We’re back with yet another Run the Set, this time the Safari Ltd Dinosaur Skulls toob. You may recall way back near the beginning of this blog I wrote an individual post about just one of the skulls, the Brachiosaurus skull. Back when I thought it was a good idea to write a single, individual post about every figure…turns out, writing about a single skull, from a set, is hard. Especially when it’s a set like this one–skulls are neat, but not exactly dynamic.
As mentioned in the Brachiosaurus skull post, the set is item number 687404 from Safari Ltd, originally released in 2009. It is a set of eleven figures total, which is an awkward number, honestly. The photo captions will give the names (rather than just writing out a list here). I have several examples of each skull in storage around the house–it’s a consequence of having these skulls, like the fossil toob figures, be part of programming at the museum where I worked. It meant the kids did a lot of programs…and took home a lot of skulls. As with the fossils, the dinosaur skulls were later released in bulk bag form; I think both toob and bags are still available even now (unlike so many other great prehistoric-themed toobs).
As mentioned in the Brachiosaurus skull review, the Safari toob figures are done well enough to be at least recognizable (and are helpfully marked in case it isn’t clear). But there is still some roughness to their design. For the skulls with teeth, they have been left with matrix inside the mouth instead of sculpting the teeth separately. Obviously this is more convenient for production, and safer for smaller hands (and for dig-out projects!) but it leaves them feeling a little unfinished. And like the mouths, the spaces and opening in the skulls are also left infilled. This makes all of the skulls appear strangely blocky. The figures themselves are all painted in a fairly uniform fashion, all being a light brown with darker brown washes and matrix; this is disappointing since these skulls represent finds from all over the world, and the associate geology (and thus colours of the fossils) can vary quite a bit, to say nothing of unusual preservation. I am not well versed enough in the morphology of the skulls of the various genera included, so while they look superficially okay, I would guess that there would be quibbles for people that are more familiar. But being a toob of toys, this should be expected–these aren’t exactly Dinotales-level skulls.
The range of animals represented is actually pretty decent, giving the expected favorites, plus some that are probably still favorites, but were more likely chosen because of their unique appearances. And I would expect that it is no coincidence that every species here happened to have at least one example represented as a full reconstruction toy by Safari as well. Possibly in the Wild Safari figures line, possibly in the (now extinct) Carnegie dinosaurs line. Even now, only one does not have a Safari figure to associate with it–the Nigersaurus is now out of production (but I wrote about it here) but CollectA makes a big one! Technically, the Oviraptor also does not, but the close relatives Anzu and Citipati are available, and their skulls are similar. Putting the skulls figures together with a reconstructed figure would of course be a great learning opportunity. Maybe even teach a little about how skulls are used to reconstruct.
Overall, it’s a good set for educational or play purposes; I don’t personally display them because it’s awkward and I don’t have space, but I have heard of people mounting them on frames to hang on walls; that could be neat if one has the inclination (add the prehistoric mammals skulls if you can find them!?). As mentioned somewhere along here, the biggest issue for some may be that the scales are all over the place; the figures generally fit into a few size ranges, due to the constraints of the toob packaging and the reality of making the set (for example Oviraptor and Parasaurolophus skulls scaled together would not work well, with the former becoming tiny or the latter becoming enormously too big for a toob). Based on rough estimates, they vary from 1:3 to almost 1:40. Overall, a good set for most dino fans. As an added bonus, the paint quality does not appear to have changed much since the earliest release, so that’s nice to know (sometimes later runs see a change in the paint jobs, rarely for the better).