Category Archives: Safari Ltd

Prehistoric Mammal Skulls (Toob by Safari Ltd.)

Prehistoric skulls, be they those of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, sea monsters, mammals, amphibians, or any other beasts, are always things of beauty and intrigue. Let us take a look at this interesting variety of mammal skulls from Safari Ltd. There are eight in total, all coloured medium brown with a pale brown wash, and all with their names printed on the undersides.

We begin with the huge and horned Arsinoitherium. This skull measures just over 5 cm long from the tips of its huge front horns to the back of its mandible. While the horns could afford to be even longer and angled farther back, this is still quite unmistakeable as the famous embrithopod.



Next up is one of our distant relatives: Australopithecus. There are several described species, but I’m going to assume that this is meant to represent the most famous, A. afarensis, of which the famous “Lucy” specimen belongs to. It measures about 4.5 cm long from the mouth to the parietal. While the cranium looks pretty good, the chin could afford to be more defined and the teeth are too numerous, too small, and too generic in shape.



Our third skull is that of the frightfully fanged Daeodon. This one measures nearly 5.5 cm long. With all those pointed teeth and knobby projections, a lay person might easily mistake it for some kind of theropod dinosaur! But in order for it to be a proper representation of the largest entelodont, the maxillary canines should be larger and more visible, and the skull should be taller.



Fourth up is the skull of Embolotherium, a mighty brontothere from Asia, very similar to the North American Megacerops. This one measures 4.5 cm long and is immediately recognizable due to the slightly heart-shaped protuberance on the nose. The exact purpose of this horn is uncertain, as it was hollow and therefore too fragile for use in combat. Some experts have proposed that it may have been a specialized resonator for producing sounds, similar to the crest on Parasaurolophus. In any case, this is a reasonably good representation of Embolotherium save for the fact that, as with the Australopithecus, the teeth are too many and too generic.



Here is a first for the DTB: the skull of a Mammut americanum, better known as the American mastodon. Yes, despite being fairly popular and known from multiple complete skeletons, the poor mastodon has been overlooked by toy companies in favour of its more famous relative, the woolly mammoth. Indeed, I suspect that that only reason Safari went with a mastodon instead of a mammoth skull was because the latter’s huge tusks would have been impossible to squeeze into the package. Not surprisingly, this is the longest skull in the set, measuring 9 cm long from the tips of the tusks to the back of the cranium. Unfortunately, the tusks need to be more curved and spread farther apart in order to be a proper American mastodon. This looks more like a Stegodon skull. But on a much more positive note, Safari will be releasing a fantastic-looking mastodon figure in 2018!



Can’t have a set of prehistoric mammals without good ol’ Smilodon. This bad boy’s noggin measures 5.5 cm long with 3 cm long canines. No mistaking this one. But while it has the basic profile of a machairodont, the muzzle is a bit too long and the skull is not deep enough. The mouth is open slightly, but it would have been cooler had it been open to a full 120 degrees.



This is the knobby skull of the massive Uintatherium. Measuring slightly over 5 cm long, this individual may be a female due to the relative shortness of its tusks. While it could certainly afford to have even more pronounced knobs, overall, this is a pretty decent replica.



Last up is a woolly rhino skull. Now, anyone who knows anything about rhinos knows full well that their horns are made of keratin, not bone. But a hornless rhino just wouldn’t look as impressive, now would it? Anyway, the front horn gives the skull a height of 4.5 cm, matching its length. The skull itself looks fairly accurate, but the front horn is very warped. A result of too much time spent crammed into the tube, I suppose. On a sad note, as I gaze upon this tiny plastic skull, I can’t help but think of the strong, grim possibility that modern rhinos will soon be joining their woolly brethren in extinction. 🙁



These prehistoric mammal skulls aren’t quite museum-quality accurate, but they’re rather good overall. A very unique and educational set, appropriate for all ages. Recommended.

Parasaurolophus (Baby)(Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

Review and photos by Quentin Brendel, edited by Suspsy

With its long, tubular crest protruding from the back of its skull, Parasaurolophus is one of the most easily-recognized hadrosaurids. The model to be reviewed today does not have much of one, being a juvenile animal. Safari Ltd’s rendition, while not perfect, is still a nice toy for collectors and children alike. This figure is stamped 1997, coming out a year after the original Wild Safari adult Parasaurolophus.

The dinosaur is posed so that it looks like it is calling out, with its head up and mouth open, perhaps to the adult. The primary colour on this figure is a brownish orange, which, unlike in the adult, is solid and does not fade to a darker shade. The underside is painted beige with hard edges. There is an intermediate colour between it and the orange which has feathered edges, though it lacks the intermediate colour on the right side of the torso. The most striking part of this colour scheme are the green dorsal markings. The back is painted a dark green with lighter green patches on top of it. These markings are also on the top of the crest as well as on the dinosaur’s face. On the sides are smaller green spots which resemble the rosettes of a jaguar. On mine, these are asymmetrical with more spots on the right side. The nails are painted a navy blue and the inside of the mouth is pink. The eyes have black pupils on yellow and a white spot to simulate a reflective surface.

The neck is very thin and goose-like. Recent reconstructions depict Parasaurolophus holding its neck forward and being better-muscled, similar to a horse. The hands each have five fingers (one too many), however, only the outermost digit should have a claw. The others were bound together in a hoof-like structure with the metacarpals being longer. It is not to scale with the adult and should be smaller.

Hadrosaurs are known not only from skeletal remains, but many skin impressions as well. This makes it much easier (or harder, depending on how you look at it) to make an accurate model. The skin of the baby Parasaurolophus has large, wrinkly striations going down its neck, trunk, and tail. They are on the legs more subtly. The skin would have been scaly but the tiny scales of a hadrosaur would not be too visible at this scale anyways. Lambeosaurines also had a series of larger scales on the ventral side of the base of the tail, but even these would probably be too small to sculpt. There should be a bumpy ridge running down the length of the back as well. The most conspicuous inaccuracy of this figure is in the skull. A newly-described specimen of a baby Parasaurolophus is known to have had a crest not unlike that of a Hypacrosaurus which would have later grown into the characteristic crest of the adult parasaurolophus. Safari’s Hypacrosaurus Baby, while not perfect, would actually work better as a baby Parasaurolophus than this one.

The Wild Safari Parasaurolophus baby, despite its inaccuracies, is still a classic figure to those who (like me) grew up with the old Wild Safari line. It does go well with the adult as well as the other baby dinosaurs from the earlier years of WS. It sometimes makes its way onto eBay, but can also occasionally be found in stores with old stock and is more common (from my experience) than the adult. I happened to find three of mine at an old toy store for the great sum of seventy-five cents. Despite Parasaurolophus‘ popularity, there are not as many good figures of it as one might expect, almost none which are completely up-to-date, and very few baby dinosaurs in general.

Psittacosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

Review and photos by amargasaurus cazaui, edited by Suspsy

In 2005, a fossil specimen surfaced at the Tuscon Gem and Mineral Show that would soon set the world of paleontology on end. The slab, containing a single specimen of Psittacosaurus, had been preserved in such a way that it would soon yield a treasure trove of scientific firsts, new information, and depth to our understanding of this species. Most notable were the bristle-like tail structures exquisitely preserved. The specimen was so well-preserved, melanosomes establishing colouration, patterning, and shading were found. The specimen appears to be one of the few with intact melanosomes which establish colour in a non-avian dinosaur. It is seemingly the first dinosaur we have actual preserved scales for as well.

The toy market has very few examples of Psittacosaurus done in a more life-like realistic style, that are also generally available. The Carnegie Collection produced the most well-known and treasured version of the dinosaur, sculpted by Forest Rogers. A smaller, more bird-like version was issued by CollectA. As one of the most well-known and studied dinosaurs, the market seemed ripe for a more accurate and appealing version.

Enter Doug Watson and the Wild Safari company. In the final months of 2016, Safari announced and released a new model of Psittacosaurus for the collector market. In my discussions with the sculptor, I was able to learn his sculpt was an attempt to translate the Tucson specimen, now known as Senckenberg Museum R 4970, into the most accurate model possible. The model is intended to be P. mongoliensis and was intended to be scaled at 1/12 size. This would place the model as an adult.

The model itself is smallish in size, measuring roughly 2 1/4 inches tall at the head and slightly over 5 1/2 inches in length along the vertebrae. It balances fairly well on its legs, with its feet placed in a normal walking pose. The tail is slightly curved and demonstrates the famous quills that the specimen is known for. The hands are sculpted in an opposing or neutral position with the proper digits, including the vestigial traces of the fourth digit without a claw. The body demonstrates the appropriate musculature, and in no way appears shrink-wrapped. The head is properly shaped, with jutting jugals, a nicely formed rostral, and properly placed eyes and nostrils. The frill is quite subdued, but visible.

The colouration is inspired by and follows the information given for Specimen R 4970 fairly closely. It features lighter undershading and darker overtones, darker individual scales, and an overall palette of browns, tans, and rust colours. The colouring for the bristle-like structures would seem a decent possibility, and the overall aesthetic is pleasing.

What are my own thoughts? I would like to have seen this model given to us at a larger size, perhaps 1/6 scale, although that is more a personal preference. My only other possible nitpick might be for more pronounced jugals. In my discussions with Doug Watson, he had commented that he was not convinced regarding the jugals, whereas I think they would be even more pronounced and angular. On the plus side, I find the overall effect is a well done and carefully researched masterpiece. The colors are believable, the posture is borne out by evidence, and the unique features this dinosaur is so well known for are evident and well done. The bristle-like structures match the fossil, and are placed properly. The figure stands decently on its feet, balances well, and looks quite lifelike. I feel it is the best mass market toy offered for this species. Props to Doug Watson and Safari!

The Psittacosaurus sells affordably around the ten dollar price point and seems quite readily available on eBay, Amazon, and most major online dinosaur stores. A nice, fairly priced, and well-sculpted dinosaur, readily available on the market!