Tag Archives: Diplodocus

Diplodocus (2017) (Wild Safari by Safari Ltd)

Available from Amazon here.

For some reason, I can remember that one of the dinosaur books I had as a kid included a picture of a Diplodocus-style sauropod, with a quote from a paleontologist in the caption saying that “for most people, this is literally Mr Dinosaur himself”. It’s a comment that captures the unique fasciation of these animals, as the largest creatures ever to have walked the Earth. Everything about the sheer mass of these animals borders on the inconceivable, and yet modern reconstructions of sauropods emphasise that alongside their staggering size, these “earth-shaker lizards” possessed a sinuous, almost swan-like elegance and beauty. For this reason, sauropod figures have a special place in the hearts of many dinosaur model collectors. Today I review the newest potential addition to your herd, the 2017 Safari Diplodocus.

Diplodocus was first unearthed in 1877, and by now, countless millions of people must have gazed up at the many skeletal casts of Diplodocus featuring in museums around the world, as donated by the millionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie in the early years of the twentieth century. Palaeontologist Gregory S Paul gives a size estimate of 25 metres and 12 tonnes for D. carnegii (in the dinosaur books I read as a kid, it seemed more or less compulsory to include a picture showing Diplodocus lined up alongside three busses parked end-to-end) and suggests that there may have been as many as 6 Diplodocus species, one of which, D. hallorum (the sauropod formerly known as Seismosaurus) may have reached 32 metres and 30 tonnes, making it a pretty decent candidate for the longest land animal ever (although not the most massive – sauropods from other branches of the family tree, such as brachiosaurs and titanosaurs, were much more heavily built). What’s really amazing is that four of the most famous of dinosaur giants, Diplodocus, the brontosaur Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus and Camarasaurus, all lived together at the same time and place, in the Morrison Formation of late Jurassic North America, around 150 million years ago. What a truly astounding sight it must have seen these colossi together, wandering the same plains and drinking from the same watering holes…

But enough of this banter, what about the model? The first thing to note about this figure is it’s impressive size, which doesn’t really come across from the promotional photographs online. Although not as massive as the Carnegie collection sauropod figures of old, this is still a very hefty model that does justice to the imposing dimensions of the original beast. The length of the figure, (as posed with a tail that curves over upon itself), is about 47cm long. If you straighten out the tail, you get a total head-to-tail length of about 60cm, so accepting a 25 metre length estimate for the living animal, that gives us a scale that is pretty darn close to 1:40 (1:41.666 if you want to be precise). Furthermore, if you can manage to find a toy bus that is 20cm long, then you can use three of them to recreate that Diplodocus size-comparison illustration we all saw in the dinosaur books of our youth – isn’t it lucky that you have me to point these things out for you?

The pose of this Diplodocus is very handsome, and arguably superior to  Safari Diplodocus figures that have preceded it, not least because the head and tail are in a more-or-less straight alignment, meaning that the model displays equally well from both sides. The thing that I like best about this figure’s pose it that it is so naturalistic – it really does look like a plausible animal, ambling through its late Jurassic habitat, relaxed and self-assured (mercifully, the protruding ‘shrink wrapped’ vertebra and  ‘belly-almost-dragging-on-the-ground’ carriage of Papo’s sauropod monstrosity are not in evidence here). The way the whiplash tail curls over upon itself is a particularly appealing feature of the sculpt – it’s been speculated that living Diplodocus could twirl their tails around like this for communication and display within the herd. Iguana-like spines seem to show up on all manner of sauropod reconstructions these days, but in the case of the Diplodocus line of the sauropod family tree, there really are fossil skin impressions indicating this feature, so they make a welcome addition to the model. An aspect of the figure that will please many is that the hands (front feet) are depicted with only a single but large claw projecting laterally out from the side, which intuitively, looks a little odd, but is in fact in line with current paleontological views on sauropod anatomy. The musculature of the neck, where it joins onto the body, is portrayed as being rather deeper and more massive than on many older reconstructions that I’ve seen. I’m afraid I don’t know enough sauropod anatomy to comment on this from a technical standpoint, but purely in terms of aesthetics it looks plausible enough, and adds to this sculpts refreshingly contemporary and up-to-date feel.

I was excited to buy this figure, because the two-toned colour scheme with the dappled underbelly reminded me of the dinosaur art of Raul Martin, whose sauropod restorations must surely rank as among the most beautiful renditions of these animals. But unfortunately, it must be said that when the model is in hand, the surface details are a little disappointing. The skin is textured all over, but the depth of the texturing is slight, and not crisply cast. Consequently, the skin detailing seems flat and nondescript – in the picture below I’ve compared it with the skin texturing of the Collecta Diplodocus, which in my opinion is much more dynamic in its surface details. The colour scheme is based around a plausible-seeming (and not unattractive) shade of green-grey, and the underbelly mottling has an effectively organic look to it. But unfortunately, (on my example at least), the paint has not been well applied, appearing very thin and watered-down in places, and clumsily slapped-on in others, especially about the  head. The eye is just a black dot, and the way the white for the teeth has been dashed all about the head gives my example something of an unfortunate  bucked-tooth look. There is absolutely no tonal variation on the green-grey that covers most of the body, and this makes it rather overpowering visually – even the spines are in the same colour, which is a shame since a line of dark spines against the grey would really have made them a standout feature of the model. Even the most elementary of repainting efforts, (such as picking out the spines in black), would greatly improve the look of this guy. The blandness of the surface detailing and the lacklustre paint application do tend to make this figure seem more like a plastic lump of a toy than a scale replica for display, which is a real shame since the proportions and pose are so well thought-out.

Kids will no doubt really enjoy playing with this life-like Diplodocus, and would appreciate the flexibility of the whiplash tail as a way of adding some life and movement to the toy. As a collector’s model for the shelf, my conclusions are more equivocal. This is one of those figures that perhaps looks rather better from a distance than close up. From the promotional photographs online, I thought this was going to be a truly stunning model… the pose and form certainly give it the potential to be so, but unfortunately the execution of the surface detailing and paintwork have reduced the impact considerably. It’s still a very interesting and appealing model, just not the truly stunning figure that I feel it could have been. Sauropod fans will undoubtedly want to add this one to their herd, but more general-interest collectors will have to make up their own minds. I usually like to end my reviews with some atrocious pun, but given the various plusses and minuses of this figure, I’ll just remark that it is up to individual collectors to decide if they want to risk sticking their necks out for this one.

Available from Amazon here.

Diplodocus (Battat)

Review and photos by Bokisaurus, edited by Suspsy

Without a doubt, the Battat line of dinosaur figures is one of the most famous that has ever been produced. Since its original release back in the mid-1990s’ and up to its most recent revival, so much has been said about the line that it is safe to skip all the history behind it. Instead, I will share a little bit of my own history and how the Battat line started my dinosaur figure collecting. Before the age of computer and online stores, catalogues and magazine ads were how you found things. I’m not sure exactly how I saw the ad for Battat dinosaurs, but I remember that when I saw those pictures, I wanted them. My search involved sending a letter (yes, you remember writing those, right?) to Battat Inc. and inquiring where I could purchase their figures. It took months, but I finally did hear back from them with a short list of stores that carried their product. Unfortunately for me, all of the stores were more than 60 miles away from where I lived at that time.

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The distance did not deter me, so I took a road trip to Seattle and after visiting each store on the list, I finally found the toys! I was stunned by the beauty of each figure as I examined them on the shelf. Alas, I did not see the Diplodocus among those on display. As I was purchasing the set, one of the employees noticed that I was missing the most expensive and biggest figure from the line. He came over and asked me if I was aware that there was a “Brontosaurus” that went with the set. I told him I was aware and was looking for it, but did not see it on the shelf. He informed me that they had one in the back which was kept there because it was taking up too much space and was not selling due to its expensive price (it was retailing for $25 back then!). I promptly told him that I wanted it! And when he handed me the wrapped figure, I was in disbelief. I was so excited that I forgot that I had just spent my entire months grocery budget on toys! So why is the this toy so special to me and to so many others? Well, lets find out . . .

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The Battat Diplodocus (MS110) was released way back in 1995 as part of the first series. It was one of the nine dinosaur figures that the late Dan LoRusso sculpted for the line. Like all other figures in the collection, it was done at 1:40 scale. As I have mentioned in one of my other reviews, there is nothing more awe-inspiring that a rearing sauropod. And this is the figure that first began that trend among toy companies continues to this day. But none of these later releases come close to attaining the same majestic beauty that this toy has achieved.

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Standing close to 14 inches tall, this figure used to tower over all my sauropods until the arrival of PNSO’s Euhelopus. The sculpting is first class. It is truly a well-crafted and well-researched piece of art, a real testament to Dan’s talent as an artist. The figure is rich in details both big and small. The small head is nicely detailed and the peg-like teeth are individually sculpted. The mouth is slightly open, just enough to see those teeth. The eyes are painted yellow, and right above them on the tops of the head sit the nostrils. The neck is muscular as it should be. You can see loose skin on the underside of the neck being pulled down by gravity. You can also see the outline of the neck vertebrae, but nothing like the shrink-wrapped look that so many sauropod figures suffer from. There is a clear rise on the back where the neural spines are located.

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The skin is textured like an elephant’s. There are many skin folds up and down the body adding depth and definitions. Both the shoulder blades and hip bones are clearly visible on the figure. These help create the illusion of the animal straining to lift its huge body and weight off the ground. The rearing stance is relaxed, as if the giant is slowly browsing on some delicious treetop greens. The front legs are lifted as if trying to push a tree down or just supporting its weight on a tree trunk.

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This is perhaps the first sauropod toy to depict accurate front feet. So many sauropod sculptors insist on giving these giants elephant-like front feet with multiple claws sticking out. In this figure, claws are absent from all front digits except for the thumb claws. The back legs are huge when compared with the front ones. As we travel further down the body, we reach the base of the tail. This area is very thick with muscles as it should be. Again, so many other sauropod figure have thin tail bases. The tail itself starts off as thick, then slowly becomes thinner until it reaches the halfway mark before turning into the whip-like tip. The tail is curled upwards, then inwards on the figure. The muscular tail base acts as a third leg that supports and stabilises the animal’s huge weight. The overall body colour is brown with some darker strips starting on the back and running down the sides. There is not much variation among the shades of brown and not much dry brushing either, which is a shame, as it would have added a different layer.

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In closing, the Battat Diplodocus is without a doubt one of the most accurate and majestic sauropod figures ever made. It has withstood the test of time some 20 years later. It has also earned the distinction of being one of the most highly sought-after figures, a holy grail for many collectors. In terms of dollar value, it ranks as one of the most expensive figures post-original release. I have seen one that was sold for $700 on eBay during the gold rush in the early 2000s’!

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This figure continues to rule my collection of sauropods and I expect it will forever do so. It’s been 20 years since I had this figure and still to this day, I stop and look at it with the same admiration like I did the first day I brought it home.

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Seismosaurus (4D Puzzle by Fame Master)

Seismosaurus is a name that a lot of younger readers may not recognize but for those of us who were dinosaur fanatics in the late 80’s and early 90’s it’s a name we remember all too well. Seismosaurus was a genus of dinosaur described in 1991, at the time it was estimated to have been the longest dinosaur ever discovered, measuring between 127-170 feet in length. It was a media darling, as big dinosaurs tend to be. As more material was unearthed it became clear that the genus was actually just a particularly large Diplodocus, and while impressive in that regard it didn’t reach the exaggerated size previously estimated, only a mere 110’. The name Seismosaurus was dropped and it joined the long list of dinosaurs that never were. That said, for whatever reason, Seismosaurus still pops up once in a while. In this case, it’s the name given to a 3D puzzle by Fame Master.

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Like its namesake this toy is a Seismosaurus in name, but really just a Diplodocus. When assembled the toy measures 9” in length. A few other Famemaster toys have been reviewed here but they seem to mostly go unnoticed by the collecting community at large. Most have questionable accuracy but some are very dynamic, colorful, and look much better than a puzzle should. The Seismosaurus comes in 26 pieces and although fun to put together I can’t say it’s particularly challenging or worth taking apart and putting back together again. This is made for children however and they’ll no doubt find it fun.

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Once assembled this toy does lend itself well to display and when viewed from a distance the seams really aren’t that obvious. As a model it isn’t bad but it does suffer from typical sauropod inaccuracies like the elephantine style feet and a shortened tail. Overall the toy looks elegant and modern.

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The detail work amounts to nothing more than an abundance of wrinkles and the amount of wrinkling is certainly overkill. The paint scheme is well applied, even on small features such as the tiny yellow eyes and black toe nails. The toy is green dorsally with a brown under side and a black stripe that runs down the body and divides the two colors. Black bands are painted down the last half of the tail. Green is typically not my favorite color choice on dinosaurs but I like the banding on the tail.

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Most collectors can probably pass on this one. While it’s good for what it is (a puzzle for kids to put together) it probably doesn’t offer much to anyone except diehard sauropod collectors. The puzzle aspect certainly adds a fun element to the toy and given that it’s a puzzle first, and model second, it’s really a nice little piece.