Author Archives: Guest Reviews

Tyrannosaurus rex (Original Version)(Recur)

Review and photos by Takama, edited by Suspsy

In 2016, a new brand of toys came onto the dinosaur collecting scene, with a huge selection in their Ancient Animals line. Recur, and its parent company Ankyl Toys Co. Ltd., has been around for a while, but only recently have their products have been revealed to the public (presumably for the first time outside of China). What sets their products apart from the competition is the fact all of them are made out of flexible PVC plastic, and most are filled with a synthetic cotton. As of now, there are 41 toys to choose from, and some of them appear to be in different sub-lines, although Recur has not come out and say if this is true or not. For instance, most of their new products for 2017 are simply jumbo-sized versions of some of the dinosaurs they already released, but I don’t know if they have stated anywhere that these ones are part of a different group. There is also a massive difference in the style of how some of them are made. For instance, the Edmontonia is clearly cartoonish, but the Ankylosaurus they made for this year is a lot more realistic in appearance. Today’s review is another example of this strange contrast in style. What I have here today is what I like to call Recur’s monstrous version of Tyrannosaurus, which was sculpted in a tripod stance instead of having a horizontal pose like the one that was already reviewed.



As for accuracy, there’s nothing praiseworthy about this figure other than the fact that it has two tiny arms. But I’m finding it very hard to come up with the words to describe how inaccurate this T. rex is. For one thing, the skull is way too box-like and does not match up with that of the real animal at all. The skull even lacks the creature’s signature binocular vision, which is something that even collector oriented companies (*cough* Rebor *cough*) seem to forget on their figures. Another prominent issue I see with this figure is that it does not match up with the shape of the real T. rex. I cannot describe what’s wrong with it without writing for hours on end to explain it all, so I will simply say that the 2016 version is a vast improvement in terms of accuracy since it is not a tripod, and at least looks a little more like an actual T. rex than this one ever could.

After all that criticism, you might wonder why I chose to buy this T. rex over the newer one to purchase. Well truth be told, I like this version better. When I say this is the monstrous version, I mean it. The toy looks gnarly and ready to tear you to shreds. However, that is part of what I like about it. I realize not everyone is going to like this figure the way I do (if not at all). But it is clear to me that this toy was made for kids as opposed to adults. The T. rex is posed in a dynamic turning-to-the-side motion, which is up for interpretation. Maybe it’s about to get charged by a Triceratops, and it dodged the hit? Who knows, and that’s what I like about this toy. The materials may not be up to Papo standards, but the detailing and colour choices make it seem like a living creature to me. Of course, the realism is diminished greatly once you get to the blunted teeth, but one must remember that this product was made for kids first and foremost. Not older collectors like us. That being said, it’s time to discuss the colouration of this toy. The model is simply dark, swampy green with an even dirtier swampy green on the bottom. The claws are your typical black and the teeth are white. Inside the mouth, you will find a shade of dark pink, and the eyes are orange. It stands 13.5 cm tall and measures 20.5 cm long.

Overall, I can’t say I recommend this to collectors. But as a kids’ toy, it could work perfectly as long as you don’t use it in an educational context that declares it to be an accurate model. As of now the only place I recommend buying it from is www.dejankins.com, as their prices are often fair, and it carries the entire line as of today. However, the supply of most of them is extremely limited, so if you want one, contact DeJankins now before they’re sold out.

Tarbosaurus (Favorite Co. Ltd.)

Part 3 of the Nemegt Fauna Series. Review and photos by Bokisaurus, edited by Suspsy

Today’s review concludes the Nemegt Fauna review trilogy by looking at the Tarbosaurus figure by Favorite Co. Ltd. As I explained in my Saurolophus review, back in 2012, the Osaka Museum Of Natural History launched an impressive special exhibit that highlights the impressive diversity of dinosaur fossils found in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. Along with the special exhibit were museum merchandise exclusives, of which two stood out. These are the Saurolophus and the Tarbosaurus, sculpted by the famous Hirokazu Tokugawa and released by Favorite.

Tarbosaurus, meaning “alarming lizard,“ is a large Asian tyrannosaurid that was found in Late Cretaceous Mongolia. For a while, there were many species named, but officially, only one is currently accepted by scientists: Tarbosaurus bataar. Although part of the royal family that includes the most famous dinosaur of all, Tyrannosaurus rex, Tarbosaurus has not reached the same fame level despite sharing similar features and being only slightly smaller. While its cousin ruled North America, Tarbosaurus ruled over Asia. He was the undisputed king of the land, the apex predator. For a tyrannosaur, Tarbosaurus is well represented by dozens of near perfect fossil specimens, including the important skull. This bounty of fossil finds makes Tarbosaurus one of the most studied dinosaurs.


The Royal Family

Size-wise, Tarbosaurus was slightly smaller than T. rex, measuring between 10 and 12 metres long for the largest known individual. At 11 inches long and 5 inches tall, this figure is roughly around the 1:34 to 1:40 scale. The sculpt is beautiful and active with the head tilted to the side, and of course, like 99% of tyrannosaur figures, its mouth is wide open! Rich in details, the figure has some nice muscle definition that shows this one is in his prime. The head is nicely sculpted and easily identifiable as a tyrannosaur. My only criticism is that the teeth are small, blunt, and very uniform in size. This give it a rather funny look.

The figure is painted an overall olive brown with some lighter highlights. A darker brown band runs along the back starting at the hips and ending at the tip of the tail. It is not fully feathered. Instead, the feathers are concentrated at the head and nape area, giving this Tarbosaurus a shaggy look. These hair-like feathers are colored black with a thin outer ring colored white. These colours are perfect for the desert environment and the hunting style of this large predator. The browns would blend in perfectly with dried vegetation, concealing the animal as it waits for its prey.

During the Late Cretaceous, what is now the Mongolian desert was then a lush environment with rivers, forests, savannas, and shallow lakes. This environment supported a vast and diverse range of large dinosaurs including Tarbosaurus. Imagine that the rainy season has just started and the surrounding land is starting to awaken. The rain not only rejuvenates the vegetation, but also signals the start of the migration season for some of the seasonal residents of this land. Patrolling his territory, a lone male Tarbosaurus surveys his domain for any signs of trespassing from neighboring rivals. His vast territory encompasses the lush forest edge and the dry plains below. At the center of his territory is a large, shallow lake that attracts many species of dinosaurs that are thirsty and hungry from their long journey. Only an animal at his prime can secure such rich hunting ground. At the edge of the forest where it meets the lake, a small corridor rich with vegetation is a perfect place to lay an ambush. The Tarbosaurus heads toward this corner of his territory. Along the way, he startles a small herd of Gallimimus and send them scurrying back out towards the open plain.

They are part of a vast herd numbering in the thousands on their migration journey. Our Tarbosaurus gives the herd a mock charge, but otherwise ignores the Gallimimus, as they are simply too fast for him to bother trying to take down. He is not built for fast running and agility. He is designed as an ambush predator, only bursting into speed only at the last second. He is after something much bigger and easier to catch than the fleet-footed Gallimimus. A scent suddenly captures his attention. It belongs to a predator, not another Tarbosaurus, but a close relative. It is Alioramus, a smaller tyrannosaur that also inhabits the region, although seasonally it spends its life wandering the plains and following the vast migrating herds like a shadow.

Although both animals are top predators, they avoid directly competing for the same food source by going after different prey animals. With its great size, Tarbosaurus goes after much larger prey, while Alioramus, being smaller but faster, tends to go after much smaller prey such as the Gallimimus and the various oviraptorids that inhabit the plains. To establish his dominance over this intruder, the Tarbosaurus charges toward the Alioramus, sending him running back towards the open plain. Satisfied that the intruder is no longer in his territory, the Tarbosaurus continues deeper into his favourite hunting ground.

As he nears the forest edge, two pairs of eyes observe him from a distance. A pair of Deinocheirus nervously watches his every step. During the lean months, Deinocheirus is Tarbosaurus‘ main prey. Despite their size and their impressively large claws, Deinocheirus are not aggressive animals and would rather flee to the safety of the forest depths than stand and fight. Somehow, the familiar sounds echoing from the distant plains signals to the Deinocheirus pair that today, and for the next few months, they are not on Tarbosaurus‘ menu. Still, the pair disappears back to the safety of the forest. The Tarbosaurus has reached his destination and slowly enters a brush thicket. Here he squeezes himself between the dried vegetation and keeps perfectly still. Only the movement of his blue eyes betrays his presence. Soon, the reason for this inaction becomes clear as a small herd of Saurolophus comes into view. They are heading directly towards the corridor between the forest and the lake. The Tarbosaurus is on a hunt.

Unaware of his presence, the Saurolophus herd passes by him as they enter the corridor. The Tarbosaurus‘ blue eyes locked in on his target: a young female Saurolophus who has wandered away from the herd and is heading straight into his trap. Once he is certain that the youngster is close enough, the Tarbosaurus charges out of the thickets. His roar sends the Saurolophus herd running back towards the safety of the open plain . . . except for one. The young female.

Now separated from her herd, the Saurolophus runs toward the opposite direction, right into the forest and into the trap. With no way out, she is now trapped and cries desperately for her herd. This is the moment the Tarbosaurus has been waiting for. He runs straight towards the trapped youngster, blocking the only escape route. The desperate Saurolophus tries to enter the forest as the predator closes in. But before she can go any deeper, she was sent back running by another large animal emerging from the forest shadows.

A large male Therizinosaurus emerges from the forest just as the Tarbosaurus is about to catch up with the Saurolophus. The predator’s unmistakable scent had caught the attention of the Therizinosaurus before he came predator within sight. Aggressive by nature and armed with deadly claws, the scent of the approaching Tarbosaurus has sent this Therizinosaurus into a blind rage. If there is anything that he hates the most, it is Tarbosaurus.

Although primarily a herbivore, Therizinosaurus is a formidable opponent for any predator. Its ill temper, large size, deadly claws, and habit of charging any danger instead of fleeing protects it from most attacks. Only a desperate predator would go after a healthy Therizinosaurus, and this Tarbosaurus generally avoids hunting them, although sick or injured animals have sometimes fallen prey. Now faced with this nemesis, Tarbosaurus narrowly misses a slashing claw aimed at his head. The unexpected encounter gives the young Saurolophus an escape route and she quickly bolts past the dueling titans and runs towards the open plain. The Therizinosaurus and Tarbosaurus circle each other, each one sizing up the other. With no sign of backing down, Therizinosaurus is gaining the upper hands as he pushes Tarbosaurus into a corner. Rather than risk injury, or worse, a fatal wound from those deadly claws, Tarbosaurus decides it’s best to retreat. He quickly turns and heads back towards the opposite side of the shallow lake, leaving the Therizinosaurus behind. With more and more migrating animals arriving each day, there are more opportunities for a successful hunt somewhere in his territory.

The story of life and death, predator and prey, and the complex relationships of the animals to one another and their environment has been playing out for millions of years. It will be millions of years before the curtain falls for these inhabitants of the vast Nemegt landscape. For now, the roars of Tarbosaurus and and all the other predators will continue to frighten prey animals. The cacophony of sounds that signals the arrival of the migrating herds will continue to echo throughout the vast plains and canyons as they once again fill the air with new life. Those strange and mysterious sounds from the forest dwellers will continue to enchant strangers, drawing them closer to its lush interior . . .

In closing, this Tarbosaurus figure is a welcome addition to any collection. It is well-crafted and jam-packed with details. It is also one of the few larger figures of the species currently available. Its size is perfect for those who likes their figures to be within the 1:40-ish range and displays nicely with other figures that are of the same scale. It may be a challenge and expensive to acquire this figure, but it is well worth the reward.

Well, we have now reached the end of my Nemegt Fauna Trilogy. We have met many fascinating inhabitants of this enchanting landscape along the way. I am glad that I was finally able to write reviews in this format, one that not only focuses on the subjects, but also includes other animals that lived alongside them. Thank you all for reading these reviews, and I hope that all of you enjoyed it as much as I had enjoyed writing them. Till the next review, cheers!

Trilobite (Bullyland)

Review and photographs by Indohyus, edited by Suspsy

Trilobites. Next to ammonites, they are one of the most well-known fossil groups. Known throughout the world from thousands of species, from the tiny to the giant and from spiny to burrowing, no one can deny their fame. From the Cambrian to the Permian, trilobites radiated across the globe, allowing them to become excellent index fossils. They even have a website dedicated to them. Most trilobite toys, however, are small and cheap. Bullyland would beg to differ.

At 3” long and 2.1” wide, this is a small toy, but larger than most trilobite toys (still flat at 0.5” high). The paint scheme is very simple, an all over brown with blue eyes, but the dark shading brings out the excellent details. It may be plain, but it works for a species that is likely hiding from predators. The pose also has the same nature: simple, but works well.

Accuracy is a tricky subject here, as no specific species is stated on the toy, and there are many potential candidates for what it could be. From doing some research, I find that it may be Modocia or a related species based on the spines on the body and the shape of the cephalon. Assuming I’m correct, this toy is very accurate, with the correct number of segments in both the thorax and pygidium and the right-sized head. Even the legs are included on the underside. All good overall.

I love Bullyland for creating figures of famous species that never get enough attention. This, the ammonite, and belemnite figures are fantastic, well worth getting. This trilobite in particular is well worth finding. Best to look for it on eBay, although it is getting rarer now that it is retired, and can run higher prices. If you find it reasonably priced, get it.


“Let’s do lunch!”