And now for this week's eBay find. Purnell's Book of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals (to give it its full title) dates from 1977 (with this edition from 1979), and is chock full of gloriously colourful prose and laughably outdated, but still very nicely sculpted models of prehistoric animals. That said, there are also some illustrations that are just plain laughable, even for the time.
A rather Gwangi-esque tyrannosaur graces the cover, but isn't seen again inside. Weird. The inside cover features instead a dinosaur ensemble. It wouldn't quite fit in my scanner, so I decided to focus on the model that doesn't appear anywhere else in the book - namely, the snaggle-toothed, sprawling, lizardy Protoceratops. Which is actually quite adorable.
Moving on to the title page, and two very retro saggy grey sauropods are being menaced by a disapproving Ceratosaurus. Although ol' grumpychops has an hilarious face, the horizontal pose and long stride are notably forward-thinking for the time; indeed, and in spite of the fact that the other theropod models are man-in-suit style, the text (by the brilliantly named Simon Goodenough) at least describes them (even Tyrannosaurus specifically) as active, fast-moving animals.
Some of Goodenough's (tee hee) finest words/most spurious remarks are reserved for everyone's favourite, Sexy Rexy.
"Tyrannosaurus Rex [sic] was the terror of its times, a tyrant in deed as well as in name. Its energy was tremendous and it was active for three-quarters of the day, searching for victims, waiting to surprise them, chasing after them or battling with them."The model of T. rex depicted is of the curiously crocodilian 1970s school, tail-dragging and adorned with scutes. It closely resembles the Invicta T. rex and another model still resident in London's Natural History Museum. Like them, it has also had its ears shifted forward into its temporal fenestrae for some reason.
By far my favourite image in this entire book is the scale diagram for Tyrannosaurus, in which it appears to be pitted against a team of gymnasts (including a lone woman in a leotard and at least one man with a deformed hand). More of this sort of thing, please! A troupe of acrobats beats the Pioneer Dork any day.
This Iguanodon is typical - crosspatch lizard face, permanently flexed and rather humanoid arms and a bloody great wattle because Neave Parker. Still, I really like the model's colours, especially the rosettes on the flanks and the bright red flush of the bloody great wattle.
This Styracosaurus is just here because I once had a toy that was pretty much a straight knock-off. It's very brown. Yes.
It seems there was a trend back in the day - a rather lazy trend, I might add - for ceratopsians to all have the same body with interchangeable heads. This was often literally the case with life-size fibreglass models, which gave rise to the gigantic elasmothere Styracosaurus models that now blight the world (but especially the UK) - which reminds me, I still need to write an article on those at some point. Anyway, Triceratops therefore appears identical to Styracosaurus but, er, with a different head. Of course, by far the best aspect of this page is the barely competent illustration, featuring as it does quite serious perspective and anatomy failures and a Chaz Knight rip-off.
Ah, but I've saved the best illustration until second to last. I'm not sure I've seen a Deinonychus quite this bad since the Dessicated Zombienychus won that silly contest I concocted last year. It's just superb - basically a 1970s allosaur except for the OMG HUGE TERROR CLAW, and comes complete with miniature anachronistic Parasaurolophus prey. Love it.
And finally - retro ankylo-wrong. The usual sort of thing - super-squat semi-sprawling limbs and no neck. No ears this time, though.
Until next time, dear friends, until next time! Proost.