Author Archives: Suspsy

Tyrannosaurus rex (Version 1 by CollectA)

CollectA nowadays is widely considered one of the top makers of high quality prehistoric toys, as demonstrated by their very awesome 2017 assortment. But that certainly wasn’t always the case. For this review, I’ll be taking another trip back in time to 2006, the year of CollectA’s humble beginning. Back then, of course, it was known as Procon, and its first wave of toys was . . . well, not exactly what you’d call spectacular.

Feast your eyes on the very first CollectA/Procon Tyrannosaurus rex. Measuring about 19 cm and slightly under 10 cm tall, it is posed in the much-reviled tripod stance with its massive head turned to the left and its mouth wide open. The main colour is pine green over dirty brown with darkened stripes, a pale underbelly, very dark grey claws, gold eyes, a pink mouth, and white teeth. This same colour scheme would later be reused for the Deluxe version and the titanic 1:15 scale version. And yes, it also bears a suspicious resemblance to the original Papo T. rex that came out the year before it.

The sculpting on this T. rex is decent if unremarkable. Its skin is scaly all over with thick wrinkles on the neck, belly, and flanks. The inside of the mouth has minimal detail and the tongue is barely more than a slab. The very high brow ridges give the animal an enraged appearance. The forward-facing orbits are sunken, but the fenestrae are actually not that visible beneath the skin.

And now let’s tackle the many inaccuracies on this poor fellow. First, of course, there’s the upright tripod stance. Then there’s the stumpy, too-short tail. The hind limbs look stiff and elephantine and the feet and claws are chunky. The arm are too long and the wrists are pronated. The neck is also too long. The lower jaw is too wide and the teeth are little more than generic rows of bumps. And perhaps most glaring of all, this poor T. rex is missing its nostrils! Oh, and the legs on mine are warped to boot.

Probably the best thing I can say about this T. rex is that, when compared alongside CollectA’s more recent toys, it certainly illustrates how much the company has improved over the last ten years. Truth be told, I bought this one strictly as a novelty, and because my ambition is to someday see the DTB’s CollectA page completed. If you don’t already own it, then seriously, don’t bother. Not unless you’re a die-hard T. rex fan like me.

Thylacoleo (Southlands Replicas)

Australia was home to many amazing beasts during the Pleistocene epoch. There were echidnas the size of sheep, lizards the size of crocodiles, wombats the size of hippos, giant flightless birds, and short-faced kangaroos that stood up to three metres tall. The thylacine was alive and flourishing. And then there was the “marsupial lion,” Thylacoleo carnifex, the largest carnivorous marsupial known to have existed. Around the size of a jaguar and equipped with vise-like jaws, powerful arms, and murderous thumb claws, it was probably more than capable of bringing down prey far larger than itself.

Thylacoleo is the second figure from Southlands Replicas. About 13.5 cm long and 6.5 cm tall, it’s posed with its mouth wide open, its right hind leg planted far back, and its right arm raised high and poised to inflict a most painful blow upon something. The main colour is dark brown that gradually fades to beige on the underbelly, light brown stripes, black for the claws, pads, and nostrils, yellow eyes, a muddy brown nose, pink mouth, yellowish teeth, and pink inside the ears for good measure. As with nearly all prehistoric mammals, no one knows for sure what Thylacoleo‘s colours really were, but this looks perfectly plausible. The inside of the mouth and the fur are beautifully sculpted, as is the underlying musculature. This is a rugged, savage-looking beast.

The marsupial lion possessed a number of unique physical characteristics which are all well-represented on this toy. The head features a short muzzle and a large, flattened nose. The mouth features extremely large upper and lower incisors, which is in stark contrast to the canines found in canids and felids. Also visible are the blade-shaped carnassial premolars, which would have functioned like giant scissors, and the large jaw muscles. Thylacoleo possessed the strongest bite of any mammal in proportion to its size; it could have chomped down on a victim with nearly the same force as a much larger African lion.

The Thylacoleo‘s arms are bulging with muscles and end in huge paws equipped with curved claws that would have been retractable in life. Largest and scariest of all are the thumb claws. Analysis of the limbs concluded that they were more suited for climbing than running, and claw marks found on cave walls show that the animal was a capable climber. Perhaps Thylacoleo hunted by lying in wait in trees and then pouncing on prey as they passed underneath. This has led to jokes that it was the basis for the “drop bear” legend. Some researchers surmise that it killed its victims by seizing them with its strong jaws and then slashing and stabbing away with thumb claws, while others claim the opposite: it held its victims with its claws and then used its jaws to crush the throat or the spine. Either way, it’d be a gruesome death.

Southlands Replicas has really knocked it out of the park with this figure. Intimidating appearance, excellent sculpting, appropriate colours, and quite, quite accurate. Thylacoleo has long been one of my favourite prehistoric mammals, but unlike Smilodon and the woolly mammoth, it has thus far not been popular with toy manufacturers, baffingly. Hence this toy is an even greater joy. I dearly hope to see a Procoptodon or a Diprotodon from Southlands Replicas in the future. Heads up, CollectA and Safari, you’ve got some new competition!

Tyrannosaurus rex (Adult and Baby)(Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)

With Wild Safari having released an absolutely stellar assortment for 2017, I thought it would be both amusing and humbling to take a trip back in time to when the line was widely perceived as being strictly for kids and inferior to the now-defunct Carnegie Collection. Behold, I present these two outdated Tyrannosaurus rex figures.

img_8973

The adult T. rex is a repaint of the 1996 figure. Its main colours are medium and light green with dark brown claws and nostrils, black and yellow eyes, a pink mouth, and slightly greenish teeth. Hardly what you’d call exciting, but more realistic than the previous version. The figure has a height of 10.5 cm and a length of 21 cm.

img_8979

The T. rex is posed with its head tilted to the left, its mouth wide open, its arms flailing, and its tail swinging to the right, in the much-reviled tripod stance. The sculpting is a far cry from the masterpieces that Doug Watson turns out nowadays, but it’s still reasonably good. Lots of heavy skin folds and wrinkles, round osteoderms on the back of the neck, rows of scales on the hind feet, and visible musculature.

img_8978

Unfortunately, this T. rex‘s head is a world of wrong. First off, anyone who’s up on their tyrant lizard anatomy knows that the skull has a distinct T-shaped profile when viewed from above, which allowed for the animal’s eyes to face forward. By contrast, the head on this figure has more of a V-shape, with the eyes facing out to the sides. The hornlets sprouting above and in front of the eyes are too prominent. The premaxilla should be rounded, not sloped like it is here. And the teeth ought to be longer. This looks much more like the head of an Allosaurus than a T. rex. In addition, the arms are not small enough.

img_8977

The baby T. rex, which is also a repaint, shares the same colour scheme as the adult. It stands about 6 cm tall and measures 9 cm long. It is posed in a tripod stance similar to its parent’s, albeit with a closed mouth. It also have the same style and level of sculpting.

img_8976

Now, to be fair, this figure was made before any juvenile T. rex fossils had been discovered (aside from the highly dubious Nanotyrannus). Since then, paleontologists have determined that young tyrants had proportionally longer legs and smaller, narrower skulls than the adults. And they were very likely decked out in feathery plumage. By contrast, this figure has oversized arms, puny hind legs, and a huge, blocky head that would probably be impossible for a real animal to hold up. I’m sure the sculptor was going for a cute appearance, but this T. rex ends up reminding me of a bullfrog.

img_8975

Honestly? If you don’t already own these toys and you’re not a completist, then don’t bother getting them. The misshapen heads on both the adult and the baby ruin them, at least for me, and there are many newer, far superior Safari toys available for you to spend your hard-earned money on. Still, if you do want them, they are still readily available at various stores, including Michael’s.

img_8972