When their vaunted Carnegie Collection was discontinued in early 2015, Safari Ltd evidently got to work pretty quickly to take up the slack elsewhere, because in a mere two years they more than doubled the output of figures from their standard dinosaur line. This year they’ve released a whopping 13 new figures, several of which are updated versions of animals that had been in the Carnegie Collection. One is this Kronosaurus, the first new figure of this genus since Schleich’s in 2005. The Carnegie Collection version was on the market for nearly 20 years, and Schleich’s was really no improvement, so we were due for a new one.
This figure is large. It’s roughly 34 cm long, almost a third of which is the head. This is appropriate, as Kronosaurus had a truly gigantic head, up to 2.7 meters long. This figure is about 1:25-1:30 scale and could easily serve as a doorstop.
Our hefty friend sports a fairly standard color scheme for a large marine predator, with a mix of grays above and white below. Even with the relatively conservative color scheme, the pattern is deceptively intricate, consisting of a broad, graded band of gray along the dorsal midline, criss-crossed by irregular but sharply defined transverse striations. The effect is quite eye-catching, and if I didn’t have the toy in my hands you could convince me that it was a computer-generated model. It’s sculpted in an active pose, with the head twisted slightly to the side as though striking at prey.
The gaping jaws show off the dentition to great effect. We can see four teeth per side in the premaxillae (the front of the snout), marking this as K. queenslandicus. The gap between the fourth and fifth pair of teeth aligns with huge teeth in the flared lower jaw. This sort of pattern occurs in many aquatic predators, such as crocodiles, and makes it easier to handle prey.
This new Kronosaurus represents a dramatic improvement in accuracy relative to previous renditions. Comparison with its Carnegie predecessor is especially instructive. Whereas the old one was perfectly cylindrical, inviting frequent comparisons to a sausage, the new one has a broader head and body, which makes it look much less…extruded. And while the old one had dinky rear flippers, the new one has long, broad ones, reflecting their important role in swimming.
There is a low, subtle keel along the back of this figure, continuing on to the tail, but there is no fin. There is circumstantial evidence for small tail fins in some Jurassic pliosaurs, but tens of millions of years of evolution separate them from Kronosaurus. In contrast to ichthyosaurs, mosasaurs, whales, or metriorhynchid crocodiles, Kronosaurus did not use its tail for thrust production. Rather, it propelled itself with its flippers, which is unusual in modern animals. Sea turtles probably come closest, with perhaps penguins a distant second. Neither has any sort of vertical fin. Although Kronosaurus did not have a shell, it shared with turtles a relatively stiff torso, which, along with its slight dorsoventral compression, would help with stability. Therefore, it may not have been necessary to have a fin to prevent rolling. Since we have no clear and obvious modern analogue to compare, until and unless soft tissue around the tail of a big advanced pliosaur is found, Safari’s decision not to include a fin looks perfectly reasonable. At the same time, including one would also be defensible.
The one minor gripe I have with this figure is that the fins tend to curl upward. I’m not sure why this is, and if it were a subtler bend it could be explained as minor deformation as the animal rows against the water. It might be that if you softened them up with a hair dryer and squished them between two books they would assume a more natural shape. If you try that or something similar, let us know in the comments!
With the small exception of the curly fins, this is a spectacular figure that reflects great attention to detail. It’s the most accurate Kronosaurus on the market, ending the Carnegie version’s dubious 20-year reign. Kids and adult collectors alike should find a way to give it a home.