Spinops (Mini Age of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animal Models by PNSO)

4.2 (18 votes)

Review and photos by Bokisaurus

Ceratopsians, along with the sauropods are my favorite groups of dinosaurs. I’m actually surprised that I don’t have many reviews of these two groups. So, I was excited to hear that PNSO (yes, they have been pumping new figures so fast!) was releasing a new ceratopsian in their larger size figure line. I also jumped on the opportunity to review this new figure even though the majority of my last reviews this year were figures from PNSO.

Meet Spinops. PNSO introduced the species to us when they released a  new set of mini figures and one of those was a Spinops. Since no one has yet reviewed that mini version, I decided that I will include it in this review as well, so another double review here.

Spinops sternbergorum is a genus of centrosaurine ceratopsian from the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada. As a group, centrosaurinae have rivaled its sister group, the chasmosaurinae in popularity. The majority of the new ceratopsian figures released in the last five years belong to this group, and with many more possible species out there, it won’t be a surprise to see more in the future. On average, the species in the centrosaurine group are smaller in size than the chasmosaurines.

Packaging of both figures are beautiful

Spinops was first found way back in 1916 in a large bone bed near the famous Red Deer River of southern Alberta by American commercial fossil collector Charles Sternberg and his son. So why are we just now hearing about Spinops? The fossils found were two partial skulls. Although still encased in rocks, Charles Sternberg believed it to be a new species. The fossils were sent to the Natural History Museum in London.

With CollectA’s centrosaurines
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Back then, museums around the world were clamoring for who can have the best new dinosaur display, complete ones prefered. As the Spinops fossils consist of only the skulls and are incomplete, the museum considered them unworthy of displaying or preparing, with even one of the resident paleontologist calling the Spinops material as “nothing but rubbish”. Still, the museum kept the fossils but banished them to the dark storage where they languished for decades unloved and unstudied.

With Safari’s centrosaurines

Decades later, in 2004, with new appreciation and technology, a new generation of paleontologists rediscovered the long lost specimens gathering dust by accident. Something about the frill and horns caught paleontologist Andrew Farke’s eyes while going over the museum’s collection. He was able to make contact with other paleontologist and working as a team they were able to arrange for the fossils to be prepared and formally studied. As it turns out Charles Sternberg was correct that the fossils represented a new species of ceratopsian. Once the official process of studying and naming a new species was complete, Andrew Farke and his colleagues were ready to introduce this new, long lost species of ceratopsian to the world. The paleontologists gave it the name Spinops sternbergorum in honor of Charles Sternberg and his son Levi.

The larger figure with the artwork insert from the small figure. As you can see, the figure is based on that illustration.

PNSO first introduced Spinops in their line of mini figures, one of many unique species in that line. Like many in the line, the figure is well sculpted and detailed for its size. A year later, we finally get a large size figure of this interesting ceratopsian. PNSO is pumping out one amazing figure after another in the last few months alone. I guess they really are making up for lost time.

A dynamic pose

Like all PNSO figures, each figure is given a name. Duke is the name given to the Spinops. Currently, PNSO have three lines going. We have the mini figure line that is part of the much larger (hollow) Age of Dinosaur series, then replacing the large hollow figures with the Scientific Art Model (AKA Museum line) series of large solid PVC figures marked as 1:35 scale, then the latest one is called Prehistoric Animal Models series, also made of solid PVC material. This new series has no set scale and to date have six brand new figures, of which the Spinops is one.

View from above that shows the size difference between the two figure

Spinops, like many ceratopsians have the same generic rhino-like body plan. It’s a medium size animal that looks like a cross between Styracosaurus and Centrosaurus, two other common centrosaurine. Spinops have an enlarged nasal horn and smaller much reduced brow horns, a typical feature of the cetrosaurine group. The frill is ornate with two large spikes at the top and two smaller horns at the center of the frill that curved down towards the face. The edge of the frill is bordered with small spikes.

Beautiful head shot that shows the slightly different frill and horn shape

Both the mini and large Spinops figure capture these features very well and leave no question as to what species this ceratopsian is. On the mini figure the head sculpt is much smoother and has a pebbly textured skin with little variation in sizes cover the entire head and frill. The nose and brow horns are much shorter and have a more rounded tips, while the two larger horns on the frill are longer and much pointier.

Some of the facial features in the small figure give the impression that its a young animal

These, coupled with large eyes and very small cheek spikes, make this figure looks more like a juvenile. Of course the shape of the frill and fully developed hornlets are clearly those of an adult. It is clear than on the mini figures at least that PNSO was really aiming for a much younger audience – for lack of better word, the mini figure is cute. The nose and beak are nicely sculpted as well and there is a fold of skin just on the corner of the mouth that makes the figure almost looks like its smiling, adding to the cuteness.

A veteran warrior

The large Spinops figure on the other hand is targeted for an adult audience and it really shows in the quality of details. The pebbly skin texture of the mini figure is now replaced by much smaller, almost hard to see scales and plenty of skin lines and folds. There is no mistaking that this a fully grown individual and pretty old as well based on some of the details.

The nose horn is long, thick, and sharp. The same goes for the brow horns and cheek spikes as well. Longer still are the pair of horns on the tip of the frill and they orient much further forward. The two middle horns are also long and thick and very prominent . Long deep lines and sagging skin fold populate the face and there is also a small row of bumps on the snout ridges between the nose horn and the beak. There is a worn out look to this individual. The texturing on the face skin is made even more pronounced by a lighter brown wash that looks like caked dust between the skin folds.
I know that some may not like this detail, but I actually like it. I think it gives it a more natural look to it, it reminds me a lot of what an elephant or rhino skin looks like after a dust wallow. The eye is now smaller and is colored orange compared to the black seen on the mini version.

Big color difference between the two

There is a huge difference in the colors between these two figures. On the mini, the dominant color is a grayish shade. On the frill, a light brown spot on the frill dominates the center and slowly radiates outwards. There is also a nice splash of blue stripes that run along the sides. The top of the snout is black that slowly transitions to the gray tones as it moves up the face towards the neck.

On the large figure, the dominant color is a dark olive green. The light brown on the shield is now replaced by a splash of rust orange and yellow that radiates outwards. The blue lines are now gone, instead it is replaced by dark brown stripes that starts on the frill edge moving towards the center. A lighter brown band can be seen in almost all of the facial horns.

Both figures are rich in delicate and fine details

Details on the body vary between the two sizes. The small one is  covered in the same small pebbly scales seen on the face. It has nice musculature definitions as well as skin folds all over. The large one has an almost smoother skin due to the much smaller, almost hard to notice, scales. There are large bumps all over the body including the belly. The skin folds are beautifully done and really capture the movement and heft of the animal.
The muscle definitions are sharp and that you can almost feel the tension in them. Both Spinops figure have the correct toes, but the large one really captures what ceratopsian feet may have look like. Each of the toes are beautifully done with lots of small delicate details, even the pads, and you can really feel the weight of the animal just by looking at the feet and legs, and how the muscles bulge.

Ready for a fight!

Both versions are posed with their front right leg slightly raised off the ground. The smaller version has a casual, just strolling or even playful pose. The large one is unmistakably in a more aggressive/defensive pose. Its head is tilted downwards, horns faced forward in a threatening display and tail curled up to one side. The overall feel is of an animal getting ready to charge a rival or an enemy.

The larger figure has a more aggressive pose. Here, she is seen charging a predator.

Both figures overall body color follow the dominant color palette seen on the head. The small one, just like on its head, also have a couple of blue stripes running on the sides of the body. A few lighter shades of gray-white is applied all over to give some highlights and depths. The large one has the darker green covering most of its back and lower half of the body and legs. A rich combination of rust orange and light yellow dominates the middle part of the body and creates a nice splash of colors on an otherwise subdues earth tones.

What on earth are you?

Unlike the large museum figures, this new series is made using a softer, more rubbery type of PVC, very similar to what the other major brands use.
This is of course due to safety reasons. With figures that have lots of pointy parts like the horns, this type of material is the way to go. The downside is that this type of material don’t really capture or retain many of the smaller, more delicate details. The result is that the figures don’t have that crisp and sharp details seen on the more expensive museum series figures. But despite this, these new figures have more natural and delicate details in them when compared to other brands out there.

Looking for her mom

PNSO’s rebirth is really something exciting. For me, it’s been a long time since I was that excited about a company and its products.
PNSO really was able to balance the level of accuracy, detailing, creativeness, choices of species, and most importantly pricing affordability and availability into one perfect figure line. I find myself arranging my priorities as far as which figures to acquire first, and brands like Papo and Safari taking a backseat. 

In the racetrack of who among the various companies would produce the best and most exciting new prehistoric figures, this new entry from PNSO will surely be the horse to watch for me, and that’s where I am placing my bets on.

I think we found your missing acorn!

Well, I hope that you all enjoyed this review. Thanks for reading, till the next time we meet. Take care and CHEERS!

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Comments 9

  • Thanks for catching the missing S on the title.
    So how do you know both figures are male?
    Is it because of the name or did miss something?

    • I view them as male because they are both called Duke, which I see a being masculine. Like with both Dakosaurus figures from PNSO, I picture the larger one as the father and the smaller one as the son, despite my previous comment, though the description of them being brothers isn’t too far-fetched. But that’s just how I view them. I will get both and refer the smaller more younger-looking one as Duke Jr. And sorry for the late reply, I didn’t notice this comment until now.

  • So cool! Your review was the first I had seen this, so I of course had to track the models down…this is particularly special for me because it’s the first time a dinosaur I named as first author has been made into a commercially available toy!

    • OMG! Glad you like the review of this fabulous figure!
      Sorry I forgot to mention you in the review, I will make sure to fix that!
      Awesome you got to name this animal!

  • Es una excelente figura, desconozco el tamaño estimado del animal pero luce muy bien junto a mi Ankylosaurus también de PNSO… Muy buena revisión, agradezco que pongas un comentario en las fotos que nuestras, muchas gracias y a esperar con ansias a la próxima figura de PNSO

  • A few things to mention:
    First, you forgot the “s” at the end of “Dinosaurs” on the title.
    And second, both figures are male.
    So I feel like the mini model is the youngster and the larger one is his older brother.
    Anyway, a spectacular review, Boki.

  • I congratulate you on your extensive and complete article. Sincerely PNSO is making the dinosaurs and prehistoric animals that one has always wanted to have on their shelves. Hopefully it will continue producing new and beautiful figures.

  • Well done. I love how PNSO is producing so many animals that have long been overlooked by other toy companies. Can’t wait to see what they churn out in the future.

    Incidentally, Arthur Smith Woodward, the British paleontologist who dismissed the Spinops remains as “rubbish,” was also the one who described the infamous Piltdown Man skull that was later shown to be a hoax. So that’s two huge and permanent smears on his legacy.

  • An excellent detailed review with superb photos. Thank you!

    I am deeply smitten with both figures in their different ways – there is nothing wrong with a bit of “cute” in the small figure, and I love the lively vigour of the large figure.

    PNSO excites me, just like the reviewer, a great deal. I also like the way their figures are released at random intervals, quite out of the blue and without fanfare, rather than unveiled for the whole year ahead. It means that life is brightened by the occasional lovely surprise like the large Spinops!

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