From a bygone age in which Toyway still made half-decent dinosaur figures comes this spiky beast, their rendition of the British ankylosaur Polacanthus, part of their terrifyingly collectible figure line originally released to accompany the TV series Walking With Dinosaurs (and long since discontinued). Polacanthus isn’t often a dinosaur that toy makers turn their attention to (although there’s a CollectA version too of course) – so if nothing else, it’s great to see this animal in plastic form.
Like all the Walking With Dinosaurs toys, this Polacanthus doesn’t, unfortunately, make a very interesting subject for photography. That’s because of the rather wooden, static pose – completely still, with all legs in line and all four feet planted firmly on the ground, the model lacks the fluidity and organic feel that characterise the best dinosaur models (Invicta were especially good at this). It isn’t moving anywhere, it isn’t defending itself or eating, it’s just…standing, with a drooping tail that nearly touches the ground. Boring. It’s a shame, as the dull posture detracts from what is otherwise a pretty decent sculpt.
The arrangement of the spines ties in nicely with modern reconstructions of the animal (who else remembers the days when it looked like this?), while the body is very broad, if not quite broad enough over the hips – seems like people just can’t accept how completely insane ankylosaur anatomy really was (see also: the neck of Apatosaurus). Elsewhere the head is approximately the right shape (the head of Polacanthus is unknown anyway; most restorations are based on Gastonia) while the feet possess the right number of digits. Just as on the real Polacanthus, there is a large, bony shield covering the hips. The tail’s a little short, but then, ’twas ever thus (nonavian dinosaur anatomy just doesn’t suit bulk transport).
In terms of aesthetics, the dappled pattern down the animal’s flanks, extending to the belly, is very attractive and adds much-needed interest to the figure. Various spines and osteoderms are neatly painted, although the slightly sloppy white ring around the eye is an odd feature. The colour scheme may be fairly muted, but it remains naturalistic in appearance, which is a definite bonus given the rather inert, statuesque appearance of the sculpt overall.
Whether or not this figure is for you really depends on your fondness for ankylosaur figures and/or British dinosaurs (an important factor in my purchase, being a limey myself). Anatomically it’s a pretty decent depiction of an under-represented, yet striking animal, but in spite of its fairly large size and heft it’s not going to stand out on a shelf. It’s a shame, as given the animal’s appearance the potential was there for a very dramatic, eye-catching model with real appeal for both kids and collectors. As it is, it’s difficult to recommend except to those with the aforementioned interests (or loony Walking With Dinosaurs toy completists, who presumably have bottomless wallets). It’s available on eBay occasionally, and isn’t one of the rarer ones, but due to the mad popularity of the range it can be hard to find it going for a sensible price. That said, I found it with a BIN price of £2.99 (about 4.8 USD), so they are out there. As always – good luck!
Oh and by the way – it has a cloacal opening (running joke alert). But I didn’t take a photo. Sorry.