Tyrannosaurus rex (Timpo)

1.6 (14 votes)

For some reason I’m in a mood for firsts. So, here’s another company that hasn’t been featured on the Dinosaur Toy Blog before – Timpo Toys. And about time, too, this line really deserves some attention. Timpo was founded in England by German refugee Sally Gawrylovitz (also known as Ally Gee, aii) in 1938. According to timpo-artist.com, the company name derives from Toy Importers Limited, the “T” taken from toys and “impo” from imports. However, as a consequence of the war, Timpo soon began manufacturing its own toys and not just importing them (mostly from Holland). They continued to make figures until 1979. The company is best known for their figures of soldiers and period people, but Timpo also produced a few dinosaur toys in the 1960s and 70s. Their prehistoric animals are made of monochrome hard plastic, so they appear very much of their time – right at home with contemporaries Marx and Miller.

Following Timpo’s bankruptcy in 1980, another British toy company, Toyway, acquired their assets in 1981. Toyway have been featured on the blog before and are best known in the dinosaur collecting community for going on to produce the original Walking with Dinosaurs line, as well as the Natural History Museum London’s current line of figures. The latter makes dino-toy connoisseurs like us remember another British line all the more fondly, from the 80s: the Natural History Museum’s monochrome Invicta series. In substance if not style, one could almost consider the Timpo dinosaurs the forerunners to Invicta. Anyway, lets turn back the clock on British dinosaur toy manufacturers and look at the Timpo prehistoric line properly. It included a sauropod, Triceratops, Megatherium, Dimetrodon, and up for consideration today, a T. rex. (Let me know if I missed any!)

I was fortunate to receive this T. rex figure by chance recently in an Ebay bundle. A pleasant surprise, what a lucky boy. At least I presume it is a T. rex. It doesn’t have a species name stamped on the underside, just the company name and country of manufacture: “TIMPO ENGLAND”. It has a boxy head like a T. rex, but three fingers like an Allosaurus. The arms are tiny though, and T. rex was sometimes depicted with three fingers back in the 60s and 70s, so I’m plumping for that. Actually, looking again, it might have four fingers, I really can’t tell. Number of fingers aside, whatever type of dinosaur it is supposed to represent, this is a funny-looking thing!

Its most striking feature is its bulbous frog-like eyes. This interesting choice makes it very distinctive and I’ve never seen any other T. rex toy quite like it. It also has large puffy forward-facing nostrils and a cheesy grin. This is probably the happiest T. rex toy we’ve ever reviewed. Its pose is what we would expect from a 50-year-old figure, upright and tail dragging. Some elements of the figure, including the raised eyes to a certain extent, are slightly reminiscent of some Charles Knight paleo-art, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the sculptor was influenced by that.

The toy has few details to speak of, except for a few wrinkles here and there. There are no scales and the surface has a fluid, almost drooping appearance, as if it is melting. The teeth and claws are all weakly defined. The moulding seams are rather obvious on the head but well hidden on the body.

Note the Stamp on the tail: “TIMPO ENGLAND”

The orange-beige monochrome material is hard but not brittle, and a little waxy to the touch. I love a good monochrome toy, me, and this is a pleasing and unmistakable little old-fashioned figure. Crude by modern standards, certainly, but it occupies an important place in the history of British dinosaur toys, and it is important to put our hobby into context. Timpo dinosaurs are true collectors items and, after accidentally acquiring this one, I’m going to keep my eyes peeled on Ebay to see if I can find any more hiding in bundles. Shout out to Libraraptor because I know this is right up his street. 😉

Say “Cheese”!

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Comments 7

  • I have a lot of non-dino Timpo toys and the plastic is very odd. As you say, it’s almost waxy. Their range of zoo animals are made of the same plastic and they have a tendency to suddenly lose a leg or other body part. No impact or accident, just falls off in the cabinet. Their ‘swoppit’ type human figures also do this, but later ones seem to be a bit more durable. I keep mine in a cooler part of the house, as this is the recommendation I’ve been given by plastic conservators who tell me that it is due to the added chalk that the plastic contains. If it’s not mixed correctly, it produces a fault line that fractures when the plastic gets hard with age. I’ve never seen a Timpo dinosaur in the flesh (?) after 20 years of collecting Timpo Toys. A nice find!

  • Great review and thanks for the background information on the company. This is a classic dino toy and got full marks from me. Would be good to see the others reviewed.

  • It’s got a certain charm to it!

  • They definitely used too much frog DNA on the skin and especially the eyes.

  • The eye placement… oh my.

  • At first glance I thought this looked like Jarjar Binks

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