Vault Tales 154 ToyTrio Iguanodon, Thescelosaurus and Desmatosuchus

Time for an all-prehistoric, all-herbivore, all-archosaur reptiles figures trio. From a weirdly wide range of companies and styles…

GeoWorld Jurassic Hunters Thescelosaurus

So…here’s a first for the blog I think–a figure from the GeoWorld Jurassic Hunters series. This is a weird series, starring a fossil hunter out of Italy branded as “Dr. Steve” that came out strong about 8 years ago, with a big range of larger dinosaurs, and a whole lot of species. The overall aesthetic could generously be described as ‘really well-made dollar bin’ but they were packaged and meant for proper stores. And it was good packaging–info cards, neat artwork, proper packages, and as mentioned a huge diversity of species, many of which are very unique, even if they aren’t the best interpretations. But as eventually came to light…many of the designs were ‘borrowed’ from other artists and sources. Without permission. Which soured many collectors (myself included) on the line overall. And maybe just coincidentally, the line overall appeared to get really confused in its marketing and production–I don’t think most of it is available anymore (back in the day, I even sold them in my store…)

Which brings us to this Thescelosaurus figure. It’s a pretty old-fashioned reconstruction (I haven’t looked, so I don’t know the source) but it’s so great to have a thescelosaur. In my dino museum days, one of the many nearby finds was, of all things, a Thescelosaurus (there’s actually lots of material from the area). Compared to, say, the local Tyrannosaurus or giant marine reptiles, a thescelosaur doesn’t come across as super exciting. But an animal like this would have been important to the ecosystem, and not everything can be scary and toothy! So while the source may not be great, I’m happy to have it. Sadly, I don’t think they’re available easily anymore.

Kaiyodo Dinotales Series 2 Iguanodon

From an obscure ornithopod to the classic original, here we have a Kaiyodo Dinotales Iguanodon from Series 2, number 31. This small figure captures so much about a modern (skinny!) iguanodont. The hands have that tippy-toe look, it has the cheeks and long, strong body. This figure could have walked out of any number of excellent pieces of modern paleoart. And the colour, well, it’s creative, I’ll give it that. They were big animals but it seems like they’d still want to be less noticeable to predators! But on the shelf, it stands out in a really fun way–dinosaurs can’t always be drab.

This is actually only the first attempt by Kaiyodo at an Iguanodon for their capsule lines, as they made several other ones–including revisiting Iguanodon for a later Dinotales series. They made some improvements, but overall there wasn’t much to adjust–just different colours and a more active pose. This one is, in some ways, nicer to me–maybe because it has that more classic Dinotales look, even with some seams showing. There are of course many other Iguanodon figures from lots of companies–it’s a classic species after all. And while I think this one is great and belongs in everyone’s collection, it is of course harder to find because it’s been out of production so long.

Safari Prehistoric Crocodiles toob Desmatosuchus

And now for something very, very different. I think I’ve touched on the Prehistoric Crocodiles toob from Safari before, and how I actually had a bit of input with that toob. And I still love that it got made–such a great concept, with a whole bunch of prehistoric crocodile and crocodile-adjacent animals. And I was super excited to see the aetosaur Desmatosuchus be part of it–a weird, tank-like, armoured, plant-eating crocodile relative! There are not a lot of this kind of animal made, and it took me a long time to actually get any figures of any species…I’ve since managed to get a few but there are not a lot of them. And most are discontinued, and often highly sought after. This one is also discontinued (well, the toob is) but how does it measure up as an aetosaur figure?

Well…it’s a decent size, neither too big nor too small. It has a good sense of the big, heavy shoulder spikes and plates on the back. It looks like a solid, angry tank. The head though…it is kind of a miss. Desmatosuchus, from what I’ve seen, seems to have a little more of a flat or even upturned snout. And being herbivores, their teeth are small and peg-like. But this Safari one has more of a short, almost lizard-like snout. And the mouth is lined with a battery of long teeth. I think the sculptor was trying to play up the ‘crocodile’ part but come on–that low slung, armoured body should be sufficient. So, as far as aetosaurs go, maybe not the best representation. That said, I would still recommend finding the toob if you can (it is, of course, discontinued) just because it’s such a unique, diverse set. And getting a few more Triassic animals in a collection is always great. Besides, as far as I know, every aetosaur figure that has been made is now unavailable (all…5? 6? of them), and this one might be more obtainable than others.

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