Kronosaurus (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)

Available from Amazon.com for under $20

When their vaunted Carnegie Collection was discontinued in early 2015, Safari Ltd evidently got to work pretty quickly to take up the slack elsewhere, because in a mere two years they more than doubled the output of figures from their standard dinosaur line. This year they’ve released a whopping 13 new figures, several of which are updated versions of animals that had been in the Carnegie Collection. One is this Kronosaurus, the first new figure of this genus since Schleich’s in 2005. The Carnegie Collection version was on the market for nearly 20 years, and Schleich’s was really no improvement, so we were due for a new one.

Safari Kronosaurus

This figure is large. It’s roughly 34 cm long, almost a third of which is the head. This is appropriate, as Kronosaurus had a truly gigantic head, up to 2.7 meters long. This figure is about 1:25-1:30 scale and could easily serve as a doorstop.

Safari Kronosaurus

Our hefty friend sports a fairly standard color scheme for a large marine predator, with a mix of grays above and white below. Even with the relatively conservative color scheme, the pattern is deceptively intricate, consisting of a broad, graded band of gray along the dorsal midline, criss-crossed by irregular but sharply defined vertical striations. The effect is quite eye-catching, and if I didn’t have the toy in my hands you could convince me that it was a computer-generated model. It’s sculpted in an active pose, with the head twisted slightly to the side as though striking at prey.

Safari Kronosaurus

The gaping jaws show off the dentition to great effect. We can see four teeth per side in the premaxillae (the front of the snout), marking this as K. queenslandicus. The gap between the fourth and fifth pair of teeth aligns with huge teeth in the flared lower jaw. This sort of pattern occurs in many aquatic predators, such as crocodiles, and makes it easier to handle prey.

Safari Kronosaurus

This new Kronosaurus represents a dramatic improvement in accuracy relative to previous renditions. Comparison with its Carnegie predecessor is especially instructive. Whereas the old one was perfectly cylindrical, inviting frequent comparisons to a sausage, the new one has a broader head and body, which makes it look much less…extruded. And while the old one had dinky rear flippers, the new one has long, broad ones, reflecting their important role in swimming.

Safari Kronosaurus

There is a low, subtle keel along the back of this figure, continuing on to the tail, but there is no fin. There is circumstantial evidence for small tail fins in some Jurassic pliosaurs, but tens of millions of years of evolution separate them from Kronosaurus. In contrast to ichthyosaurs, mosasaurs, whales, or metriorhynchid crocodiles, Kronosaurus did not use its tail for thrust production. Rather, it propelled itself with its flippers, which is unusual in modern animals. Sea turtles probably come closest, with perhaps penguins a distant second. Neither has any sort of vertical fin. Although Kronosaurus did not have a shell, it shared with turtles a relatively stiff torso, which, along with its slight dorsoventral compression, would help with stability. Therefore, it may not have been necessary to have a fin to prevent rolling. Since we have no clear and obvious modern analogue to compare, until and unless soft tissue around the tail of a big advanced pliosaur is found, Safari’s decision not to include a fin looks perfectly reasonable. At the same time, including one would also be defensible.

Safari Kronosaurus

The one minor gripe I have with this figure is that the fins tend to curl upward. I’m not sure why this is, and if it were a subtler bend it could be explained as minor deformation as the animal rows against the water. It might be that if you softened them up with a hair dryer and squished them between two books they would assume a more natural shape. If you try that or something similar, let us know in the comments!

Safari Kronosaurus

With the small exception of the curly fins, this is a spectacular figure that reflects great attention to detail. It’s the most accurate Kronosaurus on the market, ending the Carnegie version’s dubious 20-year reign. Kids and adult collectors alike should find a way to give it a home.

Available from Amazon.com for under $20

Compsognathus longipes(Sentry, by Rebor)

To get in the right state of mind for this model lets take a quick stroll down memory lane.  While vacationing on the beach of Isla Sorna a young girl makes a startling discovery.  Out of the foliage and onto the beach hops a cute, small, chirping, green dinosaur.  She feeds the little fellow but suddenly many more arrive and surround her.  The pack goes after her and you hear her scream.  A rather tense beginning to the movie the Lost World Jurassic Park.  It also makes a great Public Service Announcement on why you do not feed wildlife.  While that scene was a interesting start to the film, one of the best scenes from the movie is when a pack of Compies stalk and pursue the hunter Stark.  After answering natures call, he becomes lost in the woods and falls down a slope. A pack of Compies approach and attack him.  He gets away from the initial attack but they ultimately wear him down in a creek and succeed in killing him.

Why does this model of Compsognathus longipes looks familiar?  That’s because it is practically an exact copy of the Stan Winston’s Compspognathus maquettes for the movie the Lost World Jurassic Park.  Rebor went retro on this model and is appealing to the sentimental feelings that many people have for the JP franchise.  This might bring up some bile or nostalgic feelings  depending on how you feel about the Jurassic Park movies and the stylization of the animals portrayed on film.  But that’s not all you get with this model.  It also comes with an accessory animal that represents Protolindenia which is an ancient dragonfly.

About the Toy:  The toy is in 1:6 scale.  It is around 6 3/4 in(17 cm) long and 3 in(8 cm) high.    The tail is 4 in long.  That makes the tail more than half of the total length of the figure.  The look of Compspognathus as stated above is a direct homage to the Lost World Jurassic Park.  The base color is a glossy yellow green.  The back is a darker green, and the underbelly is more yellowish.  There is dark striping on the neck, torso, legs, and on the tail.  The claws are black, and the entire skin has been subject to a dark wash to bring out the skin texture.

The mouth is articulated.  If you open up the mouth it gums and tongue are painted glossy pink.  The teeth are very small, and are hard to see from a distance as they blend into the mouth.  The eye is also glossy giving it a wet look.

It is in a neutral pose and resting on three points.  Due to it being in a tripod, it does not have stability issues.   It rests on its really long tail.  The legs are directly under the hips and the head is staring straight ahead.  There are three fingers on the hand with a reduced 1st digit.  The hands are pronated and hanging down.  The neck, arms, legs, and tail are all thin and are made of a bendy plastic.  The figure looks underfed as it thin and rather lithe.

What about the Dragonfly.  It has a small swamp rock base with moss on it.  A small metal rod fits into the base and into the bottom of the dragonfly.  This gives it the appearance of flying.  The colorization of the dragonfly is yellow green and black stripes on its thorax and the eyes are red.  The dragonfly has two sets of wings — one behind the other. The wings are long with a mosaic of veins running throughout them.  It is amazing how real the dragonfly looks, especially from a distance.

Overall:  Scientifically there are some issues with this model other than the pronated hands. If you look at a reconstruction of Compsognsthus, the neck and arms would be a little shorter than they are on this toy.  You might wonder why there are no feathers?   Since it is meant to mimic the movie the Lost World JP, there are no feathers on it.  It is in this capacity were the toy shines.  If you compare it to the movie it matches up really well. The lack of feathers might turn some people away from this model, but this toy is not meant to be accurate to science, just accurate to the movie.  In that respect Rebor nailed it.  This looks like a Stan Winston creation.   The food item for the Compsognsthus is the really well done dragonfly.   It complements the main figure and is a nice accessory for the shelf or diorama.

Despite the boring pose, I personally  find the Jurassic Park Compsognsthus to be rather cute.  When I look at it, they way the head is raised on the figure, it looks like a pet that is begging for some food.   If you are fan of Stan Winston or Jurassic Park, you might want to give this figure a try.  If you only want accuracy, then I would pass on this figure.

Deinotherium (Mojo Fun)

The name Deinotherium means “terrible beast,” and this powerful pachyderm must have seemed like one to our early hominid ancestors who lived alongside it in Africa during the Pleistocene epoch. Standing around 4 metres tall and weighing anywhere from 10 to 13 tons, it was possibly the third largest proboscidean of all time after the 24-ton Asian straight-tusked elephant Palaeoloxodon namadicus (the largest land mammal of all time!) and the 15-ton mastodon Mammut borsoni.

Mojo released this Deinotherium toy in 2013. Appropriately, it’s a massive mound of solid plastic that stands 11 cm tall at the shoulder and measures 18 cm long. This is another figure you certainly wouldn’t want falling off the shelf and hitting you on the head. Such a painful incident is unlikely though, as it stands very firmly on its pillar-like legs. Indeed, the casual walking pose gives this animal a calm, confidant air. It knows full well that it’s the biggest and strongest thing in its environment, and that any would-be predator who tries something is only going to end up either fleeing or flattened.

The Deinotherium‘s colour scheme is based on that of a modern African elephant: taupe grey with faint patches of dusty brown, black eyes, toenails, and tail tuft, and white tusks with airbrushed rust near the roots. The hide is also sculpted like an elephant’s, with thick folds and wrinkles covering huge muscles. It’s not as intricate as the sculpting on the CollectA version, but it works. Oh, and looking at this individual’s underside, it appears to be a female, which is pretty rare among prehistoric mammal toys!

In addition to its sheer bulk, this toy displays the other characteristic features of Deinotherium: curved tusks extending from the lower jaw, small ears, and a large but relatively short trunk. It’s unknown just how precisely this animal employed its tusks; they may have been used to strip bark from trees or pull down branches to reach leaves. They also would have been dangerous weapons in battles between rival males. The length of the trunk is another matter of ongoing speculation. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I do prefer the longer trunk on the CollectA version. I think it would’ve made it easier for an animal as tall as a double-decker bus to take a drink. Or you can pretend that the Mojo version represents D. giganteum while the CollectA represents D. proavum, which may have had a longer trunk, as depicted in the National Geographic link in the intro.

Say what you will about Mojo Fun’s dinosaurs, but their prehistoric mammals have been pretty darned swell. This Deinotherium is well-sculpted, accurate, looks very naturalistic, and is certainly big enough to appear imposing among your other toys. And it bears repeating: it’s great that it’s a female instead of yet another male. Overall, an excellent toy!