Phorusrhacos (X-Plus)


After the death of the non-avian dinosaurs some of the remaining descendants tried to re-claim their former glory and put mammals back in their place. These of course were the terror birds or Phorusrhacidae which carried on the legacy of Tyrannosaurus and its kin between 62-2 million years ago. Ultimately they wouldn’t make it but during their reign as apex predators they must have been impressive and terrifying to behold. Some of them were 9’ tall and one species in particular Kelenken guillermoi had an 18” skull, the largest skull of any known bird. For some reason this group of animals is largely neglected in the toy world. Like other Cenezoic animals they’re often overshadowed by the dinosaurs that preceded them. And that’s unfortunate, especially because terror birds were dinosaurs and just as freighting as any Velociraptor.

Phorusrhacos (X-Plus)

In 1961 one species of terror bird would make its big screen debut in the movie “Mysterious Island” featuring amazing stop motion effects by the legendary Ray Harryhausen. The bird featured was Phorusrhacos, an animal that could reach 8’ in height and weigh 220 lbs. Needless to say, it was depicted as an enemy to the main protagonists but the scene it features in is one of the most iconic for that film. Like many other prehistoric creatures created by Ray Harryhausen the Phorusrhacos was largely inspired by the artwork of Charles R. Knight. You may have heard of him. But what does this movie beastie have to do with a toy review? Well it just so happens that the model we’re reviewing today is not only a prehistoric animal figurine but also a piece of movie memorabilia. The Phorusrhacos we’re reviewing is not so much a model of the animal as it is a model of a movie character. Produced in 2001 by X-plus it is actually one of many figures produced by the company depicting a Ray Harryhausen creation. So how do we review this thing? Do we compare it to the actual animal or to the movie depiction? Well, we’re going to try to do both.

Phorusrhacos (X-Plus)

Comparing it to the actual Phorusrhacos is difficult to do; there just is not a lot of accessible material about this particular genus. It would be far more practical to compare it to terror birds in general. Ray Harryhausen was a master of his craft, I don’t think I have what it takes to critique his creations and since the movie was produced in 1961 any inaccuracies wouldn’t be worth bringing up. Tail dragging dinosaurs were still in vogue at this time. Still, his terror bird was a different sort of dinosaur because it was also a bird and in creating Phorusrhacos his attention to detail was spot on. And the recreation by X-plus is very faithful to his vision, which is why I’m spending so much time discussing the movie itself. Basically, what it comes down to is that this is a faithful recreation of a movie monster which was a faithful recreation of Charles R. Knight’s work which was a faithful recreation of the animal itself. It has all the hallmarks of the terror birds as a group; long legs, sharp curved beak, long slender neck, short stubby wings. It has a powerful predatory look to it while also maintaining an athletic birdie-ness which would have only made the real animal all the more frightening. The movie creature was depicted much larger than it would have appeared in life but translated into a toy this has little bearing on the accuracy of the figure.

Phorusrhacos (X-Plus)

The X-plus Phorusrhacos stands about 4” in height, it is dynamically posed with one foot lifted high up in the air, balancing on one foot with wings spread out and mouth agape with a downward gaze. It is very reminiscent of the scene in which the creature appears menacing a young woman. It is a highly detailed figure, not even a proper toy really. The legs are naked flesh from the knees to the ankles where skin is replaced by scales. A lot of colors are reproduced here; a mostly white body with black tipped tail feathers, a black neck and chest and black edging on the arm portion of the wings. The scales on the feet are yellow, the skin flesh colored. The head is very boldly painted with a red crest and blue and brown neck ruff. A white spot bridges the red crest and black beak and yellow feathers bridge the crest and neck. The eyes are brown with black pupils and a blue ring of skin around them. When comparing it to the movie creature there are some minor differences. The movie creature has considerably less black on the chest and is more of a gray color overall. The neck feathers on the film version are more red than brown and there are fewer yellow feathers overall. Aside from these color differences which are admittedly a bit odd the model looks identical to the Harryhausen creation. One minor quibble would be the painting on the inside of the mouth. While the tongue is pink the rest of the inside of the lower jaw is white and the palette is red, like the crest. It’s hardly noticeable when on display but move it around in your hands and you’ll see it. Aside from that the paint application is pretty crisp as are the details; the scales on the feet are particularly well done. The model stands on a stony looking base with a couple broken branches.

Phorusrhacos (X-Plus)

If you’re looking for a terror bird model, regardless of movie affiliation, this is a great option. Though I’m a fan of “Mysterious Island” and Harryhausen films in general I’m first and foremost a collector of model dinosaurs and in a collection lacking any other representative of this fascinating group of predators I welcome this little guy in with open arms. Hopefully someday Safari or some other company will come out with the definitive terror bird figure but until that day comes you’re left with only a few options, with only the CollectA Kelenken being easily obtainable. You can find this model on eBay on occasion and for a time it was even on Amazon.com.

Velociraptor (Safari Ltd)


Back in 1993 Safari Ltd. released a rather large Velociraptor that allegedly belonged to their “Dinosaurs of China” line. As it turns out, it didn’t and while it has been briefly reviewed on the blog already that review was the old style “single paragraph” review. That, in conjunction with our new revelation as to the true origins of this model has compelled me to review it yet again, and this time a bit more in depth.

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So, first we’ll tackle the back story surrounding this figure. It has long been thought by the dinosaur toy community that this Velociraptor was part of the “Dinosaurs of China” series released by Safari Ltd. around 1993. Also known as the DoC, the series consisted of three dinosaurs unique to China, all sculpted by dinosaur artist Ely Kish. Each came in its own box indicating what line it belonged to and came with a stand that had a fossil skeleton of the dinosaur figure meant to be displayed on it. It was a wonderful series overall, especially for the time and depicting some unique dinosaurs; Therizinosaurus, Mamenchisaurus and Yangchuanosaurus specifically. And then there was the Velociraptor. Although it too came out in 1993 and was often advertised alongside the DoC line in various catalogs it was quite different from the rest of the line. For starters, it was much larger, not in 1:40 scale like the rest. At 13” in length it is actually in the 1:6 scale range. In addition, it was sculpted by Greg Wenzel, not Ely Kish and did not include the fossil background and the packaging was quite different as well. Why it was assumed to be part of the DoC line is a bit of a mystery. That said, Velociraptor is a dinosaur from China, they were all advertised together and the model came out at the same time too so collectors have long lumped it in with that line, even if they always knew it was a bit of an odd duck. Our own Dinosaur Toy Blog has even claimed it to be a part of this collection but it has long been an issue of debate. But just this past summer our own forum member Ikessauro sought out to end the mystery once and for all, and he did. Upon asking Safari Ltd. himself he was told that the Velociraptor WAS NOT a part of the DoC line and that a thin blue line dividing it from the DoC collection in the advertisement was meant to convey that fact. His question was even featured on the YouTube show “Safari Scoop” in August. So that finally settles it, right from the source. The Velociraptor long thought to be a part of a larger Safari collection is in actuality a completely separate entity that belongs to no specific collection. So now that the origins of this thing are settled we can all catch up on some much needed sleep we’ve no doubt been losing pondering over this model. Don’t leave yet though, I still have to actually review the model!

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So obviously this Velociraptor is lacking a very important feature we know Velociraptor had: feathers. But it was 1993 and to get a decent Velociraptor model not inspired by “Jurassic Park” was something to be celebrated. Velociraptor was still an obscure genus, its production may have very well been motivated by the upcoming movie release that same year but at least Safari modeled it after the real animal and not the movie version. Anatomically, this is clearly a Velociraptor and not Deinonychus. The long slender upturned snout makes this quite clear. The rest of the model is well proportioned as well. Although the tail should be stiff it is bent at the end in order to fit it in its display box. The model stands on two legs with the aid of one of its neutral facing (yes! non-pronated in 1993) hands, though is still susceptible to stability issues, especially after all this time. But this at least makes it more accurate than the recent Velociraptor release from Safari. You know, the naked one with pronated hands that came out AFTER the discovery of feathers on dromaeosaurs? That one is still a beautiful model too though, I hate to admit it.

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Given the age of the model it would be unfair to compare it with the advances in toy production made in recent years. Though the details are a bit iffy it was still leagues better than most of what was coming out in 1993, even the Carnegie Collection has some wonky figures. The fact that this Velociraptor is so large helps with more minor details. Bony looking bumps and horns adorn the head, a totally speculative feature and something you’re more used to seeing on larger theropods. An unlikely line of scutes run along the back too. The teeth are blunt and tightly packed but individually sculpted. Somehow there is something off putting about them. Too neatly packed I think. The claws, and scutes on the head are all painted grey. The yellow eyes have black pupils (must have been nocturnal) on an orange iris. The tongue and pallet are pink. The fingers on the hands are blunt, thick and fused together in places. The feet look adequate enough. Musculature is sculpted in the appropriate places and a fleshy flap of skin adorns the neck. The overall body color is yellow with thin orange/brown stripes throughout. A light brown re-paint would later be released with wide, dark brown stripes running down the sides. Viewed laterally, the model is very thin. The figure is striding towards the right with its head tilted in that direction. This in conjunction with its size lead to a lot of falling over, as mentioned earlier but it is still a dynamic posture.

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So there we have it, a proper review of the huge Velociraptor with the ambiguous back story. While it may not stand up compared to modern models it is still a beautifully sculpted and (for the time) highly accurate restoration of an animal often poorly represented. The model was retired a few years back but due to its long production run is still easy to find. If naked dromaeosaurs are your preference or you like retro figures you won’t want to miss this Velociraptor, a model far ahead of its time.

Often available from Ebay.com here.

Triceratops (Jurassic Park by Dakin)


One of my first reviews, written three years ago, was for a colorful little “Jurassic ParkDilophosaurus put out by Dakin in 1992. The same little toy was also a major catalyst for joining the Dinosaur Toy Forum in the first place. I was trying to find out what it was and where I could find one. You can read more about it and the nostalgia it provided on its own review but I brought it up to lead us into the toy we’re reviewing today, the Triceratops by Dakin. There were, in fact, six different dinosaurs made by Dakin, all of them representing the dinosaurs of the original “Jurassic Park” and released in 1992. It’s my goal to collect the whole set, I haven’t reached it yet but hopefully once I do I’ll be able to provide reviews for all of them (don’t hold your breath too long!). Incidentally Dakin also produced the plush “Jurassic Park” toys that came out around the same time. If you were a child of the 90’s and a fan of “Jurassic Park”, you probably had one.

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The Triceratops is very much inspired off of the “Jurassic Park” concept art by Mark “Crash” McCreery. Interestingly enough it is the baby Triceratops that never appeared in “Jurassic Park” (but would show up in “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”) that they chose to model the toy off of. There is no point in reviewing the accuracy, it’s a toy modeled off of a movie from 1993. It has the typical flaws attributed to Triceratops at the time, most notably the elephantine feet. It is at the very least movie accurate or I should say “concept art accurate.” It measures about 5” in length and is very faithful to the concept art in both color and pose, though lacking the finer details of course. The toy is mostly a dark navy blue in color with white underside. The beak, horns and nails are all gray in color. A line of bumps run down the back and the model is liberally detailed with various bumps and wrinkles. A smaller but identical keychain was also produced and yes, I have both, a baby Triceratops for a baby Triceratops. The JP logo is stamped on the left side of the back leg. You know, so you know its official. Remember, if it’s not “Jurassic Park,” it’s extinct! Maybe you don’t remember; refer to the JP toy commercials on Youtube.

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So yeah, that’s the Dakin Triceratops! It’s a charming figure overall but probably only worth seeking out for the die hard “Jurassic Park” collectors or nostalgia addicts like me. The fact that it so greatly resembles the concept art for the film makes it appealing too but with Papo’s new baby Triceratops model (also JP inspired) it might not be worth the effort. These little guys can be hard to find but can occasionally be spotted in lots on eBay or even sold individually, usually not for too much.