The Japanese toy company Kaiyodo isn’t afraid to tackle the obscure and one of the best examples of this would have to be the Kaiyodo Copepteryx. While other companies make and re-make the same tired old prehistoric favorites here we have Kaiyodo making a very obscure extinct bird that you’ve probably never heard of and who’s name I can never remember (maybe writing this review will fix that). I mean, prehistoric bird collectables are rare enough but what the heck is a Copepteryx?
Copepteryx is a genus of aquatic flightless bird that lived around Japan during the Oligocene, 28-23 million years ago. The fact that it lived in Japan is probably the real reason Kaiyodo decided to produce one. Copepteryx would have looked and behaved much like extant penguins but is not related to them, thus serving as a great example of convergent evolution. Its closest living relatives include other seabirds like gannets, boobies, and cormorants and it does closely resemble a cormorant. In another example of convergent evolution there is a species of flightless cormorant (Phalacrocorax harrisi) that lives on the Galapagos Islands. It should also be mentioned that the Copepteryx was a very large bird, standing as tall as an adult human.
Although less exciting than other prehistoric birds like the Phorusrhacids or some of the Mesozoic species this is still quite a lovely model. In color scheme is resembles a penguin with a dark back and white underside but this is a believable color choice for any sea-going animal. The back is streaked in brown which may have helped this bird blend in even more with rippling water. The color choices and application are most appreciated on the face where a white neck is flecked in black spots with a dark circle around the eye that streaks off towards the ear. There is some pink and orange coloration under the eye that gives way to yellow. The throat is pink with darker pink spots. Much like the related boobies the feet are emphasized, being teal colored in this case. These color choices alone make this a believable and eye-catching model. There is a close resemblance to extant bird species without copying the look of any one bird.
The Copeteryx is posed rather like a penguin or cormorant, standing upright on a rocky base with wings outstretched. The wings are more modified flippers of course than actual wings. The long sinuous neck is gently curved and looking towards the left. The breast of the bird is particularly well sculpted and looks much like the breast of a duck or other water bird with a clear indentation down the center of the chest. There is a slight bulge that indicated the presence of the bird’s crop where the neck meets the body as well. Tiny features like this that often go amiss in modern bird reconstructions by other companies only reinforce Kaiyodo’s superiority.
While the Kaiyodo Copeteryx looks too much like a modern bird to generate much excitement, those that truly appreciate the diversity of life on earth will find it worth collecting. Not every animal was a Triceratops or mammoth, there were rather mundane animals around as well. When you take the time to learn about them though you find that every animal is a fascinating representation of evolution and diversity, with its own unique backstory spanning the ages of time. Kaiyodo collectors will naturally want this model but anyone with tastes as equally diverse as earth’s fauna and an appreciation for well-crafted and obscure prehistorics will find a place on their shelf for this little guy. They’re fairly cheap too, going for less than $10.00 on eBay.