Photos by Stemturtle, edited by Dinotoyblog
Ahhh, the Play Visions prehistoric amphibian set. Originally released in 1998, this rare set of miniature prehistoric wibbly-wobbly critters is one of the most sought after in the world of prehistoric figure collecting. The one (one!?) time it sold on Ebay I think it went for over $350! This review will cover each figure individually, so if you dislike prehistoric amphibians you should leave right about now! There are eight creatures in total.
Let’s start out with Crassigyrinus. Some have called this “the killer tadpole of death”, due to its large head and tapering body. This figure is very true to the real animal, with large eyes, a big mouth, and tiny limbs. The limbs, actually, could be a bit smaller, but due to the potential molding issues involved I don’t blame Play Visions for making them a little larger. The color scheme is nice and it fits a swamp-dwelling animal well. It is mostly different shades of tan with a light underside. I wouldn’t want to meet this fellow in the wild, that’s for sure!
Now on to Eryops. This is a personal favorite of mine. For years it was the only example of this species to be found in toy form until kaiyodo produced one, I believe. This big fat thing was a contemporary of the mammal-like reptile Dimetrodon. Due to all its wrinkles and little bumps on its back, this figure seems to support the idea that Eryops was a terrestrial creature. This figure’s color scheme isn’t exactly interesting but it isn’t bad, either. It’s all one flat grey, with the bumps on its back highlighted in cream. It has fiery red eyes.
Moving on to Peltobatrachus! This could be described as an ankylosaur-like amphibian, due to its covering of bony armor, and it is believed to have been completely terrestrial. Peltobatrachus lived alongside animals such as gorgonopsids at the end of the Permian, and the two perhaps competed with each other near watering holes. This figure is also very true to the animal, with a smallish head, lots of armor, and small squat limbs. Its limbs, perhaps being a softer skin compared to the rest of the body, are colored grey, while the rest of the animal is pinkish with black “freckles” all over the place. This looks great alongside the Safari ltd. Wild Safari Scutosaurus and Inostrancevia [not yet reviewed on the blog – any takers? Ed]. Definitely one of my favorites from the batch.
Now let me introduce you to Mr. Boomerang, AKA Diplocaulus. Nobody is really sure why this strange amphibian had such an oddly shaped head; some say it was to make it difficult to be swallowed by predators, others say it was used for sexual display. The truth is, we’ll probably never know its exact purpose, but we can still enjoy it in all of its strange glory, can’t we? This model is kind of a contradiction to itself. The legs are thick and the body and head are held high off the ground, yet the tail has a fluke similar to what a fully aquatic creature would have. This figure is very bumpy and textured and the color scheme on this is very nice too, being a mixture of different browns and tans (I definitely prefer this to the pink and black Kaiyodo version!). A very worthy model, even if all you end up doing with it is stuffing it in your Carnegie Dimetrodon‘s mouth.
Next up, Eogyrinus. In every set of dinosaur/animal toys there is always one “what were they thinking?” figure, and this is how this poor old Eogyrinus fits in with the rest of his plastic amphibian brethren. This doesn’t really look like one at all, it just looks like a generic salamander thing. The head is very bizarre, with an open mouth full of white teeth and a mouth that ends before the eyes begin. It looks very silly actually, almost something I’d expect out of an early days CollectA prehistoric amphibian! Luckily, the exemplary color scheme helps this one. It has a pink belly, a greenish yellow back and tons of black spots/bars/bands/etc. They’ve succeeded in making it look venemous, but they didn’t at making it look like a Eogyrinus!
Here is the Gerrothorax. I don’t know what to say about this one other than the fact that it looks like a mixture between a blue-raspberry gumball and an axolotyl. There’s nothing really wrong with this figure, in fact it is very true to the real animal down to the red feathery gills it is thought Gerrothorax had, but the color scheme, the color scheme! I don’t know what they were thinking. It’s blue, with some yellow and greyish purple on top. Maybe if they used a base color orange or black this would have looked better. Oh well. Next!
Cute little Triadobatrachus. This thing is adorable, and it’s extremely realistic too. I’d expect to see this out on a nature walk, not in a toy store! And on that nature walk, if the critter asked to lend twenty dollars, he has such a cute face that you wouldn’t be able to say “no”. This represents the frog-side of the animal very clearly, although Triadobatrachus isn’t really thought of as a big jumper. This figure is a dark blue-grey with purple spots and the same red eyes most other amphibians in this set have. Those red eyes are almost…hypnotic. Resist the hypno-toad! This is also the smallest figure in the set at about an inch long.
Last, but certainly not least, is the überawesome Platyhystrix! This is the one figure in the set that I was looking forward to getting most. This little fellow was another contemporary of Dimetrodon and it looks quite a bit like one too! It’s very strange, Platyhystrix, Edaphosaurus, and Dimetrodon all had tall sails, so there was obviously some type of environmental pressure going on and it wasn’t just sexual display that pushed this evolution of this feature. For me, this is probably the most stunning toy out of the bunch; his sail is yellow, red, sky blue, green, and black.
In conclusion, a fascinating mix of unusual extinct amphibians, and given how rare the set is, it will always remain coveted. One day we will get around to reviewing that other sought after Play Visions set, the marine reptiles. If you are lucky you might be able to nab a Play Visions amphibian or two on Ebay here.
If only this was still out there somewhere, I’d buy it in a nanosecond. Paleozoic critters are really underrepresented.
Nice review of nice little critters! Thank you!
The sculpts and color schemes are based on the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and other Prehistoric Animals. I do wish they kept making these figures, as prehistoric amphibians are pretty rare in terms of toys.