Review and photos by Gwangi
If you were purchasing dinosaur toys two decades ago there is one family you wouldn’t have seen represented at all, the Therizinosauridae. Though known to science since 1954 it is a family that was very poorly known only until recently. Therizinosaurs represent just how little we know about dinosaurs and how much we still have to learn, who knows what entire families of dinosaurs we’ll find within the next couple decades! Our view of therizinosaurs has changed dramatically over these last 20 years. Once thought to be a species of turtle (hence the cheloniformis species name) science later thought these dinosaurs to be sauropod relatives and only more recently were they properly classified as theropods. This review concerns the type species Therizinosaurus cheloniformis, an Asian species from the late Cretaceous reproduced by Safari’s “Great Dinosaurs Collection”. Though “Great Dinos” is inferior in quality to Wild Safari and the Carnegie Collection this particular model has a lot to offer.
One thing the collection has going for it is the large size of their figures and this one is no exception. [See also the Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, and Triceratops reviewed in 2008 – Ed]. It measures 12” long and stands 6” high. Some sources cite the length of this species at a very large 40’ in length and so that would put the figure at 1/40 in scale. This particular species is only known from fragmentary remains so what the actual length of the creature is remains speculative; I’ve seen it listed as small as 20’. The hard plastic figure is hollow and weighs in at 8 ounces. As for the anatomical characteristics of the figure it is actually quite accurate. The head is perhaps a bit too large but still small and nicely detailed complete with a toothless beak followed by a series of small leaf shaped teeth and so properly depicts this unusual theropod’s herbivorous diet. Even the tip of the lower jaw points downward which is also correct showing the makers did their research on this one.
The iris of the eyes is green with a black pupil. Heading down the long neck of the creature we get to the massive arms and claws these animals are so famous for. Though they may appear a bit oversized they are correctly proportioned. The real animal had 11’ long arms complete with 2-3’ long claws with which the animal likely snagged high growing vegetation much like prehistoric ground sloths. The hands are also correctly positioned facing each other; this figure does not have broken wrists! Moving down to the hips of the Therizinosaurus things start to look a bit off. Though nicely sculpted the hips of this figure should be wider and the belly a lot more rotund. The figure has a sleek appearance that while nice looking is inaccurate, being an herbivore these animals are thought to have had large pot bellies with which to process their food. This is further supported by the actual animal’s wide bird-like hips that likely evolved to accommodate a large gut.
The legs and feet appear correctly proportioned and the figure stands on four weight bearing toes, another strange feature of these theropods. The tail is also quite short and therefore correctly proportioned. As for the body covering the figure is depicted with a coat of feathers; a likely feature of the animal supported by the related Beipiaosaurus, which is known to have had them. The types of feathers present are questionable however as Beipiaosaurus was covered in simple down-like feathers like those seem on the extant emu or kiwi. This figure has more complex feathers on the arms and tail which the real animal may not have had. The color of the figure is a traditional brown color with some black stripes and pretty bland to look at. With those feathers a more brightly colored figure would have been nice. The claws are painted black but the toenails remain the same color as the rest of the figure.
In conclusion what we have is overall a very nice and accurately restored figure despite a few flaws. A few other complaints include a seam running around the animal’s midsection and an inability to stand on two legs. Though pictures on the internet show the model supported on two this is not so, the figure tips forward and is additionally supported by the tips of its feathers and claws but the other alternative would be the tripod posture so I can’t complain too much. Where therizinosaurs are concerned there aren’t many figures to choose from (yet) and for its size this one is perhaps the best, only outclassed by the Carnegie collection Beipiaosaurus. The best part is the price tag; you shouldn’t have to pay more than $5-10 depending on where you get it from.