We all know that, in the collective imagination, Tyrannosaurus rex is the prehistoric apex predator par excellence. But in the last twenty years another animal, with a more familiar appearance and which some estimates want even more enormous than Argentinosaurus, is rising to the fore: what is popularly called “megalodon shark” or simply “Megalodon”.
The “real name” of this animal is a matter of debate: it has been classified over the years as Carcharodon (the genus of the great white shark), Carcharocles, and Procarcharodon; today’s consensus is Otodus megalodon, as Otodus now also includes Carcharocles as a synonym.
Warning: writing Megalodon (in italics and with a capital letter), on the other hand, refers to a genus of bivalve mollusk.
Although it is famous to the point that some think it’s still alive (fun fact: its extinction has been recently backdated, from the end, 2.6 million years ago, to the beginning of the Pliocene, 3.9 million years ago) in fact we just don’t know enough about it: the cartilaginous skeleton of the Chondrichthyes does not fossilize except in particular circumstances, so we are not even sure of the actual size it reached (estimates have been published in any interval between ten and twenty meters). For the public, of course, the bigger the better, and it certainly doesn’t stop at the measures provided by science (have you seen Meg 2 – The Trench?)…
Since the publication of Steve Alten‘s novel MEG (1997) (although to be honest it was preceded by several years by Robin Brown’s Megalodon and by a month by Charles Wilson’s Extinct, which did not have the same impact), the megalodon shark has appeared in dozens of films of more or less poor quality that exploited the fact of being able to show it as an “XXL white shark” (a defect from which not even toys and models are exempt), several “documentaries” (some of which have fueled hoaxes about various sightings) and video games. Could the various model brands let such a star slip away?
The first megalodon shark toy has been produced – it may seem strange, but in reality, knowing the company in question it’s not that much – in 2000 within the Yowie Lost Kingdoms series by Cadburys Chocolate Company, a semi-unknown brand outside of Australia making capsule toys such as the more famous Kaiyodo (although not in the same quality). Like most yowies, it has been given a common name (“Giant White Pointer Shark”), but there is a leaflet clearly classifying it as a megalodon shark.
SAFARI LTD (2014)
Subsequent megalodon shark models are much more recent: Safari LTD, in 2014, produced its own version, not one of the most effective (neither as megalodon nor as Safari). It was still the time when the “Wild Safari Dinos & Prehistoric Life” series was mostly characterized by a more cartoonish look and the more scientific models were mostly destined for the Carnegie Collection, even if the revolution was upon us.
DIRAMIX (2015 – present)
From 2015 onwards, the Italian brand Diramix has produced megalodon sharks in various versions (semi-transparent, glow-in-the-dark, etc.). In all cases, these are products that can be purchased at newsstands in blind bags, made of soft and elastic plastic.
Then, in 2016, it was the turn of the much more impressive PNSO (named “Patton”), from their first ‘Age of the Dinosaurs’ hollow vinyl models line. Appreciable how the sculptor has made the effort not to simply represent an enlarged white shark and how the triangular teeth show the typical shape of megalodon teeth, the most common fossils of this animal. At the same time, some details are perplexing, such as its deeply incised skin (all large pelagic predators tend to be as smooth as possible along the “running direction”, to decrease friction with the water). The model has a stand replicating a sandy bottom.
WILDLIFE ARTISTS (2016)
The Skelesaur also dates back to 2016, and it’s an educational plush toy that shows the skeleton of the megalodon shark printed on its surface as it would appear on X-rays.
MONSTER JAM (2017 – present)
Did we say that this animal has a popularity that goes beyond science? From 2017 to today, Monster Jam (a monster truck show) has featured a vehicle inspired by the prehistoric shark, and a whole series of accessories and related merchandise, from hats to vehicle replicas to plush toys and Lego builds!
G.R. HOBBY & COLLECTIBLES (2018)
Returning to more realistic reconstructions, in 2018, G.R. Hobby & Collectibles offered its own version of the megalodon shark, limited to 800 pieces worldwide but gone virtually unnoticed in the West. The semi-transparent base makes its pose very dynamic.
In 2019, the PNSO is joined by a new, smaller version (also named Patton) within the “Prehistoric Animal Models” series. This model features updated anatomy, a more dynamic pose, and an articulated jaw to show the impressive mouth opening of the animal. The typical triangular teeth are highlighted here too.
A version with an interesting stripe pattern was also reported in 2021, perhaps made to further differentiate it from a great white shark.
#SBABAM (2019 – present)
From 2019 to today #sbabam, another Italian brand, has produced multiple versions of the megalodon shark. These are blind bags equivalent to Diramix, with various designs. Notice the white one, perhaps a reference to the megalodon shark from the Meg book.
In 2020, it’s CollectA’s turn, producing their own megalodon shark in the Deluxe line. As usual for CollectA, there’s a considerable focus on building on the most recent rebuilds. The jaw is articulated and the animal shows numerous scars, as is common for today’s great white sharks:
TAKARA TOMY (2020)
Also Takara Tomy, in 2020, adds one of their megalodon sharks to the Ania line of articulated animals. This version includes an articulated tail and jaw, as well as a great white shark for use as a size comparison (or meal!).
KINTO FAVORITE (2021)
In 2021, Kinto Favorite releases – as usual – not one, but two versions of the megalodon shark. One is a solid vinyl model (ironically in the “Soft Models” line, but actually made of very stiff material), provided with a rock to act as an interlocking base…
… And s larger version (46 cm), produced in soft material (Vinyl Models), and also suitable for the little ones. As usual for this line, some details are smoothed out for safety reasons.
In 2021 it’s also up to Papo to release a megalodon shark. The model suffered from many production delays (probably due to the pandemic), and the final result, although not totally despicable, appears far from Papo standards.
The megalodon shark may be extinct, but in the seas of many video games it is alive and well, and in 2022 Youtooz presents this version of the megalodon from the Sea of Thieves game (for PC and Xbox). Of course, we are far from a realistic version of the shark (in case you haven’t noticed, it has four eyes!).
Finally, just a few days ago – just in time for the release of the sequel to The Meg, Haolonggood announced their own megalodon shark, with a base designed to simulate a column of water that allows for dynamic posing.