Author Archives: Dan

Ceratosaurus (Sideshow Dinosauria)

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Given how frequently Ceratosaurus shows up in pop culture, it is a little surprising that so few people can identify it. Certainly, one cannot fault it for lack of a catchy name, which makes it sound like a walking nightmare composed of dripping gore and massive steak knives. Indeed, its horny visage must have inspired visions of reptilian monstrosities, echoing our earliest impressions of a lizard-like Iguanodon. This image of dinosaurs has endured, and can still be seen today. From ancient paleoart to cheap bargain-bin toys, it seems our basic view of dinosaurs has been characterized by two features: giant teeth and devilish horns.

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The educated enthusiast knows these animals don’t deserve to be portrayed as villains. Still, the Ceratosaurus – and in particular, this 2016 reconstruction from Sideshow’s Dinosauria line – does little to soften our instinctive terror at the thought of a gnashing, horny beast. In fact, this predator is best recognized for those very features. Its skull bears a pair of impressive lacrimal horns, as well as a third nasal horn for bonus badassery. Even better still, its jaws were lined with exceptionally large teeth. In juveniles, these teeth were even longer in their relative length to the skull, making it quite possibly the most terrifying tot ever to trod the earth.

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The spectacle is enhanced even further in this reconstruction with Steve Riojas’s hellish-looking paint application. It’s been suggested this style was inspired by the Ceratosaurus in Jurassic Park 3, though I wonder if the striped tiger wasn’t a bigger influence on this design. In any event, it works very well, providing a believable yet bold quality to a predator that too often goes unnoticed by casual paleo-fans. Some of the lateral stripes fail to break in a natural pattern along the ribs, but given how well the rest of the piece resembles the original design, I am not terribly bothered.

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In many previous Dinosauria models, the base has been largely plain and dull. This time, we are treated to a more immersive diorama. A pair of pterosaurs flee as the predator approaches, pressing one huge foot along a massive fallen log. If you look closely, you’ll see how the bark buckles and sinks beneath his weight. Fortunately, the log is not actually hollow, so the base is still more than adequate to support the main character. The entire piece has a length of about 19 inches, so it can sit comfortably among your other Dinosauria collectibles (assuming you haven’t run out of space).

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The head of the theropod is faithfully modeled here, with an excellent sheen running through the mouth and trademark teeth. It is also held perpendicular to the body, which ensures the model really looks interesting from a variety of angles. I recognize that not everyone can appreciate this dinosaur, and the prominent position it held in the Jurassic ecosystem, but I think this makes it all the more intriguing. For a closer look, please consider the brief video in the link below.

Video available here

Available to order here

Triceratops (Sideshow Dinosauria)

Review by Dan – DansDinosaurs.com
Photos by Dan and Robban

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Now that everyone and their mother owns a Sideshow Tyrant King statue, the clever folks at Sideshow are counting on buyers to look at their giant Tyrannosaurus displays and wonder if anything seems missing. Can you guess? After T. rex, this is consistently the most popular dinosaur, and even a more casual collector may have difficulty refusing one. Certain species in the Dinosauria line were not reissued like the others, presumably driving up the desirability of said species. Species that go together since the days of Charles Knight, and are almost never observed interacting with one another in a scene of tender love.

The original prototype painted by Steve Riojas. The color appears a bit different, but the imitation of his design is pretty good.

The original prototype painted by Steve Riojas. The color appears a bit different, but the imitation of his design is pretty good.

Depending on the lighting, you can emphasize the colors or the textures of a fine piece like this. The mirror is especially useful here, as it reveals that beautiful beefy neck.

Depending on the lighting, you can emphasize the colors or the textures of a fine piece like this. The mirror is especially useful here, as it reveals that beautiful beefy neck.

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The Dinosauria Triceratops was released in the summer of 2015, and has generally received even higher acclaim than its predatory predecessor. How can this be, exactly? Well, I’m sure there are several issues at play, but I suspect one major aspect is the paint scheme. The manufacturer has taken its fair share of heat for their paint quality, and the Tyrannosaurus was given the simplest paint scheme of any piece in the series. On the one hand, this makes it relatively easy for the factory to replicate thousands of times. However, it can also make for a somewhat underwhelming final product, especially when these pieces are so costly.

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Sometimes it's hard to emphasize the frill while keeping the appearance natural, but I think this works perfectly.

Sometimes it’s hard to emphasize the frill while keeping the appearance natural, but I think this works perfectly.

Happily, things look to be very different with ol’ three horns. I daresay this Triceratops upstages its natural enemy. While the colors always seem more muted than the ingenious original designs by Steve Riojas, there is still a nice variety of naturally blended hues on display. Steve’s familiar dappled patterns frame the physique in golds, greens, and greys. Of course, no modern ceratopsian would be caught dead with a bland frill (and I mean that literally), so there’s a brilliant punch of orange beaming from the parietal crest. This looks lighter, and more pinkish in the prototype image, but I prefer this stronger saturation anyway. The eyes are painted gold, probably to give them sheen, a familiar aspect that recalls the recently retired Carnegie Collection.

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Turning with its head bowed, there is no mistaking the aggressive body language of this animal. The texture does resemble the fossilized material, large scales popping up regularly amid the normal sized scales. Additional ferocity is piled on by some interesting modifications to the skin. All across the body, we are treated to a dizzying assortment of larger scutes and osteoderms. The largest of these are in long rows over the giant pelvis, while others are scattered around the flanks in a more sporadic arrangement. This lends a craggy appearance to an already prickly-looking prey item, as if its entire form is just a giant “Keep Away” sign. Much of it is artistic embellishment; Jorge did provide similar bonus armor to the Stegosaurus, but this is pushing the envelope much further. The result is a very strong, distinctive silhouette that breaks up the normally round physique of this animal, making it appear all the more dangerous, without stretching the science too far.

Since this model is 20” long and hits the 1:15 scale made popular by Shane Foulkes, it seemed only fitting to set it beside its resin counterpart in the display case. The 1:15 Foulkes Allosaurus can be glimpsed further back.

Since this model is 20” long and hits the 1:15 scale made popular by Shane Foulkes, it seemed only fitting to set it beside its resin counterpart in the display case. The 1:15 Foulkes Allosaurus can be glimpsed further back.

I suppose if I had to offer any criticism, I do find myself wishing the base had a little more color. The Mosasaur statue raised the bar pretty high for intricate bases, so we’ll see if this changes down the road. I am always impressed by Jorge Blanco’s sculpts, and this extraordinary reconstruction definitely met my expectations. It’s a refreshing take on a classic dinosaur, familiar in its trademark features, yet explosive in its artistic presentation. If Sideshow is willing to grant freedom to the artists working on other species, there is no telling what brilliant future designs the Dinosauria series may yield.

Robban kindly allowed use of his outstanding photos. This beast would not make for an easy meal, even for the Tyrant King.

Robban kindly allowed use of his outstanding photos. This beast would not make for an easy meal, even for the Tyrant King.

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Tupuxuara Skeleton Kit (Boneyard Pets)

If you’re around my age, you probably remember the old balsa wood dinosaur skeleton kits. After inhaling all the sawdust from sanding and pulling the splinters out of your fingers, you had a fairly serviceable model that didn’t even require glue to assemble (assuming the cheap wood didn’t break apart, which it often did). Supposedly, this was a great way to keep a kid occupied for a while, but that might depend on the kid in question; my own father remarked that he could barely finish examining the instruction sheet, only to find I had finished assembling the model myself. I was probably around six years old at the time, and I’m afraid the old man isn’t so easy to impress these days.

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Today, these cheap wood kits are still pretty easy to find, but you may want to offer something less anxiety-provoking to your offspring. That’s where 32Square comes in. Their Boneyard Pets series features all the nostalgia of those classic kit designs, but in a more modern medium. So far, their line has included kits in plastic, acrylic, and laminated birch. At present, they’re using Kickstarter to get a new line going that’s manufactured in Komatex, which is considerably sturdier than the balsa models of old.

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You still get to press the pieces out of their flat boards, and you do get to sand them down (sandpaper is included). This means the buildup can get a bit messy, although I suppose a parent could sand all the pieces down before letting their tots take over. However, I feel the patience and concentration required for the task is worth cultivating in children, so I hope parents will consider letting their kids have a go at the entire kit themselves. Kids can surprise you, and not always in a horrifying way.

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Once prepped, the pieces are assembled via slot attachments, which are numerically labeled on their instruction sheets for your convenience. All the straining and pressing of sharp, splintery wood seems like a distant memory when you’re working with this Komatex. I would definitely feel better about handing over one of these to a child. It’s bendable and resilient (yes, I did make some effort to break a piece). I think the vivid colors will really be a source of appeal, as well. Each Komatex kit is available in one of seven different colors, so they’re especially eye-catching if you want to display them. Not all of them are flamboyant, so you always have the option of more muted hues.

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The series also offers a few pieces that have not been seen in this kit format before, such as this Tupuxuara. While many of the series’ classic designs are woefully inaccurate by today’s standards, the addition of new and exotic species gives me hope they’ll push for more contemporary reconstructions in the future. I am sure an updated, horizontally posed Tyrannosaurus would be a welcome sight to collectors looking for something sizable, but still affordable. If the pieces prove to be popular – and so far, they’re definitely grabbing attention – perhaps something like this could very well be in the works.

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Once finished, my new pterosaur has a wingspan of a whopping 23 inches. The lightweight, pliable frame means I won’t have to worry about it injuring anyone, so I hope to hang it from a ceiling, where it will laugh heartily at the flightless mammals lumbering below. I encourage everyone to check out the Boneyard Pets official website and Kickstarter project (which includes some nifty bonus incentives) to help support this revival of a classic childhood series.

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