Big nasty pliosaurs are the order of the day – and there are plenty more to come – this review represents the first in a series of pliosaur blog entries I’m working on. A compare and contrast deal; battle of the pliosaur toys so to speak! We have already looked in detail at the popular Chap Mei Liopleurodon here so I will continue this series with another popular figure, the Kronosaurus by Schleich. The Schleich marine reptiles are quite celebrated in the dinosaur toy community, so I hope I do not dampen spirits too much with my critical eye.
We’ll start with the business end, there are good and bad aspects about the head. Starting with the good, the nostrils are accurately retracted close to the eyes (nicely sculpted narrow slits) and the eyes are in the right position facing upwards and outwards. There is large bulbous bump at the back of the skull which corresponds to a high crest and temporal opening in the actual skull of Kronosaurus (The ‘Harvard specimen’ anyway, whether the skeleton is accurate is a different story I’ll tell in time). This bulge represents the muscular mass housed within this fenestra which is quite a nice touch, unfortunately it extends too far back. In fact, to correspond with cranium as sculpted, the lower jaw must extend all the way to the front flippers – this toy therefore has almost no neck, true, Kronosaurus has a short neck, but in this figure it should be a bit longer.
There are other problems with the skull, particularly the shape of the snout and teeth. The teeth in large pliosaurs such as Kronosaurus interlock and protrude slightly, they also vary considerably in shape – they become large and caniniform (fang-like) midway along the jaws. The Schliech Kronosaurus on the other hand has a dull generalised dentition, the teeth in the lower jaw are OK but the teeth in the upper jaw face inwards rather than protruding outwards. And there is no sign of those fang-like teeth typical of pliosaurs. The shape of the snout is down-turned in the toy whereas it should actually curve upwards and expanded at the tip. The snout extends beyond the teeth, which is also not the case in pliosaur fossils. These errors all add up, the general outcome is an animal that look more wimpy than ferocious. There are some nice speculative additions to the mouth – a gullet and tongue are visible in the open mouth.
Moving onto the body, I find myself struggling to find compliments. The spine curves around to the left, but due to the way they swam, curvature in the spine of plesiosaurs was extremely limited: the midriff of plesiosaurs was reinforced by large plates of bone and tightly backs belly ribs. This formed a sturdy base for the wing-like limbs – the curved body in the Schleich pliosaur is therefore very unlikely. The flippers are rather generic tapering triangular shapes, there is no distinction between the humerus/femur and the rest of the flipper as there should be, plesiosaur flippers were slightly expanded mid-length or slightly diamond shaped is a good description). All held out at the same angle so the sculptors do not commit to any specific locomotory repertoire. I also note that the flippers are too thin where they meet the body, there is hardly enough depth for the humerus/femur head, let alone the strong muscles associated with the propulsory flippers. The tail tapers to a narrow tip.
The colour scheme is a chocolate brown with lovely subtle patches of darker brown, the underside is counter-shaded with a pale grey. The eyes are black (no pupils), and the eyelids are highlighted in lighter brown. In conclusion, at a glance the figure appears nice and at 27cm long is quite a stunning figure, but there are far too many mistakes to make this figure worthy of idolizing. In my next pliosaur review, we will see how this Schleich figure compares with another very popular Kronosaurus figure…