Author Archives: Guest Reviews

Euoplocephalus (Jurassic Hunters by Geoworld)

Review and photos by Takama, edited by Suspsy

Up today is the first ankylosaur that Geoworld ever released for their line. Euoplocephalus was once the go-to ankylosaur for toy companies in the 90s’ due to the fact that it was a better known species then its family’s namesake. However, over the years, it seems to have been phased out in favour of Ankylosaurus, even if the toy still ends up looking like a Euoplocephalus anyway.

​The Jurassic Hunters toy made by Geoworld is definitely one of the worst versions of the species ever made, but when one looks at the toy, it is easy to see that they were trying to replicate a Euoplocephalus and not some other type of ankylosaur, as the spike patterns match up with the known fossils at the time of the toy’s release. However, anyone who’s well-versed in dinosaurs can tell where the problems lie in this model. The head is way too big and not even the correct shape. Club-tailed ankylosaurs like Euoplocephalus are known for their relatively short skulls, but the one on this toy is triangular in shape. Now, I do know that Euoplocephalus‘ skull does sort of have a triangular shape, but it’s a lot rounder than what was sculpted on this toy. Another error lies with the mouth. The mouth was sculpted open, but it lacks any indication that it is hinged like a real mouth would be. It’s as if the sculptor made the head and cut out a piece of clay from it to create the opening for the mouth, giving it an unnatural appearance. Another issue is that the hips are definitely not wide enough. For a model that gets it right, Simply take a look at the Battat Euoplocephalus, which is an almost perfect representation of the species that looks like it had a lot of care put into it. To be fair, like the Battat, the Geoworld version has only one cervical half ring, which is not accurate for the species (it should really have two).

In terms of detail, there’s not much to write about, as the majority of the toy is sculpted with irregular shapes that I assume are supposed to be scales. The caputegulae (head armour) does not match up with that of the real animal, but then, neither does a majority of the toy, so no surprises there. And the feet are crudely made with minimal detail sculpted to make the toes. And in terms of colour, all I have to say is that this model reminds me of a corncob. The base colour is yellow, which takes up the head, neck, and entirety of the bottom half of the figure, and the back is green. The claws are painted black, the mouth is painted dark red, and the little bits of teeth present in the mouth are white.

Now that the figure is out of the way, it’s time to look at the fact card that comes with it. First off, the image used on the card is also the same exact image used on the card for the Ankylosaurus which I plan on reviewing in the future. The only difference is that there are a couple of spikes jutting out of the back of the neck. It should be noted that the card has terrible grammar, and there are contradictions on both sides. For instance, on the image side, it says that Euoplocephalus‘ head was without armour, but on the flipside, it states that it was protected by bony plates. Obviously it’s easy to tell which side of the card is wrong, as anyone with a good knowledge of dinosaurs would know that the head of this animal was indeed armoured, but it’s still apparent that the people who crafted this card did not proofread anything before sending it out to be mass produced. The card states that there are forty complete specimens of this animal known to science, however, it should be noted that this card was made before the genus was split into different genera, with the text referencing the holotype specimen of Scolosaurus as being the most well preserved of Euoplocephalus. As with the Spinosaurus card, I cannot say where the image was taken from, so once again, if you know, please say so in the comments.

​And it is, the Geoworld Euoplocephalus. It is one of only four thyreophorans in the entire line, despite the fact that the line spans over 96 figures. Honestly, I can’t say I recommend this figure to anyone, as it is a poor product that was made without much thought put into it, and clearly not worthy of a dinosaur enthusiast’s collection. If you need a Euoplocephalus that badly, then seek out the Battat model, which is still available under the Terra brand.

Anomalocaris (Favorite Co. Ltd.)

Review and photographs by Indohyus, edited by Suspsy

Imagine the weirdest alien you can think of. Give it as many tentacles, eyes, and other appendages as you like, but chances are they still aren’t as strange as anything from the Ediacaran or Cambrian Period, especially the latter. The Cambrian Explosion created some of the weirdest creatures imaginable, including this review’s topic: Anomalocaris, an anomalocarid arthropod predator found throughout the world from Canada to Australia and from Utah to China. This figure by Favorite appears to represent the largest member of this genus, A. canadensis.

Onto details. At 6.4” long and 1.3” high (from tip of appendages to the top of the eye stalks), it is on the larger size, especially compared to other figures of Anomalocaris, appropriate for one of the largest animals of the time (a length of one metre was considered big back then). The pose is simple, but works well. The animal appears to be swooping up, perhaps surprising its prey. The colour scheme also works well, with the mix of gold, pink, and black complementing each other in an odd way. Favorite made several mini-versions of this mould in a variety of paint schemes, so if this doesn’t work for you, there are alternatives. To make it easier to pose, this figure comes with a stand (1.8” high, 2” wide) shaped as rocks. While it works well, it leaves a large hole towards the rear of the figure when removed. Make of that what you will.

Accuracy-wise, this Anomalocaris is pretty good. The lobes are correct in number and shape, the eye stalks are correctly positioned, and the tail is correct too. The details on the mouth are there, very accurate to the fossils. The only nitpicks I can find are that the spikes on the arms could be a little more varied in size, rather than be quite as uniform, and they don’t capture the compound nature of the eyes, but otherwise it’s good for accuracy.

Overall, this is a good representation of Anomalocaris. It may not be the best (that goes to Kaiyodo), but it is the biggest, befitting of one of the first large predators known. eBay is your best bet for finding this figure, with the option of smaller, cheaper versions, as the larger one has become somewhat more expensive. Either will suit your collection well.

Psittacosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

Review and photos by amargasaurus cazaui, edited by Suspsy

In 2005, a fossil specimen surfaced at the Tuscon Gem and Mineral Show that would soon set the world of paleontology on end. The slab, containing a single specimen of Psittacosaurus, had been preserved in such a way that it would soon yield a treasure trove of scientific firsts, new information, and depth to our understanding of this species. Most notable were the bristle-like tail structures exquisitely preserved. The specimen was so well-preserved, melanosomes establishing colouration, patterning, and shading were found. The specimen appears to be one of the few with intact melanosomes which establish colour in a non-avian dinosaur. It is seemingly the first dinosaur we have actual preserved scales for as well.

The toy market has very few examples of Psittacosaurus done in a more life-like realistic style, that are also generally available. The Carnegie Collection produced the most well-known and treasured version of the dinosaur, sculpted by Forest Rogers. A smaller, more bird-like version was issued by CollectA. As one of the most well-known and studied dinosaurs, the market seemed ripe for a more accurate and appealing version.

Enter Doug Watson and the Wild Safari company. In the final months of 2016, Safari announced and released a new model of Psittacosaurus for the collector market. In my discussions with the sculptor, I was able to learn his sculpt was an attempt to translate the Tucson specimen, now known as Senckenberg Museum R 4970, into the most accurate model possible. The model is intended to be P. mongoliensis and was intended to be scaled at 1/12 size. This would place the model as an adult.

The model itself is smallish in size, measuring roughly 2 1/4 inches tall at the head and slightly over 5 1/2 inches in length along the vertebrae. It balances fairly well on its legs, with its feet placed in a normal walking pose. The tail is slightly curved and demonstrates the famous quills that the specimen is known for. The hands are sculpted in an opposing or neutral position with the proper digits, including the vestigial traces of the fourth digit without a claw. The body demonstrates the appropriate musculature, and in no way appears shrink-wrapped. The head is properly shaped, with jutting jugals, a nicely formed rostral, and properly placed eyes and nostrils. The frill is quite subdued, but visible.

The colouration is inspired by and follows the information given for Specimen R 4970 fairly closely. It features lighter undershading and darker overtones, darker individual scales, and an overall palette of browns, tans, and rust colours. The colouring for the bristle-like structures would seem a decent possibility, and the overall aesthetic is pleasing.

What are my own thoughts? I would like to have seen this model given to us at a larger size, perhaps 1/6 scale, although that is more a personal preference. My only other possible nitpick might be for more pronounced jugals. In my discussions with Doug Watson, he had commented that he was not convinced regarding the jugals, whereas I think they would be even more pronounced and angular. On the plus side, I find the overall effect is a well done and carefully researched masterpiece. The colors are believable, the posture is borne out by evidence, and the unique features this dinosaur is so well known for are evident and well done. The bristle-like structures match the fossil, and are placed properly. The figure stands decently on its feet, balances well, and looks quite lifelike. I feel it is the best mass market toy offered for this species. Props to Doug Watson and Safari!

The Psittacosaurus sells affordably around the ten dollar price point and seems quite readily available on eBay, Amazon, and most major online dinosaur stores. A nice, fairly priced, and well-sculpted dinosaur, readily available on the market!