When I was a kid, I thought the Allosaurus was the dinosaur equivalent of a Gobot: a lamer version of something much more spectacular (in this case, the T-Rex and a Transformer, respectively). But staring at illustrations like this growing up, I couldn't help but feel like the Allosaurus was the downplayed underdog of theropod coolness. It wasn't until a Walking With Dinosaurs special devoted to the specimen known as "Big Al" that I really grew to appreciate Allosaurus as a legitimately interesting and charismatic dinosaur independent of more popular theropods like the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
In fact, Allosaurus: A Walking With Dinosaurs Special was simply incredible. Surprisingly theatrical and emotionally investing, it was the best of the Walking With Dinosaurs series and completely eclipses other dinosaur-related tv shows and movies. Allosaurus suddenly became a "hero" dinosaur, holding his own with classics like the Triceratops and more recent fan favorites like the (often misrepresented) Velociraptor. A:AWWDS also cemented in my mind what the hero Allosaurus should look like, namely this:
This look jives pretty well with the Allosaurus specimens I've seen at the Smithsonian. BBC is known for its scientific accuracy, and in this case, that reputation is well deserved.
Since I've been collecting dinosaur models recently, I thought I'd take a stab at getting a cool Allosaurus. Sure, I already have the Billy V Allosaurus, but let's be honest... that's no Allosaurus. Papo has really impressed me with its incredibly detailed dinosaur line, so I snatched up its Allosaurus without hesitation. Then I saw Schleich's Allosaurus and thought, "Wait... is that Big Al?" I just couldn't pass it up. So now we have an Allosaurus showdown: Papo vs. Schleich. Which is the winner?
Let's start with the Schleich figure. The Big-Al-inspired sculpt that so captivated me is certainly awesome. The skin textures and folds look scientifically legitimate, the body proportions are nice, and the skull structure is nearly perfect. The feet seem a little big and I would have preferred a more active stance. But the main problem is that the sculpted detailing seems dulled. The skin texture is a bit soft and the claws aren't as sharp as they need to be. Still, this is basically what an Allosaurus should look like.
There are a few sprays and washes to give the figure some color variation, but there isn't much in the way of precision paint detailing other than the teeth and the eyes. I would have liked the claws to be painted in particular. Unfortunately, some of the spray seems to have chipped off the rostrum.
Hey, Schleich Allosaurus actually comes with some accessories! Not only is an information booklet included, but also a mini-human for scale... although I'm not sure what's going on with the scale here. The Allosaurus skeletons I've seen aren't nearly this large, and this size comparison chart agrees.
Shifting gears, we have the Papo Allosaurus! This figure has a truly spectacular sculpt, with incredibly life-like musculature, detailed skin texture, and a dynamic pose. There are a lot of different textures happening on the skin, with lizard-like skin on the tummy transforming into... are those crocodilian back plates and iguana spines on the back? Although it looks undeniably cool, it's impossible to justify this skin variation scientifically. Crocodilians and theropods (like Allosaurus) might both be Archosaurs, but they're so far removed from each other phylogenically that there's no way that Allosaurus could have inherited back plates (if the common ancestor even had back plates). And the iguana spines are just plain frivolous.
The head sculpt looks incredible in its detail and realism but it's also scientifically dubious. The Allosaurus skulls I've seen have sloping and truncated rostrums with straighter tooth lines. This figure looks like somebody wanted to sculpt a leaner, spikier version of the T-Rex rather than a real Allosaurus. It's more of a movie monster than a dinosaur, like Michael Bay decided he wanted to make a sequel to Jurassic Park and this is what he came up with before he added a jet pack and a laser cannon for maximum explosionage.
The proportions of the hands and feet look spot-on, and the claws are nice and sharp. The paint apps are amazingly detailed, even if they do highlight the unlikely back plates and spines. Although this figure doesn't come with anything, his jaw does articulate like his T-Rex companion, which is something I wish all dinosaur models would emulate.
The $18 Scleich Allosaurus is a little bigger than the more expensive $25 Papo figure. The Schleich plastic is a bit on the rubbery side and it gives the figure a fun, reptilian feel to the skin. The Papo plastic is firmer but not too brittle.
Allosaurus fans can rejoice because we have two strong figures to choose from, each with their own strengths. If you're looking for something that maintains a respectable amount of scientific accuracy (as well as looking a lot like the hero theropod in Walking With Dinosaurs), Schleich is for you. If you're looking for a figure that seems like the sculptor thought, "Let's make this dude as cool as possible and to hell with the scientific consequences," the Papo Allosaurus is your guy. Which would you choose?