Category Archives: Sideshow Collectibles

Ceratosaurus (Sideshow Dinosauria)

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Given how frequently Ceratosaurus shows up in pop culture, it is a little surprising that so few people can identify it. Certainly, one cannot fault it for lack of a catchy name, which makes it sound like a walking nightmare composed of dripping gore and massive steak knives. Indeed, its horny visage must have inspired visions of reptilian monstrosities, echoing our earliest impressions of a lizard-like Iguanodon. This image of dinosaurs has endured, and can still be seen today. From ancient paleoart to cheap bargain-bin toys, it seems our basic view of dinosaurs has been characterized by two features: giant teeth and devilish horns.

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The educated enthusiast knows these animals don’t deserve to be portrayed as villains. Still, the Ceratosaurus – and in particular, this 2016 reconstruction from Sideshow’s Dinosauria line – does little to soften our instinctive terror at the thought of a gnashing, horny beast. In fact, this predator is best recognized for those very features. Its skull bears a pair of impressive lacrimal horns, as well as a third nasal horn for bonus badassery. Even better still, its jaws were lined with exceptionally large teeth. In juveniles, these teeth were even longer in their relative length to the skull, making it quite possibly the most terrifying tot ever to trod the earth.

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The spectacle is enhanced even further in this reconstruction with Steve Riojas’s hellish-looking paint application. It’s been suggested this style was inspired by the Ceratosaurus in Jurassic Park 3, though I wonder if the striped tiger wasn’t a bigger influence on this design. In any event, it works very well, providing a believable yet bold quality to a predator that too often goes unnoticed by casual paleo-fans. Some of the lateral stripes fail to break in a natural pattern along the ribs, but given how well the rest of the piece resembles the original design, I am not terribly bothered.

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In many previous Dinosauria models, the base has been largely plain and dull. This time, we are treated to a more immersive diorama. A pair of pterosaurs flee as the predator approaches, pressing one huge foot along a massive fallen log. If you look closely, you’ll see how the bark buckles and sinks beneath his weight. Fortunately, the log is not actually hollow, so the base is still more than adequate to support the main character. The entire piece has a length of about 19 inches, so it can sit comfortably among your other Dinosauria collectibles (assuming you haven’t run out of space).

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The head of the theropod is faithfully modeled here, with an excellent sheen running through the mouth and trademark teeth. It is also held perpendicular to the body, which ensures the model really looks interesting from a variety of angles. I recognize that not everyone can appreciate this dinosaur, and the prominent position it held in the Jurassic ecosystem, but I think this makes it all the more intriguing. For a closer look, please consider the brief video in the link below.

Video available here

Available to order here

Triceratops (Sideshow Dinosauria)

Review by Dan – DansDinosaurs.com
Photos by Dan and Robban

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Now that everyone and their mother owns a Sideshow Tyrant King statue, the clever folks at Sideshow are counting on buyers to look at their giant Tyrannosaurus displays and wonder if anything seems missing. Can you guess? After T. rex, this is consistently the most popular dinosaur, and even a more casual collector may have difficulty refusing one. Certain species in the Dinosauria line were not reissued like the others, presumably driving up the desirability of said species. Species that go together since the days of Charles Knight, and are almost never observed interacting with one another in a scene of tender love.

The original prototype painted by Steve Riojas. The color appears a bit different, but the imitation of his design is pretty good.

The original prototype painted by Steve Riojas. The color appears a bit different, but the imitation of his design is pretty good.

Depending on the lighting, you can emphasize the colors or the textures of a fine piece like this. The mirror is especially useful here, as it reveals that beautiful beefy neck.

Depending on the lighting, you can emphasize the colors or the textures of a fine piece like this. The mirror is especially useful here, as it reveals that beautiful beefy neck.

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The Dinosauria Triceratops was released in the summer of 2015, and has generally received even higher acclaim than its predatory predecessor. How can this be, exactly? Well, I’m sure there are several issues at play, but I suspect one major aspect is the paint scheme. The manufacturer has taken its fair share of heat for their paint quality, and the Tyrannosaurus was given the simplest paint scheme of any piece in the series. On the one hand, this makes it relatively easy for the factory to replicate thousands of times. However, it can also make for a somewhat underwhelming final product, especially when these pieces are so costly.

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Sometimes it's hard to emphasize the frill while keeping the appearance natural, but I think this works perfectly.

Sometimes it’s hard to emphasize the frill while keeping the appearance natural, but I think this works perfectly.

Happily, things look to be very different with ol’ three horns. I daresay this Triceratops upstages its natural enemy. While the colors always seem more muted than the ingenious original designs by Steve Riojas, there is still a nice variety of naturally blended hues on display. Steve’s familiar dappled patterns frame the physique in golds, greens, and greys. Of course, no modern ceratopsian would be caught dead with a bland frill (and I mean that literally), so there’s a brilliant punch of orange beaming from the parietal crest. This looks lighter, and more pinkish in the prototype image, but I prefer this stronger saturation anyway. The eyes are painted gold, probably to give them sheen, a familiar aspect that recalls the recently retired Carnegie Collection.

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Turning with its head bowed, there is no mistaking the aggressive body language of this animal. The texture does resemble the fossilized material, large scales popping up regularly amid the normal sized scales. Additional ferocity is piled on by some interesting modifications to the skin. All across the body, we are treated to a dizzying assortment of larger scutes and osteoderms. The largest of these are in long rows over the giant pelvis, while others are scattered around the flanks in a more sporadic arrangement. This lends a craggy appearance to an already prickly-looking prey item, as if its entire form is just a giant “Keep Away” sign. Much of it is artistic embellishment; Jorge did provide similar bonus armor to the Stegosaurus, but this is pushing the envelope much further. The result is a very strong, distinctive silhouette that breaks up the normally round physique of this animal, making it appear all the more dangerous, without stretching the science too far.

Since this model is 20” long and hits the 1:15 scale made popular by Shane Foulkes, it seemed only fitting to set it beside its resin counterpart in the display case. The 1:15 Foulkes Allosaurus can be glimpsed further back.

Since this model is 20” long and hits the 1:15 scale made popular by Shane Foulkes, it seemed only fitting to set it beside its resin counterpart in the display case. The 1:15 Foulkes Allosaurus can be glimpsed further back.

I suppose if I had to offer any criticism, I do find myself wishing the base had a little more color. The Mosasaur statue raised the bar pretty high for intricate bases, so we’ll see if this changes down the road. I am always impressed by Jorge Blanco’s sculpts, and this extraordinary reconstruction definitely met my expectations. It’s a refreshing take on a classic dinosaur, familiar in its trademark features, yet explosive in its artistic presentation. If Sideshow is willing to grant freedom to the artists working on other species, there is no telling what brilliant future designs the Dinosauria series may yield.

Robban kindly allowed use of his outstanding photos. This beast would not make for an easy meal, even for the Tyrant King.

Robban kindly allowed use of his outstanding photos. This beast would not make for an easy meal, even for the Tyrant King.

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Tyrannosaurus “Tyrant King” (Sideshow Dinosauria)

Review by Dan Liebman of DansDinosaurs.com
Photos by Chris Kastner of BackyardTerrors.com

If you ask a paleontologist what the two main types of dinosaur might be, you’re likely to receive an answer containing the words “Saurichia” and “Ornithischia”. Pose this same question to a manufacturer of dinosaur models, and you may discover an altogether different dichotomy: “T. rex” and “Dinosaurs that aren’t T. rex”. It’s beyond question that this predator’s popularity far outranks any other dinosaur. The quality of a manufacturer can arguably be judged by the quality of its king, and with reliably high demand, it’s quite common to see several incarnations of Tyrannosaurus rex from a single figure manufacturer.

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With that in mind, it is not terribly shocking to find the Sideshow Dinosauria line introduced their third Tyrannosaurus model in 2015, approximately six years after the series first launched. Even if you are an avid collector, you may wonder if it’s really worth having a third statue taking up precious space in your display, and what novelty this new model might offer. In short, there are two main distinctions. The first is that it’s been beautifully crafted by longtime Dinosauria sculptor Jorge Blanco, who has created more models in the series than any other artist thus far. The second reason? It’s huge.

Manufacturer stock photo featuring original painted prototype

Manufacturer stock photo featuring original painted prototype

Stock photo, alternate angle

Stock photo, alternate angle

When I say huge, I mean just that. At thirty inches in length, this titan reaches the generous 1:15 scale often associated with the Foulkes lineup. This makes it noticeably larger than the previous two tyrannosaurs in the series, and likely more menacing than most of the little vinyl versions you’ve picked up over the years. Serial numbers are boring, so Sideshow has distinguished this Tyrannosaurus with the fitting moniker of “Tyrant King”. In its original box and packaging, this giant weighs a whopping 22 pounds, but is still quite manageable once unpacked. The Dinosauria models are often partly hollow, but the base does have a good bit of heft.

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Those anxious about stability in their theropod models need not worry. While past statues sometimes attached to the base with a single sturdy peg, this one features peg insertion for each foot, safely rooting the creature in its massive footprints. The terrain is plain and mud-like, with a scattered rocks and a log to provide some scale. As is sometimes the case with these models, the base could probably do with a stronger paint application, even just a bit of rotten foliage. It’s entirely possible I’ve just been spoiled by the sight of so many buildups from Martin Garratt. Much like the reissued and repainted versions of previous Dinosauria statues that have arrived this year, the base has a secondary layer underneath, which makes it bigger and heavier. This seems to be an attempt to bring a consistent motif to the series, though I suspect many collectors would have gladly forgone this feature in favor of a slightly lower price tag.

Outdoor image, indirect sunlight

Outdoor image, indirect sunlight

But of course, you want to know more about the fearsome predator itself. In addition to a high level of scientific accuracy, Jorge Blanco is known for reconstructing these giants with a primal robustness. This is a considerable contrast to the leaner, more “shrink wrapped” reconstructions of the nineties, and definitely distinct from the pot-bellied predators that came before. Here is a creature laden with an extraordinarily impressive musculature. While gracile tyrannosaurs certainly did exist, our contemporary king is a very heavily built animal. This is especially pronounced in the big, meaty thighs and powerful caudofemoralis, where Blanco once again demonstrates his expertise. There is the barest protrusion of bone at a few points in the body, such as the center of the thigh and the scapula, just enough to remind you of the sturdy framework that supports such a large animal.

Indoor image, with photo flash

Indoor image, with photo flash

The lowered head of the animal adds to the aggressive posture, and feels far more naturalistic than the stereotyped “victory roar” pose better suited to a summer blockbuster than a nature documentary. Whereas many reconstructions show the skull fenestrae, nothing of the sort is found here. The skull’s dorsal surface is appropriately outfitted with an array of bosses, including some slight angularity at the brow, for that classic “angry” look that people have come to expect. The large, forward-facing nostrils are quickly becoming a standard feature, one that befits an animal that depended on its acute olfactory sense. A nice long scar adorns the right side of the maxilla. No pristine white chompers will be found in the jaw of this reconstruction. Instead, there are rows of disposable weapons that show signs of wear and decay. For me, the real icing on the cake is around the glistening gum line, where the skin seems to recede in a grotesque and believable fashion. Lean in close enough, and you can practically smell the rotting stench of death emanating from the jaws. Or it might just be paint, in which case, please don’t sniff it.

Original prototype (left) and mass produced model (right). Not quite identical, but still impressive.

Original prototype (left) and mass produced model (right). Not quite identical, but still impressive.

Paint has become something of a controversy when it comes to Sideshow models. Prototype sculpts are given detailed, professional paint jobs for the manufacturer’s stock photos, which can sometimes lead to disappointment once the mass produced statue is seen in person. To their credit, Sideshow seems to have been stepping up their game in this respect, and the recent reissuing of many of their original pieces in more vibrant color schemes suggests they are trying to do better. In its coloration, the new Rex looks similar to the subadult that was featured in the premiere Dinosauria statue, sculpted by Adrian Taboada. The shadowy browns and stony greys feel appropriate for large predator, watching silently in the darkness of the undergrowth. Instead of crimson demon eyes staring at us, we have simple but effective golden eyes, rather like those of a Carnegie model. There is a wavy pattern if you look carefully at the tail, but for the most part, this is a very conservative coloration for this species. It is possible the paint scheme was intentionally simplified in order to reduce the chances of a botched final product after passing through the factory, but either way, collectors have responded positively to it. Personally, I would have liked something a bit bolder, yet I must admit I would not want to risk an unsightly paint job on such a crucial character.

1:15 Sideshow Tyrannosaurus with 1:10 NECA Alien Queen - Because why not?

1:15 Sideshow Tyrannosaurus with 1:10 NECA Alien Queen – Because why not?

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the real attraction of a Dinosauria statue is the simple fact that it’s a beautiful sculpt from a world class paleoartist. Many collectors are not aware of the existence of resin kits, and those that are may simply find them beyond their financial reach after hiring an artist to finish it. This makes the Dinosauria statue a great intermediate choice for a serious collector who wants to elevate their collection from the vinyl figures. If there is anything that can entice a collector to try new things, it’s a big bad T. rex.

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Preproduction concept art by Jorge Blanco - Thanks Jorge!

Preproduction concept art by Jorge Blanco – Thanks Jorge!

“Every time Sideshow asks me for a new sculpture for the Dinosauria series, it´s a thrill. Especially in the case of the T. rex, since there are two great versions: Taboada´s and Krentz’s. So, I wanted to give my own interpretation of the King focusing on the features of a bold and aggressive big male. I don´t believe the T. rex is just a pretty face (far from that), so I dedicated hard work to other features like feet, arms, weight, underlying fat, skin, and the way all these factors make an impression on the base. I want to thank the team for their support, which I find essential to accomplish my own vision of any given animal.”

– Jorge Blanco, Sculptor

Available to order here.