Tanystropheus was one of evolution’s more bizarre concoctions: a carnivorous reptile from the Middle Triassic with a spindly neck longer than its body and tail combined. Like the Dimetrodon, it appeared several times in various JP lines. This particular version is from the 1999 JP: Dinosaurs line.
While this isn’t a large toy, it certainly is a long one! From nose to tail tip, the Tanystropheus measures a whopping 42 cm, 22 of which are taken up by the head and neck alone. The main colour is muddy green with a dark blue underbelly and spots, sandy brown patches, yellow eyes, and white teeth. The JP logo is on the right thigh.
The Tanystropheus‘ body is covered in an intricate network of scales, wrinkles, and veins. A row of small spines runs down the entire length of the vertebrae. Unlike the real Tanystropheus, which only had small, interlocking teeth, this toy boasts four huge front fangs. These, combined with the mask-like patches over the eyes, give the Tanystropheus a distinctly sinister appearance.
The legs rotate at the shoulders and thighs, but due to the position each limb is sculpted in, their posability is severely limited. Although the limbs and body are made of hard plastic, the head, neck, and tail are rubberized plastic. Why is this so? Because a bendable wire runs through the entire length of the toy. This allows you to put the neck and tail in a vast range of active poses, even ones that clearly defy reality. By contrast, the real Tanystropheus‘ neck was probably very stiff.
Amusingly, when this toy was sold as part of the infamous 1998 Chaos Effect line, it was billed as the “Tanaconda,” the horrific result of combining Tanystropheus and anaconda DNA. Sounds pretty silly, but one could use that as an explanation for the toy’s super flexibility.
The JP Tanystropheus has its issues, but it’s well-designed, looks scary, and is definitely fun to play with. Kudos to whoever designed it!
Available from Ebay.com here.