Review by Dan of DansDinosaurs.com
Photos by Dan Liebman and Jeremy Killian
What can be said of the Tyrannosaurus rex? Easily the most popular of all prehistoric animals, this universally recognized carnivore embodies the might and majesty of the ancient world. In any exhibit or product line, his presence is absolutely mandatory, his regal status beyond question. Since their premiere in 2009, Sideshow Collectibles has already released two interpretations of the species for their “Dinosauria” line. Although undeniably exciting, the “T.rex vs. Triceratops” scene has been depicted many times in the past. The challenge for this maquette is to create something fresh and original, to show the Tyrannosaurus as it has never been seen before.
One instantly noticeable aspect of this creature is the presence it commands, without even opening its jaws. The two previous Sideshow Dinosauria statues were extraordinarily dynamic, like snapshots of a violent scene. Instead, this tyrannosaur is plodding along with a relatively casual posture. This naturalistic vision is not commonly seen in mass-produced toys, often reserved for the eyes of mature collectors and resin model enthusiasts. This is indeed how one might expect the animal to appear in life, stalking in a Cretaceous forest, its immediate goal somewhat mysterious.
Sideshow has promised to reconstruct its dinosaurs not merely as museum display pieces, but as fully-fleshed out characters. Never before has this vision been executed so prominently or stylishly. This tyrannosaur is not smooth and pristine; he is a grizzled, ancient-looking predator, with old wounds decorating his body like war medals. Each unique laceration is carved into his flesh, a vast history for all to see. The ambiguity of these injuries leaves much to the imagination, and since speculating is half the fun, I will avoid sharing my own interpretations here. Some, such as the broad tears along the tail, appear fresh and young. Others, such as the swollen growth at his ankle, appear more severe and agonizing. This portrait of an old predator is not merely sympathetic, but potentially inspiring. He leers out at the viewer, almost challenging them: “What are your wounds compared to mine?”
Among the many talented artists involved in the creation of this piece, fans of paleoart will instantly recognize the signature style of David Krentz. This old bull is somewhat gracile (as the modern male rex is frequently depicted), with an avian build that strongly echoes Krentz’s theropods. The bird-like texturing on the feet, as well as the alert posture, coincides with our modern interpretation of the Tyrannosaurus. Even so, this old male was likely better at ambush than high-speed pursuits. His body is richly muscled, particularly in the powerful legs and neck. The neck is bristled with protruding knobs and wrinkled skin, further enhancing that scraggly, ancient visage.
The face itself is where much of the personal character can be seen. It is easy to imagine, yet difficult to fathom, the sheer number of rival predators this Tyrannosaur fought throughout its lifetime. Much of the impressive scarring can be found along the head, which is undoubtedly the business-end of the animal. The eyes and nostrils glisten realistically, with deep gashes running perpendicular to the jawline. The teeth are also notable, as many appear to be short or missing altogether. Tyrannosaurs were known to quickly replace teeth that were lost throughout their career, so this striking irregularity lends great credibility to the reconstruction.
The dark coloration of the body brightens into a golden hue before hitting the pale underside. This is somewhat consistent with the other Dinosauria Tyrannosaurus. The head appears to be almost flushed red, possibility as a warning to rivals, or for use in sexual display. It is this standout element that really amplifies the creature’s avian appearance, and even when perceived by a different species, there is no denying the color’s dramatic and striking effect.
Although the finer details are somewhat muddled when compared to the original stock photos, this remains an outstanding reconstruction of the Tyrannosaurus rex. It has tremendous power, personality, and attention to detail (even the feet appear to be dusted with moss from the earthen base). The only cause for hesitation is the price tag, which is comparable to a high-end resin kit, but this piece ships fully finished. This might not be the “prettiest” Rex on the market, but it is unquestionably one of the finest.