Author Archives: DinoLord

Ceratosaurus (Terra Series by Battat)

The Battat dinosaurs’ triumphant return to mass-production means that figures once unobtainable for the average collector with bills to pay and no time machine are now easily had by anyone with so much as a few spare dollars. The Ceratosaurus is no exception. Once one of the scarcest Battats, only rarely listed on eBay for exorbitant prices unbecoming of a plastic toy, this horned theropod can now be bought for $6 at your local Target store.

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For an almost 20-year-old figure released in 1996, this sculpt has aged fairly well accuracy-wise – as I mentioned in my review of the original version, this Ceratosaurus is mostly true to the genus’ known fossil remains. The distinctive nasal horn, lacrimal ridges, and osteoderms are all present without being overly stylized as can be the case with other popular depictions of this animal. The tail is deep, tall, and well-muscled, bearing resemblance to Ceratosaurus‘ crocodian-looking tail. The painted-on teeth are a bit less prominent than those on the original figure, which looked a tad over-sized (Ceratosaurus did have large teeth, but the adults wouldn’t have dentition as prominent as depicted on the original).  Unfortunately other minor inaccuracies from the first version remain. The hands and fourth fingers are slightly large, and the left hand is pronated (a physical impossibility).

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This iteration’s most obvious difference from the original model is the color scheme. Whereas the original Battat Ceratosaurus was mainly a subdued forest green, the Terra reissue is an eye-catching deep maroon with black spots and stripes. Though both figures have a pale underbelly, this contrasts much more strongly with the rest of the body’s coloration in the Terra version. The paint application is rather well-detailed and executed for a figure with such a low price tag. The hand and foot claws, pupils, and teeth are all neatly painted in their appropriate positions. The nasal horn and lacrimal ridges are a vibrant orange with red and black bands, suggesting display purposes. This is a popular theory amongst paleontologists, and is even mentioned in the little write-up on the back of this figure’s box (also readable on the Terra website).

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Another major difference from (some of) the original figure(s) is the pose. When released in 1996, the Battat Ceratosaurus was originally a fully bipedal sculpt, tail held horizontally and well off the ground. While this pose was retained in some figures (such as mine which I previously reviewed), many others had stability issues due to warping. Thus a tripod version with a downturned tail was released two years later in 1998; it is this revised tripod sculpt that has been reissued. Though some collectors generally dislike tripod theropod figures (including yours truly), I think it works very well in this case. The tail’s downward angle is very subtle. Most of the body is held horizontally, unlike some other tripod theropod figures where the entire torso is angled 45 degrees upwards. Though the tail’s tip does touch the ground, the overall range of articulation is scientifically reasonable and still pleasant to look at. Furthermore the added stability means that the sculpt does not need plastic ‘snowshoes’ (like the original Battat series’ second T. rex issue) or oversized feet (which afflict most other Ceratosaurus figures on the market) for stability. Luckily the Ceratosaurus is not front-heavy like many of the other Terra theropods, so it firmly stands on its own.

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Though the same sculpt as its 1990s predecessor, the Terra Ceratosaurus has a distinctly unique overall impression compared to the original. The first Battat Ceratosaurus has an air of elegance and calmness – one could easily imagine it peacefully strolling through a tranquil Jurassic forest. Meanwhile the Terra version, with its brighter colors gives off a more brash, dynamic impression. The tripod pose contributes to this as well. While the figure is largely horizontal, it is still angled slightly upwards compared to the original biped sculpt, making it appear as if this Ceratosaurus slightly rearing up and pointing its head towards something that has caught its attention (perhaps a rival Ceratosaurus or a future meal).

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This accurate and vibrant figure is certainly a worthy acquisition for any dinosaur enthusiast’s collection. As part of the Terra line, it is exclusive to Target department stores, which are only found in the United States. However international collectors need not despair, as they can also be acquired through various online sellers, eBay, or American members of our very own Dinosaur Toy Forum. Of course no review of a Battat Terra model would be complete without mentioning the great contributions of Dan Lorusso. It is thanks to Mr. Lorusso that we have half of the original Battat sculpts (this Ceratosaurus included), along with the reissue of the Battat series along with some new sculpts. Unfortunately Dan passed away in fall 2015 after a long battle with cancer. But even in his final years, he was still a champion of those of us in the dinosaur collector community, pushing to get the much-coveted Battat sculpts reissued and even creating new sculpts that will be enjoyed for generations. Us collectors are fortunate that he succeeded – as a result we now have access to this figure and others in the Terra collection that carry on Dan’s legacy and memory.

Siamotyrannus (Kaiyodo Dinotales Series 1)

Obscure dinosaur species only known from fragmentary remains are generally not made into toy form, but there are exceptions to every rule. Today we will look at Kaiyodo’s representation of Siamotyrannus isanensis, a poorly-known theropod from early Cretaceous Thailand.

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Not much can be said as to the accuracy of this figure.  Siamotyrannus is only known from pelvic bones and a few tail vertebrae, so its anatomy is not well-understood. Even its classification is uncertain – once thought to be a tyrannosauroid, a 2012 analysis classified it as a metriacanthasaurid. This figure seems to have been sculpted with the former classification in mind given the short two-fingered arms. This decision is understandable given that it was released in the early 2000s, before this genus’ placement in Metriacanthasauridae. Regardless of its classification, the figure depicts a generic large theropod quite nicely, with a well-muscled body and a detailed head. This is a well-fed animal – no shrink-wrapped theropods to be found here.

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The figure is very dynamically posed – with its jaws open and legs mid-stride, one can easily imagine this Siamotyrannus chasing after a hapless prey animal or rushing to fight a territorial challenger. The high-quality details make this figure even more life-like. Our theropod’s eyes are focused forward at its target, and all its teeth are bared in an intimidating snarl. All this detail is even more impressive when considering the small size of the figure (3.5″/9 cm).

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Adding to the life-like quality of this figure is the vibrant paint job. Though the color scheme features bright oranges and yellows, it does not appear garish at all. Part of this is thanks to the high quality control of Dinotales figures, which all feature precisely executed paint jobs. However, the figure does borrow its coloration from an extent animal – the Chinese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocidulurus).*

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There are two other relatively common paint variations of this figure that also borrow from extant animal color schemes – a black and yellow version colored like the gila monster (Heloderma suspectum) and a blue version reminiscent of the eastern collared lizard (Crotaphytus collaris). However, the orange variant seems to be the most commonly available out of the three. There is also an extremely rare fourth brown variant that does not seem to be based on an extant animal (readers, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

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With its active pose and realistic detailing and color scheme, this small figure makes a great addition to any collection. Unfortunately acquiring it is easier said than done, as this figure was a special release outside of the normal Dinotales Series 1 set and is rarely offered. It is occasionally available on eBay or other auction sites, but usually for exorbitant prices (upwards of $50). Your best bet is to browse through various Dinotales or Kaiyodo figure lots and hope this figure is included in one of them. However you manage to acquire it, this little Siamotyrannus is certainly worth the effort.

 

*Credit goes to Andre Mursch (brontodocus), founder of the Kaiyodo Dinotales Reference Galleries, for discovering the extant reptile species that served as color templates for this figure’s variations.

Ceratosaurus (Battat)

With its distinctive nasal horn and osteoderms, Ceratosaurus is certainly one of the more well-known theropods, making appearances in such films and documentaries as Fantasia, Jurassic Park III, and Jurassic Fight Club. Yet for a dinosaur with such great media exposure, this species does not appear very much in toy form, with figures from Kaiyodo and Safari being the only other plastic versions. Luckily this offering from Battat is more than good enough to satisfy any fans of this peculiar theropod.

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Unlike the other Battat theropods, the Ceratosaurus has a calm pose, looking off into the distance with its jaws closed and both feet planted on the ground. Indeed, this lends the figure a sense of elegance that is far too rare amongst theropod figures. Furthermore, the sculpt is very detailed, with well-executed wrinkling and scales covering natural-looking musculature. All this lends the dinosaur a sense of mass and grandness, despite the figure only being 7″ (17 cm) long. Another plus is the fully bipedal stance, which is maddeningly rare among theropod toys. Luckily this figure stands quite well on its two feet. However, like other Battats, the plastic is susceptible to warping, so make sure to avoid placing this figure in areas of high heat.

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The Battat line is reknown for its exceptional accuracy despite its age, and this figure is no different. All of Ceratosaurus‘ defining anatomical traits are present: the distinctive nasal horn and lacrimal ridges feature prominently, the row of osteoderms running down the spine is also clear, and the hands have four fingers. The tail is appropriately muscled unlike many other theropod toys with too-skinny posteriors. In particular, the sculpt captures the deep tail this genus had – Ceratosaurus‘ tail was rather crocodilian in appearance, being both heavily muscled and tall.

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However there are some small accuracy issues. The painted on teeth seem rather large compared to the skull. While some specimens of Ceratosaurus possess large teeth, these are usually juveniles, not adults like the animal portrayed by the figure. Furthermore, the figure’s left hand is pronated (facing backwards), which would be impossible without the animal breaking its wrist. Finally, the arms and hands are somewhat large in proportion to the rest of the body – though powerful, Ceratosaurus‘ arms were rather short.

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The aspect that really sets this figure apart is the color scheme. Unlike many other Battat figures, which feature strongly patterned and somewhat garish paint jobs, this Ceratosaurus features subdued, natural tones. Most of the body is a forest green with maroon striations and a lightly colored underbelly. The head has patches of light green over the antorbital fenestrae and on the nasal horn, suggesting that the head (and horn in particular) had some display purposes, a popular theory amongst paleontologists. The paint application is detailed and well executed, though this figure is prone to paint  wear like many other in the Battat line.

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With its relatively high accuracy, pleasant stance, and outstanding and natural color scheme, this is definitely a figure worth getting. Traditionally this was one of the rarer and pricier Battats (it took me over 3 years to locate mine), but the recent news of the upcoming Battat line reissues nullifies that problem. Furthermore, it is possible that the sculpt will be slightly tweaked for the reissue, meaning that there is a chance of even greater accuracy for this figure. Whichever version you end up with, this is definitely a piece that deserves a place in your collection.