Every now and again, something rather interesting pops up that you wouldn’t expect to be as good as you’d think. The toy sets you would see at supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl, often seen as cheap item makers, having something worth getting. Here, we examine the Joy City line on prehistoric animals, a counterpoint to there Dinosaur wave, which seems more typical chinasaur. Here, we will look into each figure, seeing what makes it worth having.
We start with the oldest species here, Odontochelys, an early turtle from the Late Triassic of China. It’s quite a surprise, being a relatively unknown species in toy circles. This is well made, with the plastron well made, not having evolved a top shell yet. The head seems to have more of a beak than it should. Body could be bigger, but rest, such as limb length and digits being excellently done. It measures 2,3″ long and 0.3″ high, working well for an animal that was 40 cm in length. The top is greyish blue, with the plastron being a beige colour, similar to modern turtles. A nice touch on a good figure.
Next to the early Jurassic of England, where we find Plesiosaurus. This smooth figure sports a mostly grey colour scheme and white underside, with a pose that isn’t quite a swan position, but more like it’s going for air. Not quite stiff necked enough, but works well. The neck is good, but the tail is too long, and not fluked as it should be, but that is forgivable, given the production of the figure. It measures 3.4″ long and 1.1″ high, nice size for a youngster.
Now to the Late Jurassic of Germany, and one of the sets’ disappointment, Pteradactylus. The mix of orange and brown doesn’t help the chinasaur feel to this figure, and the neck pose doesn’t help, the swan neck pose would not help a flighted animal, as we have here. It’s accurate, though lacks the teeth. It’s 2.7″ wingspan and 0.4″ high, making it quite small, would work well with larger figures. Not brilliant, but not the worst of the set.
Next to the early Cretaceous of Africa with Sarcosuchus, and it’s quite interesting and surprisingly well made. It’s a little on the cute side, but works with cream and brown. The pose goes for a fairly common one among crocodillians, open mouthed and curled, but it works well. It is also surprisingly accurate for a model in a set like this. It measures 2.2″ long and 1.1″ high, could make for a decent youngster. I quite like it, a nice surprise.
Now to the late Cretaceous of America, and the western interior seaway and the pliosaur Dolichorhynchops. This is another very smooth marine reptile, and a pretty accurate one too. The jaw may be a little long, but it works well otherwise. The pose seems similar to the pose of the 1903, with an all over grey and white belly working well. It measures 2.6″ long and 0.6″ high, small, but workable. Another nice surprise.
Next to the Oligocene, and one of my favourite prehistoric mammals of all, Paraceratherium, or Indricotherium as the model is stamped. This model is an all over chocolate brown, which works well for a rhino relative. It is rather alert, as if scanning around for predators. The skull may be a tad long, but otherwise is accurate to the fossil record. As a large animal, it is the largest of the set, measuring 1.9″ high and 2.3″ long. A great little figure.
Now to the Miocene, and the sets biggest surprise. Here we see Amphicyon, a member of a group referred to as bear-dogs, a group I don’t believe are seen produced by any other company. Amphicyon was around for over 14 million years, and was a bone crushing carnivore seen across Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. From it’s massive jaws to it’s robust legs, this figure captures the fossil perfectly, and looks fierce too, snarling away. At 2.4″ long and 1.3″ tall, it would be worth taking a small space on a collector’s shelf, especially with it’s unique stance as one of the only bear-dogs on the market.
Next is the Pliocene, getting a hominid, Australopithecus. A little simple, with an all over brown and simple walking pose, but it doesn’t feel cheap. Rather, it feels well sculpted and accurate. At 1.9″ high and 0.9″ wide, it is nice and will fit into small spaces on a shelf.
Now we are going to be in the Pleistocene for the rest of the figures, starting with Doedicurus. This figure sports shiny scutes on the back that works well with the otherwise brown colours. It isn’t too accurate, as the shell is the wrong shape and the head is a little off, but otherwise nice. The spikes being so small, works really well as a scutling, a youngster with an adult from another line. It is really small, measuring 1.8″ long and 0.8″ high. The pose is quite simple, but is serviceable.
Sticking to that time and place (South America) we have the terror bird Phorusrhacos. The feather sculpting really looks like a youngster, with some phenomenal detailing around the face. The size of the head makes it unclear if this is Phorusrhacos or another terror bird, but is otherwise pretty good. The mix of dark blue and yellow works fantastically, with a simple but cute pose. It measures 1.9″ high and 2.4″ long, a nice little model.
Now for something familiar, Smilodon, or the sabre toothed tiger as it’s called. This is far more tiger like than it should be, even down to the paint scheme, though Smilodon isn’t related to modern cats. This one also feels really cheap compared to the others, the worst of the set. It measures 2.1″ long and 1.2″ high.
Finally, we have the Mammoth, titan of the ice age. It’s hard to get this wrong, and, aside from the slightly over sized tusks, this doesn’t, resulting in a nice model that ticks most the boxes. It measures 2.3″ long and 1.4″ high.
In spite the chinasaur feel of some figures and rubbery nature, this is a charming set, and I can see why it became a sort after item, owing to it’s variety of non-dinosaur animals and surprising quality in areas. It’s a hard set to find, and I am grateful to Paleo & fish collector for helping me get this, and recommend it to anyone who wants it. It’s an oddly satisfying set.