I first learned about Stygimoloch back in the late 1980s when I came across a painting of it by the late paleoartist Ely Kish in a dinosaur book, and I distinctly recall being rather excited at the prospect of another North American pachycephalosaur besides Pachycephalosaurus itself and Stegoceras. So it was something of a disappointment years later when it was announced that both Stygimloch and Dracorex were probably younger specimens of Pachycephalosaurus. However, some experts have noted that Stygimoloch’s remains have been recovered from the upper part of the Hell Creek Formation whereas those of Pachycephalosaurus all come from the lower part. Stygimoloch may therefore represent a second species of Pachycephalosaurus, P. spinifer as opposed to wyomingensis.
Safari Ltd. apparently felt like stirring the pot up a bit in 2022 by releasing a toy of Stygimoloch (as well as an even more controversial genus, Nanotyrannus) in their Dino Dana series. It is posed in a somewhat extreme walking stance with its right leg extended forward and its left one extended all the way back. The tip of the tail is swaying slightly to the right, the head is turned to face right as well, and the mouth is open in a bellow or a yawn. The toy stands quite well on its own two feet, which are clearly oversized for that purpose.
From the tip of its beak to the end of its tail, the Stygimoloch measures just about 21 cm long and stands 8 cm tall at the tips of the largest spikes protruding from the back of its skull. Its main colour is reddish pink with beige for the underbelly, beak, and spikes. Dark grey is applied to the cranium and hands, while a darker grey is used for the hind claws. The feet are dull brown, the eyes are sandy yellow, and the inside of the mouth is dark purple. Topping it off is an array of pale pink spots on the neck, body, and tail. It’s not very often that we get pink dinosaur toys, so I welcome this interesting bit of variety. Be cool to see someone release a big ol’ theropod in a similar scheme to this.
The Stygimoloch‘s head, which is by far the most important part of any pachycephalosaur toy, is adorned with small spikes on the muzzle and cheeks and much larger ones protruding from the back of the skull, forming a crown of sorts. Moreover, the cranium is domed, albeit not as much as that of Pachycephalosaurus. By contrast, the head of Dracorex is quite flattened on top. Place the three Safari toys together and you can see a clear growth sequence, although the sizes are off.
This toy also features a correctly shaped torso and tail, and the lanky legs look good aside from the aforementioned giant feet. The dainty arms terminate in even daintier hands. Unfortunately, said hands have four fingers apiece when they should have five. It’s not an immediately noticable inaccuracy, but considering that all the pachycephalosaur toys from CollectA, Mattel, Papo, PNSO, and Schleich feature the correct number of fingers, I’m frankly perplexed that Safari allowed this error to occur.
As for sculpting detail, the head is covered in small scales, the cranium has tiny bumps all over it, and the largest spikes have shallow grooves. The body and limbs are similarly covered in scales, with the largest ones on the flanks and thighs. The feet have overlapping scutes and the soles are detailed as well. Whoever sculpted this toy certainly did a really fine job, although when you compare it to the Dracorex and the Pachycephalosaurus sculpted by Doug Watson, well, it’s a bit like trying to compete in a cooking contest against Alain Ducasse. The lack of osteoderms running in rows on the torso is the most glaring difference. But on a lighter note, the slitted eyes on this pachycephalosaur are rather expressive. You could easily interpret them as an indication that their owner is either irritated, perplexed, or simply drowsy.
Overall, I’d say that the Safari Stygimoloch is a decent prehistoric toy, its inaccurate hands notwithstanding. It stands well, it’s nicely sculpted, it has an unusual colour scheme, and it’s got some personality to it. I will say, however, that I would I really love to see Safari and the other companies start making some of the smaller known pachycephalosaurs such as Stegoceras or Homalocephale. Incidentally, just such a species, Platytholus clemensi, was formally described in April 2023. Like Pachycephalosaurus/Stygimloch/Dracorex, it was found in the Hell Creek Formation, but it was more closely related to Acrotholus and Prenocephale and thus is in no danger of being lumped in with a larger species.