Tarbosaurus (Soft Model 2020 by Favorite Co. Ltd.)

2.9 (10 votes)

Although the “Asian Tyrannosaurus” doesn’t enjoy the same fame as its close American relative, Tarbosaurus bataar has gained a little notoriety for itself in recent years; it’s one of few dinosaurs to receive the (dubious) honor of starring in at least one feature film of its own, and a few toy companies have also begun giving Tarbosaurus attention. Mattel and PNSO are a couple of the most notable examples to produce Tarbosaurus toys; however, the Japan-local company Favorite Co. Ltd. also produced an impressive model a few years prior as one of their museum-exclusive releases. In 2020, Favorite decided to revisit the genus with a brand-new figure as part of their latest wave of Soft Model toys.

Favorite’s Soft Model Tarbosaurus comes packaged in the standard cardboard and plastic slipcase, with a small base included for stability. The base is painted slate gray and textured like a broad, rocky surface; it attaches to the dinosaur by a peg inserted into the left foot. The dinosaur figure itself measures 21 cm (>8 inches) long, floating somewhere around the 1:50 scale. Posed with one foot forward with its tail raised level off the ground, my model is, happily, capable of standing on some flat surfaces even without the included base. However, this could vary depending on the climate, as well as the condition of individual copies. The figure stands tall with its legs straight and its body tilted upwards slightly; although the mouth is sculpted open, this animal appears to be traveling casually, rather than actively hunting or attacking (maybe the open mouth is yawning or panting?).

Tarbosaurus is quite well known from the fossil record, with as many as 30 specimens known to science, so there’s ample material for Favorite supervisor Kazunari Araki to have referenced when designing this reconstruction. The skull is fairly narrow and triangular, lacking the extra width in the rear of the skull seen in Tyrannosaurus. The model’s snout bears a subtle upwards curvature, consistent with several fossil skulls. The snout could perhaps be a little taller, with more definition to the nasal ridges; however, it seems a fair amount of variety exists between Tarbosaurus specimens, so this is acceptable. The rear of the lower jaw could be built up better, however. The teeth are sculpted together, but retain distinctive points whose texture can be felt by running one’s finger across the dentary. Sadly, the teeth are mostly uniform in size, lacking the more jagged array seen in some bones and skeletals.

Conversely from the skull, the figure’s arms are positively tiny – Tarbosaurus had the smallest forelimbs in proportion to its body of any tyrannosaurid. The figure does not, however, depict the pronounced size difference known from fossils between the first and second digits. Tarbosaurus was a very large theropod, but it wasn’t as extremely robust as Tyrannosaurus; Favorite’s model depicts an appropriately slimmer creature. Perhaps a little more bulk couldn’t have hurt, but Araki’s dinosaurs do tend to lean a little too far on the skinny side. The hip bone region looks like it could be slightly more robust to my eyes, with more musculature applied to the legs and the base of the tail. The skull also displays the fenestrae, which is a common but regrettable mistake that continues to be made by some artists. 

Finer detailing for the Tarbosaurus is done in a standard manner for the Soft Models, with wrinkly/scaly texture all over the body in varying degrees. Subtle emphasis in areas like the neck and thigh regions convey more stretching and folding of soft tissue that would be naturally expected of flexible body parts. Two rows of raised circular scales also run the length of the body and tail, starting from behind the head. They’re not very visible but add to the texture when handling the figure. Coloration is applied in a dirty yellow with a splotchy green top from head to tail. Araki states in an interview on Favorite’s website that the color scheme is meant to convey the desert environment of Mongolia, while also contrasting with other figures in the line. Personally, I think it also bears a semi-retro aesthetic, reminiscent of the simpler color schemes of certain toys from the 80s or 90s. Favorite’s models sometimes stray into garish territory, so the Tarbosaurus offers a decently modest presentation. Additional color details include beady orange eyes, a striking lavender hue for the mouth, and two blackish veins along the throat. The latter detail looks a little odd for a large, scaly animal, and probably could have been left out.

Although Favorite models are a bit hard to come by these days, with so few stores selling outside of Japan, the Soft Model Tarbosaurus is a good-quality representation of the Asiatic tyrant at a larger scale than Kaiyodo’s minifigures and a lower price than the more imposing PNSO model. At this time, Amazon Japan is your best bet for acquiring the model, but of course you can check eBay listings as well, or search for private sellers with connections overseas.

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Comments 4

  • The color scheme is reminiscent of some of the old Geoworld offerings, the sculpting slightly better. Sad, really….

  • Well, it’s better than CollectA’s.

    It’s criminal that you’re not an official reviewer yet. Yours are some of the best reviews on the blog.

  • Good and comprehensive and realistic review. It is a great figure, but its old limited version of Tarbosaurus Favorite was much better, it would need more volume as other brands have done, for example the PNSO brand, however despite its defects it is an elegant, neat and well-detailed figure.

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