Dinosaur Boxset 2 (Toyway)

Review and photos by Indohyus, edited by Suspsy

We’ve all seen them. The crude dinosaur toys that you get in small museum shops for extremely cheap prices, normally just bought by parents to keep their children quiet for a while. The last thing you’d expect is to put six of these together and sell them as a box set. Yet that is what Toyway did. Granted, their wildlife sets are extremely well made and varied. Their dinosaur models, on the other hand, are more . . . Chinasaur. Do any of these toys shine in spite of this? Well, let’s see . . .

First is this odd green and yellow quadruped. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was an early ankylosaur with inaccurate teeth. At 5.1” long and 2” high, it looks like a small herbivore. But then I looked up what it was I was quite surprised. This is meant to be a Postosuchus!!! It is too wide, the head is all wrong, and the front legs are much too long! This dreadful figure really is the worst of the set.

Next is a small ornithopod, Camptosaurus. Another small figure, 3.5” long and 2.2” high, it stands out with its dynamic, sweeping pose. The problem is that it can bend out of shape, causing stability issues. The colour is quite subdued: muddy brown and dark greens, good for a herbivore that wishes to stay camouflaged. The main issues are that it is a bit thick in certain areas, like the neck, and the front limbs are too long. A mixed bag.

The hadrosaur in this set is Corythosaurus, a classic. Posed in a strange quadrupedal stance, it certainly looks retro, very lizard-like, though with a rather unnatural dip in the neck. The subdued colours from the Camptosaurus return, but with lilac instead of green, and a garish lime green underbelly. At 4.5” long and 2.4” high, it would suit for a youngster among its kind.

Now, for even more retro, it’s Iguanodon. Between the upright stance and iguana-like head, it will certainly appeal to fans of older dino designs. With a light red colour, it certainly stands out, though. At 3.5” high and 3.9” long, it is one of the bigger figures in this mini set.

Euoplocephalus is the ankylosaur of the set, and one of the best in the bunch. It has the traditional stance of defending itself from a predator, pulling it off quite well. Its brown and turquoise colouring is odd, as is the club design, which is too spaced out. The body is too thin as well, and not squat enough. Again, good for a juvenile at 4.5” long and 2” high.

The final member of the set is the biggest surprise: Placerias, a dicynodont from the Triassic. This figure is well made and really accurate, and it’s hard to find anything to say against it. The green and beige colours work well here and, though the pose is a bit stoic, it still sticks out. At 4.3” long and 2” high, it certainly works as a small reptile among its contemporaries.

Now, here is the final twist. As most of these are cheap, small figures from museum shops, few tend to put these on eBay, except rarely in sets with other figures. As a result, outside this set, they’re surprisingly rare, especially for the Placerias, as it is one of only a few representations of this figure. And the price for it can range from £8.00 to £64.00! If you can find it cheap, it would be worth it, otherwise I can’t strongly recommend it too highly.

Einiosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

Described in 1995 by Scott Sampson the Einiosaurus has been known to science for over 20 years but has never really caught on in popularity. Although not as iconic as Triceratops, or as flashy as Styracosaurus, the Einiosaurus has to be among the most bizarre looking ceratopsians. Imagine something like Centrosaurus, except with a bottle opener on its head instead of a spiky tyrannosaur deterrent. Indeed, the curved horn of Einiosaurus makes a strong case for the hypothesis that these head ornamentations were not primarily used for defense.  The genus has long been among my favorite ceratopsians and ever since I took up dinosaur collecting I’ve hoped someone would produce an Einiosaurus (aside from the cartoony “Dinosaur Train” toy) and then, for whatever reason, three of them have popped up within the span of a year. One by PNSO which I reviewed recently, this one by Safari, and another upcoming one by CollectA which I won’t be reviewing (I’m not that obsessed with Einiosaurus).

The Safari Einiosaurus is just one model in a huge (and dare I say historic) lineup of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals from Safari Ltd. It’s also another great addition to Doug Watson’s lineup of ceratopsians for the company (something that was sorely missed last year was the addition of another ceratopsian from Doug). This one was worth the wait though, not only is it an Einiosaurus but it’s also one of the best models of the five ceratopsians released thus far, though I may be biased.

Measuring 6.34” in length and 2.54″ tall it scales in well with the other Safari ceratopsians. They’re not in scale with each other of course but with them all being about the same size they still display well together. The Einiosaurus is sculpted with all fours planted on the ground. The left arm is bent at the elbow and the left leg is stretched out behind the animal. This position, and with its head lifted and mouth open, makes the animal looks like it’s bracing itself for something.

At this point I think we can safely say that Mr. Watson is a proficient ceratopsian sculptor. When you buy one of his ceratopsians you can rest assured it’ll be well researched and accurate. The digits are all correctly numbered and accurately portrayed with the forelimbs possessing two clawless little digits on each hand. The hide on this model is particularly noteworthy with many raised scutes along the body. This is in keeping with what we know about the integument of Triceratops and a logical choice for this dinosaur. The scutes also add that much more detail to the toy with its muscular limbs and fleshy skin folds. Unlike the PNSO model this is a full bodied ceratopsian too, full bodied and strong looking.

The head matches well with the skull of Einiosaurus but there is one peculiarity I must point out. Directly above the eyes there are small knobby horns but behind the left brow horn there is another horny bit that is absent from the right side. I’m not sure why this would be and maybe the sculptor knows something I don’t. It’s something I didn’t notice until I sat down to write this review and it’s only mildly distracting. (EDIT: The extra horn was indeed intentional, refer to Doug Watson’s comment below)

The model is painted in earthy greens and browns that blend nicely into each other. The horns and beak are also brown but the nails are painted black. The fenestra on the frill are highlighted with red rings and a yellow spot in the center. It’s nice to see the frill painted as a display structure.

It’s nice to finely have a few representatives of this obscure genus to choose from. Although I have not yet seen the CollectA model I feel confident that this model from Wild Safari is probably the best of the bunch. When the Nasutoceratops was released a couple years ago it was hailed as one of the greatest toys of that year. I think this Einiosaurus is just as good as that model, although it might be forgotten amongst the other offerings from Safari this year. Don’t let this model go unnoticed, it’s a must have for any serious dinosaur collector.

Now available at Dan’s Dinosaurs and wherever Wild Safari models are sold.

Triceratops (Baby by CollectA)

Review and Photographs by Triceratops83, edited by Suspsy

CollectA has grown over the years from a curiosity producing mediocre figures at best to a leading brand rivaling Safari as the favourite makers of toy dinosaurs. One of their earlier, and admittedly better efforts was the Triceratops baby, released in 2007.

CollectA released several baby dinosaurs, most of which didn’t look very good (only a few of them actually looked like what they were supposed to). Until Papo and REBOR released their Triceratops juveniles, the only major competition this figure had was Safari’s. And while the Safari version was cuter, this CollectA baby is arguably more accurate.

This figure is 8.5 cm long and is a pudgy little thing. The body is very deep and the back arches strongly–perhaps a little too much. The tail is a nice length for Triceratops. The legs are thick and elephant-like, and although it has four toes on its hind feet, they are all planted on the ground, without the shortened inner digit. It only has four digits on the front limbs, and all are unfortunately hoofed, with no vestigial fingers. The left hind leg is bent at the ankle, giving the limb a weird bent look. The skin is wrinkled and lightly scaled.

The skull is the standout feature on this figure. The entire growth series of Triceratops is known and this toy matches a hatchling or young juvenile. The frill lies flat against the back and the horns are short and stubby. The epijugals, however, are weirdly thick and kinda look like jowls. Another drawback to the otherwise fine skull are the deep lines and wrinkles around the mouth and neck, giving it a baggy appearance.

The figure is mostly grey and dry brushed with a drab olive green. It’s a very dull and depressing paint job and gives the toy a mammalian look. The eyes are brown with a shiny black pupil. It’s a wonder they didn’t paint it blue to match the standard sized adult Triceratops (although they may have been trying to distance themselves from that particular model as it’s quite bad).

The CollectA Triceratops Baby is halfway to a good figure, mixing accuracy with, well, ugliness. The wrinkled skin, dull colours, and poorly sculpted limbs detract from what could have been the best baby Triceratops available. I’d still say the figure is worth getting, even though the Safari, Papo, and REBOR versions are more visually appealing. I hope that CollectA, with their improved quality, will one day update this toy.