Category Archives: ceratopsian

Styracosaurus (Deluxe by CollectA)

Review and photos by Paul Carter AKA Carnosaur, edited by Suspsy

Styracosaurus, the “spiked lizard,” has long been a popular dinosaur. Thanks to its distinctive arrangement of horns, any depiction of it is easily recognizable. Indeed, it sparked the imagination of filmmakers during the earliest days of motion pictures, which has led to numerous film appearances ever since. Notable among them are The Son of Kong (1933), where a Styracosaurus battles the movie’s heroes; The Valley of Gwangi (1969), where Styracosaurus is pitted against a carnivorous dinosaur; The Land That Time Forgot (1975), where two animals are shelled by a German U-boat; Disney’s CGI film Dinosaur (2000), and Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur (2015). The genus also appeared in the novel of Jurassic Park, and in the list of dinosaurs present in the park, but was not seen in the film adaptation.

In 2017, CollectA released a 1:40 scale Deluxe Styracosaurus, and it is easily one of their best ceratopsian models to date. The figure’s length is approximately 23.5cm and its maximum height is around 14 cm thanks to its frill horns. This makes it one very large and impressive figure! The tan hide, with its rust-coloured highlights, is nicely detailed with small scales and larger scutes that run the length of the animal’s body. Its underbelly is nicely blended, fading into a cream colour.

The horns, spikes and beak are a bone colour highlighted with black tips, which is reminiscent of some bovine horns. The figure has the correct number of grey-painted toes on its feet, and there is no “shrink wrapping” present. Indeed, it appears quite robust. The mouth is open and features a visible tongue. But the eyes are particularly arresting, as they are painted red with solid black pupils which gives them a bloodshot appearance seen in some large herbivores today. Both the eyes and the nostrils have a glossy coat that make them look even more lifelike.

The figure is nicely posed with both its head and tail turned towards the right and the legs spread out in a very stable position. Although there is no supporting evidence for the row of filaments seen on this Styracosaurus‘ rump, they are known on its older, more primitive relative Psittacosaurus, and they do not detract from this figure at all. And with the recent reordering of the clades Ornithischia and Saurischia, it may be even more likely that Styracosaurus had this feature.

If you are a fan of Styracosaurus, or ceratopsians in general, then this is a figure you shouldn’t pass up. It looks great amongst my other Styracosaurus figures, and I highly recommend it.

Pentaceratops (Chap Mei)

Pentaceratops was a very large chasmosaurine ceratopsian that ranged from Canada to the southern United States during the Late Cretaceous. One specimen described in 1998 was even said to possess the largest skull of any land animal. But in 2011, it was renamed as a separate genus, Titanoceratops, on the basis that it shared more characteristics with Triceratops than Pentaceratops.

Despite its very cool name and appearance, the “five-horned face” has not received a lot of love from toy companies. Schleich released a large figure in 2014, but CollectA, Papo, and Safari still have yet to produce one. A superb-looking prototype was sculpted by the late Dan LoRusso for the Battat Terra series, but for whatever reason(s), it remains unreleased. Today I’ll be examining the Pentaceratops from Chap Mei, which is infamous for its cheap and often freakish prehistoric toys. This particular version is currently available at Toys R Us as part of their exclusive Animal Planet line.

The toy measures 18.5 cm long, stands slightly under 12 cm tall at the top of its frill, and is coloured a dark shade of teal with black stripes. The upper part of the head is painted black with grey wash on the horns and hornlets, yellow-orange eyes, and yellow-orange, medium orange, and black for the display pattern on the frill. While it is unquestionably a striking colour scheme, it’s very sloppily applied. It’s also incomplete, with nary a single accent for the mouth, the lower jaw, the back of the frill, or the claws.

This toy is immediately recognizable as a Pentaceratops due to the enlarged jugal bones that earned it its name, and the large notch in the top of the frill. The beast appears to be in a ready-for-combat stance with tail raised, feet planted, head turned to the left, and mouth wide open. The skin has a wrinkled texture with rows of osteoderms on the back and grooves in the beak, horns, hornlets, and claws. The left front and right hind leg move a little, but the right front one is basically stuck in place. Pulling back on the left hind leg causes the head to raise in a nodding motion. This Pentaceratops is either really enthusiastic about something or bopping to its favourite tune!

But being a Chap Mei product, this ceratopsian is riddled with inaccuracies. For starters, the frill is missing the two forward-facing epiparietals(hornlets) in the notch. The body should be taller and the tail is too short and stumpy. The front limbs are too long and have extra joints in the forearms (ouch). And finally, the feet have the wrong arrangement of toes and too many claws.

The Pentaceratops is actually one of the less hideous Chap Mei toys, its inaccuracies notwithstanding. It certainly won’t win any prizes, but it’s a relatively cheap toy that’s fun to play with and goes well with the Jurassic Park line. In other words, kids will certainly enjoy it. And as I noted at the beginning, it’s not like Pentaceratops toys are legion. Sure would be nice if that changed!

Psittacosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

Review and photos by amargasaurus cazaui, edited by Suspsy

In 2005, a fossil specimen surfaced at the Tuscon Gem and Mineral Show that would soon set the world of paleontology on end. The slab, containing a single specimen of Psittacosaurus, had been preserved in such a way that it would soon yield a treasure trove of scientific firsts, new information, and depth to our understanding of this species. Most notable were the bristle-like tail structures exquisitely preserved. The specimen was so well-preserved, melanosomes establishing colouration, patterning, and shading were found. The specimen appears to be one of the few with intact melanosomes which establish colour in a non-avian dinosaur. It is seemingly the first dinosaur we have actual preserved scales for as well.

The toy market has very few examples of Psittacosaurus done in a more life-like realistic style, that are also generally available. The Carnegie Collection produced the most well-known and treasured version of the dinosaur, sculpted by Forest Rogers. A smaller, more bird-like version was issued by CollectA. As one of the most well-known and studied dinosaurs, the market seemed ripe for a more accurate and appealing version.

Enter Doug Watson and the Wild Safari company. In the final months of 2016, Safari announced and released a new model of Psittacosaurus for the collector market. In my discussions with the sculptor, I was able to learn his sculpt was an attempt to translate the Tucson specimen, now known as Senckenberg Museum R 4970, into the most accurate model possible. The model is intended to be P. mongoliensis and was intended to be scaled at 1/12 size. This would place the model as an adult.

The model itself is smallish in size, measuring roughly 2 1/4 inches tall at the head and slightly over 5 1/2 inches in length along the vertebrae. It balances fairly well on its legs, with its feet placed in a normal walking pose. The tail is slightly curved and demonstrates the famous quills that the specimen is known for. The hands are sculpted in an opposing or neutral position with the proper digits, including the vestigial traces of the fourth digit without a claw. The body demonstrates the appropriate musculature, and in no way appears shrink-wrapped. The head is properly shaped, with jutting jugals, a nicely formed rostral, and properly placed eyes and nostrils. The frill is quite subdued, but visible.

The colouration is inspired by and follows the information given for Specimen R 4970 fairly closely. It features lighter undershading and darker overtones, darker individual scales, and an overall palette of browns, tans, and rust colours. The colouring for the bristle-like structures would seem a decent possibility, and the overall aesthetic is pleasing.

What are my own thoughts? I would like to have seen this model given to us at a larger size, perhaps 1/6 scale, although that is more a personal preference. My only other possible nitpick might be for more pronounced jugals. In my discussions with Doug Watson, he had commented that he was not convinced regarding the jugals, whereas I think they would be even more pronounced and angular. On the plus side, I find the overall effect is a well done and carefully researched masterpiece. The colors are believable, the posture is borne out by evidence, and the unique features this dinosaur is so well known for are evident and well done. The bristle-like structures match the fossil, and are placed properly. The figure stands decently on its feet, balances well, and looks quite lifelike. I feel it is the best mass market toy offered for this species. Props to Doug Watson and Safari!

The Psittacosaurus sells affordably around the ten dollar price point and seems quite readily available on eBay, Amazon, and most major online dinosaur stores. A nice, fairly priced, and well-sculpted dinosaur, readily available on the market!