Review and photos by Bokisaurus, edited by Dinotoyblog
Greetings dinosaur fans! With the Christmas and the New Year upon us, this will be my last review for the year. To make it special, I have chosen to review a set of figures that I have been wanting to review for a while now. It is safe to assume that if you are a dinosaur fan, then you are aware of the groundbreaking BBC series Walking With Dinosaurs (WWD). No this is not the latest incarnation that was released a few years ago. This is the series that was created by the BBC Natural History unit for the BBC one channel/Discovery Channel (in the USA) and was released way back in 1999 and narrated by Kenneth Branagh.
Walking with Dinosaurs was broken into a six-part mini-series [In the UK, six episodes is standard for a full series – Ed.]. The format was done in a nature documentary style that revolutionized how dinosaur shows, in particular documentaries, were done. Using state-of-the-art CGI and puppetry, the show brought some of the most beloved dinosaurs back to life. Back then, it was truly awe-inspiring and really transported the viewers back in time. Most of the backgrounds were filmed in various locations around the world. The CGI dinosaurs were later added. This created a realistic cinematic journey that would take viewers up close and personal with some of the beasts featured in the film. The series showed how dinosaurs, marine reptiles, and pterosaurs may have lived, mated, born, and died.
It was anticipated that the series will be a big hit, especially in the renewed interest in dinosaurs after the success of Jurassic Park that was released in theaters a few years back. So, it was not surprising that a line of prehistoric figures that were featured in the film would be made and released along with the film.
The official line of WWD toy figures were launched in association with Toyway Toy Company, and you can read all about the various figures from this line here on the Dinosaur Toy Blog. Today, we will take a look at a set of four official mini-figures that were also released as part of the promotion for the film.
This set is perhaps one of the most obscure and rare of all the dinosaur merchandise officially released associated with the film. As part of the promotional hype for the film, BBC teamed up with Quick, a French chain of fast food restaurant, in releasing a set of four figures as a meal giveaway. I am not sure exactly how the figures were obtained, I’m assuming it would have been similar to the happy meal/kids meal giveaways that we see in the USA.
The figures were short-lived, like most giveaways, and were not available outside of France. This is one reason why they are so rare and often hard to obtain. Before we dive into the figures themselves, lets talk about the box that accompanied these figures first, since they are super awesome and very informative with lots of extras and very much warrant a review.
Each figure came in their individual small plastic box which measures approximately 2” X 2” X 1”, so it is pretty compact.
The figures must have come separately, unattached to the box, since there is no way that the figures can fit in the box.The box came with a spiral hinge that holds the lid. The lid itself is the information card (both sides) that shows a photo of the dinosaur and its measurement as well as the name and other information about it. Oh yeah, unfortunately, all the text is in French and I’m not sure what the second language is, but perhaps Dutch, since the Quick restaurant chain is Belgian in origin and %60 of the population of Belgium speak Dutch as their first language]. So, if you don’t speak/read these language, you won’t understand the information on the card.
If you turn the box upside down, you will see that the bottom (photo above) features a mini-diorama where you can display your figures. They are simple bases with foot prints or a small peg, depending on the species, that you can attach the figure for stability. This is definitely something unique and a clever addition to the box.
When you open the box, you will see a second plastic lid (the color varies depending on the animal it belongs to) with shapes moulded into them. Some of these shapes are easy to identify, while others are not so. If you lift this second lid, you will find that it is also a diorama base! Yes, another base to display not the figure, but some of the extras that came along with the figures. We will look at these extras when we review the individual figures.
Lastly, on the bottom of the box is another information card for the animal. Here it shows the map of where the animal is found, as well as a photo that shows you which part of the animal the extra came from. Very impressive and elaborate packaging indeed and something I have never seen done before, especially for a giveaway.
Onto the figures, as you can see from the photo above, the four figures are Tyrannosaurus rex, the giant marine reptile Liopleurodon, a baby Diplodocus, and the pterosaur Rhamphorhynchus. Each of these figures represents a different episodes from the series. If you are familiar with the Toyway figure collection, you will notice that two of these mini figures are also represented in that line, while the other two are exclusive to this particular collection and was never produced for the official set from Toyway. The figures are small, measuring in at around 3” inches. As for the quality, they are surprisingly good considering their size and that they were made as a giveaway. They are also detailed and closely match the colors of the film’s stars they represent. We start with the most common figure, and will end with the rarest.
Tyrannosaurus rex: from the last episode called “Death of a Dynasty. It should not come as a surprise that he is featured in this set, after all, no collection is complete without the king himself. This is perhaps the weakest of the four figures, and also the most crudely made. The sculpting is pretty bad when compared to the rest. For starters, the head has a domed shape, with huge eyes and really tall and prominent eyebrows! It looks to be an attempt to make a baby Rex. Oh, it’s arms are also pronated big time.
The figure is colored to match the film version, with black dominating the body. The underside is white, and creates streaks when it reaches the tail that was supposed to look like bands. They tried to give the body some texture by adding some light highlights, but this instead looks like as if the paint was rubbed off the figure.
There is a red color patch under that starts at the jaw that runs all the way down the neck terminating as it reaches the arms. Overall, this is a forgettable figure, but unfortunately it is also the most commonly seen, perhaps due to it being the one that was produced the most. Tyrannosaurus is also featured in the Toyway official line.
The diorama for this figure looks like a muddy river bank and is colored a simple brown with no shadings. There are footprints that you can stand the figure on. The extra that came along for the second diorama is a tooth replica that fits nicely on the sandstone-like base.
Baby Diplodocus: from the second episode “ Time of the Titans”. This is my favorite episode, and has some of the most breathtaking scenes of giant sauropods roaming the beautiful landscapes. The episode follows a young female from birth to adulthood.
For this set, they chose to feature the Diplodocus as a baby, which is nice since we don’t often see a nicely done one. The figure resembles the hatchlings seen in the film, including its short stubby legs. It’s great that they did not make the figure too cartoony, like so many baby figures. It is cute and easily identified as a youngster. It has a simple color scheme, with green dominating the body. The skin details are highlighted in tan color, which is also used for the underside. A simple black dot marks the eye. There is no Diplodocus featured in the official Toyway line, so this is the only official one.
The diorama for this figure is a mossy forest floor, with light patches to mimic sunlight. This matches the forest environment where the eggs were laid. There are two sets of footprints for the baby Diplodocus to stand on. The extra that came along for the second diorama is also a fossil tooth replica, It, too, fits nicely in a grayish colored base.
Liopleurodon: from the third episode “ Cruel Sea”. The opening scene in this episode is one of the most memorable for me. Here we see a lone Eustreptosponylus hunting by the shore edge, suddenly snatched by a huge Liopleurodon! Epic scene, and one that establishes Liopleurodon as the top predator of the seas and coastlines. It also made the animal one of the most famous marine reptiles.
WWD gave their Liopleurodon the now famous black and white coloring that has since been used by so many other toy companies on their Liopleurodon ( and other marine reptiles) versions. The figure is colored black on the top side, and white on the underside, with white spots/dashes on the top side. The eyes are also outlined in white. The interlocking teeth are surprisingly sculpted individually and nicely done for such a small figure.
The diorama base for the figure is a beach. One would think this is an odd choice for a marine reptile. If you saw the film, you will remember that in the end, the huge Liopleurodon is seen on the shoreline, beached, and struggling for his life. A fierce storm swept through the islands, killing many of its inhabitants, and the mighty Liopleurodon is just one of the many casualties. So, this base was meant to depict the animal as it is beached. This diorama base is more interesting than the first two, mostly since it has two-toned color; light brown for the sand and blue for the water. There is texture on both side representing the sand and wave ripples. There is a small pin that you attached the figure to. The extra for the second diorama is also a tooth replica that fits nicely in the olive green base.
Liopleurodon is also featured in the official Toyway line, and like its larger counterpart, this is also one of the rarest in this collection.
Rhamphorhynchus: also from the third episode “Cruel Sea”, co-starring with Lioleurodon. In the series, these small Jurassic pterosaurs are seen flying all over the island’s rocky shores and cliffs. Here you can see them skimming the surface for fish and also on the beach feasting on horseshoe crab eggs. If not hunting for food, they can be seen scrambling on the rocks, squabbling with each other, or avoiding being eaten by predators.
The figure, diorama bases, and the extra item is without a doubt the most elaborate and well detailed of the four figures by far. The figure is nicely sculpted. The main body color is dark green turning to a lighter shade as it reaches the wings. The feet, hands, and head are all colored rusty brown with some yellow highlights.
You can see a lot of folds in the form of radiating lines on the wing membrane. It has a long tail which ended in that characteristic diamond shaped vane. The head is nicely sculpted and easily recognizable as a Rhamphorhynchus. The details are nice and surprisingly crisp for such a small figure. Those needle-like teeth are individually sculpted, as well as the tongue. The nostrils are set high. The eyes, unlike the other figures, are painted yellow with a black dot in the center. Overall, a very nicely done figure. This is the rarest of the four figures, and like the Diplodocus, it is also not featured in the official Toyway line, making this one the only official version there is.
The diorama base for the figure is the most interesting and elaborate of the four. Here, you will find a trio of rocks sticking out of the water. The rocks are black and the water is colored light blue. You can even make out waves as they hit the rocks.
The middle rock has a small peg that you can attach the figure to. The extra for the second diorama is a replica of the fossil head. It’s nicely done and a nice break from the tooth that the others came with. The fossil fits nicely in the brown base.
They may not be the most beautiful or accurate figures around, but the clever marketing package, along with their rarity makes them one of the most sought after figures associated with the WWD franchise.
In closing, they are fun little figures that bring back memories of watching the Walking with Dinosaurs series. I was lucky enough to obtain these complete set after years of searching (I pretty much gave up years ago due to the rarity and the cost associated if one turns up). I came close years ago when I purchased a baby Diplodocus and the Liopleurodon from an assorted lot. Unfortunately, the box was badly damaged during shipping, creating a hole that was big enough for some of the small items to fall out. Unfortunately, five figures from the lot got lost, and the baby Diplodocus was one of the figures that went missing.
Since then, I gave up my search for this set, and hardly saw them on eBay for sale. Early this year, a VERY RARE opportunity came up and I was quick enough to jump on it! So, the years of searching finally paid off. So, for those of you wondering who the lucky person was who obtained the set that was offered on the Dinosaur Toy Forum earlier this year, well, now you know!
So, if you are a rare figure aficionado, a fan of the WWD series, or simply want a challenge, I highly recommend hunting these figures down. Who knows, you may be the next lucky person to own the complete set! Until the next time, hope you enjoyed this review! Happy Holidays everyone!