Part 1 – The Mesozoic Figures!
That’s right–as the title suggests, I am going to be looking at the full run of the Series 1 Dinotales line, the one that started it all! I have looked at various individual Dinotales figures before of course, but I don’t think I tackled a full complete set. And it turns out, with at least 25 figures that gets a little daunting. Because unlike some sets, Dinotales deserve at least a little more time to be enjoyed! That said, I think I’ve gone into a few of the series 1 in past posts, but I think most were actually the Series 1 version 2 figures…this one is all about the originals! As a note, I didn’t determine the exact scales for each photo, but with a few exceptions most of the figures are at least close to their associated human scale models.
For today, I am going to look just at the Mesozoic figures (I could almost have gone with just Cretaceous save for one (ONE!) Jurassic exception. As with any prehistoric animal line, the Mesozoic dominates, which is why it will be its own post. But save for the first two pictured…most are very unique as figures, even more so at the time they were produced. Moreover, within the entire 24-species series, only 5 are non-avian dinosaurs! The sixth will be next day. From a different era! The Cenozoic, obviously.
One notable thing about the species in the series–all of the series 1, not just the Mesozoic ones–is that most seem to be chosen due to ‘normal’ popularity, instead of, say, being Japan or even eastern Asia focused. It could be that fossil discoveries from those regions were not as established as they are now, but it’s hard to say. It does lead to a really, really interesting mix of animals from around the world–the North American Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, and Parasaurolophus were probably expected (especially those first two). The inclusion of the Chinese Sinosauropteryx must have been inspired by the very recent finds of small, feathery dinos there, and this figure might be one of the first to show a reasonably fuzzy depiction.
After that, the choices get really cosmopolitan. Anhanguera is usually thought of as South American, while Suchomimus is known from northern Africa. The coelacanth Axelrodichthys (a personal favorite, of course) is known as a number of species from around the world…although most references seem to be South America, Africa and southern North America. Finally, the giant marine reptile Liopleurodon is mostly thought of as being from European localities. I couldn’t even begin to guess how this assortment was chosen…although I appreciate it greatly. Despite a very popular BBC program airing in a similar timeframe to the series’ release, and even models that might have been inspired from that show bear little to no resemblance. Maybe the sculptor was guided by scientists studying these animals?
It is interesting to me that there are only a couple of taxa in this set that would considered to include Japanese finds. One is the widespread ammonite Pachydiscus; since the information booklet isn’t specific (see the header banner) it could be the Japanese species, why not? The other is a weird turtle called Sinemys gamera–the only figure named right to species in the whole series 1…and maybe the whole of the Dinotales run? Although S. gamera is from China…that name is awesome and more Kaiju should be referenced wherever possible.
The figures of this set were my first introduction to the wonderful models available out of Japan–with this set releasing in about 1999, I came upon them just after this set had been released and discontinued (both versions); and I think the second series had also just stopped being released. So they were still pretty easy to find if a contact could be made in Japan. In fact, after a while, I became the go-to guy for all of the paleo fans when I was in grad school, as I had made a contact in Japan and lots of people built small collections of these figures.
I didn’t actually complete the whole series all at once–I picked and chose at first, but once I got a few larger assortments and started getting close to at least one of each version, I decided to try and get them all. Even the ‘chase’ T. rex, most likely because it was a good price. My first Dinotales figure did not come from the assortment in this post. That Axelrodichthys is definitely one of my favorite figures, and was probably in the collection fairly quickly, but it still came later. On Thursday, you’ll get to see the one that literally started it all for me. It’s going to involve travelling through all kinds of time periods!