Author Archives: Laticauda

Stegosaurus (HG Toys)

Here is an interesting rendition of the popular, plate covered, thagomizer wielding stegosaurus.  HG toys made some interesting looking dinosaurs during the 80’s.   For inspiration on this stegosaur they must have looked at turn of the century paleoart.  They certainly didn’t reference any dinosaur renaissance ideas into this stegosaurus, as this toy looks squat and sluggish.  This guy could have leapt from the canvas of Heinrich Harder. The last time someone would have considered this toy scientific accurate, it would have been the 1920’s. Despite being outdated lets take a closer look at it and see what redeeming features it might have.

About the Toy:  It is a decent size toy at 11.50 in (29.21cm) long and 4.6 in (11.68 cm) high over the hips.  It is made of hollow plastic and despite being relatively light, it is a rather sturdy fellow.  The pose is straight and low.  The suspension on the guy is low with a clearance of just 0.25 in (3.9 cm).  A true low rider.  The legs are short with big feet, with three toes per foot.   Along the back there are twenty two plates arranged in parallel lines of eleven.  The body is rotund and well fed.  The tail is rather short and is slung low to the ground ending with four spikes.  There is some texturing with the skin folds rippling along the body and etched lines on the plates  The main paint job is sweet potato orange with a secondary color of dark brown along the back, plates, the underside, and brushed along the legs.

This toy does have some articulation.  The front legs do not move backward, but when pushed forward to the front they can move to about 100 degrees. The back legs  are the opposite as they do not move forward, but they do move backwards to about 95 degrees.  Due to the low body, the fact the legs move is sort of pointless unless you want it to slide on its belly like Frosty the Snowman.  There is also an action feature, push the button on the head and the mouth opens.  The mouth does not open very wide though.  The head can twist all the way around exorcist style.  The tail by the spikes can also turn all the way around so you can get those pesky predators.

Overall:  It is a “Classic” sand box toy.  Yes it does have some retro styling which might give it some curb appeal but this toy is not heading to most peoples shelves.  In fact, most people would find it a rather unattractive fellow.  Obviously it has very little use as an educational tool.  Unless you love Stegosaurus (which I do), into retro styling, or have a sandbox and in need of a toy for a family member, I would pass on this toy.  If you are interested in this toy, it has been out of circulation since the 80’s, but does show up occasionally in neighborhood garage sales, thrift stores, and on E-Bay.


Elasmosaurus (Stuttgart NHM, Bullyland)

Elasmosaurus was a magnificent and charismatic marine reptile that had an incredible neck.   This sea dragon reached an estimated length of 43 feet (13 meter).  The head and neck comprised half of its length.  It might not have been the most powerful animal in prehistoric seas but it is one of the more elegant and recognizable plesiosaurs.

Due to its distinctive look, it is a popular sea creature that has been made many times by different toy companies. In classic paleo art depictions of Elasmosaurus, it either had a swan like neck raising out of the water or it was able to coil its neck like a snake to catch its prey.  As cool as that looked, that idea is very inaccurate and would have been impossible for the animal to do.  In reality the neck would have been held quite straight with some degree of flexibility for occasional sideward movements.   When coming up to breath I think it would be similar to how a sea snake or turtle breathes with just the tip of the nose coming out of the water.

About the toy:  The 2003 Bullyland Elasmosaurus embodies retro styling with a long twisting neck that would make Charles Knight and Zdenek Burrian proud. Its neck is twisting to its right, then gracefully turns upward and curves to its left,  then turns slightly to face forward, proudly holding its head high.  In all honesty this beauty has an incredible neck.  When measuring all the twists and turns its neck is about 9 in (22.86 cm)long.  The main body is about 3 in (7.62 cm) long, and its tail is about 3 in(7.62 cm) long. When measured from head to tail in a straight line the overall length is 10 in (25.4 cm) long. The head is held off the ground at 3 in (7.62 cm) in height.

The sculpting on the head is more accurate than the Carnegie version but it is not perfect.   The eyes look like they are placed close to the top of the head but they still look a little low.  It might be a nit-pick but the eyes also look too far back on the skull.  The nares are visible in the front.

What about the dentation? When we look at these chompers we should see long thin teeth that protruded from the mouth when closed.  The teeth should be intermeshed together like a zipper to impale and capture wiggling fish. Unfortunately this toy doesn’t have those features.  The teeth are marked by small lines that are etched into a solid block of teeth that look rather uniform.  It is hard to tell but if you look closely at  the teeth they might be ever so slightly protrude in the front.

The torso is flat on the bottom and looks inflexible and rigid.  The tail is short and curves to its left.  The flippers are thin but broad and on the front they curl upwards a little to give it a feeling of pushing water aside.    The front flippers are a copy of each other as they are posed and sculpted the same.  The same is true of the rear flippers.  The skin texture is circular bumps across the entire body, neck, flippers and tail.   The colorization is simple and believable.  It is painted in typical Bullyland pastel shade of colors.  Light blue on top and white on the underside.  From the head to the tail there are black spots and splotches.  This includes the flippers as well.  The eyes are yellow with a black pupil.

Play ability:  This sensational marine reptile has an incredible neck that is long and twisted.  It is an attractable pose for kids.  It offers many different imaginary ideas during playtime.  I have seen this model be at the mercy of many different predatory prehistoric toys.  This toy needs to be careful during play time and here’ s why.  The toy goes for a make believe swim to find fish to eat or perhaps to talk to mermaid Barbie, when suddenly you can hear the Jaws theme playing.   That darn Jurassic World Mosasaurus shows up, attacks, and before the Elasmosaurus can escape it has been grabbed by the neck and pulled to the inky depths of the carpeted floor.  The toy is not heavy, nor are there any sharp edges, which makes it safe to play with.  The paint job can scuff rather easily during play time so parents be prepared to paint touch ups.

Overall:  Is this a scientifically accurate toy?  No it is not.  If you want accuracy, check out the Wild Safari Elasmosaurus.  That doesn’t mean that the toy isn’t worth picking up.  I personally find the pose beautiful.  Yes it looks more like a monster from a movie or from some old paleo art with its head above water and twisting like a snake.  For me, that classic look is part of the appeal.  It is also a great toy for kids. If you are interested in this toy it is still relatively easy to find.


Giganotosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

Kids perspective by William, edited by Laticauda


Young and old gather around and see the new king in town.  I present the highly anticipated 2017 Safari Ltd. Giganotosaurus.  Why do I call it the new king?  Sure it doesn’t have the name rex in its name, and its not because it was one of the largest known carnivores the world has seen, in which some estimates have it bigger than the almighty Tyrannosaurus Rex.  It is king because it has raised the bar on how a toy model can capture the  look and attitude of a  voracious carnivore  Lets be honest, the old Safari’s including the Carnegies are good but they just blend into your dinosaur collection, but the 2017 Safari Ltd Giganotosaurus  screams, here I am, look at me, love me.  (How that for a sales pitch!) Could this be better than the 2017 Safari feathered T-Rex?  Does this model deserve the royal crown, or is it a lower rank like a baron, or is it just a commoner?  Lets take a closer look.

About the toy: At 15 in (38.1 cm) long and 4.75 in (12 cm) long it is an imposing figure.  It is bigger than the standard animals in the Wild Safari line.  Its size and scale is on par with the old Carnegies.  The pose is truly something to rave about.  It is so fluid, dynamic, natural and beautiful that it is hard to believe that this isn’t a higher end resign model.   How where they able to get such a great pose?  It has a base. Due to it having a base you will not find over sized feet and hips, or a tripod pose that blemishes many other figures.  I am going to pick on CollectA bases for a moment even though they are not the only offenders.  When compared to CollectA, the base on this model gets a gold star.  Why?  CollectA has plain brown bases with perhaps a leaf imprint or a footprint which are ok but nothing to get excited about.  This base looks like a muddy bank and is part of the over all look of the model.  It is painted with color washing that adds to the visual interest of the base.  The feet are sculpted in such a way that they look like they are actually sinking into the muddy ground.   The back foot is actually pushing off the ground, ready to step forward.  It looks so natural.

The head is beautifully sculpted with its jaw wide.  It is not a shrink wrapped head.  There is an interesting boney ridge on its skull that exaggerates the top of its head.  It runs up the nasal and parietal and surrounds the orbit.  The external nares are huge.  The teeth are individually sculpted and the tongue looks wet due to a glossy finish.

The texture on the figure is rather smooth.  The scales, bumps, and textural over load that many models have are mostly missing on this sculpt.  In reality an animal this big you would not see each individual scale so with that in mind, it is a little more realistic and there is nothing wrong with that.  What they do have are skin folds, wrinkles, and some small bumps.   There is nice muscle tone and some loose skin.  If you look at the hips you can see the muscles bulging that are driving this predator forward.

The paint job is the one major flaw in my opinion.  Its not the base color of greyish blue.  I think that color works really well.  The striping is the first place were the colors start to fail.  The other is in the application.  Here is why.  The light brown stripes looks alright, but the dark brown striping over the top appears rushed and haphazardly painted.  There are gaps in the paint and it doesn’t look right.  From a distance it looks fine, but when you get closer you see how poorly the paint has been applied.  The teeth are white and most likely so are the gums around the teeth.  The rest of the paint job looks nice.  The eyes are great in Carnegie gold. The mouth is pink and the tongue as mentioned earlier, is painted a slick, glossy, wet pink.  Last but not least all the claws on the hands and feet are painted in white.

Play ability and kids perspective:  When I first saw it come out of the box I was blown away, it was amazing to look at.  I wanted to play with it right away.  It looks like a blue tiger with the stripes.  Its colors are blue with blackish brown stripes.  The head looks cool, but it would have been nice if the jaw was movable.  The teeth look as sharp as knives but are safe too touch.  It is not as good as the Carnegie Giganotosaurus which has better colors and it doesn’t have a base.  Since there is a base it can slide around like it is on ice.  The toy is safe to play with.  The tail, arms, and fingers are a little bendy.   I would play with this toy because it looks amazing and it can destroy toy cars.  I would like it better if it had no base so I could use its feet.   Even with the base it can still ambush and attack due to its striped camouflage.   One and half thumbs up for play ability.

Top view comparison of the Carnegie and 2017 Wild Safari Giganotosaurus .

Side view comparison of the Carnegie and 2017 Wild Safari Giganotosaurus.

Overall: I fully recommend this toy!  Why?  I’ll describe it with one word, awesome!  This figure is huge when it is compared to the other Wild Safari dinosaurs.   If you combine that with a pose that is so natural and dynamic you end up with an amazing dinosaur toy.  It is also very accurate to the fossil material.  The base is well done and the model is stable.  I know some people do not like bases, I am one of those people, but for collectors, you will not be disappointed as the base really adds to the figure.  Kids who want to play with this toy on the other hand would probably prefer to have no base, but will still find a way to have fun with this toy.

The only thing I don’t like about this toy is the sloppy paint job.  It is superior to the old Carnegie in every way, including size, with the exception of the paint job.  Look at how amazing the Carnegie Giganotosaurus paint job is, then compare it to this model.  I know you can repaint figures on your own, but it is a shame they can’t replicate the same level of paint application and execution that was done before.   Despite this flaw I think we have a new king and it has a place of honor in my collection.  I think it will find a place of prominence on most collectors shelves.  All hail the King.  Ok, maybe we’ll call it a prince for all the T-Rex fans out there, but its still royalty.