Review and photographs by Suspsy; edited by bmathison1972
The African lion (Panthera leo) is the modern day equivalent of Tyrannosaurus rex: a huge land carnivore whose raw power and undeniable charisma has led it to be dubbed “king of the beasts.” And from the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet to the biblical tale of Daniel to Richard the Lionheart to Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia to the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz to Leo the MGM Studios mascot and to The Lion King franchise, its status as a cultural icon is absolutely incontrovertible.
Here stands the mighty and majestic 2017 CollectA male African lion. With his head raised high, his body held straight, and the tip of his tail curling upwards, he measures a good 14 cm long and 9 cm high. His mouth is firmly shut as opposed to being open in a snarl or a roar. Looks as though he is watching over his pride or surveying his territory. When they’re not dozing, which they can indulge in for up to 20 hours a day, dominant male lions spend much of their time patrolling their territory and guarding it against rival males.
The main colour here is tawny brown with dark shading on the back, grey claws and padding on the soles of the paws, black for the tail tuft, and medium brown for the tufts of fur hanging down at the elbows and the flanks. The eyes are light brown with black lining and pupils, and small white patches beneath them and medium brown streaks above them. The fur around the black mouth is white and the nose is a dark purple.
Finally, the thick mane growing around this lion’s neck and shoulders is a blend of brown shades ranging from light to very dark. Lions with darker manes (a result of higher testosterone levels) are more attractive to lionesses, and are able to intimidate their rivals more, so this one here is lucky. On the other hand, however, dark-maned lions get hotter, have more difficulty camouflaging themselves, and have more abnormal sperm. That’s a real bummer.
Appropriately, the king of the beasts boasts top notch sculpting. His mane appears thick, flowing, and regal, with a prominent forward-facing tuft on his cranium that reminds me of the beloved comic character Tintin. The expression on his visage looks calm, but his eyes have a penetrating gaze (for a toy). His muzzle is covered in tiny pits, although no company has ever succeeded in pulling off whiskers on any felid figure at this scale. The fur covering the lion’s body has a very fine texture and there are visible veins running through his muscular limbs. Clearly, this is a lion in the prime of his life, at the pinnacle of his power. And he needs every bit of it to survive. Most of a lion’s diet consists of warthogs, antelopes, buffalos, and giraffes, but large prides have been known to occasionally take down adult elephants by attacking them in the pitch darkness of night. They will also readily scavenge or chase away other predators from their meals. And they reserve a special animosity for their main rivals: spotted hyenas. Battles between lion prides and hyena packs are well-documented, and while numbers do matter, the lions enjoy the advantages of speed, size, and strength. CollectA currently doesn’t make a spotted hyena figure, although they do offer a smaller striped one. And you can also pit the Schleich spotted hyena against this lion. My money’s on the latter!
The CollectA African lion has it all: terrific sculpting, an accurate paint job, and perhaps most important of all, an impressive and charismatic appearance. There is also a white version available, although I much prefer this one. It is truly a worthy representation of the king of beasts and strongly recommended for anyone’s collection!