Leaellynasaura (Walking with Dinosaurs by Toyway)

4.7 (10 votes)

Review by Niroot ‘Himmapaan’ Puttapipat

The first reader to name more than three good hypsilophodontid figures gets a bean bun.

The scarcity of this family of dinosaurs in toy and model form is still a puzzle to me and something I’d long lamented. I can’t be alone in prizing neat, understated elegance over the populist vulgarity of teeth and claws, surely?

Thanks in large part to the BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs (1999), the beautifully named Leaellynasaura amicagraphica (how could I omit such a wonderful species suffix?) has secured a fairly wide recognition; and Toyway’s figure, produced to accompany the series, is perhaps the best representation of this dinosaur and indeed of any hypsilophodont available.

The aquiline head, slender legs and other notable graceful characteristics are all present and admirably proportioned. I’ve been informed that all the Toyway figures in this series were modelled directly from the original digital prototypes created for the documentary. The drawback of this, of course, as with all the others in the series, is that it has resulted in this static and rather uninspiring ‘diagrammatic’ pose. The hands are unfortunately pronated; though as this was created during the tail-end of the nineties, I can forgive this very easily. Leaellynasaura also possessed particularly large eyes, so I might have preferred these to be larger in the figure, though one could argue that they do have a slightly heavy-lidded appearance here, thus concealing their full extent. Perhaps it is sleepy…

The most significant inaccuracy, however, is the tail, which in the actual Leaellynasaura comprised an astonishing 75% of the animal’s entire length. The tail (because I did my homework and am anxious to display it, so there) also lacked ossified tendons and could have been very flexible, and it has been suggested that the dinosaur might have been able to wrap its tail around its body for warmth during the long winters of its Antarctic habitat, not unlike modern arctic foxes and other long-tailed animals. If so, this would accord well with the idea that it might have been covered in some form of ‘dinofuzz’. However, as a conjectural feature, the latter’s absence in the figure couldn’t be deemed a real flaw, and the tail’s remarkable length was only recently affirmed in 2008, so its deficiency here is entirely forgivable.

The figure is painted in a subdued scheme of mottled dark brown with green stripes: a simplified version of the one used in the television series. It may not be terribly imaginative or vibrant, but, together with the dry-brush-like technique of the application, does lend much naturalism to the figure. That said, the unpainted areas of the figure’s fleshy brown material tends to give the whole the curious effect of having been played with a good deal — even one in mint condition. But this, too, is easily overlooked.

My only real and extremely minor complaint is the mask-like appearance caused by the distinct ‘separation’ at the back of the head where it meets the neck. When stared at long enough, this can over-emphasize the dome-like crown of the skull, so that the head begins to assume the aspect of a goblin-like creature — or perhaps even the infamous ‘Dinosauroid‘.

I ought perhaps to mention that my figure unfortunately does not stand unaided; though I’m aware that some lucky individuals do. Parthenope here (for that is her name; shush [fruitcake – Ed]) is supported by the ‘rock’, as you see.

I recall mentioning in my first review about a year ago (these reviews are tremendous tasks, you know) that ‘small but beautifully formed things have always held my particular regard’. At just under 14cm long and about 7cm tall, this Leaellynasaura is a small and beautifully formed figure of a small and beautifully formed dinosaur. If the tail poses a real concern for anyone, you may easily name it as another hypsilophodont of your choice (my flexibility in these matters alarms purists, but I am prepared to brave their consternation). Like other Walking with Dinosaurs figures, it has long been out of production, but does crop up on eBay now and again.

Niroot Puttapipat is a professional illustrator and all-round upstanding gentleman. Be sure to check out his DeviantArt page for additional dinosaurs and much, much more besides.

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