Ankylosaurus has been an enduring presence in dinosaur toy lines over the years, in spite of the fact that other ankylosaurs (like Euoplocephalus) are known from more extensive remains. It’s probably the animal’s sheer size, and the fact that it lived alongside some famous giant theropod or other, that have made it such a pop culture fixture. There was an Ankylosaurus among the Marx dinosaurs, and it popped up again among the Inpro lineup in 1972.
My, how far we’ve come in 38 years. This interpretation of Ankylosaurus was popular for decades – the Marx toy looked very similar, and I owned a Chinasaur back in the ’90s (possibly UKRD) that had a similar scutes-and-spikes configuration. It most likely stems from Barnum Brown’s original reconstruction of Ankylosaurus’ armour, way back in the 1900s. It’s very interesting to compare this with the Carnegie model, which represents a modern interpretation of the animal – other modern Ankylosaurus toys (like the Favorite) tend to be mislabelled Euoplocephalus. Of course, this figure is also fascinating as part of the history of dinosaur toys, too.
This tiny, tiny toy is quite well detailed for its time, but appears extremely quaint today. Perhaps taking the idea of a sturdy and tough Ankylosaurus to its extreme, it doesn’t have any neck! Inside the mouth there are rows of miniscule, strange teeth, which on this example have been sloppily painted red on one side – combined with the crudely painted solid white eye this makes the toy look rather sinister, like an Ankylosaurus auditioning for Dinosaurs Attack! It would’ve looked better left unpainted, like a Marx toy.
The toy sits on four podgy, squat legs, with its tail only just clearing the ground. The tail club is huge relative to everything else – obviously it was an attribute they wanted to emphasise. On the underside there is, in the finest tradition, a flat area with the animal’s name spelled out for to teach the kids. Looking at this thing, it’s hard to believe the world was only a few years away from the Invicta line, with its unparalleled fluid realism. While the Invictas can still be appreciated after all this time, this toy really is something from another age – one of reptilian tail-draggers and Zdenek Burian paintings, before pop culture caught up with the Dinosaur Renaissance. And yet…
…And yet, I can’t help but love this daft little fella. It represents a slice of dinosaur toy history, before all the high-falutin’ museum lines came along and kids demanded more from their dinosaur figures. Of course, it also helps that I owned one as a kid, bought at Wisbech Museum (in the early ’90s) no less. Putting my saddo childhood nostalgia aside for a moment, this is still part of a highly collectible range of vintage toys that I think have real retro appeal. If you’re only in it for the most up-to-the-minute figures then forget it, but if you’re up for a bit of history then give the Inpro line a try.