Review and photographs by Tallin, edited by Plesiosauria.
A small member of the stegosaur family from Tanzania, Kentrosaurus aethiopicus is often hidden in the shadow of its much larger and more famous big brother, Stegosaurus stenops. That’s not to say that other toy lines haven’t made their own versions of it; CollectA and Safari Ltd both have a Kentrosaurus for example, but they are rather small models that remain overlooked next to their well-known American cousin. For Schleich, this model, new for 2015, seems to be a step in the right direction away from some of their other creations. For me, at least, is far more attractive than their theropod offerings for 2015.
Before I review the toy, here’s a little back story to this small stegosaur. At 4.5m at adult size, this dinosaur was considered for a long time to be a very primitive member of Stegosauria, but recent analysis show it to be more advanced than many of its kin, and more closely related to Stegosaurus than previously thought. It had an elongated snout ending with a tough beak for handling plant material and an impressive array of plates that gradually merged into long spikes at the hip, ending with the longest and most lethal spikes on the end of its tail. Unlike Stegosaurus, the spikes and plates are arranged in pairs, rather than running sub-parallel down the back of the animal.
Now on to Schleich’s new World of History line product (and now available from Amazon.com here). Starting with the head, it seems to be about the right size; very small in proportion to the body but not as small as Safari Ltd’s Wild Safari Kentrosaurus. It glares out with yellow eyes and a detailed mouth open in a bellow, as if an Allosaurus is baring down upon it. It has appropriately short forelimbs in comparison with its hind limbs, and the shoulder spikes protrude almost perpendicularly to the body in my model. Since these spikes were not attached to the main skeleton, there is still some argument as to their position, so this isn’t a problem. It also appears to have a more or less correct number of plates that merge into spines in the correct area. The tail spines in particular are very long, though comparison to reconstructions shows they aren’t too long. They are quite stiff as well so watch out if your child is swinging it around!
In terms of inaccuracies, my first thought was of the very flexible look of the tail. The curve at the base seems realistic and plausible to me given that stegosaur tails were most flexible at the base with strong muscles to swing their ‘thagomizer’. However, there is also a curl in the end of the tail, which doesn’t seem wholly accurate. It is, however, held suitably high off the ground in a very defensive stance. The feet are also not quite as they should be. Whilst the hind feet are correct in having three short toes, the front feet are incorrect. Stegosaur forefeet did have five toes, as this model demonstrates, but only the two inner toes should show a hoof.
These issues are rather nit-picky when you consider the different in anatomical quality between this model and some of Schleich’s other offerings. The pose is extremely dynamic and perfect for dioramas, and this large Kentrosaurus (16cm not considering the curling stance of the body) makes an excellent companion to the small Safari Ltd and CollectA versions. It is exquisitely detailed in the sculpt, with plenty of deep wrinkles and muscle with high relief scales covering the back. The paint job is also very attractive – I don’t think I have ever seen such a pleasing shade of grape-purple used on a dinosaur model before. The main body is a sandy golden colour, with the plates and spikes coloured in beige that fades to a dark grey, making them look like they are covered in horn as they should be.
Overall I think this is Schleich’s best figure for 2015, and is definitely my favourite Schleich figure to date. It’s a far cry from their clown-footed theropods and truly feels like a living, breathing animal from a long lost world.
Available from Amazon.com here.