With the 2017 Tyrannosaurus and 2018 Triceratops, Safari Ltd has made a good start on reconstructing a 1:35 version of the Hell Creek formation of the Maastrichtian (latest Cretaceous) of Laramidia. To help round out the Hell Creek fauna, they’ve just released a new, updated Ankylosaurus, another giant contemporary of Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. Let’s take a look!
Like the other Hell Creek animals, this Ankylosaurus was sculpted by Doug Watson, and reflects his usual attention to detail and effort to ensure anatomical accuracy. It’s roughly 21 cm long measured along the midline, making it about 1:35 scale for a 7 meter individual. Mr. Watson has stated on the Dinosaur Toy Forum that he consulted with paleontologist Kenneth Carpenter while working on this figure, which results in what is probably the most accurate mass-market Ankylosaurus toy produced to date. It improves on the Favorite version, for example, by moving the nostrils to the sides instead of on the front of the snout. It is also appropriately broad over the hips, unlike the many narrow-hipped versions available.
Much of the armor of Ankylosaurus has been found; however, it has mostly been found disarticulated, so its arrangement on the body isn’t known with certainty. Various arrangements have been proposed over the years, and just as this figure was revealed, a new hypothesis was published that suggested an arrangement that differs from the toy in several respects. It will be difficult to reject any particular arrangement unless a specimen is found with all of the armor preserved as it was in life, so for now I view both as defensible. The shape of the individual osteoderms on this figure, at any rate, is faithfully reproduced, broad and mostly flat, with some bearing keels. This differs from some older figures like the Papo and the first Favorite Co version, which show Ankylosaurus with large spikes like those of Euoplocephalus or Scolosaurus.
The head carefully reproduces the arrangement of cranial osteoderms, as well as the large horns on the squamosal and jugal bones at the back of the head. Coupled with the lateral nostrils, this is clearly recognizable as Ankylosaurus and no other known thyreophoran.
The sculpt shows the animal in an active stance, perhaps defending against a tyrannosaur. The stiff tail club is held in mid-swing, making it look quite lifelike. The hind feet have three toes, and the front feet have five, the likeliest number, although the digits of Ankylosaurus aren’t completely known. The level of detail extends all the way to the inclusion of the cloaca.
Unfortunately, the final product suffers a bit from what looks like a hasty paint application. The color scheme is fine, black above and tan below, with osteoderms the color of milk chocolate. However, some of the osteoderm paint missed, leaving random brown splotches on the side and misaligned edges. There seems to be a thin paint wash that helps bring out the details of the scales on the side and belly, but I think the osteoderms would have benefited from this treatment as well. Personally, I would pay twice as much for this very affordable figure if it came with a larger number of more careful paint applications; however, I understand and appreciate the trade-off that Safari has to make to keep their products accessible to all. For the hobbyist with a steady hand, this is a great candidate for a repaint.
Overall, I strongly recommend this figure as an accurate and attractive rendition of Ankylosaurus, the minor painting errors notwithstanding. You can get it from any number of online and brick-and-mortar stores, even though its official release year of 2018 has not yet begun. With luck, in future years Safari will bring us some of the more neglected denizens of Hell Creek, such as Edmontosaurus or Thescelosaurus.