Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 2nd, 2008
Matthew Bille, author of Shadows of Existence and other books, approached me with a question over the weekend, which I have seriously pondered often: Where are the Thylacine replicas?
Does no one produce affordable, hard-plastic, scale-model, museum-quality representations of the Thylacine (a.k.a. Tasmanian Tiger)? Does not Thylacinus cynocephalus, the wolf-headed pouched dog, one of the celebrities of extinct animals thought to be a living cryptid, deserve a replica?
Such replicas are helpful in lectures, exhibitions, and educational demonstrations about well-known and often-mentioned current or recent cryptid expeditions and research. Where are the Thylacine models?
Surely, it would be as popular for a seller as the little replicas they have of the Tasmanian devil (below).
I knew of one form of small replica of the Thylacine, which I owned. It is a pewter Thylacine, 8 cm long and 4 cm high (below). It is an attractive item, and I recall that it was the one figurine that Jeffery Vallance had in his Thylacine part of the Bates College cryptozoology exhibit, which I also had in my room devoted to artifacts, skulls, models, figurines, and footcasts from my museum there.
The pewter Thylacine is still available in Australia and Tasmania, apparently.
But my search was for a typical replica, in the tradition of Schleich, Papo, Safari, Bullyland, Noah’s Pals, Britains, and other producers, and thus continued onward.
Stimulated by Matt’s question, I sent out some emails to associates in Australia and elsewhere who might know if any Thylacine replicas existed.
Chris of Australia’s Wherelightmeetsdark replied: “It seems the Thylacine figurines are even more non-existent than the animal itself.”
Darren Naish of Tetrapod Zoology, who has probably the UK’s most sizable collection of cryptid-related known animal replicas, was consulted too. I asked him if he knew of a Thylacine replica:
“No, it’s shocking, but I’m not aware of any good replica Thylacines either. I was so bothered by this I once wrote to Britains Ltd and asked if they could make one, sending them instructions and everything. The person I corresponded with said in a letter that he recognised the need for new models and would indeed have one made. Alas, I don’t think it happened.”
I even wrote an animal replica company in Australia, and they said that while they “don’t currently have a Thylacine replica, it is under consideration for 2009.”
Always tomorrow. I emailed them back and encouraged them to go forward with their plans, as they would fill a void.
Finally, two people replied almost at the same time, and told me about an expensive resin model that does exist.
The image of the model shows a rather good replica, that is for sure.
The other person who told me of this resin model is the accomplished cryptid model maker himself, Jeff Johnson. “About the thylacine, it is rarely touched as a toy/model subject to be sure. Why I can’t say. The best one around is the one sold by Alchemy Works. It is resin plastic (sculpted by Sean Cooper) and has to be painted. Here is the one I painted, I hope you like it.”
Of course, I like it. Johnson’s painted models he creates and paints are dynamic and remarkable. Seeing the paint job he did makes it a work of art. He sent along some photos of it for me:
Of course, the $58 plus shipping was one thing, but the painting was the other. While it is obvious some people are born to be great resin model painters, I have to say that while I can write a storm up about Thylacine cryptid sightings, I couldn’t paint my way out of a paper bag. So, if I got this model, after I stumbled through assembling it, the poor thing would sit on a shelf unpainted.
That’s why I look for the inexpensive Asian painted replicas first.
Then Eureka, the kind for which I was actually looking, an already painted replica, was found.
Paul Cropper, coauthor of The Yowie: In Search of Australia’s Bigfoot, discovered them, actually: “Tasmanian tourist shops have heaps of them – sample attached. Made in China so no company. They are quite good.”
They are quite decent looking, as seen here on Paul’s desk. Of course, it takes a flight over to Tasmania to pick one up, and that’s not something someone does from Australia like you are going to the corner market. But, at least, we know where some are to be had.
Cropper’s Thylacine replicas, via China, are to be found on Tasmania.