Somewhere in France lies the toy company Papo, which produces everything from toy zoo animals to undersea life, pirate figures, knights in armor, cowboys and Indians, historic figures, and lots of other stuff. Oh, and dinosaurs. Now toy dinosaurs are nothing unusual—ever since Marx started cranking out their plastic figures in the 1950s, toy dinosaurs have been a staple of kids’ toys, ranging from cheap plastic figures to snap-together model kits, remote control robot toys and even giant, operating mechanical toys kids can ride.
Very few of these look much like real dinosaurs, which is where Papo comes in. They’ve produced a “Prehistoric Times” line of hand-painted vinyl dinosaurs that are pretty incredible. Mostly ranging just under a foot in length, the line includes a T-Rex, a spinosaurus, allosaur, pteranodon, triceratops, stegosaurus, parasaurolophus, baby pachycephalosaurus, oviraptor, pachyrhinosaurus, pleisiosaur and velociraptor. There’s also a wooly mammoth and a couple of “prehistorical” men as the Papo website describes them.
The dinosaurs in the line are beautifully scaled, meticulously sculpted and painted reproductions of the prehistoric reptiles that are startlingly realistic. They’re molded in a heavy, dense vinyl, and most of the carnivorous dinosaurs feature hinged jaws so they can be displayed with closed or open, roaring mouths. The paint detail is amazing, with subtle color variations in skin tones, delicately convincing eyes and realistic teeth shading. The work here is as excellent as anything in the Japanese Kaiyodo company’s legendary line of vinyl dinosaur reproductions, but that alone wouldn’t make these replicas worthy of mention on this website.
What’s evident from looking at many of these creatures is that these aren’t just any interpretation of what dinosaurs looked like. The T-Rex, spinosaurus, pteranodon, triceratops, stegosaurus, parasaurolophus and velociraptor are specifically based on the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park films, and they are spot-on reproductions of the Stan Winston/ILM creations from the movies. The T-Rex in roaring pose exactly duplicates the look of the tyrannosaurus in its final, triumphant shot in the first Jurassic Park movie, and the Jurassic Park III spinosaurus (the biggest model in the line) is shown in its stalking mode, familiar from publicity images of the monster facing off against the T-Rex early in JP III. The stegosaurus duplicates the look of the spined creatures from The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and the triceratops shows the three-horned dinosaur from the first Jurassic Park—although here we see that design walking instead of drugged and sick on the ground as it is in the film. Most of the replicas are in a consistent 1/40 scale although the velociraptors and pachycepholosaurus are depicted in a larger scale to keep the size of the replicas similar. The toys come unpackaged with small identifying “toe tags” rather than blister packaging, and range from $12 to $24—and you can get them at Amazon.com.