Review and photos by Bokisaurus
Part 5 – the conclusion of the the five -part Kaiyodo Dinoland Natural History review series.
The name Brontosaurus is one of the classic and most famous dinosaur names in the world. For many, the name Brontosaur is synonymous with sauropods in general. It is a name that’s engrained deep in popular culture that it remained so popular even decades after it was officially invalidated.
Dinosaur paleontology fans will know the story of the rise and fall of the name Brontosaurus. A victim of the bone war between famed fossil hunters Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh. During this time, these two legendary fossil hunters rivals discovered many dinosaurs and were naming different species even if only based on scant materials and with not much of a formal study.
Discovered in 1879, Brontosaurus exelsus was named right after a very similar sauropod, Apatosaurus, was named just two years before in 1877. Later study in 1905 by Elmer Riggs agreed that the animal named Brontosaurus is actually the same as Apatosaurus.Since Apatosaurus was named first, it has priority, and it was the name that was officially given the species. Just like that, the name Brontosaurus was demoted to a synonym of Apatosaurus and was given the name A. excelsus.
But somehow, as if on the mission of revenged, the name Brontosaurus managed to strike the right tone in the collective minds that, like a ghost, the name continued to haunt popular culture for decades. Fans of Brontosaurus refused to let the name die.
But what is it about the name Brontosaurus (Thunder Lizard) that captured the publics hearts and minds? Perhaps it has the catchy tone or the dramatic meaning Thunder lizard that captured the essence of dinosaurs. Whatever it is, the name Brontosaurus has endured and had became fully engrained in popular culture that in the following decades, it had became one of the most iconic and popular dinosaur in the world.
The image of Brontosaurus has invaded merchandise, movies, books, and was even adopted by the gas company Sinclair as its official logo. Some of the earliest dinosaur related toy featured Brontosaurus as seen on the sets from Marx and MPC. One of the earliest animation also featured a Brontosaurus.
Even the the US postal service featured a Brontosaurus on one of their special edition stamp back in the 80’s and received some backlash from the scientific community.
No wonder it’s a household name, only surpassed by Tyrannosaurus and Stegosaurus, and Triceratops. And the name Apatosaurus took a backseat.
Today, we will look at a model from Kaiyodo that was part of the large Dinoland 1:35 scale vinyl hollow figure series. I am not sure if this is an Araki, Matsumura, or Tajima ( the three artist who sculpted for the series) sculpt unfortunately, maybe one of you readers will know and inform me so I can add it to this review.
In this review, I will refer to the model as both Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus since both name appears on the official label.
This figure is by far the largest of the ones I own from the series, measuring 23” inches long ( with the curvature of the neck and tail) and stands a good 8” inches tall at the highest point which is the hip area. This figure is one one the largest in my collection and rivals the PNSO early sauropods.
Of all the large Dinoland figures I have, this is perhaps the most “vintage” looking, very much at home in a Zallinger painting. I’m not exactly sure if there was a “classic” sculpt from the Dinoland series, but there are other figures that very much differ from the more contemporary ones that fits in with this models style.
The first thing that struck me when I saw the model in person was just how odd and disturbing it looks. There is no doubt that it is a Brontosaurus, but what is odd is just how the body, in particular the details and musculature are sculpted.
The neck is muscular and beefy as it should, but the over abundance of deep skin texturing make it looks really weird.
It did not help that there are plenty of extremely big muscles that are bulging, forming multiple rows up and down the length of the neck.
This type of muscle sculpting can be seen on the whole body, not exactly shrink-wrapped, just too extreme and out of scale. The result is unpleasant, it really looks like one of those model where the skin and fat is stripped, leaving only the muscles, that’s what it looks like to me!
At 23” long and 8” tall at the highest, this is no doubt one of the latest figure in my collection. he figure is in a walking pose with the back left leg caught in mid-stride.
The hips area is so tall but gradually sloes down towards the neck and front legs before it curves back up on the neck.
The position of the neck is the typical swan-like pose seen in many older sauropod figures, but it is appropriately bulky. You can see deep horizontal lines that forms alternating rings all along the length of the neck. IN addition, you see a really prominent deep line/indention on the middle of the neck that runs the entire length, devising the neck into two prominent sections. This line is not pretty, not sure if this was a separate piece and is badly attached, but the result looks like its been sewn!
Then we come to the foot, and particularly those giant nails! Of course, back then this was the standard of how sauropod foot were depicted.
The long mascular tail is low, but surprisingly not down all the way to the ground, and it has a slight curve at the tip.
The head is blunt and looks more like that of Camarasaurus( which it was modeled after) and not the more accurate equine-like shape of diplodocus.
The fleshy nostrils are huge and is located prominently in the old fashion way atop the skull just in front of the eyes.
The dark eyes are also large and encircled by fleshy skin wrinkles. Just after the eyes you see the very large ear openings. They are so big it looks like a large hole.
Surprisingly, the mouth appears to have lips! It is slightly open, just enough so you get a glimpse of the teeth inside. As you can see, there are plenty of ski wrinkles and texturing on the head.
Viewed in profile, the figure looks bulky and plump. But viewed from above, it looks shockingly emaciated with bones, particularly the spine, sticking out!
And like all the figure in the line, they came in multiple parts as a kit. On the built-up version, like this one, the assembly is the most sloppy of them all. The seams are so badly visible and not properly aligned, and in some parts the neck seams, there are gaps!
It really is odd, it almost seems like they din’t know what to do with this model, and was hastily put together. Poor thing.
So far, from my description of this model, you would think I was reviewing a bad cheap monster toy and not a dinosaur figure from a well known and often producer of very well made models.
Ironically, this is one of the more difficult figure from the series to find, and it often commands high price.
I got this model years ago and for a very low price that was hard to resist considering its rarity. That’s how I ended up with this model.
My final thought on this model is that it is a figure that is worthy if: you like retro-looking figures as it does harken to the old restoration of sauropods, if you are a someone who wanted to complete the series, or a sauropod fan and just wanted to have another figure that represents a phase of how these animals are depicted.
But if you are a collector who is more concern with accuracy, the latest versions, or looking for a beautiful large sauropod centerpiece, well this model is definitely not for To me, it’s a perfect time capsule that captures how these animals was once depicted in popular culture, plus sauropods are my second favorite group.
In closing, this model of Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus), its rarity and associated cost and difficulty in acquiring it makes this one perfect for the specialist collector.
It is a great representation of an era that is long gone, so it does have some nostalgic sentiment associated with it.
Today, we have a few really nice and modern versions of Apatosaurus available, and even have an official Brontosaurus figure from CollectA, but somehow, despite all of these new sleek models, and despite all of the flaws mentioned int he review, this figure still somehow manages to captivates and inspire awe when seen in person, and to me, that is the true testament of a great figure!
Well, that concludes our review, hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading, until next time, take care and cheers!
Hello, thanks for an interesting artikel!
I have an early modell of a brontosarus. Made around 1884 – 1889 by Magnus Jönsson, a worker Höganäsbolaget in the south of Sweden. It is made of burnt clay. It looks like mr Magnus Jönsson must have seen the sketch in Marsh article in AM Vol. XXVI 1883 and tried to copy it. It`s a naive but charming piece…
My question: how old is the earliest model of a brontosaurus?
With kind regards