Tyrannosaurus “Tyrant King” Statue (Safari Ltd. Primal)

Review by Dan Liebman

Around the time Jurassic Park was pumping prehistoric animals back into pop culture consciousness, Safari Ltd. released this rather large statue of the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex. One glance, and it’s clear the company was appealing to mature collectors of dinosauria. At 50 centimeters in length, this 1:20 replica bears an indisputable presence that simply can’t be conveyed from a 1:40 scale figure. The sleek wooden base, brass name plate, and high level of sculptural detail distinguish this statue from mere toys. It is meant to be exhibited on a mantle or an office shelf, without provoking the ridicule of visitors who “just don’t get it.”

The active gait, parallel posture, and inward-facing arms indicate a thoroughly researched creation that closely follows modern paleontological theory, even to this day. The body has prominent musculature, detailed folds and wrinkles, and a conservative color scheme that could pass for suitable camouflage. Knobby osteoderms run along the top of the snout, while the eyes and nostrils glisten faintly.

Upon close inspection, the age of the piece becomes quite evident. More recent Safari figures bear much greater sculptural detail, as well as more layers of paint. The amber base color of this statue has been decorated with dark browns in a few areas, mainly with dorsal stripes and bumps, but it is otherwise quite plain. The lower jaw appears to be separately cast and attached, as the seam is plainly visible. The teeth have been “separated” with stripes of black paint; they lack the fine separation seen in Safari’s latest theropod figures. One wonders if perhaps an unpainted Invicta-style statue would have appeared more sophisticated and less crude to the inquiring eye.

Keeping a reasonable distance, the statue is still quite impressive as the scale and sculptural definition shine through. Without awkward poses or oversized feet, it’s hard to get this sort of dynamic power without losing realism in the reconstruction, and using the base allows the artist to break free of this constraint. The feet even appear to be caked with soil, a particularly nice touch of realism that is too often absent.

In addition to the “limited edition” tag, the statue was sold with a certificate of authenticity. This document offers a bit of background on both the statue and the species depicted. Apparently, it was crafted by paleoartist William Burford with “the mandate to incorporate the latest theories based upon recent discoveries, such as Sue of the Chicago Museum of Natural History.” Marketing materials suggest a “hydro-stone” construction, as well as an edition size of 5,000 pieces. This small edition size has ensured a consistent demand for the now retired statue; they typically fetch triple-digit prices at online auctions, which is close to the original retail price.

The certificate also refers to the piece as a “Primal,” hinting a unique product line which sadly appears to have been cut short. Safari has a long history with producing high-level dinosaur figures, but this was by far their boldest effort to strike a chord with the collector demographic. Today, the market is saturated with resin kits and Sideshow statues, so there may be an even greater risk to attempt another specialty line. Continual increases in Safari’s product quality have kept their figures at the top of their class, and so this “Tyrant King” gives one cause to stop and ponder what might have been.



7 Responses to Tyrannosaurus “Tyrant King” Statue (Safari Ltd. Primal)

  1. Petrified Creatures Museum has two of these limited edition Tyrant King from safari that were used for the display. They are five feet tall and munching in the garden. Petrified Creatures Museum is a non profit in upstate NY. and you can visit to see these kings.

  2. I have two of these limited addition Tyrant king ,new in the box, Regularly retail for $200, I am willing to let anyone who mentions Dans blog have one for $100 plus shipping.

  3. Does anybody happen to know what this particular model is worth today? Have you ever seen one for sale on ebay, in a shop, or online somewhere? I have one and I know very little about it.

  4. Oh, one more thing. I had contacted Safari back then too (2001 or so) and they said next in line would have been the Spinosaurus. Too bad that fell through… would have been interesting.

  5. I have this one (also have the Sideshow T. rex and the Triceratops/T. rex maquettes). This is a nice figure (for the time). However, the paint on the arms for mine started flaking off about two years ago(!) and I had to touch up the paint. Needless to say, it didn’t match 100% to the original paint and although it looked better than the white polystone showing, you could tell it was touched up.

  6. Before I purchased Sideshow’s T.rex maquette, this was one of the T.rex statue I really wanted to own, but I completely lost interest in it after receiving SS’s T.rex maquette.

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