Sometimes a Toy Trio has a theme, something that links them together. Maybe it’s a taxonomic theme, or a geographic theme, or maybe their respective companies have something in common. And sometimes, the only connection is ‘animal figure that is in my collection’. This trio is one of those latter ones. These are seriously all over the place. Just like the actual collection!
RalPartha Beastmasters Megalictis
So, in the late 90s, prehistoric mammals were not much of a thing–especially if you weren’t heavily into the internet and online shopping hadn’t really taken off. Somehow, though, I came across the site for Ral Partha, a company that makes/made (?) metal figures for role-playing games (speaking of things that have come a long way), in particular Dungeons & Dragons. I want to guess that I was searching for information on Chasmaporthetes. Or models thereof. And in those weak Altavista searches (woo!) I found something called the BeastMasters series. My mind was blown, because it was a range of prehistoric animals, mostly mammals, and there were so many. They also came with little humans to scale with them–the eponymous Beastmasters I guess.
Even better, there was a shop in my city (it’s still there no less) that carried them. I navigated my way and lo and behold, there they were! The hyenas (I’m sure I’ll get to them someday) were a given–but so was this one, the giant wolverine-like weasel Megalictis! Maybe it’s a little too wolverine-like, but come on, it’s so cool that it exists. In the series it is number 01-700. Like most of my 3D models, I tend not to paint my metal figures because I’m not that practiced at it. And worse, they are no longer available, so I really can’t risk it now. As for the people that accompanied them, I gave those away to a friend of a friend. I just wanted my set of prehistoric animals. I did manage to get the whole set over time, and I highly recommend tracking them down as something a little different for your collection!
Starlux Wildlife Dromedary
Ah, Starlux. The famous French company of super breakable composition toys…I discussed one of their prehistoric figures a while ago (the second Nothosaurus) but they also made a wide range of modern animals as well. The styling is similar between the modern and prehistoric figures–same breakable material, same detailed sculpting and texturing, and same weird face painting. Specifically, the need to paint the mouth a bright red, as though we needed to know exactly where it was. It’s rather off putting, even though the rest of the figure is pretty nice. Really, the overall paint jobs could be hit and miss within a single figure (note the two sides of my dromedary, for example). It makes me pretty sure that these are hand painted.
Also like the prehistoric figures, Starlux would produce a whole range of modern animals, from fairly obscure (and now very sought after) animals to more familiar zoo and farm ones. The dromedary here would probably fall in between; maybe not as common a figure as the Bactrian camel (I have one of those too!) but more familiar than, say, their striped hyena or maned wolf (ditto). And there are some really, really rare ones (possibly the first thylacine, for example, I don’t have that one 🙁 ). As a group they are of course much harder to find now, being out of production; I only have this one and a few others because of large lots purchased from eBay France! Nice figures, but probably more for dedicated collectors to hunt for…and definitely not toys (now…imagine how many broken ones there must be out there!)
Yowies Lost Kingdoms Coil-Tooth “Shark” Helicoprion
Finally we have a Yowies Lost Kingdoms Helicoprion, referred to as Coil-Toothed Shark in their information materials. It is number 8 in their series B of the prehistoric figures. At the time, this was probably the only accessible model available of this or almost any prehistoric other shark (late 90s, early 2000s). I think the only others were a ‘Megalodon‘ from Yowies Lost Kingdom A and a Cladoselache from Dinotales Series 1 (and 1.2). The figure pretty much reflects the best guess at the time of what they were and how they looked. It even has almost the look of one of Ray Troll’s many interpretations of these crazy fish (although it still has a Yowies spin, no plagiarism that I can tell). We are fortunate now that we have more details about the appearance and the relationships, so we know that the super weird whorl should be flipped the other way…and that it isn’t a shark, it’s a eugeneodontid, a type of holocephalan (like today’s ratfish and chimaeras). Learning can come from anywhere!
I would not, however, hold the supposed errors against it. For one, they were working with what was known at the time (and went with the best hypotheses, because there were some much stranger ones). And second, working with what they had, it turned out to be a fairly decent interpretation. Yowies always have a bit of a cartoonish styling to them, but this Helicoprion is relatively high end (for a Yowie). Even the paint job seems to have a little more care to it, right down to a fading counter shading and sculpted teeth in the whorl (blunt of course). The things they got wrong were things everyone got wrong; if nothing else, it led me to do a bit of research when I wondered why the body had so few fins compared to sharks; I learned that related eugeneodontids seem to have bodies like that, so it makes sense. This figure was one of my first Yowies; I discovered them soon after Dinotales, and they helped fill out my small prehistoric animal figures. I still actually have a couple of this one, and am glad that I do; there still aren’t enough prehistoric shark figures, and most, like all the Yowies, are of course no longer in production. I would recommend tracking one down for the collection if you can, there’s lots of collectors in Australia that can probably help!