Not-So-Terrible Lizards

Some bloggers are painting miniatures with facial hair this month as they take part in Movember, but one blogger has consistently indulged his love of all things pre-historic with his own themed month – Dinovember – and that is Michael Awdry of 28m Victorian Warfare.

Now, I did kind of say that I’d try to take part this year, but it has become my duty to report the dastardly deeds occurring in Blackwell, I didn’t really feel I could commit to an entire month devoted to dinosauria. However, as one of Michael’s posts for this month did focus on a model I’d sent him, it did remind me that I had a box of these models awaiting whatever devious plans I had for them.

So, inspired by Michael, I thought I’d give a potted history of the range  and show you some of the models I personally own.

Back in 1974, a company called Invicta Plastics based in Leicestershire,  began a partnership with the Natural History Museum in London  to produce plastic models of pre-historic animals…and a Blue Whale, for some reason. This partnership continued for a good twenty years or so, with 23 separate creatures released from Glyptodons to Triceratops, Brontosaurus to Iguanadons. The NHM was still selling these models up until 2004, when the popularity of Walking with Dinosaur, meant that the Invicta models were no longer the ‘current’ idea of what a dinosaur’s stance should be. And because of this, when I visited in 2004, the Invicta models were all being sold at half-price – so I bought a load, with the idea that I could flog the extras on eBay. To be honest, I’d wish I’d bought a larger range, but I went for the ones I thought would be more instantly recognisable and cheaper to send through the post. Surprisingly, the Woolly Mammoths proved to be the most popular, followed by the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Now, this range was unusual for two reasons. Firstly, it the first accurate (for the time) representation of pre-historic creatures and secondly, every model produced (bar the Blue Whale mentioned earlier and the Baryonyx) were actually in scale with one another. Each creature was moulded in single colour hard plastic and had the creature’s scientific name and details of its length molded on its belly. Which led me to the discovery that, roughly speaking, the ‘scale’ of this model range was 28mm.

Unfortunately, the Natural History Museum no longer sell these models and do not have hoppers filled with unsold models tucked away in a dusty corner of their basement – I know because I’ve asked them. I also asked after the moulds, but was assured that they have been destroyed. However as these were in production for a couple of decades, there are a LOT of these models out there, so if you do want some for yourself, check eBay. However, bear in mind that some people seem to think that ‘out of production’ equals ‘really rare’ and subsequently are selling these models at outrageous prices. A good rule of thumb for judging whether the price they’re selling it for is reasonable is to ask what the equivalent size model would cost in resin, metal of plastic (like the ones produced by Schleich). If the price is higher, don’t bother, but keep your eyes peeled, as sellers do sometimes put job lots up, containing half a dozen or so models for a reasonable price.

Of course, before you buy, you’ll want to know if they’re worth the money, so here are the ones I own, pictured with one of my converted UNIT soldiers, to give you an idea of how well they scale in.

First up, a Dimetrodon, a carnivore from the Cisuralian Permian, known for its distinctive sail-like fin;

This is the smallest model I have, but one of my favourite pre-historic beasties, because I think it looks so cool. As you can see, the detailing on each model was pretty good, even on the smaller models.

Next, a Scelidosaurus, a Jurassic herbivore.

Another nice model, which I picked up because I thought it looked suitably reptilian, but without immediately screaming ‘Dinosaur’, so could have other uses.

Next up, we have a Stegosaurus, another Jurassic herbivore.

A pretty distinctive outline on this one, although modern interpretation of fossil records suggest that it held its head and tail more horizontal.

Another favourite of mine, the Tricertaops, a herbivore of the Cretaceous period:

This model, as you can see, is ridiculously well-detailed and will be a joy to paint.

Next, a Megalosaurus, a carnivore from the Jurassic era.

And finally, the big kahuna himself, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a carnivore from the Cretaceous period.

As you can see, he’s a pretty substantial model, towering over my UNIT soldier.

And here’s the whole gang:

So, a nicely detailed range of accurate dinosaur models, that are a perfect scale for 28mm figures, and that were relatively inexpensive to buy for the size of the model.

Whilst the pictures do give you some idea of the detail, various people have taken the time and effort to paint these models and do them justice, so follow the links to the Triceratops, Stegosaurus and Megalosaurus to see what these models CAN look like.

For mine, I’m kind of leaning towards initially using them as museum displays, but basing them so they can come off their plinths when brought to life by whatever Maguffin I come up with. That’s the wonderful thing about dinosaurs, they can be used anywhere.

Until next time.

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12 thoughts on “Not-So-Terrible Lizards

  1. Ever since Jez made, converted, then painted (and sent us as a gift) a box of Dino-Judges (even the box was home made) I have had a love of all things Dino, and have plans of using our collection in some cool narrative wargames… we WILL do it, as soon as we get to it: just a few other projects before we get to them, but it IS on the `soon to do` list.

    Link to his gift post below.

    http://thegamerscupbard.blogspot.ie/search?q=Dino

    I like this post Jez. Completely took me by surprise, I wasn’t expecting this as a subject, but a thoroughly cool and interesting read. Makes me want to dig out all our plastic dinosaur toys as well (we must have a couple… or more even, I`m pretty sure).

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    • Thanks Steve. Mivhael can be thanked for the topic, as his enthusiastic embracing of all things prehistoric is hard to resist. But who doesn’t love a bit of dinosauria? And I can claim a tenuous link with my current focus, as the Victorians loved their terrible lizards too.

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  2. What an interesting and informative post, and nicely written too. I like your idea of having your `gang` stomp off from their pedestals and `animate` when Fu Manchu or who ever tinkers with them. Cool idea and one I`d enjoy reading from the tales of the Black Museum.

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    • Thanks Hils. The majority of the content I had already researched, as I did contact the NHM to see if they’d squirrelled away any boxes of the models. This led to a series of emails back and forth, as I tried to establish who own the IP rights and whether the moulds were still in existence. They were quite helpful, although all I managed to get from them was the information presented in the article.

      And creating a museum playing board, with various displays that can be swapped out to represent different exhibits, is something I’ve been contemplating. And the exhibits coming alive, like ‘Night in the Museum’, is a staple of lots of fiction and makes for fun game environment.

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  3. Great post Jez and thank you for the shout out too. Great to see the gang out for a stroll and I had forgotten about the Blur Whale, always a favourite at bath time! Once again a huge thank you for mine, they really were a joy to paint and brought back so many happy memories.

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    • Thanks Michael. Credit where it’s due, as your painting has really made them look exceptional. And it was a pleasure to be able to add to your collection – they are an ideal size for 28mm, even if the stances aren’t now considered scientifically correct.

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  4. Call it what you will, fate…kismet…but I just posted a tangentially saurian post of my own over at Dead Dick’s Tavern before ambling over to the Buffet to see what’s doin’…
    I think the idea of a museum gaming board would be great. A lot of uses, in addition to the ones you mention. Horror gaming (mummies! Cthulhu!) or Pulp gaming (mummies! artifacts!) spring to mind…

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    • I shall be posting a comment shortly on your blog.

      I’ve always hankered after a museum gaming board, after playing through the Ghostbusters video game museum level. As you say, it has so many uses, from Victorian right up the modern day, so once I’ve worked out the most cost-effective way to do it, I shall be.

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    • Thanks Simon. They’re useful models and I thought a little potted history of the range, for those unfamiliar with it, might prove interesting and useful. I suppose you could consider them the ‘Bones’ of their day.

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