After roughly four years of blogging and collecting I’ve reached my 50th review for the DTB. For this special review I wanted to do something offbeat and distinct. In seeking out a unique subject I came across a figure that merges my love of cinema with my love of dinosaurs, and I knew this was the model I would have to review. Depictions of dinosaurs don’t get much more vintage than this folks; I’m talking about the X-plus King Kong Tyrannosaurus from the original 1933 film. Much like Jurassic Park is the modern pinnacle of dinosaur movies; King Kong was once the same for its era. The film combined the latest science and special effects technology by Willis O’Brian to create a masterpiece of film making that still stands up today.
Although a dated reconstruction by today’s standards this model, and the stop-motion creature it’s based off is a classic representation of Tyrannosaurus. Naturally you must forgive the science of the time for not being where we are today. The three fingered hands, tail dragging stance and general reptilian vibe were all accurate in 1933. Indeed, the Tyrannosaurus depicted in King Kong was based off of Charles R. Knight’s 1906 depiction of Tyrannosaurus for The American Museum of Natural History, which was based on the Tyrannosaurus skeletal reconstruction by Henry Fairfield Osborn, the man who gave the tyrant lizard king its name in 1905. When you look at a model like this you’re not just looking at movie memorabilia, you’re looking at paleontological history, and something as significant I dare say as the dinosaur depictions in Crystal Palace Park.
But boy what a piece of movie memorabilia this is. Folks familiar with movie and pop culture collectibles will already be familiar with X-plus. They’re a Japanese company that produces some of the finest collectibles out there, from Godzilla to Fred Flintstone and everything is between. Although the Tyrannosaurus only appears in King Kong for a brief three minutes before Kong snaps his jaw, the battle between the two beasts is among the most classic in cinema history Personally for me, this is my favorite scene in the film, even though poor Rexy comes up short in the end. Luckily my T. rex won’t have any oversize primates to contend with, save for a toddler perhaps! There is so much personality packed into the those three minutes that the dinosaur still feels like a fully conceived movie character, and that infusion of character into his work is part of what made Willis O’Brian a special effects legend. All of that character is present in the X-plus model too, as well as a high level of commitment in bringing this movie monster to life.
There is no point discussing the accuracy here, suffice it to say its movie accurate and thus time period accurate. The hollow model stands an impressive 8” tall and 15” in length and is made out of PVC. There is some assembly required here as the model is packaged in a box with the tail and left leg separate from the body. Putting this thing together was a chore. The parts barely snap together and the soft hollow body doesn’t allow you to exert much pressure on it. In the end I had to use warm water to soften up the male ends and a dull butter knife to push them in. It probably took me a good 20 minutes to assemble the thing but was certainly worth the struggle. While the seam around the tail is slightly off putting those around the legs are no more obvious than those on the legs of the actual creature in the movie. This also means that the tail and legs are articulated, and so are the arms. Getting it to stand right means playing with the legs a bit but once you get it into position it stands nice and sturdy. Oddly, the tail is held up off the ground on this tail dragging T. rex. Unfortunately the jaw is not articulated which I feel is a missed opportunity.
For those who like their dinosaurs scaly this guy is a real treat. The entire body, save for the saggy and fleshy throat, foot pads, and hands, are covered in pebbly raised scales with a line of distinctive scutes running down the back and tail. A tongue is sculpted inside the mouth, complete with individually sculpted teeth and a palate on the roof of the mouth. The coloration on this guy can be quickly addressed…its gray. That’s none too surprising since this model represents an animal from a black and white movie. That said the gray is used to good effect with proper darkening and lighting along various body parts, ridges and musculature. The only parts that are not gray are the white teeth and black eyes.
Although this model will probably appeal to movie buffs more so than dinosaur collectors this is not just a model of the 1933 King Kong Tyrannosaurus. Fans of outdated paleo-art, Charles R. Knight, Tyrannosaurus, paleontological history, and dinosaur movies, will all find reasons to love this model. Luckily this is not a rare or expensive model. Although some eBay vendors will be selling it at an inflated price you can easily find it on eBay or Amazon for about $30. For a unique model of this size and quality that’s a very fair price.
Since this is my 50th review I feel it’s a good time to stop and thank those who have helped and encouraged me along the way. Firstly of course, a big thanks to site owner Dr. Adam Smith for giving me the opportunity to write here as well as for creating this place to celebrate all things prehistoric. My wife Alicia needs mentioning too, who despite not being a collector has read every single one of my reviews and puts up with endless spending on, and ranting about, dinosaur toys. A special shout-out goes to my fellow blog writers whose reviews inspired me to start writing and collecting in the first place as well as all the forum members who have given me a community with which to share my passion. And last but not least a big thank you to those that have read and commented on my reviews and have encouraged me to keep doing this. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the ride so far, here’s to 50 more!