Starting in 1974 the Invicta plastics corporation of Britain introduced a series of 1/45 scale Dinosaur toys that combined great detail with accuracy verified by the British Museum of Natural History. They had four Sauropods, the first (1974) was a Diplodocus, followed in 1980 by a Mamenchisaurus, a Brachiosaurus (1984) and a Cetiosaurus (my favorite Invicta Sauropod) in 1985.
(below- rear to front, Brachiosaur, Apatosaur, Diplodocus, Cetiosaurus)
The Apatosaurus was the one well-known (better-known than any of the other four), missing, Sauropod. MARX had produced a "Brontosaurus" (the "old" name for this Dinosaur) back in 1955 and (despite having the wrong head) was the best model of this Dinosaur available and had been for over a quarter century. This was all ameliorated with the presentation of the Invicta Apatosaurus in 1987.
(below- Invicta Apatosaurus with ~1/100 scale Marx Brontosaurs)
The Marx Brontosaurus made great "juvenile" Apatosaurus with the Invictas taking over the role of adults.
Weighing In at fourteen and 3/4 ounces (14.75 oz, 417 gms) and measuring about as close to twenty inches (20 inches, 51 cms) as you can get. This is quite the 'hefty' fellow and at the time, 1987, was the largest and best detailed Apatosaurus in production (it is now out of production).
The Invicta series of Dinosaur toys was commissioned by the British Museum of Natural History and the finest, highest quality Dinosaur toys made in 1987. If they had a failing it was that they were each produced in a monotone and somewhat brittle plastic, prone to breakage.
Their other problem was one of limited distribution. The Invicta Dinosaurs were sold primarily in Museum gift shops. I got mine at the AMNH. Essential to survival in the ecology of the marketplace these factors ultimately conspired to result in the extinction of the series around 2003.
1988 saw the introduction of the Carnegie Collection (opens new window) (from Safari Ltd, (opens new window) authenticated by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History). These were (all) in 1/40 scale, made of a softer rubber/plastic (less brittle) and handpainted in colors.
In self defense Invicta presented at least some of their figures in hand painted versions (see left) but the paint used was less durable and the distribution problem was never solved. For instance I have never seen the Invicta Apatosaurus for sale in The United States.
The Invicta Apatosaurus is quite well detailed with skin creases sculpted in the neck and throughout the body, producing a pachyderm-like effect.
The head detail shows the well defined eyes, ear-holes, mouth line and the nostrils placed on the top of the head. Very nice.
Part of the beauty of this figure is the artistic way the head melds into the neck, and the neck curves down into the body. The line of the throat flows all the way down to meet the belly between the front leg(s). While the
detail in the torso creates a real sense of the thickness and massive musculature of the creature. The tail of the Invicta Apatosaurus flows out
of the torso and down, along the ground behind it. At the time, barely two decades ago, the Sauropods as a class and the Apatosaurus in particular were still considered as oversized and clumsy creatures and the current belief, that the tail was used as a whiplike weapon, had not yet come into vogue. In consequence they were pictured as dragging their tails along the ground like gigantic lures trolling for predators. (Of passing interest is that the early Carnegie Apatosaur's tail dragged, like the Invicta Apatosaurus. Currently the Carnegie figure's tail is off the ground and ready to lash out at potential predatoys.)
(above) The Invicta Apatosaurus still looks great as it crosses the yard in search of forage.
They maneuver about attempting to get in either a bite (a quick snack) or to panic an Apatosaurus into leaving the safety of the herd.
One of the Allosaurs (below) finds itself either bowled-over and injured by the Invicta Apatosaurus tail, or hanging on for dear life as it tries to act like an anchor to slow down and weaken its prey while the other two hold the herd's attention. Who really knows the Allosaurus mind?
The Invicta Apatosaurus has a very conservative, stolid and somewhat static look about it.
Its feet are largely planted flat on the ground,
the left foot seeming to have just been placed on the ground while the right leg is straight holding the full weight of the body.
The rear feet show the right leg planted and the left foot about to be raised and brought forward.
The feet themselves are very nicely detailed with the large inner claw on the front feet and three sharp inner claws on each of the rear feet. It was this attention to detail that initially set the Invicta Apatosaurus and the rest of the series apart from and above their competition.
Despite the overall feeling of the Invicta Apatosaurus sculpture being static the feet provide significant (if sluggish) animation to the figure.
The Megalosaurus is a unique figure that was a member of the British Museum series. Below we see a pack that are up to no good.
The Invicta Megalosaurus has been around since 1974 and it uses all its experience in conjuring up its attack plans.
But through a judicious 'cutting-out' of the slightly more vulnerable Invicta Apatosaurus
they eventually manage to gang-up on a single unhappy meal.
The Invicta Apatosaurus cuts a very attractive figure as it crosses the lawn.
Looking down at the Invicta Apatosaur we see what is, in fact, a relatively sleek looking figure. Somewhat ovoid, forming a neat, slow curve from head to tail there is, once again, not a lot of action in the figure. It merely means that there needs to be imagination in your head.
Looking up (above) we see those same curves, punctuated by those great feets.
The imprint (below) has the original name of the Dinosaur "Brontosaurus" (after all, before this Invicta Apatosaurus there were only the Marx (and MPC) Brontosaurus) along with "Apatosaurus", including its length (20 metres). It also has "British Museum (of Natural History)" and "Invicta Plastics Ltd. Leicester England." What it doesn't have is the now ubiquitous "CE", the Euro-Union imprint of toxic safety. 1987 was before our governments became intrusively concerned that our children's Dinosaur toys were out to get them.
The Invicta Apatosaurus is most definitely a collectible among Dinosaur toys. It had a more limited distribution in the United States (as noted I never saw one for sale.) and just aren't readily available or easily found. My estimation is $20.00 USD and up to be the cost of acquisition. It is certainly worth having for any Dinosaur toys collector. In many ways the Invicta Apatosaurus is as good as any on the market today. The detail on the feet is still unmatched.
Despite the supposed lack of concern in 1987 for the health of consumers there is no reason to believe that the Invicta Apatosaurus is in any way chemically toxic and any more dangerous to a teething toddler than contemporary and more chemically deconstructed plastic toys. Of course given its weight of nearly a pound it could be dangerous if used as a hammer, rather than a toy. I also have first hand experience that it hurts when dropped on your foot. My advice? Don't drop it on your foot.
The Invicta Apatosaurus may be venerable to we Dinosaur toys collectors but to contemporary predatoys it is quite vulnerable.
At 1/30 scale and with jaws that open and close the fearsome Papo Allosaurus is particularly suited to having lunch with the Invicta Apatosaurus.
While this isn't my favorite Dinosaur figure it is still one of my favorite Apatosaurs. The legs are a bit thick and the tail drags but it is true to the paleontological posture and physiology as it was believed to be in 1987. Just ask the British Museum (of Natural History).
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