Category Archives: Papo

Polacanthus (Papo)

The Early Cretaceous Wessex formation in England is rich in vertebrate fossils, including dinosaurs like Baryonyx and Iguanodon, pterosaurs like Caulkicephalus, many kinds of fish, and even some fragments of small mammals. Today we’ll take a look at one of the most heavily armored denizens of Early Cretaceous Eurasia, Polacanthus, as depicted by Papo.

Polacanthus was a mid-sized ankylosaur, part of the club-less family Nodosauridae. It’s known from most of the skeleton and lots of armor pieces, but very little of the head (we’ll come back to that). It would probably have been about 5 meters long from snout to tail tip, and amply supplied with pebbly armor set into the skin, a pavement-like band of armor across the hips, and large bony spikes that would have helped fend off predators.

Papo’s version has a lot of nice lifelike details, with very fine scalation, and wrinkles suggesting stretching and folding of the soft tissues as it cranes its neck upward to reach some high leaves or to bellow at a marauding theropod. As a toy, it’s nice-looking for the most part. The purple color would be unusual in large animals today, but then again most of the large animals of today only see two colors. Most dinosaurs probably saw at least three, and as an animal with plenty of armor to protect it, who’s to say it couldn’t have been pretty vibrant?

The overall proportions of this figure are middling. Whereas Polacanthus wouldn’t have been as wide-hipped as some of the massive ankylosaurids, it would have been broader over the hips and belly than this figure depicts. The tail is also much too long. Measured along the spine, the toy is about 18.6 centimeters long, making it approximately 1:25 scale by total length. But if you correct for the very long tail, it’s probably closer to 1:30.

The limbs look about right, with the hindlimbs somewhat longer than the front. Each limb ends in five toes. Whereas the feet and hands of Polacanthus are not well-preserved, the known digit numbers in other ankylosaurs range from 4-5 on the hand and from 3-5 on the foot. So the number of toes on this figure is plausible; however, when ankylosaurs did have 5 digits on the hand it was the outermost digit that was held off the ground and pointed slightly backward, not the innermost.

The broad band of pavement-like armor over the hips is reasonably well-rendered, although some of the other armor is likely incorrect. Polacanthus probably bore its tail spikes in two rows, rather than three. The spikes near the shoulders wouldn’t have been so flat in cross-section, and the largest would have had edges that described a quarter turn around their axis of growth.

Finally, the head. There is very little known (well, published, at any rate) of the head of Polacanthus: a fragment of the lower jaw, a supraoccipital (right above the hole that the spinal cord runs through), and a piece of what might be the nasal. Some liberties would be forgivable given the lack of fossil material. However, this head morphology is very unlikely. Close relatives with known skulls sometimes show a pair of horns at the back corners of the head, and sometimes don’t, but they don’t ever show a row of tiny horns arced all the way around the back of the head. And whereas Panoplosaurus, for example, had a head very well encased in armor, it was not a solid helmet-like piece, and it certainly did not end in the strange frill-like structure that we see on this figure. It almost looks like the frill of a basal ceratopsian, or the flattened casque of a chameleon.

At the other end of the animal, the tail ends in a scaly but un-armored point, which is odd, because the tail tip is known from Polacanthus and it distinctly shows an array of dermal ossicles (armor pieces) around the tip, completely absent on this figure.

From an accuracy perspective, this figure is pretty lackluster. Unfortunately, although there are actually quite a few other Polacanthus toys in the world, most of them aren’t much better. From a sculptural perspective, it looks competently executed, although it doesn’t appear to be the work of Seo Jung-woon, the craftsman behind most of Papo’s dinosaurs. As a toy for children, I think it works fine–the spines are stiff enough to hurt if you step on them, but they’re flexible enough not to do any actual damage. And it’s in a good pose for a battle with your kid’s favorite theropod. As a collector’s item, I would instead recommend the static but more accurate Walking with Dinosaurs version if you can get it. Papo has been turning out some very nice sculpts lately, but this isn’t among their best.

Cryolophosaurus (Papo)

Review and photographs by “Loon”, edited by Plesiosauria

“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.” – Elvis Presley.

Cryolophosaurus was an early Jurassic theropod that hailed from the Hanson Formation around 194-188 mya in what is now Antarctica. Weighing in at over 1,000 lbs, and reaching over 20 feet long, Cryolophosaurus was one of the largest theropods of its time and the top predator of its ecosystem. The only known fossil is the holotype, FMNH PR1821, which belonged to a juvenile, meaning an encounter with a fully grown Cryolphosaurus would be truly astounding and terrifying. Though, like its cousin, Dilophosaurus, a juvenile could still most likely take down a fully grown Wayne Knight.

This figure is one of several debuted in 2017. Papo models are usually very high quality, and this Cryolophosaurus is no exception. Unlike several recent Papo figures, the sculpting on the figure comes across as much more consistent. The scales that adorn the body are very similar to the scales found on the bellies of modern crocodilians, and appear to be very defined and unique, almost as if they were individually sculpted. This is different to several recent Papo figures, where the postcranial scales appear to be little more than the result of horizontal and vertical cuts in the sculpt. The muscles are all very well-defined, and appear to be covered in a decent amount of fat and skin, giving this animal a very “alive” look. The figure features rows of osteoderms that turn into spikes on the top of the spine, they flow from the top of the neck to the base of the tail; while speculative, these features are an interesting addition.

Paint-wise, this figure is among, if not the, best Papo has ever produced. The paint makes it one of Papo’s most vibrant; which, I mean, isn’t saying much given their usual ‘go to’ selection of the ever-exciting brown and grey. These colors, while beautiful, are one of the figures more debatable aspects, Papo has a history of copying both design aspects and paint schemes from Sideshow Collectibles Dinosauria statues, such as almost the entirety of their Apatosaurus, Dilophosaurus, and Carnotaurus, and unfortunately, this figure is no exception. While ‘Dinosauria’ has never produced a Cryolophosaurus statue, the color scheme of this figure is nigh identical to the color scheme of the ‘Dinosauria’ Ceratosaurus. However, in defense of what may be viewed as Geoworld levels of thievery, the color scheme is appropriate. While we don’t know the exact color of Cryolophosaurus, it did live in a forested environment so these colors do seem suitable for a large predator trying to sneak through the woods in search of a meal.

The figure features the ever-necessary articulated jaw, which opens to reveal a highly detailed interior. The jaws are appropriately crocodilian, with a good amount of detail extending into the roof and back of the mouth, as well as to the tongue and gums.

The shape of the skull is quite accurate; we can tell this because it is quite visible. Overall, it’s not the worst case of shrink-wrapping, it does feature a decent amount of muscle in the fenestrae, and the oft-forgotten pterygoideus posterior muscle is thankfully featured on the lower jaw. The biggest point of inaccuracy in the head is that the skull does seem to be missing the “notch” in the premaxilla at the front.

The definitive feature of Cryoloposaurus is the crest which it is named for; Cryolophosaurus is the greek for “Frozen Crest Lizard.” The crest is well detailed, featuring a keratinous covering which extends to the front of the nasal. The current understanding is that the crest was probably used for intra-species recognition, as well as being functional in social behavior with other Cryolophosarus. Given this understanding, it would have been appropriate to give the crest a more colorful paint scheme. As is, unfortunately, it tends to blend in with the rest of the figure, unless, of course, this is a female animal.

Accuracy hasn’t always been Papo’s strong spot, however, 2017 seems to be a step in the right direction. While not all 100% accurate, most of their offerings for 2017 are definitely some of the most accurate figures they’ve ever made. This Cryolophosaurus is probably the second most accurate after their Ceratosaurus. The sculpt seems to adhere to the current reconstructions of the animal, albeit warping some parts to an unrealistic extent (we’ll get to that, don’t you worry). There are no known skin impressions of Cryolophosaurus However, the scales as well as the osteoderms/spikes, are known from its close relatives, the ceratosaurs. So, the aforementioned lack of a notch in the front of the upper jaw is the biggest issue in terms of accur…

…the tail, yeah, it’s…interesting, by which I mean impossible. Cryolophosaurus is thought to be the most basal member of tetanurae, a group of theropods classified for several features, including their stiff tails. This pose would have been simply impossible for a Cryolophosaurus to achieve without breaking its tail; it brings to mind the old practice of museum workers breaking dinosaur skeletons to achieve the outdated “kangaroo” tripod look. Perhaps, given the stance of the animal, it is frightened by something, and lunging away out of fear – it is so afraid that it broke its own tail in the process!

Overall, a solid figure, one of Papo’s best and most accurate. Despite its flaws, it is still highly recommended, you can pick it up on Amazon here.

Spinosaurus (juvenile) (Papo)

Review and photographs by Rajvinder “IrritatorRaji” Phull, edited by Plesiosauria

With the roaring success of Papo’s adult Spinosaurus figure it was only a matter of time before we got a tiny counterpart. Especially seeing how Papo have released younger versions of their Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Pachycephalosaurus, Mammoth and Apatosaurus models, it felt right to see Papo’s take on a young ‘Spine Lizard’.

For better or for worse, you can’t buy this figure on its own. It’s part of a special edition gift box that also comes with Papo’s Ceratosaurus (which is available separately). As someone who didn’t own the Ceratosaurus prior to purchasing the box, I was pretty happy with what I was getting. However, for someone who already owns / doesn’t want the Ceratosaurus I can imagine this would be annoying. Take this information with a pinch of salt, but I was told that Papo was going to release this figure on its own next year. The person who told me this didn’t provide a source, so I’d say to expect this figure to be exclusive to this gift box until Papo themselves say otherwise.

Measuring in at approximately 18 cm (7 inches) long and 8 cm (3.1 inches) tall it’s a decent size for a young predator and about half the size of the adult Spinosaurus figure. The pose on this guy is interesting, lunged forward with the head slightly tilted. I imagine Papo were going for a playful and inquisitive look, though I personally detect a sense of caution and uncertainty resonating from this juvenile. Regardless of whether they were going for excited or cautious, both emotions would suit a young Spinosaurus growing up in a world where anything bigger than you sees you as a snack.

It’s very nice to see another young Spinosaurus figure on the market. The only other young Spinosaurus I know of is PNSO’s baby Spinosaurus, which I personally think looks more like a mini cartoon Spinosaurus, especially when you consider the size of the sail.

This figure can stand on its own two feet but it doesn’t do so with ease. Despite Papo’s efforts to avoid balancing issues, evident by the enlarged feet, this toy does tend to tip to the right and fall over easily. I wouldn’t advise having this figure near shelf edges or on surfaces that are commonly nudged or disturbed (e.g. desks), especially since when it falls over it falls hard and far, likely knocking over anything it’s positioned next to. That being said, if you’ve got it standing upright on a level, undisturbed surface, it should stand well and secure.
And, as always for Papo theropods, the figure has an articulated jaw. The jaw doesn’t open very far though, what you see in the pictures is as far as the jaw can open.

The detail on the sculpt is good but doesn’t even begin to compare to Papo’s recent figures. The entire body is covered in small scales which don’t really tend to vary. The scales on the face, neck, body, sail, underbelly and tail are all pretty much the same size. The figure features armour-like plating on the top of the neck, moving down we see a rather simply textured body with the odd bumpy scale which all give way to a flailing crocodilian tail. The interior of the mouth is sculpted as are all of the minuscule teeth. Something really odd about the sculpt is that the detail isn’t really carried onto the face. The face feels much smoother and looks a lot shinier than the rest of the body, almost like a different type of plastic was used.

In all, it’s not really something to marvel at and there’s not much to discuss either. The detail is more on par with Papo’s baby Tyrannosaurus which I believe came out around 5 years ago. It’s especially disappointing when you look at the highly detailed, and more modern, Ceratosaurus this figure came with. The skin doesn’t stretch and bunch like the skin on Papo’s recent models. It’s certainly very odd that Papo would release this 2012-quality figure alongside their very impressive 2017 line.

There’s not much to discuss about the figure’s paintjob either. Although, a lack of bright colours and diverse markings are to be expected considering it’s based on their simply painted adult Spinosaurus. The body is a dull greenish-grey with some black scales running along the back. The end of the snout is yellow and the lower jaw is brown. The underbelly is a dull beige, the eyes are green with a black pupil and the sail is a darker grey with a very faint red stripe running through the middle.

In regards to scientific accuracy, I feel a lot of what needs to be said just goes without saying anyway. But this is a review, so I’m going to say it. Being based on the Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park 3, this figure boasts a handful of inaccuracies.

The very first one that caught my eye was the tail. While I don’t usually care much for figures that have overly wavy tails, the juvenile Spinosaurus takes it a little too far. I feel a real Spinosaurus tail wouldn’t be anywhere near as flexible as needed to pull off the tight bends this tail features. As mentioned before, the feet look a bit too large though this is likely for stability. Speaking off legs, I feel this might just be me but they’re a little too long as well. It reminds me somewhat of the long and lanky legs of newborn horses. The figure also lacks Spinosaurus‘ signature enlarged hand claw, though this may be due to the fact that the figure represents a young spinosaur. Just like the JP3 Spinosaurus, this figure has two crests on both sides of its head as opposed to just one in the middle. The shrink wrapping isn’t too bad, at least it isn’t on the face. The body looks a bit skinny but I would again argue that it’s due to the age of the dinosaur, not being old enough to have built up a good amount of bulk and muscle. The head itself does lack that distinctive spinosaur shape, not being very narrow and lacking the tooth ridge, looking more akin to a crocodile. One positive I can state about scientific accuracy is that the nostrils are actually not on the end of the snout, they’re located further up, just under the crests.

When it comes to flaws with the figure itself, the only major one I have is that the jaw on mine is incredibly loose. It maintains whatever position it is placed in, but it wobbles from side to side a lot. My juvenile Spinosaurus‘ jaw used to shut all the way, but while fiddling with the jaw I was greeted with an audible snap sound and now the jaw refuses to shut all the way, hanging at about half-way open. If myself opening the jaw to look deeper inside the mouth broke it, I can’t imagine how long it would last in the hands of a child. There were also a couple of paint flaws. The claws on the feet were unpainted or partly painted and there was a couple splodges of black paint on the end of the tail. Also, the eye wasn’t completely painted, leaving a border of unpainted plastic around the eye.

So, to conclude, this figure is okay. It’s not great but it’s not downright terrible. It’s certainly a let down when you consider all the other beautiful figures that Papo released this year, and it baffles me why they’d release this figure in a pack with one of those aforementioned beautiful figures. The Ceratosaurus is definitely an odd choice to pair this little guy with, I personally think it’d make more sense to sell it in a pack with an adult Spinosaurus (that way, if anyone already owns one Spinosaurus and buys this pack they’ve got parents and a child, it’s not scientifically accurate but it makes a little more sense).

If anyone’s interested in buying it I wouldn’t suggest otherwise, it’s a very interesting interpretation of a juvenile Spinosaurus and it doesn’t look too bad next to its fully grown counterpart. I can only really recommend purchasing it if you’re actually genuinely interested in it or you’re a dedicated collector. Otherwise, you’re not missing out on much if you decide to pass on this figure.