For almost every Tyrannosaurus toy on the market, there’s a Triceratops toy to face off with – as it should be, considering the rich history of fossils and iconic paleo media depicting these legendary Cretaceous contemporaries. Triceratops was more than just a prime steak to fill a theropod’s belly, of course; this colossal herbivore would have been a spectacular animal in its own right, and a powerful presence roaming the forests and hills of Western North America. Such a majestic creature is well-deserving of figurines which can capture its glamour as one of the last and biggest horned dinosaurs to roam the Earth.
Thankfully, the “three-horned face” has not been wanting for good replicas on the market, especially in the past several years; but surely one of the most impressive releases of all is the gigantic 1/18 action figure produced for David Silva’s Beasts of the Mesozoic line, one of the very biggest “toy” renditions of the three-horn to date. This gargantuan collector’s piece has already been reviewed here on the Blog; but a smaller, sub-adult version of the action figure was also produced and released previously, for those collectors who might need to be more frugal with space and price.
The Creative Beast Sub-Adult Triceratops was released as figurine no. 03 of wave 1, from the Beasts of the Mesozoic Ceratopsian Series. The package is the standard, fairly high-quality design seen for the line, constructed of sturdy cardboard with a large product window. The window may be prone to warping. An extra card sleeve is taped over one end of the box, featuring the series name, genus, and fact files, decorated by splendid artwork by collaborator Paul Ramos. The back of the box features the complete checklist of Wave 1 ceratopsians for one’s collectible recording needs. The box can be opened from either end, and an inserted backdrop behind the main figure tray can also be removed for diorama display.
Billed as 1/18 scale, the figurine measures 27 cm (10.5 in) in length. At this size a scaled-up individual would measure between 4-5 meters, from head to tail. However, if one prefers to use the figure to represent an adult specimen, it measures just right for an adult at a maximum size of 9 meters (29.5 ft, as listed in the product fact files) in 1:33 scale. Perhaps coincidentally, The 1/35 Tyrannosaurus action figure released under the Tyrannosaur Series also measures more accurately at 1:33 for a max-sized individual, so collectors can happily pose their cretaceous giants together in perfect scale. When displayed side by side, one also can’t help appreciating just how formidable of an opponent a fully-grown Triceratops would have been for any predator in life!
There are two species of Triceratops currently recognized: T. horridus, the type species, and T. prorsus. Both Beasts of the Mesozoic figures represent the more commonly depicted T. horridus, most notably distinguished by the longer snout and smaller nose horn. For the most part, the Sub-Adult action figure is an identical, downscaled replica of the larger Adult figure, with the curious exception of only one pair of brow horns. Why the full-size adult figure came with exchangeable horns – the primary, curved adult horns, and the relatively straighter sub-adult horns – when the more scale-flexible sub-adult did not, I have no idea; it seems like a scenario that should have been reversed. The sub-adult also gets left with rather unseemly gaps at the bases of the horns, where they would normally be detachable, but are now left functionless.
Gaps aside, the sculpting and design of the skull is still most impressive. Details are crisp, and edges are sharp – literally and figuratively! The horns and beak are thoroughly pointy and to be handled with care. Even the epoccipitals (the triangular bones adorning the frill edges) are defined well enough to remind buyers this action figure is meant as an adult collectible, not a child’s casual play toy. The snout is narrower and deeper than many popular depictions of the animal, granting the figure a fairly alert and imposing presence when viewed head-on. Round, circular scales adorn the lower jaw, cheek, and most of the beak, while the skull and frill appear to be sheathed in keratin. Since the time of this figure’s release, evidence has been published to confirm Triceratops’s frill would have a scaly covering instead; but such is the changing nature of science, and not something to hold against the figure.
The overall shape of the frill is large and well-rounded, fully-formed with a keel in the center and a perfect crescent curvature upwards and forwards. The epoccipital bones are integrated into the keratin sheath, completing the magnificent frame to the skull and providing full protection to the muscular neck. The nose horn is reasonably sized, and the brow horns are long and strong, with a gentle curvature to their shape as they extend from the orbits of the skull. While I questioned the lack of exchangeable horns before, Triceratops specimens are known to exhibit a remarkable variety in horn sizes and shapes – especially between growth stages – so although this figure is intended to represent a sub-adult, one can reasonably use it to depict a fully-grown horned specimen as well. Altogether, the skull is positively enormous in proportion, nearly equaling a third of the figure’s total length – as is appropriate for this oft-studied and reconstructed genus.
Elsewhere across the body, attention to detail remains as sharp as ever. Rounded scales of increasing size make up the majority of the figure’s integument, with rows of nipple-shaped osteoderms lining the back, and more uniform grid patterning along the throat and belly. The body is excellently proportioned to reflect the robust, compact anatomy of Triceratops, with a short tail and four sturdy legs lifting the body clear above the ground, fully mobile and active in spite of its great size. The peculiar splayed toes are accurately represented on each of the feet, and no inch of muscle and soft issue is left wanting on this prime specimen of a ceratopsian.
Triceratops is adorned in bright, high-contrast spots and stripes inspired by the modern-day lace monitor. The sub-adult figure, not unlike juvenile lizards today, is even more brightly colored than the adult. The upper half of the body is predominantly a solid black, punctuated by a row of soft sky-blue splotches on each side. The flanks and belly are a golden yellow and cream gradient, which criss-crosses with the blacks to produce fluid striping across the ribs and legs, continuing down as alternating patterns on the tail. The face is also adorned by black-and-yellow patterns, mottled in striking organic patterns which highlight the facial features without coming across as unrealistic in design. The eyes are vividly painted red with yellow irises, giving an intensity to the animal’s gaze; and the mouth is neatly painted in warm pink. A faint pinkish wash is also applied to the body and legs, accentuating the detail in between scales; however the wash isn’t quite evenly applied between body segments on mine. Some gradients also occur between blue spots and yellow striping, but the effect looks a little rough; nevertheless, this is a splendid color scheme with solid application, granting this already-imposing action figure even more shelf presence.
Of course, since this an action figure, the articulation is a pivotal aspect of the product as well. The sub-adult Triceratops is articulated with 20 points, with substantial room for poseability. The head and neck each are on a ball joint, able to twist to the sides by about 45 degrees either to the left or the right. Up-and-down motion is more limited, but the neck can slide between the shoulders to get a distinctive glance upwards or downwards. The mouth is hinged, and can shift from open to… less open. It’s not bad, but I do wish the mouth could have been engineered to close for a better range of expressions. The cheek on one side of mine is also short, and will expose the inner mouth slightly when opened at its widest.
A mid-torso ball joint enhances the figure’s side-to-side action range, with a lesser, but still serviceable, range of motion up and down. The shoulders and forefeet are ball-jointed as well, with swivel/hinge joints for the elbows. These joints make for excellent display potential when couple with the head, ideal for walking and charging pose setups. The hind legs are a little trickier to work with. The feet are ball-jointed again, and the knees and ankles are hinged; but the hips can only rotate back and forth, and the feet are somewhat limited in range due to the cuts of the sculpt. Balancing all four limbs evenly can be a challenge for some poses, but with patience, one can achieve satisfying results. Topping off the articulation is a simple ball joint for the short tail, for extra personality in posing.
Despite “merely” representing a sub-adult specimen, this is a highly impressive representation of the iconic Triceratops, and a delightful piece for collectors to display and play with. A few small qualms about the design and articulation don’t detract from this action figure’s general excellence. If you’re looking for a high-end ceratopsian centerpiece – but maybe can’t manage fitting in that humongous 1/18 Adult version – the Beasts of the Mesozoic Sub-Adult should satisfy on all fronts. You can purchase this figure straight from the Creative Beast main site, as well as from specialty shops including Everything Dinosaur and Dan’s Dinosaurs.
As a personal aside, here I was writing out this review – my 90th review for the Dinosaur Toy Blog – when I also realized I’ve been writing these reviews for six years on the dot now! What a trip it’s been so far; to think that the Beasts of the Mesozoic line was still in its infancy back then, too. We are truly living in a golden age of dinosaur collectibles, and I’m excited to keep following what the future of this hobby will bring!