Ichthyosaurs are a well known extinct marine reptile. They first appeared in the Triassic, became very diverse by the Jurassic, and then disappeared during the Cretaceous. The ichthyosaur fossil record is well known and abundant with over 102 valid species. They have been considered a great example of convergent evolution, especially since many people compare them to dolphins and tunas. With their streamlined muscular body, a propulsive tail, keen eyesight, and a stiff dorsal fin to cut through the water it easy to see the comparison. As they evolved, there were new challenges for them to adapt and change to, such as plunging to deeper depths for food or to hide from predators. Since they were reptiles and had lungs, they had some evolutionary issues to get around. As aquatic mammals today they needed to come up to breath, as well as ways to keep the body warm, as they are cold blooded.
According to the tag that came with it, Bullyland decided to make their 2005 model a particular Ichthyosaur named Leptopterygius, but that name is no longer valid. Its new name is Leptonectes. Leptonectes lived in the Late Triassic to the early Jurassic. I have not found any information as to how evolved this species was. Did it have the typical dorsal fin, and half moon tail of later species? That is an answer I have not found, but on the bottom of the toy, it just says Ichthyosaurus, scale 1:30. No mention of the genus. Anyways, lets press on and look at the wonderful 2005 Bullyland Ichthyosaurus.
About the toy: The toy is 8in (20cm) long and 3in (7.6cm) high. It looks to be slowly gliding through the seas with its tail undulating to the side, mouth open, looking for prey while it’s on the hunt. When you look at the head you will notice the long stream lined snout which is lined with small sharp looking teeth. The teeth are not actually sharp at all , which I am sure is for safety reasons. The snouts shape is rather robust wedge and not very needle like. The nostrils are small, clear indentations in front of the eyes. There is also a tongue present inside the mouth though it is unpainted. The toy rests on its large pectoral fins, and the lower lobe of the tail. Its slightly smaller pelvic fins, do not quite touch the ground, and are about half the size of the pectoral fins. The front fins are quite large and long, curving down at a 45 degree angle.
All the basic elements are present on this model, large front paddles (pectoral fins), half moon tail, and large eyes. The large pectoral fins are important, as this species had really large paddles, used most likely for stability and maneuverability while swimming. The pelvic fins on the other hand were quite small, and on this toy, they look a little too big. The texture on this figure is not perfectly smooth. I am not sure if it was designed this way, or just due to the molding process, but there are many groove lines and small bumps that make it look like real skin. The material the toy model is made with is bendy, but hard plastic. With just a little bit of force, you can easily bend the jaw, fins, and tail.
Bullyland first released this toy in 2000 with a different color scheme. It was dark blue on top, light blue on the bottom, and a black tail. In 2005 they repainted it. The colorization on this figure is one that I really love. The combination of the light green base, and blue green stripes outlined in fading black really strikes me visually. I know that they have been able to determine a basic skin color for Ichthyosaurs. It was found to be very dark or black all over, not just on top but on the underside as well. Was this true of all Ichthyosaurus? I do not know, but due to the amount of species there were and spread out over millions of years, I would think that it is possible there were other color variations.
Overall: This is a very good ichthyosaur model. The jaws might not be exactly the right shape and the pelvic fin is in my opinion, too large, but its accuracy doesn’t seem too far off the mark. By no means is it detailed as nicely as the Carnegie version, and the paint application lacks finesse, but it is a strikingly good looking toy. If this toy is to be played with, it can handle rough play, but the paint job will need many touch ups, as the paint wears fast. The look of this model has held up over time, and will look good on display. If you like Ichthyosaurs, then in my opinion, this figure is worth having.