Category Archives: Safari Ltd

Sauropelta (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)


Between marauding packs of Deinonychus and the hulking Acrocanthosaurus, the nodosaurid Sauropelta lived in extremely dangerous times. Fortunately, the “lizard shield” was more than capable of defending itself.

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The 2015 Wild Safari Sauropelta measures 19 cm long from nose to tail tip. Its body is coloured sandy brown with grey for its beak, underbelly, claws, and the small scutes running along its sides. The larger scutes are grey with blackened tips and the teeny tiny eyes are light orange.

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This individual is sculpted in a walking pose with its head looking to the left and its tail swinging slightly to the right. One can almost hear the clicking of its spikes as they come together. There is an air of determination and purpose about it. This is an animal that knows danger is always afoot, that it must constantly be on alert, yet it presses on like a brave knight of old. If necessary, it will dish out as much punishment as it receives. Possibly more.

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The Sauropelta’s back is completely covered by an intricate network of scutes. The ones over the front half of the animal are very bumpy while those over the hip region are smoother. The neck is protected by two rows of large, sharp spikes, with a giant pair jutting out from above the shoulders. Smaller spikes run along the animal’s sides, and in twin rows down the length of the tail. Although there is no bony club (as is the case with all nodosaurids), a blow from that prickly tail would still be quite painful. The legs and underbelly are unarmoured, but their sculpting is no less impressive, with countless scales and a few wrinkles for defining the musculature. The feet have the correct number of toes.

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In terms of appearance, accuracy, detail, and play value, the Wild Safari Sauropelta simply shines. This is one of the best ankylosaur toys I’ve ever come across. Get it if you can!

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Available from Amazon.com here.

Archaeopteryx (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)


Review and photographs by Patrx.

Archaeopteryx lithographica, the famous “ancient wing”, was named for a single wing feather found in the Solnhofen Lagerstätten in 1861. That feather would soon be joined by more fossils, adding up to a remarkably detailed body of evidence for the creature’s shape, anatomy, and integument. Yet, somehow, popular depictions almost never seem to hit the mark. Happily, this new Archaeopteryx from Safari is here to set things right, dodging all the old “lizard-bird” tropes that we’ve seen before. Well, most of them.

Wild Safari Archaeopteryx

As with the rest of the models from Safari this year, the details on this guy really impress. The animal is, of course, decked out in feathers. But beyond that, there are distinct types of feathers visible on different areas of the body. The head, neck, and breast bear what look like fuzzy, branching filaments which transition (a little abruptly) into “proper” contour feathers along the back, and, of course, on the limbs. The sculptor of this model, Doug Watson, cites a 2004 paper by Christensen and Bonde. The feathers on the legs are quite long, and extend to the ankles, based on N. Longrich (2006).

Wild Safari Archaeopteryx

As expected from a model so thoroughly researched, the proportions and basic elements of the anatomy are spot-on. The wings look like wings; with correct hand anatomy instead of the bizarre “wings with hands tacked on” look that shows up all too often. There are primary feathers starting at the second finger. The skull is the correct shape and size, with accurately-proportioned eyes, tiny teeth, and a subtle pair of ridges of the kind Gregory Paul seems fond of in his Archaeopteryx reconstructions. The leg musculature is appropriate. Interestingly, the feet feature hyperextensible sickle-clawed second toes, which, while debatable, is also backed by a paper (Mayr et al. 2005).

Wild Safari Archaeopteryx

Remember that first feather I mentioned before? The one that was given the name Archaeopteryx in 1861? In 2011, a team was able to detect melanosomes (organelles containing the dark pigment melanin) in the feather (Carney et al. 2012). They concluded that this feather had been black when the animal was living. Accordingly, this model’s feathers are predominantly painted black. It’s far from dull, however. The back of the animal has been given a subtle but lovely iridescent blue color, with a purplish glint on the head, apparently inspired by magpies. It’s a cool thing to see, particularly on a mass-produced figure. Another neat detail is the dark edge along the otherwise white flight feathers. This is seen in modern birds quite frequently – the melanin actually toughens the vulnerable wingtips. It’s also supported by yet another study (Manning et al., 2003 [pdf here])! The unfeathered portions of the animal are painted a really bright orange hue. Maybe a little too bright. I do really like the look of the eyes – vibrant and convincing. The claws are painted black, the tongue is pink, and the teeth are white; simple but effective.

Wild Safari Archaeopteryx

So, what’s not to like? Well, the one thing that really drags this brilliant figure down for me is the pose. Wings splayed, leaning back on its tail, head turned a bit and mouth agape, I expect it’s meant as an aggressive posture. In addition to the dreaded tripod support (why no base?), it’s just not that interesting or natural-looking. It’s the same pose Archaeopteryx so often seems to get stuck with. With that said, I’ve never bought “tripod-tailed” models for my own collection, except for this one. The positive elements outweigh the unfortunate pose, in my book. The claws are also disappointingly blobby and dull, which I chalk up to toy safety concerns. Alas. There are also some design choices that ultimately come down to preference. The feathers on this model were definitely well-researched and well executed, but they’re not as dense as I’d really like to see. They’re very tight to the body, particularly around the neck. Certainly plausible (i.e. the flamingo,) but the necks of most birds are buried in feathers. I would also have liked to see feathers on the snout and digits.

Wild Safari Archaeopteryx

There’s a lot of research behind this little bird, which is fantastic to see! If you’re a fan of maniraptorans, this is one time you shouldn’t let a tripod pose keep you from picking one up. In closing this dreadfully lengthy review, I shall say that this has been a great year for Safari, both in terms of accuracy and detail. The Carnegie line may be extinct, but, as always, Archaeopteryx is a sign of a bright and interesting future.

Available from Amazon.com here.

Wild Safari Archaeopteryx

Woolly Mammoth baby (Prehistoric Life by Wild Safari)


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After completing the 2004 Wild Safari Prehistoric Life Woolly Mammoth review, it was brought to my attention that I should take a look at the retired WS Baby. With this thought in mind, I sat down and took a close look at this little toy. I suppose I could have added a small revision to my first review and added this little figure. Even though it does complement the adult mammoth, this baby is well done and can stand out on its own.

The baby mammoth is 3.5 inches (8.9cm) long and 1.14 inches (2.9cm) high and was retired in 2011. The pose is an attractive one. Its head is looking straight ahead with its trunk stretched out in front of it. It has a classic bugle look to its trunk, as if it is tooting hello, or saying wait up. Of course it could just be reaching out for its mommy’s tail. Interestingly, there is a mop of fur on its head, and above the shoulders there is a very small hump, and then the back slopes downward. These features are typical characteristic of the species, but supposedly these features were not present in juveniles, which had concave backs like African elephants.

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On the head are prominent brow ridges, big wide eyes, and very small ears the stick out on either side. The mouth is open; there is even a small outline of tongue inside. There are some small trunk ripples right in front of the eyes. The small ears are kept close but not flat to the body. As you would expect, it is covered head to toe in fur. There is a long outer covering of guard hairs that cover the upper part of the head, body, and legs. On the trunk and bottom half of the legs you see the shorter undercoat. The tail is short with long bushy end.

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The texture on this model is all about the woolly fur. It has long lines of guard hair covering the upper body, with small, faint lines, for the undercoat. The muscles on the legs do bulge out a little bit, and has a little rounded ribs, but it is hard to notice with all the fur covering it.

The color is just like the adult. It is two toned with different shades of brown, which looks good and is accurate. There is a dark brown undercoat, were the guard coat of fur is a little more light brown. The toes are painted in grey. The eyes are completely brown with black pupils. Inside the mouth is a small line of pink for the tongue.

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As a toy, I can see that this would please the younger kids, and find use for bigger kids. It is an active, and dare I say cute sculpt. It will find play by itself, with its mommy, or in a big herd. If a brother a sister a playing with this little guy, and it happens to wonder away from the toy herd there are plenty of predators such as large cats, or occasional T-Rex which one sibling will probably use to ambush it. So be prepared, as this can lead to one of the kids becoming upset at their sibling. The paint is robust and there are no sharp edges on this toy.

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This is a beautiful piece to have. It is easy to overlook, due to its size, or just being thought of as a companion piece to the adult. For those who have overlooked it, or if you like mega fauna, you might want to take a second look. It currently retails in the 3-7dollar range, so it is very affordable. I would stock up on it if you find some. I wouldn’t say it is a rare toy but it has been retired since 2011, so finding it can be fun challenge.

You can begin your search here:Ebay