Tyrannosaurus rex (original) (Carnegie Collection by Safari Ltd.)

4.7 (27 votes)

As an illustration of how far the Carnegie line has advanced in 20 years, you can’t do much better than the original Tyrannosaurus. Many people in their early 20s will remember owning one of these as a child. They’ll probably also remember it gathering dust in a dark corner of the cupboard under the stairs when the Jurassic Park toyline came along and made everything else seem a bit rubbish. It’s crude, it’s chunky, it’s a little bit adorable.

I have a pet theory related to the Carnegie line – that it started off as a line aimed squarely at kids, but matured alongside its consumer base. I’ll cite this toy and its ‘Tenth Anniversary’ descendant as evidence. What we have here is Tyrannosaurus with the edges taken off – no breakable teeth, a rather rotund body and blunted claws on the feet (although admittedly the fingers could still give you a nasty poke). It’s clearly designed to endure a bit of rough-and-tumble play the likes of which would probably knock the finely-sculpted teeth out of the jaws of the ‘Tenth Anniversary’ model.

Anatomically this old beast veers away from reality and into the realms of old fashioned dino-toy overweight chunkiness (see also UKRD). There’s barely a hint of  Tyrannosaurus‘ huge pelvis, while the legs merge into the body with the scarcest indication of the enormo-muscles that were surely present on the living creature. The head is essentially reduced to two rectangular blocks, with the admittedly very finely painted eyes facing defiantly sideways.

The classic showdown, circa 1988!

However – and bearing in mind the date of this figure’s genesis (ie. 1988) – there are some definite plus points. The overall proportions, unduly long tail aside, aren’t too far off. The rearing pose remains largely passable and has been reused for many theropod figures since – the raised tail (bent down only at the tip for support) put it ahead of many other figures at the time. The hanging tag, if you’re lucky enough to acquire one with it intact, is good for a giggle too – apparently Tyrannosaurus reached 15 metres in length (versus 14 metres stamped on the toy) and lived in “Western North America, Argentina (???), Mongolia (fine if you consider Tarbosaurus bataar to be a species of Tyrannosaurus, but the toy’s stamped “Tyrannosaurus rex“), India (????) and China”. Riiight. Seems T. rex went globetrotting in the 1980s.

This ‘blockhead’ version of the Carnegie Tyrannosaurus may be long gone, but amazingly its legacy lives on. It’s been the recipient of a couple of new heads and other improved details over the years, but the rather out-of-shape creature you see here has ultimately survived to this day alongside its ‘Tenth Anniversary’ counterpart, presumably in the name of providing a durable combat toy for the kids. Definitely not recommended for collectors (apart from sad old nostalgics like me/completists), except those with dinosaur mad children – throw them a version of this thing to keep them away from your Anniversary Tyrannosaurus! Oh, and finally if you want this version specifically, it’s pretty common on eBay.

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