Category Archives: Safari Ltd

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!

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

Although Brachiosaurus remains one of the most popular dinosaurs, in large part due to once being heralded(incorrectly) as the “biggest of the big,” the reality is that very little is known about this Jurassic giant. Only scant fossil remains have been found in North America, and what was once thought to have been an African species is now recognized as a separate genus, Giraffatitan. Interestingly though, SMA 0009, a nearly complete skeleton of a juvenile sauropod from the Morrison Formation, may actually be a baby Brachiosaurus!

Safari Ltd first released their Brachiosaurus Baby figure all the way back in 1997. This repainted version came out in 2013, at least according to the date printed on its tummy. Its main colours are grass green and sandy yellow with orange eyes, a pink mouth, and black claws. It’s a simple but bold look, appropriate for a children’s toy. The little giant proudly stands 7.5 cm tall and measures 8 cm long.

The Brachiosaurus is sculpted with its neck reared back and its head turned to the right. Being such an early Safari product, it lacks the magnificent sculpting detail that we’ve come to expect from their figures nowadays. The skin has a very basic wrinkled texture all over, a soft ridge of vertebrae runs down the back and tail, and a keel runs down the front of the neck. The proportions are pretty much what you’d expect in a baby sauropod toy: an oversized head, a relatively short neck and tail, and stout, stubby legs. Indeed, with its large, round eyes and decidedly friendly expression, this little sauropod looks quite, quite cute! You almost want to offer it a slice of grape or a fresh spinach leaf.

There are a couple of major inaccuracies to be found here. First, there appear to be no visible nostrils anywhere on the head. And second, the front feet each have five claws, whereas the real animal would only have had claws on its thumbs. I have no doubt that the overall proportions are off as well, but given the age and simplicity of this toy, I see little point in dwelling on them. And again, we don’t know for certain yet what a juvenile Brachiosaurus really looked like.

Overall, I find the Brachiosaurus Baby to be an endearing little toy in spite of its shortcomings. Young children especially should adore it.

Giganotosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

Kids perspective by William, edited by Laticauda

 

Young and old gather around and see the new king in town.  I present the highly anticipated 2017 Safari Ltd. Giganotosaurus.  Why do I call it the new king?  Sure it doesn’t have the name rex in its name, and its not because it was one of the largest known carnivores the world has seen, in which some estimates have it bigger than the almighty Tyrannosaurus Rex.  It is king because it has raised the bar on how a toy model can capture the  look and attitude of a  voracious carnivore  Lets be honest, the old Safari’s including the Carnegies are good but they just blend into your dinosaur collection, but the 2017 Safari Ltd Giganotosaurus  screams, here I am, look at me, love me.  (How that for a sales pitch!) Could this be better than the 2017 Safari feathered T-Rex?  Does this model deserve the royal crown, or is it a lower rank like a baron, or is it just a commoner?  Lets take a closer look.

About the toy: At 15 in (38.1 cm) long and 4.75 in (12 cm) long it is an imposing figure.  It is bigger than the standard animals in the Wild Safari line.  Its size and scale is on par with the old Carnegies.  The pose is truly something to rave about.  It is so fluid, dynamic, natural and beautiful that it is hard to believe that this isn’t a higher end resign model.   How where they able to get such a great pose?  It has a base. Due to it having a base you will not find over sized feet and hips, or a tripod pose that blemishes many other figures.  I am going to pick on CollectA bases for a moment even though they are not the only offenders.  When compared to CollectA, the base on this model gets a gold star.  Why?  CollectA has plain brown bases with perhaps a leaf imprint or a footprint which are ok but nothing to get excited about.  This base looks like a muddy bank and is part of the over all look of the model.  It is painted with color washing that adds to the visual interest of the base.  The feet are sculpted in such a way that they look like they are actually sinking into the muddy ground.   The back foot is actually pushing off the ground, ready to step forward.  It looks so natural.

The head is beautifully sculpted with its jaw wide.  It is not a shrink wrapped head.  There is an interesting boney ridge on its skull that exaggerates the top of its head.  It runs up the nasal and parietal and surrounds the orbit.  The external nares are huge.  The teeth are individually sculpted and the tongue looks wet due to a glossy finish.

The texture on the figure is rather smooth.  The scales, bumps, and textural over load that many models have are mostly missing on this sculpt.  In reality an animal this big you would not see each individual scale so with that in mind, it is a little more realistic and there is nothing wrong with that.  What they do have are skin folds, wrinkles, and some small bumps.   There is nice muscle tone and some loose skin.  If you look at the hips you can see the muscles bulging that are driving this predator forward.

The paint job is the one major flaw in my opinion.  Its not the base color of greyish blue.  I think that color works really well.  The striping is the first place were the colors start to fail.  The other is in the application.  Here is why.  The light brown stripes looks alright, but the dark brown striping over the top appears rushed and haphazardly painted.  There are gaps in the paint and it doesn’t look right.  From a distance it looks fine, but when you get closer you see how poorly the paint has been applied.  The teeth are white and most likely so are the gums around the teeth.  The rest of the paint job looks nice.  The eyes are great in Carnegie gold. The mouth is pink and the tongue as mentioned earlier, is painted a slick, glossy, wet pink.  Last but not least all the claws on the hands and feet are painted in white.

Play ability and kids perspective:  When I first saw it come out of the box I was blown away, it was amazing to look at.  I wanted to play with it right away.  It looks like a blue tiger with the stripes.  Its colors are blue with blackish brown stripes.  The head looks cool, but it would have been nice if the jaw was movable.  The teeth look as sharp as knives but are safe too touch.  It is not as good as the Carnegie Giganotosaurus which has better colors and it doesn’t have a base.  Since there is a base it can slide around like it is on ice.  The toy is safe to play with.  The tail, arms, and fingers are a little bendy.   I would play with this toy because it looks amazing and it can destroy toy cars.  I would like it better if it had no base so I could use its feet.   Even with the base it can still ambush and attack due to its striped camouflage.   One and half thumbs up for play ability.

Top view comparison of the Carnegie and 2017 Wild Safari Giganotosaurus .

Side view comparison of the Carnegie and 2017 Wild Safari Giganotosaurus.

Overall: I fully recommend this toy!  Why?  I’ll describe it with one word, awesome!  This figure is huge when it is compared to the other Wild Safari dinosaurs.   If you combine that with a pose that is so natural and dynamic you end up with an amazing dinosaur toy.  It is also very accurate to the fossil material.  The base is well done and the model is stable.  I know some people do not like bases, I am one of those people, but for collectors, you will not be disappointed as the base really adds to the figure.  Kids who want to play with this toy on the other hand would probably prefer to have no base, but will still find a way to have fun with this toy.

The only thing I don’t like about this toy is the sloppy paint job.  It is superior to the old Carnegie in every way, including size, with the exception of the paint job.  Look at how amazing the Carnegie Giganotosaurus paint job is, then compare it to this model.  I know you can repaint figures on your own, but it is a shame they can’t replicate the same level of paint application and execution that was done before.   Despite this flaw I think we have a new king and it has a place of honor in my collection.  I think it will find a place of prominence on most collectors shelves.  All hail the King.  Ok, maybe we’ll call it a prince for all the T-Rex fans out there, but its still royalty.