Here it comes, straight from Bob Bakker’s 1970s fever dreams – the infamous banana flavour Invicta Mamenchisaurus, surely among the stranger serious sauropod toys.
As any kid with a dinosaur book will tell you, Mamenchisaurus is best known for having an extraordinarily long neck, making up half of the animal’s overall length. It’s therefore quite understandable that Invicta would want to emphasise the creature’s key asset – which they have done, and then some. At about 26cm tall this toy towers over almost all the other Invictasaurs, with only Brachiosaurus besting it. The pose really speaks for itself – it’s veritably gobsmacking.
One imagines that this Mamenchisaurus was inspired by a well-known Bakker drawing of a Barosaurus pair that influenced a great many artists in the ’70s and ’80s (as Darren Naish recently discussed on his Tet Zoo blog). However, while Bakker was content to have his barosaurs merely with extremely upright necks, Invicta went one better and had their Mamenchisaurus twisting its vertical neck through nearly 180 degrees to look behind itself. I’m sure exactly how outlandish this is is a matter of contention – but come on, it looks absolutely barmy.
No matter what you think of the model’s neck-robatics, Invicta are due credit for the (tiny) head. Back in 1988 Mamenchisaurus remained yet another headless wonder, and there was a tendency to stick a Diplodocus head onto restorations just to top them off. I’d argue that the head on Invicta’s sculpt is too short and deep for a diplodocid, showing that the sculptor put a little more thought into it. (Or it might just be a badly-sculpted diplodocid head and wishful thinking on my part. But be quiet, you.) That said, while as intricately sculpted as on any other Invicta dinosur, some features of the head are a little strange, not least the slit-pupilled eyes and short mouth that seems to grant the animal cheeks that it didn’t have (a feature also present on the Brachiosaurus – what is going on there, anyway?).
Elsewhere on the body it’s largely business as usual, with plenty of the elephantine wrinkliness seen on all the Invicta sauropods and the standard horribly outdated feet (can’t blame ’em too much, it was 1988). The legs are posed as if walking while the tail is, pleasingly, raised high above the ground. You can just imagine how this looked sitting next to Invicta’s older retro-swamp-dweller sauropods in the Natural History Museum gift shop back in the day!
If you’ve got an appetite for unusual sauropod sculpts then this is definitely one to pick up – in addition to all the backwards-peering wonderment it’s nicely in scale with (most of) the rest of the Invicta line, at about 1:45. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear on eBay as often as some of the other Invictas, but when it does it can be acquired at a decent, non-frightening price.