Nothosaurus (Jurassic World Dino-Trackers, Danger Pack by Mattel)

3.7 (161 votes)

Nothosaurus is a genus of Triassic marine reptile that belongs to the Sauropterygia clade, along with other weirdos like placodonts and plesiosaurs. Aside from the plesiosaurs all members of the clade would go extinct by the end of the Triassic. Looking at Nothosaurus it is easy to see the relationship between it and plesiosaurs but nothosaurs were a distinct group with their own unique features and did not give rise to plesiosaurs. I’ve long been a fan of Nothosaurus, since the early ‘90s when it was featured in an episode of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs where they went by the name “Whiptail”. Recently it also had a starring role in Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous.

Not many figures of Nothosaurus exist. There are a handful of unimpressive vintage figures by Starlux, Wagner, Imperial, and Play Visions. The Safari Ltd. TOOB figure is still the best Nothosaurus figure ever produced and rather nice aside from being small. Recently Schleich released a Nothosaurus but the less said about that one the better. I came very close to purchasing it, in desperation for more Nothosaurus figures, but decided to save my money and shelf space.  New for 2023, Mattel released a Nothosaurus based on the Camp Cretaceous design as part of their Dino-Trackers line.

The Mattel Nothosaurus measures about 8” long and stands about 3” tall to the top of the head. There are roughly a dozen Nothosaurus species however, ranging in size from 13-23’. The Mattel Nothosaurus comes out at about 1/20 in scale when scaled down from a 13’ specimen which puts it close enough to the 1/18 scale of the human figures. The toy has some articulation but nothing fancy. The mouth can open and close and the neck can swivel up and down. The legs and tail can rotate around.

The Mattel Nothosaurus, although stylized and based on a cartoon, is shockingly decent in the accuracy department. The head is appropriately long, broad, and flattened with the eyes placed on top of the head and far forward. Bulges behind the eye match closely with the large, elongated openings on the back of the Nothosaurus skull, which would have accommodated jaw-closing muscles. Although the teeth are oversized, they interlock nicely together like they would in life. Just past the tip of the snout the face should be somewhat pinched in but isn’t and that’s fine.

The body is long, low, and broad and the tail a bit shorter than it should be. The figure is clearly being depicted as a semi-aquatic animal and in Camp Cretaceous it moves nimbly on land, but this was probably not the case in life. Nothosaurus had small hips and limbs better adapted for swimming than walking. The feet should be webbed and paddle-like but here they’re just generic terrestrially adapted claws.

The figure is detailed in a coat of extremely fine scales with a cluster of larger scales or osteoderms on the lower jaw. Skin folds and wrinkles are sculpted conservatively across the figure and are most prominent at the base of the skull, underside of the neck, and around the limb joints. Thin deep gouges across the hide give the illusion that this animal has been in a few scrapes. Overall, the fine minimalistic details do well in depicting this creature as an aquatic, sinuous, serpent-like animal.

The top of the head is painted black and nicely transitions to dark gray over the rest of the body. Small black specks are randomly distributed across the gray portions and the underside of the figure is a tannish-peach color. The teeth are creamy white, eyes orange with black pupils, and the tongue is shiny pink. As always, watch for sloppy paint application as one of the eyes on my specimen is misprinted. Overall, the colors work well together. I like the sharp contrast between the colors and the countershading is appropriate for an aquatic animal.

The Mattel Nothosaurus is one of my favorite offerings from Mattel this year and one of their best non-dinosaurs. It should hold me over well enough until a company like PNSO, CollectA, or Safari delivers a proper figurine style Nothosaurus. Unfortunately, the Mattel Nothosaurus has proven to be an elusive figure, despite being released in both wave 1 and 2 of the Dino-Trackers line. It appears to be locally common in some places and completely absent in others. Acquiring one might require some intense store hopping or networking with other collectors.

With other Mattel Jurassic World toys.
With the Safari Ltd. TOOB Nothosaurus.

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Comments 18

  • Megvan a TOOB Nothosaurus és a Mattel is.
    Igaz hogy a TOOB jobb de szerintem a matteles is nagyon jó.

  • Yep. This figure is clearly getting targetted for downvotes. Meanwhile a lot old junk is getting rated better, despite even being bad figures back when first released.

  • I’m not a huge Mattel fan, but this is definitely one of my favorites from them. I’m glad they made it if for no other reason than it makes it slightly likelier that someone else will make one that’s less action-figure-y.

  • Almost 80 votes and this toy has a 1.8 star rating. Almost as low as the Schleich Nothosaurus. I know there’s a bias against Mattel toys around here but I thought this toy would be better received than this.

    • Yeah, this one and several others are getting rated unfair. This is easily the best Nothosaurus on the blog, yet is barely rated better than Schleich or Imperial. And worse than the Wagner.

      • I also noticed that it is ranking about the same as the Imperial Nothosaurus and lower than the Wagner. But they have 5 and 4 votes vs. nearly 90. I have to assume that the people that voted for them sought out the reviews and have nostalgia for those figures. But the Mattel Nothosaurus is easily the best Nothosaurus available and second only to the Safari TOOB Nothosaurus overall. It should get at least 3-3.5 stars in my opinion. It’s MUCH better than Schleich’s.

    • Even the Hasbro Dilophocon/JP12 two pack is rated better.

    • I kinda get the dislike, I think. I’m personally not a fan of this toy either, it looks a hairless dog on steroids with an oversized head that vaguely resembles that of a Nothosaurus. The proportions seem to be all over the place, it’s lacks webbed feet. There is not a whole lot to like here if you’re looking for an accurate representation. As a toy it functions well enough of course. I guess it depends by what metric you judge this figure. For all its faults, it feels like the Schleich variant tries to represent an actual animal instead of a cartoon creature.

      • From what I can tell the oversized head is a much closer match to the actual animal’s skull than Schleich’s, and somehow the teeth are actually less blunt and ridiculous looking on this Mattel toy too. Keeping in mind that it is stylized and literally based on a cartoon creature, I think it’s pretty darn good. If Schleich’s gets anything right it’s only because they ripped the design off from Adam Prochazka’s sculpture, in typical Schleich fashion. And it might have webbed feet but they’re all bent in unnatural angles.

        Accuracy aside, the Mattel Nothosaurus is still objectively not a 2-star toy when judged on all metrics. I realize it’s hard for the membership here to judge a toy on anything other than accuracy. Actual bad toys like the Kid Galaxy Giga are being judged marginally worse than this Nothosaurus. And that’s a bad toy on every metric. But I’m not going to take it personally. I’ve written enough Mattel reviews to notice the bias, I just have to chuckle and shake my head at this point.

  • I am infinitely less the saurianatomist than the rest of u guys. I really like this particular figure, but for me the most bothersome aspect of it is its superhero biceps — which seems to be a recurring feature of the otherwise very nice Mattel sculpts. I don’t believe I’ve seen this mentioned, so is it just me?

  • I would love to have this species, but Schleich’s has gotten negative reviews and I am not ready to pull the trigger and start collecting Mattel JP/JW figures.
    Great review as always!

    • I’m surprised you don’t have the TOOB figure.

      • I’ve thought about getting that TOOB for a couple things but decided to hold-out for ‘standard-sized’ versions. It’s a great TOOB though and I agree the nothosaur in it is the ‘best’ available.

        • I’m sure we’ll get another standard size Nothosaurus eventually. But there’s also a Henodus in that TOOB and I doubt we’ll see a larger version of that one.

    • You can always cherry pic. That’s what I do.

  • I only saw it 3 times, 2 in each store, but I only grabbed one, which was on the day I first saw it. This is gonna be a hard to find figure in the future, fellas. Get one if ya see it!

    I didn’t know this animal was on Camp Cretaceous either. That is pretty cool.

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