So – and forgive me if you’ve heard this already – Papo have a new T. rex out for 2012. And now, finally, we’ve all got the chance to get our greasy paws on one. Although most of you probably decided a long time ago whether or not you were going to grab one of these, hopefully this review will be useful for the very few still sitting on the fence…
There’s one thing always worth remembering about Papo – they’ve never claimed any sort of scientific authority or authenticity. Their prehistoric line isn’t tied in with a museum, and the figures aren’t declared ‘scale replicas’ replete with educational tags. It’s the aesthetic quality of these figures that’s endeared them to adult collectors – and make no mistake, Papo remain absolutely miles ahead of the pack in this regard. Still, given the high production values clearly evident in these figures, it’s difficult not to view them as at least semi-serious attempts at reconstructing extinct animals, and it’s here that they tend to fall short.
The original Papo T. rex was very obviously a straight-up knock-off of the Jurassic Park creature – an excellent one as it happens – and that contributed immensely to its appeal. For their new T. rex, the sculptor has clearly used Jurassic Park as a starting point once again, resulting in some of the inaccuracies of the original being repeated. Most obviously, the arms are far, far too long. Here’s something I’d like all toy designers to remember in future – the arms of T. rex are only mocked for being laughably short because they really were quite laughably short. The torso is also a little shallow. The feet are too large, of course, but that’s in aid of stability – and I think it’s a worthy trade-off (but more about that in a moment). Quite apart from any problems with proportions, though, it’s the head that will probably prove to be the divisive aspect of this figure.
Abandoning their usual neat rows of teeth, Papo have instead opted for a gnarly, snaggle-toothed look. It’s hard to deny that it looks pretty cool – not to mention sinister – but look at any T. rex skull and you can see that it doesn’t really match up (in other words, there’s a reason we don’t see lots of T. rex restorations with croco-teeth). It’s not that some individuals didn’t have the odd tooth protruding in an unusual direction – they almost certainly did – but the way the teeth are arranged here doesn’t really resemble any T. rex specimen yet discovered. But, yes, it does look cool. And that’s Papo for you.
Of course, for all that talk of giant arms and dodgy teeth, there’s an awful lot to be positive about here. The aesthetic quality of this plastic toy is simply astonishing. Other companies may produce tyrannosaurs that are more scientifically sound, but only Papo’s look alive. The highly refined, crisp detailing stands up to the very closest scrutiny, as does the paintwork which is, as always, flawless and highly naturalistic in appearance. Try as hard as you like – you won’t find a single, tiny accidental paint splash, even around the mouth, claws and miniscule, beady eyes. The pose, too, is exciting and looks convincing, which makes the enlarged feet worthwhile. When it comes to aesthetics alone, Papo continue to put to shame ‘serious’ resin models that can cost over three times as much as these toys.
Even if you’re averse to dinosaur figures that deviate significantly from the real deal, it’s difficult to not see this figure as a must-buy. It does seem a shame that Papo won’t consider consulting with scientists to produce a line of toys that are closer to how the real animals would have looked, as they’d then be pretty much untouchable. However, even with things the way they are, Papo deserve credit for raising the dino toy stakes and producing a line of consistently stunning, often very characterful figures. That brachiosaur is looking like a very attractive prospect…!
Available on Amazon.com here.