Tyrannosaurus rex (Version 1 by CollectA)

CollectA nowadays is widely considered one of the top makers of high quality prehistoric toys, as demonstrated by their very awesome 2017 assortment. But that certainly wasn’t always the case. For this review, I’ll be taking another trip back in time to 2006, the year of CollectA’s humble beginning. Back then, of course, it was known as Procon, and its first wave of toys was . . . well, not exactly what you’d call spectacular.

Feast your eyes on the very first CollectA/Procon Tyrannosaurus rex. Measuring about 19 cm and slightly under 10 cm tall, it is posed in the much-reviled tripod stance with its massive head turned to the left and its mouth wide open. The main colour is pine green over dirty brown with darkened stripes, a pale underbelly, very dark grey claws, gold eyes, a pink mouth, and white teeth. This same colour scheme would later be reused for the Deluxe version and the titanic 1:15 scale version. And yes, it also bears a suspicious resemblance to the original Papo T. rex that came out the year before it.

The sculpting on this T. rex is decent if unremarkable. Its skin is scaly all over with thick wrinkles on the neck, belly, and flanks. The inside of the mouth has minimal detail and the tongue is barely more than a slab. The very high brow ridges give the animal an enraged appearance. The forward-facing orbits are sunken, but the fenestrae are actually not that visible beneath the skin.

And now let’s tackle the many inaccuracies on this poor fellow. First, of course, there’s the upright tripod stance. Then there’s the stumpy, too-short tail. The hind limbs look stiff and elephantine and the feet and claws are chunky. The arm are too long and the wrists are pronated. The neck is also too long. The lower jaw is too wide and the teeth are little more than generic rows of bumps. And perhaps most glaring of all, this poor T. rex is missing its nostrils! Oh, and the legs on mine are warped to boot.

Probably the best thing I can say about this T. rex is that, when compared alongside CollectA’s more recent toys, it certainly illustrates how much the company has improved over the last ten years. Truth be told, I bought this one strictly as a novelty, and because my ambition is to someday see the DTB’s CollectA page completed. If you don’t already own it, then seriously, don’t bother. Not unless you’re a die-hard T. rex fan like me.

Stegosaurus (Deluxe by CollectA)

Review and Photographs by Quentin Brendel (aka Pachyrhinosaurus), edited by Suspsy

The Deluxe Stegosaurus was the first of the few CollectA dinosaurs to enter my collection and it’s still one of my favourite. It originally attracted my attention since it was the only figure out at the time that had exactly seventeen plates, laterally-pointed thagomizer spikes, and throat armour. Ironically it appears as though the former two are no longer considered correct now, but I was impressed at the time.

In length, this figure measures 9.5″ long straight from snout to tail. Without doing the math, this looks like 1:40 scale to me (since 1 inch = approx. 1 metre), which is the standard scale for most dinosaur figures. The Stegosaurus is in a slow walking pose with its head tilted to the right and its mouth open, perhaps calling to another dinosaur or letting out a passive bellow. The angle of the head and curvature of the neck work well with the dermal armor, almost as though it’s showing off to the other figures which lack this feature. The tail is slung high and stiffly held so that the dorsal surface is nearly level with the body. As noted earlier, this figure’s back is adorned with no less than seventeen bony plates from neck to tail. These are amber in colour with black airbrushing. The body is gray, with the high areas leaning towards blue-green. This darkens at the top to the colour of the lower areas. The underside is white, once again airbrushed. The white continues down the interior of the legs where the claws appear to be the same colour as the darker parts of the body. The mouth interior is a solid light pink and the eyes have a touch of the amber colour of the plates.

The skin is textured with individual scales defined in the model as well as a series of small bumps on the darker areas near the plates. There are markings on the thagomizer spikes which look like they were meant to be scales, though in four years of owning this figure it took me until now to notice them. In addition, there are very reptilian-looking ripples on the underside of the body and tail, as well as the legs.

The CollectA Stegosaurus was put out a few years before the “Sophie” specimen was published and so doesn’t reflect the most recent understanding of the animal. According to the new fossils, Stegosaurus should have a longer neck and a lower-hung tail than in the figure. It’s thought that the very end of the tail where the thagomizer is should be pointed downwards. The torso of this figure has a longer relative length, which is more of a trend in newer models. Also due to recent finds, it is now known that Stegosaurus had nineteen dorsal plates instead of the more traditional seventeen. The hands have five digits, each with a claw. If I remember correctly, only the innermost two digits should have claws. I believe the feet are correct with three on each.

Overall, this could very well be the best Stegosaurus on the market for accuracy. There tends to be a lack of accurate figures of more popular species since most companies put them out first, and don’t often replace them once they’ve improved. The CollectA Stegosaurus is stamped 2009 and is still in production, as well as a smaller version and even a carcass which are painted to match this one. You can easily find it on eBay here and Amazon here .

Tylosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

Lizards have been around about as long as dinosaurs, and during their time on Earth they have produced some weird side branches. One is snakes (yes, all snakes are lizards, but not all lizards are snakes). Another is the mosasaurs, a group of large aquatic lizards that included some of the largest predators of the late Cretaceous. They weren’t dinosaurs, but true lizards, more closely related to modern monitor lizards than either is to, for example, geckos.

One of the best known mosasaurs is Tylosaurus, and it’s roughly tied with Mosasaurus as the one most commonly made into toys. Safari Ltd has released a new Tylosaurus for 2017, and it’s a very nice piece of work. Tylosaurus was one of the largest lizards of all time, up to 15 meters long. This figure is about 26 cm long measured along the spine, so it’s about 1:55 scale if it represents a large individual. That puts it roughly in scale with Safari’s Elasmosaurus. It’s mostly a sort of yellow ochre all over, slightly darker on top, with irregular bold black markings and a big black spot over each eye.

The maw is carefully rendered, including teeth borne on the pterygoid bone on the roof of the mouth. Like any inexpensive mass-produced toy, there is a bit of paint bleed from the gums to the teeth and vice versa, but overall the paint is well-executed. Based on a cursory glance at some Tylosaurus skulls, it looks like the number of teeth varies, with this figure at the low end of that variation.

The head correctly shows the front of the dentary and premaxillary (i.e. the very front of the mouth) without teeth. The folds of skin around the neck are expertly done, reminiscent of mosasaurs’ monitor lizard cousins.

This is the first mosasaur from Safari to include the two-lobed tail fluke, which was described in 2010 and 2013 based on smaller relatives. If anything, a gigantic animal like Tylosaurus would find a fluke even more useful to move its bulk. This is a realistic depiction, with the main bore of the spine deflected slightly downward, and soft tissue making up the top half of the fluke.

The whole figure is texturally rich, and the flippers in particular show very lizardlike scales. Each digit is discernible, which was likely true in the living animal as well.

Compared to the Carnegie version that was discontinued two years ago, this Tylosaurus is somewhat smaller, with an updated tail, and with a much brighter palette. This color scheme is a bit vibrant for an adult 14-meter animal. Some melanosomes have been observed in large mosasaurs, and their concentration suggests a very dark color, perhaps similar to a sperm whale. Tylosaurus did live in a vast inland sea, a habitat that is no longer widespread on Earth, so it’s at least possible that such an environment would have been friendlier to big bright animals. All the same, the coloration of this figure is probably more appropriate to a smaller mosasaur. Platecarpus was only about 4 meters long, and Dallasaurus was even smaller, comparable to a living monitor. Those were probably more often found in shallow-water, complex habitats where it might be beneficial to have your outline broken up in sun-dappled water. Some sharks that are pelagic as adults, but live near shore when young, have bolder coloration as babies. Perhaps large mosasaurs had a similar progression.

On balance, this is a wonderful replica, and should make both adult kids and regular kids happy. You can find it at museum gift shops, online, and at better toy stores everywhere.