Category Archives: theropod

Tyrannosaurus rex (Version 1 by CollectA)

CollectA nowadays is widely considered one of the top makers of high quality prehistoric toys, as demonstrated by their very awesome 2017 assortment. But that certainly wasn’t always the case. For this review, I’ll be taking another trip back in time to 2006, the year of CollectA’s humble beginning. Back then, of course, it was known as Procon, and its first wave of toys was . . . well, not exactly what you’d call spectacular.

Feast your eyes on the very first CollectA/Procon Tyrannosaurus rex. Measuring about 19 cm and slightly under 10 cm tall, it is posed in the much-reviled tripod stance with its massive head turned to the left and its mouth wide open. The main colour is pine green over dirty brown with darkened stripes, a pale underbelly, very dark grey claws, gold eyes, a pink mouth, and white teeth. This same colour scheme would later be reused for the Deluxe version and the titanic 1:15 scale version. And yes, it also bears a suspicious resemblance to the original Papo T. rex that came out the year before it.

The sculpting on this T. rex is decent if unremarkable. Its skin is scaly all over with thick wrinkles on the neck, belly, and flanks. The inside of the mouth has minimal detail and the tongue is barely more than a slab. The very high brow ridges give the animal an enraged appearance. The forward-facing orbits are sunken, but the fenestrae are actually not that visible beneath the skin.

And now let’s tackle the many inaccuracies on this poor fellow. First, of course, there’s the upright tripod stance. Then there’s the stumpy, too-short tail. The hind limbs look stiff and elephantine and the feet and claws are chunky. The arm are too long and the wrists are pronated. The neck is also too long. The lower jaw is too wide and the teeth are little more than generic rows of bumps. And perhaps most glaring of all, this poor T. rex is missing its nostrils! Oh, and the legs on mine are warped to boot.

Probably the best thing I can say about this T. rex is that, when compared alongside CollectA’s more recent toys, it certainly illustrates how much the company has improved over the last ten years. Truth be told, I bought this one strictly as a novelty, and because my ambition is to someday see the DTB’s CollectA page completed. If you don’t already own it, then seriously, don’t bother. Not unless you’re a die-hard T. rex fan like me.

Velociraptor (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

For a long time now, too long in fact, various collectable dinosaur companies have tried and failed to make a properly feathered and accurate representation of one of the world’s most popular dinosaurs; Velociraptor and its kin the stem-birds we call dromaeosaurs or “raptors.” When I first started collecting dinosaur toys the best representations included those by Bullyland and CollectA and while we commend their efforts to popularize feathered dinosaurs they ultimately failed to make convincing looking animals. Even more recently companies like Favorite and Papo have tried and failed to make much more than a lizard in a chicken costume. As such my shelf is sadly devoid of feathered dromaeosaurs. I would rather have good outdated naked models than halfhearted attempts at accurate animals.

I think where companies and by extension the artists they hire fail is in one simple rule that seems like common sense in hindsight: if it had feathers, it looked like a bird. Instead of using a reptile as your starting point it makes much more sense to use a bird. In the wake of another dinosaur renaissance urged on by a new generation of artists like John Conway, Emily Willoughby, Matthew Martyniuk, and Mark Witton we’re finally seeing the most realistic looking dinosaurs ever put to paper and they’re not the savage reptiles of antiquity but rather the sort of animals your grandmother might feed outside her window.

Toy companies and model makers are starting to catch up with art and science with this year’s releases by Safari being hailed as the new standard in dinosaur depictions. Multiple dinosaurs in the line are feathered in a realistic way we’ve never seen: a truly epic and unprecedented Tyrannosaurus, feather coated and lithe Coelopyhsis, and now, finally, a properly avian looking Velociraptor.

The new Safari Velociraptor measures 8.39″ long, stands 2.73″ tall, and was sculpted by Doug Watson who continues to hone his trade each passing year. This Velociraptor is literally the first of its kind. The feather placement is absolutely spot-on, complete with primary feathers anchored to the middle digit and a luxurious fan of feathers along the tail. Most of all, and I can’t stress this enough, it looks like a bird. And there is no doubt that Velociraptor and its kin would have looked like birds. Unlike past attempts by other companies the feathery covering does much to obscure the shape of the actual animal within them. The neck is especially thick and fluffy. We’re used to Velociraptor with a long S-curved neck. This is accurate, modern birds have the same thing. It’s kind of a theropod hallmark. With most modern birds you just can’t see it under all the fluff and it makes sense that some feathered dinosaurs would have been similarly obscured by their plumage. Other Velociraptor trademarks are here too. The narrow curved snout, long stiff tail, hyperextended toe, and neutral 3 fingered hands.

If dromaeosaurs could be compared to any modern animals it would no doubt be the animals traditionally called raptors (birds of prey) in a pre-“Jurassic Park” world. This raptor indeed looks raptor-like (please excuse the word play) and the colors it’s reproduced in further enforces that. Doug Watson himself said the colors were originally inspired by the large and regal ferruginous hawk of western North America. The plumage is mostly a burnt orange color with some black highlights on the body. The tail and primary feathers are tipped in brown with beautiful white speckling. The head stands out with a black crown and nape and some white striping trailing away from the eyes. The eyes themselves are orange with round black pupils. The snout is brown and studded with numerous tiny teeth that are meticulously painted with little runoff despite the tiny size. The scaly hands and feet are an olive color with brown scutes and light brown nails. The underside of the toy is painted white. Overall the color is both eye-catching and realistic without being too gaudy.

The model is posed with the tail lifted high but supported by the tips of the wing feathers. Obviously these sorts of compromises are necessary to make the toy stand but unlike previous tripod attempts at a Velociraptor this one is much less offensive.  If I did have any complaint about the posture it would be the open mouth but that’s something I complain about with every theropod toy.

All in all this is just a fantastic model and just the sort of Velociraptor I’ve been longing for. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come from Safari and other toy companies take note. I urge every collector to pick this gem up. Vote with your money and tell toy companies that THIS is the kind of model you want on your shelf.  I could continue to gush over this model for many more pages but I’ll spare you that, this review has already run on longer than most but this toy is truly the Velociraptor to which all other figures will be compared. As a final note I would like to thank Dan of Dan’s Dinosaurs for generously donating this model for review.

The Safari Ltd. Velociraptor is now available for purchase at Dan’s Dinosaurs.

Tyrannosaurus rex (Adult and Baby)(Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)

With Wild Safari having released an absolutely stellar assortment for 2017, I thought it would be both amusing and humbling to take a trip back in time to when the line was widely perceived as being strictly for kids and inferior to the now-defunct Carnegie Collection. Behold, I present these two outdated Tyrannosaurus rex figures.

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The adult T. rex is a repaint of the 1996 figure. Its main colours are medium and light green with dark brown claws and nostrils, black and yellow eyes, a pink mouth, and slightly greenish teeth. Hardly what you’d call exciting, but more realistic than the previous version. The figure has a height of 10.5 cm and a length of 21 cm.

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The T. rex is posed with its head tilted to the left, its mouth wide open, its arms flailing, and its tail swinging to the right, in the much-reviled tripod stance. The sculpting is a far cry from the masterpieces that Doug Watson turns out nowadays, but it’s still reasonably good. Lots of heavy skin folds and wrinkles, round osteoderms on the back of the neck, rows of scales on the hind feet, and visible musculature.

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Unfortunately, this T. rex‘s head is a world of wrong. First off, anyone who’s up on their tyrant lizard anatomy knows that the skull has a distinct T-shaped profile when viewed from above, which allowed for the animal’s eyes to face forward. By contrast, the head on this figure has more of a V-shape, with the eyes facing out to the sides. The hornlets sprouting above and in front of the eyes are too prominent. The premaxilla should be rounded, not sloped like it is here. And the teeth ought to be longer. This looks much more like the head of an Allosaurus than a T. rex. In addition, the arms are not small enough.

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The baby T. rex, which is also a repaint, shares the same colour scheme as the adult. It stands about 6 cm tall and measures 9 cm long. It is posed in a tripod stance similar to its parent’s, albeit with a closed mouth. It also have the same style and level of sculpting.

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Now, to be fair, this figure was made before any juvenile T. rex fossils had been discovered (aside from the highly dubious Nanotyrannus). Since then, paleontologists have determined that young tyrants had proportionally longer legs and smaller, narrower skulls than the adults. And they were very likely decked out in feathery plumage. By contrast, this figure has oversized arms, puny hind legs, and a huge, blocky head that would probably be impossible for a real animal to hold up. I’m sure the sculptor was going for a cute appearance, but this T. rex ends up reminding me of a bullfrog.

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Honestly? If you don’t already own these toys and you’re not a completist, then don’t bother getting them. The misshapen heads on both the adult and the baby ruin them, at least for me, and there are many newer, far superior Safari toys available for you to spend your hard-earned money on. Still, if you do want them, they are still readily available at various stores, including Michael’s.

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