In addition to a diverse assortment of dinosaurs Marx also produced quite a few other prehistoric animals. Some, like the Dimetrodon and Pteranodon were obvious additions to the line; others like the Cynognathus are more surprising additions. Marx also produced three Pleistocene mammals (not counting the cave men) and you could probably guess what at least two of them were. Today we’re looking at the Smilodon but a woolly mammoth and Megatherium were also produced. All three mammals were a part of Marx’s second series mold group, PL-1083, produced in 1961.
The Marx Smilodon is a dead ringer for the Smilodon paintings by Charles R. Knight. His 1903 S. populator and his S. fatalis as depicted in his Racho La Brea Tar Pit mural at the LA Museum are strikingly similar to each other and this toy. Really all of Knight’s depictions of Smilodon are variations of this template. The toy, like in Knight’s art, is stepping forward, shoulders arched, head tilting down, and mouth open. It’s supposed to look menacing but to me it looks like the cat is trying to bring up a particularly difficult hair ball. This depiction, menacing or not, was the trope of the day and repeatedly copied for many years by various paleo-artists.
In terms of accuracy Marx’s mammals hold up much better than the dinosaurs, which certainly makes sense. Although the life appearance of Smilodon has been debated over the years the current consensus is that Smilodon would have looked very much like extant cat species, making Knight’s interpretation still valid.
This toy cat is lean and muscular, deep chested and thin waisted, and finely detailed with hairs etched over and following the various contours of the body. A ruff of fur extends from ear-to-ear and wrinkles are present around the snarling muzzle. In side profile the toy looks decent enough but the saber teeth are fused together and so when viewed head on it looks like one big buck tooth. The toy measures 3” long and the genus name and a length of 9’ are printed on the belly.
Like many Marx toys and their imitators, this Smilodon comes in a range of colors. Mine is brown but the toy can also be found in yellow, green, gray, orange, etc. The Marx Smilodon is easily found on eBay and usually goes for around $10 USD. I must point out however that buying Marx toys in lots is far more cost effective than individually.