Due to recent events, I’m going to make this a quick single-figure post. In this case (in case the title didn’t give it away) it will be a somewhat recent ‘shark’ figure from PNSO, Haylee the Helicoprion, number 43 in their Prehistoric Animal Models series. It’s hard to believe that there’s already so many in this line. Anyway, of the figures released in 2021, definitely one of my favorites. And a great example of what this company is up to!
PNSO has become notable in the last few years–releasing a very wide range of models of prehistoric animals (mostly dinosaurs) in a very high detail, high quality format. Personally, I like their style but I generally cannot justify their usual prices–but of course I can make exceptions! Like with this really cool, big ‘shark’ model! Well, ‘shark’ because Helicoprion is more properly a euchondrocephalan, a stem group related more closely to modern holocephalans like chimaera and ratfish. So, given my preferences for prehistoric fish…this one was a definite must-have.
The quality and design of the figure is top notch, and they capture much of the assumed morphology of the genus (based on actual remains of taxa like Fadenia). So we get this very streamlined, fusiform body with a large symmetrical tail fin, big pectoral fins, and a heavy keel on the peduncle. There are also five very large gill slits–not like in modern holocephalans, but as seen in the fossil taxa. The eyes are another feature altogether–an almost luminescent green, which is certainly inspired by their modern relatives (although…those species are deep water; I believe Helicoprion was more open water/pelagic, but it’s a nice touch). The skin also has a green iridescence to it (which is difficult to get in photographs…) but is also just slightly rough, another nice touch referencing it’s living relatives.
Of course, the most important and notable feature of the taxon–and of major focus in the figure, is the characteristic spiral-toothed lower jaw. The feature that gives the taxon it’s familiar names like ‘coil-tooth shark’ and ‘whorl-tooth shark’ (which, yeah, not a shark but it was assumed as one for decades. The PNSO model is the first to truly represent our most current understanding of this incredibly unique morphology, with a single whorl of teeth effectively rotating up into a groove on the (toothless) upper maxilla. And given how awkward it sounds, they did a pretty decent job of representing this with an articulated jaw on the figure. As with many companies these days, it is quite popular to include articulations and joints but in this instance it really acts as a highlight to the figure.
This figure is such an amazing model, a very good representation of what PNSO can do. I did mention that they can be kind of pricey, and also a little hard to get hold of (I got mine through AliExpress). It’s definitely a figure to add to a collection…but they’re certainly not priced as toys. In terms of material they’re not a whole lot different than what Schleich once produced for their Replicasaurus series, or Safari for their largest Carnegie Collection figures–or some of the current best deluxe models from CollectA. PNSO has mainly stuck to dinosaurs lately, with a few more popular marine animals (the Dunkleosteus and especially Cretoxyrhina are on my eventually lists), but a model like this gives me hope for more non-dinosaur models, and pre-Mesozoic figures too. They can certainly pull it off. That said…I’d appreciate the models maybe being a little smaller…and less expensive (their mid-range Atopodentatus and Dakosaurus are smaller overall, and with an associated lower price, for example). It’s nice centre-piece figure for sure!