Liliensternus (CollectA)


History: Ah the Triassic, a vastly important but overlooked period of time that occurred before the Jurassic. The Triassic began in the wake of the massive die off and it would take 30 million years for life to recover. Strange and magnificent beasts emerged from the dust and battled for control of Pangaea. By the late Triassic, approximately 210 million years ago, an interesting theropod dinosaur came along named Liliensternus.

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Liliensternus was one of the first large, predatory dinosaurs, it was bipedal, and was approximately 5.15 m (17ft) long. It is similar to its relatives Coelophysis and Dilophosaurus, which may or may not have had a crest similar to that of Dilophosaurus.

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About the toy: The 2011 CollectA Liliensternus has a crest and balances well on two legs. The head, neck, body, and tail are very stiff and straight with a slight bend in its tail. The head looking straight ahead and is being held vertically on its long neck much like a chicken or old Brachiosaurus toys. The arms are pronated and held close to the body with five digits apiece. The tail is more than half the body in length and is very stiff. The legs are thin but muscular with three digits on each foot and with dewclaws on the inside.

The texture on this model has small pebbly skin with lots and lots of skin folds all across the body, neck, and tail. There is a small ridge running the full length of its vertebra. The skull is narrow with a lot of small sharp teeth. Along the middle of the skull is a single thin crest. The lower temporal fenestra is big and triangle shaped. The head shows lots of detail with a pink tongue and mouth, white fenestra, red crest, and glossy white eyes with black pupils. The head and the body is colored olive with dark green blotches, which would be good camouflage in the swampy or low lying areas where it would have hunted. On the underside it is colored whitish grey, which is also dry brushed across its body.

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Scientific accuracy: The basics are covered on the model. It has a long neck, a long tail and long hind legs. The front limbs have five digits with the fourth and fifth digits reduced. There is a crest, which is speculative, but as it is possible, I see nothing wrong with adding it. The pronation of the arms on the other hand is a definite negative.

Playability: It is ok, but it has no outstanding features to really set it apart from other theropods or predator toys. The paint job on this toy is quite robust and will stand up to some rough play. There are no sharp edges on this toy.

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Overall appraisal: There are many good things about this toy, the colors, texture; even the anatomy is well done; other than the arm pronation. The main problem I have is the overall pose of this Triassic predator. It is depicted with the head being held high on a stiff neck, with pronated arms which makes the Liliensternus look like it is about to do a chicken dance. Which is fine (sometimes) at a birthday, wedding, or anniversary, not sitting on a shelf or desk at home. I guess it could be working out in a home gym doing chin ups, but the pose really looks bad to me, which is a shame since so many of the other parts seem to have been done right.

It is a rare Triassic dinosaur that has only been done by Bullyland so that is a reason to grab this guy. I would recommend this toy if you do not have a problem with the pose. I would also highly recommend it if you are doing a Triassic dance off diorama, complete with disco ball, laser lights, and a fog machine. If not, then I would pass on this toy.

Available from Amazon.com

Quetzalcoatlus with Alamosaurus prey (CollectA)


With a body as big as a giraffe’s and a wingspan of 10 metres or more, Quetzalcoatlus was both the largest pterosaur and the largest flying animal of all time. Next to an adult Alamosaurus, however, it would have looked like a herring gull. But even the biggest sauropods have to start out small…

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Traditionally, pterosaur figures have been depicted in a flying pose with their wings spread. Such a pose is certainly impressive, but it means the figure takes up more room in your display (unless you prefer suspending your pterosaurs from the ceiling). By contrast, this Quetzalcoatlus is sculpted in a walking stance with its wings folded up. This is in keeping with recent theories likening it to a gigantic marabou stork, stalking across the Late Cretaceous plains in search of any animal it could snap up in its massive bill and swallow whole. I much prefer this pose. As well as making it easy to display the figure, it really emphasizes the sheer size of the head and neck in relation to the body. It also showcases the multitude of joints in the arms.

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The Quetzalcoatlus stands a little over 12 cm tall. It’s made of soft, flexible plastic, so you need never worry about it being damaged by a fall from the shelf. The head is mostly smooth, but the body has a nice fur pattern to it and the wings are wrinkly. Main colours are light brown with a whitish underbelly and grey wing membranes. The large head is mostly black with yellow, maroon, and light blue airbrushing and a large yellow crest. The eyes are magenta and the interior of the mouth is pink.

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Predators are utterly without mercy when it comes to their prey and this Quetzalcoatlus has thought nothing of snatching up a cute little baby Alamosaurus for dinner. The tiny sauropod, which is non-removeable, is dull orange with a faded underbelly and black eyes. Its skin has a pebbly texture and there’s even a little ridge running along its spine. Its mouth is open in a cry of terror and its little legs and tail are thrashing helplessly. There is no escape for this poor youngster. Although if the Quetzalcoatlus isn’t careful, it could easily choke to death on such a plump, struggling morsel.

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The CollectA Quetzalcoatlus is well-researched, beautifully sculpted, and attractively painted. The baby Alamosaurus is a neat touch, although it does make this an item unsuitable for the squeamish at heart.  CollectA sure does love gore!

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Available from Amazon.com here.

Diplodocus (Natural History Museum by Toyway)


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Here is the 2006 Toyway Diplodocus, ready to tap dance into your hearts and across your living rooms, and give comedic one timers. Couldn’t you just picture this model walking on stage to an in-studio audience applause, and doing an opening monologue. Of course, it should do some toothpaste commercials as well. Before I go way off topic, lets us remember the actual Diplodocus probably did not have a sense of humor, as they had small heads and brains, their daily thought probably went something like this. I am hungry need food, was that a predator, still hungry need Food, out of my way, out of food must find more.

History: Let’s take a quick foray into the well known facts. As I am sure you are aware, Diplodocus is one of the giants of the Jurassic, known for its long neck, and even longer whip like tail. It was an herbivore that most likely used it teeth to strip branches to feed. It still is a widely popular dinosaur and is easily recognizable sauropod that is sometimes compared to a suspension bridge. It lived around 154 to 150 million years ago.

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About the toy: The Diplodocus is 16in long (40.64cm) from the bend in its tail to its nose. It is 4in High (10.16cm) over its hip. The full length of the tail is 10.2 in (26cm). It is in a neutral pose that from the head, to the bend in the tail, is almost a straight line down the spine. The head on this model is very small showing off its white peg like teeth. The neck is a bit on the thin side but does become thicker as you move down from the head to the body. Along the spine beginning at the wide hips, is a line of narrow, pointed, keratinous spines that run the full length of the tail getting smaller and smaller till ends in small bumps.

The skin is wrinkled and lined yet it very smooth with very little texture. There is some nice muscle bulges in the legs and a few skins folds on the body. The colorization is mostly light and dark grey with a black wavy line that goes from the base of the skull to the bend in the tail. The teeth are ultra white. Its colorization is basically the same as 1996 Carnotaurus. The feet have five digits and the ends are done in dark grey.

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Scientific Accuracy: The scientific accuracy on this is shall we say, a little comical. If you look at in a very general sense it passes the quick eye candy test. The neck is long and is held horizontally to the ground. It has a small head with good weight in the mid section. When you take a really close look at this guy, thats when you notice that the accuracy just isn’t there. I could break it all down anatomically, but for once I spare you the details (why do I suddenly hear appluse in the backgorund)and I’ll just say both the skull and the feet are wrong. I really would have loved a longer tail, but I understand that practicality must win out.

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Playability: It works just fine as a toy, though it lacks punch. It’s one of those dinosaurs, that kids are excited about but doesn’t get the bulk of play. The neck is at a convenient height for most Tyrannosaurus Rex toys to grab a hold of so that is a plus for the carnivore toys and for playtime fun. The paint also wears quickly on this fellow; I find the rest of it quite robust and able to take some rough style play.

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Overall appraisal: I wish I could give this lovely sauropod a lot of love due to its wonderful personality. In the toy world it ranks as ok. There is certainly better Diplodocus out there such as the 2008 Carnegie, of even the standing CollectA version. The colorization bothers me just because it reminds me of the original paint job for the 1997 Safari Carnotaurus. The feet and head are comical and just not close enough to be accurate.

It could be used in dioramas, but again there are better Diplodocus out there. Despite those issues, I would still recommend this figure; on the basis that I think it looks good on display. If you can get past silly look on its face and some of the scientific accuracy problems that you probably will not notice from a distance, it could be worth taking a chance on.

This figure can still be found on the Natural History Museum store website or on ebay here.