Author Archives: Suspsy

Prehistoric Mammal Skulls (Toob by Safari Ltd.)

Prehistoric skulls, be they those of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, sea monsters, mammals, amphibians, or any other beasts, are always things of beauty and intrigue. Let us take a look at this interesting variety of mammal skulls from Safari Ltd. There are eight in total, all coloured medium brown with a pale brown wash, and all with their names printed on the undersides.

We begin with the huge and horned Arsinoitherium. This skull measures just over 5 cm long from the tips of its huge front horns to the back of its mandible. While the horns could afford to be even longer and angled farther back, this is still quite unmistakeable as the famous embrithopod.



Next up is one of our distant relatives: Australopithecus. There are several described species, but I’m going to assume that this is meant to represent the most famous, A. afarensis, of which the famous “Lucy” specimen belongs to. It measures about 4.5 cm long from the mouth to the parietal. While the cranium looks pretty good, the chin could afford to be more defined and the teeth are too numerous, too small, and too generic in shape.



Our third skull is that of the frightfully fanged Daeodon. This one measures nearly 5.5 cm long. With all those pointed teeth and knobby projections, a lay person might easily mistake it for some kind of theropod dinosaur! But in order for it to be a proper representation of the largest entelodont, the maxillary canines should be larger and more visible, and the skull should be taller.



Fourth up is the skull of Embolotherium, a mighty brontothere from Asia, very similar to the North American Megacerops. This one measures 4.5 cm long and is immediately recognizable due to the slightly heart-shaped protuberance on the nose. The exact purpose of this horn is uncertain, as it was hollow and therefore too fragile for use in combat. Some experts have proposed that it may have been a specialized resonator for producing sounds, similar to the crest on Parasaurolophus. In any case, this is a reasonably good representation of Embolotherium save for the fact that, as with the Australopithecus, the teeth are too many and too generic.



Here is a first for the DTB: the skull of a Mammut americanum, better known as the American mastodon. Yes, despite being fairly popular and known from multiple complete skeletons, the poor mastodon has been overlooked by toy companies in favour of its more famous relative, the woolly mammoth. Indeed, I suspect that that only reason Safari went with a mastodon instead of a mammoth skull was because the latter’s huge tusks would have been impossible to squeeze into the package. Not surprisingly, this is the longest skull in the set, measuring 9 cm long from the tips of the tusks to the back of the cranium. Unfortunately, the tusks need to be more curved and spread farther apart in order to be a proper American mastodon. This looks more like a Stegodon skull. But on a much more positive note, Safari will be releasing a fantastic-looking mastodon figure in 2018!



Can’t have a set of prehistoric mammals without good ol’ Smilodon. This bad boy’s noggin measures 5.5 cm long with 3 cm long canines. No mistaking this one. But while it has the basic profile of a machairodont, the muzzle is a bit too long and the skull is not deep enough. The mouth is open slightly, but it would have been cooler had it been open to a full 120 degrees.



This is the knobby skull of the massive Uintatherium. Measuring slightly over 5 cm long, this individual may be a female due to the relative shortness of its tusks. While it could certainly afford to have even more pronounced knobs, overall, this is a pretty decent replica.



Last up is a woolly rhino skull. Now, anyone who knows anything about rhinos knows full well that their horns are made of keratin, not bone. But a hornless rhino just wouldn’t look as impressive, now would it? Anyway, the front horn gives the skull a height of 4.5 cm, matching its length. The skull itself looks fairly accurate, but the front horn is very warped. A result of too much time spent crammed into the tube, I suppose. On a sad note, as I gaze upon this tiny plastic skull, I can’t help but think of the strong, grim possibility that modern rhinos will soon be joining their woolly brethren in extinction. 🙁



These prehistoric mammal skulls aren’t quite museum-quality accurate, but they’re rather good overall. A very unique and educational set, appropriate for all ages. Recommended.

Ankylosaurus (Mini)(Chap Mei)

The various Ankylosaurus toys that have been reviewed here on the DTB over the years range from the truly superb to the decidedly subpar. But the one I’ve got to review today may well be the most hideous of them all.

This here is the Mini Ankylosaurus from Chap Mei. It measures about 10.5 cm long and is 6.5 cm high at the tip of its raised tail club. The main colours are olive green and dark grey with white accents on the osteoderms and red accents on the club. A splash of black is on top of the head and the teeth and mouth are white and red respectively. The eyes are supposed to be yellow, but the left one on mine has not been painted. The claws are also unpainted, but as with all Chap Mei toys, that’s an intentional corner-cutter.

The skin textures on this Ankylosaurus range from large scales on the head to wrinkles on the underbelly and legs to pebbles on the back and tail and grooves on the osteoderms. The animal is sculpted in a defensive stance with its right front limb forward, its head turned to the left, and its tail raised high. While this is unquestionably a dramatic pose, it’s impossible for any ankylosaurid to achieve without breaking some of the vertebrae in its tail.

Which brings us to the issue of accuracy, or woeful lack of it. The limbs are too long for an Ankylosaurus, although the feet surprisingly have the proper number of toes. The armour is way too spiky. And ye gods, that head. That ridiculous head. Just look at that long muzzle, those sharp teeth, and the fact that there are no horns projecting out from behind the orbits. It looks like a rauisuchid head attached to a generic ankylosaur’s body!

This is one of those toys that is arguably so lame, it’s funny. Unless you’re fond of oddities (which is perfectly cool), you can definitely give this Ankylosaurus toy a pass.

Corythosaurus (CollectA)

Thanks to its distinctive rounded crest that resembles a helmet when viewed from the side, Corythosaurus is one of the most recognizable hadrosaurids. It’s also one of the best-known, with multiple complete skeletons, more than twenty fossil skulls, and mounted specimens in museums throughout North America. Like its relative Parasaurolophus, Corythosaurus‘ crest may have functioned as a vocalization chamber.

CollectA released this Corythosaurus toy back in 2009. Rearing up on its hind legs with its head turned sharply to the right, it measures 9.5 cm tall and 15.5 cm long. Its main colours are a dull shade of orange, copper brown, and yellow. Red-orange is used for the crest and the tall ridge running down the spine. The eyes are black and the flanks are streaked with pale blue and red.

The detailing on this toy is typical of CollectA’s early years, meaning it’s not very impressive. The crest and the vertebrae are ribbed, the skin is speckled with small bumps, and there are heavy wrinkles at the neck, shoulders, hips, legs, and underbelly.

This Corythosaurus doesn’t score very high in the accuracy department either. For starters, the tail and the arms are too short. The body is too wide, especially the hips. The hands look more like the paws of a mammal as opposed to the “mittens” that we know hadrosaurids possessed. And finally, the muzzle lacks the signature duckbill, making the head look more like a horse’s than a proper Corythosaurus.


Something of a contrast to the CollectA Olorotitan.

Overall, not a very good toy, I’m afraid. Considering how CollectA has done some magnificent new versions of their old toys, I hope they eventually release an improved Corythosaurus. In the mean time, this one is recommended only if you’re really fond of hadrosaurids.