Photos by Dan and Jeremy
However vast and complicated cyberspace may be, I would say that the Dinosaur Toy Forum did more than any other website to revitalize my interest in this subject. It was here that I first heard of the sculptor named Shane Foulkes. People spoke of him with an odd kind of reverence, as though he was some divine entity with the power to bring dinosaurs back to life. A quick visit to his website made it abundantly clear to me that this was no exaggeration. Thoroughly researched reconstructions, fluid sculpts, and meticulous attention to detail made these resin models seem like real animals. Nothing I could recall came so close to this level of realism; not even the Museum of Natural History had anything quite so spectacular in its exhibit.
Exactly how it came to pass that Shane sold his work in my own humble shop is a pretty interesting story, but not something I’ll delve into at the moment. All that matters right now is Allosaurus. Chances are good that you remember your first encounter with Allosaurus. In size, it didn’t quite reach the proportions of T.rex, but it was leaner, quicker, and its forearms were a heck of a lot more impressive. The morphological differences seem obvious as your base of knowledge grows, but these are probably among the main attributes that made Allosaurus stand out in the coloring books of your childhood years – the “halcyon days,” as Marc might say. This was a dinosaur that stuck with me, and I jumped at the chance to own a miniature monument to Allosaurus as created by the master Shane Foulkes.
Aside from the sheer quality of his work, Shane is also known for creating many of these models at 1:15 scale. Highly dedicated collectors may therefore arrange Shane’s models together for a truly staggering exhibit. This generous scale grants his Allosaurus a total length of 26 inches once assembled. The resin kit comes in 11 pieces and includes a naturalistic gravelly base.
If you’re like me, you may not have the skills or experience to build and paint one of these kits on your own. That’s no problem, because you can always pay to have an expert artist finish the job for you. For my personal buildup, the great Steve Riojas came into play. Steve regularly collaborates with top-tier talent like Shane Foulkes; his work can also be seen in the life-size creations of CM Studios, and Sideshow’s Dinosauria collection.
Steve explained to me that he puts careful thought into the paint design used for a particular species, and often sticks to the design if he feels it works well enough. Fans of Sideshow’s Dinosauria will recognize this paint scheme from the Allosaurus vs. Camarasaurus diorama. A showy orange highlights the lacrimal crests. The body is predominantly grey with a pinkish flush toward the anterior, and slightly darker stripes down the tail to break up the animal’s outline. This would keep the predator hidden among the Jurassic foliage, until the perfect moment strikes. That moment appears to be the focus of this sculpture.
It is this moment of action in which the Allosaurus is immortalized. The high-speed charge is seen in many reconstructions of theropods, and the reason is simple: people love it. This menacing posture is a far cry from the recently retired Allosaurus that Shane sculpted for Dinostoreus years ago. The sight of a massive carnivore, charging forward with jaws of deadly teeth exposed, speaks to our most primal instinct. Millions of years ago, this very sight would set our ancestors’ hair on end, and there can be little doubt of the exhilaration drawn from even this frozen simulation of such a scene.
Shane was kind enough to make some additional enhancements to my buildup, such as the delicate faux-flora on the base. Bright and springy, these little plants add a lot of realism that just can’t be found in mass-produced products. One plant seems to be a split second away from getting crushed under the carnivore’s frantic footing. The earthy surface is also decorated with mossy bits and a broken log. This base isn’t just a bland platform to stand the character upon; it’s a glimpse of a living ecosystem, and it looks completely real.
The scutes appear in three rows on the neck, four at the flank, and two along the tail. Shane has also framed the head with rows of scutes, which not only provide a cool aesthetic touch, but also make sense for an animal that probably took regular beatings around its face. By and large, Shane’s reconstructions do not bear multitudes of dangling bits and bristles. This predator is streamlined to keep drag low, and maximize speed. The muscles are tight around the juicy drumstick, and the barrel chest is just bursting with a bird-like power.
The big, divergent thumbs on the forearms exemplify the great research that Shane conducts for these reconstructions. The resin medium allows many details to be conveyed with greater fidelity, and the hooked claws of this Allosaurus are a rare treat. They are truly sharp meat hooks that one can easily envision grasping and grappling with desperate prey.
The first buildup Steve created was premiered at Wonderfest 2011. Surrounded by many of Shane’s other pieces, it still managed to stand out and win over the hearts of many attendees. The basic color pattern is nearly identical, though sharp observers will notice the eyes are a different color from those used in my own buildup.
Even among the very best figures on the market today, none manage to accurately convey the power and grace of this animal in a full run the way this reconstruction does. If resin models are within your budget, this is a great way to take the plunge into a more mature recreation of the prehistoric world. It’s hard to resist the allure of Allosaurus.