Gorgosaurus (PNSO)

4.7 (40 votes)

July 1 is Canada Day, so today we shall be taking a gander at one of the most famous Canadian dinosaurs, Gorgosaurus. I do believe that Gorgosaurus was the second tyrannosaur I ever learned about after Tyrannosaurus rex, courtesy of an illustration in a Dover colouring book that I had when I was but a wee lad. It was thus rather disappointing to me when I later learned that Gorgosaurus had been declared a junior synonym of Albertosaurus, and subsequently very pleasing when it went back to being its own beast again.

This is Tristan, the Gorgosaurus from PNSO. He is sculpted in a walking pose with his left foot planted squarely and his right foot raised in mid-step with the tips of the toes just touching the ground. His long tail is swinging to the right and his head is lowered and also turned to the right. Tristan looks very fluid and natural this way, and with his hinged lower jaw that opens to about 30 degrees, you can easily interpret him as pursuing prey or scaring a pack of Dromaeosaurus away from a carcass. And when his mouth is shut, he can be in the act of slowly and silently stalking his prey, or just taking a morning constitutional. He stands slightly under 10 cm tall, measures about 26 cm long, and stands perfectly fine on his own thus far, although PNSO has thoughtfully provided their usual transparent support rod.

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The upper portion of Tristan’s body is painted a dull light brown with dark brown stripes, while his underside is more of a brownish-orange. His feet are a flat medium grey with very dark grey scales and claws. The same dark grey is also used for the claws on his arms. His head is olive green with dark brown at the end of his snout and orange for the ridges above and in front of his orbits. His beady yellow eyes are ringed by dark brown, his mouth is glossy bright pink, and his teeth are light grey. He’s fairly colourful by PNSO standards and very naturalistic.

With the Papo Gorgosaurus.

Scientifically speaking, Gorgosaurus is the best known tyrannosaur of them all, with dozens of fossil specimens to its name, many of them complete or nearly complete, and which include juveniles and adults of varying ages. Tristan, with his long, lanky legs, sloping skull, and relatively small brow ridges, appears to have been based on specimen ROM 1247, a cast of which is on public display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. ROM 1947 is thought to have been a subadult between the ages of 14 and 18 years old. Just why PNSO opted to model their Gorgosaurus on a subadult rather than a mature adult, I know not, but it’s worth noting that some of the most interesting specimens are youngsters. TMP91.36.500, for example, is arguably the most beautiful theropod fossil ever found, and shows evidence of healed facial bite injuries and fractures in the limbs. Another one, TMP 2009.12.14, was recently reported to have preserved remains of two juvenile caenagnathids known as Citipes in its stomach cavity.

Tiny, painstakingly carved scales cover the entirety of Tristan’s body, along with a great many wrinkles that make his hide appear lifelike and loose, and somewhat elephantine. At the same time, the muscles in his long tail, his great legs, and even his little arms make him lean and mean, strong and powerful. He’s rather like a grey wolf or a leopard, whereas Wilson the T. rex is more like a Bengal tiger or a grizzly bear.

With fellow PNSO tyrannosaurids Zhuchengtyrannus, Tarbosaurus, and Qianzhousaurus. The latter sadly will no longer stand up without the support rod.

Tristan’s skull is covered in very tiny scales, with larger ones on the tip of his snout. Like all the PNSO tyrannosaurids that have been released so far, he lacks lips, and while I would have much preferred otherwise, I don’t consider it a dealbreaker. The inside of his mouth is beautifully detailed, with a cavernous throat and visible nostril holes in the palate. The teeth are pleasingly pointy and will certainly hurt one’s finger when pressure is applied to the lower jaw.

Gorgosaurus is known to have coexisted with a very wide variety of ankylosaurs, ceratopsians, and hadrosaurs in the Dinosaur Park Formation and the Two Medicine Formation of Alberta and the Judith River Formation of Montana, which means that collectors have a similarly wide variety of potential prey animals to pair Tristan up with. Some options (but not all) are the Battat Euoplocephalus and Parasaurolophus, the CollectA Medusaceratops and Mercuriceratops, the Haolonggood Chasmosaurus and Edmontonia, the Safari Ltd. GryposaurusVagaceratops, and Zuul, and from PNSO itself, the Corythosaurus, Lambeosaurus, Centrosaurus, Spinops, and Styracosaurus.

About to dispatch the Battat Parasaurolophus.
Weighing the pros and cons of attacking the Haolonggood Edmontonia.
Tapped out by the PNSO Spinops.

Like all of PNSO’s current prehistoric products, Tristan comes with an information booklet and a poster. The booklet contains the usual basic information about Gorgosaurus, lots of images of the toy, a how-to-draw tutorial, a section all about PNSO, and a two-page spread of a feathered Gorgosaurus. I may have mentioned this already in the past, but I find it a bit perplexing how PNSO frequently makes featherless theropod toys accompanied by feathered renditions in these booklets.

The poster, which measures 42 cm x 30 cm, is something of a letdown as it simply consists of the toy superimposed against a desert background rather than a painting of the animal. Nevertheless, my youngest son was quite happy when I gave it to him, and even happier when I taped it up on his wall.

Overall, Tristan the Gorgosaurus is quite the superb tyrannosaurid toy, showcasing all the meticulous research and top notch sculpting talent we expect from PNSO. Definitely a worthy addition to one’s theropod shelf. The only solid shortcoming is the hefty price tag that is characteristic of PNSO products. I was lucky enough to get mine on sale at Amazon Canada for relatively cheap, but that deal is now long gone. Still, as long as you can afford this toy, you are highly unlikely to regret the purchase.

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