Review and photographs by Stolpergeist, edited by Suspsy
Spinosaurus has always been an animal of mystery; the way it has been depicted over the years changes drastically with each new discovery. Just last year, we saw a huge change in its appearance with a new publication about its tail. All this makes it harder for toy companies and resin kit manufacturers alike to keep up to date. In 2019, multiple companies released Spinosaurus figures that seemed anatomically up to date at the time, but were rendered obsolete in only a year except for a lucky few collectors who were able to sculpt or commission someone else to give them the new tadpole-like tail. In 2020, Mojö Fun released a version that even went backwards in terms of accuracy, which may seem like a bold choice at first but perhaps it was a surprisingly smart move.
This figure was sculpted by talented artist Terry Norton, who is also the sculptor behind the brilliant Smilodon, bush elephant, warthog, and gorilla pair that Mojö Fun spoiled us with this year. The better dinosaurs in Mojö’s prehistoric line are also from his skilled hands; I am especially fond of the sauropods and the 2019 Triceratops. But one aspect has been altered heavily from his original sculpt for the manufactured version, which I will get in a bit. The toy’s overall shape ignores the past five years of palaeontological research and in all honesty, that may not have been a bad choice, perhaps even a brilliant one. While most other companies waited too long after 2014 to release new Spinosaurus figures and ended up releasing them just one year before the aforementioned game changing material was published, Mojö Fun may have actually had incredible luck with their decision, as the overall anatomy resembles an older skeletal reconstruction by Scott Hartman from 2006. As a result, it retains some value as a 2000s Retrosaur. Not the oldest vintage, but something a new generation of dinosaur enthusiasts is nostalgic for regardless. Many other recent Spinosaurus toys have the 2014 sail and legs, but no correctly shaped paddle tail. In 2020, GR Toys and PNSO were quick enough to jump onto that, however, and Safari Ltd. also came along with a replacement in 2021, but at least Mojö Fun isn’t stuck with a stock of outdated 2014-style Spinosaurus toys that they can’t get rid of. Although perhaps nostalgia appeal will kick in for all those other companies after a few more years, especially with new sail shape speculations that have been proposed in recent times.
Given how surprisingly well this toy captures the look of early 2000s Spinosaurus reconstructions, it can make for a nice midway piece displayed on a shelf between the old Replica Saurus and Carnegie Collection toys representing the 20th century, the original Jurassic Park-inspired Papo version for the early 2000s, the CollectA models for 2014, and for the present day, one of the newer paddle-tailed figures, although there we still need to wait for one that isn’t resting on its hands too much. Mesozoo hasn’t had an update on theirs for awhile, so the closest we have in that regard is the 2021 Safari Ltd. release. The only other model that represents this moment in scientific history just as well would be the 2009 Carnegie Collection Spinosaurus, but one needs quite the streak of luck in order to obtain it nowadays. Therefore, this Mojö Fun toy is a welcome alternative. The figure has a good size at a length of 28.5 cm, a width of 7.5 cm, a height of 12 cm, and a reasonable retail price for a figure of its scale which lies at 1:40. The sculpt is decent, with small scales covering its wrinkly skin. A few midline feature scales can be spotted on the top of its neck and the pose makes it appear like the animal is hunting for fish by a river. Something I really appreciate is the lack of crocodilian osteoderms, a trope popularized by the Jurassic Park franchise, and something that Spinosaurus figures, even modern ones, can’t seem to escape, even though there is no fossil evidence for it and it may be unlikely. The model rests on its front claws for balance, similar to the 2021 Safari version or the 2019 Schleich one. It’s not actually quadrupedal, but simply sculpted this way so the model doesn’t fall over, just like how some of the Carnegie Collection tripods aren’t actually tail draggers. The muscle definition is well done, making the figure look alive, however, there is some noteworthy shrink-wrapping going on. It is especially noticeable on the face, with the eye sockets and temporal fenestrae, but this is fine as it’s an early 2000s version anyway. Now to the part of the sculpt that truly bothers me: the lower jaw.
Parents, teachers and collectors beware, as here we are getting to the unfortunate part I mentioned earlier. The production version of the Spinosaurus deviates from Terry Norton’s original sculpture drastically. The mandible is completely straight instead of having the distinctive shape at the tip that would interlock with the upper jaw. Also, the skin texture is simple crosshatching as opposed to finely sculpted scales. It does seem like Norton’s original version was at first not meant to be turned into a figure with jaw articulation and rather into a static toy like Mojö Fun’s blue and yellow Baryonyx figure. The jaw articulation is tight and the joint works as well as on other figures, but the teeth don’t interlock properly as the articulation was added late in product development. This causes a huge problem, as the teeth in the front of the jaws will push against each other. On my copy, a tooth in the lower jaw has already fallen out due to this issue and if you look at the tip of the snout, you can see another tooth in the upper jaw that has gotten loose and is about to be pushed out as well. With a product that is meant to bite and be posed, this should absolutely not be happening, and on a toy figure that is recommended for ages 3 and up, small pieces that become loose are the last thing you’d want.
The base plastic on this toy is in dark turquoise and the back and the head have been dry brushed in reddish brown with some more extensive reddish brown application on the edge of the sail. The feet and hands are simply airbrushed black. The teeth are in a standard white and a bright red was used for the inside of the mouth. The eyes are very delicately painted with yellow irises and slit pupils. Overall, the colour scheme resembles the Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park 3 to some degree, but not quite thanks to the turquoise shining through between the reddish brown sail spines.
Due to the issues with the jaw articulation, it is hard to recommend this figure. It is still very good-looking overall, but one should be informed about the risk before deciding to buy it, similar to the 2019 Schleich version where it is better to be aware of the paint sloppiness before deciding to buy one. That said, this is still quite a decent product overall and if handled with care, the tooth loss may be prevented. As a toy, however, one has to keep in mind what may happen in order to be prepared for any disappointments. One way to deal with this would be to sacrifice the jaw articulation with some glue; personally, I only bought it to use its head to replace the one of my Schleich Spinosaurus toys. It is, however, still of interest for Mojö completists, fans of Terry Norton’s work, and children who are old enough to not swallow its teeth while also not minding that it may lose them. After all, that happened to dinosaurs all the time in real life; it is unsurprising that Spinosaurus teeth are rather popular as Moroccan souvenirs.
It is one of my favorite Mojo theropods, that metallic gray color is what I like the most about the spinosaurus painting and the same can be said about the sculpture, it is a quite affordable and well made figure without a doubt one of the best theropods along with his baryonyx by Mojo.
I have to ask, where is that adorable crab from?
A Japanese artist named Ahnitol, I bought it directly from the creator at a convention booth but I think you can order these online as well, they come in a variety of colours.
I have one that’s similar, only it’s a blue tooth speaker that holds my phone. Obviously it’s quite large.