CollectA AR (which I presume stands for “augmented reality”) is the company’s venture into the seemingly infinite world of apps for your mobile phone or tablet. It consists of twelve blindpacked miniatures: the Baryonyx, Diplodocus, Mosasaurus, Parasaurolophus, Pteranodon, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and Tyrannosaurus rex from Prehistoric Tube A and the Ankylosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Spinosaurus, and Velociraptor from Tube B. Each package also contains an information card that can be scanned into your device in order to create an animated version of your toy that you can control! CollectA was generous enough to send me a sample, so let’s check it out, shall we?
The front of the packaging depicts a prehistoric scene with the Pteranodon, Diplodocus, and Stegosaurus, and also the 2015 Deluxe Feathered Tyrannosaurus rex emerging from an iPhone. The figure inside is wrapped in a cardboard sleeve, which is great for preventing damage, but it also means you can’t feel the packaging to determine its identity like you can with Playmobil or LEGO minifigures. Mine turned out to be Brachiosaurus. Cool.
This Brachiosaurus is identical to the one from Tube A, so there’s really no need to talk about it. I have to say, I think it would have been cool if CollectA had recoloured these toys for the AR line, as it could have increased their appeal among children and adult collectors who already happen to own one or both tubes. Still, I can always make room for an extra miniature among the sauropods on my shelf.
One side of the information card depicts the larger Standard class Brachiosaurus toy in a prehistoric setting. By collecting all twelve cards (good luck with that!), you can create a large composite scene.
The other side of the card lists the estimated length, mass, and speed of Brachiosaurus along with a few choice tidbits, a timeline showing when it lived, and a world map showing locations where brachiosaurids have been discovered. It should be noted that, while Giraffatitan was from Africa and Europasaurus and Lusotitan were from Europe, Brachiosaurus itself has only ever been found in North America. 25 tons is definitely at the lower end for estimated mass, but given that paleontologists only have fragments of bone to work with, it’s impossible to say for certain.
And now let’s examine the CollectA AR app itself. Once you’ve downloaded it on to your device (and also the QR code app if you don’t have it already), you simply scan the code on the information side of the card, then open the AR app and focus on the image side of the card. Lo and behold, an animated version of Brachiosaurus appears on your screen! Controlling it with your fingertips takes some getting used to, but you can rotate it, enlarge or reduce it, and make it move about anywhere within your screen. The app also allows you to take screenshots, as you can plainly see.
Sound effects consist of loud foot stomping and a variety of trumpets and grunts. The Brachiosaurus even displays a little autonomy, glancing around in different directions and occasionally (and impossibly) rearing up on its hind legs. The ongoing influence of Jurassic Park strikes once again!
The AR app also provides some additional information about the Brachiosaurus, courtesy of a cartoon illustration of Anthony Beeson. The man sure does love his work!
Overall, I think CollectA is a reasonably fun app. Mind you, I am most assuredly not part of the target audience, what with having been born in 1978. I do reckon that the five year old me would have really enjoyed making an animated dinosaur stomp around on screen. So if you’re a parent in search of something to keep your dinosaur-loving little one(s) entertained, I would recommend checking these toys out. According to their website, CollectA is working on a second series of dinosaurs, so it’ll be interesting to see which ones they select. Some of the marine ones would certainly be nifty. And as I noted earlier, it may be worth recolouring the AR versions to make them stand out more and increase their desirability. We’ll just have to wait and see!