Review and photos by Lanthanotus, edited by Suspsy
Today I want to introduce you to a figure so obsolete that one can almost only recognize it by the big sail set on the somewhat generic theropod body: the Spinosaurus from Schleich’s Replica-Saurus 1:40 line, released in 1993.
The fossil collector Richard Markgraf discovered the first remains of Spinosaurus during an expedition in 1912 in the Bahariyya oasis in Egypt. His friend, the German paleontologist Karl Heinrich Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach (yeah, back in the days you got names!) then described the dinosaur scientifically in 1915. The fragmentary holotype was completely lost and destroyed during an Allied bombing of Munich in the Second World War and despite quite detailed drawings of the fossil remains and some recognizable characteristics of the species (as in the lower mandible), Spinosaurus was often depicted in books with a generic and blocky head which was the bane of many theropod dinosaurs back then. The next discovery of fossils of the species did not take place until 1996 and so it comes to no surprise that Schleich’s figure boasts this blocky head. It still took until 2001 when Jurassic Park III prepared the stage for Spinosaurus‘ worldwide fame and updated its reconstruction to a certain degree. Since then, nearly every dinosaur toy company jumped on the bandwagon and depicted Spinosaurus as in JP3. Just recently, this changed again with the designation of a neotype by Paul C. Sereno and Cristiano Dal Sasso and the reconstruction by Nizar Ibrahim–which is still under debate. Thus Spinosaurus is a fine example of science as the rolling stone it should be.
Back to our figure. As a part of the Replica-Saurus 1:40 line, it is quite a heavy hunk of plastic at almost 25 cm long and more than 11 cm tall. Like all Schleich figures, it’s made of a very durable plastic and a firm, if simple paint job, all in all making it a great toy if not much more. Considering the German market for toy figures in the pre-JP era, one could call the Spinosaurus a decent figure, more or less on par with the Carnegie Spinosaurus, which boasted a way more attractive paint job, but not the durability.
Nevertheless, with regard to the scientific accuracy, Schleich’s figure is a miss in almost every possible way, although one can hardly blame them when you consider how the species was depicted in the books. Still, the detailing isn’t very good either, and one could ask what made them choose Spinosaurus as a figure anyway. While I have no answer to that, I suggest that the mystery of its appearance and the fact that it was described by a German paleontologist led them to the decision.
More interesting is the fact that the figure was just retired in 2008 with the introduction of a more JP-style figure, seven years after the movie. However, the figure seemed to sell quite well and is still widely available at German flea markets, eBay or the likes. But as many Germans seem to think of Schleich as the world’s best toy producer and every single one of their figures highly collectible, the offerings often boast ridiculous prices. With a bit of patience, you can find it for just one or two euros though. As many other figures of the 1:40 line, this was also available as a smaller, but more attractively painted version.
Do I recommend the figure? Only if you are a Schleich collector, a hopelessly anachronistic dino lover, or on the hunt for an indestructible rough house/sand box companion for your kid.