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‘Beasts of the Mesozoic’ toy creator David Silva on his new Ceratopsians Kickstarter

The raptors were just the beginning!

Back in 2016, toy designer/sculptor David Silva ushered dinosaur toys into a new golden era with his Beasts of the Mesozoic Raptor Series Kickstarter. By the time the campaign was over, more than 2,600 happy enthusiasts had pledged to get their very own beautifully sculpted, highly articulated, and scientifically accurate dinosaur toys.

Which did not include me, because I was an idiot and thought dinosaurs with feathers couldn’t look cool. As the rave reviews for the figures rolled in, however, it became clear I’d made a huge mistake. Thankfully, Silva continued to sell the incredible raptor figures on his Creative Beasts website, albeit at a slightly higher price point, and without some of the Kickstarter exclusives.

Since then, I’ve been waiting anxiously for Silva’s second Beasts of the Mesozoic Kickstarter. No way I was going to miss out on this one, especially when it was announced that the new wave would feature the Ceratopsia family of dinosaurs.

On September 17, the official Beasts of the Mesozoic: Cerostopsian Series Action Figures Kickstarter launched to a massive wave of orders, ensuring we’re on track for lots of wonderful stretch goal figures (and that there were plenty of other folks like me who realized our mistake in missing the the first one).

I recently got the chance to talk with Silva about the new figures, his thoughts on the dinosaur industry, and what the future holds for the Beasts of the Mesozoic toy line.

AiPT!: When the first Beasts of the Mesozoic Kickstarter launched, it was very easy to get people on board, since everyone who’s seen a Jurassic Park movie knows what a Velociraptor is. Ceratoposians are obviously just as awesome in their own right, but don’t necessarily have the same mass appeal. What can you tell us about them, and what made you decide to make them the focus of the second wave?

Silva: They’re basically the horned dinosaurs (or that’s what a lot of people know them as). Part of the brand of Beasts of the Mesozoic is to bring these creatures that most people haven’t heard about to the forefront. I think that’s a big part of the appeal of the line — the chance for discovery.

Also, the name “Ceratopsian” implies relationship with Triceratops, which a lot of people know. But what I think is really interesting (and that a lot of people will really appreciate) is how many relatives of Triceratops there are. Some may be more familiar than others, but there are going to be a lot people haven’t heard of that they’ll be pleasantly surprised with.

Production sample of Triceratops horridus

AiPT!: No joke! I thought I could get by with only buying one or two of these, but each new WIP album you post on your Facebook page makes my wallet cry out in pain. Also, it’s worth noting that a lot of the Certatopsians you’ve posted looked very familiar, but I just didn’t know what their names were.

Silva: Exactly. It’s one of those things where you’re familiar enough to be interested, but pleasantly surprised by the things you discover you didn’t know yet. That’s the area I’m trying to hit with these toys, because that’s the way that I got interested in a lot of different types of dinosaurs. You start off being interested in one thing and keep expanding that interest as you see what it’s all connected to.

That’s one of the key things I think is missing from dinosaur toys right now. Most of the time they’re based on the more familiar ones. There’s not a major focus on discovery or an effort to celebrate all the interesting (and lesser known) creatures out there. That’s one of the reasons I’m trying to focus on various dinosaur families, rather than just sticking with the popular ones.

Production sample of Avaceratops

AiPT!: One thing that initially pushed me away from the raptors (a decision I still regret to this day) was the feathering. Despite being scientifically accurate, I never thought it could look cool until I saw your figures.

Thankfully for stubborn idiots like me, feathering won’t even be an issue with this wave, correct?

Silva: Correct. There won’t be any feathering for the Ceratopsians. The challenge with these dinosaurs is getting past the idea that they had drab/earth tone skin colors.

“TELL ME I’M PRETTY!”
Production sample of Centrosaurus

All the figures in this wave are inspired by some sort of existing reptile that lives in a similar ecological niche. People might assume that because the Ceratopsians were herbivores, they would evolve to blend in with their surroundings to hide from the carnivores.

But if that were really the case, then the colorful reptiles we have now wouldn’t be around today — not to mention the fact that the Ceratopsians still have a distant relation to birds. It’s obviously not as close as the Velociraptors’ relation, but it’s still enough that you’d have to take it into account as far as what their coloration would be.

I wouldn’t do anything that is contrary to found evidence. That being said, there’s still plenty about these creatures that we don’t know yet, which gives you plenty of room to be (intelligently) creative.

AiPT!: I think my favorite Ceratopsian you’ve shown so far is the one based off the original Dino Riders figure. That was one of my first dinosaur toys I had as a kid.

The intersection of nostalgia and awesomeness
Packaging artwork by Dino Riders artist Ezra Tucker

Silva: That’s the Monoclonius, which is going to be a Kickstarter exclusive.

AiPT!: In other words, I can’t be an idiot and skip the Kickstarter like last year if I want the exclusive that is also my favorite color.

Silva: Nope 🙂

AiPT!: What are some other sources of inspiration for the color schemes you’re using? The Sinoceratops zhuchengensis has got to be military camouflage, right?

Silva: Actually it’s not! That one is based on a Chinese crocodile lizard with very similar skin patterns. It’s also the only Ceratopsian whose remains were found in China, so I wanted to connect it to the color scheme of similar Chinese wildlife.

Production sample of Sinoceratops zhuchengensis

AiPT!: Let’s get into some of the more toy-specific stuff. What type of articulation will this wave have? Will they be as poseable as the Velociraptors?

Silva: They’ll have very similar articulation. The jaw (obviously), the base of the neck, the back of the neck in most cases, the mid body joint, shoulders, elbows, feet, knees, ankles, and tail.

AiPT!: What about scale?

Silva: While the raptors grew to approximately six feet long, Ceratopsians could be up to 30 feet in length. For that reason, this wave will mostly be 1/18th scale, which means they would be in scale with 3.75-inch figures.

There will be two Ceratopsian figures offered in 1/6th scale like the Velociraptors. But if I were to make the whole wave in that scale, it would be unaffordable.

One of the aforementioned (and beautiful) 1/6th scale figures

AiPT!: Will be there be environment and accessory packs for this wave?

Silva: Maybe down the road, but not for the Kickstarter.

AiPT!: This might be like asking you to pick which child you like the best, but what is your favorite Ceratopsian out of this wave?

Silva: Oh, it’s definitely Styracosaurus. It’s been one of my favorite dinosaurs for a long time.

Styracosaurus albertensis prototype

AiPT!: Veering slightly off topic for a bit: Have you been approached by any of the big toy companies you’ve worked with to do a dinosaur line? Kickstarter seems to be working well so far, but it’s surprising that someone hasn’t realized the profit potential of mass producing a line like this (that doesn’t require any licensing fees).

Silva: It was discussed at both Hasbro and N.E.C.A., but for whatever reason just didn’t happen.

You also have to keep in mind that a lot of bigger companies are going to be more comfortable investing their resources in licensed products because those already have built in audiences. Add in the fact that the dinosaur toy industry is not in the same place as the action figure industry, and you can see why a company might not want to take the risk.

That’s why I decided to take the risk. I had to put it out there to see if there was a market—which thankfully there is.

…and now everyone gets to have their own Chasmosaurus.

AiPT!: How will pricing on these figures compare from the Kickstarter to the retail/online store?

Silva: The Kickstarter campaign definitely offers the lowest price. After that, any figures that are [still] available will be a little bit more.

AiPT!: So assuming this Kickstarter goes well, what are you considering for the third wave?

Silva: Oh, it’s already set: Tyrannosaurus rex.

Beasts of the Mesozoic: Ceratopsian Series Kickstarter is live now! Visit today to make sure you don’t miss out on these fantastic dinosaur figures. The more people who buy them, the more wonderful figures that get unlocked!

If you missed out the the Velociraptor series, many of them are still available to purchase on David Silva’s Creative Beast Studio website.

Make sure to follow David Silva on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for campaign updates, WIP albums, and plenty of action figure awesomeness.

AiPT! Science is co-presented by AiPT! Comics and the New York City Skeptics.

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