Vault tales #25 Play Visions Placodus

Who makes it? Play Visions, as part of a bin figure set of prehistoric marine reptiles. It has a stamp of #1 on it

When did it come out? The figure is stamped 1998, so go with that!

Friendly Placodus, just swimming along the reef. Although they may not really have been that adept at swimming, being quite heavily built reptiles..

Still available? They were discontinued in the early 2000s, although they still show up in the occasional store as old stock, or in auctions. Sadly, the story behind the end of this and many Play Visions sets is that they grew tired of their models being copied and pirated by other companies. So now they don’t make many sets and we are all poorer for it.

Where can it be found in my displays? On the shelf of many small bin figures and other sets! Hemnes1Aβ

And swimming the other way! Here you can see the ridiculous front teeth. For such small figures, Play Visions was able to create a lot of detail that wouldn’t be matched until the Kaiyodo Dinotales came out soon after.

How does it fit in the collection? I have always been a fan of unique prehistoric animals, and Placodus and its relatives definitely fit into that ‘unique’ category. On top of that, there was a time when I collected a lot of Play Visions figures. I have since thinned that out quite a bit to the ones I like the most.

Any story behind it? This entire set was a bit of a trip. I remember getting the marine reptiles set as part of an ebay lot that also included the prehistoric amphibians. That would have been around 2001. Then, at some point around 2007 I ended up selling the sets because I needed to for reasons I no longer remember. Then, over time, I was able to collect them all back plus a couple spares and now I have them all and have no intention of letting them go again. Ones like this Placodus are still pretty much the only reasonably accessible figure of this animal that I am aware of!

We’re so used to being told about the giant and terrifying marine reptiles, it’s easy to forget that some of them were about the size of a person and probably relatively clumsy and docile. Still, a 2 meter long reptile deserves respect and this diver should move away already.

Notable remarks about this figure (a review that isn’t really a review): For a small PVC to, Play Visions did a great job of capturing the unique look of Placodus fairly well. The large incisors are clearly sculpted and painted, and rest at the front of the appropriately heavy looking head. The body has a wide heavy set to it as well, which gives this figure the look of an animal crawling slowly along looking for benthic prey. There is no indication of the rigid skeleton present in Placodus, which is fine. It just means that the body is fleshed out more, so that the skeleton is not obvious! Part of the reason might be the source–like many of the Play Visions prehistoric animals (marine reptiles, amphibians, mammals) the designs were either licensed, inspired or ‘borrowed’ from the Macmillan Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals (or one of the many other places that those same images have shown up–I had a CD-ROM that featured the same artwork!) While some of the designs, especially the dinosaurs, have not held up well, many of the non-dinosaurs were at least good for their time, and are very recognizable. The figure itself, at about 10cm long, is also a good scale to go with the much larger marine reptiles…as long as you don’t mind mixing your eras, since there aren’t many other Triassic marine reptile figures. At all. Maybe that will change some day.

Would I recommend it? For sure. As I’ve said, they aren’t that easy to come by, although they no longer command the prices they once did (fun fact: in the peak of recent dino collecting, around 2007, someone paid over $800USD for the set of 8 prehistoric amphibians. That’s $100 each. That is insane). In particular, the Placodus is very worth tracking down because, again, I don’t know for sure of another toy version out there (there’s at least 2 of the relative Henodus, just for comparison). For any collection of prehistoric animals this would be a great one to add if you don’t have it. At least until someone gets around to making a new commercial version of them!