Dinogorgon (Conquering the Earth by Schleich)

4.2 (17 votes)

Review and photographs by Lanthanotus, edited by Dinotoyblog

Permian synapsids are not a very popular group of animals and if a toy company does choose to create one, it is almost invariably a Dimetrodon. Few companies dare to make figures, let alone toys, of any other species from this ancient and fascinating group, despite the great variety contained within it. When it comes to therapsids, the group that gave rise to modern mammals, the choice is even more limited. So, it was very surprising for me to find a Permian therapsid amongst the 2018 lineup of none other than Schleich, a company that has a great reputation for gorgeous models of recent mammals (and other recent fauna), but is also a sure candidate for falling short on  reconstructions of prehistoric animals (you don’t need examples, do you?).

So, how did they fare with this quite unusual figure? Schleich’s Dinogorgon measures 13 cm from the tip of the tail to the front of the nose and stands 6 cm tall (4.7 cm to the shoulder). The figure is sculpted in a very active and erect pose, mouth wide agape as if fending off another one of its kind – the stance may remind some of a watch dog ready to attack. Somewhat typical for older and quite recent reconstructions of this group of animals, the figure is depicted in a medium brown that’s slightly brighter on the belly and darker on the back. Some grey-brown stripes across the neck and back allow for a little more interesting and natural appearance.

No hairs are reconstructed, leaving the skin completely bare. Delicate wrinkles and folds give it the appearance of a leathery and remarkably thin hide. Muscles, especially along the ribs, can easily be recognized as well, and there are prominent veins in parts of the neck, tail base, arms and legs. While some may find this feature quite good looking, others may be reminded of the veins in an overly trained bodybuilder, or the condition of varicose veins. Shoulder, breast and neck are very broad and thick, while the hips are narrow and the tail being short and low.

The front feet are planted firmly on the ground and I especially like how plain and spread the digits are on the ground, giving the figure a quite heavy appearance. However, the left arm appears considerably thinner and less muscular than the right one. The right hind foot is shown soon being lifted from the ground, while the left hind foot is not yet firmly placed, which looks rather weird. I sure would have liked that foot being sculpted firmly placed in that plantigrade walking position.

The head appears shrinkwrapped, especially in the temporal fenestrae where bulging jaw muscles should be situated. The very prominent canine teeth are flattened from side to side, the incisors are collectively sculpted as a ribbed row and appear too long. In the lower jaw there’s a row of molars on each side, a feature that is not known from the fragmentary remains of Dinogorgon, but is certainly absent in the better-known and closely related Inostrancevia. A fleshy tongue is sculpted into the mouth, the roof of the mouth is ribbed. What’s more to say about the sculpt…. oh, yes, as often in Schleich figures, there’s no sculpt for the rear ‘business hole’. On the upside, the sculptor added ear openings behind the skull, a feature easily overlooked.

The figure is made of a very rigid plastic, even bending the teeth, digits or tip of the tail requires considerable force. However, I’d call it a perfectly safe toy for a kid, if you don’t forcefully place the tail end in someone’s eye. Dinogorgon was a Late Permian species from what is now South Africa and Tanzania. This is also all the information on the species that is given to you on the attached tag the figure comes with. To be fair, not a great deal more is known. Dinogorgon may be synonymous with two other gorgonopsid species, Rubidgea and Clelandia, and grew up to 2 metres long. It probably preyed upon smaller therapsids and reptiles.

Not many figures of this obscure group are available on the market. One that comes to mind is the Safari Ltd Inostrancevia. If you see both
figures next to each other one could be excused to see them as two sculpts of the same species. In fact, there’s not much to distinguish between them when it comes down to the reconstruction of their morphology, and even in the real animal one would have observed a lot of shared characteristics.

Would I recommend this figure? Yes, without any doubt. Despite some minor flaws I find it an attractive and fairly detailed sculpt. The comparably smooth skin gives it a charming touch and it is nice to see a major company approaching such an obscure species. While I despise a great many of Schleich’s prehistoric figures, one has to give credit where credit is due – here it definitely is in my opinion.

Where do you find this figure? Well, just right now you may have to resort to Ebay here. I got mine from a physical store but I know not all of them have the 2018 lineup in stock yet. Soon however, probably every Schleich selling shop will offer it for around 8€.

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Comments 11

  • The Dinogorgon bears too close a resemblance to the 1995 JP Wave 2 Lycaenops to be coincidental, down the the paint and pattern.
    SCHLIECH is one of the premier manufacturers of scale animal figures, especially mammals so it stands to reason why they don’t simply produce Cenozoic Mammals as opposed to their more stylized versions of dinosaurs.
    A series of horse, elephant, and whale evolutionary stages series would be most welcomed.


  • This may be the first Schleich prehistoric figure I will actively seek out in ten years.

    But fun fact–on their own website, they refer to it as a South American animal! Is it really so hard to get something right!?

  • Synapsids don’t have antorbital fenestrae!

  • A very good figure by Schleich at last. Still can’t stand they’re buying reviews on amazon, but with more figures like these this won’t be necessary anymore. As you see in the average rating of 4 stars, good reviews result from good figures.

  • Thanks for the very informative and well illustrated review, despite the actual product not being rendered quite as ‘high def’ as the promo image (nothing new there) I think that Schleich have done a decent job with this one. I have long admired the Inostrancevia figure and it looks like these two display well together, just wish that the teeth had not been quite so rounded off (safety issues I’m guessing) as the Inostrancevia has some of the sharpest by comparison.

    • Yes, the Inos’ teeth are sharper, better to say more pointed, but also quite flexible. The Dino’s teeth are in comparison very hard to bend and easier to access cause of the wider gape. I’m not sure about the standards for such things in toy production, but sure safety was a concern there.

  • I put a note of excellence in my assessments from the start. For me it is a great figure although it does not surpass inostrancevia in its quality. If it continues like this (and it is my greatest wish) Schleich can become (if you will) a threat to the most serious dinosaur and prehistoric animal toy companies and I am not exaggerating.And what was said in this exceptional article. The defects that I see is that it lacks the cloacal opening and fluff of a mammalian reptile. In all ways is a great figure within the scope of the figures of Schleich only surpassed by his genius psittacosaurus (for me the best figure made to date of that animal in any toy company) and I say with all the love of the world to the rest of toy companies and emphasizing my total ignorance regarding paleontology and biology since I am a man of letters not of sciences and also a simple collector of dinosaurs and other prehistoric toy creatures. I do not happen to be a simple fan.

  • I am surprised to see that 2018 models are being reviewed early this year. Schleich really surpassed our expectations. It really has the potential to continue these gorgeous and obscure species of prehistoric life. What I like with Schleich is that their models look exactly like in their catalogue images and is high quality.

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