Tag Archives: Brontosaurus

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 The representations of dinosaurs at that time are now heavily outdated but they stand as symbols of just how popular these animals became in the wake of their discovery.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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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.

Brontosaurus (Inpro)

Inpro Brontosaurus is a classic figure representing an iconic dinosaur, Brontosaurus. Back in 1972, English company Inpro produced a line of Prehistoric toys, among others amazingly including one of the rare representations of Heterodontosaurus as a figure. More information is available here .

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Inpro Brontosaurus is 7,5 cm high and 13 cm long from the tip of its tail to the bend of its neck. Its colour is grey at the flanks, yellow at the belly and green at the ridge of the neck, the back and the tail. Of course it is not scientifically correct, but keep in mind it is 43 years old an represents a period in which dinosaurs were regarded as dim-witted, sluggish beasts. The head is completely wrong, with the eyes sticking out, the head being much too big and the hind feet seeming crookedly bent, not to mention the tail being dragged.

This figure is probably based upon Rudolph Zallinger´s paintings, which are still very popular today, albeit or because being hopelessly obsolete.

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And this is exactly the reason why I like this figure that much. In times of scientists approximating the real look of dinosaurs more precisely than ever, I recommend it to everyone who is not interested in accuracy but in nostalgia, for both the “old” dinosaurs themselves and their historical representations as figures. Plus, it looks really funny, with a cute face, a little like Kermit the frog.

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This figure stands in one row with good old Linde, Marx or Starlux Brontosaurus. I was told this figure is highly sought after, but try your luck on ebay or car boot sales.