It’s time for our annual review of a large Mattel ceratopsian. Every year since 2018 Mattel has released one of these and they always end up being among my favorite toys from Mattel. This year it’s a Diabloceratops, part of Mattel’s Dino Trackers line. What are Dino Trackers? Beats me! It doesn’t tie into anything. Some of the dinosaurs in this wave come with tracking gear that they wear but the Diabloceratops is not one of them. Are the dinosaurs doing the tracking or are they being tracked? I don’t know. Packaging for the tracking gear indicates that each dinosaur in the wave comes from a specific biome. In this case, the cactus on the top right corner of the box indicates that Diabloceratops is a desert animal. It seems like Mattel is playing around with the concept of tracking feral dinosaurs but they’re not very coherent about it. I daresay that Mattel struggles to come up with and execute concepts of their own without something preexisting to tie the toys to. This makes you wonder just how much longer Mattel will continue their Jurassic World main line without any upcoming films but with the Hammond Collection in its infancy, and the newly launched ’93 Classic Collection set to debut, Mattel doesn’t show any signs of slowing.
Never mind the Dino Tracker premise, we don’t need an excuse or tie in to warrant the production of dinosaur toys. With the packaging long since recycled and no actual tracking gear with the figure this ends up just being another Mattel dinosaur toy among many on my shelf. So far, I’ve given high praise to all the Mattel ceratopsians I’ve reviewed. Let’s see if it holds true here.
Diabloceratops is only known from a single specimen consisting of a partial skull and part of the lower jaw. But since ceratopsian body plans are pretty conservative we can estimate that Diabloceratops measured about 15’ (4.5 meters). The Mattel figure measures 11.5” and stands about 5.25” at its tallest point. This puts the figure at 1/15 in scale, continuing Mattel’s trend of upscaling many of their ceratopsians. No comments about the undersized Triceratops, Mattel’s taking care of that, finally.
This toy is in the mid-size range and part of the Wild Roar set, basically Roarivores. Mattel advertises the action feature as “modes of aggression”. I don’t know about any of that, the toy has a switch on the back that makes grumbling sounds and swings the head left and right. The switch is similar to the sliding buttons Mattel favored a couple years ago but its neutral position is in the middle and you have to push it left and right to work it. The toy is articulated in places too. The forelimbs can swing in and out and rotate completely around. The hindlimbs pivot outwards and can also rotate completely around. The tail can uselessly twist around.
Briefly touching on accuracy, because that’s what we do here, this toy possesses many of the anatomical inaccuracies Mattel is known for. Surprising no one, the feet are all messed up and look nothing like actual ceratopsian feet. The tail is also absurdly long. Ceratopsians had proportionally short tails. Mattel could have trimmed this tail down to half its size and in the process saved on materials while making a more accurate toy. Frustratingly, Mattel consistently gives their ceratopsians tails that are too long while giving theropods tails that are too short.
With long “devil horns” atop the frill that give the dinosaur its name the toy is clearly a Diabloceratops. But also present is a small nose horn, which Diabloceratops did not have. The fact that Mattel added this unnecessary horn but couldn’t be bothered to paint it is somewhat amusing.
What the toy lacks in accuracy it makes up for in fine detail and an impressive sculpt. The figure is large, bulky, and intimidating with thick shoulders and powerfully muscled hindlimbs. Fine detail is most easily appreciated on the head and frill with a covering of small, irregularly shaped scales of varying sizes. Even the back of the frill is detailed with scales, and the horns are detailed with fine striations.
The rest of the body has fine scale detail too, particularly the legs. The underside is mostly smoothed over but scale detail is apparent here too. In addition, you also get some underlying musculature, creases and skin folds, and a somewhat saggy skinned look that conveys the animal’s weight effectively. Lately, collectors have seemed to be turning on Mattel, even going so far as to compare them to Hasbro. I’m not among them. Although paint apps are hit and miss the detail work on Mattel toys continues to impress.
Speaking of paint apps, what we have here is both simple but effective. The toy is mostly red, an appropriate choice for the “devil horned face”. The lower jaw, forelimbs, and underside of the torso is a creamy light brown color. Dark brown vermiculation run across the eyes and in vertical splashes on the frill. The tail is just barely tipped in dark brown and although it’s a small detail it’s a nice departure from solid colored tails.
The only horns painted on the toy are the brow horns and two tall horns on the frill. The jugal and epoccipitals are unpainted. A real shame since Mattel did paint these on the Pentaceratops and it looks fantastic as a result. The beak on the lower jaw and the nails are also unpainted. The eyes are yellow with black, round pupils.
Overall, if you’ve enjoyed Mattel’s ceratopsians up to this point, you’ll probably like this one too. For me, as usual, it is among the standouts of Mattel’s offerings with this wave. Thanks to its coloration and unique head ornamentation it also looks quite striking in a lineup with Mattel’s other big ceratopsians, helping to round out a stellar collection of ceratopsian action figures. The Mattel Diabloceratops is currently available in stores and online and retails for about $17.99.