Can you believe we haven’t covered this figure yet? One of the first truly lo-o-ong dinosaur toys, the Invicta Diplodocus dates back to 1974. It was a simpler time, when sauropods were kind enough to drag their tails around for allosaurs to snack on at their convenience, and some of our more aged forum members were yet to become the embittered, black-hearted old cranks that they are today. This lovely, along with the other Invicta sauropods, showed that Invicta weren’t going to go all flakey and produce their sauropods at a different scale to their other dinosaurs, thus setting the precedent for the many giant plastic hulks that now adorn the houses of dinosaur-collecting geeks.
Diplodocus was a very fitting dinosaur for Invicta’s Natural History Museum line, as a Diplodocus carnegii cast (named ‘Dippy’, which someone should tell them isn’t at all funny) dominates the museum’s main hall and was the first Diplodocus skeleton to be mounted in 1905. With its grey colour and ultra-wrinkled skin, Invicta seemingly followed the pre-Dino Renaissance tradition of making sauropods look elephantine (because, with their enormously long necks and tails and proportionately tiny heads, they looked exactly like elephants). I despise wrinkle-tastic sauropods, but I suppose it’s just reflective of the time it was sculpted.
Elsewhere there’s quite a lot to like, as usual with Invicta. Of course, a number of features – most obviously the dragged tail and the feet – are horribly out of date, as anything would be that hasn’t updated its look since the 1970s (like Noel Edmonds – one for my fellow countrymen there). Also, the forelimbs are too short, resulting in far too much of a humped back. However, at least the animal isn’t an horrendously obese fatso, as many sauropods in paleoart in the early 1970s continued to be – it gives a good indication of the gracile nature of Diplodocus. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the neck posture either – it emerges horizontally from the spine and gently curves upwards, with the head in a downward-facing neutral positon. It looks elegant.
The figure’s elegance is further enhanced by the well-sculpted limbs that clearly show musculature and skin folds where the animal is in motion. I would say that it’s superior in this regard to some of the other Invicta sauropods, like the Brachiosaurus. Much as some features make it look like an antique, this sculpt definitely has a naturalistic, believable look, which is true for most of the Invictas – they’re like the best vintage paleoart in three dimensions. Ignore the dragging tail for a moment (which can make this thing very awkward to display) and what you see is an animal that’s actually quite dynamic, with muscular, striding legs taking long strides forward with intent. As I noted with the Tyrannosaurus, one can imagine it as being indicative of a transitional phase in paleoart, with the old swamp-dwellers giving way to today’s leaner, meaner versions, this representing a step somewhere in between. And there aren’t many plastic dinosaur toys you can be that pretentious about.
Of course, if you want one then you’ll have to go to eBay, or else get lucky in a charity shop or somesuch. Unfortunately these slender, but very long figures often get battered and bruised – as you can see with mine – and occasionally have the ends of their tails missing. Avoid those, for what is Diplodocus without its famous whiplash tail? (Maybe they should call the Natural History Museum Diplodocus Mr Whippy.) More fortunately they aren’t particularly rare or expensive. In spite of its age it makes a great companion to the more recent Carnegie Diplodocus and is a lovely sculpt overall – just make sure you have room for the tail!