Toyway produced a set of 11 dinosaur figures for their now out of production Walking with Dinosaurs line. This number includes the pterosaur Ornithocheirus, which was only available as a magazine give-away and is thus almost impossible to find. For this reason many collectors consider a WWD set complete even without the pterosaur. The most exiting figures in the set for me were the marine reptiles and I’m probably not alone as they tend to command quite high prices today. The WWD Liopleurodon is probably the most sought after figure in the line (except for the illusive Ornithocheirus), but the ichthyosaur Ophthlamosaurus is likely a close second (or third depending on your views on that pesky pterosaur). The Ophthalmosaurus was previously reviewed on the Dinosaur Toy Blog but a fresh review is now in order.
This is a stunning replica, a toy with real character. The vibrant colour scheme is based on the Ophthalmosaurus in the show but the paintwork in the toy is a little more intense – and all the better for it! The surface is of the skin is almost entirely smooth with a just few wrinkles around the forelimbs and under the jaw. The painted surface in all of the WWD figures is delicate and easily damaged, this is especially so in the smooth surfaced ichthyosaur so pristine examples of this figure are hard to come by.
Anatomically this toy is excellent. The stubby round forelimbs are characteristic for Ophthalmosaurus. Although there is no direct evidence for it, the WWD figure has a dorsal fin and a large lunate tail. The characters are inferred from soft tissue evidence in other species of ichthyosaurs, and from the distinct bend in the vertebral column of the tail. Some researchers have suggested that Ophthalmosaurus may have lacked a dorsal fin entirely although this proposal has never really been taken seriously. Still. the dorsal fin is less pronounced in this toy than in other ichthyosaur figures. The beautiful saucer-like eyes have hugely dilated black pupils with a slight reflective sheen to the surface. Adult Ophthalmosaurus were almost entirely toothless (maybe the dentition changed with growth or varies between sexes). As it appeared in the TV series, Ophthalmosaurus had a mouth full of teeth, which could be considered an error depending on the sex or how old the individual was supposed to be. The mouth is closed in the Toyway WWD figure so this characteristic is not perpetuated here.
The Walking with Dinosaurs have been criticized in the past for their wooden posture. However in the Ophthalmosaurus this doesn’t matter, derived ichthyosaurs like this one had relatively little range of motion anyway, so the neutral posture is quite appropriate. Most ichthyosaur toys have this basic posture for this very reason. This perceived neutrality of posture was likely the impetus behind Safari Ltd’s decision to spice up their Ichthyosaurus figure with an additional ammonite, an unnecessary addition in my opinion: simple does not equate with boring. For me the ichthyosaur’s perfectly adapted morphology and distinctively streamlined shape is the biggest part of their appeal.
Because the WWD figures are no longer in production they are difficult to find. They were mainly released in the UK so they are typically found here being sold by British sellers.