Venturing the sea of unlicensed “3rd-party” dinosaur toys can bring interesting results. Sometimes one can find hidden gold; other times one finds something like this Stegosaurus figure, which is certainly among the more unusual takes I’ve seen of the famous roofed reptile (albeit probably not intentionally so). Stegosaurus remains a staple of dinosaur iconography, so every company no matter their size or origin is bound to try their hand at the genus out of obligation at the least.
Acquired as one of a set of “moveable dinosaur toys”, this Stegosaurus is distributed by Boley and produced by the company Gosnell, according to Boley’s own description on the original listing page. No branding besides the basic “Made in China” is visible on the toy itself. Other figures in the set, however, bear a vague insignia on one foot in a circular print. The figure is made of a hard, glossy plastic, and appears to be solid in build. It’s not a particularly heavy toy for its size; however the plastic is hard enough that even the rounded-off tips of the plates and spikes might hurt if handled recklessly.
The Stegosaurus measures about 20 cm (8 in) long, roughly 1:30 scale for a 6-meter living specimen. The species of choice appears to be the popular S. stenops, judging by the broad dorsal plates – a larger species, S. ungulatus, is known to have narrower plate shapes, but is typically ignored in popular dinosaur media.
Gosnell does indeed seem to use other media as their main frame of reference for this toy, though thankfully not Jurassic Park for the umpteenth time. Painted in the ever-popular scheme of green skin and orange (well, fiery red-&-yellow) plates, the figure’s posture is reminiscent of the model frequently used in Dorling Kindersley literature throughout the 1990s and 2000s. The plates also display an interesting feature of layered keratin levels, much like what is seen specifically in the Sideshow Dinosauria statue and Rebor’s “Garden” figurine. It’s a rare look for the genus, but scientifically reasonable; if nothing else Gosnell knows where to choose their reference.
Not every detail is so inspired, though. At a glance, the basic anatomy looks fine. There’s no question what dinosaur this is, and the general proportions are appropriate for what is known of Stegosaurus, at least prior to the Sophie specimen’s discovery. On a closer inspection, however, a slew of problems arise. The physique of the figurine is strange: limbs appear atrophied, and the torso is slender and lacking in definition. It’s hard to tell if any real bones or musculature have been properly accounted for. Textures are light on detail, which would be forgivable on this toy if the underlying anatomy wasn’t so weird. The number of plates – 21 in total – is within accurate numbers for the dinosaur (although 10 on the neck alone seems high); but the tail ends in what is hard to distinguish between the bony tip or a legit fifth thagomizer spike. Either way, the tail extends too far.
By far the worst, and strangest, feature of this figure’s sculpt is the head. Stegosaurus famously has a tiny skull in proportion to its body, tipped in a beak and girdled with an armored throat of ossified scales. No scales or beak are present on this toy; instead, this Stegosaurus opens its mouth to reveal sharp rows of teeth lining its jaws! Not pegged herbivore teeth – pointy, backwards-angled carnivore teeth, individually sculpted and painted within an ugly little horse-ish maw. On any other figure I’d be impressed with this level of detail. On a Stegosaurus I’m just left to ask myself: “why???” It’s without a doubt one of the more bizarre choices I’ve seen made on a toy dinosaur, akin to forgetting the sickle claw on a Velociraptor’s foot. I guess if you want a herbivore who’s gone rogue, this is the toy for the job!
As a “moveable toy”, the Stegosaurus comes with six points of articulation: a swivel joint at the neck, tail, and each shoulder and hip. The head and tail are curved, so a little “action” can be attained from the joints; however the limbs are somewhat unstable, and even with four feet my toy can fall over from being disturbed sometimes. Certain joints also have limitations from stiffness or just from colliding with other pieces. Ultimately the range of motion is serviceable, but very basic, and not as interesting as what one might find from the likes of a Mattel figure.
When exploring the expanse of 3rd-party toys, there are occasional gems with enough creativity or craftmanship to merit their existence. This janky Jurassic beast, however, is not one of them. Gosnell and Boley have some decent-looking (if heavily inspired) toy dinosaurs, but Stegosaurus is ultimately a rather ugly-looking critter that comes across as exactly the cheap knockoff it is. If you happen to pick this up as part of a larger set, don’t worry about it; but on its own this toy does not come recommended.
Boley’s dinosaurs can be bought through their Amazon page; Gosnell’s designs can also be found through eBay and other marketplace websites.