Cheap and cheerful. I think these two words pretty much sum up the dinosaur figures produced by Chap Mei. They are quite unusual, like a cross between Hasbro’s Jurassic Park action figures and, umm, I’m not sure – something else. Barney the Dinosaur?
Chap Mei dinosaurs come in plenty of different packages – this Suchomimus came in ‘Dinosaur Safari’ packaging as parts of a play set, unique (as far as I’m aware) to the Early Learning Centre in the UK. The set includes a cameraman. The dinosaurs also come in different versions, for example, in addition to the blue figure featured here (Dinosaur Safari, Dinovalley 2), there is also a red version (DinoValley).
The figure itself has plenty of details, and although the long snout and pronounced spines on the back clearly identify this figure as a spinosaurid, there a many general problems. One problem is the lack of shape to the body. Look at the figure from above and you’ll notice that the left and right sides of the body run almost parallel from the neck to the tail. There’s no expansion of the body around the gut region, or narrowing of the neck. I think this shows that the sculptors base their models on images and photographs taken from the side, but lack information on the other views of the animals. I think this also explains why many Spinosaurus reconstructions have two ridges on the skull, instead of the single ridge along the middle, as is also the case with the Chap Mei Suchomimus (see detail of head below). The tail is ridiculously short and this is pronounced even more by a coil at the tip of the tail. Nevertheless, the figure still manages to stand unsupported on two feet, despite looking completely off balance.
There’s an inbuilt mechanism that opens and shuts the jaws when the arms are moved. The left arm rotates in one direction and the right arm in the other. It’s cheaply done and rattles in mine, but it works fine. The spectacular colours are interesting and make a nice change from the dull greys and greens seen in older models. I suppose these figures are intended to appear a bit cartoony, and are intended for play rather than display, so overall, we can’t complain too much…
Available as part of a large DinoValley 2 playset here $
And it gets worse. I have the red version of this suchomimus, and it has the following problems:
1. The lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw.
2. The jaws don’t close tightly when they are supposed to close.
3. Chap Mei didn’t bother to paint the claws.
4. The paint scheme does not continue to the tail and the forearms, which of course highlights the wretched, cheese-paring, cut-and-paste manufacturing standards.