Review by Lanthanotus, edited by Plesiosauria
It’s been several months since my last review for the dinotoyblog (Styracosaurus by Tyco) and although I still have plenty of photos ready for reviews I somehow couldn’t get my hindquarters up to do so. [Since you submitted this guest review in August and I’m only now posting it now in December, it is I who should be apologetic! – Editor] Eventually, I have now acquired a model that I am really keen to introduce to you, so here we go…
While PNSO’s future may be uncertain [see the Dinotoyforum topic here], the current lineup of figures is amazing and sets a whole new standard to the term “chinasaur”. Until quite recently I owned just two small models which amazed me with their detail and accuracy (one reviewed here), but I refrained from buying larger models, mainly because of the costs (and fear of additional fees caused by customs taxes). However, PNSO recently released a Mamenchisaurus that I couldn’t resist and with the help of forum member acro-man I could get my hands on it at a relatively low cost.
Mamenchisaurus is probably one of the most popular dinosaurs from China not least because its record-breaking features, though there’s quite some uncertainty about the real measures of those. Even for a sauropod this species was long-necked, topping at 17 metres for the neck alone according to some sources. Also under debate is the maximum size of known individuals, ranging from 22 metres to a gargantuan 35 metres. Several species are named, though – as common in science and especially taxonomy – not all of them are recognized by the majority of paleontologists. Those, however, are not the only characteristics under debate. Despite several skulls being known, reconstructions vary considerably in their morphology, some showing features similar to Camarasaurus (short and high), with others showing the skull being longer and lower.
PNSO seems to have sculpted the head according to a reconstruction as exhibited in Summer 2017 at Wollaton Hall, Nottingham. The model, however, boasts another feature that is also under discussion – the dubious tail “club” which has been reported for M. hochuanensis. PNSO did not specify a species for their model and so there’s no problem with the reconstruction of a plausible feature that is not completely falsified.
The model overall is a thing of beauty, with an elegantly swung body line, no matter from which direction you look upon the figure. The overall color is an olive grey on the back and a countershaded tan on the underside which is brighter on the neck. The sides of the belly are also brightned up and the sides of the neck and tail boast shaded orange brown stripes. Unlike most sauropod figures this one is not covered in elephantine skin, but overall decked in individually sculpted scales. Those running along the spine are enlarged and flattened, neighboring them is a scattered line of scutes, all of which are darker in tone than the smaller scales. Just minor parts of the skull boast no scales but smooth skin. the fenestrae in the skull are only slightly visible, so luckily there is no serious shrink wrapping here, and although the whole figure is far from being a hefty behemoth, neither does it appear as near-starving.
The model gracefully combines muscle bulges with naturally sagging skin that one would deem plausible for a land-dwelling creature that big. Speaking of which, the model’s size is far from the immense dimensions of the species it depicts, measuring 47 cm in total length with just 8.5 cm at the height of the back. Nevertheless it conveys the enormous size of the living thing in a most realistic way and the scientific accuracy is held in high regard. The legs and feet are correctly shaped and carry the animal with a powerful stride. The only thing to moan about for me is the tail base which could have been beefier, not least to balance out the loooong neck. My model didn’t topple over, but its left front foot was set a bit back, rendering the figure prone to fall if nudged. A bit of hot water easily fixed that, but an additional mass in the tail would have also made for a more realistic caudofemoralis muscle.
Besides that, I just have two minor complaints of a more personal taste with the model. One being the eyes that are painted in a most precise way, but with a zombie-like white dot for a pupil – maybe this was meant to be a reflection? For the second I find the transition from neck to head somewhat boring and undistinguished. It reminds me of slowworms or skinks, but to be sure, the depiction is probably not less plausible than reconstructions with a more distinguished head, especially considering the amount of food that would have need to be passed from the mouth through the thick neck during all day.
The model comes with a base and a beautiful set of Chinese dinosaur stamps. The base looks somewhat cheap in comparison to the wonderfully sculpted figure and I am not really sure what it is meant to represent. There’s a patch of green and some tree trunks, but while the round view makes the base look like solid rock, the surface on which the figure stands gives the impression of thick, slow moving mud. Nevertheless it’s nice to have a base for the Mamenchisaurus and despite its appearance it enhances the figure. The base is made of plastic, not polystone while the figure is made from PVC. So while not meant as a toy, it can withstand some handling and one does not need to fear breakage from transportation or falls.
[Notes by editor: The PNSO has produced two other Mamenchisaurus figures that we should mention to distinguish from the one under review here. The miniature ‘Age of the Dinosaurs’ Mamenchisaurus (nick-named Emmy), which is available individually and in a box set of six little dinosaurs was reviewed here). Secondly, on the other end of the scale, is a 1:10 limited edition statue, which differs from this one in size and pose. I’m not sure if all, or only some, of the PNSO dinosaur models belong to the ‘Age of Dinosaurs’, as the branding isn’t always clear. This is the case for the Mamenchisaurus being considered here, which I’ve assumed should be regarded as an ‘Age of Dinosaurs’ model.]
While you can purchase this figure via eBay, I highly recommend to contact the aforementioned forum member, Acro-man.