Review by Dan Liebman of DansDinosaurs.com
Photos by Jeremy Killian
The fifth entry in Sideshow’s Dinosauria line features a predation scene like many others, yet with only a single true dinosaur. Deinosuchus vs. Parasaurolophus looks to be an almost classical depiction of violence in the natural world, the massive jaws of a monstrous crocodilian clamping down on a hapless creature that was presumably ambushed while drinking at the water’s edge. We’ve all seen wildlife footage of unsuspecting wildebeests meeting the same fate. The details offered in the statue’s backstory tell a slightly different tale, but the power of the scene is unmistakable.
The existence of non-dinosaurs during the Mesozoic is often forgotten by mainstream enthusiasts, so this image serves as a refreshing slap in the face to those who might overlook the threat of ancient crocodiles. This reptile has seen its fair share of mass-produced reconstructions, from Schleich to Safari’s Carnegie line. Sideshow’s effort is laudable; the morphological nuances and conservative color palette lend excellent credibility to their rendition. The tremendous size of this creature is obviously a high selling point, and this is amplified in the design. Rather than sculpting the entire body, the artists have elected to emphasize the head and neck of the Deinosuchus. The right forearm lifts above the water as well, a reminder that really hammers the point home: This is just the head, and there’s a whole monster under the water!
Hadrosaurs often get the short end of the stick when it comes to paleoimagery. Typically they are victims in an attack by some larger predator, and this scene is no exception. The Parasaurolophus walkeri obviously has some notoriety as one of the most famous duck-billed dinosaurs – even if its fanbase grows weary of seeing their beloved ornithischian getting ripped to shreds left and right. For this diorama, the herbivore in question is actually a juvenile, as indicated by the underdeveloped crest. This signature feature is highlighted in pale blue, while the tail is decorated in a nice striping pattern, similar to the Sideshow Carnotaurus. The mouth stands agape in shock and horror – you can almost hear it screaming. Depending on one’s outlook, the scene can elicit some combination of awe and fear. Forty-foot long crocodiles lurking under the water? Nightmare stuff, to be sure.
The bloodied wound appears quite deep, so even if the hadrosaur manages to get in a few wild kicks with its powerful legs, it is not likely to escape the vice-like grip of the Deinosuchus, much less survive the attack. Some have even calculated that a large Deinosuchus could inflict a bite pressure exceeding that of Tyrannosaurus rex. My only anatomical concern lies within the well-rounded curling of the herbivore’s tail. It helps frame the scene much like the Tyrannosaurus vs. Triceratops diorama, but is somewhat unrealistic, as hadrosaurs are known for having ossified tendons that should have kept their tails very stiff for balance. The cleverest rationalization I’ve heard for this: The croc slams into its prey like a freight train, fracturing the tail and causing it to curl in an unnatural manner.
Set in a flooded Cretaceous swamp, this diorama is the first to come with a pre-attached base of muddy water. Churning and splashing all around the scene, it is arguably the most interesting base yet seen in a Dinosauria statue, and a fine artistic endeavor. The construction is also rather distinctive. While most dinosaur reconstructions tend to emphasize the horizontal length of the subject, this scene is built with a more vertical orientation. The eye is drawn along the diagonal, focusing on the raw power of the Deinosuchus launching itself violently at the target, crushing bones on impact. It is this fine balance of paleontological authenticity and artistic inspiration that allow Sideshow’s Dinosauria to compete with more expensive (and often unfinished) resin models.