Category Archives: plush

Dunkleosteus (Paleozoic Pals by Jaag Plush)

Armored placoderm fishes have never been so cuddly! Manufactured by Jaag Plush and commissioned by the Paleontological Research Institute (PRI) comes this 16” long most famous of prehistoric fishes, Dunkleosteus. Ol’ Dunk is a popular fish, about as popular as a prehistoric fish can get anyway. As such it has been reproduced by a few different toy companies already but this is the first plush Dunkleosteus that I’m aware of. It’s a good choice too for inclusion in the Paleozoic Pals as it reigned supreme as the largest predator of the Devonian period with the largest species measuring about 20’ in length, about the size of a great white shark.

For those unaware, the Paleozoic Pals is a line of plush animals that lived during the…you guessed it! The Paleozoic. They’re sold exclusively at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca New York but are available online on the PRI website. Since New York State is rich in Devonian fossils it makes sense that a New York museum would commission these mostly obscure but locally relevant plush toys and they’re a real hit at the museum gift shop.

This plush represents the first vertebrate in a line that so far consists of a trilobite, eurypterid, and an ammonoid. It no doubt represents Dunkleosteus terrelli, the largest and most well-known species of Dunkleosteus. Fossils of this species haven’t been found in New York but the species D. newberryi has and D. terrelli has been found in a few neighboring states. As such the Dunkleosteus figures in prominently at the Museum of the Earth with an entire museum display focused around an awesome set of its armor plates.

The armor plating of this fish is the only fossil material we actually have of Dunkleosteus and everything past the head is purely speculative on any reconstruction. Most reconstructions actually barrow heavily on the related genus Coccasteus for which we have much more complete remains. Coccateus only measured about 7-9” however, which means that it might be a poor comparison to the much larger Dunkleosteus. Features like the single-lobed eel like caudal fin of Coccateus probably wouldn’t have worked well for Dunk and despite nearly all reconstructions depicting it with such a tail it’s likely to have had a caudal fin more like that of a tuna, billfish, or shark than a relative that could fit in your hand. This plush, like most other renditions, gives the toy that unlikely tail.

The visible armored head is well constructed with the various plates nicely outlined. In life, Dunkleosteus probably had skin over this armor but these plates are its signature feature so it seems reasonable that they would be outlined so prominently here. Paired pectoral and pelvic fins are present as well as a long dorsal fin. An anal fin is absent.

The “teeth” of Dunkleosteus weren’t actually teeth, but modified plates. On this toy they’re made of felt but in color that matches the rest of the armor which is nice, it seems unlikely that they would be white. The toy is filled with polyester fiber and small pellets which add some weight to it and allow it to be propped up. From what I can tell this is a well-constructed plush with sturdy seams and should hold up to play from kids and adults alike.

The Paleozoic Pals Dunkleosteus is a really cool plush that I can’t recommend enough.  It’s not every day you get to give your child a soft and cuddly arthrodire placoderm fish and I doubt you’ll see another one of these from another company anytime soon. This is a must have in any prehistoric fishes collection.

Tyrannosaurus rex (Douglas Cuddle Toys)

Review and photos by Bryan Divers, edited by Suspsy

Few dinosaurs are as well known as the mighty Tyrannosaurus. It is also the only dinosaur commonly known by its binomial scientific name: Tyrannosaurus rex instead of just Tyrannosaurus. T. rex is my favourite dinosaur, and I love soft toys, so this one is a double favourite for me. I named my T. rex “Sue” after the one in the Field Museum. Recently, scientists have suggested that Tyrannosaurus had feathers, though I can’t personally imagine this. T. rex jaws are clearly crocodilian in their shape and teeth, and impressions have been found of their skin, showing it was indeed scaly and reptilian (Editor’s note: see my comment below).

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Here is the Tyrannosaurus produced by Douglas Cuddle Toys. She is about 10 inches long from nose to tail, and about 4 inches wide. The fabric used in the construction of the toy is amazing, with its realistic reptilian scales. The stomach is stitched at intervals to give the feel of a somewhat wrinkled belly. The workmanship around the eyes and jaws is awesome. The ridges over the eyes are cleverly made and the jaws are stitched together with a printed fabric made to look like teeth in front, joining the two jaws together. She even has little thread nostrils if you look very closely! The eyes are alligator-like, with slitted pupils.

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The pose of the dinosaur is admittedly a bit dated, but it would be extremely difficult to construct a plush T. rex in a horizontal position that would still stand up. Even her short little arms are accurate. A number of Tyrannosaurus soft toys depict them as having three fingers; effectively rendering it an Allosaurus. Not Sue. This beauty correctly show the two fingers and claws of a Tyrannosaurus.

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If you need a Tyrannosaurus for travel, Sue is your gal. Her price is moderate for a toy of her quality and her small size makes her a perfect travel buddy. She is available on eBay, www.stuffedsafari.com, and Amazon.

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Woolly Mammoth (Mini Cuddlekin by Wild Republic)

Review and photo by Bryan Divers, edited by Suspsy

Meet Ellie, the favourite of favourites in my whole dinosaur collection! I was so inspired by her that I even draw a cartoon called “Skinny and Ellie,” featuring a caricature of her. Ellie is a Wild Republic woolly mammoth, also known as a Cuddlekin. But she is also part of the Mini Cuddlekin family; being only eight inches long and about five inches tall, making her perfect for travel.

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The pattern of her fur is also beautiful, with a soft, reddish-brown, felt-like material composing her face, trunk, mouth, legs, rump, and tail. It is very possible that mammoths’ hair was shorter in these areas.

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Ellie’s cranium tuft and the areas around her hump, shoulders, and stomach are made of longer, dark-brown plush. Mammoths had longer hair on the top of their heads and on their bodies, so that is also nicely accurate. Other nice details are the black nostrils stitched in her pink trunk tip and her open mouth, also made of the same pink material. Black hairs crown the tip of her tail as well. I also really admire that the white tusks grow out of brown tusk sockets attached to the sides of her face, rather than just being stitched directly to her face. This detail is overlooked in a number of stuffed woolly mammoths and elephants.

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Ellie is, without any doubt, a five star toy in my mind. She is beautifully artistic in her construction and as appropriate for any mammoth-loving child as for an adult mammoth lover who likes to travel with a little friend, like me. She is easy to find in museum gift shops or online at Stuffedsafari.com, Amazon, or eBay, where I got mine.

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