Author Archives: Suspsy

Saichania (Small)(Schleich)

Saichania, meaning “the beautiful one” in Mongolian, derives its name from the magnificent state of preservation the type specimen was found in. Like Ankylosaurus and Euoplocephalus, it was covered in heavy armour and bore a large club at the end of its tail. But whereas its North American relatives inhabited lush forests and floodplains, Saichania was adapted for the harsh life of the desert. Special air passages in its head cooled the air it breathed in and helped restrict water loss, while a reinforced hard palate enabled it to grind up tough plants.

Schleich has been very fond of Saichania, having released several different versions over the years. This is their newest one, released in 2017. From snout to club tip, it measures a respectable 13 cm long. The main colours are pine green and beige washed over with black and complimented by rust red streaks. The eyes and nostrils are black and the tongue is bright red. I think it looks pretty good. Like most dinosaur toys, this one appears to have been caught in the midst of confronting an enemy. Its head is raised, its mouth is open, and its mighty tail is raised and swinging to the right.

The Saichania‘s back and flanks are covered in small, rounded scales while the underbelly features larger, square-shaped scales. The top of the skull has a knobby texture and the beak, osteoderms, and club are covered in grooves, giving them a rough, worm appearance. Thick wrinkles add realism to the throat and the limb joints. While not in the same league as the sculpting jobs by CollectA, Papo, and Safari, it’s still nothing to sneeze at.

Accuracy is a mixed bag here. The skull is broad with an almost pig-like snout and the correct arrangement of horns jutting from the mandible and behind the orbits. The forelimbs are covered in heavy armour, a distinguishing characteristic that was absent on all of Schleich’s previous attempts. The plates covering the back run in parallel rows with the largest ones at the rear, which is also in keeping with skeletal reconstructions. But there are still a number of major inaccuracies. The head is too big for the body, the armour on the forelimbs should extend further down, the body should be wider, the tail is too short, and the club is too large and too deep. As well, the limbs are too thick and stumpy, and the hind feet should have three toes, not four.

I’m generally not fond of Schleich products, but I’ll give credit where I believe it’s due. This toy has its issues, but it’s a pretty swell rendition of the real deal nevertheless. If all of Schleich’s prehistoric figures were like this, we’d be a lot happier. The Saichania is sold in a two-pack with a repaint of the small 2015 Giganotosaurus, but some online stores like DeJankins sell them separately.

Velociraptor (Blue Version)(Papo)

Ah, Velociraptor. Thanks to its starring role in the Jurassic Park franchise, it is arguably the second most popular dinosaur after Tyrannosaurus rex. But the funny thing is, it might never have become so famous had it not been for a taxonomic error in a certain book: Predatory Dinosaurs of the World.

Written and illustrated by acclaimed paleoartist Gregory Paul in 1988, PDotW combined meticulous research, vivid art, and a writing style that was appealing to an eleven year old dinosaur buff. It is still one of my favourite books, one that truly revolutionized my perception of dinosaurs. Michael Crichton clearly felt the same way, as he relied heavily on Paul’s book when he was doing research for the novel that would be titled Jurassic Park. The problem is, PDotW contained a number of erroneous or highly dubious claims regarding dinosaur taxonomy. One was to lump Deinonychus and Velociraptor as the same genus, with the latter name taking precedent. Had Paul not done this (he has since acknowledged the error), or had Crichton not relied on PDotW, it is very possible that Deinonychus, not Velociraptor, would have been the dromaeosaur featured in Jurassic Park.

Enough musing on what might have been. The toy I’ll be reviewing here should be a familiar face to most readers. Recall that Papo released their first Velociraptor toy way back in 2005. In 2010, they rereleased it in grey with reddish brown markings. In 2015, they released a multi-coloured version in a two-pack with a similar repaint of the original Tyrannosaurus rex. In 2016, they released a rather dull green version. And finally, for this year, Papo has opted to release their 2015 version again, with the official name is ‘Blue Velociraptor.’ And indeed, it does feature purple-blue on its back and bright blue around its eyes on and on the tip of its tail. The main colour, however, is a dull olive green with very faint pink for the underbelly. Reddish-brown and faint pink stripes run in a line down the neck and spine. The lower jaw and throat are tinged with rusty orange and there are black spots lining the mouth. The wide eyes are dark orange. Finally, the inside of the mouth is medium pink with a pale pink tongue, the teeth are white, and the claws are black. Not quite as flashy as the T. rexes, but easily the most colourful of all the Papo raptors.


The Acrocanthosaurus is similarly coloured too.

This Velociraptor stands 9.5cm tall and measures slightly over 17 cm long. I’m not going to go into a description of the fine sculpting or the many, many glaring inaccuracies riddling this toy, as both have been covered in the review of the original version.

So why did I even bother with this toy given my passion for dromaeosaurs depicted with feathers and my disdain for those that are still depicted without them? Well, as an educator, I love squeezing dinosaurs into my lessons whenever possible. And I figured an outdated, inaccurate toy such as this one would be a perfect contrast to say, Papo’s 2016 Feathered Velociraptor or Safari’s 2017 masterpiece. Show this toy to the kids first, ask them where they’ve seen raptors like it, then show them the feathered version and explain that this is what they really looked like.

For those of you who do thoroughly enjoy the JP franchise, or just vintage renditions of dinosaurs in general, the Blue Velociraptor will probably be a good addition to your collection.

Tyrannosaurus rex (Sue Plush by Field Museum of Natural History)

If you’re reading this review, then it’s likely that you have at least heard of FMNH PR 2081, AKA “Sue.” It is one of the largest and most complete specimens of Tyrannosaurus rex to date, with a length of 12.3 metres and an estimated weight of nine tons. It is also famous for being the subject of a lengthy legal battle over ownership before it was finally sold at auction for the whopping sum of $8.5 million US. Happily, the buyer was the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, which had obtained financial backing from the Walt Disney Corporation and McDonald’s. Sue stands tall and majestic in the museum’s central lobby to this day, much to the delight of experts and enthusiasts of all ages.

Over the years, Sue has inspired a wide variety of merchandise: books, videos, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and, of course, toys. You can check out a couple of them here and here. Today I’ll be examining this stuffed Sue, which came out around the year 1999. At 50 cm in length and 20 cm in height, it’s one of the largest T. rexes in my collection, albeit fairly standard size for a plush toy.

The main colours on this toy are dark brown, light brown, and white with a black stripe running from the muzzle to the tip of the tail. The large eyes are made of red glass with black, cat-style irises. The mouth is purple with white teeth made from thin strips of leather. The black hind claws are also made of leather. Not a particularly unique colour scheme, especially for a tyrannosaur, but it’s realistic and works well here.


“I’m based on Sue too!”

Sue is soft enough to be pleasingly huggable, but its legs and tail are still sturdy enough to allow it to stand in a horizontal tripod stance. Like most plush toys, it’s made to take a good licking from a child and can be dropped, bashed around, or thrown across a room without the risk of breakage. Accuracy-wise, this toy is missing nostrils, foreclaws, and dew claws, but I reckon that’s forgivable given its simplicity. And on the plus side, the hands are properly positioned, which can’t be said for a good many more recent and detailed renditions!

Overall, I’m rather fond of my Sue plush. It’s big, instantly recognizable as a T. rex, and fun to play with. I look forward to passing this toy on to the next generation!

And can it be that time again already? Yes, my friends, I’m celebrating yet another milestone: my 150th review! As always, I must extend my sincerest gratitude to Dr. Adam S. Smith for granting me this wonderful opportunity in the first place. And I thank each and every single one of you for reading and commenting on my reviews. I’m actually nearing the point where I won’t be able to churn them out on a weekly basis anymore, but I still plan on writing as time and opportunity permit! Cheers!