Category Archives: skeletal

Stegosaurus (Mini)(Skeleflex by Wild Planet)

Despite its immense fame and popularity, there are not very many complete specimens of Stegosaurus. Most of the skeletons you see in museums are actually composites of multiple animals. The most intact one is currently “Sophie,” a young adult that resides in the Natural History Museum in London, U.K. It is about 85% complete and looks magnificent. But as you’ll see, the subject of today’s review is quite the antithesis of “Sophie.”

The Skeleflex Mini Stegosaurus kit is made up of fourteen army green pieces. The main part of the skeleton is rubberized plastic; the rest are hard plastic. They all snap together via ball joints save for the peg-on thagomizer.

Once assembled, the Stegosaurus measures 16.5 cm long and stands 10 cm tall due to the large plates on its back. It holds together quite well and is articulated at the head, jaw, shoulders, hips, wrists, ankles, and tail. The sculpting is reasonably good and the plates in particular have an interesting bumpy texture to them.

But as you can clearly see from these photos, this Stegosaurus makes the T. rex I reviewed last time look like the very pinnacle of scientific accuracy by comparison. This is a hideous monster, plain and simple. Its head is oversized and equipped with sharp, triangular teeth. It has too few vertebrae. It has a single row of skinny, dagger-shaped plates. And most noticeably of all, it has ridiculously humongous feet. It’s anyone’s guess how a freak like this would be able to lift its feet high enough to walk.

Like all Skeleflex kits, the Stegosaurus‘ pieces can be swapped out to create any number of monstrous creatures. Although honestly, I find its default form plenty frightening already!

So that’s the Skeleflex Mini Stegosaurus for you. If you’re in the market for painstakingly detailed and accurate prehistoric renditions, then for goodness sakes, skip this kit and buy yourself a nice CollectA or Safari toy. But if you enjoy a little bit of weird fun now and then, look no further!

Tyrannosaurus rex (Mini)(Skeleflex by Wild Planet)

Today I’ll be taking a look at an unusual addition to the Dinosaur Toy Blog: Skeleflex. Released by a company called Wild Planet back in 2007, the line was described in its press release as “a creative ball-and-socket building system that puts kids in control. Its interchangeable bone-shaped pieces can be combined to make aliens, dinosaurs, and other fantastical creatures that move in a lifelike manner.” Sounds interesting, no? Now, everyone knows full well that you just can’t have a dinosaur toyline without a Tyrannosaurus rex, and Wild Planet made sure to include two of them. The first set included an electronic display stand that allowed one to make the skeleton thrash about. The second was a miniature version which is the subject of this review.

The mini T. rex is made up of twelve olive green pieces. The piece consisting of the cervical and dorsal vertebrae and the pelvis is made of rubberised plastic, but the others are hard plastic. With the exception of the tail tip, which simply pegs on, all these pieces snap together by way of ball and socket joints. Once assembled, the skeleton measures 19 cm long and stands just over 6 cm tall at the hip.

The T. rex is articulated at the head, lower jaw, shoulders, hips, phalanges, and tail, allowing for a good variety of active poses. The flexible spine also allows you to turn the upper body from side to side during play. The pieces hold together very firmly and the toy can withstand rough play and falls.

Being a skeleton, this is also a rather scary-looking toy. The mouth is full of sharp teeth and the claws on the feet are long and curved. While it is immediately recognizable as a T. rex due to its large head, small arms, and two fingered hands, to call it a flawed depiction would be an understatement. The head is V-shaped instead of T-shaped and the fenestrae and orbits are all wrong. The arms are too big and the phalanges are too long. There are too few vertebrae in the spinal column and too few ribs. And the pubis and the ischium are too small to boot. Keep in mind, however, that Skeleflex was always meant to be a fantasy line (hence the inclusion of aliens and monsters), not a paleontological one.

The main selling point of this toy is that the pieces are interchangeable with those from other sets. Much like Hasbro’s Hero Mashers line, this allows you to build all sorts of weird and frightful beasts. Needless to say, this has the potential to be a great deal of creative fun—provided you bought enough of the sets. I only own two of them myself.

Overall, I like the Skeleflex Mini T. rex. It’s not for every dinosaur collector, but I believe anyone can agree that this little building set would be entertaining for youngsters or fans of the slightly-to-supremely-macabre. The line was discontinued a long time ago, but you may still be able to find this toy on Amazon or eBay. Good luck!

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.

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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:

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.