C. megalodon (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)


Megalodon! The undisputed monarch of all sharks. Possibly the largest and most powerful flesh-eating animal to ever inhabit Earth’s seas. Star of cheesy novels, cheesier made-for-TV movies, and even cheesier pseudo-documentaries. And surprisingly enough, underrepresented in the world of prehistoric toys.

There is ongoing debate as to whether megalodon belongs in the Carcharodon genus like today’s great white shark, or in the older Carcharocles genus. In the mean time, most scientists simply employ the name C. megalodon.

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The 2014 Wild Safari C. megalodon measures a respectable if not astounding 18 cm long. Its colour scheme is based on that of a great white shark: medium grey on top with a snow white belly, void black eyes, pink gums and mouth interior, white teeth, and black accents for the nostrils and gill slits. There’s also black wash along the edges of the fins which frankly doesn’t look all that good. And annoyingly, the toy is so front heavy that it tends to rest on its chin.

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At first glance, this animal appears identical to a great white. Closer inspection, however, reveals that the dorsal f in is proportionally larger and the caudal fin is fatter. As well, the snout is rounder and less conical, closer to that of a tiger shark. No one knows for certain what C. megalodon really looked like (and it’s unlikely anyone ever will), but this seems like a reasonable reconstruction.

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This particular individual is a female, as indicated by the absence of claspers between the pelvic fins. Female sharks are generally larger and more powerful than males, especially so with great whites, so again, it’s reasonable to assume the same for C. megalodon. This individual is also clearly about to attack some unfortunate prehistoric whale. Its cavernous mouth is wide open and its upper jaw has dislocated from the skull, thereby extending the bite radius for maximum impact. The roof of the mouth is covered in realistic-looking ridges that extend all the way into darkness and there are multiple rows of triangular teeth. Possibly due to safety concerns, the teeth appear to be oversized and have not been sculpted particularly sharp. And unless C. megalodon’s dentition was radically different from that of the great white, then the rows of replacement teeth should not be extending so far back into the mouth. It’s still a pretty scary-looking set of chompers, but hardly accurate.

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While not what I would call a terrible toy, the Wild Safari C. megalodon has its share of problems. The colour scheme could have been a bit more original (dark blue or brown with spots would have been very cool) and the scale doesn’t do proper justice to an animal that was around the size of a tractor trailer, but those are purely personal preferences. The inaccurate rows of teeth, however, can be a glaring problem, especially for shark enthusiasts. Ultimately, I still like this toy, but I do hope we get a bigger, better representation of the great shark someday.

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Smilodon (Carnegie Collection by Safari ltd.)


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This is the first Smilodon review on the DTB, so I think it is only fitting that I start with the original Carnegie Smilodon. When Safari launched the Carnegie line in 1988, Smilodon was in the first group of scientific models released. After a short run, this 1:10 scale figure was retired in 1997, and never re-sculpted or reappeared in the Carnegie line. As this is one of the most recognizable animals, I’ll be brief with its history. Smilodon was a specialized hunter that diverged early from the ancestors of modern cats and is not closely related to any living feline species. It was similar in size to the modern day lion but the body was more robust and powerful, and it had visually exciting, yet fragile, long upper canines.

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The toy measures 5in (12.7cm) long and is 2.7in (6.9cm) tall at the shoulder. That puts it around 1:15 scale which would make it a good companion for the Carnegie Australopithecines. This early figure is blocky, simplistic and lacks sophistication. The upper canines and lower jaws are connected. There are no other teeth present in the mouth. There is a flange outgrowth on the lower jaw like a Eusmilus, which Smilodon did not have. The rest of the head is in the correct general shape with the eyes and ears in the right spot. There is some fur sticking out underneath the ear. It might not be accurate, but its face has a strange and intriguing quality to it. I am pretty sure it wasn’t purposely sculpted with a scarred and gnarled visage but that is how it looks to me.

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The rest of the body is robust, it is a simple design that fits the mold of the early Carnegie models. The feet and legs are oversized and the rest of the body seems proportional. The short tail is round and upturned with some simple fur lines. There is a lot of muscle rippling underneath the fur witch is quite pleasant to see. The rib cage is subtly present with some fur marks along the flanks. In fact, there are quite a few little fur marks sculpted throughout the body.

The color is glossy golden tan much like a today’s African lion’s, well except for the glossy part. Inside the mouth is painted red but rather crudely. The nose is just a black splotch. The cranial mystacial vibrissae (whiskers) are wispy and black. The eyes are a small black dot with a black line representing eyebrows. The canines, paws and part of the tail are white.

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Of course this figure can be played with if one was so inclined. It is solid piece of plastic that can hold up to long hours of play. I do not think many kids would choose this toy over the multitude of other smildons out there. Of course, it is possible to find a beat up one at a garage sale that might be ok for the sand box.

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If you have seen the original Carnegie Smilodon in person in recent years, either it was in your own personal collection, or you are one of the lucky to come across this elusive and stealthy piece. I rarely see this toy, and usually not in very good condition. It is not a great figure, in fact I wouldn’t even rate it as good either, but it is part of the original Carnegie collection line. The figure does have a certain charm to it. When I look at this figure, as I stated earlier, I think of an aged cat that is scared, maybe it once had its jaw broken, and is still roaming its territory, master of its domain. Of course that could have less to do with the figure and more from my over-active imagination. I would recommend this figure only to those who collect Carnegie, sabre-tooth-cats, or to anyone who likes the look of it.

Sometimes found on Ebay.

Plesiosaur (British Museum of Natural History by Invicta)


It is with much trepidation that I attempt to review my next figure. It’s actually one I’ve intended on reviewing for years but when you write for a blog owned by a plesiosaur expert you’re naturally a bit hesitant to review a plesiosaur model, especially based on accuracy. Honestly I’m a bit shocked this classic hasn’t been reviewed yet but I digress. I’m talking of course about the Invicta “plesiosaur”. I put plesiosaur in quotes because curiously we don’t get a specific name with this model, just that generic plesiosaur label. Based on the length of the neck it’s clear we’re not dealing with Plesiosaurus proper, to my untrained eye this appears to be Elasmosaurus. It shouldn’t make much difference with this review anyway. And oh yes, a note on the pictures. Please pardon the chew marks on this model. They weren’t there when I bought it, but they quickly appeared when I temporarily housed a kitten in my home. Needless to say I’m on the lookout for a less damaged specimen. Cats are why I don’t have nice things…like Sideshow models.

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The Invicta plesiosaur is a modest but elegant model. It lacks the intense detail that most of the Invicta dinosaurs possess but this makes sense for this aquatic reptile where a streamlined no-frills body plan was probably likely. Produced in 1978 this model actually stands up fairly well for its age. The neck is raised up in an inaccurate swan-like pose as was common in reconstructions of the day but it’s not raised dramatically so, far less so than many later models. The head is fashioned in the classic plesiosaur style with the skull more lizard-like than it is like the flatted skulls of actual plesiosaurs. The eyes are placed on the side of the head instead of angled towards the top as they should be and the model also lacks the gnarly teeth that the exceptional Safari version possesses and we know actual plesiosaurs had. The body is shallow in build, the flippers slim but capable looking and the tail fairly short. In fact, once you get past the head and the slightly elevated neck the rest of the model is fairly accurate.

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As stated before, the details are sparse. There are a few wrinkles where the flippers meet the body and a ridge down the back but aside from those and the facial features we’re left with a pretty basic model. That’s not an insult though, it’s appropriate for an aquatic animal. The monochrome variation is blue in color; the painted version has a brown back with dark brown spots down the spine and a white underside. The pose is basic with the neck slightly leaning towards the right but with plesiosaurs there are only so many ways you can pose them anyway.

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As with all the Invicta models the age of this figure needs to be taken into account when judging it. It has all the inaccuracies you would expect but it’s still a handsome and graceful model essential to any collection consisting of aquatic reptiles. Naturally you’ll need to check out eBay to find this plesiosaur but it’s usually one of the more inexpensive figures in the Invicta line.