Marx Lane
An Inventory of Marx Playset Figures and Accessories
Manufactured from 1951 to 1979

 
Addendum F - Prehistoric Times
Contents of this web site may not be reproduced or duplicated for use on the Internet or for commercial purposes without permission by Eric Johns.

This web site was created in late 2007, providing information about Marx wild west playset figures on a single web page.  It now consists of about 30 web pages, with information on figures, structures, terrain pieces, and small accessories from playsets in many different themes.  It also has indexes for Playset Magazine and PFPC magazine.  
I will continue to update these pages as I obtain more information and photos.  If you have anything to add to these pages or suggestions to make them better, please e-mail me at ericjohns4444@gmail.com.  I will be glad to attribute contributions to you.  And if you have questions or comments, I am always glad to hear from you!



Table of Contents

(click on name to move to section)
Cavemen - 45mm
Dinosaurs - First Series
Dinosaurs - Second Series
Prehistoric Mammals
Terrain
6-Inch Cavemen
                 
Back to Main Table of Contents
 
Please note:  For the most part, figures on this page are shown in approximately proper proportion when compared to other figures.  The primary exceptions to this are 1) 6-inch figures, which are decreased by about half and 2) some larger terrain items that have been decreased in size.


A great deal of the information on this page comes from the article "Prehistoric Sets, The Untold Story" written by Rusty Kern and Glenn Ridenour, which appeared in Plastic Figure and Playset  Collector (PFPC) magazine, Issue 64.  Marx dinosaurs are also discussed in an article by Wilson McClung on toy dinosaur figures in PFPC Issue 28, from which I have drawn additional information.   As of late 2011, Playset Magazine had not featured the Marx prehistoric playsets in any of its issues.

Marx first sold its dinosaur figures in 1955 at dimestores.  
Two years later, the first Marx prehistoric playset appeared in the Sears Christmas Catalog for $4.67, including a group of 45mm cavemen and several terrain pieces.  Cavemen were never sold individually and appeared only in playsets.  PFPC Issue 66 points out that most of the prehistoric animals are in a much smaller scale than the cavemen, about 25mm (1/72).  At the same time, I am pretty sure that not all the dinosaurs are in the same scale.

With many popular movies of the time featuring monsters and dinosaurs in the 1950s, the company's dinosaurs sold well right from the start, and they were (and remain) much in demand by fans of prehistoric times.  On the other hand, Marx virtually guaranteed that its prehistoric playsets would not gain great popularity by never creating any unique accessories or significant number of human figures in this theme. Marx probably did better with its cartoon Flintstones Play Set that used some of the same dinosaurs (see Cartoons page of this web site).

Marx halted its production of prehistoric playsets in 1963, but the company's subsequent owners produced several additional sets in the 1970s, adding large mountain pieces shown in the accessories section below.  The final playset was a storage box style World of Dinosaurs shortly before the company went bankrupt in 1980.


Cavemen - 45mm
  PL-?

This small group of cavemen was available only in the company's prehistoric playsets.  Of course, humans did not actually live during the period that dinosaurs ruled the Earth, but Marx wanted to provide kids a good guy versus bad guy scenario in all his playsets, and cavemen against the dinosaurs did the trick.  Us kids could not have cared less that it was totally unrealistic.  And, anyhow, movies did the same thing, and they looked a lot more excitingly real to us kids than the boring facts did.

The figures were made in soft plastic and came in a variety of cream, brown, and tan colors.

While Marx' dinosaurs were and remain very popular, this group of cavemen has taken a backseat to the many more popular figures in the Wild West, military, cartoon, and other themes.  That is unfortunate, because when viewed through a magnifying glass (or enlarged in photos as below), these figures prove to be almost exquisitely sculpted.  The variety of poses puts them well ahead of the company's more violent 6-inch cavemen shown at the bottom of this page.  Marx could certainly have created quite a playset by expanding the number of figures in this group, perhaps even including a separate group of enemy cavemen to add a little human conflict.  

Note that Pose 4 below is much smaller and stouter than the other figures, and appears to either be a boy or come from a different prehistoric line in the development of modern mankind.  Pose 5 also appears rather small, but I have found that several Marx sitting and squatting poses are undersized.  Females are notably absent.


1.  Walking with club 2.  Holding club and knife 3.  Holding rock overhead

4.  Crouching with spear 5.  Preparing rabbit to cook 6.  Starting fire with flint and rock
Recent Price Lines I have noticed
8 figures in 5 poses $21 June 2013 Ebay tan and cream




Dinosaurs - 1955 Series

Marx' first dinosaurs were made in three molds as shown below.  They can be labeled by the size of the animals represented, large, medium, and small.  When initially sold in dimestores, the a set of the large figures cost 25 cents, and the medium and small were 10 cents.  Initial figures were a pastel green, but they were later made in many other colors, including gray, red brown, and less often silver and tan.

The toy company MPC made similar dinosaurs at the same time as Marx, many of them almost identical poses to the Marx poses.  There are differences -- they are slightly smaller -- and MPC figures are in more glaring colors, such as bright red, yellow, and green.  However, I still find it hard to tell the difference sometimes, so you experts out there please let me know if I have made any errors in the photos below.  Larry Tomikel has already pointed out that the photo I previously listed as Marx re-issues is actually of MPC re-issues!

And many thanks to local (to me) collector Mike McGetrick, who has recently helped me almost complete my collection of the Marx dinosaurs. 


PL-749
1.  T-Rex (pot belly version)

2.  Brontosaurus


4.  Kronosaurus

PL-750
1.  Trachodon

2.  Pteranodon
3.  Hadrosaurus


4.  Ankylosaurus
5.  Allosaurus

6.  Stegosaurus

  
PL-755

1.  Sphenacoden
2.  Triceratops


3.  Cynognathus 4.  Dimetrodon

5.  Plateosaurus Ooops!  Collector Larry Tomikel has pointed out that these are MPC re-issues, not Marx re-issues.  Well, you can see how similar they are to Marx.




Dinosaurs - 1959 Revision
     PL-977

Eight of the dinosaurs issued in 1955 were revised and manufactured in a second mold in 1959.  These were the Brontosaurus, T-Rex, Allosaurus, Triceraptos, Stegosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Dimetrodon, and Trachodon.  For the most part, revisions were minor -- such as an added circular impression on the bottom of a foot for molding purposes -- but the T-Rex and Trachodon have more noticeable changes as shown below.  Additional information on the changes can be seen at Kent Sprecher's web site and in Wilson McClung's article in PFPC Issue 28.

Revised "Skinny" T-Rex
Changes from original shown above are obvious!

Photo not available at this time.
Revised Trachodon
Note change in position of outstreched paw from original.


Prehistoric Mammals and Additional Dinosaurs

  PL-1083

Additional dinosaurs, as well as prehistoric mammals, were added in 1961, the same year that Marx released its Flintstones Play Set.  Figures in playsets generally were soft plastic red brown, but those sold separately on blister cards were in tan, a color than brings out the details of the sculpting and is most popular (and expensive) among collectors today.  

Photo not available at this time.
1.  Wooly Mammoth
2.  Megatherium

Photo not available at this time.
3.  Smilodon
4.  Moschops

Photo not available at this time.
5.  Struthiomimus 6.  Iguanodon


7.  Parasaurolophus
8.  Styracosaurus


 

Terrain

     The Mountain

Undoutedly the most impressive terrain piece from Marx prehistoric sets was the mountain that came with the set released in 1975 after Louis Marx had sold the company to Quaker Oats.  According to Marx designer Frank Rice in PFPC Issue 64, the mountain was used to generate additional income from a mold created to produce a similar mountain in the company's Guns of Navarone World War II playset.  The mold also was used in the wild west Comanche Pass and Ambush at Falling Rock sets and in an Iwo Jima military set.

While the military sets included only one large mountain piece, the prehistoric and wild west sets included a smaller second mountain, creating a pass between the two with a connecting arch at the top.  The yellow prehistoric pieces have a swinging bridge that connects the two mountains about halfway up, while the tan wild west pieces include a second rock archway instead, as well as a boulder for the Indians to push off onto the unsuspecting cavalry below.  In addition, the floor of the pass between the two mountains was painted to resemble a river in the prehistoric set, but was a trail or perhaps a dry river for the wild west.

While I presently have no photo of the prehistoric piece, it can be seen in the old Sears catalog advertisement below; photos of the wild west version are in the Wild West Section of this web site.  Note that the two mountains pieces are connected differently in the Wild West and prehistoric sets shown below.  I have not been able to connect my Wild West mountains in the manner shown for the prehistoric set with the small mountain at a right angle to the larger mountain, and from the photo below, it appears to me that the top arch is longer for the prehistoric set.

Mountain with swinging bridge
Compare prehistoric set in bottom right to Comanche Pass in top left.  I believe either piece can be set up whichever way desired, but am not certain.

Close-up of mountain pass floor
Photo courtesy of Allan Ford, Ebay ID 610allanf

     Smaller Terrain Items

Prehistoric sets sometimes included smaller terrain pieces as shown below.  The first four pieces were also in some other playsets, primarily wild west sets.  The lower cave-bridge-pond piece was in the company's Daktari jungle sets.
Small mesa rock Small cliff rock

Rock formation with cave
Hill with pond

All four large rock formations and pond
Photo courtesy of Curtis Snell, Ebay pomspart



Small cliff with ladder and cave
Small cliff with lake
Arched land bridge Connector clips
Combined cliff and bridge pieces

Photo not available at this time.
Vacuum Form Terrain Base

Photo not available at this time.
Playmat


     Trees and Ferns

     Marx included three palm trees in its prehistoric sets, the same as those found in Zorro play.  These trees were in two or three pieces with the top parts in a soft plastic green, and the bottom trunk part a hard plastic brown.  Tim Geppert, in a PFPC article, has named this trio the "large single", "large double", and "small double."  Tops are interchangeable among the trunks.

     Mold numbers for the plams and the ferns below are PL-760 for the tops and PL-761 for the bases.  Rather nice re-issues exist in slightly lighter colors than the originals.
Large single palm tree Large double palm tree Small double palm tree
Many thanks to the late Rob Colwell (Marxplayer on Ebay) for providing original palm trees and ferns for photos.

     To go with the palm trees, Marx also produced two fern plants, also two-piece items with soft plastic tops and hard plastic bottoms.  One has three leaves on it and the other four leaves; the bases are identical.

     As noted in the previous group of palm trees, mold numbers for the ferns are PL-760 and PL-761.
 As with the palm trees above, re-issues are slightly lighter in color than the originals.
Fern  with three leaves Fern with four leaves

     At least one prehistoric set also included a dead tree, about 4-3/4 inches tall, as well as two tree stumps that Tim dubbed simply "large" and "small."  You can find them in hard and soft plastic gray.  The large stump is 1-1/2 inches tall, and the small one 1-1/4 inches.  With roots going every which way, breadth of the stumps varies, but the larger is about 3 inches in diameter at its widest point, and the smaller is about 2-1/2 inches.  These three items also appear frequently in Marx military  and wild west playsets.
Dead tree
(PL-332 and PL-332A)
Large stump
(PL-332A)
Small stump
(PL-332A)
                                                                          



6-Inch Cavemen
     PL-?

Marx made a group of six large scale cavemen in the mid-1960s, along with similar-sized figures in many other themes.  Identified as 6-inch figures, the company never made accessories or other figures to go with them.  Other than their violent poses, the most notable thing about these figures is their hairy chests.  

Notice that baseball was around at the time of the cavemen; poses 5 and 6 below clearly show a pitcher and batter!  I'd assume that pose 1 is an outfielder, pose 2 is an infielder (throwing the ball), pose 4 is a baserunner, and pose 3 is the umpire (club up is for a strike, knife up is for a ball, and no one argued with the ump).  The game was a little more dangerous in those days!

1.  With spear 2.  Holding rock overhead
3.  With club and knife 4.  With axe
5.  Holding rock in right hand 6.  Swinging club
                                                                          


Contents of this web site may not be reproduced or duplicated for use on the Internet or for commercial purposes without permission by Eric Johns.