In his review of a Highland cow our own bmathison1972 professed his love for cattle (Bos taurus) breeds, so it only seems appropriate that I do the same in my own review of the Highland breed. I fortuitously came across this Schleich 2020 Highland bull while shopping at a Tractor Supply Company store and fell right in love with it. I have an extensive history with cattle of various breeds. As a boy I grew up on a dairy farm that raised Holsteins, and later as a young adult I worked on a beef cattle operation that primarily raised black angus and Hereford cattle. A few other breeds factored into my life as well, including a pair of Jersey cattle that we kept as pets and my aunt’s Highland cattle in the Adirondack mountains. Totaled up I’ve spent roughly 20 years of my life around cattle, so they have been an important component in my life story.
Highland cattle originally come from the Scottish Highlands and Scotland’s coastal islands, and according to A Field Guide to Cattle possibly originated during Britain’s Iron Age. It is a tough and hardy breed, adapted to Scotland’s harsh climate where they contend with cold, wind, rain and snow, and mostly open and rocky terrain with minimal forage. Their shaggy coat protects them from the elements while their long horns allow them to dig in snow for food. Raised primarily for beef there are two distinct forms of Highland cattle: the smaller, usually black, island variety known as Kyloes, and the mainland Highlanders.
The Schleich Highland bull stands 2.75” (6.9 cm) at the shoulder and measures 4.75” (12 cm) from snout to tail. Highland bulls stand about 3.5-4’ (106–120 cm) at the shoulder, putting the figure at about 1/17 in scale. The toy is presented in a static pose with the head looking towards the left.
The shaggy coast is convincingly sculpted on this toy, and that’s high praise. I find that many toys of long-haired animals don’t look realistic. I guess that’s the limitation of using plastic to make hair. A longer patch of hair is sculpted on the top of the head. In life this hair often covers the animal’s eyes but not here, which is good because the shiny black eyes of this toy add a lot of its charm.
The shaggy coat starts at the mid-line down the back and faithfully follows the various contours of the animal’s body, longer hair is sculpted on the tip of the tail and the hair is waviest on the animal’s hindquarters. The hair on the underside is shorter with a distinct point where the sheath is sculpted.
The pink muzzle, downturned mouth, black eyes, and shaggy head convey a gentle animal. Highland cattle are known for their gentle nature and friendly disposition. The long horns curve forward with their tips pointing upwards. In Highland bulls the horns tend to curve downwards, whereas in the cows they curve sharply upwards.
The entire toy is painted with a glossy finish that should take away some of the realism but for me it doesn’t. The toy is painted brown but there are some darker highlights within the hairs that add depth to the coat. The bull’s dewlap and brisket, where the hair on either side come together, is darker than elsewhere on the figure. The tail and testicles are tipped in black, the hooves and horns pale brown, the snout pink, and the eyes black.
Highland cattle are a popular and visually distinctive breed, as such there are many toy options to choose from by most major companies. A brief search yields a lot of results but none that make me regret purchasing this one. When I first saw the promotional images of this figure I was not impressed, but having it in hand changes that. I highly recommend the Schleich highland bull which currently retails for about $7.99 USD.