The famous Jurassic predator Allosaurus coexisted with its smaller, though likely equally fearsome relative Ceratosaurus during the Late Jurassic. Fossils of Ceratosaurus (“horned lizard”) have been recovered from numerous localities in North America, Africa, and Southern Europe. Unfortunately, this figure by Schleich is far more unimpressive than the real animal. Strap yourselves in ladies and gents, because this is going to be ugly!
The Replica-Saurus line by the German toy company Schleich was first released in 1994, and this Ceratosaurus was among the original releases. It was finally retired in 2005. It was refreshing and exciting to see another new line of dinosaurs hit the market when I was a kid, however “distinctive” the older Schleichs may look (and that is VERY distinct, but I’ll get to that in a second). They all tended to have a similar feel about them.
This figure is 7.5 in (18 cm) long and 3.5 in (9 cm) tall, at the arch of the back. It’s a bit too large (1:35) to be in scale with the 1:40 human figure , which is silly because he came with the Ceratosaurus to show the scale! The dinosaur is molded in dark tan plastic which has been painted a mixture of dark brown and dark forest green everywhere but the underside. Schleich hit the ground running with their sickly brown color schemes, but I believe this one is the absolute worst. It looks like vomit! The claws and the horns on its skull are painted dark tan, the eyes are orange with black pupils, its teeth are creamy yellow, and the tongue is pink. The pose is incredibly awkward for a bipedal predator like Ceratosaurus, and a lot of the animal’s anatomy had to be completely ruined by the sculptor to get it to work in this pose. It’s posed quadrupedally, with the neck bent back and the mouth open in a snarl, as if facing a rival.
This guy takes the cake for Schleich’s worst, ugliest ever dinosaur figure in my opinion (although their Ouranosaurus is a close competitor). This is just bad, bad, bad mixed with more bad. To start, the whole thing is entirely too fat. This is a dino with a weight problem, maybe too many Stegosaurus meals! The whole sculpt lacks any respectable muscle detail, and the limbs are very crudely done, but the pose can be blamed for much of that. The hind limbs are too short. If this figure were posed bipedally with these proportions, it would have incredibly fat, stubby legs. There is also no hallux on either foot. In contrast, the fore limbs are too long, but not only that, they are pronated and awkwardly resting on the ground. There also only three digits on the hands, when in life there would have been a fourth smaller digit. The tail, which should be more muscled and about half the animal’s total body length, is a shriveled little nub with way too much curve to it. I haven’t even gotten to the skull yet…
The skull is where Schleich has always stumbled most with dinosaurs right from the beginning, and this one is the worst example. Firstly, the neck would have to be broken in order for it to have such a ridiculous curve to it like it does here. Aside from the small brow and nasal horns (which are really crudely done, big surprise!) there is nothing else which suggests that this is the skull of Ceratosaurus. It’s just a generic Schleich theropod sculpt with horns tacked on. The eyes are too low on the skull, and the jaws look more like Pac-Man than a real animal. The mandible is incredibly too deep and the whole skull is too fat. The teeth…are shockingly bad. They are little more than a ridge of plastic inside the mouth with a few creamy yellow dots painted on. I know the old Carnegies were like this too, but I think it’s worse here. Ceratosaurus had incredibly long teeth in its upper jaw, but here they’re all the same generic size.
It always amuses me to think of how the original moniker attached to these figures by Schleich was something to the effect of “Sculpted in close cooperation with the Humboldt Museum” but I highly doubt that any respectable paleontologist was involved with sculpting this monstrosity. However, it also astounds me that the row of dermal scutes along Ceratosaurus‘ spine are actually present in this figure, although still crudely sculpted. How was Schleich able to remember such an obscure accurate detail and then totally ruin everything else??? Baffles me. Maybe they just got lucky and guessed.
In short, this is an awful, awful figure. I can see why a kid would like it as a big scary meat-eater toy, but it is hardly educational in terms of how these animals really appeared in life. Only those who like collecting Schleich should be interested in this one. It’s been far too long since Battat and Safari’s nice Ceratosaurs were retired because no one has made a good one since. It’s worth it to track either of those two down over this one if you must have a Ceratosaurus and can’t wait for a new release.