Plesiosaurus (Mini Dinosaurs I by Bullyland)

3.6 (14 votes)

This small Plesiosaurus toy belongs to the first line of dinosaur figures produced by Bullyland beginning in 1980, a few years after the German toy company was founded in 1973. The line of seven miniature dinosaurs (and other prehistoric creatures) is informally known as Mini Dinosaurs I, to separate it from a later line of mini dinosaurs released by Bullyland in 1993 (Mini Dinosaurs II), and other separate Bullyland dinosaur lines.

Although there’s no date marked on the figure, the underside is embossed with the country “W Germany”, which gives away that it was produced prior to German Unification in 1990. Also embossed on the bottom is the company name “Bully”, a copyright symbol, and the number “5”. The number 5 suggests this is figure five of the full set of seven.

It’s also interesting that Bullyland shortened its name to just “Bully” – it isn’t ideal for a children’s toy company to share a name (in English) for a person who purposely hurts, intimidates, threatens, or ridicules another! Although “Bullyland” is not much better – is that where all the bullies live? I jest, there’s a different but less widely used positive meaning for the word “bully” – it can mean “excellent” (as in “bully for you!”). So that’s a positive! However, there is deeper and more specific reason behind the name! My wife is German and she did some research for me… she found out that “Bullyland” was derived from the company founder’s French bulldog, named ‘Bully’! Still, it’s an unusual and somewhat unfortunate name choice!

The toy is essentially monochrome, except for the eyes, which have been picked out in black. I generally like monochrome figures, but I’m not fond of the yellow colour. This seems to be one of only two colours this figure was produced in – this unpainted yellow version (product number 11735) and an orange-red version, which is an identical sculpt but with a different product number (11708). It’s a small figure, only 7 cm long, which makes it approximately 1:45 scale.

I won’t spend too much time inspecting the anatomy, it’s a typical out-dated, hump-backed, swan-necked depiction of Plesiosaurus, but there are a few aspects of this little toy worthy of mention. Firstly, there is a row of creases along the flank of the body, which could be meant to represent the ribcage. Second, the flippers have striations running along the top. It also has a particularly spindly noodle-like neck. These distinctive features differentiate this figure from other similar mini plesiosaur toys, whether or not they are accurate (they probably aren’t).

Bullyland subsequently produced several other mini Plesiosaurus models, including the Animal World Dinosaurs version previously reviewed on the blog, but this particular Mini Dinosaurs I toy was discontinued in 1989. It’s not too difficult to find on Ebay these days, but this is only really one for completist collectors like me!

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