During the early Cretaceous in North America around 126 million years ago, a small herbivore emerges from the trees in a wooded forest lifting its head to smell the breeze that is drifting by. It ambles into the clearing on its small legs and starts to nibble some of the vegetation at the forest edge. It is small, only compared to some of the other animals it shared its habitat with, around 5 feet high, 15 feet long but it was armored like a medieval knight. The name of the animal was, Gastonia.
History: There happens to be more complete fossil material for Gastonia than any other Polacanthine Ankylosaur. Unfortunately it remains have mostly come from a wealth of disarticulated material so there is some guess work on the amount of armor and spikes Gastonia had on its body. Some of the fossil remains for this Polacanthinae have been found in the same quarry as the famous Dromaeosaur, Utahraptor, linking a possible predator prey relationship. Ok before I get into a full History lesson and everybody tunes me out and starts drooling, time to look at the 2014 CollectA Gastonia.
About the toy: The Gastonia has a nice threatening pose. Maybe it just has been alerted to a predator or a rival Gastonia. It is the standard small CollectA size and measures approximately 13 centimeters long. The overall shape of the toy if you are looking at it head on is in the shape of an S. The head is looking to the left, the short neck curves onto its wide body and ends with a whip with the tail high and curved to the right. The legs are directly beneath it as it is in a standing posture.
The head has a moderately developed Jugal and Postorbital horns, with what looks to be an extra small horn growing from its lower mandible. It has a nice predentary beak and two very small nostril slits, and its head almost as wide as it is long. The mouth is slightly open. There is short thick neck where a line of spikes, plates, and scutes begins. There are large shoulder spikes that are followed by smaller ones that end at its sacral shield. Along the flanks there are a row of triangle spikes that go from the neck all the way to the end of the tail. The legs are short with five digits on each foot.
The toy is very nicely detailed. The skin is pebbly and the body shows some nice loose skin around the underside of the neck and where the legs meet the body. The colorization is Dark Brown with some light brown brushed on. With black stripes that run the length of the body. On the top of the tail and underneath it progressively becomes a reddish brown all the way to the tip. The spikes are ivory and there is a white stripe in between two black stripes along the flank. The belly is a creamy white. There are also assorted small black stripes along the legs. The inside of the mouth is pink and the eyes are glossy black.
Scientific accuracy: Overall I think it a fairly accurate portrayal of Gastonia. I am not positive, but I didn’t find any evidence that there was a small spike growth on its lower jaw. Talking about spikes, currently with the known fossil remains, there is no correct placement of the spikes, or even how many Gastonia really had. It looks like they decided to just go to the hilt with the spikes, plates, and scutes. Were all those spikes needed and accurate? Probably not, but with all the armor and spikes, it does look good.
Playability: It is a good toy for kids. The colors are nice and attractive enough but let’s face it; it is all about the armor. The spikes are bendy and so is the tail, so it is safe for kids of all ages to play with. Even though it is small it is still quite playable with other scale animals. If you stick just with CollectA, their Utahraptor looks like it would go great with Gastonia. The paint job is also quite robust on this figure.
Overall Appraisal: I’ll be honest, I love this little guy. I think the colors are nice and attractive, which can be difficult when the main color is brown. The pose is nice, at it looks agitated and dynamic with the tail curled and ready to swing. CollectA continues to surprise me as they are getting better and better. This figure can be used to great effect in a diorama of the cretaceous, laramidia, or of animals from Utah. It also works for educational use, or on a shelf, desk, anyplace you like to keep your prehistoric animals. It is appropriate for kids/adults of all ages. I think most people will love and enjoy the 2014 CollectA Gastonia.