Utahceratops (CollectA)


Review and photos by Robert Oaks.

History: Since this a relatively newly discovered (2000), and described (2010) ceratopsid species, I’ll present some background. If you’re not interested just skip ahead. Utahceratops Gettyiis a large, robust ceratopsian dinosaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous Period in southern Larmidia which is now approximately Utah in Western North America. The area where Utahceratops lived is described as an ancient floodplain with swamps, ponds, and lakes, and it lived alongside Gryposaurus, Parasaurolophus, Nasutoceratops, Kosmoceratops, Albertosaurus (possibly), and Teratophoneus.

Utahceratops CollectA

Utahceratops stood 6 feet (2 meters) high and was 18-22 feet (6-7 meters) in length. The skull alone was 7 feet (2.3 meters) long and had two giant brow holes. In contrast to Triceratops which has brow horns orientated forward, the brow horns in both Utahceratops and Kosmoceratops were oriented out to the side rather than forward. Utahceratops had relatively short brow horns in front of a large frill that was slightly indented inwards along its top margin. Its nose horn stuck straight up like a blade, and was longer than those over the eyes. One other cool fact is that the horns found on fossil ceratopsid dinosaurs skulls are the bone cores. When the animal was alive the bone cores would have been covered by the actual horns, which would have made the horns longer in life.Now that we have the proper background of this animal, without any further ado, let’s see how the CollectA Utahceratops stacks up as a toy.

Utahceratops CollectA

About the toy: This Utahceratops sculpt has its head down, eyes forward, and the left front foot slightly raised with the back legs staggered. The tail is short with some small bends in it. There is bump on the back between the front and back legs.The texturing on the body looks nice with some pleasing skin folds and muscle bulges that are quietly realistic. It has a large skull, extensive neck frill, nose horn, and brow horns that stick outwards like a cow. The nose horn and brow horns are about the same size. It is painted mostly in a light brown with a few light wisps of cream, and has a line of dark brown down the vertebra from the neck to the tail. On the skull above the eyes are flashes of bright red. Under the eyes is a line of reddish brown and cream that extends vertically down to the jaw. The skull is a darker shade of brownish red with lighter brown to cream highlights. The horns are also a pleasing combination of darker and light browns.

Utahceratops CollectA

Scientific accuracy: I would like to point out before I present the scientific information, that in college, in anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology, I received C’s. I am also not a mathematician. With all the current scientific information concerning Utahceratops and its kin, this is a very accurate figure. Here is why I say it.
Proportions: The proportions of the figure all seems to line up correctly with its fossil remains, including, what I call, “the bump on the spine”.

Utahceratops CollectA

The paint job and skull color: It is a naturalistic paint job, and the color variations on the skull, while not overly flashy, is believable for use as attracting a mate or for group differentiation.
The feet: Utahceratops has been found missing most of the bones in the feet such as phalanges and tarsals. This figure is shown in what has been hypothesized as correct foot placement in ceratopsians as far as I can tell.
The front legs: There is no definite answer on the question of ceratopsians front legs being placed in a sprawling, semi sprawling, or upright forelimbs. Though it is accepted by most that sprawling is most likely incorrect. On this figure they choose upright forelimbs. This could be correct. For example, trackways generally considered belonging to ceratopsid dinosaurs seem to indicate that they employed upright/sagittal quadrupedal limb orientations. This means that currently upright forelimbs could be considered correct.
Skull: They included the bone ridge under the brow horn on the skull which is highlighted in red. The one flaw in its accuracy is that the brow horns appear to be the same size as the nose horn. On the fossilized skull, the nose horn in bigger and longer than the brow horn.

Utahceratops CollectA

Playability: I have watched three and two year olds play with the Utahceratops figure and they had no problems using it in their imaginary adventures. It is tough, but the paint, especially on the tail and horns can wear fast. For collectors, it doesn’t have the flashiness of some of the otherceratopsid dinosaurs, but it is one of the most realistic and believable dinosaurs from CollectA.

Overall appraisal: The Utahceratops figure is unique but uncomplicated. The color is rather uninspiring, but believable. The pose is passive yet natural and compelling. That is why this is an interesting toy. This figure is so well done that it is hard for it to stand out. CollectA continues to do ceratopsian toys extremely well, and with bated breath I look forward to their renditions of the many species that are still waiting for toy form.

Available on Amazon.com here.

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.