In life, Wiwaxia was covered in spines and scales that would have made it about as cuddly as a sea urchin, an animal it resembled but was not related to. Good thing then that Paleozoic Pals made this plush Wiwaxia to snuggle with instead.
Wiwaxia lived during the early and middle Cambrian which is famously known as the period in which life got weird, giving us many well-known and bizarre creatures like Ophabinia, Anomalocaris, Hallucigenia, and trilobites. Like those aforementioned animals, Wiwaxia is best known from the Burgess Shale in the Canadian Rockies. Wiwaxia corrugate is the species known from there, but other, less well known Wiwaxia species have been discovered elsewhere. Wiwaxia has proven difficult to classify but the most recent study, conducted in 2012, suggests it may be a mollusk, because of similar mouthparts.
The Paleozoic Pals Wiwaxia is advertised as a mini-plush keychain and was released in 2019. It measures about 4×4 inches so although it may be a small plush it’s a rather large keychain. My wife picked up this one during our last visit to the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, NY, part of the Paleontological Research Institute which commissions the Paleozoic Pals. It has palled around with her for nearly a year but when I decided I wanted to review it I requested she keep it in presentable condition, so it’s passed time I get this review out so she can have it back. It’s also a nice change of pace since I’ve reviewed nothing but Mattel Jurassic World toys since March!
There’s not a lot to say about this plush though. It’s basically a soft purple ball with black spines coming off its sides. The main body is textured to look like the overlapping, scaled plates known as sclerites that Wiwaxia had. The underside is flat, black, and without detail, mimicking the unarmored body that would have looked like a slug’s foot in life. And that’s it. There are no eyes or other sensory organs here, and no feeding apparatus. And if the black and purple coloration seems familiar it’s the same color scheme used for the Wiwaxia in the ROM Primeval Predators kit.
Off the front of the plush there’s a black loop with a plastic keyring attached. The quality of the plush is pretty good since it has served its purpose as a keychain for roughly a year and held up fine. The keyring is firmly attached and all the seams apparently strong.
If what you need hanging off your person is a constant reminder of deep time and the beginnings of complex life on Earth, then look no further than the Paleozoic Pal’s Wiwaxia, it will serve that purpose well. This plush is currently available in the Museum of the Earth gift shop or here, at their online store. It retails for $8.00.