Review and photos by Lanthanotus, edited by Suspsy
According to the dinosaur books I read when I was a child, Tyrannosaurus rex was the ultimate bane of the Cretaceous. Every other dinosaur had best fled to save its poor hide once the king of tyrants strolled by. Everybody’s most beloved theropod is an obligate candidate of any prehistoric toy line, ever it seems. Toothy, bloodthirsty, rampaging, and other such characterstics are attributed to this creature by books, movies, and so-called documentaries. And a lot of toy companies attend to this image rather than depicting the enigmatic apex predator as a real animal. This review is dedicated to a model that resembles a real animal closer than a fictional monster.
Bullyland released a fair few Tyrannosaurus figures over the years, but this model is by far the best. It was first released in 2001, but the colour scheme shown here is discontinued. The recent color scheme is somewhat livelier than the old one. In addition, the figure was also released as a smaller version under the company name “Arbaton” which shares the same address as Bullyland. The smaller version, however, differs in some body details from the original.
The toy described here is 31 cm long and stands 11 cm tall. The light gray and PVC-free material is completely coloured in a slightly darker gray which has a strange metallic sheen to it. From the top of the head and along the spine runs a black line which divides into bands on the sides of the tail. Claws and nostrils are also black. The eyes are yellow with black pupils and dark red surroundings. The throat flashes a brighter, but washed red and the open mouth shows a bright red tongue surrounded by dirty, yellowish teeth.
Most Bullyland toys are not as crisp and deep in detail as models made by Papo or the late Carnegie Collection by Safari. Nevertheless, the detail in this figure is still nice and well done. The upper body is fully decked in individually sculpted scales with scattered bumps and three rows of enlarged scales or osteoderms that run from the neck to the middle of the tail. Muscle bulges, folds, and wrinkles bestow a realistic look to the model. The strong, but blunt teeth are individually sculpted and differ in size. Large scale plates similar to those of the ground-dwelling avian dinosaurs of our time cover the toes and the front of the hind limbs up to the knee. One of the most significant features of this model is the fact that the skull isn’t shrink-wrapped, a trait that is seen too often these days in dinosaur figures.
In terms of accuracy, Bullyland’s Tyrannosaurus is a quite nice figure. The model is very well proportioned. Slightly more than half the length is taken by the strong tail. The trunk and chest are deep and barrel-shaped and the legs are appropriately dimensioned and end in comparably small feet. Probably to enhance the toy’s stability, the position and proportion of the halluces has been altered, which is especially noticeable in the tinier version of this theropod. However, this feature is not required to grant the figure a stable stand. Another inaccuracy is the position of the hands, where the left hand is pronated while the palm of the right hand is actually faced outwards. The arms are also just a slight bit too big. An appropriately large head sits on the end of a strong, short neck. While the skull’s shape resembles the real thing very well, the eyes lack binocular vision and the hind part of the skull is not as wide as it should be. The model also lacks a cloaca. Aside from the eyes, halluces, and hands, these inaccuracies are nitpicking and do not disturb the overall apperance too much.
For me, this figure more than any other rendition depicts the real prehistoric animal that roamed Cretaceous plains and forests. Hunting the weak and old rather than the alphas of a herd, searching for carrion and puddles of mired water during dry season, calling for mates, and taking its tolls from all its spoils. Perhaps it crippled its hand in a fight against a ceratopsian mother defending her calf?
This Tyrannosaurus figure makes for a great toy. The quiet soft plastic makes it improbably safe for kids if you think of the fiercest predator ever. Despite this softness, it is suitable for some rough play as the material is durable and the paint does not rub off too easily.
Bullyland released a new Tyrannosaurus in 2016, but the version presented here is still available in the recent paint scheme for 12 to 15 €. The gray version as well as the smaller “Arbaton” can frequently be found on German eBay for little money.