Guanlong (Wenno)

2.8 (4 votes)

The unusual Chinese tyrannosauroid, Guanlong, was described in 2006, so it is understandably represented by only a few toys. Safari Ltd gave it a half-hearted shot, as did Geoworld and Kaiyodo, but the definitive Guanlong is still lacking. Unfortunately, this Wenno Guanlong is not going to fill that void.

Let’s start with the positives. It is obvious what this figure is meant to be. With its dashing back-swept head crest, Guanlong is one of the most recognisable theropods, and Wenno have captured this distinctive characteristic in this toy. They’ve even highlighted it in bright red. The Wenno Guanlong is sculpted with its mouth closed, which is a pleasant break from the norm in the world of meat-eating dinosaur toys. While most theropod toys look angry, this one appears peaceful, perhaps satiated after a satisfying meal.

Wenno Guanlong

Some other basics are correct. It is sculpted with filamentous feathers from head to foot. No soft tissues are preserved in Guanlong fossils, but feathers are known in closely related and similarly sized tyrannosauroids, so it is a good bet Guanlong had them too. The tip of the tail even fans out slightly.

The orientation of the arms is also accurate. They are supinated so that the palms face each other. Give yourself a clap, Wenno Guanlong… because you can! This is somewhat surprising given that other Wenno figures, such as the Lambeosaurus reviewed here, are afflicted with a severe case of ‘bunny hands’. There are three fingers, the correct number, but they are far too short and stubby, and also poorly defined.

On to the feet. Dinosaur toy manufacturers have basically three options when it comes to balancing two-legged dinosaur toys. In no particular order… option one, is the so-called tripod pose. This solution is to balance the toy with another part of the anatomy, usually the tail but sometimes a hand (or feathered arm). The Carnegie Collection perfected this approach in its later figures without compromising on accuracy by keeping the tail more-or-less horizontal and gently curving down towards the tip. However, this led to the criticism that many of the Carnegie Collection theropods look similar, with a posture that leans back slightly more than seems natural.

Option two is to have a base. This option gives the sculptor far more freedom to pose the toy without worrying about the tail. CollectA and Kaiyodo are renowned for their bases, but while figures with bases might look great on a shelf, they limit playability. Believe it or not, the primary audience for dinosaur toys is children (shock horror!) who want to play with their toys, so it is understandable that many companies want to avoid bases if possible.

Option three, sometimes called the snowshoes or clown feet approach, is to make the feet oversized. Great big clodhoppers with flat bases that are all out of proportion with the rest of the body, but are perfect for keeping the toy balanced on two feet. The problem here, of course, is that this solution compromises on overall accuracy.

Wenno Guanlong

In this case, Wenno have gone unabashedly for the snowshoe option. This figure balances excellently on two legs, but that’s because the feet are huge. A backwards projection, a highly manipulated and inaccurate hallux (or first toe), makes the feet even larger. Whatever you think about the snowshoe option, this toys shows that it certainly works. The feet are also widely spaced, which also helps it stay balanced, but makes the animal look a bit awkward.

The posture is rather wooden, with the arms outstretched, and the proportions are way off. Guanlong was a slender animal in life but this toy version is more dumpy and compact. Again, maybe that is a sacrifice for balancing reasons. The plumage is all blue on the top and sides, and paler to white on the underside.

Wenno Guanlong

In conclusion, I credit Wenno with plumping for an unusual species and I like this toy for that reason alone. However, while this is a curious and cute figure and Wenno got some of the basics right, its huge feet, unusual proportions, and poorly defined extremities make it rather cartoony and so it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. A fun but flawed figure. Available as part of a Cretaceous Dinosaurs box set on Ebay.

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