The new Carnegie Brachiosaurus makes for quite a contrast with the original, and there’s a very good reason for that – it’s quite literally a different animal entirely!
The original model actually represented the animal now known as Giraffatitan brancai, which was rather different in its proportions to the ‘original’ Brachiosaurus – the type species, Brachiosaurus altithorax from North America. B. altithorax was overall more heavily built, with a proportionately longer torso. Of course, it’s also worth considering that the two sculpts are separated by 23 years, and both palaeontology and the Carnegie line have moved on a lot in that time.
In terms of anatomical accuracy this is definitely one of the best Carnegie sauropods yet. The hands show the correct ‘collonade’ arrangement of the digits – concave and with a single thumb claw. The head, with its nasal crest lower than that of G. brancai, features a fleshy nose and nostrils that are close to the end of the snout, in line with modern thinking. It’s quite a gracile restoration of this sauropod – perhaps a little too much so – and there is evidence of the giant animal’s powerful musculature, in its neck and forelimbs in particular.
The detailing is very nice and crisp and I really like the colour scheme, even if these types of mottled greens are becoming a little familiar in the Carnegie line. The red back has come in for criticism from some quarters, but it adds a much-needed splash of vibrant colour, in contrast to the great many rather drab sauropod toys out there. The sculpt is very sleek, and while this gives it a certain elegance I can’t help but feel that it would have benefited from a bit of extra scaly eye candy – that is to say, a few spines or a little variation in the scales wouldn’t have gone amiss. Of course, this kind of slick, smooth execution is the Carnegie style, and while it remains very attractive I’m hoping the sculptor, Forrest Rogers, will experiment a little more with some speculative superficial details in the future (if they’ll let her!).
There are two factors that have already proven highly divisive about this figure. The first is the size. Although slightly larger than the Wild Safari Brachiosaurus, this figure is considerably smaller than the Carnegie Diplodocus and absolutely dwarfed by the rolly-polly 1989 Carnegie model, which is one seriously massive hunk of plastic. Some people have already expressed disappointment at this, and admittedly truly gigantic sauropod toys (like the old Carnegie and the old Schleich Replica-Saurus) are all the more impressive for their sheer size and the way they tower over models of other, lesser animals in the same scale. It’s not the size that matters, though – it’s how you use it. More problematic is the pose, with the neck jutting at a low angle from the shoulders and curving strongly to the left – not because it’s anatomically implausible, but just because it looks rather stiff and awkward and does little to highlight this animal’s greatest attributes (and that’s probably enough innuendo for one review). One can’t help but look at this sculpt, which is certainly impressive enough already, and imagine how much better it would look if the neck was in a more conventionally upright position. Sauropod toys shouldn’t be bending down to be part of the crowd – they should be resplendent, magnificent, standing tall and erect and proud (sorry, sorry…).
Ultimately, this is definitely still a dinosaur model that’s worth your money. It’s a good figure that shows off the huge improvements that have been made in the Carnegie line, and it’s also one of the few B. altithorax figures out there. However, the strange choice of pose definitely diminishes its impact somewhat, and unfortunately I can’t help but view it as something of a missed opportunity.
With many thanks to Dan of Dan’s Dinosaurs!