Category Archives: Safari Ltd

Plesiosuchus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)

Metriorhynchids were fully aquatic crocodyliforms with reduced forelimbs, no osteoderms, and shark-like tail flukes for propelling themselves through the depths. Plesiosuchus, at an estimated 6.8 m long, is the largest known member of the family. Like its very distant relative the modern saltwater crocodile, this Jurassic predator probably fed on whatever it could catch, from various fish to other marine reptiles.

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Wild Safari’s 2016 Plesiosuchus is a fairly small figure measuring slightly over 17 cm long. It is sculpted in a very fluid pose with its head turning to the right, its deadly jaws wide open, its limbs tucked back, and its strong tail undulating to the left. Some prehistoric sea monster toys have a tendency to look like they’re beached, but this one is clearly swimming through the ocean blue in pursuit of prey.

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The Plesiosuchus‘ main colours vary from pale yellow on the underside to mustard yellow along the sides and finally to dusty brown on top. The tiny ear holes are black, the eyes are black and yellow, the mouth is pink, and the teeth are white. There are also pencil-thin grey stripes running down the length of the body and the flippers, which frankly I think the toy would have looked better without. Oh well.

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The skin is smooth for the most part, but it does feature thick wrinkles at the limb joints, along the flanks, and at the neck. The large rear flippers have grooves to indicate the digits beneath the skin and the outline of the tail is visible below the fleshy triangular fluke. The front flippers are puny and stumpy and the top of the skull accurately reflects the animal’s unique profile. The teeth are not super sharp (which is to be expected on a figure intended for children as well as adults), but they still look threatening enough.

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Compared to mosasaurs, pliosaurs, plesiosaurs, and ichthyosaurs, metriorhynchids are not well-represented in the plastic world of prehistoric toys. Between that rarity and its superb sculpting, the Wild Safari Plesiosuchus is a wonderful and welcome addition to your collection. Strongly recommended.

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Thanks go out to FaunaFigures.com for this and other wonderful prehistoric toys!

Prehistoric Plants (Safari Ltd)

Review and photographs by Lanthanotus

Plants and trees may not be a collector’s first choice of models to collect, and not only because there’s so few around. In general, humans feel more attracted to animals than towards plants despite the fact that we could still live well without keeping or even breeding (and feeding on) animals, but not without plants. But heck, they have no eyes or faces or expression! And steak tastes better than soy beans anyway! Enough sarcasm, those green companions of ours are way more curious and surprising than we might expect. The great David Attenborough wrote a wonderful book for the casual reader about The Private Life of Plants, so if you are interested, go find it here.

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This review is dedicated to two prehistoric plant models made by Safari. So let’s start with the “Tree Fern” as it is written on the base of the model. No specific species is given, but the plant clearly resembles an extinct tree fern as recent relatives have far more filigree foliage and stems that are either as thick at ground level as on top or even a slight bit thicker at top. By contrast, the model shows a conical shape and buttress roots.

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The tree fern is growing on rocky ground and right next to it are the stumpy remains of a former placeholder. Three levels of frond foliage and three fiddlehead fronds on the very top form the tree’s crown. The ground colour is green all over, but the base comes in an olive or military green whilst stem and foliage are made from a lively green. The paint job is simple, the rocks being coloured in a medium grey, the base’s crevices filled with a dark yellow. The stem is lightly touched with some light green, probably the same colour as is used for the foliage, just stronger there.

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The second plant’s base claims to show an ‘Agathis Conifer.’ Yeah, I know what you’re gonna say: “Never, that is a Monkey Puzzle Tree, I’ve seen them in Walking with Dinosaurs!” You are right there, well, at least of what we know from either tree’s recent relatives. Agathis is a genus of trees better known as kauri trees and is nowadays native to New Zealand, Australia and western Oceania to Thailand. Kauri trees are thick-stemmed, big trees with leaves and crowns that more resemble dedicuous trees than conifers. However Agathis is part of the plant family of Araucariaceae and therefore a close relative to the tree commonly known as Monkey Puzzle Tree or Chilean pine. So, our conclusion here is that the model, despite being named an ‘Agathis Conifer,’ clearly resembles an Araucaria species as folks familiar with the Patagonian flora will know them: Cylindrical, slender stems of towering height (up to 80 metres) with an umbrella or mushroom like crown.

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As the ‘Tree Fern,’ the Araucaria grows out of a rocky ground, a broken trunk, or very thick branch of an even bigger neighbour is laying next to the tree. The tall trunk is branchless up to great heights and besides a few remaining branches, most of the foliage is concentrated in the umbrella-like crown. As on the tree fern, the paint job is simple but effective. The rocks and stones are coloured in the same medium gray, a light green is used for the ground (whose base color is a dark grass green as the rest of the model), a light caramel brown for the trunk, and a dull reddish brown for the foliage.

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Both models are reasonably well detailed. If one would want to compare them to dinosaur models, they would fall in line with Safari’s (which makes sense as they are made by that company) but lack the detailed liveliness of Papo’s. Still, they make for very nice stand alone models as well as background decoration–what will be their destiny in most cases. Both models can be bought for around $7 to $8 each, presumably best via the internet as most toy dealers don’t seem to bother offering plant models.


Mamenchisaurus (Dinosaurs of China by Safari Ltd.)

Review and Photographs by Quentin Brendel (aka Pachyrhinosaurus).

Having appeared in the film The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Mamenchisaurus is commonly known as the dinosaur with the longest neck. While this may not have been true due to fossils which have yet to be discovered or named, the Mamenchisaurus by Safari LTD has an enormously long neck compared to its body.

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This figure’s size is the first thing many would notice about it. This dinosaur is around 60 cm (two feet) straight from snout to tail. Due to curvature, the actual length is just slightly longer. Of that, 27 cm, almost half of the model, consists of the animal’s head and neck. To the top of the hips is around 10 cm.

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It is posed with its neck and tail outstretched and leaning to the left. The paint is mostly dark green with a cream underside which has soft edges. The feet also have this cream color. On the back there are round, black markings. The right side has lots of small black spots on it which for some reason are missing on the left. There is a spray of reddish-brown on each side which complements the green well. The head is painted black with cream around its mouth, eyes, and nostrils. The eyes are green with black pupils and a white spot to simulate a reflection.

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It is difficult to decide on which scale this figure is supposed to be since there is no indication of the species on the model itself (though the packaged variant may have it listed). The skull has the basic shape of a Mamenchisaurus skull, though it isn’t quite exact. Most prominently, the tip of the lower mandible is missing the point that it seems to have had. The neck is very thin and snake-like. It should have more muscles on it for support and be pointing more upwards. The tail should be pointing upwards at the base only to run parallel to the ground after the first few vertebrae. Sauropod feet are very often incorrect on older models and this is no exception. The hands have five claws painted on five distinct digits. There should in fact be only one claw on the inside of the column-like limb without distinct digits. The rear legs are almost the same as the front. Many mammals have similar front and back feet but dinosaurs did not. They are a bit more accurate, though should not have as many claws on them as they do, as there should only be three. The feet are also proportionally to large, it appears. This dinosaur appears to be missing a pubis bone and the ischium looks very tube-like. The skin of this dinosaur is textured with wrinkly striations whereas there should be small non-overlapping scales but they would not be visible at this size.

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The Safari LTD Mamenchisaurus was part of a set of three dinosaurs in the “Dinosaurs of China” line. Introduced in 1993, each figure was sculpted by the late Ely Kish and was sold in a windowed box with a skeleton backdrop. After the set was retired, the Mamenchisaurus was moved to Safari’s also retired “Dino Discoveries” line. It was sold without a box and fossil backdrop, which was when I acquired mine. This makes it very hard to find the background compared to the other two dinosaurs which were only sold in that way.

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Despite its inaccuracies, the Dinosaurs of China Mamenchisaurus is a classic figure. It is one of the longest sauropods made by many of the popular companies and is one of the few toys made of this genus.