During the Late Cretaceous, the region currently known as the harsh Gobi Desert of Mongolia was a rich expanse of floodplains, mudflats, and shallow lakes. Here one would find abundant titanosaurs, hadrosaurs, ankylosaurs, and pachycephalosaurs, although no known ceratopsids to date. There was an even wider variety of theropods that included alverezsaurs, dromaeosaurs, ornithomimosaurs, oviraptorosaurs, therizinosaurs, troodontids, and tyrannosaurs. And of this last group, Tarbosaurus was by far the biggest, weighing at least five tons and measuring around ten metres from nose to tail tip. Indeed, it has long been famous for being the biggest known Asian tyrannosaur—although that title has recently been challenged by Zhuchengtyrannus.
Schleich’s 2023 Tarbosaurus toy is only the third tyrannosaur they’ve ever tackled, the other two being Albertosaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex (duh). This alarming lizard is posed in a walking stance with its head turned slightly to the right, its left leg forward, and the tip of its tail swinging to the left. It’s a fairly large theropod that measures just over 31 cm in length and about 12 cm in height. When images of the toy first dropped online, there were some people seriously arguing that it was merely a retool of Schleich‘s 2018 T. rex. I don’t own that one myself, but I can still assure you all that the notion is 100% poppycock. This Tarbosaurus is an entirely new sculpt.
The base colour is olive with black covering the arms and lower legs. Dark brown shading runs down the cranium, the spine, and to the tail tip and dark blue stripes adorn the head, neck, torso, and most of the tail. The seemingly leering eyes are bright yellow and the tongue is bright red. The inside of the mouth is dark brown with black wash and the teeth are white with grey wash, which gives them a decidedly dirty and unattractive appearance. Looks as though this Tarbosaurus was crunching on charcoal, to be honest. Other than that, it’s a pretty good colour scheme for a big ol’ predator.
Like nearly all Schleich theropods, this one features an articulated lower jaw that opens to about 30 degrees. When the mouth is open, you can see that the palate and the tongue are covered in fine groves. Unfortunately, this feature also means that there’s a very visible seam line running across the back of the neck.
And while we’re on the subject of its mouth, it’s worth mentioning that Tarbosaurus had, not surprisingly, quite a powerful set of jaws, with one recent study concluding that it could bite down with an anterior force of 13,298 N and a posterior force of 25,253 N. Granted, that’s nowhere near as devastating as a T. rex’s jaws, but still one of the strongest theropod bites, enough to crush through the bones of hadrosaurs, therizinosaurs, and sauropods.
The ridges and postorbital bosses atop the skull are significantly smaller and smoother than those on the Schleich T. rex toys, which is a good way to help distinguish this one as a Tarbosaurus. The skin is your standard combination of small scales and thick wrinkles, along with rows of scutes covering the feet and bumpy osteoderms running from the back of the neck to the end of the tail. Nothing really unique, but a decent sculpting job nonetheless. This theropod certainly looks the part of a ferocious, bloodthirsty carnivore, and it stands perfectly well too. Nice and light too, making it fairly safe and suitable for younger dinosaur fans to play with in an energetic manner.
But like the majority of Schleich prehistoric toys, this one is burdened by glaring anatomical inaccuracies. Let’s begin with the head. While it looks fairly good in profile, it is far too wide when viewed from above. Tarbosaurus possessed a much narrower, more triangular skull than T. rex. Similarly, the dentary section of the lower jaw on this toy is too deep. As well, there’s a major case here of that most detestable affliction in paleoart: shrink-wrapping. The eyes are sunk deep in the orbits and the lateral temporal fenestrae can be see beneath the skin all too clearly. And finally, the upper teeth are fully exposed when the mouth is closed. As far as I myself am concerned, this does count as an inaccuracy in light of a recently published study which concludes that theropods did indeed possesses lips—of a sort. Creative Beast Studio has been putting lips on its raptors and tyrannosaurs from the very beginning and both CollectA and Safari Ltd. have recently begun making theropods with lips as well, but it’s anyone’s guess as to whether Schleich will follow suit. Time will tell, I guess.
Next, let’s discuss the limbs. The feet are noticeably oversized, but that’s to be expected of a large theropod toy that stands without the need of a base or a tripod pose. The arms, however, are not as forgivable. The nicest thing I can say about them is that the hands are non-pronated. Tarbosaurus had the very smallest arms of any known tyrannosaurid in proportion to its body, but you wouldn’t know that from the relatively large ones on this toy. Indeed, due to the lack of the signature narrow head and terribly teeny arms, along with the fact that Schleich doesn’t print genus names on their prehistoric toys like CollectA and Safari Ltd. do, I suspect that a good many children and adults are going to mistake this toy for another T. rex than a Tarbosaurus.
This Tarbosaurus toy certainly won’t be winning any accuracy contests, but it does still enjoy the considerable advantages of being big, fun to play with, scary-looking, and clearly a close relative of T. rex if not the tyrant icon itself. As such, it’s very likely to be a popular seller. And it’s much cheaper than the PNSO version shown above, so it’ll probably be a hit with adult collectors as well as children.
In closing, I’d like to extend my thanks to the good folk at Happy Hen Toys for sending this review sample all the way up here in Ontario for me to review. Mighty generous of them indeed! The Tarbosaurus is currently available for purchase on their website, along with the rest of Schleich’s prehistoric line.
If PNSO hadn’t made a Tarbosaurus I would have considered this one, but it’s really just a Tarbosaurus in name only. Schleich made no effort to highlight the few features that distinguish Tarbosaurus from T. rex, so I consider this a fail even if the toy is otherwise decent.
Oui mais il y a pas mal de choses qui contredit cela plus on raconte de la chaire ou de la peau sur un animal disparu plus c’est spéculative c’est pour que sa devrait pas être une inexactitude par exemple les theropode de pnso n’ont pas de lèvres pourtant il sont en général assez précis
Très bonne critique mais mais les paléontologue ne sont pas très sur que lrs grande théropodes comment tyrannosaurus avait des lèvre ce est discutables car aucun animal très proche des dinosaures n’a de lèvre donc ne pas avoir de lèvre n’est pas une inexatitude
Je suppose que vous n’avez pas pris la peine de lire l’étude récente à laquelle était lié l’examen. Vous seriez bien avisé de le faire.
En fait, l’étude de Cullen a fait un très bon travail en répondant à toutes les allégations faites contre les lèvres. Il y a plus de paléontologues maintenant en faveur des théropodes ayant des lèvres que ceux qui n’en ont pas. Alors oui, je considère effectivement qu’un théropode sans lèvres est inexact. Et PNSO et Schleich feraient bien de suivre les exemples de Safari, CollectA et Creative Beast Studio.
For me, this was a very useful review. I was considering buying one, but the excellent pictures convinced me not to – too many shortfalls. I like the paint job, but at the end of the day, it’s a matter of “good from afar, but far from good”. Still I gave it a 3, maybe a bit generous, but what the heck.
I think the only good prehistoric creature Schleich has made this year is Gallimimus, which, considering the competion, is the best on the market right now.
I hope that one gets reviewed soon.
I’ve noticed an annual pattern with my Schleich acquisitions – one a year, except during that brief, rumored Constantinov revival , long since over. If I was to get one this year, it would be the somewhat long-legged Gastonia.
Meh, I think the CollectA Gastonia is better.
Besides, their Gallimimus is something to be rewarded to considering the usual standard of this company’s prehistoric creatures.
It does look pretty enjoyable for a toy. It’s a shame Schleich can’t be bothered to strive for a higher standard, though; I’m sure they have the capacity if they really tried.
It’s interesting you say that. They have historically done Stegosaurus quite well. And their takes on Pentaceratops are pretty good.
It’s not that they haven’t done good sclupts. And in fairness, they actually have improved.