Before we begin the review, I would like to thank Happy Hen Toys for supplying this figure for review. Happy Hen Toys is a U.S. distributor of animal figurines and a member and supporter of the Dinosaur Toy Blog and Forum. Of particular note is that they’re one of the few U.S. distributors that stocks CollectA figurines. Check out their wares and support them today!
I probably don’t need to tell you this but… dinosaurs are not lizards, despite the name “dinosaur” being Greek for terrible lizard. Pterosaurs aren’t lizards either, and neither are plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, or pelycosaurs. Despite this, the word saurus has been attached to the scientific names of countless prehistoric animal groups and genera. The truth is all those aforementioned groups actually pre-date true lizards in the fossil record. True lizards are a group of reptiles belonging to Lepidosauria and they first appeared during the mid-Jurassic, 168 million years ago. But one group of popular prehistoric reptiles were indeed true bonafide lizards, the mosasaurs, a group of Mesozoic marine reptiles nestled comfortably within Squamata. Their exact placement within Squamata has been the subject of debate and they tend to flop back and forth between being allied either with snakes or monitor lizards and their kin (Anguimorpha), but their lizard pedigree has never been questioned. Currently they appear to be a sister clade to snakes and yes, snakes are lizards too.
Mosasaurus is the most well-known genus of mosasaur, and the type genus for the group. It lived 82-66 million years ago during the late Cretaceous. Mosasaurus fossils have been discovered in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Antarctica which means it ranged throughout the Atlantic in a variety of climates. Several species of Mosasaurus have been described but at an estimated 49-59’ (15-18 meters) the type species M. hoffmannii is the largest and one of the largest marine reptiles known to science. Unlike Tyrannosaurus, Mosasaurus was a true lizard king, and the apex predator of the Cretaceous seas.
Mosasaurus has always been popular but since the release of Jurassic World it has experienced a surge in popularity that has led to several new models in short succession, with very few of them being to my own liking. Most Mosasaurus toys don’t capture the look of the animal in a way that I find convincing, with my preference being for a marine lizard that looks less like a crocodile and more like a whale. Past Mosasaurus figures either had shrink wrapped skulls and flippers, saggy skin, odd proportions, too many bodily adornments, or all the above combined with some inaccuracy or other. That is until CollectA released their Deluxe model for 2023, now I finally have the Mosasaurus I’ve been waiting for.
The CollectA Deluxe Mosasaurus measures 16” (40.64 cm) and is advertised as being 1/40 in scale. To achieve that scale, it would have to be scaled down from a 54’ (16 meters) Mosasaurus. The figure is positioned in a mostly static pose, propped up on its flippers, and with a gentle rightward bend in the body and a leftward bend in the tail.
The head is a marked improvement over CollectA’s standard sized Mosasaurus, with its weird shrink-wrapped temporal fenestra visually similar to a frog’s tympanum. The head on this figure is nicely fleshed out and streamlined with openings for the nostrils and ears. The jaw is articulated too, and the articulation works well. CollectA has come a long way with jaw articulation.
On each side of the upper jaw there are 15 teeth and there are 14 on each side of the lower jaw. This is within the correct range for a Mosasaurus tooth count. On the roof of the mouth are the pterygoid teeth, although I won’t bother trying to count those! A bifurcated (forked) tongue is sculpted on the lower jaw and while we don’t know what the tongue would have looked like this is a safe bet given the animal’s relationship to snakes and monitor lizards. The head might appear small in ratio to the body, but this is correct, a lot of Mosasaurus reconstructions make the head too large.
The body is beautifully ergonomic and the most convincingly lifelike Mosasaurus I’ve ever seen molded in plastic. Many toy companies like to add extra little bits and bobs to their marine reptiles but what I look for in my figures is the sleek, no-frills, efficient body plan we see in extant marine predators like sharks, cetaceans, and tunas. There’s not a lot extra going on here, and that’s a good thing!
The body itself is also appropriately robust and smooth without a lot of extra saggy skin that would also reduce drag. Some skin folds and wrinkles are sculpted where appropriate, like around the neck and base of the flippers. The entirety of the figure has a fine covering of scales, and a cloaca is sculpted on the underside. There are a few random notches and gouges on the body, flippers, and tail that look like battle scars. They’re minor details that add a touch of personality.
The flippers are wide and robust, as they should be, with no real indication that there are digits hidden within them. Figures by Papo, PNSO, and Favorite have shrink-wrapped this bit of anatomy but like modern cetaceans or sea turtles, the distinct digits probably should not be visible and would only create additional drag if they were. On the underside of the figure there’s some nicely sculpted musculature around the pectoral fins. There is no dorsal fin and while some reconstructions include them there is no evidence that mosasaurs had them.
The tail has two lobes with the bottom lobe being longer than the upper. In life the tail vertebrae would have extended into the lower lobe, unlike in sharks where the vertebrae extend into the upper lobe. Many past reconstructions have given Mosasaurus a single lobe, creating an eel-like tail, but there’s skeletal evidence for an upper lobe and the mosasaur genus Prognathodon has the soft tissue of the upper lobe preserved. This means that Mosasaurus would have primarily propelled itself with the rear-half of its body and tail, like salmon, versus with its whole body, like an eel. The bend in the tail nicely illustrates this form of locomotion.
The paintjob is conservative, and some may say boring, but appropriate for a large aquatic predator. The figure is dark greenish gray dorsally with a yellowish white belly, exhibiting the countershading employed by many modern aquatic predators. Faint dark gray bands run down the length of the body but that’s the only hint of patterning. I like it, as it seems like it would help the animal blend in with rippling waves. The inside of the mouth is dull purple with a pink tongue and white teeth. Even the pterygoid teeth are painted, and the application is not perfect but acceptable on such small details. The eyes are black.
If you prefer the Prehistoric Planet Mosasaurus over the Jurassic World Mosasaurus then this is the figure for you. It is as far as I can tell, a flawless figure, and the most accurate Mosasaurus available. Up until now I’ve gone without a decent Mosasaurus in my collection and I’m happy to have that gap filled by the CollectA Deluxe Mosasaurus. I don’t think I’ll ever need to buy another Mosasaurus again. This figure is currently in production and if you’re in the United States you can get one at Happy Hen Toys, here.