Review and Photos by Patrick Bate (Pixelboy). Edited by Plesiosauria.
I’ll admit, I’m a picky collector. I lack the completionist drive to amass a proper collection, and only pick out pieces that really stand out to me as exceptional (and, for my wallet’s sake, affordable). Fortunately for me (and really, for everyone,) there’s Malcolm Mlodoch’s Fauna Casts collection – a collaboration between an experienced paleo-sculptor of nearly thirty years and the community of The Dinosaur Toy Forum.
In the past, the Fauna Casts figures have been a difficult bunch to categorize – hovering somewhere between “serious” collectables and toy figures. However, as one can see by looking at this new Tyrannosaurus, they’ve recently undergone a major boost in detail; in my opinion launching decisively into the realm of desktop models and resin kits.
Standing atop a shallow, mossy base, this model’s pose is a unique one – leaning forward, keeping its body low to the ground, as if patrolling or stalking. The mouth is tightly closed, an unusual feature for predatory theropod restorations that I find enhances the believability of the pose. Despite the increase in detail, the animal is very much in the same style as other Fauna Casts figures – that is, a distinctive blend of old-fashioned aesthetics with modern ideas. This rex deftly averts a problem common in modern reconstructions. Muscles and other soft-tissues are used liberally – the bones and fenestrae aren’t overly visible, and the animal looks like it might indeed weigh its estimated seven tons. This might make it seem a little too hefty next to leaner, meaner rex models, but it’s an altogether more likely shape for T. rex. The skin of the model is rough and scaly, with larger scales or scutes lining the back. It’s worth noting that the case for feathers on T. rex has gotten stronger since the discovery of Yutyrannus, the big, fuzzy tyrannosauroid of China – but this model was sculpted before that, so scales seem entirely appropriate.
After some discussion on the Dinosaur Toy Forum, Malcolm decided not to sculpt “lips” on the new rex; a feature that’s in debate. Consequently, the characteristically banana-shaped teeth are exposed – arguably a bit too far out of their sockets. Under the mandible, there’s a bit of detailed, wrinkled skin, similar to the “pouch” seen in crocodilian jaws. The neck is accurately bulky, and the chest area is sufficiently “barrel shaped”, and joined to correctly-positioned and miniscule forelimbs.
One particularly notable aspect of this model is its thoroughly detailed feet. Many figures, even expensive statues like Sideshow’s, skimp on details in the postcranial anatomy. This is particularly noticeable in the feet, as they aren’t really a focal point. However, the Fauna Casts Tyrannosaurus’ feet feature bird-like scales, thick, weight-absorbing pads, and narrow webs of skin between the toes. Additionally, its tail bulges noticeably at the base, accommodating the massive M. caudofemoralis muscle.
The paint scheme is an unusual one – inspired by monitor lizards. It’s flashy, but, to my sensibilities, believable. The base color is a greenish-yellow, with a dark green-black along the dorsal surface and the front of the legs fading to a series of cheetah-like spots, with red spots along the neck. The ridge at the top of the skull is also painted red, along with the eyes, which have a glossy finish and circular black pupils. The whole model has been given a dusty, dark wash that brings out the details and makes for a naturalistic, grimy look.
In all, I think this Tyrannosaurus compares quite favorably with others in its category, such as the Kinto/Favorite and Trcic desktop models in terms of looks, although the Fauna Casts models are cast in a comparatively lightweight urethane material. It’s an inexpensive ($60.00 USD) and attractive rendition of everyone’s favorite Cretaceous king.
Their affordable price tags, the fact that busy dinosaur fans don’t always have the time (or skill, in my case) to assemble and paint kits, and, perhaps most valuably, the open and collaborative way in which they are designed, make the Fauna Casts line one to watch. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what Malcolm comes up with next!