Category Archives: Safari Ltd

Ceratosaurus (original version)(Wild Safari by, Safari Ltd.)

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With a long wiggly tail, nasal horn, preorbital horns, bony scutes along the back, and large blade like teeth, Ceratosaurus was a spectacular animal.  This medieval dragon was not the biggest predator during the late Jurassic epoch, but with jaws designed for slicing, it was an active predator that struck fear into the Jurassic herbivores.

Despite its unique look with its impressive head gear,  Ceratosaurus is still overshadowed by its Jurassic contemporaries.  With popular animals such as Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Diplodocus, Apatosaurus, and Brachiosaurus, it easy to see why it gets lost in the shuffle. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t seen any love, as it has graced many film’s since the silent era. Though I am not a fan of the film, Ceratosaurus taking on Triceratops in 1 Million Years BC, is quite fun to watch. In toy form, it has been made by most of the major companies to varying degrees of accuracy and appeal.  The Schleich Ceratosaurus is particularly bad. Interestingly, Safari Ltd. never released a Ceratosaurus for their Carnegie line. The first one made by Safari was done for their Wild Safari line and is now retired and replaced.  Its this original toy that we will be looking at today.

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About the toy:  The figure is sculpted in a rather relaxed walking pose.  This happy go lucky figure appears to be looking for somebody  to play with, or heading to the local watering hole for a quick dip.  It certainly doesn’t look very menacing.  Depending on the figure, it may be able to stand on two legs, or it will literally fall back into the “classic” tripod.  At 6 in (15.24 cm) long and and a little over 3 in (7.80 cm) high, it is smaller than its 2012 replacement.

On the head, the nasal horn is barley bigger than the preorbital horns but they are in the right location.  The skull is the right shape and their is no shrink wrapping.  The teeth unfortunately are very small and uniform. Inside the mouth is a barely sculpted tongue.  The arms are on the short side and the hands are sculpted with the primitive four digits, with the forth finger reduced which would be accurate.  Along the spine is a very small ridge of bumps, I am not sure if it is the row of bony scutes that should be running along its back.  The feet are small and proportion to the body, but the legs are soft and bendy, so warping can happen.

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When looking at the head you will notice that there are some very faint circular scales that have been sculpted onto it.  The rest of the body doesn’t have any bumps or scales on it.  Instead there are etched lines of skin throughout the body and there not bad, as they look rather natural. The muscles on the legs don’t stand out too much but they are present.

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The paint job is base green with a deep red across the back and neck.  Along the side of the neck, flanks, and the side of the tail, the red is in irregular splotches.  The horns, teeth and claws are all white, and inside the mouth is salmon.  The eyes have a little flourish to them.  The eye itself is black with a white highlight underneath it along with a white reflection dot on the eye.  The ear is a black dot.  The overall paint application is ok, but the teeth are a uniform blob of white.

Play ability:  As a toy it is ok.  It is a predator and has horns which are things kids like.  Due to the heavy paint and the softer plastic on the legs hands and tail, it can take a pounding during playtime.  Even though the mouth is open, its really is not wide enough for a kid to place much inside.

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Overall:  When you compare it to its 2012 replacement, I would agree that this older figure is inferior.  The pose, color, and texture of the newer Safari model are very nice.  That doesn’t mean that this is a bad figure.  Sure, its not as fierce looking, but the eyes are expressive, and it has a personality. In my opinion,  a little character can be a be a good thing.  It is also a rather accurate toy.  The paint job on the other hand, some people will like it, others, not so much.   This is one of the best of the original Wild Safari toys.  Even though their are better Ceratosaurus toys out there, I would still recommend this figure to collectors, educators, and even for kids for the playtime adventures.


Evolution of Man (Safariology by Safari Ltd)

Review and Photographs by Quentin Brendel (aka Pachyrhinosaurus), edited by Suspsy

The main theme of Safari Ltd’s Safariology line is education. The line includes life cycle sets, fossil replicas, a solar system model, and other items to encourage children to learn more about nature. Perhaps the most important teaching tool in the Safariology line is the “Evolution of Man” set, especially since, depending on the region, this important lesson might unfortunately be omitted from school curriculums. Not surprisingly, the set may evoke the image of Rudolph Zallinger’s famous “March of Progress” painting. Of course, numbering only five, it doesn’t include as many species, but it still does its job of providing a visual aid of human evolution (and lets us have some human victims for our prehistoric mammals).


Australopithecus is the earliest of the hominins in the lot. For such a small figure, it has lots of detail. It’s standing upright with a slightly forward lean, a curious expression on its face, and a bone held in its right hand. The Australopithecus is the only one that is not holding a stick. There’s lots of muscle definition all over the hairy body. Most of the figure is solid brown except for the bone, which is painted white, and the face, which is light brown with darker highlights. The eyes aren’t quite straight, but this is minor compared to some of the others in the set.


Coming next is Homo habilis. This one has slightly more definition than the Australopithecus, possibly to imply a thinner coat of hair. It’s also more diverse in colour. The body is lighter coloured and there is a darker patch of hair on the head. The face and ears are similar to those of the Australopithecus except that the highlights match the color of the body. H. habilis comes with two tools: a stone and a long stick. The stick is a support for the figure, allowing for a tripod stance.


Third one up is the Homo erectus. This one lacks body hair altogether. I’m sure H. erectus would have been hairy in life much like many modern humans, but a model at this size would probably have trouble depicting sparse hair like that. He also has backwards-running hair like that of the H. habilis in the set, as well as a beard. This figure has the most well-defined muscles, as the body is not obscured by hair or clothing though he is wearing a loincloth. There’s a stick included with H. erectus as well, this time topped with flames, reminiscent of the Bullyland figure, however the fire is not as convincing as that one’s. It’s very red and yellow, and would be more realistic if painted in various shades of orange. The stick doesn’t look very charred either, being a bright beige.


The Neanderthal also sports a hairless body, save for the hair on the head and the beard, and appears to be making a hand gesture. He dons an animal skin which is worn over one shoulder and of course, covers his pelvic area. There’s a stick in the right hand as well. The skin tone is quite varied in my figure, being lighter in some areas and darker in others, keeping a natural feel. The hair is painted black and it’s tied up in a ponytail in the back. Eyebrows are painted on. Some of the paint is off-target on my figure, but it’s at a small scale and the errors aren’t as easy to notice, although the two eyes looking in different directions can be quite distracting. The lips are also painted a different colour from the face.


Lastly, the Cro-Magnon is the most recent of the bunch. Unlike the rest, he holds a spear and a bone with both hands. I’m not too familiar with Cro-Magnon weaponry, so I can’t tell for sure whether the bone is supposed to be affixed to the spear or not. As always, there’s lots of paint detail, with even the fibers binding the stone to the stick painted separately. Also unlike the rest, the Cro-Magnon is wearing fuzzy boots. I’m sure I saw some similar ones last time I was at the mall. It must be an old trend. He’s also wearing something that reminds me of a kilt as well as a necklace with teeth or claws. The Cro-Magnon’s hair is higher than that of the Neanderthal and is a medium brown. The face sports a moustache and beard of the same colour.


Overall, this is a nice set. The scale and complexity makes it vulnerable to paint mistakes, however, that is only a minor problem and if need be, they are easily repaintable. I think they make good companion pieces to the other prehistoric mammals due to their smaller size. A possible downside is that they aren’t very compatible with one another in a diorama setting since most of them are from different times and places, and even if one were to get hold of multiples of one of them, it would look rather unnatural with them all being in the same position. For its purpose–to illustrate human evolution from other apes–it does its job well. The Cro-Magnon stands three inches tall, putting these figures at around 1/24 scale. They aren’t exactly to scale with the Safari woolly mammoth, but there’s enough size difference between them that it doesn’t look unnatural.


Interestingly, newer versions of the set are not as detailed with the paint, sporting more solid and less intricate paint jobs. It doesn’t detract too much from the figure, but there’s still a noticeable difference. With their detail, playability, and educational value, the Safari Ltd Evolution of Man set should be a welcome addition to any shelf, toybox, or classroom. They are still in production and can easily be found online on Amazon or eBay.


Elasmosaurus (Carnegie Collection by Safari Ltd.)

Measuring nearly 50’ in length with a extraordinarily long neck the genus Elasmosaurus is surely one of the most charismatic and awe inspiring members of the plesiosaur order and even more popular than Plesiosaurus itself. It’s no wonder since Elasmosaurus was one of the largest members of the group and has been featured in numerous books, artwork, and other pop culture depictions.


The 1991 Carnegie Collection Elasmosaurus may very well be the first mass produced toy depicting the marine reptile. I had one growing up and it was one of the best bathtub toys I owned! It was released alongside a Mosasaurus obviously inspired by old paleoart by the likes of Zdeněk Burian. The Mosasaurus hasn’t aged well, but what about this Elasmosaurus?


For the most part this model has held up well. It has that standard plesiosaur body plan that is difficult to mess up too much. But much like that old Mosasaurus this toy does suffer from its age. The neck is bent upwards and curved as if attempting to snatch some poor Pteranodon from the air. We of course now know that plesiosaurs had stiff necks held out in front of them and despite what so many alleged Nessie pictures suggest these animals did not swim around with their necks out of the water like a swan.


The head is also concerning because it completely ignores the somewhat odd cranial anatomy of this animal. To get an idea of what it should look like it would be good to compare it with the 2013 Wild Safari model. The skull should be low with the eyes towards the top of the head, not the sides. Also the teeth should be jutting out forward from the mouth, no doubt a useful tool for snaring fishes. What we have on the Carnegie model is just a generic looking lizard head. It’s a pity because the model is otherwise decent, just got to cut that head off.


Despite its shortcomings anatomically the Carnegie Elasmosaurus has stood the test of time in other ways. Up until the complete retirement of the Carnegie Collection this toy could be found regularly and a few variations exist. There is this model that I own, painted in various shades of brown with a dark brown back and intricate gray colored, half-moon designs running down the side along with dark brown splotches overlaid with small black spots. The dark brown coloration stops 1/3 of the way up the neck but faint bands and dark spots run up the rest of its length. The head has black spotting and a black stripe that runs through the eyes and around the snout. A green stripe runs below each eye. Mine is odd in that it has spots on only one of the fore-flippers, and not on the rest. I’m not sure if that’s consistent with other models or unique to my own.


Another version exists that is very similar to my own, the only difference being that there are darker, thicker bands running up the neck, brown edging on the front flippers, and no green stripe below the eyes. In 2007 the model would be released yet again with a completely new paint scheme. That one was blue with darker blue blotches along the back, a believable color scheme for an aquatic animal that would no doubt serve as camouflage in the rippling blue water. But the older color schemes work too.


The toy is an impressive size; it measures 11” from tail to head, not counting the curvature in the neck. The details on the toy are slim but that’s to be expected from what is supposed to be a streamlined aquatic animal. There are some wrinkles where the fore-flippers meet the body and the model has a slightly dimpled texture. Three raised black bumps are sculpted on the neck just behind the head.

The Carnegie Elasmosaurus is a classic model of the genus and a must have for marine reptile buffs. It has some anatomical errors but is otherwise a well-made toy. Its large size and craning neck make it stand out on a shelf and it displays well. This model had a long run with the Carnegie Collection and is still easy to find and probably will be for years to come.