Category Archives: Plesiosaur

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!

Elasmosaurus (Tsukuda Hobby Collection)

Review and photos by Bokisaurus, edited by Suspsy

Having previously reviewed the Tsukuda Hobby Styracosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex, I figured it is time to conclude the trilogy and add one more figure to the list, at least for now. This time we will take a dive into the prehistoric ocean and take a look at good old Elasmosaurus!

Elasmosaurus is perhaps the most famous member of its family. In the early days of prehistoric toys, almost all of the long-necked marine reptile figures were called Elasmosaurus. It is only recently that other species were added to the list. Tsukuda’s version is perhaps the most beautiful and elegant of all 13 figures in the collection. I find it simply stunning despite its age. Like the other figures, it is rather large at 1:30 scale; it measures a good 13 inches stretched out.

The head is beautifully sculpted. The signature glass eyes are yellow and make a nice contrast to the dark blue skin. The mouth is closed, but the teeth, which are all individually sculpted, are visible and nicely painted. The nostrils are placed on the top of the head, just in front of the eyes. There are subtle wrinkles around the jaw area, and there is also what appears to be loose skin around the area just below the jaw.

Like many plesiosaur figures, this one is smooth all over its body with hardly a hint of texturing besides a few wrinkled areas. The neck is held high in a regal, swan-like pose, although not to the extreme commonly seen in other plesiosaur figures. The neck is also nicely muscled and not too thin. This figure bares an unmistakable resemblance to the Invicta version both in pose and colouration. The blue body and the way the head and neck are posed makes it look like a larger, more detailed version of it.

With the Invicta figure

The body is robust and looks about right shape-wise. There is a slight hump on the back just after the neck connects with the body. The flippers are unique in that they are not shaped like any other plesiosaur’s. For starters, the flippers are huge and rounded in shape, more like a seal’s than a marine reptile’s. And just like a seal, there are clear groves that looks more like webbings on all four flippers. The rear flippers are larger and more fan-like than the front ones and the tail is short and stubby. The blue body is overally unremarkable. The underside is painted white, the only other colour to be found on this figure. The seams are visible both on the body and also on the two front flippers.

Despite some inaccuracies, this is a pretty good representation of a plesiosaur, much better than some of the later figures. Of the 13 Tsukuda figures, this one ranks as one of the rarest of them all. It shares this distinction with the equally beautiful and perhaps even rarer Dimetrodon. Both these figures are hard to find and when they do show up, can command high price. I was lucky enough to come across this one and acquire it many years ago.

In closing then, the Elasmosaurus is one of the best figures the Tsukuda collection has to offer. Despite its age, it remains a pretty good representation of the animal. The simple and elegant design is stunning and always commands attention. Despite the flood of more recent, more accurate plesiosaur figures, this one remains one of my all-time favourites. If you are lucky enough to find one at a reasonable price, I highly recommend adding it to your collection.

Kronosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)

Available from Amazon.com for under $20

When their vaunted Carnegie Collection was discontinued in early 2015, Safari Ltd evidently got to work pretty quickly to take up the slack elsewhere, because in a mere two years they more than doubled the output of figures from their standard dinosaur line. This year they’ve released a whopping 13 new figures, several of which are updated versions of animals that had been in the Carnegie Collection. One is this Kronosaurus, the first new figure of this genus since Schleich’s in 2005. The Carnegie Collection version was on the market for nearly 20 years, and Schleich’s was really no improvement, so we were due for a new one.

Safari Kronosaurus

This figure is large. It’s roughly 34 cm long, almost a third of which is the head. This is appropriate, as Kronosaurus had a truly gigantic head, up to 2.7 meters long. This figure is about 1:25-1:30 scale and could easily serve as a doorstop.

Safari Kronosaurus

Our hefty friend sports a fairly standard color scheme for a large marine predator, with a mix of grays above and white below. Even with the relatively conservative color scheme, the pattern is deceptively intricate, consisting of a broad, graded band of gray along the dorsal midline, criss-crossed by irregular but sharply defined transverse striations. The effect is quite eye-catching, and if I didn’t have the toy in my hands you could convince me that it was a computer-generated model. It’s sculpted in an active pose, with the head twisted slightly to the side as though striking at prey.

Safari Kronosaurus

The gaping jaws show off the dentition to great effect. We can see four teeth per side in the premaxillae (the front of the snout), marking this as K. queenslandicus. The gap between the fourth and fifth pair of teeth aligns with huge teeth in the flared lower jaw. This sort of pattern occurs in many aquatic predators, such as crocodiles, and makes it easier to handle prey.

Safari Kronosaurus

This new Kronosaurus represents a dramatic improvement in accuracy relative to previous renditions. Comparison with its Carnegie predecessor is especially instructive. Whereas the old one was perfectly cylindrical, inviting frequent comparisons to a sausage, the new one has a broader head and body, which makes it look much less…extruded. And while the old one had dinky rear flippers, the new one has long, broad ones, reflecting their important role in swimming.

Safari Kronosaurus

There is a low, subtle keel along the back of this figure, continuing on to the tail, but there is no fin. There is circumstantial evidence for small tail fins in some Jurassic pliosaurs, but tens of millions of years of evolution separate them from Kronosaurus. In contrast to ichthyosaurs, mosasaurs, whales, or metriorhynchid crocodiles, Kronosaurus did not use its tail for thrust production. Rather, it propelled itself with its flippers, which is unusual in modern animals. Sea turtles probably come closest, with perhaps penguins a distant second. Neither has any sort of vertical fin. Although Kronosaurus did not have a shell, it shared with turtles a relatively stiff torso, which, along with its slight dorsoventral compression, would help with stability. Therefore, it may not have been necessary to have a fin to prevent rolling. Since we have no clear and obvious modern analogue to compare, until and unless soft tissue around the tail of a big advanced pliosaur is found, Safari’s decision not to include a fin looks perfectly reasonable. At the same time, including one would also be defensible.

Safari Kronosaurus

The one minor gripe I have with this figure is that the fins tend to curl upward. I’m not sure why this is, and if it were a subtler bend it could be explained as minor deformation as the animal rows against the water. It might be that if you softened them up with a hair dryer and squished them between two books they would assume a more natural shape. If you try that or something similar, let us know in the comments!

Safari Kronosaurus

With the small exception of the curly fins, this is a spectacular figure that reflects great attention to detail. It’s the most accurate Kronosaurus on the market, ending the Carnegie version’s dubious 20-year reign. Kids and adult collectors alike should find a way to give it a home.

Available from Amazon.com for under $20