Category Archives: Starlux

Neanderthal (Starlux)

Review and photographs by Indohyus, edited by Suspsy

Time and new discoveries are incredible for changing ideas and concepts in every field of science and nature. Such is the way with the genus Homo, of which we humans are now the only living members. Our closest cousins, the Neanderthals, are an example of this change. The old views of them being stumbling brutes, only capable of grunting and violence are gone, with new discoveries showing that they had a form of language, cave paintings, and adornments (although they were still capable of being violent). There aren’t many figures of Neanderthals, however, possibly due to being too close to humans. Of course, the original dino toy line, Starlux, had their own examples.

The figure is a similar size to other Starlux figures, being 3.7” high (from base to club) and 1.8” wide. The colouring is based on the Caucasian skin complexion of certain modern humans, likely because Neanderthals are our evolutionary cousins. The pose is certainly of the time: very dynamic, maybe about to strike down prey. Feels a bit Wacky Races to me, but it’s passable.

Despite the older look, this figure does look pretty accurate for a hominid. The musculature is correct for the skeletal structure, and appears reasonably robust and rounded, at least in comparison to the human figures that Starlux produced. Even the hair seems accurate to modern ideas, though slightly too dark. Not too bad. Though the clothing doesn’t all the way around the crotch, no genitalia is present.

Overall, this isn’t too bad, despite the age. With CollectA and Safari producing Neanderthal figures of higher quality, you can overlook this figure, but this is still worth considering. They pop up on French eBay seller sites fairly frequently, so the choice is yours.

A final (obligatory) warning: the Starlux figures are made with different plastics to modern lines and are much more brittle. Most of the versions of this model have small bumps coming out of the club, but this one’s looks like they were knocked off. Proceed with caution.

Diatryma and Phorusrhacos (Starlux)

Review and photos by Lanthanotus, edited by Suspsy

A few months ago I stumbled upon pictures of several dinosaur figures made by the French company Starlux while I was reading through the “Recent Acquisitions” thread in the DTF. I looked up this company and found that they had made a great array of dinosaurs as well as some very obscure and rarely depicted prehistoric animals. The overall quality in regards of accuracy, however, ranged from poor to more or less decent. Some of this could be excused by the time that the figures were made (from 1969 onwards), when technical limitations as well as outdated or unsufficient reconstructions made accurate modelling a hard job, especially when the aim was to produce a somewhat cheap toy. Despite the often poor accuracy and detailing, Starlux figures boast a certain charm, and at least some of them are great in terms of both detailing and accuracy. Let me introduce you to two examples.

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Today, Diatryma is considered a species of the genus Gastornis, but back in 1970, when this figure was released, Diatryma was a valid taxon. Gastornis species dwelled in Europe, North America, and China during the Cenozoic era, around 56 to 45 MYA. The flightless birds grew up to 2 metres tall and were long considered to be carnivorous, hunting small mammals such as the early ancestors of our modern horses. That kind of diet was under discussion for years and recent studies of the calcium isotopes in Gastornis bones suggest that it actually lived a vegetarian’s life.

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Starlux’s rendition of this enormous flightless bird is outdated, yet quite accurate for its time and in comparison with other Starlux figures. The bird is covered in a thick, shaggy coat of hair-like feathers, similar to those seen in today’s ratites. But this is a feature that has been deemed incorrect, as what was formerly thought to be fossilized feathers were really plant fibers. Isolated fossils of broad, vaned contour feathers have since been found and are probably related to Gastornis, so its plumage was probably smoother like that of most living birds. Wings are not visible as Gastornis‘ wings were greatly reduced and were probably not visible under its feathers. The figure’s head is as big as it should be and so is its beak. The hooked tip of the beak is incorrect though, and while the beak may also be too broad, the lower mandible is as deep as it should be. The legs appear thinner than in most renditions of the species, but are probably correct when compared with modern flightless birds. The feet, however, have a somewhat weird, cross-like appearance where all the toes(digits I to IV) are arranged in 90 degree angles to each other. This include the hallux (digit I), which is shown as a fully developed, weight-bearing toe, while in fact it was greatly reduced and placed a good deal above the ground. This feature, however, may be a concession to stability in the figure. Starlux’s Diatryma is shown in a hunched-over stance as if it was picking around for something on the ground. The remains of a poor, slaughtered equine perhaps. Or for more modern renditions, nuts or fruits. The figure stands 4.2 cm tall including the base and seems to be more robust than the thin legs and the inflexible plastic may suggest.

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The second figure of this review is a model of the famous terror bird Phorusracos, although it seems Starlux may have made a mistake with the name, as the figure is listed as “Phororacos” in the Toy Animal database as well as frequently on eBay France where I got mine. Phorusracos was a monotypic species of the Patagonian Miocene, 20 to 13 mya. This giant flightless bird grew even taller than Gastornis (up to 2.5 metres) and lived a predatory lifestyle. The bird boasted a long skull with a strong, hooked beak and long legs ending in sharp claws.

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The Phorusrhacos stands 6.5 cm tall and is depicted in a fully erect stance. While this posture may natural and correct, the hump on the steep back looks quite awkward. The small wings are clearly visible but are placed too far towards the back. The bird seems to be coated in a variety of feathers. The wings show a small array of contour feathers, the tail feathers as well as the ones surrounding the head seem to be neatly arranged (and are therefore also contour feathers with strong vanes), and the remaining part of the neck and the body seem to be covered in hair-like feathers.

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The head is finely sculpted with a mean, raptor-like expression. The strongly accented eyes as well as the brows add to this effect. The feet and legs appear to be the same as in the Diatryma, but the latter are slightly longer in this figure. The paint job in this model is way more attractive than the Diatryma. The green of the base is a bit sloppily applied in both models, leaving the feet poorly painted, but overall, the paint job is acceptable.

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Despite some inaccuracies, I highly recommend both these figures to any collector of the post-Mesozoic megafauna, especially as the selection of prehistoric birds is very limited due to a lack of attention by toy and model makers (though this is most likely related to a lack of interest by customers). Both figures are long out of production but can easily be found on eBay for a few Euros.

Rhamphorhynchus (Starlux)

Review and photographs by Indohyus, edited by Suspsy

Once again I find myself in the origins of mass-produced dinosaur toys as I review another Starlux figure. Today I look at the pterodactyloid Rhamphorhynchus. Hailing from the Jurassic limestone of Solnhofen, Germany, it is among the oldest species to have been identified as an ancient reptile (though it was thought to have been a bird until teeth were found). First discovered in 1825, it has become well known across the world, and has a few toy variations. So naturally, this iconic creature was considered for the first toy line.

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On to the figure itself! At 2.9” high (3.2” if you include the base) and 2.4” wide, it is close to being in scale with more modern lines, if just a little big. As scientists had yet to discover that pterosaurs could walk in a quadrupedal manner, Rhamphorhynchus is naturally in a flight position, supported by its base. It would have been better to have a stylized tree or rock in my opinion, but this is a 30-year old figure, so this may have been the only option. It’s mostly painted in a vibrant red with lighter shades for the lower wings. I quite like it.

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On to accuracy. In spite of it being an older figure, this should be good, as complete specimens have been found in Solnhofen, including the original specimen in 1825. It does fairly well, as it is an appropriately slim animal, with the bone structure of the wings correctly mapped out and the wing membranes correctly placed. There are a few inaccuracies though, such as the head being quite generic and lacking the bizarre teeth that make this species stand out. The joints on the wing finger are too obvious and not straight enough in comparison to the fossils, and it doesn’t appear to have quite enough skin on the wing membrane. The distinctive diamond tail vane is present, but is unnaturally bent backwards in order to attach to the base, which is a shame as it should be more prevalent.

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Overall, it isn’t a bad little figure, but with time has come better models, leaving this one a little overshadowed. However, I don’t regret owning it in the least, and would recommend it for collectors of retro dinos, pterosaurs, or just those who like the look. It pops up on eBay frequently, so is fairly easy to find. Just be careful with it, as age and weaker plastics may lead to breakages.

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