We now return to our series of pliosaur reviews. We have already looked in detail at the popular Chap Mei Liopleurodon here and more recently the Kronosaurus by Schleich. Let take a look now at Safari’s offering, another popular figure, the Carnegie Collection Kronosaurus.
Once again, we are not in a very good state of affairs, there are far more problems with the sculpt than there are commendable points. However, Safari may be forgiven for some of the errors they make as their figure is clearly based on a fossil mount now known to be inaccurate, as I will discuss later. But first, lets take the figure at face value. The main body is a perfectly cylindrical tube, more like a miserable fat sausage than a pliosaur body. The distance between the flippers is far too long. The body is also made of a harder plastic than the head – the two materials are quite crudely joined together just in front of the fore flipper and the join is visible.
The head is widely gaping and quite fearsome looking. The nostrils are accurately retracted close to the eyes (nicely sculpted narrow slits as in the Schleich Kronosaurus) but the eyes are way too far back, situated in the temporal fenestrae. This figure is unusual for plesiosaur figures as it is the only one with ears – at the back of the skull there are two small distinct external openings. Whether such a feature would be present in derived aquatic reptiles is unclear. Where the lower jaws meet the upper jaws the cheek extends very far back – this region would have been more muscular.
The dentition suffers from some of the same problems as the Schleich figure – the teeth are all equally sized whereas there should be a lot of variation. Worse, there is an inexplicable gap in the dentition at the very front of the jaws, as if some teeth have fallen out. The tooth rows do not therefore meet up, but form separated rows in each of the jaws, and the snout extends beyond the teeth like: all very un-pliosaur-like. The shape of the lower jaw is very nice though, it is narrow and triangular but expands near the tip forming a spatulate symphysis, a character typical of pliosaurs. Again, there are some nice speculative additions to the mouth – a gullet and a big bulbous tongue are visible in the open mouth.
The spine is perfectly straight, and this figure has a distinct neck, two improvements over the Schleich version. The flippers are incredibly weedy, they look like they might be ripped off in choppy waters. The hind flippers are tiny and impossibly curved backwards. In fact, the hind-flippers in pliosaurs are larger than the fore-flippers and all four limbs had an active role in propulsion. The limbs are possibly the worst and most inaccurate aspect of this figure. In my version the limbs are all horizontal, but in other versions the forelimbs are angled down proppping the animal up a bit. Just liek the Schleich Kronosaurus, the flippers are too thin where they meet the body, there is hardly enough depth for the humerus/femur head, let alone the strong muscles associated with the flippers. The tail tapers to a narrow tip and is just about the right size.
The colour scheme is grey and light grey, the underside is counter-shaded with a pale grey. The eyes are black (no pupils). The figure is 33cm long making it the longest pliosaur replica currently available. is quite a stunning figure, but there are far too many mistakes.
I mentioned near the start of my review that Safari might be forgiven for some of their errors, perhaps they have an excuse? Well in some cases yes, because their reconstruction clearly stems from the most famous skeletal mount of Kronosaurus, the ‘Harvard Specimen’. To cut a long story short, the specimen was badly damaged and much of it had to be reconstructed in plaster, earning the mounted skeleton the nickname of ‘Plasterosaurus’. The number of vertebrae has been overestimated – there are 10 or so vertebrae too many in the backbone – at least Safari can fall back on this to explain their ridiculously long-bodied Kronosaurus toy.
In my next pliosaur review, we will meet the Walking With Dinosaurs Liopleurodon!
This figure is available here for $15