The MARX Dimetrodon and Me It is hard to even begin describing my relationship with the Marx Dimetrodon. I had first been fascinated with Dimetrodons from seeing the 1940 movie One Million B.C. that showed regularly on TV stations in the early 1950s. Perhaps "regularly" isn't the correct word. Incessantly is more fitting.
But the fact of the matter is that the only Dinosaur toys Dimetrodon available at the time was the fragile SRG figure from the American Museum of Natural History. I kept having to replace it due to breakage which really diminished its utility as a Dinosaur toy.
Then, in 1955, the Marx Toys company came out with their first Dinosaur toys and one of these, part of what Marx referred to as the "small mold group" (something I neither knew nor cared about at the time), was the (actually two of this) wonderful Dimetrodon. It weighed three-sixteenths of an ounce (above, left) (.1875 oz, 5 gms) and measured three & three-eighths (3.375", ~8.5 cms) in length. While "Marx" chose to say they were seven feet long (making the 1/25 scale) their actual length is closer to eleven feet making these a true scale 1/39. They fit right in with many of today's Dinosaur toys, such as
The Carnegie Collection.
Typically pictured laying around in groups, usually by a waterhole, like today's Crocodiles, sunning themselves, with their distinctive sail-backs really being the only thing to distinguish them from the modern-day reptiles. We do not know much about their day-to-day lives but we do know that the Permian Period, during which the Dimetrodon thrived, was a comparatively dry time and it is quite likely that these were more accustomed to desert-like conditions than the swampy world they were usually pictured in.
For additional information on the Dimetrodon you can try this but for more on the MARX Dimetrodon stick right here.... Rushing in to eat breakfast (below, left) and, occasionally, finding breakfast eating them.
The original Marx Dimetrodons came out in 1955 and there were two of them, virtually indistinguishable from each other.*(see below) They came in either flat green or flat gray (Marx liked 'earthy' tones) and filled my need. In 1959 Marx came out with a third Dimetrodon, part of their revised mold group which introduced the new T-Rex and helped to eliminate the Kronosaurus (but those are stories for a different time).
(Above, Gray is small mold from 1955, brown is revised from 1959) Once again we have a Dimetrodon that is virtually, but not actually, indistinguishable from its predecessors. The earlier 1955 model(s) has a faint round casting mark on its belly (below, green)
while the 'revised' 1959 version is most easily recognizable by its lack of the circle. (below, brown)
As things turned out the small mold was lost sometime in the 1970s and the Marx Dimetrodon would have gone plastinct if not for the revised mold figure. (right- green, small mold; brown, revised) An additional difference that I have found (taking close-up pictures really brings out stuff you've never noticed before) has to do with, surprise!!, their undersides as well. Now these were both produced in three-part molds, left, right and lower. The molds all join at a juncture just forward of the forelegs, at the Dimetrodons chest. Looking closely at the photo below (green small,
brown revised) you may note that the small mold Dimetrodon's chest has distinct, sharply edged planes, where the three molds join together. The brown revised's chest melds together very smoothly into the throat, creating a more 'natural' look. Apart from the T-Rex this is the only "revised mold" figure I consider to be a definite improvement over the original. We should all glad it's still with us.
[*Special Note on difference between the 1955 Dimetrodons, courtesy of Mr. Jeff Pfieffer*: "The Dimetrodon had very minor differences between the two figures as well, involving the "lines" on the underside of the tail (think of the scales on the belly of a snake). Along the tail reads the words "7' LONG". On one of the animals, one of the tail lines points directly at the "N" of the word "LONG", while in the other figure the tail line points between the "N" and the "G"."(Thanks Jeff!!:+))]
(Some of the various colors these have manifested in. Above and below.)
Apart from the above noted differences these three are generally indistinguishable, one from the others. As can be seen, just a casual look,
without examining the underside, will not allow you to tell the two mold versions apart. I have said that this figure is one of my favorites. From 1955 until 1984, for twenty-nine years, this was the only truly decent Dimetrodon Dinosaur toy in existence. Yes, there was the MPC (1964), the Inpro in 1972 and a variety of imitators (read really poor copies) but none of them 'amounted to a hill of beans' in the face of the Marx Dimetrodon. It was most assuredly THE Apex Predator of its Dinosaur toys time. (The Permian Play Period!)
Like any of the other Dinosaur toys the Marx Dimetrodon is subject to wear, tear and damage apart from the ubiquitous "tail chewing" that afflicts the entire series. None of the Marx Dinosaur toys is immune to that. In the case of the Marx Dimetrodon, however there are two fairly common forms of damage. Those "sails" are relatively brittle (you should see my bag of Dump- Dimetrodons) and quite often cracks will appear. This can even
lead to a situation where removal of the entire sail is preferable to leaving only shards. The Marx Dimetrodon in the back of the above photo shows a crack spreading down between the 7th and 8th spines. It is also missing the tip of its tail which suffered a "clean break". Below, we see the second
common problem which I call "scaling". Again, it seems to be a factor of the thinness of the sail and the 'flat plastic' Marx used in the early years (1955-63) and is fairly common. You will also please note (below)
that this same Marx Dimetrodon figure also has a slight crack in the sail between the 7th and 8th spines. What a coincidence!! All this talk of potential and real damage (and the unfortunate breakfast incident) may lead you to think that the Marx Dimetrodon is itself quite fragile and, perhaps, a self-endangering species. Let me assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that this is certainly not the case. To whit....
Catching a small herd of Marx Moschops (the largest Permian Period herbivore- 16 feet long and weighing about a ton) our intrepid Dimetrodons perceive a lumbering picnic set out for their dining pleasure, with drinks. They intimidate, and then attack the unlucky vegetarians and discover that the two they catch will provide a quite adequate meal for their pack.
The Marx Dimetrodon is still the Apex Predator it always was! Do NOT under estimate it. Okay? Thanks.
In terms of availability, given that there were two produced in every Small Mold and the Revised is still in production (Marx of Mexico) they are among the more common of the extant Marx Dinosaur toys. When I sell them I ask $4.99 (plus shipping) and I think that that, generally, is a fair price. Especially for the later, waxy, "Heritage" plastic. Now, of course, some will be worth a little (or a lot) more. This depends on the type of plastic and the color of the figure, and its provenance (Dump figures will command a premium). The older, flat plastic figures will also appear in a much greater variety of colors, including the basic colors (green, gray and brown), and some of those colors will increase the value. You can often find these selling on eBay, usually as members of small lots although, occasionally, as singles. Despite the regular evidence of persons unknown chewing on these we have no idea if those individuals didn't die a horrible death (like the Moschops) from doing so. It is widely believed that the "flat" plastic figures are of a lead-based plastic and not recommended for children and other chewsome creatures. Leave the chewing to the Dimetrodons.
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