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A review of a 1/35th scale Dunkleosteos model available from Wiccart.

Wiccart Dunkleosteos in 1/35th Scale. Image and model copyright Steve Harvey.

This Megalania page has been visited times since February 19, 1998.

Some of the most interesting prehistoric animals were not dinosaurs.

Case in point: Dunkleosteos (meaning Dunkle's Bone, after the discoverer of the skull), a huge armored fish (a "placoderm") from the Devonian Period. Its remains, usually just the armored skull, are primarily found in Cleveland, Ohio. We do not know what the rest of the fish looked like, so everything behind the head of a restoration is pretty much conjecture. Two schools of thought (pardon the pun) have developed. One believes that Dunkleosteos was shark-like, the other adheres to an appearance similar to the above image. Overall length is unknown as well.

Undaunted by having to make some tough restoration decisions, Steve Harvey of Wiccart has produced a 1/35th scale Dunkleosteos model that is both entirely plausible and very attractive. These were clearly fish unlike anything that swims today (for instance, it had armored EYES in its armored head), and the model certainly portrays that well!

The model is about a foot long and is well-cast in resin and comes in six pieces: body, lower jaw, and four fins. Mine swam up to me nicely cast. Generally multipiece resin models have a certain degree of flash (excess material) around the join points, and require a good amount of sanding and filling with putty to make the piece fit smoothly, but there's very little of that with the Dunkleosteos. I noted that the lower jaw may need a minimal amount of work to fit smoothly in, and each flipper may require a little filling around its join point, but for a limited edition resin model cast by the sculptor, that's terrific. This would actually be a great first resin kit because it's simple and thus is a low-stress way to learn the techniques you'll use with more complex resin kits. You can learn these through a variety of print or online help resources or just go have a chat with your local hobby retailer -- retailers are often well-versed and happy to help.

There's little intricate detail to the kit, but that's not the sculptor's fault. It's a fish, remember, and therefore mostly smooth. When an opportunity for detail presents itself, though, Steve rises to the occasion. The "teeth" on Dunkleosteos, for instance, were actually huge bony plates, and Steve gives us subtle ridging all along the surface of each jagged "tooth" plate. I like the way that Steve included a deep open space for the mouth -- you can have fun using subtle coloration to represent that fearsome cavern.

I love subjects such as these -- the further back you go in the fossil record the more alien the fauna! Thanks to Steve for having the nerve to go way back and give us this Devonian behemoth!

OK Steve, where's Anomalocaris?

Wiccart is actually best known for it's reproductions of skeletal parts of prehistoric animals -- primarily skulls -- rather than for life restorations. These are portrayed as if freshly stripped of tissue rather than as fossils. They certainly look great, as you'll see in the example below, but I have not collected any of them as I personally prefer full-body life restorations so can make no recommendations.

Wiccart Styracosaurus albertensis skull. Image and model copyright Steve Harvey.

Steve and I discussed the Dunkleosteos throughout the sculpture process, and it was exciting to see the results. We've discussed his working on the huge icthyosaur Shunosaurus next; let's hope he gives us this marine reptile as another great life restoration!

I plan in the near future on building up the Dunkleosteos as part of a feature on building resin kits. Look for it in the next few months -- it will feature photos and tips for beginners.

Page-relevant Links

The Wiccart website. Check out the images of the many skull models available.

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