Nope, you’re not seeing double. Ever since Favorite released their second wave of ‘Soft Models’, their line is starting to resemble an alternative retelling of the Noah’s Ark fable, in which the dinosaurs march along two by two. That’s because they decided, instead of creating new species, to redo and update their existing species list.
After delaying my review of the original version 1 Plesiosaurus for far too long, my bad habits have diminished very little. This new version, essentially a replacement for the previous version, has been on my ‘to review’ list ever since I received it as a generous gift from dinotoyforum regular and all-round top bloke, Postsaurischian, back when the figure first became available a few years ago. For two representatives of exactly the same genus there are a lot of differences to note between this pair, which make the review ripe for a bout of ‘compare and contrast’.
I’ll start with the proportions. It’s obvious at first glance that this new figure is more stocky than its predecessor, with a shorter neck, and broader shorter flippers. But let’s quantify this. To determine which figure is closer to reality I decided to take some measurements and here’s what I found. The neck of version 1 is 46% of the entire length of the animal, almost half, while version two is only 33%, a third. Based on measurement of the holotype specimen of Plesiosaurus I calculated that the creature’s neck is %41 of the total length of the animal. So, the version 1 figure is too long by 5%, while the version 2 has under-compensated in the opposite direction by 8%. Version 1 wins the battle of accuracy by a slim 2% margin, but it is not a spectacular victory, and neither figure is apparently correct.
In my review of the version 1 figure I praised the head because it was obviously based on reconstructions from the literature (e.g. this one by Storrs, 1997). The head of the second version has no glaring anatomical errors, but isn’t as detailed and doesn’t match the skull reconstructions of Plesiosaurus quite so closely. The vacuum-packed appearance gives it a bug-eyed look and the post-temporal fenestrae are too sunken. The number of teeth has been correctly increased, but they aren’t well defined. The head is therefore a step down from the original figure.
The distance between the front and hind limbs (the torso) has been increased in the new figure. This is an improvement because this region was too short in the first version which gives it a mildly ungainly appearance. This new version is more balanced in this regard. The hind limbs in the new version are pointed backwards more, and the left hind flipper is notably curved along its length, as if resisting water during the upstroke. This works well.
There’s nothing too exciting about the colour, which is grey all over and not particularly photogenic. The texture is similar to the version 1 model, with strong wrinkles – I’d expect the living creature to be smoother and more streamlined. A fold of skin on the flank of the body in version 1 figure is absent in the new version, and I prefer the updated version. This figure comes with a nice little stand that consists of a blue section of sea floor, which holds a transparent rod that fits into a hole in the belly of the beast. It displays really well. The previous version had a display stand that had to be bought separately.
There are some points of similarity. Both figures have a strongly arched back. My research is showing that the spine in plesiosaurs was actually rather straight, so the curvature in this model is probably too pronounced, but that’s through no fault of the sculptor – this is an active field of research. The overall posture is also similar in the two figures, with the forelimbs raised higher than the hind limbs.
The relatively shorter neck and broader flippers in version 2, and the shape of the skull, are all closer to Cryptoclidus than Plesiosaurus, so I wonder if the sculptor made a booboo and based this updated restoration on the former genus instead. Overall, this is a really nice plesiosaur model, although not a huge improvement over the earlier incarnation. Certainly a keeper for the marine reptile enthusiasts.