Review and images by spacelab; edited by bmathison1972
The Leopard. One of the most iconic wild-life animals and without a doubt one of the prettiest predators in the world. A wild cat with beautiful body structure, power and flexibility, that became a cult symbol, having also enormous presence in the pop/rock culture, especially in the 70’s.
In the toy-replica world, the African leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) has been produced numerous times, but it has always been a challenge for manufacturers to get it just right. In most of the cases, the problem was the astonishing fur pattern of the animal that made it so hard for artists to reproduce, especially for a mass-produced toy. In terms of accuracy, I don’t think there is a single replica from big brands out there that did a perfect job. There are several good leopard figures in the market (most notably the 2019 figure by CollectA), but still to this day, are far from being realistic compared to what we see in other cat species. So, if you are not willing to pay for a unique high-priced replica of a talented artist, you may have to make peace with that. I decided to review an older model that pleases me the most and in my opinion has a lot more pros than flaws: The 2007 African leopard by Schleich.
This leopard is the fourth standard representation of an adult of this species by Schleich, and stayed on production for 9 years, making it one of the most long-lasting models for Schleich. Now retired, it was finally replaced in 2016 by a new sculpt. The good thing is that because this model was so widely produced, you can still find it at normal prices on eBay or at flea markets.
The figure is about 11 cm long (tail included), 4 cm tall and size-wise it works perfectly with the other Schleich big cats. The pose is like an animal ready for a territorial battle or defending its offspring or a meal, and since it is genderless, I’ll consider it a female leopard.
I love the way the shoulders have an upwards pose, also the very feline-like front foot approach and the piercing eyes. I cannot be very harsh with details, as this is another era’s model, so do not expect rough texture like we have become accustomed to with figurines produced in the last decade. The teeth could be sharper, but this is a very common issue in the toy world and legs could be a bit longer. The painting is quite nice though, the fur pattern is not perfect but the colouring and the rosettes are well presented and her face is very expressive and legit from every angle.
Overall a beautiful model with good quality finish. It’s a leopard that stood the test of time and escaped almost unharmed, so I will rate it as A Classic!