If you've been following me on Google+ or Twitter, you've likely noticed that I'm a big dinosaur nut. But my dinosaur fandom is totally disproportional to the amount of dinosaur toys I own. I'm such a stickler for scientific accuracy that I usually can't bring myself to buy a Jurassic Park toy or the supposed "museum quality" PVC dinosaurs you see in those "learning" toy stores. But on a recent voyage to Dinosaur Land, this Tyrannosaur caught my eye in the gift shop. It's made by Papo, a French company that specializes in PVC figures. Let's see how their Tyrannosaurus Rex turned out.
As a side note, I used to be a big hater of the term "T-Rex". It really seemed to catch on after Jurassic Park but to me, it symbolized the movie's cavalier attitude towards scientific accuracy that tried to maximize the marketing potential of dinosaurs by transforming them into simplistic, cliched movie monsters. I've since cooled off on the whole T-Rex thing, and I now accept it as a name that children use to familiarize themselves with the dinosaur. Once a particular dinosaur nomenclature spreads throughout pop culture, it's sometimes better to allow it to help expand popular interest in dinosaurs rather than fight it for the sake of a technicality. The whole Brontosaurus/Apatosaurus debacle comes to mind as an example of how messing with a widely-accepted name in favor of scientific accuracy can be bad for dinosaur "public relations". However, it still irks me when people refer to dromeosaurs as "raptors". I can only take so much.
Anyway... let's take a look at this Papo "T-Rex"! ;)
Price: $28 at Dinosaur Land
This Tyrannosaurus Rex stopped me dead in my tracks in the store. Finally, a dinosaur toy that meets my expectations for realism! The sculpt is stunning, with an incredible array of skin textures that make the figure look like it's coming to life. The gesture is great... it's like the Tyrannosaur is turning abruptly to strike at prey that has foolishly wandered too close. Theropod toys are notoriously difficult to stand, as the horizontally-oriented tail can cause the figure to topple over if it's not perfectly balanced. This figure solves that problem by having the tail touch the ground so that it supports the figure. It's not what I would call a scientifically accurate stance (especially since the tail wasn't that flexible), but given the potential difficulties of the horizontally-oriented tail, I can live with it.
The paint apps are also incredible, with a series of washes and sprays of different hues of green and tan that perfectly highlight the texture of the skin. Even the tongue looks great. The paint apps are also precise where they need to be, especially in the eyes and teeth where bleeding paint would be particularly disastrous. It all comes together into the best looking dinosaur toy I've ever seen.
You can tell that no detail was spared because they actually sculpted a cloaca on the underside. Now that's a commitment to realism.
This score is a little deceptive. Although this dude only has jaw articulation, it's still much better than the no articulation of most PVC dinosaurs. Compared to other PVC dinos, this Tyrannosaur is hyper-articulated. Honestly, I wouldn't want any points of articulation screwing up the gorgeous sculpt anyway.
This is the first dinosaur PVC I've seen that I would truly consider to be of "museum quality", but you'll have to fork over a bit more because of that. You can get him for cheaper on Amazon, but after you pay for shipping, it pretty much equals out.
Sure, some recently discovered theropods like Giganotosaurus have challenged it for the title of baddest prehistoric predator, but the Tyrannosaurus Rex is the classic dinosaur that I grew up with. (Even though this is a totally different depiction than the sluggish, upright tail-dragger from my childhood.) Most PVC dinosaurs, like the Safari or Carnegie collections, don't catch my interest because they're not nearly as cool as they need to be. Coolness for a PVC dinosaur is in its realism, and considering this Tyrannosaur is about as realistic as a toy can get, it's also about as cool as a dinosaur toy can get.
A PVC dinosaur stands by its looks alone, and this Tyrannosaurus Rex looks incredible. Sometimes, when I see it unexpectedly out of the corner of my eye, I have to do a double-take because it looks so real that I think a freaky lizard has crawled up on my desk. Dinosaur enthusiasts will enjoy just staring at the figure on the shelf, but those looking for a hyper-articulated action figure will have to look elsewhere. Maybe the Revoltech Lost World T-Rex will catch your fancy, although the Papo T-Rex seems to have a more realistic sculpt that's not marred by points of articulation.
Judging by the date stamp, this figure was made all the way back in 2005! It's strange that such an awesome dinosaur toy line has eluded me for 6 years. I have a lot of catching up to do.