Review and photographs by Rebecca Groom, edited by Plesiosauria.
Recently my attention was drawn to a Japanese soft toy company known as TST Advance. They have an extensive range of animal toys named “Shyaruru Palette”. This range consists of many creatures rarely depicted in toy form including Helicoprion, Marrella, Ichthyostega, a coelacanth, as well as some extant ones such as a Komodo dragon and a stag beetle. The accuracy of the toys seems to vary wildly between species, but as soon as I saw them I knew I must come to own one. It was easier than I thought; they can be purchased through Amazon.com here (or Amazon.co.jp) and are shipped world-wide directly from Japan.
It was a hard choice, but the soft toy I finally settled on was the very early tetrapod Elginerpeton. It is known from the Late Devonian of Scotland, described from only fragmentary remains. Its fragmentary nature means it is hard to judge how accurate this depiction really is.
The overall shape of this soft toy is good, it has a large wide head that tapers towards the nose. The legs are held in a swept-back position and I like the slight curve to the nicely detailed tail fin that suggests a bit of swimming action. The feet are webbed, and each foot has five toes. As the feet of Elginerpeton are unknown I suppose that this is possible, but five fingers was not yet the norm in early tetrapods. Its expression is a little goofy, but I think it adds charm.
The plush is a good 50cm long, which makes it large enough to cuddle but a little bit too large to sit on a desk and not get in the way. It comes with a sewn-in tush tag that informs us that it is “An Adorable Collection of Cuddly “Forever friends” made of soft finest and new synthetic fibers stuffed with top quality resilient material”, and is CE tested. The card hang tag is in Japanese, but has an adorable “kawaii” Anomalocaris on it complete with glittery eyes.
The sewing quality of the plush is good, all the seams are firm and well stitched. It is nicely symmetrical and the eyes are even, something that can be lacking in cheaper soft toys. The stuffing has been well done and is not too firm. The stuffing reaches the end of the tail and the legs, but with none in the fins or feet to give them a good, flattened appearance.
It is made from bright green soft minky-type short piled fur fabric and is very soft and warm to touch. I’m not quite sure why they chose a solid green colour, I think some patterning or at least a lighter coloured underbelly would’ve added a lot to this plush. The pile (fur direction) is nicely positioned, running from the nose towards the tail and from the top of the legs to the feet. It has beady child-safe plastic eyes, with round pupils and a yellowish-green iris. The mouth and nose details are stitched on in thick black thread, leaving big loops on the mouth that could possibly catch and pull out. I’d have preferred to see either smaller stitches or a line sewn into the seam where the mouth is, but the black thread does the job.
On the belly, we can see a hand-stitched seam running down the centre of the plush. This is where the plush would’ve been turned in the right way, and through which the stuffing inserted. I would’ve preferred this to be hidden along an existing seam where it wouldn’t be so obvious, but it may have been positioned in the centre to make sure that the plush looks even when sewn up. Recently, attention has been drawn to the prevalence of illegally copying art in the dinosaur toy industry, and sadly I think that this Elginerpeton was at least heavily referenced from the image found on Wikipedia by Nobu Tamura. This may be where the green colouration came from, too.
Overall, I really like this plush. The colouration might be a bit boring, but I like the shape and tail details in particular. It certainly is an unusual creature to find a soft toy of, so it gets some brownie points just for existing. I’m certainly going to be collecting a few others from this company in future.
Available from Amazon.com here