Author Archives: Guest Reviews

Scelidosaurus (Paleo-creatures)

Review and photos by Takama, edited by Plesiosauria

Up for review today is the recently released model of the primitive thyreophoran Scelidosaurus harrisonii, created by Jetoar (Jesús Toledo) for his Paleo-creatures line of models. Scelidosaurus is a dinosaur that is seldom seen in figure form. In fact, the only other ones that come to my mind are the retro Invicta version, and the more recent CollectA version. The model I’m reviewing today was one I commissioned Jesús to do, because I felt it would make a great addition to his ever-growing line of prehistoric critters.

At around 1:35 scale, this model measures around 5 inches long, and is sculpted in a very stiff looking pose with its mouth open as if it’s startled by some unseen predator. In terms of accuracy, this is undoubtedly one of the best representations of the species on the current market. The animal’s armour is sculpted accurately, and the proportions are alright for a figure of this type. Of course, the material that Jetoar uses for his models does not always allow for the great detail, so certain things like the teeth, and claws, are either absent or crudely moulded. The front feet lack individually sculpted toes, but Jetoar was able to paint them on in a way to make it seem like they are present.

The colors we chose for this figure are admittedly not our original idea. Instead they were borrowed from a popular image of Scelidosaurus that you can find with a Google search. The base color is orange, the back of the animal is black, and the plates and toes are colored grey. One of the good things about Jetoar’s models is that if you do not like the colors you see in these photos, then you can have him whip you up a custom color upon request.

One thing that I have to talk about in this review is the base that normally comes with this model. The model is a quadruped, which means that it does not require a base to stand on. However, Jetoar has made an effort to include a base with almost every model he has made so far, and this Scelidosaurus is no exception. What sets this model’s base apart from most of the others is the fact that it comes with a detachable tree that he got at a pet shop. I am not a big fan of this tree as it looks like an aquatic plant, and it works a lot better with aquatic creatures like his Hyneria. However, I understand that this tree was added with good intentions, and that was to demonstrate the height of the Scelidosaurus. Despite the out of place looking tree, the rest of the base is fairly well done. With a miniature log, and a rock sculpted onto the base. I personally prefer to keep my Scelidosaurus off of its base, because of the fact that the tree just does not look like it belongs in a terrestrial setting.

Overall, this is another great figure made by Jetoar, and it is one that represents a species that we just don’t see often from modern toy companies. If you wish to purchase one, feel free to PM Jetoar on the Dinosaur Toy Forum, or order it through Dan’s Dinosaurs. I look forward to commissioning new models for him to do, as well as reviewing some of his earlier 1:35 scale offerings.

Cryolophosaurus (Papo)

Review and photographs by “Loon”, edited by Plesiosauria

“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.” – Elvis Presley.

Cryolophosaurus was an early Jurassic theropod that hailed from the Hanson Formation around 194-188 mya in what is now Antarctica. Weighing in at over 1,000 lbs, and reaching over 20 feet long, Cryolophosaurus was one of the largest theropods of its time and the top predator of its ecosystem. The only known fossil is the holotype, FMNH PR1821, which belonged to a juvenile, meaning an encounter with a fully grown Cryolphosaurus would be truly astounding and terrifying. Though, like its cousin, Dilophosaurus, a juvenile could still most likely take down a fully grown Wayne Knight.

This figure is one of several debuted in 2017. Papo models are usually very high quality, and this Cryolophosaurus is no exception. Unlike several recent Papo figures, the sculpting on the figure comes across as much more consistent. The scales that adorn the body are very similar to the scales found on the bellies of modern crocodilians, and appear to be very defined and unique, almost as if they were individually sculpted. This is different to several recent Papo figures, where the postcranial scales appear to be little more than the result of horizontal and vertical cuts in the sculpt. The muscles are all very well-defined, and appear to be covered in a decent amount of fat and skin, giving this animal a very “alive” look. The figure features rows of osteoderms that turn into spikes on the top of the spine, they flow from the top of the neck to the base of the tail; while speculative, these features are an interesting addition.

Paint-wise, this figure is among, if not the, best Papo has ever produced. The paint makes it one of Papo’s most vibrant; which, I mean, isn’t saying much given their usual ‘go to’ selection of the ever-exciting brown and grey. These colors, while beautiful, are one of the figures more debatable aspects, Papo has a history of copying both design aspects and paint schemes from Sideshow Collectibles Dinosauria statues, such as almost the entirety of their Apatosaurus, Dilophosaurus, and Carnotaurus, and unfortunately, this figure is no exception. While ‘Dinosauria’ has never produced a Cryolophosaurus statue, the color scheme of this figure is nigh identical to the color scheme of the ‘Dinosauria’ Ceratosaurus. However, in defense of what may be viewed as Geoworld levels of thievery, the color scheme is appropriate. While we don’t know the exact color of Cryolophosaurus, it did live in a forested environment so these colors do seem suitable for a large predator trying to sneak through the woods in search of a meal.

The figure features the ever-necessary articulated jaw, which opens to reveal a highly detailed interior. The jaws are appropriately crocodilian, with a good amount of detail extending into the roof and back of the mouth, as well as to the tongue and gums.

The shape of the skull is quite accurate; we can tell this because it is quite visible. Overall, it’s not the worst case of shrink-wrapping, it does feature a decent amount of muscle in the fenestrae, and the oft-forgotten pterygoideus posterior muscle is thankfully featured on the lower jaw. The biggest point of inaccuracy in the head is that the skull does seem to be missing the “notch” in the premaxilla at the front.

The definitive feature of Cryoloposaurus is the crest which it is named for; Cryolophosaurus is the greek for “Frozen Crest Lizard.” The crest is well detailed, featuring a keratinous covering which extends to the front of the nasal. The current understanding is that the crest was probably used for intra-species recognition, as well as being functional in social behavior with other Cryolophosarus. Given this understanding, it would have been appropriate to give the crest a more colorful paint scheme. As is, unfortunately, it tends to blend in with the rest of the figure, unless, of course, this is a female animal.

Accuracy hasn’t always been Papo’s strong spot, however, 2017 seems to be a step in the right direction. While not all 100% accurate, most of their offerings for 2017 are definitely some of the most accurate figures they’ve ever made. This Cryolophosaurus is probably the second most accurate after their Ceratosaurus. The sculpt seems to adhere to the current reconstructions of the animal, albeit warping some parts to an unrealistic extent (we’ll get to that, don’t you worry). There are no known skin impressions of Cryolophosaurus However, the scales as well as the osteoderms/spikes, are known from its close relatives, the ceratosaurs. So, the aforementioned lack of a notch in the front of the upper jaw is the biggest issue in terms of accur…

…the tail, yeah, it’s…interesting, by which I mean impossible. Cryolophosaurus is thought to be the most basal member of tetanurae, a group of theropods classified for several features, including their stiff tails. This pose would have been simply impossible for a Cryolophosaurus to achieve without breaking its tail; it brings to mind the old practice of museum workers breaking dinosaur skeletons to achieve the outdated “kangaroo” tripod look. Perhaps, given the stance of the animal, it is frightened by something, and lunging away out of fear – it is so afraid that it broke its own tail in the process!

Overall, a solid figure, one of Papo’s best and most accurate. Despite its flaws, it is still highly recommended, you can pick it up on Amazon here.

Spinosaurus (juvenile) (Papo)

Review and photographs by Rajvinder “IrritatorRaji” Phull, edited by Plesiosauria

With the roaring success of Papo’s adult Spinosaurus figure it was only a matter of time before we got a tiny counterpart. Especially seeing how Papo have released younger versions of their Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Pachycephalosaurus, Mammoth and Apatosaurus models, it felt right to see Papo’s take on a young ‘Spine Lizard’.

For better or for worse, you can’t buy this figure on its own. It’s part of a special edition gift box that also comes with Papo’s Ceratosaurus (which is available separately). As someone who didn’t own the Ceratosaurus prior to purchasing the box, I was pretty happy with what I was getting. However, for someone who already owns / doesn’t want the Ceratosaurus I can imagine this would be annoying. Take this information with a pinch of salt, but I was told that Papo was going to release this figure on its own next year. The person who told me this didn’t provide a source, so I’d say to expect this figure to be exclusive to this gift box until Papo themselves say otherwise.

Measuring in at approximately 18 cm (7 inches) long and 8 cm (3.1 inches) tall it’s a decent size for a young predator and about half the size of the adult Spinosaurus figure. The pose on this guy is interesting, lunged forward with the head slightly tilted. I imagine Papo were going for a playful and inquisitive look, though I personally detect a sense of caution and uncertainty resonating from this juvenile. Regardless of whether they were going for excited or cautious, both emotions would suit a young Spinosaurus growing up in a world where anything bigger than you sees you as a snack.

It’s very nice to see another young Spinosaurus figure on the market. The only other young Spinosaurus I know of is PNSO’s baby Spinosaurus, which I personally think looks more like a mini cartoon Spinosaurus, especially when you consider the size of the sail.

This figure can stand on its own two feet but it doesn’t do so with ease. Despite Papo’s efforts to avoid balancing issues, evident by the enlarged feet, this toy does tend to tip to the right and fall over easily. I wouldn’t advise having this figure near shelf edges or on surfaces that are commonly nudged or disturbed (e.g. desks), especially since when it falls over it falls hard and far, likely knocking over anything it’s positioned next to. That being said, if you’ve got it standing upright on a level, undisturbed surface, it should stand well and secure.
And, as always for Papo theropods, the figure has an articulated jaw. The jaw doesn’t open very far though, what you see in the pictures is as far as the jaw can open.

The detail on the sculpt is good but doesn’t even begin to compare to Papo’s recent figures. The entire body is covered in small scales which don’t really tend to vary. The scales on the face, neck, body, sail, underbelly and tail are all pretty much the same size. The figure features armour-like plating on the top of the neck, moving down we see a rather simply textured body with the odd bumpy scale which all give way to a flailing crocodilian tail. The interior of the mouth is sculpted as are all of the minuscule teeth. Something really odd about the sculpt is that the detail isn’t really carried onto the face. The face feels much smoother and looks a lot shinier than the rest of the body, almost like a different type of plastic was used.

In all, it’s not really something to marvel at and there’s not much to discuss either. The detail is more on par with Papo’s baby Tyrannosaurus which I believe came out around 5 years ago. It’s especially disappointing when you look at the highly detailed, and more modern, Ceratosaurus this figure came with. The skin doesn’t stretch and bunch like the skin on Papo’s recent models. It’s certainly very odd that Papo would release this 2012-quality figure alongside their very impressive 2017 line.

There’s not much to discuss about the figure’s paintjob either. Although, a lack of bright colours and diverse markings are to be expected considering it’s based on their simply painted adult Spinosaurus. The body is a dull greenish-grey with some black scales running along the back. The end of the snout is yellow and the lower jaw is brown. The underbelly is a dull beige, the eyes are green with a black pupil and the sail is a darker grey with a very faint red stripe running through the middle.

In regards to scientific accuracy, I feel a lot of what needs to be said just goes without saying anyway. But this is a review, so I’m going to say it. Being based on the Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park 3, this figure boasts a handful of inaccuracies.

The very first one that caught my eye was the tail. While I don’t usually care much for figures that have overly wavy tails, the juvenile Spinosaurus takes it a little too far. I feel a real Spinosaurus tail wouldn’t be anywhere near as flexible as needed to pull off the tight bends this tail features. As mentioned before, the feet look a bit too large though this is likely for stability. Speaking off legs, I feel this might just be me but they’re a little too long as well. It reminds me somewhat of the long and lanky legs of newborn horses. The figure also lacks Spinosaurus‘ signature enlarged hand claw, though this may be due to the fact that the figure represents a young spinosaur. Just like the JP3 Spinosaurus, this figure has two crests on both sides of its head as opposed to just one in the middle. The shrink wrapping isn’t too bad, at least it isn’t on the face. The body looks a bit skinny but I would again argue that it’s due to the age of the dinosaur, not being old enough to have built up a good amount of bulk and muscle. The head itself does lack that distinctive spinosaur shape, not being very narrow and lacking the tooth ridge, looking more akin to a crocodile. One positive I can state about scientific accuracy is that the nostrils are actually not on the end of the snout, they’re located further up, just under the crests.

When it comes to flaws with the figure itself, the only major one I have is that the jaw on mine is incredibly loose. It maintains whatever position it is placed in, but it wobbles from side to side a lot. My juvenile Spinosaurus‘ jaw used to shut all the way, but while fiddling with the jaw I was greeted with an audible snap sound and now the jaw refuses to shut all the way, hanging at about half-way open. If myself opening the jaw to look deeper inside the mouth broke it, I can’t imagine how long it would last in the hands of a child. There were also a couple of paint flaws. The claws on the feet were unpainted or partly painted and there was a couple splodges of black paint on the end of the tail. Also, the eye wasn’t completely painted, leaving a border of unpainted plastic around the eye.

So, to conclude, this figure is okay. It’s not great but it’s not downright terrible. It’s certainly a let down when you consider all the other beautiful figures that Papo released this year, and it baffles me why they’d release this figure in a pack with one of those aforementioned beautiful figures. The Ceratosaurus is definitely an odd choice to pair this little guy with, I personally think it’d make more sense to sell it in a pack with an adult Spinosaurus (that way, if anyone already owns one Spinosaurus and buys this pack they’ve got parents and a child, it’s not scientifically accurate but it makes a little more sense).

If anyone’s interested in buying it I wouldn’t suggest otherwise, it’s a very interesting interpretation of a juvenile Spinosaurus and it doesn’t look too bad next to its fully grown counterpart. I can only really recommend purchasing it if you’re actually genuinely interested in it or you’re a dedicated collector. Otherwise, you’re not missing out on much if you decide to pass on this figure.