Carrying on with our series of Marx reviews next up is that most popular of ornithopods, Parasaurolophus. Like the previously reviewed Styracosaurus this figure is part of the Second Series Mold Group, PL-1083. This mold group was the most recent and last from Marx, produced in 1961. I’m hard pressed to think of a Parasaurolophus toy that’s older than this, which makes it the first ever, and I find that significant. Of course a lot of Marx toys represent firsts for the animals they correspond to. Marx produced 4 ornithopods over the years; this Parasaurolophus, Iguanadon, Hadrosaurus, and “Trachodon”.
Like the rest of the Marx toys this Parasaurolophus is very much a product of its time and representative of the paleo-art of the day. In this case the figure is nearly identical to the depiction of Parasaurolophus in Charles R. Knight’s painting of the dinosaur alongside Styracosaurus. With the large oval shapes on the crest it also resembles William Scheele’s Parasaurolophus illustration from 1954.
The Marx Parasaurolophus stands just under 3.5” tall and is presented in an erect, tail dragging posture. There shouldn’t be a need to address errors in accuracy in these historic figures but despite its stance this figure still has an elegant, sophisticated quality about it. The arms dangle in front of it, unsure of what they should be doing, and the head is tilted slightly towards the right as though in deep contemplation.
There is a lot of fine detail work to be admired on this figure. It seems that Marx is often overlooked in this department, written off as bland, uninspired, generic toys. On the surface I can see why, they certainly don’t come close to anything modern, but they’re more detailed than you might expect. It’s only once in-hand that you can really appreciate some of these sculpts and it’s only recently that I realized that myself. It all has to be taken in context of course, for their age these toys are much better than they needed to be.
Pebbly scales of varying sizes adorn the skin, wrinkling of the skin is sculpted around the limbs. The feet have three distinct digits complete with claws, and even the hands have individually distinct fingers instead of a featureless mitt (which would actually make it more accurate!). A heavy brow is sculpted above the eyes that give the toy a serious demeanor. Skin is sculpted with large oval scales, connecting the head crest to the neck as was the typical depiction of the time, such depictions seem to have fallen out of favor and it’s a lovely reminder of the toy’s age in this case.
The Marx Parasaurolophus is an exceptional representation of the now antiquated view of dinosaurs as swamp-bound, dim, lethargic, giant lizards. Although a modern figure might give you a better 3-dimentinal view of what the dinosaur may have looked like in reality, and has value for that reason, these older toys represent real dinosaurs in a different sense. Dinosaurs as an analogy to their age, these Marx toys are the “dinosaurs” of dinosaur toys. I can look at a modern toy and be transported into the deep past, but looking at a Marx toy transports me back to my own past and the past of my parents and grandparents before me.The Marx Parasaurolophus can be found easily on eBay for about $10.00.