Fukuiraptor isn’t a dinosaur name one hears too often – at least outside of Japan. First discovered in the 1990s, the “thief of Fukui Prefecture” is only known from fragmentary remains between a few specimens, consisting mostly of arm and leg bones. Like its relative Megaraptor from South America, Fukuiraptor was initially described as a dromaeosaur, only for later studies to reveal that the large fossil claw discovered among the remains belonged on the predator’s thumb, not its toe.
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Before starting this review, I want to extend my thanks to Happy Hen Toys for generously offering this review sample for the Blog. Happy Hen Toys has, in my experience, become on of the most reliable sources for extinct & extant animal brands alike in the United States. Be sure to check out their website at happyhentoys.com; more links will be provided below.
3D Dinosaur Pictorial Book (The Access)
Japan has a prolific industry for collectibles and merchandise, although it is a fairly insular market that western collectors might find tricky to break into. There are always new surprises to uncover from riches of new releases each year. One such item which caught my attention in 2022 was a set of minifigures produced by The Access, a company dedicated to planning, manufacturing, and wholesaling a variety of in-house products for multiple age ranges.
“If MPC Ran the Zoo”…
Macrauchenia looked like it could have inspired some of the creatures in a Dr. Seuss book, if its history of paleoart is anything to go by. First described in 1838, the “long-necked llama” hasn’t achieved the same level of fame as some of its mammalian contemporaries from the Miocene and Pleistocene; however, its lanky legs, long neck, and peculiar trunk make for a very distinct image, and have earned the genus at least a few toys over the decades.
Velociraptor (Beasts of the Mesozoic 1:18 by Creative Beasts Studio)
For all the dozens and dozens of Velociraptor toys & models which swarm the market, there are criminally few which attempt to depict the famous “swift plunderer” as something even remotely resembling what we know of the real-life animal. When sculptor and toy designer David Silva announced his articulated Beasts of the Mesozoic line in 2015, beginning with a series of 1:6 scale, scientifically accurate dromaeosaurs, collectors were understandably very excited at the prospect.
Suchomimus (Prehistoric Animal Models by PNSO)
PNSO delivered one last surprise for collectors at the very end of 2022, delivering their 67th entry into the Prehistoric Animal lineup with a highly anticipated, superb new rendition of the most complete spinosaurid to date.
The 1990s and 2000s were a boon for paleontology in the southern hemisphere.
MPC’s fifth group of prehistoric animals included one truly original mold in the form of Diatryma (ie Gastornis), one of the earliest plastic representations of this icon from the post-Mesozoic age.
During the 1950s and 1960s, interest in paleontology was starting its climb back to mainstream interest, and companies like Marx took the initiative to start producing dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures in small plastic fashion for the first time, encouraging kids to create prehistoric worlds in their own homes.
This derivative dinosaur toy draws its inspiration from a surprisingly modern and good-quality source; but like all knockoffs, the nature of that “inspiration” might leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.
Knockoffs are an ever-present element of the toy industry, and a persistent quandary for collectors. A knockoff is a product which imitates another, original product, usually without copying it precisely in order to slyly evade copyright infringement.
A truly rare genus in the hobby to this day, MPC’s vintage figurine marks a bold move from a company most famous for its imitations – although the toy is perhaps showing its age with some design choices.
MPC (Multiple Products Corporation) is a well-known brand among experienced dinosaur collectors; their prehistoric line from 1961 and 1962 was widely sold through stores and catalogs for decades.
Zuniceratops (Beasts of the Mesozoic: Ceratopsian Series by Creative Beast Studio)
This modestly-sized (and priced) action figure is a fine representative of the detailed and stylish designs featured in David Silva’s spectacular Ceratopsian series.
I first heard of Zuniceratops a good 20 years ago, when Discovery Channel’s documentary special When Dinosaurs Roamed America aired on television. Ranging from 2.2-3.5 meters in length – equivalent of a modern sheep to a (short) cow – the “Zuni horned face” was on the smaller side compared to its relatives at the end of the Cretaceous; however in Turonian-age New Mexico (94-89 million years ago) it was probably one of the largest herbivores in its environment.
Quetzalcoatlus (Field Museum & Mold-A-Rama)
Nearly 60 years after Mold-A-Rama imprinted itself as an icon of American toy memorabilia, The Field Museum of Chicago collaborated with Mold-A-Rama to produce a brand-new prehistoric creature in classic plastic form.
Mold-A-Rama figures have been an icon of dinosaur toy collecting for decades. Originally conceived in the 1950s by Tike Miller for personal use, the first official molding machines were revealed to the world at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair by Automatic Retailers of America.
Dire Wolf (MPC)
You’d think a creature like the dire wolf would have a few more toys to its name. Canis dirus (now reclassified as Aenocyon dirus) is almost unheard of on the prehistoric toy market, even though the genus made its introduction to paleo merchandise over fifty years ago. A contemporary of famous Ice Age beasts such as woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats, the prehistoric hound is known from ample specimens recovered from the La Brea Tar Pits, and has traditionally been depicted as a bigger & meaner equivalent of the modern-day gray wolf.
Dinosaurs III (Authentics Habitat Collection by Safari ltd.)
The final set of Safari’s first forays into dinosaur miniatures features a charming blend of aesthetics, and also serves in retrospect as a tribute to a dawning hobby and its burgeoning artists.
In 1994, Battat was commissioned by the Boston Museum to produce what would become one of the most praised toy lines in dinosaur collecting.
Tyrannosaurus rex (Large Sue Plush 2018 by Wild Republic)
This solidly-built stuffed toy represents The Field Museum’s star dinosaur attraction at its latest, biggest and best.
The ubiquitous dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex has seen many incarnations and reconstructions in the two centuries since its discovery by human scientists – and plenty of merchandise has been produced to match. One particular specimen – the famous Sue of the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History – has seen a variety of merchandise specifically designed to its name, including minifigure sets (in collaboration with Safari ltd.) and various sizes of plush toys.
One of the oldest toys of an iconic extinct mammal family still holds up pretty well, especialy alongside its more derivative contemproraries.
MPC (Multiple Products Corporations) toys are known in some circles as the “poor man’s Marx”; many of the prehistoric creatures represented in MPC’s lineup were lifted from the older Marx line, often sacrificing size and sculpt quality for bright colors and cheaper quantity.