Category Archives: non-dinosaur

Ammonoid (Paleozoic Pals by Jaag Plush)

First off, just to get it out of the way, this is not an ammonite. This is an ammonoid, the broader group to which ammonites belong. While ammonites lived through the Jurassic and Cretaceous the group ammonoidea first appeared 400 million years ago in the Devonian. Thus, here we have a plush ammonoid, not an ammonite which would have no place in a line of toys representing Paleozoic fauna. Also worth noting, for no reason in particular is that ammonoids are actually more closely related to squids, octopuses, and cuttlefish than they are to the superficially similar nautiloids but all of them are of course cephalopods.

Now what species or genus of ammonoid this toy is supposed to represent is a bit of a mystery, and it’s probably not meant to represent any specific animal, just ammonoids as a group and you could probably pretend it was an ammonite if you wanted. Just for kicks I tried to identify it in my “Field Guide to the Devonian Fossils of New York” but with no real success. This is kind of a shame honestly because the previously released trilobite and eurypterid identify the toys at the species level.

Regardless of identity this is still a great toy. The boldly colored and tightly wound orange shell, in conjunction with the big shiny eyes and ten arms make it a lot of fun to look at and play with. It’s quite large too, measuring 15” in length (arms included) and 7” tall. The shell is quite wide too, 3” across. The eyes are brown, body tan, and the arms tan and white. No mouth is present hidden in the arms, unfortunately.

As with the rest of the Paleozoic Pals line this toy was commissioned by PRI’s Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, NY. If you want to catch one in the wild you’ll have to go there to get one but you can also acquire it on their website which is no doubt the more practical route. But, if you’re ever in central/western New York make sure you stop by the museum. The collection of Devonian fossils is truly impressive and one of a kind. This review concludes our look at the Paleozoic Pals, for now. It’ll be exciting to see what the future holds for these adorable and unique toys.

Edaphosaurus (Fèves)

Over eight (!) years after reviewing Bullyland Edaphosaurus here, which was my very first review, I´d like to do a review my second Edaphosaurus now, the one, well, “by”, Féves.
Fèves is no company but the term for tiny little figurines made from ceramic / porcelain. It´s a collector´s world on its own, extending over hundreds of different subject areas such as birds, dwarf, movie heroes and so on. It´s worth browsing the web for further information, since there are many things to learn about by digging deeper into this matter. The origin of these figures is especially exciting: A popular fairy-tale figure named „Peau d´Ane“, (“Donkey Skin” in English) from the 13th century was said to have lost a ring in his cake mixture during baking.

Hence developed the rite of stirring a hard bean, French “Fève” into the traditional cake the French bake on January 6th, the day of Epiphany. Since people need change they developed other items from different materials to stir into the cake, still calling them “Féves”. Porcelain is heat-resistant and mostly was the material of choice. It´s said to bring luck if you are the one getting the piece of cake with the “bean” in it or even biting on it.
As to our concern, it´s important that some of these Fèves represent prehistoric animals, there are at least two series I know of, one I own myself (see picture) and one basing on the caracters from Disneys “Dinosaurs” movie.
As an example I decided on the Edaphosaurus, the interesting Permian plant-eater that belongs at least to the extended circle of popular prehistoric beasts, not as popular as its carnivorous cousin Dimetrodon, of course, but okay, still popular.

The figure is tiny, that is 3 cm long and 2 cm tall. It´s made from glossy porcelain. The animal itself stands on a green base revealing its name. While the figure is tan, its sail is bright red. This lovely critter is surprisingly detailed, albeit it would not stand the test of scientific correctness. All the things concerning scientific correctness in my opinion are not interesting for virtus like these.
If you are a collector who is not loath against quirky subject areas, you will enjoy Fèves figurines. Somehow or other, this Edaphosaurus is a nugget I want to keep as long as I´ll be collecting. Thus to my mind 5 out of 5 stars are totally justified.

Moschops (White Post)

White Post is no company, but the location of “Dinosaur Land”, a theme park dedicated to prehistoric animals in Virginia, USA. This park has been run as a family business for over 50 years now. Early in the history of the park the operators had the idea of having some of their lifesize figures made into small plastic figures for their souvenir shop. In respect thereof these figures are an equivalent of the Kleinwelkas from the German Democratic Republic. (Here, for instance, is their Diplodocus.)
According to the Dinosaur Collector Site A, these figures are very collectible, impossible to find and go for high prices. This is probably due to both a small edition and the fact that it´s quite hard to tell the value of such a beast in a toy box or on a flea market. It even says “Hong Kong” at the belly! I hate the thought that uninformed parents threw many of these away after their childrens´ dinosaur development phase (which we enthusiasts never really grew out of, right?)

Here you can see other figures of this line. Some remind me at the Invictas in terms of their monochromacity and their overall look, yet these beasts have been modeled far more roughly and look much, well, cheaper.
Here is the homepage of the theme park.
And here is a link to a great collection of photographs showing the life-sized models the figures are based on.
Moschops (Greek for “calf face”) is an extinct genus of therapsid that lived in the Guadalupian epoch, around 265–260 million years ago. Therapsids are synapsids, which once were the dominant land animals. Its remains were found in the Karoo region of South Africa.
Besides the Moschops, there are many other interesting species, for example a Saltoposuchus, a Diatryma or a Tylosaurus. And they are all said to be ugly. Well, yes, they are ugly to a certain extent.
But to put it bluntly: There´s no accounting for taste, and this Moschops is a figure that suits me down to the ground!

It is 9 cm long and 3,5 cm tall. Its colour is a monochrome purple/tan. It looks as if someone had smeared green colour at its flanks.
Honestly, one would not recognize this figure as a Moschops if it had not been called a Moschops. The front legs should stand taller than the hind legs, the head is a catastrophe and the eyes look like they belong to an insectoid alien. And the figure even seems to have two muzzles. Very odd! There are some rough bumps at the flanks and a ridge extends to its back, but don´t expect anything looking like a continuous skin pattern. Both the forefeet and the hindfeet have been sculpted sloppily, and so has the whole figure. It looks like it is walking on brittle ice, permanently afraid of breaking. Anatomy didn´t play a role in sculpting this model, which is incomprehensible, since the original looks quite decent. It seems like the contractors modeled this figure after a badly shot picture from an unlucky perspective.
But it does have charme for it evokes both pity and the thrill of the chase. This is an interesting in-between affect. I was lucky to get mine in a pleasant trade, but I don´t have the slightest clue for a reference source. I guess it´s most probable to find one of these by scanning endless amounts of ebay lots. Good luck!

To sum it up: White Post Moschops is definitely no beauty, but true beauty is a matter of what your heart tells you, and so this figure for me, despite all its inaccuracy, gets 5 out of 5 stars. To me it stands in a line with the Marx or Tootsie Toys Moschops.

Is this a museum quality figure, sculpted correctly? The point is moot. This is the kind of figure that make a collector´s life worthwhile!