Category Archives: PNSO

Confuciusornis (Age of the Dinosaurs by PNSO)

Confuciusornis is a prehistoric bird from the early Cretaceous of China, named after the famous philosopher. This small toy by PNSO is one of a handful of examples of this species committed to plastic, and the first Confuciusornis model reviewed on the Dinosaur Toy Blog. This one also goes by the nickname of ‘Yoyo’ and is one of the “Little” figures in the PNSO’s Age of the Dinosaurs series. PNSO they have completely done it justice.

Confuciusornis PNSO

The main reason I wanted to  review this particular figure is because of my involvement in an exciting Dinosaurs of China exhibition coming to Nottingham, UK, in summer 2017. This world exclusive one-time-only exhibition will explore the relationship between dinosaurs and birds, and includes real fossils of feathered dinosaurs and prehistoric birds from China – including a Confuciusornis. So, as the curator of the exhibition, I feel a certain connection to this species! If you want to see a real fossil of this species, plus 24 other dinosaurs including mounted skeletons of the mighty Gigantoraptor and Mamenchisaurus, then make sure to drop by Wollaton Hall this summer. See the teaser trailer, and tickets are for sale on the website: http://www.dinosaursofchina.co.uk. The PNSO are also connected to this Dinosaurs of China exhibition because they have provided all of the stunning artwork for the exhibition graphics. Anyway, that’s enough exhibition plugging, back to the model!

Confuciusornis PNSO

The sculpt is accomplished and finely detailed, as are all of the PNSO’s models. The anatomy is remarkably accurate, even the articulation of the wrists and the relationship between the wing feathers and the fingers, a point that trips up uninitiated palaeoartists. The long, hooked claws on the fingers are very clear, and the animal is in a flying pose. This pose encourages me to fool around and make it swoop: there is lots of playability in a pose like this. It has a punk-like hairdo and a puffed out chest so PNSO haven’t scrimped on the plumage.

Confuciusornis is remarkable because it is known from many specimens that reveal sexual dimorphism. That is, the males are different from the females. The paired strap-like tail feathers in Yoyo indicate that he is a male. For anyone into diorama building, a simple surgery would make him female.

Confuciusornis PNSO

The tail feathers are slightly warped so their tips overlap. They can be adjusted, as I have done for the photos, but their positions quickly revert. A treatment with hot water or a hair dryer might fix this permanently.

The paint work on this tiny figure is expertly applied and quite brilliant – adventurous but still believable. The wing feathers have natural-looking earthy tones in bands, which contrast sharply with the jet-black paired tail feathers. These strap-like feathers terminate with bright blue eye-spots. My only quibble would be that the eyes (the ones in its head!) are white without pupils, which make it feel a bit lifeless. Black eyes would seem more appropriate.

Confuciusornis PNSO

This is a lovely tiny figure that I highly recommend on all fronts.  This brings us lastly onto the topic of how to get our hands on these products. I know that the PNSO are still going through a change of personnel and there seem to be no signs yet of their toys returning to Amazon. These miniature figures also seem to be absent from the PNSO’s most recent catalogue, but one can only speculate as to why. I think it is just a matter of remaining patient while PNSO find their feet.

Thanks to the PNSO for the review sample.

Archaeopteryx (Age of the Dinosaurs by PNSO)

It’s all or nothing now. Having caught the young female’s eye, Jonas fluffs his feathers, spreads his wings, and raises his tail. She continues to watch him from a distance. Encouraged, Jonas rapidly bows his head and utters low clicks and rattles. At last, the female approaches him and the two touch muzzles. Jonas has found his mate.

Say hello to Jonas, the little Archaeopteryx from PNSO. The sculptor has caught this iconic feathered dinosaur in what appears to be the act of courtship display. Jonas’ wings are outstretched and held to the front, his right foot is raised, and his tail elevated, which are all things that many extant male birds do when trying to attract a mate. From his wingtips to the end of his tail, Jonas measures 9.5 cm long and is 5.5 cm tall. Much smaller than the other Archaeopteryx figures that have been reviewed here on the DTB.

Jonas balances well enough on his wingtips and left foot, although he falls over easily. His main colours are light grey and medium brown with very pale beige on the underside of his waist and tail and muddy brown for his fingers and feet. The plumage on his head is mostly very dark brown with white patches surrounding his black eyes and burnt orange on his cranium and snout. Dark brown is also used for the primaries on his wings and the accents on his tail. Finally, white is used to line the tips of the primaries and the secondaries. It’s a realistic colour scheme to be sure, but it’s not in fitting with the studies which concluded that Archaeopteryx had black covert feathers.

In terms of both detailing and scientific accuracy, Jonas rates pretty high. His plumage has been meticulously sculpted, with visible barbs on the feathers on his wings and tail. His wings feature all the major feather groups: front, coverts, secondaries, and primaries. They are also asymmetrical, which is a trademark characteristic of flying birds. His bare feet have faint wrinkles and the feathers covering his neck make it appear appropriately thick. His second toes, however, are lying flat when they ought to be raised just like a dromaeosaur’s.

Aside from this one flaw, Jonas the Archaeopteryx is an exquisite and enjoyable little toy. Definitely worth adding to your feathered dinosaur collection.

Thanks go out to PNSO for this toy!

Tyrannosaurus rex (Tyrannosaurus ‘Wilson’ statue by PNSO)

The PNSO produce everything from tiny miniature toys to giant life-sized museum sculptures, but this review is something in between – a sizeable 1:35 scale statue of Tyrannosaurus rex, dubbed ‘Wilson’. We previously unboxed him on our Youtube channel, now it’s time to take a closer look.

PNSO Tyrannosaurus rex Wilson

With his menacing gait and devilish red eyes, Wilson has a lot of character. The dappled colour and detailed texture of his skin are both convincingly natural and, as far as accuracy goes, Wilson is basically faultless. The base is also excellent, adding to the realism of the scene. To be honest, the pictures will speak for themselves – this is an awesome model. The lower jaw articulates, so you can choose whether you prefer a roaring maw, or a slightly less dramatic pose. The articulation is completely invisible.

PNSO Tyrannosaurus rex Wilson

The PNSO’s decision to omit plumage was intentional and is outlined in the accompanying book “The Making of Tyrannosaurus Wilson”. Not many (if any?) dinosaur models come with a book, let alone a glossy 75 page volume, lavishly illustrated – a collectors’ item itself. The book outlines the entire creative design process for Wilson, which was undertaken in consultation with palaeontologist Mark Norell.

A painting of Wilson in the book portrays him with feathers on his neck and tail, and another shows a juvenile with much more fuzz. However, after considering all the evidence, the PNSO summarise: “For our reconstruction of Wilson, we did not cover the body with a complete covering of feathers. Rather, Wilson’s entire body is covered with scales”. The book also indicates that Wilson is based on a specific skeleton of T. rex called ‘Stan’, and provides justifications for other design considerations, such as refraining from sculpting fleshy lips, and the amount of hornage (yes, I’ve invented a word) above the eyes. In addition to the book, the high quality box also contains an envelope of postcards featuring photographs and artwork of Wilson.

PNSO Tyrannosaurus rex Wilson

The statue is composed of solid PVC. I’m used to statues being made of more brittle materials (e.g. resin) so I unpacked Wilson with great care, as anyone who watched the youtube unboxing can attest to. However, such care really wasn’t necessary – the PVC is durable, strong, and slightly flexible, so only the most serious accident will cause it any damage. This claim is backed up with evidence because I came home one day to find my beloved Wilson on the floor of my Kitchen. Perhaps dizzied by the height,  he had taken a a tumble and fallen more than two metres (6.5 feet) from his perch above the cupboards. The fall may have been ‘cushioned’ by the kitchen work top but, miraculously, Wilson survived without a scratch.

PNSO Tyrannosaurus rex Wilson

The actual reason for this accident is the only issue I found with the model – stability. Wilson’s feet have holes on the underside that slot into circular pegs located in footprints on the base. In my statue, the feet don’t align completely. One of the legs must be slightly distorted, so he leans slightly over to the right. You can see this in the photos. It seemed stable enough, so I didn’t anticipate it falling over, but obviously the pegs were not long enough to stop him tumbling eventually. Perhaps this is just my figure but it is important to mention in a review like this. I fixed the issue by raising one side of the base up, so the dinosaur itself is in a more balanced position. It would also be possible to glue him into place to be certain.

PNSO Tyrannosaurus rex Wilson

All in all, this is an excellent piece, which demands attentions. Wilson shows that PNSO are painstakingly serious when it comes to accuracy, but maybe they can review stability/production issues. At the moment, their figures are difficult to get hold of outside of China. They used to be for sale on Amazon but have been unavailable for several months. I undertsand that PNSO are going though a change in personnel, which might account for them being unavailable, but hopefully they’ll be in full force again soon and back up on Amazon.

PNSO Tyrannosaurus rex Wilson

Thanks to PNSO for sending us ‘Wilson’ for review. I should also note that PNSO provided me with two versions of the book, identical in every way except for the different language. So, make sure you order your preferred language version.