Category Archives: Carnegie

Tanystropheus (Carnegie Collection by Safari Ltd.)

One of my favorite critters from the Triassic period has to be Tanystropheus. In a period renowned for its strange non-dinosaur Archosauromorphs the Tanystropheus is certainly among the strangest. Superficially similar to a plesiosaur this animal appears to have been semi-aquatic, with webbed feet instead of flippers. Its taxonomic placement within Archosauromorpha indicates that despite their similar appearance they were not related and what similarity there is was a result of convergent evolution. Back in 1999 Carnegie produced their own take on this oddity and although both color schemes have been briefly reviewed by the blog it’s time this model got a proper full length review in place of those two place holders.

Tanystropheus is not a particularly popular animal but peculiar enough that a few companies have tackled this beast. With only a handful of Tanystropheus represented in the collector’s market it’s easy to claim that the Carnegie must be the best of the lot. Measuring 12” in length the slender, elegant body gives this toy a striking yet delicate appearance. The neck of the actual Tanystropheus measured about 10’ in length, longer than the body and tail combined! Carnegie has properly represented this feature, no doubt the most startling feature of this animal. Although ol’ Tany had a fairly inflexible neck in life the model form includes a bendable neck, perhaps the only Carnegie model with such an action feature. That means you can pose it with the neck accurately stretched out in front of it, bent up in an S-curve or looking behind itself. I must warn that you don’t get too playful with it however as the plastic around the wire is prone to cracking. The rest of the sculpt is fairly basic and certainly appears accurate enough. The body is flattened and streamlined and the legs splayed out to the sides with five webbed fingers and toes. Although we have skin impressions for Tanystropheus that show it had scales they’re not present on the model and probably shouldn’t be anyway. There are a few off putting details on this model that hurt its otherwise life-like appearance. Along the length of the neck and head there is an obvious seam while under the neck and body there are small pairs of holes every inch or so. This no doubt has something to do with the bendable neck but is quite obvious when viewed from below. Luckily, you’re not likely to look at the underside of this toy very frequently.

DSCN9121In addition to the 1999 model there is also a 2007 repaint. The original version is quite a striking animal with a green body color, blue underside and a series of brick red markings down the neck, body and tail bordered by peach coloration. A similarly colored stripe runs down along both sides of the neck while spots are painted along the flanks of the model. The top of the head is black with blue coloration around the eyes and throat. The forelimbs are also peach in color. Overall it is a very eye catching piece that is fun to look at without being too gaudy. The 2007 version is much more conservative with a light green neck and back, tan tail and limbs and yellow markings down half the neck, back and tail. There are a couple blue markings on either side of the face along with two blue spots and a white stripe down the sides of the neck. The toes are painted black on this version while only the nails are painted on the original sculpt. The earth tones of the re-paint are equally appealing in their own right and I like to think that it’s the female counterpart to the more flamboyant original sculpt, which must be the male. The plastic used also appears different as the original model is a lot softer and more pliable; the newer release is considerably stiffer.

DSCN5936_zps9557a56b.jpg~originalAlthough this model (and now, all Carnegie models) is retired it’s still fairly easy to find and very much worth seeking out. I’m always lamenting the lack of Triassic animals in the toy market so it’s very refreshing to see such a unique and obscure animal sculpted so well. It’s hard to advocate one version over the other and since they make such a beautiful pair you had probably better seek both versions out. Don’t miss out on this one of a kind model representing a one of a kind animal!

Smilodon (Carnegie Collection by Safari ltd.)

Smilodon c 10

This is the first Smilodon review on the DTB, so I think it is only fitting that I start with the original Carnegie Smilodon. When Safari launched the Carnegie line in 1988, Smilodon was in the first group of scientific models released. After a short run, this 1:10 scale figure was retired in 1997, and never re-sculpted or reappeared in the Carnegie line. As this is one of the most recognizable animals, I’ll be brief with its history. Smilodon was a specialized hunter that diverged early from the ancestors of modern cats and is not closely related to any living feline species. It was similar in size to the modern day lion but the body was more robust and powerful, and it had visually exciting, yet fragile, long upper canines.

Smilodon c 11

The toy measures 5in (12.7cm) long and is 2.7in (6.9cm) tall at the shoulder. That puts it around 1:15 scale which would make it a good companion for the Carnegie Australopithecines. This early figure is blocky, simplistic and lacks sophistication. The upper canines and lower jaws are connected. There are no other teeth present in the mouth. There is a flange outgrowth on the lower jaw like a Eusmilus, which Smilodon did not have. The rest of the head is in the correct general shape with the eyes and ears in the right spot. There is some fur sticking out underneath the ear. It might not be accurate, but its face has a strange and intriguing quality to it. I am pretty sure it wasn’t purposely sculpted with a scarred and gnarled visage but that is how it looks to me.

Smilodon c 4

The rest of the body is robust, it is a simple design that fits the mold of the early Carnegie models. The feet and legs are oversized and the rest of the body seems proportional. The short tail is round and upturned with some simple fur lines. There is a lot of muscle rippling underneath the fur witch is quite pleasant to see. The rib cage is subtly present with some fur marks along the flanks. In fact, there are quite a few little fur marks sculpted throughout the body.

The color is glossy golden tan much like a today’s African lion’s, well except for the glossy part. Inside the mouth is painted red but rather crudely. The nose is just a black splotch. The cranial mystacial vibrissae (whiskers) are wispy and black. The eyes are a small black dot with a black line representing eyebrows. The canines, paws and part of the tail are white.

Smilodon c 5

Of course this figure can be played with if one was so inclined. It is solid piece of plastic that can hold up to long hours of play. I do not think many kids would choose this toy over the multitude of other smildons out there. Of course, it is possible to find a beat up one at a garage sale that might be ok for the sand box.

Smilodon c 1

If you have seen the original Carnegie Smilodon in person in recent years, either it was in your own personal collection, or you are one of the lucky to come across this elusive and stealthy piece. I rarely see this toy sold online or in person, and usually its not in very good condition. To be honest, it is not a great figure, in fact I wouldn’t even rate it as good, but a redeaming quality is that it is part of the original Carnegie collection line. The figure also has a certain charm to it. When I look at this figure, as I stated earlier, I think of an aged cat that has scars from rivals or prey. Maybe it once had its jaw broken, but it healed, and the cat is still roaming its territory, master of its domain. Of course that could have less to do with the figure and more from my over-active imagination. I would recommend this figure only to those who collect Carnegie, sabre-tooth-cats, or to anyone who likes the look of it.

Sometimes found on here.

Pachycephalosaurus (Version 1, Carnegie Collection by Safari Ltd)

Despite my lifelong love of dinosaurs, I never made make a point of acquiring Carnegie Collection figures as a child. I suppose I was far too busy acquiring Lego sets and Ninja Turtles. But when my mother returned from a business trip with the Carnegie Pachycephalosaurus as a gift, I was delighted. For years, the toy sat proudly on my bedroom dresser. Then, at some point during my graduate school years, it disappeared like so many other childhood items. I assumed it was gone for good, thought little of it, and went on with my life.


This week, I was going through some old boxes in search of items to sell at my neighbourhood yard sale. Lo and behold, I came across the Pachycephalosaurus! It is now safe and sound with the rest of my now-sizable collection of Carnegie toys. :)


This is the original 1990 version of the Pachycephalosaurus. From cranium to tail tip it measures 17.5 cm long and stands 7.5 cm high. In keeping with the popular theory that it used its domed skull to establish dominance among other members of its species, it is sculpted in a charging pose with its head lowered, its right leg raised, and its body slanted to the right. Such an active pose for a dinosaur toy was very rare back in 1990, and considerably difficult to achieve. As such, the Pachycephalosaurus is mounted on an earthen-shaped stand.


The main colours on this toy are grey and black with dark purple shading along the sides and on the hands and feet. The claws are black. The head features white knobs, black stripes, yellow eyes, pink for the open mouth, white teeth, and a splash of purple on the cranium. A decent colour scheme, though not an exciting one. In 1996, the toy was repainted with light grey, lavender, and pale blue, and a markedly different stripe pattern.


The Pachycephalosaurus` skin has a pebbled texture with thicker scales on its underside and running in a row down its back. Accuracy-wise, it has a number of glaring flaws. One eye is set further back than the other and the mouth is lopsided. The neck is too short, the forelimbs are too large, the legs are like tree trunks, and the tail is too short and stumpy. And most perplexing of all, the right foot is missing the inner toe. Later versions would correct this, however.


Although the Carnegie Pachycephalosaurus is woefully outdated and inaccurate by today`s standards, it was quite a popular toy back in its day. There`s a certain nostalgic charm to it, like a bipedal Spinosaurus with a boxy head or a mosasaur with plates running down its back. I am glad to have rediscovered it.

Frequently available from Ebay here