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Kangaroo with Joey

Safari Ltd.
by yo go re

There's a persistent piece of lore that maintains that when Eurpoean explorers first saw this strange new beast and asked a local what it was called, he or she replied "kangaroo," meaning "I don't know" or "I can't understand you"; thus, when the whites tried to talk to other people about kanagroos, no one knew what they were on about. Surprisingly, that story is only partially inaccurate.

As marsupials, kangaroo babies (called joeys) stay in their mothers' pouches for up to 200 days before being fully able to venture off into the world on their own. Red kangaroos can be found nearly anywhere in Australia, except for the extreme east, north and southwest of the continent. In those areas, you're more likely to encounter the antilopine, eastern gray or western gray kangaroos.

All species of kangaroo are "least concern" species, and the animal has thrived where many other marsupials have unfortunately suffered. The kangaroo is a very recognizable symbol of Australia, and is featured on the country's coat of arms alongside the emu. Though kangaroos may attack if provoked, they are generally quite shy and harmless to humans. Still, they should be treated with respect as their rear legs can deliver a powerful kick and their toe claws are capable of causing injury.

Kanga the Conqueror has her species' typical resting posture: rear feet flat on the ground, body mostly horizontal, and tail dragging behind - no wonder it took so long for people to realize dinosaurs held their tails aloft, when we had living examples of weird creatures who couldn't keep their hinders up off the dirt! Well, anatomically it's a tail; mechanically, it's a fifth leg. Kangaroos move at speed by jumping (duh), but they locomote more casually by putting their front paws on the ground, then moving their back feet forward. When they do this, they use their tail for balance and pushing themselves forward - if a kangaroo loses its tail, it can no longer walk, which is just the saddest thing we can imagine!

The sculpt is up the usual standard we've come to expect from Safari Ltd. The roo is covered with a fine furry texture that gets thinner and thicker in different places, just like the real animal's would. A lot of attention has been paid to the details in the legs, from the massive bundles of muscles in the thighs to the natural gap between the shinbone and the Achilles tendon. The figure is about 3⅜" tall to the tips of its ears

When initial reports of kangaroos reached Europe, many thought it was a hoax: a creature that has a head like a deer, stands like a human, and jumps like a frog? Plus, half of them seemed to have a second head growing out of their bellies? That's even more of a scam than that beaver some joker taxidermied a duck's bill onto! The joey on this toy is not a removable piece (it's molded separately, but glued in place), but it's got a very cute sculpt: its head, one arm and one paw are all poking out, and the pouch is shaped in such a way that you can picture how its tiny body is curled up inside there.

This is Macropus rufus, the red kangaroo, and the paint job serves her well. The majority of the body is a ruddy tan, perhaps not as red as it could be, but still within the natural range of coloration. The fur gets pale on the belly and legs, while the paws and tail are a dusty grey. There are dark tips on the ears, and brown spots on the cheeks - at first I took those for a paint error, but they're on both side in just the same place, and they're present on the promotional shot in Safari Ltd's catalog, too, so clearly they're meant to be there.

The kangaroo is one of Safari Ltd's new offerings for 2018, part of the Wild Safari "Wildlife" colection. We were given this for free in exchange for a review, but there's no denying that they did an excellent job making this mama-and-baby pair. But now we're left wondering if there would be any way to make a male kangaroo mid-gallop? It would be tough to sculpt and mold it in such a way that it would actually balance on its little toes, but it would certainly look cool paired with this more staid release.

-- 03/21/18

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