Who makes it? Kaiyodo, as part of the Dinotales line. Series 1 (but see below) item number 011.2
When did it come out? Bit of history here…The first series of Dinotales came out in 2001. A set of 24 blind bag figures that needed to be put together (for the most part) using as modern a design for the shape and patterns as possible. There was also a chase figure (a tuatara, for some reason). They were popular, so Kaiyodo made a second set, Series 2. But someone there must have felt that Series 1 needed something more, so it was rereleased as Series 1v2 (hence, the item number .2). The figures were painted in very different styles and often had the pieces oriented differently (which, sadly, means no easy mix and matching if you were inclined). This Liopleurodon is the Version 2 (the original was blue).
Still available? As mentioned with the previously reviewed Plateosaurus, these were limited time runs, available only in Japan (without external help). So no, unless you go searching collecting fora and Japanese auctions.
Where can it be found in my displays? In the Dinotales cabinet of course! At least one of them is, since I actually have a couple (I’m not putting shelf numbers down any more…the collection is moving around and it won’t matter soon!)
How does it fit in the collection? Well, I collected at least one of all of the Dinotales, so I was going to get one. I don’t usually look for variants, but with the S1v2 figures I did pick up most of them if they looked different enough. And this one looks different.
Any story behind it? Not more than the usual tracking figures down. Most likely a large lot from Japan that had a bunch of interesting figures in it. Many of which were then traded or sold off later to other collectors. It’s a whole thing.
Notable remarks about this figure (a review that isn’t really a review): Overall, I believe that the figure is reasonably representative of Liopleurodon as understood at the time. It is definitely very different from the reconstructions we have all gotten used to because of the Walking With series. I remember first getting this figure and thinking it looked so strange, again because I was really only familiar with the depiction in the series (and was otherwise unfamiliar). The skull seems a little too narrow and pointed compared to the skull (almost dolphin like), but the body seems right, and is using the paddle system of alternating front paddles-back paddles as research suggested. The colouring is also very unique; the first attempt was a light blue, almost whale-like. This one has a brown counter-shading that certainly stands out. It’s familiar but I am not sure where from (Kaiyodo often took inspiration from living animals).
Two other things about the figure. First, when it was produced Liopleurodon was assumed to get up to 25 metres long (again, that WwD series had a lot of impact)! Given that, the design of this figure would have resulted in a very, very sleek and thin mega predator–like a mega dolphin or something. Maybe the Japanese designers were already working from more current assumptions of under 10 metres. Second, unlike most Dinotales, the Liopleurodon figure (both versions) is a single piece. Most of the figures go together very well, but this is one of the few that guarantees no seam lines!
Would I recommend it? Yes. For sure. I said it before, Dinotales are probably one of the most impressive series of prehistoric figures to be produced in a long time, for both quality and diversity. Their Liopleurodon is definitely unique compared to most figures currently (or recently) available. They aren’t necessarily easy to find, but not impossible. Or, you know, get in touch. As of this writing I do have a spare after all!