Category Archives: mammal

Livyatan (Mega Abissi by Diramix)

If you’ve ever wanted to build a diorama with your megalodon toys, you’ve probably noticed that there aren’t many other Miocene sea monster toys to pair them up with, although luckily plenty of the fish, turtles, and invertebrates alive then were very similar to modern ones. Today’s review concerns a contemporary of the famous shark, but it’s a rendition that’s unlikely to do much to enhance your diorama. Get a load of this rubbery little sea monster, from an Italian company called Diramix.

Livyatan was a toothed whale (odontocete) closely related to the modern sperm whales. It was originally named after Leviathan, the sea monster mentioned repeatedly in the Hebrew Tanakh, but the name had been used previously for a mastodon. All to the good, though, as the describers renamed the whale Livyatan, which is closer to the original Hebrew in any event. The full scientific name is Livyatan melvillei, in honor of Moby Dick author Herman Melville. Livyatan was a large predatory whale, but how large is uncertain, as the only remains so far discovered are of the skull, which was about a meter long. Extrapolating based on other whales, it could have been anywhere from 13 to 18 meters in length, similar in size to the modern sperm whale. It differs from sperm whales in having formidable teeth in both jaws instead of just the lower jaw. The fearsome teeth, up to 35 cm in length, leave little doubt that it was an apex predator.

Diramix markets stretchy, rubbery animal toys in blind bags. Most of their figures don’t bear any marking except to indicate that they’re made in China. Their larger figures (like this one) are also stamped “THE EPIC ANIMALS,” which is the name of their main line of animal figures, consisting of several short-lived series. The Livyatan belongs to a series called “Mega Abissi,” mostly consisting of larger counterparts to the smaller figures in the earlier “Antichi Abissi” series. Livyatan, however, is unique to the larger set.

This Livyatan is typical of Diramix offerings in appearance, although it is larger than most of their toys, about 19 cm long. It does a reasonable job of giving the overall impression of a sperm whale, even including the lengthwise wrinkles in the skin of the torso and tail. The only feature that could really distinguish Livyatan from an ordinary sperm whale at this level of detail is the upper teeth, and they’re included, although substantially blunted. The body–along with several of the teeth–is bright blue instead of dark gray like a sperm whale. The paint work is sloppy, and the surface of the toy is slightly tacky, so dust and everything else adhere to it. The flexible rubber shell is filled with beads, and I expect that a little rough treatment by a kid could easily rupture it, although the packaging is at pains to assure us that both the shell and filling are non-toxic. The flexible material makes it easy to have your Livyatan munch on whatever prey you want to feed it.

Wait, I thought life without the Leviathan was supposed to be nasty, brutish, and short.

Perhaps someday a toy company will make a nice realistic Livyatan toy, but this sure isn’t it. If you must have one, you can occasionally find it offered by Italian sellers on eBay. As far as I know, that’s the only country where it’s being sold. I got mine thanks to the kind assistance of an Italian member of the Dinosaur Toy Forum, but either way you’re probably going to pay more for shipping than for the figure itself, worth keeping in mind if you’re trying to decide whether to hunt one down.

Doedicurus (Jurassic Hunters by Geoworld)

Review and photos by Takama, edited by Suspsy

When it comes to glyptodonts, only two species have ever been replicated in toy form. The first one is the standard Glyptodon, which has been made by many companies over the years (yet many have yet to be reviewed). And then there’s Doedicurus, the one glyptodont that most laypeople can tell is different from Glyptodon because of the spiky club on its tail that would make many ankylosaurs green with envy. Unlike Glyptodon, this animal has been made by fewer companies, with only Kaiyodo, Safari, and this one from Geoworld coming to mind.

The Geoworld model is not half bad for a model of this species. The carapace is covered with many little osteoderms just like in the fossils, but I can’t help but wonder if they are too big. The tail is sculpted correctly with the rings of bone covering it to look like the animal can extend or retract its tail (I’m not saying it could really do that, just that that’s how it looks to me). As for the club, it seems to match the fossils as well. The spikes on this model are somewhat sharp, so be careful should you give this to a kid who is prone to rough play.

The one thing I am not sure about accuracy-wise would be the head. I do not know much about mammals, and in case it was not obvious, I basically compared the model to images of the fossils themselves since they are well known. Reconstructing the face of a mammal seems to be a harder thing to do then reconstructing the face of an extinct dinosaur, so please forgive me for not knowing if this figure’s face is accurate or not. But just to help you decide, I will go ahead and describe it. The face is rounded just like it should be on a glyptodont. The head is also armoured, which is a correct thing to do, but the nostrils and ears are huge. This almost gives the animal a rodent-like appearance, when it’s supposed to be an armadillo.

The figure is painted in a mostly tan colour with the tiny osteoderms and head plate coloured in brown. The toe claws are painted brown as well and the eyes are painted red. In case you’re wondering, this 6″ figure is an entirely original creation from Geoworld, which I think is good, because we all know of the company’s misdeeds when it comes to the paleoart used in the fact cards that come with their models. On that note, the image on the card that comes with this model has not been ripped from any other source that I can think of. Instead, it shows a drawing of the animal that looks an awful lot like the model.


Overall, this looks like your typical Doedicurus and if you want one in your collection, I say you should pick one up if you see it at a store. Unfortunately, these mammal toys have become very hard to find outside of DeJankins, which has proven to be the best source of these models should you care to buy them. It’s a long road ahead to reviewing every Geoworld Jurassic Hunters model I have, so I’m glad to check this one off the list.

Woolly Mammoth (2007)(Cuddlekin by Wild Republic)

Review and photos by Bryan Divers, edited by Suspsy

This is a review of my most prized possession, the original woolly mammoth Cuddlekin by Wild Republic, released back in 2007. It is not the same as the more recent versions that have already been reviewed, which come in 40-inch, 12-inch, and 8-inch sizes. The original version by Wild Republic is made of noticeably different material and is slightly larger at about 14 inches. I can’t believe I haven’t thought to review it for the blog until now.

This good old woolly mammoth is approaching the 10th anniversary of when I first got her. I was twelve at the time, and my mother bought her for me at the Shop 4 Science gift shop at the Science Museum of Virginia. She was the best of the best for her time, and is probably my most prized possession down to today. I even think that if my house was on fire, I would grab her! A close friend also saw the personality in her and would always ask me about Ellie the mammoth, as we called her. Ellie also accompanied me on a number of family vacations: the most memorable one to me was to Smithfield, Virginia.

My friend always commented on how soft Ellie’s fur was to the touch, and indeed the plush was beautiful. It has become a bit matted over the last ten years, and I actually patched a couple of defective spots on her belly with some felt that matched her fur. The rest of her, though, has remained in fair condition. Although, as her owner, I may be a little prejudiced.

Her trunk is made in a tea spout position, as if she is trumpeting. Her tusks are accurately made, even down to the little brown parts that the tusks grow out of. The end of her tail has little black hairs on it, and the toenails are stitched. The insides of the ears, the soles of the feet, and the toenails are made of a reddish-brown fabric that is flatter than the reddish-brown fur fabric on her head and shoulders. Her mouth is open and makes her look like she is smiling–one of the most appealing features of this toy, to me at least. Her shoulders, hump, and the top of her head are made of a dark reddish-brown fur fabric, and the rest of her body is made of a brown taupe fabric that almost looks dark grey. My mother got her for an easy $12.99, which was moderate considering her quality and that she was sold from a museum gift shop. I think the fact that she remains my favourite stuffed animal into my twenties all the way from age 12 proves that she is as wonderful for the young as for the young at heart.

When my friend was forced to return to her native country, Brazil, in December 2009, Ellie became even more precious to me because she reminded me of the many happy memories with my friend and her family. She is the last connection I have to that beautiful time in my past. If you too see the magic of this beautiful toy and want one for your own, eBay is probably your best bet: search for “mammoth cuddlekins” or “wild republic mammoth.” (A hint: if you want the original mammoth like mine, the fur on the face, legs, and rump looks very dark, almost black, as opposed to the more brown look of the newer version.)