July 27, 2010
I’ve mentioned Safari Ltd. a few times already on this blog (here and here, for example), so I probably don’t need to tell you that they tend to leave any competition in the dust when it comes to producing museum-quality plastic animal reproductions. One of their flagship brands is the Carnegie Collection, a line of toy dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures that first came out in 1989. Originally based on fossils from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the design of these replicas has become increasingly detailed and scientifically accurate over the years. Most of these figures are scaled 1:40, but there are exceptions, such as the 1:10 scale Ichthyosaurus, which just came out last month.
The Safari Ichthyosaurus is 8 inces long and painted with a color pattern similar to the modern Common Dolphin (Delphinus). The coolest feature of this sculpt is, of course, the Mesozoic ammonite gripped tightly in its jaws.
Ichthyosaurs (“fish lizards”) were a group of highly-specialized marine reptiles that dominated the world’s oceans for much of the Mesozoic era. They were most definitely not dinosaurs…but you knew that already, right? Appearing in the fossil record in the first part of the Triassic period (~245 million years ago), ichthyosaurs thrived during the Jurassic, but they went extinct before the end of the Cretaceous period, about 90 million years ago. Their fish-like body shape is often compared to that of modern dolphins as a classic example of convergent evolution. Fossil stomach contents show that some species definitely preyed on ammonites and belemnites, and it’s likely that cephalopods were an imporant part of a balanced breakfast for most ichthyosaurs.
The genus Ichthyosuarus itself, which lived in the Early Jurassic seas that covered what is now southern England and continental Europe 199-189 million years ago, was first discovered in early 1800s. These finds, including many complete skeletons, played an important role in how we came to understand the age of the earth and helped define the then brand-new science of paleontology.
I picked this up from the gift shop of the NC Museum of Life + Science (along with Cryolophosaurus, this year’s other new Carnegie dinosaur) as a birthday present for myself. Suggested retail is $8.99, and if you don’t have access to a museum gift shop or speciality toy store, you can order it online from Amazon.com or directly from Safari.
November 30, 2009
Welcome to the 1st Annual Indie Squid Kid Holiday Shopping Guide!
Every day this week I will feature the best new products for the cephalopod enthusiast in your life. In most cases, these will be products that I don’t own (yet…hint, hint) and haven’t previously reviewed. To kick the week off, we start with one of my favorite subjects…TOYS!
Part of Imaginext’s new Ocean line, and of course it’s the one piece I haven’t been able to find yet.
List Price: $6.00 — Buy on Amazon.com (but it will be cheaper if you can find it in a retail store.)
This set combines four different pieces that are usually sold separately. It not only includes the Ocean Squid (see above), but it also comes with a green plastic ammonite (one of the Ocean Boat’s accessories).
List Price: $74.99 — Buy on ToysRUs.com
Spotted at my local Target store, this set includes not only an awesome three-headed sea dragon, but a Tylosaurus (from Imaginext’s discontinued Dinosaur line) and a repaint of Sea Blade the Octopus from their Pirate line.
List Price: $29.99 — Target in-store exclusive.
This is yet another example of something I haven’t been able to track down in the store. Safari’s Incredible Creatures are larger scale (and more detailed) than the Wild Safari line, but are made of softer plastic and are comparable in price.
List Price: $10.99 — Buy on SafariLtd.com
There’s a lot of talk about pirates versus ninjas, but if we learned anything from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the pirate’s natural enemy is actually the cephalopod.
List Price $39.99 — Buy on Amazon.com
Also still available: Mega Rig Squid Sub
List Price: $19.99 — Buy on PlaymobilUSA.com
List Price: $10.99 — Buy on PlaymobilUSA.com
List Price: $10.99 — Buy on Amazon.com
September 18, 2009
Safari Ltd., as I have mentioned before, is the leading purveyor of high-quality plastic toy animals. Over the last ten years or so, they have produced three different versions of Architeuthis—the legendary Giant Squid.
The first Giant Squid made by Safari was this tiny guy. It was part of a small assortment of similarly-sized marine animals which were available, if I recall, in the mid-90s (although there is no date printed on the figure). This assortment has been out of production for a while, and I think it was part of the Habitat Authentics line. (Although I haven’t been able to dig up any information on it—thanks for NOTHING Internet!)
The figure itself is not as accurate as Safari’s second Giant Squid sculpt (see below). While it is a perfectly lovely squid, generally, its mantle and tentacles are too short to be an Architeuthis (something we’ve seen before).
Safari’s next version of the Giant Squid really hit the mark. The 1998 Monterey Bay Aquarium Giant Squid is approximately 18″ long, and it remains the best Architeuthis replica to date. It retails for $9.99 and is still available from SafariLtd.com.
Here the Giant Squid is locked in combat with Safari’s Monterey Bay Sperm Whale. As you can see, the scale is a little off…despite a few unverified reports from the 19th century, it’s unlikely that they ever get quite this big.
In 2004, the Wild Safari® Sealife Giant Squid was released. This is the same sculpt as the Monterey Bay squid, only scaled down (approximately 10″ long) for the cheaper Wild Safari line. Buy on SafariLtd.com or look for it at Michael’s, A.C. Moore, or the better sort of museum gift shop.
Here are both squids in a side-by-side comparison. Both versions have wires in the long feeding tentacles, making them the most poseable Safari replica.
Learn more about Architeuthis on Tree of Life.
Previously on ISK: Wild Safari Sealife Octopus
June 22, 2009
This is a fact: When it comes to high-quality toy animals, Safari Ltd. blows any competition out of the water. Their replicas include not only a wide array of sea life, but also birds, insects, jungle mammals, farm animals, and the most scientifically accurate line of plastic dinosaurs ever produced. Safari figurines are widely available online, in retail stores (arts & crafts store Michaels, for example, usually has a good selection) and in museum gift shops the world over.
The Wild Safari Sealife® Octopus doesn’t provide a specific taxonomic identification, and, like most toy octopi, it’s not entirely obvious–after all, there are hundreds of known species of octopus, and their body color and texture is famously variable. If I had to make a guess, I’d say it’s most likely the Common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris)–the well-studied species known from the waters of southern England to norther Africa and the Mediterranean.
The figure itself is 5″ L x 1.5″ H and retails for $3.99.