During the Mesozoic Era, the dinosaurs were the undisputed rulers of the land. However, more watery environments were ruled by other reptilian denizens. The waterways of North America during the Cretaceous period 75 million years ago were stalked by the massive 50 foot alligator Deinosuchus. With a name that fittingly means “terrible crocodile” (although it’s actually a giant primitive alligator), Deinosuchus likely preyed on turtles, fish, and the occasional thirsty dinosaur. Although the initial specimens of this monster, two fossilized teeth, were collected by geologist Ebenezer Emmons in North Carolina in 1858, the genus Deinosuchus was not established until over 50 years later, in 1909.
Deinosuchus is not exactly a popular prehistoric animal, but it has been released at least a few times in figure form, notably by Safari Ltd for the Carnegie Collection and most recently in the newest Sideshow diorama. The Schleich version was released in 2004. This figure, at a little over 11 inches long, is one of Schleich’s largest non-sauropod figures and is quite impressive. It is scaled at 1:40 so if you were the Schleich guy standing there, I’d be runnin’! Aside from the noticeable scutes running along its back, the figure’s skin has a wrinkly elephant-like texture, which is inaccurate for any crocodilian and it should instead be scaly and covered with scutes all around. The color scheme is a mix of different shades of green with some black. The primary shade is evergreen, with darker green around joints and on the skull. There is also a light yellow-green on the skull. The claws and ear openings are painted black, and the jaws are rimmed with black. Overall I think it is quite a bland coloration when compared to the spectacled patterns of most modern crocodilians, but it is reminiscent of the coloration of a large alligator. The teeth are dark tan and the inside of the mouth and tongue is dark pink. The eyes are yellow with slit pupils. While the pose is somewhat static, I think it’s better than the pose of Carnegie’s Deinosuchus.
While it’s a hefty hunk of plastic, Schleich’s Deinosuchus is probably one of the least accurate released. The sculpt is altogether a very sloppy reconstruction. The limbs, particularly the hind limbs, are very crudely sculpted. The patterns of scutes on the animal’s back are likewise very simple and crude, with little detail. The tail is very short and generic and does not resemble a crocodilian’s tail at all. The skull is an inaccurate mess. It looks as though the sculptors tried to emulate the broad snout of an alligator but failed miserably by making it way too fat and rounded and leaving out a lot of detail. It just ends up looking like three lumps squashed together when viewed from above. The teeth are absolutely atrocious and look nothing like the teeth of an alligator or crocodile, being too lumpy and mashed together. With all the modern alligators alive in the world today which could have been used for reference, it almost seems like someone at Schleich simply sketched out their own vague mental image of what an alligator looks like and used it for the model. The severe lack of accuracy in almost all aspects of this figure is inexcusable. The Carnegie figure is better for the sole fact that it actually resembles something that could have been a real live animal and not a cartoon.
In the end, it works as a generic giant crocodilian and is quite impressive, but I really only got this Deinosuchus figure to further flesh out my Schleich collection and I like it well enough. Even though it has been retired for a few years there are still a few online stores selling it for the retail price of around $16 or $17 so if you’re interested in big ole prehistoric monsters I’d jump on it now before it’s gone for good.