Review and photos by Faelrin, edited by Suspsy
The year was 2000 and I was 9 years old. I remember sitting wide-eyed watching the BBC Walking with Dinosaurs documentary series on the Discovery Channel on the big television in my family’s living room, with my parents. I eagerly anticipated every episode, which introduced me to familiar and new dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, plus environments the likes of which I hadn’t seen before. The last of the six episodes was also the most crushing, as it meant the finality of not only the main series, but to the end of the long lived reign of the non-avian dinosaurs, and their total extinction. The sixth and final episode featured the life and death of one the world’s most famous dinosaurs, the giant theropod Tyrannosaurus rex, and also what wiped it out for good. It was an experience I won’t forget, and was glad to witness so young. Even now, despite the advances in paleontology and CGI since, the series still holds up, and is still beloved by many people the world over due to its iconic depictions and stories of these amazing prehistoric creatures.
Fast forward to September 2021, and I was 30 years old. It was when the third of the Beasts of the Mesozoic Kickstarters launched, and what would end up as the most successful of the three: the much anticipated Tyrannosaur Series. Unlike the previous two Kickstarters, this one had two exclusive action figures. The first one is a 1/35 scale Tyrannosaurus, painted and with packaging in tribute to the BBC Walking with Dinosaurs version. It won by a landslide in a poll held in late March/early April 2020 by David Silva on all his various Creative Beast Studio social media accounts. The other contenders for the poll were Beast Wars Megatron, the 1993 Kenner Jurassic Park Tyrannosaurus, the original prototype colors for the Dino-Riders Tyrannosaurus, and the Masters of the Universe Tyrantisaurus Rex. However, the Dino-Riders-themed colour scheme did thankfully get to see the light in the form of the 1/18 scale Kickstarter exclusive, which has been reviewed by fellow reviewer Suspsy, and is definitely worth checking out. The 1/35 Kickstarter exclusive figure is one of the three figures I was able to pledge for at the time (the other two include the Guanlong and the Yutyrannus), and what a joy it is to finally have it on hand now, after a year plus wait.
Shortly after the Kickstarter ended in October, I was thankfully able to see the original prototypes for these figures in person at the Toy Con in New Jersey in November, as well as meet up with David for the third time. I took quite a bit of images, and even brought many figures to get comparisons with (after getting consent from David), some of which are shown below. I have a lot more images in my forum post here. The original prototypes were unfortunately lost in transit and never arrived at their intended destination at the factory in China, or even out of the US for that matter. This was shared in the Kickstarter update #43 in late June of 2022. At this point, work on the paint samples were already underway, and after getting them in hand, David was able to fix them up and ship them back. Thankfully, these did make it to the factory in China so that production could continue and ultimately reach the finish line. Those prototypes served as paint masters, or in other words, reference material for the factory workers to paint the figures, reference material that can be looked over in every direction, which is much harder to do with images or video alone (which they did have to make do with until those were finally in hand).
Now to focus on the subject of this review. For starters, the packaging is a wonderful tribute to and re-creation of the original Toyway Walking With Dinosaurs toys, both in front and in the back. Thanks to forum member Duna’s help back in early 2021, I was able to get my hands on an unopened WWD Tyrannosaurus, still in its pristine packaging. As luck would have it, I am able to enjoy figures both side by side, and I’m glad to be able to share them together here. The package art is also a wonderful scene created by artist Raul Ramos, who has helped with other package art in this series, the previous ceratopsian series, and even some sculpt work for both. The scene depicts the massive predator standing on top of its prey, a recently killed Edmontosaurus, in perhaps a callback to the scene where the mother Tyrannosaurus kills this hadrosaur (then called Anatotitan in the show) to feed her chicks. Underneath the sleeve is packaging that appears as a mix of both the regular BotM Tyrannosaur Series packaging, and the unique and classic WWD look.
Inside the packaging, you get a collector’s card, some instructions on how to assemble the tail, with long term posing suggestions, and of course, the figure and its accessories, including the alternate posing legs, several feet, and the base. When it came time to assemble the tail, I opted for the hot water method by boiling some water in a cup in the microwave, carefully dangling the tail tip in the cup for about a minute, drying it off, and finally attaching it to the body with little issue. Inside the box is also a glossy pull-out with a nice jungle aesthetic to it, which may make for a nice diorama background, perhaps. The box measures a bit over 10 inches/25.4 cm long by 8.25 inches/20.96 cm tall by nearly 5 inches/12.7 cm wide.
Before taking a closer look at the figure, I gave the base a good look over. It measures a bit over 5 inches/12.7 cm long by 3 inches/7.62 cm wide and less then an inch/2.54 cm off the ground. I really like the vibrant green moss and brown roots alongside the grey-brown stones. The shape of the base is roughly triangular. There are two steel pegs inside that are to be used with the static legs and feet. The instructions particularly mention using the static legs for long term stability on the base, and also which direction to use the base in: the top bit of the “triangle” with the clump of rocks, facing forward. The underside of the base is hollow, and grey in color, and has a stamp with “Creative Beast Studio 2022, Made in China” on it. Unlike the 1/18 scale figure’s base, it is one piece and can not be separated. Worth noting the base itself was also sculpted by David Silva. I also think it would work pretty well alongside the Mountains Environment Accessory Pack from the initial Raptor Series, but I unfortunately don’t have it on hand at the moment to get comparisons with. It would also suit the figure rather well, as the environment in the episode the Tyrannosaurus featured in had snow-covered mountains and Araucaria trees galore. Those trees were also present in the Late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation that Tyrannosaurus lived in. The tree in that set (or the similar Forest one) would also scale much better alongside this figure than the previous Raptor Series it was originally a part of.
Now for the main meat of this review: the tyrant lizard king itself. This figure is beautifully painted and really captures the look of the WWD Tyrannosaurus, yet is a bit more vivid and also more updated and anatomically accurate. The body is mostly a dark bronze brown color with some golden striping along the back side and a mix of cream and light brown on the underside. The eyes are a piercing red orange and the neck is a deep red. The claws are painted light brown and the feet have similar golden striping like on the back. The mouth is also exceptionally painted, including the tiny teeth at the top of the gums, with a gloss coating to give the mouth tissues a wet appearance.
The sculpt was designed by Jake Baardse, while Raul Ramos contributed to the part separation and the 3D printing. The sculpt detail is practically the same as the much larger 1/18 scale version, just shrunken down. The scales are probably too big at this size, but they at least do give the figure a nice texture, almost reminding me of lizard or snake skin. I think Suspsy did a great job with the breakdown of the anatomy on the figure, and other details pertaining to the sculpt, so I would again recommend giving his stellar review a readthrough. In short, though, this figure’s anatomy is pretty accurate to the current understanding of the fossil material. The lips and completely scaly/featherless look is plausible, but still open for interpretation until more evidence is found. I find the end result pretty appealing in any case.
UPDATE 04/07/23: Shortly after this review was published, a new paper on non-avian theropod lips, and particularly in regards to Tyrannosaurus, was published in Science on March 30th by Thomas Cullen et al. I go a bit more into detail about the paper’s findings in my subsequent BotM Yutyrannus review, but in short, they compared the foramina (the little holes on the skull that serve as nerve and blood vessel attachment) from non-avian theropods to the ones on the skulls of extant crocodilians, enamel from a Daspletosaurus tooth and an alligator tooth, teeth length, and skull length of various non-avian theropods and monitor lizards of the genus Varanus, and ultimately concluded that non-avian theropods having lepidosaur-like lips was the most plausible reconstruction at this time. There’s even more from the supplementary material showing how far a Tyrannosaurus skull could plausibly close without breaking. I would definitely recommend checking the paper out, as well as the full breakdown of it by Mark Witton.
The sculpt is about 14.5 inches/36.83 cm long by 4.5 inches/11.43 cm tall at the hips by 2.5 inches/6.35 cm wide (hips and feet). The head by itself is about 2 inches/5.08 cm long (or 2.5 inches/6.35 cm if you measure all the way to the back of the neck piece) and about 1.5 inches/3.81 cm tall. Using an online scale calculator and the famous specimen FMNH PR2081, more commonly known as Sue, and their length of 12.3–12.4 meters, gives an estimate scale of around 1:33.4-1:33.7, so close enough to either 1:35 or perhaps even 1:30. When accounting for the length of the head on the figure (2 inches) and Sue’s skull, which is about 54.9 inches long, it gives an estimated scale of around 1:27.45, which is close to 1:30. In any case, please take these scale estimates with a grain of salt. If one has a better idea on the scale as well, please comment.
What does differ between this Tyrannosaurus and the 1/18 version is the articulation, or somewhat. Most notably, it lacks the wrist articulation of the larger figure, due to how tiny the forelimbs are this time around. Surprisingly, it still does feature articulation at the elbows, as tiny as they are too. As far as I can tell, and if I recall correctly, the rest of the articulation is still present on this figure. Like on the 1/18 figure, the hip joints cannot be rotated forward too much, or else it looks a little weird. They cannot move back much at all. It’s likely a result of keeping the anatomy in line, and perhaps helps with the long term stability of the legs. The neck piece can be rotated side to side, and the head can move side to side as well, but neither can really move up or down much as far as I can tell. The jaw has some of the tightest, and yet smoothest articulation I’ve handled on any theropod figure. I think the extra effort and revisions put into the tooling have really paid off here. For comparison, it’s definitely more flush than the earlier 1/6 raptors (or the Guanlong from the same series that I recently opened up). The figure is also incredibly stable, both on and off the base, despite having accurately proportioned feet. A lot of figures in this scale (and others) tend to have either larger feet for stability, a tripod tail pose, or even permanent bases. I don’t know if the inner workings from being an action figure, or the neutral pose has ultimately helped it, but it balances really well. So far this is the most stable Tyrannosaurus in this scale in my collection, and all with proper-sized feet, tail held high off the ground, and an optional base.
Now, as far as posing with the knee articulation on any of the legs, and swapping the alternate feet for the articulated legs goes, I cannot stress enough that they need to be heated up first, either with scalding hot water like I used, or a hairdryer to soften up the plastic. Even then, some brute force might still be needed. There may also be excess paint in the joints that might need to be scraped away (if not chip off on its own). After getting a lot of that out of the way, I was able to mess around with alternate feet and articulated legs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really get the figure to balance all that well. That may be a result of the floor of my bedroom not being level at all, but I’m not sure. In any case I ultimately had to use the base and posing rod from my Kickstarter exclusive Velociraptor that I thankfully still had on hand to help with some of those poses, but it was still a struggle since I seem to have misplaced the U-shaped piece, which probably would have been helpful to have here. I think a posing rod for the included base may have been a helpful addition for at least some short term poses with the alternate running feet and toy photography. Your mileage may vary, though.
Despite how much I otherwise enjoy this beautiful figure, I do have a few criticisms that do hinder my full enjoyment out of it. The first thing is the neck piece. While I’m certainly not the first to touch on this, I still think it is worth reiterating. While it does help create a more natural outline, at least from a side view, from the front it certainly does have a “hoodie” appearance to it. As I mentioned earlier, it does seem to reduce the amount of articulation and posing options of the figure, as far as the up and down movement of the head and neck goes, especially when compared to the prior ceratopsians and raptors (or the Guanlong). Another issue is that I seem to be having some trouble getting the steel rods on the base to go in all the way on the feet. I’m not sure if that’s intended, or if it is a minor design flaw, but worth mentioning in any case. As a result, the figure’s feet might hover slightly above the base. A further minor drawback is that due to the limited nature of the articulation on the hip joints, the figure can’t really be put into any satisfactory sitting or resting poses. It’s something I’ve enjoyed with the raptors and the ceratopsians as I’ve seen (or like the Kickstarter exclusive Monoclonius in hand, for example).
Aside from the few issues I ran into, and the limitations with the articulation, this is still a very fun figure to toy around with, and I wish I had my Ceratopsian Series sub-adult Triceratops on hand to get comparison shots with, as it’s the closest thing one will get to an accurate 1/35 articulated Triceratops in this scale. I honestly hope David expands the selection for these 1/35 options. They’re definitely more affordable then their larger 1/18 scale counterparts, and also easier to display, taking up much less space. I’d love an accurate articulated Ankylosaurus at this scale to be displayed alongside this figure for example, such as to recreate the scene in WWD where the mother Tyrannosaurus battles an Ankylosaurus to protect her chicks. As this particular color variant was a Kickstarter exclusive intended for backers only, it is no longer available. However, there is the standard coloration (based on the earless monitor lizard/Lanthanotus borneensis) in this scale that is still available for purchase at websites such as Creative Beast Studio, Big Bad Toy Store, Everything Dinosaur (after a restock I presume), and MiniZoo. It’s also worth mentioning that the next Kickstarter David is working on is for his Cyberzoic project, which is launching on October 3rd of this year. It will focus on fan favorite dinosaurs like Allosaurus, Carnotaurus, Dilophosaurus, Stegosaurus, Utahraptor, and many others, plus dragons, and prehistoric mammals such as Smilodon.