Review and photographs by Stolpergeist, edited by Suspsy
Gimmick toys have long been a go-to strategy for publishers of children’s magazines to get their readers to buy their issues. The concept has also been introduced to Germany in 1975 by the magazine Yps. Ever since gimmicks became a staple of magazines aimed at children, in many cases a toy draws more attention to a magazine issue than the actual content may on its own. One of many German magazine publishers that use this strategy is Blue Ocean Entertainment, a company founded in 2005, starting publication with their first magazine about the children’s book character Princess Lillifee in 2006. More brands were soon to follow and in 2012, their deal with Schleich began, starting with a magazine about the fantasy line Bayala. Soon, the Eldrador, Horse Club, and Dinosaur lines followed. Each of the Schleich magazines comes with an official magazine exclusive toy. In the case of the Schleich Dinosaurs magazine, this meant repaints of the Mini Dinos series until issue #21.
The 22nd issue of this bimonthly magazine from August 2020 marks the first one to instead include a shrunken down version of a larger Schleich toy. It was a good decision by Schleich and Blue Ocean as a whole, given that the previous issues had started to become stale with the repaints and recycled content, which can be especially noticeable when looking at the comic that was being published before Team Dino took over the magazine. Issue #16 saw the beginning the adventures of the Dino News Agency, a team that discovers an island with surviving dinosaurs and films the animals in their natural habitat.
As people who have seen the commercials may know, Team Dino takes place in a “Lost World” setting. This time, however, it is less Skull Island and more Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as the new setting is a game reserve full of surviving dinosaurs “deep inside the Amazon jungle.” For play sets, this actually isn’t such a bad idea, as it allows playing with dinosaurs from completely different eras while still having it make sense within the rules of this universe. This is unlike Schleich’s previous dinosaur play sets that involved dinosaurs from all over space and time in “prehistoric environments” such as caves or volcanoes. The comic provides additional lore to this new franchise that the toys alone don’t, and it genuinely made me like Team Dino to a degree. Regarding the magazine’s other contents, the science section has remained about the same length as before, providing a level of research one would wish more of Schleich’s dinosaur toys had. There is also a poster as usual, but instead of digital renders of dinosaurs with Schleich colour schemes, it’s a drawing of Team Dino made by the comic’s artist and a promotional image of the research station on the back though that side is less interesting.
The back of the magazine provides the first page of the “Dino Researcher Book.” I don’t know yet what this feature may provide, but I’m curious. Right now you can still get this first Team Dino themed issue directly from the publisher. The second one is already in stock at stores and features a small version of the current blue and green Schleich Velociraptor until the end of November 2020. Then in December, the Triceratops will receive its tiny counterpart. Also, make sure to not confuse this magazine with Blue Ocean’s other non-Schleich dinosaur magazine Dinosaurier, which has been in print since 2009.
The magazine itself deserved its own section as it comes with the toy, but I don’t want to spoil too much here, so let’s move on to the main focus here: the gimmick toy itself. The tiny Tyrannosaurus is sandwiched between two blister halves which prevent it from getting bent, which was a good packaging choice. The cardboard backdrop tells you that it is a limited edition as this toy is only available in the magazine, which can only be bought in Germany, either at grocery stores or at the publisher’s website. The design of the packaging is Team Dino themed with blue elements and yellow and black barricade tape as seen on the vehicles and the research station of Team Dino sets.
The figure now freed, let’s have a closer look at it. Just like the big one, it is a stocky animal with a large head and a short tail, shorter than that of a real Tyrannosaurus. The neck is wrinkly, which seems reasonable for a large animal that might experience excess heat. The head is boxy and very much Jurassic Park-inspired rather than the head of an actual tyrannosaur. The legs are large and strong with oversized feet that allow the toy to stand. The hands are held in a pronated position. The toy measures 10.3 cm long and stands 5.5 cm tall.
Overall, any sort of criticism regarding the design can be dismissed because of the fact that this is simply meant as a miniature version of the larger version that we still see in stores and promotions these days. Due to its anatomical features, it’s certainly not the favourite figure of most collectors. It has come in a great many variants: the classic dark green one with osteoderms that has been around since 2012, the blue yellow one from the volcano set, the limited edition red, golden, and red and blue variants, and the resculpted lime green version. Now this small one offers a new opportunity for Schleich completists.
Since the original was carved from wax and not digitally sculpted, it makes me wonder if it had to be scanned with a laser in order to create this one. The one notable difference between them is that the small one lacks the jaw articulation, but such a tiny figure doesn’t require that feature. For parents who couldn’t find or afford the large one at the time, it is a nice alternative, although be aware that the magazine reminds your child of the big toy’s existence.
The paint job is pretty decent for such a small toy; the green is a bit lighter than on the regular one and it lacks the osteoderms and yellow keratin sheathes around the eyes, but that isn’t a bother when you treat it as a juvenile (although the magazine reminds that young tyrannosaurs were likely covered in feathers). The underside is yellow. A brighter shade of yellow has been used for the delicately painted eyes, which seem to be applied with more care than the big one’s lately. The teeth are in a simple white while the tongue is painted red with a single brush stroke. The feet are beige with a dark wash accentuating the scales. A dark wash has also been applied to the underside of the body and the hands. This also makes the stamp on the underside more readable which says “Produced by Blue Ocean Entertainment AG Stuttgart © 2020 Schleich GmbH Modell No. 128456.”
Overall, it is a decent looking figure and a pretty great toy. Due to the increase in toy quality, the price of the magazine also increased with this Team Dino-themed relaunch, but only by 1 €. It is simply a fantastic gimmick and worked perfectly. I have been tempted by the previous version of the magazine before, having seen it for the first time at the local grocery store when they included a mini Carnotaurus, but this figure actually did the trick and made me buy the magazine for the first time even though I’m an adult of 23. I think a quality toy like this is great for children, but the rarity of it also provides some interest for collectors. Overall, I recommend it if you can find it, but keep in mind that you can only buy the magazine in Germany.