Tyrannosaurus rex (Prehistoric Scenes by Aurora)

Well, here we are at last, dear friends. After nearly two years of exploring the prehistoric plastic worlds of CollectA, Papo, Safari, Kenner, Lego, Playmobil, and various other companies, we’ve arrived at my 100th review for the Dinosaur Toy Blog! I’ve saved the biggest item in my collection for this very special occasion: the Aurora Prehistoric Scenes Tyrannosaurus rex!

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The T. rex was originally released in 1975, then reissued a number of times over the years. The most recent version was released by Revell just last year. The version I own was released by Monogram in 1987 and it was given to me as a Christmas present from my grandmother back in either 1992 or 1993. Most of the 53 pieces were made of dark green plastic, but the eyes, teeth, and claws were bone white. There was also a small nameplate, but that went missing years ago.

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I assembled the T. rex the very same day, although it wasn’t until years later that I got around to painting it. I chose purple for the main colour with green stripes, red, yellow, and black for the eyes, a pink mouth, white teeth, and medium grey claws. As with the Allosaurus, the colour scheme was inspired by a pop culture source. In this case, the evil Predacon leader Megatron’s beast mode from the first season of Transformers: Beast Wars. Yessssssssss.

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This T. rex is big. Really, really BIG. With a towering height of up to 47 cm and a staggering maximum length of 79 cm, it is by far the biggest dinosaur in my entire collection, the biggest dinosaur in the Aurora series, and indeed, one of the biggest dinosaur toys ever made. A considerable amount of space is therefore required in order to display this tyrant king among tyrant kings. Despite its size, its hollow interior makes it relatively light.

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While it is instantly recognizable as a T. rex, this toy is far, far removed from the real deal. Aside from the Godzilla stance, the head is all wrong, the arms are too big, the body is shaped like a huge pear, and the dragging, curling tail reminds me of an anaconda. If this beast were any more vintage, it would be trying to eat Fay Wray.

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On the more positive side, this is one of the most articulated T. rex toys ever. The jaws open nice and wide, the head rotates, the neck can raise and lower, the shoulders, wrists, and hips rotate, the base of the tail is hinged, and the rest of the tail rotates in two places. The legs really can’t be put in many good poses due to the position that the feet are sculpted in, but the head, arms, and tail allow for quite a lot of active poses and rampaging play.

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No hints of avian lineage here. Most of the T. rex‘s body is covered in large, plate-like scales that give off an appearance similar to a dry riverbed. There are also numerous osteoderms that look like giant warts. The mouth features large, scaly lips and the belly has a crocodile-like skin texture. The tail is covered in rows of square scales as well as finer osteoderms, much like an iguana’s. The teeth and claws are very large, sharp, and scary. Like the Allosaurus, it stands proudly in a display case in the dinosaur gallery at the London Natural History Museum.

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Mine’s prettier, wouldn’t you say?

As far as vintage dinosaur depictions go, this T. rex is nothing short of magnificent. Its enormous size alone is impressive enough, but it’s also quite a good deal of fun to pose or play around with. I fell in love with this frightening behemoth the first time I laid eyes on it so long ago, and I still love it just as much. A truly great and legendary dinosaur toy!

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And that wraps up my 100th review. What a lot of fun this has been! Once again I must extend my deepest thanks to the owner of this site, Dr. Adam S. Smith, and to everyone who has read and enjoyed my reviews. Also, thanks again to Trevor Ylisaari for the use of all the packaging photos.

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Time to start work on the next 100!

Torosaurus (Walking With Dinosaurs by Toyway)

Review and photographs by Indohyus, edited by Suspsy

When most dinosaur-related series cover ceratopsians, Triceratops is the animal most often chosen to be featured. However, while Triceratops made a cameo appearance as a T. rex‘s courtship offering in the BBC series Walking with Dinosaurs, the main ceratopsian was the lesser known Torosaurus instead (whether it or not it turns out to be a mature Triceratops, we will see). They also chose it as one of the animals to be featured in the (annoyingly collectable) Toyway line, and that is what I will be reviewing.

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At 9.1” long and 4.2” long, it’s a reasonably large figure, though in keeping with the rest of the line. The colours are accurate to its appearance in the TV series, if a little less vibrant, but the largely grey body is accurate to large animals today, and I feel it works well. The texture and details are amazing on this figure, lending well to an amazing sculpt all around. As a Walking With Dinosaurs figure, it does suffer from an extremely static pose in which it seems to not be doing anything at all. The main reason for this is that it is based on the models used for the series, thus it is slightly forgivable. On the plus side, if you have two, they are in a great pose for jousting!

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As for scientific accuracy, the toys are based off the series, so it rates very well. Torosaurus possessed one of the largest skulls of any vertebrate in relation to its body due to its massive frill, and this is well represented here. The horns are also the right length, not too long or short. The length of the legs are correct, with the back legs much longer than the front legs, resulting in the sloping back. The tail could be a little longer, but this is negligible, really.

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Overall, this is a great figure of a species that is much less represented in comparison to its more famous cousin, and maybe the best among them (with the exception of the Collecta version). It is from a discontinued line, and an incredibly collectable one, making some of the figures harder to find. Torosaurus is among the more common ones and appears fairly regularly for a reasonable price on eBay (mostly from British sellers). If you are a fan of this dinosaur or trying to complete your Walking With . . . collection (as I am!!!), then definitely pick it up!

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Estemmenosuchus (Jurassic Park by Kenner)

Review and photos by Tim Sosa

Kenner’s Jurassic Park line was supposed to have had an additional wave of figures, but they were never released at retail. Fortunately, the 1997 Lost World line re-used some of those prototypes, one of which was this Estemmenosuchus. It was never released as a stand-alone figure, instead being included in a playset with a Scutosaurus, a human figure, and lots of accessories. Today we’ll just deal with the Estemmenosuchus figure.

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Estemmenosuchus lived in the Middle Permian, about 30 million years before the first appearance of dinosaurs, and about 200 million years before the mass extinction that decimated them. Estemmenosuchus belongs to a group called the therapsids, from which all mammals descended, including us. It is thought to have been an herbivore, and perhaps semi-aquatic, based on its teeth and overall proportions, which are somewhat reminiscent of a hippo.

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This is a big figure: about 20 cm long, or roughly 1:15 scale. It does a reasonable job of giving the general impression of an Estemmenosuchus, but it’s such a distinctive animal that it would be hard-pressed not to. In particular, the huge flattened protrusions just under the eye don’t resemble much else. The other facial ornaments are in roughly the correct positions, but don’t look very much like the known skulls of the animal. The ornaments over the eyes were more elaborate in the real thing, and the nose horn probably didn’t look quite so rhino-like. The overall gray paint job also contributes to a very rhino-like appearance. The muzzle is a bit too short on the toy, and the body is a bit too long. Finally, the toy has a single medial incisor (front tooth), which no therapsid normally has, although there are occasionally people born with this condition.

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One Estemmenosuchus specimen has been found preserved with a little bit of skin from the head, and in 1967 the skin was described in a short paper in a Soviet geology journal. I managed to find the English translation (?Subject=Estemmenosuchus>email me if you want a copy), which describes the skin as “dissected by small secondary cracks,” but the author suggests that it was probably smooth skin that shrank and split during preservation. The toy version has what looks like scales on parts of the head and along the spine, which is improbable given what little is known of the animal’s skin, combined with the fact that it’s fairly closely related to mammals. All the same, this paper was hard enough to find in 2016; in 1997 I think giving it scales was a forgivable sin.

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This figure has a couple of features common to many Jurassic Park toys: a head-swinging action gimmick and a “dino-damage” removable skin piece. The latter is more likely than not to be lost if you buy this used and loose. The action feature still works on mine, so it seems to be pretty durable. It’s a well-made toy, even if it’s not highly realistic. This is Jurassic Park, so Kenner is due some leeway, especially for having tackled such a little known animal. I would recommend it solely on the basis of its uniqueness. This is almost certainly the only toy of this bizarre and fascinating genus ever produced (other toy makers, get on it!). You can still find it on auction sites reasonably often, but expect to shell out plenty for the complete playset still in the package. Loose ones are much cheaper, but in that case expect most of the accessories to be lost.

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