Review and photos by Charles Peckham, edited by Suspsy
Sea turtles. Seeing them majestically soar through the water with their stoic yet playful expression can inspire awe in any observer. Who doesn’t love them? Well, I suppose jellyfish don’t. And some crustaceans. And seagrass. You get it. The point is, sea turtles are amazingly easy to love, and as with so many animals that we see today, they used to be a lot larger. Archelon is one of the largest turtles that we know of. It lived during the Late Cretaceous and bears a superficial resemblance to modern leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea), mostly because they both have super thin shells, which appears to be an adaptation for agility and heat regulation that tends to evolve in big turtles (if you’ve ever taken the lid off a boiling pot of water and the water stopped boiling, you have witnessed the same principle.). Anyway, the Archelon is one of my personal favorite non-dinosaur prehistoric animals. It’s only had a few toy releases throughout the years, but considering most prehistoric animals haven’t a single toy release at all, I guess we should be grateful for the few Archelon representations that we do have.
Unlike other Dinotales figures, the Archelon is a single unit. There’s no parts to put together, which is a bit unusual for Kaiyodo. I bought mine secondhand, and I presume it came with everything that would be included in the original capsule, which is just the toy and a slip of paper listing other figures in the series.
In my humble opinion when you make an Archelon there’s two things that you need to get right. First, you need to present it with a thin, leathery shell. Second, you need to make sure its beak is hooked. Those are the two features that, to my mind, combine to distinguish Archelon from the other sea turtles. These features are both obvious without being overstated in this toy. The hooked beak isn’t so prominent that you could use this toy as a can opener, but if you know to look for it, it’s there.
It’s somewhat interesting that Kaiyodo chose to put Archelon in a terrestrial pose, seeing as how it probably would not have spent time on land except to lay eggs, but this certainly makes it easier to display (and that’s probably why they did it). Overall, this is everything I like to see in a toy. One looks at it and immediately is able to imagine what an interesting and endearing animal Archelon must have been.
The paint job is beautiful. I don’t know if there’s a term for the zig-zag web design of the shell. It looks natural while also not being something that I can readily associate with any animal alive today. The colour scheme looks a bit similar to the Dmitry Bogdanov reconstruction that is used on Wikipedia, but to the best of my knowledge, this is a coincidence. The design otherwise is, as far as I know, completely original.
I guess if I had any complaint about this toy, it’s that it’s so small (about 5 centimeters long). The only feature of Archelon that one can’t infer from looking at the toy is its size. Of course, this is a gashapon toy. If it was larger, it wouldn’t fit in the little capsule. I get it. I’m not trying to be the guy who orders his coffee with a bunch of cream and then complains to the barista that it’s too creamy. I’m just going to say if Kaiyodo ever decides to re-release this figure but make it ten times bigger, I’ll be first in line. The Dinotales Series 2 Archelon can be found secondhand at your favorite online auction website.
Also, in researching for this article, I learned that there’s a Greek organization named Archelon that is helping to save the sea turtles. If you have time or money to spare they sound like a worthy cause to me.