Who here loves basal sauropterygians!? The Sauropterygia is a group of marine reptiles that include the well-known plesiosaurs and several other smaller-bodied groups, including nothosaurs and placodonts, which tend to receive far less attention. This is especially the case in toy form, which is unjust because these are fascinatingly weird creatures, well-deserving of a figure or two.
Placodonts can be divided into two types: those with armour and those without. Glyphoderma is an example of the armoured variety from the middle Triassic of Southwestern China. It was described in 2008, and it is natural that PNSO would select such a locally significant and recently named taxon to represent in their acclaimed (by us, anyway!) Age of the Dinosaurs line. For an overview of the complete set of 24 PNSO little models, check out my unboxing video on youtube, in which you’ll also see the Glyphoderma find a happy home alongside his new best buddy, the Safari Ltd Henodus!
This tiny figure is on par with the miniature Kaiyodo figures in terms of size and detail. However, the small PNSO figure is produced in a single mould (as opposed to several pieces), and consists of a slightly flexible PVC material, which makes it durable enough to be played with. Despite the temptation I won’t be taking mine into the bath!
This is an accomplished sculpt, with no errors to speak of, which is astonishing for a relatively new company such as this. Most companies tend to go through a teething period during which they find their feet (look back at some of the earliest models by Safari Ltd and CollectA), but PNSO have leapt straight into to deep end and are holding their ground against the big boys. Just look at the pictures, the detail is spectacular: the fine wrinkles, the bony tubercles, the spines along the tail. And remember, this toy is just 9 cm (3.5 inches) long. I’m enamoured.
The limbs of the Glyphoderma are arranged in a dynamic paddling position and the tail and neck are twisted, which all help to make the creature feel alive. The PNSO artists have an obvious eye for realism, accuracy, and an attention to detail. It was a special pleasure for me to see their sculptors at work on new master sculpts when I visited their workshop in Beijing earlier this year.
The paintwork on the figure is also realistic and expertly applied, consisting of a dappled pattern of multiple shades of green and brown. The individually packaged PNSO miniature figures come with a small fold-out poster featuring life restorations of the animals. In this case, the poster features a lone Glyphoderma, hungrily eying up an oyster.
To go back to my opening question, it doesn’t matter if you placo-do or placo-don’t have an affinity for sauropterygians, there’s no denying the charm of this little Glyphoderma by PNSO and the expertise behind it. It is incredibly detailed, relatively cheap, and will take little shelf space. What’s not to like?! The PNSO figures are also now easily available via Amazon although they are currently listed as out of stock.
Special thanks to the PNSO for providing the Dinosaur Toy Blog with review samples of all of their little Age of the Dinosaurs figures.