Review and images by callmejoe3; edited by bmathison1972
Architeuthis dux, the giant squid, is one of the most iconic cephalopods known to humanity. It is the longest of the cephalopods and is only surpassed in mass by the colossal squid (Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni). Large squid have been described as far back as the fourth century BCE, when Aristotle described the ‘’teuthus’’, a squid larger than the more commonly seen smaller ‘’teuthis’’. These creatures are elusive, inhabiting depths ranging from 1-3 kilometers. Ever since remains were acquired in the mid-19th century, the giant squid’s genus gained much greater acknowledgment from the scientific community. Even to this day, most of our knowledge of this creature comes mostly from dead individuals washed up on the beach or floating on the surface in pelagic regions. While this creature’s true size has fallen victim to overestimation, just as many other megafauna, the largest scientifically verified individuals still attain remarkable lengths at 5 meters when measuring the mantle, head, and arms. When including their two tentacles, giant squids max out at 12 meters in length with the heaviest specimen weighing 920 kilograms. However, this is an extreme outlier as the next largest is only about 371 kg and 95% of recorded specimens weigh below 250 kg, rendering this near half-metric ton measurement highly disputed. The taxonomy of giant squid was historically controversial, and once tentatively thought to hold a variety of distinct species, though modern DNA studies suggest that there is only one species, making Architeuthis a monotypic genus. The DNA analysis suggests that some time in their lives, giant squid disperse throughout the globe. Population estimates are imprecise but are heavily believed to number in the millions. They typically feed on large species of fish, other squid species, and occasionally practice cannibalism. Juveniles are preyed upon by deep-sea sharks, adults are only known to be preyed upon by the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) that I covered last time, and indirect evidence supports predation by other odontocetes such as pilot whales.
In 2004, Safari Ltd. released their giant squid as part of their Wild Safari Sealife lineup. The total length when measuring the mantle, head, and eight arms comes at 125 mm and the total length comes at 245 mm when including the tentacles. At the 1:40th scale, these lengths equate to 5 m/16.4 ft and 9.8 m /32.14 ft, respectively. That is very consistent with the measurements of the larger measured giant squid. This item has a reputation for being very similar in appearance to the much larger 1998 Monterey Bay Aquarium model that measures in at 458 mm in total length. Overall, this figure aims well to rival its MBA counterpart in detail.
It shares the original’s reddish-brown skin with a pink color for the suckers along the inside of the arms and tentacles. Its eyes are properly positioned and appropriately large. Pink dots run along the tentacles. As we move towards the ventral body, we can see the siphon, the squid’s water jet, is visible and well sculpted. Seeing this structure takes me back to when I dissected a smaller squid species in my 7th grade biology lab. My teacher allowed me to sign my name on the worksheet using the ink sac.
As we move to the underside, this squid continues to impress in detail with the individually sculpted suckers along the arms and ends of the tentacles. The beak is viewable under the head and is a dark pigment just as on real squid.
For a long time, I remained impressed with this squid figure because, as reiterated throughout this article, it is pretty faithful to the real animal. This is one case where I would argue that that the product from Safari Ltd’s Sealife lineup is arguably superior to its MBA counterpart. As far as I can tell, it conserves most of the same details as the 1998 version, but its main advantage is its smaller size. The Sealife giant squid, as mentioned earlier, works perfectly at the 1:40th scale, while the MBA giant squid is almost twice the size. This means that the 2004 squid ironically scales better with the MBA adult sperm whale than the giant squid released from the same line. If one is pursuing to own a giant squid toy, wouldn’t proper pairing with the available figures of its most infamous natural predator be a compelling factor? Below, I present my attempt at simulating the deep-sea struggle these creatures have kilometers underneath the ocean’s surface.
This is a very nice figure to own in your sea life collection and comes with strong recommendation as a decent visual reference for a giant squid. It is still in production by Safari Ltd. and can be ordered from their site or many retailers.