Animal Planet Playset - Elasmosaurus Deep Sea Exploration Location: TRU Price: $19.99
I cannot believe I have not done a review on this set yet. What actually got me to due this review was the fact I wanted to do a top 10 best of Chap Mei figures. I could not decide which figures would make the 10th spot or even the top 3. Rest assured the Elasmosaurus would have been in the top 3.
This set is one of the larger sets under the "Animal Planet" logo at Toys R Us. It retails for $19.99 and has been on shelves for several years. Recently the box art under went a major change which is the only difference. The set includes a really big articulate Elasmosaurus, air boat, miniature Ichthyosaurus, 3 tuna and yet another Chip White action figure.
I'll began with the high light of the set the Elasmosaurus. The Elasmosaur is part of the Stone Age series released by Chap Mei. However this figure was released before I even heard of Stone Age. Which was nice because the U.S. rarely gets any new figures from Chap Mei and it usually takes 6 months to a year for it too make state side. The Elasmosaurus features articulate flippers that move back and forth. The flipper also provide support for the figure on a flat surface. The neck can rotate 360 degrees and the lower jaw can move slightly to capture fish. The action feature is a button on the back (no surprise there) that causes the neck to strike as if it were snapping at a school of fish. This is a pretty accurate depiction of a Elasmosaur. Actual species were more streamline and horizontal in shape. They were not able to position the neck in a s shape curve like a swan as most early artistic depictions are concerned. The head is pretty spot on with long needle like teeth that interlocked. However none of this really matters considering the creative detail involved.
Next we have the air boat which is actually the same model from the crocodile patrol set TRU released a few years prior for the Wild Quest line. The boat is a on man vessel that can actually float in water. It includes a elevating and rotating water cannon (a lot of good that will to a Elasmosaur) and a rotating radar dish. The rear propeller also rotates and the stabilizer pivots. I wish the orange version that came with the Dino Valley Liopleurodon came with this set but I guess it was not available at the time.
The set also includes Chip White who is found in just about every Dino Valley 2 and Wild Park set. I am going to refrain from reviewing him as I have already in previous reviews.
More interesting is the fish lizard "Ichthyosaurus" and the 3 tuna included in the set. The tuna are nothing new and have been included in several sets from Deep Sea Adventure to Wild Park. They complement this set very well as Elasmosaur food. The Ichthyosaurus is a very nice surprise to this set and if it were not included I would not have owned one as the regular Stone Age sets were none existent in my area. This is a pretty accurate depiction of the Ichthyosaurus with large black eyes, a long snout and a short thick body. The color designs are also nice a little too bright for my taste but it complements the Elasmosaurus in this set as yet another marine reptile. Although both species lived in separate geologic time periods.
Ankylosaurus is for some reason extremely rare among toy lines featuring dinosaurs. I can only think of a few who actually had one. This was a fairly common dinosaur among the late Cretaceous among Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus and the multitudes of duck bill dinosaurs. Chap Mei did release two versions of Ankylosaurus in earlier sets the first that resembled this one only smaller scale and brown in Dino Quest and a more scientifically accurate Anklyosaurus in Dino Valley that was the same size. It was not until just recently a medium sized Ankylosaur was introduced in the Stone Age series. The Ankylosaurus has movable legs the front left allows the tail to raise up and down. The European edition contained a boulder that could be hurled from the tail hinse the wackiness of it's design. I am not that impressed with the tail since Ankylosaurus are known to possess a club tail this one is more designed as a spiky catchers mitt. The tail is not at least suffering the short tail syndrome as its other fellow dinosaur kin. The color is of course blue, the official color of Chap Mei but it is a darker shade of blue. At least it does not have a bright vibrant colors that would make it a potential meal. It does not blend in very well to a tropical or grassland environment. I might survive better in a cool dark tropical forest where it can hide better. These guys are not too typically hard to find right now in stores but I tend to believe these guys are solitary so one is just fine. Does this version resemble an actual Ankylosaurus? The answer is no. However I tend to believe like most of the other dinosaurs Chap Mei creates that this is a creature which evolved and adapted after the extinction of the dinosaurs. It adapted into a new environment with new traits to forage and defend itself. This "neo-ankylosaurus" has developed a bigger brain to process information. Hinse the bigger head. Longer more muscled legs for short bursts of speed for running. The spikes on its back, head and flat spiked tail would defend itself when cornered. Most predators would think twice before tackling these guys. One thing that caught my eye was how close it resembles a Moloch lizard. Another thing I noticed is that several dinosaur released after Dino Valley II resembled the dinosaurs in Peter Jackson's King Kong. If you get a copy of The World of Kong a Natural History of Skull Island turn to page 60 you will see a creature called a Calcarisaurus which looks exactly like the Stone Age Ankylosaurus.
Its original name Diatryma is now invalid now goes by the name Gastornis. It was featured in the Stone Age series along side to Cave Men and dinosaurs. Often called a "terror bird" in pop culture the Gastornis appeared after the extinction of the dinosaurs. Although new evidence suggests that birds are in fact theropod dinosaurs. The Stone Age Gastornis is basically a hunk of plastic with no movable features. The paint and detailing are however over the top. The legs and talons are detailed very nicely and painted quite accurate to modern birds. The body is painted black with very detailed feathers. The neck and head are very well detailed as a prehistoric bird would go. Some liberties were taken to the beak giving it more of a crested look and teeth but the color is dead on. The neck and head are a plain white, I would have given it a more red or pink to give it a some color. The size is pretty accurate to a 3 3/4" scale person. In real life these guys would have looked a 5 1/2 to 6 foot human in the eye. The Gastornis has prove to be extremely hard to find at least in the United States. I only have one and thats all I plan to use. Even though these guys lived after the time of the dinosaurs they still can be part of it. Birds did live along side dinosaur and these creatures first appeared 55 to 60 million years ago so something like a Gastornis must have lived and survived to the close of the Cretaceous. What I find so appealing about them is they fit right in with the Ice Quest line Chap Mei came out with a few years before Stone Age. So you can add him along with your Woolly Mammoth and Smilodon cat. This is yet another creature based on Peter Jackson's King Kong. If you check out page 74-75 the Zeropterx you will see a similarity.
About the time of Dino Valley 2 Chap Mei began to move away from the more common dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops and took more of an exotic approach. Animals like Suchomimus and Therizineosaurus never appearing in other toy lines have popped up in Chap Mei. Amargasaurus was from a line called Stone Age which was a fantasy based series featuring dinosaurs and cave men. Some of the most popular and detailed figures came out of this series including the cave men. Amargasaurus was one of the strangest looking like a miniature Brontosaurus which a rooster comb on the back of its neck. Its action feature was when you press down on the leg the neck moved a side from that all four legs were movable. While a full grown Amargasaurus reached 33 feet in real life this guy is a tot next to its living relatives. Its big enough at least bigger then its tiny Dino Valley brother that was ridiculously small. Included with the Amargosaurus was a pair of small dinos a repainted baby T rex and a red Pterodactyl. While the Pterodactyl's head and wings moved the T rex was just a block of plastic. I still see this set along with the Ankylosaurus and Parasaurolophus at TRU from time to time it good to know they still carry the line even though nothing new has appeared in over a year.
Guys, I found all for of the stone age cavemen. They are very similiar in quality to the ones seen here. They sell for 7 bucks, if there is someone interested just let me know. Probably in a week or two they'll have some police force sets.
A store chain called Petra Toys in Indonesia carries some knockoff of this line. I'm not really fond of the dinosaurs, but what caught my eye was this cave playset they have at about 9 US Dollars. It is very eye-catching
This is the most massive set of Stone Age Dinosaurs. Like with most Chap Mei lines, the real big box is where the money's at. This was also the first incarnation of the 'Mega T' sculpt, a new T-Rex sculpt that towered over older ones such as Hurricane or the smaller rexes that were found in Dino Valley. Dino Valley III has a repaint of this sculpt.
Also of interest is the playset, of course! It's a fantastic castle-like playset which I will review later, and is probably as close to a 'Snake Mountain' type lair for Medieval Fantasy villains as Chap Mei is going to get for a while. Highly reccomended if you can find it.
Post by Ghouldrool on Sept 18, 2013 8:14:59 GMT -5
This configuration shows a remarkable repaint, as this is the T-rex sculpt used in early Dino Quest and Beast Raider's Hurricane. I had no idea this sculpt was used in Stone Age Dinosaurs too, despite of Mega T being the new Rex sculpt in this line.
Post by Brian Artillery on Apr 17, 2016 1:14:56 GMT -5
I am astonished. I have been collecting action figures for as long as I can remember - and that's a long time. I have never taken much notice of Chap Mei figures [for shame!], as they only seem to appear in discount stores here in the UK, and I have overlooked them for their low cost. How very, very wrong I was. I have been looking at these figures and sets, and the only word that comes to mind is 'awesome'. The variety, and imagination on show here, is simply mind boggling. I love the paint apps on the figures, which put other, way more expensive figures to shame. And then there are the accessories, and vehicles; I definitely want one of those two-man submersibles, to repaint and customise. I have a three year old nephew... who I think I will have to buy some of these sets for... I love this site: it has made me look at things a whole new way. Cheers.