Category Archives: Oldies

Stegosaurus (Field Museum Mold-A-Rama)

Finishing off our reviews of the Field Museum Mold-A-Rama collection is the Stegosaurus. Older original Mold-A-Rama dinosaurs exist as well but they aren’t currently being produced at the Field Museum and the only way to really obtain them is through eBay. It has come to my attention that the Stegosaurus machine was recently removed from the Field Museum so if you don’t already have the Stegosaurus then try to find one on eBay before they become scarce. The “retired” figures include the Ankylosaurus, Edmontosaurus (Trachodon), and Corythosaurus. All of the Mold-A-Rama dinosaurs were offered up as souvenirs at the World’s Fair Dinoland back in the 1960’s.  To the best of my knowledge the only place that still has working Mold-A-Rama machines are those located at the Field Museum in Chicago. For a brief history of Dinoland and the World’s Fair check out the review of the original Tyrannosaurus written by Foxilized.

The Stegosaurus is presented as you would expect it to be in a pre-renaissance era. It’s low to the ground with a dragging tail, sturdily built but obviously dim and slow moving with a considerable amount of bulk. True to Stegosaurus the plates at least alternate but aside from that there is little in common with modern depictions.

There is a good bit of detail on this dinosaur but the painfully yellow color makes them difficult to see. Circular scales adorn the body, loose skin hangs from the neck, and skin folds sag along the flanks. The plates are unusually small but vertical striations are etched along them. Although lacking cheeks the mouth does have a thick set of frowning lips which only accentuate the plodding demeanor of the mold.

Personally this Stegosaurus is my least favorite of the Field Museum molds. It lacks the same charm and character that even the oddball Tyrannosaurus possesses. The yellow color is a bit of a turn-off too but that’s just my personal preference and he certainly stands out on a shelf of conventional dinosaur toys.

Caution must be exercised with this particular mold. All of the molds are fragile, made of hollow waxy material but the Stegosaurus seems particularly prone to breakage along the tail. Mine came to me broken but it was easy enough to just glue it back on.

This is the kind of figure that only dinosaur historians might find interesting. The history of the Mold-A-Rama machines, Dinoland, Sinclair Motor oil, and the World’s Fair are all fascinating bits of American history that make seeking this and the other Mold-A-Rama figures worth the effort. Get this Stegosaurus while you can and good luck!

Tyrannosaurus (Field Museum Mold-A-Rama)

Having technically already been reviewed there really isn’t much new to say about this one. DTF member “Foxilized” reviewed the original back in 2010. For the sake of consistency though I feel compelled to share my thoughts too, I’ve been reviewing all of the current Field Museum Mold-A-Rama figures and it would feel strange not including this one.

I kind of have an obsession with the life-sized Tyrannosaurus that was displayed at the World’s Fair. It’s severally dated by today’s standards sure but it’s still a beautiful reconstruction, and accurate for its time. It’s strong, robust, and imposing, the stuff of nightmares. The head is gigantic and menacing with its pointed brow horns and toothy grin. But we’re not here to review this Tyrannosaurus, but rather its tiny take-home counterpart which sad to say is a far cry from its inspiration.

In general shape and pose it’s fairly faithful, so too is the oversized head. But while the head of that beast was menacing the head on this Mold-A-Rama is, well, goofy looking. The head just sits there atop the neck, I have no idea how the spine attaches to it. Anatomically the head looks more like a frog than the Tyrant King. The attempt is there with the tooth filled grin and even ear and nasal openings present but it still falls a little short. It stands on a base with “Tyrannosaurus rex” stamped on one side and “Field Museum Chicago” on the other. It’s funny that you can get this monstrosity in the same museum that displays Sue, but I’m glad it’s still available at all really.

The body is of course posed as a tail dragger and perhaps more so than other tail-draggers looks very much like a man in a dinosaur costume. The tacked on head doesn’t help but even the legs end up looking more human than theropod. The best thing I can compare it to is the Tyrannosaurus from the 1957 movie “The Land Unknown.” Watch the trailer to see what I mean. Make sure you watch the whole trailer so you don’t miss “the battle of the great stegosauri.”

Overall I find this figure “so bad its good” which is perhaps why I like it just as much as those cheesy old movies it reminds me of. It’s not a very good representation of the World’s Fair Tyrannosaurus but it’s a unique character all its own and worth seeking out for those who have the shelf space to display this oddball.

Triceratops (Field Museum Mold-A-Rama)

We’re about to step back in time again kids, and no, not to the Mesozoic but to the 1964 World’s Fair. Although this figure was “made” quite recently it has its roots as a souvenir produced by the once popular Mold-A-Rama machines that used to be present at various tourist destinations and at least in this case are still available at Chicago’s Field Museum. For more on the history of Mold-A-Rama, and the World’s Fair check out the write-up that accompanies the review of the original World’s Fair Tyrannosaurus.

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It is important to note that the Mold-A-Rama figures now available at the Field Museum are not identical to those produced at Dinoland all those years ago. These modern figures are smaller, less detailed, and more fragile than their decades old counterparts although I have none with which to compare. We’re still thankful to have them however, especially those of us interested in the “dino-mania” that was prevalent in this era in American history. Originals can be quite expensive to locate and although we can’t all visit the Field Museum the versions produced there are more readily available online.

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The modern lineup of Mold-A-Rama figures only includes the Tyrannosaurus, Apatosaurus, Triceratops, and Stegosaurus but in 1964 you could also get an Ankylosaurus, Corythosaurus, and Edmontosaurus. It’s a shame that those three are no-longer available. Today we’re looking at the Triceratops; a short and stocky fellow with a few odd quirks but a lot of character.

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Discussing accuracy would be redundant here, so I won’t. This is a simplified, stylized, somewhat cartoony depiction in keeping with popular depictions of the 1950’s. This Triceratops is a sturdy looking animal on squat muscular legs. The head is proportionately large and the dragging tail short with an upward curve. The skin has a pebbly texture with raised bumps along the hide.

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The head on this Triceratops is quite curious when viewed head on. It’s very asymmetrical with one brow horn placed in the middle of the head and the other placed lower above the right eye. I’m sure this odd feature exists as a way to display all three horns while also working within the means of the Mold-A-Rama machine but it’s best to look at this guy from the sides. The model is a very loud blue color which makes it look very odd on a shelf of more naturalistically colored dinosaurs. I guess it won’t go unnoticed. Triceratops is printed on one side of the base and Field Museum is printed on the other. Like the other Mold-A-Rama figures this one is hollow and fairly brittle so handle carefully.

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If you’re into vintage oddball stuff and the history of dinosaur reconstructions than this and the other Mold-A-Rama figures are must haves. They’re charming, interesting, and good conversation starters about the bygone days of Americana. Whole sets are often listed on eBay but if you need an excuse to visit the Field Museum it would probably be more rewarding to get them there.