Review and images by Lanthanotus; edited by bmathison1972
Amongst the suborder of Serpentes (Snakes) with their quite uniform body plan, rattlesnakes make a somewhat exotic difference. Few species of snakes have keeled or largely overlapping scales which give the rattlesnakes’ skin a rather coarse appearance, some species even have small horns above their eyes, and all have small ridges above their eyes which bestows them the sinister look of all vipers. The most distinguishing feature however is the rattle at the end of the tail which consists of modified scales that do separate but not drop off with each shedding of the skin. The rattle is believed to have developed as a feature to protect the snake from being trampled. While rattlesnakes usually do not dwell in the open, they often live in open, featureless habitats where there’s few possibilities to hide safely. Now, when you need to utilize a tussock for your hideout, you can imagine a rattle being quite useful when a herd of bison begin onto much on your home range!
This warning behaviour includes the famous posture in which Schleich depicted its rendition of the rattlesnake. No species is assigned to this figure, but I’d feel safe to identify it as Crotalus atrox, the western diamondback rattlesnake, the one with the widest distribution and highest popularity due to its frequency for the most bites (to be sure, in most cases the bitten part – namely the human – is responsible due to ignoring the warning signals or other misbehaviour).
According to toyanimal.info Schleich released its rattlesnake in 2015 and discontinued it in 2020. On its belly however the figure states 2014 as year or release [Editor’s note: Schleich marks its figures with the year of production, which is the year before it is released onto the market]. Also, to surely some surprise this figure was produced in Germany. It is often said, that only Bullyland produces (at least some of its figures) in Germany, however, while Schleich surely produces in China, they also have figures originating from Tunisia, Portugal, or Germany, as in this case.
The figure measures 6 cm by 3.7 cm and lies 2.6 cm high. Its base color is a light tan with a darker wash. Unlike in Schleich’s other snakes, the pattern is fortunately not sculpted, but just painted, so the scaly skin is correctly uniform along the body, only the sizes of the rhombic scales correctly varies along the length. This scale pattern is simple but effective and sufficient enough to represent a rattlesnake’s skin in a toy figure. The central diamond shaped pattern is made in dark tan outlined by an even darker hue and flanked with faint smaller diamond shapes of the lighter hue, resulting in a very authentic color scheme. The inner mouth is held in a dirty pink.
The sculpt is just great for a toy snake of this size, especially considering Schleich’s other attempts at snakes. The head is especially good with detailed larger scales at the front of the head (also on the underside) and the consideration of nasal openings as well as the sensory pits behind them. The long fangs are sculpted in unity with their moving muscles, the accurate paint job bestows them the correct look while granting the required stability as a toy.
The figure is made of a sturdy plastic and it has been in my son’s possession for 6 years, serving as a beloved toy and dwelling in his box with all the other animal figures. As you can see, it did no harm to this great figure. It sure is not in correct scale with its contemporaries, but nevertheless serves as a great toy along with wolf, bison, or bear by Schleich, CollectA or Safari.