Some thoughts on 21320 Dinosaur Fossils

Back in May, when this set was announced, I was quite excited and planned to get it to display the dinosaurs on the lawn in front of the science institute I am working on (and… ermm, still am. You know how it goes with public projects!).

Now, after the set has been announced  (and already reviewed by the usual suspects), my excitement has pretty much cooled off. It’s not like it is a bad set, but it isn’t that good either. And really not what I was looking for. So what’s wrong with it, I hear you cry. Either that or the voices in my head came back. Bloody meds!

It’s a couple of things really. Firstly it’s the proportions: the dinosaurs are supposed to be roughly in scale with Lego Minifigures, so give or or take 1:32 scale. T-rex is 39 cm long, which means roughly 12.5 m and Triceratops measures 27 cm, which equals to 8.6 m. Looks pretty OK to me. Triceratops has reached up to 9 m length and T-rex somewhere between 12.3 and ~13 m. Close enough, given that a Minifig is proportionally tad shorter than a human being (or wider, depending on how you see it^^).

If the skull of the T-rex wouldn’t be about twice as big as it should be. Seriously, look at this skull:

Image credit: The Lego Group

Just for the record: the largest T-rex skulls are between 1.4 and 1.5 meters long, which is indeed quite large, but not that large. To even this out, it seems the torso has been almost comically shortened. In reality, T-rex had large torsos and barrel-shaped chests. Do I need to mention that the arms are too big as well? Droid arms would have been more fitting their actual size really. They were tiny! About the size of a human arm.

To be fair, may the proportions be miles off the real thing, they are quite spot on to their Jurassic World T-rex figure. So there is at least consistency in being wrong!

Image credit: The Lego Group

Our friend Triceratops has a couple issues too. It’s skull is a bit oversized, but not as grossly as it’s arch enemy’s. They indeed had quite huge skulls, ranging up to 3 meters. But don’t ask me where it got its tail from. Way too long! It also seems to suffer from the shortened-torso-syndrome.

Only the non-dinosaur Pteranodon, who sneaked into the set as well, looks pretty accurate. Nothing grossly oversized there. Keep on flying!

Secondly, the selection.

A T-rex and a Triceratops, plus a Pteranodon for good measure. Isn’t really a representative selection. Dinosaurs existed for 140M years, had a crazy diversity and range of sizes and all we get is two of the very last Dinosaurs that lived (for simplicity reasons I’m not counting birds here). Basically the ones that were around right at that moment when that asteroid turned the lights off. I call this a bit of a missed chance.

To be fair, they had to cut corners, to keep the price at a moderate level and their decision to make the Dinosaurs quite solid (just look at those legs!) eats up a lot of pieces. I would have welcomed a broader selection instead, with an overall lighter construction, so basically more akin to the original proposal. I would certainly have added a sauropod (Brachiosaurus is nice and tall and certainly impressive) and maybe a Stegosaurus or Ankylosaurus. This would still be far from being complete, but at least more representative selection.

Another, less severe niggle I got is the poses. They seem both fixed in a crouching position. I would have preferred it if their legs were posable, to give the builds a wider range of expression. Admittedly, there is quite a number of specimens in museums that are quite crouchy, often maybe so they don’t bang their heads on the ceiling, but not all. Scotty below, which is estimated to span about 13 meters looks quite happily stretching its legs:

Image credit★Kumiko★, Wikipedia

Also please note this torso, head and arms size. That’s the real deal!

On the positive side, I don’t really mind the use of white for the bones instead of tan. White is the typical colour Lego uses for bones after all. Yes, fossils are not bones, lets not over complicate the matter.

I also don’t mind the stickers so much. Especially since they are applied on flat surfaces and therefore quite easy to apply in my opinion. If that helps keeping the price down, they have my blessing.

All in all, my criticism may sound harsher than it is. Maybe I did expect too much accuracy. Something akin to a Technic or Creator Expert set and instead Lego made something that fits more into City or Jurassic World. In a way, this makes sense of course, but in my opinion it doesn’t makes for good and accurate models. Nevertheless, I’m sure it will find its audience. It’s well priced and the Dinosaurs look rock’n’roll and are nicely sized. Myself, I might have to build my own instead.