I have mentioned in an earlier post (dated 21 July “Being dino-mad”) that Buddy loves dinosaurs. The other day, I suggested to him to form a dinosaur parade just like in the book of the same name by Shari Halpern. He agreed excitedly, and this was what we did. I lined a few of the big ones up front but he wanted to have the rest in pairs (maybe inspired by Noah’s Ark). Rounding up at the rear is Rex, the T Rex soft toy (hence the name).
This is a Brachiosaurus by the way, and one of the biggest dinosaurs ever discovered. It’s made by the French toy model company, Papo, and is very well sculpted and sturdy. Buddy even tried to ride on it. There were a couple of times he wanted to take it out (which would have caused a sensation among other kids), but my husband stopped him, “Don’t take brachio out! It’s too big, unless you’re going to a bad neighborhood.” Yes, it’s heavy enough to be a weapon!
I first bought Buddy some mini dinosaur figures for his birthday this year, and they were from Bullyland, a German toy maker. As his interests in dinosaurs grow, I want to get him a couple of bigger ones and Bullyland was a natural choice. The mini ones were bought from Natures Collection, at S$5.50 each, but the bigger ones are retailing for at least S$25 each. Being someone who likes to arbitrage (my husband can testify to that), I decided to go online to see if I can get them cheaper.
It was during the search online that I found a couple of pretty useful websites. One is Dino Dojo which provides a guide to building a child’s dinosaur collection. The author is rather critical of Bullyland figures, citing that those bought have peeling paintwork, and he/she highly recommends Papo figures instead. After checking them out at The Better Toy Store (which seems to be the only retail shops selling them in Singapore), I understand the raving reviews they received: they are pretty realistic with amazing details and beautiful paintwork. In fact, I’m not even sure if they should be considered as toys, particularly the dinosaurs.
I also found out that there is a group of people out there who are avid dino figure collectors, which brings me to the site of Dino Toy Blog. This site provides a treasure trove of reviews of various dino figures which also guide what I get for Buddy, like the Stegosaurus figure from Papo below. Look at how amazing it is, with its mouth opened in a silent cry. Buddy sometimes wants to take it to bed with him. But I don’t recommend it, because being hit by one of those horns around the frill can be rather painful.
If you’re wondering, yes I bought the Papo dinosaurs online, from Everything Dinosaur, a British online store which has a wide selections of dinosaur merchandise at reasonable prices. The service and delivery are pretty good, and the owners are friendly and helpful. Mike, the owner expert, even provides data sheet on each of the dinosaur purchased. (Please note that I am not paid to write this, and instead this is based on my pleasant experience buying from the store.) I first bought a baby Pachycephalosaurus and a baby T Rex for Buddy because he asked for them.
Some time later, Buddy got interested in Velociraptor. After doing some research, I found out that the Bullyland figure is highly rated. (In case you’re wondering, those figures which are high on scientific accuracy and beautifully sculpted are favored by the collectors.) Firstly it has feathers (apparently Paleontologists think it did), unlike figures from other toy companies which made them with reptilian skin (like the one from Papo). Secondly it is a beautiful model with an animated feel about it. Buddy likes it a lot, and of course he plays with it rather often. True to what Dino Dojo said, the paintwork started peeling within a month, compared to those from Papo. (Even the mini Bullyland dinos are starting to get a little scruffy too.) Like figures from other toy companies, these are hand painted. But I don’t know what type of paint the company uses or how many costs are given that caused the colors to peel off so easily. I guess the adults don’t handle their figures roughly and so they don’t experience this, but with kids, rough play is par for the course.
In addition to the Velociraptor, I also got a Utahraptor (below picture) for Buddy. There are not many options for this dinosaur, and other than the gimmicky movie tie-in, the only figure in production is this from CollectA (surprisingly, a Hong Kong-based toy manufacturer). This is actually a pretty big dinosaur, but unfortunately, the figure size is not to scale, and the model is smaller than the above Velociraptor (which in reality is only 1 meter tall). The figure is also not as detailed as those from other companies, but at least it has feathers. There are very few Utahraptor models in the market and this is the best I can find, since the better ones have been retired and may be available only in eBay at a premium.
However, I found out that this year CollectA has launched a number of really interesting dino models, including obscure dinos. One figure that I want to get my hands on is the feathered T-Rex, which Buddy has asked for (to be exact, papa T-Rex). Yes, contrary to popular belief, scientists have concluded that T-Rex and perhaps all dinosaurs are actually covered in feathers. (Now you know why the birds and chickens are descendants of the dinosaurs.)
Then Buddy was fascinated with the Parasaurolophus, and naturally I gravitated to the Papo figure. It turns out that the Schleich version is a better choice because it’s more accurate. (Schleich is another German toy maker.) According to the collectors, Papo didn’t mold its figure accurately, for instance it has front teeth which is not in line with the fossil findings. Unfortunately, the Schleich model, launched in 2012, has been retired by the company, and ED doesn’t have any stock. So I had to search in Amazon, and managed to find a seller who ships to Singapore.
At the same time, I bought the below dino figure of Dacentrusus from Amazon as well. This is from the American toy maker, Battat, which retails its model figures under the Terra brand exclusively at Target. I found out from collectors that the Battat dinos are highly sought after for being scientifally accurate, and the company doesn’t launch many of them. Apparently those older models launched in the 1990’s are highly prized.
But too bad Target doesn’t ship to Singapore and not even going through vPost helps. ED doesn’t carry it, and even the online store at Dino Toy has no stocks; in fact I have never seen them in Singapore either. Thank God I found the Dacentrusus figure in Amazon, but I had to pay a premium compared to the bargain basement prices Target is selling them at. (Looks like Target regards them purely as kiddy toys.)
I also managed to arrange for my brother-in-law to get the Cryolophosaurus figure, and this time round from Target online store, after I found out he’s coming.
Not everything I bought for Buddy is considered collector’s item. This Ankylosaurus figure from Hasbro is a merchandise tie-in for the Jurassic World movie. This was one of the first dino toys I bought for Buddy (from a department store), before I started doing serious research on the figures. You can see that it’s not as sophisticated compared to those featured above. (Well, what do you expect from Hasbro?) I later found out that this toy was reviewed in Dino Toy forum as well, and received a mixed review. Main reasons being inaccurate armour and a suspicious resemblance to the Papo’s Ankylosaurus but a poorer form (see below it). Also the toy has screw holes, which made the collectors dissed Hasbro for not trying to make it look better. According to a comment, it’s suspected that Hasbro took a digital scan of the Papo figure and so able to dull the details and reduce sculpting time.
Another kiddy dino toy is this Styracosaurus, that we initially thought was a Triceraptops (but Buddy pointed out it doesn’t have 3 horns on its face). My father-in-law bought this for Buddy’s birthday, and so I don’t know which company made this. It’s battery-operated and able to move and make sound, but this scares Buddy. My husband tried using Blu tack to cover up the holes to dampen the noise, but since Buddy doesn’t like it moving, it suits us just fine. Anyway it’s not a favorite of his, and so he doesn’t play with it much.
Finally, we have Rex, the Gund soft toy T Rex, which is perfectly safe to bring it to bed.
Initially I wasn’t sure if we should get Rex since Buddy has sensitive nose. But the toy is machine-washable, and my husband suggested that we could wash it regularly to prevent dust accumulation.