Author Archives: Suspsy

Scaphonyx AKA Hyperodapedon (Kid Galaxy)

Dinosaurs and other archosaurs were but one of a number of fascinating groups of animals that existed during the Triassic Period. Another such group consisted of the rhynchosaurs. These herbivorous reptiles had stocky, lizard-like bodies and powerful jaws that functioned much like scissors. One of the largest was Hyperodapedon, at over a metre in length. Scaphonyx was once thought to be another rhynchosaur, but it was later determined to be a species of Hyperodapedon.

This toy, part of an inexpensive five-pack of prehistoric beasts that I came across at Costco, is billed as Scaphonyx, so I shall be referring to it as such for the purpose of this review. The company selling this product is called Kid Galaxy, and a quick Google image search reveals that some of their dinosaurs are merely knockoffs from the Jurassic Park 3 line. My fellow reviewer Halichoeres informs me that Kid Galaxy gets its dinosaurs from a Chinese company called Xidi. Sounds like they’re similar to Chap Mei.

From the tip of its beak to the curve in its tail, this rhynchosaur measures a good 21 cm long. Its main colour is grey with dark green markings, brown eyes, yellowish tusks, and pink for the tongue and mouth tissue. The palate and the claws have been left unpainted, but overall, the figure looks decent enough. It is posed with its head turned very slightly to the left and its tail curling to the right. The shoulders and hips rotate and the lower jaw opens wide. The tail rotates as well, but it doesn’t look very good.

The Scaphonyx‘s skin is reasonably well-sculpted, with lots of small wrinkles, tiny round osteoderms, and a bumpy row of spines running down the length of the vertebrae. The feet are covered in rows of thick scales. On that note, whoever sculpted this toy should be complimented for getting the correct number of digits (five) on each foot, but they should be varying in size more. The legs should be sprawled out to the sides as opposed to held directly under the body, and the hind pair should be smaller. Both the body and the skull need to be wider. And while the mouth, with its two large tusks, looks very impressive, it’s constructed all wrong. The tusks should be spaced closer together like a rodent’s, and there should be a groove where the beak is for the lower mandible to fit into when the mouth is closed. This skull looks more like that of a dicynodont like Placerias. And indeed, Halichoeres also informed me that this toy is actually based upon a computer model of Placerias from a Dorling Kindersley book. Topping it all off is the fact that there are four of those accursed screw holes on the right side of the toy.

Though cheaply made and severely lacking in accuracy, I have to give this Scaphonyx toy credit for its uniqueness. Rhynchosaurs (and dicynodonts for that matter) are extremely rare in the world of prehistoric toys, and this is the first review of one here on the DTB. Plus it fits in very well with Jurassic Park toys. Recommended if you’re into rarities.

Opthalmosaurus (Mini)(Chap Mei)

Opthalmosaurus is one of the more recognizable ichthyosaurs thanks to its enormous eyes, which, at approximately 23 cm in diameter, rivalled those of the much larger Temnodontosaurus. Such peepers would have ideal for hunting squid in the depths of the Jurassic seas, or spotting dangerous predators such as Liopleurodon.

Despite featuring prominently in an episode of the BBC’s famous Walking With Dinosaurs series, Opthalmosaurus has not really caught on with toy companies. There’s the version from Toyway made in conjunction with WWD and then there’s this little critter that comes courtesy of Chap Mei. Measuring 12.5 cm long, it’s sculpted in a swimming pose with its tail angled down and swaying to the left. It balances nicely on the tips of its mandible, right pectoral fin, and caudal fin.

The main colours are a dull brick red and beige with black for the stripes and eyes and white teeth. Detailing is fairly good for a marine reptile. The skin is covered in faint crisscrossing marks, just like on a grey whale. Large circles around the bulging eyes indicate the sclerotic rings beneath the skin. The edges of the pectoral and caudal fins have a slightly frayed appearance to them.

In terms of accuracy, this Opthalmosaurus is one of Chap Mei’s least offenders. Granted, the body is a little too compact and the head is too large, and I wish the fins had smooth edges, but there are no completely ridiculous or grossly exaggerated features on this toy like there are on so many of its brethren.

Overall then, the Chap Mei Opthalmosaurus is one of the few toys in the line that can lay claim to being genuinely good, if not superb. Recommended.

Prehistoric Mammal Skulls (Toob by Safari Ltd.)

Prehistoric skulls, be they those of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, sea monsters, mammals, amphibians, or any other beasts, are always things of beauty and intrigue. Let us take a look at this interesting variety of mammal skulls from Safari Ltd. There are eight in total, all coloured medium brown with a pale brown wash, and all with their names printed on the undersides.

We begin with the huge and horned Arsinoitherium. This skull measures just over 5 cm long from the tips of its huge front horns to the back of its mandible. While the horns could afford to be even longer and angled farther back, this is still quite unmistakeable as the famous embrithopod.

Next up is one of our distant relatives: Australopithecus. There are several described species, but I’m going to assume that this is meant to represent the most famous, A. afarensis, of which the famous “Lucy” specimen belongs to. It measures about 4.5 cm long from the mouth to the parietal. While the cranium looks pretty good, the chin could afford to be more defined and the teeth are too numerous, too small, and too generic in shape.

Our third skull is that of the frightfully fanged Daeodon. This one measures nearly 5.5 cm long. With all those pointed teeth and knobby projections, a lay person might easily mistake it for some kind of theropod dinosaur! But in order for it to be a proper representation of the largest entelodont, the maxillary canines should be larger and more visible, and the skull should be taller.

Fourth up is the skull of Embolotherium, a mighty brontothere from Asia, very similar to the North American Megacerops. This one measures 4.5 cm long and is immediately recognizable due to the slightly heart-shaped protuberance on the nose. The exact purpose of this horn is uncertain, as it was hollow and therefore too fragile for use in combat. Some experts have proposed that it may have been a specialized resonator for producing sounds, similar to the crest on Parasaurolophus. In any case, this is a reasonably good representation of Embolotherium save for the fact that, as with the Australopithecus, the teeth are too many and too generic.

Here is a first for the DTB: the skull of a Mammut americanum, better known as the American mastodon. Yes, despite being fairly popular and known from multiple complete skeletons, the poor mastodon has been overlooked by toy companies in favour of its more famous relative, the woolly mammoth. Indeed, I suspect that that only reason Safari went with a mastodon instead of a mammoth skull was because the latter’s huge tusks would have been impossible to squeeze into the package. Not surprisingly, this is the longest skull in the set, measuring 9 cm long from the tips of the tusks to the back of the cranium. Unfortunately, the tusks need to be more curved and spread farther apart in order to be a proper American mastodon. This looks more like a Stegodon skull. But on a much more positive note, Safari will be releasing a fantastic-looking mastodon figure in 2018!

Can’t have a set of prehistoric mammals without good ol’ Smilodon. This bad boy’s noggin measures 5.5 cm long with 3 cm long canines. No mistaking this one. But while it has the basic profile of a machairodont, the muzzle is a bit too long and the skull is not deep enough. The mouth is open slightly, but it would have been cooler had it been open to a full 120 degrees.

This is the knobby skull of the massive Uintatherium. Measuring slightly over 5 cm long, this individual may be a female due to the relative shortness of its tusks. While it could certainly afford to have even more pronounced knobs, overall, this is a pretty decent replica.

Last up is a woolly rhino skull. Now, anyone who knows anything about rhinos knows full well that their horns are made of keratin, not bone. But a hornless rhino just wouldn’t look as impressive, now would it? Anyway, the front horn gives the skull a height of 4.5 cm, matching its length. The skull itself looks fairly accurate, but the front horn is very warped. A result of too much time spent crammed into the tube, I suppose. On a sad note, as I gaze upon this tiny plastic skull, I can’t help but think of the strong, grim possibility that modern rhinos will soon be joining their woolly brethren in extinction. 🙁

These prehistoric mammal skulls aren’t quite museum-quality accurate, but they’re rather good overall. A very unique and educational set, appropriate for all ages. Recommended.