"Gold Wash" and other Carnegie Collection Terminology

Terminology examples. Note that the Apatosaurus Baby was not released in any multicolor or 2007 repaint variants. Instead, the color vinyl version remained in production unchanged until 2014. The different mold groups are listed on the bottom.

When I first started hunting for more information about the elusive early Carnegie Collection dinosaur models, I found myself hampered by a lack of terminology. I knew from a variety of posts on scattered forums that the first generation of Carnegies were generally drab colored, often very similar to one another. Searching for "dull color Carnegie dinosaurs" didn't get me very far. It wasn't until I discovered the term "gold wash" applied to these figures that I started cracking open the true diversity of early variants, because now I had a keyword and the start of a common language used by collectors of this unique subset of Carnegie dino replicas. The famous dinosaur collector Randy Knol (on the website Dinosaur Collectors Site B) originally coined the term "gold wash" to refer to any of the early variants, many of which had a gold or yellow wash of paint applied over dull grayish or greenish colors. However, I realized the terminology around these early variants needed adjustment. Sure, a few had areas painted yellow, but not all. Also, a "wash" typically refers to a light finishing coat that brings out details while allowing the primary base colors to show through. A lot of the very earliest Carnegies, identifiable by their very rubbery plastic, did appear to have most of their paint applied as a wash. But it wasn't gold. Instead, it was a hodgepodge of dull grays, browns, pea greens, and even bright orange in the case of T. rex.

"Dull wash" Apatosaurus Baby. Note the more antiqued look of the matte gray wash, and glossy patch on the head.

When I started my website, I often referenced "gold wash" mainly to keep that keyword going and help people like me who had been searching for info. 

In June 2020, I found an image of a German Schleich branded Carnegie Collection catalog. This featured an assortment of figures I'd been referring to as "catalog versions" (aka the Twilight Sands variants) due to their first appearance in 1989-1990 era Safari catalogs and other promotional materials. The photographs in these catalogs are very striking, starkly lit in high contrast with deep blue night-sky backdrops and bright white sand. The models almost seem to have been painted with this scenery in mind, with highly contrasting dark and light color schemes, occasionally even lacking pupils in their glossy white or light brown eyes. These are my favorite Carnegie models and also the rarest, seemingly only produced for a year or less. The Schleich catalog versions were different though: many of them were painted in warmer colors with a sort of luminous quality, as opposed to the matte, desaturated colors of the 1990 catalog or the dull matte grays of the first wave. Though many of these have a gold hue, most have more of a glossy, occasionally iridescent sheen due to multiple layers of bright but semi-translucent hand-painted washes. I started referring to these as the "true" gold wash variants, but again, not all are gold, and the common factor between them is their luminous glossiness, so I wound up referring to them as the "gloss wash" set.

Given the above information, I will be using the following terminology on this site unless more info necessitates a change:

Dull wash: These are what Randy Knol originally called "gold wash" - read the above story of why I wound up altering the terminology around them. Traditionally considered the earliest models released, if not produced. Generally very rubbery, with a few exceptions. Generally light colored base with a messy-looking wash (more akin to antiquing) of matte, dull colored paint applied to the top and sides. Usually have at least one small area of thick glossy paint applied as a highlight (such as the white throat of the Stegosaurus, the snout of the Parasaurolophus, the face of the baby Apatosaurus). Alternative (later?) variants of these have a cleaner wash of slightly brighter/glossier colors and lack the glossy patch. Many have an equally messy and uneven (in the case of Allosaurus, almost ransomly applied) airbrushed wash of yellow or gold paint which lent them their original name. As you can see in the Apatosaurus comparison image at the top of this page, these later dull wash variants can be fairly different, often transitional between the dull and gloss wash variants, and might be said to represent a unique variant style, "dull gloss".

A selection of dull wash variants.

The first 10 models and a few of the later models (including Pteranodon, Maiasaurua, and Smilodon) exist in the dull wash format. It is possible these were all produced by Bullyland using their in-house plastics and paint application techniques, which were unable to closely replicate the original paint masters provided by Forest Rogers. Alternately, this might have been a quick/rushed production run made to satisfy distribution deals to the US market while Schleich distributed the "finished" (primary/gloss wash) first run models to Europe first. Dull wash figures seem more common in the US and gloss wash in Europe, which supports this second version of events.

Dull wash figures first appeared for sale in the US in September 1988 and are pictured alongside the painted prototypes (most of which were closer to the gloss wash style) in a 1988 brochure, so, based on what we can guess about their production, it is likely they were among the first production runs made and the earliest I've been able to confirm.

Example of the dull wash Triceratops, earliest known official photo (1988) vs. in-hand sample.

Primary: At some point, seemingly in between the dull wash and Twilight production runs, a brief production run was made in highly layered paint operations which seem to be an attempt to closely mimic Forest Rogers' original paint prototypes. These are clearly NOT prototypes because the paint application is still relatively simplified and doesn't quite match the professional quality of the earliest Schleich catalog photos. But they are perhaps the most similar in overall color scheme to the original prototypes. They have the same rubbery texture and matte paint of the dull wash run, but the highly complex paint ops of the gloss wash run and, often, color schemes closer to the '90s Classic Color variants than other 1980s era variants. I refer to these as "Primary" because they are not prototypes but are closest to them in overall "intent", for lack of a better word. If this is indeed a unique set, it is tempting to think they're actually the original release. The combination of rubbery plastic and complex paint is reminiscent of the "dull gloss" subset but they seem to generally lack much glossiness. I have received reports of people buying what are clearly dull wash models in September 1988, so those were clearly for sale very early in the run at least in the midwestern US. But it's always possible that the Primary group was produced earlier and were sold in different markets. They seem particularly common in Europe, and these were possibly the first models produced by Schleich and are more true to the original paint masters provided by Forest Rogers than the dull washes. Since these are closest both to the original molds and, likely, the originally paint prototypes, any collector who wants a "true" Carnegie Collection original, as close as possible to the intended vision of Forest Rogers, is going to need to seek out Primary variant figures.

Example of the Primary Triceratops, earliest known official photo (1988) vs. in-hand sample.

Twilight sands versions: a.k.a "catalog versions", a general term for the figure style that appeared in 1990 Safari catalog, named for the distinctive photography set these figures seem to have been painted to compliment. Usually stark, high-contrast color schemes. Mostly made of hard, inflexible black or very dark gray PVC plastic, though some seem to have carried over the original beige rubber material. The hard plastic and multiple layers of thick, rubbery paint tends to lead to peeling and chipping. Most are very similar to their gloss wash counterparts, but lack the glossy finish and have simplified paint applications. Some additionally have modified color schemes, with cooler, less saturated colors - some are even, essentially, grayscale versions, especially the Tyrannosaurus and Diplodocus.

Gloss wash: This figure style appeared in 1990 Schleich catalogues, brochures, and leaflets. They are characterized by warm, low-contrast colors blended by the application of a glossy greenish or golden wash of translucent paint over much of the model, sometimes creating an almost iridescent effect where the color of the model appears different under different lighting conditions. Only the first few models seem to have had gloss wash versions produced, and I have seen even fewer models in this style than the dull washes - and some are basically unchanged vs. the twilight variants. The paint on the gloss wash versions is highly glossy and generally more luminous and colorful than previous variants, accentuated by the much glossier paint. While the paint is simplified relative to the Primary versions, is matches the glossiness seen on Forest Rogers' originals. In the case of some models, like Allosaurus, there does not seem to have been much, if any, difference between Twilight, Primary, and Gold wash versions other than the level of gloss. Many continued to use the original beige rubber material but some also use the hard black PVC of the Twilight versions. The general color palettes used for this set was further simplified to create the classic colorways for each model that would persist through the 1990s and early 2000s.

A selection of gloss wash variants.

Actual production samples of gloss wash figures first appeared in 1990 catalogs. However, many were cast in the same soft beige rubber as the 1988 dull wash figures, so they were possibly produced in 1988, possibly concurrent with or slightly after the dull wash and Primary figures. It is possible these were painted by Schleich in Germany (1989/90 catalogs advertised that all Schleich models were painted in West Germany, not necessarily produced in West Germany. So, it's likely Schleich had blank models shipped to them for painting while Safari had the models intended for US and UK distribution painted at the factories in China).

Example of the gloss wash version Triceratops, earliest known official photo (1991) vs. in-hand photo (by Webdragon)

Classic color versions: These are the most well known Carnegies by virtue of having been in production the longest. They were introduced in 1990 based on both catalog photos and online recollections and accounts of finding them in museum shops. Though they mainly retain the same color palette of the gloss wash variants, the colors, which were previously blended with a complex series of translucent washes, have been simplified down and separated into splotches, stripes, and spots with distinct outlines.

A selection of classic color variants.

Classic color variants span the transition between the two primary mold groups and thus nearly identical paint styles can be found in both original mold and second mold variants. Adding to the confusion, many of them were originally photographed on the same "twilight sands" diorama set as the twilight versions (in fact, some of the twilight versions seem to have had the color in their photos artificially altered in order to match the more common classic colors in later catalog releases).

Example of the classic color Triceratops, official photo (1992) vs. in-hand sample.

Color vinyl versions: In about 1996-1997, all of the old molds were retired. New molds were created for all but a few Carnegie Collection replicas. The new molds are higher quality than the initial secondary versions but are uniformly smaller, slimmer, and lighter. It is probable these were created by tracing the original replicas with a pantograph machine, the same process used to make minis. This results in models with the same general sculpt and pose, but smaller and with totally different details created by the pantograph operator. Some of these new models were made of gray plastic and fully painted like the classic versions at first, but in 1997 all were switched to color vinyl dyed with the base color, with only secondary colors painted on, hence the name.
Example of the color vinyl Triceratops, official photo (1998) vs. in-hand sample.

Multicolor versions: Just prior to and partially overlapping the switch to color vinyl and full line refresh of 1996 (see below), there seems to have been an attempt to refresh the ageing Carnegie molds by giving them much more colorful, in some cases garish, paint schemes. Around 1995, several of the original or secondary molds were re-issued with the addition of bolder patterns and brighter paint. For whatever reason (possibly concern over the mainly green and gray color schemes of the early 1990s), many of these prominently featured colder hues like blue, turquoise, and lavender, though Stegosaurus was remade in a gorgeous 'Creamsicle orange' pattern similar to the original prototype. Pachycephalosaurus is perhaps the most well known of these, and its multicolor paint scheme fully replaced the old gray and black version, carrying over into the color vinyl era. Triceratops initially got a splash of bright blue in place of the old greenish gray, and this was replaced with an even more eye-popping piebald version in the color vinyl era. Iguanodon also seems to have gotten a blue refresh that did not carry over to color vinyl at all.
Multicolor Triceratops official photo (2006) and in-hand sample.

2007 repaints: In 2007, the line was fully refreshed again (note that this is happening about every decade). Most of the 1990s era models that were still in production received totally new colors. They still used color vinyl, but tended to be more fully painted than the late 1990s models and covered in extensive dark washes to help bring out details. The vinyl used, though dyed through with the base or primary color of the model, was extremely hard PVC similar to the 1989 catalog versions, but even more brittle.

Interestingly, many of these updated color schemes almost seem to have been inspired by the original 1988 gloss wash and catalog versions. This could simply be coincidental, but it's tempting to think that at least some repaints were an attempt to return to the more blended, naturalistic patterns and earth toned colors of the 1980s era releases after two decades of bright colors and striped/spotted patterns. For example, the blended golden brown colors of the 2007 Triceratops strongly resemble the 1988 gloss gloss wash Triceratops, and the gray and maroon Allosaurus is similar to some 1980s variants. The Parasaurolophus has a brighter pattern, but is basically the same dull yellow and dark green as the gloss wash. Even the Spinosaurus, while initially released well after the gloss wash era, was updated in 2007 with a color pattern strongly reminiscent of its appearance on the old Carnegie posters.

Example of the 2007 repainted Triceratops, earliest known official photo (2007) vs. in-hand sample.


The bewildering number of early variants with often extremely different colors and paint styles in the early days of the Carnegie line prompts an obvious question: What was going on here? Why so many variants in the short span of time between 1988-1990? Attempts to reach out to Safari about this have yielded no real results - according to their representatives, this is as big a mystery to current Safari management as it is to me. So, we may never know the real answer. However, a few thoeries can be put forward to explain these variations.

First, some additional evidence:
Based on statements from people who bought Carnegie replicas when they first were released in the US, the dull matte figures came out slightly earlier than the gloss wash versions. Now, these reports might be suffering from a US bias, and it is possible the gloss wash figures were really the first versions of the line overseas, as they have a strong resemblance to the painted prototypes initially produced by Forest Rogers and photographed for 1988 catalogs. In fact, anecdotal reports suggest the dull wash figures may never even have been released in Europe or at least the UK. Why would this be? It is likely down to the different companies that distributed the figures in different regions - Safari (US) vs. Schelich (Germany) vs. Early Learning Centre (UK).

Theory 1: Test Run
Randy Knol has stated that Bullyland, based in Germany, handled the initial tooling for Safari and then, presumably, sent the molds off to be mass produced. As the dull wash figures appeared first in the US and are generally very similar to late 1980s Bullyland dinosaur figures in terms of their rubbery material and airbrushed paint style, it's possible that Bullyland produced a quick in-house run of figures before passing along the molds, and sent them to Safari to meet contractual distribution requirements in the US for 1988. A disconfirming piece of evidence for this theory is that even many of the initial glossy figures with "official" Carnegie-approved colors use the same rubbery material as the Bullyland figures, so this could be a coincidence. Apparently it was also something of a trial and error process to produce fully painted plastic figures (earlier lines like Marx and Invicta had been unpainted for this reason, and early attempts to produce painted figures, like Starlux, required highly brittle plastics and paint prone to chipping). After the success of Carnegie, Invicta produced their own painted figures, and these were also made of soft rubber, so the various early material changes may have been more about getting good results with paint applications than anything else.

A variant to this theory is the idea that the factory may have been required to begin producing figures before they received official color guides from Carnegie, so they did a relatively sub-par job and copied whatever dinosaur books they may have had on hand.

Theory 2: Quality Control
Schleich, by the late 1980s, had a long history of producing high quality painted figurines to exacting standards at their factory in Germany. Their Chinese factory would have been relatively new at this point, but as they helped Safari (which had never produced their own figures before) get up and running, they must have already been reasonably well-established. Reports suggest that Safari and Schleich shared a factory during this time but that factory workers alternated days producing figures for both companies. It may be that beyond being merely a European distributor, Scheich actively produced their own run of Carnegie figures made to their own standards and with their own preferred paint and materials (interestingly, there is a rare "set" of 1990 classic color Carnegie models that use a very unusual bright blue plastic substrate. These were definitely for sale in Germany though possibly also elsewhere. Was the blue plastic being re-used from Schleich's popular line of Smurf's figurines!?). Schleich also advertized (in their catalogs and elsewhere) that their figures were "painted in West Germany". Note: Not necessarily produced, just painted. It's possible Schleich was having unpainted figures shipped to Germany in order to paint them in-house before distribution to Europe, which would explain the higher-quality of the paint in the "gloss wash" set as well as why many variants seem to be more common in Europe. Safari, meanwhile, would have had their models produced and painted in their Chinese factories.... with varying results and, possibly, multiple long-distance communications necessary to correct what Safari saw as problems with color or quality.

It has been established that the dull wash set was mainly a US phenomenon, and was not distributed in the UK or Germany. Conversely, the gloss wash style figures were often referred to as "German versions" on the old Dinosaur Toy Forum by people who assumed they were never available in the US. While gloss wash versions have turned up for sale in the US often enough that at least some of these variants must have been sold here, it is possible this US/Europe dichotomy is real and occurred because Safari and Schleich independently produced (or Schleich independently painted) their own figures for themselves to distribute in their own markets. Schleich, which used to be a family-owned company that prided itself on high quality, could have produced the gloss wash figures to their exacting standards, at least before the inevitable slip in quality that always comes with repeated production runs of old figures. Safari, which may have assumed the factory would do a better job than it did replicating the highly complex paint operations featured in photos of the original paint masters, possibly wound up with the dull wash figures by mistake, as a result of poor quality control. The many variants could have been repeated attempts in quick succession to rectify the issue. This theory is bolstered by the example of Playmobil, which is a German company on record stating how they do separate production runs for different markets, and only when product has been made to meet demand in their home market do they ship to other markets and then order additional production runs to fulfill demand. If Schleich was the "primary" producer of Carnegie in 1988-89 before Safari was fully up and running, Germany would have received the "primary" variants, made to exacting standards and close to the prototype color schemes. The larger US market would have initially received mainly dull wash figures supplemented by Schleich-produced glossy figures. 

If this theory is correct, I would propose the following timeline:
1. Safari and Schelich both begin production of figures in early to mid 1988. Safari winds up with dull wash figures, which are shipped and available for sale in the US by September 1988. Schelich, which has better standards in place for quality control, produced the gloss wash figures for sale in Germany. These are available for sale by the end of 1988 or early 1989. Excess stock is sent to the US to supplement Safari's production run and is available by early 1988.
2. Safari attempts several more production runs to increase the quality of its figures (presumably, the Carnegie Institute would not have been thrilled with how different the dull wash set is from the prototypes they comissioned). This results in the "Twilight" set which appears in the 1990 Safari catalog.
3. Safari finally gets their act together and creates their own higher quality, glossy figures although with simplified paint applications, in the form of the Classic Color variants, which go out for sale in 1990/91. Schleich and Safari standardize or possibly merge their production runs, though the two companies may still be using different plastic types.
4. Early Learning Center starts distributing figures in the UK circa 1992 to meet demand not covered by excess stock from Schleich. This is also about the time the secondary mold group appears, which may have been quickly copied from the original molds to increase production capacity. This is also about the time the mysterious changes are made to "Miami,", "China", and addition of CE marks to the belly text.
5. Schleich and Safari end their partnership in 1993. Several new molds are produced at this time and paint application style and quality stays relatively stable for the rest of the 1990s, with the exception of the "color vinyl transition" in 1996.

If you have any additional evidence or ideas for other theories to explain the diversity of early variants, let me know!