Friday, October 28, 2011

Alas, poor Papo

As some of you may already be aware (and if not, then sit up straight and pay attention at the back), I have a certain hobby that involves collecting certain plastic/resin figures and sometimes reviewing them for a certain website based on their aesthetic qualities, anatomical accuracy and so on. It's a fun way to acrue a large collection of colourful tat and fritter away money that, let's face it, I'd probably just be splurging on booze otherwise.

Anyway, one of the most popular manufacturers of dinosaur collectibles is the French company Papo. While they make no claim to scientific authority or accuracy, their models are nevetheless stunningly sculpted and painted, and often pretty decent anatomically anyway (I particularly like their Styracosaurus). There have been some howlers, but in those cases it's easy to see where they've gone wrong - basically, the sculptor has followed popular, but mistaken palaeoart memes.

And then recently, this was announced.

Oh boy.

The question I wish to put to you, o Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs readership, is this - where on Earth do you think the inspiration for this thing came from? This wouldn't be an issue if Papo were just churning out lazy, poorly-made figures - but they're not. In fact, the fine details and immaculate paintwork on most Papos can't really be matched at their price point. Even when they produce anatomically dubious figures, they at least look pretty.

But this one - it looks like a Crystal Palace plesiosaur with a mosasaur head grafted on, Frankenstein-stylee. Some people have excused it on the grounds that it's 'retro', but Charles Knight was painting more accurate Tylosaurus restorations back in 1899.

Naturally, the figure has sparked off a lively discussion among the prehistoric-animal-toy-collecting community (stop laughing), with some even questioning why Papo are bothering to attach scientific names to figures like this.

However, I'd like a little outsider opinion, especially as I know a number of artists read this blog. As always, please do comment.

Finally, I'm sorry for dragging this silly toy nonsense over to Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs. Superior content (from David) will resume shortly.

Thanks to Christophe for acquiring the catalogue scan.


  1. At least it doesn't have that row of stegosaur plates that Burian knockoffs always have.

  2. At least its not as bad as this fellow

    Granted as a fan of all things Mosasaur ( I won't be buying it.

    If it even had a tail fluke than it could have something going for it.

    At moment its almost cheekly looking at us to say "Yeah I'm refusing to be a Mosasaur. What are you going to do about it?"

  3. Good sir, I take exception to your characterisation of your own hobby in such a disparaging light, however self-deprecating and light-hearted your delivery may have intended. "Silly toy nonsense"? On the contrary, your reviews provide a valuable and insightful resource, be it for parents eager to please their scientifically-precocious children with an anatomically accurate reproduction, or for longtime dinosaur fans eager to learn what makes a dinosaur toy they treasured in their youth accurate or inaccurate.

    Since dinosaur toys occupy a significant proportion of pop culture, and they can be instrumental in the development of a young would-be palaeontologist's mind, I would say that far from being a mindless fancy, a study and assessment is indeed entirely worthy material for a blog whose modus operandi states that it is "all about dinosaur science and pop culture."

  4. @Taranaich: Your words have indeed brightened my day. Thank you very much.

    @Traumador: No, it isn't. On the other hand, the Carnegie is from 1990. I'd be more inclined to judge it against the more recent Carnegie Tylosaurus.

  5. Not at all, good sir, thank you for all the enjoyable reviews!


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