Category Archives: Carnegie

Velociraptor (Carnegie Collection by Safari Ltd)

Review and Photographs by Quentin Brendel (aka Pachyrhinosaurus), edited by Suspsy

Velociraptor‘s name rose to fame in the early 90s’ with the release of Jurassic Park, despite the creature in the movie being actually based on the related Deinonychus. It wasn’t until 2003, however, that, alongside a woolly mammoth, the Carnegie Collection produced a Velociraptor. It wasn’t their first dromaeosaur, with their trio of Deinonychus being retired just a few years earlier, but the Velociraptor was many steps up from the earlier model. It originally came in a bright orange colour with a red head and black markings, but in 2007, it was repainted to the coloration seen here. I don’t have the orange version to review (in fact it’s the only post-2000 Carnegie figure I’m missing), so today we’ll focus on the repaint.

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The Carnegie Velociraptor is posed in a tripod stance, with its tail touching the ground for support. The arms are spread apart and the head is turned to the right with an open mouth. All over the body, there’s a bumpy, leathery skin pattern like that of an elephant, but with suggestions of scales in some places. The skin has a very tight feeling to it, as there isn’t much more than the bare minimum of soft tissue on the model. The Velociraptor is mostly light brown or tan in colour with a grey underside and there are brown stripes originating on the dorsal area of the model. The tongue is sculpted separately (though it isn’t as distracting as that of the Carnegie Quetzalcoatlus) and the mouth interior is painted pink with bright white teeth. The eyes are gold with a slit pupil, like those of some snakes. Each of the claws are neatly painted black.

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In length, this Velociraptor is 7 and 5/8 inches from snout to tail and 2 and 1/2 inches high at the hips. According to Safari Ltd’s 2014 catalog, it’s in 1:10 scale, unlike most Carnegie figures which were in 1:40 scale. As with most Velociraptor figures of its time, this one lacks any form of feathering. It’s now widely known that dromaeosaurs possessed pennaceous feathers, including long, but symmetrical feathers on their wings. There are much older depictions of dromaeosaurs with feathers, dating back to at least the 1980s’, though feathers on raptors did not become commonplace until much more recently. It is also rare to see older figures which do not have pronated wrists, which fortunately, this Velociraptor lacks. There should probably be some kind of patagium at the elbow joint, but as it’s an older figure, it isn’t a huge problem. The skull matches that of the AMNH specimen pretty well. It has a more exaggerated angle of the snout which leads me to believe this Velociraptor‘s head was based on this skull. The general proportions look about right, though the tail should be a bit longer and thinner. Additionally, the eyes are painted to have slit pupils, which are unlikely as modern birds have round ones.

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Despite the Carnegie Velociraptor‘s shortcomings in accuracy, it is still a classic figure, but as science changes, so should our dinosaur models. In 2015 the Carnegie Collection released its final figure: a revised version of Velociraptor. It may not be perfect, but if you’re looking for a more scientifically accurate figure, then I would recommend buying the new one as it was pretty much the best Velociraptor on the market for the short time that it was produced. Older figures do have lots of nostalgia attached to them, though, and if you want a bald raptor from the nineties, I couldn’t think of a better choice. This figure was retired in 2015 but can still be found for sale online, as well as the less-common, earlier red variant.

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Elasmosaurus (Carnegie Collection by Safari Ltd.)

Measuring nearly 50’ in length with a extraordinarily long neck the genus Elasmosaurus is surely one of the most charismatic and awe inspiring members of the plesiosaur order and even more popular than Plesiosaurus itself. It’s no wonder since Elasmosaurus was one of the largest members of the group and has been featured in numerous books, artwork, and other pop culture depictions.

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The 1991 Carnegie Collection Elasmosaurus may very well be the first mass produced toy depicting the marine reptile. I had one growing up and it was one of the best bathtub toys I owned! It was released alongside a Mosasaurus obviously inspired by old paleoart by the likes of Zdeněk Burian. The Mosasaurus hasn’t aged well, but what about this Elasmosaurus?

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For the most part this model has held up well. It has that standard plesiosaur body plan that is difficult to mess up too much. But much like that old Mosasaurus this toy does suffer from its age. The neck is bent upwards and curved as if attempting to snatch some poor Pteranodon from the air. We of course now know that plesiosaurs had stiff necks held out in front of them and despite what so many alleged Nessie pictures suggest these animals did not swim around with their necks out of the water like a swan.

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The head is also concerning because it completely ignores the somewhat odd cranial anatomy of this animal. To get an idea of what it should look like it would be good to compare it with the 2013 Wild Safari model. The skull should be low with the eyes towards the top of the head, not the sides. Also the teeth should be jutting out forward from the mouth, no doubt a useful tool for snaring fishes. What we have on the Carnegie model is just a generic looking lizard head. It’s a pity because the model is otherwise decent, just got to cut that head off.

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Despite its shortcomings anatomically the Carnegie Elasmosaurus has stood the test of time in other ways. Up until the complete retirement of the Carnegie Collection this toy could be found regularly and a few variations exist. There is this model that I own, painted in various shades of brown with a dark brown back and intricate gray colored, half-moon designs running down the side along with dark brown splotches overlaid with small black spots. The dark brown coloration stops 1/3 of the way up the neck but faint bands and dark spots run up the rest of its length. The head has black spotting and a black stripe that runs through the eyes and around the snout. A green stripe runs below each eye. Mine is odd in that it has spots on only one of the fore-flippers, and not on the rest. I’m not sure if that’s consistent with other models or unique to my own.

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Another version exists that is very similar to my own, the only difference being that there are darker, thicker bands running up the neck, brown edging on the front flippers, and no green stripe below the eyes. In 2007 the model would be released yet again with a completely new paint scheme. That one was blue with darker blue blotches along the back, a believable color scheme for an aquatic animal that would no doubt serve as camouflage in the rippling blue water. But the older color schemes work too.

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The toy is an impressive size; it measures 11” from tail to head, not counting the curvature in the neck. The details on the toy are slim but that’s to be expected from what is supposed to be a streamlined aquatic animal. There are some wrinkles where the fore-flippers meet the body and the model has a slightly dimpled texture. Three raised black bumps are sculpted on the neck just behind the head.

The Carnegie Elasmosaurus is a classic model of the genus and a must have for marine reptile buffs. It has some anatomical errors but is otherwise a well-made toy. Its large size and craning neck make it stand out on a shelf and it displays well. This model had a long run with the Carnegie Collection and is still easy to find and probably will be for years to come.

Parasaurolophus (Carnegie Collection by Safari Ltd)

Review and photographs by Quentin Brendel (aka Pachyrhinosaurus), edited by Suspsy

Perhaps the most well-recognized ornithopod, Parasaurolophus is included in nearly every dinosaur toy line. It was part of the original starting lineup of the legendary Carnegie Collection. In fact, the Carnegie Parasaurolophus was one of only five models released in 1988 to have remained relatively unchanged until the extinction of the Carnegie line in 2015. Through its lengthy tenure, the Carnegie Parasaurolophus has gone through different versions. The two to be featured in this review are the 1996-2007 and the 2007-2015 versions. Before 1996, this dinosaur was rounder and less well-defined, sporting a straighter neck and glossier paint.

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The Carnegie Parasaurolophus is in a tripod stance, perhaps rearing up to feed or to look for predators. The head and neck are tilted backwards which could also insinuate alertness or browsing. The entire figure, though most noticeably in the head and neck region, is covered with intricate detail including skin folds and scales. The scales are probably too large considering how small they would have been in life, but smaller scales are much more difficult to sculpt at such a small scale. Forest Rogers did a very nice job with the wrinkles and folds in the neck. They convey a good sense of movement, as though the neck really is flexed upwards.

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The earlier version of the figure is painted in a solid green with medial black stripes leading up to a bright yellow head, which sports black markings of its own and surprisingly, red eyes. It appears that the paint job is to depict the head as a point of visual display. Even though the transitions are naturalistic, the colors are still relatively flat, and could have been improved. 2007 brought with it quite a few repaints of classic Carnegie dinosaurs. Among them, was a new Parasaurolophus. The new paint job is much more complicated than that of its predecessor. The new paint is on a light brown color base material. Most of it is in varying shades of green, which is most vibrant over the sides, overlapped by yellow spots. The green colour becomes less intense as it nears the ventral surface, allowing for the base color to show through for a brown underside. The dorsal surface is painted with a darker green with very faint medial stripes (perhaps as a reference to the older color scheme?). The darker green was applied thinly as to allow the medium green to appear through the high spots. The head is largely free of green (save for a tiny accent near the bill) and is painted with dark brown with the lighter brown showing in the low areas. The crest is a dark red, which is found nowhere else on the figure. The eyes are yellow this time, and while they’re closer, they still aren’t the typical Carnegie gold.

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In length, this model is about six-and-a-half inches long straight from bill to tail to tail tip. The bottom of one of my newer figures reads 1:50. Interestingly, it is only on one of my post-2007 figures, which, according to the production date stamp, was made in August of 2013, while my older one was made before Safari started stamping dates on their figures. The other three are stamped “10 METERS”. All four have 1988 on them.

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Despite a few anatomical errors, the figure was probably up-to-date at the time of its introduction to the market. Proportionally, it’s almost perfect except for the length of the tail, which is just a smidge shorter than it should be. The forelimbs look a bit small from a distance, however, when compared to a skeleton, they are right in scale with the rest of the body. Even the spinal ridge, with the dip in the middle, is true to the actual animal. After that, though, there seems to be a dip at the base of the tail which is not in the actual dinosaur, but that’s probably due to the strange posture the figure has in order to have support from its tail. The hands show four claws on each. I don’t know as much as I’d like to about hadrosaur hands, but it appears as though the number of digits- four- is correct, but it is now recognized that they should be bound together in more of a hoof-like structure, with three digits on the ground and one held off the ground. The hands on the Carnegie Parasaurolophus look more suitable for a more basal, bipedal ornithopod, but that’s probably just a sign of the times, since hadrosaurs were once viewed as animals which were both quadrupedal and bipedal. More recently it was thought that they were facultative bipeds, but some have suggested that it would not be practical for a hadrosaur to take to bipedal running.

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Even though this figure isn’t completely up-to-date, I would recommend the Carnegie Parasaurolophus to any dinosaur enthusiast. It’s a nice figure (if it weren’t, I wouldn’t have bought four of them) and even though the Carnegie Collection has come to an end, it can still be found on eBay and elsewhere for a reasonable price.

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