Review and photos by Stefan Schröder (alias Libraraptor)
Up for review today is Kleinwelka Parasaurolophus which dates back to the 70s or 80s, when the owners of the Kleinwelka dinosaur park decided to bring out some souvenir toys looking like small versions of the dinosaurs arranged in the park. Kleinwelka is a small village in the state of Sachsen in Eastern Germany. Here you can see life-size dinosaurs made of concrete, placed in a natural prehistoric surrounding. This Parasaurolophus is therefore quite an unusual and interesting animal to review. It looks like a monument. And not just the symbolized animal but also the model itself is part of a very interesting history.
We all know about Parasaurolophus, the upper Cretaceaus North American hadrosaur with its strange skull. It’s one of the more famous dinosaurs, somewhere behind T.rex, Apatosaurus, Triceratops and, nowadays, the raptors. So it’s not necessary to spend more words on the animal itself. What is interesting is its overall look and the fact it is a product from communism. The overall look can be described quickly: the Kleinwelka Parasaurolophus measures 24.5 centimetres in length and 16 cm in height. It is bipedal and of a bright brown colour. Except from the eyes, nostrils and the front of its neck, it lacks any skin pattern or further details. The material it is made from feels strange somehow. It is not as heavy as Invicta models of the same size and similar in style, but it is not made from rubber or resin either. So I can only presume the material is “Plaste”, a plastic the cars in the German Democratic Republic were made from, too. It has a strange feel, is solid yet light and probably unbreakable, although I do not want to test this.
And yes, the Kleinwelka Parasaurolophus has a history not every dinosaur toy can tell. It was produced in the German Democratic Republic, the form of government there was communism. Many people could not afford more than the things necessary for everyday life in those times. So I suppose this toy must have been a luxury then. The Kleinwelka dinosaurs, to a certain extent, and especially this Parasaurolophus, can by all means be regarded as the eastern analogues to the Sinclair Brontosaurus. In his book “The Last Dinosaur Book” W.J.D. Mitchell argues that dinosaur pictures or figures were also always a sign for their zeitgeist, the political climate and the general public feeling, the histories of man and dinosaurs are connected in many interesting ways. Like communism, this Parasaurolophus figure is bulky and not flexible, not taken in any movement but very static. And so was capitalism back in the Sinclair times – just take a quick look at its mascot.
This figure stands as a proof for Mitchells thesis and thus is very fascinating. So you can even excuse its four fingered hands with webs. I love figures like these. And I love the multi-dimensional approach they afford. They are not just souvenirs or toys but also hint at other facings of life, thus linking categories as different as dinosaurs, collecting, politics and history to each other.