Category Archives: theropod

Tyrannosaurus (Dor Mei)

Here’s a toy that many of you will no doubt recognize. It probably doesn’t stand on too many collectors’ shelves today but certainly helped fill a lot of toy boxes in the 80’s and 90’s. Yes, you could call this a Chinasaur but you could also call it retro, vintage, and nostalgic. For me it’s an iconic toy from my youth and now that I’ve reacquired it I’m excited to formally introduce you all to the Dor Mei Tyrannosaurus.

Even if you didn’t have this particular toy growing up roughly 30 years ago you no doubt had something produced by Dor Mei. They were responsible for a lot of the cheap dinosaur toys from the late 80’s. Dor Mei was right up there with the likes of UKRD, Imperial, and AAA. They closely resembled their contemporaries of that time and their toys stood out if for no other reason than they were large. The Tyrannosaurus in this review stands 10” tall and measures 12” from snout to tail. Dor Mei was also responsible for a lineup of Godzilla knockoffs and other large menacing plastic reptiles.

This is the kind of toy only a hopeless nostalgic could love. Superficially it resembles a Tyrannosaurus. Large toothy head? Yup! Small arms? Of course! Bipedal? You got it! But it gets just about everything wrong with the details. For starters it is of course a tail-dragger. That should be of no surprise but if you look closely at the legs and feet you’ll see that anatomically they look more human than dinosaurian. This is a model of a man in a dinosaur costume, looking like something straight out of “Unknown Island.”

The tail is short and thin, the torso laughably long. The arms are too long as well but the hands aren’t pronated. Not an intentional decision to be sure. The head is big and boxy. The mouth is filled with generic pointy “shark teeth” and two gigantic eyes resting atop the head. The toy comes off looking more like a frog than our favorite theropod. Ear and eye openings are present and surprisingly the finer details aren’t as bad as you might expect. The skin is covered with pebbly scales; the belly has scales resembling those on a crocodile. The fleshy throat dewlap is cross hatched but gives the toy a lot of its charm. Skin folds run down the torso and the crudest hint of musculature is present on the legs. No bad for what it is.

This toy can be found in at least two color schemes that I’m aware of. The most common being this reddish-brown version. The back is a lighter shade of greenish-brown with a black stripe down the spine. The eyes and nostrils are red and the claws aren’t painted. The teeth are sloppily painted white, and some don’t have paint on them at all. Another version exists that’s painted yellow with black tiger stripes coming down the flanks along the back.

The toy is hollow which as a child meant you could stuff a lot of smaller dinosaur toys in there. Or action figures. Whatever you wanted really. It was a lot of fun to play with and was the matriarch of my particular pack of Tyrannosaurus. Although hilariously outdated this is one of those toys you can’t help but love. It has a lot of personality and represents a unique approach to the Tyrant King. It’s easy enough to find to this day, on eBay in lots or singly. No doubt there are hundreds lurking around yard sales and flea markets as well. If vintage retrosaurs are your thing, check out the Dor Mei Tyrannosaurus.

Spinosaurus (Small)(Recur)

Review and photos by Takama, edited by Suspsy

Today’s review is of the Recur Spinosaurus released back in 2015 (according to the year printed on the belly). As a modern take on the species, this model is a pretty decent replica, and a stark contrast to the Tyrannosaurus I recently reviewed from the same line.

​One thing that’s obvious is the fact that this toy was made with longer hind legs like most reconstructions prior to 2014. Despite this, it is sculpted with its arm acting as a third leg, just like the Papo Acrocanthosaurus. Unlike that toy, the arm on this one is propping it up high enough to give us the classic horizontal theropod impression, and it gives off a somewhat imposing look. In terms of accuracy, this model could be decent for a pre-2014 model if it were not for the head, which shows traces of the Spinosaurus that appeared in Jurassic Park 3. These include a head that is clearly too broad, a pair of crests, and the lack of a tooth notch. The other issues with this figure include the fact that the feet are too big and the legs are too long. Of course, there has been ongoing controversy over the the 2014 Ibrahim/Sereno reconstruction, so I’m willing to let this slide for now. One thing that I have to praise the toy for is the fact that Recur gave it the large fish hook claws that the spinosaurid family are known for. Though being a toy, the claws have blunted tips to prevent its target audience from getting hurt. Like all Recur toys, this Spinosaurus is made out of a soft and squishy PVC material and there is likely cotton inside of it. The only hard parts on this model are the arms, which are made out of a incredibly stiff plastic. Which is good, because if the arms were not this hard, the toy would have no way of standing, because the hind legs are very pliable.

​In terms of detail, the model is decked with wrinkles, but there are small osteoderms at the base of the sail that run up about halfway down the tail before they stop. Along the top of the tail, there are larger osteoderms than those found along the base of the sail, and almost look like they would be spiky if it were not for the fact that this was a toy made for kids. On the back of the neck, there is a set of completely different integument in the form of crocodile-like armour. Why Recur decided to do this is beyond me. Perhaps this was meant to go down the entire length of the back, but they scrapped it instead. It would not be the first time a company took the crocodilian look of spinosaurs to the extreme.

The colours on this toy are very dull at first glance, but if you look closely, you can see more variety. The majority of the Spinosaurus is painted in grey, but the armour on the neck is painted green and the tops of the neural spines alternate between green and blue, giving it a nice pattern when viewed in the right lighting. The teeth are painted in a dull white and the tongue and mouth interior are painted purple.

Overall, this makes for a excellent toy, but a only decent replica of Spinosaurus. It really was not made to be included among the likes of CollectA or Safari figures, and it is aimed at a much younger age group than most other toys we review on this blog. The soft materials make it ideal for very rough play should you (or your child) wish it to clash with other dinosaur toys. As of now, the only place you can find it at is DeJankins, which just got its replenishment orders in as of the time of this writing.

Velociraptor (Blue Version)(Papo)

Ah, Velociraptor. Thanks to its starring role in the Jurassic Park franchise, it is arguably the second most popular dinosaur after Tyrannosaurus rex. But the funny thing is, it might never have become so famous had it not been for a taxonomic error in a certain book: Predatory Dinosaurs of the World.

Written and illustrated by acclaimed paleoartist Gregory Paul in 1988, PDotW combined meticulous research, vivid art, and a writing style that was appealing to an eleven year old dinosaur buff. It is still one of my favourite books, one that truly revolutionized my perception of dinosaurs. Michael Crichton clearly felt the same way, as he relied heavily on Paul’s book when he was doing research for the novel that would be titled Jurassic Park. The problem is, PDotW contained a number of erroneous or highly dubious claims regarding dinosaur taxonomy. One was to lump Deinonychus and Velociraptor as the same genus, with the latter name taking precedent. Had Paul not done this (he has since acknowledged the error), or had Crichton not relied on PDotW, it is very possible that Deinonychus, not Velociraptor, would have been the dromaeosaur featured in Jurassic Park.

Enough musing on what might have been. The toy I’ll be reviewing here should be a familiar face to most readers. Recall that Papo released their first Velociraptor toy way back in 2005. In 2010, they rereleased it in grey with reddish brown markings. In 2015, they released a multi-coloured version in a two-pack with a similar repaint of the original Tyrannosaurus rex. In 2016, they released a rather dull green version. And finally, for this year, Papo has opted to release their 2015 version again, with the official name is ‘Blue Velociraptor.’ And indeed, it does feature purple-blue on its back and bright blue around its eyes on and on the tip of its tail. The main colour, however, is a dull olive green with very faint pink for the underbelly. Reddish-brown and faint pink stripes run in a line down the neck and spine. The lower jaw and throat are tinged with rusty orange and there are black spots lining the mouth. The wide eyes are dark orange. Finally, the inside of the mouth is medium pink with a pale pink tongue, the teeth are white, and the claws are black. Not quite as flashy as the T. rexes, but easily the most colourful of all the Papo raptors.


The Acrocanthosaurus is similarly coloured too.

This Velociraptor stands 9.5cm tall and measures slightly over 17 cm long. I’m not going to go into a description of the fine sculpting or the many, many glaring inaccuracies riddling this toy, as both have been covered in the review of the original version.

So why did I even bother with this toy given my passion for dromaeosaurs depicted with feathers and my disdain for those that are still depicted without them? Well, as an educator, I love squeezing dinosaurs into my lessons whenever possible. And I figured an outdated, inaccurate toy such as this one would be a perfect contrast to say, Papo’s 2016 Feathered Velociraptor or Safari’s 2017 masterpiece. Show this toy to the kids first, ask them where they’ve seen raptors like it, then show them the feathered version and explain that this is what they really looked like.

For those of you who do thoroughly enjoy the JP franchise, or just vintage renditions of dinosaurs in general, the Blue Velociraptor will probably be a good addition to your collection.