Author Archives: Suspsy

Kentrosaurus (Age of the Dinosaurs by PNSO)

As a hungry allosaur appears from the brush, Sethi abandons his breakfast and adopts a fighting stance. The predator moves in quickly, but Sethi responds by swinging his great tail in a full arc. The swooshing sound and flashing spikes give the allosaur pause, but then it resumes its advance. Sethi swings his tail again and this time, one of his spikes narrowly misses the theropod’s eye. Dissuaded, the allosaur slinks off in search of easier prey and Sethi quietly resumes grazing.

Kentrosaurus needs little introduction, as it is probably the second most popular stegosaur after mighty Stegosaurus itself. PNSO’s miniature rendition of this prickly customer, affectionately named Sethi, measures about 7.5 cm long. He is sculpted in an alert stance with his head turned sharply to the left, his left front leg raised, and his tail pulled back to the right, cocked and ready to deal a swift and painful blow.

The colour on Sethi’s body goes from olive green to sandy yellow, with grey spots. A white stripe runs horizontally from his neck to about halfway down his tail on both his sides. His eyes are orange and black. Finally, the plates on his back are purple while the spikes on his tail go from olive green to pale orange at the tips. Purple is a colour that’s seldom employed on “serious” dinosaur figures, so I think it’s very welcome here.

Sethi’s skin is covered in folds and wrinkles as well as small, oval-shaped osteoderms. Many creases are to be found on his plates and spikes. But while he is instantly recognizable as a Kentrosaurus, litte Sethi does have a number of anatomical errors. His front feet appear to have only three toes each. The spikes jutting out from his shoulders should be as long as the ones on his tail. The pair of spikes at the end of his tail should be angled further down, almost parallel to the tail tip. And finally, while this isn’t an inaccuracy per se, I would have liked it more if both the plates and the spikes were the same colour.

Overall, Sethi the Kentrosaurus is yet another impressive and endearing PNSO miniature, albeit with some minor scientific flaws. Thanks go out to PNSO for this figure!

Deinotherium (Mojo Fun)

The name Deinotherium means “terrible beast,” and this powerful pachyderm must have seemed like one to our early hominid ancestors who lived alongside it in Africa during the Pleistocene epoch. Standing around 4 metres tall and weighing anywhere from 10 to 13 tons, it was possibly the third largest proboscidean of all time after the 24-ton Asian straight-tusked elephant Palaeoloxodon namadicus (the largest land mammal of all time!) and the 15-ton mastodon Mammut borsoni.

Mojo released this Deinotherium toy in 2013. Appropriately, it’s a massive mound of solid plastic that stands 11 cm tall at the shoulder and measures 18 cm long. This is another figure you certainly wouldn’t want falling off the shelf and hitting you on the head. Such a painful incident is unlikely though, as it stands very firmly on its pillar-like legs. Indeed, the casual walking pose gives this animal a calm, confidant air. It knows full well that it’s the biggest and strongest thing in its environment, and that any would-be predator who tries something is only going to end up either fleeing or flattened.

The Deinotherium‘s colour scheme is based on that of a modern African elephant: taupe grey with faint patches of dusty brown, black eyes, toenails, and tail tuft, and white tusks with airbrushed rust near the roots. The hide is also sculpted like an elephant’s, with thick folds and wrinkles covering huge muscles. It’s not as intricate as the sculpting on the CollectA version, but it works. Oh, and looking at this individual’s underside, it appears to be a female, which is pretty rare among prehistoric mammal toys!

In addition to its sheer bulk, this toy displays the other characteristic features of Deinotherium: curved tusks extending from the lower jaw, small ears, and a large but relatively short trunk. It’s unknown just how precisely this animal employed its tusks; they may have been used to strip bark from trees or pull down branches to reach leaves. They also would have been dangerous weapons in battles between rival males. The length of the trunk is another matter of ongoing speculation. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I do prefer the longer trunk on the CollectA version. I think it would’ve made it easier for an animal as tall as a double-decker bus to take a drink. Or you can pretend that the Mojo version represents D. giganteum while the CollectA represents D. proavum, which may have had a longer trunk, as depicted in the National Geographic link in the intro.

Say what you will about Mojo Fun’s dinosaurs, but their prehistoric mammals have been pretty darned swell. This Deinotherium is well-sculpted, accurate, looks very naturalistic, and is certainly big enough to appear imposing among your other toys. And it bears repeating: it’s great that it’s a female instead of yet another male. Overall, an excellent toy!

Tyrannosaurus rex (2017)(Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

Available from Amazon.com here.

The old bull snorts angrily, but Hardbit is unmoved. He has stalked and killed scores of calves and cows on his own, and together with his mate, Tanjaw, large bulls like this one. And there is no moon in the sky overhead. A good night for a kill. Silently and methodically, the two hunters circle their prey. Unlike them, it cannot see in the pitch darkness and can only swing its horned head blindly from side to side. Suddenly, Tanjaw lunges and bites down on the bull’s right thigh! The bull jerks its head to the right and in that instant, Hardbit comes in from the left, clamps his jaws down on the bull’s frill, and forces the massive animal to the ground. Immediately, Tanjaw places her full weight on top of the bull and pins it down. Hardbit then plants a foot on the bull’s shoulder, bites down on the frill even harder, and begins to tug with every ounce of his brute strength. The frantic bull struggles and screams as the skin around its neck stretches and tears. There is a sickening crunch of breaking bone, and then, with one last effort, Hardbit wrenches off the bull’s head completely! He holds the dripping prize aloft for a few seconds, then lets it fall to the ground with a thump.

Tanjaw wastes no time in beginning to feed, but Hardbit pauses to catch his breath. He regards the severed head lying in a dark puddle at his feet. Although his mind does not allow much in the way of deep thought, he is still capable of feeling pride. This was indeed a good night for a kill . . .

Tyrannosaurus rex is THE dinosaur, plain and simple. Granted, some people have other favourites, and that’s great, but the tyrant lizard king will always be iconic. It’s the Batman, Spider-Man, Optimus Prime, Mickey Mouse, and Darth Vader of dinosaurs, the most famous and the most liked. And the most studied one too. The Dinosaur Toy Blog certainly attests to this popularity, as there are by far more T. rex reviews than any other animal. And now it’s my pleasure and privilege to review one of the newest and most anticipated renditions, the 2017 Feathered T. rex from Wild Safari!

As is often the case when I acquire a new figure, I promptly presented this T. rex before my non-dinosaur loving wife. Her gut reaction this time? “It’s really fat!” And yes, this certainly is one of the beefiest tyrant kings I’ve seen yet. The rib cage is nearly 6 cm wide and the torso is around 7 cm deep. The figure stands a majestic 14 cm tall and measures just over 31 cm long, positively dwarfing the previous Wild Safari T. rex! It is also noticeably heavier than either of the Papo T. rexes or the CollectA Deluxe Feathered T. rex. So why is this figure so massive? Well, the truth is that we’ve all been duped for a long time into envisioning T. rex as slimmer than it really was. One reason is that a number of prominent museums such as the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and even the Field Museum in Chicago have their T. rex specimens mounted without gastralia, those belly ribs that would have made the animal’s torso particularly bulgy. The Smithsonian’s recently acquired specimen, however, will include its gastralia when it goes on display in 2019. Another reason is that even some of the best paleoartists have had a tendency to depict T. rex more along the lines of an NBA forward as opposed to the NFL linebacker it really was. Indeed, while it’s true that Giganotosaurus was longer than T. rex, the latter was still heavier, with a thicker head, neck, and torso as well as far greater physical strength. And if the Ibrahim/Sereno reconstruction of Spinosaurus is indeed correct, then the spined lizard also lost out to the tyrant lizard in terms of mass if not length. Bottom line: I strongly advise against placing this figure up on a high shelf; you really wouldn’t want it falling on your head!

This T. rex is posed with the head raised high and turned to the left, the jaws wide open, the left foot forward, and the powerful tail twitching slightly to the left and well off the ground. Unfortunately, I’ve heard a few people report balancing issues with their figures. Mine was stood well enough when I first got it, but after a couple of days, it became more prone to tipping forward. Fortunately, after softening the left foot in boiling water, bending it back slightly, and then running it under cold water, I have solved that issue. The figure can also be balanced on the tip of its tail if needs be.

Our fine feathered friends! And a must-read book too!

One detail I’m going to touch right now are the deep scars crisscrossing the muzzle, three one on side and three on the other. Looks like the result of a very nasty scrap with another T. rex. There does exist fossil evidence that tyrannosaurines at least occasionally engaged in intraspecific conflict. These could have arisen over food, territory, mating rights, or possibly even cannibalism. In any case, the scars give this individual a distinctly rugged, hard-bitten appearance, hence why I’ve named him Hardbit.

Hardbit’s most prominent feature is, of course, his elaborate plumage. Nearly his entire body is covered in feathers. A thick mane, similar to that found on the wreathed hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus) and various species of eagle, covers the back of his neck. A welcome bit of variety from the tall mohawks so frequently seen on feathered dinosaur depictions. There are even feathers extending onto his cranium. Feathered renditions of T. rex usually omit such a feature, so this is again a welcome change. The only bare parts are the muzzle, the mandible, the throat, the feet, and a large patch on the underbelly.

Like many of the 2017 Wild Safari figures, Hardbit here was crafted by artist (and fellow Canuck) Doug Watson, which alone should tell you about the quality of the sculpting. The featherless bits have a very fine pebbled texture, with thick folds of skin on the throat and large, overlapping scales on the fingers and feet. The feathers on the main body have a lush, shaggy feel, like on a rhea or a kiwi. The larger, spikier feathers comprising the mane have tiny grooves carved into them. The savage teeth are appropriately sharp and the roof of the mouth and the tongue are pitted. There are also rows of tiny osteoderms running along the brow ridges and along the top of the muzzle, as well as the aforementioned scars. Even the soles of the feet are textured. I can’t imagine how much time, effort, patience, and heart must have gone into sculpting this figure, but I take my hat off to you, Doug.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food!”

Hardbit is easily one of the most colourful Wild Safari dinosaurs to date. The plumage on his main body varies between dark red and pale orange with black stripes and a slight dark grey wash. The plumage on his chest and the underside of his tail have a white wash and the mane and cranial feathers are a combination of crimson and black. The scaly parts are a mixture of grey and beige, the nostrils, claws, and the large scales on the feet are dark grey, the eyes are yellow surrounded by red, the osteoderms are red as well, the mouth, connective tissue, and scars are crimson, and the teeth are white. It really is a gorgeous scheme, one that utilises a wide variety of colours, yet at the same time is quite realistic and not overly bold. There are a few small nicks and blemishes here and there amidst the feathers, but keep in mind that finely textured figures carry a greater risk of paint rubbing when they are packed close together during shipping. This goes more so for large figures like this one. Safari may want to consider providing extra protective packaging for their products in future.

And now it’s time to discuss the scientific accuracy of this figure. Doug Watson informed me that Hardbit was based on the famous Sue specimen, which is the largest T. rex known from near-complete remains (although Scotty might actually have exceeded Sue in mass). As such, Hardbit possesses all the correct anatomical features. The massive, T-shaped skull features stereoscopic vision and savage teeth that are large, but not overly so. No question of shrink wrapping here; the orbits and fenestrae are completely hidden beneath the skin. There is a short, sturdy neck, a barrel-like rib cage, rightly tiny arms with non-pronated wrists, powerful-looking hind legs, and finally a stout tail whose enormous caudofemoralis muscles would have enhanced the animal’s speed and allowed it to successfully pursue live prey. As for the plumage, we all know that’s a divisive issue among dinosaur experts and enthusiasts. It’s true that there’s currently no direct fossil evidence of feathers on T. rex, but the same can be said for a good many theropods that we are still pretty certain had them. Fossilised feathers are the rare exception, not the norm. Phylogenetic bracketing certainly suggests the distinct possibility that the tyrant king had feathers. And shoot, no one has yet discovered a Megatherium with preserved fur, but you don’t hear anyone claiming it had naked skin! Speculation will always be an essential and major component of paleontology, and I for one am all in favour of a tyrant king adorned with plumage. I will also note that for the life of me, I’ve never understood the notion that feathered theropods can’t possibly be scary. I think the people who claim as such would be screaming at their top of their lungs if they were attacked by a Canada goose, let alone a great horned owl, a harpy eagle, or a cassowary (which actually has killed at least one person). And consider brown bears, which are covered in heavy fur that gives them a cuddly, friendly appearance. But have you ever seen The Revenant or the documentary film Grizzly Man? A feathered T. rex like Hardbit here would be no less lethal than a scaly one.

Wild Safari has long been one of the very best prehistoric lines, but 2017 will go down in history as the year they took it to a whole new level of awesomeness. This Tyrannosaurus rex is nothing short of a masterpiece, no two ways about it. Its gargantuan size and bulk alone make it stand out in any dinosaur collection, but add to that the expansive plumage, the handsome colour scheme, the exquisite sculpting, and those vital airs of majesty and ferociousness that accompany any proper depiction of the tyrant lizard king, and you have a truly phenomenal toy. One for the ages. Even people who don’t agree with the feathered look ought to be impressed by it. Hardbit here is now my favourite T. rex figure, hands down. Yes, even more so than the CollectA version (which I still adore, mind you). Highest of recommendations!

A heartfelt thank you goes out to Dan’s Dinosaurs for generously providing this figure for review.

“It ain’t about how hard you bite. It’s about how hard you can get bit and keep moving forward. It’s about how many bites you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”