Moschops, Sphenacodon, Cynognathus (Marx)

4.8 (6 votes)

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Given that I counted correctly, this here will be my 50th review for the DTB. On the search for a worthy entry for that occasion, I deceided to add some figures to my collection that will provide the chance to combine the jubilee with a premiere cause to my big surprise I found that the American company Marx, despite its significance for our hobby, has not a single entry on the blog as of yet….

“Louis Marx and company” was founded in 1919 and quickly grew to one of the most distributed and and well known manufacturers of toys in the Unitd States. Amongst their great variety of toys, the numerous playsets were very successfull and are still in high demand by collectors. In 1955 Marx started to produce dinosaur figures. These were produced in several waves over the years and sold in playsets, differently combined in regard of the species and additional equipment (like rocks, caves or plants). Of the three molds regarded here, the Moschops is the youngest, being first produced in 1961, while the Sphenacodon and Cynognathus were in the first wave, produced from 1955 onwards.

Despite its success on the North American market, Marx’ figures are almost unknown in Europe, at least from their company name. Over the decades lots of companies released copies and knock-offs of Marx’ “dinosaur” figures. Even today you can still find those figures in thrift store bags, though most of them are horribly outdated. I myself had a bunch of Marx knock-offs back in my childhood, I am not sure about the company that made them but while some were true to their originals others were very poor copies. Still, even some of the originals did not resemble the real animal well, I know I deemed the Allosaurus some kind of iguanodontian until I found out about its true identiy here on the DTB forums.

Being amongst the very first producers of dinosaur toys, Marx’ figures sure are to be credited for having impressed a lot of kids and collectors. For those who would like to delve deeper into the history of Marx dinosaur figures and playsets, Jeffrey S. Pfeiffer released a comprehensive guide. I myself am not too educated on the history of the figures, in fact the group of three here are my very first original Marx figures. So let’s have a closer look at them.

All three species are not a very common choice for toy producers. Both the Cynognathus and Sphenacodon are of the earliest wave and so it may be not surprising, that they are comparably weak representatives of the real animals, even with their outdated history in mind. Sphenacodon was a close relative of Dimetrodon and its remains suggest it looked basically like its more popular cousin just without the big sail. While the dorsal spines are elongate they may have been fully muscled in Sphenacodon, though it is usually restored with a low sail or ridge on its back as in this figure here. From the snout to the tip of the tail the figure measures 9.5 cm, the lenght of the real animal is molded along the base of the tail (8 feet) aswell as the genus name. Overall the sculpt is quite simple and the whole figure looks rather cartoonish as the dinosaurs in old movies.

Same goes for the Cynognathus though the head is sculpted with more detailing. Here aswell length (5 feet) and genus name are molded into the tail. The overall appearance reminds me more of a dicynodont as Diictodon than Cynognathus. Remarkably are the hind legs with the knees bended in the wrong direction. The figure measures 7 cm in direct length.

The strongest figure in terms of accuracy is with no doubt the Moschops. It seems all figures of this 1961 mold are much more accurate and intricate in detailing than the former ones. Maybe another sculptor was commissioned, mybe the technical possibilites for molding were more advanced, maybe both. The Moschops figure strongly resembles the restoration by Zdenek Burian, which is nice to see as this is still, after all this years, correct for the better part (the hind legs should be more straight but that is basically it), making it the most advanced and accurate Moschops toy model on the market – at the age of almost 60! The figure measures approx. 8 cm in direct line, genus name and lenght (7 feet) are molded into the belly.

All three figures suffer from more or less obvious seam lines and sprues, but those can be cut away carefully. The plastic is after all those years still robust and makes the figures durable toys. All three sculpts lack ear and rear openings for those wondering, but if you want any of those figures for accuracy reasons, I’d anyway only recommend the Moschops, not at least as I am only aware of two other possible choices – one being the definition of ugly, the other being as virtually unavailable as the former.

For those of you looking out for the highly collectible Marx figures, check or visit the Prehistoric Times Dinostore.

You can support the Dinosaur Toy Blog by making your dino-purchases through these links to Ebay and Amazon.

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Comments 5

  • I had a Marx dinosaur playset as a child and played with it a LOT. Great toys that sent me on a life-long love affair with dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. Considering their age and the target market (kids, not collectors), these sculpts are not bad at all. Thanks for reviewing them – very enjoyable.

  • Wow, is this really the first Marx review for the Blog?? I, too, have grown up familiar with Marx figures, if only through knock-offs and the collections of my parents or older relatives/friends. These older figures have a lot of charm, and it’s just neat to see where the industry as whole began, with figures like these.

  • Well done on reaching 50. Certainly celebrating the mile stone with a bang!

  • Wow, never realized these guys were not reviewed before. Good for you to give them some much needed love.
    Great review and congrats on hitting the 50th mark!

  • Congrats on your 50th review!

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