TUPANDACTYLUS IMPERATOR (Wonder Artistic Models, 2019)

Who has never owned a wooden assemblable dinosaur skeleton? Their stylized and instantly recognizable design, which made them nice pieces of furniture, and the easy assemblage made them a classic of their kind. Wonder Artistic Models, a Chilean company, combined these wooden skeletons with the modern dinosaur anatomy knowledge. On their website you can find a vast assortment of prehistoric fauna faithfully reproduced to scale, in Trupán wood. Today we are reviewing the Tupandactylus.

Tupandactylus imperator is a species of pterosaur from the Crato Formation of Brazil, famous for the amazingly preserved fossils found there. It was previously assigned to Tapejara, but today it’s considered distinct enough to deserve a genre of its own. More information about this animal and a remarkable artwork can be found on the packaging of the Wonder Artistic Model, a flat package the size of a postcard. How big will the model be inside?

Big enough. You discover it as soon as it’s unpacked: the 51 pieces that make up the Tupandactylus are divided in three different sprues. Freeing them all may take some time, but you should act carefully to avoid breaking something (after all it’s thin wood, not steel). The instructions suggest using a pencil or something like that to detach the smaller pieces. Be careful not to lose them, because some of the pins that connect the various parts are really tiny and it’s easy to mistake them for waste parts. Fortunately, some spare parts are included.

Well kowing my total inability with manual work, I chose one of the simplest models. Even so, the assembly was no joke and perhaps it would’ve helped some idiot-proof instructions (Ikea style, I mean), but in the end the Tupandactylus was assembled. The whole process took about a couple of hours.

Among the Wonder Artistic Models, Tupandactylus is probably the one with the most accessories: the wings have a double display mode – open or closed – and alternative limbs are included for more or less active poses. Finally, the package includes a paper crest to be cut out and inserted into the appropriate space on the head (do not worry, it’s held in place by a pin). Don’t like the crest color? You can use the template to create your own crest and color it however you like.

Once assembled, Tupandactylus is more than twenty centimeters tall, and measures about fifty cetimeters from wing to wing (the package also includes a wire to hang it from the ceiling, if you wish). A comparison with a skeletal of this animal (such as the reconstruction of the similar T. navigans from Beccari et al. 2021) shows the attention that Wonder Artistic Models paid to proportions, despite its nature of a assemblable wooden model.

The Wonder Artistic Models Tupandactylus is an excellent demonstration of how this brand managed to combine the aesthetics of wooden skeletons with scientific accuracy, to the point of being appreciated even by paleontologists (if you don’t believe me, have a look at this section on their website).


Beccari V.; Pinheiro F.L.; Nunes I.; Anelli L.E.; Mateus O.; Costa F.R. (2021) Osteology of an exceptionally well-preserved tapejarid skeleton from Brazil: Revealing the anatomy of a curious pterodactyloid clade. PLOS ONE. 16 (8)

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