Author Archives: gwangi

Allosaurus (Kaiyodo Dinotales 1:20 Collection)

A couple years back I put together a poll on the Dinosaur Toy Forum with the goal of compiling a top ten list of the best Allosaurus toys ever produced. It was no small task, up until the 1990’s the Allosaurus only played second fiddle to Tyrannosaurus in the popularity contest. Since then other theropods have pushed it down the list; Velociraptor, Spinosaurus, Carnotaurus to name a few. Allosaurus is still a favorite of mine though. A perfectly proportioned, generalized predator that ruled the Jurassic, even if it was not among the largest theropods it was certainly one of the most successful. That top 10 list ended up with a lot of great contenders and naturally the Papo Allosaurus won the day. At the time I had considered this 1:20 scale Allosaurus by Kaiyodo to be the best Allosaurus figure. It was a perfect blend of accuracy, size, detail, craftsmanship. But I didn’t own the thing at that time, and now I do. So now that I have it in-hand how does it hold up? Is it worth the often expensive price tag? Is it truly the best Allosaurus out there?

Standing 9” tall and measuring about 17” long, this rendition of the Jurassic carnivore is certainly going to take up some shelf space and draw attention in a crowd. The heavy detailing only helps in this regard. Raised scutes are immediately noticeable along the back and reminiscent of those on a crocodile. Wrinkled folds of skin are sculpted along the neck, around the shoulders and legs, and down the length of the tail. The head is adorned with not only those diagnostic brown horns but smaller hornlets at the corners of the mouth. That said, the detailing seems to suddenly diminish below the knees, on the arms, and along the underside where the body is nearly smooth in some places, with only a minimal hint of scales and other bodily adornments. The feet have those bird-like scutes we’ve come to expect on theropod models but the sudden lack of detail on these parts is rather jarring. Obvious seams along the neck, jaw, arms, knees, and tail don’t help enhance the realism of this piece either.

The accuracy here is pretty good. I can’t find much to complain about but some will no doubt consider this model to be shrink-wrapped. The torso is nicely rounded with the extremities lean and muscular. The head is quite obviously Allosaurus and even the neutral facing hands posses the enlarged thumb claw so frequently omitted. The tail base could use some thickening but overall this is a very modern looking Allosaurus with some obvious Greg Paul influences. This model was sculpted by Matsumura Shinobu whose other dinosaurs are in very much the same style which seems to be popular in Japan, where this model originates.

The most off-putting feature on this model is its lack-luster, static posture. Not only are both feet planted flat on the ground, but the knees are not bent at all, giving the figure an unnatural appearance. In fact, without some kind of support the model will tilt back and rest on its tail and looks like one of those fainting goats. The mouth is open with the arms just sort of dangling there. This is a shame because it makes for a really unnatural looking pose on a very life-like sculpture.

This model comes in a couple different color schemes with mine being the brown variant painted in yellowish, sandy color tones. The claws are a dark brown color, teeth white, inside of the mouth, pink, and the eyes meticulously painted orange with yellow irises and black pupils. The other variant is green in color. Other colors exist of this model as well, including one that’s entirely painted blue. But the blue model also possesses minor sculptural differences too and is a part of the Kaiyodo Dinoland collection, unlike this piece.

All in all my opinion about this model has changed little upon seeing it. It’s still a fantastic piece and easily among the best Allosaurus figures out there. For its price point however there are some glaring issues that must be acknowledged. Lazy detailing, visible seams, and an uninspired pose all conspire against what is simultaneously one of the most detailed and accurate Allosaurus models to date. I was able to acquire mine for about $35 but the prices vary a lot and seems to have gone up recently, especially on eBay where they range between $30- $188! Even the cheaper models have expensive shipping prices so buyers beware. In the end though this is a must have model for those who are still fans of this once popular but now forgotten theropod.

Tyrannosaurus (Dor Mei)

Here’s a toy that many of you will no doubt recognize. It probably doesn’t stand on too many collectors’ shelves today but certainly helped fill a lot of toy boxes in the 80’s and 90’s. Yes, you could call this a Chinasaur but you could also call it retro, vintage, and nostalgic. For me it’s an iconic toy from my youth and now that I’ve reacquired it I’m excited to formally introduce you all to the Dor Mei Tyrannosaurus.

Even if you didn’t have this particular toy growing up roughly 30 years ago you no doubt had something produced by Dor Mei. They were responsible for a lot of the cheap dinosaur toys from the late 80’s. Dor Mei was right up there with the likes of UKRD, Imperial, and AAA. They closely resembled their contemporaries of that time and their toys stood out if for no other reason than they were large. The Tyrannosaurus in this review stands 10” tall and measures 12” from snout to tail. Dor Mei was also responsible for a lineup of Godzilla knockoffs and other large menacing plastic reptiles.

This is the kind of toy only a hopeless nostalgic could love. Superficially it resembles a Tyrannosaurus. Large toothy head? Yup! Small arms? Of course! Bipedal? You got it! But it gets just about everything wrong with the details. For starters it is of course a tail-dragger. That should be of no surprise but if you look closely at the legs and feet you’ll see that anatomically they look more human than dinosaurian. This is a model of a man in a dinosaur costume, looking like something straight out of “Unknown Island.”

The tail is short and thin, the torso laughably long. The arms are too long as well but the hands aren’t pronated. Not an intentional decision to be sure. The head is big and boxy. The mouth is filled with generic pointy “shark teeth” and two gigantic eyes resting atop the head. The toy comes off looking more like a frog than our favorite theropod. Ear and eye openings are present and surprisingly the finer details aren’t as bad as you might expect. The skin is covered with pebbly scales; the belly has scales resembling those on a crocodile. The fleshy throat dewlap is cross hatched but gives the toy a lot of its charm. Skin folds run down the torso and the crudest hint of musculature is present on the legs. No bad for what it is.

This toy can be found in at least two color schemes that I’m aware of. The most common being this reddish-brown version. The back is a lighter shade of greenish-brown with a black stripe down the spine. The eyes and nostrils are red and the claws aren’t painted. The teeth are sloppily painted white, and some don’t have paint on them at all. Another version exists that’s painted yellow with black tiger stripes coming down the flanks along the back.

The toy is hollow which as a child meant you could stuff a lot of smaller dinosaur toys in there. Or action figures. Whatever you wanted really. It was a lot of fun to play with and was the matriarch of my particular pack of Tyrannosaurus. Although hilariously outdated this is one of those toys you can’t help but love. It has a lot of personality and represents a unique approach to the Tyrant King. It’s easy enough to find to this day, on eBay in lots or singly. No doubt there are hundreds lurking around yard sales and flea markets as well. If vintage retrosaurs are your thing, check out the Dor Mei Tyrannosaurus.

Gigantspinosaurus (CollectA)

It’s no secret that the stegosauria were an odd bunch of dinosaurs, one that we perhaps take for granted given the popularity of one genus in particular; Stegosaurus. But Stegosaurus is but one of many, and for whatever reason the other genera of this unique clade have never gained in popularity like the admittedly charismatic Stegosaurus.

In typical CollectA fashion we’ve recently been introduced to many of the other interesting genera in the stegosauria. The most recently introduced of these obscure dinosaurs is the appropriately named Gigantspinosaurus. No, it’s not a new hybrid for “Jurassic World”, nor is in a super-ultra-mega version of Spinosaurus. It’s a stegosaur from late Jurassic China and with its unique combo of plates and spikes and the perfect choice for expanding your stegosaur collection.

Gigantspinosaurus is not a genus I was too familiar with before acquiring the CollectA toy. Superficially it looks a lot like Kentrosaurus, that other popular stegosaur. A new dinosaur by scientific standards the Gigantspinosaurus wasn’t described until 1992 and generally ignored until a 2006 paper on the genus.

Gigantspinosaurus possessed a number of characteristics that make it quite distinctive, not least of which are the enormous spikes coming out from its shoulders. These spikes protrude upwards and point back, unlike the similar spikes on Kentrosaurus. CollectA faithfully recreates this feature as well as the other anatomical features of this animal. Like most stegosaurs (aside from Stegosaurus) the plates on Gigantspinosaurus were fairly small and triangular. The thagomizer at the end of the tail possesses four spikes. Skin impressions from this animal show a series of raised scutes that are also reproduced here. Basically, CollectA did their homework on this one, and it shows. The slightly enlarged head (for a stegosaur) is also in keeping with what we know about this dinosaur.

Although the model only measures a mere 5.4” it is packed with a high level of detail. Three clawed and two vestigial digits can be seen clearly on the robust forelimbs. The hind limbs possess three forward facing toes and one small dewclaw on each foot. Folds of skin run down the flanks and tail along a muscular and athletic looking body. The toy is sculpted in an alert posture with the right forelimb stepping forward and the head looking towards the right. The tail is swinging slightly upwards and towards the left.

The paint scheme is particularly nice on this one, and a far cry from the war-paint that CollectA used to be so fond of. This dinosaur is painted in soft, mottled earth tones. It’s both eye-catching and believable without being gaudy. The plates and shoulder spikes are gray with red tips highlighting the spikes. The thagomizer spikes are painted brown. Although the nails are clearly sculpted on this toy they are still painted in the same sandy color as the toy’s base color. The scutes on the body are painted in a variety of colors but I think they’re all supposed to be gray like the plates. But those on the brown portions of the animal are brown and there are a few on mine that aren’t painted at all. Given the small size there are also quite a few mistakes in the paint application. It’s barely noticeable though and shouldn’t put you off from an otherwise fantastic little piece.

Overall this is a really interesting, well made, and affordable little toy and a must have in any collection. Being new for 2017 it shouldn’t be hard to track one down. In closing I would like to thank Suspsy, a fellow reviewer, for donating this model to me for review.