Tag Archives: elasmosaurus

Elasmosaurus (Carnegie Collection by Safari Ltd.)

Measuring nearly 50’ in length with a extraordinarily long neck the genus Elasmosaurus is surely one of the most charismatic and awe inspiring members of the plesiosaur order and even more popular than Plesiosaurus itself. It’s no wonder since Elasmosaurus was one of the largest members of the group and has been featured in numerous books, artwork, and other pop culture depictions.

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The 1991 Carnegie Collection Elasmosaurus may very well be the first mass produced toy depicting the marine reptile. I had one growing up and it was one of the best bathtub toys I owned! It was released alongside a Mosasaurus obviously inspired by old paleoart by the likes of Zdeněk Burian. The Mosasaurus hasn’t aged well, but what about this Elasmosaurus?

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For the most part this model has held up well. It has that standard plesiosaur body plan that is difficult to mess up too much. But much like that old Mosasaurus this toy does suffer from its age. The neck is bent upwards and curved as if attempting to snatch some poor Pteranodon from the air. We of course now know that plesiosaurs had stiff necks held out in front of them and despite what so many alleged Nessie pictures suggest these animals did not swim around with their necks out of the water like a swan.

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The head is also concerning because it completely ignores the somewhat odd cranial anatomy of this animal. To get an idea of what it should look like it would be good to compare it with the 2013 Wild Safari model. The skull should be low with the eyes towards the top of the head, not the sides. Also the teeth should be jutting out forward from the mouth, no doubt a useful tool for snaring fishes. What we have on the Carnegie model is just a generic looking lizard head. It’s a pity because the model is otherwise decent, just got to cut that head off.

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Despite its shortcomings anatomically the Carnegie Elasmosaurus has stood the test of time in other ways. Up until the complete retirement of the Carnegie Collection this toy could be found regularly and a few variations exist. There is this model that I own, painted in various shades of brown with a dark brown back and intricate gray colored, half-moon designs running down the side along with dark brown splotches overlaid with small black spots. The dark brown coloration stops 1/3 of the way up the neck but faint bands and dark spots run up the rest of its length. The head has black spotting and a black stripe that runs through the eyes and around the snout. A green stripe runs below each eye. Mine is odd in that it has spots on only one of the fore-flippers, and not on the rest. I’m not sure if that’s consistent with other models or unique to my own.

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Another version exists that is very similar to my own, the only difference being that there are darker, thicker bands running up the neck, brown edging on the front flippers, and no green stripe below the eyes. In 2007 the model would be released yet again with a completely new paint scheme. That one was blue with darker blue blotches along the back, a believable color scheme for an aquatic animal that would no doubt serve as camouflage in the rippling blue water. But the older color schemes work too.

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The toy is an impressive size; it measures 11” from tail to head, not counting the curvature in the neck. The details on the toy are slim but that’s to be expected from what is supposed to be a streamlined aquatic animal. There are some wrinkles where the fore-flippers meet the body and the model has a slightly dimpled texture. Three raised black bumps are sculpted on the neck just behind the head.

The Carnegie Elasmosaurus is a classic model of the genus and a must have for marine reptile buffs. It has some anatomical errors but is otherwise a well-made toy. Its large size and craning neck make it stand out on a shelf and it displays well. This model had a long run with the Carnegie Collection and is still easy to find and probably will be for years to come.

Plesiosaur (British Museum of Natural History by Invicta)

It is with much trepidation that I attempt to review my next figure. It’s actually one I’ve intended on reviewing for years but when you write for a blog owned by a plesiosaur expert you’re naturally a bit hesitant to review a plesiosaur model, especially based on accuracy. Honestly I’m a bit shocked this classic hasn’t been reviewed yet but I digress. I’m talking of course about the Invicta “plesiosaur”. I put plesiosaur in quotes because curiously we don’t get a specific name with this model, just that generic plesiosaur label. Based on the length of the neck it’s clear we’re not dealing with Plesiosaurus proper, to my untrained eye this appears to be Elasmosaurus. It shouldn’t make much difference with this review anyway. And oh yes, a note on the pictures. Please pardon the chew marks on this model. They weren’t there when I bought it, but they quickly appeared when I temporarily housed a kitten in my home. Needless to say I’m on the lookout for a less damaged specimen. Cats are why I don’t have nice things…like Sideshow models.

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The Invicta plesiosaur is a modest but elegant model. It lacks the intense detail that most of the Invicta dinosaurs possess but this makes sense for this aquatic reptile where a streamlined no-frills body plan was probably likely. Produced in 1978 this model actually stands up fairly well for its age. The neck is raised up in an inaccurate swan-like pose as was common in reconstructions of the day but it’s not raised dramatically so, far less so than many later models. The head is fashioned in the classic plesiosaur style with the skull more lizard-like than it is like the flatted skulls of actual plesiosaurs. The eyes are placed on the side of the head instead of angled towards the top as they should be and the model also lacks the gnarly teeth that the exceptional Safari version possesses and we know actual plesiosaurs had. The body is shallow in build, the flippers slim but capable looking and the tail fairly short. In fact, once you get past the head and the slightly elevated neck the rest of the model is fairly accurate.

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As stated before, the details are sparse. There are a few wrinkles where the flippers meet the body and a ridge down the back but aside from those and the facial features we’re left with a pretty basic model. That’s not an insult though, it’s appropriate for an aquatic animal. The monochrome variation is blue in color; the painted version has a brown back with dark brown spots down the spine and a white underside. The pose is basic with the neck slightly leaning towards the right but with plesiosaurs there are only so many ways you can pose them anyway.

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As with all the Invicta models the age of this figure needs to be taken into account when judging it. It has all the inaccuracies you would expect but it’s still a handsome and graceful model essential to any collection consisting of aquatic reptiles. Naturally you’ll need to check out eBay to find this plesiosaur but it’s usually one of the more inexpensive figures in the Invicta line.

Available from Ebay.com here.

Elasmosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)

Here we have another new release from Safari Ltd for 2013, the long-necked Elasmosaurus. I lent a small helping hand with the design of this figure, as I had done previously with Safari Ltd’s other recent plesiosaurian offering (Liopleurodon). As such, I was pleased to finally see the figure ‘in the flesh’ and I’m delighted how it has come out. While I retained a few minor reservations about the Wild Safari Liopleurodon, I haven’t any issues to raise about the accuracy of this new figure. We don’t know that much about the anatomy of Elasmosaurus, since it is known from only fragmentary material, but based on other elasmosaurids the general proportions and anatomy are all correct, and this the most accurate Elasmosaurus figure available by a mile.

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In some ways it’s easier to review a bad model than a good one, so I apologise now for the shortness of this article. Please take the brevity of this review as a high compliment on the quality of the figure. Overall, the sculpt has an excellent natural realistic quality, which is the result of a lot of background research conducted during the design phase, and a fine attention to detail in the sculpting process.

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A few words on the anatomy. The upward-facing eyes are positioned near the front of the skull, correctly positioned in the orbits rather than in the temporal fenestra as sometimes happens in plesiosaur toys. The ferocious maw is lined with some gnarly fangs, elasmosaurids had rather scary-looking interlocking dentition. The rear of the head is bulked out with musculature, and if you look closely into the open mouth, even the internal nares are visible on the palate. The ridiculously long neck is curved in a sweeping sinuous posture, but gone are the days of swan-necked plesiosaurs. In keeping with the times, this figure has an almost entirely horizontal neck.

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The body is lean, quite flat, and obviously rigid. The tail is short, compared with the neck anyway, and the flippers have strong bases and beautiful wing-like outlines. The front limbs curve upward towards the tips providing the illusion of movement. There’s also a cloaca at the base of the tail, so as much attention has clearly been paid to the rear end of the animal as to the front end. The skin texture is lightly stippled all over – speculative (it has to be) but reasonable.

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The simple colour scheme – dark green on top, orange below – contrasts with the stunning stripes of the Liopleurodon. However, a dash of orange and a sharp black stripe indicates the rear of the head, so the figure is not completely without markings.

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To conclude, you’ll struggle to find a better Elasmosaurus toy out there and I highly recommend it. I think of it as the perfect counterpart to the Wild Safari Liopleurodon: Now we have good representatives of both major plesiosaurian groups, a short-necked pliosaur and a long-necked plesiosaur. Plus, the two are roughly to scale to each other.

I thank Safari Ltd for kindly sending me a copy of this figure to be reviewed on the Dinosaur Toy Blog.

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