It may be hard for some to believe but life existed before the internet and even before hi-rez glossy photographs were in miniatures catalogs. In the 70s, most catalogs were just typed text on sheets of paper with product number, simple name, and price. Very little to go on when making your selections. If you were lucky, there was some artwork to assist. The above art example is from McEwan Miniatures Catalog #12 which is thought to have been distributed in late ’79 but may have been early in ’80. By the expressions, you may think that the art didn’t take itself overly serious but below is what the actual minis look like (unpainted to the left and current package images to the right). The over-all look of the mini was captured well in the old school art. The fun comical expressions in the minis and the art, may have either encourage or discourage sales… it is hard to say.
So what are these things? They can be any sort of sci-fi of fantasy critter you want them to be. They were, and some still are, sold by McEwan Miniatures (now Reviresco, see the official webstore at tin-soldier.com). They were collectively sold as a group as product number IZ-1 — Interstellar Zoo Set #1. Now only two are sold by Reviresco. I may have some spares to part with also.
The cow-like creature is a Beave. It is Genetically Modified Cattle sometime called a Red Wrinkled Rock Runner. They are free range raised and herded by ranch hands much like the cowboys of yore. They have been taken by Terrans to most all the planets they have settled. Beave It’s What’s For Dinner. (For the 1993 TV commercial that references, check out this YouTube video here.) Currently you can get 4 Beaves for $5 from Reviresco on the Critters & Misc page.
The fire-breathing lizard is called a Pyrodontis. I don’t know much about this except that it looks like a lizard and apparently, it breaths fire. I have used it as a small dragon in my fantasy rpg. They are also good for sci-fi tabletop games as a surprise encounter if your game allows for hidden troops. Any bit of brushy area that does not contain hidden troops but might be searched by the enemy could have a random chance of containing some hostile alien critters. You know… just to keep things interesting. Currently you can get 2 Pyrodontis (or Pyrodonti maybe) for $5 from Reviresco on the Critters & Misc page.
The last creature that looks like it is half lobster, half maggot, and half scorpion (yes, that is 3 halves) is a Smaggot… The Deadly Smaggot. When I asked John McEwan (the sculptor of it) what it back story was, he told me this: “For years, this damned Smaggot has haunted my nightmares. I thought it was gone forever but I see now that there is no escape from the curse of the Smaggot. It is kind of like a giant ant-lion. Digging holes in sandy or gravely ground, it lies hidden at the bottom of the hole waiting for its prey to fall into its trap. In terrain unsuitable digging a trap, it may disguise itself as a rotten log or even imitate a stinking corpse to attract scavengers. They can move surprisingly fast, scuttling on their stubby legs as they leap from their camouflaged hiding places to grasp their prey with their flesh rending claws. Oh, the horror of it.” These are not currently listed on the Reviresco webstore. You can use my contact form to reach me regarding getting some of my spare stock.