Author Archives: Guest Reviews

Tyrannosaurus rex (Tsukuda Hobby Collection)

Review and photos by Bokisaurus, edited by Suspsy

In my last review, we looked at the Tsukuda Styracosaurus. Today, we will look at another classic favourite from the same line. Without a doubt, the most famous dinosaur of all time is Tyrannosaurus rex. No line of prehistoric figures is complete without one, and it is usually one of the first figures that a new company releases when they first launch. Its fame and popularity is unrivaled.

Throughout its long history of being an icon, it is appropriate that T. rex also serves as a good indicator of the changing views of dinosaurs and how they are depicted in science and popular culture. No other species of dinosaur (well, maybe Spinosaurus) has undergone such dramatic transformation as T. rex. From the kangaroo tail-dragging creature of early years, to the scaly monster of not so long ago, to the sleek top predator of the 90s’, and finally, to the fully feathered king of today, T. rex is without a doubt the super model of the dinosaur world!

T. rex through the years

The Tsukuda Tyrannosaurus rex is from the earlier years. Like the rest of the figures from the collection, it too has the signature beaded eyes that set the figure apart from many of its contemporaries. Alas, despite those cute eyes, this version of T. rex is rather cartoony or more accurately, looks more like a caricature of what T. rex should look like. It, along with the Spinosaurus, is the most old school in style, looking very uncoordinated and awkward.

The figure measure a good 12 inches long stretched out, and stand at almost 8 inches tall. Size-wise, it goes well with the standard 1:40 scale figures. The head is not a very good representation of what a T. rex head should look like. It looks more like a generic theropod head. Those famous eyes are bright yellow, contrasting nicely with the deep green colouration. Like almost all T. rex figures, this one also has a gaping mouth, although the effect is more like a laughing animal than a ferocious one! The teeth are individually sculpted, and inside the mouth you can see the large, pink tongue. There are lots of wrinkles and texturing going on around the head as well.

The neck on this figure is muscular with a throat pouch clearly visible just under the lower jaw. As we come to the robust body, one can appreciate the many details that adorn it. There are plenty of skin wrinkles all over the body and scutes that runs along the back, starting at the base of the skull and going all the way down to the lower hip area. The skin is also given a rich texture in the form of bumps of varying sizes. On the back, there is what appears to be rectangular scutes located in the lower back area.

Surprisingly for a figure this age, the arms does not show the extreme pronation that is typically seen on older(and still some newer) theropod figures. The tail on this guy is bulky, perhaps the meatiest one I have seen on a toy figure! This allows the figure to use the tail as an extra support for it to stand. The fat tail is stubby and does not lose any of its heft as it moved down the tip. But perhaps the most awkward feature of this figure is its legs. They are so sprawled and uncoordinated-looking. It looks like more like an infant trying its first steps. Like the rest of the Tsukuda collection, the colouration on this figure is nothing remarkable. A simple dark green forms the base colour, with a lighter grey/green was on the underside. I have seen photos of what looks like a brown version, so maybe there is a colour variant out there.

Overall, the Tsukuda Tyrannosaurus rex is a beautiful example of what was then a typical depiction of this animal. The rather child-like and uncoordinated look of the figure is a flaw, but it is also what makes this figure so fascinating and charming. Like the rest of the Tsukuda figures, the T. rex was not widely distributed, making them rare and sometimes hard to find. However, it is also the one you are most likely to find at a reasonable price. In closing then, for those of you looking for something old school, I highly recommend this figure. Those beady eyes and comical pose is irresistible and would make a nice addition to any T. rex collection.

Alioramus (CollectA)

Review by Dilopho, photos by Halichoeres, and edited by Suspsy

Welcome back, readers! I hope you’ve had a nice New Year! 2017 is bringing some great new CollectA figures into the market, but the one we’ll be looking at today is one from 2009. And . . . it shows. To me, this Alioramus shows how much Collecta has improved from their earliest figures. It’s kind of like a “transitional stage” in that you put it between an older figure and a newer figure, it would resemble an evolutionary lineage.

First, let’s look at the overall figure. It is posed very nicely in a neutral but not static stance. It is looking straight ahead and its arms appear to be moving (though I’m not sure what they could possibly be doing). Also, the hands are correctly positioned and non-pronated, which is a big step! However, the feet bug me because they are curved outwards, which looks very painful for the animal. It does help the figure stand without being a tripod, though, and it was one of CollectA’s first proper attempts at a free-standing theropod.

The body is covered in an attempt at scales. They aren’t bad, but they’re not really my taste either. They don’t look like the scales of a reptile at all–more like a dried out skin. Running down the back and neck is a weird feature. I’m not sure if it is a sail or a hump. It’s purely speculative and kind of fitting for the look of the figure.

The head is nice from the side. It follows the shape of Alioramus nicely and has the ridges on the snout that this theropod was know for. The teeth, however, are a strange shape. Alioramus had a particularly high number of them, which this model reproduces, but they are too uniformly small and blunt. Tyrannosaur teeth should get sharper and longer towards the middle of the jawline and smaller at the front and back. The bottom jaw on this figure is really thin too. It’s almost like it would just flap around instead of closing with force. And when you look at the skull from head on, it is much wider than you’d expect. I find that most older Collecta figures are like that!

I find that the jaw isn’t really open enough for kids to play with, as it can’t fit anything inside, and the pose can take away further from the fun because the big feet get in the way. I can’t deny that this figure certainly has character, though, and would certainly get a place in children’s games.

Overall, this is a figure that shows progress. Even though it still has that old dumpy Procon look, it has the features of a more accurate CollectA model. It’s a nice representation of Alioramus too, with some speculation tossed in. However, it has some flaws, mostly from the front view. I like this figure and I think you might too, so if you want one, you should get it!

Coelophysis (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

Review and photos by Patrick ‘Patrx’ Bate

Available from here

Quick! Name a Triassic dinosaur. Odds are you thought of Coelophysis, or perhaps you intentionally named a different one just to be clever, but Coelophysis may yet be the most famous of the lot. With well over a thousand specimens known to science, (including those that were once called Longosaurus, Rioarribasaurus, Syntarsus, and Megapnosaurus,) it’s one of the best known dinosaurs of all. Lightly-built, bipedal, and armed with an array of sharp teeth, Coelophysis is the very model of a theropod dinosaur. It appears frequently in books and documentaries as an example of what made dinosaurs successful early in their evolution. However, Coelophysis is rarely represented in toy form, which makes this new figure from Safari particularly interesting!

Although often annotated as a “small” dinosaur, Coelophysis was hardly miniscule, measuring about three metres (9.8 ft) in length. This puts the 18.4 cm Safari version at about 1:16 scale. The animal has been sculpted in a calm standing pose, with its mouth shut and its head turned to the left. The tail arcs gently downward, acting as a tripod support. It may be that the figure was designed to stand without the aid of the tail, but unfortunately, the feet on my own copy do not appear to rest flatly on the ground. The overall proportions are a close match to the fossil material, with a long tail, long neck, and delicately built, bird-like legs. The fine details are there, too, despite the figure’s relative smallness. The skull is actually pretty unusual, featuring a very triangular shape, and a pronounced subnarial gap just behind first maxillary tooth. The figure’s small, grasping hands, are rendered with similar veracity, each featuring three functional digits and one barely-visible vestigial fourth digit embedded in the hand.

Excluding the scaly texture of the snout, hands, and feet, the body of this Coelophysis is covered in short, simple filaments. Though this might seem overly-speculative to some, it isn’t a particularly recent notion; Coelophysis has been restored with feathery structures beginning as early as 1975. This fluff remains thoroughly plausible today, and provides the model with an active, bird-like demeanour which I find quite suitable. The pebbly reticulate scales on the snout are similarly believable, but I do wonder about the flat scutes on the fingers and toes. The figure’s jaws are reconstructed without any sign of “lip” tissue, the truth of which is hard to determine and subject to active debate.

A particularly dynamic set of colours and patterns was chosen here, and I approve of the overall effect. Rusty brown colours the dorsal surface and head, abruptly switching to a pale off-white beyond a black lateral band. The snout is colored in faded blue, with red along the lacrimal ridges, and the tail ends in bands of black and off-white. As is common for mass-produced PVC figures, the application of paint is somewhat imperfect. The black band, in particular, looks a little like the work of a flat paint marker.

I do wish I could get mine to stand a little better, but the tripod stance is much less distracting here than it is in some other figures. Personally, I think it’s great that Safari doesn’t stick to one scale, lest this little beast be reduced to a tiny 1:40, but the inconsistency may put off some collectors. In all, this is a very charming and long-overdue representation of a famous but rarely-seen dinosaur. It’d be easy to overlook it in the wealth of brilliant toys that have appeared this year, so I encourage most anyone to pick it up!

Available from here