Review and photographs by Stolpergeist, edited by Suspsy
Schleich has a long history of collaborating with other companies to make exclusive figures, including small giveaways that represented company mascots, figures that were simply animals with corporation logos printed on them, or the figures available in the Schleich magazines by Blue Ocean Entertainment. Last year, Schleich collaborated with McDonald’s for the first time, offering horses and theropods in the Happy Meal. Now, after a bit over a year, they have done it again with a larger variety of domesticated animals, repaints of the two better dinosaurs from last year, and two additional dinosaurs that are shrunken down versions of larger figures. It’s similar to what Schleich does for the Blue Ocean magazine, except larger.
This line of Happy Meal toys is also the first attempt of McDonald’s Germany to move to boxes instead of plastic bags, the next step for green packaging after introducing biodegradable paper-based straws. Also noteworthy is the fact that McDonald’s Germany offers thin hardcover books as an alternative pick when the toys aren’t to one’s liking. Shortly before the Schleich dinosaurs entered the Happy Meal, a dinosaur book by Dorling Kindersley with consultation by Dr. Darren Naish was available, resulting in three months of dinosaur-themed Happy Meals in a row.
The box art is Team Dino-themed as the franchise is Schleich’s current marketing strategy for their dinosaur toys, featuring the three Colby brothers on the back side.
Just as in last year’s Happy Meal, the Schleich toys are divided into two waves. The first one began on the 3rd of December of 2020 with Herrerasaurus and Spinosaurus as the available dinosaurs, the latter being a blue repaint of the one that was available in the 2019 Happy Meal. The second wave begins on the 29th of December 2020 and ends on the 20th of January 2021, and will offer a red repaint of the Tyrannosaurus from 2019 and a downsized version of the current Schleich Dilophosaurus. As one may notice, the new figures are both shrunken down versions of dinosaurs from the 2016 line, “The First Giants,” which is an interesting choice. While they are still keeping a carnivores-only roster, it does add a slight bit of diversity. Though it is understandable that they picked four of the most popular ones last year, although I am glad that Velociraptor and Giganotosaurus were the ones that got replaced considering how the Happy Meal versions of those toys looked.
The Happy Meal Herrerasaurus is very similar to the First Giants one minus the jaw articulation and a few paint details. The base colour is grey, a blue paint brush job has been applied to the top, and the body has then been covered with a dark wash. The claws are unpainted like on the large version, the teeth are eggshell-coloured, the eyes bright yellow with slit pupils, and the tongue is red with a dark wash on top.
The underside is stamped with “B1 McDonald’s 2020 Made in China by TWB © 2020 Schleich GmbH.” I like the overall anatomy of the figure apart from one aspect, and that is the awkward arms with their broken wrists. However, that complaint should rather be directed at the First Giants Herrerasaurus, as that one started it.
Herrerasaurus is known from South America, specifically the Late Triassic of Argentina. It is not the only South American animal currently available with the McDonald’s Happy Meal; there is also an alpaca which have domesticated populations further north from where Herrerasaurus once lived. The alpaca is however not officially listed anywhere; it is a secret figure that you can only receive by ordering delivery from home.
As llamas weren’t around in the Triassic, Herrerasaurus shared its environment with other large archosaurs such as pseudosuchians. I don’t have a Saurosuchus figure, so this Prestosuchus from Safari Ltd. serves as a stand-in even though it lived in further north in Brazil. It was also at the brink of extinction when Herrerasaurus entered the scene.
The bipedal competition ended up proving to be more successful at hunting aetosaurs and other prey animals, what with being faster than their lumbering cousins. These first giants were at the dawn of a new era that would be dominated by them for the coming 170 million years.
The figure has a length of roughly 13 cm, 19 cm if the tail would be stretched out, which puts it roughly at a 1:30 scale, and it thus looks decent next to most other dinosaur figures while the regular First Giants Herrerasaurus might feel oversized. It looks rather nice next to Schleich’s Postosuchus, another Triassic animal figure that was also released in 2020. It also scales up amazingly with Schleich’s current 1:20 human figures such as this one, which has been modified to resemble Nigel Marven if we consider the dinosaur to be the size of the holotype specimen instead of the maximum length.
The original Schleich Herrerasaurus from The First Giants didn’t catch my attention as much as this one has. I was considering to rather go for the CollectA version even though Schleich paid a lot of attention to skull shape and digit length, but the size was making their toy unattractive to me. In the end, this downsized incarnation was thus a very pleasant surprise as it looks far better on display. It is still far from the perfect Herrerasaurus model, but it is definitely among the better ones to get your hands on for now and certainly proves that bigger does not always mean better. I can thus definitely recommend it to collectors. If you live outside of Germany and Austria, you will find it on eBay; there are a lot of sellers who bought these Happy Meal toys in bulk to resell them. As for the main demographic, it also is perfect for children with an interest in less popular dinosaur taxa. The sculpting work is just as delicate as on the large version, with only a few minor tweaks for child safety such as blunter claws, and a Happy Meal costs only about a third of the price of the large Schleich model. On a final note for collectors, the tag on Schleich Happy Meal toys should be removed immediately, as it is not attached by Schleich themselves, but by HAVI Global Solutions, a logistics company for the food industry. They use a different material for the tags that includes a glue which is harder to remove and might damage the paint if left on for too long.