Category Archives: tubes

Prehistoric Mammal Skulls (Toob by Safari Ltd.)

Prehistoric skulls, be they those of dinosaurs, pterosaurs, sea monsters, mammals, amphibians, or any other beasts, are always things of beauty and intrigue. Let us take a look at this interesting variety of mammal skulls from Safari Ltd. There are eight in total, all coloured medium brown with a pale brown wash, and all with their names printed on the undersides.

We begin with the huge and horned Arsinoitherium. This skull measures just over 5 cm long from the tips of its huge front horns to the back of its mandible. While the horns could afford to be even longer and angled farther back, this is still quite unmistakeable as the famous embrithopod.



Next up is one of our distant relatives: Australopithecus. There are several described species, but I’m going to assume that this is meant to represent the most famous, A. afarensis, of which the famous “Lucy” specimen belongs to. It measures about 4.5 cm long from the mouth to the parietal. While the cranium looks pretty good, the chin could afford to be more defined and the teeth are too numerous, too small, and too generic in shape.



Our third skull is that of the frightfully fanged Daeodon. This one measures nearly 5.5 cm long. With all those pointed teeth and knobby projections, a lay person might easily mistake it for some kind of theropod dinosaur! But in order for it to be a proper representation of the largest entelodont, the maxillary canines should be larger and more visible, and the skull should be taller.



Fourth up is the skull of Embolotherium, a mighty brontothere from Asia, very similar to the North American Megacerops. This one measures 4.5 cm long and is immediately recognizable due to the slightly heart-shaped protuberance on the nose. The exact purpose of this horn is uncertain, as it was hollow and therefore too fragile for use in combat. Some experts have proposed that it may have been a specialized resonator for producing sounds, similar to the crest on Parasaurolophus. In any case, this is a reasonably good representation of Embolotherium save for the fact that, as with the Australopithecus, the teeth are too many and too generic.



Here is a first for the DTB: the skull of a Mammut americanum, better known as the American mastodon. Yes, despite being fairly popular and known from multiple complete skeletons, the poor mastodon has been overlooked by toy companies in favour of its more famous relative, the woolly mammoth. Indeed, I suspect that that only reason Safari went with a mastodon instead of a mammoth skull was because the latter’s huge tusks would have been impossible to squeeze into the package. Not surprisingly, this is the longest skull in the set, measuring 9 cm long from the tips of the tusks to the back of the cranium. Unfortunately, the tusks need to be more curved and spread farther apart in order to be a proper American mastodon. This looks more like a Stegodon skull. But on a much more positive note, Safari will be releasing a fantastic-looking mastodon figure in 2018!



Can’t have a set of prehistoric mammals without good ol’ Smilodon. This bad boy’s noggin measures 5.5 cm long with 3 cm long canines. No mistaking this one. But while it has the basic profile of a machairodont, the muzzle is a bit too long and the skull is not deep enough. The mouth is open slightly, but it would have been cooler had it been open to a full 120 degrees.



This is the knobby skull of the massive Uintatherium. Measuring slightly over 5 cm long, this individual may be a female due to the relative shortness of its tusks. While it could certainly afford to have even more pronounced knobs, overall, this is a pretty decent replica.



Last up is a woolly rhino skull. Now, anyone who knows anything about rhinos knows full well that their horns are made of keratin, not bone. But a hornless rhino just wouldn’t look as impressive, now would it? Anyway, the front horn gives the skull a height of 4.5 cm, matching its length. The skull itself looks fairly accurate, but the front horn is very warped. A result of too much time spent crammed into the tube, I suppose. On a sad note, as I gaze upon this tiny plastic skull, I can’t help but think of the strong, grim possibility that modern rhinos will soon be joining their woolly brethren in extinction. 🙁



These prehistoric mammal skulls aren’t quite museum-quality accurate, but they’re rather good overall. A very unique and educational set, appropriate for all ages. Recommended.

Prehistoric Tube B (CollectA)

Time again to downsize with CollectA’s second tube collection. Like the previous set I reviewed, this one came out in late 2015 and contains no fewer than ten teeny toy dinosaurs and other prehistoric monsters, a couple of them making their debut with CollectA.

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First up is a bantam Amargasaurus, based on the Deluxe version. Measuring slightly over 7 cm long, it’s light green with maroon stripes, yellow for the underbelly, black for the eyes, and dark brown shading on the feet. It is posed in a walking stance with its head held high and the tip of its tail curled. The teeth in the mouth, the twin rows of spines on the neck, and the sails on the back are well-defined and the pitted skin has tiny osteoderms as well as thick wrinkles. In terms of accuracy, this animal looks pretty good, although the neck could probably be a little shorter and the tail could be longer.

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Second is a diminutive Ankylosaurus, coloured dark brown on top and fading to light brown on the underside. The tiny eyes are black and maroon is used for the stripes running parallel down the animal’s head, neck, and back and for the two bosses on the mighty tail club. This 7.5 cm long figure is posed in a defensive stance with its legs planted and its tail raised and swinging from side to side, ready to rumble. I had assumed that this toy was virtually identical to the Deluxe version, but in a number of ways, it’s actually superior. The rib cage is proportionally wider, the limbs are smaller, and there are more osteoderms comprising the armour. The nostrils are still too close together and there are too many toes on the feet, though. The back and limbs have a pitted skin texture while the underbelly is covered in wrinkles. The osteoderms are keeled and the tail club has a knobby feel to it. This is quite a cool little ankylosaur!

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Now we have one of the newcomers to the world of CollectA, a bitty Apatosaurus! At 4 cm tall and 9.5 cm long, it’s the biggest figure in this set. Its main colour is dark grey with a pale pink underbelly, black shading on the feet, and black eyes. The Apatosaurus is sculpted in a classic museum pose with its neck turning to the left and its tail swinging to the right. The tail could afford to be longer, but on the whole, the toy looks reasonably accurate. The skin is pebbly with spiny plates running down the vertebrae, two rows of osteoderms on the back, and wrinkles on the neck and flanks. Despite its size, this Apatosaurus looks beefy and strong. I do wish that it had been Brontosaurus instead (it really is wonderful to have the thunder lizard back), but I think it’s one of the best in the set.

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Next up, a runty Brachiosaurus. Not surprisingly, it’s the tallest figure in the set, standing 7 cm tall and measuring 10.5 cm long. Based upon the second Standard class figure, it’s standing rather stiffly with its head raised to maximum elevation. The main colour is greenish-grey with a light grey underbelly, dark grey shading on the feet, and black eyes. The skin is pebbly all over with a few thick wrinkles around the flanks. The limbs and tail look correctly proportioned, but the neck needs some beefing up. Overall though, it’s an okay rendition of Brachiosaurus.

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Here’s the second newcomer, a pocket-sized Giganotosaurus! Mounted atop a rocky brown base, it measures 9.5 cm long and is coloured light green with a yellow underbelly, dark grey stripes, black eyes, and a pink mouth. Unlike the Tyrannosaurus rex from the other miniature set, the teeth on this carnosaur are painted the same colour as its mouth, which is disappointing. And despite the name printed on the bottom of its base, it is clearly based on the Deluxe Carcharodontosaurus. Perhaps CollectA originally intended to release it as the shark-toothed lizard, but then decided to introduce the giant southern lizard instead. Unfortunately, while Carcharodontosaurus and Giganotosaurus are closely related, there are noticeable anatomical difference between their skulls. As well, this little fellow has inherited the Deluxe’s shrink-wrapped skull and overly wide hips. And to top it off, the paint on the feet has been poorly applied, making it look like the toy is melting. On the positive side, the sculpting itself is undeniably impressive, with sharp teeth and claws, lots of scales and wrinkles, rows of triangular osteoderms, and thick muscles. It’s a ferocious-looking monster in spite of its faults.

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And now here’s a mini Liopleurodon. At only 6.5 cm long, it’s the smallest figure in this set. Like nearly all plastic renditions, its main colours are very dark blue and pale yellow, a result of the animal’s exaggerated appearance in the BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs. There are also some very faint airbrushed pink patches on the flanks, but the eyes and teeth are unpainted. A pity, but it would have been very difficult to apply paint at this scale. While the front flippers are angled beyond the real animal’s range of motion, on the whole, it’s a pretty accurate pliosaur, with a pitted skin texture and thick wrinkles around its joints. And as with the Mosasaurus in the other set, this little swimmer makes a perfect baby for its Standard class parent.

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Our seventh toy is an undersized Quetzalcoatlus. Standing almost 5.5 cm tall and measuring 8 cm long from the tip of its bill to its heels, this largest of azhdarchids is coloured dusty brown with grey wings, pale yellow on its throat and chest, a black head, yellow crest, pink eyes and mouth, and light blue on the back of its neck. Its head is raised high and tilting to the left, but unlike the larger version, there’s no baby Alamosaurus struggling helplessly in its bill. The neck and body are covered in pycnofibres and the folded wings are wrinkled. The bill is slightly warped, but overall, this is a very good rendition. As I’ve said many times now, I love walking pterosaur figures.

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Behold, a wee Spinosaurus, only about 9.5 cm long. Based on the famous and controversial Ibrahim/Sereno reconstruction, this finned fish eater is striding slowly along on all fours, its left paw raised and its long tail swinging well to the right. The main colour is sandy beige with faint patches of bright green, black stripes on the sail, airbrushed grey on the front claws, black eyes, and a pink mouth. Like the Giganotosaurus, the Spinosaurus‘ tiny teeth lack paint detail, but at least they’re not pink. The sculpting detail is excellent, with fine scales and osteoderms on the body, ribs on the sail, long, sharp claws on the hands, and a crocodilian-like tail. This is definitely one of the best figures in this set.

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A scrubby Torosaurus is our ninth toy. The perforated lizard is just over 3 cm tall due to its mighty frill and just over 6.5 cm long from the tips of its brow horns to the end of its tail. The main colour is pumpkin orange with dark brown accents on the head, horns, and body. The frill features white wash and black “eyes” shaped like inverted teardrops. The tiny eyes are black as well. Aside from the smooth horns, the entire animal is covered in fine pebbled scales with just a few wrinkles around the joints and belly. Unlike the Standard class toy, this Torosaurus‘ brow horns are correctly curved instead of straight. But sadly, the little fellow has all the same issues as his big brother: a snout that’s too long, a lack of epoccipitals on the rather flattened frill, and limbs that are far too lanky for any chasmosaurine.

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Finally, I give you this Lilliputian Velociraptor. It measures nearly 7 cm long and is quite possibly the blandest-looking dromaeosaur figure I’ve ever seen. It is coloured beige all over with darker patches on its tail, limbs, and head, as well as black eyes and a pink mouth. Due to its size, it is moulded onto a small earthen base. On the plus side, despite the fact that it is based on the aging Deluxe version, it’s got more accurate proportions, with a smaller head and a longer tail. The head, hands, and feet are scaly, but the rest of the Velociraptor is nice and feathery, complete with a large fan at the end of the tail. The wrists are properly aligned and the claws and teeth make this animal look like quite a savage predator. Of course, any dinophile worth his or her salt knows full well that this raptor doesn’t have nearly enough plumage. Still, any feathered dinosaur is welcome in my book.

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Overall, while I like the other miniature set better, this one is still quite good. Granted, some of the figures have accuracy issues, but they’re all rather endearing little toys. And considering that you’re getting ten of them for a relatively low price, I can’t see many people not enjoying them. Plus as I mentioned in my other review, the durable plastic case means that you can easily and safely take this set on the road with you. Recommended.

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This marks my second year anniversary as a reviewer for the Dinosaur Toy Blog! As always, thanks go out to Dr. Adam S. Smith and everyone who’s been enjoying my work. Here’s to another year! 🙂

Prehistoric Tube A (CollectA)

Following in the footsteps of Safari Ltd and Papo, CollectA burst into the world of miniatures in late 2015. Today we’ll be looking at Prehistoric Tube A, which contains no less than ten figures of some of the most popular dinosaurs and other extinct animals. The tube itself measures 27 cm long, is made of transparent hard plastic, opens like a chest, and fastens shut securely with a clasp. This makes it easier to remove or put away your toys than with the Safari Ltd Toobs. Also keeps your toys safer.

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First up in the assortment is that unmistakeable piscivore from the UK, Baryonyx. This shrimpy spinosaur measures 8 cm long and is coloured brownish-green with grey stripes, black airbrushing on the hands and feet, black eyes, and a pink mouth. The toy is sculpted in a typical “Grrrr, I’m a big, scary dinosaur!” pose. The skin is wrinkly with thick folds of skin on either flank. While the head looks nice, the hands are pronated and the hips are too wide. It appears that this toy was copied straight from the original Deluxe Baryonyx toy, and it’s a shame that the sculptor didn’t think to fix these errors. As it stands, this is the weakest toy in the lot.

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Next up is a dinky Diplodocus standing a good 7.5 cm tall and measuring about 9 cm long. Its main colour is dull green with a pale yellow underbelly, dark brown stripes, dark green feet, and black eyes. Like its larger version, it is rearing up on its hind limbs, seeing off a carnosaur or reaching for the most succulent vegetation. The skin has a pebbled texture and a row of triangular osteoderms runs down nearly the entire length of the spine. The muscles around the chest region are bulging like a powerlifter’s, but the neck looks too thin when viewed from the front. A decent little sauropod overall.

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Here’s a cute little Kentrosaurus. From snout to spike tips it measures only 6.5 cm long. It’s rather bland in colour, pine green with darkened feet, back, and underbelly and black eyes. The skin is pebbled and the plates and spikes are smooth. Despite the lack of bright colours, this is quite an impressive miniature, quite unmistakeable as Kentrosaurus. It would work well as a baby for the Standard version, although I suppose the plates and spikes look too mature.

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And now here’s a minute Mosasaurus. Actually, this one is the largest of the lot at 12 cm long. It is coloured dark grey with a pale yellow underbelly, white stripes on the body and spots on the tail, black eyes, a pink mouth, and white teeth. The body is smooth save for groves on the head and flippers and thick wrinkles around the neck and flanks. Still no forked tongue, but the pterygoid teeth are present in the upper jaw. Again, while the proportions are no doubt off, this wonderful toy looks positively adorable alongside its Deluxe momma!

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Next is a petite Pachycephalosaurus mounted on a muddy brown base. It measures 5.5 cm long and is coloured dull green with yellow airbrushing on the head and underbelly, dark red stripes, dark green hands and feet, and black eyes. The sculpting on this toy is particularly impressive. The hands have the correct number of fingers and the head is adorned with plenty of spiky knobs. The domed cranium is pitted and scarred and the skin is pebbled. A pleasing little toy that could be construed as a baby alongside the Standard version. That is, unless you support the Pachycephalosaurus/Dracorex hypothesis.

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Behold, a puny Parasaurolophus, always the “go-to” hadrosaur for any toyline (which, given the wonderful diversity of hadrosaurs, is quite lamentable). It measures 9 cm longe and is orange with a darkened bill, back, hands, and feet, black stripes and eyes, and a red crest. The skin is mostly pebbled with some thick wrinkles along the sides, muscular limbs, and grooves in the crest and the bill. Not nearly as imposing as the massive Deluxe version, of course, but a very nice miniature.

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And here’s a pint-sized Pteranodon, another “go-to” prehistoric animal (although the variety among toy pterosaurs is better than with hadrosaurs!). It measures slightly under 5 cm long with a wingspan of 8 cm. The toy is translucent grey with black for the body, arms, and eyes and light orange for the head, hands, and feet. It’s a pretty cool look. The head looks good enough, and I reckon we can forgive the lack of preaxial carpals at this scale, but the wings look too wide for a proper Pteranodon. Still, it’s good enough for a miniature.

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Now take a look at this stunted Stegosaurus. It measures 7.5 cm long and is blue-grey with light and medium brown plates and spikes, black eyes, and dark patches on its sides and feet. It is sculpted in a modern pose with its head turned slightly to the right and its formidable tail raised high. The skin has a rough texture with wrinkles on the underside, the head is appropriately small, and the feet have the correct number of toes. As you can see, however, some of the grooved plates are weirdly shaped. At least they don’t have weird patterns like the Standard’s.

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Gangway for the teeny Triceratops! Measuring slightly under 7 cm long, it is coloured rather plain: medium grey with black airbrushing, muddy green epoccipitals, horns, and beak, and black eyes. The skin texture is pebbled and there is a row of trademark CollectA quills running atop the hips, although they’re less noticeable due to the colour scheme. The muscles are well-defined, the feet have the proper number of toes, and the head is well-sculpted, although the beak looks slightly off. The alert pose suggests that the Triceratops has just been startled by something. Perhaps by . . .

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. . . a tiny Tyrannosaurus rex! Rounding out the set is this fearsome apex predator that measures 9 cm long. The colour scheme is virtually identical to that of Firestreak’s: light brown and pine green plumage with an airbrushed white underbelly, red crest, black eyes, pink mouth, white teeth, darkened fingers and toes, and a medium brown earthen base. The animal is sculpted in a menacing attack pose with its tail twitching, its left leg forward, its head turned to the left, and its jaws wide open. It appears to be based on this year’s Hunting Tyrannosaurus figure. The musculature and plumage are well-sculpted, the hips are the proper width, and the eyes are correctly aligned. This teensy-weensy tyrant is a winner!

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If miniatures are your cup of tea, then CollectA’s Prehistoric Tube A is right up your alley! Some of the little toys do have flaws, but overall, I think they’re on par with Safari Ltd’s and definitely superior to Papo’s. Their small size and durable carrying case make them ideal travel toys for children (or for certain adults!). I hope these sets become a mainstay of CollectA’s annual assortment from now on. A prehistoric mammal tube would be especially sweet!

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