Vault tales Dinotales 42 Series 2 Smilodon Skull

Who makes it? Kaiyodo Dinotales, Series 2. Number 48 (the series were numbered continuously–this skull would have been the 24th in the second series)

When did it come out? Pretty close to 2000

One challenge of Dinotales skulls? Display. They don’t have bases or platforms. Many are flat bottomed but some, like ceratopsian frills or the Smilodon skull, do not lend themselves to resting nice and straight up. Here, a Colorata base (from their sturgeon) and acrylic peg does the heavy lifting.

Still available? Nope. These sets were available as blind box prizes with (terrible) candy for less than a year at a time. Unless you search auction sites or sympathetic collectors and traders–it’s not that hard to find.

Where can it be found in my displays? There is an entire cabinet dedicated to the Kaiyodo Dinotales series. This one is with the rest of the skeletons and skulls.

Unlike one or two skulls that I previously discussed,the Dinotales do not cut corners on details. Each tooth, including each socket, is clearly visible–as is each individual bone and suture on the skull (more or less)

How does it fit in the collection? I have not been quiet about my fondness for the Kaiyodo Dinotales figures, and I made it a point to have at least one of every figure (plus a whole lot of repaints…). That said, I’ve never been huge on tiny skeletals and skulls, but the Dinotales ones are certainly among the best.

Any story behind it? Getting this figure was probably part of my massive ‘complete the sets’ phase–it probably came in a bulk lot from an auction of some kind (early mid-2000s, when that was possible). I didn’t start out collecting entire sets, and often overlooked the skulls and skeletons. I’m pretty sure I eventually got two, and gave one to my Masters’ supervisor (he focused on sabre-tooth animals…)

A slightly more oblique view. A seam is unfortunately visible, but again, each carnassial molar is sculpted and clear (even on the lingual surface). Even the area inside the orbits is detailed. And you can’t even tell that I put the wrong canines in the wrong sockets…then glued them in place because they wouldn’t stay…

Notable remarks about this figure (a review that isn’t really a review): Dinotales are great. I said it. And when it comes to recreating the fossil material, their sculptors were (and are) certainly masters. I am by no means an expert on sabre-tooth cat skulls, but I can recognize the amount of work that has gone into this figure–each tooth is picked out clearly, the proportions are correct, and the skull is an excellent miniature of the real thing at only 3.5 cm long–if there were a Smilodon figure of equal scale (which would be 1:10), this could have easily popped right out of its head. That said, I have yet to see a Smilodon figure that truly embodies the shapes and proportions of this skull; it’s a tricky thing to make work. The skull itself is presented with a slight yellowish wash (this is no Tar Pits specimen) and looks just a little dirty, like a real specimen might–but there is no matrix on this one, the skull is clean and empty (the brain case is visible from the right angles). I will stop gushing now…I already brought up my only complaint in the first photo–these skulls need a small base or stand to sit properly. Otherwise they rest awkwardly and are hard to appreciate on a shelf. And, yes, some of the seams are visible…they are snap-together models.

Would I recommend it? Yes. These are obviously not meant for children, or as toys of any kind. The parts are tiny and easily broken. And, for what they are (small blind bag models with candy…) they can be tough to get–better to find one of the cheaper Smilodon skeleton kits and play with that. This is a (small) display piece (and also learning tool…I knew an instructor in Japan that would use the skeletons and skulls to emphasize features and it actually worked for her students!) But for fans of prehistoric animals, especially mammals, this is an impressive figure and you should get it.

I have been unduly excited to present this photo…other than her big head, the scale is about right, 1:10.
Alas, Carnivorick…I knew it, Horatio…