Tracking a vintage toy Dimetrodon

A Permian scene. Three Dimetrodons explore a shoreline in what will one day become Prince Edward Island. (Robin Rowland)

On February 21, Parks Canada announced the discovery of fossilized tracks of the Permian sail-backed mammal like reptile Dimetrodon (Bathygnathus borealis) in the red rocks of Prince Edward Island. A Dimetrodon walked through mud about 290 million years ago.

That inspired my next project to recreate the classic paintings by artist Charles R. Knight of the primeval world. In this case, his work on the Permian of Texas for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

My model compared to Charles R. Knight’s painting.

As with previous projects, I used Louis Marx “dinosaur” toys that I had as a kid and found in an old box.

Recreating the Charles R Knight paintings with old Marx dino toys

A vintage toy wooly mammoth

The three toys were painted to match, as much as possible, the Knight painting. There are more colourful Dimetrdons in the current imagination of artists which can be found on Google Images.

I had two specific aims. The first was the model had to have Dimetrodon tracks. Second the mud had to be red, the same as the famous red rocks of Prince Edward Island. The fossil tracks were found on reddish rock.

Top view of the diorama. You can see tracks in the bottom left corner while the Dimetrodon on the right is walking through the mud. (Robin Rowland)

The “outcrop” is from a contemporary toy dinosaur collection from China sold by Walmart. My guess is that it’s supposed to be a volcano. But for this diorama and to be more true to the scale and the time, I turned it into a rotten tree stump. The fern is an HO scale model railway accessory.

I followed the usual diorama practice of working within a cheap dollar store frame. In this case I kept the glass to simulate the water. I painted the base brown and added some model railway scenic green foam (which is barely visible as I intended). Then I added a thin wash of brown paint on the top of the glass. I mixed plaster so that it is was thick and heavy cream like, with red and raw umber paint mixed in. I let it set for about an hour and then used the toy Dimetrodon to create the footprints.

A close shot of one of the Dimetrodon.

A lone Imperial AT-AT on dawn patrol

As the sun comes up this lone Imperial AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) sets out on patrol on icy world. Although this Imperial combat walker is 22.5 metre high, carries a crew of four and up to 40 snowtroopers as passengers, it looks insignificant against the landscape. (Robin Rowland)

The journey is uphill into the mountains. (Robin Rowland)

Through a mountain pass. (Robin Rowland)

The Imperial Walker All Terrain Armored Transport, a symbol of the might of the galactic empire.

An attacking AT-AT coming out of the blinding early morning sun would strike fear into any group of rebels. (Robin Rowland)

The patrol continues. (Robin Rowland)

Not all the walkers return safely from their mission. The crew and passengers of our AT-AT have to pass one that didn’t make it (Robin Rowland)

A rebel snowspeeder in its own dawn patrol spots the AT-AT so their troops are warned. (Robin Rowland)

The AT-AT reaches the limit of its assigned patrol and turns and heads back to home base. (Robin Rowland)


Hasbro Star Wars Command AT-AT. This time after spray panting with white primer, i used a series of washes, first a couple of diluted grey washes, then a grey wash mixed with white and blue, then I added a steel colour to the grey wash and the finished off with a final grey wash.

All images were taken in my front garden in -15 C (wind chill -25 C). In the current cold snap I noticed gorgeous light on Sunday as the sun came up over the mountains of Kitimat. Monday was cloudy but today Tuesday was perfect. Cameras. Wide shots taken with Sony Alpha 6000 with 18 to 55. Medium shots with Sony Alpha 6000 and Sony Alpha 77 and close ups with Sony Alpha 77 with a Tamron 70 to 300 set on macro mode. The one problem was that when I tried to create tracks, the snow was so soft that in most cases, all that came of it was a big hole in the snow that didn’t look right. Also the wind kept blowing the model over.