Review and photographs by Loon, edited by Suspsy.
The first fossils of the Late Triassic sauropodomorph Mussaurus were discovered in the ’70s by an expedition led by the late Jose Bonaparte in Argentina. These consisted of eggs and juveniles small enough to fit in your hands; hence the name, meaning “Mouse Lizard.” However, this name isn’t particularly fitting given that in 2013, the first adult specimens of Mussaurus were described and estimated to reach up 20 feet in length. These specimens also revealed that, as a Mussaurus grew, its center of balance shifted to the hips, causing it to go from a quadruped to a biped. Because of this, I’m going to approach this figure as a juvenile.
As a juvenile, it’s reasonably accurate. The head is nice, though I feel the top of the skull should be a bit more sloped, and it should be shorter. The eyes should also be larger; as it stands now, this Mussaurus looks a tad sleepy or just disinterested. The animal’s neck is very thin, particularly at the mid-point. The front feet are missing the inner toes, which featured enlarged claws. There should also be skin covering the fourth and fifth digit, as in other archosaurs. The back feet have the correct number of digits, although the inner toes should not be touching the ground. A strange feature is the appearance of heightened vertebrae over the hips; this doesn’t correspond to fossils, so, it must’ve been inspired by another reconstruction. Also, the “blown-up” nature of this toy makes it completely out of scale with the rest of the loosely 1:18 scale line; at 7″ long, it’s practically a 1:1 replica.
As a toy, Mattel’s figure is very nice. It moves at all the places you’d want it to for $8: up and down at the neck, swivel limbs, and a rotating tail. The colors are unique for a sauropodomorph, which often get stuck with boring browns or greens; combined with the sculpt, they give this Mussaurus a certain charm that many of the other non-film toys in this line do not have. It’s very cute and almost friendly-looking. It reminds me of an animatronic on the old Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios, one that hasn’t really been taken care of, only moving because the hydraulics are shaking from constant water exposure.
So, it’s not the most accurate figure in the world, but it’s definitely the best Mussaurus out there. Besides, who wouldn’t want a practically 1:1 baby dinosaur?