Sauropods are typically famous for their immense size and shape; genera like Mamenchisaurus, Brachiosaurus, and Patagotitan were among the very longest, most massive animals ever to walk the Earth. Every rule has its exception, though. One group of sauropods, the dicraeosaurids, have garnered attention from scientists for being almost the exact opposite of their more famous relatives. Dicraeosaurids were relatively modest in dimensions by “long-neck” standards, with generally less gigantic proportions and shorter necks in ratio to their bodies. Some members like Amargasaurus and Bajadasaurus seemed to compensate for size with elaborate spines and crests decorating their necks, perhaps for display or defense. The namesake genus of the family, Dicraeosaurus (bifurcated lizard), lacked such dramatic traits, but is noteworthy for being one of the earliest-discovered African dinosaurs, and one of the most complete.
There are two species of Dicraeosaurus currently described – D. hansemanni and D. sattleri – both of which hail from the Jurassic-age Tendaguru Formation in Tanzania. The vast majority of hansemanni’s skeleton was discovered intact and even articulated (that is, preserved close to the natural arrangement in life), and a substantial amount of sattleri’s fossils have been found as well. Despite it’s interesting appearance and fossil completeness, the last (and first?) time Dicraeosaurus got a toy produced to its name was in 1984, courtesy of the brand Starlux. In summer of 2021, this was finally remedied by Haolonggood, one of several recent small companies to enter the dinosaur collectibles market. Following their collaboration on an exquisite Carcharodontosaurus figurine a couple of months prior, Haolonggood teamed up with GR Toys again to deliver collectors their best opportunity to acquire a Dicraeosaurus in the last 30 years.
I described dicraeosaurids as “relatively modest” in size – for sauropods – but the “double-forked reptile” was still quite a large animal by any other standards, estimated to reach 14-15 meters (46-49 ft) in length. Haolonggood’s and GR Toys’ model is 35.5 cm (14 in) long measured straight, or 40 cm (15.75 in) measured along the spine and curvature of the tail. This places the model perfectly into 1:35 scale for a 14-meter specimen. The model is posed in a typical neutral walking stance; but details like the shifting of weight across the feet, a gentle turn of the head looking to the side, and the supple coils of the twirling tail give the model the sense of a real living thing captured in motion. The brand name and copyright information are engraved on the hip region and the inside of the hind leg, but the animal’s name is not included. Those who bought a boxed version of the model, of course, will have the name available to display (mine was purchased unboxed).
Of the two Dicraeosaurus species known, D. hansemanni has the better remains; Haolonggood’s model appears to represent this species, based on the oblong body shape. Overall, the model’s dimensions appear diligently accurate to current skeletals of the animal – although there are some small discrepancies to note. The front and hind legs are closely proportioned, with the top of the shoulder blade and hip at even heights to one another. The shape of the hip, however, appears flattened rather than rounded in shape, based on the model’s musculature. The head is a respectable effort, given the fossil skull’s fragmentary nature; a more squared-off chin might have been better, though. The neck and the back, curiously, do little to highlight the tall neural spines the genus is known for; arguably, this extra height might be mostly obscured by muscle and other tissue, but I feel like Haolonggood’s rendition is still underestimating the dorsal ridge a little bit.
Dinosaur figurine companies have continuously been raising the bar in fine sculpt details, and Haolonggood almost certainly sits among the best so far. Dicraeosaurus is a fit and healthy specimen, not overly plump but devoid of unpleasant shrinkwrapping. Tendons and muscles along the neck, back, and limbs bulge just enough to give definition to the sculpt, indicating an animal of sturdy build and natural strength. An array of oblong adjacent scales cover the skin in an almost flowing manner, snugly fitting into every fold and stretch of the body. Some parts of the body are less defined than others; the the back and tail feature the best-looking scales, while the lower legs and feet, in addition to the throat and face, are smoother in detail. The face features a curious “lip” at the front of the mouth, which I’m at a bit of a loss to describe. Colored in soft pink, it’s hard to tell if this is a tongue, the teeth, or maybe even a speculative beak sheath. Another nitpick I’ll note is the application of toes; five paint marks on each foot indicate toenails when most sauropods should only have a thumb in front. The hind toes are also fairly uniform, when the first toe ought to be more prominent. These are minor details, though, and shouldn’t be too bothersome.
Haolonggood released two variants of Dicraeosaurus – one in “coffee” red/brown, and one in green. Although the “coffee” variant seems to have proved the more popular version, the green variant (which I own) is a fine-looking product as well. The figurine is predominantly olive-green over most of the body, with dark striping down the back and legs. Gradients of dirty orange and cream hues transition from the green to cover most of the underbelly in organic “skin” tones, as well as highlighting the face and the spine. Cream dry-brushing is also applied to the ribcage area, with the intent to add more tone to the sculpt. The results are mixed, though; the model looks more like the paint has been weathered as a result. Other details include dark blue on the throat, blackish feet, and white freckled spotting running from the neck down to half of the tail. The overall color scheme is complex and very natural-looking in execution, complementing the sculpt nicely.
Dicraeosaurus is unlikely to become a dino superstar anytime soon, but it’s well-deserving of a good figure nonetheless, and Haolonggood delivered most satisfactorily. Although their collaboration with GR Toys has ended, Haolonggood has continued the line and has recently delivered even more surprises for collectors, so their future is looking very promising. Whether you’re a fan of obscure genera or just looking for the best-quality dinosaurs on the market, Dicraeosaurus comes recommended. You can purchase one or both color variants of the model through Haolonggood’s direct Amazon store page, as well as through Lana Time Shop or various AliExpress stores, to name a few options for price comparing.