Category Archives: non-dinosaur

Plesiosaurus (Mini)(Chap Mei)

As its name suggests, Plesiosaurus was the very first plesiosaur ever to be discovered, in England back in 1823 by the legendary fossil hunter Mary Anning. At around 3.5 metres in length, it was a relatively small sea reptile, a far cry from later relatives such as Elasmosaurus and Thalassomedon.

This Mini Plesiosaurus from Chap Mei measures just under 15 cm long. Its main colours are blue-green on top and white on the bottom with dull orange eyes and stripes, black on the head and along the back, a dark pink tongue, and white teeth. Probably would have looked a lot better without the orange, but that’s Chap Mei for you.

The Plesiosaurus is sculpted in a swimming pose with its front flippers held directly underneath its body, its hind flippers angled out around 45 degrees give or take, its tail swaying to the right, and its neck bent in an S-shaped curve. Unlike so many other aquatic reptile figures, it balances nicely on the tips of its flippers. But as any plesiosaur expert will quickly inform you, there’s no way the neck could be bent in such a manner without breaking a number of vertebrae!

The sculpting on this toy is quite a haphazard mixture. The head and body have large scales, the neck and tail have small wrinkles like the ones on an earthworm, and the flippers and underbelly have crisscrossing wrinkles. Three rows of osteoderms are on the animal’s back and the tail appears to have caudal fins just like on an eel. Again, that’s Chap Mei for you.

This Plesiosaurus certainly won’t win any prizes for sculpting or accuracy, but it’s got kind of a weird, retro charm to it. Kids will no doubt enjoy playing with it. It’s also one of the rarer Chap Mei toys, so if you’re intrigued, good hunting!

Dimorphodon (Supreme by CollectA)

In early 2015, CollectA released one of the biggest and best pterosaur toys of all time: the Supreme-class Guidraco! With its great size, fearsome appearance, and magnificent detailing, it was a must-have for any pterosaur aficionado! For 2017, CollectA has followed up with a Dimorphodon at the same scale.

Like the Guidraco, the Dimorphodon has been sculpted in a walking pose with its wings neatly folded up. Its huge head is turned sightly to the right and its long tail is raised high and swaying slightly to the left. This gives the toy a length of 37 cm and a height of 13 cm. Granted, it’s not as enormous as the Guidraco, but it’s still one of the biggest pterosaur toys ever made. And it easily dwarfs the other renditions of Dimorphodon, at least that I know of!


The main colour on this pterosaur is sandy yellow. Dull brown wash is used to accentuate the shaggy coat of pycnofibres covered its entire body save for the bill, hands, feet, and tail vane. The various wing membranes are all taupe grey. The underbelly is beige and the claws are black. Dark brown is used for the markings on the head, the spots on the body, and the stripes on the tail. The nostrils are black, the inside of the mouth is dull pink, and the teeth are grey. Finally, the large, round eyes are painted with glossy black that I can even see my blurry reflection in. It’s a pretty swell colour scheme overall, although I would have preferred the teeth in white rather than grey.

As mentioned above, most of the Dimorphodon‘s body is covered in meticulously sculpted pycnofibres. The wings membranes have faint creases to give them a leathery appearance and the feet, the hands, and the enormous bill also have faint wrinkles. The inside of the mouth is nicely detailed with a long, skinny tongue and the teeth and claws are pleasingly pointy. And just like the Guidraco, this Dimorphodon boasts a hinged lower jaw that allows you the options of an open or closed mouth. The large front teeth interlock nicely. In contrast to its exaggerated portrayal in Jurassic World (ugh), Dimorphodon was a rather poor flyer with a light, fragile skull and a relatively weak bite. You’d pose overwhelmingly more danger to it than vice versa. That said, it still would have been the personification of death for any insect or small vertebrate inhabiting the Early Jurassic.

On that note, this Dimorphodon does have a dentition error in that there ought to be ten large teeth at the front of the lower jaw as opposed to just six. As well, the elongated fifth digits on the hind feet should not have claws. Aside from that, however, this figure is very accurate indeed. The proportions and profile are correct and the the figure is immediately recognizable as a Dimorphodon. The fenestrae are slightly visible beneath the skin, but not enough to be a case of “shrink wrapping.” The propatagium and the brachopatagium also appear to be correct, with the latter attaching to the hind limb near the ankle. The uropatagium stretches from the base of the tail to the elongated fifth toes. The tip of the tail features a large vane for stability during flight.


A couple of small errors notwithstanding, this toy truly is fantastic, every bit as much as the Guidraco and hands down the best plastic representation of Dimorphodon to date. Definitely a top contender for the best prehistoric toy of 2017!

A huge thank you to CollectA for this review sample!

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.