Most of the known basal tyrannosauroids from Asia are relatively small fry like Dilong, Guanlong, and Xiongguanlong, with the 7.5 metre long Yutyrannus being the most famous exception. But Sinotyrannus was an even bigger beast, estimated to have achieved around 9.1 metres long and 2.8 tons, which would put it in the same size category as Albertosaurus, Daspletosaurus, and Gorgosaurus. Like Yutyrannus, it was a denizen of China during the Early Cretaceous and was likely the apex predator of its time, preying on smaller herbivores like the ankylosaur Chuanqilong and the ceratopsian Psittacosaurus. And like so many other very cool but not very famous dinosaurs, it has not received a toy from CollectA or Safari Ltd. or even PNSO (yet), but it did get one from Mattel earlier this year.
The 2023 Gigantic Trackers Sinotyrannus is of good size, standing a little over 15 cm tall at the crest when standing horizontally and measuring 35 cm long. Its main colour is dark green with a slightly lighter shade used for the markings on the neck and the front of the torso, and for the arms. Crimson red streaks appears on the head, neck, and tail. The lower jaw is pale yellow, the inside of the mouth is dark pink, the teeth are light grey, and the eyes are yellow. Looks fairly nice overall, except the claws are unpainted as usual.
Like all other Mattel theropods, this one is sculpted with one leg extended forward and the other extended slightly back. The mouth’s default pose is clamped shut. The skin texture is standard scales of varying size and shape with thick scutes covering the feet. An uneven row of pointy osteoderms runs down the entire length of the spine, with the tallest ones atop the neck, pelvis, and the lower section of the tail. There are also some pointy osteoderms hanging down from the throat and lots of rounded ones dotting the sides of the neck, the torso, the thighs, and the tail. Finally, there are some odd fin-like projections sticking out on the sides of the tail near the base. And I have to say, given that Sinotyrannus was related to Yutyrannus, and therefore stood a reasonable chance of having feathers, it is more than a little annoying that Mattel opted not to give this toy any at all while liberally covering the likes of Eocarcharia and Rugops in them.
Sinotyrannus is known only from the front portion of its skull, two finger bones and a foreclaw, three vertebrae, and a large section of the ilia. Many illustrations depict it with a large crest atop its skull similar to that of its much smaller cousin Guanlong, but without a complete skull, there’s no way to be certain. Mattel has opted for the more spectacular appearance, bestowing upon their rendition a very large crest made of soft plastic. The head itself looks fairly good in profile, but is really far too wide and too big. The mouth features fewer, larger teeth than the real deal. The tail appears to be too short and the legs and feet are so massive, they almost look like they were pumped full of air. On the plus side, the wrists are properly non-pronated, always a welcome sight. And as always, I’m willing to give Mattel a little more leeway than I do with other companies.
The slide-up scan code is located right on top of the pelvis. The arms are on universal joints, the hips are ball-jointed, the feet rotate, and the tail is hinged in two places. The toy stands perfectly well whether posed horizontally or rearing up. Pressing the large button on the left side of the torso causes the tail to lash from side to side. Pressing the button on the right side causes the head to swing to the right and the mouth to open wide. And, of course, both gimmicks can be activated at the same time.
And here’s the Sinotyrannus‘ tracking harness, or control harness, or whatever you want to call it. No schematics for it are provided on the packaging, so I reckon you could consider those tubes mounted on either side of the headpiece to be cameras or sensors or even laser guns if you so desire.
The harness attaches very securely to the Sinotyrannus and I guess I can see why some people would think it looks cool that way. But it also impedes access to both buttons and practically negates the head movement. To be honest, when I first got this toy, I put the harness away and nearly forgot about it entirely. I think the toy is better off without it.
The Mattel Sinotyrannus wins no prizes for accuracy, but nevertheless, it’s a big, honking meat eater with a cool-looking crest on its head and fun action features, which means that it meets its goal of being a fun toy for children to play with. It also wins points both for being a member of the royal family and its current unique status. My older son specifically requested this toy for Christmas after seeing it in a catalog and I’m looking forward to obliging him. And hopefully someday there’ll be a more scientifically accurate version with feathers for me.