It was almost exactly a year ago when I reviewed the Safari 2020 Pachycephalosaurus, a much-needed modern rendition of the most popular of the bone-headed dinosaurs. In that review I declared the Safari Pachycephalosaurus the definitive figure of that genus, but now I’m back again with another Pachycephalosaurus, this time by PNSO. Although they both represent the same animal this one by PNSO is a drastically different take on the animal. That’s part of the appeal with collecting extinct animal figures, that two companies can produce the same animal and have them appear so dramatically different without compromising accuracy. Although it might be tempting to declare one superior to the other, or more definitive, I cannot do it and I won’t be pitting the two against each other. That said, the inevitable comparison will occasionally pop up.
The PNSO Pachycephalosaurus, named Austin, is a small figure, shockingly small in relation to its price tag. From nose to tail he measures 7” long and stands 2.5” tall at his highest point. To really grasp how small it is consider that the PNSO Nemicolopterus is part of their mini line and is not much smaller than this “mid-sized” figure, and retailed for about $7 upon its release.
The actual Pachycephalosaurus reached an estimated length of 14.8’ so that puts Austin at 1/25 in scale. This means that it does not scale well with the other Hell Creek Formation dinosaurs that PNSO has produced so far, and that’s a shame. How PNSO decides what scale a figure should be in continues to vex me.
Small size aside, there is a lot to love in this tiny package, and that’s where you’re getting your money’s worth. Starting at the head we see that it has a much more reptilian look to it than most other figures of the genus, being relatively shrink wrapped and lacking cheeks. This is a good point of comparison with the Safari figure, whose head is more fleshed out and has cheeks. I personally like this look; it reminds me of my various pet lizards. As a result, the head sculpt is one of the most appealing aspects of this figure. It’s a strange looking animal, simultaneously ugly, cute, and even a little creepy, but still believable.
The various bumps and knobs that adorn the head are all faithfully reproduced here, the mouth is tipped with a small, pointed beak, and miniscule scales are sculpted around the face and dome. Along the jaw there’s a ridge that nicely reflects the bony protrusions along the jaw that the genus had. The eyes are highlighted with white rings and painted blue with black pupils. When viewed head-on it appears the figure has the capacity for binocular vision, which is accurate for Pachycephalosaurus.
The short neck is thick and well-muscled with a fleshy dewlap extending from the lower jaw. The forelimbs are appropriately small but robust and complete with five digits. The legs are well muscled with the right leg stepping forward and the left leg pushing the figure forward. Connective tissue stretches from the left knee to the torso, as usual PNSO finely conveys the movement of the animal in its legs and feet.
The ribs and hips are visible just under the skin, but not in what I would consider a shrink-wrapped sort of way. Folds of skin slightly overlap the toes of the figure while the underside of the toes appear nicely padded. The tail gently sweeps rightward and then leftward towards the tip. From afar the figure might appear smooth but upon closer inspection there is a lot of small scale detail and wrinkling, you might need a magnifying glass to truly appreciate it, you’ll certainly need one to see the tiny cloaca which is indeed there. Large osteoderms are sculpted in various places along the body but are mostly clustered around the torso.
The overall posture is one of my favorite attributes of this figure, being horizontal with the head lifted upwards. This is in contrast to the 45-degree angle in which the Safari figure stands. That said, this figure lacks the stability of the Safari model. It comes with a small support rod and even if yours stands fine without it I would still suggest using it.
For Pachycephalosaurus the only described material we have is all skull material. That makes the body speculative, but we do have other pachycephalosaur genera to draw insight from. A frequent criticism I’m seeing for this model is that it’s too lithe, and I tend to agree. The torso, hips, and tail base are robust and thick but not as thick as I would prefer, a minor criticism really. I also feel like the tail is too spindly and should be thicker laterally. In terms of robustness the Safari figure is considerably stockier.
The paintjob on Austin is one of my favorites on any PNSO figure thus far, although definitely in keeping with PNSO’s usual color palate. The top of the dome is off-white in color and transitions to a dark chocolate brown color around the various bumps and knobs. Most of the body is a mix of tan, cream, and dull orange colors. The back is saddled with an olive-green color that bleeds down the sides and transitions to stripes down the tail. Some small spots overlay the green portions of the back. The toes up to the ankles are the same olive-green color as the back with black toenails. The only complaint I have about the color scheme is that the dome itself is boring and I would have preferred a splash of color there to highlight its possible visual significance.
The PNSO Pachycephalosaurus is a unique enough take on the genus that I think it’s worth seeking out even if you’ve already acquired last year’s Safari model. Although there does seem to be a trend towards collecting the one definitive version of each genus there is also a case to be made for collecting different artistic interpretations of the same animal. If you must choose between this and the Safari then it comes down to which you prefer because personally, I see them as equals and am happy to have them both.
Austin currently sells on Amazon for $30.99 and yes, that’s a bit much for this small toy. That said, the toy does not suffer from its size in the detail department and there’s much to be said about small toys that don’t sacrifice craftsmanship. Austin can be had at a better value however, and without the packaging cost me $19.15 on Aliexpress. That’s the same price that the Safari figure commands and totally worth it for this fantastic little model.