Just recently I came across one of these figures which make a collector´s life so interesting. I was visiting the museum in Korbach with its great Procynosuchus exhibition when I saw this Bullyland Protochirotherium for sale in a cabinet among many other more common Bullyland figures such as their Apatosaurus or Tyrannosaurus. Besides the 2014 Bullyland figures for common sale, Lambeosaurus and Europasaurus, this Protochirotherium is really a smashing, unexpected figure.
It really struck me, for this was such an unusual animal. I had never seen this figure before and immediately bought myself one. Spontaneous discoveries do not happen to me that often, and I was really excited.
Under the base it says:
Modell im Maßstab 1:10
The figure belongs to a special edition of 2000 pieces being produced by Bullyland as a remittance work for the “Regionalmuseum Wolfhager Land” in Wolfhagen, Germany. In a Buntsandstein quarry near Wofhagen nine different footprint fossils from the Triassic period which are 250 million years old had been found in 1999 by Mr. Kunz. Two of them belonged to completely unknown species, one of which in 2004 had eventually been dubbed Protochirotherium wolfhagense, which means “Before the hand – beast”. This name refers to the animal Chirotherium that has been presumed to have left traces which have been discovered in 1833 in Heßberg, Germany.
The imprints with their five fingers had reminded the finders at human hands. The Protochirotherium footprints were dated even older, so the Rauisuchian having caused them must have lived a little earlier. Raiusuchians were a taxon of quadruped predators which lived during the lower until the upper Triassic period. They fit the ecological niche of the top predators, hunting Rynchosaurs and other mammal-like reptiles. Bones and footprints of these predecessors of crocodiles which were between three and ten meters long have been found in Northern and Southern America, Africa and Europe so far. One of the most famous Raiusuchians is Postosuchus which became popular in the “Walking with beasts” TV show.
Before releasing their limited edition Protochirotherium Bullyland had already released two species of Raiusuchians: Batrachotomus (reviewed here) and Arizonasaurus (reviewed here. Both were unusual species choices and overall really well done, if it had not been for the goofy heads with the completely failed teeth. Bullyland figures are of soft, but rough rubber and never really go as much into detail as Safari does. The Safari Postosuchus is a great figure, and in direct comparison one must be honest and say that the Bullyland Raiusuchians don´t reach that quality in detail and accuracy.
Their Protochirotherium is no exception. It is a nice figure, overall, 21 cm long and 7 cm tall. The pose is interesting and gives a vivid impression of how it may have moved and left its traces. The footprints themselves are being represented in a base. A base for a quadruped animal is quite unusual, but in this case it totally makes sense. It was a great idea to make the traces a part of the figure, giving a glimpse at the very moment in the Triassic when the specimen left the footprints with its five toes.
In terms of the head I am not that inspired. Bullyland messed it up with a closed muzzle and three teeth protruding from the upper jaw at each side. These teeth have been painted white which tragically stresses them even more. Another downer are the eyes which look really goofy. The animal probably was supposed to look somewhat evil, but the yellow background and the big black pupils make it look ridiculous, depending on what angle you choose. The paintjob is a little unimaginative.
But there are fewer downers than advantages with this figure. The idea of making a figure from a fossil footprint discovery alone is very brave. The vivid dark green crest at the back, the vivid pose of the figure, strolling through the Triassic German landscape, the detailed and lovely footprints at the base and the sheer curiosity (it is both a Raiusuchian figure and a museum exclusive, plus we have a quadruped with a base) of this figure definitely make it a great one to have. At the moment I take care of some orders at the dinotoyforum, and the 15 pieces I pre-ordered so far are nearly all exhausted already.