Vault Tales 97 Yowies Lost Kingdoms Tasmaniosaurus

It’s a not-crocodile but kind of reptile! There’s actually quite a bit of story on its taxonomic status…

It’s been a while since we visited the Yowies figures and oddly enough, this will be my first look at one of the prehistoric models from the Lost Kingdoms series. Specifically, this is the Tasmaniosaurus from Lost Kingdom series A, item number 06. Lost Kingdoms was first introduced with this series in 2000, and of course was short-lived. The line focused very much on Australian and New Zealand fossil fauna; later series included more far-ranging species (but still a special abundance of Aussie/New Zealand animals). The whole line from Cadbury eventually fizzled out by about 2005, so they are only available through fellow collectors and online. Yowies have recently made a small comeback, but have yet to touch on prehistoric/extinct animals of any kind.

And the other side. One thing about (Australian) Yowies, the seams were never hidden.

I was fortunate to find out about these figures in the early 2000s–after they had already released several sets of modern animals, but I think before all 3 prehistoric sets came out (I was ready for the two recently-extinct-animal sets!). I can’t even begin to guess what animals I was able to get first–as always, I was drawn to the figures (modern and prehistoric) that were fish, early unusual animals (they have some great early inverts) and of course odd reptiles. Not knowing what Tasmaniosaurus even was, I of course needed to get it. There’s a good chance that I received this one and several others in large random lots from ebay. Back then, they could be had relatively cheaply, and it was so much fun puzzling them back together. Yeah, I wound up with several that I wouldn’t otherwise have cared about, but several more that I did! My kids enjoy some of those spares on their shelves now. As for me, there is a shelf that is almost entirely Yowies from the late 1990s-early 2000s.

A better sense of the overall shape.

The figure is pretty simplified. If someone were to try to picture a proto- or basal-archosauriform animal, this is likely what would come up. Crocodile-ish and yet not, some raising of the body but mostly squat, extended toothy snout. Interestingly, there is no evidence of scutes or plates on the figure, which seems like something that most companies would do. The colour palette is also pretty reptile-conservative, with an overall olive green highlighted by yellow bands and belly. Overall, it’s an animal that would look familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. Given that there is only one partial skeleton of Tasmaniosaurus (apparently, the most complete Triassic reptile skeleton from Australia!) they were likely trying not to be too speculative. As with most Yowies, this one is toob-figure sized, measuring about 9cm total; based on estimates of 3 metres, the figure would be about 1:33 scale.

With a roughly same-scale human figure. More or less.

Yowies are great as unique representatives of many unusual animal species. This is probably what makes individual figures attractive to many collectors. It certainly is not their life-like accuracy. At the same time, more or less, that these were around we were also seeing Kaiyodo and Play Visions do some amazing work with figures in a similar size. But neither company tackled the odd faunas of Australia and New Zealand. Although difficult to find now, there are dedicated collectors, especially in Australia, that often had spares to sell or trade (that’s how I get mine now, when I discover one that I should have). They are breakable of course, and small, but I have found them to be generally tougher and for older kids (and adults) building them is super fun. So if you need more weird reptiles form the Triassic (who doesn’t?) I would recommend tracking this figure down.