At long last, it’s here – the most anticipated Papo figure of 2012! By ‘here’ I of course mean the blog, as it’s been on sale for quite some time now (everywhere but in the UK at least). It’s certainly an intriguing, not to mention suitably massive, figure, and I think an awful lot of people will find it impossible to resist.
First, a couple of disclaimers – I will mention, as I do every time, that Papo do not claim scientific accuracy, and so should perhaps not be judged by quite the same standards as those who do. Also, this is a Giraffatitan. You know these things by now.
Rest assured, this is a big ‘un. There was concern among those who like their sauropods to be space-swallowingly huge that, given Papo’s lack of a fixed scale, their brachiosaur might be somewhat shrunken to make it easier to sell. I’m not too concerned about the scale if the figure is well-sculpted enough, but nevertheless there is something undeniably pleasing about a truly gigantic model; it helped make the old Schleich brachiosaur a lot more appealing than it probably should have been. Although a little smaller than the old Carnegie, the Papo brachiosaur is a similar size to the old Schleich and Bullyland Museum Line models. Massive brachiosaur toys are a dying breed, so it’s good to see Papo add one to the pile.
The toy’s sheer size alone makes it quite intriguing, but with a large, detailed figure such as this one, it’s just as interesting to ponder the sculptor’s influences and styles. (Bear with me.) The immediate impression is that this is another beautifully detailed, but slightly lazy Jurassic Park knock-off, and from a distance its chunky, highly wrinkled appearance certainly lends it a retro air. This is consistent with the inaccurate feet, although restorations in ‘serious’ educational books still don’t get this right. The positioning of the limbs is even reminiscent of the old Carnegie from 1989.
A closer inspection of the torso reveals something a bit weirder going on. Contrary to what one might expect based on Papo’s retro leanings, this isn’t a lardy sauropod; if anything, it’s been hitting the gym a little too much. As far as much of the torso goes (particularly when viewed from above), it’s almost as if there’s just a very thin layer of skin draped gingerly over the musculoskeletal system, with discernible ribs and even vertebrae – however, huge bodybuilder muscles pop out of the forelimbs. It’s nitpicking for sure, but this brachiosaur does look seriously pumped, and just on the wrong side of unnerving. (Or is it just me?) Nevertheless, all of this does point, once again, to what amounts to a preposterously high level of intricate detailing for such a toy.
The head, too, is highly detailed (if a little large), and while the Jurassic Park influence is highly apparent here, it’s also clear the sculptor was looking carefully at three-dimensional reconstructions of this animal’s skull. While it’s well proportioned overall, the wide muzzle is perhaps the most notable aspect, given that it’s missed by many people who reconstruct this dinosaur (including Schleich). There are even grooves and recesses that correspond with the real skull. However, apart from the lips, it is rather too much like a skull draped in skin – although here we can blame Papo’s highly pop culture-influenced aesthetic.
The skull aside, the neck is actually surprisingly modern in the respect that it is deep enough where it joins the body to allow room for the necessary muscles and tendons, rather than being swan-like – tying in with the contemporary scientific view, which you will see in more recent reconstructions by the likes of Scott Hartman. It certainly makes the figure look a lot more modern than it might have done.
I’ve mentioned the detailing already, but it’s worth coming back to, as Papo nail tiny sculptural detailing and that all-important organic quality in a way that no one else quite can. They’ve done it again here, of course, and produced one of the most visually arresting, not to mention crisply detailed, sauropod toys out there. In spite of the figure’s huge size, none of the usual craftsmanship has been spared, and it deserves to do well for that reason alone. I only hope that they release a repainted version in the future, for as nicely blended as the muted browns here are, they’re really quite bland.
Overall, I’d recommend it. No, really, I would. It might be scientifically unsound and there are a few dubious aesthetic choices, but this is still a great toy. It’s big and detailed enough that even the relatively sane, non-dinosaur-enthusiast people in your life will pass favourable comment. What’s more, it’s just plain interesting to look at. They’re readily available online, so you can go ahead and order one right now if you have the space. Start warming up your Richard Attenborough impersonation, too.