Tag Archives: world’s fair

Stegosaurus (Field Museum Mold-A-Rama)

Finishing off our reviews of the Field Museum Mold-A-Rama collection is the Stegosaurus. Older original Mold-A-Rama dinosaurs exist as well but they aren’t currently being produced at the Field Museum and the only way to really obtain them is through eBay. It has come to my attention that the Stegosaurus machine was recently removed from the Field Museum so if you don’t already have the Stegosaurus then try to find one on eBay before they become scarce. The “retired” figures include the Ankylosaurus, Edmontosaurus (Trachodon), and Corythosaurus. All of the Mold-A-Rama dinosaurs were offered up as souvenirs at the World’s Fair Dinoland back in the 1960’s.  To the best of my knowledge the only place that still has working Mold-A-Rama machines are those located at the Field Museum in Chicago. For a brief history of Dinoland and the World’s Fair check out the review of the original Tyrannosaurus written by Foxilized.

The Stegosaurus is presented as you would expect it to be in a pre-renaissance era. It’s low to the ground with a dragging tail, sturdily built but obviously dim and slow moving with a considerable amount of bulk. True to Stegosaurus the plates at least alternate but aside from that there is little in common with modern depictions.

There is a good bit of detail on this dinosaur but the painfully yellow color makes them difficult to see. Circular scales adorn the body, loose skin hangs from the neck, and skin folds sag along the flanks. The plates are unusually small but vertical striations are etched along them. Although lacking cheeks the mouth does have a thick set of frowning lips which only accentuate the plodding demeanor of the mold.

Personally this Stegosaurus is my least favorite of the Field Museum molds. It lacks the same charm and character that even the oddball Tyrannosaurus possesses. The yellow color is a bit of a turn-off too but that’s just my personal preference and he certainly stands out on a shelf of conventional dinosaur toys.

Caution must be exercised with this particular mold. All of the molds are fragile, made of hollow waxy material but the Stegosaurus seems particularly prone to breakage along the tail. Mine came to me broken but it was easy enough to just glue it back on.

This is the kind of figure that only dinosaur historians might find interesting. The history of the Mold-A-Rama machines, Dinoland, Sinclair Motor oil, and the World’s Fair are all fascinating bits of American history that make seeking this and the other Mold-A-Rama figures worth the effort. Get this Stegosaurus while you can and good luck!

Tyrannosaurus (Field Museum Mold-A-Rama)

Having technically already been reviewed there really isn’t much new to say about this one. DTF member “Foxilized” reviewed the original back in 2010. For the sake of consistency though I feel compelled to share my thoughts too, I’ve been reviewing all of the current Field Museum Mold-A-Rama figures and it would feel strange not including this one.

I kind of have an obsession with the life-sized Tyrannosaurus that was displayed at the World’s Fair. It’s severally dated by today’s standards sure but it’s still a beautiful reconstruction, and accurate for its time. It’s strong, robust, and imposing, the stuff of nightmares. The head is gigantic and menacing with its pointed brow horns and toothy grin. But we’re not here to review this Tyrannosaurus, but rather its tiny take-home counterpart which sad to say is a far cry from its inspiration.

In general shape and pose it’s fairly faithful, so too is the oversized head. But while the head of that beast was menacing the head on this Mold-A-Rama is, well, goofy looking. The head just sits there atop the neck, I have no idea how the spine attaches to it. Anatomically the head looks more like a frog than the Tyrant King. The attempt is there with the tooth filled grin and even ear and nasal openings present but it still falls a little short. It stands on a base with “Tyrannosaurus rex” stamped on one side and “Field Museum Chicago” on the other. It’s funny that you can get this monstrosity in the same museum that displays Sue, but I’m glad it’s still available at all really.

The body is of course posed as a tail dragger and perhaps more so than other tail-draggers looks very much like a man in a dinosaur costume. The tacked on head doesn’t help but even the legs end up looking more human than theropod. The best thing I can compare it to is the Tyrannosaurus from the 1957 movie “The Land Unknown.” Watch the trailer to see what I mean. Make sure you watch the whole trailer so you don’t miss “the battle of the great stegosauri.”

Overall I find this figure “so bad its good” which is perhaps why I like it just as much as those cheesy old movies it reminds me of. It’s not a very good representation of the World’s Fair Tyrannosaurus but it’s a unique character all its own and worth seeking out for those who have the shelf space to display this oddball.

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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