Prehistoric Diorama (Usborne)

4.7 (13 votes)

Paper is usually not the material of choice for collectors of any sort. I anyway want to introduce you to something that may be of interest for a dinosaur collector, though it are probably not the figures….

The introduced cut out model was first released in 1993 under the title “Make these Dinosaurs” and the art of it, especially the dinosaur desgin, certainly represents this time. The imaged edition is from 2002 and still easily available via the second hand book market. Target group for this sort of activity books are kids and the overall design and the complexitiy of the figures is just right for this group. The booklet is made of strong paper, maybe better described as thin cardboard. Prints are clear and well outlined and also prefectly placed in each site, which is especially important as each part has a printed back so that a cut out piece can be viewed from both sides.

The booklet contains five three-dimensional figures, a large diorama and several smaller two-dimensional figures to be placed freely. Of the dinosaurs I only want to introduce you to three here, simply because I was too lazy to build up the last two for now. There are Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, Diplodocus, Parasaurolophus and Stegosaurus. Each are quite large, the T. rex measuring 32 cm in direct length and the Diplodocus a staggering 68 cm. Assembly is quite easy and the figures might well serve their time as figures to be played with, but for a collector they are of lesser interest as they are quite boxy and a far cry in their design quality form works like those of for example Johan Scherft. The color design however may give away the art of one famous paleoartist, Luis Rey, who illustrated this set in cooperation with Philip Hood and the figures are close enough to their real counterpart.

Of main interest – at least for me, but hopefully also for some other collectors – is the diorama background itself. It measures almost 90 cm in width, is 30 cm deep and roughly 21 cm high, providing plenty of space to display some collectible figures in an appropriate landscape. Though the assortment of plants and animals depicted in the diorama itself is a wild mix when it comes to time, region and climate. Somewhat weirdly enoguh, a smoking volcano is missing, but the overall design of the landscape is well executed and harmonius when you take in account how the Mesozoic is most often depicted in books. The backdrop really gives the impression of distance and space which is enhanced by several plants or landscape details placed in the middle distance. These details are even painted/printed from the back, but not only inverted but with a print of their own, showing the authentic back of the image in the front. Also the sides of the backdrop are printed, here with a mirrored image of the one an the other side. Assembly of the whole landscape is straight forward, but the use of an Exacto knive can be very handy to cut out the finer details on the plants.

The backdrop is jampacked with detail. There are a lof of dinosaur species depicted (as Brontosaurus, Protoceratops, Polacanthus, Pachycephalosaurus,…), Pteranodon populate the skies and a great array of plants from small over medium to large bestow the backdrop a vivid and eye flattering character. It so represents a nice alternative to the darker and quieter (because they include no fauna) landscape paintings by Zdenek Burian or John Sibbick. In my personal opinion, the backdrop`s style fits quite well with old Carnegie models or other Safaris, but judge for yourself. If you like to add this backdrop to your collection, have a look out on the second hand book market, for example as and invest the few bucks asked for it, it is well worth it.

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