Photos by Dan L. and Jeremy K.
Sideshow Collectibles, having released a very popular piece based on their newly acquired Jurassic Park license, has discovered something: Dinosaurs rock. Sure, they make interesting subject matter in art, but if there’s one thing that consistently performs well in sales, it’s dinosaurs. New movies and shows might enhance public interest from time to time, but I believe this is merely a reflection of the public’s ongoing and eternal fascination with dinosauria. To that end, Sideshow gathered up some of the finest paleoartists in the world to develop statues for their latest product line, Dinosauria.
Their first release is a show-stopping “diorama” statue, constructed of polystone and measuring a full foot in height. Like many products from Sideshow, this statue depicts an intense action scene, a moment frozen in time, much like the fossilized animals themselves. The classic battle between Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops is portrayed with such ferocious intensity, it is unlike any other reconstruction I have seen.
The slick outer packaging on the box for this diorama offers not only some detailed photographs, but an exciting backstory to explain the events leading up to the scene depicted. Apparently, the Triceratops is a grizzled bull that has been ambushed by a juvenile Tyrannosaurus. It becomes badly injured in the ensuing struggle, and this is plainly visible by the gaping wounds on the bull. A massive chunk of flesh appears to have been ripped straight out of its tail, just the sort of wound one would expect to be inflicted from the specialized jaws of a Tyrannosaur. Deep lacerations run down its flank, possibly resulting from a fearsome kick or two from the theropod. Additionally, there are rows of deep puncture wounds along its back, indicating a fresh bite from the Rex’s famous jaws. These wounds not only add life and character to the diorama, they awaken the imagination to the possible scenes that played out just before this moment. Sideshow has promised lots of unique character to be injected into each statue, and the older scars running across the Rex’s face seem to highlight the history of this animal. He led a colorful life before this moment, while his fate now seems uncertain.
At first glance, the carnivore appears to be unscathed. Rotating the diorama toward the anterior end of the animals reveals a much different story. The Triceratops, apparently using a time-tested tactic in predator defense, shifts its weight and drives one of its facial lances straight into the belly of its attacker. This crucial injury is captured in such raw and unapologetic detail, it is almost difficult to study for long periods of time. The skin is visibly ripped and torn, letting loose hot blood from the exposed tissue beneath. The product description suggests that this is a mortal blow, and if the Rex has indeed ruptured vital organs from this wound, his position in this diorama instantly becomes more sympathetic.
The gaping jaws of the Tyrannosaurus sub-adult, presently stained with the blood of his prey, suggest he is roaring in some combination of unrestrained rage and incomprehensible agony. Rotating the statue further reveals that the both of the predator’s feet are in the air, his body pressed painfully against the weaponized skull of the ceratopsian. This carnivore has not merely been impaled, but battered. His body lingers briefly in midair before completing what will no doubt be a grievous fall to the earth, from which he may never stand again. The full weight of the Triceratops has been slammed right into the Tyrannosaur, likely crushing ribs and lungs during the course of this monstrously blunt trauma to his flank. There is no cautious aggression to be found between them; this is a life and death struggle between predator and prey, and the prey has no qualm about killing the predator in order to survive. The full fury of the animal has been unleashed on the careless Rex, and the result is nothing short of explosive. For such a massive predator to have been gored and shoved so violently is a true testament to the often understated power of the Triceratops.
Despite the fearsome jaws and magma-colored eyes, this Rex has tremendous pathos in the diorama. Having let his instinctual rage get the better of him, he has become overly aggressive in pursuit of this veteran Triceratops, and will likely pay for the mistake with his life. The base of the statue shows densely layered rocks centered around the herbivore’s footing, suggesting the earth is literally crumbling in the wake of this epic struggle. Both animals appear likely to lose their footing, but when the dust settles, it seems inevitable that the bipedal attacker will have more difficulty recovering than the stout four-footed defender. If he stumbles and lands on the ground, he could be helpless to defend against a second, lethal charge from the Triceratops or a brutal trampling of his body. This is clearly not his day, and quite possibly his last.
Despite their scale, the animals are very intricately detailed. Most of this detail appears to have been focused in certain areas of the bodies, namely the heads of the animals. This is not very noticeable when viewed from a distance, but the discrepancy between the amazing ceratopsian’s sheathed beak and the relatively bland foot is a bit disappointing, particularly when one considers the hefty price tag. Still, the paint is outstanding. The bottoms of the animals’ feet are appropriately grimy, and the fresh wounds glisten realistically. Even the teeth of the Triceratops are visible deep within the jaws, a detail most admirable given how few audiences would even think to look there. The posterior of the animals reveals their tails nearly intertwined in an eternal embrace, a charming yet subtle artistic touch as the two characters complete their dance of death.
The bodies themselves are powerfully muscled and adorned with rows of scutes, just as one would expect a living dinosaur to look. The Tyrannosaurus is very naturally colored in deep amber, rich bronze and dark browns. This looks to be an outstanding camouflage for an ambush predator, lurking in the shadows of a Cretaceous forest until the perfect moment to strike reveals itself. The Triceratops appears to be too large and well-armed to be concerned with camouflage. His massive body is mostly red with a pale ventral coloration, possibly due to his advanced age or an indicator of sexual maturity. If the Rex’s colors are intended to say “I don’t exist, you don’t see me”, the crimson colored Triceratops seems to say “I bloody well do exist, and you don’t want me to prove it to you.” This overt display of tremendous strength and nearly boastful color serves to remind the audience that herbivores in the Cretaceous were not wimpy; in fact, they could be fearsome bullies.
The aforementioned discrepancy in detail across the bodies of the animals remains the only true complaint I can muster with regard to this piece. I feel it is appropriate to mention this because of the triple-digit price of the item, not because it detracts significantly from the sheer awe of the sculpture. It is certainly an impressive piece, and this ten pound statue should be given a secure location in any household where children are running about. Otherwise, I would say this is a beautiful collector’s item and striking centerpiece to any location – you could even use it as a table centerpiece for a unique conversation starter or spouse eradicator. Sideshow’s Tyrannosaurus vs. Triceratops diorama is sure to become a highlight of any collection. If this premier sculpture is any indicator of things to come from Sideshow’s Dinosauria line in the future, I believe we are all in for a real treat.