Review and Photos by Bokisaurus
Nostalgia: “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations”.
So you might be wondering why open a review with this word and it’s definition. A toy, especially one that has been with you for decades can elicit such sentiment, and after years of collecting, its time to look back.
This is a piece that I have been wanting to do for a long time, originally planned as a post in my collection thread. But as this will be my 50th review for the blog, I wanted to do something different to mark the occasion and this was the perfect entry. This Dimetrodon figure I have chosen may seem like an odd choice for me, but in reality, this little humble figure pretty much encapsulate my journey as a collector which I would like to share with you. This review is not just about the figure and my personal journey, but also a general reflection on the many changes we all go through in life, but most importantly, what remains a constant throughout each of this phases.
Growing up in the Philippines, toys were not a big part of my childhood, although I was very much aware of their existence. I grew up with lots of cousins in a big household of extended family. We were not wealthy, so toys is not something the family spent money on. I do remember clearly when my cousins and I would look longingly and with amazement at a wealthy neighbor kid who had many “American toys” (imported toys) that he paraded around for all of us to see.
On my 8th birthday, my mother who was working as a teacher in Japan at that time, came home for the occasion. She brought me a small present all the way from Japan.When I opened it, I was in disbelief, there it was a “dinosaur” figure, this very one. I could not believe it and I have never seen anything like it before. It was so special that I never played with it, instead kept in a box with all my childhood treasures.Luckily, none of our dog showed any interest in it.
By today’s standards, this figure is surely a poster child for inaccurate monster figure trying to pass as a legitimate representation of one of the most iconic prehistoric animal.Despite it’s appearance, there is no doubt that this was supposed to be a Dimetrodon, thanks to its distinctive sail. Through the years, we have seen surprising number of toy figures that looks remarkably like this one that even today you can still find many recent figures, many cheap dollar store type, flooding the market. There must be something alluring to this particular half monster, half animal look that is so appealing to young kids.
Dimetrodon as we all know, is not a dinosaur. But that didn’t stop it from becoming one of the most popular prehistoric animal and is often included in many prehistoric animal sets, often the sole representative from the Permian period.As a testament to its popularity, it is one of the species that first appeared in toy form decades ago, and continues to be the most popular of the Permian fauna. Today it is now a staple of the toy industry. Almost all of the major brands have one in their prehistoric range, often receiving a makeover every few years or so. It’s popularity and the frequency of makeover makes this species the perfect one to illustrate and measure just how far the toy industry have come. As for the pose, well, nothing too exciting, besides, with the exception of the Recur figure, I still yet to see a Dimetrodon toy figure in a unique and active pose.
Many of the early Dimetrodon figures such as Marx, Strarlux, and Ajax, were all not really that far off from this guy. These early toy brand were pioneers, often the only ones during their heyday in the 1950’s and 60’s to make figures of prehistoric animals.For many young dinosaur fans from that generation, these lines were the only ones available These pioneers will shape the future of the toy industry in the decades to come.
In my early teens I moved to the big city to live with my mother. This humble figure came with me, packed in a box along with the few belongings that I took with me.For the next four years it would stay hidden in this box, moving with me from one town to another. Then, when my parent decided to move to the USA, I once again have to go through all my meager belongings and choose which ones I would take with me.
I settles to life in the US and as I entered my late teens and transitioned to early adulthood, interest such as Dinosaurs and other childhood fancy, took a back seat, replaced by new ones. School took priority, so was partying with friends,the latest fashion trends, dating, and checking out the latest dance clubs. The few toys that I have collected soon found themselves discarded. But not this one.I kept him safely in the now familiar shoe box, and from there he would silently witness the various changes in my life for the next 15 years.
When I finally met someone and settled down, it was only then that this little guy saw the light of day once again. It helped that my partner, as it turned out, also share the same interest in dinosaurs.When I started collecting prehistoric figures, I started off as a generalist, collecting any and every figures I can find. But just as life goes through various changes, so does my journey as a collector.
In the last six years, I have re-evaluated and refocused my collecting habit and steadily downsized my collection. For any species with lots of representation flooding the market, it is inevitable that fatigue quickly sets in. Today, I find it harder and harder to justify adding yet another version, especially if it doesn’t have anything new or unique to offer.Today, brands like Safari, CollectA, Schleich, and Papo have all released new versions of Dimetrodon within the last five years, each trying to add ” something different”. Of these new version, my current favorite is the CollectA figure as I find it to be the one that has the most unique to offer out of all of them. For sure, one day, these new versions themselves will be replaced by yet another revision.
There was a time not that long ago,around the time I joined the forum, when there were only a handful of companies that regularly produce prehistoric figures.Today, we have so many, each one offering a dizzying selections of well made figures that compete for our attention as well as dollars. This new age can often be overwhelming, not to mention expensive. This changes, as positive as they are, also had their unintended consequences in how we view and react to each new models.
In the last decade of being a collector, I have seen my own attitude as well as others change.We have gone from being simply being excited and grateful for any new figures; to that of having to nitpicking every tiny details of each new figures, looking more for something to be critical about instead of appreciative. Sometimes the negative comments just becomes too much, too exhausting, too repetitive, and at times downright hostile to those who don’t share the same views or opinions.
We are now at a time where the options available to us has left us so spoiled, and like any spoiled child, act out if a figure dons’t meet our own personal expectations, especially in the safety and anonymous screens of the worldwide web.The steady bombardment of new quality figure, as exciting as they are, often leaves me with the case of selection fatigue.
Today, I find myself struggling with and often asking the question of just how do I keep my collection exciting and interesting with all these news options now available to choose from? How does one recapture that lost sense of excitement after many years of being in the hobby?
This is where figures like this simple little Dimetrodon and many of the so called “vintage” figures helps me. When I look at this little figure, I find that my attitude changes from that of someone who sometime sounds jaded, to someone who is more appreciative of what I can now have and the options I can choose from. This little figure not only serves as a reminder of how far the quality and accuracy of these new figures has come, but also helps pull me back to a more simple and, in many ways, innocent times.
I couldn’t help but wonder, how then, would my 8 years old self react to the options now available? Would I show the same level of excitement that I did when I first laid eyes on this figure many years ago? Or would I simply roll my eyes, complain, and move on to the next hot item?
As I contemplate the possible answer to these internal questions, I look at this toy in my hand, slowly studying each rough details; those menacing teeth, that cold fixed stare, looking at each one as if I would find the answers in them.Instead, what I find is a sense of joy, a flashback of fond memories, and a little bit of that lost innocent excitement. So in a way, I guess found my answer. And, just like that, I find myself smiling.
Epilogue: I started writing this review towards the end of December 2019, mostly from work during my lunch breaks. This is the reason why this review exist. As some of you probably know,my computer died and I lost hundreds of photos as well as four other reviews, both for here and the ATB, that were in various stages of completion.
When I re-read this review after a long hiatus, I decided that it warrants an epilogue to bring it full circle. I wrote this review just before the COVID-19 virus ravaged the entire world. I intended to post it valentines day as a way to celebrate the new milestone of reaching my 50th reviews for the blog.
But the situation I found myself at that time quickly pushed everything else into the background. My husband got really sick. A week later, I too, got really sick. This was around the time that the COVID-19 virus was first confirmed in USA, and it was in Seattle, Washington… the city where I lived.
Now I’m not sure if I got the dreaded virus or not and probably will never know, but back then, testing was not yet being done. But all symptoms such as dry cough, high fever, and acute pneumonia of unknown origin point to the real possibility that it was the COVID-19 virus. I was very sick for two weeks and the whole time I watch with increasing dread as the virus spread like wildfire globally as well as turning my city into the first hot spot in the USA. Only testing for antibodies will confirm, but as of this writing, it is still not widely available.Luckily, despite being sick for a long time, both me and my husband recovered without having to be taken to a hospital. The experience shook me deeply. But life goes on.
As as re-read the original version of this review, I decided to keep it as it was originally written with just some minor editing, hence this epilogue. I have come to truly appreciate how deep my passion is for prehistoric animals and the figures we collect. During those uncertain weeks of being sick, and despite the uncertainty, I found joy and comfort in looking at my collection.
As we all continue to come to terms with this new reality and the continuing threat that this virus still poses, sometimes one small step at a time is all it takes to ground us back to some sort of normalcy. For me, getting back to writing reviews and starting to build up my photo library is one such step.And just like before, this humble little dimetrodon figure was there with me the whole time, a silent inanimate companion that witnessed it all, a steady constant in my life all these years.
I hope that this review find all of you readers safe and healthy. I hope that you enjoyed this biopic review despite it length, and got to now a little bit of who I am as a person, a collector, and a reviewer for the blog. Until next time, please stay safe and healthy.