Cave Bear (Playmobil)


Two brave hunters are stalking one of the mightiest of beasts: the cave bear. They are armed with their best stone weapons, but will those be enough against the bear’s great strength, teeth, and claws?

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The Playmobil cave bear measures about 10.5 cm long and is medium brown in colour with black eyes, a red tongue, and white teeth. Although its body is mostly smooth, it does have some shaggy parts on its head and limbs. Its mouth opens wide, its head raises and lowers, and its shoulders and hips rotate. Sadly, it cannot stand up on its hind legs. But that’s just as well, given that the toy has a large hole in its abdomen.

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Despite its simplicity, this bear manages to look fairly ferocious for a Playmobil toy thanks to its large head, teeth, and claws. As far as accuracy goes, however, its forehead needs to be steeper and its body should be chunkier in order to be a proper Ursus spelaeus. Indeed, this figure is something of a cheat given that it’s been used to represent modern bears in other Playmobil sets. Nevertheless, it is billed as a cave bear here and so I shall treat it as one.

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And here are two very hairy, very pale-skinned cave men, one with red hair, the other with brown hair. I call them Gregory and Luis. They are decked out in elaborate grey animal skin clothing and painted on bone and shell jewelry. Gregory has a hide pouch on his belt for holding tools and Luis wears a wolf skin headdress. They are equipped with stone hand axes, a spear, and an axe. They will certainly need them if they hope to take down that cave bear!

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The cave bear’s den consists of a rocky cave. A small tree similar to the one that came with the Pteranodon is growing on the roof and there is a large outcropping that appears to have been carved in the shape of a bear’s head. It has long been a popular notion that early humans worshipped bears, although there is no conclusive evidence for it. Bear fossils have been found in caves, but most of them may have simply died there naturally. However, there are a few instances of bear bones being arranged in unnatural patterns, as though they were part of some ritual. As with so many other paleontological mysteries, we may never know for certain. Oh, and the set also comes with the remains of a carcass for the cave bear to gnaw on.

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What is for certain is that this is a pretty nice set. The cave bear by itself admittedly isn’t spectacular, but combined with the hunters and the cave, it makes for a fun purchase. Recommended.

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Glyptodon (Prehistoric Mammal Series by Schleich)


I want you to close your eyes, close your eyes and travel back, back to a distant era. It’s 2002; “Spider-Man” is #1 in the box office, the “X-Files” broadcasts its two hour finale, the UK is declared free of foot-and-mouth disease and Schleich, a company now notorious for its abominable depictions of prehistoric life was actually a competent company worth collecting. Boy how the times have changed! Among the Schleich releases of the time worthy of note was their take on the mammalian answer to the Ankylosaurs, the Glyptodon. Schleich at one time released quite a few decent prehistoric mammal toys, along with other obscure prehistoric animals. They don’t do that so much anymore but thankfully companies like CollectA and Mojo have picked up the slack in the mammal department. Unfortunately, no one is really out there tackling the Glyptodon these days. The few models of this unusual armadillo relative that do exist are all pretty good, but sadly hard to find. The Schleich model is no exception in either regard.

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I don’t normally get to compliment a Schleich model in the accuracy department (although, this is my first Schleich review) but based on what little I know about prehistoric mammals and Glyptodon in particular this guy stands up quite well. The armored shell and head are both accurately and meticulously sculpted with hundreds of individual scutes and the tail is ringed with its bizarre series of bony rings running down the length. Texturally it’s a fun model to hold. The head sculpt appears quite accurate as well, complete with the deep lower jaw that no doubt support the jaw muscles needed for this animal’s herbivorous diet. It makes for a somewhat ugly looking albeit charming face, but there is no evidence that these were attractive looking animals. Quite the opposite in fact, these were strange looking animals and if the skull is any indication the head was no exception. The limbs are short and stout and although the forelimbs possess the right number of four digits per limb, the hind-limbs also have four where there should be five. Beyond that I’m hard pressed to find anything else scientifically wrong with this model.

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Visually the model is eye catching simply because it represents such an odd creature but not a lot of artistic license was taken here. The model stands static with its tail leaning towards the right but with the real Glyptodon no doubt being a rigid animal I’m at a loss to think of a more dynamic pose for this model. The entire figure is brown in color and while it would have been nice to see some sort of patterning or different color variation on the shell it’s not like most extant mammals are particularly colorful anyway. Each scute and osteoderm is tipped in white but this detail could easily be mistaken for paint run-off on an older model. That’s what I initially thought it was but rest assured it was an intentional choice. At about 4.5” in length this model is considerably larger than the Invicta Glyptodon, but still small enough to comfortably fit on a shelf.

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Although we’ve seen a recent spike in prehistoric mammal models, none of them should be taken for granted. Models of Glyptodon are still only rarely produced. This model from the golden age of Schleich is a well-made, accurate and fun addition to any collection of prehistoric animals. Although some sellers will undoubtedly attach high price tags to this rare oddity I can confirm that with a little patience you can find one at a reasonable price. I got mine for $10 on eBay, a great price for sure but I would easily pay double that. For my next review I’ll be returning to the Invicta models, and it does tie in with this review as well. I’ll let you figure it out from there!

Ornithocheirus (CollectA)


Ornithocheirus shot to fame in 1999 when it starred in an episode of the fabulous BBC series Walking With Dinosaurs. Since then, however, scientists have determined that the pterosaur featured was in fact a species of Tropeognathus. The best-known Ornithocheirus species, O. simus, had a respectable wingspan of around five metres, but that was nowhere near the size of giants like Quetzalcoatlus and Hatzegopteryx.

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For a long time, pterosaur toys were always depicted in flying poses with their wings spread wide. In more recent years, CollectA has taken to putting its pterosaurs in walking poses with their wings folded up, the better to display them. The Ornithocheirus is in neither pose. Rather, it is standing on its hind feet with its wings spread wide in what can be best described as a Batman pose. While it is improbable that any pterosaur could stand on just its hind limbs, one could envision this pterosaur as being frozen in the act of taking to the skies. It is just about to flap those mighty wings and become airborne. Despite its tiny feet, this toy stands rather well.

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The Ornithocheirus stands slightly over 8 cm tall and has a wingspan of 21 cm. It is almost entirely black in colour save for light orange on the neck and head and faint patches of lavender on the back. The eyes are sky blue, the teeth are yellowish, and the bulging bill is pale pink. Pink is also used for the inside of the mouth.

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The body of the Ornithocheirus is covered in fine sculpted pycnofibres and the brachiopatagia (main wing membranes) has a wrinkled texture. The hands and feet are also wrinkled with short claws. The brachiopatagia stretches all the way down to the ankles, which is an ongoing point of contention among paleontologists. However, it is possible that there was wide variation among pterosaur wing designs, so the Ornithocheirus may be considered accurate at least for now.

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The CollectA Ornithocheirus has fine detail, a nice colour scheme, and displays rather nicely. In short, a very cool pterosaur figure.

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