Category Archives: ichthyosaur

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.

Himalayasaurus (Age of the Dinosaurs by PNSO)

Review and photos by Lanthanotus, edited by Suspsy

Just recently, the Chinese company PNSO stirred the DinoToyBlog community with the release of their first dinosaur (and some not so “dinosaur”) figures, especially because they became available via Amazon, thereby lowering the costs and challenges of overseas deals by a good share. So I dared to throw in a few coins to obtain two of their small figures to check on their quality.


All the small prehistoric figures are released under the “PNSO Age of the Dinosaurs” label and every single figure got a personal name. The individual species introduced here is dubbed “Zomba the little Himalayasaurus“. Unlike the very first PNSO figures reviewed here on the blog, which boast obvious juvenile traits (“Kindchenschema”), the other small figures show adult proportions, so “little” may in fact refer to the size of the figure, rather than the maturity of the animal it depicts. After all, the figure measure only a tiny 9.8 cm in total length, bringing it on par with Kaiyodo Dinotales figures. Unlike those, PNSO’s figures are made from hard, but flexible plastic and can withstand some rough play.


Each of the small figures comes individually packed in a plastic clamshell with an accompanying mini-poster and information sheet. Unfortunately, it’s written completely in Chinese, so most of the contents will be inaccessible to many western customers, though it seems to provide some information about Himalayasaurus(of course) as well as the leading heads of the Peking Natural Science-Art Organisation.


Himalayasaurus is an interesting choice for a figure especially as it’s regarded by some to be a nomen dubium, a genus that lacks reasonable differences to set it apart from other species. However, some experts including Dong Zhiming, who discovered the fossil in 1972, defended the species’ status and listed its unique features, such as cutting edges on the teeth’s crown. Valid or not, the fossil shows a strong relationship to the Triassic Shastasauridae, a family that includes the more popular Shonisaurus, a large species that does not fit into the widely distributed ichtyosaur rendition as dolphin-like reptiles. And so does Zomba, the Himalayasaurus. Its rotund, thick-bellied body is steered by long, narrow pectoral fins. It lacks a dorsal fin completly and the upper fluke on the tail is greatly reduced. This rendition makes it unique as a toy ichthyosaur, I think. The rotund body is debatable and the lack of a dorsal fin may look weird, but is in accordance to current scientific view. However, there’s a somewhat unsettling inaccuracy: the fins. Ichthyosaur fins are well known from fossil remains, as they contain a helluva lot of bones underlaying the whole surface of each fin, way more than in other vertebrates. This is because ichthyosaurs developed hyperphalangy to strengthen their fins, with some species having digits made of twenty phalanges and more. And to go even further, other species developed hyperdactyly as well, so they had even more fingers than a common vertebrate has. While according to the skeletal reconstruction on the information sheet, Himalayasaurus did not develop hyperdactyly, it is a nice example for hyperphalangy, however Zomba’s fins look like the fins of ray fish, showing structures of underlaying spines or rays. Due to the small size of the figure and the paint applied on the fins, this feature is not as obvious.


This figure is a really nice, well proportioned and detailed rendition of a unique Triassic animal. The paint job is very attractive and accurate with a high-contrast countershading. The back of the figure is based in a dark greyish blue, the sides are light blue, and the underside is tan. Except for the head and the underside, the whole body is decorated with blotchy, dark blue stripes. The sculpt boasts great detailing and texture for a figure that size. All in all I regard the somewhat high price of the figure (6 to 7 €) fully justified. Greatly recommended as a collector’s item and as a toy.

Ichthyosaurus (Invicta)

Review and photos by Takama, edited by Suspsy

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the last Invicta model that needed a review on this very blog. Over the past decade or two, these models have been a staple for our community as they are the very first museum quality scale prehistoric models to ever hit store shelves. Despite being retired for over three decades, most of these models have proven to be reasonably priced on eBay and most of them are not that hard to obtain. Over the years, every other Invicta model has been reviewed on this blog at least once or twice. But today is the day where we can almost complete the Invicta page with the one remaining figure that has to be reviewed. Sure, there are also the colour versions that remain unreviewed as well as the one figure that’s just too modern for this blog, but I still think this review will be special.


The Invicta Ichthyosaurus is a pretty standard model of a member of the ichthyosaur family, but it’s been pointed out that this particular model is way too big to represent Ichthyosaurus itself. The writing on the belly says that the genus grew up to 8 meters long, but in reality, Ichthyosaurus only grew up to two metres in length. It is possible that they based this model off another species of ichthyosaur, but which one remains a mystery.


As a generic ichthyosaur figure, this model is pretty darn good. The characteristic fish-like appearance is replicated perfectly and the proportions are correct. In terms of detail, there is not much to talk about as the model is sculpted in smooth solid plastic and is pretty stiff. The eyes are well sculpted and if you look closely at the mouth, you can see that the sculptor attempted to give this model some teeth. The colour that this one was most commonly sold in is a dark sky blue, and the painted version(which I do not own) is done up like a modern day cetacean from what I saw in a picture from a DTF forum member’s collection.


Overall, this is one Invicta model that has stood the test of time, due to the fact that this particular creature have remained almost unchanged since its initial release. Like all Invicta models, eBay is the best place to get one, and if you’re lucky, you might find it at a flea market or two, or someone might sell one on our lovely forum.