Review and photos by Lanthanotus, edited by Suspsy
Some Saturday back in the late 1980s’, my parents dragged me to a big mall (by 80’s European standards) in a nearby city to buy those things that boys age 11 or 12 like most: clothing, shoes, and such. Naturally, I had to steal my fair share of time to search through the offerings in the toy department. It was this time of my childhood when the most impressive dino toys I ever had seen were released: the Carnegie Collection and Tyco’s Dino Riders. Needless to say, my pocket money would have required a serious supplement (which was out of the question) to afford any of these models. Dreamwalking between the shelves, thinking of myself playing with all these nice dinos, I had to realize that there was just one I could dare to purchase, requiring the full stock of my finances: the Dino Riders Pterodactyl.
It was tempting because there never had been any good (if any at all) pterosaur toys within my reach and I loved these flying reptiles. But I also couldn’t care less about those stupid human figures and all this weaponry stuff I would have had to buy as well. I pondered and tarried and pondered and then my parents left the mall with me and no pterosaur. Maybe I could have begged them, but I never really did this and so lacked the experience to raise hope to succeed in this attempt.
To make a long story short and to explain how I finally got the toy I review here today . . . when we arrived at home I had made a decision. I got my pocket money, grabbed my bike, and rode to the local toy store, which was about to close (back in the 80’s that meant 2 pm on Saturdays), and picked up this shiny, colourful box with its adventure-promising pictures and background story. When unpacking the box at home, I rued the amount of money I had spent on this (I think it was around 15 Deutsche Mark, which was a serious sum for me) because there was so much “useless” stuff in form of weapons and equipment. Had I only foreseen eBay and collectors a quarter century in the future, I probably still would have carelessly thrown away those things. The “dino”, however, I enjoyed as you can see from its markings and scratches in the pictures.
So here it is, the Tyco Pterodactyl(!) of Dino Riders, Series 1, released in 1988. I honestly can’t remember if the localisation of the box named the animal Pterodactyl or Pterodactylus but the booklet was in German as far as I remember. However, the naming of this animal is somewhat confusing anyway as the model was re-released for the Smithsonian Museum some time later but was renamed Quetzalcoatlus. In turn, the Dino Riders Quetzalcoatlus was re-released for the same institution but without its headcrest and renamed to Pterodactylus. I cannot say what caused this renaming and remodelling, as it would have made way more sense to keep them as they were just for their size–despite not being to scale.
Tyco’s Pterodactyl was, I think, the only “dino” of the series with no action features or articulation. It is what you see, a plastic figure, but in this it is quite a good one, especially when you think of the time of its production and release. The figure’s wings span 19 cm and it measures 12 cm from the tip of its beak to its toes. The color scheme is unspectacular and dull, perfectly blending into the series as there was not a single animal model with an especially colourful or gaudy pattern (Editor’s note: the Rulon version of the Quetzalcoatlus was pretty colourful!). So, here it’s a light gray base color as seen on the underside, while the whole upper side is painted in a uniformly dark brown. The eyes are bright yellow with black pupils. For all its simpleness the paint job is done perfectly with no blotches or tears.
In terms of accuracy, the model has its flaws but is quite respectable. I especially like the long and narrow head with its small crest, long nostrils, the individually sculpted fingers, and the pycnofibers. These cover the whole upper side of the body, neck, wings, and tail and are also present on the underside of the wings. I’m not sure why they left out the belly, but the upper side is anyway more suitable to be displayed. The model even boasts a propatagium and while it is sculpted with a slight chevron, it lacks the supporting pteroid. The wings could have been stretched a bit further down the legs, but this feature is under debate and in any case, Tyco’s sculptor seemed to be a bit in trouble with the fusion of legs, tail, and wings anyway. If you take a look to the creature’s posterior (which also lacks the cloacal opening, but most toy animal do this), you’ll see a tail that has more in common with the Flatiron Building than with a pterosaur’s tail. The legs and feet are stretched out behind the tail and the toes and claws are finely sculpted.
Overall, this is a very nice model, even if it’s not totally clear what species it is intended to resemble. Mark P. Witton’s book shows a modern restoration of Pterodactylus antiquus next to a fossil specimen and you can see how much these reconstructions have been altered during the years. Still, Tyco’s Pterodactyl can compete with current releases of toy companies (*cough* Schleich *cough*) and its comparably soft plastic makes for a nice, robust, and safe toy as long as you don’t stick its beak directly into someone’s eye. Naturally, you can only get it via eBay or a collector’s page nowadays (or try your luck at a flea market), but without its gear, it shouldn’t be too expensive.