Review and photographs by Bokisaurus, edited by Dinotoyblog (previously Plesiosauria)
Who says that being odd is not a ticket to fame? In a world so obsessed with physical appearance, it is the first thing that the audience will notice and judge, and usually, it will be the one thing that will linger long afterwards. To stand out from the crowd, one must set him/herself apart, and what better way to accomplish this by looking different from the others. In the dinosaur toy world, the same thing can be said. The more an animal looks different from its close relatives, the more likely that people will take notice and not mistake it for one that is more well know.
Sauropods are famous for their long necks, gigantic size, and long tails. In general, these traits are what differentiate species of sauropods. Like the ceratopsians, the sauropods share the same basic body plan with body size and neck length being the most obvious differences between species. Line them all up and it would be hard for most to tell which species is which if you’re not that familiar with the various species. In the prehistoric figure/toy world, this can sometimes present an obstacle for some species of sauropods to be made into a figure. After all, unless you have something very different to offer, why add another similar looking figure to an already crowded field? Off the top of my head, there are at least 17 species of sauropods that have toy figure representation. Of these, only a few have attained popularity outside of the collector circle. Of the species represented, Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, Mamenchisaurus, and Apatosaurus occupy the top four. Rounding up the top five is the subject of today’s review: Amargasaurus.
The latest version to hit the market is Safari Ltd’s 2018 interpretation of this animal. Since the demise of the Carnegie Collection line a few years back, Safari has been rebooting their collection. So it was not a surprise that they would choose Amargasaurus as one of their first sauropods. This is actually the second Amargasaurus figure from Safari Ltd, it replaced the first figure from the Carnegie collection.
Amargasaurus is an early Cretaceous sauropod that once inhabited what is now known as Argentina. Unlike the majority of sauropods where only partial skeletal remains are found, fossil that belonged to Amargasaurus are fairly complete including a partial skull, the most elusive part of sauropod fossils. To date, only a single fossil of Amargasaurus has been found. The Battat line of dinosaurs toy introduced the first figure of Amargasaurus way back in the mid 1990s. Since then, this peculiar sauropod’s popularity had a steady rise that soon would eclipse even some of the more familiar species.
Sauropods are famous for their gigantic size, with some species being the largest animals to ever walk the earth. Amargasaurus however is small by sauropod standards, measuring in at around 33 feet. This new figure however is big, much larger than its predecessor. Stretched out, it is almost 20” inches long and a little over 4.5” tall at the highest point. It is larger and more robust than the 2017 Diplodocus. It seems that Safari Ltd is trying to make their newer sauropods about the same size (not to scale) with each other, with the exception of the tiny Shunosaurus.
This is perhaps the most accurate, up-to-date toy figure of Amargasaurus currently on the market. The body follows the typical sauropod shape, with the long tail and long neck, pillar-like legs, and small head. However, Amargasaurus actually had a much shorter neck that other sauropods. This is a common trait found in dicraeosaurs, the family in which it belongs. This shorter neck is well represented in this figure. The body is very well proportioned with a well rounded tummy. The neck and the base of the tail are muscular as they should be.
The figure is in an active mid-stride pose with its left from leg on the front and right rear bent back and slightly off the ground. Visually, to me, the legs could use a little more muscle. It just looks a little too slender, and in some angle looks awkward, almost human-like. The neck is tilted slightly over to the right. The long tail is pretty much held straight out with a slight swing to the right before it curls up towards the tip. The feet are accurate and are painted pale yellow. The overall body coloration is striking. It’s great to see Safari Ltd venturing out and experimenting with more colors on their figures. The main body is colored bluish green that pretty much runs from the head all the way to the tail. This is broken up by a band of dark brown that starts just below the back and runs down towards the body, creating broken and uneven streaks. A dark reddish band tops off this darker shade, and runs from the base of the neck all the way to the base of the tail. A combination of white and yellow colors are used on the underside/belly area that also runs up towards the neck. The white neck underside color continues upwards with streaks that terminated halfway up.
So, what makes Amargasaurus such a unique species? While most sauropods are famous for their large size and long necks, Amargasaurus instead sported a double row of tall, upward-projecting neural spines on the neck and dorsal vertebrae. This feature is what sets Amargasaurus apart from other sauropods. It is true that some members of the Dicraeosauridae such as Dicraeosaurus also sported tall neural spines, but they are nowhere as tall or dramatic as that of Amargasaurus. The only other heavily armored sauropod that could possibly compete with it is the controversial Agustinia, also from South America.
Since its discovery, there have been multiple interpretations of how these neural spines would have looked like. Some suggest that these rows are some sort of a support for a sail, while others think these were not covered by a sail, but instead covered by bones. Then, there is also the suggestion that these spines were partially covered by skin and partially exposed (this partial covering is what CollectA opted in their ‘Deluxe’ interpretation). No one knows what purpose these spines served, although there are many theories. Some believed the spines provided some type of defense against predators, other suggestions include visual displays, some form of communication, or simply as a way for the animals to identify members of the same species.
In this figure, Safari Ltd opted to depict these neural spines on the neck as fully free of any skin encasing. There are eight pairs of spines of various sizes on the neck, with the shorter one starting at the top of the head and the last ones at the base of the neck, with the tallest ones in the middle. There are also two unpaired spines that start at the base of the skull. Those spines that runs along the back are covered and almost not visible, instead just a raised ridge along the back. The spines are made with flexible material that easily bends, and is also blunted on the tips for safety reasons. The color of these spines follows the same bands found on the body.
Now, we come to the head. This is where some parts of the figure just bothers me, and this has nothing to do with accuracy, more like visual preference. While the head accurately follows the long, narrow, almost horse-like shape, but some details just left me unsatisfied. Let’s start with the color choices on the head. The bluish green body color continues all the way to the head. This is broken up by a very pale greenish white bands that followed the contours of the skull. To me, this gave the head a very skeleton-like appearance. It would have been better if they used a different color instead. One day, I plan on doing a little bit of repainting just to fix this and make it more to my liking.
The second part that I’m not too fond of is how the upper lip is too far high, exposing too much teeth. Based on the skeleton, it is very accurate, but perhaps adding a little bit of a lip, like what they have done on the lower jaw, would have made a big difference to me visually. This shortened upper lip reinforces the skeletal look. But, who knows, it may have looked like that in real life, I guess we will never know, after all it’s an odd animal.
My own personal criticism aside, this is one solid figure. It is, without a doubt, the most accurate figure of Amargasaurus currently available. As its popularity continues to rise, Amargasaurus has firmly established itself as one of the most popular and recognizable species of sauropod. With this rise in popularity, more and more toy figure manufacturers have taken notice.
Just to prove, in case anyone has any doubt about its popularity, there was supposed to be a new large adult Amargasaurus figure to be released in 2017 by PNSO (there is already a baby version that was part of a set of six babies). Based on the photos, this could have been the most beautiful figure of them all. Unfortunately, its fate is now in eternal limbo, a victim of the turmoil that has engulfed PNSO’s line of prehistoric figures. And for 2018, Papo has also announced that it wis featuring an Amargasaurus in their lineup. This news brought excitement and great anticipation for fans of Amargasaurus ,especially after the heartbreaking disappointment with PNSO. Unfortunately, this turned out to be yet another big disappointment when photos of the figure were finally revealed. There was no sign of the high production value that we have come to expect from Papo, instead, we get a retrograde figure.
Despite these setbacks, it will only be a matter of time before another, hopefully better, figure of this unique and enchanting sauropod will emerge to join the herd. Until then, I highly recommend this new Safari Ltd version. It is guaranteed to be one of the star attraction in any collection. It is widely available, including from Amazon.com here.
Hope you enjoyed the review, until the next time, Cheers!