Category Archives: CollectA

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (CollectA)

The ivory-billed woodpecker(Campephilus principalis) was one of the largest woodpeckers in the world and certainly the largest to inhabit North America. Tragically, after relentless decades of hunting, pollution, and deforestation, this magnificent bird is largely believed to have gone the way of the thylacine and the quagga. Granted, there have been some alleged sightings in recent years, but nothing confirmed. Even if a few ivory bills do indeed still exist, it’s pretty doubtful that they’ll be around for much longer in these increasingly dark, selfish, and ignorant times.

New for 2017 from CollectA, this ivory-billed woodpecker figure is mounted on a thick pine branch. The bird itself measures around 8 cm long while the branch stands 9.5 cm tall. The bark is coloured dark brown while the sapwood beneath is beige and orange. Both parts have very realistic textures and the many gouges in the branch suggest that this woodpecker has been hard at work for some time.

The prominent red crest on this woodpecker’s head shows that it is an adult male (females had black crests). The bill (which was not actually made of ivory!) is coloured a very pale yellow with some faint orange streaks. The plumage is black with white wingtips and markings, the claws are taupe grey, and the eyes are pale yellow. There’s also a smattering of white on the wings to give them a shiny appearance. All in keeping with the known descriptions and specimens.

The detailing on this woodpecker is really top notch. The many feathers have been painstakingly sculpted and the feet, which are in a zygodactyly arrangement, are appropriately scaly. It really does look like the real deal. Indeed, looking at this beautiful, regal bird, it’s no wonder that its nicknames include the Holy Grail bird, the Lord God bird, the Elvis bird, and the King of Woodpeckers. As I mentioned in the introductory paragraph, there have been recent reports of sightings, and even some purported video, but none confirmed. It is more likely that the ivory-billed woodpecker has joined its theropod cousins in extinction. 🙁

Overall, I find this ivory-billed woodpecker to be a fantastic little figure, albeit a very saddening one. I’d certainly love to see CollectA tackle other recently extinct dinosaurs such as the moa, the dodo, the great auk, and the passenger pigeon. The fact of the matter is that we are in the midst of the sixth great extinction, caused directly by our own hands, and every little reminder of this can possibly help to prevent it.

On a brighter note, this has been my 50th review for CollectA’s products. Over the past two years, they have been immensely generous in sending me various review samples and I cannot thank them enough for it. Keep up the excellent work, CollectA. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next year!

Gigantspinosaurus (CollectA)

It’s no secret that the stegosauria were an odd bunch of dinosaurs, one that we perhaps take for granted given the popularity of one genus in particular; Stegosaurus. But Stegosaurus is but one of many, and for whatever reason the other genera of this unique clade have never gained in popularity like the admittedly charismatic Stegosaurus.

In typical CollectA fashion we’ve recently been introduced to many of the other interesting genera in the stegosauria. The most recently introduced of these obscure dinosaurs is the appropriately named Gigantspinosaurus. No, it’s not a new hybrid for “Jurassic World”, nor is in a super-ultra-mega version of Spinosaurus. It’s a stegosaur from late Jurassic China and with its unique combo of plates and spikes and the perfect choice for expanding your stegosaur collection.

Gigantspinosaurus is not a genus I was too familiar with before acquiring the CollectA toy. Superficially it looks a lot like Kentrosaurus, that other popular stegosaur. A new dinosaur by scientific standards the Gigantspinosaurus wasn’t described until 1992 and generally ignored until a 2006 paper on the genus.

Gigantspinosaurus possessed a number of characteristics that make it quite distinctive, not least of which are the enormous spikes coming out from its shoulders. These spikes protrude upwards and point back, unlike the similar spikes on Kentrosaurus. CollectA faithfully recreates this feature as well as the other anatomical features of this animal. Like most stegosaurs (aside from Stegosaurus) the plates on Gigantspinosaurus were fairly small and triangular. The thagomizer at the end of the tail possesses four spikes. Skin impressions from this animal show a series of raised scutes that are also reproduced here. Basically, CollectA did their homework on this one, and it shows. The slightly enlarged head (for a stegosaur) is also in keeping with what we know about this dinosaur.

Although the model only measures a mere 5.4” it is packed with a high level of detail. Three clawed and two vestigial digits can be seen clearly on the robust forelimbs. The hind limbs possess three forward facing toes and one small dewclaw on each foot. Folds of skin run down the flanks and tail along a muscular and athletic looking body. The toy is sculpted in an alert posture with the right forelimb stepping forward and the head looking towards the right. The tail is swinging slightly upwards and towards the left.

The paint scheme is particularly nice on this one, and a far cry from the war-paint that CollectA used to be so fond of. This dinosaur is painted in soft, mottled earth tones. It’s both eye-catching and believable without being gaudy. The plates and shoulder spikes are gray with red tips highlighting the spikes. The thagomizer spikes are painted brown. Although the nails are clearly sculpted on this toy they are still painted in the same sandy color as the toy’s base color. The scutes on the body are painted in a variety of colors but I think they’re all supposed to be gray like the plates. But those on the brown portions of the animal are brown and there are a few on mine that aren’t painted at all. Given the small size there are also quite a few mistakes in the paint application. It’s barely noticeable though and shouldn’t put you off from an otherwise fantastic little piece.

Overall this is a really interesting, well made, and affordable little toy and a must have in any collection. Being new for 2017 it shouldn’t be hard to track one down. In closing I would like to thank Suspsy, a fellow reviewer, for donating this model to me for review.

Prehistoric Marine Tube (CollectA)

CollectA has emerged as one of the most prolific producers of dinosaur figures, with a few other Mesozoic reptiles and some mammals here and there for variety. They’ve developed a reputation for giving some obscure species the plastic treatment, but in general those species been relatively close relatives of the old standards. The prehistoric marine tube, released in the summer of 2017, is a welcome break from that pattern. It consists of twelve different animals from across the Phanerozoic, and from across the animal tree of life.

CollectA Prehistoric Marine Tube

The new CollectA figures are mostly around the same size as the ones from the sadly discontinued Safari Ltd prehistoric sea life Toob from a few years back. The two together give you a nice mix of animals, with no genera repeated. Let’s go through the CollectA figures one by one:

From the Cambrian period comes Olenoides, a common trilobite in the Burgess Shale. This figure is about 4 cm long, not counting appendages, making it around half life size. It resembles Olenoides in having cerci (the appendages at the tail end), but the sculpturing of the cephalon (head) is pretty far off the mark. Still, for CollectA’s first ever arthropod figure, it’s not too bad. Certainly much better than their first dinosaurs.

CollectA mini Olenoides

From the Ordovician period (and persisting into the Silurian), is the gigantic cephalopod Cameroceras, which is more closely related to the modern nautilus than either is to the ammonites in this set. This version is about 7 cm long, or around 1:85 scale. There’s precious little available for Ordovician toys, even though it’s when stereotypically Paleozoic marine faunas were really established. So this is a welcome addition in my book.

CollectA mini Cameroceras

Moving on to the Devonian, we come to everybody’s favorite giant armored fish, Dunkleosteus. This one is 7 cm long, or about 1:100 scale. It’s CollectA’s very first arthrodire, and their very first Devonian animal (are you starting to pick up on a theme?). They did a pretty good job, avoiding the common pitfall of making the sclerotic rings (internal eyeball bones) visible externally. The tail isn’t how I would reconstruct it, but reasonable people can disagree about how something the size of Dunkleosteus swam. The plates are about the right shape, and they look like they have some actual skin on them, which is a welcome change from some very zombie-esque reconstructions.

CollectA mini Dunkleosteus

From the earliest Jurassic, the large ichthyosaur Temnodontosaurus. This figure is about 8 cm long, or roughly 1:110 scale. It’s similar to the standard size version except that it isn’t giving birth. If it didn’t have adult proportions, it could almost stand in as the standard version’s pup. It has the unfortunate ridge of scales around the eyes, although at this small scale it doesn’t look as egregious.

CollectA mini Temnodontosaurus

Pliosaurus is the real giant of the set, at 11 cm long (about 1:110 scale). It differs from its deluxe counterpart in that it lacks the little lampreys hitching a ride on its back. Like the Temnodontosaurus, it doesn’t correct the problems with the larger figure’s head, namely, the odd ridge over the eye and the too-prominent fenestrae.

CollectA mini Pliosaurus

Now Leedsichthys, a gigantic, plankton-eating contemporary of Pliosaurus. Conveniently, they also scale well together: at 9 cm long, this is roughly 1:120 scale, though since it’s mostly known from pieces of the head, length estimates are uncertain. Not only is this CollectA’s first actinopterygian fish (well, this and the Xiphactinus), it’s one of very, very few prehistoric actinopterygian toys ever made. There have probably been fewer than 10, which is pretty bad for a group that has a 400 million year history and includes 95 out of every 100 animals you would think of as a fish. This is a really nice rendition, though necessarily speculative, since much of the skeleton of Leedsichthys was cartilaginous rather than bony and thus fossilized poorly. The one likely flaw I can spot is that it has two pelvic fins and no anal fin. Members of the family it belonged to generally had greatly reduced pelvic fins, and there is no evidence that Leedsichthys had them at all, but it probably did have an anal fin.

CollectA mini Leedsichthys

The Lower Cretaceous saw the rise of the heteromorph ammonites, the ones that evolved un-coiled shell shapes. Hard to know how they swam around looking like this. Australiceras was one of the more conservative of these, and on the smaller side. This little figure is about 1:5. It has 8 arms, though it should probably have 10 (more on that later).

CollectA mini Australiceras

One of the largest ammonites of all time, Parapuzosia is the only “standard” (non-heteromorph) ammonite in the set. A little over 3.5 cm across its longest axis, this figure is about 1:40-1:60 (specimens varied in size). Like the other ammonites in the set, it shows the aptychus (the roughly triangular mineralized structure usually found separated from the shell) as occluding the shell opening, in the manner of a nautilus hood. That arrangement is thought to be incorrect, but it is by far the most common way that aptychi are reconstructed.

CollectA mini Parapuzosia

The huge marine turtle Archelon, known from the Cretaceous Seaway that once covered North America’s central plains, is a nice addition to this set. This figure fairly captures the broad dimensions of the shell, although it might be just a shade too flattened. It’s around 4.5 cm long, making it 1:85 scale. Very cute, and the first turtle from CollectA!

CollectA mini Archelon

At the same time Archelon was swimming around the Cretaceous Seaway, so was the huge ichthyodectid Xiphactinus. At around 7 cm long, it’s roughly 1:85 scale. Xiphactinus is known from plenty of good skeletal material, so it was easier to get right: it has all the right fins in all the right places. The detail on the facial dermal bones and the teeth are pretty decent for a toy this small. One of the gems of the set.

CollectA mini Xiphactinus

Baculites was a heteromorph ammonite from the latest Cretaceous. Its shell was so thoroughly uncoiled that it looked like a straight-shelled cephalopod like the orthocerids of 100 million years earlier. At just over 5 cm long, this is roughly 1:40 scale, so it fits in great alongside some of your big marine reptiles.

CollectA mini Baculites

Another late Cretaceous ammonite, Diplomoceras is commonly compared to a paper clip. The plastic of this toy is flexible enough that you could use it that way! Its shell is just shy of 6 cm measured in a straight line from end to end, so it’s about 1:35-1:40 scale, working well with the Baculites in dioramas. This figure has 10 arms, but some of the other ammonites in this set have 8. No published fossils show the actual anatomy of the soft parts of ammonites, unfortunately, although fossilized traces in mud suggest that they had few arms, like squid, rather than many tentacles, like nautilus. Available evidence suggests that 10 is a likelier number, but it’s peculiar in any event that CollectA made some with 8 and some with 10.

CollectA mini Diplomoceras

Despite minor accuracy issues with some of the figures, this is a fantastic set. Unlike the dinosaur mini tubes that CollectA has released, which have been comprised almost entirely of miniature versions of standard-sized figures, this tube is mostly brand new animals–only the Temnodontosaurus and Pliosaurus are remakes of previous releases. It contains lots of firsts for CollectA: first protostomes (in fact, first invertebrates), first actinopterygians, first turtle, first Paleozoic animals of any description. I would love to see a few of these as large figures, especially Leedsichthys and Xiphactinus (but I have a soft spot for fishes). More importantly, I’d love to see additional tubes like this, full of smaller animals that work well in dioramas with larger figures, or animals that might be hard to market as stand-alone toys. Keep ’em coming, CollectA! For now, you can find these at a variety of online retailers, and outside of North America you might even be able to find them in brick-and-mortar stores.