Confession time. I like ugly sauropods. In fact, my favorite sauropod is widely regarded as one of the ugliest, Camarasaurus. And I’m one of the few collectors that likes the Schleich Barapasaurus, which I reviewed for the blog upon its release. Most folks like their sauropods elegant and graceful, and so do I, but I also like the big ugly bruisers, the kind that know how to throw their bulk around and smash a theropod or two. So, while a lot of collectors have turned their noses up at the Mattel Ampelosaurus, I embraced it wholeheartedly, and now you’ll have to read a glowing review for a toy that’ll be lucky to get even a 3-star rating from our community. Or maybe I’ll convince you that this toy is deserving of your admiration too.
The Mattel Ampelosaurus is new for 2022 and part of Mattel’s Massive Action line. These toys are larger in size than Roarivores sized toys and although they have action features, they do not make sounds. This toy measures about 14” long and stands about 6.5” tall to the top of the head. The actual Ampelosaurus is estimated to have been 40-60’ long which puts the toy at about 1/35-1/50 in scale. Hey, they can’t all be as big as the Mattel Dreadnoughtus.
The action feature here is operated through the tail, which when moved about also moves the head and neck about. A button on the tail opens and closes the mouth so you can use this gnarly sauropod to rampage around, biting theropods and tossing pitiful little humans around. The legs can all pivot outwards and rotate at the shoulders and hip. They cannot rotate completely around as the bulk of the torso gets in the way.
Ampelosaurus is a genus of titanosaur that lived in late Cretaceous France. It is noteworthy because of its distinctive osteoderms, which would have served as armor, and it is one the most complete dinosaurs to come from France. Despite its distinct appearance there aren’t many toys of it, but the CollectA figure represents one of the better figures from CollectA’s early days.
Aside from the osteoderms, the Mattel Ampelosaurus doesn’t bare much resemblance to modern reconstructions of Ampelosaurus, although it does look quite similar to a piece of public domain artwork that the CollectA one also happens to be based on. The tail and neck on this toy are too short to be accurate, and the head too boxy. And then of course there are the inaccurate feet, each bearing 4 clawed digits, but this sort of thing is nothing new from Mattel.
Never mind the inaccuracies, this is a wicked looking sauropod toy. Upon seeing it I was immediately reminded of the zombie Argentinosaurus from Primal, as well as other ugly sauropod depictions by artists such as William Stout and Richardo Delgado. To call this sauropod ugly is not an insult, it’s true, but for some of us that’s a term of endearment in this case.
A lot of the toy’s ugliness comes from the Camarasaurus-like boxy head and sunken fenestra. But the toy isn’t just ugly, it’s also an intimidating toy. This sauropod is not just some “big cow”, peacefully grazing on foliage. It is a bruiser out for blood, a rage infused nightmare to any creature that might make the mistake of trying to prey upon it. The thick neck, muscular limbs, and robust, armored frame all come together to give this toy a unique and memorable personality all its own. This is a case where Mattel’s unique artistic style works in their favor. Even the ridiculously short tail compliments the toy since the overall build of the toy is bulky and stout.
Starting with the head we see nicely executed, individually sculpted teeth, set within a lipped mouth. The tongue has a pitted texture and the roof of the mouth a ridged one. The orbital and antorbital fenestra are deeply sunken within the compact skull and a bulbous resonating chamber of sorts is sculpted on top of the head, but there are no apparent nostrils.
Most of the toy is detailed with wrinkles and skin folds, which are particularly well done around the jaw, torso, and limb joints. Small clusters of scales are present on the torso and upper thighs. Most notable among the detail work is the extensive coat of armor which does a lot to enhance the toy’s badass demeanor. They run from the top of the head, down the length of the toy, and in small clusters on the upper forelimbs and thighs. They range in size and shape from large, pointed osteoderms on the back to wide, flattened osteoderms on the thighs. Most of the pointer osteoderms have grooves sculpted into them.
The toy is mostly a dull orange color with dark brown over the face and running down the neck and back and running down the sides. The lower jaw and underside of the neck are white and nicely blend with the orange coloration. A slate blue pattern runs across the face and the eyes are yellow with black pupils. The teeth are white, and the inside of the mouth is pink. None of the claws are painted, as per usual. Mattel has once again used their marbled plastic trick and black markings are swirled into the orange base color.
As is often the case, the colors choices are decent enough, but the execution rather lazy. The dark brown patterning should really extend down the tail, and the white throat color should continue along the belly and tail.
The Mattel Ampelosaurus is a grotesque, sturdy, armor-clad, monster of a toy and I absolutely adore it, except for the lazy paintjob which is par the course for Mattel. I love that Mattel has made a sauropod that isn’t a gigantic shelf-space killer, and that it is infused with its own unique personality that definitely makes it stand out. Now, if Mattel would just re-release that Amargasaurus. The Mattel Ampelosaurus is currently available in stores and online and sells for $21.99.