Takara Tomy is a prolific toy manufacturer which has produced a number of dinosaur-related toys in the past. Most of these toys have been released under the ANIA (sometimes “Animal Adventure”) line, but some have received more unique lines of their own. One such line, short-lived as it appears to have been, was the Dinosaur Colosseum, which first released in 2015 as a set of three blind-boxed figurines (almost blind – each box has a unique numbering for identification). A second release in 2018 brought in a fourth figurine, and a final release in 2019 introduced yet another new design. These “Colosseum” toys average almost twice the size of the more common ANIA-line dinosaurs, although their assembly/articulation is similar. Having stumbled across these toys by accident when browsing online marketplaces, I took it upon myself to acquire a few for contribution to the Toy Blog. There’s always something new to find and review!
The first figure of the 2019 set, and the figurine which brought my attention to the set in the first place, is the new Giganotosaurus figure, which appears to replace the Brachiosaurus from prior sets. Famous for its claim to the “biggest predatory dinosaur ever” title ever since its description in 1995, the “giant southern lizard” seems like an apt choice for this dramatically-titled set. The toy measures 20 cm (8 in), placing it in the scale of 1:60 for a 12-meter living specimen; and stands in a neutral horizontal pose. Despite the simple posture, the toy has a tendency to tip over on its nose frequently, unless it is balanced with the body tilted upwards by a fair angle. The tail comes detached in the box, but fits into place easily and can be removed again for storage convenience. There are three points of articulation, in the jaw and the hips. The legs allow for simple teeter-totter movement of the body (barring any imbalance), and the jaw can range from nearly closed flush to a massive 90-degree gape. Personally, I would have traded the width of the gape for a hinge that was a little less flimsy and could shut more cleanly.
Giganotosaurus has a more refined sculpt than its compatriots from the set, although the naturalism doesn’t equal absolute accuracy. The body sculpt is mostly smooth, which is reasonable for a figure at this scale; some wrinkling is present around the neck, tail, and a few other regions for texture. Body proportions look very accurate, generally speaking: the torso is deep and compact, the legs are adequately long and muscular, and the feet are surprisingly reasonable in size (although the toes are a little odd in proportion to each other). Less attention to detail has been given towards the arms, which are too long, appear poorly muscled, and feature pronated hands with uniformly blunt fingers. The skull is also incorrect, reflecting the out-of-date elongated proportions first established in reconstructions from 1997/1998. These dimensions have been largely disputed and refuted in the last several years, so Tomy didn’t quite do all the diligence they could have.
Coloration is simple, yet effective on the figurine; the body is mostly a muddy brown, with a faint darker wash on the flanks that emphasizes the physique, and a transition to light yellow on the underbelly. The eyes, mouth, fingers, and toes are all neatly painted with no slop. It’s a fairly plain color scheme, but the application is good enough to avoid being bland, and feels perfectly natural for a large predator (though who’s to say what was “natural” for giant theropods? We’ll never really know unless we find a pigmented skin fossil). Overall, for a Giganotosaurus this is a decent, if dated, representation in a more unusual size range.
Number 2 in the set is Tyrannosaurus, one of the holdovers from the first release in 2015; and it’s immediately clear how differently the aesthetics of this set started out. Measuring about 19 cm (7.5 in), the T. rex hovers around the same 1:60 scale as the Giganotosaurus; however, the anatomical proportions are far less consistent this time. The neck and torso are too short compared to the legs, and the skull appears stretched and misshapen. The arms are far too long (ironic how often media underestimates just how small T. rex’s arms really were), and the tail is narrow and spindly.
Musculature overall is quite uneven on the sculpt, with the legs and feet showing stout, toned form, while the torso has ribs and shoulder blades protruding from beneath the skin. The arms, despite their relative length, are devoid of any clear musculature, despite ample evidence that T. rex quite the well-built arms in spite of their size. Despite the seemingly imbalanced anatomy, T. rex actually stands more stable than the Giga. The tail and legs assemble in the same fashion, with an additional articulation joint in the jaw; due to the warped appearance, however, it is impossible for the mouth to close. Coloration is a pattern of dark red and bluish-black, with a cream underbelly; the effect is reminiscent of the old Kenner red T-rex, which I think indicates the core problem with this toy. Tomy’s Colosseum T. rex is trying to be a Jurassic Park toy, but isn’t doing it well; Tomy would probably have been much better off curating their own (ahem) brand of T. rex design.
Although I can’t prove Takara Tomy was ripping of Jurassic Park (common of a habit though it is among dinosaur toys), number 3 of the Colosseum set makes this hunch much harder to dispute. First released in 2018, the third figure of the set is the Raptor. You read that right – not Velociraptor, not Utahraptor, not even Atrociraptor or Deinonychus – the figure is just labeled “Raptor”, with no distinguishing of an actual scientific genus. Of course, even from a casual glance it’s obvious that this toy is mimicking the popular culture image of dromaeosaurs cemented by the villains of Jurassic Park and all the merchandise that followed. There are a total of five assembly points for this toy – the tail, the legs, and the arms – with all four limbs capable of basic posing, and another crudely functional joint in the jaw. The Raptor is easily the most stable of the theropods in this set, standing balanced whether the figure is tilted up high or down low. At about 18 cm (7 in) long, the figurine is probably around 1:10-1:16 scale.
Anatomy on Tomy’s “Raptor” is about what one might expect from a wannabe JP design: it’s recognizably a dromaeosaur, but a poor likeness under close inspection. The head is broad and lizardlike in shape, the arms are extremely long and scraggly, the feet are over-sized, and of course there are no feathers to be seen. This is a Velociraptor in only the crudest sense – or maybe Utahraptor, given the figurine’s resemblance in posture and color to the giant Kenner Dino Tracker figure (yep, another Kenner JP toy). The application of the military-grade greens and browns is done neatly enough that I won’t criticize, but I can’t help wishing I could look at the toy and see something other than an imitation of a very dated likeness. Out of the four figurines included in this set (five if you count the Brachiosaurus from prior releases), I’m inclined to call the Raptor the worst of the bunch.
The fourth figurine in the 2019 set is Triceratops, the sole herbivore representative (why couldn’t they have kept Brachiosaurus and ditched the Raptor instead? Alas…). At 13 cm (5 in) long without the horns (for a scale of about 1:62 for an 8-meter specimen), it’s also the smallest figurine of the set; although the bulky frame compensates for that somewhat. The figurine has four assembly/articulation joints, one for each limb; and is sculpted in a neutral standing position. Like the T. rex and the Raptor, the Triceratops looks like it’s drawing inspiration primarily from Jurassic Park, with a distinctively sloped back and low-slung head, wrinkly facial/body texture, and cracked keratin surfaces to the horns.
Anatomically, the Triceratops is fairly decent, although the beak is rather snubbed and the shoulder/forearm region looks mis-proportioned. The horns are shaped nicely, and the frill is scaly in texture in coincidental coherence to more recent studies (as opposed to a smoother keratin sheath). Coloration is actually rather vibrant, if simplistic: the dino is decked out in bright green, with a few dark red highlights. For sheer saturation, this is the most colorful figurine of the set; and in terms of design it’s at least less outright ugly than the T. rex or Velociraptor.
Although the Dinosaur Colosseum had some potential as a series, in my opinion, the actual products delivered are rather mediocre. The Giganotosaurus is decent, but the rest of the set feels mired in run-down stereotypes of their respective genera’s depictions. Who knows, though? Tomy continues to pump out products as a Japanese manufacturing giant, so maybe someday soon we’ll see another, better go at this sort of line. In the meantime, should these still tickle one’s collecting fancy, they pop up now and then on Japanese marketplaces like Mercari and Yahoo Japan.