One of my favorite critters from the Triassic period has to be Tanystropheus. In a period renowned for its strange non-dinosaur Archosauromorphs the Tanystropheus is certainly among the strangest. Superficially similar to a plesiosaur this animal appears to have been semi-aquatic, with webbed feet instead of flippers. Its taxonomic placement within Archosauromorpha indicates that despite their similar appearance they were not related and what similarity there is was a result of convergent evolution. Back in 1999 Carnegie produced their own take on this oddity and although both color schemes have been briefly reviewed by the blog it’s time this model got a proper full length review in place of those two place holders.
Tanystropheus is not a particularly popular animal but peculiar enough that a few companies have tackled this beast. With only a handful of Tanystropheus represented in the collector’s market it’s easy to claim that the Carnegie must be the best of the lot. Measuring 12” in length the slender, elegant body gives this toy a striking yet delicate appearance. The neck of the actual Tanystropheus measured about 10’ in length, longer than the body and tail combined! Carnegie has properly represented this feature, no doubt the most startling feature of this animal. Although ol’ Tany had a fairly inflexible neck in life the model form includes a bendable neck, perhaps the only Carnegie model with such an action feature. That means you can pose it with the neck accurately stretched out in front of it, bent up in an S-curve or looking behind itself. I must warn that you don’t get too playful with it however as the plastic around the wire is prone to cracking.
The rest of the sculpt is fairly basic and certainly appears accurate enough. The body is flattened and streamlined and the legs splayed out to the sides with five webbed fingers and toes. Although we have skin impressions for Tanystropheus that show it had scales they’re not present on the model and probably shouldn’t be anyway.
There are a few off putting details on this model that hurt its otherwise life-like appearance. Along the length of the neck and head there is an obvious seam while under the neck and body there are small pairs of holes every inch or so. This no doubt has something to do with the bendable neck but is quite obvious when viewed from below. Luckily, you’re not likely to look at the underside of this toy very frequently.
In addition to the 1999 model there is also a 2007 repaint. The original version is quite a striking animal with a green body color, blue underside and a series of brick red markings down the neck, body and tail bordered by peach coloration. A similarly colored stripe runs down along both sides of the neck while spots are painted along the flanks of the model. The top of the head is black with blue coloration around the eyes and throat. The forelimbs are also peach in color. Overall it is a very eye catching piece that is fun to look at without being too gaudy.
The 2007 version is much more conservative with a light green neck and back, tan tail and limbs and yellow markings down half the neck, back and tail. There are a couple blue markings on either side of the face along with two blue spots and a white stripe down the sides of the neck. The toes are painted black on this version while only the nails are painted on the original sculpt. The earth tones of the re-paint are equally appealing in their own right and I like to think that it’s the female counterpart to the more flamboyant original sculpt, which must be the male. The plastic used also appears different as the original model is a lot softer and more pliable; the newer release is considerably stiffer.
Although this model (and now, all Carnegie models) is retired it’s still fairly easy to find and very much worth seeking out. I’m always lamenting the lack of Triassic animals in the toy market so it’s very refreshing to see such a unique and obscure animal sculpted so well. It’s hard to advocate one version over the other and since they make such a beautiful pair you had probably better seek both versions out. Don’t miss out on this one of a kind model representing a one of a kind animal!