Enter the PNSO! I first became aware of The Peking Natural Science-Art Organisation in March 2016, when I visited their offices and workshop in Beijing on a work-related business trip. It was with great excitement that I discovered this blossoming company has its sights set not only on literature and 2D palaeoart (my expectation going in), but also on commercially available 3D art as well: dinosaur toys. It is early days yet, but the PNSO may have a lot to offer dinosaur toy collectors over the coming months and years.
This review will focus on one of the PNSO’s current offerings, a box set of ‘6 little dinosaurs’. This is a series of small figures based on a book of stories by PNSO writer Yang Yang and PNSO illustrator Zhao Chuang. The beautifully packaged set includes the book and six accompanying figures, which are visible by lifting a flap on the front of the box. This flap also reveals some stunning paleoartwork.
As per our remit here on the Dinosaur Toy Blog, this review will focus on the dinosaur figures, but I must say a few words about the book itself to put the models into context. The white hardback book contains six short stories in both Chinese and English (translations by Wang Yile and Lin Youji) about the trials and tribulations six young dinosaurs face growing up in the Mesozoic. It is illustrated with pictures of the toys as well as beautiful artwork. Bedtime stories are infinitely better when they’re accompanied by dinosaur toys!
The figures are small, each one just a few centimetres long, on a par with Japanese Kaiyodo miniatures and Safari Ltd ‘toob’ figures. All the characters are babies, too, so these are ‘little dinosaurs’ in more than one way. The models are single piece solid sculpts produced in a flexible ‘Environmental PVC’, so they are robust enough to play with (age: 3 years old and above). The species names are not listed anywhere on the box, or the figures themselves, but the book reveals all. The dinosaurs will be familiar to most (if not all) readers.
Who can resist the charisma and infamy of T. rex? The King of the Tyrant Lizards makes an inevitable appearance in this delightful set. Aaron (for that is his name) has a mane of feathers on his head and neck. The colouration is simple countershading with the large baby eyes picked out in a wet-look black. This colouration is true for all the figures in the set. The posture is reminiscent of recent Carnegie Collection theropods in that it tries to find a middle ground between holding a horizontal spine while supporting itself in tail-supported tripod pose.
This is the only Chinese dinosaur in the set, although PNSO’s other offerings have a stronger focus on Chinese taxa, which makes sense given their location. Emmy (for that is her name) has a subtle satisfied smile but is otherwise unremarkable.
Amargasaurus stands out in the pack because it shades of green, whereas the others are shades of brown. Its distinctive double-row of neck spines are just sprouting, so there is little doubt that Romario (for that is his name) represents a baby.
Darcy (for that is his name) has an incredibly squat body with extremely short limbs. It is difficult to judge the proportions as they are supposed to be different from the more familiar adults. The armour is finely detailed with individually sculpted scutes.
This is a modern take on the species, with a long and narrow snout; and long and relatively low spine. I noticed the feet have four large webbed toes, so this represents a a semi-aquatic incarnation of Spinosaurus. The ‘extra’ fourth toe, by the way, is an enlarged digit 1, the digit is present but small in most other theropods (which have only three large toes). The posture is remarkable too: Nada (for that is her name) is sitting back in a crouched position. There is a speculative flourish on the tip of the tail. I approve of such additions.
Bringing up the rear of the group, head held high, is my favourite of the bunch. Elina (for that is her name) is full of energy and has adopted a trotting pose with two legs raised mid-step. As with all six figures, this one is beautifully textured with both fine scales and the occasional large scale. No bristles on the tail, though, which some companies have got into the habit.
The individual figures are stamped “PNSO Made in PRC 2015”. PRC, of course, is the People’s Republic of China.
In conclusion, this is a charming set of miniature baby dinosaurs aimed squarely at a young audience. The figures are cute but accurate modern representations of six familiar species, and the detail is good for such small play things. The retail price for the box set is 199 Chinese Yuan, which is about 30 USD, but the products are currently difficult to find outside of China (link below). Hopefully this changes with time.
It is wonderful to see yet another company enter the scene, and you can expect more PNSO figure reviews here on the Dinosaur Toy Blog as their models become more widely available. For more information and options to acquire PNSO figures, follow the PNSO discussions on the Dinosaur Toy Forum here. You can check out the PNSO’s website here. Lastly, I thank the PNSO for accommodating me when I visited and for providing this sample.