1964: The MPC Cynognathus slithers onto the scene.
Slithering into the Dino-Toy box comes the MPC Cynognathus, a pitiful imitator of the Marx Cynognathus. This rather poorly detailed, often brightly colored and extremely light weight (one eighth ounce, 4 gm) three and one quarter inch (3.25", 8.25 cm) long Cynognathus is part of the 1964 (Multiple Plastics Corporation) MPC figures set of twenty-four (24) Dinosaur toys series, plus three cavemen. Many of these were close copies of the Marx Dinosaur toys that had first come out in 1955.
The MPC Cynognathus should be recognized as a direct, poor copy of the Marx figure. Clearly so (apart from appearance) since neither is a realistic replica of the actual
Triassic Period Synapsid.
While the Marx figure may have been based (loosely) on the Cynognathus in the famous Yale Peabody Museum- Rudolph Zallinger's, "Age of Reptiles" Mural (below), the MPC
figure is clearly based on the Marx figure (although all three are wrong). The actual creature was more dog-like in stature but who cares? Our interest lies in Dinosaur toys... right?
(Just laying about waiting for something to happen.)
The MPC Cynognathus in Comparison
Looking these lightweights right in the face you are struck with the lack of detail and poor casting of the MPC Cynognathus. Its little face is remindful of those "bowl haircuts" of the past. The casting is generally much poorer and the detail borders on pitiful. The gray is the MPC Cynognathus while the green is from Marx. Let's take a look.... The flat gray makes the detail on the MPC Cynognathus stand-out much better than it does on the usually waxy plastic figures. This flat plastic is pretty rare in my experience and seems to be part of a short-lived series of pastel colors. I have several Pteranodons and some Plateosaurs in this plastic. These look a little bit like ants, head-on. You can also see that the MPC version is a bit more "splayed out"
in its stance and leg positioning. The claws on its feet aren't differentiated nearly as well on the MPC Cynognathus and for the 'coup de poo'
the hollowed out belly gives the MPC figure an eviscerated appearance. I have always hated toys with their bottoms hollowed out like this. Toy tanks, trucks, or animals. It always struck me as a petty cost cutting and I can never look at a Dinosaur toy that has been hollowed out with any respect. Or any other toy for that matter. I'm glad to have gotten that off my chest.
(Still laying around waiting for something to happen!)
The Cynognathus was a large-dog sized and shaped early Triassic pack predator. The MPC Cynognathus is a knock-off of the mistaken ~1/18 scale Marx version. The two bulbous lumps on its slightly broader skull belie the fact that in every other way it is lightweight in comparison to the Marx figure. In fact this figure might have been relegated to total obscurity except for a strange twist of fate....
Some time in the 1970s the Marx Small Mold Group mold was lost. It still hasn't turned up. By this time the surviving Marx molds had begun a hegira of sorts, traveling from one manufacturer to the next. In 1989 the Toystreet company had possession and wanted to include a Cynognathus in their "Land of the Dinosaurs" playset. They obtained the MPC mold (which included the Dimetrodon and Pteranodon) and proceeded to resurrect the only Cynognathus in town- the MPC model. They manufactured these from 1989 to 1992 and where the mold is today is anybody's guess.
These are really worth anything only to those collectors who are specifically looking for MPC figures. Otherwise they simply serve as fill-ins in lots of Dinosaur toys that can be found on eBay, in the bottoms of closets or the dusty, spider-bound corners of toy haunted attics. Certainly if you are an aficionado of old Dinosaur toys you really have to have at least one MPC Cynognathus but you shouldn't pay an arm, leg, hand or even a pinky toe for one. Just look carefully at the pictures on eBay auctions.
For the parent concerned about ingestion by a toddler or the pet owner worried about Rover's nutritional health these first came out at about the same time that the U.S. Government began getting concerned about lead in toys. Beyond that I don't know (see bottom of page).
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"Yipes!! This isn't the something that we've been laying around waiting for!"