There is much to be said of the distinction between toy and model. For some, it represents a leap from the child’s plaything to the adult collectible. Others may note the significant difference in price range. Of course, getting to see an artist’s uncompromising vision of a prehistoric world is exciting as well, and few mass produced pieces tend to deliver such a vision. That’s where Malcom comes in.
Malcom Mlodoch’s Fauna Casts are quite different from what we’re accustomed to seeing in the dinosaur collectible market. Like other resin model makers, his works are sculpted by hand. Yet with most resin kits, the product is typically unpainted and dissembled. The Fauna Casts usually need nothing more than a simple mounting upon a base. They ship fully painted by the artist himself. This hand-painted technique ensures each piece is distinctive, while echoing the kitschy aura of an older toy.
This classic approach is contrasted by the design process itself, which is a bit unconventional. Instead of relying on outdated information to construct an old-fashioned dinosaur collectible, Malcom has collaborated with members of the Dinosaur Toy Forum to ensure the accuracy is as high as possible. This also affords an opportunity to depict the animals in a way that toy manufacturers dare not venture. This could mean something naturalistic, such an Allosaurus at rest, scratching itself (as Malcom has suggested). This could also mean something far gorier than what we’re accustomed to seeing. In fact, if you’re reading this review, chances are good your eye was drawn to the photo bearing great bloody masses of crimson flesh.
Thanks to the iconic paleoimagery of artists like Knight and Zallinger, the image of an Allosaurus feeding on a carcass has been heavily cemented in our minds. Malcom’s reconstruction of this scene incorporates all of the latest paleontological research. Note the proper positioning of the forearms, and the upward orientation of the tail, which is not seen in older depictions.
Also of note is the sauropod carcass itself. In the older work, there appears to be minimal use of the color red. This might be attributed to the relatively sensitive nature of the audience at the time, which the artists were no doubt forced to consider in this era preceding the R-rated film. Whatever the reason, these animals appeared to be chewing on either an ambiguous, pizza-dough like mass or a neat little skeleton that appears to have already been picked clean. Not so with Malcom’s sculpture. Bits of white paint help to distinguish the recognizable outline of the animal’s skeleton. However, the carcass is still loaded with precious calories. Flesh and tendon aplenty, there is enough here to satisfy the most ravenous carnivore (or gore-loving collector, at least). Malcom has even coated it in a lovely layer of sheen, providing that fresh, glistening appearance you can’t even find in your local butcher shop.
While this piece initially had a yellow-colored base, it would later change to a darker, muddier landscape dusted with moss. Malcom says this sort of change does occur from time to time, and this variation could lend additional collector appeal. It could also be considered a true maquette, since it would be later scaled up to produce a larger version of the model.
“I had intended this to be the first of a pack of allos tearing up and eating the carcass; others would have other hunks of the carcass, although this guy has the bulk of the carcass.”
The darker base color is also nice because it echoes the color of the predator in the scene. An apex predator like this would likely blend into its environment whenever possible. The use of a full black body with yellow eyes is also quite striking, and strongly resembles the modern black panther. The snout and limbs are caked with gore as well, making the scene feel more alive – stare long enough, and you can almost see it move, twisting and wrenching flesh from bone. The use of every limb to feed is especially nice, with the leg pinning the carcass like a modern bird, and the pulling action recalls the feeding Carnotaurus model that Tony McVey crafted some years ago.
At 9 inches in length and crafted at 1:40 scale, it has great compatibility within already-existing prehistoric collections. Much of Malcom’s Fauna Cast line is expected to follow in this scale, making it one of the few existing lines to do so.