Author Archives: Suspsy

Pentaceratops (Chap Mei)

Pentaceratops was a very large chasmosaurine ceratopsian that ranged from Canada to the southern United States during the Late Cretaceous. One specimen described in 1998 was even said to possess the largest skull of any land animal. But in 2011, it was renamed as a separate genus, Titanoceratops, on the basis that it shared more characteristics with Triceratops than Pentaceratops.

Despite its very cool name and appearance, the “five-horned face” has not received a lot of love from toy companies. Schleich released a large figure in 2014, but CollectA, Papo, and Safari still have yet to produce one. A superb-looking prototype was sculpted by the late Dan LoRusso for the Battat Terra series, but for whatever reason(s), it remains unreleased. Today I’ll be examining the Pentaceratops from Chap Mei, which is infamous for its cheap and often freakish prehistoric toys. This particular version is currently available at Toys R Us as part of their exclusive Animal Planet line.

The toy measures 18.5 cm long, stands slightly under 12 cm tall at the top of its frill, and is coloured a dark shade of teal with black stripes. The upper part of the head is painted black with grey wash on the horns and hornlets, yellow-orange eyes, and yellow-orange, medium orange, and black for the display pattern on the frill. While it is unquestionably a striking colour scheme, it’s very sloppily applied. It’s also incomplete, with nary a single accent for the mouth, the lower jaw, the back of the frill, or the claws.

This toy is immediately recognizable as a Pentaceratops due to the enlarged jugal bones that earned it its name, and the large notch in the top of the frill. The beast appears to be in a ready-for-combat stance with tail raised, feet planted, head turned to the left, and mouth wide open. The skin has a wrinkled texture with rows of osteoderms on the back and grooves in the beak, horns, hornlets, and claws. The left front and right hind leg move a little, but the right front one is basically stuck in place. Pulling back on the left hind leg causes the head to raise in a nodding motion. This Pentaceratops is either really enthusiastic about something or bopping to its favourite tune!

But being a Chap Mei product, this ceratopsian is riddled with inaccuracies. For starters, the frill is missing the two forward-facing epiparietals(hornlets) in the notch. The body should be taller and the tail is too short and stumpy. The front limbs are too long and have extra joints in the forearms (ouch). And finally, the feet have the wrong arrangement of toes and too many claws.

The Pentaceratops is actually one of the less hideous Chap Mei toys, its inaccuracies notwithstanding. It certainly won’t win any prizes, but it’s a relatively cheap toy that’s fun to play with and goes well with the Jurassic Park line. In other words, kids will certainly enjoy it. And as I noted at the beginning, it’s not like Pentaceratops toys are legion. Sure would be nice if that changed!

Mammoth Skeleton Tent with Cavemen (Playmobil)

As storm clouds gather overhead, a trio of human hunters work quickly to finish erecting their shelter. Fortunately, the mammoth that they recently killed and butchered has provided far more than just food. Its large, sturdy bones form an effective structure while its thick fur hide acts as a waterproof covering. As the hunters settle down inside their new dwelling, they are joined by the fourth member of their party: a faithful tracking wolf that they have raised from a pup.

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote a Playmobil review. Today I’ll be presenting a very interesting set from the 2011 Stone Age series: the Mammoth Skeleton Tent with Cavemen. We’ll begin with the bare bones, if you’ll pardon the pun. The aforementioned skeleton consists of nine pieces, all them coloured pale grey save for the white tusks. Most of the pieces are made of hard plastic, but the tusks and tail are made from softer, flexible material to ensure safety and prevent breakage. Once assembled, the skeleton holds together very firmly. And I mean very firmly. Granted, the limbs can be removed with relative ease (they’re supposed to, as you’ll see in due course), but the skull and tail are practically sealed in place.


From the tip of the tusks to the rump, this skeleton measures 20 cm long and stands about 13.5 cm tall. The head, shoulders, hips, and tail all rotate, making it reasonably poseable. And while this skeleton is admittedly lacking a mandible and some vertebrae, it’s still unmistakeable as a specimen of Mammuthus primigenius. Pretty impressive for a children’s toy. Interestingly, while the “living” Playmobil mammoth has a larger head and tusks, the skeleton has a higher back and is wider at the shoulders.


Here are the three cavemen who come with the set. I call them Charles, John, and Mauricio. As you can see, they have the same dark hair, tanned skin, and fashion style as the two that came with the sabretooth set, indicating that they’re all part of the same tribe. Charles is decked out in an impressive bison headdress and cloak, suggesting that he’s the leader of this merry band. Their accessories consist of a jagged-tip spear, an axe, and a broken femur bone. Perhaps that last one is for their canid companion.

And here he/she is, a light brown wolf measuring slightly under 8 cm long. It’s generic-looking enough that it could pass for either an extinct Canis dirus or an extant Canis lupus. Its detailing is simple, in keeping with the Playmobil aesthetic, but it does have sculpted fur on its head, limbs, and tail. It is also jointed at the neck, shoulders, and hips, making it a fun little figure to play with. It’s just a shame that the eyes and nose aren’t painted.


Here we have a large, dark brown mammoth pelt moulded in the shape of a tent and made out of rubbery, flexible plastic.

And here’s the main section of the set, a large base plate sculpted to look like rocks and sand, complete with a dead shrub, a live fern, and a blazing campfire.

To assemble the tent, you first need to remove the limbs from the skeleton. Attach the main section to the underside of the pelt, attach the hind limbs to the entrance way, then peg the whole thing into the base plate. The resulting structure is big enough for all three cavemen and their wolf to shelter under. Of course, real mammoth dwellings were considerably more complex, but again, this works very well indeed for a children’s toy.

Overall, the Playmobil Mammoth Skeleton Tent is a really fun and educational set that any young prehistoric fan should enjoy. Not to mention a lot of older ones. As I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews, the Stone Age series was discontinued back at the end of 2011, but you may still be able to find it online.

Thalassomedon (Deluxe by CollectA)

Thalassomedon, the “sea lord” plesiosaur, inhabited Late Cretaceous seas some 95 million years ago. A close cousin of Elasmosaurus, it may have used its long neck to slowly sneak up on schools of fish or squid before before spearing a victim with its needle-like teeth.

This rendition of Thalassomedon was released in the summer of 2016. Measuring some 33 cm long from the tip of its muzzle to the end of its short tail, it is one of CollectA’s longest Deluxe figures. That said, more than half of that length is taken up by the neck, thus making this one of the smallest Deluxes at the same time. It also has a flipperspan of 10.5 cm.

As a child, nearly all my dinosaur books depicted elasmosaurs as having fantastically flexible necks that could twist and bend and coil. However, we now know that their necks had a relatively limited range of motion. Thalassomedon couldn’t rapidly strike out at its prey like a viper, nor could it raise its head high like a swan while swimming at the ocean surface. As such, this figure’s neck is held almost completely straight out in front, with the head turned very slightly to the left. The mouth is wide open, as though the predator is about to snap up a tasty fish or some other small morsel. The most popular proposed method of feeding for elasmosaurs seems to be the one I mentioned in the introduction, but there are a number of other highly intriguing ideas outlined on this fine website.

With fellow CollectA plesiosaurs Liopleurodon and Dolichorhynchops.

The main colours on the Thalassomedon are beige on top and white on bottom. The entire upper half of the body is speckled with medium brown spots. The teeny, tiny eyes are black, the mouth is pink, and the teeth are eggshell white. All in all, it’s hardly what you’d call an exciting ensemble, but it works well for a marine animal. It’s strongly reminiscent of the colour scheme found on harbour seals.

The Thalassomedon‘s skin has a lightly wrinkled texture all over. The flippers are stout and muscular and the small, sharp teeth lining the mouth are very well-sculpted. The inside of the mouth features a long, narrow tongue and ridges on the palate. The short tail features a small fluke near the tip. No soft tissue of Thalassomedon has been discovered just yet, but tail flukes have been confirmed on its relatives Cryptoclidus and Pantosaurus. Indeed, paleontologists might argue that the fluke should extend out from the underside of the tail as well. The only real inaccuracy on this toy then is that the left front flipper appears to be angled forward beyond the range of motion on the real animal. The flippers are also slightly upturned due to warping.

In conclusion, I find the CollectA Thalassomedon to be a very fine toy, one of the best elasmosaur representations to date, and well worth the purchase.