Sauropelta was a basal nodosaurid from the Early Cretaceous of North America, dating to around 115 million years ago. The name means “lizard shield”, pertaining to its intricate body armor. Compared to later, larger armored dinosaurs like Ankylosaurus, Sauropelta was a relatively small animal at roughly 16.5 feet long. The holotype specimen was discovered by Barnum Brown in Montana during the 1930s, but the genus Sauropelta was not formally described until 1970, by paleontologist John Ostrom, whose team unearthed additional remains in the same area.
This unique figure was produced by Schleich during their glory days (2002-2005) and reflects the lovely diversity they were introducing to the Replica-Saurus line at this time. This is the only scale model reproduction of Sauropelta you’ll find from any major company. One of the first things you’ll notice is that this figure is small, at 5 inches long, and I think it is second only to the Desmatosuchus for being Schleich’s smallest. A full 2.5 inches of that is just tail! However, as I said before this was a small dinosaur and it is correctly scaled at 1:40. This figure is very green. The armor is a dark evergreen color, while the underside and legs are more of a lime green. The muzzle is tan, as are the spikes, the nails, and the top of each osteoderm. The skin is good and wrinkly for such a small figure, and the armor is nice and bumpy. The eyes are beady and black, but I think they give the figure kind of a dead appearance. The pose is a bit stationary but acceptable, and the mouth is open.
Unfortunately, this Sauropelta is plagued by Schleich’s continuing trend of producing rather hit-or-miss sculpts. This one is mostly a miss. Sauropelta is an exceptionally well-known nodosaurid, so it baffles me that Schleich managed to screw this one up as much as they did. The biggest problem is certainly the figure’s spikes. The large shoulder spikes are completely absent, and the figure instead has spikes of uniform length running along the neck down to its rump on either side. In reality, Sauropelta’s spike rows were only present along the neck and they stop at the aforementioned prominent shoulder spikes, with none along its sides. The spike arrangement on this figure makes it resemble the closely related Pawpawsaurus more than Sauropelta. However, there are good things to say here. The head is not too goofy looking, and works fine for the figure’s size. Also, the tail is exceptionally long compared to the body, and this is characteristic of Sauropelta, although why Schleich remembered this trait and not the spikes is another head-scratcher. The rest of the armor is accurate enough for Sauropelta as well.
Given its inaccuracies, I still like this figure. It’s unique, the coloration is great and it is a good generic reproduction of a nodosaurid if nothing else. If you like thyreophorans or Schleich, you may want to hunt this one down, but it may be a bit tough because this guy’s been retired for a few years and older Schleichs tend to go up quickly in price. I was lucky enough to find it in a store years ago, but now ebay is probably your best bet.