The mysterious early 1990s UKRD dinosaurs, then. Although clearly cheapo Chinasaurs, they were somehow a cut above – some people have referred to them as ‘semi-serious‘ while others have described them as ‘sub-museum‘. Good descriptions both, I think. Although clearly meant to be played with by children and with no pretentions to being a ‘museum-endorsed’ line whatsoever, they generally at least resembled the animal in question, even if in a slightly outdated fashion. After my boring preamble, it is my duty to inform you that this Apatosaurus fits in with that trend – overweight, tail dragging, and yet ahead of the really bad rubber dinosaurs of the time.
That said, back in 1991 you weren’t going to get a lot better than this at the plastic toy end of the market. At the time even the Carnegie line had a tail-dragging, excessively-clawed Apatosaurus, albeit one somewhat superior to this one (and, well, the Carnegie Apatosaurus hasn’t changed too much to this day, and neither has the “Brachiosaurus“. SORT IT OUT GUYS). To modern eyes this UKRD sculpt looks pretty horrendous – the neck’s way too thin, the legs are all really rather fat and shapeless and the tail is far, far too short. And dragged.
Furthermore, it sports wrinkles so horrendous that they’d have a pachyderm queueing up for industrial tubs of Oil of Olay. Still, let’s not be too harsh on the old fella. If my memory serves me correctly (and admittedly, it rarely does following my student years, for some reason) dinosaur books in the early ’90s were still prone to featuring rather lardy, tail-dragging sauropods, even after the Dinosaur Renaissance. Of course, they were mostly kicked into touch after Jurassic Park…we can at least thank Spielberg for that. Perhaps the best way to put this toy into perspective historically is to point out that the Invicta museum quality line was still churning out a thin-necked, tail-dragging Apatosaurus (=”Brontosaurus”) excelsus at the time.
This inexpensive piece of rubber features some nice – and quite surprising – touches besides. For one thing it has a properly diplodocid triangular head and the name Apatosaurus stamped on its belly, at a time when “Brontosaurus” still had more selling power. Amusingly it also features nostrils located near the tip of the snout. Pure accident I’m sure, but a great coincidence all the same, especially as modern sauropod toys often still stick with the idea that the fleshy nostrils were located immediately over the skull openings (like the otherwise brilliant new Wild Safari Apatosaurus). I rather like the little wattle too.
In conclusion, I wouldn’t recommend you buy this toy. It’s outdated, inaccurate, badly painted and may well cause the friends and/or relatives who have stuck with you through your bizarre obsession with plastic dinosaurs to finally shun you and stop sending you Christmas cards. That is unless you owned it back in the 1990s – in which case you will sit like me, sighing quietly to yourself in remembrance of more innocent times past. Also, it can be found very cheaply on eBay and is an interesting bit of dinosaur toy history, I guess. Not the best Apatosaurus toy from 1991, but far from the worst.