Tag Archives: Apatosaurus

Apatosaurus (Field Museum Mold-A-Rama)

Although I’m not old enough to have witnessed the Sinclair Motor Oil “Dinoland” exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair this has always been an era in American history that has fascinated me. The representations of dinosaurs at that time are now heavily outdated but they stand as symbols of just how popular these animals became in the wake of their discovery. The Sinclair Dinoland and Sinclair’s dinosaur heavy marketing campaign was at that time to many people what the release of “Jurassic Park” was to me in 1993. Just imagine what it must have been like to have stood at the feet of those life-sized models, taken right off of a Charles Knight painting and beautifully reproduced in what was essentially a real “Jurassic Park” for that time. Sure, countless life size dinosaur parks exist now, but this particular one at this iconic time in America’s history has always intrigued me.

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The model we’re looking at today comes straight out of that era. Indeed, the Mold-A-Rama figures were sold as souvenirs at the World’s Fair in 1964, right on the cusp of the Dinosaur Renaissance. DTF member Foxilized wrote much about the history of Sinclair and the World’s Fair in his review of the Mold-A-Rama Tyrannosaurus, so I won’t tread old ground here. The Apatosaurus model is of particular relevance to Sinclair Motor Oil as it’s an identical 3-Dimentional reproduction of their classic green “Brontosaurus” logo. Anyone familiar with old dinosaur Americana will instantly recognize it.

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Although finding these Mold-A-Rama models can be difficult they do occasionally show up on eBay, often with exuberant prices for a souvenir that originally cost next to nothing. But the highlight of the Mold-A-Rama figures (and there were many, dinosaurs and otherwise) was not the figure itself but watching the process by which they were made. You would essentially pay the machine to make the model right before your eyes (watch here). I’ve never had that privilege, yet. Working machines are rare but still in operation at the Chicago Field Museum where you can walk in and purchase one of these nifty dinosaurs as if it was still 1964.

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Although the model has the name Apatosaurus printed on it this is an Apatosaurus in name only. It represents the classic Brontosaurus depictions of old, right down to the boxy Camarasaurus head. The heavy body stands on thick heavy legs and a spindly serpent tail drags along the ground behind it. No accuracy points here, this unique model is significant for other reasons and will only appeal to those with an appreciation for retro dinosaurs and American history.

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All four elephantine feet are firmly planted on a base and thick folds of saggy skin can be seen along the sides. This Brontosaurus better find his way back to the swamps before it’s crushed by its own bulk. Since this figure comes from a Mold-A-Rama machine you can expect it to be made of brittle hollow wax and is easily broken which is probably why originals are expensive these days.

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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! 🙂

Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) (Tyco)

This review marks my 100th review for the Dinosaur Toy Blog and with having reached this milestone I think I need to reflect a bit. My first review was posted on July 16th, 2011. That’s just over 5 years of collecting and writing about dinosaur toys. Although others have reached this milestone in an impressively short amount of time that makes this no less significant for me. I’ve actually reached the point where I consider myself an “old timer” in these parts, one of the few that’s still an active reviewer. Home ownership, fatherhood, and many other major life events have transpired in that time and yet I’m still here writing these reviews. If I’m being honest I can say that this hobby makes for a nice escape from reality on the occasions that I need one.

Dinosaurs (and other prehistoric animals) have always made for a nice escape; the perfect blend of science, art, and imagination. While our scientific understanding of dinosaurs dramatically changes as time marches on these ancient animals still remain a constant in our imaginations and in our lives. Dinosaurs are certainly nostalgic for me. I’ve loved them ever since I first saw “The Land Before Time” on the big screen back in 1988. But just like everything else, dinosaurs have changed. The dinosaurs I grew up with are not the same animals that fascinate me today. And that’s alright, because the importance of understanding these animals as they were far outweighs my feeling of nostalgia or the public’s perception of dinosaurs as a whole.

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The toy I’m reviewing today is an iconic one, nearly as old as me. It represents an animal whose name and bones we all know but no longer exists. The Tyco Brontosaurus (for that is what it is, a Brontosaurus) won’t win any points for accuracy or realism, but it’s a one of a kind toy that captures the imagination and brings this old depiction of a classic animal to life like no other.

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I didn’t have the pleasure of owning this toy when I was growing up. Looking at it stand before me I honestly wonder how any child could even play with the thing. Yes, it is gigantic! If any toy ever did the size of a sauropod justice it’s this one. With its neck stretched out this toy measures 3’ in length and it stands about 1’ tall at the hips. This is widely celebrated as one of the largest toy sauropods ever made. Even Kenner, who was responsible for the epic “Jurassic Park” toys of the 90’s never made a sauropod toy approaching this thing in size. The size of the Tyco Brontosaurus is no doubt its single most redeeming feature, this is a must own model for those that love big sauropods. Looking at it though it’s easy to see just how dated this toy is and for a toy so large, and so inaccurate, is it really worth the shelf space? Personally, I think it is, but read on and decide for yourself.

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This monster of a toy looks like it has literally just dragged its bulk out of a primordial swamp. The serpentine tail drags behind its enormous body, the swan-like neck craning its head skyward. This is not the elegant sauropods we’re now accustomed to and for anyone born in a post “Jurassic Park” world this thing might even look ridiculous. But that’s alright, this one isn’t for them.

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Looking past the body and at the smaller details we see that, perhaps surprisingly, the feet are not horrid for a toy this age. Five digits are present on the hind-limbs but only the first three are particularly obvious, complete with toe nails. This is in keeping with depictions we see even today. The fore-limbs possess five digits as well, with three digits possessing claws where there should be only one but the fact that this much effort was applied shows that Tyco did some degree of research on their products, some have even stood the test of time more so than they should have.

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The body is made of hollow hard plastic but despite being hollow this thing still weighs between 3-4 lbs. The tail is also hollow but made of a more flexible rubbery material. True to the Tyco line this toy is an action figure, capable of some degree of movement. All of the limbs can move back and forth and the neck and head swivel up and down as well. That’s it for an “action feature” but what more would you need on a toy sauropod? You can make it move forward, and eat or look about. That seems good enough but the toy was originally supposed to be a battery powered toy that walked. That feature was nixed due to budget reasons, no surprise there. A walking feature certainly would help kids play with a toy nearly as big as them I suppose.

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Even at this gigantic scale this toy is not lacking in finer details. Wrinkles and skin folds are obvious in appropriate places and the skin has a pitted, cracked texture that at least resembles scales. On the shoulders and hips there is a good deal of raised bumps along the hide and the massive hind-limbs are as muscular as they would need to be. The mouth is partially open, revealing a nice battery of teeth and I would comment on the nostril placement but they have curiously been omitted. The eyes are the life-like beads we all love on these Tyco toys and make this otherwise obvious toy still feel somewhat alive.

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The Tyco dinosaurs never did have much for coloration or patterns. A gray and black hide is the order of the day here, another indication that this is an old depiction from the days when all dinosaurs were gray, green, or brown. On this toy the color does have a nice mottled pattern though. A yellow stripe runs down the body and tail, dividing the mottled dorsal pattern from the flat gray underside. It’s very easy to envision this animal in a dark, swampy forest, perhaps somewhere deep in the Congo even.

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Now as most of you know this toy did originally come with an impressive assortment of armor, weapons, and riders. I don’t have any of those accessories. While I do collect toy dinosaurs I don’t collect “Dino-Riders”. That may raise some eye-brows from those wishing for a full review of a complete toy but I’m here to look at the dinosaur itself. Suffice it to say that there are other sites more dedicated to “Dino-Riders” than this one. I did enjoy the show and toys as a kid but my budget doesn’t allow anything past the price of this toy just by itself.   Even if the military gear makes it that much more impressive.

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If you want one of these legendary titans you’ll be forced to put forth a good amount of cash. The toy alone will cost you and then factor in the shipping. I was astonished by the size of this thing simply by the box it was in. It’s a rare toy which is one reason I chose to review it on this special occasion but not the rarest in the line and quite accessible with some patience on eBay. Clearly it will take up some space on your shelf but this is THE must have toy for anyone with a love for retro dinosaurs, big sauropods, or of course the Tyco line. Although Tyco made a Tyrannosaurus, this Brontosaurus is the true king, not only of the Tyco series, but of dinosaur toys in general, even after nearly 30 years sitting on the throne.

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A giant among giants.