Review and photos by Patrick Bate. Edited by Plesiosauria.
Styracosaurus was a centrosaurine ceratopsian from Cretaceous North America. Its unique and formidable horn arrangement have made it perhaps the second-most popular toy ceratopsian, behind Triceratops. This effort by X-Plus is one of two dinosaurs from their (retired) Prehistoric Masterpiece collection. Like the other in the set (an Albertosaurus, previously reviewed on the dinotoyblog), this model is an impressive 16 inches or so in length and constructed in vinyl. This size allows for a lot of cool details and very tidy painting, but the downside is that it can be a challenge to find space for such a large figure.
The animal is posed in a dynamic sort of “sparring” stance, leaning slightly forward with its head tilted towards the left and its hooked beak open in what one imagines as a mighty bellow. Not the most creative pose, certainly, but quite lively. Upon examining the figure’s head, one begins to see some really cool details.
The eyes are painted a glossy yellow-green, with circular pupils and even some finely painted lines around the iris. The area around the eye is deep and wrinkled, and painted with a dark color. Moving to the beak, the details becomes really impressive. A separately-sculpted tongue sits all the way back in the mouth, folded realistically and painted with a glossy, wet-looking pink. There are even teeth sculpted in, mimicking the real animal’s distinctive crushing batteries. The cheeks are appropriately hollow-looking, with the outline of the mandible plainly visible, and the beak itself is wonderfully textured and looks much like real keratin. This mouth is easily the most impressive aspect of this model, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, this Styracosaurus is not without its faults. Generally speaking, the skull is very accurate – the horns are correctly sized and placed, and so forth – but looking at it from the front, some issues become apparent. The whole thing seems a bit squashed to the right, and there’s some asymmetry in the brow area. Fortunately, these problems are pretty subtle, and I didn’t even notice them for quite some time. Another quibble is that the feet don’t seem to quite strike the ground where they were designed to – similar to the facial deformation, this is a common sort of warping that happens to vinyl figures. From what I hear, it can be corrected with the careful application of heat (such as via hot water) followed by some repositioning of the limbs. Mind, I’ve never actually tried such a thing.
I find the paint scheme pretty boring. The base color is a sort of yellow-tan, with a rusty red pigment gradating evenly toward the dorsal side. The beak and horns are a convincing grayish-brown, and the claws a strangely glossed version of same. In all, it’s just too flat for my tastes, and I think the frill could at least use some color or detailing, like perhaps the eyespots on Papo’s Styracosaurus. The skin itself is a bit of a letdown, especially when looking at anything besides the head. There are lots of finely-made wrinkles, but I’d much prefer an altogether more saurian coat of scales. Especially on a figure of this size, it seems like a missed opportunity. The only scalation to be seen is a row of crocodile-esque scutes along the back and tail.
When it comes to accuracy, this is a very reasonable reconstruction for 2002, the year it was made. It still carries the “Cretaceous rhinoceros” vibe that was popular at the time (possibly explaining the lack of scales), but at least it doesn’t sport elephant feet. For an update, the forelimbs could stand to be more sprawled, and the hands should of course be supinated. There are probably too many toenails, also. Still, the proportions of the neck and tail are pretty well spot-on, something that many figures get wrong. Another thing worth noting is that the animal does have a kind of emaciated look. Ribs, hips, and other bones are plainly visible. This doesn’t bother me terribly, but it does bring to mind the famed illustrations of Gregory S. Paul.
Altogether, this is a very striking model that’s sure to grab attention on any display big enough to hold it. Although it’s a bit outdated, it’s really nice to look at, and it’s weak paint scheme just makes it a prime target for repainting, which could be fun. For the price (usually less than $20.00 USD), I recommend this figure to anyone with an interest in ceratopsians and some spare shelf space.