Dreadnoughtus schrani was a species of titanosaur that lived during the late Cretaceous in what is now Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. It was discovered in 2005 in the Cerro Fortaleza Formation by Kenneth Lacovara and described in 2014. The name Dreadnoughtus translates to “fears nothing,” and what an apt name it is. Lacovara estimates that Dreadnoughtus weighed about 65 tons, heavier than a Boeing 737 (although that estimate is controversial) and measured about 85’ (26m) in length. That would make it one of the largest animals to ever live on land, and with about 70% of the skeleton recovered, one of the most complete of the large titanosaurs discovered.
Pop culture was kind to Dreadnoughtus this year with it featuring in the critically acclaimed documentary, Prehistoric Planet, and the blockbuster film, Jurassic World: Dominion. Thanks to the latter, and the ambitious folks over at Mattel, we finally have the first toy of this colossal animal ever produced.
The Mattel Dreadnoughtus measures just over 5’ (1.5 meters) long and stands at a maximum height of 28” (71.12 cm). Scaled down from a length of 85’ that makes this toy 1/17 in scale, about where you would want it to be to scale with the human figures and many of the Mattel dinosaurs. The size of this toy makes last year’s Apatosaurus look small, just the scale of this toy is a magnificent achievement from Mattel.
I’m a sucker for these ridiculously large sauropod toys, ever since I tracked down the Tyco Brontosaurus 6 years ago for my 100th review. Lots of us assumed that the age of big sauropod toys was gone with the 80’s and 90’s. Kenner never made a large sauropod toy for their Jurassic Park line and even sauropod toys by the likes of Safari have gradually gotten smaller since the early days of the Carnegie Collection. It has reached a point where it almost seems like larger sauropods, like Dreadnoughtus, are being deliberately avoided because of the mentality that you can’t make a small toy of such a big dinosaur.
Then Mattel gave us their Brachiosaurus in 2019, a monumental achievement that fans of Jurassic Park had been waiting 26 years for. No one would have predicted at that time that Mattel would keep on making big sauropod toys, let alone make one 2’ longer than the Brachiosaurus. So, figuring I could use about 5’ less space in my home, I decided to keep this ball rolling and acquire yet another absurdly large sauropod toy. Since I reviewed Mattel’s previous efforts, I might as well assess this one as well.
First impressions upon looking at the toy is that it’s superior to Mattel’s previous big sauropods, and not just because “bigger is better.” The detail and paintjob are a marked improvement over the Brachiosaurus and aesthetically the toy is significantly more appealing than the rather homely Mattel Apatosaurus. It boasts better articulation as well. While the Brachiosaurus can only move it’s neck up and down, and the Apatosaurus can only move it left and right, this one can do both.
This Dreadnoughtus comes in 4 separate pieces. The head and neck, body, and two pieces for the tail. Once snapped together these parts cannot be removed. The jaw can open, and the head and neck can be rotated around about 1/3rd of the way down the length of the neck. Closer to the base of the neck a hinge allows the neck to move left and right, and where the neck attaches to the body it can be moved up and down. It takes a bit of effort to get the neck to move up and down but after some fiddling with it loosens up somewhat.
The great part about this is that you can orientate the neck in whatever manner you feel is most accurate, horizontal, or vertical. A perk since sauropod neck posture is still a controversial subject. The tail can swing left and right, and the tip of the tail can be rotated around. The limbs can all rotate but their range of motion is limited thanks to the torso’s bulk. The DNA scan tag is located on the back, over the hips.
In terms of accuracy, this toy is decent enough to satisfy even Kenneth Lacovara himself. He states that the head is too large, and he’s right about that, but it’s not enough to gripe too much about. The overall posture and proportions are decent enough too where even the length of the tail is much longer than you would expect from Mattel, who are notorious for their short tails. The neck is nice and thick where it meets the body and the body itself is robust and bulky, supported by massive muscular limbs.
The typical inaccuracies you would expect from Mattel are still there. Once again, Mattel ignores the unusual and distinctive foot anatomy of sauropods (and dinosaurs in general). Five clawed digits are present on the forelimbs and four on the hindlimbs. They look like generic elephant-styled limbs. Real titanosaurs not only lacked visible claws on the forelimbs, but they lacked phalanges altogether. Four claws on the hindlimbs are acceptable but here they’re not orientated or sculpted in a way accurate to sauropods. Thankfully since the claws are unpainted, they don’t stand out much anyway.
Also, the nostrils are positioned on top of the head instead of on the end of the snout. Overall, the inaccuracies are minor here, and most Jurassic World collectors won’t care about them, but I still feel like more attention to accuracy would only benefit these toys. Of course, the primary purpose of these toys is to mimic what you see in the movies, so Mattel really isn’t the one to blame, at least not in this case.
Large head and misplaced nostrils aside, I really like the head sculpt of this toy. It is far less desiccated and dopey looking than the Mattel Apatosaurus and there isn’t the same degree of shrink-wrapping. The eyes are somewhat sunken but not offputtingly so and the lower jaw looks infinitely better than the thin flap of plastic that the Apatosaurus has. Inside the mouth are numerous, small, peg-shaped teeth, and the roof of the mouth has a ridged texture. The tongue is textured too, and the lower jaw has faint grooves where the upper teeth would press against the lips when closed.
Most of the body is detailed with a bumpy, wrinkled hide, and skin folds, without much fine detail. This makes the skin appear more cracked than scaly but once again, it is not as dreadful as what we see on the Apatosaurus and an improvement over the Brachiosaurus. I certainly don’t expect the same level of detail that Mattel gives their smaller toys and what they’ve done here is sufficient.
Where this toy really excels over its companions is with the paintjob, which is far and away the most complex of the 3. The body is mainly an appealing deep blue color with tan coloration running from the lower jaw, down the underside of the neck, and on the belly. Along the back we get an intricate pattern of tan stripes that runs from the back of the head down to about the first 1/3rd of the tail.
A scrutinizing eye may notice that the striping along the back doesn’t align properly between segments but when looking at a 5’+ toy it may be difficult to notice small details like that, and it doesn’t bother me personally. And, some of the tan coloration is blended in with the blue base color, so random bits of color are distributed across the toy. This is the marbling effect that Mattel has been favoring this year and the level of marbling varies between figures. On some it isn’t noticeable but on others it may appear sloppy. Mattel has been swirling their colors, I think, as a cheap way to include more patterns but it rarely works in the toy’s favor.
The eyes are bright yellow with black pupils and contrast nicely with the deep blue color. The teeth are white, and the tongue and inside of the mouth are pink. Although made up of several different pieces the base coloration matches across the toy, one piece isn’t a different shade of blue than another. The nails are not painted. I would have liked to have seen the stripe pattern run further down the tail, and the tan underside as well, but all-in-all this is a great paint scheme for a toy this large.
Mattel continues to push the envelope and impress us with yet another colossal sauropod toy. Not only that, but they’ve also managed to improve upon their previous efforts with better articulation, and a vibrant color scheme, and let’s not forget about the size of this thing. Although the Brachiosaurus has nostalgic value, I dare say that this Dreadnoughtus is Mattel’s best sauropod to date, and one of their best dinosaurs in general.
The Mattel Dreadnoughtus is new for 2022 and is currently available at Target stores and online. It retails for $69.99 online. In stores it is a bit cheaper, selling for $64.99. Now Mattel only has to make a Mamenchisaurus and we’ll have all of the franchise’s sauropods. Not that I need another one of these!