Prehistoric Mammals by TNG

EDIT: according to individuals in the Dinosaur Toy Forum thread mentioned later in this review, they have confirmed that the artists who sculpted the original prehistoric mammals statues are indeed officially onboard with TNG, meaning they can be considered official budget alternatives to the original sculpts. As the dinosaur models are modeled after toys from different companies, the same circumstances do not automatically apply to them, but TNG’s standing is looking a little better, and I think it might be safe to give them the benefit of the doubt at this point.

Model collectors may be aware that a new-ish toy company known simply as “TNG” has popped onto the scene recently, seemingly out of nowhere. As of this writing, information on the company is currently incredibly sparse. I can’t even find out what “TNG” might stand for! This unfortunately exacerbates certain issues about them, which I will get to in a moment.

Assorted TNG models as I found them via the seller I bought them from on AliExpress.

I first came across them a month or two ago, and was immediately impressed by both the quality and selection of their prehistoric mammal species available, though their dinosaurs seemed a little more hit-or-miss. I already had decent versions of the dinosaur models I thought looked good, but several of the other dinosaurs available did not impress me at all. Their Cryolophosaurus is unique(-ish) enough that I considered getting it, but decided to wait on it for now.

Stegodon slots nicely into the middle of my Probiscidean family lineup, while Megacerops and Elasmotherium perfectly bookend either side of the Perissodactyl (odd-toed hoofed mammal) family!

I did however buy their Stegodon, Megacerops, and Elasmotherium, all of which (but especially the Megacerops) filled significant “species gaps” in my collection, making it feel much more well rounded now! Stegodon is a close relative of modern elephants, which some consider particularly close to the Asian Elephant, while most scientists figure that it sits just outside the group that includes all modern elephants. This model represents a particular individual known as the Huanghe Flumen specimen, which is famous for its incredibly long tusks, which were also so thick and closely-set that it would have been forced to hold its trunk off to the side, rather than in between the tusks as with most elephants. Elasmotherium was a wooly rhinoceros, though not THE “Wooly Rhinoceros”, if by that you mean the more common and “normal-looking” genus Coelodonta, which is the only one of the two to appear in cave art. Megacerops another hoofed mammal sometimes confused for a rhino by lay-people (most famously in the movie Ice Age, despite it living during the Eocene), but is actually more closely related to horses.

Rhino vs. Rhino: a Coelodonta & an Elasmotherium eye each other warily as they go about their business.

While I originally found them on a different website, Ali Express seems to currently be the best place to most consistently purchase them from, which is where I bought them from. All of them look very high in quality, and closely match the data we have on these species real-life counterparts, with the possible exception of Elasmotherium, which has recently been suggested to have possessed a much shorter horn than traditionally presented. What’s more, they even fit perfectly within my 1:40-1:35 scale preferences, which very few mammal models do! (This is also what attracted me to both Wild Past’s and Michael Eischen’s models, which I have reviewed as well.)

The boxes also include some scientific information on their respective animals, which is nice if you’re the type who likes to keep the box.

These are all technically points in TNG’s favor; unfortunately, it seems we cannot necessarily credit this quality to artistic integrity on TNG’s part, which I did not discover until my purchases were already en route to me. As pointed out in this thread on the Dinosaur Toy Forum, it seems that every one of TNG’s currently available models has been plagiarized to some degree or another from other sources, some of them higher-end statues, some of them other toys/models in their own right. This seems to account for the varying quality in their models, as it rests almost entirely on the quality of the models they were seemingly plagiarized from. I hesitate to use the word “bootleg” which other enthusiasts have thrown around, since to me that implies literally copying the exact mold used, while these seem to be “new” sculpts with minute, legally-distinct differences to their “inspirations”, but that’s potentially just splitting hairs.

The PNSO Yutyrannus vs the TNG Cryolophosaurus. I will note that despite the apparent similarity, the Cryolophosaurus does still seem to be more or less accurate, at least to versions that give it a more allosauroid appearance as opposed to a dilophosaur-like appearance.

Just to mention a few examples, the TNG Stegodon the high-end Dinone statue, several dinosaurs look nearly identical the Hoalonggood/GR Toys versions, and even their seemingly most unique sculpt, the Cryolophosaurus, appears to have been built off of the framework of the PNSO Yutyrannus.

If you’re like “Well how different can two versions of the same animal really be?”, you should know that we’ve never actually found a horn for this species, only a giant smooth bulge on the skull where it would have attached (see the baby on the left). This makes that little crook in the horn as good as the artist’s signature. I also note that the position of the legs is identical.

The narrative is potentially somewhat more complicated than this, however. One commenter on the aforementioned Dinosaur Toy Forum post claims to have found evidence that at least one of the original artists may have been officially hired in some capacity by TNG. Specifically, the artist behind the Musee/M-Studio Elasmotherium & Megacerops, whose corresponding TNG models happen to look most like direct 1:1 copies out of all their products. If this is the case, then this might mean that the TNG models can be thought more as officially sanctioned budget versions of the pre-existing models. Unfortunately, the paucity of information about this company online makes it difficult to determine this one way or another. Hopefully they make release some official statements about themselves sometime soon to help clear up matters.

The M-See vs TNG Megacerops. This is the one case in which it seems like it might literally just be produced from the same mold with cheaper materials. I hope the rumors that the original artist signed off on this are true.

Whatever degree of plagiarization exists here, one can’t deny these models certainly look nice. I will leave the question of whether the whole company seems like one to be avoided up to the reader, but I will follow further news to see whether the original artists may be benefitting from sales of the mammal models at the very least. I do hope TNG will do right by them, and I will change this assessment to a much more explicitly negative one if it is confirmed that they indeed have ripped off the work of other artists. If however you would like to buy some models that I can guarantee benefit the original artists without even going through the middleman of a large company, I would direct you to the work of Wild Past and PaleoSculpture, which you can purchase free of any ethical concerns!

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