Category Archives: sauropod

Huanghetitan (Age of the Dinosaurs by PNSO)

In 2016 the PNSO (Peking Natural Science-Art Organization) line introduced large figures of often under-represented Chinese dinosaurs. The largest of the line is the obscure macronarian sauropod Huanghetitan, which lived in the Aptian age of the early Cretaceous (some time between 125 to 113 million years ago) of what is now China.

Huanghetitan being known only from fragmentary remains, it is hard to judge the accuracy of this figure. However the portrayal is is consistent with known sauropod biology. The hands correctly have only one claw and a slight crescent-moon shape. The nostrils are positioned towards the front of the skull (albeit a bit asymmetrically). Small scales and larger osteoderms, known from other sauropods, cover the skin. Most importantly, there is an appropriate amount of soft tissue – this is one bulky sauropod! No shrinkwrapped fenestrae or neck vertebrae to be seen here, which unfortunately cannot be said for the line’s other sauropods. The only fault  is an errant fourth toe claw on the right hind foot. Sauropods only had three claws on the hind feet, with the fourth and fifth digits being more stub-like. The left foot is correct, but the right foot even has the extra claw sculpted on (not just painted). Perhaps the figure represents an individual with a congenital defect? More likely this was an oversight in the sculpting process or a mistake gone uncorrected.

The combination of bulkiness and sheer size lend this figure a grand presence. Proudly striding along with head held high, this Huanghetitan is large and in charge, a giant in its prime. Depending on the length estimates used, this figure is anywhere from 1:30 to 1:40 scale.

The color scheme is subdued, consisting of varied grays and browns reminiscent of large extant mammals. The upper body’s scales have a white wash between them suggestive of dust caked into the skin (as with a modern elephant), similar to PNSO’s Triceratops. If being picky one could say the wash cuts off rather abruptly along the bottom, but this is only noticeable upon close inspection. The eyes are neatly painted gold with black pupils.

Astute collectors may notice that this figure bears a resemblance to the much more expensive Sideshow Apatosaurus statue, with both being bulky gray sauropods. Given that the Huanghetitan retails for the equivalent of just under $60 USD (discounted at the time of writing to ~$30 USD), how do these two stack up? It’s a fraction of the Sideshow statue’s price, but is it only a fraction of the quality?

Both are sizeable, with the Huanghetitan measuring about 27″ long compared to the Apatosaurus‘ 43″. But the Huanghetitan, being hollow vinyl, is a much lighter 2 lb compared to the Apatosaurus’ 10 lb. Despite being hollow the Huanghetitan is quite sturdy, and its vinyl construction makes it much less fragile than the Sideshow piece. Not having a base, it is much more easily transported than the Apatosaurus.

In terms of quality the Huanghetitan falls short upon close observation. The paint is prone to wear, even in the original packaging, and there are visible seams across the limbs and attaching the tail to the torso. Thankfully the paint application and detailing make these a bit less obvious. Furthermore, the details, while fine and intricate, are not as crisp as those on the resin Sideshow piece. While (naturally) not as high-end as the much pricier Sideshow statue, this is still a fine piece, making a worthy centerpiece (or companion to those fortunate Sideshow owners). At its retail price the detail and size make this figure a great bargain.

This big beauty makes a great addition to the collection of any fan of sauropods or Chinese dinosaurs. The Huanghetitan and other PNSO figurs are available outside of China from various resellers, though usually with some markup. If you are fortunate to have family or friends in China who can order one from PNSO’s Chinese store for you, the price is much more affordable.

Apatosaurus (Field Museum Mold-A-Rama)

Although I’m not old enough to have witnessed the Sinclair Motor Oil “Dinoland” exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair this has always been an era in American history that has fascinated me. The representations of dinosaurs at that time are now heavily outdated but they stand as symbols of just how popular these animals became in the wake of their discovery. The Sinclair Dinoland and Sinclair’s dinosaur heavy marketing campaign was at that time to many people what the release of “Jurassic Park” was to me in 1993. Just imagine what it must have been like to have stood at the feet of those life-sized models, taken right off of a Charles Knight painting and beautifully reproduced in what was essentially a real “Jurassic Park” for that time. Sure, countless life size dinosaur parks exist now, but this particular one at this iconic time in America’s history has always intrigued me.

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The model we’re looking at today comes straight out of that era. Indeed, the Mold-A-Rama figures were sold as souvenirs at the World’s Fair in 1964, right on the cusp of the Dinosaur Renaissance. DTF member Foxilized wrote much about the history of Sinclair and the World’s Fair in his review of the Mold-A-Rama Tyrannosaurus, so I won’t tread old ground here. The Apatosaurus model is of particular relevance to Sinclair Motor Oil as it’s an identical 3-Dimentional reproduction of their classic green “Brontosaurus” logo. Anyone familiar with old dinosaur Americana will instantly recognize it.

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Although finding these Mold-A-Rama models can be difficult they do occasionally show up on eBay, often with exuberant prices for a souvenir that originally cost next to nothing. But the highlight of the Mold-A-Rama figures (and there were many, dinosaurs and otherwise) was not the figure itself but watching the process by which they were made. You would essentially pay the machine to make the model right before your eyes (watch here). I’ve never had that privilege, yet. Working machines are rare but still in operation at the Chicago Field Museum where you can walk in and purchase one of these nifty dinosaurs as if it was still 1964.

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Although the model has the name Apatosaurus printed on it this is an Apatosaurus in name only. It represents the classic Brontosaurus depictions of old, right down to the boxy Camarasaurus head. The heavy body stands on thick heavy legs and a spindly serpent tail drags along the ground behind it. No accuracy points here, this unique model is significant for other reasons and will only appeal to those with an appreciation for retro dinosaurs and American history.

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All four elephantine feet are firmly planted on a base and thick folds of saggy skin can be seen along the sides. This Brontosaurus better find his way back to the swamps before it’s crushed by its own bulk. Since this figure comes from a Mold-A-Rama machine you can expect it to be made of brittle hollow wax and is easily broken which is probably why originals are expensive these days.

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Amargasaurus (HG Prize by Sega)

Review and photos by Bokisaurus, edited by Suspsy

In the Early Cretaceous of what would one day be Argentina, there lived one of the most distinctive sauropods known: Amargasaurus cazaui (La Amarga Lizard). Despite their huge size, complete sauropods skeletons are fairly rare. Fortunately, what was discovered of Amargasaurus‘ skeleton is nearly complete, including part of the skull. For a dinosaur discovered in 1984, but only been described in 1991, Amargasaurus has quickly gained popularity, rivaling some of the more well-known giants such as Apatosaurus and Diplodocus. Sauropods are well know for their gigantic size, but Amargasaurus was relatively small, measuring in around 33 feet in length and not much larger or taller than a modern elephant. But what Amargasaurus lacked in size, it made up in its truly bizarre and unique appearance. For starters, Amargasaurus sported two rows of tall, upward projecting neural spines running down its neck and running all the way down its back, very much like a stegosaur. This striking feature is what really sets Amargasaurus apart from any other sauropod known to date.

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The whole purpose of these tall spines is still debated. Some believed the spines are for defense against predators, while others interpret it as purely for display and recognition. In addition to their purpose, there is also a debate about what these spikes could have looked like in life. Some restorations show these spikes as being partially encased in skin, creating a sail-like appearance, while others show these spike as completely free of any type of covering. Like others in the family Dicraeosauridae, Amargasaurus had a shorter neck than other famous sauropods.

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Amargasaurus was first introduced into the toy world and popular culture by the famed Battat line of prehistoric figures way back in the mid 1990s’. Since then, it has found fame with other toy companies. In today’s review, we will look at one of the most beautiful and sought-after Amargasaurus figures currently out there. It’s from SEGA, which has released many prehistoric figures over the years. Perhaps best known are their multiple sets of prehistoric figures tied in with video games.

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This Amargasaurus figure is part of their large figures that were prizes for those grabber type arcade machines. Since these figure sets were prizes, they were not widely available outside of Japan, making them rare, highly sought after, and very expensive to acquire. There are four figures known from this prize set: Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus(with two versions), Stegosaurus, and Amargasaurus. Each of these figures got multiple paint variants. T. rex leads the pack with five known paint variants, followed by Triceratops with four. Stegosaurus joins Amargasaurus with having only one known paint variant. As mentioned before, these SEGA prize figures are huge, so they do take up a lot of display space. But it is well worth it, as they display beautifully together.

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Measuring in at 20″ long and 6″ tall, this impressive figure is very well-sculpted and full of details. Posed at mid-stride, the walking stance gives life to the Amargasaurus, making it look relaxed. In this interpretation, the spikes on the neck are free of any skin covering. The spikes start on the neck just behind the head, and as they travel down the length of the neck, each pair of spikes grows longer, with the longest being located on the middle part. The spikes then become shorter again until they come to the shoulders. The spikes on the back are nothing more than a tall ridge completely covered with skin, although you can still see evidence of the parallel vertebral spines. The ridge continues on as it reaches midway into the tail before disappearing. The tail has a sideways curve to it as it tapers off to the end.

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The neck is short and muscular as it should be. The head is nicely sculpted, although it looks a little too big in proportion. The mouth is open and you can see the tongue and teeth, all nicely done. The eyes are painted light blue and atop the eyes, one can see the nostrils which are small black dots. The skin is covered in multiple wrinkles as wells as some skin folds along the neck and leg regions. Unlike newer versions of Amargasaurus, there are no osteoderms visible anywhere on the body on this figure.

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The legs are nicely proportioned, with the front pair shorter than the back pair. The front feet are horseshoe-shaped as they should, and although fossil foot material was recovered from Amargasaurus are very fragmentary, it is reasonable to assume that its feet were similar to the rest of its family’s. The figure is a very bright yellow colour, which is perhaps due to the video game influence. There are flashes of orange all over the body, mostly on the sides and base of the back ridge, as well as the tail region. The tall back ridges are painted maroon on the top, with stripes as it runs down the back. The neck spikes are also yellow in color and the same maroon colour is used to break the silhouette in the form of horizontal stripes.

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If I have a complaint about this figure, it is that it comes as a two part: the body and the tail. Unfortunately, the tail and body attachment creates a very visible gap in between as the two part don’t fit very well. This really distracts from the overall visual beauty if this otherwise flawless figure.

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In closing, this Amargasaurus figure ranks as on of my all time favorite dinosaur figures. It’s beautiful and accurately sculpted, and will always command attention in any collection. It is also a rare and expensive figure that took me years to finally acquire at a reasonable price. Unlike other SEGA figures, these prize figures are in short supply, but very much worth the chase and adding to any collection.

Hope you enjoyed this review of one of my favorite dinosaur and figure. Till next time, cheers!