Review and photos by ChemaV, edited by Plesiosauria
The Saurierpark (http://www.saurierpark.de/saurierpark.asp) is built on the grounds of a botanic garden, located in Kleinwelka, a subdivision of the city of Bautzen in Germany. In 1977 a large series of life sized dinosaurs were built out of steel and concrete. The designs were largerly based on designs by the excellent European paleoartist Zdeneck Burian, whose works (or ripoffs of them) were still being published in several books for children and adults. Though his designs have started to become innacurate as new scientific discoveries have arisen, his talented artistic qualities are still enjoyable even today. In 1977, the Dinosaur Reinassance was slowly transforming all the good old tail-dragging dragons into post-modern warm-blooded proto-bird beasts. Still, the creators of the models for the Saurierpark in Kleinwelka choose the classic versions because popular imagry was still attched to Burian’s designs at the time, and remained so until the end of the 80s. In 1991, new models including a pack of killer Deinonychus, and other creatures with a new warm-blooded look, were added alongside the existing retro-looking sculptures.
In the 70s, the Saurierpark had a gift shop where plastic models of the giant sculptures were sold. These were ade of an unknown German plastic. The Iguanodon figure was made in at least two different versions with very different materials. I don’t know if the rest of figures were also made in these two (or more) different versions, but it’s very possible; my theory is that the lighted material ones are the oldest, probably from the very early 70’s.
The “version 1” is made from a very lightweight “plastic”, about 0.01 lb (in comparison with the “version 2” that weights about 0.08 lb). The material looks similar but in addition to the differnt weight, the surface of the “version 1” is rougher to the touch. The “version 1” has a lighter colour than the “version 2”. Their size is exactly the same in both(exactly the same mold).
The Iguanodon is totally reminiscent of Zdeneck Burian’s 1940s and 50’s paintings of the beast (a design that had already been transformed into figures by Marx, Invicta, Starlux and others). The figure maintains the same Iguana-on-steroids appearance, with the upright kangaroo pose and the dragging tail. It is implied that the animal would walk only on its two hind legs: it’s not simply rising up to obtain higher leaves as Iguanodon is often represented today. In comparison with the modern representations of Iguanodon on two legs, this old version has a much straighter column. The beast is also in an active walking pose. He exposes his left knife-like thumb, perhaps preparing to stab the belly of some enemy.
The figure is fairly well detailed. Not as much as the Invicta version (a quality that few plastic lines could ever reach) but Kleinwelka figures have charm even if objectively ugly – I personally like it a lot. And this guy surely is ugly! His face depicts a total badass, with angry eyes and exposed teeth (no cheeks). He has a reptilian piece of skin on the throat, just like the reptile who gave him his name.
Additional details include is a subtle line of osteoderms along the back like a dragon, muscles and skin wrinkles, and some veins are even sculpted. The “version 1” even has very little scales all over the skin. These are very nicely done, and the “version 2” doesn’t have this (the skin is totally smooth). This is the reason why I consider the “version 1” as being older: it’s more detailed and the quality of the molds could have diminished with time). I recommend this figure to nostalgic lovers of Zdeneck Burian’s designs, and as a true piece of dinosaur figures’ history.
Sometimes available on eBay here