Review and images by JimoAi; edited by bmathison1972
Hound sharks have not been made into figures by any of the major figure companies, whether it be it by Western or Japanese companies, save for one: the leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata). It is a small- to medium-sized shark that inhabits temperate waters in the Pacific Coast of North America, primarily in kelp forests and reefs. They are named for their black saddle-like markings and large spots on their back and they are not to be confused with the unrelated zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum). They typically grow to 120-150 cm for a typical adult but the largest specimens can grow up to 198 cm, so while they are definitely not the largest, they are one of the most striking fish in their area. They are in the middle of the food chain, preying on small fish, crustaceans, cephalopods, and other benthic invertebrates, with larger individuals also taking in small sharks and bat rays, and they are in turn preyed on by other sharks and marine mammals. These sharks are harmless to humans but they are caught for the aquarium trade and for food, which isn’t a good idea considering their flesh contains mercury and is not ideal for regular consumption. These sharks are listed as ‘Least Concern’ by the IUCN and their population is still abundant.
About the figure: This figure measures 14 cm from snout to top of the caudal fin, putting it around the 1:10-1:14 scale for a species that gets around 140-198 cm. The pose of the figure is very basic as it is just ever so slightly undulating, almost stiff, as if the shark is just casually cruising near the seabed. It’s worth noting that ever since the introduction of the whale shark and blacktip reef shark in 2018, Papo has been releasing at least one Chondrichthyes every year that followed: a bull shark in 2019, juvenile whale shark in 2020, Megalodon in 2021, this leopard shark in 2022, and a spotted eagle ray in 2023, which I’ll be taking a look in the near future.
As usual, this figure is a female specimen as it lacks claspers. The main colour of the figure consists of a greyish brown main body and a creamy underbelly. A mix of grey stripes and large circular spots adorn the body and are outlined in black, which gives the shark it’s common name. It would be nice to see some finer spots throughout the body but at the low price point of the figure, it is a forgivable omission and this feature isn’t on every specimen. The eyes are painted a yellow colour and outlined in black, although I feel the outline is too thick. Black outlines adorn the dorsals and top of the caudal fin.
The figure is sculpted in the usual high quality PVC that we come to expect from Papo: sturdy with a degree of flexibility, and not too rubbery like some CollectA figures and not too stiff like some Safari Ltd. There’s a chance of the plastic warping, but not to the extent of losing stability. The fins look to be the right proportion for the most part, being wide and triangular, with the caudal fin having a top lobe larger than the bottom. There is a lateral line sculpted and the gill slits are accurate: 5 on either sides and being relatively short. On the underside, the mouth and nostrils are outlined in black and there are barbels hanging from the nostrils.
Personally, I wish this Leopard shark was smaller, considering the real Leopard shark isn’t a very big species to begin with. The large size of the figure puts it out of scale with many other sea life figures in Papo’s line except for the smaller sea animals and the blacktip reef shark.
I would compare this figure with the Safari Ltd. version. However, I do not own that figure so I’ll just refer to online pictures and I have to say, this Papo Leopard shark appears to be a minor improvement over Safari in terms of the paint scheme. I personally think there’s nothing that the Safari one can improve on, considering they got the aspects of the leopard shark well executed for such a low price point and they do make a nice pair with one another.
Overall, this leopard shark is a solid representation of a well-known and loved species from a family that doesn’t get much love in figure form. The only other houndsharks that are not leopards I can think off is the rare Neko Works smooth hound, and that one is a rare piece in itself. I could see Papo repainting this sculpt into something like a banded houndshark or any of its close relatives. This figure isn’t available by most retailers in the US yet but it’s should be in very soon despite being a 2022 release. Judging by how things are now, a delayed product is always better than a rushed product. However, some European online retailers do carry this figure at this time of writing such as MPV.