Category Archives: sauropod

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!

Prehistoric Tube B (CollectA)

Time again to downsize with CollectA’s second tube collection. Like the previous set I reviewed, this one came out in late 2015 and contains no fewer than ten teeny toy dinosaurs and other prehistoric monsters, a couple of them making their debut with CollectA.

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First up is a bantam Amargasaurus, based on the Deluxe version. Measuring slightly over 7 cm long, it’s light green with maroon stripes, yellow for the underbelly, black for the eyes, and dark brown shading on the feet. It is posed in a walking stance with its head held high and the tip of its tail curled. The teeth in the mouth, the twin rows of spines on the neck, and the sails on the back are well-defined and the pitted skin has tiny osteoderms as well as thick wrinkles. In terms of accuracy, this animal looks pretty good, although the neck could probably be a little shorter and the tail could be longer.

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Second is a diminutive Ankylosaurus, coloured dark brown on top and fading to light brown on the underside. The tiny eyes are black and maroon is used for the stripes running parallel down the animal’s head, neck, and back and for the two bosses on the mighty tail club. This 7.5 cm long figure is posed in a defensive stance with its legs planted and its tail raised and swinging from side to side, ready to rumble. I had assumed that this toy was virtually identical to the Deluxe version, but in a number of ways, it’s actually superior. The rib cage is proportionally wider, the limbs are smaller, and there are more osteoderms comprising the armour. The nostrils are still too close together and there are too many toes on the feet, though. The back and limbs have a pitted skin texture while the underbelly is covered in wrinkles. The osteoderms are keeled and the tail club has a knobby feel to it. This is quite a cool little ankylosaur!

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Now we have one of the newcomers to the world of CollectA, a bitty Apatosaurus! At 4 cm tall and 9.5 cm long, it’s the biggest figure in this set. Its main colour is dark grey with a pale pink underbelly, black shading on the feet, and black eyes. The Apatosaurus is sculpted in a classic museum pose with its neck turning to the left and its tail swinging to the right. The tail could afford to be longer, but on the whole, the toy looks reasonably accurate. The skin is pebbly with spiny plates running down the vertebrae, two rows of osteoderms on the back, and wrinkles on the neck and flanks. Despite its size, this Apatosaurus looks beefy and strong. I do wish that it had been Brontosaurus instead (it really is wonderful to have the thunder lizard back), but I think it’s one of the best in the set.

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Next up, a runty Brachiosaurus. Not surprisingly, it’s the tallest figure in the set, standing 7 cm tall and measuring 10.5 cm long. Based upon the second Standard class figure, it’s standing rather stiffly with its head raised to maximum elevation. The main colour is greenish-grey with a light grey underbelly, dark grey shading on the feet, and black eyes. The skin is pebbly all over with a few thick wrinkles around the flanks. The limbs and tail look correctly proportioned, but the neck needs some beefing up. Overall though, it’s an okay rendition of Brachiosaurus.

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Here’s the second newcomer, a pocket-sized Giganotosaurus! Mounted atop a rocky brown base, it measures 9.5 cm long and is coloured light green with a yellow underbelly, dark grey stripes, black eyes, and a pink mouth. Unlike the Tyrannosaurus rex from the other miniature set, the teeth on this carnosaur are painted the same colour as its mouth, which is disappointing. And despite the name printed on the bottom of its base, it is clearly based on the Deluxe Carcharodontosaurus. Perhaps CollectA originally intended to release it as the shark-toothed lizard, but then decided to introduce the giant southern lizard instead. Unfortunately, while Carcharodontosaurus and Giganotosaurus are closely related, there are noticeable anatomical difference between their skulls. As well, this little fellow has inherited the Deluxe’s shrink-wrapped skull and overly wide hips. And to top it off, the paint on the feet has been poorly applied, making it look like the toy is melting. On the positive side, the sculpting itself is undeniably impressive, with sharp teeth and claws, lots of scales and wrinkles, rows of triangular osteoderms, and thick muscles. It’s a ferocious-looking monster in spite of its faults.

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And now here’s a mini Liopleurodon. At only 6.5 cm long, it’s the smallest figure in this set. Like nearly all plastic renditions, its main colours are very dark blue and pale yellow, a result of the animal’s exaggerated appearance in the BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs. There are also some very faint airbrushed pink patches on the flanks, but the eyes and teeth are unpainted. A pity, but it would have been very difficult to apply paint at this scale. While the front flippers are angled beyond the real animal’s range of motion, on the whole, it’s a pretty accurate pliosaur, with a pitted skin texture and thick wrinkles around its joints. And as with the Mosasaurus in the other set, this little swimmer makes a perfect baby for its Standard class parent.

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Our seventh toy is an undersized Quetzalcoatlus. Standing almost 5.5 cm tall and measuring 8 cm long from the tip of its bill to its heels, this largest of azhdarchids is coloured dusty brown with grey wings, pale yellow on its throat and chest, a black head, yellow crest, pink eyes and mouth, and light blue on the back of its neck. Its head is raised high and tilting to the left, but unlike the larger version, there’s no baby Alamosaurus struggling helplessly in its bill. The neck and body are covered in pycnofibres and the folded wings are wrinkled. The bill is slightly warped, but overall, this is a very good rendition. As I’ve said many times now, I love walking pterosaur figures.

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Behold, a wee Spinosaurus, only about 9.5 cm long. Based on the famous and controversial Ibrahim/Sereno reconstruction, this finned fish eater is striding slowly along on all fours, its left paw raised and its long tail swinging well to the right. The main colour is sandy beige with faint patches of bright green, black stripes on the sail, airbrushed grey on the front claws, black eyes, and a pink mouth. Like the Giganotosaurus, the Spinosaurus‘ tiny teeth lack paint detail, but at least they’re not pink. The sculpting detail is excellent, with fine scales and osteoderms on the body, ribs on the sail, long, sharp claws on the hands, and a crocodilian-like tail. This is definitely one of the best figures in this set.

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A scrubby Torosaurus is our ninth toy. The perforated lizard is just over 3 cm tall due to its mighty frill and just over 6.5 cm long from the tips of its brow horns to the end of its tail. The main colour is pumpkin orange with dark brown accents on the head, horns, and body. The frill features white wash and black “eyes” shaped like inverted teardrops. The tiny eyes are black as well. Aside from the smooth horns, the entire animal is covered in fine pebbled scales with just a few wrinkles around the joints and belly. Unlike the Standard class toy, this Torosaurus‘ brow horns are correctly curved instead of straight. But sadly, the little fellow has all the same issues as his big brother: a snout that’s too long, a lack of epoccipitals on the rather flattened frill, and limbs that are far too lanky for any chasmosaurine.

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Finally, I give you this Lilliputian Velociraptor. It measures nearly 7 cm long and is quite possibly the blandest-looking dromaeosaur figure I’ve ever seen. It is coloured beige all over with darker patches on its tail, limbs, and head, as well as black eyes and a pink mouth. Due to its size, it is moulded onto a small earthen base. On the plus side, despite the fact that it is based on the aging Deluxe version, it’s got more accurate proportions, with a smaller head and a longer tail. The head, hands, and feet are scaly, but the rest of the Velociraptor is nice and feathery, complete with a large fan at the end of the tail. The wrists are properly aligned and the claws and teeth make this animal look like quite a savage predator. Of course, any dinophile worth his or her salt knows full well that this raptor doesn’t have nearly enough plumage. Still, any feathered dinosaur is welcome in my book.

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Overall, while I like the other miniature set better, this one is still quite good. Granted, some of the figures have accuracy issues, but they’re all rather endearing little toys. And considering that you’re getting ten of them for a relatively low price, I can’t see many people not enjoying them. Plus as I mentioned in my other review, the durable plastic case means that you can easily and safely take this set on the road with you. Recommended.

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This marks my second year anniversary as a reviewer for the Dinosaur Toy Blog! As always, thanks go out to Dr. Adam S. Smith and everyone who’s been enjoying my work. Here’s to another year! 🙂

Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) (Tyco)

This review marks my 100th review for the Dinosaur Toy Blog and with having reached this milestone I think I need to reflect a bit. My first review was posted on July 16th, 2011. That’s just over 5 years of collecting and writing about dinosaur toys. Although others have reached this milestone in an impressively short amount of time that makes this no less significant for me. I’ve actually reached the point where I consider myself an “old timer” in these parts, one of the few that’s still an active reviewer. Home ownership, fatherhood, and many other major life events have transpired in that time and yet I’m still here writing these reviews. If I’m being honest I can say that this hobby makes for a nice escape from reality on the occasions that I need one.

Dinosaurs (and other prehistoric animals) have always made for a nice escape; the perfect blend of science, art, and imagination. While our scientific understanding of dinosaurs dramatically changes as time marches on these ancient animals still remain a constant in our imaginations and in our lives. Dinosaurs are certainly nostalgic for me. I’ve loved them ever since I first saw “The Land Before Time” on the big screen back in 1988. But just like everything else, dinosaurs have changed. The dinosaurs I grew up with are not the same animals that fascinate me today. And that’s alright, because the importance of understanding these animals as they were far outweighs my feeling of nostalgia or the public’s perception of dinosaurs as a whole.

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The toy I’m reviewing today is an iconic one, nearly as old as me. It represents an animal whose name and bones we all know but no longer exists. The Tyco Brontosaurus (for that is what it is, a Brontosaurus) won’t win any points for accuracy or realism, but it’s a one of a kind toy that captures the imagination and brings this old depiction of a classic animal to life like no other.

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I didn’t have the pleasure of owning this toy when I was growing up. Looking at it stand before me I honestly wonder how any child could even play with the thing. Yes, it is gigantic! If any toy ever did the size of a sauropod justice it’s this one. With its neck stretched out this toy measures 3’ in length and it stands about 1’ tall at the hips. This is widely celebrated as one of the largest toy sauropods ever made. Even Kenner, who was responsible for the epic “Jurassic Park” toys of the 90’s never made a sauropod toy approaching this thing in size. The size of the Tyco Brontosaurus is no doubt its single most redeeming feature, this is a must own model for those that love big sauropods. Looking at it though it’s easy to see just how dated this toy is and for a toy so large, and so inaccurate, is it really worth the shelf space? Personally, I think it is, but read on and decide for yourself.

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This monster of a toy looks like it has literally just dragged its bulk out of a primordial swamp. The serpentine tail drags behind its enormous body, the swan-like neck craning its head skyward. This is not the elegant sauropods we’re now accustomed to and for anyone born in a post “Jurassic Park” world this thing might even look ridiculous. But that’s alright, this one isn’t for them.

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Looking past the body and at the smaller details we see that, perhaps surprisingly, the feet are not horrid for a toy this age. Five digits are present on the hind-limbs but only the first three are particularly obvious, complete with toe nails. This is in keeping with depictions we see even today. The fore-limbs possess five digits as well, with three digits possessing claws where there should be only one but the fact that this much effort was applied shows that Tyco did some degree of research on their products, some have even stood the test of time more so than they should have.

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The body is made of hollow hard plastic but despite being hollow this thing still weighs between 3-4 lbs. The tail is also hollow but made of a more flexible rubbery material. True to the Tyco line this toy is an action figure, capable of some degree of movement. All of the limbs can move back and forth and the neck and head swivel up and down as well. That’s it for an “action feature” but what more would you need on a toy sauropod? You can make it move forward, and eat or look about. That seems good enough but the toy was originally supposed to be a battery powered toy that walked. That feature was nixed due to budget reasons, no surprise there. A walking feature certainly would help kids play with a toy nearly as big as them I suppose.

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Even at this gigantic scale this toy is not lacking in finer details. Wrinkles and skin folds are obvious in appropriate places and the skin has a pitted, cracked texture that at least resembles scales. On the shoulders and hips there is a good deal of raised bumps along the hide and the massive hind-limbs are as muscular as they would need to be. The mouth is partially open, revealing a nice battery of teeth and I would comment on the nostril placement but they have curiously been omitted. The eyes are the life-like beads we all love on these Tyco toys and make this otherwise obvious toy still feel somewhat alive.

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The Tyco dinosaurs never did have much for coloration or patterns. A gray and black hide is the order of the day here, another indication that this is an old depiction from the days when all dinosaurs were gray, green, or brown. On this toy the color does have a nice mottled pattern though. A yellow stripe runs down the body and tail, dividing the mottled dorsal pattern from the flat gray underside. It’s very easy to envision this animal in a dark, swampy forest, perhaps somewhere deep in the Congo even.

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Now as most of you know this toy did originally come with an impressive assortment of armor, weapons, and riders. I don’t have any of those accessories. While I do collect toy dinosaurs I don’t collect “Dino-Riders”. That may raise some eye-brows from those wishing for a full review of a complete toy but I’m here to look at the dinosaur itself. Suffice it to say that there are other sites more dedicated to “Dino-Riders” than this one. I did enjoy the show and toys as a kid but my budget doesn’t allow anything past the price of this toy just by itself.   Even if the military gear makes it that much more impressive.

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If you want one of these legendary titans you’ll be forced to put forth a good amount of cash. The toy alone will cost you and then factor in the shipping. I was astonished by the size of this thing simply by the box it was in. It’s a rare toy which is one reason I chose to review it on this special occasion but not the rarest in the line and quite accessible with some patience on eBay. Clearly it will take up some space on your shelf but this is THE must have toy for anyone with a love for retro dinosaurs, big sauropods, or of course the Tyco line. Although Tyco made a Tyrannosaurus, this Brontosaurus is the true king, not only of the Tyco series, but of dinosaur toys in general, even after nearly 30 years sitting on the throne.

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A giant among giants.