Category Archives: Plesiosaur

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.

Elasmosaurus (Stuttgart NHM, Bullyland)

Elasmosaurus was a magnificent and charismatic marine reptile that had an incredible neck.   This sea dragon reached an estimated length of 43 feet (13 meter).  The head and neck comprised half of its length.  It might not have been the most powerful animal in prehistoric seas but it is one of the more elegant and recognizable plesiosaurs.

Due to its distinctive look, it is a popular sea creature that has been made many times by different toy companies. In classic paleo art depictions of Elasmosaurus, it either had a swan like neck raising out of the water or it was able to coil its neck like a snake to catch its prey.  As cool as that looked, that idea is very inaccurate and would have been impossible for the animal to do.  In reality the neck would have been held quite straight with some degree of flexibility for occasional sideward movements.   When coming up to breath I think it would be similar to how a sea snake or turtle breathes with just the tip of the nose coming out of the water.

About the toy:  The 2003 Bullyland Elasmosaurus embodies retro styling with a long twisting neck that would make Charles Knight and Zdenek Burrian proud. Its neck is twisting to its right, then gracefully turns upward and curves to its left,  then turns slightly to face forward, proudly holding its head high.  In all honesty this beauty has an incredible neck.  When measuring all the twists and turns its neck is about 9 in (22.86 cm)long.  The main body is about 3 in (7.62 cm) long, and its tail is about 3 in(7.62 cm) long. When measured from head to tail in a straight line the overall length is 10 in (25.4 cm) long. The head is held off the ground at 3 in (7.62 cm) in height.

The sculpting on the head is more accurate than the Carnegie version but it is not perfect.   The eyes look like they are placed close to the top of the head but they still look a little low.  It might be a nit-pick but the eyes also look too far back on the skull.  The nares are visible in the front.

What about the dentation? When we look at these chompers we should see long thin teeth that protruded from the mouth when closed.  The teeth should be intermeshed together like a zipper to impale and capture wiggling fish. Unfortunately this toy doesn’t have those features.  The teeth are marked by small lines that are etched into a solid block of teeth that look rather uniform.  It is hard to tell but if you look closely at  the teeth they might be ever so slightly protrude in the front.

The torso is flat on the bottom and looks inflexible and rigid.  The tail is short and curves to its left.  The flippers are thin but broad and on the front they curl upwards a little to give it a feeling of pushing water aside.    The front flippers are a copy of each other as they are posed and sculpted the same.  The same is true of the rear flippers.  The skin texture is circular bumps across the entire body, neck, flippers and tail.   The colorization is simple and believable.  It is painted in typical Bullyland pastel shade of colors.  Light blue on top and white on the underside.  From the head to the tail there are black spots and splotches.  This includes the flippers as well.  The eyes are yellow with a black pupil.

Play ability:  This sensational marine reptile has an incredible neck that is long and twisted.  It is an attractable pose for kids.  It offers many different imaginary ideas during playtime.  I have seen this model be at the mercy of many different predatory prehistoric toys.  This toy needs to be careful during play time and here’ s why.  The toy goes for a make believe swim to find fish to eat or perhaps to talk to mermaid Barbie, when suddenly you can hear the Jaws theme playing.   That darn Jurassic World Mosasaurus shows up, attacks, and before the Elasmosaurus can escape it has been grabbed by the neck and pulled to the inky depths of the carpeted floor.  The toy is not heavy, nor are there any sharp edges, which makes it safe to play with.  The paint job can scuff rather easily during play time so parents be prepared to paint touch ups.

Overall:  Is this a scientifically accurate toy?  No it is not.  If you want accuracy, check out the Wild Safari Elasmosaurus.  That doesn’t mean that the toy isn’t worth picking up.  I personally find the pose beautiful.  Yes it looks more like a monster from a movie or from some old paleo art with its head above water and twisting like a snake.  For me, that classic look is part of the appeal.  It is also a great toy for kids. If you are interested in this toy it is still relatively easy to find.

 

Kronosaurus (Deluxe by CollectA)

Slowly, steadily, silently, Keelhaul approaches his target, an elasmosaur too occupied in turn with stalking a school of fish to notice him. A sudden push of his flippers, a snap of his mighty jaws, a moment’s frantic struggle, and the elasmosaur is dead, its long neck nearly severed. Wasting no time, Keelhaul sinks his teeth into his victim’s abdomen and begins tearing apart the flesh . . .

Named after the cruel king of the Greek titans who swallowed his own children whole, Kronosaurus queenlandicus was truly a terror of the deep. Measuring over ten metres in length, propelled by powerful flippers, and equipped with a two-metre long head and a mouth filled with enormous conical teeth, this frightful pliosaur was probably capable of killing anything it encountered in the Early Cretaceous seas. Little wonder then that CollectA selected it as one of their Deluxe figures for 2017. And with a length of 31 cm and a flipperspan of 18.5 cm, this briny brute topples the Pliosaurus for the title of their biggest sea monster to date. It is sculpted in a swimming pose with its huge head turned to the left and its short tail swaying to the right. Unlike so many other plesiosaur toys that rest on their bellies, this giant is supported by its mighty flippers.

The main colours on the Kronosaurus are rust on top and beige underneath. Dark brown patches and tiny spots adorn the upper half of the body. The eyes are glossy black, the teeth are cream, and the inside of the mouth is pink. Given that most sea monster figures are painted in varying shades of blue or grey or green, I find this colour scheme to be quite distinctive and refreshing, yet still grounded in realism. The dark upper half and light underbelly would effectively camouflage the predator from above and below. And the large, inky black eyes give it a dark, sinister vibe similar to that possessed by a great white shark. The Schleich Kronosaurus has a very similar colour scheme, but it isn’t executed as well as this.

The Kronosaurus‘ mouth features a ribbed palate, a huge tongue, and, of course, lots and lots of conical teeth, sharp enough to be pleasing, yet not enough to present a potential hazard. Most of the wrinkles carved into the body are sparse and subtle, but the ones on its neck and at its shoulders and hips are much more pronounced. There are also a few small, wart-like bumps scattered across the skin. The flippers are long, thick, and muscular, perfect for propelling the animal rapidly through the depths. Similarly, the stocky neck would enable ol’ Keelhaul here to shake a victim to death, then tear the corpse apart piece by piece.

On that note, let’s talk about this toy’s action feature. The Kronosaurus‘ lower jaw is hinged, allowing the mouth to clamp shut, open wide, or chomp down on other toys as shown below. Needless to say, this is quite a fun feature, one that will appeal to many adult collectors and certainly any child. I know my eight year old self would been head over heels with this toy. It would have been devouring other aquatic beasts or G.I. Joes all day long. The only down side is that there’s a very visible seam along the jawline, especially when the mouth is closed.

And we mustn’t forget to discuss scientific accuracy. This Kronosaurus does have a small error in that there ought to be a diastema (gap in the tooth row) between the last pair of premaxillary teeth and the first pair of maxillary teeth. I’m not going to fault CollectA too much for this, as it’s relatively difficult to find good, up-to-date reference material for Kronosaurus. Indeed, the only mounted specimen, located at Harvard University, has been dubbed “Plasterosaurus” for the amount of fake bones it contains. Aside from the teeth, however, this toy measures up very well. The head is appropriately massive and well-fleshed out. The flippers are correctly proportioned with the rear pair being larger. And the chunky tail features a small fluke. There’s no direct evidence for such a feature on Kronosaurus as of this writing, but given that some of its relatives such as Rhomaleosaurus possessed them, the possibility exists.

Overall, this is a highly impressive and fun figure, one that will surely terrorize the other denizens of the deep in your collection. Would also be great to play with the bathtub or the swimming pool! Kronosaurus was my favourite prehistoric sea monster as a kid and Keelhaul here has captured its mighty essence wonderfully.

Thanks go out to CollectA for this review sample!