Review and photographs by Lanthanotus, edited by Suspsy
“Styracosaurus?! Someone messed up the title, that’s obviously a Triceratops, isn’t it?” Well, let’s discuss this at a later point. This tiny figure is one of eight prehistoric reptiles dating back to 1978 and hatched out of those famous “Kinder Überraschung” chocolate eggs (“surprise eggs”). Most “Kinder Überraschung” figure lines enjoy a great popularity among German collectors (and probably some abroad) and command great prices, especially when it comes to the several variants usually available for these figures. The Styracosaurus, for example, comes in at least four variants with price ranges of around 5 to more than 40 €. Those exorbitant prices caused a lot of forgery for several figures, so it can sometimes be quite difficult to ensure you got an original. As the specimen shown here hatched from its sweet prison at the author’s home sometime before 1980, rest assured it’s an original, although unfortunately one occupying the lesser price range. I remember also owning several other dinos of the line, but those are long lost in time and space and may be dug up one day by a lucky finder.
The figure is made of hard, relatively brittle plastic. Its base color is a pale blue, its gnarly back is sprinkled with a bit of black, and the crest, forehead, and horns are maroon. The eyes are painted white with black pupils. In this specimen, the paint job is pretty good, but most other figurines showed a much sloppier paint job with blotchy or watery eyes, teeth and such.
When it comes to scientific accuracy the most obvious thing, of course, is that this ceratopsian doesn’t resemble a Styracosaurus at all, but a Triceratops. Other specimens of the line also do not resemble their namesake at all. The Iguanodon, for instance, looks more like a crocodile-headed theropod. Overall, the names selected for the figures seem a quite exotic choice to me, as there’s a Gorgosaurus and a Diplodocus as well, although the figures show no traits that make them discernible from a generic theropod or sauropod respectively. But the figures had to get some names, I guess, and so someone decided to not name them Tyrannosaurus, Brontosaurus, or Triceratops, which already enjoyed more popularity than their relatives even back in 1978. In addition, there seems to be some confusion about the species’ names as the Dimetrodon is sometimes named a “Pelycrosaurus” and the Styracosaurus is also sometimes referred to as “Stygosaurus”. I am unsure how these mix-ups and fantastic names were caused, but usually those figures came with small slips of paper showing the whole line, and it may be that there were misprints. Or perhaps the figures were named differently in the several European countries where they were released.
My verdict: As a Triceratops, the model looks quite decent for its size and the time of release, the most obvious inaccuracy being the long forelimbs and the position of the horns.
I am unaware of the price for surprise eggs almost 40 years ago, but today they cost less than 1 € each. Getting your collector hands onto these tiny classics nowadays can get quite expensive though. You can pick them up individually on eBay from time to time for a fair price, but you can also get a full set for around 100 €, or buy or trade them via one of the numerous “Ü-Ei” collectors’ sites.