Review by Dan Liebman – Dan’s Dinosaurs
Regular visitors to the DinoToyBlog know that I enjoy reviewing every new piece in this series, but I really wanted our resident paleontologist Dr. Adam Stuart Smith to have a go at this one; truly, I doubt there would be anyone better suited to this task. Sadly, the good doctor’s schedule did not permit this plan to come to fruition, so I’m afraid our dear readers are stuck with yet another review from an uneducated amateur.
To my simple eyes, this statue does uphold the lofty standards of aesthetics and accuracy the series is known for. There are a number of unusual factors at play here, starting with the name itself. The manufacturer simply attached the moniker “Mosasaur”. This strangely nonspecific name might have something to do with the similarly titled “Mosasaur” revealed around the same time to star in the upcoming film “Jurassic World”. We do know that Sideshow has been eager to see how their own dinosaur line can stand up without the costly license of Jurassic Park, so it’s not really surprising when one considers the species selected for previous projects, many of which seem likely influenced by the Jurassic Park franchise (though happily, restored with much greater accuracy). Keen readers will still recognize this piece as depicting Tylosaurus proriger, which has been confirmed by the sculptor. Names aside, the species itself was not likely influenced by the film, since the original sculpt was completed at least two years ago.
Another striking feature is the vertical build of this statue. Every paleo-enthusiast knows how rapidly shelf space is consumed by so many horizontally constructed models, and running out of space for new pieces isn’t fun. This is almost a merciful design decision here, as the Dinosauria statues are undoubtedly some of the largest pieces in most collectors’ displays, so any chance to own this model without wasting valuable space is certainly going to make it more desirable. Bear in mind this is definitely not a puny statue, either. Like several other models in the series, the Mosasaur is around 1:20 scale, and stands 20″ high.
I also wish to point out something very strange indeed. This animal is undoubtedly a fearsome carnivore, and yet, its jaws are closed. It’s been said many times that “closed jaw” depictions are naturalistic, since this is how the animals would have held their jaws most of the time. I feel some measure of admiration of any mass-manufacturer that approves of such a decision, knowing full well that it could negatively impact sales among mainstream audiences, but clearly this is a company that has grown confident in its ability to attract serious collectors. It’s as if Sideshow is seductively whispering in our collective ear, “We know you’re smarter than the others, and we know you want this. We made this just for you.”
I will admit, the set of jaws on this animal are really spectacular, and it would have been great to see those deadly chompers and palatine teeth as shown in several excellent models of years past. Even so, they are scarcely missed here, because there is so much for one’s eyes to dance around. The colorful base is probably one of the most complex in the series, and consequently, this makes it a bit trickier to assemble the eight piece model. My recommendation is to insert the Mosasaur into the seafloor base first, so as to avoid damaging the more delicate pieces around it. From there, it’s mostly a matter of matching colors: branches of green coral with shimmery fish, yellow plate coral, and the big orange tube sponge with ammonites attached. A nice pink and green zoanthid sits at the center. There is a square hole below the left rear flipper to insert the shark’s peg. The peg will go all the way inside, but I would suggest wiggling it very gently to avoid any breakage. This easily sets the new record for “Most Species Ever Featured in a Dinosauria Statue”. Don’t bother looking that up. I promise it’s a real thing.
I know that quality has been inconsistent for a few of the previous Dinosauria statues, particularly where paint is concerned. Happily, there appear to be no such issues present in this Mosasaur. The signature jagged striping of Steve Riojas is transferred reasonably well by this factory paint job, and the eyes convey appropriate realism. If it were larger and a bit greener, it would stand quite nicely beside the Foulkes Tylosaurus. The patterns do enhance the predator quite nicely, as it’s not too garish, but enough to help it pop despite being surrounded by so many colorful critters. It seems to rise above them ominously, an eerie presence that is both huge and hidden.
With several crimson-eyed predators appearing in the series, it’s nice to see this fellow looking very natural, without compromising his menace. The loose folds of skin around the neck, and the skin texturing itself (which appears to be faithfully reproduced from actual skin impressions) really drive home the reptilian heritage of this animal. The flippers have visible digits running through them, and the “thumbs” actually end in very small claws. These features all contribute to a great sense of realism in this sculpt, truly a testament to Jorge Blanco’s dedication and skill.
Like the other Dinosauria statues, this can be a fun model for playing around with different lighting effects. Warm light beaming down from above could simulate sunlight, allowing the giant to literally cast a shadow over the tiny creatures below. I’ve seen very intricate collections that make use of blue light for that aquatic atmosphere. I strongly advise keeping it away from actual water sources though, including any live aquariums you may feel tempted to utilize. Besides, it’s sure to terrify your poor fish.
“The shark is a young Sqalicorax and the small fish are acanthomorpha (angelfish). I also could not resist the temptation to add a couple of ammonites. At the time I finished sculpture and while it was in production, a new paper was unveiled that showed new features of the tail of a new specimen of mosasaur. I had already given my final version so it was impossible to make changes, but I’m honestly very happy with result. I wanted to emphasize the aspect of varanid lizards in these marine reptiles, and I put my full attention to some anatomical features, and how varanids swim propelling with the tail, and with the limbs close to the body and using them only to maneuver, although these are basically terrestrial reptiles with aquatic adaptations while the mosasaurs were fully aquatic.”
– Jorge Blanco
Available to order from Dan’s Dinosaurs here.