Xenoceratops (CollectA)


Review and photos by Bokisaurus

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that CollectA has chosen yet another obscure species to join their expanding herd of ceratopsians. Meet Xenoceratops foremostensis – “alien horned-face”. Released as part of CollectA’s 2014 standard-sized figures, this late Cretaceous centrosaurine ceratopsian was first unearthed in 1958, but was just recently described as a new species. To-date, Xenoceratops is the oldest known large-bodied ceratopsian in Canada. Measuring 6 meters (20 feet) long and weighing more than 2 tons, it is not the largest, but still impressive. Like all members of the group, what distinguished Xenoceratops from other ceratopsians is its unique frill with bony ornamentation.

Xenoceratops CollectA

CollectA did a beautiful job of restoring these frill ornamentation on their figure.
The two large horns above the eyes point outwards, behind these horns and protruding from the back of the skull is the large frill. At the top of the frill closest to the midline are two bony projections. These are short thick knobs, and in this figure is painted red. Next to each knob is a single long straight spike that points to the rear (painted white). The nasal bone suggests a long and low structure (also painted red). The face, with its long parrot-like beak, is nicely sculpted on this figure. The nostrils and the eyes are nicely done. The way the eyes are sculpted, although subtle, made a huge difference in the overall feel of this figure. It does not have the bulging eye like that of the Diabloceratops, or the human-like shape of the older models. If anything, perhaps giving it a different color other than black would have made it even more appealing.

Xenoceratops CollectA

Speaking of color, this figure is unique among dinosaur toy in that it was given a simple black and white outfit for the Oscars! The jury is still out about these color choices, but for me, I personally find it appealing and striking. The body itself is black, with a streak of white highlighting the tail quills, and some bands on the feet (which was not necessary in my opinion). There is a nice transition on the neck area from white to black. CollectA is never shy in giving their ceratopsians some colors in the past. This time, it’s not the facial colors that stands out, but the striking design.

Xenoceratops CollectA

Comparison of the heads of CollectA’s Diabloceratops and Xenoceratops figures.

The simple white stripe starts from the center of the frill and radiates outwards, creating nice bands of black in between. The blending of the paint application is nice and clean. There are also some shades of cream mixed in, mostly from the beak, nose, and eye area that give it another texture of color.The odd choice of red, and I mean bright red, to highlight the nose and frill knobs is a poor choice. The effect is not what they have intended, instead, it looks like open bloody wounds! Lucky, it is something that could be easily “fixed” with a small paint application to subdue it. It really distract from the overall effect of an otherwise nicely painted head.

Xenoceratops CollectA

Back to the body, the overall proportion is nice. The skin texturing is perhaps the best I have seen on any ceratopsians to date. The skin is not overly done with large grooves or same-sized bumps. Instead, you will find a pleasing balance, something more realistic. The muscles are well defined, but not extreme. The figure is robust but still shows some nice skin folds in the neck region.

Xenoceratops CollectA

The toes are pretty accurate on this figure, with the hoofs painted brown. In what is looking to be a CollectA trademark with their recent ceratopsians, this figure also has the tail quills, and in this figure painted as a white streak. They sure are having fun with it, which is another thing that sets their figures apart from all the other major brand’s ceratopsians (very much in line with the new Kaiyodo, only much bigger).

Xenoceratops CollectA

The CollectA Xenoceratops with his fellow 2014 ceratopsian release (Pachyrhinosaurus) from Safari Ltd.

Overall, I say that this Xenoceratops is the best ceratopsian from CollectA to date. I highly recommend this unique figure; it’s not often that a black and white dinosaur comes along that is well crafted. It fits nicely with the best of the herd and is fast becoming one of my personal favorites.

Available on Ebay here.

Tyrannosaurus rex (2014) (Carnegie Collection by Safari Ltd.)


Just as the Carnegie collection’s 10 year milestone was celebrated with the release of an updated Tyrannosaurus sculpt, so this year’s 25th anniversary sees the release of an all-new T. rex figure, one better suited to the line’s current aesthetic. This latest generation T. rex is an obvious improvement still further on the old version, and shows a commendable level of background research, even if it’s still not quite the ‘definitive T. rex‘ figure that some might have wanted it to be. Still, if nothing else, we’ve certainly come a long way from the chunky blockhead with painted-on teeth.

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First impressions are good. While the tripod pose is a pity, the subtle sideways sweep of the tail at least looks less stiff and unnatural than the obvious ‘prop tails’ on the Carnegie Cryolophosaurus and Concavenator. The overall proportions of the body are excellent; the hips are massive, the chest suitably barrel-shaped, and the arms are as tiny as they should be (by no means a given in T. rex toys, in spite of the animal’s reputation). The head appears very large at first glance, but it’s by no means disproportionate for T. rex – ‘Stan’ in particular is noted for its outsized-looking noggin.

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In fact, the head in particular is excellent on this figure, corresponding closely to real T. rex skulls without appearing ‘shrink-wrapped’. Careful attention has been paid to the shape of the animal’s hornlets and bosses, and there is ample room for jaw musculature (an occasional problem with T. rex figures) alongside nicely realised superficial details such as the nostrils, ears, and beady eyes. The teeth are appropriately proportioned and, while of course making concessions to the fact that a child would probably want to deploy the jaws as a weapon, don’t appear overly blunted.

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The head is borne on a lovingly detailed, impressively muscular neck, while the torso is certainly robust – although perhaps not robust enough. The Carnegie style certainly favours rather svelte (but by no means emaciated) dinosaurs, and here it seems that the torso could perhaps do with being a little deeper, which would have made the protrusion of the pubic ‘boot’ a little less obvious. The ankles and feet also seem a little delicate for T. rex, and could do with some widening side-to-side. While we’re discussing the beast’s multi-tonne chunkiness, its big fat rear end might also not be big and fat enough.

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Yes, I’m afraid that the problem with Carnegie theropod backsides persists in this figure – that tail base is simply too thin to accommodate the pretty meaty muscles that ran from the tail to the thigh and helped drive the creature forward (the better to hunt Triceratops, lawyers and what have you). Still, it seems churlish to complain about this sort of thing when so few other figures get it right; this remains an unusually well-researched figure, and will please anyone used to despairingly trudging past the usual hideous dreck in their local shops.

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Carnegievolution

All in all, it’s been quite a journey for the Carnegie T. rex – from chunky child’s plaything, through smush-faced terracotta wonder, to stripy green, toothy-grinned splendour. There may remain anatomical nitpicks, and (as with other Carnegie figures) it perhaps could have used a little livening up aesthetically – there are no decorative spines or feathers, and the paint app leaves something to be desired. Nevertheless, it’s a figure I’d recommend to anyone hankering for a decent 1:40-ish scale model of a freakish coelurosaur in their life.

Available from Amazon here and Ebay here.

Velociraptor (Jurassic Hunters by Geoworld)


Review and photos by Takama. Edited by Plesiosauria.

Velociraptor Geoworld

It is a special day for Geoworld because today is the first time one of their products will be reviewed on the Dinosaur Toy Blog! Geoworld, for those who don’t already know, is an Italian company started by (self-proclaimed ?)* paleontologist Dr. Stefano Piccini (AKA Dr Steve hunters) with the mission of getting kids excited about the world of geology and paleontology via authentic paleontologist products. . Their most extensive Geoworld line is called Jurassic Hunters and features a wide variety of prehistoric species to collect. Each figure in the line is packed inside a resealable bag along with a card detailing scientific information related to the creature. In addition to the card there’s also a binder (that must be bought separately) in which the cards can be catalogued, resulting in an encyclopaedia of dinosaurs. The company claims that all their products are paleontologist-approved and treats the figures though they are scientific replicas. The only problem is that most of the figures are, in reality, plagued by anatomical errors that make them anything but museum quality. Many members on the Dinosaur Toy Forum scrutinise them for this, and while it is true that some of the models are not very good, there are a few that show that the company is, at least, trying.

Velociraptor Geoworld

The figure I’ll be looking at today is the Jurassic Hunters version of the infamous Velociraptor. This Velociraptor is one of the examples, in my opinion, that show how the company is attempting to make accurate models. Firstly, the toy is well proportioned and the whole body is textured to appear covered in feathers. Another good point is that the hands are in the correct position with palms facing each other – supinated and not pronated. In addition, the figure is attached to a plastic base so it stands on its own two feet allowing the tail (which is nice and stiff) to point upwards in a realistic fashion.

Velociraptor Geoworld

Really, the only problem with this figure is that there’s no feathers on the hands, and instead of large feathers, there are just little tufts on the arms. The colors on this figure are bright but simple. The majority of the body is orange and there are red lines on the legs and arms, and brown lines that hug the backside and adorn the fluffy crest feathers on its head. The teeth are painted crudely in a basic white while the tongue is red with black on top. As a side note, this figure was repainted once and the one I have is the second version. The original colour version is hard to describe so I will let its picture do the talking!

Velociraptor Geoworld

Despite the accurate model there are some issues with the information provided on the card. Velociraptor was discovered in the 1920s during an expedition by the American Museum of Natural History to the Gobi Desert – not during a Polish expedition in 1971. To be fair, there really was a Polish expedition in 1971 that discovered a complete Velociraptor locked in battle with a Protoceratops, which explains the mix up, and the false information may be the result of poor translations.

Velociraptor Geoworld

Overall, this is a good figure, recognisable as Velociraptor, and shows that Geoworld does sometimes succeed in making accurate dinosaur toys. Recommend!

This figure, and other Geoword products, is available on both Amazon here and Ebay here.

Velociraptor Geoworld

*I added “self-proclaimed ?” because a quick search on google scholar didn’t reveal any actual research publications under this name, and I wasn’t able to verify Dr Piccini’s credentials. As a palaeontologist myself, and since Geoworld is “palaeontologist approved”, I think this is important to clarify, because anyone can put on a fedora and call themselves doctor. As such, I’m genuinely unsure if this is all just marketing fluff or not. If anyone can clarify one way or another, please do respond in the comments below, and I will update this post accordingly – Ed