Vault Tales 217 Run the Set Lido Nabisco Prehistoric Mammals

Today is a more classic vintage set–a series of plastic prehistoric mammals! Featuring some very, very unusual species (and a few expected familiar ones). As was kind of common in the 1950s and 1960s, these were giveaways with Nabisco cereals. Sets of monochromatic animal figures of various themes and sources were not uncommon (Marx and MPC are probably the best known) but a set with these kinds of animals was. Nabisco also had a set of dinosaurs that were unusual, although I don’t have any of them.

The producer of the set is often referred to as being Lido, a company that did make several sets of plastic animals, etc, as giveaways and mailaways. Whether Lido actually did make them is uncertain; the company’s molds were eventually sold to other companies, and many were lost. The style of the figures is similar to the Lido figures, but there are several others from the era that could have also been responsible. In any case, unlike many of the sets of the time, the Prehistoric Mammals were not not recast and reissued more than once; the originals were the metallic silver/grey (although the hues vary). Later, the same figures were reissued in a variety of colours. And then never again!

As with many of these kinds of figures, I was not really aware of them at first. They were available long before I was born, and until the internet became more useful there weren’t many ways to find out about them. Fortunately (?) the internet was coming into its own right while I was broadening my collection and my knowledge of prehistoric mammals when I started grad school–studying prehistoric mammals! A signature fossil animal from my research area were the brontotheres, which made me really want a figure of one…easy now, not so much then. But I was looking–and eventually came across a few pretty old ones (and always out of production ones at that…). It turns out brontotheres were more common as figures long before I was looking…and that only turned around in the last 10 years or so!

I was eventually able to track down 7 of the figures on eBay. I was lucky, because as collectors were more in contact, more people started looking–and prices started rising! The only figure I didn’t have for some time was the camel. Eventually, I was able to trade a bunch of other vintage and odd figures (including a few Lindes I think) to get it. Interestingly, the colour of it stands out just a little, being just a little more bluish. This is not, however, a coloured version, which tended to be bright matte colours. I also found out that there was a collectors booklet that could be purchased when they came out, which is where the identifications come from (and given probably-low survivability of that booklet, probably explains the identification errors).

This is a fascinating set of figures that any collector of prehistoric mammals should have on the shelves. Although sold as toys originally, these are pretty brittle plastic and I am doubtful that they would survive. Just keep them on the shelves! The set is also an interesting time capsule of taxonomic and physical interpretations. Almost every species has seen either a change in its name (Daeodon, Paraceratherium, Alticamelus, Megacerops) or the physical appearance (Daeodon again, Smilodon, Macrauchenia, maybe Barylambda); the Mammoth hasn’t really changed much, although the style is clearly vintage. Most of these species are of course available from more recent companies (other than the Barylambda…and the only other Alticamelus is probably just as hard to find) I definitely recommend tracking these down. They are definitely a part of the hobby’s history!

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