real shame, because I think it’s the very best version to date. It’s big, it’s beautifully sculpted and realistic, and it looks just plain cool. I can only hope that Safari plans on releasing a new version in the future. In the mean time, I wish you well in your search for this superb toy.

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