Outside of what was available in museum gift shops, I wasn’t too savvy on dinosaur model collecting, nor of all the amazing products that were becoming available. Things would change after I started following some amazing YouTubers out there who took the time to share their input on products from the top dinosaur model companies; most notably Papo, Schleich, Wild Safari Ltd, and CollectA. With adult dinosaur fans demanding more accurate models, as well as depictions of rarer and newer discoveries, the competition between them would result in a now golden age of animal representations. Many are so detailed they make my ’90s Carnegie dinosaurs (considered cream of the crop back then) look downright childish. Now I find myself stalking their websites in anticipation of new releases, not unlike when I was growing up in the ‘70s and the department store Christmas catalogs would start coming out. Seeing these new dinosaurs online are great but (this blog notwithstanding) there’s really no comparison to holding them in your hands and seeing them with your own eyes. Needless to say, I had a bit of skepticism when I ordered my 2016 Papo Kaprosuchus, for surely it could not be as good as it looked on YouTube. Boy was I wrong!
Although poor Wisconsin is one of the few states where not a single dinosaur has ever been found, that should not suggest they don’t offer us enthusiasts something special. This past summer I visited the Dinosaur Discovery Museum in Kenosha and, though relatively small, had a suprisingly cool collection.
Whenever someone mentions “the Old West,” I’m always more inclined to think about Allosaurus and Utahraptor as opposed to cowboys and Indians. The American southwest is a treasure trove of fossil discoveries and this past summer I finally made my way there. During that trip, I had the privilege of seeing several different dinosaur-themed attractions; most of which that were unplanned. One of the last ones I saw specifically highlighted the prehistoric animals that once lived in this region and appropriately called the Dinosaur Journey of Western Colorado in Fruita. What was intended as just a quick stop to stretch our legs ended up being a morning of discovery!
Standing at the West end of Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo is a lone statue often overlooked by the two million guests who visit the park each year. Back in the early ‘70s when I first saw it, just about every dinosaur depicted was either T-Rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, or the long-necked Brontosaurus (later changed to “Apatosaurus” before regaining its legitimacy). The zoo’s dinosaur, however, was none of these but rather an obscure duck-billed variety called (at that time) a Trachodon. Despite what I’d seen in books and cartoons, this replica gave me something that I’d never had before; a true sense of scale. For the first time I could look up and appreciate the actual size of these prehistoric monsters and, over forty years later, I’m fortunate to still be able to see it at the zoo today. Only recently would I gain a true appreciation for the treasure that it is. Continue reading
At forty-six years old, it’s not surprising that I no longer have any of the dinosaur toys I grew up with. They’ve all found their way into a garbage dump or nearby thrift store over the last three decades and, if any actually did still exist, they’re probably buried in a landfill somewhere, deeper than many of the animals they’re supposed to represent. There is, however, one dinosaur item from my youth that somehow managed to survive; an old book my parents bought me when I made my first visit to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago back in 1973 called “Album of Dinosaurs” (1972), written by Tom McGowen. Continue reading