Category Archives: Schleich

Herrerasaurus (The First Giants by Schleich)

Review and photos by Takama, edited by Suspsy

Before this year concludes, I figured it would be best to review the very last large dinosaur model that has been released by Schleich as part of their “First Giants” sub-line made specifically for 2016. Herrerasaurus may not be the most obscure dinosaur they’ve ever made (that honour goes to the Barapasaurus), but it may be a little surprising for us to see that they chose to replicate something that hails from the Triassic for a change. The last three Triassic animals they made were retired at the drop of a hat shortly after their release. Fortunately, this model stands a better chance at lasting longer than those other models because this one has a mouth full of teeth that kids can use to rip other dinosaurs to shreds with.

img_9505

The Herrerasaurus contains traces of some of the best and worst aspects of Schleich that we’ve come to expect in this day and age. On the one hand, it is nicely detailed, with individual scales sculpted on most of the upper part of the body. Also, the shape of the head is unmistakably that of a Herrerasaurus. On the other hand, Schleich clearly did not care to get the proportions correct at all, as the arms are way too long and the feet are too big. On top of that, they once again committed the ever-popular sin of pronating one of the poor theropod’s hands, making it forever frozen in agony with its newly broken wrist.

img_9507

Another thing I can see that’s wrong with this figure lies in the teeth. At first glance, it is clear that Schleich did “some” research when reconstructing the head, as the teeth are in their correct positions when compared to the skull of the real animal. But the way they were sculpted makes them look more like the baleen in the mouth of a rorqual whale instead of the teeth in the jaws of a basal theropod. As for the rest of the mouth, there is virtually nothing to talk about. The tongue takes up the entirety of the bottom jaw (save for a little at the end), and it is no nowhere near as detailed as anything made by the likes of Papo. The roof of the mouth is no better, as there’s absolutely no detail whatsoever sculpted there, which I guess is excusable, since most kids are not going to be looking in that region of the body anyway.

img_9506

Really, the only thing I can praise this model for are the colours, as they are simply appealing. The body is mostly dark blue, and it is washed over with some brown paint. What astonished me, however, is that while the top half of the figure is coloured brown, only the sculpted scales seemed to be painted that way, and upon close inspection, it is clear that the application is virtually flawless, as there is no run off in between the cracks of the details.

img_9508

When we get to the head, however, things start to fall short, as there is clearly some run off going on with the red. The eyes are also the same colour while the teeth are just plain old white with black in between them. The hands and feet are painted in some type of brown, as though to make it seem like they are dirty, and the bottom jaw is red as well. Shamefully, the claws remain the same blue colour as the rest of the figure.

Overall, this is one of Schleich’s better models for 2016, but it is far from being one of the gems, which means it will never share a space with their Shonisaurus, Kentrosaurus, or even their Dunkleosteus. Since it’s Schleich, finding this toy should be relatively easy, since they infest almost every other store in America in this day and age. If you’re in desperate need of a Herrerasaurus, then this will have to do, until Safari releases a more likely superior sculpt sometime in the future. However, if you are going to use it for Triassic period dioramas, then you might as well get the CollectA version, as this model is way too big to fit in with most Triassic figures.

Dinosaur Advent Calendar 2016 (Schleich)

Review and photos by Tim Sosa

This year Schleich followed in the footsteps of companies like Lego and Playmobil in offering an advent calendar, but this one is dinosaur-themed! 24 days of dinosaur goodies sounds pretty attractive, so I bit the bullet and picked one up. I opened it long before Christmas, so that maybe this review can help you decide whether to buy one yourself. If you want to be surprised, maybe don’t read any further, but it’s going to be tough anyway because the entire contents of the box are pictured on every surface.

image

If this were a video review, I might go day-by-day, but that would be too many photos for a brief review, so I’ll let the photo below give you an overview, and then summarize the contents:

image

So what do you get over 24 days? You get three dinosaurs, none of which is a new sculpt, although two of them have been repainted and therefore are billed on the box as “exclusives.” The Velociraptor is the same sculpt released by Schleich in 2011 with a new paint job. Previous reviews have dealt with it more thoroughly, but briefly, it lacks feathers, its hands don’t face each other as they should, and the shape of the head is incorrect. You might notice from the photo above that it’s the only dinosaur not in a plastic bag, so during shipping it loses paint to the tray and there are lots of little red streaks on the white plastic. The Compsognathus is the same sculpt as in the “Velociraptor on the Hunt” pack released last year, again with a new paint job. The evidence on Compsognathus feathers is more ambiguous, since its preservational environment had at least a chance of preserving feathers but did not do so. Nevertheless, its relationships to other animals suggest it might have had feathers, and even if you give it the benefit of the doubt on its pajamas, this figure has the same problems as many Schleich theropods: incorrectly oriented hands, distorted proportions, and in this case the wrong number of fingers. The Tyrannosaurus baby is the same as in Schleich’s cave playset, and doesn’t even get a new paint job.

image

Besides the living dinosaurs, you get the remains of a couple more: a complete Stegosaurus, the same one as in the volcano playset, and a Tyrannosaurus skull. The Stegosaurus is spread out over multiple days. Its stance isn’t perfect, but it has the right number of plates and roughly correct proportions. (I didn’t count ribs and vertebrae, but you can if you like!)

image

There are a few other animals included in the advent calendar. To my mind, these are actually the biggest draw for this set. None of these is identified by name, but they’re identifiable to varying degrees. You get two ammonites, and to the best of my knowledge, they are the only parts of this set that represent sculpts available nowhere else. I don’t know what kind of ammonite, if any, they’re supposed to represent, although they seem like reasonable efforts, with the basic ammonite shape and correct number of arms. The frog has a stub of a tail, perhaps to indicate that it is one of the earlier, more basal members of the group, something like Triadobatrachus, Mesophryne, or Vieraella. It’s a repaint of the frog included in the volcano playset. Finally, there’s a little fish, painted like a flying fish, but with very different proportions. It’s a dead ringer for the reconstruction of the holotype fossil of Potanichthys xingyiensis by Fei-Xiang Wu. Potanichthys and its relative Thoracopterus seem to have evolved the ability to glide over the water about 240 million years ago, long before modern flying fishes (which aren’t closely related, showing up independently about 66 million years ago). This figure makes for a pretty nice rendition of Potanichthys, although it is missing the anal fin. Like the other small animals, it isn’t labeled, but it strains belief to suppose that its resemblance to Wu’s reconstruction is coincidental.

image

This set also includes a pair of plants, although they come in pieces that you assemble over multiple days. Both are figures used in plenty of other Schleich products. One is a fern, which makes sense, as ferns were common throughout the Mesozoic. The other is an agave, which is peculiar because agaves didn’t evolve until well after most dinosaur lineages had gone extinct. I would have been happier with another fern (or better yet a horsetail or cycad), but oh well.

image

Finally, you get four information cards about the best-known animals in the set, and stickers for everything (four days of the calendar, you just get stickers), but sadly no information on the “accessory” animals. I think that’s a bummer because you could use these to teach kids about animals that lived alongside the dinosaurs, but how would you even know where to look if they aren’t even identified?

image

This set isn’t great if you’re looking for accurate dinosaurs, and doesn’t have much educational value for kids who are into prehistoric life. If you’re the kind of collector who likes the quirky animals that don’t get much press, you might get more enjoyment out of it. It’s a much cheaper way to get the fish and the frog than the very large, very expensive volcano playset due for release later this year, and so far it’s the only way to get the ammonites (and you get two!). That’s the only type of dino fan I’d recommend it to, however–you have better options for Velociraptor, for prehistoric plants, for skeleton figures, you name it. You can get this all over the Internet right now, although I imagine availability will diminish after the 2016 holiday season.

Spinosaurus (Replica-Saurus by Schleich)

Review and photos by Lanthanotus, edited by Suspsy

Today I want to introduce you to a figure so obsolete that one can almost only recognize it by the big sail set on the somewhat generic theropod body: the Spinosaurus from Schleich’s Replica-Saurus 1:40 line, released in 1993.

image

The fossil collector Richard Markgraf discovered the first remains of Spinosaurus during an expedition in 1912 in the Bahariyya oasis in Egypt. His friend, the German paleontologist Karl Heinrich Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach (yeah, back in the days you got names!) then described the dinosaur scientifically in 1915. The fragmentary holotype was completely lost and destroyed during an Allied bombing of Munich in the Second World War and despite quite detailed drawings of the fossil remains and some recognizable characteristics of the species (as in the lower mandible), Spinosaurus was often depicted in books with a generic and blocky head which was the bane of many theropod dinosaurs back then. The next discovery of fossils of the species did not take place until 1996 and so it comes to no surprise that Schleich’s figure boasts this blocky head. It still took until 2001 when Jurassic Park III prepared the stage for Spinosaurus‘ worldwide fame and updated its reconstruction to a certain degree. Since then, nearly every dinosaur toy company jumped on the bandwagon and depicted Spinosaurus as in JP3. Just recently, this changed again with the designation of a neotype by Paul C. Sereno and Cristiano Dal Sasso and the reconstruction by Nizar Ibrahim–which is still under debate. Thus Spinosaurus is a fine example of science as the rolling stone it should be.

image

Back to our figure. As a part of the Replica-Saurus 1:40 line, it is quite a heavy hunk of plastic at almost 25 cm long and more than 11 cm tall. Like all Schleich figures, it’s made of a very durable plastic and a firm, if simple paint job, all in all making it a great toy if not much more. Considering the German market for toy figures in the pre-JP era, one could call the Spinosaurus a decent figure, more or less on par with the Carnegie Spinosaurus, which boasted a way more attractive paint job, but not the durability.

image

Nevertheless, with regard to the scientific accuracy, Schleich’s figure is a miss in almost every possible way, although one can hardly blame them when you consider how the species was depicted in the books. Still, the detailing isn’t very good either, and one could ask what made them choose Spinosaurus as a figure anyway. While I have no answer to that, I suggest that the mystery of its appearance and the fact that it was described by a German paleontologist led them to the decision.

image

More interesting is the fact that the figure was just retired in 2008 with the introduction of a more JP-style figure, seven years after the movie. However, the figure seemed to sell quite well and is still widely available at German flea markets, eBay or the likes. But as many Germans seem to think of Schleich as the world’s best toy producer and every single one of their figures highly collectible, the offerings often boast ridiculous prices. With a bit of patience, you can find it for just one or two euros though. As many other figures of the 1:40 line, this was also available as a smaller, but more attractively painted version.

image

Do I recommend the figure? Only if you are a Schleich collector, a hopelessly anachronistic dino lover, or on the hunt for an indestructible rough house/sand box companion for your kid.

image