Review and photographs by Stolpergeist, edited by Suspsy
Schleich had a strong release year in 2019 and the upcoming 2021 releases look quite promising. The 2020 releases, however, received a lot of criticism among collectors and thus didn’t get much attention. Today, I am taking a closer look at one of those releases, the Cryolophosaurus, and will examine it to find out where this flak came from.
Cryolophosaurus ellioti is an Early Jurassic theropod from Antarctica, a land mass that is still famous for being inhabited by modern theropods: penguins. This dinosaur reached a length of 6.5 metres, making it one of the largest theropods of its time, just like the modern South Pole occupants. It likely hunted rat-sized synapsids, early sauropodomorphs such as Glacialisaurus, and anything in between that has yet to be uncovered in this extreme environment for palaeontologists to work in.
The most distinct feature is the crest. Its exact purpose is still debated, but it must have played some role in social communication, either for mating display, recognition of individuals within the species, or distinction from other species. The overall shape of the Schleich toy matches up with most modern reconstructions. The shape of the head is also done relatively well, although the teeth may stick out a bit strangely, especially those in the back. Other Schleich dinosaurs with movable jaws have had their dentition executed with more elegance.
Speaking of that, the biggest downside to this figure is how the jaw articulation is executed. There is a noticable gap in the back of the jaw muscles which sticks out. This would be fine on a monster or an alien figure, but on a dinosaur one, it is rather unfortunate, especially since Schleich has managed to do movable jaws well ever since they first added this feature. This can’t even be fixed unless the jaws are fixed in a certain pose as closing the gap would interfere with the mechanism.
The overall sculpt is detailed as to be expected from Schleich. The scales are done in various sizes across different sections of the body. Skin folds run across the body from neck to tail and over the shoulders. The scales on the feet are bird-like while round scales are visible on the hands, which seems rather realistic when taking into consideration how bird scales may have evolved. Along the back runs a row of midline feature scales from the top of the head to the tip of the tail. The pupils on the eyes are sculpted in, likely to ensure that they are painted at the right spot. The neck is short and stocky, shorter than on most reconstructions, and while only three neck vertebrae are known from Cryolophosaurus, the size of them would suggest a longer neck. The arms are held in a grabby, rodent-like position which is mostly emphasized by the shape of the fingers. The number of the fingers is correct as Cryolophosaurus is a tetanuran, closely related to Sinosaurus. Both were once believed to be close relatives of Dilophosaurus, but this former classification has been overwritten. The feet are rather flat on this figure, almost webbed, giving it a semi-aquatic feel in combination with the blue colour.
The base colour is a light desaturated blue, a more saturated tone on the back, and red midline feature scales on top. A black jagged line runs across each side from neck to tail. Where it starts at the neck, it goes over to a purple tone that may end at the temporal fenestra, or sometimes at the antorbital fenestra depending on how the figure was manufactured. In my case, it is up to the temporal fenestra on the right and to the antorbital fenestra on the left. There it continues to go over the snout in front of the crest, which itself is orange. The eyes are in the same red as the midline feature scales with black pupils, the teeth are white, and the tongue is pink. The claws have all been painted in a simple black. It seems like the overall colours were heavily inspired by a portrait drawing by Gabriel Lío and it wouldn’t be the first time Schleich used one of his colourations for their figures, as their original Therizinosaurus shows.
The Cryolophosaurus measures 24.7 cm long, 10.6 cm high, and 8.9 cm wide. The underside says as usual “Designed in Germany” to remind one that it was made by one of Schleich’s local artists. Sometimes, they hire talents elsewhere like those few instances where Vlad Konstantinov sculpted outstanding figures for them, but this happens rarely. I can’t tell if it was sculpted digitally or in wax this time, but the way the scales look, I would assume it was digital. One of the legs is stamped with “Made in China” where the model was cast from the mold and painted.
In conclusion, it is not the best Cryolophosaurus model out there. Papo has an excellent one in their roster and the one by Battat and the hard to find Safari Ltd. Carnegie Collection one are outstanding, and for a smaller scale PNSO made a fantastic one as well. This contestant by Schleich is, however, safer to play with for children due to its robust build. The jaw articulation does its job even though it is not executed in the most pleasing way, although I have to remark that it is quite difficult to get the lower jaw out when the mouth is closed due to the way the upper jaw overlaps. The sculpt looks a bit better in hand as with all of the Schleich Dinosaurs releases for 2020. The majority of them are still far from accurate, with the worst case being perhaps the Agustinia featuring back spikes that have been known to actually be ribs for a while, but the angles that the promotional photos were taken from did them an additional disservice, which ultimately led to the 2020 releases being largely ignored. If you want an accurate Cryolophosaurus, this is not the figure to go with; I’d personally gravitate towards the Battat one if it wasn’t so hard to find in my location. As a children’s toy, however, it seems adequate and is great for kids who found out that there is more beyond Triceratops and Allosaurus. As for collectors, I’d say it is suitable for Schleich completionists as it does have a certain charm to it.