Review and photographs by Funk, edited by Suspsy
While many companies that produce dinosaur toys strive to make their figures scientifically accurate (though often failing), some completely disregard science, preferring instead to use dinosaurs as simple pop culture monsters. This is true for Chap Mei, whose Dino Valley line toys are often imitations of dinosaurs appearing in pop culture rather than what is actually known about them. Thus, their Tyrannosaurus toys look like the Jurassic Park versions, as do their Dilophosaurus toys, and so on. They’re just slightly more “monsterified,” with spikes and glowing red eyes, etc.
The Dino Valley line, which consisted of dinosaurs of various sizes and articulation (some electronic) as well as armed humans, also included a large, somewhat realistic Parasaurolophus, but for some reason, there was also another, smaller representative of that genus whose appearance defies any logical explanation, and is the subject of this review.
The smaller Parasaurolophus came in a pack with similarly sized figures (this one is my older brother’s; I would never have bought such an abomination, bah!), but while most of the other Dino Valley toys more or less reflect the standard pop culture depictions of dinosaurs, this one resembles more like some sort of horrible Jurassic World hybrid experiment. Basically, it looks like what would come out if someone crossed a Parasaurolophus with a pop culture Velociraptor. It has sharp teeth and claws, a rather unlikely combination considering that this genus is usually cast as a docile, even friendly herbivore. All that really identifies it as Parasaurolophus is the distinct, tubular crest, as well as a beak-like snout.
What was the reason for designing such a strange hadrosaur/theropod hybrid for a line consisting of otherwise rather generic dinosaurs? It is hard to say, especially because of the aforementioned “normal” Parasaurolophus, and the fact that the smaller figure is not identified as a hybrid anywhere. There are precedents for carnivorous Parasaurolophus in pop culture, for example in the Dinosaurs Attack Topps collector’s cards, where a card titled “Lunch Break” shows two gigantic Parasaurolophus eating children out of a school bus, as well as the Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect line “Paradeinonychus” hybrid toy. Whether the Chap Mei toy owes anything to those is hard to tell.
The figure itself is about 12 cm long, and stands in a tripodal pose supported by its tail. The crest and beak are unmistakeably Parasaurolophus, but the jaws are lined with small, sharp, individually sculpted teeth, which is a luxury that even many actual theropod toys don’t get. The eyes look rather evil: yellow in colour with demonic slit pupils. The body looks rather like that of a generic retro theropod toy, but with many fine details such as scales, wrinkles, various ridges, and bulging muscles.
The large arm and leg muscles are especially noticeable, and the transverse lines on them are reminiscent of the biomechanical design of H. R. Giger’s Alien, looking like a flayed body, or “shrink-wrapping” to the extreme. The hands have long, dromaeosaur-like fingers with sharp claws (nothing like the hoof-like, merged digits of hadrosaurs), but the toes do look more ornithopod-like, with large, blunt claws and no dewclaws, though I doubt this is out of any scientific concerns. The back is ridged across its length, and the belly seems to have a crocodile-like pattern. The figure is cast in green plastic and has black stripes painted across the back and tail, a black face, and reddish-brown for the crest. The small teeth and large toe claws are painted white, yet the hand claws are unpainted for some reason, which is a shame.
So what can one conclude with such a strange figure? It certainly has no scientific value, and even a child would hardly consider it appropriate in the role of a herbivorous hadrosaur while playing. But I imagine a kid playing with their Jurassic World toys could use it as a stand-in for the hybrid dinosaurs that exist in that universe. It is basically a hybrid monster, one that is mainly interesting for its novelty. And besides, it honestly does look pretty cool. As the Chap Mei dinosaurs were mass produced and in the stores not too many years ago, it shouldn’t be too hard to find this figure if one so desires.