Tyrannosaurus rex (2017)(Wild Safari by Safari Ltd.)

4.7 (93 votes)

The old bull snorts angrily, but Hardbit is unmoved. He has stalked and killed scores of calves and cows on his own, and together with his mate, Tanjaw, large bulls like this one. And there is no moon in the sky overhead. A good night for a kill. Silently and methodically, the two hunters circle their prey. Unlike them, it cannot see in the pitch darkness and can only swing its horned head blindly from side to side. Suddenly, Tanjaw lunges and bites down on the bull’s right thigh! The bull jerks its head to the right and in that instant, Hardbit comes in from the left, clamps his jaws down on the bull’s frill, and forces the massive animal to the ground. Immediately, Tanjaw places her full weight on top of the bull and pins it down. Hardbit then plants a foot on the bull’s shoulder, bites down on the frill even harder, and begins to tug with every ounce of his brute strength. The frantic bull struggles and screams as the skin around its neck stretches and tears. There is a sickening crunch of breaking bone, and then, with one last effort, Hardbit wrenches off the bull’s head completely! He holds the dripping prize aloft for a few seconds, then lets it fall to the ground with a thump.

Tanjaw wastes no time in beginning to feed, but Hardbit pauses to catch his breath. He regards the severed head lying in a dark puddle at his feet. Although his mind does not allow much in the way of deep thought, he is still capable of feeling pride. This was indeed a good night for a kill . . .

Tyrannosaurus rex is THE dinosaur, plain and simple. Granted, some people have other favourites, and that’s great, but the tyrant lizard king will always be iconic. It’s the Batman, Spider-Man, Optimus Prime, Mickey Mouse, and Darth Vader of dinosaurs, the most famous and the most liked. And the most studied one too. The Dinosaur Toy Blog certainly attests to this popularity, as there are by far more T. rex reviews than any other animal. And now it’s my pleasure and privilege to review one of the newest and most anticipated renditions, the 2017 Feathered T. rex from Wild Safari!

As is often the case when I acquire a new figure, I promptly presented this T. rex before my non-dinosaur loving wife. Her gut reaction this time? “It’s really fat!” And yes, this certainly is one of the beefiest tyrant kings I’ve seen yet. The rib cage is nearly 6 cm wide and the torso is around 7 cm deep. The figure stands a majestic 14 cm tall and measures just over 31 cm long, positively dwarfing all the previous Wild Safari T. rex figures! It is also noticeably heavier than either of the Papo T. rexes or the CollectA Deluxe Feathered T. rex. So why is this figure so massive? Well, the truth is that we’ve all been duped for a long time into envisioning T. rex as slimmer than it really was. One reason is that a number of prominent museums such as the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and even the Field Museum in Chicago have their T. rex specimens mounted without gastralia, those belly ribs that would have made the animal’s torso particularly bulgy. The Smithsonian’s recently acquired specimen, however, will include its gastralia when it goes on display in 2019. Another reason is that even some of the best paleoartists have had a tendency to depict T. rex more along the lines of an NBA forward as opposed to the NFL linebacker it really was. Indeed, while it’s true that Giganotosaurus was longer than T. rex, the latter was still heavier, with a thicker head, neck, and torso as well as far greater physical strength. And if the Ibrahim/Sereno reconstruction of Spinosaurus is indeed correct, then the spined lizard also lost out to the tyrant lizard in terms of mass if not length. Bottom line: I strongly advise against placing this figure up on a high shelf; you really wouldn’t want it falling on your head!

This T. rex is posed with the head raised high and turned to the left, the jaws wide open, the left foot forward, and the powerful tail twitching slightly to the left and well off the ground. Unfortunately, I’ve heard a few people report balancing issues with their figures. Mine was stood well enough when I first got it, but after a couple of days, it became more prone to tipping forward. Fortunately, after softening the left foot in boiling water, bending it back slightly, and then running it under cold water, I have solved that issue. The figure can also be balanced on the tip of its tail if needs be.

Our fine feathered friends! And a must-read book too!

One detail that I’m going to touch right now are the deep scars crisscrossing the muzzle, three one on side and three on the other. Looks like the result of a very nasty scrap with another T. rex. There does exist fossil evidence that tyrannosaurines at least occasionally engaged in intraspecific conflict. These could have arisen over food, territory, mating rights, or possibly even cannibalism. In any case, the scars give this individual a distinctly rugged, hard-bitten appearance, hence why I’ve named him Hardbit.

Hardbit’s most prominent feature is, of course, his elaborate plumage. Nearly his entire body is covered in feathers. A thick mane, similar to that found on the wreathed hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus) and various species of eagle, covers the back of his neck. A welcome bit of variety from the tall mohawks so frequently seen on feathered dinosaur depictions. There are even feathers extending onto his cranium. Feathered renditions of T. rex usually omit such a feature, so this is again a welcome change. The only bare parts are the muzzle, the mandible, the throat, the feet, and a large patch on the underbelly.

Like many of the 2017 Wild Safari figures, Hardbit here was crafted by artist (and fellow Canuck) Doug Watson, which alone should tell you about the quality of the sculpting. The featherless bits have a very fine pebbled texture, with thick folds of skin on the throat and large, overlapping scales on the fingers and feet. The feathers on the main body have a lush, shaggy feel, like on a rhea or a kiwi. The larger, spikier feathers comprising the mane have tiny grooves carved into them. The savage teeth are appropriately sharp and the roof of the mouth and the tongue are pitted. There are also rows of tiny osteoderms running along the brow ridges and along the top of the muzzle, as well as the aforementioned scars. Even the soles of the feet are textured. I can’t imagine how much time, effort, patience, and heart must have gone into sculpting this figure, but I take my hat off to you, Doug.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food!”

Hardbit is easily one of the most colourful Wild Safari dinosaurs to date. The plumage on his main body varies between dark red and pale orange with black stripes and a slight dark grey wash. The plumage on his chest and the underside of his tail have a white wash and the mane and cranial feathers are a combination of crimson and black. The scaly parts are a mixture of grey and beige, the nostrils, claws, and the large scales on the feet are dark grey, the eyes are yellow surrounded by red, the osteoderms are red as well, the mouth, connective tissue, and scars are crimson, and the teeth are white. It really is a gorgeous scheme, one that utilises a wide variety of colours, yet at the same time is quite realistic and not overly bold. There are a few small nicks and blemishes here and there amidst the feathers, but keep in mind that finely textured figures carry a greater risk of paint rubbing when they are packed close together during shipping. This goes more so for large figures like this one. Safari may want to consider providing extra protective packaging for their products in future.

And now let’s discuss the scientific accuracy of this figure. Doug Watson informed me that Hardbit was based on the famous Sue specimen, which is the largest T. rex known from near-complete remains (although Scotty might actually have exceeded Sue in mass). As such, Hardbit possesses all the correct anatomical features. The massive, T-shaped skull features stereoscopic vision and savage teeth, although the ones in the lower jaw could probably afford to be a bit larger. No question of shrink wrapping here; the orbits and fenestrae are completely hidden beneath the skin. There is a short, sturdy neck, a barrel-like rib cage, rightly tiny arms with non-pronated wrists, powerful-looking hind legs, and finally a stout tail whose enormous caudofemoralis muscles would have enhanced the animal’s speed and allowed it to successfully pursue live prey.

Updated 07/03/17
And then there’s all that shaggy-looking plumage. It’s true that there’s currently no direct fossil evidence of feathers on T. rex, but the same can be said for a good many theropods that we are still pretty certain had them. Fossilised feathers are the rare exception, not the norm, and phylogenetic bracketing certainly suggests the possibility that the tyrant king had some degree of feathering. Ah, but what about that recent paper that took a careful look at various tyrannosaurid skin fragments and concluded that they were scaly? Isn’t that the proverbial nail in the feathered coffin? Well, no, it’s not. Paleontology, like any other branch of science, is always open to changing in light of new ideas and information. This paper is not the final word on this topic, which the authors admit frankly themselves, and a number of prominent paleontologists such as Thomas Holtz and Andrea Cau have raised various issues with the methods and conclusions. As it presently stands, if T. rex really did have feathers, they may have been relatively sparse, like on the life-sized model used in National Geographic’s T. rex Autopsy (which I strongly recommend viewing if you haven’t already!). We’ll just have to see what future discoveries and research reveal. Even if it is demonstrated someday that Hardbit here is indeed too shaggy, it doesn’t take away from the fact that this one of the finest sculpted and most dyanamic T. rex toys ever. I will also note that, for the life of me, I’ve never understood the notion that feathered theropods can’t possibly be scary. I think the people who claim as such would be screaming at their top of their lungs if they were attacked by a Canada goose, let alone a great horned owl, a harpy eagle, or a cassowary (which actually has killed at least one person). And consider brown bears, which are covered in heavy fur that gives them a cuddly, friendly appearance. But have you ever seen The Revenant or the documentary film Grizzly Man? A feathered T. rex would be no less lethal than a scaly one.

Wild Safari has long been one of the very best prehistoric lines, but 2017 will go down in history as the year they took it to a whole new level of awesomeness. This Tyrannosaurus rex is nothing short of a masterpiece, no two ways about it. Its gargantuan size and bulk alone make it stand out in any dinosaur collection, but add to that the expansive plumage, the handsome colour scheme, the exquisite sculpting, and those vital airs of majesty and ferociousness that accompany any proper depiction of the tyrant lizard king, and you have a truly phenomenal toy. Indeed, it was voted Best Dinosaur Toy of 2017 by Prehistoric Times magazine! Hardbit is now my favourite T. rex figure, hands down. Yes, even more so than the CollectA version (which I still adore, mind you). Highest of recommendations! And a heartfelt thank you goes out to Dan’s Dinosaurs for generously providing this figure for review!

“It ain’t about how hard you bite. It’s about how hard you can get bit and keep moving forward. It’s about how many bites you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

Also available from Amazon.com here.

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Comments 49

  • I still can’t get used to the fat turkey look for T rex. I hate to go against the experts, afterall they are experts, but in my mind T rex was shrink wrapped.

    When you’re that big you would need to do everything you could to shed weight. Otherwise you would be slow, not agile, prone to injury from a fall and need lots of extra food just to support your bulk.

    The rationale for a fat T rex is its big bone structure; the big bones supporting oodles of muscle and other soft tissue. But I think its big bones simply evolved due to its lifestyle. When you’re really big and running on two legs, grappling with huge prey and probably falling routinely, big bones are essential to minimize injury. They offer extra protection against the stresses and strains of being big. That’s my view. Anyway, once I finish my time machine i’ll know for sure.

    As I write this now, in late 2020, it has been determined (for the moment) that Rex wasn’t covered in feathers but may have had a small amount of them running down the back of it’s neck and along the spine. However, as with everything connected to paleontology, stay tuned…

  • Awesome review! In fact it was what made me take a decision over buying it. I was looking for an “updated” tyrannosaurus and preferably accurate. This model is just perfect for the price. Loved your review.
    Mine has leaned after three months, but no risk to fall over my head, is it in a cabinet.

  • I have missed some words in the previous comment . “Sue” was approximately 28 years old when she died. So one of the the oldest T-rex ( younger than Trix) found. So considering these studies, this figure which argued to be based upon the “Sue” specimen is really trustworthy and extremely accurate. A truly phenomenal toy ever made for T-rex.

  • I am Kaustav Bhattacharyya and have a kin interest in the Tyrannosauridae family of dinosaurs. I have known that this model is based on the famous “Sue” specimen of T-rex. There are some comments that the head is some what less accurate. But I have seen the head of “Sue” from various sides and come to conclusion that when flesh will be added to the huge skull it will look absolutely what respected Doug Watson has created the head sculpt. And I have go through some studies on the facial structures on T-rex based on ages.When become aged the face seems to become more blunt due to addition of extra flesh which are lacking in the juveniles which are more ferocious hunters whose facial textures are more rough with slightly elongated snout as compared to the adults . The teeth become scantier as compared to juveniles during growing age. There are also evidences that tail bear no feathers. But I have seen the arguments that it is not known how protofeathers were fossilized and conserved. Getting feathers is a bit of fortune.

    Last of all, Mr. Doug Watson has sculpted this figure, who is iconic in creating scientifically (anatomically and morphologically)accurate dinosaur figures and before making this figure it is well researched and I think he has definitely considered all these evidences we are arguing for and has created this masterpiece.

  • Recently, scientists did a study on what kind of skin the faces of tyrannosaurs would have sported. Based on the texture of the skull of Despletosaurus horneri, the faces of tyrannosaurs would have been covered in pressure sensative, somewhat shrink wrapped, crocodile-like skin, with no sign of lips at all. So much for the “big, bald, Turkey vulture” representation of T. Rex!!! https://www.livescience.com/58474-new-tyrannosaur-had-no-lips.html

  • The intro to your review was awesome, Suspsy! I like your writing style, perhaps you should consider doing a post recreating dinosaur behavior from the same perspective. I’m a big fan of Dr. Robert Bakker’s novel ‘Raptor Red,’ and I think you’ve captured a similar approach to the concept.

  • Fantastic and well detailed review man 🙂
    This Feathered Rex is one of the best ones out there! Thanks for your input on describing all of it’s pristine details. Great job 😎

  • Also my first comment was not trying to debunk the idea of T. Rex having feathers anywhere on its body; I was only suggesting the possibility that the tail bore scales.

  • It’s a less well-known fact that crocodiles don’t have true scales on their face; I can see your point about people being too hasty to conclude that there is evidence of scales (and feathers in some cases too, like in that instance where they mistakenly thought they had discovered evidence of Dilophosaurus having feathers).

  • The model looks splendid and I’m probably going to get it ASAP, but I think it should have a colorful throat pouch and a scaly tale, as the fossil record shows.

  • Suspsy; Very nicely done review of a really great model.
    And yes, my specimen behaved the same way; a stable biped for the first few days before pitching onto it’s face.
    Some years ago I used the hot water leg treatment on a Carnegie T. rex but with mixed results. It seemed to work for about a month or so but then the plastics “memory” returned and it tipped over. Feather Rex may be using a new formulation. So please keep us informed as to whether your fix is permanent! But for now a small foam adhesive bumper pad discreetly stuck under one toe ( a bunion plaster?) works well and keeps Rex a very cool looking biped.

    • Thanks! Hardbit is still standing fine, although I’m keeping a close eye on how high the tip of his tail rises.

      I like the idea of an adhesive pad. I might try that with my Battat T. rex, which is made of softer plastic and inevitably falls over if left unsupported.

  • Wow! The Battat rex finally has some competition!

  • Hey great review. I’m looking forward to getting one of those. But which one would you say is more anatomically accurate, this one or Collecta’s feathered one?

    • Thanks. I adore both figures, but if comes down to a question of accuracy, Hardbit wins.

      • I prefer Collecta’s because it looks more elegant and somehow… avian, but I couldn’t imagine Safari’s was more accurate

        • The CollectA T. rex, or Firestreak as I call him, is one of my absolute favourites (I heaped praise on it in my review), but he does have that unfortunate shrink wrapping on his skull which Hardbit lacks. Also needs some more meat on his feet.

  • Great review! Not much to say on the figure as most people have covered how awesome this figure is. What I personally found interesting was this. My wife is not really sure what to get me as a gift when it comes to things related to this hobby. This past Christmas, she got me the book, the Tyrannosaur Chronicles, which I just finished reading. When I saw the picture with them all standing on the book, it made me smile. Great pic!

    • Thanks! My wife gave me that book for my birthday last fall. It really is one of the best dinosaur resources I’ve ever read. I especially like that it’s highly informative while not super technical. Also quite enthusiastic in tone. You can tell Hone had a good time writing it.

      Again, I strongly recommend The Tyrannosaur Chronicles to anyone who’s a fan of T. rex.

  • Truly this is THE T. rex figure for the foreseeable future, finally dethroning the still-awesome Battat after 23 long years. I hope the word gets out and photos of Doug Watson’s masterpiece become the iconic representation of the king of dinosaurs.

  • Excellent review for an amazing figure! Arguably the best T-rex on the market for a reasonable price.

  • God DAMN that is a gorgeous chunk of plastic! It really is firing on all cylinders – pose, accuracy, detail, paint job.

  • An excellent figure, my congratulations to the artist Douglas Watson for this incredible representation of the tyrant lizard, however, and that it is clear that it is not my intention to undo the work and great effort in producing this figure, I think in general, is too much exaggerated in As for the quantity of plumage that is granted in the artistic reconstructions of T-rex and other dinosaurs of similar dimensions. Of course, there is evidence of relatives of Tyrannosaurus, with plumage abundant, as is the case of Yutyrannus, and many people are inclined to the option that plumage was used for exhibition purposes, which is very likely and completely valid because it is A fact in current birds, but perhaps they forget the fact that it also works as a thermal insulation, and therefore retain body heat. Now, if we add that he lived in a much warmer climate than he is now and that a warm-blooded animal, the more volume he has the more heat his body produces, he would have had many problems of overheating, and that would not be possible, At least in my opinion, had such a quantity of coating. Maybe she had it, but in a much smaller quantity, and may even be almost imperceptible, like some kind of very fine hair. That according to what I think. Anyway, I reiterate the great work involved in this piece, as it is noticed that it has not been done lightly, and there is much research on the latest theories in its production.
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    • The thing about feathers is that unlike fur, they function both ways: they keep the animal warm in the cold AND cool in the heat. Emu feathers, for example, not only help prevent solar radiation from reaching the skin, but actually absorb heat through the tips.

      As far as the issues of body mass and volume are concerned, keep in mind that Tyrannosaurus rex had a body built very differently from an African savanna elephant, which is around the same mass. Elephants have far less skin surface whereas a T. rex has a longer head, neck, and torso, bigger legs, and a huge tail. More skin surface means more heat loss, even for a 9-ton theropod with a full coat of feathers. Keep in mind too that T. rex’s respiratory system would have been like a bird’s, not a mammal’s. Birds have air sacs that enable their lungs to do things that would kill a mammal.

      That all said, it is possible that T. rex had a much thinner coat of feathers just like you described.

      • Thank you very much Supsy for your response. And of course, he’s right to see it that way. I think that only time and new findings will tell how T-rex was, that is something that can not be said exactly these moments, but still it is good to theorize about it. I am glad that my opinion has been taken into account. Greetings. 🙂

  • An unique and definitive blend of the awesome and the accurate, masterfully researched and sculpted, as well as entertainingly and informatively reviewed. Thank you!

  • Awesome review, Suspsy!

  • I was skeptical when I saw the first promotional photographs, but now that I own the production version, this is one of my favorite figures.

  • It is the article and the opinion at the same time the longest and most beautiful I have seen in dinotoyblog.com and for me certainly one of the figures of this year candidates to occupy the post to best figure of 2017. A work of art.

  • Must be some kind of record for this blog: 4 T-rex figure reviews in a row; 5 out of the past 6.

    You actually name your figures? Wow. I occasionally dust mine.

    It’s a very lovely rendition of the big predator, to be sure. (The review ain’t half bad neither.)
    Mine, like yours, is now supported by its tail-tip. I don’t quite understand the seam that runs down the back side, however.


    • No, as I mentioned in the review, mine stands quite fine now after the boiling water treatment. Balancing the toy on the tail tip certainly is the safest option though.

      I don’t name all my figures, just the ones that are particularly appealing to me. It’s especially fun giving nautical or pirate-themed names to the sea monsters.

  • Such an amazing figure! This really is THE definitive model of Sexy Rexy! Can’t wait to get mine!

  • What an amazing model.Safari has brought,finally,the ultimate Tyrannosaurus we were all dreaming for.

  • Fantastic review man, you really let your passion shine through on this one. One of your best. Loved the Rocky quote at the end.

    • Thanks! It was indeed a labour of love. Glad you liked the modified Rocky Balboa quote. One of my favourite films. 🙂

      • With those scars, I’m thinking more… “It was 100 degrees in the shade. I walked for five days with no water. Then I saw it – a pretty pond. I bent down to take a drink, when these crocs launched out of the water! One croc bit me on the face; ain’t no way I wasn’t its supper! Except for one thing… I wasn’t ready for dyin’ that day. I bit one croc in half, tail-whipped the other, and the last one, well, I drowned that croc in my own *blood*.”

        But dang, that’s some tyrannosaur. Breathtaking. Great review too. Computer games have Saurian, toys have this… how long do we wait for Hollywood to catch up?

        • Heh. Sam Elliott was the only thing I liked about The Good Dinosaur. God only knows when Hollywood will embrace feathered dinosaurs, but it sure won’t come courtesy of the tired JP franchise.

          And thanks!

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