Thursday, April 24, 2014

Restricted Area Five

After 42 years and countless family photos, Blackgang Chine's much-loved 'Dinosaurland' is no more. The majority of the park's endearingly grotesque and climbable fibreglass creations have, alas, gone the way of their living counterparts. However, this is not to say that the park has given up on saurian-themed clifftop gardens - rather, they've been busy developing a revamped Dinosaurland, one in which the creatures aren't content just to stand there looking less-than-pretty. That's right - they've only gone and bought a load of rubbery robosaurs. Welcome, then, to the enigmatically named Restricted Area 5...home to the some of the largest ugly dinosaurs in Britain! So it goes.

All photos by me, unless marked 'NP', in which case they're Niroot's.


Predictably, Restricted Area 5 is presented as a sort of low-rent Jurassic Park, complete with flashing red warning lights and inadequate 'electric' fences, although park owner Simon Dabell has sadly not been seen wandering the grounds in all-white garb and carrying a cane while affecting the appropriate accent. There's a decent array of robosaurs on offer, and they range from the respectable to the downright atrocious. For whatever reason - and it's probably to do with designers not feeling the need to 'monsterise' them - the herbivores fare better than the carnivores. Among the best is the below Iguanodon, which certainly has its problems (wot, no pinkies?) but is a decent effort.

NP

Nearby is a sad-looking (and very large) Pachycephalosaurus, capable only of waggling its head up and down and making mournful moaning noises. Here, Niroot tries to offer it some consolation. Meanwhile, a Stegosaurus just down the way, while looking permanently startled, is still not as bad as all that - various features of its anatomy might be Plain Wrong, but it's a fetching model nevertheless (I'm sure the paint job helps a lot), and benefits from a particularly spectacular vantage point.



RA5's centrepiece is a gigantic sauropod (below), which (along with every other robosaur) remains frustratingly unidentified in the attraction, but has been named in the press as Argentinosaurus. It's odd that none of the dinosaurs have labels; although anyone with the slightest interest in dinosaurs will be able to spot what most of them are supposed to be, there are one or two oddities that take a little guesswork. One gaggle of small theropods (that wave their arms about and emit JP Dilophosaurus noises) appear to be Ornitholestes, based on their approximate size and erroneous 1990s-style nose horn, but it's impossible to say exactly. While a little frustrating, it might be for the best, in the end - without any museum-like labels, the attraction sheds all educational pretensions, making it apparent that the whole thing's just a bit of fun. Or quite a lot of fun, as it happens.

NP
One of the Ornitholestes-things.

The sheer size of the Argentinosaurus does impress, and I appreciate the row of dermal spines - a rare example of aesthetic flair on a model such as this. The towering height of the beast allows it to be seen, looming above the treetops, from the other side of the park. What with the cliffs of the Isle of Wight's southern coastline forming the backdrop, it's certainly quite a sight (it helps that the model looks, shall we say, more convincing from a distance).

The park's other truly giant star attraction is a honking great Tyrannosaurus, which at 16 metres from nose to tail is rather bigger even than the real deal. Clearly JP-based, it boasts hilarious googly eyes (with blinking mechanism), horribly deformed legs, and what seems to be a plantigrade posture. It's a real hoot to be around, particularly as the park have cunningly given its growling enough rumbling bass to dislodge fillings and cure any constipation among park guests.


It begs the question: why not just have a T. rex sit-standing on its feet, bird-style?

Hello everyone. NP

A typically Blackgang sense of humour is maintained throughout RA5. Various signs warn of the danger of literally losing one's head to a dinosaur bite, while another advertises the precarious position of 'T. rex keeper'. Unfortunately, they are sure to enrage dino-nerds everywhere by putting an apostrophe in T. rex. An apostrophe! What fresh madness is this!?

Insert 'Hitler reacts to Blackgang T. rex signage' Youtube poop here.

RA5's other theropods are, alas, predictable robosaur dreck. Naked dromaeosaurs (that make cougar sounds) are one, sadly predictable, thing, but a spitting Dilophosaurus with a bloody frill is quite another. IT WAS TWENTY-ONE YEARS AGO, GUYS. If there's one thing to be said for the Dilopho-thing, it does allow for a good photo opportunity (see below).

I've got one up on Nedry. NP
Awful model, FANTASTIC view. Two things that rarely go hand-in-hand, but that's Blackgang for you

Overall, RA5 is a worthy addition to Blackgang - a fittingly kitsch and silly update to the beloved Dinosaurland that's sure to entertain the park's many visitors from now until the time when the models tumble into the sea below (or their rubbery skins fall to bits - whichever is sooner). While it's sad to see the old Blackgang dinos go, a park like this can't trade on nostalgia forever, and one can hardly blame them for wanting to have something novel to pull in the punters.

That said, a small number of the old models do remain, and are just as popular (mostly as improvised climbing frames) as they always were. Among them is what I have christened 'Stegoslug', the hideous, sprawling stegosaur with a plain adorable face, alongside the Polacanthus, Scolosaurus and (for whatever reason) Doedicurus. Some things just never change.


NP

 One last thing worth mentioning...this pterosaur. Its face. That is all.


30 comments:

  1. I'm fond of Stegoslug (whom keen-eyed readers may notice has been repainted to match its robo-counterpart). Just as I've now grown very fond of Blackgang itself too. Thanks, Marc.

    More Blackgang-related stuff to follow from me before too long, hopefully, if I can get my act together.

    ReplyDelete
  2. THYREOPHORAN FAIL. :(

    ...who am I kidding, I super duper love that Scolosaurus with everything that I am.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Duck! That's what I wanted to shout upon seeing that Pteranodon (Pterodon?) closeup - both senses of the word. In fact it looks as if bits of its scaly face are showing thru holes in a mask bought from a magic and horror shop (a Count Duckula mask, perhaps?).

    Thanks Marc, some of these actually look quite good and, as you remaked, the panoramic views only enhance the atmosphere. I'm a bit jealous. The "T'rex" in particular, despite its bunny hands and other anatomical issues, looks like it might actually be a real animal, at least in the photos.

    That JP Dilophosaurus is a bit of a shocker but at least it's full-size.

    All of the other major groups are featured so I assume that there is at least a Triceratops or Styracosaurus somewhere, and perhaps a Protoceratops near a nest. Hopefully to make an appearance in Niroot's Part Two.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed, no ceratopsians, alas. And I'm afraid my Blackgang-related post won't be about the robosaurs, I'm sorry. But now you've given me an idea to at least smuggle an extra picture or two in from Area 5...

      Delete
    2. No robosaur Ceratopsians or no Ceratopsians at all? I fear that our yellow, toothy friend is grinning no more...

      Delete
    3. "Duck! That's what I wanted to shout upon seeing that Pteranodon (Pterodon?) closeup - both senses of the word."

      I was thinking it looked more like Woody Woodpecker.

      -Hadiaz

      Delete
    4. James A - No ceratopsians at all! So yes, the yellow fanged Triceratops has been consigned to history.

      Delete
  4. James, none at all now, sadly. Robo or no.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Given the title of this post, I was expecting something like "Area 407", but this is even better.

    -Hadiaz

    ReplyDelete
  6. I went to see this new attraction just last week, I love Blackgang so much. It brings back such happy memories of summer holidays with my family, and going back was like being a kid again. I was so sad that many old Dinosaurland models are gone... not to mention my fave attraction the musical pet shop is looking a little worse for wear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rumpus Mansion and the Triassic Club are looking a little worn, too...(I'm surprised you're so fond of the Musical Pet Shop. I see it as more of an endurance test.)

      Delete
    2. P.S. If you want to reminisce about the old Dinosaurland models, do check out my previous Blackgang posts! (There's a link at the start of this one.)

      Delete
    3. I saw those too ;) it's not just the models, but the sounds as well. I vaguely remember the goofy Brachiosaurus sounding like lapping water? Very weird noises.

      And oh my god yes the Musical Pet Shop, as a kid my parents could never get me out of there. As for old Triassic Club, that's another one of my favourites. I noticed also that poor old Darwin the Allosaurus seems to be suffering from an awful case of neck-rot.

      Delete
  7. That pterosaur at the end must be Rodan's retarded cousin

    ReplyDelete
  8. Having seen the Pterosaur's face, all I can say is...


    SOON

    ReplyDelete
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