In the past few years we’ve seen an explosion of Dunkleosteus figures from all kinds of companies, from masterpieces like Favorite Co’s rendition to worthy-but-flawed efforts like CollectA’s to fairly bad ones like the subject of today’s review. It’s the most popular prehistoric fish in plastic, eclipsing the huge but otherwise utterly boring C.
In the Devonian period, the largest animals were arthrodires, huge armored fish informally referred to as placoderms. ‘Arthrodire’ means “joint-necked,” referring to the fact that there was a hinge in their armor between the thorax and the back of the head.
If somebody has heard of just one Paleozoic fish, it’s probably Dunkleosteus, designated yesterday as Ohio’s official state fossil fish! Toy companies have made more than a dozen different versions over the years, and several higher-end models exist as well. Earlier this year, a Thai studio called Like Hobby/ThinkArt released one of the latter.
350 million years before the advent of humans, reindeer, or consumerism, our distant gnathostome forebears celebrated Fishmas. Fishmas originated when Santa Claus turned the wrong dial on the time machine he uses to travel to every house in the same night, landing him in the Devonian and the gaping maw of a Dunkleosteus.
It isn’t often that a toy company offers us a prehistoric fish, but when they do, it’s usually Dunkleosteus. Small wonder, since this gigantic arthrodire was imposing and distinctive, reaching 8 meters in length. It was probably the largest animal alive during the Devonian period, 100 million years before the first dinosaurs.
Next to the giant shark Megalodon, the armored Devonian placoderm Dunkleosteus is probably the most famous prehistoric fish, featuring frequently in publications and other media. Naturally, many toy and model companies have given the great fish a go at least once. Favorite Collection, which released one Dunkleosteus in 2014 under their Soft Model line, produced another figure of the genus under the Vinyl Model series.
As of late, Safari’s newcomers really have become something to look forward to, even more so if one of those newcomers is a late Devonian Placoderm (Placodermi are an exotic but fertile terrain only Kaiyodo, Prehistoric Panorama and Starlux had dared to explore) The Dunkleosteus is a fresh idea from Safari, and as such, it’s had a warm welcome among collectors.
From July-October 2015, the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo hosted an exhibit called “Leaps in Evolution: Tracing the Path of Vertebrate Evolution.” To commemorate the exhibit, Kaiyodo made a set of five vending machine capsule figures, most representing a stage in the evolution of vertebrates.
Colorata has been making boxed sets of dinosaurs for several years now, which occasionally include dinosaur contemporaries like pterosaurs or mosasaurs, but in December of 2017 they released their first boxed set of prehistoric figures featuring exclusively non-dinosaur taxa. Say hello to the Extinct Animals: Paleozoic Creatures set.
CollectA has emerged as one of the most prolific producers of dinosaur figures, with a few other Mesozoic reptiles and some mammals here and there for variety. They’ve developed a reputation for giving some obscure species the plastic treatment, but in general those species have been fairly close relatives of the old standards.