Category Archives: Plesiosaur

Kronosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)

Available from Amazon.com for under $20

When their vaunted Carnegie Collection was discontinued in early 2015, Safari Ltd evidently got to work pretty quickly to take up the slack elsewhere, because in a mere two years they more than doubled the output of figures from their standard dinosaur line. This year they’ve released a whopping 13 new figures, several of which are updated versions of animals that had been in the Carnegie Collection. One is this Kronosaurus, the first new figure of this genus since Schleich’s in 2005. The Carnegie Collection version was on the market for nearly 20 years, and Schleich’s was really no improvement, so we were due for a new one.

Safari Kronosaurus

This figure is large. It’s roughly 34 cm long, almost a third of which is the head. This is appropriate, as Kronosaurus had a truly gigantic head, up to 2.7 meters long. This figure is about 1:25-1:30 scale and could easily serve as a doorstop.

Safari Kronosaurus

Our hefty friend sports a fairly standard color scheme for a large marine predator, with a mix of grays above and white below. Even with the relatively conservative color scheme, the pattern is deceptively intricate, consisting of a broad, graded band of gray along the dorsal midline, criss-crossed by irregular but sharply defined vertical striations. The effect is quite eye-catching, and if I didn’t have the toy in my hands you could convince me that it was a computer-generated model. It’s sculpted in an active pose, with the head twisted slightly to the side as though striking at prey.

Safari Kronosaurus

The gaping jaws show off the dentition to great effect. We can see four teeth per side in the premaxillae (the front of the snout), marking this as K. queenslandicus. The gap between the fourth and fifth pair of teeth aligns with huge teeth in the flared lower jaw. This sort of pattern occurs in many aquatic predators, such as crocodiles, and makes it easier to handle prey.

Safari Kronosaurus

This new Kronosaurus represents a dramatic improvement in accuracy relative to previous renditions. Comparison with its Carnegie predecessor is especially instructive. Whereas the old one was perfectly cylindrical, inviting frequent comparisons to a sausage, the new one has a broader head and body, which makes it look much less…extruded. And while the old one had dinky rear flippers, the new one has long, broad ones, reflecting their important role in swimming.

Safari Kronosaurus

There is a low, subtle keel along the back of this figure, continuing on to the tail, but there is no fin. There is circumstantial evidence for small tail fins in some Jurassic pliosaurs, but tens of millions of years of evolution separate them from Kronosaurus. In contrast to ichthyosaurs, mosasaurs, whales, or metriorhynchid crocodiles, Kronosaurus did not use its tail for thrust production. Rather, it propelled itself with its flippers, which is unusual in modern animals. Sea turtles probably come closest, with perhaps penguins a distant second. Neither has any sort of vertical fin. Although Kronosaurus did not have a shell, it shared with turtles a relatively stiff torso, which, along with its slight dorsoventral compression, would help with stability. Therefore, it may not have been necessary to have a fin to prevent rolling. Since we have no clear and obvious modern analogue to compare, until and unless soft tissue around the tail of a big advanced pliosaur is found, Safari’s decision not to include a fin looks perfectly reasonable. At the same time, including one would also be defensible.

Safari Kronosaurus

The one minor gripe I have with this figure is that the fins tend to curl upward. I’m not sure why this is, and if it were a subtler bend it could be explained as minor deformation as the animal rows against the water. It might be that if you softened them up with a hair dryer and squished them between two books they would assume a more natural shape. If you try that or something similar, let us know in the comments!

Safari Kronosaurus

With the small exception of the curly fins, this is a spectacular figure that reflects great attention to detail. It’s the most accurate Kronosaurus on the market, ending the Carnegie version’s dubious 20-year reign. Kids and adult collectors alike should find a way to give it a home.

Available from Amazon.com for under $20

Prehistoric Tube B (CollectA)

Time again to downsize with CollectA’s second tube collection. Like the previous set I reviewed, this one came out in late 2015 and contains no fewer than ten teeny toy dinosaurs and other prehistoric monsters, a couple of them making their debut with CollectA.

image

First up is a bantam Amargasaurus, based on the Deluxe version. Measuring slightly over 7 cm long, it’s light green with maroon stripes, yellow for the underbelly, black for the eyes, and dark brown shading on the feet. It is posed in a walking stance with its head held high and the tip of its tail curled. The teeth in the mouth, the twin rows of spines on the neck, and the sails on the back are well-defined and the pitted skin has tiny osteoderms as well as thick wrinkles. In terms of accuracy, this animal looks pretty good, although the neck could probably be a little shorter and the tail could be longer.

image
image
image

Second is a diminutive Ankylosaurus, coloured dark brown on top and fading to light brown on the underside. The tiny eyes are black and maroon is used for the stripes running parallel down the animal’s head, neck, and back and for the two bosses on the mighty tail club. This 7.5 cm long figure is posed in a defensive stance with its legs planted and its tail raised and swinging from side to side, ready to rumble. I had assumed that this toy was virtually identical to the Deluxe version, but in a number of ways, it’s actually superior. The rib cage is proportionally wider, the limbs are smaller, and there are more osteoderms comprising the armour. The nostrils are still too close together and there are too many toes on the feet, though. The back and limbs have a pitted skin texture while the underbelly is covered in wrinkles. The osteoderms are keeled and the tail club has a knobby feel to it. This is quite a cool little ankylosaur!

image
image
image

Now we have one of the newcomers to the world of CollectA, a bitty Apatosaurus! At 4 cm tall and 9.5 cm long, it’s the biggest figure in this set. Its main colour is dark grey with a pale pink underbelly, black shading on the feet, and black eyes. The Apatosaurus is sculpted in a classic museum pose with its neck turning to the left and its tail swinging to the right. The tail could afford to be longer, but on the whole, the toy looks reasonably accurate. The skin is pebbly with spiny plates running down the vertebrae, two rows of osteoderms on the back, and wrinkles on the neck and flanks. Despite its size, this Apatosaurus looks beefy and strong. I do wish that it had been Brontosaurus instead (it really is wonderful to have the thunder lizard back), but I think it’s one of the best in the set.

image
image
image

Next up, a runty Brachiosaurus. Not surprisingly, it’s the tallest figure in the set, standing 7 cm tall and measuring 10.5 cm long. Based upon the second Standard class figure, it’s standing rather stiffly with its head raised to maximum elevation. The main colour is greenish-grey with a light grey underbelly, dark grey shading on the feet, and black eyes. The skin is pebbly all over with a few thick wrinkles around the flanks. The limbs and tail look correctly proportioned, but the neck needs some beefing up. Overall though, it’s an okay rendition of Brachiosaurus.

image
image
image

Here’s the second newcomer, a pocket-sized Giganotosaurus! Mounted atop a rocky brown base, it measures 9.5 cm long and is coloured light green with a yellow underbelly, dark grey stripes, black eyes, and a pink mouth. Unlike the Tyrannosaurus rex from the other miniature set, the teeth on this carnosaur are painted the same colour as its mouth, which is disappointing. And despite the name printed on the bottom of its base, it is clearly based on the Deluxe Carcharodontosaurus. Perhaps CollectA originally intended to release it as the shark-toothed lizard, but then decided to introduce the giant southern lizard instead. Unfortunately, while Carcharodontosaurus and Giganotosaurus are closely related, there are noticeable anatomical difference between their skulls. As well, this little fellow has inherited the Deluxe’s shrink-wrapped skull and overly wide hips. And to top it off, the paint on the feet has been poorly applied, making it look like the toy is melting. On the positive side, the sculpting itself is undeniably impressive, with sharp teeth and claws, lots of scales and wrinkles, rows of triangular osteoderms, and thick muscles. It’s a ferocious-looking monster in spite of its faults.

image
image
image

And now here’s a mini Liopleurodon. At only 6.5 cm long, it’s the smallest figure in this set. Like nearly all plastic renditions, its main colours are very dark blue and pale yellow, a result of the animal’s exaggerated appearance in the BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs. There are also some very faint airbrushed pink patches on the flanks, but the eyes and teeth are unpainted. A pity, but it would have been very difficult to apply paint at this scale. While the front flippers are angled beyond the real animal’s range of motion, on the whole, it’s a pretty accurate pliosaur, with a pitted skin texture and thick wrinkles around its joints. And as with the Mosasaurus in the other set, this little swimmer makes a perfect baby for its Standard class parent.

image
image
image

Our seventh toy is an undersized Quetzalcoatlus. Standing almost 5.5 cm tall and measuring 8 cm long from the tip of its bill to its heels, this largest of azhdarchids is coloured dusty brown with grey wings, pale yellow on its throat and chest, a black head, yellow crest, pink eyes and mouth, and light blue on the back of its neck. Its head is raised high and tilting to the left, but unlike the larger version, there’s no baby Alamosaurus struggling helplessly in its bill. The neck and body are covered in pycnofibres and the folded wings are wrinkled. The bill is slightly warped, but overall, this is a very good rendition. As I’ve said many times now, I love walking pterosaur figures.

image
image
image

Behold, a wee Spinosaurus, only about 9.5 cm long. Based on the famous and controversial Ibrahim/Sereno reconstruction, this finned fish eater is striding slowly along on all fours, its left paw raised and its long tail swinging well to the right. The main colour is sandy beige with faint patches of bright green, black stripes on the sail, airbrushed grey on the front claws, black eyes, and a pink mouth. Like the Giganotosaurus, the Spinosaurus‘ tiny teeth lack paint detail, but at least they’re not pink. The sculpting detail is excellent, with fine scales and osteoderms on the body, ribs on the sail, long, sharp claws on the hands, and a crocodilian-like tail. This is definitely one of the best figures in this set.

image
image
image

A scrubby Torosaurus is our ninth toy. The perforated lizard is just over 3 cm tall due to its mighty frill and just over 6.5 cm long from the tips of its brow horns to the end of its tail. The main colour is pumpkin orange with dark brown accents on the head, horns, and body. The frill features white wash and black “eyes” shaped like inverted teardrops. The tiny eyes are black as well. Aside from the smooth horns, the entire animal is covered in fine pebbled scales with just a few wrinkles around the joints and belly. Unlike the Standard class toy, this Torosaurus‘ brow horns are correctly curved instead of straight. But sadly, the little fellow has all the same issues as his big brother: a snout that’s too long, a lack of epoccipitals on the rather flattened frill, and limbs that are far too lanky for any chasmosaurine.

image
image
image

Finally, I give you this Lilliputian Velociraptor. It measures nearly 7 cm long and is quite possibly the blandest-looking dromaeosaur figure I’ve ever seen. It is coloured beige all over with darker patches on its tail, limbs, and head, as well as black eyes and a pink mouth. Due to its size, it is moulded onto a small earthen base. On the plus side, despite the fact that it is based on the aging Deluxe version, it’s got more accurate proportions, with a smaller head and a longer tail. The head, hands, and feet are scaly, but the rest of the Velociraptor is nice and feathery, complete with a large fan at the end of the tail. The wrists are properly aligned and the claws and teeth make this animal look like quite a savage predator. Of course, any dinophile worth his or her salt knows full well that this raptor doesn’t have nearly enough plumage. Still, any feathered dinosaur is welcome in my book.

image
image
image

Overall, while I like the other miniature set better, this one is still quite good. Granted, some of the figures have accuracy issues, but they’re all rather endearing little toys. And considering that you’re getting ten of them for a relatively low price, I can’t see many people not enjoying them. Plus as I mentioned in my other review, the durable plastic case means that you can easily and safely take this set on the road with you. Recommended.

image

This marks my second year anniversary as a reviewer for the Dinosaur Toy Blog! As always, thanks go out to Dr. Adam S. Smith and everyone who’s been enjoying my work. Here’s to another year! 🙂

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.

DSCN1514

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?

DSCN1519

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.

IMG_1560

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.

IMG_1559

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.

IMG_1561

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.

IMG_1558

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.